Monday, July 23, 2007

Interview with Author Dena Dyer

Dena Dyer is such an encourager! Her ministry is for moms and women. She is an author, singer, performer and speaker. Her credits include Grace for the Race: Meditations for Busy Moms (Barbour), The Groovy Chicks Road Trip series (Cook, co-authored with Laurie Copeland and a lot of groovy girlfriends), and lots of magazine articles. A wife and mother of two precious boys, Dena is compassionate and thoughtful. Plus, her blog is where I got the idea of interviewing people for my blog, so of course, I had to interview Dena! Her blog is cool--please check it out.

Lorri: Dena, your faith has played such a big part in everything about your life, from your college choice and finding your husband to what you’re doing now. Has it always been easy to put your faith first?

Dena: No... I have had times when faith was incredibly hard to hold onto, such as when I was going through the loss of a baby early in our marriage. The people who were the least comforting were Christians. That was hard! I also went through a crisis of faith after 9/11. That tragedy was followed by more personal tragedies in some of my friends' lives, and it felt like the world was out of control, and God was nowhere to be found. But through it all, I kept being honest with God about my questions. Like Job, I just kept dialoguing with Him. After a while, I found that at my core, I couldn't let go of God. Or more correctly, He wouldn't let go of me!

Lorri: Thanks for your transparency. It encourages me that someone as "together" as you are may struggle from time to time, like the rest of us. Your ministry includes encouraging mothers. Why is it so hard for moms these days?

Dena: I think we’re really hard on ourselves (I know I am). We want to do it all, be it all and have it all. The problem is, none of us can! When I finally "got" that, I became a much more relaxed and confident mom!

Lorri: Why do you feel called to write?

Dena: I’ve loved writing since I was eight years old and read a story in front of my second grade class. They loved it—and I was hooked! And when I found healing from depression, miscarriage, and anxiety problems in Jesus, it increased my desire to write—to share with others the hope I have. I do believe I’m called, which to me means that I have a divine mandate to use my talents and gifts for Him and not for my own glory. God in his grace has allowed me to do something I absolutely love—that’s his assignment for me. What an awesome thing!

Lorri: What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Dena: Be flexible, professional, and respectful. The business is very volatile and editors change jobs a lot. They are also under tremendous pressure to acquire books and shepherd those books through the publishing process. Then they’re supposed to go to writing conferences, where they look for new writers, teach classes, and nurture professional writers. I honestly don’t see how they do it all.

I have always tried to respect the time constraints my editors have and thank them for their efforts. And I try to meet my deadlines and not be too protective of my writing (taking criticism like a big girl). I’d also advise writers to not give up, if they feel they are "writers" at the core of their beings. This business is hard—and more writers try to break in every day. But if you’re dedicated to learning the craft of writing, and you are persistent in submitting your work (that includes learning how to submit and following publishers’ guidelines), then if you are talented, you will eve ntually get published.

Lorri: Which books have influenced you?

Dena: Okay, where do I start? Some of my all-time favorites are To Kill a Mockingbird, The Scarlet Letter, A Separate Peace, Brave New World, and Cold Sassy Tree. I love the Narnia series and every book C.S. Lewis ever wrote (ask me about my C.S. Lewis course in college-wow!) and I can't get enough of books by Anne Lamott, Kathleen Norris, Lauren Winner, John/Staci Eldredge, Ken Gire, Henri Nouwen, Frederick Beuchner and Madeleine L'Engle. Wish I could write like those people! The passion of Beth Moore, Joanna Weaver and Angela Thomas inspires me, and I love the occasional chick-lit novel as a "lite" break in my reading schedule.

Lorri: Dena, thanks so much for squeezing this blog into your busy mothering and reading and writing schedule! God bless your ministry!

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Annual Shot in the Arm

We all have ways to rejuvenate. And one of those for me is the annual National Speakers Association convention. You get to see and hear the best speakers in the world. Attendees get motivated, inspired and definitely encouraged. Part of the fun is seeing friends from around the country and making new friends from all over the world. This organization urges mentoring and support, as well as professionalism from the platform and integrity with audiences and clients.

I love this year's president and his theme: "NSA Rocks!"

We all need to be reminded that we rock!

Friday, July 6, 2007


Hearing from Jan Tennyson about her life-changing ministry reminded me of another organization that makes such a huge difference in kids' lives. It's Big Brothers Big Sisters. I met and interviewed the President of the North Texas chapter a few months ago. He had such impressive statistics about how spending a few hours with a young person each month can keep him or her in school, prevent drug use and more, that I asked my husband if he'd like to be a Big Couple. Being a Big Couple means Mark and I get to share the same little brother -- and spend time together!

To my surprise, Mark liked the idea and after interviews and background checks, we got matched to Isaiah. We have only been his "Bigs" for a couple of months, but we think we got the best end of this deal. Isaiah is sweet and smart and has very nice manners. Mark and I have had the opportunity to do all sorts of fun things we would never do otherwise, like go to Chuck E. Cheese's (and Mark got a migraine!) and we learned that adults treat you nicer when you have a kid along.

You can be a Big Brother or a Big Sister or even a Big Family. It's fun to see the world through a "Little's" eyes. I can't wait to see Isaiah again--tomorrow we go to the movies!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Interview with Encourager Jan Tennyson

An attitude of gratitude and faith in a Heavenly Father inspired Jan Tennyson to beat the odds of growing up in foster care and start a Foundation to build the spirit of wounded youngsters with broken dreams.

Jan says, "It is because of the grace of God and the generosity of loyal supporters and volunteers that we have been able to touch the lives of more than 20,000 abused and neglected foster children, teen offenders, and orphans since 1987."

These youngsters are temporarily housed in shelters, group homes, orphanages, and detention centers. Through Dare to Dream’s enrichment programs, souls have been saved, hearts have been healed, and some young people have been able to dream and trust again. Dare to Dream’s Life Skills programs are an important ingredient in the intervention and rehabilitation of youth in the Juvenile Justice System.

Lorri: Jan, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share news about your ministry with us. This blog is about encouraging others. Do you and your volunteers get encouraged seeing the young people whom you help?

Jan: The reward is great when you see the eyes of youth change as they listen and hear the truth about their value and realize that regardless of their circumstances, they can achieve great things because of what they believe. Our volunteer/role models are living examples of the goodness of God.

Lorri: How did you come to know Jesus?

Jan: It wasn't until late in life - 1987, that I heard evangelist Jerry Johnston's testimony at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas and learned that I could have the blessed assurance to know that I would go directly to heaven when I died, by inviting Jesus Christ into my life. I got saved that night and my desires changed, my actions changed, and my future was changed forever by the the touch of the Holy Spirit.

Lorri: You recently won an award from the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry! Congratulations! What was it like to be honored in that way?
Jan: It was humbling and such an honor. When I started Dare to Dream, I didn't sign up for awards or recognition.; I wanted life to be better for kids like me who didn't have strong families to believe and encourage them. Feeling like an outsider is not fun - but the encouragement of people who care can change your future forever.

The Governor's Lonestar Achievement Award Recognizes the outstanding service of an individual who has impacted the delivery of social services in Texas.

Lorri: Jan, thanks for all you do to make a difference. We want to let people know how they can volunteer or donate to keep your ministry going. Please go to the Dare to Dream website!