Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Kate Motaung: An Interview With the Author of A Place To Land

I'm so excited to be doing this interview with Kate Motaung today! I first met Kate through a really fun online community for Christian writers called Five Minute Friday, where bloggers from all over the world join together each week to write for five minutes on a one-word prompt. 

This community of writers had it's beginning in just one woman, Lisa-Jo Baker, who began with the simple discipline of taking just five minutes to write a post...no editing...just free writing. "Not a perfect post, not a profound post, just an exercise in the discipline of writing." It began in 2011 with Lisa-Jo and bloomed into a community of writers all linking up on Fridays to write a five-minute post.



In 2014 Lisa-Jo handed the reigns over the Kate Motaung. At this time I began getting to know Kate through the FMF community as she took over the hosting responsibilities. Since then, I have had the privilege to serve on Kate's Launch/Beta tester team for her e-course, Start-Up Guide for Online Writers, offered through First Bump Media Learning Center. Which, by the way, I would highly recommend for online writers.

I'm not the most disciplined writer, but some of my most widely read posts have been those I have written for the Five Minute Friday link-up. I love being a part of this community, even though it has been hit and miss for me as to when I might actually get a post up on a Friday. I hope to get a bit more consistent in the future.

Kate has grown the FMF community from a Friday link-up to a full site that gives online writers so much more than the opportunity to write together for 5 minutes each Friday. It also offers a plethora of articles and resources for writers to use to hone their writing skills. 

Kate serves as hostess, teacher, coach, and cheerleader as she leads this community. A group of writers who use their gifts for His glory...five minutes at a time.

I am so excited to introduce you to her latest book...her memoir...through this interview.

The Book


A Place to Land:A Story of Longing & Belonging is a globe-spanning memoir that wrestles with the question, ”Where is my home?” Kate Motaung watched ”home” slip away again and again–through her parents’ divorce, a foreclosure, two international moves, ten rental homes in ten years, and her mother’s terminal battle with cancer.
Add in the challenge of a cross-cultural marriage, and Kate was constantly adapting to a new environment. Through her experiences, you’ll realize–as she did–that no matter where we go or what we do, this world is not our home.

The Author


Please, welcome Kate Motaung, author of A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging, A Start-Up Guide for Online Christian Writers, and Letters to Grief. She is the host of Five Minute Friday, an online community that encourages and equips Christian writers, and owner of Refine Services, a company that offers writing, editing, and digital marketing services. 

Kate grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan before spending ten years in Cape Town, South Africa. She is married to a South African man, and they are currently living in Michigan with their three children. 

In addition, Kate blogs at Heading Home, Where she writes about a wide range of topics including parenting, grief, diversity, and book reviews.

In all of her writing, her main goal is to encourage readers to keep an eternal perspective. To remember that "we’re just pilgrims here — just passing by on our way to our forever home."


The Interview


What can readers expect from your book?


A Place to Land is a memoir, so readers can expect real-life storytelling. They can expect to travel with me from my childhood in Michigan to my young adulthood in Cape Town, South Africa. I should also warn potential readers that the book does walk through some difficult topics like divorce, my mom’s cancer diagnoses, and her eventual death. 
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It is a heavy book, but my prayer is that readers will find it therapeutic to reflect on their own difficult situations (even if it involves tears in the process) and that eventually, they will land in a place of hope.

How did writing your memoir change or challenge you spiritually?

Writing memoir is an incredibly sanctifying process. For one thing, there are so many steps involved in writing a book of any kind—planning, writing, editing, revising, waiting, trusting, sending, giving, laboring some more, promoting . . . the list goes on. I expected that writing and publishing a book would be a monumental task, but going into it I had no idea how much it would stretch and grow me spiritually.

With memoir in particular, because the story itself is your own, many emotions get tangled up in the process. I struggled to know which stories to include and which to leave out—what would strengthen the main theme? What would resonate with readers? Which stories will fall flat? Which sections do I want to share out of my own pride, and not because they will benefit my reader or contribute to the goals for the book? I had a hard time trying to discern how much of my story to tell without telling too much or too little. Doubt came into play, and I questioned whether anyone at all would benefit from the finished product.

Then during the editing process, it’s very easy to take the editor’s suggestions personally. Thankfully, I was blessed to work with some incredibly gracious editors. I never felt as if they were condescending, disrespectful, patronizing, or flippant. They carried my story with grace and support, while still offering helpful suggestions to make the book stronger overall. I never felt as if my voice was removed, altered, or stepped on during the editing process, but I can imagine that for other authors, it might be really hard to hear a professional in the field tell you that certain aspects of your story aren’t worth being published. During this stage, it’s important to swallow your pride and humbly accept advice from others.

When it came to making revisions, there were days when I felt that I had nothing more to give. If I had already put my best foot forward in the first few drafts, what else did I have to offer? I would stare at my screen and not know what to do. This phase really forced me to increase my dependence on the Lord. I had to trust that whatever words He wanted in the book, He would keep there, and whichever words He didn’t want would be cut out.

As I neared publication and my first readers got access to the book, the dark clouds of fear threatened on the horizon. What would people think? Would they think the book was a waste of their time? Would they think the quality was poor? Would they think my story was boring or too sad or self-consumed? At this point, the Lord continually reminded me that it doesn’t matter what others think. Though this is a lesson I need to learn on a daily basis, I keep going back to the truth that only God’s opinion matters. If I’ve offered my best to Him and for His glory and not my own, nothing else matters.

So I guess looking back, the whole publication process is one big exercise in faith— trusting God to open doors and lead the way as He sees fit, and for His purposes. 


What do you hope readers gain from reading A Place to Land?

My hope and prayer for my readers are threefold:


1) I pray that A Place to Land would increase their longing to spend eternity with God.


I don’t presume to have any idea as to what heaven will be like, except for what Scripture has revealed to us. But I do think that the vast majority of us have a diluted, lukewarm view of eternity. We lack a depth of eager anticipation, and I believe that negatively affects our choices and attitudes in this life.

I’ve learned through writing this book that intentionally keeping an eternal perspective at the forefront of my mind does wonders for my countenance, attitude, and actions. It has changed me in ways I never expected.

2) I pray that they would find hope in Christ in the midst of their suffering and grief.

He is the only one who can relieve our pain. I pray that the readers of this book will find their anchor in Him amidst the turbulent trials of this life, holding fast to the truth that “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

3) I pray that they would be reminded that this world is not our home.

For some, that is a comfort, knowing that one day those who trust in Christ will lay aside all their pain and suffering in exchange for a sin-free existence forever in the presence of their Redeemer. For others, this realization could be a bit disconcerting. Many of us make a great effort to find comfort, fulfillment, and satisfaction here in this life, and we don’t like the idea of giving it up.

Before writing this book, I struggled with that a lot. I would get incredibly sentimental over certain material things. Now, the Lord is teaching me that those are all part of what Jesus calls “treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19).

Instead, He calls us to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:20-21). Writing A Place to Land challenged me to consider where I’m storing my treasure. 



Where can readers find you online or hear more about your story?

I’d love to connect on my blog, Heading Home, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Interested readers can read the first chapter of A Place to Land here or on Amazon

Kate, Thank you! It has been such a pleasure and a blessing to have you on the blog today!  

 If you have any questions for Kate, leave a comment below. I'm sure she would love to hear from you. I would too!






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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Paul, Apostle of Christ... Movie Preview and a chance to win tickets!!

God loves us before our sin, after our sin, also during our sin. And a lot of people said, "NO, God doesn't have that kind of grace. God doesn't have that kind of big heart." Yes, He does. He loves us.  ~Jim Caviezel.

Overview

Title: PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST
Genre: drama

Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 1:40
Release date: 3/23/18
Studio: Sony Pictures Entertainment/ AFFIRM Films
Cast: 
  • Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ, Person of Interest)
  • Paul: James Faulkner ("Downton Abbey", Game of Thrones)
  • Priscilla: Joanne Whalley ("A.D. The Bible Continues") 
  • Aquilla: John Lynch (The Secret Garden)

About

PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST is the story of two men. Luke, as a friend and physician, risks his life when he ventures into the city of Rome to visit Paul, who is held captive in Nero’s darkest, bleakest prison cell. But Nero is determined to rid Rome of Christians and does not flinch from executing them in the grisliest ways possible. Before Paul’s death sentence can be enacted, Luke resolves to write another book, one that details the beginnings of “The Way” and the birth of what will come to be known as the church.
Bound in chains, Paul’s struggle is internal. He has survived so much—floggings, shipwreck, starvation, stoning, hunger and thirst, cold and exposure—yet as he waits for his appointment with death, he is haunted by the shadows of his past misdeeds. Alone in the dark, he wonders if he has been forgotten . . . and if he has the strength to finish well.
Two men struggle against a determined emperor and the frailties of the human spirit in order to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ and spread their message to the world.

Themes

  • Grace: Where sin abounds, grace abounds more.
  • Love: Love is the only way.
  • Transformation and redemption: From Saul to Paul.
  • Mercy: Nobody is beyond God’s mercy.
  • Perseverance amidst persecution.


My Preview

I have to say that I am pretty excited about seeing this movie after viewing the trailers and behind the scene clips. I love that Andrew Hyatt, writer, and director of this movie along with his crew worked hard to create a movie that looks and feels authentic, both culturally and spiritually. 

Hyatt gives us a glimpse of what is happening at the end of Paul's life, during his second imprisonment and martyrdom under Nero. 

                  Only Luke is with me. 2 Timothy 4:11(a)
Luke comes to Paul in prison and he helps Paul get his message to the world...to give hope to the community of Christ followers...to hold fast to the faith no matter what dangers they face. 

It seems that this would be a great movie to spark open dialogue with your friends about what it means to be a believer in today's cultural climate and how that compares to the persecution of Christ followers during the birth of the early church. 


This movie strives to show the reality of Paul's life and the turbulent times in which he lived. Paul was a very flawed human being, not unlike you and I. Even Paul said of himself that he was the worst of sinners. 


Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners ... of whom I am the worst. 1 Timothy 1:15 (NIV)
In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, God chose to use Paul for His own good purposes. God loves to use our weaknesses to show His strength. Paul championed this teaching. In fact, his life was a beautiful illustration of this. 

Saul the persecutor, became Paul the persecuted. The man who killed Christians became a man who loved Christ and His people ... a man who strove to advance the gospel of Christ, to proclaim the resurrection, to teach and work alongside fellow believers. A man who ultimately gave up his life to gain his life. In his own words: 
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. ~Paul, Philippians 1:21 (NIV)  

In theaters nationwide March 23, 2018. Watch the trailer...



Get tickets now! Check here to see if it is showing in your area: https://tickets.paulmovie.com



Here's the fun news! I have a giveaway! Enter to win two Free Fandango Tickets to see the movie. Make sure it is showing in your area. If you win, you will receive the electronic tickets by email!
U.S. residents only...sorry. 
(I am a Featured Contributor of Collide Media Group: "Paul, Apostle of Christ" Influencer program). 

HURRY!! CONTEST ENDS  March 19th!


(As a Featured Contributor of Collide Media Group: "Paul, Apostle of Christ" Influencer Program, I offer my honest opinion. I am not monetarily compensated, but I get to run the free ticket contest at the end of each movie post and I receive two tickets for myself. So that's a possible win for you and a win-win for me)! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

See you at the movies! 
#PaulMovieL3

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Michelle Bengtson: An Interview with the Author of Hope Prevails


Please welcome author, speaker, and board-certified clinical neuropsychologist with more than 25 years in the diagnosis and treatment of medical and mental disorders, Dr. Michelle Bengtson. 

While we have yet to meet face to face for that long awaited chat over a cup of coffee, Michelle and I have gotten to know one another through our author connections over the years. I am  honored to count her as a cherished friend and prayer partner.  I know her as a woman of great insight, wisdom and strong faith. It is a privilege to introduce her to you, my readers. 

The Interview...


Why did you choose to write about the topic of depression?

Depression will be our greatest epidemic worldwide by the year 2020. Yet whether it is world hunger, cancer, or any other catastrophic event, difficulties and hardships never quite have the same impact on our heart as they do when we go through them ourselves. The same was true for me when I went through depression.

As a neuropsychologist, I had been diagnosing and treating patients with depression for over 20 years. I had great empathy and compassion for their suffering when God called me to write a book about overcoming depression as a resource that would extend beyond the four walls of my private practice to those who couldn’t make it into my office for help. But then He revealed that there were too many books already written from a doctor’s perspective and that I needed to share my own story. At that point my story amounted to growing up in a home with a mother who was depressed my entire childhood, as was her sister and her mother. And at that point, I had also suffered my own bout with severe postpartum depression after the birth of our first son. Little did I know that after surrendering to God and telling Him that I would write this book for Him and willingly share my story, I would go through one of the most difficult times in my life, and a most severe case of depression.

Going through the valley of depression, I tried all the treatment recommendations I had suggested to my patients for years, only to find out that while they helped, they weren’t enough. This led to the inevitable question, “Why?” and “What is the missing piece? What is the real answer?” What God then showed me in the journey through my own valley of depression was that as long as we treated physical or mental disease but didn’t address the spiritual component, we were really only putting a band aid on the issue, and we could never really expect real healing to come.

Once I started applying God’s truth to my situation, freedom came, and I knew I had to share what I had learned, both from the perspective of the doctor who treats patients, but also as a fellow sojourner.

What is one lesson that you hope readers will walk away with after reading Hope Prevails?

If you will allow me the liberty of sharing two lessons: 1) Our feelings cannot be trusted, but God can. 2) In our darkest days in the valley, because of Him, there is still always hope.

What has been one of the hardest things about holding onto hope in your own life?

Our feelings are the outward manifestation of the thoughts we believe, and when our thoughts do not line up with God’s truth because we have unknowingly believed a lie, then our feelings will lead us astray and away from the hope that God offers. That is why we must take every, every, every thought captive and make sure that it lines up with God’s truth. When we do that, hope does prevail!

What is your favorite Bible verse about hope and why?

Without a doubt, my favorite verse about hope is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans for a future and a hope!” I have held on to this verse for nearly three decades through moves, through cancer, through miscarriages, through the MOST uncertain of times. It has lent me such hope and comfort because even when I cannot see a way, even when I do not know how things will get better, I can put my trust in my unfailing God who does know the way, who does see the finish line. HE knows the plans He has for me, and He promises that those plans are good. It gives me such peace despite the chaos of my circumstances!

What is one of your favorite lines from Hope Prevails?

Honestly, there is no way I can choose just one. It would be hard to choose just one. It would be hard to choose even one per page. As I re-read the book as a reader and not the author, I get inspired as I hear the words God speaks to my heart to encourage me, and it’s my prayer that He does the same thing for everyone who reads it.

“I’m here to tell you the secret is out: even Christians get depressed. Unfortunately, Christians are often the ones who most feel they must hide their pain and pretend that nothing is wrong.”

“If you want freedom from depression, you have to decide you are ready to dispel some myths and lies and replace them with truth—God’s truth.”

“The enemy isn’t only concerned with strong arming Christians. He seeks to separate believers and nonbelievers alike from God. Both Christians and on-Christians often unknowingly open the door to the devil by the things they do, say, or believe, allowing the “roaring lion” to enter and wreak havoc in their lives. This is where the spiritual roots to depression start, but it’s not where they end.”

“We are destroyed when the enemy knows more about the roots of depression than we do. We cannot fight effectively until we understand what we are fighting and have the weapon to engage in battle.”

“Jesus is the only one who has the authority to speak about our worth.”

“While we may feel broken and wounded in our despair, God promises to heal those places in us.”

If you were sitting across from a woman who is struggling physically, mentally, and spiritually right now, what would you say to her?

I’ve been there. The reason for our struggle may not be the same, but I’ve been in the place where I wasn’t sue I wanted to go on. I’ve been in the place where I wasn’t sure I could. I’ve been in the place where all I could whisper in my prayers was a feeble, “Help.” But what I learned through that time was that God always meets us there in our desperation.  And truly, it is in our weakest times that we get to see Him do His greatest work. And there is NO shame in admitting we need help. The Bible even encourages us to ask for help when it says, “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). And to “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7).


What has been one of the most challenging aspects about writing this book?

Hope Prevails really draws attention to the spiritual aspect of depression and how the enemy of our soul seeks to steal our joy, kill our peace, and destroy our identity, and in the book I share how we combat the enemy’s attacks to take back the joy that Christ died so that we could have. I can promise you that the enemy has NOT been pleased about the writing of this book, so the most challenging aspect of writing this book has been the near constant attack from the enemy that my family and I have endured in seeing this project to publication.

The very day that “Hope Prevails” released, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. I don’t think that was a coincidence. It was like the enemy was saying, “Do you REALLY think hope still prevails?” I’ve said many times that when you write a book, your conviction to your message will be tested. But as long as I have breath, I will declare that Hope Prevails!

What has been one of the most rewarding aspects of writing Hope Prevails?

Without a doubt I can say that the most rewarding part of writing this book has been hearing from readers that it has helped them experience freedom from the chains of depression that have kept them locked up in despair for so many years. It’s time that we say “No more!” to the rule and reign of the enemy’s influence in our lives and stop it in our generation so that our children and our children’s children will not have to suffer!

Is it true that that is why you write the new Hope Prevails Bible Study?

That’s exactly right! Many readers wrote to me and asked, “When are you going to write a Bible study to go with “Hope Prevails?” At first I responded by saying, “I don’t write Bible studies.” But then I really felt the Lord nudging me, as if He was saying, “You don’t write Bible studies but I do, and I’ll help you.” So in response to reader requests, I’ve written and published the new companion “Hope Prevails Bible Study.” I wrote it very intentionally so that if you haven’t already read “Hope Prevails,” it doesn’t matter, you can do the Bible study anyway, but if you have read the original book, it will make the Bible study just that much richer. I also wrote the Bible study so that someone could go through it on their own, or it makes a perfect study to be done in a small group like in a church Bible study or through a counseling group.

Michelle, where can we find your books and find out more about you?
Hope Prevails

“Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” is available on Amazon or 
Hope Prevails Bible Study
most major book retailers. 

The “Hope Prevails Bible Study” is also available on Amazon or Redemption-Press or many major book retailers. 








I blog regularly on my website, www.DrMichelleBengtson.com and you can find me on all major social media channels: 

For a Free eBook on How to Help a Depressed Loved One, click here: How To Help a Depressed Loved One eBook

For more helpful information about what you need to know when you have a depressed loved one, read here: 10 Things to Know if You Have a Depressed Loved One

For more about what not to say to a depressed loved one, read here: What Not to Say When a Loved One is Depressed while here are suggestions about supportive things you can say to a depressed loved one: What to Say When a Loved One is Depressed

Michelle, thank you for these wonderful resources! I know my readers will benefit greatly from your wisdom and expertise. 


Dr. Michelle Bengtson (PhD, Nova Southeastern University) is an international speaker, and the author of best-selling “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” and the newly released companion “Hope Prevails Bible Study.”  She has been a neuropsychologist for more than twenty years and is in private practice in Southlake, Texas where she evaluates, diagnoses, and treats children and adults with a variety of medical and mental health disorders. She knows pain and despair firsthand and combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to address issues surrounding medical and mental disorders, both for those who suffer and for those who care for them. She offers sound practical tools, affirms worth, and encourages faith. Dr. Bengtson offers hope as a key to unlock joy and relief—even in the middle of the storm. She and her husband of 30 years have two teenage sons, and reside in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. She blogs regularly on her own site: http://www.DrMichelleBengtson.com

If you have questions, or comments for Dr. Michelle, please leave your comments below. I know she would love to hear from you. 





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