Randy Kay
Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin

Greetings from Sarah Sundin, sheltering-in-place in California! Today I have the honor of interviewing one of our newest members of the Christian Authors Network, Randy Kay!

Welcome, Randy! Please tell us about your book, Dying to Meet Jesus.

A child in trouble . . . financial stress . . . broken relationships . . . Is it possible to find God’s heart when barriers seem to stand in the way?

Randy Kay

Randy Kay

We all face difficult times when we struggle just to keep looking up. For author Randy Kay, the challenge was extreme: He died. But at that juncture he met God and was restored to a life of joy he had never thought possible.

Through his own and many other riveting stories, Kay demonstrates not only that God is present when we need Him, but that our trials can actually lead us to true intimacy with the One who loves us beyond all measure.

What inspired you to write this book?

I was being interviewed on GodTV to discuss research my team completed about the thriving mindset. I have been in the field of human development for most of my career, and I had published the results of our study about the skills people need to thrive in life. The interviewer had been my pastor many years prior, and he asked me to share my near-death-experience (NDE), when I clinically died from blood clots and septic shock. It was the first time I had shared my story publicly. On the flight home, I felt God’s Spirit prompting me to write about brokenness and suffering. And, then I heard in God’s Spirit say these words: “And I want you to share about our special time together.” That is when I began writing Dying to Meet Jesus – 14 years after my fatal incident.

Dying to Meet Jesus by Randy Kay

Dying to Meet Jesus by Randy Kay

What is the primary focus of your book?

In Dying to Meet Jesus I attempt to answer this age-old question: Why does God allow suffering in this world? Moreover, this book speaks to how God uses our brokenness for a redemptive purpose, and how we can draw closer to God in order to attain the joy that we so desperately need. I use not only my story, but the stories of several others to illustrate the indomitable ability of sufferers to discover joy and purpose in Christ, not in spite of their trials, but because of them. This book takes a deep dive into God’s love for His children, and how that Love as a person (not just an emotion) can turn ashes into beauty.

Wonderful! What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I pray that readers will be encouraged and strengthened in their relationship with Jesus Christ after reading Dying to Meet Jesus. One of the interesting discoveries in researching stories for this book was finding that the people who seemed to have the most intimate relationship with God were also the most broken people, some of who had gone through horrendous suffering. I want people to know that God does not want us to suffer, but in this sullied world trials are inevitable, and God redeems these trials to ultimately bring us to our purpose in life by drawing us closer to Him. Just look at what Jesus did on the cross as the best example. Jesus suffered so that we might have everlasting relationship with God for all of eternity. Through Christ’s suffering, we as believers can experience a joy that supersedes anything that this fallen world has to offer. After reading my book, I pray that people will no longer need answers to the myriad of questions that arise from brokenness; rather, they will sense God’s Love as the answer to all of those questions, and that the only solution we need is to answer how we can draw closer to God. That really is the crux of Dying to Meet Jesus – discovering God’s Love.

What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?

I was a skeptic of NDEs and the people who shared their experiences until I experienced my own NDE. I was also an agnostic during much of my life because of my logical (not spiritual) approach to life. In fact, at Northwestern University I worked with a team in an attempt to invalidate all of the religions of the world, including Christianity. I detail our findings in my book. So faith is not natural to me, and certainly sharing my NDE was not something I wanted to do given the doubts that would arise. But overall my greatest challenge was sharing the tragedies within my own family, including the rape and attempted suicide of my daughter. I also had never shared about my own struggles with depression. I had been an executive and biotech founder, and before writing Dying to Meet Jesus, I always felt as though I needed to maintain a high level of integrity to succeed. God humbled me in publishing Dying to Meet Jesus, and I am so glad that He did that. It freed me to be vulnerable in order to connect more effectively with others.

How do you share Christ in your writing?

John Burke wrote the foreword for Dying to Meet Jesus. He authored the most widely read book about NDEs ever published, Imagine Heaven. In his book, he details several stories of how believers in Christ came face to face with Jesus after clinically dying. Meeting and getting to know John helped me to feel more comfortable in sharing my own face to face encounter with Jesus after I died. I weep now each time that I share my precious encounter, just as I wept then after meeting the Author of Love, Jesus Christ. From that experience and what I learned thereafter, I wrote mostly about the infinite, overwhelming, and unfathomable love of God. In my book, I use over 100 biblical scriptures coupled with several stories and insights to share the Love of Jesus Christ. I attempt to convey that same Love I experienced at my most desperate time, death, and my divine encounter in heaven. I also use the stories of others who have suffered from debilitating illnesses, some of whom have died, to illustrate God’s love. Also, I finished writing Dying to Meet Jesus while in the hospital facing another potentially fatal incident, and that is when God’s Spirit inspired my final words about God’s abiding presence.

What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?

God is love (1 John 4:8) represents the underlying theme of Dying to Meet Jesus. As humans, we know about love mostly from the perspective of an emotion or action. We feel love. We experience acts of love. However, there is only one person of love, and that is Jesus Christ. That is a profound difference in that when love is translated from a verb to a noun, we are compelled to respond to God through seeking His presence, and when we are steeped in God’s presence, we are steeped in Love. Poets and song writers have long tried to express the ethereal nature of love, but they can only express a mere semblance of love. God relates to us personally, as His Spirit, connecting with our born again spirit, thereby immersing ourselves in the expressions of God’s presence, which elicits comfort, peace, revelation, joy, and fulfillment. That is what happens when we meet Love as a person, and that person is the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Drawing closer to God’s Spirit is the only way to find true Love.

How has being a writer impacted your relationship with Christ?

Dying to Meet Jesus was my first book strictly tailored to the Christian audience. I had authored thousands of articles, some of which were published in Forbes and the Wall Street Journal. All of my other books were in the business or self-help category. Although I tried to convey biblical concepts in all my writings, in Dying to Meet Jesus I was entirely devoted to God’s Word. I had to thoroughly research verses to support each statement I was making in this book, and I was in constant prayer mode in seeking God’s wisdom while writing the book. In the process I was drawn closer to God, and I was reminded of His presence in heaven through a fresh perspective. Now when I write, I am writing solely from a Christian point-of-view in trying to convey the exclusive truth as found in God’s Word and in God’s presence. This has opened new ministry endeavors, like when we donated many books to our U.S. veterans and active military service members, many of whom struggle with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and sadly, with thoughts of suicide. My mission now is to give hope to the hopeless through Christ and to express the joy of the Lord. I find this as an ironic calling, because I have struggled with depression for most of my life, and now I am trying to help people discover joy through sadness. God is certainly strong in my weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9-11).

What is one thing about writing that you wish non-writers knew?

Writing is extraordinarily time consuming, and it requires a huge investment mentally as well as emotionally. When someone picks up a book, they usually read it with an expectation that it will be entertaining and perhaps informative. My pastor recently told me that when he reads a book, he looks for the author’s voice, and in so doing he discovers the author’s heart. I was blessed by this statement, because behind each writing is an expression of the author’s heart. When I was a journalist, and when I wrote marketing materials, I was always seeking to connect with the reader’s heart – to evoke emotion. Connecting with the reader in writing is almost always trying to answer this question: How should the reader feel? As with speaking, readers will not remember so much what you said, but how you made them feel. That is the key to good writing, in my opinion. Reading from the perspective of discovering the author’s heart can give the reader a deeper insight into the author’s message, and in so doing the reader may sense a deeper feeling for the words expressed.

Tell us about your most touching moment with a reader.

I have received several messages from readers who struggled with thoughts of suicide, and hopelessness, since Dying to Meet Jesus reached the #1 Best Seller status under the category of “Suicide” and “Dying.” One woman in particular touched me deeply. She had gathered enough prescription pills to kill herself. She had set a date for ending her life. A friend gave her a copy of Dying to Meet Jesus. She emailed me saying this: “I read your book and for the first time I felt that God really does love me. Thank you. I know that he has a plan for my life now. I have a reason to live.” After I read those words, I dropped to my knees and cried. I said to God, if my suffering was just for that one woman, then it was worth it in spades.

What a fantastic story! What ministries are you involved in, and why?

I recently started Randy Kay Ministries to address issues relevant to the Christian audience, specifically about thriving in life through Christ. I had already initiated a ministry with our military veterans and active service members using my book, Dying to Meet Jesus, along with my thriving mindset study that was published in my books, The Power to Thrive and The 22 Most Important Things. Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and I was communicating with some Christian leaders about the spiritual needs of people caught in the midst of this struggle with an eye on how people will be forced to live and work following this seismic shift in public awareness. We started a virtual ministry called Abundant Life. This virtual ministry will host speakers and trainers, and we will be able to pray and share God’s Word and insights with people using web platforms, like Zoom. This virtual ministry will engage people to live out their God-given purpose to thrive in life. My vision is to reach believers and unbelievers with God’s abiding Love in developing a thriving mindset, and by empowering each individual with God’s unique purpose. People who want more information about this newly formed ministry can leave their contact information at randykay.org.

Do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?

I started the strategic development firm, TenorCorp, and the human development firm, PACEsetters (p.a.c.e.setters.training). Prior to that I was the founder of a biotech and biomed company, an executive for companies like Johnson & Johnson, and an entrepreneur in starting a media company and other consumer products companies. I also have served on numerous boards for charities. My human and talent development firm has trained over one million people in both large companies, like Google, Disney and Johnson & Johnson, and in small groups as well. I have been an executive coach with some of those organizations. I am certified in over 100 skill platforms, and I have been clinically trained in cardiovascular and neurological procedures having led clinical teams. I served as the Corporate Operations Director for a pharmaceutical company which developed a potential cure for Alzheimer’s. Our science was published on the front cover of Time magazine, and our chief scientist was interviewed on all of the major networks. All of these experiences have influenced my writings from the perspective of having worked with and developed people from both a leadership and single contributor position. I bring all of these experiences to my writing since I have gained so much knowledge and insights from a practical perspective. This allows me to write from a Christian perspective with a greater understanding of people and organizations, and for this I am entirely indebted to God. As a writer, I can share with an audience of one – the reader, while bringing into the mix this varied background. Oh – I am also an ordained Christian minister for the purpose of serving as a chaplain within organizations.

You’ve certainly had a wealth of experience! Everyone struggles with time management in our 24/7 world. How do you stay disciplined and meet your deadlines?

At various times I can have multiple projects that demand my attention, including issues at home just like everyone else. Last year God convicted me to “focus.” My strategy now is to complete the most important project before moving onto the next. I started by asking God for wisdom to clarify what is most important. Next, I select at most three projects, and I start with the most “mission critical” project first. We hear a lot about ‘multi-tasking,’ but the research shows that this approach rarely works effectively. Instead, I try to focus on the 10% of things that matter most in the categories of my relationship with God, with family, with friends, and with work, in that order. This means that some sacrifices need to be made. I cannot answer every email or communication. I can only do what fits with my overall mission – to share God’s Love with loved ones and to fulfill my purpose of equipping God’s saints by placing my relationship with God first. That means beginning each day in God’s Word and in prayer, and then acknowledging Christ in all things. Obviously, I fail, often. The good news is that God will always put me back on the ‘narrow road’ whenever I seek His presence and repent of my errant ways (Romans 8:28). I make a lot of mistakes, so I am very forgiven!

What are your hobbies or activities or passions outside of writing?

I try to keep in shape because my body has been severely damaged from illnesses that I detail in my newest book, Dying to Meet Jesus. That is hard now that my gym is closed due to Covid-19. So I walk my little dog, Buddy, a Maltese, and I use some home exercise equipment. Of course I love to read, and I enjoy movies and watching some series and documentaries. Most of my time is spent with my immediate family, my wife, my grown daughter who lives close-by, and remotely with my sons, and a handful of close friends. I would say that almost half of my time is spent communicating with people, and the other half is spent working on projects, like my job and ministries. In all these things I try to maintain a conversation with God as my best friend, by just sharing my thoughts, and then listening to His silent voice which speaks to my soul as the messenger of wisdom and comfort. He is my best friend as well as my revered God, just as it was for Abraham (James 2:23). I also help coach young people about finding their purpose in life, especially those who have come from abused backgrounds, and those who are aging out of Foster Care. My passion is to use my talents, gifts, and experiences to help those who are struggling. I know that may sound a little hokey, but the truth is that nothing soothes the soul like giving others a helping hand, and to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). To me this world is like a “work-station,” and when we retire (die and go to heaven), then we can fully enjoy the fruits of our labor.

What’s coming up next for you?

I am currently working on a book about survivors who thrive. I go into detail about these stories:

  • a former NFL football player who became a millionaire, then found himself homeless, discovered Jesus Christ, then was crushed in a trash compactor, rolled over by a bus, was smashed as a pedestrian by a hit-and-run driver, and now leads a ministry to the homeless
  • a WWII hero who was struck by a Kamikaze plane, struggled after the war, and found Christ after becoming paralyzed
  • a decorated Marine who served multiple tours in Afghanistan, lost part of his brain and other body parts in an explosion, was attacked by terrorists, raped by his own wife, suffered from PTSD, tried to commit suicide, and became a U.S. Chaplain who now helps prevent veteran and active military suicides
  • an Iranian woman who was thrown in a mental institution after becoming a Christian, witnessed family members who were killed, and who preaches the ‘Good News’ of Jesus Christ to those who feel captive in their hearts and minds

I use these stories to highlight God’s redeeming love and protection to those who suffer, by creating a higher purpose for His beloved children to multiply the positive impact of those broken in this fallen world. This book will offer readers the hope of Jesus Christ to fulfill their own God-given purpose in life.

Sounds fascinating! Thank you for sharing with us, Randy!

To learn more about Randy and his books, please visit Randy’s website and Randy’s blog.

Writing for Him,

Sarah Sundin

Sarah’s website

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By Julie Lavender

Beautiful sights and scents of spring adorn my south-Georgia town. Honeysuckle and wisteria vines twist throughout the trees in the back yard, and yellow Jessamine dots the edge of the forest beyond. The dainty flowers attract nectar-seekers, especially honey bees, this time of year.

Married to an entomologist, I’m quite fascinated with God’s diminutive insects, though I prefer to enjoy them from a safe distance. The honey bee is one of my many favorites, because it often reminds me of a writer’s pursuit.

According to a trivia page on the National Honey Board website, honey bees must tap into two million flowers just to make one pound of honey! That’s a lot of nectar-seeking. On our writing journey, we may need to tap into millions – well, at least lots and lots – of resources to find those choice, sweet words to write for the Lord. Once collected, those delicacies might take the form of newspaper articles, magazine articles, devotions, books, blog posts, or more.

Apparently, a hive of bees flies over 55,000 miles to produce that one pound of honey. Writers often journey for miles, with a great deal of hills and valleys and mountaintops along the way. Writers need a “hive” of fellow scribes throughout the trek to support and encourage, too.

An average worker honey bee makes only one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime, exactly what God ordained for each honey bee. A delicious dab of sweetness!

What sweet contribution will you make as a writer? How many miles will you travel and how many flowers will you visit? God’s ordained that, too.

May the words you write BEE sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.


356 Ways to Love Your Child cover

365 Ways to Love Your Child

Julie Lavender is a journalist, author, and former homeschooling mom of twenty-five years who holds a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education. Julie and her husband David (her high-school and college sweetheart) have four children and a sweet, sixteen-month-old grandson. Julie loved living in various locations across the country as the wife of a medical entomologist for the United States Navy. After her husband retired from active duty, the family moved back to their hometown, and David began work as a wildlife biologist at a nearby Army installation. Julie’s parenting book, 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories, releases in October. Julie also co-authored two devotionals with Michelle Cox. She is a freelance stringer for the Statesboro Herald Newspaper, and she’s published in several magazines, including Guideposts and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Magazine, and several parenting and homeschooling blogs. Connect with Julie on her FaceBook page or her Facebook Group, 365 Ways to Love Your Child.

 

 

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Tina Yeager
Marti Pieper

Marti Pieper

Greetings from Marti Pieper in #Senecastrong, South Carolina, where we’re persevering through the COVID-19 pandemic and recovering from a devastating tornado that hit the morning after Easter. I’m grateful our family and home are safe, and I’m also grateful for my personal and professional friendship with today’s interview subject, the fascinating author, speaker, life coach, and licensed counselor Tina Yeager.

Welcome, Tina, to the CAN blog! Please tell us about your book.

Tina Yeager

Tina Yeager

Beautiful Warrior: Finding Victory Over the Lies Formed Against You guides readers to overthrow shame, resentment, unresolved anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness. Embrace identity in Christ so you can embrace your destiny. Pick up your shield—the Word of God, your identity in Christ, and healthy thought patterns—and become the divine heroine you were destined to be. Read More →

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“(Misfortune) can ruin your life only if it ruins your character. Otherwise, it cannot harm you—inside or out.” Aurelius

“The great objective of this life is character, for it is the only thing we can carry with us into eternity.” Austin Phelps

Doesn’t it help to keep in mind, when life feels particularly hard, that God has our character growth in mind? Right now with the COVID-19 epidemic keeping most of the world in lockdown, with economies declining, it is easy to see loss and limitations.

The usual props we rely on to keep us afloat seem suddenly tenuous, melting away with alarming speed.  Worse, we are reminded of our mortality and the fragile nature of life.

The invisible work of God in our lives and hearts—our character—is less easily discerned. But it’s right there, revealing the shaky foundations. And so we must choose: to mourn the loss of the safe-holds we have trusted in, or give them up in exchange for Him.

Is the lockdown exacerbating something in your character that needs improvement? Are secret fears and doubts growing in strength? The Lord brings us to the tip of the iceberg we’ve been floating on (we thought it was sturdy land) and now bids us gaze into the icy depths of our soul.

We must face our helplessness. Only then can we surrender the melting thing we trusted in and turn to the Rock.

Trust is not weakness of character. It is the very growth we need.  The growth that will take us through the lockdown and accompany us into eternity. Despite material losses, we gain. That’s Kingdom economy!

Forever, Lately

Linore Rose Burkard writes “Romance to Warm the Heart, Fiction to Stir the Soul.” Best known for Inspirational Regency Romance, she also writes  YA/Suspense and Contemporary Romance. Find her online at https://www.LRBurkard.com, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/LinoreBurkardReadersGroup/

 

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Fun trivia: The Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883. The first person to cross it was E. F. Farrington, the Bridge’s master mechanic.
Zipline Photo

Zipline Photo

But instead of walking across the bridge, he went by zip line!
I discovered this fascinating bit of trivia while doing research for my novel, A Sicilian Farewell, part of which is set in late 19th-century Brooklyn.

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio is an award-winning author who writes riveting fiction that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart. Her latest novel, IN BLACK AND WHITE, a love story about racism, released in November 2019.

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

MaryAnn has also written THE ITALIAN CHRONICLES trilogy, a page-turning, family saga revolving around the life of Maria Landro, a woman torn between two worlds, and who must choose between them. MaryAnn’s books for children include five picture books: WHO IS JESUS?, TOBY TOO SMALL, CANDLE LOVE, THE DANDELION PATCH, and POEMS FOR WEE ONES and one chapter book: DO ANGELS RIDE PONIES?

MaryAnn lives in New Jersey with her husband Dom. They’ve been married 50 years and are the blessed parents of two wonderful daughters, a very smart son-in-law, and six rambunctious grandchildren. When not writing, MaryAnn loves to paint, play the piano, and make up silly songs with her grandchildren. You can learn more about MaryAnn at maryanndiorio.com.

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