Friday, January 19, 2007

Crusaders for Christ - Another in the Series of Christians with the Heart of a Servant

Meet Heather Ivester
Mom, Author, and Founder of
Mom 2 Mom Connection

Heather Ivester is one busy woman and one of the things that has impressed me most about her, was her priorities. She’s authored a gift book and founded a blog site for moms which reaches worldwide. She writes for Christian Women Online, does book reviews for Active Christian Media and Christian Book Previews….AND she is the online book discussion moderator for a brand new organization, Club Mothers and Wives. Having waded through the accolades, when you read her bio the first thing that appears is, “I’m the mom of two boys and three girls aged ten and under.” Now that tells you where her priorities are.

Heather is a Christian with the Heart of a Servant. Her mission is to connect moms with other moms, provide information and search out mentors – all because she loves being a mother herself.

Enjoy getting to know Heather Ivester, wife, mom, writer and founder.

Heather, thanks for taking time to interview with me. I am honored to have you join the readers of Mountain Breeze Ministries. As a blog founder myself, I have a personal mission to not only improve my own Christian study time, but that of others as well, hence, Mountain Breeze Ministries Devotionals. It keeps me busy. You are certainly not someone with idle hands. How do you juggle so much activity as a writer, reviewer and a mom?

Thank you for welcoming me here, Cindy! This is what I love most about the blogosphere – being able to discover kindred spirits who also share a love of writing and sharing their faith with others.
It’s definitely a challenge to find time to write, yet being surrounded by children gives me a steady stream of funny stories to write about. If I had an empty house and 15 hours a day alone to write, well, I’d probably want to get in my car and drive somewhere to be around people so I’d have something to stir my creativity!
Writing book reviews is something I can easily do right now since I can take a book anywhere. I can read a chapter or two while waiting in the pick-up line at my children’s school or read while perched on the edge of the sandbox.
When my kids were small, I used to work a full-time job and juggle their activities. Something has happened to me as I've grown older. My time management skills have decreased. (smile) It's amazing how we as women always find time for the things we love.

What prompted you to enter the cyber-world and begin Mom 2 Mom Connection?

I went to an American Christian Writers conference in Atlanta in 2004, where I heard a wonderful speaker, Carmen Leal, who now lives in Hawaii. She told us the best way to get started in publishing was to look for local writing markets, such as starting a column. I've attended some of Carmen's classes at Writer's Conferences. She's a very creative lady and so willing to share her thoughts and success. Seems you paid attention in class that day and followed her lead.
A few weeks later, I discovered a new magazine in my area, West Georgia Ladies Magazine, and I wrote a query to the editor. I proposed a column to encourage mothers, calling it “Mom 2 Mom Connection.” It must have been the right timing because she accepted it! I’ve been writing this monthly column for over two years now, and so that led to expanding online to reach people beyond my hometown.
What a thrill for you to be able to write about something you love so much and send a Christian message as well.

Tell us exactly what Mom 2 Mom Connection is?

I think women in my generation have a hard time asking people for advice. We can be stubborn and independent, and we pick up many of our child-rearing and homemaking ideas from the media – books, magazines, radio, and TV. Sometimes the voices we listen to are not drawing us closer to God.

Writing on Mom 2 Mom Connection allows me to seek out mentors who can inspire me and my readers to learn and grow in our faith. Just this past week, a professional organizer gave us all some tips on de-cluttering, from a faith-based perspective. I love hearing from other Christian parents about what works in their home. And I especially enjoy discussing what people are reading.

I agree. Mom's today do depend far too much on television parenting. It's good to know there is someone out there offering them a godly way to find answers to their questions.

You're a stay-at-home mom and proud of it, which is wonderful. However, moms tend to put so much into their children that they lose sight of themselves. How has your faith helped you hold on to “who you are?”

Motherhood has been a very humbling experience for me. When you’re a mom with a newborn baby, you’re tired from lack of sleep. You wonder why everything is not as dreamy as you thought it would be.

Then if you have more children, you can really lose yourself trying to manage your household and children. I try to begin every day with prayer, asking God to help me make the best use of my time. For me, that means carving out a few minutes every day for a quiet time – even if all I do is sit still a minute and pray! Right now I’m reading the Bible through chronologically, and I feel so refreshed after I read God’s Word.

Same here. Since I've begun the daily devotionals, I've grown to cherish the time I spend in study. I love developing that special relationship with the Father, and I miss Him when I fail to appear for "His" time.

Here’s a loaded question. What advice would you offer our readers on being a good mom?

Since I’m the one usually seeking advice, it’s hard for me to give it! I guess the best advice I’d offer is to pray about everything. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault.” As parents, we can tend to worry instead of pray. When we ask God for His wisdom, He’ll give us the strength and peace we need to get through the day.

I was intrigued at your blogsite, when I read your mission and saw the following paragraph:

“You must have a website so that I can read about your book and about your worldview. If I don’t think we’re a good match, please don’t take it personally. There are hundreds of other reviewers who would be better suited for reviewing your book.”
What a statement! You’re not afraid to turn away books that won’t meet the standards you’ve set for Mom 2 Mom Connection. Most people would review anything to draw a following. Tell us what led you to make such a bold stand?

A lot of people find my blog by typing in keywords, such as mom, teenagers, toddlers, etc. When someone writes and asks me to review a book, I need to know right away if this is a book that is written from a Christian worldview.
If the author doesn’t have a website, it’s difficult for me to know what the book is really about. I’m sorry if this turns some people away, but I have to be careful what I review. My name has shown up in several places as endorsements – even without my previous knowledge. I want to choose books that will help people, mothers especially, draw closer to God and grow in their faith.

Heather, as bloggers we rarely receive financial reward for our work. This is a true heart of a servant. How has God blessed you through your work with Mom 2 Mom?

It’s always a joy to hear from readers who share how something I wrote made a difference to them. And I’m a richer person for having contact with women in other parts of the world.
This past Christmas, I received cards from several blogging friends – and I realized these people are now my real friends! I look forward to meeting them in person at conferences and other events.
I’m also building a wonderful library of Christian books, many of them signed by the author. For a former English major, this is a dream come true!

How has your ministry as a book reviewer grown you spiritually?

I’m simply amazed at how God ministers to me through the words of various writers. My world has expanded so much through reading – and my faith has become stronger as I see how Christians react to difficulties they encounter.
Since I’m on several publisher media lists, I don’t always choose the books I receive; they’re just sent to me. And it always surprises me when I open up a book and read exactly what I needed to read to help me in my personal faith walk. Then I get to write about this!

Would you say Mom 2 Mom has had an impact on your own family? If so, tell us us how?

I asked my husband how he’d respond to this one! He said my blogging has helped connect a lot of our friends and family we don’t often get to see. I’ve also developed a whole network of writer friends, and I get to share them with my family.
Also, it’s given me a greater peace about staying home to raise my children. I can “interact” with people without having to drive to an office or sell a product in the evenings. When I write, I often have a baby on my lap and a little boy running his trains under my feet. This is something women in the 70s couldn’t do; they had to choose whether to stay home or go to work.

Hey, I was one of those 70's moms! And as a single mom in the 80's, I completely understand the desire to be home with the kids. I had to make every moment count. Quality time. I think it's easy for young mothers to become so taken in by their children that they tend to forget they need time to "renew" as well. Too bad blogging wasn't around in the 80's.

How have you hooked up with the contributors to your site? There’s a wealth of information available for moms and families there.

I’ve learned so much from the people I’ve interviewed and the authors whose books I’ve read. These people’s stories have now become part of my own knowledge base, and it’s great to have both a mental and physical library of books to be able to offer people who are encountering various problems in life.
I also learn a ton from people who leave comments – we all grow by sharing with each other.

Last April you hosted a Mother’s Love Writing Contest. Tell us what prompted that contest and its result?

I'm very interested in the topic of mother/daughter relationships. When I was researching my book, I asked a lot of people, “What do you love most about your mom?” I felt like I could spend the rest of my life finding out more answers to this question. The contest was another way for me to explore this topic, and I was awed by the stories people sent in.
What was even more amazing was going to these women’s blogs who wrote the story on their own site – and seeing the interactions that took place in the comments. There were mothers thanking their daughters, forgiveness taking place for the first time, and siblings interacting with each other. I think it gave women a chance to honor their moms in a public way – something we seem to quit doing so much after we’re grown.
The winner’s story was published in the May edition of Christian Women Online ezine, which helped give this writer some good exposure. Also, I just found out that another entry will soon be published in a book from a major Christian publisher! When I read this woman’s story, I knew it was good, and I sent her the deadline for a compilation book that was seeking stories. She submitted it to the publisher and it was accepted. So that was a real joy for me to help make that connection!

It feels great to be of help to someone else. That's when your heart of a servant shows through. Making this effort without expecting anything in return. God blesses you and you are a blessing to someone else. What a reward circle -- and it's fulfilling and fun to share. Will you host it again this year?

Thanks for asking! I was thinking about having a new focus this year of “Traveling with Mom” stories. How many women have taken special trips with their mothers? I think it would be fun to ask people to write about this and post a picture from that trip – even if the trip was something from their childhood.
I think this will encourage us moms and grandmoms to take more trips NOW with our children and grandchildren – even if the trips are only to the park down the street. Anywhere we can go where we give our kids our undivided attention can turn into an adventure worth remembering – and writing about someday!

How do you encourage moms to set aside time for themselves?

I think in sharing about books on my site, I encourage moms to set aside some time to rejuvenate their minds and souls through reading. I often write on the topic of wellness, and physical activity is important for moms, so I encourage women to take walks or do some other type of exercise that is fun as well as stimulating.

How do you think God has used you through Mom 2 Mom? Have you seen any direct results of the site?

In the same way that I’ve been blessed by other bloggers, I hope that someone has been inspired and encouraged by some things I’ve written or shared about. One of my blog readers met me at a writing conference, which resulted in her being published. I know there have been many “connections” made as a result of my blog – readers connecting with each other, and with books that offer the perfect solution to their needs.

Have you found your site to be a place where women can find Christ?

I hope so! I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I try to point women to God’s Word, which does.

What’s in store for Mom 2 Mom Connection in the months to come?

I’m such a curious person, and whenever I learn something new, I want to tell everyone about it! I just finished reading a book about orphanages in China, and I was so fascinated, I wrote the publisher and asked if I could interview the author on my blog. This is the type of opportunity that exists for any of us who blog – we can explore and dig deeper than the average person.
I hope to continue what I’ve been doing and see what doors God will open.

We can’t let you slip past without offering you the opportunity to tell us about your book. What inspired From a Daughter’s Heart to Her Mom: 50 Reflections on Living Well? Are there other books in the works at this time?

I started writing a tribute to my mom about nine years ago, when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. It was a very scary time, and I wanted her to know how much I loved her! God healed her, but several years later, after attending a writing conference, I was given the opportunity to write a tribute book for daughters to give to their moms.
This was such a blessing, and I was thrilled with the photography that was added to the book. It’s really a beautiful photo essay that God allowed me to be a small part of.
Behind the scenes, I’m working on a non-fiction book proposal for women that I hope will be ready to send out by this summer. And I’ve been writing a middle grade novel since 2004 that I’d really like to finish and start submitting. So I have several dreams in the works!

Thank you so much for your time. Being a mom is probably THE most important job in the world. It’s not a job that pays well financially, but the blessings that come from our work rearing the children of God, make the payout worth while.

The time and effort that Heather Ivester freely gives to the encouragement, and spiritual growth of moms is something we should salute. The work comes easily and naturally when you allow God to take the lead in process. Heather is a beautiful example of a Christian with the Heart of a Servant and a woman on a mission.

You can log-on to her site at . Once you’re there glean through her entries, click on her “connections” and you’ll be amazed at what you find. This is a ministry in every aspect of the word.

Thank you again, Heather. Any final words?

Thank you so much for hosting me here, Cindy! Your questions allowed me to do some soul-searching, and I’ve been so blessed! You have a wonderful ministry here, and I hope we can meet up sometime at Blue Ridge.

***Heather and I have both attended the Blue Ridge Mountain Writer's Conference in Black Mountain, NC. We've never had the privledge of meeting in person, but that too, lies in the future.