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Transformation Interview: Embracing Hope’s Drew McKinley

Romans 12:2 talks about being transformed by the renewing of our minds to discern God’s good, pleasing and perfect will. My guest today, Drew McKinley, has lived through that transformation, but it didn’t come easy, did it?

 

Interview with Drew McKinley from Embracing Hope.

Drew (shaking his head, eyes looking toward the ceiling): Oh, man, it was awful. God had to drag me through the muck, even blood, to get it done. But as I look back, it was the only way He could have transformed me.

 

What were you like before?

 

Drew: I had a perfect life. All the perks of a wealthy family with access to the best education. I married a wonderful woman who, to be honest, was a better person than me; she had a deep faith. My father intended me to inherit the family’s academic kingdom. He’s provost of graduate school education at UConn, and my grandfather taught economics there. Since my older brother is a psychologist, it was up to me to carry on the academic hood. I was okay with it. At first. I got my master’s in academic administration and set out to get my Ph.D. But my wife, Kendra, saw something in me that I didn’t. She encouraged me—strong-armed is more accurate—into taking a deanship at a Christian university in Omaha, Nebraska. I arrogantly assumed I would eventually be president there. But the Lord had other ideas. (Eyes mist, he clears his throat.) The transformation began when Kendra died—suddenly, needlessly. Losing her crushed my heart; crushed my ambition; crushed my faith.

 

I can’t imagine going through such a loss. How did you cope?

 

Drew (running a hand through his dark brown wavy hair): Barely. But God sent people to walk me through the grief and anger. My pastor challenged me to go after hope, not just wish for it or sit around waiting for something better. He insisted that hope was tangible and I had to pursue it. I rejected that concept many times. How can I pursue something that doesn’t exist? (sighs) I tried to focused on work, but failed. The Christmas after Kendra died was torture. My family tried to cocoon me from the hurt. I ended up insulting my dad, brushed aside my mother’s compassion, wanted to slug my brother, and kicked my Ph.D. work to the curb. I hated my job; hated the world.

 

(Slight smile) In the meantime, God placed a remarkable woman, Allison, in my life who could relate to what I was going through. Her father had died suddenly, which like me, crushed her heart and her future. But she was determined to get an education by working two, even three jobs at a time to pay her tuition and expenses. Allison had the hope I rejected; it was tangible, a decision, action. She began to challenge and inspire me.

 

Did you ever think of giving up?

 

Drew (snicker): Almost every day. I won’t lie to you; my anger was ugly. And I inflicted it on others. I actually told God that I hated Him. I’m surprised I wasn’t struck by lightning for that. I was so despondent at one point that … (voice lowers to a whisper) well, I won’t go into the details.

 

How did you turn the corner toward transformation?

 

I lived the verse in First Peter about being tested by fire to be refined like gold. God painfully opened my eyes to the harshness and unfairness of life, not just to me and the people I loved, but those outside my realm of experience. He showed me ways to alleviate the suffering of the “least, last and lost”; to give them hope, which in turn gave me a glimpse of hope. He also gave me the strength to dig deep in my heart and take steps to forgive people who hurt me, and forgive God for taking my wife. And my faith grew, my hope grew, my mind was renewed and finally, I experienced His good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

And what is His perfect will for you today?

 

Drew (a growing smile): I’m still in higher education, but not day-to-day administration. I’ve heard it called God’s Administration. I also jump-started my Ph.D. work. I don’t know all the details of what lies ahead, but I’m where God wants me to be for now—living the Big Three of First Corinthians Thirteen: Faith, Hope and Love.

 

Love? For a woman, as well?

 

Drew (eyes again misting): Yes.

“Embracing Hope” Book blurb
Christian college dean Drew McKinley mourns his dead wife and still wears his wedding ring. He stumbles on a desperate journey to understand God’s motives for her tragic death. Crossing his perilous path is Allison, a graduate student and new employee in the dean’s office. Even as she deals with financial hardships, she recognizes Drew’s unresolved grief from her own loss. Putting up a roadblock is Chris Whitney, the handsome but egotistical student senate president. He carries the secret burden of a dysfunctional family and a below-the-surface temper. The road Drew must navigate is fraught with career upheaval, a reawakening heart, substance and domestic abuse, a violent assault, and the struggle for forgiveness and restoration. Will Drew finish his journey to embrace the hope God offers, the love Allison shares, and the guidance Chris needs, or will he turn his back on all three with catastrophic consequences?

Purchase EMBRACING HOPE HERE

Author Bio
Janell Butler Wojtowicz, born and raised on an Iowa farm, was one of those kids who loved to write the dreaded “What I did on summer vacation” essay. It’s no surprise that she has spent her entire 30-year career in writing, including journalism, Christian higher education public relations, and local government public information. She is a freelance writer/editor, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Janell and her husband, Frank, live in New Brighton, Minnesota.

 

Links
Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_13?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=janell+butler+wojtowicz&sprefix=janell+butler%2Caps%2C400&crid=2RKNVF7OLH34B

Website http://janellwoj.wordpress.com

Twitter @janellwoj

Facebook www.Facebook.com/janellbwoj

 

 

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Lazarus: The Samaritan by Katheryn Maddox Haddad

Posted by Julie on March 3, 2017 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

LAZARUS: THE SAMARITAN

Lazarus lives a complicated life. He is a Samaritan who married a Jewess.  He is estranged from his brothers because their father willed him his prize Arabian steed. He supports himself as a road worker in his youth when his Arabian meets his future wife’s delicate Egyptian horse. Her brother hates him and her snobbish mother constantly insults him.

Her brother enslaves him in a copper mine down at the top of the Red Sea near where southern Israel and Arabia meet.  Eventually through a mess of twists and turns, he becomes a copper mine owner and gets rich.

His sister is the “Woman at the Well” Jesus talked to. Having five husbands does not mean she was a wonton woman. In the story, all die of accidents (one of them on the road to Jericho) or diseases. By the time she meets Jesus, she decides to send her live-in on his way. Jesus stays three days in the city, she introduces him to her brother and their family, and they are baptized in the reflecting pool of the estate his wife inherited.

Zarus, as he is called in the book, lives through forty of Jesus’ parables. These parables come alive as his mine workers beat a servant to death to take over the mine, his youngest son grows up, gets his inheritance, and goes to China where he nearly starves to death. His daughter grows up and marries a sea captain, and he is so late to the wedding that five of her ten virgin maidens run out of oil waiting for him on the docks.

His father, original owner of the mine has great plans and builds bigger warehouses for the increased copper production, but dies that night. Lazarus’ widowed mother-in-law loses the family estate, and she appeals to an evil judge and pesters him to death until he finally relents and gets her estate back for her. His sister’s husband is robbed and beaten on the road to Jericho and left for dead until Lazarus, “The Good Samaritan” sees him and takes him into the city. There is a mine collapse, and ninety-nine workers survive, but Lazarus goes into the dangerous mine to see out the one.

My readers love trying to guess which parable he is living through as they read each chapter. (At the end of each chapter I quote the actual parable in italics.)

This is the story of rags to riches and back to rags again. It is the story of a strange courtship, a marriage with three children and ongoing romance of husband and wife, betrayals, treacheries, celebrations, overcoming—everything that Jesus put into his amazing parables.

Read this book to be amazed at the new insights you gain by going through life with Lazarus: The Samaritan.

This, by the way, is the first book in the historical novel series: INTREPID MEN OF GOD. This series has remained in the top ten in their category on Amazon since their beginning last year. One woman contacted me and said, “I want to order six more copies and send them to my family members.”

 

Katheryn Haddad was born in the cold north, but now lives in Arizona where she does not have to shovel sunshine. She enjoys hot weather, palm trees and cacti in her yard, and a computer with the letters worn off.
With a bachelor’s degree in English, Bible and social science from Harding University and part of a master’s degree in Bible, including Greek, from the Harding Graduate School of Theology, she also has a master’s degree in management and human relations from Abilene University.
Her newspaper column appeared for several years in newspapers in Texas and North Carolina ~ Little Known Facts About the Bible ~ and she has written for numerous Christian publications.
Currently she teaches English over the internet every morning, using the Bible as a text book. Most of her students are Muslims. She has taught some 6000 thus far, and has former students, now Christians, in hiding in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Jordan, Uzbekistan, and Palestine. “They are my heroes” she declares.
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Writers of the West, and is also an energetic public speaker who can touch the heart of audiences.

Website: http://inspirationsbykatheryn.com

Purchase Lazarus the Samaritan HERE

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FREE Novella Available

Posted by Julie on March 2, 2017 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

Remember when I said things were pretty busy behind the scenes?

  • I told you about my interview with Blog Talk Radio host Patti Shene and her show, Step Into the Light.

 

  • I announced a new release, FINDING FREEDOM THROUGH SURRENDER-A 30 Day Devotional.

 

MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN was something I included as a thank you to newsletter subscribers who signed up. It’s a contemporary romance about surrendering relationships. What I love about it is it was the first romance I wrote after becoming a Christian. I re worked it a couple years ago and hopefully you will enjoy it. I also am excited because it features the Finger Lakes area, the beautiful region where I grew up in Upstate NY.

How do you access it? Visit the right sidebar of my site (if you are receiving this via email) and it should be right there to click and download. If you have trouble, send me an email at juliearduini@juliearduini.com, or find me across social media @JulieArduini.

 

I have one more announcement coming this week, so stay tuned!

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New Release: Finding Freedom Through Surrender

Posted by Julie on February 28, 2017 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

It was one of those God taps that I wanted to ignore. Late last year I felt I was supposed to write a devotional using the surrender themes explored in my contemporary romance series, Surrendering Time. Not only that, but write it from the characters point of view. I’d never heard of such a thing, and by obeying, I knew I was delaying book 3, ENGAGED, even more.

But obey I did. It took longer than I thought with unexpected travel and child sickness, but it’s done.

Finding Freedom Through Surrender-A 30 Day Devotional available on Amazon.

FINDING FREEDOM THROUGH SURRENDER-A 30 Day Devotional, features short readings on surrendering fear, loss, change, regret, and the future. If you’ve read ENTRUSTED or ENTANGLED, you will visit with beloved characters like Ben, Jenna, Carla, Will, Sara, and more. If the series is new to you, no worries. The devotional will introduce you to the characters without spoilers. Then, once ENGAGED is released this spring, you will be ready to jump in.

It’s in eBook format, so download the free Kindle app and you can read on your phone, tablet, desktop, laptop, and of course, Kindle. It’s only available on Amazon.

I’d love for you to spread the word. Early feedback showed that many of the readings were exactly what readers were struggling with at that time. That’s God, and I’m grateful He allows me to write for Him.

Take a look!

FINDING FREEDOM THROUGH SURRENDER HERE

 

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Blog Talk Radio Interview: Step Into the Light

Posted by Julie on February 26, 2017 in About Me, ACFW, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, Writing |

Sorry it’s been quiet here, there’s quite a bit going on behind the scenes, and I’ll share more in the coming days. It’s a busy time, but an exciting one!

 

A big part of being an author is also being in marketing. That’s not natural for most authors, we just want to write, and that’s true for me. Thankfully, I went to college for public relations/communications, so I have a handle on marketing challenges. Like everyone else, I don’t love it, but it’s part of the call.

 

Some people make talking about our books very easy. Patti Shene is one of those people, so it’s no wonder she hosts a show on Blog Talk Radio called Step Into the Light.

 

Patti interviewed me on Valentine’s Day and it was a fun time. We talked surrender, chocolate, Valentine’s Day and about my writing.

It’s about 45 minutes long and if you wondered what Upstate NY sounds like, give my interview a listen!

 

Julie Arduini interviewed on Blog Talk Radio, Patti Shene’s Step into the Light.

It is also on the right sidebar of juliearduini.com.

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Author Spotlight: Liz Tolsma

Posted by Julie on February 21, 2017 in encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Author Spotlight: Liz Tolsma
1.       How did you get your start as an author?
I always loved writing and wanted to be an author since my 5thgrade teacher encouraged me that way. But practicality won out, and I became an elementary school teacher instead. After 9/11, I realized that my life could end any moment. I didn’t want to get to the end of it and have regrets about not trying to write. It took nine years after that, but my dream came true!

2.       What is the title of your book and what is it about?

My story is title A Match Made in Heaven in the novella collection Matchmaker Brides. Len Montgomery is a young Iowa pastor who receives a letter from a widowed farmer asking if there are any young women in the congregation who would be interested in marrying him. The town’s newspaperman gets a hold of the letter, publishes it, and it gets picked up by several big city papers. Letters requesting matches pour in. But the match he most wants to make, the one with the town’s sweet, charming, and Shakespeare-quoting postmistress, may be out of his reach.

3.       What was your favorite part about writing this book? Hardest part?
I loved the break from my usual WWII stories to write something lighter. It was fun to give my characters permission to laugh. I loved looking up Shakespeare quotes for my heroine and baffling the hero as to what she was saying. The hardest part was keeping tension in the story. WWII is naturally filled with suspense. I learned a lot about using tension even in a light-hearted story.

4.       What are you hoping readers will take away from your story?
I hope they have fun with the story while remembering that God is a God who forgives and heals.

5. Is there another vocation you have besides writing?
Yes, I’m also a freelance fiction editor and I run a writer’s retreat and an online writer’s academy. It keeps my fingers in writing and publishing, but supplements my income. I love helping new writers learn how to write better and get published.

 6. What is something readers would be surprised to learn about you?
I talk to myself. All. The. Time. It helps to keep me focused, so especially if I have a hard or busy day, I find myself talking out loud with no one but the dog and cat to hear me.

 7. If you were having a chocolate craving, what would you want to satisfy it?
Um, chocolate LOL! Seriously, good European-style chocolate. Lindt, Ghirardelli, something along those lines. Sometimes dark, sometimes milk, depending on my mood.

8. Tell us about your family.

I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for 28 years. We have three children. Brian is about to turn 22. We adopted him from Vietnam when he was 5 months old. He’s currently serving as a U.S. Marine in North Carolina. Alyssa is 17 and came home from Korea at 3 months old. She’s a junior in high school, as well as a lifeguard and class president. We never see her! She hopes to major in International Studies with an emphasis in Arabic and counterterrorism. Our youngest, Jonalyn, is 14. We adopted her from the Philippines when she was 5. She has a host of cognitive and physical disabilities, as well as a sunny disposition and a fondness for Olaf from Frozen.

9. What has been your biggest achievement as an author?
My first full-length novel, Snow on the Tulips, was a Carol Award finalist and a Selah Award finalist in 2013.

10.How can readers find this book? How can they connect with you?
Buy links:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Christianbook.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/liz.tolsma.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LizTolsma
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/liz-tolsma-64992ab7?trk=hp-identity-name
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/liztolsma/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorliztolsma/

Blurb: Pastor Len Montgomery receives an unusual letter from an Omaha farmer that turns him into the matchmaker he never wanted to be. But the match he most wants to make, the one with the town’s sweet, charming, and Shakespeare-quoting postmistress, may be out of his reach.

 

Liz Tolsma is the author of several WWII novels and prairie romance novellas. She is a popular speaker and an editor and resides next to a Wisconsin farm field with her husband and their two daughters. She enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. Please visit her blog, The Story behind the Story, at www.liztolsma.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter(@LizTolsma), and LinkedIn. She is also a regular contributor to the Pencildancer blog and the Midwest Almanac blog.



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