Saturday, September 03, 2016

Meet Ginger Sanders

Deut. 31: 8 is one of my favorite verses and so we are never afraid, because we know ‘He goes before us’ wherever we are going.

“Ginger Sanders is a Chaplain Coordinator with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. Ginger and her husband, Denny, have responded to many disasters such as tornados, floods and nature storms; but also to Aurora and Sandy Hook shootings. She loves telling the stories of when God has 'shown up' and they have seen things only He could orchestrate” and she writes of those unique experiences in her book, He Goes Before Us. Sanders has also written two children’s books that help them manage and cope with life-altering situations, as well. Epitomizing the very meaning of servanthood through the process of being tangible hope to those that are suffering, Sanders teaches many others how they, too, can endure theirs.

MN-At a time of life when many people prefer to kick their feet up and take it easy, you jumped into a career that required you to be ready to hit the road at a moment’s notice to minister to people in the most stressful of situations. What compelled you to embark on such an adventure?

GS-The timing was right for me to be able to serve God full time and it encouraged me to always be ready to meet Him anytime and anywhere. When God called us to serve Him in this capacity, we looked back over our lives and realized He had prepared our hearts to serve Him this way.

MN-Do you ever become overwhelmed with the grief and suffering you see? How do you keep from absorbing so much pain because that would be counter-productive to what you are trying to accomplish.

GS-Absolutely, I am as human and soft hearted as anyone and sometimes the tears flow as the heart fills up with pain that others are going through. Being prayed up and in a close relationship with Christ, being called to be a chaplain, knowing He is with you, I get through the moment. This does not mean that I don’t cry as I give Him the burdens afterward. But at the moment I need Him, He has always been there and has given me the words and love to share in the name of Jesus.

MN-So let’s talk about what you are not only trying to accomplish, but are accomplishing through the Billy Graham ministry. What is the mission of the Rapid Response Team?

GS-The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team’s purpose is to give spiritual and emotional care to those that are hurting, whether it is in the midst of a natural storm (such as a hurricane, tornado, floods) or a manmade storm (such as Sandy Hook shooting, or civil unrest). Some ask does a Billy Graham chaplain have churches. I laugh and say, “No! Chaplain means I can love, hug and pray in the name of Jesus!”

MN-I’m sure people have asked you, “Where is God in the midst of this terrible occurrence?” How do you answer that question?

GS-God is there, He never leaves us, but we must understand Satan is alive and well and very active on this earth. Evil and meanness will not end until Jesus returns. We just know that God is not surprised by anything, but He is with us through all things.

MN-Your book, He Goes Before Us is a collection of stories that detail many of your experiences with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. I’m sure these represent only a fraction of the situations you encountered. How did you choose which stories to tell?

GS-Through a lot of prayer, God led and guided the book that gives Him the glory. He has shown up in so many unexpected places, I knew many of the stories had to shared. You are so right, there are many more stories and I should put them on paper. He gave the stories!

MN-You have written two children’s books as well; Fireflies and Round Eyes. Tell me a little about what makes each unique to young readers.

GS-Round Eyes was written about our son, adopted from S. Korea, when he first realized he looked different than his mommy and daddy, but because of love it was alright. God’s love and scripture is scattered throughout the book, showing it does not matter if you are different, God loves you. It is a book about an adopted child, but would be good for anyone who may look different.

Fireflies is a book explaining death to a child. God gave me this story during a time when a family had lost a young boy and I prayed how to speak to the 5 year old brother. God opened the heart and my eyes to see a Firefly jar sitting on his dresser. He gave me the story about how we are much like fireflies (spirit) put in a jar (body) and then the master takes the lid off and the firefly goes to heaven (God). It is a very sweet story, but it helps a child to understand death can give you hope. In the back of this book is a ‘Memory Page’ where they can paste a picture of a loved one and write a memory. Then there is also a page “How to Lead a Child to Christ”. I have already released copyright on that page since some churches wanted to make a copy of this page and put in their children’s area. I would love to get this book in the hands of funeral directors, churches and children’s bereavement centers. Both of my children’s books are beautifully illustrated, with each page being painted on canvas and then transferred into the book by Tracy Applewhite Broome.

MN-What does the rest of 2016 have in store for you?

GS-We (my husband and I) are also chaplains with our local law enforcement and we stay busy at home volunteering with them when we are not deployed with the Billy Graham Ministry. We travel and visit our children, grandchildren and family. We never have to look far to see someone in need or who just needs a hug, because emotional storms are in most people’s lives. Deut. 31: 8 is one of my favorite verses and so we are never afraid, because we know ‘He goes before us’ wherever we are going.

You can connect with Ginger Sanders through her website and on Facebook.

Meet Karen Hornsby

Hans Christian Andersen, the well-known Danish author of children’s fairy tales, was credited with saying, “Where words fail, music speaks.” Poets and singers going back as far as King David have used music as an outlet for those hard-to-express emotions.
But neuroscience does not stop there. In fact, a study cited by The New York Times states the validity of “the ability of music to elicit memory”.  If music elicits memory-and we know that certain experiences come rushing back when a certain song is played-wouldn’t it stand to reason that in the same manner, memories compel the writing of music, taking us back full circle to what Hans Christian Anderson stated in the 1800’s?

Experiences-good and not so good-have led to the writing and presentation of some of the best songs ever recorded, and singer/song-writer Karen Hornsby has excelled in that aspect. Surviving a head on collision, persevering through her husband’s cancer diagnosis and treatment and later, her two-year old daughter’s diagnosis, has led to many good and not so good experiences that are solely responsible for the music on her newly released self-titled CD.  It is evident in our interview that she is a survivor in every sense of the word. She has endured and is better for the journey and she wants to inspire and encourage others along the same path.
MN-Congratulations on the release of your CD!  Tell me a little about the music. Did you write all of the songs and how was the process for you-grueling or liberating?

KH-Thank you!  I did write all of my songs and my music is a hodgepodge of moods and genres.  You can listen to one song on my project and find yourself shouting from the rooftops, and listen to another and be looking for a box of tissues. This is because, as you can imagine, there have been a lot of ups and downs through the last 10 years with the struggles of my husband’s and daughter’s health.  There have been times of victory, and I would write about it, and then there have been times I felt defeated and used songwriting as a coping mechanism to keep from giving up and simply just be vulnerable with my audience. 
MN-Many readers will remember seeing your performances on ABC’s Rising Star. Who or what convinced you to audition and were you surprised by the overwhelming support and feedback you received on the show?

KH-Well, as you can imagine, while I was recording the project, my close friends and I were just brainstorming ways we could make people aware of my music and story via social media, and one day one of my best friends sent me a text about a new show she just saw advertised on ABC and thought I should audition for it.  Of course my first thought was that I shouldn’t waste my time and that a show like that would be hard for me to pull off.  However, as you will learn, I love a challenge and my amazing support team really encouraged me and gave me the confidence I needed to at least audition, so I did.  When I received the call back 30 days later, they told me that they were interested in having me come for a call back audition.  I was so shocked by this that I kept thinking that eventually she was going to tell me “Thank you for auditioning, but we will pass.”  However, she didn’t and when I auditioned for the call back they called me back that night to congratulate me on being oneof the top thirty acts for the show.  It was 11:00 in LA and 2:00 am in Jacksonville, FL, but of course I woke all my family up to tell them to buy themselves a plane ticket to LA in 3 months.  So, it was very exciting and I truly didn’t expect to receive the warm embrace that I received from the judges.  
MN-Your music is spiritual, emotional, and very deeply moving. That could describe some of the experiences you have had to navigate in your life, as well. You survived a car accident, and both your husband and daughter are cancer survivors. Did you ever wonder if God had given you more than you could handle, and how did you successfully keep your faith in tact after so many tests and trials?

KH-I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had that thought and many others.  Many times I would feel bitterness, hate, jealousy, envy, pain, hurt, confusion, depression, fear and always come back to the very popular questions of “Why?”  What kept me from drowning many times were the people God had surrounded me with, who would constantly remind me of God’s word.  As these people would help lift me up and remind me of the promises of God, it was then up to me to decide what I was going to do with that.  I learned quickly that doctors, friends, and family can only take you so far, and realized there is no other choice but God, and that since He hadn’t answered my prayer, then maybe I should try to find out what He is trying to teach me.  It was at that point that I began to realize there is a purpose in all the suffering.  Does that make the suffering easy?  No, but it does gives it purpose so when special needs moms and celebrities alike tell you with tears in their eyes what a inspiration you are and how your story has just wrecked their life, it makes it sustainable and helps turn some of that pain into a passion to help others through their suffering.
MN-I mentioned that both your husband and daughter are cancer survivors. How are they doing now?

KH-Both are doing well now.  My husband is going on 8 years of remission, and it has been 5 years now for my daughter.  Unfortunately for my daughter, because of the 5 rounds of chemotherapy, Proton Beam Radiation, 2 major brain surgeries, and 3 strokes, her quality of life has drastically diminished over the years, to the point that she is now blind, with very limited mobility, and speech. 
MN-The list of performers that you have shared the stage with is pretty impressive. Thinking back on some of those experiences, did you ever have a moment where you thought, “I can not believe I am here. What am I doing here with these talented people?” because I hear that even very seasoned performers get a little anxious when appearing with other successful entertainers.

KH-Hahahaha!  Oh you have no idea.  EXTREMELY nervous and so surreal that I still stumble to find the words.  It does take me back, however, to the previous question of being able to find the strength and drive when everything around me is crumbling.  Sharing the stage with these people was when I felt God telling me that all those struggles and pain I experienced was Him preparing me for that moment and developing my character to catch up to my calling. 
MN-You’ve been quoted as saying that you feel your message to others is simply this, “There is victory in the midst of suffering.” To the mom who has just received a diagnosis regarding her child, or the wife who is suddenly caregiver to her husband, what steps can they take towards receiving that victory when they feel emotionally and spiritually depleted?

KH-Find a place where you can talk with God, and ask Him, “What is the purpose for all the suffering?”, and be willing to accept the answer.  When you discover the purpose and realize that nothing you are facing is in vain, and that God is preparing you for a greater purpose, victory is birthed. 
MN-You’ve also said that you are in a good place now. Describe what that “good place” looks like and what you hope to accomplish in the near future.

KH-Did I say that?  Hahahaha!  Well . . . I think what I meant by that is I finally surrendered, and quit pushing away the things I didn’t want to do.  I just want to keep growing in my faith and continue to learn from my family’s experiences so that I can come behind those who are hurting and help carry them through their journey.  I feel like part of my purpose is to take what I’ve learned, share it with others, so that it will hopefully help them find their purpose.
You can connect with Karen on her website and on Facebook.



Saturday, August 20, 2016

Meet Tom Thompson-author of Kick Start
“What you do today determines your tomorrow.”
As if to solidify the validity of that statement, Tom Thompson writes Kick Start Your Future, a biographical account of what happens when he repeatedly ends up on the wrong end of circumstances, only to rise above and succeed, seemingly to spite the odds that were continuously stacked against him.  Instead of using his misfortune as an excuse to develop an entitlement attitude, Thompson fought back to conquer higher ground each time. The result of working harder than the impact of the challenges in his life included returning to college and setting a NCAA record in his 60’s.

“I was proud, to be sure, but this achievement was about much more than merely kicking a football between the uprights. It was about proving that life can be meaningful and productive at any age. It was about encouraging people to fulfill their dreams, to live every day on purpose.” This is Tom Thompson’s story.

MN-Congratulations on the success of Kick Start! I read where the second edition will be released in early 2017. Did you have any idea as you were writing Kick Start that it would be so well received?

TT-Naturally, we hoped the book would reach a broad audience (e.g., both secular and Christian). However, the second edition will enhance Kick Start by telling the story of “after the kick” and sharing goal setting strategies and application information.

MN-Speaking of well received, let’s talk football for a minute. Take me back to the stadium, on the field, in the 2nd quarter of the game between Austin College and Trinity University on November 14, 2009. A certain kicker takes the field and he is an unusual one, at that. What happened?

TT-As the third string kicker and playing for an “old-school” coach, my chances of ever seeing the field during a game was remote. However, two weeks prior to the end of the season my kicking performance had become dramatically better. For example, during one practice I outperformed all of the other kickers (one of which was the starting all-conference kicker). The coach told me if I kept doing a good job, he would put me in to kick after we scored our first touchdown. However, I had to be told to go in to kick. I wasn’t going to assume I would be the kicker. Especially, if I would be kicking the PAT to tie the game against our biggest rival.

As I jogged on to the field, the noise of the crowd diminished into a white noise and time seemed to stand still. I could sense my heartbeat in my ears. Once in position, I let the holder know I was ready…the ball was snapped, but there was not enough on the ball and it was lying sideways on the ground. I was in mid kick when the holder recovered the ball at the last minute and placed it into position. The kick was good! And, as they say…the rest is history.

MN-You mentioned in Kick Start that you began having thoughts such as, ‘What if I went back to college, made a college football team, and played football.’ It is one thing to have thoughts, and quite another to pursue them. What drove you to act on these seemingly random thoughts, especially when you had already successfully acquired three college degrees?

TT-Honestly, I believed this was something God wanted me to do. In particular, my purpose in life is to encourage the Body of Christ to be physically fit. Many people may agree with the notion of “why” someone should be physically fit. Yet, too often people may have difficulty with the “how” of physical fitness. In that light, it is important for me to set an example.

In Kick Start, I mention the time when the football season was coming to an end. My wife encouraged me to finish my degree program in order to set an example for my teammates. Whereby, they would see I didn’t go to college just to play football. More importantly, they would see I finished what I started. In particular, how many people do you know that are a few credits short of earning a college degree? I remind myself of Jesus’ last words on the cross anytime I begin an endeavor. He said, “It is finished”.
MN-I loved reading that you were basically just given two fitness centers to run. Being so active in health and fitness up to that point as a martial arts expert (high level black belt, at that) and a personal trainer had to have made this a dream come true for you. On the other hand, I’m sure you have learned a lot about owning a business. How are your fitness centers doing today and how have you changed as a business owner through the process?

TT-This past spring, I made the decision to focus more on teaching and coaching football at Austin College, public speaking, and writing books. Thus, I have transitioned away from owning and operating fitness centers. However, I remain active in the business world with my real estate investment, leadership development, and corporate fitness management firm.

For many years, Jesus was only my Savior. The biggest change in my life came after I had made Jesus the Lord of my life. As a result, I began to view my business endeavors as my ministry. For example, Jesus ministered in the marketplace.

MN-Not only have you authored Kick Start, but you are a contributing author for a book titled Fit to Lead. Tell me a little about that project.

TT-Fit to Lead was a result of taking the current health and fitness research and leadership theory and suggesting a relationship exists between physical fitness and leadership performance. Central to the project were personal interviews with Bush and Gore from the 2000 Presidential campaign. My contribution to the project was as the physical fitness expert. Two of the co-authors were preeminent leadership professors, while, a fourth co-author was a prominent preventive medicine doctor.

Fit to Lead offers a realistic, easy-to-follow, and life-changing plan to help the reader achieve body fitness, nutritional fitness, and mental fitness.

MN-Looking at you today, you are an incredibly blessed and successful man, and it would be easy to misjudge that success by saying you’ve had an easy life. Kick Start delves into some of your difficulties and challenges, but for readers right now, what encouragement do you have for those that may be thinking their life is too messy to amount to anything?

TT-If you believe God has given you a direction for something, you should step out in faith to see where God leads you. Furthermore, if God has given you a dream, your life situation is irrelevant. Also, I have found that the amount of resistance an individual experiences in the beginning of an endeavor determines the amount of victory enjoyed at the end.

Lastly, in the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never, never, give up”.

MN-Being physically fit helps keep the mind and spirit fit, as well. What is one lifestyle change readers can make today that will positively affect and bring into balance their mind/body/spirit connection?

TT- Develop a new way of thinking. For example, we all know people who want to change their lives. Yet, they are not willing to change how they think. In order to develop an opportunity for long-term behavioral change an individual needs to change the way they think and submit their will to their new way of thinking. Further, just setting goals is not enough. One must set commensurate behavioral limits in order to create the best opportunity to achieve one’s goals.

Author Bio-Dr. Emmet “Tom” Thompson II is an active researcher, educator, business owner, motivational speaker and author. On November 14, 2009, he became the oldest football player in NCAA history and the oldest NCAA football player to score a point during a game. His Austin College jersey number 91 is on display at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Indiana. He and his wife Teresa have three children and live in Coppell, Texas.

From Amazon -A true story of overcoming obstacles to score in the most important game of all―life. Tom Thompson’s journey was fraught with many obstacles and setbacks from a very early age. From a broken home and the early death of his father, to divorce, financial stress, and physical injuries as an adult…it seemed to be one thing after another. Was this the way life was meant to be lived? Along the way, Tom’s life intersected with and was influenced by an assortment of fascinating characters including martial arts champion and legend, Chuck Norris, Elvis and Priscilla Presley, and president of the United States, George W. Bush. His is a remarkable story of stamina and faith, and of overcoming the odds to become the first over-60 NCAA football player. And his example will inspire the reader to Kick Start their life at any age.
You can connect with Thompson on Facebook.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Moving Day!

The time has come to say goodbye to blogspot! C'mon over to the new home for Mary's World which is now a website. You will find all of the same features you have grown to count on here at blogspot-interviews, reviews, press releases on new releases, and more-in a user friendly format.

Please join me at and bookmark the page for future reference!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

New Site Under Construction!

Mary's World has outgrown blog status! What a great problem, right? Over the next couple of weeks, I will be moving this blog over to the new site and will then make the final unveiling by the end of the month. I am excited about the change! It is user friendly for both myself as a writer and for you, the reader.

Can't wait? Visit and follow the progress!

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Friday Funny

Lifeway's A Novel Bookshelf asks "What is the most interesting experience you’ve had while doing research for a novel?"

When I was working on the Courageous novel, I spent some time at a local bookstore writing and doing research. At one point I was standing in a low traffic area, thinking no one was nearby who could hear me. But I turned around and saw this woman six feet away staring at me just after I had asked my police friend on the phone this exact question (no kidding): “So since I can’t use a heroin overdose to kill him, and I have to go with either crystal meth or powder cocaine, which would you advise that I use?”

The woman then pretended she hadn’t heard me, and quickly disappeared. (I just hope she doesn’t attend my church!) An hour later, and no cop had showed up to arrest me. I’m kind of amazed that this woman didn’t call in my description to the police when she got home, after wrestling with her conscience or talking to her husband. In which case, this story would have been entered as evidence.
- Randy Alcorn, author of Courageous Novelization

Visit A Novel Bookshelf to see the article in its entirety.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Is Your Finished Product Worthy of His Endorsement?

I love to read, this is no great mystery. I am fortunate to have many genres from countless gifted authors constantly at my disposal. I can afford to be picky, choosing only those that resonate a longing to know what happens between the artistic and colorful front and back covers. If you would have told me many years ago that my passion to read would one day turn into a career that offered the luxury and availability of the best in the business, I wouldn't have believed it. Lucky? Blessed? Beyond my wildest imagination!

Which is why this morning's devotion caught my eye:
And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. ~Revelation 5:4

I can't imagine a book being so holy, so pure, so consecrated that no man was found worthy to open, let alone read the book. I forget sometimes how ceremonial God is. He is precise. He is calculated. He is renowned. This book is so sacred to Him that only one-Jesus Christ himself-is deserving of the honor to touch, open, and read it.

As an editor, reader, reviewer, interviewer and lover of the written word, I realize words are profound and meaningful. As Christian authors and publishers, we need to constantly be reminded of our ministry as it applies to publications. Our motive should not be to merely entertain, neither should the prime objective be to move books and generate a bulging net figure.

If God has given you the gift of communication, never forget the enormous responsibility you owe your readers as a Christian author. You can be entertaining but your priority should begin and end with the desire to lead your readers to the Him. Forget trying to court a cross over audience or appeal to a certain market. If God has given you a vision for a book, write it and He will take care of the rest. Yes, I am simplistic and completely trust in His ability to manage the details. I believe that if He calls us to fulfill a certain ministry, He has already taken care of those details.

As much as I love reading novels, I appreciate the authors that work tirelessly to bring their characters to life and the publishers that utilize their team of experts to get those books to various outlets. I am in awe of the process and work diligently to assist in multiple capacities from editing manuscripts to the publicity of the finished product. Perhaps my devotion to this industry causes me to be passionate about what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. Let us always keep in mind that our work should mirror God himself: calculated, precise, ceremonial. Our challenge should be to truly represent who He is in everything we do, especially the work of our hands. Make every word count, every character's struggle worthy of black ink, and the outcome a testimony to the power of God.

The Berenstain Bears-All Things Bright and Beautiful

Press Release

The Bear Cubs learn from their Sunday school teacher that God's Earth is precious and will stay that way only if we care for it.

Missus Ursula, the Sunday school teacher, takes her Sunday school class on a nature walk to appreciate God’s bright and beautiful creation. Includes a sheet of colorful stickers!

The Berenstain Bears are celebrating their 50th Anniversary in 2012.

Stan and Jan Berenstain were already successful cartoonists for magazines and adult humor books when they began writing children's books. The first story starring the bear family, The Big Honey Hunt, appeared in 1962. Since then, more than 340 Berenstain Bears books have been published, and more than 260 million copies have been sold. What began as an idea sparked by their young sons' love of reading has become over the years arguably the best-selling children's book series ever.

Since their inception, the Berenstain Bears stories have expanded to include picture books, beginning readers, and chapter books--even a hit TV show on PBS. Writing and illustrating the books has become a Berenstain family affair. Mike joined with his parents as a creative team in the late 1980s. The Bear family has expanded over the years as well. Sister Bear arrived in 1974, and baby Honey joined the family in 2000.

Reading level: Ages 4 and up

Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Zonderkidz (January 10, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310720885
ISBN-13: 978-0310720881
Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 7.8 x 0.1 inches

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Perfect Christian Woman According to Christian Publishing

This lady…

Lives a Purpose Driven Life and knows the Power of a Praying Wife.

She practices Five Love Languages and will not be Left Behind.

She spent 90 Minutes in Heaven and is convinced that Heaven is for Real.

She is both Captivating and Radical because she Kissed Dating Goodbye and has developed a Mary Heart in a Martha World.

She wears Blue Like Jazz and keeps The Shack spotless while making a Case for Christ.

She secured Dinner with a Perfect Stranger and appreciates a man who is Wild at Heart and More Than a Carpenter.

But ultimately the Christian Publisher is most attracted to and admires the perfect Christian woman because she is......Amish.

~composed with tongue in cheek by Steve Laube