Wednesday, October 7, 2015

One Author's Journey: Interview with Michelle S. Lazurek

Michelle and I met at her children's preschool in 2009, where I was substitute teaching.
Michelle S. Lazurek
Author, Speaker, Bible Teacher
Introducing herself as one of the students' parents we quickly became friends when I discovered her passion to follow God's lead toward a writing career. Being a newbie to the business myself, we encouraged one another in our writing and I'm proud to introduce her to you today;  a student who now far surpasses the teacher. 

1. For my readers who don't know you, will you tell them a little about yourself? 
I am a writer, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. I've been in ministry for over fifteen years. I'm married to my wonderful husband Joe for fifteen years and have two children, Caleb and Leah.

2. How did you become a writer?
I've often said that I didn't choose writing; writing chose me. In 2009, while attending a women's retreat, I felt God impress upon my heart to write a book. I had never written anything before in my life. I was terrified! I prayed and asked God what he wanted me to write about, and I began to notice in the gospel of John how many times John referred to himself as "the disciple ‘Whom Jesus loved." As I researched, I found no one had written anything about that topic. That’s when my first book "Becoming the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved" was born. I've been writing ever since.

3. What difficulties have you experienced as a pastor’s wife, and how did you handle those difficulties?
When you are in a position of power, there will always be people who try to take advantage of that power. It’s especially tough when you are in a place of spiritual power. The enemy will always seek to knock you down, using the same people who praise with you on a Sunday morning. Besides loneliness—that’s the hardest part about being a pastor’s wife—those within your congregation who don’t treat you with the same level of mutual respect because they believe things should be handled or organized differently. 

4. You have two new children’s books that have just been released. Tell me what they are about.
When my daughter was four years old, she would spend hours parading in front of my husband, twirling around in her princess dresses and asking “Daddy, Am I Beautiful?” I realized in that moment that is the cry of every young girl’s heart—to be told by her father she is beautiful. My book explores the concept of self-esteem from a young girl’s perspective and teaches them that it is not what’s on the outside that makes you beautiful, but what’s on the inside. Mommy Am I Strong? is written for boys and explores the concept of their self-esteem. Boys want to be seen as strong and use their strength to prove their worth. This book teaches that true strength comes from the inside, not on the outside. 

5. What lesson would you like young girls and boys take away from your children’s books?
Society is tough to raise Christian men and women in, especially for women. In this overly sexualized world, we tend to teach girls that their value in life comes from exploiting their bodies for others’ pleasure. I want girls to feel they are more than that. I want them to come away with the confidence that their worth does not come from their body type, but from God’s approval of them just as they are. With the increasing popularity of superheroes, boys are taught early that their worth comes from their strength I want young boys to believe that even someone with a disability can be strong because of their ability to display humility and grace in the face of trials. 

6. What are some upcoming projects? 
I have a non-fiction book on hospitality titled An Invitation to the Table: Embracing the Gift of Hospitality that releases in spring of 2016.

Michelle S. Lazurek is a pastor’s wife, a mother, an author, and a speaker. A member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, she has been published in numerous places such as Charisma Magazine and Movieguide Magazine. Her newest book An Invitation to the Table explores hospitality and discipleship. For more information, Please visit her website at 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

4 Suggestions for when Littles ask BIG questions

Enjoying the backyard sunshine, my granddaughter asked a big question. “What’s heaven like, Grams?”

The question didn’t surprise me. She likes asking those big questions—the ones that make you flinch, test your heart rate and dig deep into your heart and Bible knowledge. But, what took me off guard (and it shouldn’t have) was the setting in which she asked it—just a relaxing-in-the-sunshine kind o’ day. That’s how kids roll, though. They ask the hard questions when they’re most relaxed, feeling safe in their surroundings and around those they love and trust.

So I rolled with it, too, as honestly as I could not having visited heaven just yet and based upon what Scripture says. Fishing for a deeper, hidden question I asked her why she wanted to know.  Instead of answering my question she offered her own opinion of what heaven looks like. “Heaven’s like a big house with lots of rooms, but no walls; no front  or back walls.” Then she asked, “Will we see our pets in heaven or the people who’ve already died?”

Ah, there it was—the hidden question...(Join me over at Christian Children's Blog for the rest of the story...)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Whatever You Do...

Image compliments of
Today I confess that I am a Christian and I am a children’s author, but I haven’t published a Christian children’s book. So, how is it that I’m allowed to write on the Christian Children’s Authors blog?
Good question.
When I approached the founder of that blog about contributing articles, she graciously gave me room at the writers table to share my heart—first, as a follower of Jesus and second, as a children’s author. While society deems it necessary to separate our faith from public settings, followers of Jesus know that it’s impossible to separate our faith from anything we do.
What Paul shared in Colossians 3:23 says it best:
Whatever you dowork at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not human masters. 
(Join me at the Christian Children's Authors Blog for the rest of the story)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What Encouragement Looks Like

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, as in fact you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV

It’s a rarity when we can mark a moment in time other than the date on a calendar. That moment that signifies a line in the sand, an about-face, a change of heart or a significant start.

Meeting Cindy was such a time.

Sitting amongst like-minded aspiring writers, Cindy, an accomplished author and public speaker, shared her enthusiasm for the written word. She shared her personal journey, but she didn’t make it all about her, as some might. Rather, she created a homey atmosphere where you imagined it was just the two of you sitting across from one another, sharing a cup of tea.

And her point? If she could succeed, so could you. But, what got me? What etched that day in my memory so that nine years later I can still recall the details? She personally told me I could write. She wasn’t granting me permission to write. No, she recognized me as a writer and called me out—called forth the dream God planted in my heart long before that moment—and I couldn’t hide any longer.

For years following that writer’s seminar, I’d often say to my husband, “I wish I could call Cindy and have her mentor me.” Since she lived but a half an hour from our home he’d answer, “Giver her call.” And I’d quiver in reply. “Oh, I can’t do that! She’s a real author.”

By the time we were reunited four years ago, I’d published my first children’s book and was a contributing writer for two blogs other than my own. And, two years ago, we spent quality time together at the New England Christian Writers Retreat. It was there, I finally understood her true calling. Yes, she is a brilliant wordsmith and talented public speaker, but encouraging is her strongest gift.

Paul mentions the ministry of encouragement in Romans 8:6-8:   

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Cindy definitely has the encouraging gift. And if you think she encourages me only because I attended her events, think again. For here she is, encouraging my heart at my own book debut this past weekend:

L to R: Carol Nicholls, Cindy Secrest-McDowell, Dawn Aldrich, Wendy Coy
And not only is she encouraging my heart, but see those other girls? They’re writers, too, and she’s pouring into their dreams, watering the seed that God’s planted within them.

We all need people like Cindy in our lives. In fact, I believe Paul commissioned all believers to practice and desire encouragement so that we might uplift one another in our faith journey. And, wouldn’t that include recognizing the God-given talents and gifts in others and calling it forth?

L: Akintunde Sogunro, author of Mama Stitches and one God's allowed me to mentor

Do you have an encourager in your life? Are you and encourager to others?

My pint-sized encouragers and that little girl? Man, can she write!
I’d love to hear your stories. Why not encourage our hearts and share your experience below in the comments section?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Unveiling Invisible Jenny May

My second book, Invisible Jenny May, (2015, Halo Publishing International)  finally launches in two days! The invitations have been sent, food, balloons and books are ordered. Now I sit and wait.
Jenny May has rattled around in my head since July 2009 that she's more of a person than a book character, so forgive me if I refer to her as a living being. She began as a true story my husband's Aunt Clevie shared with me at the breakfast table one hot Alabama morning. Soft and low, almost whisper-like, she started.
"When I was a little girl, I had a long black braid down the middle of my back. I put on my favorite dress and a white apron with deep front pockets. I'd walked down to Granny's house who made the best southern tea cakes.
Fillin' my pockets Granny would say, 'Now I'm fillin' your pockets. You go on back and share the wealth. There's enough for everyone to have some.'"
After breakfast, I scribbled this bitty story into my journal before I forgot it. It rolled around in my imagination for months. I wrote at least ten versions until my writers group, my editors, my young audience (ages 4-8) and I were pleased.
Now Jenny May has settled into a story about a middle child who feels invisible. Invisible Jenny May does everything right, but despite her good deeds and notable actions, no one in her large family notices her. No one, that is, except Granny. With a little help from Granny and some "magic" tea cakes, Invisible Jenny May discovers the "magic" to visibility.
So today, I am happy to finally unveil Invisible Jenny May to the world! A signed copy can find its way to your home by ordering on my website, where you may indicate to whom I should sign the book. Otherwise, you may also order through Halo Publishing International, Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Invisible Jenny May is also available in Kindle and Nook versions.
Enjoy! May you discover the "magic" God's placed within you.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Drenched with Heaven's Dew

“…and he was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he learned that the Most High God rules over the kingdoms of the world…” Daniel 5:21

Indian summer held on tight wrapping it’s humidity around us like a wet blanket as we sauntered to class through the tree-tunneled path around the pond. I felt my bobbed curls—the ones that took me twenty minutes to unfurl—coil up like Shirley Temple’s locks (but not so cute), making me wonder why I hadn’t submitted to their natural tendencies.

Then, rain came—slowly, at first—one gentle drop after another.  It was almost melodic watching the rain drops create rings across the pond. Then the melody turned dark and the heavens opened just as we emerged from the tree tunnel.

She laughed and slowed.

I cry-screamed and darted.

Then, looking back at her through fogged-up glasses I yelled, “Are you crazy? We’re gonna get soaked!”

“I LOVE getting drenched by the rain,” she giggled back at me. “It makes my hair so soft.”

I tried enjoying it, partly because I thought maybe I was missing something, but mostly because I didn’t want to be rude and leave her behind.

I hated it. Soggy made me feel undone and ugly.

Sometimes that’s just the posture God wants from us—undone and ugly—because that’s where we’re most vulnerable and teachable.  It’s those times when we’re most undone that our God ears hear and our God eyes see.

(Join me in all the undone and ugly at {re}fresh. There is hope, my friend...)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Boredom is Okay

In the 1970’s summer vacation meant: staying up late, sleeping late, beach bumming, Bible camp, and eating ice cream…lots and lots of ice cream. If we were bored, our mothers would offer us plenty of chores or look over their cat-eyed frames with one raised eyebrow and say, “And what are you gonna do about it?”

So what did we do when we got bored and we’d watched enough reruns of The Brady Bunch, Leave it to Beaver, Captain Kangaroo, and all the Looney Tunes Cartoons you could stomach?

We played.

That’s right. We played unorganized games with neighborhood kids like us; sometimes made-up games with silly names and rules that changed. We pool-hopped around the neighborhood, rode bikes to the corner store for ice cream, candy and soda (fully loaded with sugar), played school and house, colored, painted with water colors, drew pictures, read books, and of course we did our household chores.

As teenagers, we spent days and nights at our best friends’ houses, took drivers ed classes and drove our friends to the beach as often as we could afford the gas and our work schedule permitted.

That’s right, we also worked. We worked wherever we could find a job—the local grocery store, department store, fast-food restaurant. Work was a right-of-passage at sixteen. It meant we were gaining independence from our parents, earning adult money and taking on adult responsibility.

I passed this training-out-of-boredom onto my children. Early on they learned that boredom is okay. I was not responsible to fill up their boredom hours, they were. They used their imaginations and abilities to fill their lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer as was fitting and according to parental boundaries. 

(Struggling with over-scheduled or bored children? Join me at the Christian Children's Authors blog for the rest of the story).