This summer I was part of a community group through my church, and the curriculum we used was called Life As We Know It. I had worked on some long and short versions of my Christian testimony for various purposes in the past, but this curriculum brought up some different questions regarding topics that I hadn’t thought of including in my testimony previously. At first it was kind of overwhelming. I felt as though, upon answering the questions, I had far too much irrelevant information to attempt to include in my testimony. But then, after studying my answers over more and praying and hearing how some other people in my community group tackled their own testimonies, I was able to pull out some information that might be important that I had not previously included in earlier versions of my testimony. Anyway, I still can’t say for sure whether I recommend the curriculum or not; a lot of people in my group seemed to feel overwhelmed the way I did. At the same time, the prompting questions were kind of helpful. Anyway, the following is a version of my testimony:

I grew up in a Christian home and started going to church as a baby with my family. In addition to the spiritual influences of my family and church, my grandparents paid for me to attend a Christian school. One of my school friends, Nola, played a part in my coming to Christ. When the kindergarten teacher asked what we had done over the summer, Nola shared that she had asked Jesus into her heart. The teacher was really excited for her, but I was confused about what Nola meant. A few weeks down the road, I asked my mom about it, and she led me to the Lord in October of 1991 at the age of five.

Besides receiving such godly influence as a child, I also was hugely influenced by books. My mom and grandma would frequently write stories with me from the time I was three. Theirs were “real” stories with both words and pictures, while I would draw pictures and make up a verbal story to go with those pictures–until I was old enough to write words. I first declared that I wanted to be a writer someday at the age of six.

As a child, I had a rash that was spread in patches on much of my body, along with some other health problems. When the pediatrician’s advice did not seem to be helpful, my mom took me to a kinesiologist. He diagnosed me as having multiple food allergies and put me on some supplements, along with weekly chiropractic treatments. After following his directions for several months, my rash was gone. Although this was certainly not the first time my parents had chosen to try alternative medicine, I would say this was an important step in my own life in understanding that alternative medicine works. This experience, along with many other helpful run-ins with alternative medicine over the years, impacted my wanting to write a book with a large theme of alternative medicine—Illegally Innocent.

At the age of twelve, I experienced some doubts about whether I was a Christian or not, due to the fact that I had been so young when I came to Christ. I wondered whether I had actually fully understood the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection and the importance of confessing sin, and I re-committed myself to God at that age. When I was fifteen or sixteen (still at the same Christian school), an alumnus of that school returned to talk to us, and she mentioned that she had specifically asked God for the desire to get to know Him better. She referenced Psalm 42:1 [this is the NASB version]—“As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for you, O God,” and said she had recently started praying for God to give her that desire because she felt like it was lacking. It had worked for her! This concept really appealed to me. Although I knew I was a Christian and tried to live a life pleasing to God, I also felt like other people (pastors, chapel speakers, missionaries, etc.) seemed to have a desire for God that was different from mine. At that point, I began praying for God to increase my desire for a deeper relationship with Him. It worked, just like the girl had said it would. I think this type of prayer is important to keep returning to in one’s life.

Also, when I was sixteen, my dad lost his job of nearly thirty years, and this loss had a large impact on my family’s finances. God can turn bad circumstances into blessings, though (just like my health problems helped to inspire the writing of Illegally Innocent), and one of the blessings that came out of my dad’s job loss was the fact that since our income was lower than it had been for much of my life, I was eligible to receive scholarships for college that I otherwise would not have been able to receive. These scholarships played a large part in my being able to attend the Christian university that was my first choice for college, Cedarville. My dad’s job loss also helped me and my parents grow in our relationships with God.

I was scared of getting baptized (because at the church we attended when I was young, you had to give your testimony in front of the whole congregation when you got baptized), but I knew it was the right thing to do. When I was seventeen, and we had been attending a different church for a few years at that point (one that simply required you to answer some questions with “yes” or “no” before going under the water), I finally got baptized and also became an official member of that church. Over the years, I have had several times when I’ve definitely been closer to God and more obedient than other times, but I am grateful that God has protected me from ever fully walking away from Him.

I am currently accepting submissions for my fourth annual “Reader Issue” writing contest! Today through October 31, 2015, I want you to send me something you’ve written, and I—along with two other judges—will pick three winners. Each of the three winners will have his or her winning submission published in my January 2016 e-newsletter (the “Reader Issue”) and will receive a $25 Amazon.com gift card and a paperback copy of a book (the list of books to choose from will be at the end of this post). I look forward to reading your entry and will notify the winners by email on or before January 1, 2016. Check out the rules below:

1. I will accept submissions August 1 through October 31, 2015. If you submit something after that date, it is not a valid submission and will not be considered for the contest. I will accept poems, short stories, creative nonfiction pieces, and articles. Whichever category you choose, your submission must be no longer than 4,000 words.

2. Whether you are five years old or 105, you are welcome to submit a piece for this contest. There are no age limits. Each person may submit up to two pieces (each individual piece can be up to 4,000 words).

3. If you were one of the winners who appeared in the January 2015 newsletter, you must take a year off. However, if you were one of the winners the first two years of the contest (meaning that your winning piece appeared in the January 2013 or 2014 newsletter), you are eligible to enter the contest again this year.

4. When you submit your piece, please send it to angela@angelabaconbooks.com. In the subject of your email, put “Reader Issue.” In the body of the email, list your name; home (or mailing) address; email address; phone number; and the title and category of your work (article, poem, short story, or creative nonfiction) and then provide the work as an attachment. Before you email me your piece, consider the following:

A. Check the overall grammar and sentence structure of your submission.

B. Did you follow directions regarding how to submit your piece—including your name, address, etc. in the body of the email?

C. Is your submission 4,000 words or fewer?

D. Is your submission appropriate? If you would rate it worse than PG, there is a strong possibility that much of my e-newsletter audience (which covers a wide range of ages and belief systems) will be offended, and I most likely will not print it.

E. Is it well-written? Did you spend a significant amount of time on it, or did you just throw it together in a few minutes?

F. Entertainment value—I am looking for something that holds my interest and will make me want to keep reading after the first page; or in the case of a shorter piece, it will make me want to keep reading after the first few lines.

Here is the list of books you can choose from:

1. Illegally Innocent (my book)

2. The Fine Print of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine

3. Guerrilla Marketing for Writers by Jay Conrad Levinson, Rick Frishman, Michael Larsen, and David L. Hancock

4. Get Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz

5. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Have any questions? Ask them in the comments below or email me at angela@angelabaconbooks.com, and I will gladly answer them. If you’d like to subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter, please visit the homepage of www.angelabaconbooks.com to submit your email address and sign up.

So, I said I would give an update on whether the Gallagher Law Library helped me out or not. I am so pleased to say that their response time was amazingly quick–Stewart at Gallagher sent me an email approximately twelve hours after I sent in my question. Thank you, Stewart!

He gave me a few ideas for resources and introduced me to Google Scholar. Google Scholar can help you find lawsuits. He also suggested some related subjects that might help me out in my research. I’ve spent some time researching and still haven’t found exactly what I’m looking for, but Stewart definitely pointed me in the right direction, and I am so grateful!

I also want to give a quick update on my scheduled author events: I will be at the Big Rapids Community Library in Big Rapids, MI, for their Authorpalooza! This event is the kickoff for their summer reading program. Come visit me and other authors from 12-2 on June 12.

I’m really trying to get my next book out this year. Can you believe that this September will mark three years since I published Illegally Innocent? I never intended to take this long to release my next book, but the past couple of years have been extremely busy with really great things, like planning my wedding (and then participating in the actual wedding, of course); house shopping (Pretty sure Mike and I toured approximately 100 houses on our search. Not joking. Thankfully my dad is a Realtor and was patient with us.); and then spending large amounts of time fixing up our house when we finally bought it last summer.

Anyway, the past month or so I’ve been trying to devote a little more time to writing, but I’ve been kind of stuck on how to handle a legal situation in my plot. I debated throwing my questions out there on Facebook to see if I might have any friends with “lawyerly” knowledge who could help, but then I also have to decide just how much of my plot to give away. So, I started Googling things, and I found the website for the Gallagher Law Library in Washington. They accept questions by email and can help you find references for legal information pertaining to your situation. I just sent the email tonight, and the website said it would take a couple of days. Once I hear back from them, I will let you know if I felt like this experiment was worth it or not. If I’m still feeling as though I don’t have the information I need at that point, then I might have to put my questions on Facebook. If you’d like to try out this website, here it is: https://lib.law.washington.edu/questions.html.

I’m also gearing up for two author events next week–I’m speaking to a group of elementary-school students at a homeschool co-op on May 6, and I’m participating in the second annual Ransom District Library Author Fair on May 7. The author fair lasts from 6-8 p.m., and you will be able to chat with 25 Michigan authors (including me), buy books, and listen to the keynote speaker, author Wade Rouse, at 7:30. Stop by the library for this fun event! I’d love to see you.

I am currently scheduling author events for 2015 and have booked two so far. Come see me at one or both of these events:

1. May 7, 2015–Ransom District Library’s 2nd Annual Author Fair (Plainwell, MI)–I had a blast participating in this event last year and am excited to return! The library is currently accepting authors and illustrators for this fair, so if you live near Plainwell, you are eligible to sign up! Check out the details here: http://www.ransomlibrary.org/news/library-news.html#3

2. December 5 & 6, 2015–Wings Stadium Arts & Crafts Show (Kalamazoo, MI)–This is a huge show with hundreds of booths; it’s a great place to get your Christmas shopping done!

On an unrelated note, a few days ago I came across a cool website called www.titlecapitalization.com. If you struggle with knowing which words to capitalize in the title of your book or perhaps in chapter titles, check out this website. You just type in the title, and it does the correct capitalization for you. 🙂

Although the deadline for my writing contest was yesterday, I have not yet received enough entries for there to be five winners. Consequently, I AM EXTENDING THE DEADLINE. So if you missed the first deadline, now’s your chance to possibly be one of the five winners! I will accept submissions through 11:59 p.m. on October 31, 2014 (no more extensions past 10/31). There is no entry fee, so you have nothing to lose by submitting an entry–you just have the possibility of winning a $15 Amazon.com gift card and having your winning entry published in my monthly e-newsletter! See the rules here: https://thehealthybacon.wordpress.com/2014/08/15/the-third-annual-reader-issue-writing-contest-is-here/

TODAY is the last day that you can submit something for my writing contest. Five people will win a $15 Amazon gift card and will have their pieces published in my e-newsletter. Check out the rules here: https://thehealthybacon.wordpress.com/2014/08/15/the-third-annual-reader-issue-writing-contest-is-here/. I must receive your submission by 11:59 tonight (Wednesday, October 15). I look forward to reading your work! 🙂