Archive for the ‘Beyond the Manuscript’ Category

Is Christ in Your Christmas?: A Letter from Our Publisher

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For many adults and children alike, Christmas truly is “the most wonderful time of the year.” Families come together, gifts are exchanged, and plenty of food is eaten. But with so much going on, we can find ourselves so wrapped up in the business and blur of the season that we miss what Christmas is all about. We become so enveloped in trying to find the perfect Christmas tree, sing the perfect Christmas songs, and find that perfect gift for loved ones that we forget that these minor things are not the true meaning of Christmas. It is so important for us to realize that we need to slow down and be reminded of our Savior’s birth and the story of the first Christmas.
 Author Karen Straszheim shares her experience and thoughts about Christmas in her book A Sanctuary in Our Midst. She walks readers through that first Christmas night, shares of the events leading up to it, and explores what it means to us today. She reminds us not to get caught up or strung out in the midst of the holiday madness and rush. Her book helps place the focus where it should be during the busy Christmas season: on Jesus.

“People in the Bible were glad for what they learned about God from prophecy. At Christmas, we also can be glad for what we learn about God from Scripture. One day, we will enter heaven with everlasting joy. For now, we can enter Christmas with singing, gladness, and joy. He came so we can know Him.”

“If God had not loved and protected Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, what would have been the outcome for them? In Matthew, it says that “Herod gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under.” There was heard among the people “weeping and great mourning . . . Parents weeping for their children . . . because they [were] no more” (Matt. 2:16,18). But Joseph and Mary returned to Israel with their child still living. God’s love was shown to them through the protection of their child’s life.

“Some people feel unloved or abandoned throughout the year and these feelings are noticed even more in the Christmas season. Our culture says this is a time to be with family. But for some, the people they’d like to be with are absent. A parent hasn’t been there for them as a child or an adult. For others, an important person has left, quit, walked out or died, leaving them feeling deserted, cast off, or rejected. A person who has been abandoned can feel lonely, forgotten, forlorn, or sometimes hopeless.
”God, however, says, ‘I will live among the [people] and won’t abandon my people’ (1 Kings 6:13). Jesus had a Father who loved Him and didn’t abandon Him to permanent death. We have the same Father who gives the same love and care to us He gave to His son Jesus (John 17:23, 26). We have hope in a love that is unfailing (Ps. 147:11). He shows us His love with the forgiveness He of­fers us. His compassions are new every morning (Lam. 3:22-23). He is merciful and faithful to us (Heb. 2:17). God is a parent who is there for His children. He listens to us attentively: ‘ . . . You will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’ (Jer. 29:12-13).

“If you are feeling lonely or forgotten this Christmas, call on your heav­enly Father. A Sanctuary in Our MidstPray and let Him know how you are and what you need. He will be there for you.”
“God is both supremely above us and with us. Jesus, He who saves, is also Immanuel, God with us. He is a king who is a servant to His people (John 13:1-16). God gave me a banquet of knowledge about Himself and then proclaimed a holiday. He “distributed gifts with royal liberality,” which included the gift of rest (Esther 2:18). This idea changed my thinking about Christmas.

“Christmas, for me, now isn’t the usual, a time to be busy. It has become a time for understanding what rest is: rest from sin and rest from work; a time for having joy in who Jesus is and what He came to do. Ezekiel 37:28 says, “The nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy when my sanctuary is among them forever.” As a sanctuary, God shelters His people. He watches over us and takes care of us. He is in our midst to help us in the ways we need. This Christmas, may you, too, find Him doing the unexpected in your life in ways that show you He is a sanctuary.”

To learn more about Straszheim and A Sanctuary in Our Midst, visit HERE.

2019 Christmas Gift Guide

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It’s never too early to start thinking about that special book lover in your life, whether it’s your family, friends, or coworkers, and especially now that Thanksgiving is behind us! Ambassador International wants to help you with your Christmas gift shopping so we’ve put together this 2019 Christmas Gift Guide. This gift guide includes gifts suited for all ages!

Click below to browse the gift guide.

To Love a Child…: A Letter from Our Publisher

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As families come together to celebrate Thanksgiving, one tradition is to go around the table and list the things which you are thankful for. Many give the expected response of friends, their home, food, etc. But what we may not realize is that while we are thankful for these things, November also recognizes children without homes, without families, and some without friends. November is Orphan Awareness Month. There are many children around the world who will not have the opportunity to sit down and enjoy a meal with a family this holiday season.
Mary Sandford explores life for children in an orphanage in her book titled Unwanted. Mary follows the life of Debbie Spencer. She is like most children her age, she has friends who she cares about, she loves to play and laugh with them, and she has no fear praying to her Heavenly Father. However, unlike most children, she lives in an orphanage…even though she is not technically an orphan. Mary Sandford shows how Debbie, and many of the other children in the orphanage, felt not having a family there with them to comfort and love them.

*****

       “I didn’t know what made me more embarrassed, wanting Daddy or being scared over a silly commercial in the first place. After I was back in the dormitory, thinking about the awful music kept me awake for hours every night. That’s when longing for Daddy was the worst. He should have been alive to protect me from scary commercials and bad dreams.”
“For weeks I’d cried myself to sleep. I’d hoped and prayed and waited. My mother never came to see me. Not once. Not even when I had the mumps. After that, I had stopped thinking of her. I’d made myself stop, and now, I never did and didn’t want to start.
Patricia [one of the members of staff at the orphanage] led me into the office and closed the door behind me. My mother stood next to Miss Ritz and her desk.
“Thisss isss my daww-ter.” My mother’s voice was loud but might not be heard over the singing. She wrapped her arms around me and clung to me like she needed me, if only to stay upright. I wanted to step aside and watch her fall. I wanted to pay her back for all the times I’d longed to be needed and wanted but never was.
I pulled away from her arms.
She gave me a bleary-eyed gaze squinting like she couldn’t see clearly. “Ssstill looksss jusss like her Daddy.”
Miss Ritz went around the desk to her chair as if my mother wasn’t there bent over and crying into her lap.”

*****

       “Concentrating on the chairs worked only for a moment. Everything that happened before I came to the home bombarded my thoughts.
I remembered waking up to find a cake on the table with “Happy Birthday, Debbie, 12 years old,” written in blue letters across the smooth white frosting. I’d swiped a taste off of the side and ran into Gram’s room to thank her. But Gram wasn’t there. Before I could figure out why, Uncle Lloyd came bursting in.
“What are you doing in here?” he’d asked. “My mother is gone. Her heart gave out, and it’s all Carol’s fault.” He grabbed my arm and added, “And yours.” Then he shoved me out of the room and slammed the door.
Ever since Uncle Lloyd came home from the war and he’d had to sleep on the orange velveteen davenport, he’d been mad. Mad at Gram for letting us move in when Daddy went back to Korea. Mad like he wanted Gram all to himself to take care of him and his wounded hip without my mother and me there, too.
My mother never even tried because, ever since Daddy left for Korea, all my mother did was lay on Uncle Lloyd’s davenport all day with the brown and yellow afghan spread over her. Until the day after my ninth birthday when she got the telegram.
She had started to read it out loud. “We regret to inform you…” but she stopped, and no one ever told me what else it said. No one told me why my mother ran out of the house without a coat or even shoes. No one told me where she’d been before Uncle Lloyd found her. I heard him tell Gram he’d taken her to the hospital, but I didn’t know why until Gram had tucked me into bed with tears in her eyes.”
Just before all of the chaos with her mother coming to visit her in the orphanage, Debbie’s heart was lightened by some much-needed good news.
“An outing. Folks who cared for orphans were coming to take us out? Folks who liked children and maybe wanted a child. My chest swelled up with hope. Was God answering my prayers for a new family?
No matter what I knew, telling Sharon and Noreen wasn’t a good idea at all. I wasn’t telling anyone. It was supposed to be a secret. A secret that could make my biggest wish come true. I was just sure of it.
Gram would have been proud of me thinking of someone else’s feelings like she’s always told me, a sure sign I was starting to put others first or at least for a quick second.”

*****           Mary E. Sandford

It is important to recognize the children who spend holidays in an orphanage or alone, and if we are able, to show them the love they need and deserve as shown in Mary Sandford’s book, Unwanted.
We also want to thank and show gratitude to those who have opened their doors to children and embraced them as their own with loving and outstretched arms. Thank you for sacrificing your time and energy in order to invest in a life. Thank you for being Jesus to these little ones and saying, “let them come unto me, and do not hinder them” (Matthew 19:14).

To learn more about Sandford and Unwanted, visit HERE.

Today, We Salute You

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Veterans DayGiuseppe Garibaldi, an Italian general and nationalist, said: “Soldiers, I am going out from Rome. Let those who wish to continue the war against the stranger, come with me. I offer neither pay, nor quarters, nor provisions. I offer hunger, thirst, forced marches, battles, and death. Let him who loves his country follow me.”

True sacrifice serves not for fame or benefits or glory, but from a heartfelt commitment to protecting those under your care despite personal cost. Today we stop to shine light on the current of gratitude that flows through our daily lives to those veterans who have shown true sacrifice and to their families and friends who join and support them. Your daily and lifelong sacrifice is seen, heard, recognized, and appreciated.

Veterans, every day, but especially today, we salute you.

Below is a selection of books written by veterans, for veterans, or by veteran spouses. Click on the cover to learn more about the author and book.

  Armorbearers  Michelle Keener Repurposed Faith: Breathing New Life into Your Quiet Time - Rosie Williams   Fate of the Watchman   Finding JoyA Biblicist View of Law and Gospel  

Eyes of Faith: A Letter from Our Publisher

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The month of October is filled with pumpkin spice flavored everything, the excitement of trick-or-treating, the anticipation of Halloween, the delicious taste of candy corns, the joy of choosing the perfect costume, and the exhilaration of getting to dress up as someone/something else! The once green leaves on the trees are changing to red, yellow, orange, and brown. Pumpkins can be found in abundance along with all things fall themed. It is almost as if fall is in the air.
      For many people around the world, dressing up is something fun to do; however, for missionary Amy Carmichael it was something completely different. Amy was a missionary to the children of India. Growing up, she had always been so disappointed that her eyes were brown instead of blue. But God had a plan for her, and her eyes helped her to dress up and blend in when she needed to most.

Author Derick Bingham describes Amy Carmichael’s life as a missionary to India in his book The Wild-Bird Child. Throughout the telling of her story, he uncovers God’s plan for her and how He used her dark eyes and a costume to help further His plan for Amy’s life.

“With a passion, Amy was determined that God would change the color of her eyes from brown to blue. Blue was her favorite color; and it is not without significance that most of her books were to be bound in blue cloth. Let her poetry tell the story:

Just a tiny little child,
Three years old,
And a mother with heart
All of gold.

Often did that mother say,
“Jesus hears us when we pray,
For He’s never far away;
And He always answers.”

Now, that tiny little child
Had brown eyes;
And she wanted blue instead,
Like blue skies.
For her mother’s eyes were blue,
Like forget-me-nots. She knew
All her mother said was true –
Jesus always answered.

So she prayed for two blue eyes,
Said “Good night,”
Went to sleep in deep content
And delight.
Woke up early, climbed a chair
By a mirror. Where, O where
Could the blue eyes be? Not there!
Jesus hadn’t answered.

Hadn’t answered her at all!
Never more
Could she pray – her eyes were brown
As before.
Did a little soft wind blow?
Came a whisper, soft and low,
“Jesus answered. He said ‘No.’
Isn’t ‘No’ an answer?”

During the Second World War, a Jewish rescue farm was set up near Millisle [Northern Ireland]. Those brown eyes of Amy Carmichael were to be one of her most useful attributes, when she would be led to rescue hundreds of brown-eyed children from unspeakable things and establish a faraway home for them.”

“Soon, Amy was glad that God had said “No” to her childhood prayer in Millisle for blue eyes. One night, she disguised herself by staining her hands and face with coffee and, dressed in a sari, she got right past the priests. Eventually, she got to the inner shrine and then entered a larger room where ten little girls, all aged between four and six, stood in line waiting. Dressed in silk saris and sparkling with jewels, they were perfumed and wore flowers in their hair, but their eyes were filled with fear. A door opened, weird music burst from behind the door, and a priest led them in. Amy did not need to be told what it was all about. But how was she to tell the world and the authorities that the horrors were real, and not imagined?”

“The broken-hearted Amy lifted her eyes away beyond her immediate circumstances to the vast sub-continent in which God had placed her; and the light of guidance was dawning upon her, that what she was doing had vast repercussions.
We have looked at some of the facts she collected regarding the Temple children; but here, in her own words, the seed-thought is expressed for what lay ahead:

‘We are hoping to gather facts concerning the Temple children matter during the next year, and then probably through the Missionary body of South India, approach Government upon the subject… if only the facts can be brought to light, something will surely be done. The difficulty is to get the facts: facts of the sort which will compel action on the part of the Government. The law as it stands is inadequate to cope with this trade in children. We realize that it will be difficult to frame the law, that its purpose cannot be evaded, but when one sees so many thoughtful men and women, some of them Government Officials, tackling the question, one feels as if the day when right will be done may not be so very far distant. I have begun with this because I want your prayers. The subject is National, not just Missionary, in its bearing.’

Amy, the missionary, was on her way to becoming a social reformer to the huge benefit of the nation she loved and of which she had become a part.” Amy Carmichael

“As Christmas 1930 approached, the experience of asking for blue eyes in Millisle, Co. Down sixty years before, was still fresh in her heart. In December 1930, she quotes the words of her famous poem about her childhood experience of asking for blue eyes: ‘I find the Dohnavur Letter goes to quite a number of people who have kept the heart of the child. And more than one of that sort here has found an answer to many a question in the last line of this song – the question that answers itself. As for the genuine child, it never tires of the nonsense of it. We have baby song evenings in my room sometimes, and Godfrey plays on his auto-harp and the children crowd round with their own little Baby Song M.S. books. What shall we sing? Blue Eyes! They cry all at once, and with emphasis – so just to share our nonsense as well as our sense, her it is….’ She includes not only the words of her poem but the music to sing it as a song.”

As we prepare for fall, as we decorate with pumpkins, and as we choose costumes and dress up as someone/something different, let us remember that we are each unique, let us embrace that we each have a unique call on our lives that only we can fulfill,  and let us love and accept ourselves the way God created us just as Amy Carmichael did.

To learn more about Bingham and The Wild-Bird Child, visit HERE.

#MilesApart

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This devotional is an excerpt from the free two-week devotional for couples by Hope N. Griffin available at www.HopeNGriffin.com.

Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”Hope Griffin
“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”
Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord[e] have for his servant?”
The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.”
And Joshua did so.
— Joshua 5:13-15

Do you remember the story of Jericho? The one where they marched around the city in silence for six days and on the seventh day they blew their trumpets and the walls fell-down? Whenever I hear this story I can’t help but see Veggie Tales and think of the green-peas throwing insults at the Israelites.

The Israelites are victorious. But there is a small story before they march that is rarely discussed. I don’t mean Rahab, but rather this man who suddenly appears in Joshua 5 standing before Joshua with sword drawn. Joshua upon seeing this stranger simply asks are you with us or with the enemy. In other words, are you a threat or are you falling in line with our agenda? The man answers simply, “I’m not with you or them. I’m with God.”

I wonder how many times in life we are faced with the same confrontation. We get so busy defending our ground and drawing lines in the sand without stepping back and first asking “but are we on God’s side.”

Joshua humbly recognized that this battle was not his but the Lords. He responded appropriately and fell facedown in reverence identifying himself as being on God’s side. If he were not a humble man willing to listen more than command would he have had the humility to march in silence? Would he have trusted that God’s way was the right way?

Are you trusting that God’s way is the right way?

To learn more about Hope N. Griffin and her book Finding Joy: The Year Apart that Made Me a Better Wife, visit HERE.

Publishing FAQs | Endorsements: The 6 Ws

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Frequently asked questions. Every industry has them and publishing is no different. Ambassador International has the pleasure of working with many new and upcoming authors as well as already-established authors who still need our assistance. Many of these authors come to us with lots of questions. Publishing your first book (or your 10th!) is exciting! There are many details to work out and decisions to make. This Publishing FAQ series covers questions Ambassador International receives regularly. Previously covered questions are:

 

Publishing FAQsEndorsements: The 6 Ws

What:

Merriam-Webster defines endorsing as “to approve openly” or “to recommend (something, such as a product or service).”  An endorsement for a book is not a review, it is a statement that openly approves or recommends your book to readers.

Why:

An endorsement lends credibility to a book. They are a no-cost marketing strategy that can be used in the promotion of your book.

When:

Now!

Whether you have signed a contract or not, it is never too early to begin seeking endorsements.Click To Tweet

Who:

In simplest terms, the more recognizable the endorser, the better, but also keep in mind that any endorsement is better than none. Endorsements can come from various sources – a recognized leader in the field, pastor, librarians, authors {award-winning authors are ideal but not required}

Where:

Endorsements will be used for your book, either on the cover or in the interior. They will also be used in marketing material.

How:

While Ambassador International can try and help authors acquire endorsements, we recommend you review your personal connections first and determine if you have any connections who would qualify as an endorser. And then all you have to do is ask them! It’s simple, really! If you don’t have personal connections, you can still seek out possible endorsers but you may have to try a little harder to get a yes. Endorsements are, or should be, offered for free, but we recommend that you offer and send the endorser a personally-signed copy of your book upon publication as a way of saying thank you.

 

We applaud you for doing your research to try and make your book the best version of itself it can be! Whether you have already signed a contract or still hope to in the future, you can begin the process now of trying to secure endorsements for your book. We recommend our authors try to have two or three good endorsements, but even if you get one, remember what we said earlier, any endorsement is better than no endorsement .

Author Forum: Does Reading Other People’s Work Influence Your Writing Style?

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This is the second of a multi-part series by guest blogger Ivy Cheng tapping into the expertise of several seasoned Ambassador authors. The first post offered tips on dealing with writer’s block.

They say that copycatting is the highest praise because it means that the work is worth copying. Shakespeare’s storylines have been taken and reworked into countless new works, and Hemingway’s different writing style changed the literary world. So it raises the question if our authors are particularly influenced by other authors.

Juana M9781620202913-e1414700233650ikels – Author of Choosing Him All Over Again 

I don’t read other people’s work when I am writing other than looking up a quote I am searching for (I also don’t listen to other testimonies when I am writing).  I am afraid that I will copy their style. But don’t get me wrong. Reading what other people have written had everything to do with my writing. I read aloud to my children for 15 years before I began my book. I will forever be grateful to the excellent writers I met during those years whose detailed descriptions inspired me (a math girl, think of it!) to the point I knew I had to write! I agree with the Psalmist who said, “My heart was hot within me, While I was musing the fire burned; Then I spoke with my tongue…” (Psalm 39:3)

 

From Driftwood to SapphireKathy Howard – Author of From Dishes to Snow and From Driftwood to Sapphire

I am a picky eater and I am a picky reader. I’ve noticed I tend to read authors with similar writing styles to each other. Anything outside of that realm, I have a hard time understanding or staying focused. So, yes, I would have to say I lean towards the writing style that I read, mainly because it keeps my attention. To those who like meatloaf, tuna, and chicken – expository, persuasive, and narrative, I admire you. But to me, I’m just a chicken girl – one meat, one writing style. Hopefully one of these days, I’ll acquire a taste for variety.

 

 

Grace in the MiddleWendy Duke – Author of Grace in the Middle

Yes and no. I definitely feel like reading unique writing styles seems to open up the possibilities, break down limitations. Sometimes I try to write in different “voices” just to stretch my own technique. e.e. cummings taught me to use unexpected words to shake things up.  Harper Lee taught me to pay attention to the subplot, to the stories happening behind the center stage. Other authors such as Anne Lamotte, Donald Miller and Jen Hatmaker have all influenced me over recent years. They have very conversational writing styles, casual and funny.  This seems to be the style that feels most like my own voice, so their writing gives me confidence in my own style.

 

An9781620202692-197x306drea Rodgers –Author of The 20th Christmas

Yes, so I don’t usually read much when I’m working on a manuscript. I feel it’s one or the other for me–either I’m reading or writing because I do a better job of listening to my writing voice when it’s the only one I hear.

 

Have a favorite author or unique writing style? Go and comment on our Facebook page and tell us all about it!