I’d like to introduce you to author Lorana Hoopes.
Lorana Hoopes is an English teacher in the Pacific Northwest where she lives with her husband and three children. She is often seen at the local dojo where she enjoys kickboxing to stay in shape. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, writing, and playing with her children. She is an active member of her church choir and loves to sing. She also has a love for theater and has directed and performed in many plays both at schools and in the community.
Originally from Texas, Lorana’s conservative views were formed at a very early age when she discovered that her maternal grandmother was informed that if she didn’t have an abortion that she could die. Her grandmother’s choice for life allowed Lorana’s mother and therefore Lorana to be born and fostered an appreciation for all life. Lorana was a member of the FCA in her high school and also gave a presentation on Creationism and the dangers of abortion to her classmates.
Lorana has since become a prayer warrior with Human Coalition. You can join her team Heartbeats to pray with her. She has also started writing a pro-life blog. Lorana’s wish is that her children grow up in a world that revere’s life at the moment it begins, conception.
How old were you when you wrote your first real story and what was it about? I think I was 12, and I was writing a story about a camp experience I had with a mysterious sound. I thought it was good then, but I read it years later and cringed.
What’s your biggest writing challenge? Time. Currently, I work full time and have three small children, so my writing is generally pushed to about 9pm at night. Then I’m tired and can’t get out what I want to say. I have three book ideas in my head right now and no time to write lol.
What prompted you to write your first book? I was watching a woman wave her poster about loving her reproductive rights as I got my daughter out of the car. I looked at my three kids and was saddened by how people don’t realize abortion is killing a baby. I didn’t want to write it at first because I felt like the book wouldn’t be very popular in today’s culture, but God kept laying the words on my heart until I finally gave in.
What is the biggest challenge to publication? Publishing isn’t a problem. I enjoy being able to self-publish, but getting the message out and advertising my book is hard. Most book tours don’t work for Christian fiction. The market is small and needs to be targeted. I haven’t figured that part out yet.
How important do you think social media is today with regards to you as a writer? I’d like to think it’s not, as I’d rather be writing, but I think it is. People want to know you before they’ll jump in and read your books, so it is important to be out there talking to people about things other than your books all the time.
Which writers inspire you? Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti inspire me, even though they don’t write Christian romance. My hope is that my characters feel as real as theirs did to me.
What’s the most helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received? To make an outline. I wrote my first three books without planning much out, and while they were good, I felt like I really improved them when I gave them an outline with problems and solutions at certain points along the way. Also, hearing that characters should shift in chapters. That really helped me too.
Outside of writing, what accomplishment are you most proud? I teach English, and some of my students really struggle with writing. When they pass standardized tests, it is a good feeling. I’m not really a fan of standardized testing, but I know how stressful it is for kids and I try hard to prepare them for it. It is rewarding when they get it.
Tell us about your book. (Title and story blurb.) My heartbeats series actually has three books. The Power of Prayer tells the story of Callie – a focused lawyer who has her whole life planned out until she is left at the altar. Her inability to cope leads her into making poor choices and she nearly loses her job. Forced to take some time off, she meets JD, a strong man of God, who begins to plant the seeds of God’s love, but Callie is not in a place to hear them. When she returns to her normal life, she finds out that one of her poor choices has left her pregnant. Her fiancé, who she had taken back in a moment of weakness, doesn’t want the baby and pushes her to have an abortion, but after research and the story of a sidewalk prophet, Sandra, she is unable to. After her fiancé leaves for the final time, Callie realizes JD is the kind of man she wants to spend her life with, but she has no way to find him. She must rely on the power of prayer.
Where It All Began is my second book, and it tells the story of Sandra. Sandra was training to be a nurse and her boyfriend was working to become a doctor. When she ends up pregnant, he convinces her that they are too busy to raise a child right now, and while Sandra doesn’t want to have an abortion, she feels that she has no other choice. After the procedure, she spirals into depression, turning to alcohol and losing her relationship anyway. Then she meets Henry Dobbs, a Christian man who shares God’s love with her, but she wonders if his God would ever forgive her? When Hearts Collide is technically the third book though all the books can be read out of order. It follows Amanda, one of Sandra’s prayer warriors to college where she meets Jess, a toxic, guarded girl with a troubled past. Amanda falls for the wrong guy, narrowly escaping a tragedy, which brings the girls closer together. Then Amanda must be there for Jess when she finds out she’s pregnant. Will she get her happily ever after? My latest book is going to start a new series. When Love Returns is the story of Presley and Brandon who were best friends in high school until Morgan stole Brandon’s heart. Now, five years later, fate has thrown them together again, but will they be able to move past old hurts or will their stubbornness keep them apart forever?
What activity (cause, charity, or organization) consumes your time when you’re away from the keyboard? My church. I recently joined the worship team where I sing, so every other Tuesday night I am practicing and every other Sunday, I am there for three hours leading worship. I love it though.
The Power of Prayer: https://www.amazon.
com/Power-Prayer-Heartbeats- Novel-ebook/dp/B01EKL9G3G/ref= sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1495139821& sr=8-1&keywords=lorana+hoopes
Where It All Began: https://www.amazon.com/
Where-All-Began-Heartbeats- Novel-ebook/dp/B01LS2S7Y4/ref= sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1495139855& sr=8-2&keywords=lorana+hoopes
When Hearts Collide: https://www.amazon.
com/When-Hearts-Collide- Heartbeats-Novel-ebook/dp/ B01MQOZQB9/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8& qid=1495139855&sr=8-3& keywords=lorana+hoopes
Jesus Teaches about Salt and Light
This morning I decided to look up the word conduit. In Webster’s online dictionary, a conduit is a pipe or channel for conveying fluids, such as water. Or it can be a tube or duct for enclosing electric wires or cable. A conduit is a means by which something is transmitted. For example, an arms dealer served as a conduit for intelligence data.
We might, if we were a teacher, be a conduit of information, or a conduit of academic excellence. A pastor is a conduit of spiritual excellence and information, if he is a good one, but he can also be a conduit of false teachings, if he chooses to step outside the Biblical accounts and teachings.
Have you ever seen yourself as a conduit? Do you allow something to flow through you into the lives of the people around you? Jesus, in Matthew 5, in verses 13-16, tells us that we are the salt and light of the earth. He said, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (NIV)
Jesus expects us to allow Him to flow through us into the lives of the people with whom we come in contact, the people He places in our path. He wants us to be their seasoning, a preservative of His values. He wants us to allow his light, His Shekinah glory, to shine through us to allow others to see that we serve a living God who loves them. He wants others to see His glory in the work we do and the deeds we do for others because we love Him.
We are a conduit, if we are living as Christ asks us to. When we go into a dark place, people see us everywhere because we are a conduit of His light, and when others curb their language around us, we are a conduit of His values. Does that scare you? It should place upon you a great sense of responsibility…especially if you claim to be a Christian.
By our actions, we can be a conduit that turns people away from Jesus. If we choose to hide His light by acting inappropriately or by continuing to walk in the dark places, then we are a conduit of hypocrisy. If our language and actions are no different than those of the sinful people we hang with, we preserve nothing of Jesus’ values.
Take a moment to assess your life. Notice the times when you are the perfect conduit of Christ’s values and glory and then take notice of those times when you fail miserably. It’s at those times when He loves you the most as you kneel before Him, ask forgiveness, and strive to do better the next time. Today is the beginning of another opportunity to get it right. Go in the power of the Holy Spirit and shine.
For further study: Lev. 2:13; Mk.9:50; Luke 14:34by
I looked up the word expectation in the dictionary and wasn’t surprised by what I found. Expectation is the act or the state of expecting, an expectant mental attitude, something we look forward to, or a prospect of a future good or profit. Christians have expectations. They expect honor, security, prosperity, and freedom from fear. These are called blessings and most believe that they come from God. However, there is a proviso.
In verse one of Psalm 112, the Psalmist who remains anonymous says, “How joyful (blessed) are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands.” (NLT) Actually, there are two provisos. If we EXPECT to receive blessings, then we must first fear the Lord or show Him due respect and position in our lives, and obey His commands. And these are only some of the blessings.
The picture that comes to mind when I think of expectation and blessing is one that women and men all over the world have experienced at one time or another in their life, a new baby. Whether naturally born or adopted, we call ourselves expectant parents as we look down the road toward that moment when we will hold that little bundle in our arms. We forget all the pain, weight gain, hoops we’ve leaped through, everything, when we finally have the blessing in front of us. At that moment, our expectations are everything we envisioned. Aren’t they?
Can you see blessing as finished joy in this context? I can and I did, with every child that we were given and one that we will meet in heaven. Blessings from God make us feel as if we’ve been showered with His assurance that we’re on the right track. But it is a direct result of our deep commitment to Him and what He asks of us. Little bundles of joy, in the humanly realm, didn’t just happen. We had to be committed, and follow some guidelines in order to produce or receive a healthy child.
Sometimes we expect God to gift us with His blessings just because we exist. We shake our fist when our expectations are not met. Yet we’ve done nothing to fulfill our part of the covenant.
Jesus tells us we are blessed in many situations that, if someone should ask, we wouldn’t consider a blessing at all. But, when we look at the alternative, and how our walk with God could be affected, we see how blessed we are in our circumstances. It’s all about eternity, and relationship. If we have assurance of an eternal home with Jesus because we’ve asked Him to be top priority in our lives, and we’re building a relationship with God, so we walk closely with Him, then we have been blessed indeed.
For further study: Rom. 8:19; Phil.1:20; Heb. 10:27by
Charles Stanley, in his Handbook for Christian Living, stated, “Becoming a child of God will cost you nothing because it cost Christ everything. However, becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ could possibly cost a great deal.” In the book of Luke, chapter 6, verses 20-23, Jesus is talking to his disciples. He turns to them and says, “God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. God blesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh. What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.” (NLT)
What does it mean to be a disciple? Jesus was giving these instructions to His disciples and He doesn’t sugarcoat it. He doesn’t make discipleship sound as if it is a bed of roses. Does He? Charles Stanley continues by saying, “Being a disciple – or follower – of Jesus Christ is essentially this: when your desire and God’s desire are in conflict, you go with what God wants.” He calls this battle a daily occurrence and I’m guessing, for many, a minute by minute occurrence sometimes.
The Beatitudes, both here in Luke and in Matthew, are a blueprint for right living, for being a disciple. These verses give us a clear indication about what Christ expects of us and on first inspection, these seem like rules that are nearly impossible to live by consistently. However, I suspect that Christ knew this and that’s why He left us the Holy Spirit to help us along.
No one wants to be poor and yet I can’t help but marvel at the strong faith people in third world countries have in comparison to the majority of people in North America. They have nothing and we have everything. People do not seek to be hungry or to hurt so badly that weeping becomes a daily way of life. Yet, Jesus reminds those who are in these circumstances, that things will not always be this way. The poor will inherit the kingdom of God, the hungry will be fed, and those who weep will be comforted. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ may have some hard times but one day, it will be a time of celebration.
Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ? Do you set aside your wants and desires to follow the path God has planned for you from the time you were born? Has your life begun to reflect God’s will more often than it used to? One day you’ll look back and wonder why some of your desires were all that important because following Jesus, living as His disciple, has become the most meaningful life you could imagine. Gather closer to Christ. Walk where He wants you to walk and watch out. Life could get interesting.
For further study: Gen.12:3; Deut.7:13; Ps. 29:11; Rom.10:12by
The Beatitudes (Be Attitudes)
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
The book of Matthew, chapter five, begins the greatest sermon ever preached, as far as I’m concerned. In this chapter and all the way to the end of chapter seven, God gives us clear direction on how we are to live our lives as Christians. He covers a plethora of topics, leaving no doubt that He loves us and wants only the best for us. But He also wants us to share His love with other people.
He begins by using the term BLESSED. This is a term used to tell us that those whom He considers blessed, He affirms. We are blessed because we practice wise living based on the verses from the Sermon which, as I’ve said, is a practical guide for righteous living. BLESSED means finished joy.
The words in the beginning of chapter five, referred to as the Beatitudes, are intended to comfort suffering believers. Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who are down, depressed, or frustrated. How often have you thought of a wayward child, a sister who shows you nothing but distain because you are a believer and felt as if God was letting you down? He says that’s when we are BLESSED. We sorrow for another human but consider God.
We are BLESSED when we mourn, when we are humble but still seek God and all His righteousness. The pure in heart will see God and as they show mercy to others, mercy will be shown to them. We are BLESSED when we work to keep peace and we are BLESSED when we are persecuted because we adhere to the belief that Jesus is real and we love Him.
Can you think of a time when you’ve mourned for a loved one who does not walk in God’s footsteps? Do you sit quietly when others brag about their riches and achievements knowing that you have the greatest gift of all but they aren’t listening? Do you thirst for more of God every day? Is your heart pure, protected from the evils around you and do you show mercy toward others?
Matthew, chapter five tells us that we will be comforted, shown mercy, and inherit the kingdom of God. We will see God and be called His sons and daughters. That is why we are BLESSED, why we have finished joy when the world looks on us as deluded, bigots, and hatemongers.
Revelation 3, verse nine, says that someday, everyone will know that He loves us. For now, though, we need just remember that we are BLESSED, no matter the circumstances in our lives. We can wait for the rest, for the best is yet to come.