April McGowan

Stairway to Heaven

file0001539946518Everyone has seasons in their lives of joy and hardship. Sometimes the hard ones feel like they go on forever, though. We’ve gone through many years of health hardships. They don’t seem to stop, but continue to ramp. You can take a break from activities, you can take a vacation from your job—but you can’t get away from your health.
Imagine with me a staircase.

The stairs take you up. The first few get your blood pumping, the next set start taking a bit more effort and you breathe harder. You keep on going, looking toward the end, but now your breath comes in gasps and pants. You have to stop and grip the rail, but there’s no place to sit down. Sweat trickles down your back, so you take off your coat, and keep climbing, because there’s no going back—there’s just up. If you have a disability, you might be pulling yourself along by that rail, one shaky foot, one sweaty palm, at a time.

On a real staircase, there are landings. If you’re climbing at a park, there might even be a well-placed bench for you to take a breather, a respite, a time of recovery—a drink offile7681283666881 cool water. It might be pokey, and uneven, but it’s a bench, and you’re grateful for it. After you catch your breath, you continue on, and then the path, or the stairwell, turns a corner. You’re still tired, but not as tired as you were. You had a break. The best thing is, you know soon there will be another landing, another place to take a break—or you’ll have reached the top.

But, what if there are no landings?

What if those stairs just keep climbing? You crane your neck, squint your eyes and all you see are more and more stairs. That’s where we’re at. These past few weeks, I’ve been praying for a landing.

Maybe you’re with me on those stairs, climbing relentlessly, praying for a break. Maybe it will help you to know you’re not alone. I’m here, too. We can hold each other’s hands as we go, pull each other up over that next step, urge each other along. Pray for one another. Jesus is there with us, He’s got your hand and mine.

Let me know if I can pray for you. You can message me privately on this page, or leave a comment below. Either way, I’ll see you on the stairs.

Psalm 73: 23-26 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (full passage here)

John 10:25-30 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (full passage here)

Philippians 4: 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (full passage here)



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Getting to know you–Author Dina Sleiman

dancewithpassionI love getting to know authors–and I love books. Every now and then, when I read a new book that connects with me, I’m going to share it with you! It just so happens, I have another author I would love to introduce you to. Please join me in welcoming author Dina Sleiman!

Dina, what inspired you to start writing? Not to sound trite, but I felt called to writing. I always loved reading and writing, and I studied writing in college and grad school, but I didn’t get serious about it until my mid-thirties when I felt God leading me to write my first novel.

How long did it take you before you were first published? From the time I started my first novel until it was published was five and a half years.

Do you write fiction, nonfiction, or both? I guess you could say I write both, but fiction is my true love, and my published books are all fiction.

Do you use an outline, or do you prefer to write by the seat of your pants? I’m a mixture. I like to get started on the book organically and meet the characters. I’ll write in random order whatever I see and hear going on in my head. But after that initial writing spree, I sit down and plot the book to the end, usually in synopsis form. From that point on, I stick pretty close to my plan.

Where do you write? I like to write curled up with my computer on my lap, either on the couch in the sunny living room or on my bed.

What are your hobbies/interests (other than writing)? I love dance and theater. Right now I’m in my glory choreographing and directing the dance for an entire musical at my son’s middle school. I also run a worship dance team at my church and lead worship for children’s church once a month, which is always at least as much dancing as singing.

Do you consider yourself to be an introvert or an extrovert, and how do you think that affects your writing? I am definitely an introvert and desperately need my time alone. For writing, this works out great because I’m perfectly happy with the company of the imaginary people in my head for extended periods of time. When I really get in the writing zone, I have to warn my family to remind me to do stuff like cook dinner and pick up the kids from their lessons.

Tell us a bit about your latest book. What was your inspiration? My latest book to be published is Dance from Deep Within, although I actually wrote this one between 2009 and 2010. It is pretty unique, so it took a while to findDFDW Final the right publishing home. The novel is about a veiled Muslim woman who bonds with a bi-racial hippie chick and a blond Christian ballerina over a group project for college. The book is full of drama, humor, and romance, but is ultimately about how the three girls are changed by their relationships with one another. My husband is from Lebanon, and I always wanted to write a book with a Muslim character. But the specific inspiration for this one came when I saw a particularly stylish young Muslim woman in the parking lot of a grocery store in Sidon wearing a red mini-dress with a black long sleeved top, black leggings, and a black veil. You can order Dina’s latest book here

What project can we look forward to seeing next? I’m very excited to share that I will have a young adult medieval series releasing with Bethany starting in spring 2015. This goes back to my roots. My first novel was a medieval coming of age story geared toward younger women, but at the time I was told that the medieval era was not marketable in the Christian publishing world. As it turns out, it works fine for a young adult audience, and I was very happy to make that subtle switch. The series actually crosses over to the “New Adult” audience as well. It’s called Valiant Hearts, and each novel will feature a strong heroine. Book one, Dauntless, is a Robin Hood type story with a female lead.

If you’ve written other books, could you please list their titles or series name? Dance of the Dandelion and Love in Three-Quarter Time. Both are available through online distributors.

Where can your readers go to connect with you online? 

My web page at http://dinasleiman.com

On Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authordinasleiman

On Twitter at https://twitter.com/DinaSleiman1

And on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/dinasleiman/

Here’s my five star review of Dina’s novel, Dance From Deep Within

Dina Sleiman paints a clear picture of the oft clashing cultures of Christianity, Humanism and Muslim and offers us three strong young women who must, for the sake of a class, work together to investigate each other’s religions. D.L Sleiman does an excellent job of respectfully delving into each one, revealing their strengths and weakness in clear, honest investigation. The characters of Allie, Rain, and Layla feel real and deep. As each of them goes about sharing about their upbringings, their families and their trials and blessings from their own perspectives, the reader is given an empathetic look into the stresses and pressures each culture applies.

Writing a novel from three different points of view is no easy task–but the author does so seamlessly. I was never left feeling that one character got more page time than another. Having grown up in a cultural area heavy with Christian, pagan and humanistic beliefs, I can say she did a great job portraying those cultures. And having only heard what the media portrays as truth from a Muslim perspective, I found that introduction honest and respectful. All in all, Sleiman used a gentle, respectful, loving hand to guide the reader into areas they might never have tread before.

This book was heart-touching and real, examining the struggles we all have in connecting respectfully to one another–and how we can honestly share our faith in a true, loving, impactful way. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series!

Thanks so much for joining us, Dina. Please be sure to check out Dina’s books and leave a comment or question below!


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