Q and A with Author Amy Clipston

I have had the honor of being on Amy Clipston’s Street Team, Amy Clipston’s Bakery Bunch. All of us help Amy promote her books by word of mouth, sharing on Social Media and by posting reviews. I have had the privilege to send Amy some questions that I have wanted to ask for her to answer. Here are those Q & A’s!!!

When did you know you wanted to become an author?

I’ve always loved to write. It’s always been sort of a stress reliever for me. I started making up stories in my head when I was in elementary school, and I carried around notebooks that I filled with silly stories. I’ve always felt like something is missing if I’m not working on a book.

 

The strange thing is that I didn’t want to pursue a career in writing until after college when I accidentally found a local chapter of Romance Writers of America (RWA). Until I joined RWA, writing was a hobby.  When I attended a meeting, I realized I could possibly turn my hobby into something more. Through RWA, I met writers in all stages of their careers, and I learned how to polish a book and then find an agent.

After knowing writing was something you wanted to do, how did you choose the style of writing you use, the genre?

 

I was always fascinated with the Amish when I was a child. I remember visiting Lancaster County when I was younger, and my father, who was a German immigrant, told me the Amish speak the same dialect of German as my relatives. I was drawn to their simplicity and faith. Due to my German heritage, I feel a loose connection to the culture. I was inspired by other Amish authors to try to write my own Amish stories.

Have you always lived in North Carolina? If not, how did you know that’s where you wanted to be?

I was born and raised in Ridgewood, New Jersey. My parents and I fell in love with Virginia Beach, VA, while we were tourists. When I was 18, my father was 62 and wanted to retire, and we made the move to Virginia Beach. I attended Virginia Wesleyan College and then went to work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Norfolk, Virginia. I also met and married my husband, Joe, while I was in Virginia. Joe and I decided we wanted to live further south, so moved my parents and our children to the Charlotte area of North Carolina in 2006. We love it here! I often joke that I may have been born in New Jersey, but I got to North Carolina as quickly as I could.

A lot of people don’t know that you gave your husband one of your kidneys, how did you make that decision? How did he feel when you told him?

Joe received a kidney from his brother in 2004, and it only lasted four years.  In 2008, he went back on dialysis, and he was very ill. I was willing to donate to Joe, but I wasn’t a perfect match. Instead of donating a kidney to Joe, I found another way to help him. I became a paired donor for him, meaning that I donated a kidney so that he could receive one in exchange.

I donated a kidney on June 14, 2011, at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Through my donation,  Joe received a second kidney transplant. My husband and I matched another couple and swapped kidneys with them. I donated a kidney to a woman, and in exchange, her husband gave a kidney to Joe.

My memoir, A Gift of Love, details our journey with Joe’s kidney disease and his two kidney transplants.   You can find my memoir here: http://amyclipston.com/project/the-gift-of-love/

Due to Joe’s kidney struggles, I’ve become an advocate for both organ and blood donation. I volunteer with the National Kidney Foundation, and I also run blood drives at my church. If you are healthy and able, please give the gift of life and donate blood.

What are some things that you and your husband do to make your marriage stronger?

We try to make time for each other, whether it’s date night where we go to dinner or just watching a movie together. We do our best to keep the lines of communication open and talk things out when we get frustrated with each other. Marriage is a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it. We’ve faced some tough times, but in the end, we’re thankful to have each other and our two awesome sons.

 

Thank you to Amy Clipston for answering these questions for me!! Be sure to check out Amy’s newest series: Amish Heirloom Series and her newest novella in An Amish Harvest.

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Are We Alone?

Are We Alone?

My whole life I have always heard the phrase “You can’t do life alone!” I always knew I wasn’t alone, I had my husband, my kids, my family but most importantly I have God in my life. Something was missing from the picture, I still felt alone, like I had no one I could go to and talk to when life threw me curve balls. A mentor to help me be the godly mother, wife, and woman of God I longed to be. Where was this person? Why wasn’t the church trying to help me find that person? These questions and more are what I asked myself everyday but to no avail, I couldn’t answer them.

 

It wasn’t long after I decided I was on my own that an older lady of the church came to me and befriended me. We would call each other, I would visit with her, and the talks I shared with her helped me to become a better woman of God. But after several months, it all stopped, I felt abandoned. I was alone again but not for much longer when another lady became my friend. We enjoyed lunch together, we would call and text, she was there for me as I was for her. She really became the friend I needed, the friend to an answered prayer. After two years, it all stopped and again I was alone. Afraid to try again, I shut people out of my life, I was better alone.

 

Those words haunting me again, “you can’t do life alone” I started attending Celebrate Recovery at our church and met some wonderful ladies and had a safe environment where I could talk, during this time I became close to a sweet lady and we became close friends and accountability partners, I will say I was scared but I let down my walls and proceeded to see where God was taking this friendship. The same things happened and after a year it was over again. Needless to say the walls went up and the anger started. What is wrong with me? What am I doing wrong? Is it because I don’t have money? Is it because I have a big family? What is the problem? These are the questions that ran through my head. Then I got to thinking and after reading the Bible that day I knew what the problem was, No one is mentoring anyone because they are not being taught how to mentor. How can we change this?

 

Chip Ingram quoted “We are all insecure,” and insecurity is what is preventing us from reaching out to others. We hear all the time from churches that you can’t do life alone, you need to be a part of a small group, etc. but where is the teaching of this at. Most of the small groups in churches today are people who have been “friends” for a long time. When a new member comes a long, they are having a hard time fitting in because no one wants to befriend them so they began to feel alone like this isn’t where God wants them after all. If you want to reach the un-churched then we the churched must be reaching, you have to become friends with them and show them they aren’t alone. Churches today don’t align with what the Bible says and this needs to change. Yes, it is hard! You can’t make God stop loving you so why do we put terms on loving others?

 

There are members sitting in churches who are hurting, dealing with habits and addictions, contemplating suicide all because they have no one to turn to. All this takes me back to a to a line in a song by Armin Van Buuren entitled Alone (you can see the video at the end of this message) my loose paraphrase “we are all connected but we are not connecting the human element is missing.” Which means we are connected through social media, text messages and etc. but we are not connecting face to face. This is not good. Jesus didn’t have social media. He walked everywhere, He talked face to face to people, He cared and He wants us to do the same. We say we want to be more like Jesus but are we really striving for that goal?

 

Titus 2 tells us about how the older women should mentor the younger women and the older men should mentor the younger men. Why is this not happening? We have to begin this work or the younger ones are going to leave the church and not come back and then where is the future of the church? Why are church members leaving and giving up on church? Simply put, no one cares like Jesus. This may sound harsh, but the truth is harsh, we all hate hearing the truth, but it is time to make a change and start being like Christ, get rid of our insecurities and reach out to those that need it.

 

The reason why I am writing about this subject is because my husband and I have always felt alone at a church we attended. No one would be a friend or come to us. My husband feels so alone because not one person has ever been a true friend and called him to ask how he was. All we are looking for is friends, someone to care about us, someone to show Christ’s love to us and in return we will do the same. You see when one person starts something and someone else sees that, in return they will do the same and then everyone is participating. If you want to reach the un-churched, start reaching the members and then the un-churched can be reached. Maybe it just needs to start with us. Your homework this week: ask someone how he or she is doing? Then after their normal response “I’m fine” then ask them “how are they really doing?” you might be surprised by the answer.

 

Much Love,

Crystal

Philippians 4:13

 

Depression

Depression is one of those words that anyone hates to hear but yet so many hear it everyday. I remember the first time I heard that dreadful word, Mrs. Scott, I’m sorry to tell you this but you are suffering from DEPRESSION…What me? No, I’m not depressed, I can’t be, I don’t have time for this.

 

I wasn’t diagnosed with depression until 2003 but the doctor had told me I had been suffering from it for several years. He then proceeded to ask me what had happened in the past that could have brought on the depression. I then proceeded to think and the only thing that I could remember was October 9, 1998 and then November 26, 1999. On October 8, 1998, we lost my grandmother Hansel Towery, she was a vital part of my life, more like a mom than a grandma. She was always there when I had a problem and she always knew what to say. But I will never forget the last words I spoke to her. She had just been released from the hospital, and I had called her to see how she was and to let her know I would be over on Friday to see her. I told her I loved her and she said, “I love you too and I can’t wait to see you.” I then told her, “Maw maw, I will see you on Friday.”

 

Friday came and after I picked my husband up from work and then took the boys to the doctor, we went to go pay some bills. When I arrived to pay one bill, the lady, who was a good friend of my parents, told me that I needed to call my parents. (And I know what your thinking, No I didn’t have a cell phone at that time) So, I called and didn’t get any answer, so I called back to my house and checked the messages. First message from my mom, “Crissy, get to the hospital now, they have taken your grandma, she’s not going to make it.” Next message, “Crissy, she’s gone, please get her soon.” I slammed the phone down and broke down crying.

 

We left and went to the hospital; by the time I got there everyone else had left. I told the ladies at the emergency room who I was and who I was there to see, still in shock and couldn’t believe it. Five minutes passed and a nurse came out, she took me in a room and proceeded to tell me what I had already known, Mrs. Scott, I’m sorry but she didn’t make it. She took me back to the room they had her in and told me, they had her revived for a few minutes and all she talked about was her kids and grandkids and her great-grandkids. She loved you all very much and was very proud of each one of you. I looked at my grandma and cried and begged for her to come back to me, but nothing, she left me alone in this world to find my own way. I was so angry, angry with myself for not spending more time with her, angry with my husband because I felt he took me away from her, and angry with God for taking someone who was loved and needed. This was the worst day of my life.

 

I believe I just floated through life after that, because the next thing I remember was finding out that I was pregnant. About 5 days before Halloween 1999, I found out I was pregnant and after I told my husband and mom and dad, I called my grandpa and told him I was pregnant. You could hear the excitement in his voice; everyday I talked to him and that’s all he talked about was how he couldn’t wait till I had the baby and how he wished grandma was still alive to see this. The happiness ended just 2 weeks later when I had to call him and tell him that I had a miscarriage. There wasn’t going to be a baby. I could hear the sadness in his voice, he started to cry, broken hearted he handed the phone to his sister who told me he couldn’t bare the news and couldn’t talk. I still talked to him but could always hear the sadness in his voice. November 26, 1999, my phone rang and I answered the call from my mom, “Crissy, get to the hospital, they had to take your grandpa, he fell.” Oh no, not again, I can’t do this, is all I was thinking.” So, we loaded the car with the boys and my niece and headed to the hospital. We arrived and I ran in, my dad was still there waiting; he took all of us back to the room. I ran to his bedside and I was too late again. I said my goodbyes and cried, and cried and cried. I could hardly stand, my dad had to hold me up. “No Lord, not again please, please, please, don’t take him too.” That’s all I could say, that’s all that ran through my mind.

 

My life was a blur, how could I go on. I had lost all hope and all reason to live, but two short weeks later I found the will to go on. I found out I was pregnant, and believe the doctors were like “you can’t be.” But yes I was and when I went to the doctor, they figured it out that she was conceived two days before my grandfather died. That gave me hope that there is still a God and Yes He loves me.

 

The death of these two wonderful people put me in a downward spiral that had its good times and bad times. No matter what happened to me after these two events, I never let them go, I could never go on with my life. And that is what depression does to you, it literally kills you, drains you of all your energy. I gained weight, shut out people who love me and it even was destroying my marriage. But it wasn’t until I found out what depression was and decided that I couldn’t be mad at God anymore. That He loved me, look at all that He had given me. That I could start to recover and try to get back to my old self, the person I was before tragedy hit.

 

I have dealt with depression for 16 years, some good days, some bad days and some in-between days. Even though I have this illness (that’s what I call it), I control it, I hold the switch in my hand and I have to make the decision whether or not it’s going to control me. I have to put God first in my life and I have to quit telling myself, “You’re fat, you’re ugly, you’re a bad mom, you’re a terrible wife, you can’t do nothing right, etc.” I have to turn off the chatterbox and learn to live. Cut out the drama, the negativity, surround myself with people who care and always remember that God doesn’t make any junk. And when I do these things, I am free from Depression, I am free to live, I am free to be the person God made me to be.

Trust!!!!!

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TRUST!!!

Trust is a word that we all know and use but do we really know the true meaning of trust. Webster’s dictionary states the definition of trust as: belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.” and “one in which confidence is placed,” last but not least “a charge or duty imposed in faith or confidence or as a condition of some relationship:  something committed or entrusted to one to be used or cared for in the interest of another.”

I’m not going to discuss trust as far as trusting a person but trust as far as God goes.  Trust is the word that I chose as my one word for 2013, the word that I would live by. Boy have I failed big time and I mean big time. And I find myself reading a particular passage out of the Bible, that passage is Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (NIV) Wow!! Is what I say every time I read it followed by how hard is it to trust the Lord and not try to fix it yourself? For me it is a struggle everyday, and when I say everyday I mean every second of every day. Trusting God should be as easy as riding a bike (as some will say but for me I don’t know how to ride a bike! SHHHH!!!!) Right!! Wrong its not that easy and why is not that easy? Human nature, freewill, sin just to name a few reasons.

Right now, lets talk about trust and the bible… Throughout the Old Testament we see the word trust and hear about how Abraham trusted the Lord, Joshua trusted the Lord, Noah trusted the Lord, David trusted the Lord and the list goes on and on. I reflect on Psalm 9:10, “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you,” and see how God’s words ring true that He has not forsaken us because we do seek Him and we do trust Him but only when we feel we need to. I don’t know about you but I can trust Him in the little things but when it comes to big things, I run and hide and try to play Ms. Fix it. Telling myself, “I can do this, I don’t need any help, and it’s my problem.” And all the time I am saying these things, God is sitting back and laughing saying “No you can’t, Trust me, lay those burdens down at My feet and let Me handle them.”

Why can’t I be like David when he said, “In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.” (Psalm 25:1-2, NIV) and “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” (Psalm 28:7, NIV) How easy would life be if I chose to trust in the Lord more than I do know? How much stress would I loose? How happy would I be? Those are the questions we should be asking ourselves over and over and over, until we have it drilled in our minds that we should put all of our trust in God and not in money, people or whatever else we put our trust into.

One thing I am certain of is know matter how many times I don’t put my trust in God and I try to do the things myself, that God still loves me and is there to help me up. But after all the bruises, shouldn’t I trust God with all m problems? Yes I should!!! Starting today, November 21, 2013, I will trust in the Lord, I will lay my burdens down at His feet; I will stop being Ms. Fix It and let go of the reigns. Who is with me??? Who is ready to Let Go and Trust God?????? I want to hear from each one of you, leave me a comment!!!!!! I’m all in and I am ready to Trust and Obey for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to TRUST and obey!!!!!!!!!

Much Love,

Crystal

The Wall Around Your Heart

The Wall Around Your Heart

Hello everyone, today I want to talk about having walls around your heart. One of my favorite authors had a new book to release yesterday Oct. 15 entitled The Wall Around your Heart, how Jesus heals you when others hurt you. I am patiently waiting the arrival of my copy and can not wait to dive into this book.

When I first heard about Mary’s new book and seen the title I thought, “She must have written this just for me.” I am bad about putting walls around my heart because everytime I turn around I have been hurt.

Here is the description of the book:

Family members hurtus. Friends betray us. Fellow Christians deceive us. But Jesus provides a paththrough the pain—the Lord’s Prayer.

In The Wall AroundYour Heart, Mary DeMuth shows you that you can reach wholeness and healing in the aftermath of painfulrelationships by following the road map of the Lord’s Prayer. You’ll walkthrough story after story of hurt people who are led through biblical truth intoamazing, life-sustaining, joyful growth.

Life is hard. Peoplecan be mean and petty and awful. But they can also be amazing and beautiful andsacrificial. God is good. He is faithful. You can trust him with yourrelationships. “He’ll send people to call out what is hard in your heart,” Maryshares. “And that’s a gift to you.”

Allow God to access the wall around your heart. Dare to say,“Tear down the bricks, Lord, whatever it takes.” Pray first. Ask forbravery—for yourself and for others. Risk engaging despite your hurt. Seek theshelter of Jesus.

You don’t have to resign yourself to your wounds! You can rise above the pain. You’ll usher in a newlife—an openhearted way of relating to others that expands the kingdom of God. Inthe process, you’ll draw closer to Jesus, be healed, and become an agent ofhealing to others.

Can we say wow, powerful a must read for all!!!

I can personally tell you a time when God crashed down one of the walls around my heart. I wasn’t one to put how I truly feel out there and found that because of a lot of trust issues and abuse that happened to me when I was little, I couldn’t let my husband know how I truly felt. One day God had led me to Celebrate Recovery and there I learned how to let it go, through the help of realizing what had happened to me was not my fault and that God still loved me and that my husband would not think less of me, I let him know what had happened to me and since then things have been a lot better. When you truly trust God with your problems and let it all go, He will knock down those walls one at a time.

I can’t wait to get this book in my hands and see what other walls God will knock down. I encourage each one of you to read this book with me. After I am finished with the book I will post my review. Be on the lookout!!!!!!

Here is the link to the books website, please check it out!! http://www.wallaroundyourheart.com

Until next time,

In His Name,

Crystal

Anger! How to find Peace?

I am not ashamed to say that I have an issue with anger. There are many times that I blow my top over the smallest things such as: dirty dishes, clothes in the floor, my employees not sweeping or cleaning, and even if my cat looks at me the wrong way. I grew up with a father who was angry a lot until he came to find Christ. Believe me when I say that this is one trait I wish I didn’t inherit.
Deborah Smith Pegues takes us on a journey on how to tame our anger in 30 days and yes at first I was like this is a joke there is no taming my anger, but Jesus had a different plan when this book was placed in my possession for me to read.  Ms. Pegues tells events from her own life about how anger took over and then she goes into the Bible and tells us about anger found in the scriptures. The book is broken into thirty days and each day has a topic and then at the end of each day there is a faith declaration.
This is a wonderful book and I highly recommend it to anyone who suffers with anger issues or as a gift for someone who you may know that suffers with anger.
Thank you

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year everyone!!!!!!

I’m not making any resolutions this year because I will never keep them, instead I am going to Trust God with everything. My prayer this year is going to be that God will take my eyes off of myself and keep my eyes on Him, without God I can do nothing and without God I am nothing. I prayer for each one of you is peace, love, and happiness. May God Bless each one of you in 2013!!!!!

Much Love,

Crystal