Undaunted: Student Edition | Christine Caine

“Each had come to Greece expecting legitimate employment. All had brought with them dreams, hopes, and aspirations to do something more with their lives than their own families had ever dreamed possible. All of those tender, youthful dreams had been shattered beyond anyone’s worst fears.”

As you know, I love story and how it impacts others. Christine Caine’s, founder of the A21 Campaign, story is no different and Undaunted Student Edition: Daring to do what God calls you to do is a book all teens (and adults should grab a copy of Undaunted for themselves) should read. Trust me on this one.

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In Undaunted: Student Edition, Christine Caine uses her dramatic life story to show teens how God rescued her from a life where she was unnamed, unwanted, and unqualified. She tells how she overcame abuse, abandonment, fears, and other challenges to go on a mission of adventure, fueled by faith and filled with love and courage. Her personal stories inspire teens to hear their name called, just as Christine heard her own—’You are beloved. You are the hope. You are chosen’—to go into a dark and troubled world, knowing each of us possess all it takes to bring hope, create change, and live completely for Christ. Part inspirational tale, part manifesto to stir readers to lives of adventure, Undaunted: Student Edition shows the way with spiritual wisdom and insight.

Sharing her personal story, the pain, the hardships and the healing, Caine shares her heart and how it shaped who she was and how the Lord worked through it to remind her of beautiful truths: the God made us, chooses us, is always with us and loves us deeply.

And He redeems us.

Throughout the pages, Caine encourages students to hold on to hope. It’s a touching story of how Christine and her husband are spreading that hope through the work they do with human trafficking as well as spreading the gospel and equipping the church and people around the world.

“God help me not to close my eyes to other people’s horror or ignore injustice. Help me fight the injustice you hate. Help me value people and speak up for those who have been silenced. God, you have loved, chosen and healed me, and I want to help others be set free. If anything-anything!-like this happens in my lifetime, help me not to sit back and pretend it does not concern me.” After a visit to Auschwitz before starting the A21 campaign





“He does not ask, Are you capable? He asks, Are you willing?”

I also liked the discussion questions at the end of each section; questions for students to wrestle with and work through.

The way the Lord has worked through Christine and her husband is inspiring and this book gives a glimpse in that journey and path that got her where she is today. So teens, youth groups and anyone else reading, be sure to grab a copy of this one. You’ll come away changed.

(Thank you DJC Communications and Zondervan for the readers copy in exchange for my honest review!)

4 Questions with Bestselling Author Deeanne Gist

Guys.





Look who is on the blog today. Look! Yep, the very same I always mention is absolutely hilarious and how I love all her books. The bestselling author herself, Deeanne Gist! Do you know how exciting it is for me to be able to host my favorite authors on this little corner of the web? All I’m saying is I’ve been known to dance around the room from excitement. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did and be sure to pick up one of her books stat!

Deeanne Gist — known to her family, friends, and fans as Dee — has rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere with her very original, very fun historical & contemporary love stories. Add to this four RITA nominations, two consecutive Christy Awards, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.

You can connect with Deeanne on at her website, Twitter or Facebook!

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1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
In the last five years we’ve seen 2 kids get married, 2 graduate college, and 1 move to the other side of the country to pursue a career in music. In that time, as Greg and I became empty nesters, our sweet border collie suddenly moved way up in the pecking order. He’s not *quite* top dog, but he’s close. Never did I dream we’d let him on the furniture with us, on our bed, in our hotel rooms, and hardly ever out of our sight. Our kids are all shaking their heads at this sad state of affairs.

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2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
Oh, goodness. There are too many to count, much less narrow down to one. So many words I’ve let spill out that I’d love to recapture. So many decisions I’ve made that I so wish I’d never fallen through on. So many falls I took that could have so been avoided. One thing? Hardly.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
I remember looking out the window above the kitchen sink while washing up some dishes. The day was glorious and the girls were playing hula-hoop on the deck and the boys were eating popsicles while they watched Greg work on a fort he was building for them. I remember resting my hands against the sink and thinking, “You know, life just doesn’t get any better than this.”

Before

Before

Finished!

Finished!

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
I hope the next generation never forgets that though they are connected to “friends” all over the globe with a touch of their fingers, that it is still extremely important to have friends they spend time with, play with, and share with–live and in person. No amount of texting, tweeting, or facebooking can ever replace the rewards which come from those face-to-face, day-to-day relationships.

This is my next Gist novel on the list!

This is my next Gist novel on the list!

Thank you so much Deeanne! Such a pleasure to host you at Books and Beverages!

Who votes I give away one of Deeanne’s books? I do! I like to make things easy, so to enter all you have to do is leave a comment on this post! If you want to earn extra entries, here’s a few easy ways (just leave a comment each time you do).

Be sure to leave a comment! Leave one by 11/7/13 at 11:59 (CST).

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4 Questions with Bestselling Author Rachel Hauck

Guys! I’m sooooo excited to have the bestselling Rachel Hauck on the blog! Not only is she a fabulous writer (she wins awards and stuff), but she’s also awesome. She gives plenty back to the reading community, not only by connecting with fans, but helping fellow writers out! She was recently awarded the 2013 AFCW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Mentor of the Year.

So if you haven’t, I suggest you grab one of her books and dive in! You can connect with Rachel on Facebook, Twitter and her website!

Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, bestselling author of critically acclaimed novels such as the RITA nominated The Wedding Dress and Love Starts with Elle, part of the Lowcountry series. She also penned the Songbird Novels with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Booklist named their novel, Softly and Tenderly, one of 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals.

A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, Rachel worked in the corporate software world before planting her backside in an uncomfortable chair to write full-time in 2004.

She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship at their annual conference. She is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker.

Rachel writes from her two-story tower in an exceedingly more comfy chair. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.

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1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
Five years ago I would’ve never imagined myself in a different house, one with a freshly built (I can still smell the new lumber) two-story, octagon shaped “tower” with hardwood floors and trim as my writing office. Everyday I climb a curving staircase to the second floor, where the surrounding trees almost make me feel like I’m in a tree house, and I sit down to write novels. How fun is that?

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
Wow, that’s a hard question. There are things in my past that I would do differently now that I have the perspective of time, but I think I would’ve cheated myself of the beauty and pain of my journey to have changed anything. Maybe I’d have been more serious about following Jesus in my college years but that season taught me a lot about myself and life. I needed those days to unlock areas of my heart that helped to get me where I am today.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
I have a lot of happy moments. When I met my husband. When I got married. When I sold my first book. I’ve probably never laughed as hard as I did in college. Man, my friends and I laughed a lot. Like, fall down on the sidewalk laughter. Growing up with my family. I still hold dear one Christmas when we were waiting for my grandparents to arrive and my dad played a girl’s hand game with me. Awesome treasures.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
Freedom isn’t free. Don’t depend on government hand-outs to complete your life. Get away from fear and anxiety. We have so many fears in our society. Work hard. Find solutions to your own problems through prayer, friends and resourcefulness. America is a great nation. Take advantage of the foundation set forth by our founding fathers.

Above all, love Jesus with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength.

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Thank you so much Rachel! Like I said, so glad you could join the 4 Questions project!

I kinda want to give something away today, so I vote let’s! I’m giving away one of Rachel Hauck’s books of your choice (international winners can choose any e-book version). I can’t wait to read The Wedding Dress and loved what I’ve read so far, so I promise you want to enter!

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment on this post! If you want to earn extra entries, here’s a few easy ways (just leave a comment each time you do).

  • Share on Twitter and/or Facebook. Feel free to use this tweet: Want to win a copy of one of @RachelHauck fantastic novels? Check out 4 Questions and enter here! https://ow.ly/pZK9V via @jamielynne82
  • Follow Books and Beverages Feed, and/or Facebook (if you follow already, thanks! Just let me know!)

Be sure to leave a comment! Leave one by 10/31/13 at 11:59 (CST).

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…language of the heart…

“Story is the language of the heart.”
Epic by John Eldredge

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This quote sums up why I love reading and why I have this blog. Whatever the tale, whoever the narrator, story is something we all have. It has the power to change a life for good, so I vote we make ours a good one! Who is with me?

How has story impacted your life?

A Japanese Legacy

One of the favorite parts of my trip to Japan this past summer, was when we went to hang out with Mariko’s grandparents.

We hopped on the train and headed over to their house (which they’ve lived in forever) and spent such a relaxing and wonderful afternoon. Do I speak Japanese? Nope. (Unless you count “I eat rice in my house,” then yes, I’m fluent). Do Mariko’s wonderful Grandparents speak English? Nope. But were we able to have an amazing time? Why, yes we were! With Mariko translating, it worked out perfect.

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There was one time during lunch when the chopsticks weren’t being my friend, so I attempted to be stealth and just grab the cucumber with my fingers. I figured that was better than trying to stab it with the chopstick. Totally thought no one was paying attention to me, but nope…totally busted. How’s that for immersing myself in the Japanese culture? But they simply laughed.

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But more than that, I’m so thankful and blessed to have had the opportunity to learn from them, be encouraged by them and simply get to know more of their story. A legacy is the only thing you’ll leave behind and I promise you, the one they have started has already made an incredible impact on the world!

My hope and prayer is that this glimpse into the lives of Shizuko and Saichi Ohashi inspires and encourages you as much as it did me.

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As a teenager during World War II, Shizuko still can recall the constant bombings on her city and watching the B-29 Superfortresses fly over their city. It’s hard for me to even imagine what that would have been like. To have a never ending fear of a bomb falling from the sky. To not know when it would end. What if my country, instead of unleashing the power of the A-bomb, was victim to it? How would my heart have handled losing such a war? I believe she said it best: That while losing was a blow to Japan, simple put, war is never a good thing.

Yet, even while having lived through that history, joy abounds from each of them.

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But our time there wasn’t all sadness and dark times from decades past. Most of the time we spent chatting about family, our adventures and faith. Both came from Buddhist backgrounds, but after their two daughters became Christians, they started going when they were in their fifties. At first they started going because Christianity wasn’t about money (as their experience with Buddhism had been). That led to discussions with several pastors and finally one led them both to Jesus.

Two quotes that stuck with me? “Believing in Jesus and being a Christian is joy” and “We have Jesus to protect us.” Said with such conviction and decades of life experiences behind them, it was such a great reminder of Truth.

japan-2013-lapeyrolerie

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What a joy and privilege it is for me to be able to share some of their wisdom, story and to spend time with them, even if only for one summer afternoon.

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To end, I’ll close with a very special 4 Questions with Shizuko (some the same, some a bit different!)

1. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
When I was growing up, I didn’t have the option or choice to get an education. If I could go back, I would like to study all kinds of topics. I especially want to learn to speak English so I can communicate my grandchildren, great grandchildren and more American friends.

2. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
As you know it is very important to have a son to carry on the family name in Japan. We didn’t have boys, but God blessed us with wonderful and God-loving son-in-laws.

3. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
I want the next generation to know this most important thing: If they could, meet Jesus when they are young and memorize as much of God’s Word as you can.

And you know me, being the romantic that I am, tossed in a couple of extras for the interview!

4. How did you and your husband meet?
I was sewing clothes for family and friends with my free time back then. There was a country rail road employee apartment near our house and Saichi asked the apartment manager if he knew a good seamstress to sew his clothes. She recommended me to him, so he started to come over and that’s how we met!

5. What’s your advice for a lasting marriage?
Trust each other. Don’t talk back to each other, but share your opinions. Care for each other, especially when it comes to healthy living.

(Interviewed with the help of Kumiko Barnes)

We're best friends now.

We’re best friends now.

Thanks so much for reading! I never get tired of hearing people’s stories! So who has inspired you? What about your grandparents? I’m excited to continue in this Grandparents series!

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4 Questions with Author Melissa Tagg

Y’all! Here’s two reasons you need to be excited about 4 Questions with Melissa Tagg today:

1. She gives a shout out to the harms done to Pluto.
2. She didn’t spam my email when I quoted ” Tag team back again…” in an email. So you know she’s alright with me!

But why am I really excited?? She’s releasing her first published novel Made to Last (with the ever wonderful Bethany House) this month! What an exciting time for an author!

So without further ado, here’s the wonderful Melissa!

Melissa Tagg is a former newspaper reporter and total Iowa girl. In addition to her homeless ministry day job, Melissa is also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for writers. When she’s not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies and daydreaming about her next book. Melissa blogs regularly and loves connecting with readers at www.melissatagg.com.

During her reporting days, Melissa interviewed presidential candidates and llama farmers, rode a hot air balloon and flew a plane, and once came face to face with a buffalo. But today she gets her kicks by letting her characters have their own fun. She’s passionate about humor, grace, and happy endings.

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1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
Ooh, fun question. I think five years ago I never would’ve imagined the craziness of my current lifestyle. Between writing and my day job, I’m basically working two full-time jobs, and I usually travel at least a couple weekends each month. Whereas, five years ago, I had just moved to Des Moines and wasn’t yet pursuing writing—at least not seriously. I was still super organized, cleaned all the time, and could actually tell you the last time I cooked a real meal for myself. :)

But I have to say, I’m relishing this season in life. I have a feeling I won’t always be able to take off on a road trip with friends on a random weekend. Later on in life, things like cooking and cleaning may matter more. And while it’s crazy doing the two career thing, I’m also living my writing dream. So I’m thankful—and frankly, having lots of fun!—in the midst of my frazzledness!

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
Ooh, another good question. You know, like anyone, I’ve had my rough patches in life, but I’m honestly not sure I’d change much about those times…because they ended up being mega growth seasons, spiritually and otherwise.

But looking back, I can definitely think of times I wish I’d been more present in my everyday life and taken the time to invest in the people around me. That busyness I mentioned above can get me sort of self-focused at times. And I can think of specific times when I rushed through conversations—or didn’t take the time for conversations at all—when I could’ve had the opportunity to encourage someone else. So I’d do that differently if I could.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
The evening I got the call about the book contract from Bethany House was definitely one of my happiest moments.

But I’ll also never forget this day in England (I studied abroad there) when I went on an all-day outing with British friends—we took a train to this little town, walked eight miles from there to the town of Windsor, had water balloon fights and a picnic on the way, saw a couple historical landmarks, completely carefree and unrushed. Took a train back to London. Hung out at a little pub then walked along the Thames to get back to our place. Got home late—dirty and exhausted but just sooo satisfied and alive. Definitely one among several happiest moments.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
That their identity and worth has less to do with what they do than who they belong to. That when all the labels and achievements, successes and failures are stripped away, it’s what we believe about God and who He’s created us to be that defines us. Finding security in that, being convinced of His faithfulness, that’s when we can walk confidently into the purpose He has for us.

And that Pluto really was once a planet. :)

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Thank you so much Melissa! I’m so incredibly excited for the start of this new journey of published work!!

With the new release, there’s some exciting contests and such I want to share:

  • Goodreads Giveaway through 9/14/13
  • This one ends this weekend on 9/8 – Check out the fun interview too!
  • Bethany House is also doing a McHammer Legit style contest for their five releases this fall! Check out the Fall into Love contest! There’s a sweet grand prize, but also contests for each book as well. You bet the person typing this is entering every.single.contest.

Also, be sure to connect with the lovely Melissa! And maybe even show some love in the comments! :)

…at work in our brokenness…

“As mature Christians, we begin to recognize His presence in the face of adversity too – seeing God powerfully at work in our brokenness.”
Blessed Be Your Name
Matt and Beth Redman

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We live in a hurting and broken world. If you haven’t had tragedy strike in your own personal life, then all you have to do is watch the news and you’ll see stories of loss, heartache and pain. But! (What a beautiful word sometimes) I hold on to the truth there’s hope. Hope for something beautiful and faith that through it all is a God still at work. So wherever you’re at today, hold onto to that beautiful hope Redman so wonderful points out!

The Good Life | Trip Lee

Here’s a little insider-not-going-to-change-your-life-in-any-way piece of information: I have a thing for rap and hip hop. I have a feeling most of y’all won’t be shocked. Back in the day, there was plenty to jam to: Snoop, Tupac, Biggie, Dre…I could go on and on. But I love hip hop and rap (along with all types of other music too!). But I always have. I love dancing to a good beat, whether at a wedding or all by myself in the car at a stoplight.

To say the message of many of those artists isn’t the best is the understatement of 2013.

So after becoming a Christian in my late teens, I set out to find the same type of music but with a more positive message. There were many recommendations and attempts, but y’all, Christian rap & hip hop just wasn’t good. (I’m not saying all, there were some good groups out there). It seemed to be borderline cheesy and that bummed me out. I recognize that it had to start somewhere and for those first trail blazers I am forever grateful.

But times are a’changing! It’s been really awesome to see talented/Grammy-winning style artists change that. Drastically. People like Lecrae, Propaganda and Trip Lee coming on to the scene with amazing talent, skill and good music.

Beyond making quality music, many of these artists, like Trip Lee as doing much more! Like this quick read, The Good Life.

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Nicer car, bigger house, whatever your heart desires. Everybody wants to live The Good Life. But what happens when dreams become nightmares and the promise of freedom leads to a life of imprisonment? What happens when you discover that all that’s gold loses its glitter? Maybe the rich and famous aren’t living The Good Life. Maybe our dreams are rooted in lies. And maybe, just maybe those who have less really have more. What is The Good Life…really?

In this book, titled after his acclaimed fourth album, The Good Life, Christian rap artist and author, Trip Lee, unveils what the world, the flesh and the devil promote as the ultimate and most satisfying life. He then explains what The Good Life really is: a life within our reach and yet beyond anything this world has to offer. Imagine: The Good Life.

Everybody has a story and I enjoyed reading Lee’s. He freely and passionately shares his story and the truth he’s come to discover… that the real good life is so much more than what the world offers. He’s honest and doesn’t hold back.

“Faith in your Creator means more than giving lip service to His existence. It means believing what He says and so ordering your life around it. It means inconveniencing yourself for the sake of following Him. The Lord said, “Blessed…are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28).

A quick read, but no less impactful, it’s a story worth reading and passing along to those who are interested in Christianity, have questions about it and even those who already know the foundations of faith.

Here’s a few more of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Though Jesus is the Lord who owns all things, He became a man like you and me. He surrendered His divine wealth, and put on human flesh. He died on the cross and rose from the grave. And He did it for sinners. He traded places with poor rebels so that we could enjoy “unsearchable riches.” That’s good news (Ephesians 3:8). Our faith in that good news should move us to look more like Him in our own contentment and generosity.”

“When we understand that this life is not all there is, we can give of ourselves freely.”

Plus he describes the Heat “big three” announcement as over hyped. It’s the little things, you know? That will always earn points with me.

“We can be adopted into God’s family. We can be indwelled by God’s Spirit. We can be empowered to follow Him. We can begin to live the good life.”

Here’s a song he and Lecrae did together. “Im Good” was done with Voice Of The Martyrs in a group effort to raise awareness of the persecuted Christian church. As part of that effort, part of the proceeds from the song will be donated to VOM! For more info on Voice Of The Martyrs. Visit https://www.persecution.com/imgood.

(Thank you Moody Publishers for the review copy!)

I am so sure…

“Please don’t ever get anxious or worry about me, but don’t forget to pray for me – I’m sure you don’t. I am so sure of God’s guiding hand that I hope I shall always be kept in that certainty. You must never doubt that I’m traveling with gratitude and cheerfulness along the road where I’m being led. My past life is brim-full of God’s goodness and my sins are covered by the forgiving love of Christ crucified.”
Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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One of my favorite research papers to write was one on Christian German resistance during World War II. While I could go on for days discussing it (which I’m sure you find shocking), I’ll just stick to one of the main players from that: Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was arrested and later executed (23 days before Berlin was captured by the allies) for the discovery of his connection to anti-Hitler conspiracies (think the movie Valkyrie). Prior to being moved to a concentration camp, he was in prison where he wrote numerous letters.

Above is from one of them. Incredible. Knowing there was a high possibility he would die at the hands of people who lived by hate, he was about honoring God and forgiveness. As Timothy Keller concluded: “Bonhoeffer uses divine forgiveness to help him understand human forgiveness… As Bonhoeffer says, everyone who forgives someone bears the other’s sins.” So much to take from both of those quotes!

Have you read any of Bonhoeffer? What are your thoughts?

4 Questions with Ben and Ruth

There are some people you meet in life where even if it’s only for a few days, they genuinely change your life. They have unspeakable joy you sense almost immediately, they know how to laugh and they encourage you in ways you didn’t know you needed to be encouraged.

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Friends, thaose only a few ways to describe Ben and Ruth. As you know, I was recently in Japan visiting one of my best friends who moved there last year. My friend Erin and I met up at LAX and headed out for two weeks of adventure, laughs and quality time. But people!! How much more this trip turned out to be! My friend, Mariko, is living with Ben and Ruth, who pastor a church in Japan and they are ah to the mazing! They opened up their house, are so hilarious and such an example of faith! Not only that, they have a marriage that inspires. One full of love, selflessness and centered around Jesus. Y’all, if you’re ever in Japan, you need to meet these people. So of course, I thought they were the perfect fit for 4 Questions! Without further ado, here they are!

So first, meet the hilarious Ben (who reminds me of my Dad in lots of ways :) )!

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1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
Five years ago I would have never imagined that there is a hunger for God which He longs to satisfy.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
I wish I had learned to pray at a much earlier age.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
When I discovered the significance of loving others.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
It is significantly rewarding to increase in the knowledge of God!

And now, the incredible and lovely Ruth!

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1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
That through some tough trials, I have come to understand that anything He allows to touch my life will prove that He is faithful.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
I would be sure to make my daily devotion times with the Lord a priority.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
When the Lord brought my husband into my life.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
They must be rooted in Christ and fully devoted to Him. They must love others as He did.

I can’t say enough how much they both made my trip to Japan that much better! Thank you again Ben and Ruth for everything! I truly hope we get to hang out again (like come to Texas!).

So how about you? Who are some people in your life that inspire? Let’s hear about them!

(P.S. So excited to bring back 4 Questions with people I’ve met! This idea started years ago with me interviewing all my friends. It’s been a while, but I love these interviews just as much as the author interviews. If interested in reading the others, check out the archive here!)

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