October Happenings

Oh my. My daughter just informed me.

The year 2024 is closer than the year 2005.

This of course has nothing to do with anything currently spinning around my little mind. I’m sipping a Pumpkin Spice iced frappuccino sweating in 90 degree weather and sniffing my unlit cinnamon pumpkin candle (too hot outside to light). These are my meager attempts to capture autumn. The calendar informs me fall arrived last week, but each day feels like endless summer. Just like 2005 feels closer than 2024.

Today I am reminded to base my faith on facts, not feelings. I don’t feel any different the day before, the day of and the day after my birthday. But the fact is each birthday marks the passing of another year. Okay, and sadly the fact is I need reading glasses now. God’s character and His Word remain steadfast and unchanging. My feelings are fickle and change based on my circumstances. We do well to invest in knowing and learning about the facts of our faith rather than rely on our feelings to dictate how we decide to live.

Didn’t expect the rabbit trail. The original purpose of this post was simply to share a few fun opportunities to hear radio interviews about Warrior In Pink coming up in October. And also to ask if you are the praying type to pray for the different speaking events. I’d be grateful for your prayers in the coming weeks.

IMG_2724Mark your calendars and please share with your friends:

  • October 3rd I’ll be sharing my cancer story at the St. Jude’s Breast Cancer Survivor’s annual retreat in Brea, CA
  • October 5th and 6th radio interview with FamilyLifeToday (those of you in southern California can tune into KKLA 99.5FM at 8:30am). Will also be available to listen online.
  • October 12-16th radio program Discover the Word (those of you in So Cal can tune into KKLA 99.5FM at 1:30pm). Also available online.
  • October 15th I’ll be sharing at Biola University as part of their annual Torrey Conference
  • October 21st. Interview with Jamie Ivey on her popular podcast The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. She will be giving away five copies of Warrior In Pink. Meeting Jamie and conducting interviews, taping IF:Equip videos and participating in the racial reconciliation roundtable at the IF:Gathering in February was one of the main highlights of the conference.
  • October 23-25th Darrin and I will be speaking at the UC Santa Barbara Cru Fall Retreat

Happy October to you all!

Video clips from IF:Gathering Racial Reconciliation Roundtable

Quick post for those of you who may not have seen the article earlier this week in Christianity Today. The video clips at the end of the interview were filmed at the IF:Gathering after the audience was excused. I’m encouraged to hear of new relationships formed as a result of our time. Please pray for humble hearts, for restoration, for walls to come down. So fitting as we enter Holy Week to think on the final prayer Jesus prayed for His disciples and for each of us:

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“All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.  And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” John 17:10-11

http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/march/modeling-healthy-gathering-on-race.html

IF:Gathering Racial Reconciliation Roundtable

Greetings from Austin, TX. Amazing city. Amazing food. Amazing people. Took part in the IF:Gathering yesterday and the day before. Click the link to sign up to hear the sessions. Powerful weekend. The leadership and women I met were humble, down-to-earth, Kingdom-minded warriors. Warm. Welcoming. Brave. Courageous. I’ve always held strong to the belief: you become like those you are around. Grateful for every woman I met. I want to be more like them, because of how I saw Jesus in their lives and in their eyes. I was invited to contribute. Taped several mini Bible studies for IF:Equip and an interview on unity and diversity.

IF:Equip bible studies

IF:Equip bible studies

Yesterday, in a remarkably intimate setting, even though surrounded by 2000 in attendance at the venue and over 20,000 women watching live stream, seven of us discussed the elephant in the room: racial reconcilation. We began unpacking issues of awareness, ethnic diversity (or the lack thereof), racism, unity. The 20 minutes onstage continued for another full hour of taping as we continued to share stories of discrimination and barriers. We sat around a table, looking into each other’s eyes. Through conversation we risked and brought our stories into this space of grace and truth. Our perspectives of the God we love deepened through exposure to each other’s stories.

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Among the many “God’s perfect timing moments,” my article for Today’s Christian Women, “Rocking the Small World Boat” went live right in time for the conference. In it I share about awareness and included resources and tips to help further the conversation. You can click the link to access the article. TCW graciously unlocked the article so IF:Gathering and IF:Local women would have access to the resources.

I’m still turning over in my mind the content, the names, the faces, the experience. Anticipating how God will move, trusting Him for movement in the right direction.

Changed lives. Changed world.

 

Did you participate in the IF:Gathering? If so, I’d love to hear your feedback!

 

Receive the Missing Max Chapter

It’s been quiet over here on the website. Quite the opposite of life over here in my little corner of the planet. Have decided to go off grid for the remainder of the year. Needing time to reflect and decompress. My soul craves quiet on the inside and outside.

But before I bid you adieu I wanted to “gift” you with the “Missing Max Chapter” that was cut from the final “Warrior In Pink” manuscript. My little Christmas gift to you. Simply subscribe to receive email posts in the little box over there on the left. You will need to confirm the subscription when the email arrives in you inbox.

I won’t be mailing out the chapter until the end of January. And I promise I won’t sell the list or use it except to announce important events or opportunities.

Hope you enjoy the extended version.

May your Christmas and New Year be filled with meaning. And may God give you eyes to see all the blessings in your life beyond the material.

much love,

viv

MAX - HEAD SHOT

Celebrating 5 Years Post Cancer Treatment!

Five years ago, on October 22, 2009, I wiped tears out of my ears. Lying still on a cold metal table I couldn’t hold them back. Silent tears of exhaustion and relief rolled out of my eyes and pooled in both my ears. After clearing out my ears, I glanced around the dimly lit room one last time. A quiet prayer of thanks and then I rushed out of the room and down the hallway, determined to never set my eyes again on the hand painted flower mural covering the cement walls. I renamed the basement radiation office “the dungeon.” For six weeks I walked around smelling like a giant tube of aloe vera gel. Every morning, Monday through Friday, I would take my place on the cold table under the Star Trek Enterprise looking giant zapper. Thirty-three radiation treatments to eliminate any lingering cancer cells. I started hunching my shoulders to keep my blistered, angry lobster-red skin from touching my T-shirts. Finishing radiation treatments marked the end of active treatment. Ten long months of active treatment. Three surgeries, 32 physical therapy appointments (to help regain range of motion and later to treat lymphedema), six rounds of chemotherapy and losing all my hair.

Five years ago I finished active treatment for breast cancer. At the time, I wondered if this day would ever come.

darrin and viv sans hair

For many cancer survivors the five-year mark is a milestone. For me, every year is a milestone. Watching Jonathan graduate from high school three years ago, shouting an extra loud “Woohoo!” as Julia promoted from elementary school to intermediate school last spring, and looking forward to this weekend as Michael attends his Homecoming Dance and begins applying for colleges in the coming weeks–I relish each and every one of these milestones.

I finally worked up the courage to ask my oncologist about recurrence. She shared that the aggressive type of cancer most young women are diagnosed with usually recurs within the first three years post active treatment. For my type of cancer, she said if it would return it would be in 7-10 years. So, though I am able to go through most days now without any thought of cancer, I find there are days when unwelcome fears circle around and enter my mind. On those days I am faced with the choice of how to proceed. Do I live in “what-ifs?” Do I obsess? Do I lay down my anxious thoughts and receive each day as a gift? Most days I walk in freedom knowing my days are numbered by the One who knows how many hairs have regrown on my head.

As I shared in my last post, along the way I have met remarkable people who have come alongside to help and encourage during both the cancer journey as well as the writing journey. This theme of community plays on repeat now in my little life as I go along each day. My soul has been altered for the better having been loved so well. My mind is filled with the faces of family and friends near and far who rallied, prayed and carried our family through the darkest days. I lift my pumpkin spice latte with deepest gratitude to each of you who came alongside us. Thank you.

I am also so grateful for these friends who are hosting book giveaways this week:

Gillian Marchenko, author of “Sunshine Down” is hosting a book giveaway here.

Lesley Miller, fellow Redbud Writer and friend, is hosting a book giveaway here.

And here’s my first article for Today’s Christian Woman, “Caring for Friends with Cancer” here.

Oh, and an hour long live Interview on My Faith Radio program here.

The month is not over and several other opportunities still remain to win a copy of the book. Keep checking back.

And join me in raising a pumpkin spice latte to celebrate five years cancer free!

 

Meeting Warriors In Pink

Cancer is no respecter of age, race, faith, socio-economic status, life-stage. All of us have been touched by cancer whether personally or someone close to us. The day after receiving my cancer diagnosis, Darrin and I sat in a cold, sterile office with a nurse practitioner. In addition to receiving a crash course on all things breast cancer, a bulging folder stuffed with pamphlets about treatment, we also learned statistically most everyone will deal with some form of cancer in their lifetime. Sobering news. Sadly, I’ve found the nurse’s words to be true.

This past weekend I enjoyed the company of the wonderful women from Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles. The theme of this retreat: “A Willing Heart.” Several women shared how cancer touched their lives. Our shared experience connected us; the theme applying on an entirely different level. What blessed me was seeing their warrior hearts, their willing hearts and also seeing the loyalty and love of friends and family who came alongside to help.

Following the retreat I had the privilege of FaceTiming and joining, via technology, a gathering up in San Francisco. My dear friend, May, pulled together an impressive team of women who walked 40 miles (not minutes, which would be about what I could handle, but MILES!) this past July in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. This photo is missing two others who were part of the team.

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They sweetly included me as an honorary team member. I was out-of-state during the walk. Honestly, if I joined them they would have had to dump me into a wagon and pull me along. 40 MILES. Wow. I did, however, wear my matching shirt, personalized with surVIVor, on race day. My heart remains grateful for these women and their families. Their willingness to train and walk, raise money and awareness blessed me. My heart is especially grateful for May and her loyalty and love throughout our cancer battle.

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With the continuation of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I wanted to highlight a blog post I wrote following the Webinar with Fullfill Magazine on “Helping Those Who Hurt.” I am grateful for this book review written by friend and Cru ministry leader, Andrea Buczynski. You can read it here.

And here is another place to enter for a free copy of Warrior In Pink. Asian American Women on Leadership blog is giving away a free copy, you just need to comment to be entered into the drawing.

Another five copies of the book will be given away later on this week over at Today’s Christian Women magazine and several more bloggers are also hosting giveaways. I’ll be sure to let you know when and where.

Still more to come!! Stay tuned!!

Warrior In Pink Book Giveaways

Warrior In Pink. The book is traveling to places outside the United States. I received this tweet from a woman in Uganda:

Earlier in the week I found out a friend was sending the book to a friend in Scotland! Another friend mentioned it was being read in Central Asia. I’m all goofy-face grinning.

Here are a few other places with book giveaways:

The amazing Mary DeMuth edited Warrior In Pink. She is offering a book over at her website. So far only one person has entered so your odds are ever in your favor (*high Hunger Games British accent voice). Click here to enter:

I’ll be participating in a webinar on Wednesday October 8th with Elisa Morgan, editor of Fulfill, cohost of Discover the Word, author, and gifted leader, teacher/speaker.  Two books will be given away during the webinar. The topic is “Helping Those Who Hurt.” The webinar will be interactive with content, polls, and opportunities to ask questions. Click here to sign up for the webinar until midnight tonight (Oct. 6th).

One more day left to enter the drawing over at Robin Lee Hatchers website. Click here to enter.

Still more to come! Also, I’d love to hear if you know of the book being read in countries outside the U.S. :)

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

“I hate cancer. I hate thinking about another person having to battle cancer. I hate that you will walk the painful treatment road. As much as I hate cancer, I want you to know from my experience that God used cancer to expand my heart. I have met some of the most remarkable people on this journey. I have been blessed in thousands of ways by the thoughtfulness and generosity of so many. I am not the same woman today because of cancer.”

-excerpt from letter to a newly diagnosed cancer patient in “Warrior In Pink”

What? October!? I’m seeing pink everywhere. Two enormous horses towering outside PF Changs Restaurant at the Mission Viejo mall are painted pink. It must be October.

This is going to be one crazy month! The first Breast Cancer Awareness month after the release of Warrior In Pink. Yesterday I relished the sweet reunion of half of the Oasis group, Mellanie, Paula and Annie, along with Leila of the Awesome Threesome (those of you who haven’t read the book yet, these descriptions will all make sense after you read the book).

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The five of us drove up from Orange County to Los Angeles to participate in Kaiser Permanente’s Pink Day Celebration. I shared a bit of my cancer story with 1000 folks comprised of cancer patients, friends of survivors, employees at Kaiser, and fellow “Warriors In Pink.”

signing "Warrior In Pink" for a fellow warrior in pink

We marveled together thinking back over the past five years, never imaging the doors God would open. These dear friends are at the top of my list when I think of examples of people who love well.

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The Pink Day Celebration served as a great kick off to what will be a very exciting month filled with book giveaways. I’ll be linking up on this blog to other websites hosting book giveaways or highlighting the book. This is your chance to win a FREE book. Or if you have friends who are interested, please let them know about the giveaways. FREE COPIES. What’s not to love?

Some of the remarkable people I refer to in the excerpt above are authors like Robin Lee Hatcher. She has won every award in existence for Christian Fiction authors. Robin was the first author to endorse my book. A fellow Warrior In Pink, she has generously promoted my book from the moment she read the unedited version sent by my literary agent. Robin has posted an interview on her blog that I did with my friend and fellow Redbud Writer, Dorcas Cheng-Tozun (also in the remarkable category), who interviewed me about my cancer journey and road to publishing. Thankfully Dorcas is gracious and understanding. I forwarded the interview we did together to Robin thinking I would reconnect over the content, and then didn’t follow-up (#newbieauthor #loopybrain #notgoodwithdetails #thestruggleisreal). With Dorcas’ permission, we have reposted the bulk of her interview.

I will be linking in the different websites and book giveaway opportunities on this website, so you will be receiving a good chunk of short posts in the next four to five weeks. Please share with your friends. And if you are the praying type, I would deeply appreciate your prayers during these next couple of months.

  • Book Giveaway over at Robin Lee Hatcher’s website here.
  • Blog over at CaringBridge (the medical blog I used during cancer treatment) here.

Stay tuned! More to come!!

 

Gearing Up for Fall

Hello again. I’m back.

Three months. No blog posts. Actually, I wrote some great posts in my mind. They just never transferred from thought to actual words on page. All sorts of things fly around in my little brain each and every day. Entire conversations take place in my mind with “invisible Darrin.” (Darrin is my wise and wonderful husband of 23 years. He is not very fond of invisible Darrin). Invisible Darrin and I work through problems and reach all sorts of agreements the real Darrin learns of later. Lots of “Whaddya mean? I thought we talked about this already.” “Uh. No, Viv. You talked it through with invisible Darrin. Not me.” note: this method of conversing with an invisible spouse is extremely inefficient.

A lot of terrific happenings occurred these past three months:

  • My first Susan G. Komen, Orange County speaking event:

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Honor Roll and VIP reception for team leaders for the Race for the Cure

  • We spent a month living in the University of Hawaii dorms helping train and equip these wonderful staff and student leaders:

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“Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.”(1 Thessalonians 2:8)

  • helped with our church’s annual Kid’s Fun Club and Mom’s Fun Club

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Some fun events happening this fall:

  • After a five year detour, you know– battling cancer, writing and releasing a book and stuff, I have returned to Talbot Theological Seminary to work on my Masters Degree in Bible Exposition. This fall I’m taking Hermeneutics (how to interpret, understand and apply the Bible). First on the agenda: learn to spell Hermeneutics correctly.

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  • I have joined the Epic National Field Ministry team directed by the wise and wonderful real Darrin. Epic is the Asian American ministry of Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ)
  • I was interviewed by Worldwide Challenge, Cru’s magazine for the September/October issue on “Suffering Together”:10527706_10152227685976073_929868995084747981_n
  • I’ll be giving the message at our home church, Crossroads Community Church on Sept 14th at 10 a.m. Join us if you’re in the area!
  • Excited to speak at the Texas Epic Fall Conference at the end of the month! And a couple women’s retreats in October and November. I’m writing my first article for Today’s Christian Woman and participating in a Webinar with Elisa Morgan and Fulfill Magazine.
  • Several friends will be hosting Warrior In Pink book giveaways on their blogs in the coming weeks in light of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I’ll be sure to connect you to those sites.

So, what’s been happening in your corner of the world?

#amwriting

Unless you count writing in my mind (aka: attempting to make sense of the jumbled thoughts tumbling around my little noggin, clunking endlessly like a pair of sneakers in the dryer) I #amwriting–not really. For those of you unfamiliar with Twitter the number sign is a hashtag. Hashtags help people who tweet find and follow interesting topics. #amwriting is a popular hashtag used by writers. Other hashtags are just funny and have nothing to do with specific categories or subjects. I’m not explaining this well, so google hashtag or read about Twitter in Wikipedia or #askateenager.

I received, however, two invitations from two writers I admire, to participate in a Writers’ Blog Hop. A new writer friend, Kate Motaung, asked first so I jumped in with her. We met through my fellow Redbud Writers Guild friend and gifted writer, Browyn Lea, who generously hosted me along with a “Warrior In Pink” book giveaway on her blog. Kate won the giveaway. We emailed back and forth. Drawn to her heart for God, shared experience of walking the cancer road, and interest in learning this crazy world of writing, I instantly felt bonded to Kate. I could tell we would have a lot to talk about over coffee irl (text abbreviation for “in real life”). Her skillfully woven words blessed me deeply as I read the book review she wrote on her website about “Warrior In Pink.”

The way the blog hop works is I answer four questions about what I’m writing and introduce you to three writer friends who will also answer the same four questions and introduce three of their writer friends, and so on. A bit reminiscent of those chain letters from back in the day sans the horrible omens from failure to participate. For those of you from more recent times, chain letters refer to a practice long ago involving envelopes, handwritten letters, stamps and the use of the metal box, commonly known as a mailbox, found at the end of your driveway.

Anyway, I figure what better way to return to a place where I #amwriting than to introduce you to other writer friends and answer a few questions about writing. So here goes:

 1. What am I writing or working on?

Can I count the “writing in my mind” material? Or the fact that I downloaded Scrivener (a word processing software helpful for organizing and writing books)? I have as a goal to have a book proposal for my second book to my literary agent by the end of summer. I’m excited and nervous about embarking again on the book writing path. So many lessons learned along the way the first time around. Now with one book under my belt I return with a little more experience but a whole host of new insecurities and fears. I wonder if marathon runners feel the same sort of excitement and dread after enough time has passed and they begin training for the next marathon? I wonder. But I’ll never know. Ever.

 2. How does my work differ from others of this genre?

As a nonfiction writer, I bring myself, my worldview and experiences into my writing. I naturally weave in aspects of my Asian heritage into my writing. Unfortunately, at this time, very few books by Asian-Americans authors are found among the bookshelves in any given library, bookstore or online. I’d like to see the landscape change to include more Asian, Latino, Native-American and African-American voices. We grow a more robust understanding of life when exposed to people who see the world through different lenses.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I’m a teacher at heart. Usually there is some teaching point to whatever I write. My greatest satisfaction comes from helping people regain perspective, expand vision, or consider a life principle through daily life experiences. As a Christian the why of what I write is summed up in this verse: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36)

4. How does my writing process work?

In my pretend world, my house is spotless and quiet. My clothes are ironed, teeth brushed. I spend hours sitting comfortably in my little nook upstairs typing diligently on my laptop with classical music playing softly in the background. Occasionally I would need a tissue to dab my eyes when writing and recalling a particularly painful memory. My giant mug of coffee would magically refill as needed.

this is my nook

this is my peaceful nook

 

But the reality is usually the dog occupies the chair (unless I cover the chair with books, but even then he still seems to find open space to sleep). And the dog passes gas. Choking, tear-producing foulness. My house is in constant chaos and covered in dog fur and dust. The unending piles of paperwork, laundry, and dishes makes it hard to concentrate and write at home.

 

dog in the chair. me on the floor?

The dog in the chair. Me on the floor? What!?

Even if the stars align and some semblance of order is established, I have a hard time staying in one place for extended amounts of time. So I write a little here and a little there.  I’ve been known to write in my car during soccer practice, at “my Starbucks” with earbuds stuffed in my head, the dining room table, my closet floor and a myriad of other places. I haven’t developed a habit and discipline of writing. And honestly still feel painfully insecure about how I write and what I write. When someone mentions anything regarding author or writer I usually turn my head to look behind me to see who the person is referring to.

Usually a blog posts come to me as I’m going along with my regular activities. I start writing in my mind getting ready in the bathroom or out running the dog or waiting at a stoplight. Sometimes the ideas come out of conversations with friends over life’s challenges.

So that is a peek into my writing life.

Now to introduce to you some great women writers:

First, my dear friend, Ann Suk Wang.  Ann and I met back when she attended UCLA and Darrin and I were Cru campus staff assigned to that great campus (go Bruins!). Our paths crisscrossed back and forth over the years but recently we have been able to connect over writing. Ann is also a Redbud Writer, newspaper journalist and writes children’s and young adult fiction. She usually has at least a half a dozen story lines going simultaneously. I’ve been blessed by her friendship. Through Ann I’ve learned to appreciate the work and mind of fiction authors.

Ann’s Bio:
Ann enjoys painting God’s goodness in words, helping others come one step closer to Him no matter where they are in their journey.
     She has loved writing since she was in elementary school when she made her best friend memorize her original rainbow song (they are still best friends and still sing the song together willingly, 30 years later.)
     Now, Ann is a columnist for a Los Angeles based newspaper, writes features for a San Gabriel Valley magazine and enjoys creating fiction for children. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s teaching a Hot Hula Fitness class, playing board games with her 3 boys (includes her infinitely patient hubby), sipping tea or cuddling with the only other female in the house — Bree, her hairy daughter and 4-legged writing partner.
Connect with Ann:

Twitter- @imwonderingwhy
Facebook- annsukwang

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My next friend is fellow Cru staff, Terry Morgan. I haven’t spent time irl (remember the text abbreviation: in real life) with Terry, but I know we share a similar heart, Terry’s writing is laced with themes around changing the world, developing leaders, especially women leaders, personal growth and appreciation and love for coffee. We have many mutual friends. Conversation over coffee, I’m sure, would last all afternoon into the late night. I’ve admired Terry’s ability to share honestly as well as bilingually. She writes her posts in English and Spanish!

Terry’s bio:

Terry is an international mentor, coach, and leadership development strategic partner at Cru. She is on a heart journey as a wife, mother, ministry leader, friend, and daughter of the King… taking on life with a strong, black cup of coffee in hand.
Connect with Terry:
on twitterLinkedIn, or blogging at MaturitasCafe.com.

terry coffee web

 

Finally, I’d like you to meet my friend Karen Yates. I met Karen through the Redbuds. Ann, Karen and I meet regularly to encourage each other and affectionately refer to ourselves as “Palm Tree Buds” as we represent writing in community here in Southern California. Wise, generous, fun, humble, and kindhearted, I’ve been blessed by Karen’s friendship and insight. Karen is pursuing her Master’s at Talbot Seminary in Spiritual Formation. This major fits Karen well as she is one person I admire who integrates a keen mind, tender heart, and a soul sensitive both to God and the people God has placed in her life.

Karen’s bio:

Karen Yates lives in Orange County, CA and is a Jesus chaser, mother, adoption advocate and loved of sushi. She has worked 12 years in the Christian non-profit industry and has a passion for missions and the global Church.

Connect with Karen:

her blog: KarenEYates.com or on Twitter @KarenYates1

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I’m so glad to introduce you to these wonderful writers! Hope you’ll check out their websites and the writers they introduce to you next week. Meanwhile, I’ll be sitting in my nook, avoiding the piles and trying to stay true to the hashtag: #amwriting.