Interview and Giveaway with Marriott Cole!

I am honored to have Marriott Cole as my guest. She will be giving away a copy of her new book Grace, Miracles and Chocolate to one lucky winner! I haven’t yet read this book, but it sounds like a must-have for your Christmas reading list. Following is the blurb:

Marriott Cole knows that sometimes it is difficult to trust God, especially during the most challenging moments. In her memoir, Grace, Miracles, and Chocolate, Cole chronicles a life with more than  its share of difficulties while demonstrating how she overcame tragedy through the miracle of prayer, laughter, and the grace of God’s love.

cover gmc-page-001Cole shares poignant anecdotes with accompanying Scripture, tracing her life journey beginning with the details of her first conversation with her birth mother. Despite the horrifying details of her conception, Cole describes how she was eventually led to forgiveness and to accept a second family into her heart. As she retraces her complex life and reveals her unique problem solving strategies, Cole details how she learned to rely on not only her faith, but also her inner strength as she bravely faced widowhood and the terrifying thought of raising seven children on her own,.

Grace, Miracles and Chocolate challenges spiritual seekers everywhere to either develop or rekindle a relationship with Jesus Christ and to always remember that He is with us–no matter what comes our way in life.

“This is an amazing story of God’s faithfulness, love and incredible miracles in the life of His faithful child. …Marriott is a real woman with real heartaches and triumphs. Her life story will touch many, many hearts…” Amy McGuire, author of The Heart’s Discovery

And now, let’s learn a bit about Marriott…

Hello Marriott! Thank you for being my guest. Please share with my readers the inspiration behind your book:  So many people told me that I “ought to write a book” so I wrote Chapter 1 and had it published about twenty-eight years ago; Chapter 31 was written and published twenty years ago; the rest of the book are true miracles and humorous events that have happened in between and since then, along with the tragic death of my son. I wanted other people to realize that when they face tragedies, they can get through them with God’s help and the comfort afforded us through our faith in eternal life through Jesus.

nancy's portrait 007That’s one of the things I admire most about you Marriott – your strong faith in our Lord. You are such an inspiration and testimony of God’s faithfulness.  Speaking of the Lord, do you have a favorite book of the Bible? Proverbs is my favorite book. When it is the first of the month, I read Proverbs 1, the second day, Proverbs 2, and so on. I feel that I have become a wiser Christian and  have more of an ability to do the right thing based on the wisdom I have garnered from Proverbs, which was mostly written by the wisest man in the world, King Solomon, inspired by the Holy Spirit.

I love the idea of reading Proverbs throughout the month! It truly is a great book and so full of wisdom. Do you have a favorite Scripture verse? John 1:1 because it is through this verse I learned that Jesus is God in the flesh; He sacrificed Himself so that we  wouldn’t have to suffer eternal death for our sins. He took our punishment, as horrible as it was, upon Himself! I love Him so much because of it!

I agree and share your great love for our Savior.  I’m going to switch topics now and ask one of my favorite questions: What charity you would found if you were suddenly given one million dollars?

My heart’s passion is for evangelism in hard-to-reach countries. Since indiginous missionaries already know the native language, they can readily deliver the gospel to those who haven’t heard as long as they are able to have their daily needs met, which are minimal compared to the needs of foreign missionaries. Since Christian Aid Mission does just that, I would write them a million dollar check instead of reinventing the wheel!

I love your answer! So many have not yet heard of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. And lastly, Marriott, where readers can find you on the web?

My blog is www.marriottcole.com. You can also read a preview of Grace, Miracles, and Chocolate here and here  and wherever books are sold.

Than you for being my guest, Marriott. It was an honor to have you here!

And now, readers, here’s your chance to win   all you have to do is leave an encouraging comment for Marriott. A winner will be chosen at random. Sorry this giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. If you are a subscriber to this blog, you will receive two entries.  The contest ends on January 10, 2013.

**Stay tuned for the announcement of several winners of some past giveaways after Christmas. Until then, have a blessed and wonderful Christmas season!

Interview and Giveaway with Author Stephanie Shott!!!

Stephanie Shott is one of my most favorite people and I am honored to have her return today as a guest on my blog. Stephanie is a Godly woman with a gift of explaining the Bible in a way that is easy to understand.

Stephanie is here today to share about her new book and also to share her touching testimony. I know you will be blessed by her words.  While this is a longer post than usual, I didn’t want to leave out even one morsel of Stephanie’s story! When you begin reading, you’ll see what I mean!

In addition, Stephanie is also giving away a copy of her book to one lucky commenter. So, be sure to leave an Stephanie an encouraging comment for a chance to win. As with all of the giveaways on my blog, you don’t have to be a subscriber to enter, but those who are subscribers get an extra entry. 🙂

So, without further ado…here’s Stephanie!

Hello Stephanie.  Welcome back to my blog. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.  I’m married to my best friend, Donald – mom to two adult sons, Karl and DJ – mother-in-law to Kristina – abuela (Grandma) to Kaitlyn Jewel. My hubby and I are empty nesters and to be honest, I don’t like it one little bit. I wish someone would have told me you have to give them away after you’ve raised them! 🙂

But I really want to talk about what Jesus has done for me, so here’s a little bit of my back-story…My life didn’t begin with a well planned pregnancy – my mom was raped and I was the result. I was adopted by two wonderful parents. So, I was born “Baby Salvatore” but I left the hospital four days later as “Stephanie Tyler.”

I had two wonderful parents who loved me as their own, but from the age of 3 until the age of about 12, I was repeatedly molested by two different people in my family.

At 17 I was pregnant – then married. At 19, I was divorced and a single parent. I spent the next four years as the poster child for the ‘Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places.” During that time, I met Donald in a bar. He was the drummer in the band and we were in love. I became pregnant again and we decided to get married in January of 1987

In October of that same year, God saved me and radically changed this girl with a bad past and a bleak future.

Since then, He has opened doors of ministry that were way beyond my wildest dreams and definitely beyond my own abilities!  In my journey with Christ, He has taken me from speaking to classrooms to speaking at conferences and from local ministries to international missions. My journey hasn’t been an easy one, but God has given me an opportunity to use the broken pieces of my life to encourage others and to glorify Him.

Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing that with us.What a wonderful testimony of how God can use all of us, no matter what our past held. I am excited about your recent release titled Ecclesiastes:Understanding What Matters. Please give us a short blurb about your book. We are all trying to figure out how to best live this thing called life. We want our lives to matter. We want to know that there was significance to our existence.

Ecclesiastes:Understanding What Matters (Following God Discipleship) (Following God Through the Bible Series)

Understanding What Matters Most is a six week journey through Ecclesiastes giving the reader an opportunity to personally sift the gamut of life experiences and define their lives by what matters most. With questions designed to examine the heart and inspire application, this ladies’ Bible study will ignite intentional living and give significance to the days we are given under the sun.

Your book sounds like one we should all have on our “keeper shelf” to refer to time and again.  So…what made you choose to write a study on the book of Ecclesiastes? It’s funny, but writing a book wasn’t even on my radar. I didn’t begin writing it with the hope that one day it would be published. Understanding What Matters Most was birthed from my own place of need during a time when God had called us to the mission field and my 19 year old son didn’t feel led to go.  My maternal heart began to wrestle with the details of the call – Who was going to take care of him if something went wrong?  What if he got hurt?  What about our parents?  I tried desperately to make sense of that which didn’t make sense at all.

That’s when the Lord gently led me to Ecclesiastes and gave me a bird’s-eye view of Solomon’s own attempts to make sense of the details of his life.  After he ran the gamut of life experiences, he understood what matters most.  I knew I needed that kind of clarity.  Not only for the circumstances surrounding our call to the mission field, but to help me walk through life knowing how to chose to live a life of significance regardless of my circumstances. 

My study of Ecclesiastes gave me the tools I needed to filter the essential from the non-essential in light of eternity. 

When God put it on my heart to send it to a publisher and they said yes, that’s when I knew  He wanted to use it for more than just notes for a conference. It changed everything! I began to write with readers in view and began praying for those who would read a book I never intended on writing.

What was your inspiration behind your book and what do you hope readers will take away from the study? When God began to expand my ministry borders and place writing in my lap, I knew it was an extension of His call on my life to communicate Him and His Word to women.

Ecclesiastes is an interesting book. Many avoid it because they feel it’s too pessimistic or because they just don’t feel they can really understand it. But it’s a book that gives clarity to the days we live under the sun. It helps us define our lives with significance.

I hope women will walk through this study together in a small group or Sunday School class so they can encourage and challenge each other along the way. There are so many truths wrapped up in those 12 chapters of wisdom Solomon wrote so long ago.

***1. Since we’re all trying to figure out how to do this journey called life, and we’re trying to understand how to properly view the events that come our way, Understanding What Matters Most was written equip each reader with necessary tools to filter everything they face through the lens of what really matters most. Ecclesiastes really helps us understand how to make decisions and deal with our circumstances based on what is and what is not important in light of eternity.

***2. I hope that readers will grasp the concept of eternity and the reality of our ultimate day of reckoning. I pray the awareness of that reality will help them live in light of that day.

***3. That readers will see the grace of God at work in Solomon’s life and understand that same grace is available to us.  Solomon was the wisest man to walk the planet earth, yet he blew it big time!  But the lesson here is that God still used him even after he failed.  I hope readers never forget that God is so much bigger than our failure – that as long as we have breath, He still uses us.  He will not forsake us, even when we blow it.

Wow, Stephanie! I love your heart for sharing God’s grace. Do you have a favorite Bible verse?  Philippians 3:7-14 have been my life verses for years. Not long after I became a Christian I read through that power-packed Pauline epistle and found those verses beautifully tucked in the pages of Scripture.

They remind me that nothing can be compared to the privilege of knowing Christ; that nothing is more important than my pursuit of knowing Him and making Him known; and that no matter what my painful past may whisper to my heart…no matter how things shake out in this life – that my job is to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Where do you see yourself in five years? In other words, what are your hopes, dreams, and goals? Oh wow! That’s a loaded question! Because we serve a big God, I tend to vision big! I desperately want my life to be about making Him known and I readily walk through every door my precious Savior opens. 

I know God has called me to serve Him through serving women in the Word – by communicating His truths whether that is through speaking, writing or one-on-one, hands-on ministry. I believe every encounter He gives me is an opportunity to convey His hope, His peace, His salvation and His sovereignty to women everywhere.

As a woman who has walked through my own painful past, I want women to know they are never too bad, too broken, too battered, too unlovable, too unforgiveable or too anything else for God – that He has a plan for their lives that far exceeds anything they can plan for themselves – and that He wants to make beauty out of the ashes of their lives.

I’m not sure what that will look like in five years, but I’m praying for my project that is sitting on a publisher’s desk right now to make a significant impact on the lives of women, not only across this country, but internationally, as well.

If you were given a million dollars to start a charity, what type of charity would you start and why? Because I’m also a missionary, I’ve seen many worthy charitable organizations impact the living conditions of people in the United States as well as around the world.

But while our heart-strings are pulled to make things better for people, if the foundation of our service is not motivated by our desire and a strategic plan to share Jesus with them, we are only making them comfortable on their way to hell. Because of that, I would love to start a mission organization that equips, trains and prepares missionaries while, at the same time, connecting them with local churches who can partner in the Acts 1:8 call to be witnesses to our own Jerusalems, Judeas, Samarias and to the utter most parts of the earth.

When I first read your comment above, I was so convicted. You are so right, Stephanie. We so need to focus on making an eternal difference, rather than just a temporary one.

So, what’s next on your writing agenda? I’m working on the study of Philippians and on the project I mentioned earlier. Speaking, writing, doing ministry with my husband and a full time job keep me busy beyond my 24 hour schedule – but my study of Ecclesiastes has been a huge inspiration to make each minute count for eternity. So, I’m doing all I can while I can.

 Where can readers connect with you? (website, blog, twitter, FB, etc.)

 Website: http://www.stephanieshott.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephanie-Shott/1303068879

Twitter: http://twitter.com/stephanieshott

Thank you, Stephanie, for being a guest on my blog. God’s blessings to you and your family.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share a bit about my story with you! You are a huge blessing, Penny!

Don’t forget, readers, that Stephanie will be giving away a copy of her book to one lucky commenter. Subscribers receive two entries, so be sure to leave an encouraging comment for Stephanie! The giveaway ends October 27, 2011.