Ann Byle: Tell us a little about your writing journey and your debut novel "Lady Jane Disappears."
Joanna Politano: The novel evolved as I wrote it over nine months or a year. It started out as a fun thing I did during my daughter's nap time, then became a more formal project. I had decided to set aside my publishing goals to raise a family but God said no. He said, "It's noble but not what I want you to do."
Now re-popularized by a new movie of the same name, the uplifting ballad continues to be the trademark of singer Bart Millard and his band MercyMe.
"It's like the song that won't go away," smiled Nathan Cochran, bass guitar player of the band during an interview from Dallas, Tex. "But it's a song that is really special to us and we're not complaining about that at all."
There was the usual ticket "pre-sale" period for a day or so prior to the "on sale" date. Pre-sale is limited to select fans or others who have a special ticket purchase code with only a small number available.
The general public went online fast and furious at 10am March 9 – but many soon saw the post on Ticketmaster.com: "Oh-no! These tickets went fast and we're unable to find more right now." More recent visitors to the ticketmaster website also saw prices above face value.
In early 2017, the 28-year-old launched Hire for Hope LLC, her socially conscious recruiting firm that helps fill mid- to senior-level positions for West Michigan companies.
It's been so successful that she recently hired her first full-time employee, with an eye on adding one or two more staff members by the end of this year or early 2019.
To help accommodate her growth, Ward has plans to move her recruiting business out of her home office in Rockford and relocate it to downtown Grand Rapids.
Some of us do a good job of hiding it. We may cake on a little make up to brighten our face. We wear a bright colored shirt to try and offset the dark feeling in our soul. We laugh but it's just a sound not an expression of joy. Some people reading this article right now are dealing with a battered and bruised spirit. And sadly, in many situations, the source is a complex family situation. Even if the culprit is outside your family, the effect it has on you will affect your family. That's why I want to offer a few suggestions that may help encourage you through the process.
"When I met him in the hospital and he told me of the diagnosis, he said, 'If I go to heaven, you need to finish the book and if I stay, I'll finish it,'" recalled Welch.
Wilson died of lung cancer March 5, 2014. And while he had wrote the majority of the book titled "Plantation Jesus: Race, Faith, & A New Way Forward," Welch was left with the daunting task of completing it and thus fulfilling his promise.
Welch and his wife, Barbara, are lead pastors of the Kentwood campus of Stones Church. For eight years, Skot Welch co-hosted with Wilson the radio program, Radio in Black and White, which discussed multiracial, multicultural and multiethnic relationships and featured live callers.
"Fear Not" – his third solo effort – features numerous guest artists in its addressing the sticky topic of fear. It sends out a call to look to love as a solution.
Blake (his given name is Cameron Warne) leads worship and is serve team leader at River Rock Church, which meets at Rockford Christian School on Belding Rd. NE. But his probing, contemporary-folk tunes have touched ears throughout the area's mainstream music community.
Nowadays, his conversion to Christianity exemplifies why the only way to live life is by God's principles and not humankind, a conservative scholar said recently as guest speaker at the Acton Institute's Lecture Series.
Chambers (1901-1961) was a senior editor for TIME Magazine who wrote the autobiography Witness, initially published in 1952 that has since been reprinted, which details his life as an agent in the Fourth Section of Soviet Military Intelligence from 1932 to 1938, where he coordinated espionage activities with high-ranking United States government officials. Witness explains Chambers' exodus from communism and his conversion to Christianity.
Here are three highlights for March:
"It's supposed to be 'hits' all night long," he said of his long catalog of top-charting Christian radio tunes. "But it's also songs that have hit listeners in a deep way – that's always the hope for my songs," he added during a recent phone interview.
At age 53, Toby McKeehan (his given name) has the luxury of a rich musical history, with seven solo studio albums to his credit. The latest is the Grammy-winning "This Is Not A Test," which offers a half dozen hits for his current concert set list.
For the tenth time the Kentwood resident saw the Christian rock band Skillet when they headlined the Winter Jam tour last month at Van Andel Arena.
Now he'd like to see them for Number 11 - when the band performs in Muskegon April 28 along with For King & Country.
"Yeah, I'd say Skillet is my favorite artist," said VanderMay, 29, as he recalled the band's booming, pyrotechnic-flavored Jan. 7 set that filled Van Andel to the rafters. Featured were classic tunes such as "Whispers in the Dark" as well as their very latest, "Feel Invincible."
This year's Awakening is June 10-15 and costs $500 per student. Scholarships are available. Tuition includes lodging at Hope College, food, a T-shirt, water bottle, backpack and busing students to different locations.
Calling the four new songs "an ode to my past," Malcolm says these selections are his most biographical to date.
His father was a Jamaican immigrant who was deported when young Steven was just 10 years old. The elder Malcolm had been born in Montego Bay, also known as "The Second City." But the title also refers to the transformed new life found in Christ (a brief video testimony is available online.
Baker Book House purchased thousands of titles left over after Eerdmans Bookstore closed in late 2017. Now Baker is offering those books at 50 percent discount during the week-long event. Students can get an additional 10 percent discount with a student ID, and all sale guests can register to win a $100 shopping spree at the store.
"We're excited that we were able to purchase the Eerdmans volumes, and to offer them at discount prices to our customers, " said Sue Smith, manager at Baker Book House. "There is a rich mix of inventory that will be of interest to a wide range of readers."
But economist Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Lake Charles, La.-based Ruth Institute, a nonprofit to end family breakdown by energizing survivors of the sexual revolution, sees sexual "liberation" that became widespread in the 1960s to 1980s in a far different light.
"The sexual revolution is irrational, it is impossible and it cannot stand on its own," Roback Morse said recently at the conservative think-tank, the Acton Institute. "It requires force and a lot of propaganda. Just because it's ridiculous doesn't mean it's harmless. It's a totalitarian movement that no Christian should have anything to do with."
There are a couple of arena-sized events – literally.
Now she's used that interview experience to fashion a practical book for Christian writers. "Christian Publishing 101: The comprehensive guide to writing well and publishing successfully—for new authors, editors, and students" is based on interviews with publishing professionals and book authors who provide advice in what could be called a "writer's conference in a book."
When writers go to a conference, often they cannot attend every session due to scheduling overlaps. With this book, that's not a problem. "I don't expect people to be interested in every single chapter," Byle said. "I tried to come up with a wide range of topics to apply to many different genres."
"Conqueror" takes hold with its ear-grabbing title track featuring syncopated percussion and lyrical phrasing right from the scriptures.
Perry includes numerous Grand Rapids area musicians whom she has worked with through the years. The Bethel Seventh Day Adventist Choir contributes on "You Are God." A GRPS music teacher, Perry singles out the Coit Creative Arts Academy Honors Choir in "Look At Me Now" with a danceable sound and a bit of hip-hop style lyric.
"I remember feeling so apprehensive," said Sumner Truax, guest speaker Jan. 11 at Calvin College's annual January Series. "I wondered would we survive this blessing. We were facing some pretty big church challenges. We had a big hole in our budget that was growing in a neighborhood that was rapidly gentrifying. We always had bigger dreams than we could ever fill. There were lots of pressure points around us."
Just don't make the mistake of calling Rottschafer's Critter Barn, 9275 Adams Street in Zeeland, a petting zoo.
"I feel there's a gem here that unfortunately society doesn't have much access to," said Rottschafer, the Critter Barn's founder and executive director.
"The Critter Barn is a educational farm that teaches children agriculture, how our food is raised and how creation sustains us because that was the plan from the Garden of Eden," continued Rottschafer. "We minister to a lot of children who are less fortunate or are challenged. We give God the glory for the farming community and help kids experience the miracles of the farm, which are unlimited in number throughout the year."
"We've done this tour five or six times," recalled Roy during a recent phone interview. "And every time it has felt like the fans are a great big family and are really fired up."
Since the late 1990s Winter Jam has played large venues across the country, including more than a decade's worth of shows at Grand Rapids' Van Andel Arena. With 10 music artists, an inspirational speaker and a modest at-the-door admission charge, the tour has played to as many at 700,000 persons annually.
The story of Mary and Joseph is incredible for a number of reasons. For example, consider how Mary finds out that she is going to have a baby. She's visited by an angel of the Lord who reveals that she will become pregnant through a divine action. She's only about 13 years old and is engaged to Joseph who is probably in his late teens. Joseph learns about the pregnancy but initially he doesn't know about the spiritual intervention.
Therefore, he thinks Mary's been unfaithful to him because he knows he's not been with her. He's left with a tough decision to make. If he accepts Mary's pregnancy, the community will say that he's broken the law by sleeping with her prior to marriage. If he publicly divorces her, he runs the risk that she'll be stoned to death for adultery. Out of compassion, he considers divorcing her privately and not making it a public issue. While he is contemplating his decision, he is also visited by an angel of the Lord who tells Joseph he should go through with the wedding and not be afraid.
"I have a testimony now that's great and I'm not ashamed to share it with people who will listen," said Hill, 68. "If I see someone who doesn't have hair (because of chemotherapy treatments), I'm not intimated to go up to them. I just share how God got me through my battle and He can get them through it too, and one of these days they'll have hair again just like me."
Hill initially assumed she had suffered a stroke in March 2015 when her husband of 48 years, Ron, drove her to Mercy Health Southwest Campus (formerly St. Mary's) in Byron Center.
Instead, she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that resulted in a malignant tumor confined only in her brain.
Hoekstra, contemporary worship director at First Evangelical Covenant Church in Grand Rapids, features pop-rock settings for his inspirational lyrics. Some of the words are directly addressed to God, carrying Psalm-like strains of worship.
The highlight there is "Your Love." Beginning at a slower tempo, the song builds to an anthem-esque climax before offering its final, simple prayer, "Lead me out of darkness into your great light."
"There's a real resurgence in people wanting a Christian education," said Pott. "We want to be an academic school and we want to be a school that does best practices, but we also want to make sure this is distinctively Christian."
"It's not artist-focused, it's message-focused," said Grant during a phone interview before a tour performance in Kennewick, Wash. "There's something about these Christmas concerts that is very galvanizing as the audience connects with each other and with the people on stage."
Even though she had been writing for so long, Thompson didn't publish anything until Barnyard Bully in 2016. Thompson said she would get 90 percent of the way through a project and then move on to something new. After attending writers conferences she decided to begin looking into marketing and self publishing. She learned a lot from the internet—and from self-published author friends who made mistakes for Thompson to learn from—and published Barnyard Bully.
Now Reitz reveals her life-long struggle with body image, self doubt and insecurity in her new book "You Are Beautiful: A Model Makeover from Insecure to Confident in Christ," recently released by FaithWords.
"When I was in high school, there were certain themes that kept popping up in my life, things I struggled with. I felt God tugging on my heart and felt I'd go into women's ministry at some point in my life," said Reitz, who is moving from Florida back to Michigan, where she grew up, this month.
Cordero was inspired to write The Magic Snow Globe by the rise of the internet and smartphones, and the effect of both on kids' imaginations.
"I see a trend happening where young children are on their phones or tablets and are constantly bombarded by technology. Whatever happened to people just reading?" Cordero said. She made this observation many times, to which her husband responded, "What are you going to do about it?" Thus, The Magic Snow Globe was born.
I'm not writing this article to settle any debates, but rather my goal is to talk about the meaning of this day for you and your family. Maybe it will help you decide whether you should shop till you drop or give in to a tryptophan-induced nap on Thanksgiving Day.
It's time again for our annual Christmas concert preview. And as usual there are plenty of seasonal events to choose from.
The "season" actually backs up into November, but this listing will concentrate on those which actually occur in December.
The month starts up with a blast from "Hark Up" with four performances Fri-Sun Dec. 1-3 at DeVos Center for Arts and Worship at Grand Rapids Christian High School.
Building on its wide-ranging approach to solving emotional, spiritual, physical and financial abuse and sexual assault are new initiatives intended to amplify its capacity to provide hope and healing to those maltreated.
New executive director
Megan Hopkins was tapped as SHM's new executive director, a role she's held as interim executive director since May.
"When I started as director (in July of last year) there were 38 members," recalled Glasper during a recent interview. "And this year that has grown to 67." (The Calvin group presents its annual fall concert at 3 p.m. Sun. Nov. 19 - see details below).
"The Garden," centered by its vulnerable yet hopeful title song, captures an emotional journey which culminates in the realization of God's healing of the soul. (Jobe brings her musical tour featuring "The Garden" to 20 Monroe Live on Sun. Nov. 12 – see details below).
"My sister and I were pregnant at the same time – she was a few months ahead of me," recalled Jobe, 36, from her Nashville area home.
"I made it because I surrendered; God changed my life," said Johnson. "I'm blessed. To surrender your will means taking yourself out. There's no pride, no arrogance. I serve the King."
Then, without hesitation, Johnson recites Proverbs 3 5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."
I worked with teens for many years, and in that time, one of the most frustrating aspects of my job was dealing with parents who had a Mulligan mentality, moms and dads who were using their kids' lives to make up for the past. It was as if the sons and daughters were do-over's—I really sliced that first one, but I'll aim better this time around.
But the experience of the Oct. 17 award ceremonies and surrounding activity left a strong impression.
"Last night was like a dream," he posted to Facebook followers the day after the Dove festivities.
The effort to unsuccessfully integrate Timothy Christian School — and the scriptural lessons learned from the fracas — was recounted at a recent panel discussion held at Calvin College's Chapel.
The 1960s dust up eventually birthed the CRC's Office of Race Relations.
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- New Music Review: "Close"
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- Terry’s Picks: October 2017
- Grand Rapids Church “Outstanding Venue” Finalist at Art Prize
- New President Eyes a First for Kuyper College
- Local Artist’s Song Takes On Serious Issue
- Art Prize Tree Provides Biblical Connection
- Thinking about Vern: A Personal Reflection on the Late Vern Ehlers
- Northeast-side Congregations Partner to Form One Church with Two Campuses
- Mission India’s New Location Signals ‘God is in This Whole Project’
- Eerdmans Announces Fall Warehouse Sale
- Diagnosis: In-Law Syndrome
- Terry’s Picks for September 2017
- Roosevelt Park Ministries Offers Labyrinth of Services
- Baker Book House Sees Huge Growth in Popular Summer Reading Program
- New Music Review: Kenneth Henderson
- New Music Review: Ty Gonzalez
- Fall Concert Line-up Sprinkled with Doves
- Evangelicals Must Adopt Christian View of Leisure to Influence Culture, Says Scholar
- UNITY Poised for a Festive Experience