Audra Krell

On Purpose

Archive for the category “Christian Writer’s”

Author Susan Cottrell On Men

Today I have Susan Cottrell weighing in with an excerpt from her upcoming book. I’ve written before about how men need to have their heart question answered and Susan agrees. I’m grateful she has taken the time to share her thoughts and I highly recommend her new book.

Susan Cottrell is a writer, speaker and teacher. Married 25 years, she and Rob have five (nearly) grown children. Susan homeschooled for some twenty years… until she ran out of energy! She is set to release her newly expanded book: How Not to Lose Your Teen: Raising Kids who Love God and You Too. Her second book, The Marriage Renovation, is soon to be published. She loves to lead retreats and seminars, teaching women, couples and teens about the freedom for which Christ has set them free (Galatians 5:1). She loves to travel, watch old movies and eat chocolate. Contact her directly at FreedHearts.org.

The following excerpt is from Susan’s upcoming book: How Not to Lose Your Teen: Raising Kids who Love God and You Too.

Men and Boys

Men are more vulnerable than we realize, and I believe that inside every man is a little boy who needs to know he’s enough. Boys need to hear, regularly and authentically, that they have what it takes to be a man. Whether your son is an athlete, a pianist, a writer or anything else, he needs constant affirmation that God has equipped him fully as a man, and God will faithfully complete the good work He began in him (Philippians 1:6). Dads especially need to engage with their sons – affirming, including and accepting them as the person God designed them to be.

Mom’s job is to let their boys grow up, let them separate, encourage them to take risks and trust them to become men. Tell them you know they can do it. Hold the crown above their head and let them grow into it.

I failed at this when my family was at a rock-climbing wall at the fair. Our David, barely four, wanted to climb. I immediately decided $5 was too much to pay for him to climb two feet and then quit. I foolishly told Rob that Dave was too little and could not do it. He said, “I can do it, Mom.” Rob paid the money and David did climb – all the way to the top. And when he got down, he said, “See Mom? I knew I could do it.” Risking my son’s view of his manhood is not worth $5.

Not only do our boys need to believe they have what it takes to be men and to succeed, they also need to understand that their job is to love and protect the women in their lives – mothers, wives, sisters, daughters. They need to esteem girls, encourage them, treat them with dignity, and not use them for their own pleasure. If boys would treat the girls in their lives as they hope their future wives are being treated, what a sweet impact that would make in our culture. Dads can lead their boys this way, by their own example of kindness and respect.

I learned disdain for men growing up, from my father who was constantly disappointed in my brothers for not reaching his impossible standards. God had to break that old paradigm so His love could prevail. I had to surrender to Him, to let Him do His great healing work in me. But He did. It’s what He does best!

Thank you again Susan. These short paragraphs are packed with great thoughts on what every man needs.

Question: What have you done lately to help the men in your life believe they have what it takes?

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Eating the Stick in the Salad

It takes many things to be a writer. Many, many things. It’s not easy sitting behind the computer trying to get the stories down. We do desperate things, even when it’s too hot to do them. Getting the words to sing requires wearing a turtleneck and drinking too much coffee, even when it 101 in April.

Being a writer also takes confidence. And the ability to let people see you, the real you. We proudly put the mask of our false selves on display for everyone to peruse, critique, and hopefully love. But our real selves? Only the very lucky get to see it in person and sometimes in the voice of our stories.

An unwillingness to be seen, is dangerous. Several years ago I was singing back ground vocals on a Tommy Walker album, with a large choir. At least one hundred people, and I didn’t know a soul. During dinner, I was first in the buffet line and heaped a chicken salad with piles of crispy chow mein noodles onto my plate, as well as a half sandwich held together with a toothpick.

There were no tables to eat at, so I sat in a folding chair facing the buffet line of over 100 people. Feeling self conscious, I absentmindedly put the toothpick on my plate. I had no idea it rolled into my salad.

About three large bites of salad in, I crunched on a very hard noodle. It wouldn’t break. I felt like spitting out the clearly stale invader, but didn’t dare in front of the people. Feeling the blush of no confidence, I crunched down as hard as I could, determined to swallow all of it, even if it meant breaking a tooth. Finally it snapped and I tried hard again, to swallow.

The shards raked the inside of my cheek and I realized it wasn’t a chow mein noodle. Now contorted in the chair, I was dangerously close to swallowing a toothpick and dying of humiliation, never mind the imminent choking danger. I curled my body forward and with one fell swoop of my finger, I cleared my own airway. That’s right, I did Resusci Annie, the CPR mannequin proud.

But the lesson is not that you should always be prepared to save yourself. The lesson is to let yourself be seen, your life might depend on it. In my humiliation I tried to hide in plain site.

Today, I know how to make acquaintances and through a painful journey back from rock bottom, I have confidence. Not in who I think I am, but in who God says I am.

He has given friends and family who love me and would help if I ate two toothpicks. And He’s given me the confidence to be a writer and to trust my voice.

Every writer needs confidence so they can share knowledge.

If you’re not confident enough to write what’s inside, who will?

 

Breakfast Club on Jazz

We attended closing night of the Phoenix Film Festival and saw Blue Like Jazz. The film opens nationwide on April 13.

Let me first say that I loved the book. God used it to change my life. Donald Miller gets abandonment. It was one of the first times I felt understood in my struggle with parental abandonment. Miller helped me to see that even though I didn’t feel worthy of people sticking around, I have a Father who has never left me.

In my ongoing heartbreak with subsequent familial abandonment, I return time and again to the truths I finally understood through Miller’s writing. God’s love lasts much longer than the stabs of current rejection. His love is the only thing that is eternal.

Now on to the movie. It’s not advertised for, nor is it appropriate for children or young teens. We took our 13 and 16 year old sons. I was embarrassed, and as mom to three teen boys, it takes some doing to make me blush. I also was uncomfortable with the mocking of Christianity. I get that for free every day out in the world, through all social media and especially on TV. My son lives it everyday at the University he attends, the other boys at their middle and high schools.

Some reviewers say the movie is a great conversation starter for Christian families and helps them transition their young adults to the next stage of life. I wonder where they think we live? Do they really believe all Christians live out in the country where the most violent act we witness is a calf being born? Where our biggest problem is what dress to wear to church on Sunday? No, Christians face the exact things the world does, on the same moment- by -moment basis. When I attend a film, I want to be taken away from the world, not forced to relive my college days in all their lewd glory.

Reviewers said the movie was going to have a hard time and comments like the one below tend to polarize viewers:

A challenging book to turn into a film due to its stream of consciousness narration, director Steve Taylor and crew have for the most part succeeded in turning out a generally entertaining film, but one that will probably be too centered on Christianity for those averse to religion and too “edgy” for those of the Christian faith who like their films Kirk Cameronesque. -Linc Leifeste, Smells Like Screen Spirit 

I agree, it was too difficult to turn Blue Like Jazz into a film. As a person of faith, an avid movie goer and someone who respects Kirk Cameron, I don’t prefer my films to be Kirk Cameronesque. I further don’t consider mocking Christianity for 95% of the film to be edgy in any way. It’s an effort to reach the masses with an attempt to entertain. Mocking anything is usually good for a sure laugh.

The central message of Blue Like Jazz the movie, is that every flawed creature is worthy of respect, which we know is the gospel truth. The film had the chance to go deep with that and ended up a glorified, modern day version of the Breakfast Club with a jazz soundtrack. Basically an “accept all sin now, just be certain to ask forgiveness later.”

I highly recommend the book, it’s a completely different experience.

Blue Like Jazz the Book

Easter Gift for Kids

One sure way to find out who you are and what your purpose is, is to read the Bible. I highly recommend these two new Bibles for  boys and girls ages 8-12.

FaithGirlz is perfect for showing our girls how unique and special they are. The Bible includes quizzes on getting to know yourself, imagination exercises and answers to Bible questions. When a girl receives this Bible, she won’t just be reading, but will journey closer to God.

I so wish this version of the NIV Boys Bible had been out when my three teen boys were younger. It’s full of funny facts, inspiring people and gross and gory stuff. This helpful Bible will pull every boy in and they will be off on the adventure of a lifetime, as they journey closer to God.

What a great idea for Easter! You can get yours here.

Thank you to B & B Media for providing me with review copies of both Bibles. Nothing was given in exchange for the books and I am not required to write a positive review.

Zondervan Faithgirlz Bible

Practice Matters

Last week I was reading Seth Godin’s blog on Sight Reading and it got me thinking about practicing. He said he never practiced his clarinet, like ever, and the teacher would scold him for only practicing 3 or 4 hours that week. I was the same way, a good sight reader, and so it appeared I could play better than I could.

But I’ve come to realize, practice matters. A little known fact, is I went to CU-Boulder on a bass clarinet scholarship. That’s right folks, I used to play the biggun. In the Spring of ’89 I closed the case on Big Clara Net, never to be opened again. You see, I was failing music theory. Actually to be more than fair to myself, I didn’t have an F, but a grade of C or higher was required to move on to Music Theory 2. I got a tutor, studied super hard and used my whole brain to understand the concepts. But music theory is a lot like math… and now I have a degree in English Lit.

What I didn’t know, is if I had practiced my instrument more, I would have passed music theory.

The arts aren’t about talking about doing art. They aren’t about formulas, logic and math. The whole thing hinges upon actually doing the art. Music isn’t just about theory, you have to practice, play and create. Writing isn’t about a laptop, pens, tablets or books, but about sitting down every day to write and create something larger than yourself.

Further, to all the education systems cutting their art programs, art isn’t about viewing it on a video game or computer screen. It must be experienced, taken in and put back into the world as a new creation. Our children need the schools to provide opportunities to practice their music, visual and dramatic arts. Students need to practice to find out who they are, to discover their purpose.

Today, because of the public education art programs I was involved in, I’m a vocalist and percussionist. Clanging cymbals and banging the gong doesn’t require quite as much practice as clarinets and vocals, but does require a lot of rhythm and counting.

Counting? I probably should practice math more. Nah.

Nothing Closer

Pen Quill and Parchment

“It seems that some creatives will only

know glory at a distance; yet they experience nothing closer

than the very presence of God.”

-Audra Krell

Will you WriMo?

Below is an excerpt from a great article by Brian Klems of Writer’s Digest. He explains what NaNoWriMo is and how to get more information. I’ve won NaNo twice, the first in 2008 and then again last year in 2010. I’m in an intense debate with myself about doing it this year. It has been the single most effective tool I’ve discovered for writing; setting a word count goal and meeting or exceeding it every day for 30 days. No excuses, just writing. I’m coming off a nasty bout with the stomach flu and so everything seems insurmountable today. On the other hand, what I have I got to lose by trying? Certainly not my cookies, those are long gone.

What about you? Leave a comment and let me know if you’re up for the challenge this year. We could have a lot of fun together!

November is known by most literati as National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. How it works: Start writing a 50,000-word novel on November 1 and finish by midnight on November 30th. (For in-depth details go to the NaNoWriMo.org.) I’ve participated in the event twice. First, let me share these three important takeaways from my experience.

1. It was unbelievably fun.
2. Being that productive gave me the shot of adrenaline I needed to write more.
3. I was terribly unprepared both times and ended up with 50,000 words of useless material.

OK, so “useless” may be a bit harsh, but when looking back at my past attempts I realized that if I had just done some planning and preparation, not only would I have been able to complete more words, they would have been the making of a publishable story. I bring this up because I believe that 1) You should TOTALLY try NaNoWriMo if you haven’t before—you won’t regret it and it will be one of the best writing decisions you make this year, and 2) spend the next few days preparing yourself to write a story that’s not only good, but has the structure to be great.

The key to preparing yourself for the challenge is to ask yourself these questions (which were once suggested to me by @JaneFriedman):

What’s going to happen in the story?
What does the character want?
What will the turning points be?

If you can nail these down, you will set yourself up in a much better position to write something meaningful and (potentially) publishable.

Book Review: 40 Days to Better Living

Another great book from the 40 Days to Better Living folks, this time on Hypertension. Such a great series and an active, helpful way to help people manage hypertension.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

 

Today’s Wild Card author is:

 

 

and the book:

 

40 Days to Better Living: Hypertension

Barbour Books (September 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

From the time Scott Morris was just a teenager, he knew he would do two things with his future—serve God and work with people. Growing up in Atlanta, he felt drawn to the Church and at the same time drawn to help others, even from a very young age. It was naturally intrinsic, then, that after completing his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Virginia he went on to receive his M.Div. from Yale University and finally his M.D. at Emory University in 1983.

After completing his residency in family practice, Morris arrived in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1986 without knowing a soul, but determined to begin a health care ministry for the working poor. He promptly knocked on the doors of St. John’s Methodist Church and Methodist Hospital in Memphis inviting them to help, and then found an old house to refurbish and renovate. By the next year, the Church Health Center opened with one doctor—Dr. Scott Morris—and one nurse. They saw twelve patients the first day and Morris began living his mission to reclaim the Church’s biblical commitment to care for our bodies and spirits.

From the beginning, Morris saw each and every patient as a whole person, knowing that without giving careful attention to both the body and soul the person would not be truly well. So nine years after opening the Church Health Center, he opened its Hope & Healing Wellness Center. Today the Church Health Center has grown to become the largest faith-based clinic in the country of its type having cared for 60,000 patients of record without relying on government funding. The clinic handles more than 36,000 patient visits a year while the wellness center, which moved to its current 80,000-square-foot location on Union Avenue in 2000, serves more than 120,000 member visits each year. Fees are charged on a sliding scale based on income.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Millions experience high blood pressure—and 40 Days to Better Living: Hypertension provides clear, manageable steps for you to manage it, through life-changing attitudes and actions. If you’re ready to really live better, select one or more elements of the 7-step Model for Healthy Living—Faith, Medical, Movement, Work, Emotional, Family and Friends, and Nutrition—and follow the 40-day plan to improve your life, just a bit, day by day. With plenty of practical advice, biblical encouragement, and stories of real people who’ve taken the same journey, this book—from the Church Health Center in Memphis, the largest faith-based clinic of its type in the U.S.—may be the most important book you read this year!

The 40 Days to Better Living series offers clear, manageable steps to life-changing attitudes and actions in a context of understanding and grace for all people at all points on the journey to optimal health. With plenty of practical advice, spiritual encouragement, and real stories of those who have found a better life, this simple and skillfully crafted book inspires readers to customize their own path to wellness by using the 7-Step Model for Healthy Living as a guide:

    • Nutrition: pursuing smarter food choices and eating habits

 

  • Friends and family: giving and receiving support through relationships

 

 

  • Emotional life: understanding feelings and managing stress to better care for yourself

 

 

  • Work: appreciating your skills, talents, and gifts

 

 

  • Movement: discovering ways to enjoy physical activity

 

 

  • Medical care: partnering with health care providers to optimize medical care

 

 

  • Faith life: building a relationship with God, neighbors, and self

 

Along with tips from the Model for Healthy Living, the easy-to-read format features a Morning Reflection and an Evening Wrap-Up as well as a place for documenting plans, progress, and perspectives. Targeted scriptures and prayers that undergird the focus of each day’s message make this compact book an excellent choice for a daily devotional.

Subsequent titles in the Better Living series will be released bi-monthly and address key health topics including hypertension, diabetes, depression, weight management, stress management, aging, and addiction. All promise substantial support to those who are ready for a newer, better way of living—body and spirit.

Product Details:

List Price: $7.99
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616262656
ISBN-13: 978-1616262655

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Not Bulletproof…Yet

So I’m querying agents and publishers like crazy with my new novel, Abandoned Ship. How exciting, you might think. And it is.

Every house or agent wants something different. One wants the first 3 chapters pasted in the email and will delete if you attach. Other agencies say that pasting “ruins the formatting and there couldn’t be a worse first impression”. Others want a biography, some want a long synopsis and still others want a one page query which covers your life story. Some don’t accept snail mail, others won’t accept email.

Where’s the exciting part you ask? It’s in the work. It takes hours of due diligence to query just 2 or 3 agents. The satisfaction of hitting send or packaging up a proposal and dropping it in the mail is glorious. But with all the nets thrown, come the rejections.

And they sting.

Because you want to know, I’ll tell you. I’m on my 25th rejection between my first and second book. So it’s really an anniversary of sorts. Woo Hoo! That’s me celebrating with a mini fist pump.

After 25, it might get a little easier. I thought. Truth is, I didn’t think there’d be a number 25. Somebody was going to beg me for my exclusive work. Maybe even two somebody’s. Alas, they became number 24 and 25 respectively and within 15 minutes of each other.

So while my thick skin is growing, it certainly is far from bulletproof. And while we’re talking about being far from things, I’m far from giving up.

If you have a range of 0-100, 100 being I’ve done everything I can to make my baby fly, I’m at about an 8.

Loving the journey and the grace afforded me along the way. There are some very nice agents and publishers out there, even in the midst of delivering news I don’t want to hear.

I’m just grateful for the chance.

Question:

What about you? On a scale of 0-100, where do fall with your dream? What can you do to put yourself closer to 100?

I’m Over There

Today I’m over at a fantastic blog where my guest post Bed, Bath and Beyond Breakdown is featured. I know most of you have seen it, but making the quick trip over to my friend Floyd’s blog is well worth it. He is an excellent writer with a gift for relevant story telling. Poke around a little bit and then show him some comment love!  I also would recommend subscribing to his blog “But for the Grace of God Go I…..Finding Floyd.” Post after post, he has some great reminders and just what I need. Click now!  http://theregoi.com/finding-floyd

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