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Author Archives: Family Christian

  • Five Questions with Cindy Woodsmall

    Posted on October 2, 2013 by Family Christian

    Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times and CBA best-selling author of numerous works of fiction and one of nonfiction. Her connection with the Amish community has been featured widely in national media. She lives in the Foothills of the North Georgia Mountains with her family. Her new book, The Dawn of Christmas, is heart-warming tale of second chances.

    Below are a few questions for Cindy and her answers.

    What is your favorite and least favorite aspect of writing novellas?

    My favorite part of writing novellas is that I find them remarkably energizing and inspiring. If writing a novel were compared to running five miles every day during the dog days of summer, writing a novella is like a two-mile jaunt in fall.

    I think part of the reason novellas foster that feeling is the timing. I’ve been blessed to write two of my three Christmas novellas during winter, which includes Christmastime. Every morning, I would walk into my office, open the windows a little, and enjoy the rush of cold air with its aromas of evergreens and winter Daphne. Invigorating! I would get a large mug of hot chocolate, bundle up in a blanket, put my fingers on the keyboard, and slip into another world. There’s nothing quite like penning a Christmas story during that holiday season.

    As for my least favorite part, that’s clear in my heart too. The most difficult part of writing a short work of fiction is that I long to have at least three hundred thousand words to tell the story, which is what I have when writing a three-book series. When I’m writing a novella, I have to stop myself from allowing a character to fascinate me to the point of adding another subplot to the book. Without exercising restraint, I could turn any novella into a three-book series. For example, in The Dawn of Christmas, there’s a character named Andy. He’s the older brother of the main character, Levi Fisher. He doesn’t have any POV (point of view) scenes. But Andy’s story grabbed my heart and would not let go. So next fall a stand-alone novel of Andy’s story will hit the bookstore shelves. To be honest, even three hundred thousand words isn’t always enough for me to develop a story. Sometimes I need four hundred thousand words—which is why book four in the Amish Vines and Orchards series comes out this spring.

    Do you outline your books before writing or "wing it" as you go?

    I spend a lot of time outlining. A lot. Research is quite time consuming too. But while outlining for extended periods, I get my first glimpses into who the characters are, what motives them, what breaks them, strengthens them, terrifies them. And why. While outlining, I come to know the goal, motivation, and conflict for each character in each scene. I wish I didn’t need to outline. But even when an entire story comes to me through inspiration, I have to break it down into chapters and dig to uncover the background of each character. Once I start writing, the story doesn’t always follow my outline, certainly not as I hoped it would. But outlining is like planning for a child’s birthday party. You make meticulous lists and purchase all the items and make detailed plans for each activity. But once the party is under way, you meld the planned with the unexpected and enjoy it for what it is: exhausting and joyful.

    Is Sadie Yoder a real person?

    Sadie is based on a real person. With many brushstrokes of creativity, I used aspects of her personality as well as some details of her real-life journey. When it came time to write that first scene, I cried at the heartbreak Sadie Yoder went through. But with all of her overwhelming insecurities and her obsessive desire to please everyone, she found a way to blossom into someone God could use and someone she herself liked.

    Can you share more on the Amish and their view of foreign mission work?

    Most Amish don’t travel overseas to do mission work. It’s not unheard of, but it’s not a part of their traditional ways to do outreach ministry. At the same time, if an Amish person felt pulled by God to go, the church leaders would prayerfully consider it.

    The typical way the Amish minister overseas is through their Plain Mennonite neighbors. Plain Mennonites are heavily involved in overseas ministry. It’s expected of most Mennonite young people to spend a year or more in service, and that service is often overseas.

    So the Old Order Amish will join hands with the Plain Mennonites and sacrifice time and money to help get goods overseas. Miriam Flaud, a good friend of mine who’s Old Order Amish (and my coauthor of the only nonfiction book I’ve written), touches on this topic in Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women.

    The charity the Old Order Amish are most involved in is Christian Aid Ministries. Amish women make quilts, blankets, and clothes for poor people in other countries. They also gather clothing items and spend weeks washing, ironing, and mending them. They then go to a Christian Aid Ministries outlet and spend days or weeks boxing up the goods in individual packages to send overseas. (Think “shoebox” giving, only with larger packages.) Amish men help load the goods on trucks and also contribute money to purchase goods to send overseas—soaps, toothbrushes, toothpaste, books, etc.

    Because their hearts are very home oriented, the Amish rarely leave the US. However, they are extremely active in helping rebuild domestic communities after disasters. Whether they travel by hired driver, bus, or train, large groups of Amish will go to a devastated area to pitch in. As excellent carpenters and tradesmen, their help is highly valued. More men participate in these activities than women, because the women need to stay home with the children. But in a crowd of ten to twenty men, up to three women will go. They help with cleanup as well as provide meals and clean clothes for the workers.

    Every year or two, Amish districts work together to build a home from money the community members have donated. Once it’s built, they sell it for the best price they can get and give away all the proceeds, usually to families—either Amish or Englisch—who are dealing with overwhelming health issues and/or medical bills.

    What kinds of struggles do women who read your books have?

    From talking to readers over the years, I get the sense that they’ve experienced the wonders of love, the depths of grief, and everything in between. In other words, they’ve struggled with, either personally or through a loved one, every challenge my characters face. My readers seem to be very self-aware (able to see themselves for who they are and accept the beauty and challenges of this wonderful, difficult, fleeting life). They’re energized by faith, hope, and love, and they want to make a difference with their lives.

    I think that’s why they enjoy inspirational fiction. It reminds them of things they’ve experienced or heard about, but it takes them down a new path, opening their minds and hearts and bringing healing and understanding.

    For them, reading is similar to watching a heartwarming new movie that’s set in the hometown where they grew up or went to college. The experience feels both welcomingly familiar and yet fully original. And whatever their struggles, when they finish the book, they feel strengthened to walk or keep walking by faith. And to trust that there is hope in every battle.

    For more from Cindy's new book, The Dawn of Christmas, click here.

    For all of the books from Cindy, click here.

     

  • God's Not Dead

    Posted on October 1, 2013 by Family Christian

    God's Not Dead is a new film about faith and the limits one young man will go to in order to defend his belief in God. Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), a freshman college student, enrolls in a philosophy class taught by an infamous and dictatorial professor. Dr. Radisson (Kevin Sorbo) demands that all of his students must sign a declaration that "God is dead" in order to get a passing grade. Josh refuses. But, he needs to take this class to meet his academic requirements. And so the professor strikes a bargain: Josh must defend his position that "God is alive" in a series of debates with him in order to stay in the class. If he loses, he flunks. When Josh accepts the challenge, he gets more than he bargained for -- jeopardizing his faith, his relationships and even his future.

    Watch the trailer here:

    The movie stars Kevin Sorbo (Hercules, Andromeda, Soul Surfer), Shane Harper (Good Luck Charlie, High School Musical 2), Willie and Korie Robertson (Duck Dynasty) and features a concert appearance by Gold Record award-winning and Christian super-band Newsboys. The movie also stars Dean Cain (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) and David A. R. White (Evening Shade, The Moment After 1 and 2, Jerusalem Countdown).

    Listen to the new song from Shane Harper here:

    When your faith is tested, can you explain what you believe?

  • Laura Story - I Can Just Be Me - Story Behind the Song

    Posted on October 1, 2013 by Family Christian

    Talented worship leader and songwriter Laura Story is best known for her inspirational hit "Blessings" and for co-writing "Indescribable," a Chris Tomlin anthem. Now, with her third studio album, God of Every Story, Laura returns to that deep place of vulnerability before the Lord and honesty with herself.

    Award-winning producer Ed Cash helmed the deeply personal project, and their shared Carolina roots led to the incorporation of acoustic and epic instruments into this worshipful pop album. Lyrically, God of Every Story draws from Laura’s own life. Her husband’s brain tumor early in their marriage led the young family down a painful path she wouldn’t have chosen, but one that deepened her faith and her music. The resulting songs show God’s love and grace intersecting with real life, making this album a wonderful reminder that despite our questions or circumstances, God is the ultimate author of our story.

    Below, is her new story behind the song, I Can Just Be Me.

  • Free Wallpaper for Your Mobile, Tablet or Computer - October

    Posted on September 29, 2013 by Family Christian

    Starting this month, we are going to be providing you some free wallpaper to decorate your desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile device. These are completely free to download. Just right click on the size that you need and you will be all set. To find out which size you need, click here.

    Both images are taking from our Coupon Calendars that we sell online and in our stores. Click here to find the Growth in Faith Calendar and the He Refreshes My Soul Calendar.

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  • All You've Ever Wanted (lyric video) from Casting Crowns

    Posted on September 27, 2013 by Family Christian

    So many of us today are simply surviving. But we were not made to survive, we were made to Thrive! Like a tree planted by the water (Jeremiah 17:7-8) we should be digging into God's word to know Him and know who He has made us to be. We should be reaching out to the world and showing others who He is through our lives and our stories - knowing Him and making Him known.

    Thrive, from Christian music’s flagship artist Casting Crowns, is packed with the band’s signature style of songs about real life that redefine our identity in Christ, pointing us to our purpose from Him so that we may carry it out through Him. We were made to THRIVE!

    Check out their new lyric video for All You've Ever Wanted.

    What do you think of the song?

  • POWERFUL PLEA FOR SAEED ABEDINI FROM 7EVENTH TIME DOWN

    Posted on September 25, 2013 by Family Christian

    A new music video from Kentucky-based 7eventh Time Down features an emotional message from the family of Saeed Abedini, an American pastor, father and husband currently imprisoned in Iran because of sharing his Christian faith.  The video for “Just Say Jesus” – the title track and latest single from the band’s sophomore project which released earlier this month via BEC Recordings – is in support of the Be Heard Project and the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) in an attempt to free Pastor Saeed from one of Iran’s most brutal prisons. The video was directed by Kevin Kookogey for First Company Management.

    “I pray that this video can be a loud voice in the conversation God is using to soften the heart of the Iranian government to release Saeed back to his family,” said Mikey Howard, lead singer of 7eventh Time Down. “We can not be silent.”

    On Thursday, Sept. 26, prayer vigils around the world will take place, including events planned in Brazil, Germany, Kenya, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Uganda and in over 80 cities in the U.S.  7eventh Time Down encourages fans to watch the video for “Just Say Jesus,” learn about Saeed’s story and pray for his immediate release back to his family and home in America.

    Almost one year ago to date, Pastor Saeed traveled to Iran in order to obtain approval from the Iranian government for a non-sectarian orphanage.  Two days before he was to return to America, Pastor Saeed was arrested and immediately put under house arrest for his faith and association with other believers.  It was shortly thereafter that Pastor Saeed would be sentenced to serve eight years in Evin Prison, an institution known for its ruthless and inhumane treatment of its inmates.

    Spearheaded by Saeed’s family and with the help of the Be Heard Project and the ACLJ, an international petition has commenced and hundreds of thousands of signatures have been obtained to demand the release of this innocent man.  7eventh Time Down sought to bring attention and awareness to Saeed’s story via their music video for “Just Say Jesus,” which features national news footage detailing his imprisonment and images of him and his family interspersed during a live performance of the song.

    Most recently, Saeed’s wife – Naghmeh Abedini – personally delivered a letter pleading for her husband’s release to Iranian President Rouhani after their chance meeting in New York.  Among her letter are over 90,000 others that have been sent to Iran’s new president on behalf of Pastor Saeed.

  • Newsboys - Live with Abandon (video)

    Posted on September 24, 2013 by Family Christian

    Continuing their reign as one of Christian music’s most popular and compelling groups, Newsboys returns with the album Restart, featuring the single "Live With Abandon." With former dcTalk member Michael Tait on vocals, Newsboys makes a unique connection with every listener.

    Check out their new video for their new single, "Live With Abandon" here:

    What do you think?

  • Story Behind the Song - God of Every Story

    Posted on September 24, 2013 by Family Christian

    Laura Story continues to encourage and challenge her listeners. She does this by allowing them to see a bit more of her heart. Her struggles. Where she has been. What she is facing today.

    Lyrically, God of Every Story draws from Laura’s own life. Her husband’s brain tumor early in their marriage led the young family down a painful path she wouldn’t have chosen, but one that deepened her faith and her music. Those lyrics also share of Martin and Laura being first time parents.  The resulting song shows God’s love and grace intersecting with real life, reminding us that God is the ultimate story teller.

    Watch the story behind the song video here:

  • Two-time GRAMMY Winner Matt Redman Reveals Powerful New Album

    Posted on September 24, 2013 by Family Christian

    Acclaimed worship leader and two-time GRAMMY® winner Matt Redman has had quite a few reasons to celebrate this year with the success of his impactful song “10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord).” Following the highly revered song and album comes his latest project, Your Grace Finds Me. The lead single and title track pulls together the powerful message that even in the midst of battle and blessing, the highest high of a wedding day or when weeping by a graveside, God’s grace is always active and present.

    A song devotional for Your Grace Finds Me can be found by clicking here.

    The infectious melodies and poignant lyrics found in this 12-track record continues to showcase Redman’s innate gift to churn heartfelt prayers into worship songs. Here is just a glimpse of the praises critics are giving Your Grace Finds Me:

    "In 'Your Grace Finds Me,' Matt Redman continues to write songs that both challenge and encourage.  No wonder he is one of the most sung artist in our day and age on Sunday mornings"
    - Dan H. Music Buyer, Family Christian

    "More upbeat than previous outings, the eleventh release by U.K. worship songsmith Matt Redman was recorded live at Passion City Church in Atlanta...fist-pumping worship for people who don’t want to sit in their seats anymore."
    - RELEVANT Magazine

    "Tis the season to be deluged by a slew of releases, and in this Best of the Best season, it is fitting that one of the most notable is from Matt Redman...the consistent message of God’s mercy and grace told in Redman’s direct, joyous, uplifting and Scripturally-tethered style is once again a gift to the Church."
    - Worship Leader

    "Matt Redman carries his faith, his voice, his ministry with a humble, quiet dignity. Your Grace Finds Me not only offers a glimpse into the heart of an artist willing and ready to allow God to be God; it invites listeners to do the same."
    - CCM Magazine

    "If you're looking for quality musicianship that leads you into the worship place, you will thoroughly enjoy Matt Redman’s new album. Beautiful."
    - HM Magazine

    "Matt Redman has again shown his willingness and ability to produce songs the global church can claim as their own. With a fresh sound, thought-out arrangements and lyrics that are steeped in worship, Your Grace Finds Me is a brilliant modern praise album."
    - Louder Than the Music

    "What endears this U.K. native once again on this new record, is his ongoing ability to create a worship experience for all of us: an experience that is cognitively descriptive giving us food for thought. Yet, it is also gloriously edgy to the spiritually malleable."
    -Breathecast

    "[Matt Redman] is still the world Church's most consistent creator of heartwarming worship songs."
    -Cross Rhythms

    "You feel like you've experienced a moment, embraced a movement. Matt Redman doesn't just entertain with uplifting lyrics, he teaches through song and gives your spirit plenty to ponder."
    -Hallels.com

    Redman recorded Your Grace Finds Me at Passion City Church’s ‘LIFT: A Worship Leader Collective’ in Atlanta, GA. The event was hosted by Louie Giglio and GRAMMY® winner Chris Tomlin and included worship leaders from all across the country. Adding to this year’s impressive accolades –two GRAMMY® awards, a Billboard Music Award, “10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)” receiving this year’s ASCAP’s Christian Music Song of the Year and being RIAA Certified Gold – Redman was recently honored with nine Dove Award nominations including “Songwriter of the Year” and “Song of the Year.”

  • Award-Winning Musician and Singer Gordon Mote Releases Album

    Posted on September 24, 2013 by Family Christian

    One of the most beloved and respected musicians/singers in the music industry, Gordon Mote, has released his latest project All Things New. The album was co-produced by Frank Rogers (Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker), and Dove-Award winning producers, Wayne Haun and Russell Mauldin. The project features vocal collaborations with such major artists as the Gaither Vocal Band, Trace Adkins, Darius Rucker, Josh Turner, Matthew West, and Scotty McCreery.

    “I wanted this project to encourage others to let the Lord use the rough parts of their lives for His glory just like He has in mine,” says Mote. “Being born blind, God has given me so many blessings in spite of the setbacks I have had in my life. If we’ll give God the chance to make all things new, He will.”

    The powerful ballad, “Faith Like That,” is the first single being serviced to Christian radio, and the heartfelt lyrics were co-written by award-winning songwriters Don Sampson (“Waitin’ On A Woman”) and Jim Brown (“Five O’Clock Somewhere”).  A noted songwriter himself, Mote co-wrote four songs on the new album including, “All Things New,” “Sound A Dream Makes,” “For You,” and the autobiographical “Broken Open.” The latter song describes Mote’s personal journey of clinging to his faith to overcome a broken heart and how God can lift us up even during our darkest hours.

    “I had a wonderful childhood, but grew somewhat lonely as a teenager as my friends were getting driver’s licenses and leaving me behind,” explains Mote. “Whether you’re blind or not, all of us experience insecurities. I learned that my brokenness made me more open to God’s love as well as more sensitive to the brokenness in other’s lives.”

    In spite of what society calls a handicap, Mote has miraculously overcome multiple obstacles with his blindness that include; playing piano at 3-years-old without any professional training, being the first blind student in the country to be accepted into the public school system, graduating high school with honors, receiving a full scholarship to Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL, and graduating from Belmont University in Nashville, TN with Cum Laude honors and a music degree.

    Two days after graduation, Mote began touring with Country artist Lee Greenwood’s band, which led to the talented musician touring and recording with such major superstars as Trisha Yearwood, Brad Paisley, Bob Seger, Alan Jackson, Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Gaither Vocal Band, and Lionel Richie.

    Mote’s keyboard skills led him to being honored twice by the Academy of Country Music for Piano/Keyboard Player of the Year Awards, as well as two Music Row Magazine Instrumentalist of the Year Awards for playing on the most Top Ten albums. Mote has released nine albums as an independent artist, with If You Could Hear What I See earning Mote his first Dove nomination in 2004. Mote remains an active touring act by performing over 150 dates a year.

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