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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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Sapphire Secrets Character Interview with Dawn V. Cahill

Posted by Julie on February 24, 2016 in ACFW, Book Review, encouragement, Julie Arduini, Writing |

Julie’s note: Yesterday I featured SAPPHIRE SECRETS by Dawn V. Cahill as this month’s Don’t Miss This feature. Today Dawn shares an interview with the two main characters from her novel. Take it away, Dawn!

Two amazing young women are visiting us today.  Please help me welcome identical twins Livy and DeeDee McCreary, singers and dancers extraordinaire, who star in my new novel, Sapphire Secrets.

Dawn V. Cahill: Livy, since this is your story, why don’t we start with you? Tell us why you want to share your story with the world.

Livy: Picture this–a spooky graveyard at midnight. Howling wind. And a strange old man who tells me to seek the truth about my mother’s death. Wouldn’t you be curious, too?

DVC: Indeed I would.

Livy: Sapphire Secrets is basically my testimony. And what an incredible journey. Not only did I find out the truth about my mother’s death, I also found God. Now, I just want the world to know that God loves them. So many people have never experienced His love. They don’t know what it’s like when God grabs ahold of you and pulls you into His arms – so unlike anything you’ll ever experience.

DVC: But you weren’t raised to believe in God. What made you change your mind?

Livy: I met someone who wasn’t afraid to share Christ with me. At first, I was resistant. Our parents and grandma raised us to be suspicious of organized religion. But then, one day everything changed. I had an accident and…

DVC: Spoiler alert!

Livy: Whoops. Anyway, as a result, I might never dance again. But without the accident, I might not have found God.

DVC: DeeDee, what do you think about Livy’s conversion?

DeeDee: She’s always spouting religious mumbo-jumbo. Not my thing. But ask me anything about dance. I can get into that.

DVC: Okay, dance it is. One of my readers wants to know, were all those dance lessons growing up a pleasure, or a chore?

DeeDee: I won’t lie and say they were a piece of cake. Dance lessons are grueling. If I hadn’t had Livy to learn and practice with, I’m sure I would have given up a long time ago. But now, I marvel at what my body can do. I’m pumped that we get to pay it forward by teaching other little girls the beauty of dance.

Livy: Our mom’s passion for dance rubbed off on us. I couldn’t have quit if you paid me. The downside of dance for me was the memorization. Not only the choreography, but all the French terminology. Like pas de bourres and ronde jambs…

DeeDee: The competitions…

Livy: Outgrowing our favorite leotards…

DeeDee: Hardly ever any boys in class to tease or flirt with.

DVC: How times change! A couple of single fathers brought their daughters into your studio for lessons.

Livy [giggling]: Don’t forget to mention how cute they were.

DVC: And now you’re dating one of them, aren’t you?

Livy: Spoiler alert!

DVC: My lips are sealed. Let’s let the readers find out for themselves, shall we?

DeeDee: Don’t forget to tell them about your prequel, When Lyric Met Limerick, a short story about a fateful meeting…the day our amazing and talented parents met.

DVC: Readers, just click on my Amazon author page to find both books.

Check my webpage, dawnvcahill.com, for future giveaways and updates on Livy and DeeDee’s continuing saga. And thank you, ladies, for letting my readers get to know you  today.

Livy and DeeDee [in unison]: So long, lovely readers.

DeeDee: You have to come back for Book 2, because this crazy author is going to put me through an even worse ordeal than Livy’s. I have no clue how I’m going to get out of this mess…

Don't miss SAPPHIRE SECRETS by Dawn V. Cahill.

Don’t miss SAPPHIRE SECRETS by Dawn V. Cahill.

About SAPPHIRE SECRETS:

Filled with mystery, romance, and unforgettable characters, Sapphire Secrets is the story of a Seattle woman’s relentless pursuit of truth and God’s power to heal and transform broken lives.  Twins Livy and DeeDee McCreary open a dance studio in honor of their late mother, whom they lost when they were six. Problem is, Livy remembers nothing of the day her mother died. The more she questions her family about that awful day, the more she suspects she’s been lied to all her life. While she’s seeking answers to what really happened, she keeps crossing paths with handsome engineer Scott Lorenzo, who compels her to question the New Age philosophy she was raised on. What if there is a personal God out there who cares about her?  Before Livy can discover answers, a brutal accident interrupts her search. Her life flips upside down as she faces a future she is not prepared for. Yet the unanswered questions continue to haunt her. Can she find the strength to keep on with her quest, even if it means losing the two people most dear to her—her twin, and the man she loves?  2015 Finalist, ACFW First Impressions Contest 

Dawn V. Cahill’s bio:

Author Dawn V. Cahill pens “Stories of Victorious Faith for the 21st Century,” nearly always with a crossword puzzle, sudoku, or dark chocolate nearby. “The characters in my stories face situations that would have been unthinkable even 20 years ago. We live in a vastly different world than our parents did, and that’s the world I write about.” Seeing an unfilled niche in the Christian market for edgier fiction, Ms Cahill birthed Hot Topic Fiction (HTF) at an intensive four-day writers conference. HTF isn’t afraid to explore the question, how does God want us Christians to live out our faith in this not-so-brave new world? Without insulting the reader by offering pat or easy answers–because there aren’t any–HTF tells stories of ordinary Christians following hard after Christ in a world of terror and violence, of upside-down morality, of hostility to Judeo-Christian values. HTF’s first book is due for launch in June 2016.

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Entrusted on the Internet

Posted by Julie on January 14, 2015 in About Me, Book Review, Julie Arduini |

Entrusted FRONT Cover_edited

It’s been a blessing to not only have Entrusted out for the public to find, but for colleagues to share it. Entrusted has been a few places lately, and I thought you might like to visit those places and leave a comment.

As always, I have a link for all the places that featured Entrusted on my books page.

Thanks to Fay Lamb at Inner Source:

Jenna Anderson Character Interview

Julie Arduini Interview

Surrendered

Thanks to Peggy Blann Phifer at Peg’s Bookshelf:

Character Interview

Thanks to Novel Reviews:

Review of Entrusted

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Entrusted: Interview with Kyle Swarthmore

Posted by Julie on December 20, 2014 in About Me, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

This week I’ve had fun interviewing the characters from my Adirondack romance, Entrusted. Today you have the opportunity to meet bad-boy Kyle Swarthmore.

Entrusted FRONT Cover_editedKyle, did you grow up in Speculator Falls? What’s the connection?

I visited every weekend during summers. My dad bought a summer home outside Speculator Falls.

Do you call Speculator Falls home?

Yes. Well, during the week I stay in Newark. But lately I’ve been working on acquiring some Adirondack property so I’ve stayed in the summer home. I’m not sure.

Who’s your hero?

My dad. He had nothing and built something of an empire. I love following in his footsteps.

Some Adirondack property isn’t for sale.

Everything’s for sale if the price is right. Do you mean that little grocery store, JB’s?

You and Ben don’t get along, do you?

Ben’s a bit uptight. He doesn’t think I’m a true resident. He’s nervous I’ll take his property because I’ve done it before.

Explain.

Trish Maxwell was his high school sweetheart. He was certain they’d marry. But they were on-off and when off, I pursued her. Then she up and left for New York City. He was devastated.

What do you think about Jenna Anderson?

I think her many talents are wasted here. She’s a good businesswoman. What she sees in Ben boggles the mind.

What about romance in your life, Kyle?

No time. Father has an ambitious plan and I’m going to fulfill it. Or else.

Get to know Kyle and all of the friends in Speculator Falls by purchasing Entrusted here.

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Entrusted: Interview with Sara Bivins

Posted by Julie on December 19, 2014 in About Me, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

This week I’m interviewing characters from Entrusted to give readers a better chance to get to know the characters.  Today I interview Sara Bivins, matriarch of Speculator Falls and Ben Regan’s feisty grandmother.

Entrusted FRONT Cover_editedSara, describe Speculator Falls to me.

Peaceful. Quaint. Good people. Family.

Like Jenna, you didn’t grow up there. What drew you to the Adirondacks?

God’s leading and my late husband, John. We met at a conference and it was instant. I left my city life to marry him and follow him to Speculator Falls. Together we built JB’s grocery store and raised our girls. 

I heard that you went behind the council and placed an ad to re open the senior center, hiring Jenna after one phone interview.

Guilty as charged. I know my grandson Ben is on the council and that he was the driving force behind closing the center. But, I know a good thing when I see it. The center is a necessary part of the area. And Jenna’s the best one for the job.

Did you also give Jenna your late husband’s vehicle?

I did. She needed a sturdy winter vehicle and I had one sitting in my driveway collecting dust. I know Ben was upset to see the truck all over town again, but he got over it.

Is it hard seeing reminders of your husband’s handiwork everywhere? It certainly seems to be a struggle for your grandson.

It was difficult at first but then I realized the store, our hunting cabin, Ben’s home, the truck—they are all comforting. Just as John was. Next to Jesus, he was my rock. I miss him so much but I have the promise that I’ll see him again.

Does Jenna remind you of you? You both seem to have similar backgrounds.

I definitely see some similarities. That girl belongs in Speculator Falls. I can’t wait until she figures that out.

Want to learn more about Sara and the rest of the friends you’ll meet in Entrusted?

Click here.

Don’t forget to purchase here.

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Entrusted: My Interview with Carla Rowling

Posted by Julie on December 18, 2014 in About Me, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

All this week I’m interviewing characters from my contemporary romance, Entrusted.  Today we meet the first person who finds Jenna in Speculator Falls, sheriff Carla Rowling.

Entrusted FRONT Cover_editedHow did you meet Jenna Anderson?

By accident, literally. Dispatch told me someone ran over a flower box on Route 8. I went to the scene and it was Jenna who created the property damage. She was relying on her GPS to get her to her new home, and it wasn’t cooperating in the mountains.

If you don’t mind me saying, you don’t really look like a sheriff. How did you become interested?

At the time I needed steady income to support my little boy and I did well on the tests. The rest is history.

I sense law enforcement isn’t your passion. What is?

My son, Noah. He’s everything. I also enjoy dabbling in cutting hair.

You look young to be a mom.

I was a teen mom. I’m not proud of it but I think I’ve provided Noah with a good home full of love.

Speaking of love, is there anyone in your life?

My son, Noah.

Jenna mentioned that Will Marshall seems to find excuses to spend time with you.

I’ve known Will forever. He’s a good guy.

Ben revealed that the paramedic that treated his grandmother was Noah’s father.

He did. I thought Wayne was going to continue to live and work at a distance but he’s in Speculator Falls. 

You seem to give just the facts. You don’t want to say anything else about love?

I love Noah. Any other questions?

Is your story next?

Yes. Entangled is my story. You’ll still read about Ben, Jenna and the others, but it’s definitely my story.

To learn more about the people of Entrusted and purchase, click here.

Entrusted is on Pinterest. Check it out!

 

 

 



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