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NOTE: Commentary is made as a private citizen and not as Regional Coordinator for Silent No More or Leader of Rachel's Hope, unless otherwise stated.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Jesus Wept




Our political climate is rife with leaders using fear and hatred to divide and misguide, sending our country down an immoral and lawless abyss. Many have fallen prey to these divisive tactics, through ignorance and in many cases, self-serving motives.

As I watched the carnage in Baltimore on television, Luke 19:41 came to mind, “As he drew near, he saw the city and wept over it.”

How He must be weeping for the innocent people of Nepal suffering the devastation of an earthquake while citizens of a city choose to destroy businesses and homes of their friends and neighbors.
How He must be weeping as He sees evil considered acceptable while His teachings mocked and His followers persecuted.

What can we do? How can we wipe the tears from His face?

The answer is in Timothy 2:1-4:
 
"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry."
 
We cannot control the behavior of others, only our own. We should pray for those blinded by tyrants and on the path to self-destruction but not let them distract us from our mission of love and compassion.
 
Focusing on Godly actions will dispel the darkness.
     
     

    Monday, April 27, 2015

    Welcome Peggy Blann Phifer to "An Author Speaks"!


    Peggy Blann Phifer retired from an executive assistant position after twenty-one years in the Electrical Wholesale industry. She came to writing later in life when a prayer she wrote appeared in a two-volume Guideposts Book compilation, 'Prayers for Every Need,' in 2000. She self-published her debut novel, 'To See the Sun,' which released in January 2012. Her writing has appeared in three anthologies in 2014 with Helping Hands Press, with a fourth coming up. A novel she just completed, 'Somehow, Christmas Will Come,' released in November 2014, from Elk Lake Publishing.  Widowed in October 2012, Peg now makes her home in northern Wisconsin in a home she bought together with her daughter and son-in-law. The three of them share the house with one dog, and one grand-dog. She converted a third of the house into a cozy 'apartment' where she spends most of her time writing. Peg has three children, six grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren, and numerous other grand-dogs and great-grand-dogs. 
    What five words describe you?

    Tenacious, stubborn, creative, loner, reader

    What are you working on at the minute? What is it about?

    I'm currently working on Book 2 of my Desert Faith series, To Hear the Wind, about a middle-aged woman who comes face-to-face with her long-hidden past.

    Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character
    from your most recent book?
     
    Oh, gosh, I don’t know. She’s a twenty-something single gal, a redhead, compassionate, loving and caring. I didn’t envision anyone in particular while I wrote the book, and, since I don’t watch TV or go to movies, I don’t know any young actresses. Maybe a twenty-year-old Sandra Bullock?
    If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it
    have been and why?

    Gone with the Wind because it’s about the Civil War, one of my favorite time period, from the South’s point of view. And because, Scarlett, though thoroughly selfish and self-centered, was a very strong woman.

    What is the hardest thing about writing?

    Sitting at the keyboard and staying there!
    Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

    I usually set it aside for a while and maybe work on another book, read a good novel in the genre I’m writing, or do something creative with my hands aside from writing.
    Where would your dream location be for writing?

    I’m a rather stay-at-home type person. So I’d just love to be able to write outside, on the deck, uninterrupted . . . and NO mosquitos.
    When creating characters, are they based on people in your life?

    Mostly, yes, including myself, though I try to change things and situations so no one is recognizable.

    Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

    Yes, I do read them but I do not respond. I haven’t received any really bad reviews so far, but I think the important thing to do when there is one is read it objectively, if possible, consider the points made, and move on. Do not respond.

    If you couldn't be a writer, what would you be?

    At this stage in my life I can’t imagine not being a writer. However, I’d be an artist. I must always be doing something creative, and the art of painting appeals to me.

    What would you tell your younger self that would have helped you
    in your writing career?

    Don’t wait fifty years to start!

    Where can we buy your books?

    They’re mostly on Amazon (Click for Books) with a few on Barnes and Noble (Click for Books). I’m working on setting up a page on my blog showcasing all my titles with buy links.












    How can we keep up with you? Blog, Facebook, etc......

    Facebook: www.facebook.com/pegphifer
    Twitter: www.twitter.com/pegphifer (@pegphifer)
    Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/pegphifer


    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

    Healing through Dance



    Being active in the pro-life community, I have been blessed with meeting some extraordinary people.  Sandy Arena suffered the emotional and spiritual consequences of abortion and courageously stepped forward to share her story in a beautiful and touching way … through dance.  It is an honor to spotlight her on my blog and I hope you all share her links with friends and family.
     
    ~~~~~~~~In Sandy's Words~~~~~~~~
     
    I finally came public with my story a few years ago when I was in my early forties when I found myself in a very unique situation in a public identity mix up when a woman with my same name who lives in my city was accused of murder. Everyone thought it was me when the story of this other "Sandy Arena" hit the news. I initially set myself apart from her in self-righteousness and claimed to be the "good" Sandy Arena, not the one accused of murder and who was all over the news. That was my initial reaction, until I honestly looked deep inside my heart and I knew this was not true. I knew that I had taken the life of others - my children - even though society did not call it as such and that I had no right to set myself apart in righteousness. I shared my heart, my thoughts and my sympathies for the other parties involved in this situation in an opinion essay in our daily newspaper and my abortion story was out. It was terrifying, but I was free.

    I was so impacted by this very unexpected and public abortion confession, that I wrote a ballet to share my story. It has become my life work. It is called The Life Ballet and it is performed by the ballet company my husband and I founded in 2006. This live production is written in the form of a letter of regret to my unborn children where we share a message of life, hope and healing to the people suffering as I had suffered in the aftermath of the "choice" of abortion for so many dark and horrible years. We have performed our show around the country and also in Canada for seven years now. It is my art and my heart and the best way I know to tell my story of regret and hope in the wake of abortion. It is one way I can honor my children's lives. It's the birthday party, graduation party and wedding event I was never able to throw for them. I know it's "my story", but I say it's "many women's story" with one in three women having an abortion by the age of 45. There is nothing I can say that can trump what is shown on stage in The Life Ballet (and now in film with "Arise Sweet Sarah") through the power of music and movement. My oldest daughter plays the lead character in the show whose name is "Sarah" and for this I am humbled and grateful. My youngest daughter Anna dances the part of "young Sarah".
     

    Our latest project is our film "Arise Sweet Sarah" which is based on our live production. The film will be released in September 2015. The film shares a message of the value and importance of all human life, as well as a message of healing, forgiveness and grace in the midst of unthinkable grief in the wake of lost motherhood. It is based on the testimony of Sandy Arena and includes performances by both of her daughters Annaliese Arena and Alexis Gaetano and her husband Sam Arena. The story is told through a powerful combination of narration, acting, original score and a combination of modern dance and ballet. Filming took place in Rochester, NY during the summer of 2014 in conjunction with Verb Records who represents The Life Ballet. Verb Records was recently named the Record Label of the Year by the IMEA awards.  
     
    My mourning has indeed turned to dancing and I can only hope my story and our show will continue to lead others impacted by abortion towards a lighted path of forgiveness and healing. I often say that to remove from society a child deemed unwanted or inconvenient, is to release back into that same society a woman marred and scarred by the choice of abortion. I believe there is a better way for women in the great land of America. Our country was built by courageous and strong men and women who were fearless and creative and who were pioneers. I know my fore-sisters were birthing babies in covered wagons. We can certainly do better for women than killing our children when faced with fear or uncertainty in the event of an unplanned pregnancy.

    I don't always enjoy baring my soul and sharing these dark events in the history of my life, but I do it so others may choose differently and with the hope that one day legalized abortion in America will end.
     
     
    ARISE SWEET SARAH OFFICIAL TRAILER
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rs-BQpFIDik
    Learn more about The Life Ballet at www.thelifeballet.org.

     
    Sandy Arena is an artist working from her Arts Illuminate Studio located in the Auditorium Center in Rochester, NY. She is a family and lifestyle photographer, writer, film maker, and songwriter. She is a home school educator to her own children, as well as others as a photography teacher at Home School Academy. She teaches children's movement and pom-pom cheer classes, and God's Girl Princess Classes at her studio. Sandy is the wife to Sam Arena and mom to three beautiful children - Alexis, Caleb and Annaliese. She is an avid runner having completed a full and half marathon in her lifetime.  Sandy was a former fitness instructor, as well as a newspaper journalist and food and restaurant publicist in the greater New York and Philadelphia areas.  In all her endeavors, Sandy is passionate about sharing the joys of motherhood and family, as well as proclaiming Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.  With God's help, vision and direction, she will fight for the rights of children and children's healthcare until the end.  In her spare time she juggles duties as a basketball and football mom, dance mom, and pageant mom! 

    Tuesday, April 21, 2015

    Our Second Stop - Banks, Oregon



    From Willows, we proceeded to Banks, Oregon (population 1,600) where my “brother and sister-in-law”, Dick and Sherry live.  The scenery was spectacular.  Oh, how I miss the mountains and plush green forests that I left when leaving Seattle twenty-six years ago. 
     
     Mike & Mt. Shasta, Lake Shasta, and the roadside view.
     
    I need to explain something here....Dick is not actually my brother but he may as well be…His parents (Tess & Floyd) were my mom and dad's best friends.  Floyd was my father’s first sergeant in the Air Force and dad had to get his permission to marry my mom.  Not only that, Floyd and Tess almost delivered me in the back seat of their car on the way to the hospital in Wimpole Park, England. 
     

    Sherry's Confirmation
    The church where Sherry
    was confirmed.  St. Francis is right
    behind their house and we could
    see the lit steeple at night!
    We were in Banks for Easter to witness the confirmation of my sister-in-law who decided to convert to Catholicism.  The service was absolutely awesome.  Along with Sherry’s confirmation, there were five adults baptized which is outstanding for such a small parish. 

     
    We were also happy to see Dick and Sherry’s daughter, Amy, and her family which consists of her husband John and five of their seven daughters (unfortunately, two had the flu).  What a beautiful family weekend. 
    Mike, "Sis", Dad, Me & "Bro"
    
    Sis and I hiding Easter Eggs for
    the girls.
     









    Mike and I with (L-R)
    John (holding Kianna), Katie, Amy,
    Karly, Kaylee and Karissa
    Missed seeing Khloe and Kyla
    Kianna's new friend... she woke up one morning
    and told her mom, "We're going to grandma's
    and guess who is going to be there? "
    Then she raised her arms and said, "Harold!" 




    
    Dad chatting it up with Karly, Katie and Kaylee

    While there we discovered the wonders of a Keurig coffee maker and made a note to order one.  We also witnessed some wet stuff coming from the sky!  Oh, how I miss rain. Wish I could have sent some down to Central and Southern California.

    The three days passed way too fast and we were sad saying good-bye.  God definitely blessed us with this wonderful extended family. 



    


    





    



     


    Monday, April 20, 2015

    Welcome Lori Hatcher to "An Author Speaks"!


    Lori Hatcher is a women's ministry speaker, author, blogger, minister's wife, and healthcare professional. She shares an empty nest in Columbia, South Carolina, with her husband David and their rescue dog, Winston. Lori is the editor of South Carolina's Reach Out, Columbia magazine. Her latest book, Hungry for God ... Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women released in December. A homeschool mom for 17 years, she's also the author of the devotional book Joy in the Journey - Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms. A frequent contributor to Crosswalk.com, her feature articles and devotions have been published by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Mardel, Evangel, The Mother's Heart, Inspired Women, and Columbia Metropolitan Magazine. She loves empowering and equipping women through women's ministry events. She believes connecting with God in the craziness of life is vital to women of all ages. Her hobbies include taking long walks with her dog and anyone else who can keep up with her long legs, reading, writing, traveling to historic (and warm) places, having lunch with friends, and visiting her daughters.

    What five words describe you? 
     
    Multi-tasking, High-energy, Hopeful, Encourager, Teacher 
     
    What are you working on at the minute? What is it about? 
     
    My second devotional book, Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women just launched in December, so I’m working hard to get the word out about it. I’m also finishing up my next devotional, Feeding Your Soul in a Drive-Thru World, also a five-minute devotional for busy women.  
     
    Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your 
    most recent book? 
     
    My children would be laughing at me right now, because I READ; I seldom watch movies. And when I do, I usually have a book in my hand at the same time. Since my devotional books target busy women, I’ll have to reach way back into the dim recesses of my memory and pull out Sandra Bullock, because I loved her in The Blind Side – she was a busy woman! 
     
    If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have 
    been and why? 
     
    Jesus Calling. My goal is to write a devotional that ministers to thousands of women. 
     
    What is the hardest thing about writing? 
     
    Finding quiet time to think. If I’m undistracted, ideas just fly out of my fingers. 
     
    Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block? 
     
    Treat writing like work.  Clock in every day and write, whether you're inspired or not.  Once the fingers start moving, the ideas will too.  Don't wait for The Muse.  The Muse will let you down, but self-discipline won't.
     
    Where would your dream location be for writing? 
     
    Edisto Island, South Carolina. Endless beaches on which to walk and think, a porch swing, and an ocean breeze. And no internet. 
     
     Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad? 
     
    I read every review.  If I can respond, I always thank the person for taking the time to comment.  I haven't had a negative review on my book yet, but I'm sure it's coming.  As a magazine editor, I have had negative letters to the editor.  If the reader has a valid concern, I always address it.  One reader objected to an editor's letter I wrote about family.  She scolded me for not mentioning adopted, foster, and IVF children.  She was absolutely right, so after a great exchange of letters between us I scheduled two articles for an upcoming issue, one on fostering and the other on embryo adoption.  By taking time to listen to her concerns and not just blow her off, we both gained new insight and brainstormed two fantastic articles.
     

    Where can we buy your books?
     
    Here’s the link on Amazon:  http://amzn.to/1x39tq8 
    Also, here's a YouTube Video where I share a little bit about Hungry for God:   http://youtu.be/ph9KBQcDTy4 
     
     
     
     
     
     
    How can we keep up with you? Blog, Facebook, etc...... 
     
    Please visit my blog, Hungry for God … Starving for Time for more 5-Minute devotions. You can also hang out with me on Facebook, Twitter (@lorihatcher2) and Pinterest.
     
     
     

    Sunday, April 19, 2015

    The Journey Begins

    The original plan was to pull out at 4:00 a.m., on April 3rd but excitement won out and we left after Michael came home from work on the 2nd. We had to suffer through traffic gridlock in Los Angeles, which took forever to get through.  Having a tad bit of a “lead foot”, driving at 10 miles per hour was definitely frustrating which resulted in increased teeth grinding.  After an hour and a half, we finally reached cruising speed and made it to a little place called Buttonwillow before calling it a night.  The next morning we drove through farmlands of the San Joaquin Valley.  The blue skies against the peaceful green fields had an incredibly calming effect after driving through L.A. traffic!  We arrived in Willows, California early afternoon.  
     
    
    Sunset in Buttonwillow
     
    San Joaquin Valley
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

     
     
     
    We could have traveled further, but this was an opportunity for me to meet Anne Baxter Campbell, a fellow author at Helping Hands Press.  We became friends on Facebook through our publisher; however, we had never met in person.  Anne graciously arranged a book signing at a local eatery while we simultaneously appeared on the G-Zone blogtalk radio show (Click to listen).  Prior to the "event", we met for coffee at Starbucks (yes, Starbucks is everywhere!).  It amazed me as to how much we had in common and it felt like we'd known each other for years. We had a terrific time chatting it up on the radio and topped it off with a tasty dinner.  What a blessing it was to spend time with Anne.  She's an inspiration for a "rookie" author like me.

    THE SIGN ON THE RESTAURANT DOOR:
    
    Friends!!!