What inspired to you write Heart Songs?
I’ve been writing stories for going on four decades – as a long-time contributing editor for Guideposts magazine and as the author of several inspirational books for adults and children – and every day I continue to be amazed at the incredible power of our stories to reach out and touch the human heart. Fiction and nonfiction alike, our stories have the power not only to entertain, but to provide hope, encouragement and inspiration. This is what I hope my latest book, Heart Songs, offers readers.
How would you summarize Heart Songs?
In this collection of true, first-person stories, I explore through the eyes of faith the joys and challenges of life’s changing seasons – from being a young mother; to being a member of the “Sandwich Generation” pressed on both sides to meet the needs of my aging mother while also caring from my husband and children; to being an empty-nester and losing my mom; to being a joyful mother of the bride! As an extra bonus, Heart Songs also includes three of my popular children’s books: The Gospel for Kids; Grandma I’ll Miss You: A Child’s Story about Death and New Life; and Emmett McCallister’s Christmas Eve. This is a very family-friendly book – great for all ages!
What is the overall theme of Heart Songs? How did you come up with the title?
I read somewhere once that the world is a broken place made up of broken people, and because of this, we sometimes cut ourselves on the broken pieces. At first this might seem like a discouraging way of looking at life. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a person of faith, it’s that while we may, indeed, begin life born broken into a broken world, what life is about is the transformational journey of being gently and tenderly put back together by our loving God. It is about being made whole. This restorative, healing process doesn’t happen all at once, but gradually… season by season… day by day… one insight at a time. Over the years I’ve come to think of these incremental spiritual discoveries, these mini-epiphanies, these life-affirming “Aha!” moments when God sings His tender melody of hope and healing in our hearts as heart songs… Hence, the title of this book.
Where does Heart Songs take place?
This book begins with the birth of our daughter in Minnetonka, Minnesota (a Minneapolis suburb) and takes the reader traveling with our family to Greenwich Village, in New York City, and, ultimately, New Canaan, Connecticut.
Who are the main characters in Heart Songs and why are they important to your story?
As an inspirational collection of true, first person stories, the primary characters in Heart Songs are my immediate family – my parents, husband, and two children. This is a book about and for families, and focuses on the joys and struggles of family life.
What is it about Heart Songs that you think will appeal to readers?
Everyone loves a good story! The truth is, we are all story tellers. Indeed, there are many who believe that the desire and ability to tell stories is the primary characteristic of being human. There’s a reason God made us this way. When we choose to step out in faith, take a risk, and share our stories – whether around the dinner table with our family, over a cup of coffee with a friend, through the pages of a book, or the digital glow of an e-book – beautiful and amazing things can happen. Through the power of God’s grace, our hearts are opened. We realize we are not alone with our various human frailties, fears and failures. We appreciate in a new way how much we need each other. In a word, we connect.
How is Heart Songs relevant in today’s society?
A good friend once told me, “Kitty, the reason God put us here on earth is to help each other, and sharing our stories is one of the best ways I know to do this.” I agree! In the most delightful way, God uses our stories to help each other as we travel along life’s journey. Heart Songs is a book chock-full of true, uplifting stories that helps readers feel they are not alone in their struggles in daily life.
What makes Heart Songs different from other books like it?
As I mentioned earlier, as an added bonus, Heart Songs also includes three of my popular children’s books: The Gospel for Kids; Grandma I’ll Miss You: A Child’s Story about Death and New Life; and Emmett McCallister’s Christmas Eve. As a result, it is a very family-friendly book – great for all ages! Heart Songs also includes lots of fun photographs and illustrations that bring the stories to life.
What do you want readers to take away from your writing?
It is my fondest hope and prayer that Heart Songs will serve as a powerful source of hope, encouragement and inspiration for readers. I encourage readers to think of this collection of stories as a heart-shaped box of assorted chocolates – some fancy and others plain, some dark and others light, some bitter and others sweet. And I want readers to know that each piece has been carefully fashioned just for them, to sample and savor as they wish – one at a time or (if you’re like me when it comes to chocolate) all at once. So go ahead. Indulge! Unlike chocolate, the wonderful thing about stories is that they’re calorie and guilt-free!
What gave you the idea to write Heart Songs?
I have been writing true, first-person stories of hope and inspiration as a Contributing Editor for Guideposts magazine, and as the author of several inspirational books for adults and children, for going on four decades. The desire and ability to write and share the stories that appear in Heart Songs is, for me, as natural as breathing.
Is there a particular passage from Heart Songs that you’d like to share?
“When it comes to life, I am no expert. Perhaps, like you, I’m just a regular mom, daughter, sister, wife and friend – struggling each day to appreciate and not take for granted the good and joyful moments in life, while at the same time trying to learn lessons from and somehow make sense of life’s heartaches, disappointments, and unexpected challenges … As a person of faith, perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned is that in God’s economy, nothing in life goes to waste. Everything in life has value – even the pain – and something beautiful and good can come from life’s most difficult challenges. God is good and he loves His children, young and old!”