And the victims of the recent hurricanes!
Has a character from a fictional story ever touched your heart? Have you ever identified with a hero who was struggling against a great obstacle or heavy burden? Have you ever found yourself weeping over a “make believe” heartbreak or triumph? Just as Christ touched the world with parables, fiction writers, too, have a chance to share Biblical lessons through inspirational tales. Our characters are real to us. Sometimes, they are real to you, too. In this NEW collection, Faith from Fiction, ten bestselling Christian authors invite you to ponder the meditations of some of their favorite characters and the everlasting principles on which their stories are built…
Contributors to Faith from Fiction are some of the biggest names in Christian fiction! Roseanna M. White, DiAne Gates, Jenn Faulk, L.N. Cronk, Lynnette Bonner, Christy Barritt, Heather Blanton, Melanie Dickerson, and Janice Hanna Thompson!
Faith from Fiction releases September 28. Get your copy here http://amzn.to/2xlftRm !
Welcome to the Something Special for Mom Giveaway Hop hosted by Lindsey Blogs and Viva Veltoro. Mother’s Day will be here before you know it, which is why a group of fabulous bloggers have come together to share gifts and giveaways that are perfect for the special lady in your life – or maybe even yourself! Hop around to all the bloggers participating below and don’t miss the two amazing Grand Prizes from our Host Blogs!
Please check out the other giveaways going on at my site ———————————->
Right now The Reason is being made into a major motion picture. Read it first! The accomplished cast includes a host of familiar faces such as Academy Award winner Louis Gossett, Jr., Beverly Todd, Tatyana Ali, Burgess Jenkins and Alan Powell while familiarizing audiences with the emerging talents of Sara Antonio, Michael Montgomery, and Kelly Carlson.
WHAT DOES GOD LOOK LIKE?
Welcome to southeast Michigan and the small town of Carlson where faith, hope, and struggle are defined by the different faces of those who live there.
An addict that sits at a bar to forget.
A mother whose five-year-old boy has leukemia.
Two doctors. An atheist haunted by his past and a brilliant young oncologist that places all her hope in the power of modern medicine.
A blind pastor whose son hasn’t spoken a single word in thirty-eight years.
But the minister sees by faith. He knows there are answers and believes that someone who cares is watching… someone with a greater purpose. Yet there is something he doesn’t know… that none of them know.
In the midst of the ordinary and the devastating, there is a reason these lives will be changed forever.
Lightning is about to strike.
The Reason opens with a thunderbolt and never lets up as it introduces us to everyday characters who are wrestling with questions: Where is God when bad things happen? Does God ignore the prayers of the faithful? The answer each character receives will astound readers while offering an unforgettable call to hope, to change, and to believe.
About the Author
Over the course of his life, William Sirls has experienced both great highs and tremendous lows–some born of chance, some born of choice. Once a senior vice president at a major investment firm, he was incarcerated in 2007 for wire fraud and money laundering, where he learned a great deal more than he ever bargained for. Life lessons involving faith, grace, patience, and forgiveness are evident in his writing. He is the father of two and makes his home in southern California. Visit his site at: www.williamsirls.com.
Thank you so much William, and as a bonus, he has offered to giveaway TWO copies of The Reason to ONE lucky winner. One to keep and one to give to a friend! Due to shipping costs, the winner must have a US address. Enter through the Rafflecopter below:
If you’d like to find other blogs offering awesome giveaways, click the link below for the list, and start “hopping!”
Thank you Tessa for joining us today to learn more about you and your latest book Land of Silence!
- Land of Silence is based on the story of the woman with the issue of blood. Did you learn anything as you researched this novel?
I have always known that there are no throw-away phrases with Jesus. He is very intentional with every word He chooses. Interestingly, the woman with the issue of blood is the only person that Jesus addresses directly as daughter. I was intrigued by this anomaly, and based a large part of the storyline on Jesus’ reason for addressing her in such a tender manner. Ultimately, I think He addresses all His followers in the same way. We too are daughters and sons. And when we grasp the depth of that claim, our internal lives are transformed.
- The heroine of the story, Elianna, tells her sister: “One step at a time, we can go forward, and learn to be faithful in suffering.” What did she mean by this?
We all suffer in this world. As hard as we may try to control our circumstances, suffering will find us and make its home with us for a season. It demands a response from us. Will we be angry? Will we despair? Will we reject God? Elianna’s response is to be faithful to God one step at a time. One painful hour at a time to trust Him still and call Him Father. I think that is the most effective response to suffering, and the one Jesus modeled for us.
- You write: “Despair is an invitation to prayer. You can either sink or pray when it lodges at your door.” What did you mean by those words?
There are seasons of life when we may land in despair. Even the Apostle Paul admits to experiencing despair when he says: “we were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure so that we despaired, even of life.” In such seasons, we have only two real options. We can either sink under the weight of despair, or pray ourselves out of it. God has the power to destroy hopelessness and its repercussions. In His presence, we enter the power that binds despair.
- Speaking of Jesus, one of your characters in Land of Silence says, “Compassion becomes a weapon of warfare in Jesus’s hands. No heartache can stand against it.” Can you expand on that?
In the time of Jesus, most Jews who were expecting the promised Messiah thought that he would come as a warrior king, much like David, and defeat the Roman occupation. Jesus was a warrior king, but He did not use the weapons of human warfare. Instead, He turned to the weapons of righteousness. When He was moved by compassion, darkness could not withstand His power. Sickness and death were defeated.
- Why do you write biblical fiction?
The Bible is the greatest book ever written. Something about the stories it contains has managed to grab the human heart for thousands of years. More often than not, God chooses deeply flawed men and women through whom He fulfills His purposes. That’s why so many of us can relate to them! A broken woman who rises above her circumstances to make the right choice, to cling to God, and to ultimately overcome is an inescapably powerful character to read about. I relate to her brokenness and am inspired by her victory.
In my experience, all of us struggle with various kinds of insecurities. We doubt ourselves. We even doubt God. But in God’s hands, these fissures that run through the very fabric of our being can turn into glory, because the light of His countenance can shine through them. This is why I like writing Biblical fiction. That doesn’t mean I have stopped liking Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte or some contemporary YA fiction!
- Outside of the Bible, what resources do you use?
Historical and archaeological records, academic books, online sources, museums, photographs of ancient buildings, and even interviews with my Middle Eastern relatives about the weather, topography and geography of a particular area they are personally familiar with.
- What is your idea of a favorite vacation?
To have one? If you want me to be more specific, then I would love to visit a sunny island nestled against a deep blue ocean, with nothing to do but eat, read, swim, and walk on the beach with my wonderful husband. On the other hand, I would take a vacation in Italy. Or a tour of the churches mentioned in the book of Acts. Or a few weeks walking about Israel. As you see, I’m not picky.
- What would you tell an aspiring writer?
Persevere. Dream big. Hone your craft. Love the characters you choose. Be emotionally honest. Write because you love telling stories, not because you want to be recognized or admired or to make money. For me, writing is not a hobby. It’s not even a job. It is a call. I believe I was created to do this. The Bible says that God created us in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us (Ephesians 2:10). I believe, in my life, part of that work is writing. So what shall I say when things become hard or seem untenable? Shall I walk away from God’s purpose? Shall I ditch my destiny just because it’s hard? If writing is a call in your life, you must persevere.
- Why is perseverance so important to you?
Life can be a battlefield. Your job, your relationships, your heart, your destiny—they can all come under assault. Without perseverance, it’s easy to lose hope in the darkest hours. When you feel most overwhelmed, remember that the Lord has not forgotten you. He is on your side. He is for you, even when you feel you are unworthy of His care. Your worth does not depend on what you do or whether you fail. Your worth is in His love. His covenant of peace in Jesus will never be shaken. You are His and He will not give you up.
- How did you become a Christian?
Although I have lived in the Christian West my whole adult life, I never heard the gospel until I was in my mid-twenties. During a particularly difficult season in my life, I had a vivid dream. In my dream I was on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. From a distance I saw a man walking toward me and I knew instantly that this was Jesus. As He drew closer, I felt very disappointed. You see, He was not handsome by any stretch of the imagination! The only Jesus I had seen up to this point was portrayed by a couple of very good-looking actors in TV movies. I thought, This is Jesus?
As He approached I realized, Of course this is Jesus, for in His eyes I saw such depth of love and power that I almost fell to my knees. He asked me to follow Him and I did. In the dream not only did I know Him as Jesus, but I also knew beyond the slightest shadow of doubt that He was the Son of God, very God of very God, and unlike anyone else in the whole universe.
Shortly after that dream, friends began to ask me to go to church and Bible study. It was as though God Himself first opened a door in my inmost being and then He arranged for me to find out the facts! I simply fell in love with Jesus. There’s no one like Him.
Before Christ called her daughter . . .
Before she stole healing by touching the hem of his garment . . .
Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother is killed while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father’s textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy places Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left.
No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body, heart, and soul?
Thank you so much Tessa, and as a bonus, she has offered to giveaway a copy of Land of Silence to one lucky winner. Due to shipping costs, the winner must have a US address. Enter through the Rafflecopter below:
The giveaway will run through May 15, 2016 and the winner will be announced on May 16.
Phoebe Wilson Couzins was, to say the least, a trailblazer for women. She was one of the first female lawyers in the United States, the first female U.S. marshal, and, not surprising, an outspoken supporter of the suffragist movement. But temperance, not so much …
Phoebe was born on September 8, 1842 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her father John E. D. Couzins was an architect, builder, and a natural leader. Traits he passed to his daughter. During the Civil War, John served as the city’s chief of police and sought to keep Missouri in the Union. Adaline, Phoebe’s mother, was a member of the Ladies’ Union Aid Society in St. Louis and volunteered as a battlefield nurse.
After the war, Phoebe, inspired by her parents, joined the St. Louis Woman Suffrage Association. The inability of a woman to vote incensed her, considering all the things a woman could do. She made a name for herself in the organization and, encouraged by a family friend, applied and was admitted to Washington University Law School in St. Louis.
In 1871, Phoebe became the first female law graduate from GWU! She practiced law for two months but the suffragette movement called her name. She began traveling across the country to give speeches in favor of women’s rights.
In 1884, Phoebe’s father was appointed U.S. marshal for the Eastern District of Missouri and he swore her in as one of his deputies. When he died three years later, she served as the interim U.S. marshal, appointed by President Grover Cleveland. She was the first woman to serve in the position.
Not interested in being a lawman, though, she eventually moved to Washington, DC. She made a modest living as a writer, but maintained her involvement with the women’s rights movement. New blood entered into the suffragette arena, though, and Phoebe’s contributions, as well her Old Iron Pants attitude, tended to alienate the more politically-savvy ladies. Not to mention, Phoebe liked her high balls, and many of the suffragettes were passionate about the evils of alcohol. Hence, these last years were stormy ones for Phoebe. She hung in there, fighting the good fight, while, ironically, working as a lobbyist for a brewery.
Phoebe died in St. Louis in 1913 and was buried wearing her US marshal’s badge. Here’s to you, Phoebe!
By Heather Blanton
Lilian Heath. Such a demure name.
She was anything but.
In the 1880’s, Lilian’s pa got her a job assisting Dr. Thomas Maghee, the physician
in the wide-open rail road town of Rawlins, WY. A petite little thing still in high school, Lilian was pretty fearless, but not stupid. She dressed like a man and carried a .32 when she went on calls late at night. She and the doc did everything from deliver babies to reconstruct a man’s face after his failed suicide attempt.
The nursing position set Lilian’s destiny. She graduated high school, and, with her father’s blessing and Dr. Maghee’s recommendation, headed off to the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Keokuk, Iowa. She was one of only of three women in the class. After completing her training, she returned to Rawlins to practice medicine and was well-received … by the men folk. The women in town were another story. Catty, and jealous, they whispered behind her back, accused her of being a know-it-all, a few even refused to pay Lilian for services rendered. Lilian’s mother Calista wasn’t thrilled with the vocation either, believing her daughter had over-stepped her bounds as a woman.
Maybe, but if a man lay dying of a gunshot wound 30 or 40 miles way, Lilian put on her big girl breeches and made the ride.
Clearly, being a trained female physician was a bad thing, because you could, you know, save lives.
Lilian met her husband, Louis Nelson, in Rawlins and they were married in 1898. He was a painter and a decorator. Go figure. Lilian practiced medicine for fifteen years and then quietly retired, though she kept her medical license current much, much longer than that.
Unfortunately, you can’t read any article about Lilian that doesn’t mention her “connection” to an outlaw. In 1881, while Lilian was still in high school and a candy-striper, for all intents, Big Nose George Parrot was lynched for murdering a deputy. When no one claimed the body, Doctor Maghee stepped up. Curious to see if the bandit’s brain was somehow deformed, he dissected the man’s head, in the name of science. Lilian assisted with the autopsy and was given Big Nose George’s skull cap as a souvenir. She kept it for years, using it for everything from a door stop to a pipe holder.
Reporters loved to mention that story, as if it was her greatest achievement.
My guess is, there were a few other heads she would have liked to use as doorstops.
But she didn’t let the claws or the snipes get to her. Lilian never gave in, never backed down, never lost faith. I say thanks for paving the way!
Guest story today is from Maria Tonseth!
My dad and his three brothers grew up on the outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio.
They were all close in age and were inseparable, as if they were more of
best friends rather than brothers. Everyone around town knew the brothers
and often referred to them as the “Tonseth rascals,” because more than
likely they were getting into trouble from playing pranks of the neighbors.
My dad’s biggest dream was to play a prank on his 5th grade teacher, Ms.
During a cold and snowy December, the four brothers built a snow fort and
filled it with snowballs to launch at cars as they drove by. While rolling
the perfect snowballs, my dad came up with the great idea to stack hundreds
of snowballs on Ms. Garrison’s car, who lived three doors down from
their house. After many treks to her house to cover it with hundreds,
yes hundreds, of snowballs, the “Tonseth rascals” admired their finished
product and quickly ran home to celebrate their accomplishment. The
brothers couldn’t wait to tell their friends at school what they did to Ms.
But right as the brothers were walking into their driveway, their mother
and Ms. Garrison were waiting on the porch bundled up in scarves and
jackets and drinking hot chocolate. They were laughing away as the “Tonseth rascals” stood there: jaws opened and dumbfounded. My grandmother was a teacher and friends with Ms. Garrison, and she had come over to enjoy hot cocoa and catch up on their lives. Instead, she was entertained by secretly watching the four brothers stack hundreds of snowballs on her car. Needless to say, she made just my father pick every single snowball off her car, and then my grandmother allowed his brothers to throw them at him. Guess the prank was on my dad.
Today’s Lady in Defiance is submitted by Mary Margaret Smith
Back in the early 50’s, my grandma was a young divorcee with an 8 year old
daughter by her first marriage, and my granddaddy was a young widower.
When they met, my grandma had taken a bookkeeping class at a local college
and her teacher recommended her to my granddaddy, who had recently returned
home from the war and started a furniture business. He hired her and they
soon began dating, often going out after work.
However, Burlington was a pretty small town at the time, and in a year or
two my grandma heard a rumor that, even though he was supposedly dating my
grandma exclusively, he was dating local schoolteacher on the weekends!
She found the rumor to be true, and without even saying anything to my granddaddy, she
decided to leave town. She had a sister who had moved out to Hawaii
several years before, so she packed up her whole home and life, and had all
her possessions shipped in crates to Hawaii. She and my aunt flew out the
My granddaddy figured out what had happened and managed to get hold of her
when she was in St. Louis for a night with an uncle of hers. He told her
he had broken up with the other woman and begged her to come back, but she
refused. She told him, “If you love me that much, you’ll have to come all
the way to Hawaii and get me!”
So, my grandma and her young daughter flew all the way to Hawaii. The day
after their arrival, my granddaddy appeared on her doorstep! He told her that he
had been a complete idiot and proposed right there. They were married in a
quaint little church in Hawaii two days later, and then turned right around and headed
back to North Carolina! In fact, they were married and left Hawaii before the
crates of all my grandma’s possessions had even arrived there!
My grandparents remained married the rest of their lives, and I really have
never seen two people more in love, but I’ve also never really heard a
story of a marriage so unique as this one! It’s also pretty scary to think
how close they came to losing each other forever, but whenever my
granddaddy told the story, he insisted that he would never have let that
happen. And up until his death a few years ago, my grandma would never
tell the story without jokingly reminding granddaddy how much he had goofed
up when he tried double-crossing her!
Mary Margaret Smith
“No one will vote for her. She’s a woman.”
And so started a joke that launched a sleepy Kansas town to international fame—as the first municipality in America to elect a woman mayor.
In 1882, Susanna Madora “Dora” Kinsey Salter moved with her husband Lewis to the quiet little town of Argonia. The couple managed a hardware store while Lewis sought the opportunity to read law with a local attorney. When things fell into place for him, Dora’s parents moved to town as well to take over the mercantile. Her father, Oliver Kinsey was elected mayor of the hamlet and husband Lewis Salter became the City Clerk.
Though busy having and raising children, Dora’s Christians convictions compelled her to support the Christian Women’s Temperance Union. This group was one of the less radical suffragist and temperance organizations in the country, as it mixed Christian morals with equality and compassion. But it was a group that decried alcohol, which didn’t win its members any friends in the drinking population. As a joke, a group of imbibers put Dora’s name on the ballot for mayor in ‘87, knowing she would earn a pitifully embarrassing number of votes.
These men neglected to tell Dora’s husband of the prank. Lewis was not amused when he went to vote and discovered his wife’s name at the top of his ballot.
Even more shocking, Dora won with over 2/3 of the town’s votes.
She accepted the office and Lewis, who again won City Clerk, regained his good humor. He often joked about being “married to the mayor.” The election made international news and a shining star out of the 27-year-old Dora, but it did not ignite her political passions. A year into her term, she announced she wouldn’t run for re-election.
By all accounts, this determined young lady was a fine parliamentarian, wise legislator, and dignified public servant. She went out of her way to work with the all-male town council, carefully soothing over ruffled rooster feathers. But she would probably tell you her finest hour as mayor occurred when she delivered her fifth child.
She loved her town and her causes, but she loved her family more. Though she stayed an active member of the CWTU for many years, she never again “ran” for public office, to the dismay of many suffragists. Perhaps because too many of them expected Dora to think “their” way. Putting family above voting rights offended some big names in the movement. Carrie Nation once scolded Dora for heading off to a football game instead of a meeting. Dora replied, “Not go to the game? Why, I have a son on the team!”
Now that’s A Lady in Defiance.
Copyright 2014 Heather Blanton
I will be fifty my next birthday. Some days I feel like a kid, some days I feel a little old, but I don’t feel fifty. My daddy used to say age is all in your mind. It’s how you take life. You don’t let it take you.
Connie Reeves is a great example of a woman who defied injuries, financial setbacks, and, yes, age, to spend her life doing what kept her young.
Connie was born in Eagles Pass, Texas, September 26,1901. Her grandfather gave her her first horse. She was 5 and, in that gift her destiny unfolded, though she didn’t know it at the time. Connie wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a lawyer. In fact, she was one of the first women admitted to the University of Texas at Austin law school.
The Depression derailed her plans to go to law school, though, and she wound up teaching high school P.E., but the position didn’t come with enough challenges. Eager to give her students more than bruises from dodge ball, she started a cheerleading squad. And I mean one with style. According to the Texas State Historical Society, Connie’s girls “wore western-styled uniforms, consisting of blue flannel skirts, a blue bolero jacket, red satin blouse, a pearl grey Stetson hat, and a lasso rope attached by a loop at the waist of their skirt. The name of the squad was the Lassos.” The girls could throw the lassos, too, with impressive skill. They were invited to perform all over the state.
But the Depression dragged on and bills kept coming. For a little extra income, Connie hired out to teach horseback riding with her fiancé Harry Hamilton. This led to her teaching at Camp Waldemar…for the next sixty years. Estimates are she taught over 30,000 girls to ride.
She adored her students and, as it turned, a certain cowboy at the camp. Written like a romance novel, Jack Reeves was the handsome ranch hand who took care of the horses and he wanted to take care of Connie. She said yes in 1942. The two were happily married until his death in 1985.
Her love for horses and the Great American West earned Connie endless recognition and accolades, including induction into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame. At the tender age of 100.
Perhaps more impressive, Connie never let a bad horse or fall stand between her and riding. She said she was bucked off a horse at least once for every year she rode. With dauntless determination, she climbed back into the saddle, year after year. Pins in one leg, numerous concussions, and countless broken bones not withstanding. She survived a traumatic riding accident at the age of 92 that required nine days in the hospital. Once healed, she put her foot right back in the stirrup.
But, as perhaps is fitting, Connie’s eventual death was the result of a final, fateful ride. On August 5, 2003, she fell off her favorite horse and injured her neck. Connie Reeves rode off into the sunset twelve days later.
I doubt this lady in defiance would have had her death come about in any other way.
Copyright 2014 Heather Blanton
In light of all the racial tension boiling in Ferguson, I thought it would be uplifting to remind us that, even in the Wild West, peace among different races has not always been elusive. Mattie Bost Bell Castner is a wonderful example.
Born a slave in Newton, NC in 1848, she and her family moved to St. Louis after the Emancipation Proclamation for a fresh start. Mattie worked as a nanny, domestic servant, and hotel maid. Eager to expand her horizons, though, she moved to Fort Benton, MT and opened a laundry. Her business did quite well and the former slave could have called herself a successful, independent businesswoman. Sharp, wise, well-spoken, and pretty to boot, Mattie caught the eye of John Castner. Castner, too, was a hard-working entrepreneur who ran his own freight business. He had scouted much of the territory and had a particular fascination with Belt Creek. Dreaming of bigger pay offs than the freight company, he had filed several mining claims along the creek’s ford, which is near present day Great Falls.
Recognizing the fact that life in Montana is not for the faint of heart, Castner was taken with Mattie’s grit and determination to succeed in such a tough environment. Defying convention, the white man took as his wife the lovely, dark, former slave. The two were stronger together than they could have ever been apart. They dug in and went to work, building what would become the town of Belt. Castner pursued his interests in freighting and coal mining, and opened a mercantile. Matty opened the Castner Hotel, in the center of the booming little mining town. A place known for good food, exquisite service, and plenty of smiles.
Perhaps because of her background, this former slave was renowned territory-wide for her generosity and compassion. She was always ready to help out new families in town with advice, connections, and donations of supplies and cash. She became known as “the mother of Belt.” In the meantime, her husband served as the town’s mayor.
The mixed race couple had a good thing going and blessed others as much as they could, building a tight community, and living a life together that was envied by most.
When Mattie died in 1920, she left her fortune of $25,000 to charity.
A life begun in slavery could have made this woman dark and twisted. Instead, Mattie became a true Lady in Defiance. She lived in defiance of bitterness, hatred, and racism to leave behind a legacy of peace, love, and unity. Well done, Mattie. Well done.
copyright 2014 Heather Blanton