Friday, June 20, 2014

An interview with Beth Vogt, Author of Catch a Falling Star

An interview with Beth Vogt, Author of Catch a Falling Star 


Is there ever a point when you should let go of a dream? Shouldn’t you be content with what God has already given you, even if your life isn’t what society considers the norm? In Catch a Falling Star (Howard Books/May 7, 2013/ISBN 9781451660272/$14.99), Beth K. Vogt tells the story of Dr. Kendall Haynes, a successful family physician with a thriving practice, helping others just as she always planned. However, at age 36, her dream of a husband and family has not come true — at least not yet. 


Q: Is there a message you hope readers walk away with after finishing Catch a Falling Star?  
Everyone experiences life not going according to their plans — the outcomes range from humorous to tragic. What I’ve learned — what I hope readers discover as they turn the pages of Catch a Falling Star — is God is in the plans, the dreams that come true, and he’s also in the plans that elude us.  
http://www.amazon.com/Catch-Falling-Star-Beth-Vogt/dp/1451660278/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402362315&sr=1-3&keywords=catch+a+falling+starQ: Kendall finds herself on her 36th birthday without the husband and family she longs for. Do think society sometimes adds undue pressure on our expectations and/or interferes with our faith in God’s timing?  
I certainly believe the church community can add unrealistic pressure on us when life doesn’t go according to plan — or some prescribed, “right” way to walk out the Christian life. Several years ago I read an article by a respected Christian leader who chastised Christian women for waiting so long to get married, reminding them they shouldn’t delay starting a family so they could have a career. He was assuming these women were turning down marriage proposals right and left. There are lots of reasons women are getting married later, and sometimes it’s because Mr. Right doesn’t show up when you’re 21 or 31. And then the question — the challenge for the church community — is: Where do older singles, both men and women, fit in the church?  

Q: What was the inspiration behind making your lead characters a little older than most couples in love stories?  
My stories are often sparked by some real-life circumstance, and this was the case for Catch a Falling Star. I had an eye-opening conversation with a friend who was in her mid-40s. She has a successful career, lots of friends, a very satisfying life in so many ways — and yet some of her dreams haven’t come true, including in the area of marriage and children. And she’s not the only person I know experiencing this. I wanted to examine this issue within the context of a contemporary romance novel because it’s relevant — and because I believe romance doesn’t just happen in your 20s.  

Q: Catch a Falling Star looks at more relationships than simply the traditional love story. How do the experiences of singleness, adoption and the loss of parents connect the characters together?  
All of these relationships fall under the umbrella of “life not going according to plan.” Relationships rarely do; they require hard work. Commitment. Trust. Prayer. Patience. Sacrifice. This is why I say there is more to happily ever after than the fairy tales tell us.  

Q: Your male lead is in the Air Force, much like your own husband was in the Air Force. Are there other parts of your life written into the story?  
Griffin Walker, the male lead, is an Air Force A-10 pilot who graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy. My husband graduated from the Academy with an astronautical engineering degree (Yes, I’m married to a rocket scientist!) and then went to medical school. I did inflict a particular medical condition on Griffin I’ve had to deal with. Poor guy. Kendall Haynes, the female lead, is a family physician in solo practice in Colorado Springs, just like my husband. The theme of adoption was developed because I’ve watched a close friend embrace the ministry of adoption in her life, and I do believe adoption is a God-given ministry. 

Q: One of your themes in Catch a Falling Star looks at how people respond differently to disappointment and unexpected circumstances. Which character do you most identify with in these situations and why?  
There’s a bit of me in Kendall. I can say things straight-up, but behind that character quality can be a heart that is unsure of my own worth. It’s something I wrestled with for many years . . . I hit my knees over and over again in prayer about who I am in God’s eyes. One of my favorite Scriptures that talks about how much God values us is “Behold I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands . . .” (Psalm 49:16a NASB).

 Q: Have you ever had to give up on a dream yourself?  
Yes. Everything from letting go of a nonfiction book idea I believed so strongly in because it helps strengthen mother-son relationships to having to realize I couldn’t resolve a long-standing relationship conflict, at least for now. I choose to trust that God is in both of these situations, that he is still working even when I can’t see it.  

Q: How has God surprised you in your life with plans of His own?  
I believe God’s best is often behind the door marked “Never.” My original life plans included never marrying anyone in the military and never marrying a doctor. Um . . . I married an Air Force physician. At one time I said I didn’t want to have children; we have four children, including our “caboose kiddo,” who was born 12-and-a- half years after our third (and supposedly last) child. And I also said I was never going to write fiction — but God turned a season of burnout into a bend in the road. I’m getting ready to turn in my third contemporary romance novel.  

Q: How was writing your second novel different than the first? Are there any lessons you learned the first time around?  
In some ways writing Catch a Falling Star was easier because I had learned the fundamentals of writing a novel. But in other ways it was more difficult because my mentor, author Rachel Hauck, challenged me on a daily basis to up my game, to push past my writing abilities. I also learned how important it is to lean into God as I walk the writing road so I can keep the right perspective on both the praise and the negative feedback. One of the things I do now is listen to the song “Lead Me to the Cross” by Hillsong each morning before I begin writing. 

Visit Beth Vogt’s website at www.bethvogt.com to learn more about her books, sign-up for her newsletter, and read her blog. Readers can also follow her adventures on Facebook (AuthorBethKVogt) and Twitter (@bethvogt). 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Summer Reading List: What's On Yours?

Oh Summer.


Pause for affectionate sigh.

Pools. Water balloons. Late nights catching lightening bugs, grilling out, and movies at the park.

Just feeling the sun against my face makes summer quite glorious, but reading--books on my beloved summer reading list--is like the cherry on top of this season.

This year I have some lofty reading goals, but hey, shoot high, right? The kids are even chiming in to create their own list--I'll share it too!

Not only am I aiming high, I'm shooting wide and seeking to read a variety of genres, and topics. This writer's got to be well rounded.

So without further ado, meet my new poolside friends....

1: Smart Money, Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey & Rachel Cruze /Nonfiction/Instructional
2: The Hesitant Heiress by Dawn Crandall (Releasing in August! Stay tuned for a Review!)/Historical Fiction
3: Bringing Up Girls by Dr. James Dobson /Nonfiction/Instructional
4: Wedded to War by Jocelyn Green/ Historical Fiction
5: Promise to Return by Elizabeth Byler Younts/ Historical Fiction
6: The Jewel Series Anthology by Hallee Bridgeman /Romance

7: Divergent by Veronica Roth /Young Adult/Scifi/Fantasy

8: Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling /Young Adult/Fantasy (I have to re-peruse this book nearly every summer!!!)
9: Iscariot by Tosca Lee / Historical Fiction/Biblical Times
10:  Sisterchicks on the Loose by Robin Jones Gunn /Women’s Fiction/Comedy/Friendship

11: Home Maintenance for Dummies by James Carey & Morris Carey Jr. (Yeah, if this book doesn’t help me fix things, then it’s back to youtube instructional videos, lol).

WHEW…but wait, there’s more J ….

Books I will be diving into to continue to sharpen my writing skills:

1: Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell
3: Plot Versus Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction by Jeff Gerke

Now For the Kids:

The kiddo's reading list is a bit different, more interactive, and filled with variety. It's more like a Creative Story Kids Summer Camp, lol. It includes books to read, movies to watch, book reports to write/draw/create, and stories to create.

Goal: Choose and complete 10 of the 15 items on the list before school starts.
1: Watch the Lion King & create a book report--drawn or written.
2: Research an animal or historical event of your topic & create a fact sheet from what you learned.
3: Cut out pictures from a magazine. Glue them on a sheet a paper, and make up a story using the images on your paper.
4: Read a book, magazine, or comic book of your choice
5: Pick a writing prompt from our 642 Things to Write About and fill a page with what you have to say.
6: Read a book, magazine, or comic book your choice
7: Watch: Honey I shrunk the Kids, because I LOVED that movie as a kid!
8: Watch Mary Poppins, just because it's fun.
9: Find a recipe for your favorite food. Plan a time to create this food. Eat it and discuss how it turned out...good? or bad? What could you have done differently?
10: Read: A book, magazine, or comic book of your choice
11: Watch Ratatouille, and spend time reading through recipes from around the world using the internet. Make a few if you're feeling up to it! ;)
12: Compare & Contrast two movies on this list. This can be done in written form, or diagram.
13: Read a book, magazine, or comic book of your choice
14: Watch the Parent Trap (the original with Haley Mills), and create a list of all the other tricks the twins could've done to the fiancé.
15: Read a book, magazine, or comic book of your choice

When creating a summer reading list for yourself or you kiddos, include both fiction and nonfiction books, movies & documentaries. Make it FUN, and give incentives along the way as they mark off their Summer Reading List, like popsicles, a crazy game they've been asking to play or stickers. Be creative! ;)

Asking yourself a couple of questions can help you create that perfect summer reading list. Questions like these:

1: What interests you/them?
Do you like mystery? Romance? Both? Do your kids like a certain cartoon character?
Letting kids pick books/magazines/comic books that interests them helps foster a love for reading. Being forced to read things is never fun. Ugh. Anyone remember how awful some of those books were in High School?
2: What would they/you like to know or what places would they/you like to go?
Often times picking up nonfiction books on how things are made, travel destinations, or a specific historical event can be a lot of fun for you and your kids. Remember, kids really do love to learn, especially when you're excited about it.

Hopefully, these tips help you create a list that's just right for you and your family, but if not, feel free to copy ours.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Fearless Faith: Lesson Learned from a 3 Year Old

Fearless Faith?

Isn't faith void of fear? Maybe for you, but for me, faith is more like looking down at a canyon bottom knowing the only way to cross is to jump, believing I can make it--if I can work up the courage, but so scared to try.
 
As I'm wrapping up my first novel, preparing for the final edits (if there really such a thing as final edits), and looking forward to publishing and all that entails, I find myself doing a lot of that whole fear thing again. It's pretty unattractive. I stand in the mirror, hair frazzled, coffee stains on my t-shirt, eyes wide. Can I do this? Who am I to write a novel? Why would God want to use me, and who in the world would ever read something I wrote? Then I start doing this weird deep breathing thing, and thank God my husband is at work so he doesn't have to see this. What if someone actually reads my novel, hates it, and writes a terrible amazon review? What if I completely fail and people use the pages of my book as toilet paper!? Or what if I succeed, and I can't respond to their emails in time, and tick off my readers, and they start badmouthing me all over the place? What if everyone starts thinking I'm like this super Christian that never messes up, and I completely blow it, fall off a pedestal they've put me on, and ruin the message of Christ for everyone!?
 
Wow. I really need to get it together. It's crazy how I'm afraid to fail and succeed!
 
My daughter, God bless that little free spirit, is fearless. She knows no bounds, and I deeply admire that characteristic. Just the other day, she was jumping from the swingset landing area--about 3 foot high--, and loving every minute of it.
 
I ran over to her. "Honey, don't do that. You'll get hurt."
 
She smiled, bobbing her head. "It's okay, Mommy. After I get hurt, I'll get better."
 
Her answer stunned me, cracked me up, and then hit me to the core. My child was speaking God's truth to me!
 
I've lost count of how many times God's Word says, "Don't be afraid," "Be courageous," "Do not fear." Apparently fear is a common theme throughout humanity. Ugh, it's tough being human. By the way, I still made my daughter get down from the landing--ain't got time for a trip the emergency room.
 
Here's the deal. It's okay if I fail, 'cause after I get hurt, I'll get better. And it's okay if I succeed; God will keep me...I'll ask Him to EVERY SINGLE DAY, pestering Him all of the time with my request to keep me from being a stumbling block to others in their Faith.
 
My conclusion?  This is what I will tell myself in the mirror when I start having a highly unattractive freak out moment:
1: I am a daughter of the King, and He says I have value no matter if a million people read my book or if no one reads it; no matter if people love it or hate.
2: God has given me a desire to write, and a story to share, so I'm gonna do just that.
3: I have faith, and even if I get hurt, it'll be okay 'cause I'll get better.
 
What about you? Ever had issues stepping out on Faith? I'd love to hear about it! :)
 
 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Fun Project Friday! Sea Salt Painting!

Sea Salt Sensations!

Getting Crafty with the kiddos!

It's been a consistent goal of mine to be more intentional with how I interact with my kiddos. It's so easy for me to stay busy with housework, writing and editing, and volunteering for one million things, that I sometimes...well...BIG CONFESSION here people, so no judging...I sometimes find myself saying "Mommy can't play right now," or "Just a few more minutes, and I'll be right there." I have to make myself wake up and realize my babies are growing up, so it's important for me to make the time to roll on the ground with them, do messy crafts, laugh and make silly faces. Being intentional works...setting mothering goals works, and so does this awesome craft below!!! LOVED doing this probably more than the kids.

Supplies:
  • Construction Paper
  • Glue (I'm an Elmer's gal)
  • Sea Salt (Course works best, but I went with the find ground stuff we had on hand)
  • Water Color Paints
  • Paint Brushes
  • Small Towel if your child is prone to beautiful messes like mine

Step 1: Use the glue to draw different designs and images on your construction paper. The kids had a great time helping to create their own designs. Yes, that's Yoda. I'm pretty proud of it. :)

Tip: Make SEVERAL images. I believe I made eight, four for each kiddo, thinking that would be plenty, BUT this craft goes fast, so if you want the fun to last, make more salty glue drawings.




Step 2: Shake salt over the glue, covering all of the glue image/design, and then shake off the excess salt over the trash can.

Step 3: Let the salty glue image dry. This typically takes 40mins to 1hr. If you're in a hurry, I suppose you could always use a hairdryer? We made cookies while we waited...well...more like, we ate the cookie dough, and made only a few cookies.

Step 4: Prep your water colors, and begin to paint the salty glue design! The salt absorbs the water, almost pulling the color from the tip of the paintbrush. Pretty magical. There were a lot of oooh's and aahh's.

 


Step 5: You're done!! The water color dries almost instantly! Hang those beauties' on the wall to show off to family and friends!

Tips:
Great idea for a Frozen themed Birthday Party
Excellent way to twist up crafts and drawings Military Children send to their deployed parent
Fun activity to use in a science class
Creative way to teach your preschooler to write his/her name, alphabet and numbers


Friday, April 11, 2014

Movie Review: Mom's Night Out

Moms' Night Out, Opening in Theaters May 9th! Mother's Day Weekend!

Skip the flowers, and chocolate this Mother's Day. Go see this movie instead! Well, don't feel like you have to jip on the flowers and chocolate, but do go see this movie!


Today I'm giving my movie review for Moms' Night Out, which will be releasing in a theater near you on May 9th. Before I begin, I would like to thank Emeals for sending me, and my husband to this premiere. We had an amazing evening! Emeals makes meal planning on a budget easy for any family. Check out emeals.com for a variety of meal options that include gluten free, paleo, vegan, and entire crockpot meal recipes. Nice, right?

So. Motherhood. It's...hard...fun...crazy...messy...amazing...tiring...full of self-sacrifice, but totally worth it.  Moms' Night Out, does an excellent job of portraying all the ups, downs, ins and outs of mom-life. In this film, a few stressed out Moms, in desperate need of a night off, away from their children, embark on a MNO (Moms' Night Out) that ends up TOTALLY opposite of the fun-filled, kid-free, relaxing evening they envisioned. Everything that could go wrong, goes wrong and everyone...husbands, wives, kids, and their "newly acquired friends," end up at the county jail to create what surely has to be the worst MNO EVER, with the best outcome! This film acknowledges the challenges mothers face, encourages them to embrace the beautiful-wonderful mess that motherhood can be, and affirms them in the importance of their God given roles as mothers with very life like scenarios that made me, and my husband, laugh, and even tear up at times (Note: I teared up, not him.). It's a Faith based film, action packed without crazy violence, no offensive or suggestive language, super funny, and definitely a movie to watch with the family. I give this movie my stamp of approval, and two thumbs up! 

For more ministry resources or information on group tickets for your church, Mom's group and or other organization, click here.

My first initial, sorta random thoughts about this movie:
"Um...am I the inspiration for this movie, 'cause I'm pretty sure this is a documentary of me...having crazy mom-moments?"
"Oh wow! They're talking about God!"
"Oh...it's a Faith based film! Hello Ministry opp!"
"Yes! Yes! This movie depicts motherhood in ways that words don't seem to justify! I feel like I need to hug the writers/producers or anyone on the production team that will let me hug them!"
"Hilarious! Bahahaha"
"Oh my word...the preacher's wife got tazed! Bless her heart. Bahahaha"
"No curse words! Score!"
"No crude humor...awesome-sauce...the kids can watch this!"

Enjoy the pics from our premiere experience!

Tried on 4 dresses, decided on the black one! Ready for my first movie premiere!
My poor hubby had to be pepper sprayed at work that day! Bahahaha! I know I have a sick sense of humor. Sorry.
His ear was still burning, but he held my door open!
What a Gentleman!

At the theater! We may have been just sorta slightly over dressed, but who cared?! It was awesome!!
And we had a nice, KID FREE, dinner after the movie! Win, Win!


They gave us a goody bag!! I LOVE FREE STUFF!

Score!!
http://momsnightoutmovie.com/

Friday, March 21, 2014

Freedom: Our Best and Worst Enemy

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.      ~ Abraham Lincoln

I couldn't help but throw in a historical quote. Sometimes it's better to let the historian in me get its way from time to time.

Lately I've been reading through the Old Testament and haven't been able to dismiss the numerous present day applications this ancient text contains. Stories of great faith, incredible courage, epic failures and triumphant comebacks spring from the pages and shout "Listen and Learn."

Over and over I read about God's people, who were given Freedom but chose bondage. Why? Because God's Freedom comes with guidelines. If God's people would obey His commands, and live their lives in ways meant for their own benefit, then they would remain free, but if they turned from God and lived in disobedience then they would find themselves in bondage. Oh, they would choose God's way, but then soon choose their own watered down, sad replacement version of Freedom. Their way always ended up in their emotional, physical and spiritual captivity.

How are we, the people of this nation and this world, any different from the Israelites of the Bible (God's people)? We want freedom on our own terms. We shake our fists at God's Word like temperamental toddlers telling him we're going to live the way we want because it makes us happy, or we can't help the way we are. The truth is, we just want our way. We want like-minded people to rally around us with affirmation for our life choices. The truth is, God loves us (John 3:16). He has a plan for our life (Jeremiah 29:11), and what better person to give us direction than the one who made us, and knows everything--past, present and future? It's a no brainer, but we still persist on living life on our own terms.

Some may say, "It's not true freedom if there are stipulations." You're right, but this world isn't equipped to handle true freedom and neither are we, hence the heinous nightly news reports. That's why God provides the way we should go, and even when He takes us through the mire of life, He shows us how to handle it.

Some may say, "It's not fair for God to discipline His people. That's cruelty, not love." I have to be honest and say that the Old Testament is FREAKY at times, but I've developed a healthy respect for God and I'm learning just how serious sin is. At the same time, this God who disciplines and allows bad things to happen is the same God who would rather pull in the reigns, and set guidelines in hopes that not one of His people would self-destruct. God wants to save us from ourselves as we live out our version of freedom.

Here's the thing: we all may think we're right; that our truth is true, that it's the choice we should make, and we're not hurting anyone else etc. But Proverbs 14:12 says "There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death."

My husband fights for our country's freedom, as do many of my friend's spouses. It's worth fighting for, but it can be our best or worst enemy, so let's choose God's path and His stipulations for liberty.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Choosing Life: A Celebration Baby Shower at the Hope Pregnancy Center

The Feet of Those Who Were Given Life

As part of a Mom's group, I recently had the honor of taking part in hosting a Baby Shower for many mothers-to-be at the Hope Pregnancy Center here in Clarksville.


Months earlier, many of the women in attendance found themselves pregnant & scared. There were many who didn't want to be pregnant, didn't want the baby, and considered having an abortion.

But they changed their mind. Some will choose adoption for their baby, and bless a loving and deserving family. But all of these women chose life.

Thank You Chick-Fil-A for
Donating to the Shower!

I admire their courage. In the face of fear they sought help and guidance. So many people, myself included, find it difficult to reach out in a time of need. I don't want anyone to think I'm incompetent. Besides, I'm an Army Wife, and we can do it all, right? 


Sweet Treats!
Their bellies were large, and their feet were swollen as these lovely ladies neared the end of their pregnancy. Were they still scared? I never asked, but to some degree, I'm sure they were. We chatted about due dates, gender, baby names, nursery rhymes and shared labor stories--women want those details.


The "Don't say Baby" game!
Listening, watching, and socializing with these women, I realized that every expectant mother deserves a baby shower. All of the shower stuff. From the fabulous food to the fun, right of passage baby shower games (I never lost my clothes pin!). Every mother-to-be deserves to be celebrated, especially these Mommas, because they chose life when they didn't have to, when they thought it would be easier not to, when they knew their families would disapprove of their situation and possibly abandon them. Even then, they still chose life. Now that is something to throw a shower for!

Gifts for All the Mommas!
No matter the circumstance, right, wrong, whatever the reason these women found themselves pregnant and at a Pregnancy Center, they are still a child of God. They are beautiful, worthy, loved, special, and hand crafted by our Creator with a purpose. The child they carry is not a mistake. That baby was handcrafted for a purpose, he or she is beautiful, loved, special and worthy of the best life possible.

I know I'm speaking for our group, but I'm praying that we as the host were able to bless these expectant Momma's as much as they blessed us.

Being an Army Wife, I've kind of adopted the saying of "grow where you're planted." For me, that means making a Kingdom impact on the community where I currently live. What better way to make a difference than partnering with a local pregnancy center to speak words of life and encouragement to women who may have found themselves unexpectedly expecting?