Archive | July, 2013

What I’m Reading Wednesday

30 Jul

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This week’s read is for my British-loving friends. Author Mia March recently released her second novel “Finding Colin Firth.” The novel is set in a picturesque town in Maine and is centered around three characters: Gemma, Bea and Veronica. Hovering over the storyline is British actor Colin Firth.

Mr. Firth stars in some of my favorite films. I watch “Love Actually” every Christmas and even between holidays. “Bridget Jones’ Diary” is a go-to classic if there’s nothing to watch (and my husband is out of town). And then there’s Mr. Darcy in “Pride and Prejudice.”

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Mia’s novel is a heartwarming story about a young college graduate in Boston who decides to search for her biological parents after she recently finds out she’s adopted. Meanwhile her biological mother in Maine is trying to overcome the heartbreak from her past but thinks of the girl she had to give up daily. A third character — and my favorite because she’s a journalist — in New York is trying to find a compromise with her husband on their future together and with a baby on the way.

After reading “Finding Colin Firth” I want to do two things:

1. Visit Maine

2. Have a Colin Firth movie marathon

I asked Mia a few questions about her latest novel:

Q and A with Mia March

Q: What inspired the idea to write a story centered around an adoption?

A: My 11-year-old son was asking me a lot of questions about his cousins, my nieces, who are adopted, and we were talking about what family means. That night, my character Bea came to me: a young woman, just 22, who discovers in a deathbed confession that she was adopted at birth. What does she do with this information? How does it change how she feels about herself, about her parents, if at all? Does she seek out her biological parents? That conversation with my son sparked it all!

Q: Boothbay Harbor sounds amazing! What do you enjoy most about living in Maine?

A: Maine’s license plates say: Vacationland, and that sums it up for me. I always feel like I’m on vacation. There’s water a minute up the road in every direction, mountains, fields, clean air, nature, moose, blueberries. It’s a very relaxing way of life up here.

Q: As a journalist I was able to relate to much of Gemma’s character. Are you a former journalist? Can you share some of your background of your career?

A: My “day job” is a freelance copywriter — I write back covers and jacket copy for publishing houses. This week my assignments include an Amish romance, a paranormal about shapeshifters, and a YA. Love all the good reading! I’ve always wanted to write novels; I’ve been writing stories and novels since I was very young.

Q: What is your favorite Colin Firth film?

A: I always think it’s the BBC adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice,” but how can I choose been that and “Bridget Jones’ Diary” — Colin in that Christmas moose sweater?

Q: Have you met Mr. Firth? Is it a bucket list item?

A: I’ve never met him. I think I would faint at his feet if I ever got within arm’s length.

Q: What’s next for you? Will another actor soon be featured in a March novel?

A: I’m working on my next novel now … I don’t want to say too much, but there’s lots of food involved!

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What I’m Reading Wednesday

11 Jul

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I first met Caleb Breakey in the press box of a Tacoma Rainiers game in 2006. Both barely out of college we started chatting about breaking into sports journalism. A few years later our paths crossed again at high school sports events as we both covered local teams for our respective newspapers.

Since then Caleb has been busy writing books with Harvest House Publishers. His latest, “Called to Stay: An Uncompromising Mission to Save Your Church” will be released in October, but I had the good fortune to get a sneak peak.

Caleb is no longer interviewing professional baseball players in the clubhouse, writing gamers and features about celebrity figures. These days he’s giving God good press and using his gifts and talent to put his faith into action. In “Called to Stay” he addresses two types of people: the frustrated and the sieged, and pours out to his readers why we must stay in the church, how to equip ourselves and what we must do in the church.

“The church isn’t meant to satisfy our longings. It’s meant for messed-up believers to more toward love, unity, and a deep hunger for Jesus.” — Called to Stay

“Called to Stay” is written in three parts: Why you shouldn’t abandon the body, If you want to serve your savior, and Age of the infiltrator; to not just speak to those who love the church, but also to “bring back stagnant believers who’ve wandered from Jesus Christ.” Caleb offers his own experiences, stories, scripture and quotes from other speakers and authors to reach audiences of all generations. He also encourages his readers to continue the dialogue on social media and offers a call to action at the end of each chapter.

“Called to Stay” is a necessary read for anyone out of church, or anyone thinking of leaving or feeling dissatisfied at a church. Well done, Caleb!

Q and A with Caleb Breakey from “Called to Stay”

Q: What prompted you to write this book?

A: Called to Stay has kind of been a living journal. God didn’t stir me to write about the church. Instead, he nudged me to stay in a church I’d grown bitter toward. It was only after the tears, stomach churns, and wounded pride that I could look over my shoulder and say: “I get it now. Thank you, Jesus. Let’s do this. Let’s write it down.”

Q: From your experience, what is the most common reason Millennials give for leaving the church? Does this reason have any validity?

A: Many leave because the way of the world just seems better. But some leave because the time they spend in church seems ineffective in a broken world that Jesus is calling us to redeem. This second reason has validity, but most people use it as an excuse while ignoring God’s commands about (1) meeting together in a way that doesn’t exclude the messy and immature; (2) structure and leadership; and (3) Christ’s great mandate to forgive our debtors and to sacrificially love one another.

Q: Can Christians follow Jesus and still leave the church? Is it possible to be a disciple of Christ and be disconnected from His Body?

A: God gives us all kinds of assignments. And while we are never commanded to stop meeting together, discipling each other, or extending sacrificial love to one another, we can be given assignments that remove us from Christian fellowship. If you are one of these believers, the most important thing is to discern whether you’re hearing from the Holy Spirit — or simply hearing what you want to hear.

Favorite moments from “Called to Stay”

“If God calls you to something that seems impossible, he’ll strengthen you to accomplish it.”

“It’s impossible to know how God is working. But it is completely possible to trust that he’s working.”

“It just so happens that the more you follow Jesus, the more likely you’ll stay in church.”

“…God placed a burning desire in me to build his church…through my church.”

 

Women of Yesteryear, Thank You

6 Jul
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From storyville.org

When my mom was in junior high in the mid 1970s, girls weren’t allowed to take shop class, while boys were allowed to learn how to cook and sew in home economics. My mom challenged her school’s policy and thanks to her, ninth grade girls were operating power tools at her school in 1975.

More than two decades later it was a requirement for all students to take shop when I was in junior high. Thanks, Mom (it’s kind of ironic you ended up married to a shop teacher).

I recently watched an episode of MAKERS: Women Who Make America, a PBS series that highlights the women in recent past who yelled, who fought and who went against the “rules” to give today’s women the freedoms we enjoy. Freedoms I admit, I take for granted.

It’s important to be reminded of where women were not too long ago. The episode I watched began in the 1950s, during an era when women went to college to obtain a “MRS” degree and snag a husband before they graduated so they wouldn’t have to put their degree to use. Growing up there was never any doubt I wouldn’t go to college. I always thought it’s what happened after high school. When I wanted to be a professional beach volleyball player my parents invested in club and camps. When I wanted to be a travel writer my parents encouraged creative writing classes and workshops. When I wanted to be a journalist my parents packed me and dropped me off at college.

I could be whatever I wanted to be and it’s because of the women who came before me. Thanks to people like Gloria Steinem and Barbara Walters (journalists who made an impact during a male-dominant era) I have enjoyed a successful post-graduate career as a sports journalist and editor. That was no easy feat for a female minority in past decades. There were times (four times to be exact) I was the only full-time employed female on the sports desk in a newsroom.

I am fortunate to be a product of a blended family full of strong, independent, successful women, like my mom. The females of my family tree include an Air Force colonel, a registered nurse, special education teachers, state workers and a mom who raised three kids on her own. These women were the daughters of the homemaker generation, women who didn’t go to college. I have grown up looking up to these women every day. I saw the work they put in to make the impact they do and I want to be a part of that.

In my family is also a female collegiate athlete from the 1970s-era. Last week ESPN launched “Nine for IX” a documentary series that features women in sports to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX. Thanks to the trails blazed before me I was able to play sports all through elementary, junior and high school, for fun in college and to this day in recreation leagues. Girls are even playing football and wrestling. It’s normal today but not too long ago, women and athletics were viewed differently.

Katherine Switzer was in college when she wanted to run the Boston Marathon in 1967, a time when women were not allowed to for fear they would grow muscular legs, mustaches and their uterus might fall out after 26.2 miles. But run she did and with the aid from her All-American college football boyfriend, she crossed the finish line. Five years later women were welcome to enter the race. Now women are running ultra-marathons, 100-mile races and competing in the Ironman triathlon.

The MAKERS episode featured a variety of voices in the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s (my mother’s generation) that left me inspired and proud to be a part of the female population. Before women had equal rights, one woman would stand up to cause a fuss. A fuss that would lead to a movement. The term homemaker isn’t the same as it used to be. Today women can be a stay at home mom and own her own company.

This post is a thank you. A thank you to the women who shook up the world and moved mountains. This is a thank you to giving the women of my generation the opportunities we enjoy without question. Thank you to the women in my life who have encouraged and showed me what it is to be a proud, strong woman who can be whatever she wants to be, and with success.

Country Girl World Traveler

3 Jul

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Sarah Reijonen is a country girl born to see the world. She’s been living the gypsy life with her husband since they sold their house on 80 acres and quit their jobs to travel the globe for seven months. She shares their life-changing experiences in her debut travel memoir “Country Girl: Letting Love & Wanderlust Take The Reins.”

Enter to win a signed copy of “Country Girl” by commenting below, answering the question: What is your dream travel destination?

The journey isn’t over for Sarah and her husband, ‘Spanky.’ It’s only just started. Sarah returns to her homestate of Washington for book readings and signings this summer. The globe trekking couple has sold their house (again!) and are ready for their next adventure. Sarah will make a stop at Salon Ish in downtown Puyallup, Wash., July 11 at 6 p.m. for a book signing.

“Country Girl” is an unforgettable literary experience. Readers will enjoy the stories of comical mishaps (though I’m sure they weren’t funny at the time), panning for gold, skydiving in New Zealand, spending Christmas on the beach, hiking historic trails, tales of cross-language miscommunication, taking a jungle tour in Costa Rica, and eating gallo pinto for days! The Reijonens left their mark on 20 countries on four continents (they’re now at 29 countries and counting!). Heck, they even have possums named after them in Australia.

I went to high school and college with Sarah (Go Cougs!) and caught up with my classmate for a Q and A. She will also be featured on NWbooklovers.org on July 23!

Q and A with Sarah Reijonen:

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Q: I had visions of the film “Just Married” while reading about the fiascos you had on your Europe travels. Were those crazy moments comical then or only when looking back?

A: Believe me, when my husband put gas in our diesel car right off the bat, I was not a happy camper. Yes, I was irritated at the time, but it didn’t take long to shake it off. This was another valuable lesson on our trip: You can’t hold grudges against your only ally. He was my only friend in Europe, the only person I knew. What good would it have done for me to stay mad? You have got to laugh it off.

Q: How did your trip affect your spiritual/faith journey?

A: Traveling gave me the time to reflect on the things that matter in life. Instead of being distracted by everyday tasks, I was able to be still and hear God’s still small voice. I’m not saying there was a burning bush or anything along the way, but there were definitely some key themes throughout the journey that changed the course of my spiritual walk. I started to appreciate the world around me a little more — beauty, people, God’s creativity. I think my compassionate side also grew. I have always been very moved and affected by the pain of strangers, but seeing real need face-to-face was a wake-up call. When I saw people living in the dump in Nicaragua and struggling to survive, but having no option of collecting welfare or going to a shelter or food bank, my heart broke for them. It wasn’t like, “Oh, that’s too bad.” It was like, “I have to act.” God has called me to action. I think he calls all of us to action, but it’s up to us to seize the opportunities he places before us.

Q: If you could relive one experience from your travels, what would it be?

A: The experiences that stand out most to me are those of physical feats and endurance. Hiking and camping in the Alps was magical, but I would say making it to the top of Dead Woman’s Pass on the Inca Trail stands out the most. Whether I want to relive that moment is still up in the air.

Q: By now you have more than mastered the art of packing. What are items you don’t dare leave behind?

A: My passport and clean underwear. OK, there’s a lot more than that. A camera and journal are also necessary and when it comes to clothing, a little black dress and a couple colorful scarves so I don’t get bored.

Q: What’s your next adventure?

A: I’m on it! Actually, I am writing from McCloud, Calif., right now on my way up to Washington for the summer. The hubby and I sold our house again and we are back on the road. I am currently visiting bookstores, wineries, coffee shops and salons, you name it — to promote Country Girl. In September Spanky and I are planning a return trip to New Zealand and Australia, but you know our track record with making plans. Nothing is certain until a plane ticket is purchased.

Some of my favorite “Country Girl” moments:

“Despite the trials and meltdowns, I know it will be well worth it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t cry every now and then. And again. And again.”

“Most people grow out of their bravery as they get older and become more comfortable in their surroundings.”

“How you live your life is up to you. You have to go out and grab the world by the horns. Rope it before it ties you down and decides for you.”

“Home is halfway around the world if love is present.”

“Living simply is living richly.”

Pick up a copy of Country Girl at Amazon or an indie bookstore!