HEALTH MINDED . . .
Interview with Kim Vogel Sawyer, Author of When Grace Sings
Bestselling author Kim Vogel Sawyer believes in the power of second chances – a theme she’s captured with poignant grace in her new book, When Grace Sings (WaterBrook Press/March 17, 2015/ISBN: 978-0307731333/ $14.99), which follows the CBA bestseller When Mercy Rains in The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy. Sawyer says the series is based on one simple truth: “God gives second chances. We as humans make our mistakes, we flounder and err and build walls that seem insurmountable,” Sawyer reveals. “When we confess our wrongdoings and ask God to redeem us, He brings restoration.”
When Grace Sings introduces readers to Alexa Zimmerman who has relocated to Arborville, KS, where she’s converting her grandmother’s farmhouse in Old Order Mennonite country into a bed-and-breakfast. Inspired by her own experience of running a B&B, Sawyer was able to depict perfectly the charm and challenges she details in the book.
Q: When Grace Sings explores second chances in life. Why do you believe second chances are important?
Very seldom in life do we get everything “right” the first time. Humans stumble and fail. But God doesn’t want His children to remain mired in regret and “what-might-have-beens.” As silly as that might sound, God will give us a Plan B when our Plan A falls apart, and His plan always leads to satisfaction and restored joy.
Q: Is it ever too late for a second chance?
In my humble opinion, no. As long as we still draw a breath, there is time to turn ourselves around, make restitution, and start out again with renewed purpose. With God as our guide, we can make better choices the second time around.
Q: Who is your favorite character in When Grace Sings and why?
Oddly enough, the least likable character in the beginning became my favorite as the story progressed. Briley Forrester seemed such an egotistical person, cocky and uncaring. But so much of that came from a deeply imbedded sense of insecurity. As I got to know Briley, I began to admire his ability to rise above the challenges of his broken childhood. And when the Spirit began tapping at the door of his heart, I found myself actually praying he would open the door and allow God’s Spirit in! I so wanted this character – this fictional character! – to experience healing and peace. Plus, how can you not love a guy who knows how to tease at just the right moment?
Q: Do you have a least-favorite character?
In all three books of the series, Shelley (Suzanne’s sister) occasionally made me wish I could pinch her. But she ended up endearing me to her in the end.
Q: Is Alexa starting a bed-and-breakfast inspired by your own experience as a B&B owner? If so, what is the best thing about running a B&B? What is the hardest?
I would never have considered writing a story including a B&B were it not for our experiences at The King’s Inn. The best part, easily, is meeting the people. We met so many wonderful folks we wouldn’t have known any other way. We loved the chance to spoil them a bit, to see them relax and smile, and I savored the hugs when they left. They came as strangers and left as friends. And that brings me to the hardest part-the goodbyes. It’s nice, though, that we are still in touch with many of our guests through Facebook.
Q: Alexa is suspicious of the Chicago reporter who shows up at her B&B. Do you think women should give more weight to their intuition?
My mom always said God gave us discernment for a reason. We can keep ourselves out of trouble if we listen to that little voice that says, “Be careful.” There’s a difference between being compassionate and being a chump.
Q: Why do you think family relationships can sometimes be so sticky?
Honestly, I think it’s because we expect better from family. We expect to be loved unconditionally, to be forgiven when we mess up, to feel as though we belong. When the secure base is yanked away, we flounder. When family hurts you, the wound goes much deeper than one inflicted by a stranger or an acquaintance.
Q: You cover real-life topics in your story including single motherhood, adoption, family secrets, lost love and more. Which topic is closest to your heart and why?
Definitely the topic of raising a child who isn’t yours biologically is near and dear to me. My oldest daughter has the joy and privilege of mothering two children who were not born to her but have won such a significant portion of her heart. Watching her form a tender relationship with these children whom I love as my grandchildren has been so beautiful.
Q: A variety of family relationships are also present including mother-daughter, grandmother-granddaughter, cousins and more. Which one in When Grace Sings do you see as the most complicated? The strongest?
I think the most complicated, in some ways, is also the strongest: the relationship between Suzanne and Anna-Grace. Although Suzanne spent 20 years separated from Anna-Grace, the love that bloomed in her during pregnancy never dimmed. She is prohibited from openly embracing the child to whom she gave birth, which provides the complication, but her love for Anna-Grace is tenacious, making it strong even though it’s one-sided.
Q: Is it better to bring family secrets out into the open or to try and cover them up?
Secrets exposed to the light of day lose their power. Unless the secret would bring more pain than healing, I think honesty is the better choice.
Q: What do you hope readers will take away from your story?
The theme that rolled through the back of my heart as I wrote was a simple truth: God gives second chances. We as humans make our mistakes, we flounder and err and build walls that seem insurmountable. But when we confess our wrongdoings and ask God to redeem us, He brings restoration. It’s NEVER too late for a second chance.
Learn more about Kim Vogel Sawyer and When Grace Sings at www.kimvogelsawyer.com, on Facebook (KimVogelSawyer.Author.Speaker) or by following her on Twitter (KimVogelSawyer).
NEWS FROM EARTHTALK
Dear EarthTalk: How are environmentalists putting drones to use to help further their causes?
— Joe Martin, Baltimore, MD
Conservationists are utilizing drone or “unmanned aerial systems” (UAS) technology to gather highly detailed imagery and other environmental data that is traditionally challenging to obtain. Wildlife biologist John Takekawa and his team at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Western Ecological Research Center (WERC), for example, are using drones to obtain aerial images of San Francisco Bay marshlands.
“It’s very hard to get some of the data sets in some of these areas that are remote or hard to reach in the marshes,” Takekawa explains. “If you have something that can fly over and get sensors that can report back to your computer, that’s what we’re looking for in exploring these types of technologies.”
Environmentalists are increasingly putting drone technology to work to further their conservation and related causes. Credit: Don McCullough, FlickrCC
Dr. Amy Woodget, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Worcester in the UK, uses her small Draganflyer X6 UAS to collect high-resolution imagery of river channels. The images map the physical conditions within the rivers, including the channel topography, water depth and surface flow patterns, data all crucial for gauging river health and habitat conditions essential to the survival of local wildlife.
“The results obtained using UAS technologies provide unprecedented levels of detail concerning these physical river habitat parameters, with high levels of accuracy and precision,” Woodget says.
Drones are also helping preserve the Peruvian Amazon forest, where illegal gold mining and logging has cleared mahogany, Spanish cedar and other old-growth trees. Carlos Castaneda, coordinator of the Amazon Basin Conservation Association’s Los Amigos Conservation Concession, monitors the 550-square-mile Los Amigos reserve in southeastern Peru, home to a large diversity of plant and animal species, including palm swamps, bamboo thickets, giant otters, harpy eagles, spider monkeys and jaguars. Small drones weighing less than five pounds enable detection of any deforestation within the area.
Considering that more and more drones are being launched for conservation research, Linda Rothschild, an evolutionary biologist at NASA’s Ames Research Center, was concerned when she found out that UAVs sometimes get lost in coral reefs or other sensitive habitats. “As I started to hear about this, I thought, ‘Well, wouldn’t it be useful if the UAV was biodegradable, so if it crashed somewhere that was sensitive, it wouldn’t matter if it dissolved,’” Rothschild says.
So Rothschild created a biodegradable drone with a team of students in the 2014 International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition. The team’s prototype took its first short flight in November 2014 at the iGEM competition in Boston. The drone, which resembles a cardboard cup holder, is made primarily of mycelium grown by New York-based Ecovative Design. The team grew cellulose leather-like sheets to coat the mycelium body and then covered the sheets with proteins sourced from the saliva of paper wasps—a water resistant material that the insects use to cover their nests. The biodegradable drone body is certainly a step forward, though the drone still uses a standard battery, motor and propellers.
Rothschild’s dream is to make a UAV where every part is made with something biodegradable, but for now, she says, “realistically, this is going to be much more of a hybrid vehicle.”
SANTA BARBARA FUNDRAISER - BRING SHOES;
Hillside House Launches Shoe Collection Drive to Raise Funds for Adults with Developmental Disabilities
Seeking all types and sizes from worn (Gently) to new (Wow)
Seeking boots, wing tips, running shoes, sandals, even high-heels for the Hillside House October Shoe Drive. By donating shoes you can help to raise funds in support of its 59 residents living with developmental disabilities. Hillside House will earn funds based on the number of pairs collected by partnering up with Funds2Orgs (F2O) that will purchase the donated shoes of all sizes throughout the month of October. Those dollars will in turn benefit Hillside House residents by funding the daily operations that provide residents the opportunity to attain the highest level of independence and integration into the community. Every one can help by donating gently worn, used or new shoes at: Hillside House, just off Las Positas, at 1235 Veronica Springs Road in Santa Barbara; or at Superior Fitness Training and Wellness Center, 1331 San Andras Street on Santa Barbara’s Westside; or at Lazy Acres Market at 302 Meigs Road off Cliff Drive. More locations to be confirmed and will be noted on the Hillside House Facebook page.
“We are excited about our shoe drive,” said Nicole Ramirez, Director of Development of Hillside House. She continued, “Most people have extra shoes in their closets, so we’re asking them to take a look, tell their friends and family to do the same, and donate those spares to us. It will help those in need to become self-sufficient, both here at Hillside House and abroad. It’s a win-win for everyone.” By donating shoes to the Hillside House October Shoe Drive, the shoes will be given a second chance and make a difference in people’s lives. This is just one of the creative giving ideas this 70 year old organization has come up with to maintain an awareness in the community for the services it provides to an under served population of adults with developmental disabilities. http://www.hillsidehousesb.org/g_creative_ideas.html
All donated shoes will be redistributed throughout the Funds2Orgs network of microenterprise partners in developing nations. F2O helps impoverished people start, maintain and grow businesses in countries such as Haiti, Honduras and other nations in Central America and Africa. Proceeds from the shoe sales are used to feed, clothe and house their families. One budding entrepreneur in Haiti even earned enough to send her son to law school. The well-known phrase, ‘think globally, act locally’ is in full action here.
Drop off your shoes between October 1 - 31 at Lazy Acres, Superior Fitness or Hillside House, 1235 Veronica Springs Road, just off Las Positas. It will be easy to find the shoe donation boxes on the property at the Main Office of the venerable organization seven days a week during normal business hours. For more information, call Angela Biancone (805) 687-0788, ext. 123 or e-mail at her e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hillside House is a residential facility for people with developmental disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, autism and epilepsy. Committed to Each Resident’s Potential Since 1945.
Thanks in advance for your kind consideration. I have this image in hi-res as well, so just ask. You can also go to Funds2Org.com for other shoe images.