Thursday, December 27, 2007


I love it when Ginny turns out a new book. And her latest and greatest is out in stores now. I'm not only honored to call Ginny one of my dearest friends, but I am excited to share her wonderful books with you.

Check out her website at
to see all that Ginny has going on. She's one busy woman.

Now, let me introduce you to Bluegrass Peril.

Bluegrass Peril received a 4-Star review from Romantic Times!

From the back cover:


Local police had tagged single mom Becky Dennison as their prime suspect. But she'd only been in the wrong place at the wrong time...admittedly, with her boss's lifeless body. Sure, it looked bad, but Becky had no motive for killing the man--even if she had opportunity.

Then Scott Lewis, handsome assistant manager of a nearby horse farm, entered Becky's life. Soon the amateur detectives were ont on the trail of the murderer...even as their feelings for each other deepened. And for Becky and Scott, this race on the Kentucky tracks had the greatest stakes of all: life or death.

Bluegrass Peril

by Virginia Smith

Steeple Hill, December 2007

ISBN 978-0-373-44272-0

Cover Price: $5.50

Read an excerpt from chapter one here .

What people are saying about Bluegrass Peril

"Virginia has the cozy mystery down cold! In fact, I'm labeling her the "Christian Cozy Mystery Maven"! I give Bluegrass Peril four out of five bookmarks, with a hoofpick charm...and you'll just have to read it to find out why." Deena from California

Bluegrass Peril isn’t as perilous as the title might imply. However, if you love a good “cozy” mystery told from a warm, Christian perspective then this is the book for you! Virginia Smith writes with a very personal voice in her novel, and she uses some universal human relationships (divorced, single mom, new romantic relationships vs. old flame) to move her plot along. This is the type of book that goes perfectly with a warm cup of cocoa on a cold afternoon, so it will be perfect for its December debut! I encourage everyone to enjoy Bluegrass Peril and share a copy with a friend!” Kim at

I found this book a super read and found it hard to find a convenient place to stop reading. That's a mark of a good book--to me.

Peg Phifer at

This is a keeper. Loads of fun, and it's a quick read for the bus commuter or the busy mom or the day-worker wanting to unwind. Ginny did a lot of research for this novel, which shows in the details of the horse racing world she puts into the story. After she wrote the manuscript, news reports came out that established one of her key scenarios as more fact than fiction!

Jill Elizabeth Nelson at

Virginia Smith writes a nice little mystery in Bluegrass Peril. I didn't pick up on the killer until near the end and her red herrings were iffy in a good way. I'm amazed at the amount of story she managed to pull off in the limitations of the word count. Not only is there an intruiging mystery, Smith weaves in information regarding a worthy charity/cause, the drama of single motherhood with a financial pinch tossed in for good measure, a new love interest and a past that reaches out and muddies everything. All ended neatly organized.
Though romance isn't a favorite genre, I'll keep my eye on Virginia Smith.

Kelly from Iowa

I loved this book. It has a great combination of suspense with romance. The characters felt real to me and the plot kept me interested the whole way through. I found myself towards the end yelling at Becky not to do something. I do not want to give away the story so go find the book and read it! (and figure out what had me yelling at her for. :) )

Brittanie at

Horses, bluegrass, beautiful woman, hunky boss ... all ingredients for romance. But Bluegrass Peril is more than just fluff! The characters are real, the action is tight and, of course, the setting is magical. I love Virginia Smith's books!

Angie from South Carolina

I had the privilege of reading and reviewing Ms Virginia Smith's novel, Bluegrass Peril. I love "who done it" novels, and this is one of the best. Don't miss it.

Sherry at

Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved.

® and are trademarks of Harlequin Enterprises Limited and/or its affiliated companies, used under license. Trademarks marked with a ® are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office and/or other countries.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


It's the privledge of Mountain Breeze Ministries to introduce friend and author Alton Gansky's newest release.

Having just finished the book -- I can's out of this world!
Cindy Sproles
Mountain Breeze Ministries

Alton Gansky's


Alton Gansky-
Author, Teacher,
Mentor, Minister,
And Friend.
Check out his web site
for more of his books.
You can purchase
straight from Al's on line store.

It’s the first commercial space flight.
Just as competitive as the old space race…
and even more deadly.

From Library Journal
A year ago, NASA astronaut Tuck Tucker's crew succumbed to a fatal illness in space, a disaster that devastated Tuck, the only survivor, and took a heavy toll on his faith and trust in a benevolent God. When Tuck is offered another chance to lead a commercial space crew catering to tourists, he can't resist the chance to go into outer space one more time despite the risks involved. Gansky handles the suspenseful plot well, keeping the reader engrossed as a dangerous conspiracy unfolds. This title will appeal especially to male readers who like action-packed suspense and strong male heroes. Highly recommended for men's fiction collections and public libraries.

From Publishers Weekly
Gansky's suspenseful novel grabs hold of the reader on the first page and doesn't let go. The hero—and he is very much a courageous, old-style hero—is Tuck Tucker, a NASA astronaut who is devastated when, on his third mission in outer space, every member of his crew gets violently sick and he is the only one to survive. Was the inexplicable illness that claimed Tuck's crew a freak accident, or did someone try to destroy the mission? Tuck blames God for failing to save the crew, and it takes a year of anger, plus a gentle talking-to from his spiritually insightful and disarming father, before he can make peace with his maker. Indeed, many people are deeply affected by the tragedy: Vincent Pistacchia, whose son died on Tuck's watch, plots revenge; Tuck's family members admit that they've always found his space travel terrifying; and Tuck, plagued by survivor's guilt and nightmares, is deemed unfit to return to space and given a NASA desk job. Tuck gets one last chance to command a space trip thanks to a startup company that makes space travel available to well-heeled tourists, But someone's out to get Tuck, and things go dreadfully wrong. Fast-paced plotting and strong character development make this one of Gansky's best.

Veteran astronaut Benjamin “Tuck” Tucker is slated to pilot the first commercial space flight. But ruthless enemies are about to jeopardize the enterprise. With a recent tragedy still haunting his memory, Tuck must turn to a God he no longer trusts as he fights for his life and the lives of all aboard.

Poised to make history, SpaceVentures, Inc., hovers on the brink of launching the first commercial space flight. And Benjamin “Tuck” Tucker’s skill and reputation have thrust the new company into the forefront in this powerful new space race.

A veteran astronaut and national hero, Tuck accepts the coveted honor—and the risk—of piloting the Legacy on her maiden space voyage.

The danger is far greater than just the perceived risks.

The real threat, a plot far deadlier than anyone could have imagined, is exposed as Legacy reaches the suborbital regions of space. Suspended seventy miles above Earth, Tuck must use his skill and his faith—faith in a God he has found it hard to trust since a deadly tragedy in space over a year before—as he fights an unknown enemy who will not hesitate to kill again.
To purchase online please click here: The Alton Gansky Online Bookstore

Wednesday, November 28, 2007



Author and columnist, Eddie Jones is coming together with Cindy Sproles to introduce a new and unique way study the scripture. He said, She said! will post on a new site located at

So what is this new way to study? It's simple. He said, She said! offers two unique views of a single scripture -- one from a man's point of view and the other from a woman's (we know which one is right, don't we!).

Readers will be given a single scripture with two takes. Even with differing views on how the scripture applies, the two shall meet in the middle under the common bond of Christ's love. You'll learn that God speaks in to us as individuals, using His divine word to work its way uniquely into your life and your situation.

Some will be humorous, some joyous and others, heartwrenching -- either way, He said, She said will enrich your lives.

One scripture -- two points of view -- HIS and HERS, with GOD in the middle.

Mark the site and take time to join us in an opportunity to expand our horizons.

We look forward to your visits.

Eddie is a contributing writer for:

  • The Ocracoke Observer Aboard Magazine
  • Town Dock
  • Beaufort Breezes
  • Inner Banks Newsletter
  • Cruisers' Net

And has written for:

  • The Lake Norman Times
  • Carolina Living
  • Latitudes & Attitudes Magazine
  • Carolina Style
  • Carolina Cruising
  • Coastal Cruising Magazine
  • The Boating News
  • Cruising Coast and Island
  • Embassy Marine's Mid Atlantic Cruising Guide
  • Tidal Times Magazine
Eddie's Books are available from

Cindy Sproles is the founder of Mountain Breeze Ministries and
Mountain Breeze Devotions

She is a columnist for Tri-County News
and a contributing writer to Novel Journey and Novel Reviews

She is the writer for PML Programs

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Okay, so I get the hint. People are writing and asking WHY I'm not update the blog sooner. Well, there's a number of reasons. 1) Those who I list in the Heart of a Servant Series deserve an opportunity to be seen. Their hearts are the ones, we as Christians want to fashion and imitate. So, I love to show them off for a few weeks. How else can their ministries be seen?

Secondly, life is pushing itself upon my shoulders. I've gone back to college, (I know, I ask myself daily--what was I thinking?) So, I am half way through my program and looking at a business degree by May 2008.

Thirdly, I am following my own passion of being a writer. God has graciously offered to use me in the devotional capacity and that, my friends is where you see the daily updates. Also, I am co-writing a novel with a wonderful friend in California, and working on my own novel in betwix (as we say in East Tennessee). Therefore, Mountain Breeze Writer is not updated much more than once or twice a month. Go to Mountain Breeze Devotions for daily updates.

You have asked about Mountain Breeze and I feel compelled to share it's success with you. Three years ago, I met God on the mountain (Black Mountian, NC) at a writer's conference. Here He said, "Cindy, I have a mission for you" and I accepted. Hence, Mountain Breeze Ministries.

Mountain Breeze would be no where with out three things. God's idea, God's plan, and God's implication of the process is first and foremost. Also, those readers who have taken this ministry into the hands of individuals world wide. I am awed by your confidence and trust in my desire to serve the Lord. By reading the daily devotions, forwarding them to your friends and family, this ministry now serves hundreds of names, not to mention the ones who receive the forwards that I don't know about. And third and finally, it is successful because the many writer friends who promote it. Thank you to each one.

The Heart of a Servant Series came to pass because of these many wonderful friends who have such wonderful and giving spirits. This has been so successful that some of our interviews are being picked up by other blogs. Spread the word!

I have two or three authors who will be posted here soon, also a couple of just "plain folk" as well. So there will be updates, don't freak out on me! Please note that myself and Mountain Breeze Ministries are available for to speak for ladies conferences, retreats and such. Just email me and we'll see what can be arranged.

Thank you so much for three years of wonderful ministry. Thank you for being the awesome prayer warriors that you are. Many come to us simply because we go to our knees. Isn't that wonderful? Look for upcoming interviews to be posted.



Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Heart of a Servant Series

Having the Heart of a Servant...

Meet Sheila Sproles
(3rd from your left, front row)

Over and over I have stated that God places those who are necessary in our lives. I was honored and thrilled when Sheila became a part of our family. There are four women in my life who have impacted me more than any one. My mother, Velma, (2) my mother-in-law, Kitty, (3) my sister-in-law, Jenny (4) and my OTHER sister-in-law, Sheila.

It was a joy when Sheila informed me she was going to Africa (and to her credit, she tried to get me to go. That's another story for another time!) to lead a women's conference. What a wonderful opportunity for her, and the women who attended with her, to share their their talents.

God used them in a very profound and wonderous way. It took bravery, desire and holy submission to step out on faith and make this trip. Read about my super-doober sis-in-law, Sheila Sproles as she shares her mission trip with us.

I am proud to introduce, Sheila Sproles -- a woman with a true heart of a servant.

Tell us about the group who invited you to do a women’s conference in Africa?

Pastor Jackson Wambua had attended a Missions Conference in Abingdon in the summer of 2006. He told my friend Kim who is on staff at Highlands Fellowship in Abingdon about their annual Women's Conference and asked her if she would be interested in bringing a group of ladies from America to lead the conference in 2007. She told him she would pray about it and see how God was leading. At this time she also told him about me and how we had served together in women's ministry and both had a heart to minister to women through music and teaching.

How did you meet them?

This is how I was introduced to Pastor Jackson Wambua. Having never laid eyes on him until we arrived in Kisumu, Kenya we corresponded and arranged the details for the conference by email!

When they asked you to go on the trip, did you hesitate at all?

When Kim first mentioned the trip to me, my heart was immediately ignited for this mission. I have dreamed all my life about going to "the mission field". Due to a difficult delivery when I was born, my Mother has always told me the doctor's remarks, "this little lady should be a missionary," when I finally arrived. Also, there was another seed planted over 30 years ago when I heard my pastor at the time tell of his travels to Nairobi, Kenya and Tanzania and even brought souvenirs to me that I have treasured all these years.

Tell us about the obstacles you came upon as you prepared to leave?

As I began making preparations and asking women to join with me to make this "safari", circumstances prevented Kim from making the trip. (Safari means journey in Swahili, so this is what we called our trip.) Immediately I was thrust into the leadership role to organize a women's conference in a foreign land I had never been to with a pastor I had never met! He had requested for 10 ladies to come from America, which is the number of people required to make group reservations with the airlines. And, at this point, there were only 4 or 5 ladies semi-confirmed to make the trip. God uniquely put this group together and we had 10 Safari Sisters who made this journey.

Passports, visas, shots, baggage, shipping, etc. were just a FEW of the obstacles we encountered as we sought the Lord for His wisdom and guidance which never failed!

Two and one half weeks before we were to depart and we had received all 10 visas from the Kenyan Consulate, my dad was rushed to the ER with a possible stroke. The doctors informed my mother the diagnosis was lung cancer which had spread to his brain and he died 10 days later. The range of emotions during these two weeks were extremely intense for all of us but again, God's grace proved to be sufficient and we departed on schedule from Tri-City Airport on August 2nd.

Tell us about the answered prayers?

There was divine intervention for every Safari Sister who participated in this conference for finances, health concerns, family support, and many others. We had a direct confirmation during this time by a series of events which led us to meet a lady visiting Blountville, TN from the exact town where we would be traveling. Her name is Vicki Odundo and she was visiting America to raise support for her children's home in Kakamega, Kenya. We were able to meet with her and hear her story and also hear how one of her friends in Kakamega is Pastor Jackson Wambua from Deliverance Church! We were all overwhelmed to say the least. She returned to Kakamega to tell Pastor Wambua she had met US and asked if she could travel with him and his wife Zipporah to meet us at the airport in Kisumu when we arrived! We were able to visit her and her 43 children at Victorious Children's Home and take gifts and matching t-shirts to them. They were so precious and an eternal bond was formed as God knit so many of our hearts together with hers!

We also were divinely connected with an orphanage in Kisumu, Kenya we were able to visit and provide many needed items to them. Covenant Children's Home was started 12 years ago by Pat Botwright from the UK who felt the call of God to move there and start a home for street-boys who needed direction. She now has over 200 children and is doing a tremendous job in influencing them with the gospel!

Take some time and share with us about the conference,the ladies who attended and the success of the conference.

The "Woman of Purpose" conference schedule was Tuesday-Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with the final session being Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. These ladies sat on backless, hand-hewn, benches for 7-8 hours on a partially finished dirt floor sanctuary with only a couple of breaks! What a testimony to US!

The church presented us on Sunday morning with African
dresses and gave us Swahili names. (Mine is "Njeri" ,from
the Nakuru tribe, which means "Joy"!) We donned our African
garb in the Detroit airport to arrive in the Tri-Cities in our new
native dress.

The conference itself proved to be evidence that God can use ordinary people to meet extraordinary needs! The testimonies of our ladies from the US ministered greatly to these precious ladies in Africa. They think we have it all together because we are from a rich nation with so many luxuries. They found out we are just like them with the same hurts, wounds, and scars. Many of these Kenyan ladies shared their pain for the first time and were freed from years of emotional and spiritual bondage. There were 4 ladies (one who was Muslim) who prayed to receive Christ at the close of our evangelistic session.

We were also informed these ladies would be bringing their children for 3 mornings during the conference. We had to come up with a game plan for children's ministry on the spot because this had not previously been on our agenda! Divine providence had brought a Safari Sister with us who serves as Minister to Children in WVA. She went to work immediately to organize a children's program with crafts, games, Bible lessons, and songs. All the other ladies chipped in and helped tremendously in this area and as a result there were 41 children who came to know Christ!

In the last session on Sunday we were privileged to serve communion to our new African sisters who seemed, at this point, like familiar friends we had known much longer than 5 days. There are no words to adequately articulate how our hearts were "in one accord."

Would you go again?

Many of us felt at the onset that this was just a "scouting" trip of sorts for future ministry opportunities. I can't imagine never seeing these beautiful Kenyan people again on this side of eternity. As we left the airport in Kisumu, the Women's Ministry Director of the church (who learned how to drive so she could be one of our drivers during our stay!) said something to one of our Safari Sisters which she didn't hear clearly. She said, "Excuse me?" and Levy said, "I'll tell you next time." With that we took off from the airport in Kisumu, Kenya. Forever etched in our memory will be the sight of Pastor Jackson Wambua standing on a huge rock behind the crude fence at the airport terminal waving a white shirt in the air as we peered through tear-filled eyes from the airplane windows! Go again…are you kidding???

Vicki and some of her children from Victorious Children's Home with the t-shirts we brought them.

Covenant Children's Home, Kisumu, Kenya-Early childhood section

Sheila and her team led a beautiful week for the women in Africa. As a family, we are very proud of her. As a sister-in-Christ, I am in awe of her.

You can find Sheila as an active member of Celebration Church in Blountville, TN. She plays the piano and sings --and the woman can quote scripture verse after verse.

She stepped out on faith and fulfilled that missionary desire she was born with. If only we all had the strength and bravery to trust so fully in Christ.

When you open your heart, trust fully in the Lord and answer His call, you have the Heart of a Servant.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Lisa T. Bergren's Second in a Series Releases

The Second in the Series...
By Lisa T. Bergren

"The Day of Our Lord 1340...

The secret, a half millennium old, has been revealed. An illuminated letter, long buried by the Church -- prophesying a fellowship of men and women possessing powerful spiritual gifts--is the catalyst for a profound war that will bring either a new age of enlightenment or a darkness the world has never before seen. As the Gifted gather and gain strength, and find further clues as to where God is leading, their enemies grow more intent on controlling them.

Watching the Gifted from afar in Venezia is Cardinal Boeri, who is determined to use the blessed powers of the Gifted to secure his own place in the hierarchy of the Church. The doge, the duke of Venezia, has reasons of his own to seize control. But the greatest menace is the evil Lord Abramo Amidei, driven to turn the healer Daria d'Angelo to his own fold or destroy her in the process. He is determined to tear apart the firm fabric of her faith he preys on the weaknesses of those she loves. For Amidei knows that together the Gifted are undeniably strong and growing stronger. But if he succeeds at dividing them, the Gifted-- and then the world--will be his (The Betrayed, 2007)."

Check out Lisa's web site and get a taste of this wonderfully versitile author. She's written anything from children's books to thrillers. You'll enjoy Lisa T. Bergren's style and variety.

It is a pleasure for Mountain Breeze Writer to present this talented writer to you.

You can purchase Lisa's books from or your local Christian Book retailers. Check her out at

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

When Was the Last Time You Went on a Novel Journey?

From time to time, I like to remind readers of the wonderful network of resources that are available. If you have not taken time to breeze by Novel Journey, then you are missing out on some of the best Christian authors coming or going.

Gina Holmes, Ane Mulligan and Jessica, gals I'm thrilled to call my friends, have worked hard setting forth a mission to let the world know that there is more to Christian writing than what is stereotyped.

As the brainchild of Gina Holmes, Novel Journey began as one writer's journey to publication. However, it wasn't long before God took hold and surged the blogsite into one of the Christian markets' hottest sites. Publishers, agents and authors flock to Novel Journey for the most current book reviews, and personal author interviews available. It wasn't long before Gina needed help. She enlisted the talents of Ane Mulligan and Jessica Dotta to grow the blogsite and offer even more diversity.

The site is full of wonderful interviews and links to others who are willing to share, help and offer inspiration to those who look for good, wholesome fiction reading or guidance in their writing journey.
Novel Reviews adds Kelly Klepfer and her group of contributing writers who bring you overviews of mounds of Christian fiction now available in bookstores.
Check out Novel Journey and Novel Reviews. If you're looking for the site to put you in touch with good reading, type in Novel Journey. (

Take time to meet my wonderful friends, Gina Holmes, Ane Mulligan and Jessica Dotta.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


IT'S Here!






Poor Jackie Hoffner -- only known for her famous bag of store bought potato chips at the church socials, broke down and actually cooked. She never dreamed her internet recipe for mushroom casserole would end up as a crime scene. Jackie only wanted to show the church ladies she could cook.

Only Virginia Smith could make a murder out of a mushroom. Filled with her unique fun loving humor, Ginny spins a wonderful cozy mystery that twists and turns into a surprise ending. Murder by Mushroom is a fun and surprising book you'll enjoy spending a Sunday afternoon reading.

Steeple Hill has a hit on their hands -- one that will keep you wondering about your next church dinner and passing over any casseroles as you fill your plate. A guaranteed enjoyable read, Murder by Mushroom hits the shelves August 8, 2007. And you're one of the first ones to see it.

Visit Ginny's website at

Murder by Mushroom

by Virginia Smith

Steeple Hill, August 2007

ISBN 037344253X

Cover Price: $5.50

Friday, June 15, 2007

Another in Christians with the Heart of a Servant Series

Meet Catherine Painter

Author, mentor and outstanding woman of God.

I first met Catherine Painter in the lunch line at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer's Conference. That's been three years now and from the first moment I met her, I fell in love with this straight forward woman. Not only has she mentored me over the past few years but she has high expectations for me. I think the sign of a real mentor and teacher is when they do set expectations and standards for us to meet.

Catherine Painter has a gift for teaching which goes beyond amazing. She is able to take wonderfully complex issues and simplify them so the average reader can grasp hold. I love this woman, not only because of her gift as a writer or for her friendship, but for her amazing example in the face of serious disease.

Catherine is a cancer survivor and one of the most unique parts of knowing her was keeping in touch with this amazing woman as struggled through the wake of cancer and into the smooth and peaceful waters of health. God has blessed her.

Her willingness to offer herself to God as a tool in writing and in mentoring shows she has the true heart of a servant. Meet my friend and mentor, Catherine Painter.

Catherine, thank you for taking time out of your schedule to share your ministry. I know you are in the process of meeting writing deadlines. I am thrilled and honored that you have have taken me under your wing. Let's chat.

We met at a writer’s conference where I was drawn to you by your zeal and zest to proclaim the Word of God through this book. Tell me how the book has been a blessing for you?

A Many blessings come to mind. My personal relationship with Christ grew while I wrote So, You’re a Christian! Now What? The spiritual growth I experienced “living” the book eighteen months was a tremendous bonus.

I had accepted Christ at 19 during college; yet, years later, I still felt like a new Christian. After maturing in my faith, I wrote So, You’re a Christian! Now What? to help others new to the faith avoid the pain of doubt I experienced concerning my relationship to God, even while being married to a minister!

Someone asked, “Why didn’t your pastor husband give you answers?” I replied, “I didn’t know the questions.”

Down at the church, I juggled so many religious “duties” that everyone, including my minister husband Jack, assumed that I was spiritually mature. Every year my “juggling” improved, but looking back, I realize that much of my church work was accomplished in the power of the flesh—as if the Holy Spirit were not involved at all. I was a perfect picture of the fleshly Christian Paul described in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3.

After leading two groups of believers through So, You’re a Christian! Now What? since the book was released, I’ve discovered that my experience was not unique; that even many long-time Christians also failed to master the basics of Christianity, remaining stuck in spiritual infancy.

Q You have a tender and giving heart. You’ve mentored me through the last couple of years without really KNOWING me. What inspires you to take others under your wing and guide them?

A Two things perhaps:

*The nurturing inclination that most women, especially mothers, possess; and

*The gift of teaching given to me on my spiritual birthday.

The Spirit especially inspired my writing So, You’re a Christian! Now What?

God networks through us, transferring our gifts to others He wants to bless. This was true throughout Christian history. Think about it: What would King David have been without a friend like Jonathan, or Moses without Pharaoh’s daughter, or Paul without Barnabas who believed in Paul when others mistrusted him? And what would young Timothy have accomplished without Paul’s shoulder to lean on?

Q I know you’ve recently ended a long battle with cancer in which you came out the winner. Can you tell us how God has used that experience to strengthen you?

A So, You’re a Christian! Now What? was released January, 2006. In March I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I suffered a year of treatment that prevented my promoting the book to the fullest. However, in spite of chemo and radiation, I held 26 book signings last year. My cancer is now in “persistent remission.” My oncologist explained, “Persistent remission” means “it’s not coming back!” I don’t know how he can be so sure, but I love believing him!

You asked how cancer strengthened me and what I learned from it.

  • I learned how fragile life really is. One day I was presumed well; the next day

I was knocked down and blown off course by a wind I didn’t see coming. Cancer is humbling. So sick from chemo, I often walked, holding on to walls, furniture, or my husband Jack’s hand.

  • I gained a new outlook on life. With a possible death sentence staring me in

the face, I decided to view “life’s glass half full.” Totally at God’s mercy, I held on to His love and the prayers so many friends (and strangers) offered on my behalf. Prayer literally carried me through the most difficult year of my life.

  • My prayer life changed. Whereas I once prayed “Dear God” prayers, cancer

taught me to pray “Oh, Lord!” prayers, crying out to God. The great prayers in the Bible are “Oh, Lord!” prayers. I read God’s Word aloud, cherishing Scriptures that praying friends suggested. Now I no longer “enter God’s presence;” instead I remain there. I recall desperate times when I mentally crawled into God’s spiritual lap, and allowed Him to hold me while I cried. I learned that regardless of one’s faith, enduring and overcoming cancer is a lonely journey.

  • Scripture took on new meaning. I relied on Scripture such as Psalm 118:17: “I

shall not die, but live, and proclaim the Word of the Lord.” I especially claimed Paul’s testimony: “Whether I live or whether I die, I am the Lord’s.” Christians can’t lose; we’re in a win-win situation. I began to read Scripture, asking, “Lord, what do You want to teach me today?

Q Has God used you to minister to others through this experience?

A Yes, I’m ministering now to a friend undergoing chemotherapy. We email back and forth several times a week. I express encouragement and love, knowing she’ll get through it as I did and value her life and salvation more than ever. Because I’ve come face to face with death, I share my faith more openly than before, calling others’ attention to life after death and discussing where they plan to spend eternity. I’ve been amazed at the number of people who tell me: “I never gave life after death a thought.”

Q Were there times you felt you couldn’t get through?

A Yes. I didn’t doubt I would conquer cancer as much as I feared I would not survive the treatment. I endured surgery, and with the help of others’ praying for me (including you, Cindy), I survived the chemo. Radiation was the worst part; my heart went out of rhythm following every treatment until it finally raced to 217 beats a minute causing a mini-stroke. I saw double for three days and couldn’t walk for five days, but I’ve completely recovered. I’m a double miracle!

Through it all, I learned that nothing comes to the Christian except by God’s permission. The Bible declares, “our steps are ordered by God.” That means we do not walk alone or by chance. I see God’s timing more clearly now.

Consider this: Had I learned I had cancer two years ago (when my doctor told me it should have been discovered), I probably would not have written So, You’re a Christian! Now What? Sick and involved with treatments, I would at best have postponed the writing, and at worst I may have given in to the fatigue I still experience, not ever writing the book. God has a purpose for us, and controls even the smallest details of our lives, including dates on our calendars. What a mighty God we serve!

Catherine, you are an amazing woman. Thank you so much for sharing with the readers of Mountain Breeze. You are a charm and you've set the bar high. Do you suppose I can jump far enough? Congratulations on your current Bible Study. Let me encourage readers to check out the Hensley Publishing and check into Catherine's study. Our own Sunday school class went through this study and revived some of the emotions we'd lost. It's a great study. Great wishes to you as you continue your writing.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Whom Do I Serve?

"When I'm interrupted the most is when God can refine me the best."

I am awed at the quick discipline of the Lord. The closer my relationship comes to Him the clearer I see His movement in my life. Let me give you an example.

We take turns carrying the beeper from our office. Our line of business deals with the elderly and we must be accessible around the clock in the event of an emergency. My personal time of study is five thirty to six thirty every morning. This is the time I sit down and prayerfully approach writing devotionals.

This particular day began quiet as I headed into the office to write. It seems I’d hardly gotten started before the beeper kept sounding. Minutes passed as I handled call after call. My thoughts for the devotions quickly went out the back door. After completing the phone tasks, I turned my attention back to the devotional. That’s when reality hit. Every thought I had was gone. My mind was blank.

I leaned back in my chair and said, “Well Lord, perhaps we can do something about praying with scriptures. Maybe find a good scripture we can share that readers can pray with. My entire line of thought is gone and now I’m working against the clock. I have to be at work soon.” That’s when God impressed upon my heart a scripture I couldn’t deny.

Matthew 22:36-39 tells us, ‘“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied” Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Okay, so I get it. Interruption after interruption led me to want to cut corners – choose something that was fast and easy just to get the work completed. God quickly asked me, “Whom do you love and whom do you serve?”

“I love You, Lord and I serve You.”

“Then trust me and write.”

Wow, was I surprised. God took the very moment I was in and turned it into a lesson. In my morning of confusion, my first thought was to put my called work to the side or worse yet – skimp. The Father quickly disciplined me. It’s easy for us to lay Christ to the side when life happens. We’re all guilty of sidestepping at times. However, that’s not how God wants us to handle the rush of the moment. He wants us to focus strictly on Him and He will make the necessary adjustments. We simply have to push ahead as planned.

Placing Him first in every situation is always the right way of handling things. We falter when we try a shortcut or attempt to muddle through without His guidance. So, I ask – when life happens, what is your response? It’s not always the fastest solution, but when we continue to move God into the forefront, everything else falls into place.

The next time life rushes in to overtake you, stop and take a deep breath. Ask yourself, “Whom do I love and whom do I serve?” Now answer with scripture. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” You’ll never go wrong.

Prayer: Father, forgive us when we want to cut You short. Help us to always keep You in the lead.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Christians with the Heart of a Servant - M. D. McCue

M. D. McCue
of Comfort Keepers

Kingsport, TN

There are times when God works in very obvious ways and M.D. was one of those ways. I first met M.D. McCue three years ago when a good friend called me and told me she knew someone who was hiring. I had served as an Administrative Assistant to the Vice President of Sales at a local manufacturing company and when the company was sold, our plant was closed. I left my job behind and began the tedious task of job hunting. Our family had specific needs at the time and there was nothing more to do except ask God to provide.

I still believe the year I spent job hunting was one way that God worked to groom me. During that year, I kicked up the writing a notch or two and really began to study the craft, make connections and begin Mountain Breeze. However, though I was searching for a job on a weekly basis, the unemployment funds eventually came to a halt. Fear set in as my husband and I began to step out on faith. Three weeks after my unemployment ran out, M.D. came into the picture.

The owner of a local
Comfort Keepers , M.D. seemed to be the answer to our prayers. I interviewed with him and his wife El, and before I knew it, not only had we become wonderful friends, but co-workers as well.

In all my years of working outside the home, I have never met a man more honorable and Christ-like than M. D. His work with Comfort Keepers is not only his source of income, but it is his ministry as well. Please take a few minutes to meet Comfort Keeper, M. D. McCue and see his Heart of a Servant.

Tell us what Comfort Keepers is and what prompted you to purchase a franchise

Comfort Keepers is a non medical in-home care service. When families need help with the care of an aging parent, or any loved one, we try to be an extension of the family by providing most of the household services needed to help them remain in the comfort of their own homes as long as possible. Our services include companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping, errand services, grocery shopping, medication reminders, grooming and dressing guidance, transportation, and personal care services.

Many years ago my family had to deal with the issue of trying to help mom stay in her home rather than going to the “dreaded nursing home.” She just needed a little help to stay at home. With our own family obligations at that time, we were not always available to help out. We tried hiring private caregivers and soon found out that for us, it was not working out. First, there was the issue of dependability. Sometimes they would show up and often they would not. Next, there were credibility issues. The elderly folks are often very vulnerable and easily taken advantage of. Finally, we found that some of the caregivers just did not have the patience to deal with the elderly. If a solution such as Comfort Keepers had been available back then, mom could have had several more years of independence by staying in her our home. In fact, it may have added more “quality years” to her life.

Since Comfort Keepers provides caregivers primarily to the elderly, how did you see this as a personal ministry?

Having dealt with the challenges of caring for our own aging parents, my wife and
I have a heart for this business. When we get a call from a family member inquiring about our services, we find that most are at a loss for how to start the process of finding a workable solution for the care of their loved ones. The main choices are family, independent caregivers, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or private agencies such as Comfort Keepers. During this time many families must deal with mixed emotions such as guilt, anger, and frustration. This is where we have a great opportunity to help the family make the best choices and understand all of their options. Our desire is that we will reflect Christ during the entire process.

You have said that you and Elvera place a lot of prayer into the running of your business. How has this affected your Comfort Keepers franchise?

From the first day Elvera and I considered getting into the home care business; we knew that unless it was God’s Will for us to buy this franchise we would not do it. We pray on a daily basis to seek His direction for this ministry. We employ about sixty people and have served several hundred clients in the five years that we have been in business. We have employees and clients from all walks of life and they all have one thing in common….God loves each of them and they all need Christ. We have continued to pray and God has continued to bless Comfort Keepers. I’d say we are on to something.

What would you say is the most important aspect you'd like your Comfort Keepers franchise to portray?

“We Care” We care about our employees and our clients. We feel that we can be a witness for Christ not just by what we say or do but also how we operate this business.

Tell me one of your most rewarding moments with Comfort Keepers.

Comfort Keepers consist of over 550 franchises throughout the
United States and overseas. We are divided up into eight regions. Every year each franchise is allowed to nominate one caregiver for the “Caregiver of the Year” award. This means they are considered the best of the best. This year our caregiver Louise Kersey was chosen as the regional winner for the Southeast and will now compete as one of the eight finalists for this prestigious award. We know that we have some great employees but to be recognized by one of the top leaders in our industry is quiet an honor.

How do you feel God has blessed your business?

Since starting this business five years ago, we have dealt with all of the normal challenges that any new startup business must go through. God has provided every need that we have encountered. Not every need was provided on my timeline. For some reason, unknown to me, God is not always on my schedule. For these times I’m reminded of my need to not rely my resources but on God’s. He has never let me down. God has used this business to draw me closer to Him. Evidence of His blessings on this business can be verified by the fact that we have met or exceeded every financial benchmark that Comfort Keepers Corp. has set in place for franchise owners.

In a world where speaking your faith is becoming more and more unacceptable, tell me how you are able to minister to your clients?

On several occasions, we have had employees ask me if it was ok to witness to our clients. We have also had several clients let me know that they didn’t appreciate our caregivers “talking about religious matters to them.” At one of our bimonthly caregiver meetings, I addressed that issue. Francis Assissi once said “At all times preach the Gospel…..when necessary use words.” Opportunities to “be” a witness for Christ goes far beyond our words. “Be” is a state of being. If I claim to be a true follower of Christ then every aspect of my life should reflect that claim including my deeds as well as my words. My job is to be faithful. He is in charge of effectiveness.

I’m a firm believer that you get back ten fold what you give. Have you received any special rewards for your efforts?

In my desk I keep a folder with letters and thank you notes from past or current clients. I review these often to remind myself why I got into this business in the first place. Words like “We couldn’t have made it without you.” or “Comfort Keepers has been an answer to our prayers.” or “Thank you for the care and compassion given to mom or dad during their last days.” Often we are with hospice client’s right up to their last moments here on earth. We work with clients that often are not appreciative of what we do for them. We work with clients with different forms of dementia. Some can be very difficult or even violent. We now have about sixty caregivers which means we are dealing with sixty different personalities which often means sleepless nights, stress, long hours and limited financial rewards for our efforts. However, I do expect to receive special rewards for my efforts but I don’t think it will be in this lifetime. God assures us that all acts of kindness and aithfulness will be rewarded.

When you and your wife decided to venture into the world of in-home non-medical care, were there any particular concerns you may have had?

We knew from the very onset that this was a very competitive business and we realized there would be many unforeseen challenges facing us being the new kid on the block. One of my main concerns was how to set us apart from our competitors and not just be a “me too business.” There are three key elements of a good caregiver (dependability, credibility, and patience). Maintaining all three on a consistent basis puts us heads and shoulders above most of our competition. Staffing with the best caregivers is vital to our success. Our employee standards are high and our expectations are lofty. Finding and keeping employees that meet our standards is and always will be a challenge. Once again, God has provided our needs.

I asked earlier how you felt God had blessed your business; now tell me how you feel you’ve been blessed personally?

It has been said; “find a job that you like and you will never have to work again.” Well I’ve found that job with Comfort Keepers. Prior to buying this franchise, I worked in the coal mining industry in Kentucky for close to twenty-five years. By some folk’s standards, I suppose I was successful at what I did, however I did not have a passion for that job. For the first time in my life, I actually feel like I’m doing what God wants me to do to serve Him. I’ve developed a closer relationship with God because I’ve had to learn to trust Him instead of relying on my limited resources. I’ve met some wonderful people that also have a passion for serving others. All in all it has been a great opportunity to serve God by helping others.

Placing caregivers in the homes of the elderly requires a certain amount of trust. How do you reassure your clients they are safe?

We take great pride in the quality of our workforce however with over sixty employees there is always the chance that someone may act improperly. Our responsibility is to make every effort to hire the right people to begin with. We go above and beyond the basic requirements for proper screening. During the first interview with a potential caregiver we ask a series of questions that were designed by Comfort Keepers Corporate to identify very precise traits that a quality employee should have. Next we check their business and personal references. If their references check out ok then we do state and national background checks by a professional company that has been approved by the State of Tennessee and Comfort Keepers Corporate. Each employee must be bondable by our insurance company so they must have a clean record. We also check the State of Tennessee Abuse and Sexual Abuse Registry. Next we get a DMV report since we often take our clients to appointments. Though it’s not required, we always order a credit report on each employee to determine if they are financially responsible. Finally, and most important, if I can’t picture this person taking care of my loved ones then I won’t hire them.

Would you define being a caregiver as a difficult job physically or emotionally?

Being a caregiver is not for the faint of heart. It requires a special kind of person. The financial rewards are modest but the opportunity to impact someone’s life is unlimited. We perform light housekeeping duties as well as personal care services that are not extremely physically demanding. However, the emotional demands can be quite stressful at times. Many of our caregivers become very attached to their clients and as their physical or mental condition declines, even to the point of death, their compassion is very obvious. On the flip side of the coin, caregivers often experience the joy of being part of the plane of care to encourage a client to push themselves physically during the recovery process from hip or knee replacement surgery.

Can you tell us what lies ahead for your franchise?

The need for the non medical services we provide will continue grow as us “Baby Boomers” mature. In fact, research indicates that there will soon be a shortage of caregivers to meet the growing demands of this group of seniors. Our local Kingsport Comfort Keepers Franchise will soon be five years old. We have continued to grow even as new competitors spring up. Our staff consists of about sixty caregivers, Cindy Sproles our office manager, Tami Southerland our care coordinator, Stephanie McCraw our scheduler and our newly appointed operations manager Linda Bambino. We will take God’s lead and as He continues to bless this ministry, we will continue to serve faithfully. My desire is for Comfort Keepers to continue on long after I’m gone.

The love and desire M.D. puts forth shines not only in his business but in his personal life as well. He is a man who does not fear asking, "Do you know Jesus?" It was once said, "That to speak of how to live your life is one thing, but to live it how you speak is another." M.D. lives what he speaks.

Thank you for your time M. D. I've made a link at the beginning of this interview to the Comfort Keepers home page. Should you know anyone in need of special assistance, please contact the Comfort Keepers in your area. You'll be doing someone a favor.