Meet “Joy Beyond” author, Brenda McGraw

Posted by on Oct 17, 2014 | 4 comments

Meet “Joy Beyond” author, Brenda McGraw

Fabulous Fridays Author Interview & Book Giveaway!

I am excited for you to meet my guest today, author and speaker, Brenda McGraw, as she tells us about her new book, Joy Beyond. Brenda’s message is something dear to my heart because we both share about the message God has given us through the trials and pain of life, and the victory and joy we can experience as we draw closer to Him!

Leave a comment by 10/23 for a chance to win a copy of Joy Beyond!

 

Welcome, Brenda, tell us something about yourself and how you started writing.

Hey Norma. Thank you for asking. I live in South Carolina with my husband and three of our children. We have one child still in high school Brenda McGrawand the rest are young adults. We have five kids all-together and two precious little granddaughters. I survived breast cancer at the age of 24 and God has really worked on getting my attention since then. Ten years ago my world was rocked again when after 23 years of marriage, I went through a divorce due to the addiction of my spouse. This led to numerous heartaches and suffering. It was during that time I heard the Lord telling me He wanted me to tell my story through writing and speaking. I had no training in this area so I attended a writing conference and was more or less stopped in my tracks by fear of the unknown and lack of knowledge. Ten years later I stumbled upon an online writing class, Tribe Writers and this started the last year and half journey leading to the release of my first book, Joy Beyond.

 

What inspired Joy Beyond?

It was birthed from all the pain and suffering I have survived over my life. I realized after I surrendered my life to the Lord that I didn’t want to live a defeated Christian life. I hungered for the Lord and discovered that we can find joy beyond all the clutter life throws at us, whether it is pain, fear, grief, financial, disease, relational or whatever else is zapping our joy.

 

Describe your writing process for us.

Well, as I mentioned I joined an online writing course in March of 2013. I realized that if I wanted to impact more than just family and friends with my book once written, I needed to build a platform and discover my voice. I worked on my writing skills, set up a website, www.askgodtoday.com where I write stories and share video interviews with other authors. Through the Tribe Writers course I realized how valuable it is to build relationships with others by networking online, as well as in person. I learned how to guest post on others sites and how to actually write every day and call myself a writer.

 

What was the greatest problem/challenge you faced in writing this book?

Just so anyone who reads this will realize, writing a book is similar to having a baby; you labor and then you deliver. Once you deliver you want to show your baby off to others. You nurture and you protect your little newborn, so others will see how valuable it is and will want to hold your little one. Haha! At least, that is what it felt like to me.

I was very blessed to have people come along side me to edit my words, and proofread. I then had a beta group do the actual bible study together, which is in the book, while I taught. We videoed the teachings and have made them available for anyone else who may later be interested in using this study in a small group or at their church.  I will also add how faithful God was in sending someone to me who formatted the book for me and published it for free. In addition, I had someone who did my book cover for free. So, my out of pocket expense was only the cost of ordering my books and ordering my ISBN. God’s hand was all in the process of writing and releasing Joy Beyond.

As far as a challenge, I think my major challenge was actually formatting the book to make available on Kindle for Amazon. I had a hard time with that process. I will be ready next time because I found someone great who knows how to do this now.

 

How did you weave a spiritual thread through Joy Beyond without being preachy?

I share stories in Joy Beyond from my journey and how I approached them using God’s word. Instead of using the words “you” or “you should” all the time, I tried to say “me” or “us”, or “we should.” I am still on this same journey called life that everyone reading is, and we are all learning together. In Joy Beyond, I tried my best to just have a conversation with whoever is reading the book. I would give applicable ways to apply God’s word to each individual life. I have 28 other contributors who also share their story of finding joy through difficult trials. I am very excited about this section in the book called, Stories From the Heart.

 

What do you want your readers to gain by reading your book?

It is my desire that my readers would discover joy beyond the circumstances of life. If we were to daily walk around defeated by our circumstances, we would be defeated all the time. Jesus has overcome the world and He tells us that He will make our joy complete. It is also my desire for people to fall in love with Jesus and make Him your everything!

I want people to know that as a breast cancer survivor I give a portion of every print book sold to the Mammography Assistance Fund at our local hospital, to help women who cannot afford to get a mammogram. So, thanks to everyone who has purchased or will purchase a book.

 

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?

Good question. Time management is one of my biggest challenges. I am sure I am not alone. I am very list oriented and I write a to-do list everyday. I try to block out time for my quiet time, family time, time to write, and time to run my insurance business (which is my fulltime career as of now).  My desire is to be in fulltime ministry and I am just patiently waiting on God’s timing and divine appointments. I am pursuing speaking and coaching as well to help spread the message God has laid on my heart, and to help other writers and women.

 

What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?

Actually, He is trying to teach me how to keep my mouth shut with my 16 year old daughter. I am a teaching/preaching mom and I am learning that sometimes I need to back off a little. This is our 5th child, but every child is different. So, this is my difficult lesson right now. God is so patient with us and pours His grace out on us daily.

 

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?

Ahhh…I love the beach, the mountains (travelling in general), shopping, reading and serving others.

 

Can you tell us something that your readers might find surprising about you?

Surprise! I have never died my hair. I grew up red-headed when red hair wasn’t cool. I was made fun of and called names by all the mean kids at school. I used to hate being a red-head and being different, but I am good with it now. So, I guess maybe some of my readers didn’t know I have God-given red hair.

 

God has really been moving in your writing life. What do you see on the horizon?

Yes, it has been an amazing journey and I know you understand all the excitement that goes along with writing and releasing a book. As for the horizon, I am trying to peak over it but I can’t see everything. I guess I just have to continue to trust and wait on God to reveal His plans for me. I am in the process of writing my 2nd book and hope to have it released in January or February 2015.

 

Is there a scripture that really speaks to you?

I love all scripture and it is so hard to just pick one. My all time favorite is Jeremiah 29:11-14, but recently I had a heart attack and God has assured me through the following scripture that He is my strength always. Psalm 73:26 says: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Thank you, Norma for allowing me the time to share my heart with you and your readers. I loved your questions and what you are doing to minister to others. May God continue to bless you and your ministry! I would love to say a prayer with your readers.

Dear Heavenly Father,

We come to you today Lord praising and loving You. I lift up everyone who is reading this today that You would touch them right in the midst of whatever they are facing today. Help us to trust You more. love You more and live our life for You daily. When we keep our eyes on You God we can defeat whatever comes our way with the strength You provide. We can discover joy and victory over all our circumstances and the clutter of life when we seek the One who gives joy and victory. Bless each person with a sweet kiss from you today Lord as they seek to serve and live for You. In Jesus name. Amen.

Blessings always,

Brenda

 

Please share the first 3 pages of your book with us.

INTRODUCTION

 

Joy BeyondTen years ago my world as I knew it, fell apart. I was the wife of my high school sweetheart, the mother of two beautiful kids, a homeowner, a successful Insurance agent, and Sunday school teacher. I had survived breast cancer and I should be happy. Why did I not have joy in my heart? How could I go from being all these, yet so empty inside?

 

My marriage of 23 years ended. I found myself alone with my two young children and I felt broken beyond repair. Day after day I cried and begged God to help me, and my family. My heart was wounded and I grieved the death of my marriage. The pain through the tears had me holding onto the only thing I thought could heal me, God.

 

I prayed and asked God to heal my heart and my hurts, and to fill me up with more of Him and His joy. Psalm 126 says: “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.’ The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.”

 

God took away my pain and filled me to capacity. My cup overflows and my heart sings songs of joy. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have troubles or problems, it just means I now try to keep my eyes and thoughts on Jesus and His plans. I know He has a purpose for the pain. I know He has plans for His people.

 

“For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord;
I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
How great are your works, Lord,
how profound your thoughts!” Psalm 92:4-5 (NIV)

 

“I’ve got joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!

Where?

Down in my heart!”

 

Joy is an emotion, an intense feeling of happiness according to the dictionary. It is the 483rd most popular word on Merriam-Webster.com. However, joy is more than an emotion or feeling. It is a state of being which comes within our heart. We may not feel happy, but we can still have joy within our heart. We all are looking for joy. We want to be filled with satisfaction, contentment, and pleasure. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit mentioned in the Bible. God talks about the condition of our heart, and shows us the way to find joy many times in His Word.

 

So, why do so many want joy, but most can’t find it? What happens in life that steals our joy? What happens when we let our emotions and circumstances get the best of us? I will be sharing some of my “joy stealers” throughout these pages. I’ll include ways I found that helped me overcome these raw emotions and find true joy.

 

I have called this book “Joy Beyond” because we all want joy beyond the circumstances of life.  Living in this world with all the craziness can be chaotic at times and extremely difficult when hardships arise. We live in a fallen world where everybody doesn’t believe in God. We live in a selfish, “all about me” world, where people have become more and more tolerant of sin, or immorally wrong actions. Many times these actions or offenses are overlooked until it becomes personal and begins to steal our joy and cause pain.

 

When we walk in the light of Christ, and let the Lord lead us day after day, we are blessed with a joy that is immeasurable and indescribable. We can’t contain what God does in and through our lives, when we walk in His presence daily. I want more of that joy. How about you?

 

Hopefully, you will find something through this book you can apply to your life, and you will find the joy and strength God desires for you. As you work through the pages of this book, please know I am praying for you! This is designed to do one day at a time. Each day is short and shouldn’t take long. Please take the scripture, and what you hear for the day, meditate on it all day and consciously work on applying it to your life. Now, let’s get started.

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Contact Brenda at:

Ask God Today Ministries
www.askgodtoday.com

P.O. Box 161625
Boiling Springs, SC 29316

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/askgodtodaybyBrenda &

https://www.facebook.com/brendamcgrawwriter

Twitter: @BrendaMMcGraw

 

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Thank you for this interview. Brenda thank you so much for sharing your journey with us, and for your prayers and sharing God’s message. Thank you for the encouragements.

    • Hey Mariane. It was so much fun to answer the interview questions. Thanks for stopping by and reading. You are entered in the giveaway. It would also be awesome if you would share the post. Thanks, Have a great week. Brenda

  2. Brenda, your book title is inviting! I am encouraged lredy after reading the interview and your blog post, and look forward to reading your book.

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