Getting to know . . . Heidi Sias.

HRMS front coverDeaconess Heidi D. Sias is a contributing author to He Restores My Soul, but do not let her title fool you. She can spout off sports stats just as quickly as Scripture references.


Describe a normal day in the life of Deac. Sias:

My days vary greatly as a deaconess who works remotely, living more than 1,000 miles from my organization’s campus, Lutheran Friends of the Deaf in Mill Neck, NY. I work from home a lot, so my workday might include sitting in front of my laptop with gesturing hands while working on a sign language translation, writing numerous emails or copy for marketing projects, or meeting with co-workers flung across the US via Skype or telephone. Working remotely also means a fair amount of travel, so spending hours driving in the car or going through the air travel dance to workshops, conventions, or conferences, is also part of the deal. On these trips, long days of work can include teaching church interpreters, attending meetings in various places (some completely in sign language), volunteering for fund raisers on the Long Island campus, or meeting new people while working at a convention exhibit. The balance of the hustle and bustle of trips with the quietness of working at home to recuperate is imperative for me. After work, the evenings are filled with spending time with my husband after his long day at the office: making a meal together, taking a walk at a local park, reading together on our patio while watching the hummingbirds battle it out for the sweet nectar contained in our feeder or the resident hawk look for his evening meal, playing a competitive game of darts, watching a suspense show on Netflix, running errands, or even sitting side-by-side while doing some more catch up on work, writing, or editing. My evening always ends with a devotion and reading in bed before I drift off to sleep.

What three words best describe your personality?

This is a difficult question to answer about oneself. With input from others I came up with loyal, thoughtful, meticulous.

Who do you go to for advice?

My husband, my mom, several close pastor friends, or a few of my closest girlfriends.

What do you like to read?

I like reading all sorts of genres: suspense books like Stephen King’s 11/22/63; historical fiction like Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City; sports books like Jim Abbott’s Imperfect; travelogues like Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburned Country; war stories like Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken; westerns like Nannie Alderson’s A Bride Goes West; classics like Alcott’s Little Women or Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment; or theological books such as Walther’s Law & Gospel, Preus’s The Fire and the Staff, or C.S. Lewis’s Surprised by Joy. Suspense books are my current addiction. I’m also currently reading Stephen King’s book about writing, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, which is quite good.

Beverage of choice?

Ice water

Mac or PC?

Mac

What do you want to eat when Mom is cooking? 

Hmm … my mom doesn’t really like to cook, but she does make really good mashed potatoes.

Confirmation verse?

Acts 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.”

Which song do you hum the most?

I am more of a whistler than a hummer, but my husband says I have a wide whistling genre, from hymns, to pop songs, to commercial jingles, to making up my own tunes. And I often sing them, rather than just whistling them. Tunes seemingly come out of nowhere and often become my earworm for the day.

If you could name the heroine of a fiction book, she would be called:

Hannah

How do you use hymns in your daily life?

Usually a Sunday worship hymn sticks in my head for the week, and I’ll randomly sing it throughout the week. It’s a good way to be exposed to a variety of hymns. I’ll also go looking for a hymn when I’m going through a difficult time, and use it for meditation and encouragement.

What scenery do you want to be viewing?

Mountains, mountains, mountains.

Shoe of choice?

Brooks sneakers for worn out knees

Favorite movie villain?

I have two: Darth Vader and Gollum.

Which Psalm do you pray the most?

Psalms 6 and 27

What is your chapter about?

My chapter is on living with a chronic disease, but I hope that it will help anyone going through suffering, so that they may look to Christ and His promises for comfort, realizing all we receive is gift.


To preorder He Restores My Soul at 10%-off, visit EmmanuelPress.us.

Getting to know . . . Cheryl Magness.

HRMS front coverCheryl Magness, contributing author to He Restores My Soul, is a rockstar wife, mom, writer, editor, musician, teacher, philosopher, you name it … She’s good at everything she does. Truly.


Describe a normal day in the life of Mrs. Magness:

I’m going to do a typical Friday, because I love Fridays. Wake up at 5:00, have coffee and check email/do devotional reading, get ready for work, drop son at bus stop, go to work, go to Bible study (I get to go to Bible study at work!), write and edit some more, go to chapel (I get to go to chapel at work!), write and edit some more (have I mentioned I have the best job in the world?), pick up son at bus stop, drive home, work out on the elliptical, have a drink on the patio with my husband, eat supper with the best family in the world, do some chores, read or watch a show, fall asleep at around 10:00 because I am wiped out by that time.

What three words best describe your personality?

I asked my family for help with this one. Their suggestions: deliberate, protective, and caring.

Who do you go to for advice?

1. My husband
2. My kids
3. My homeschooling mommy friends

What do you like to read?

The classics. A few of my all-time favorites are Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Jane Eyre. In adulthood I went through a long period of not reading very much, at least not reading novels. Life was too chaotic! In recent years I have rediscovered my appreciation of the novel, and I’m reading them more. There are so many I want to read that I never have! Right now I’m reading Main Street by Sinclair Lewis.

Beverage of choice?

Buy the book to find out. 🙂

Mac or PC?

PC. Not that my husband hasn’t tried to convert me. I do have an iPhone, though. Does that count?

What do you want to eat when Mom is cooking?

Chicken & dumplings and buttermilk pie.

Confirmation verse?

I was an adult confirmand and am not sure if I had one. If I did, I don’t remember it. But if I could choose a confirmation verse now, it would be Romans 8:38-39: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Which song do you hum the most?

Whatever our church choir is working on.

How do you use hymns in your daily life?

Sing and play them!

What scenery do you want to be viewing?

Mountains. Their power, beauty, and stillness calm my soul. “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:1-2).

Shoe of choice?

Whatever I can fit my orthotics into.

Favorite movie villain?

Do soap operas count? I’m a longtime viewer of The Young and the Restless and have to admit I have a soft spot for Victor.

Which Psalm do you pray the most?

Psalm 4, because I have frequently struggled with insomnia, and the psalm reminds me that “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Ps. 4:8).

What is your chapter about?

My chapter is about bringing up children in the faith when it is a departure from your own childhood.


To preorder He Restores My Soul at 10%-off, visit EmmanuelPress.us.

Getting to know . . . Pamela Boehle-Silva.

HRMS front coverBelieve it or not, there are a couple of contributing authors to He Restores My Soul I have yet to meet in person. One of them is Californian, Deaconess Pamela Boehle-Silva, R. N.

That being said, after serving as Pamela’s content editor, I feel like I have known this woman all my life, and I adore her. Read on to see why.


Describe a normal day in the life of Deac. Boehle-Silva:

Get up about 4:45, make an espresso, throw in a load of laundry, read to prime the pump (poetry or some spiritual writing and Scripture), write for about 30 minutes, do some yoga, eat breakfast with my husband and do our daily devotions together, hopefully get in a walk before I head to Holy Cross for a day of diaconal work, then the day is open: visiting those in need at home or in the hospital or nursing home, prepping for teaching Bible classes, catechesis of youth, reading, writing, checking in with folks about “stuff,” and after work I might take a yoga class, cook dinner, work in the yard, read or watch a little TV, then tuck myself in bed early!

(Can you tell I like routine????  Like the rhythm of the liturgy, I find the extraordinary in the ordinary.)

What three words best describe your personality?

Oh, boy, that depends on who you talk to! Lively (headstrong!), passionate, compassionate.

Who do you go to for advice?

Well, it used to be my mama….now, my husband, a few close friends, and my trusty notebook which is another form of prayer for me.

What do you like to read?

Poetry, Classical literature, and a wide variety of spiritual writers: Kathleen Norris, Eugene Peterson, Heather King, Henri Nouwen, Anthony Esolen, and a variety of CTSFW seminary professors!

Beverage of choice?

Cappuccino or a Latin American drink: lemonade blended with mint and ice

Mac or PC?

Mac

What do you want to eat when Mom is cooking? 

Well, back in the day … bread pudding, roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy, chocolate chip cookies, and chocolate torte.

Confirmation verse?

John 15:5

Which song do you hum the most?

Depends on what I am listening to … could even be a hymn or the liturgy from Sunday.

If you could name the heroine of a fiction book, she would be called:

Margarita — named after a friend of mine from Mexico who is one of the bravest, kindest, hardest working women I know.

What scenery do you want to be viewing?

Ocean, mountains, or any kind of flowers and trees

Shoe of choice?

Flip flops

Favorite movie villain?

Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest

Which Psalm do you pray the most?

Psalm 121

What is your chapter about?

Caring for someone with dementia; finding joy in the midst of sorrow, hope in the midst of grief and despair; relying on God’s promises always to remember us even if our own memory fails; the wounds of the crucified and risen Christ as our anchor; how God’s goodness and mercy follow us all the length of our days to sustain us in our trials; how even a disease like dementia cannot rob us of God’s mercy.


To preorder He Restores My Soul at 10%-off, visit EmmanuelPress.us.

Getting to know . . . Cheryl Swope.

HRMS front coverCheryl Swope is not just a contributing author to He Restores My Soul; she is a twice-contributing author, penning two of the fourteen total chapters in the book. She has that many wise, comforting things to share, as you will discover below.


Describe a normal day in the life of Mrs. Swope:

4:30 a.m. writing in the quiet hours with a large mug of tea and local honey — this is my treasured time

6:30 a.m. break: breakfast with my son and helping him prepare for his work day

7:30 a.m. writing in the next round of quiet after my son leaves

9:00 a.m. break: chatting with my newly retired husband over his coffee, often outside

9:30 a.m. “second breakfast” with my daughter who is now up; help her prepare for her 10-2 work day

10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. official writing & working — with break for lunch & non-negotiable lap swim

3:30-6:30 p.m. afternoon walk, family dinner, conversations, phone calls, household calendar planning

6:30-7:30 p.m. family games, nighttime routine, early bed for children

7:30-8:30 p.m. sitting outside with my husband, reading, early rest for grown-ups

What three words best describe your personality?

My (gracious) family says, “caring, loving, thoughtful”

Who do you go to for advice?

Any of five girlfriends who have known me the longest and know me the best, and whose advice is born of the unmatched combination of their faithfulness to the Holy Scriptures and their love for me

What do you like to read?

My grandma (who readers will meet in one of my chapters). My grandma left me nearly fifty years of her priceless, well-written, newsy daily entries. When I read those pages I feel as though I am back on her sofa listening to her stories and sipping apricot or blackberry brandy with her till late into the night.

Beverage of choice?

A new find — young hyson green tea — from a local shop, Sassafras Creek Originals, in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri

Mac or PC?

PC, but only because I could not understand the Mac quickly enough to be productive and had to return it!

What do you want to eat when Mom is cooking? 

My mom’s big, healthy spinach salads filled with blueberries, pecans, feta cheese …

Confirmation verse?

We did not have this practice in the tradition in which I was raised, so I “share” my daughter’s, Isaiah 41:10, which she often writes on cards to anyone who is suffering: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Which song do you hum the most?

Whatever song one of my children played moments before on the piano (often a very simplified Musette by Bach)

If you could name the heroine of a fiction book, she would be called:

Lydia Mae (after my grandma’s favorite grandma)

How do you use hymns in your daily life?

Always in the car; every weekend in the kitchen with KFUO; late work nights with LPR, and every evening in my devotional reading

What scenery do you want to be viewing?

Our backyard trees and garden from our porch swing with my husband

Shoe of choice?

Lifestride mary janes for speaking; soft pink Vionic mule slippers for quiet writing at home

Which Psalm do you pray the most?

Psalm 23, the very psalm chosen for our book

What are your two chapters about?

“Train Up a Child” is about those who fall away — or those we fear will fall away — from the faith, the women who love them, and the Shepherd who seeks them.

“Motherhood and Mental Illness” gives an inside look into our two children who live with mental illness and, I hope, provides a reminder of God’s faithfulness to us in Christ Jesus no matter the crosses we cause or the crosses we bear.


To preorder He Restores My Soul at 10%-off, visit EmmanuelPress.us.

Getting to know . . . Magdalena Schultz.

HRMS front coverMagdalena Schultz, contributing author to He Restores My Soul, has a softness of demeanor that swaddles a tenacious, motherly instinct.


Describe a normal day in the life of Mrs. Schultz:

“Normal” is just a setting on your dishwasher. Nothing about my current days is normal. What they are, though, is filled with lots of coffee, very little sleep, countless hours of sitting, patience, and prayer. 

What three words best describe your personality?

I think “poor, miserable sinner” sums me up quite neatly. However, loyal, observant, and practical might be a bit more descriptive. 

Who do you go to for advice?

Depends on the matter … husband, Mama, and often the best friend. 

What do you like to read?

Children’s literature and historical fiction 

Beverage of choice?

Coffee, always.

Mac or PC?

Mac… I still remember that very first Mac my papa brought home! That dial-up tone and green text were just the beginning of our family commitment to everything Apple. 

What do you want to eat when Mom is cooking?

Breakfast! Farm fresh eggs, bacon, hearty bread, brie, fruit, and a bottomless cuppa coffee in her bright sunshiny-yellow dining room.

Confirmation verse?

John 3:16

Which song do you hum the most?

Whichever song I last heard … always amusingly random. Yesterday, I couldn’t get “The Crawdad Song” out of my head.

If you could name the heroine of a fiction book, she would be called:

Minte

How do you use hymns in your daily life?

Lullabies and prayers, or history projects! Have you ever heard of Catherine Winkworth? She translated some of the best! Plus, she was instructed by the husband of one of my favorite novelists. You never know what you’ll discover in the footnotes! 

What scenery do you want to be viewing?

A quiet sandy beach on Lake Superior on a still morning … where the water is still, and the sun is evaporating the last of the early morning fog. This Yooper longs for her homeland. 

Shoe of choice?

Birkenstocks, always. My feet have permanent stripes. 

Favorite movie villain?

Hades from Disney’s Hercules… “Name’s Hades, Lord of the dead. Hi, how ya doin’?”

Which Psalm do you pray the most?

147. It was displayed on a digital sign in front of a church on our drive home from the diagnostic exam which informed us of our biggest adventure yet. Since then, I have found myself returning to those words more than any others. 

What is your chapter about?

Practicing faith daily, no matter the circumstances and fears. 


To preorder He Restores My Soul at 10%-off, visit EmmanuelPress.us.

Getting to know . . . Heather Smith.

HRMS front coverMay I introduce you to respected logophile, Heather Smith? She is one of twelve authors featured in the upcoming release, He Restores My Soul, and I asked her a few pertinent questions to get to know her better.

If you like Anne Shirley and theoretical physics, keep reading.


Describe a normal day in the life of Mrs. Smith:

I am richly blessed in my new(ish) life as a pastor’s wife. Generally, every day includes meals with my husband, exercising on the elliptical machine, the various tasks of housework (making things in the kitchen is my absolute favorite!), and devotions after dinner. Some days’ accomplishments are more along the lines of doing laundry and vacuuming, other days I carve out time for writing or research projects or other creative endeavors. Church activities fit into the week, including Bible study on Wednesday nights and the ladies’ quilting group on Thursdays. However, there are also days when the more normal routine is pushed aside in lieu of substitute teaching or trips to the “big city” for various purposes.

What three words best describe your personality?

introspective, perspicacious, logophilic

Who do you go to for advice?

Too often just the inside of my own head; I’m an avid over-analyzer. However, when I am being smarter — i.e. humbler — I consult my husband (who is also my pastor) or a couple very dear friends.

What do you like to read?

So many things! Fiction could be anything from fantasy to historical fiction to epic poetry. Non-fiction interests include history, education, grammar and language, philosophy, theology, and the odd smattering of theoretical physics.

Beverage of choice?

I usually start the day with a cup of Irish breakfast tea — just cream, no sugar, please.

Mac or PC?

PC. But my husband is a Mac lover. Perhaps one day when finances and tolerance level for frustration permit, I’ll go through the pain of converting.

Confirmation verse?

Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

Which song do you hum the most?

Hymns of all sorts seep out of my mind’s storehouse and onto my lips, but if one comes unbidden more often than others, it might be the beautifully rich “If Thou But Trust in God to Guide Thee.” No surprise that it figures prominently in my chapter.

If you could name the heroine of a fiction book, she would be called:

That would depend a great deal on the book itself! I am afraid I lack the Anne Shirley quality of dreaming up perfect names for literary heroines before their stories are written. Perhaps the closest thing I can admit to is my clever teenage idea for the character of an Irish botanist named Phil O’Dendron.

How do you use hymns in your daily life?

A hymn stanza of the week is always the close of nightly devotions, with the goal of memorizing hymns this way. I also find myself singing snatches of hymns as I wash dishes or iron clothing. However, the thing I love most about hymns is how phrases come to mind in times of sorrow or joy that perfectly give voice to my feelings, thus uniting my mind, heart, and soul.

What scenery do you want to be viewing?

I love the mountains, but I’m also pretty happy with the shade trees on the lawn and rolling cornfields on the horizon right outside my southern Illinois parsonage.

Shoe of choice?

Practical but pretty sandals in the summer; comfy flats or wedges in cooler weather.

Which Psalm do you pray the most?

Different seasons of life make me turn to different psalms, but a perennial favorite for me is Psalm 103.

What is your chapter about?

My chapter is about learning to bear, patiently and humbly, the cross of undesired singleness.


To preorder He Restores My Soul at 10%-off, visit EmmanuelPress.us.

He Restores My Soul

Dearly beloved readers,

Emmanuel Press and I have been working hard on a little project the last few months. It brings me great pleasure to share with you — Finally! — that we are collaborating with a host of experienced female writers to bring you a new book, He Restores My Soul, set to release in October of 2018.

He Restores My Soul is primarily a book of empathy and encouragement for the cross-bearing Christian woman. Utilizing the timeless, rich comfort permeating Psalm 23, each chapter applies the theology of the cross to a particular kind of suffering, pointing the reader to a firm faith in God’s promises and a resounding joy in His mysterious work of conforming us “to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).

Various topics addressed within the pages of He Restores My Soul include living the Christian faith in the public arena, carrying a child in the womb who is not expected to live, mothering while working, regretting an abortion, struggling against same-sex attraction, caring for aging parents, children leaving the faith, living with mental illness, suffering from depression and chronic diseases, and raising children apart from one’s own upbringing.

Who are the other writers, you ask? Follow Emmanuel Press and me on Facebook in the months ahead to learn more.


About Emmanuel Press

Established by Rev. Michael and Janet Frese in 2004, Emmanuel Press is a publishing house dedicated to producing works essential to confessional Lutheran theology, including theological books, liturgical and catechetical resources, and ecclesiastical greeting cards. Emmanuel Press brings together treasures of Christian literature, exceptional artwork, and a clear confession of faith. Learn more at www.emmanuelpress.us or contact directly at emmanuelpress@gmail.com.

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Dear Cookie

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Dear Katie,

I just finished reading your 3 wonderful books. They are very hard to put down. I’m hoping you will take Emily to her baby’s birth. She was due in February, so I thought the book would tell the exact date. Are you planning on writing more about Pastor Fletcher and his flock? I just wondered where you came up with the names of your characters.

A sister in Christ,

Cookie


Dear Cookie,

Cynthia Irene was born on February 18, 2017. She is a delight to her parents, though her sister Becky is still deciding whether or not to keep her. Regardless of affection, the entire family calls her “Thia.”

Some of my character names come from my imagination, some come from country graveyard tombstones, and some come from my heart. If you happen to recognize a surname in Bradbury, it is my attempt to pay homage to a family name that I hold dear. For example, the “Compton” in Mrs. Arlene Margaret Compton Scheinberg is my own personal stamp on my favorite character (Compton is my paternal grandmother’s maiden name), and “Alwardt” is a surname from my hometown that I happen to like very much. “Ebner,” however, I chose simply because of its meaning — “judge, arbiter” — and it helped me remember Evan’s personality and function in the story every time I wrote it.

Whatever the reason I chose a particular surname, I tried to keep the balance of etymology exact to that of a small Methodist town in south-central Illinois that inherited a bunch of German Lutherans toward the end of the nineteenth century.

At this point in time, I have no plans to write more books in the Anthems of Zion series. The residents of Bradbury showed me such generous hospitality over the last eight years, and I hate to overstay my welcome. I do hope to write more fiction books down the road, but that road most likely will not lead me to south-central Illinois. But wherever the road does lead, I sure hope to meet you on it.

Gratefully yours in Christ,

Katie

 

A helium balloon

There is a mild panic that grips the waking moments of an author in between writing books. I suspect it has something to do with living outside of a long-fought-for habit. Writing is largely a self-driven occupation, and an author spends months writing day after day to train the subconscious to perform. It feels wasteful suddenly not to be writing a book, as if the subconscious is a helium balloon held precariously between forefinger and thumb. It constantly pulls at the fingers, trying to evade any grip and catch a ride on the wind, never to be grasped again.

But five books deep into the matter, I know that this feeling is just a feeling. Writing another book is simply a matter of work — of stacking word upon word, hour upon hour, day upon day — until an entirely new balloon is inflated.

#WearTheRooster Bulletin Bloopers Contest Winners

All good things must come to an end.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the various #WearTheRooster contests over the past few months. I had such a good time listening to your songs, admiring your pies, reading your poems, studying your colored Cogburns, perusing your book reviews, and, especially, laughing at your bulletin bloopers. Thank you, also, to Concordia Publishing House for underwriting these contests with their awesome T-shirts.

While I am sad to see these contests come to an end, I am thankful that the reason for their conclusion is that the The Harvest Raise is ready to come out.

So without further adieu, allow me to congratulate the winners of our bulletin bloopers contest:

Best Body Part Blooper – Heidi Wightman

Best Tasting Blooper – Elizabeth Moline

BEST ALL-CAPS BLOOPER – Christine Mueller

Best Hymnal Blooper – Megan Davis

Best Parenting Blooper – Becky Amen

Best Dressed Blooper – Rachel Boothby

Best Blooper Compilation – Justin Williamson

Best Geraldine Turner Tribute – Michelle Hennig (and Elizabeth)

Winners, would you please send me your T-shirt size and mailing address via the contact page of this website?

And to everyone who participated in the #WearTheRooster contests, thank you for playing along. I can’t wait to meet up with you again in the pages of The Harvest Raise. See you on June 13th!

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