Sold Out; Live For Jesus! (Author Blog Tour)



I met Carla Mcdougal several years ago at a writer’s conference in Dallas.  What a joy it has been to see all the amazing things she has done since that time.  This is her third book and she leads an amazing ministry that is making a difference in women’s lives all across the country.  I am thankful to have met her those years ago and now call her my friend!  Enjoy the interview with Carla!



Reading through the Table of Contents for Carla McDougal’s 3rd book, SOLD OUT – Live for Jesus, it becomes quickly apparent that she has a very close relationship with her Savior. Titles such as God Appoints: His Kingdom Puzzle, Forgiveness: Fresh Start, and The Word: Spiritual Nourishment entice the reader to hear what she has to say on the subjects. The chapters are short, but the content is mighty.

When she was 40, she heard the phrase, “Life is not about me, but all about Him.” She took this to heart, and it became the focus for her life and ministry. The concept for SOLD OUT came to her from reading Philippians 1:21 – To live is Christ, to die is gain. Putting the two “ah ha” moments together, she realized if her thoughts and actions reflected them, she would be living sold out for Jesus. Consequently, the theme for this book was born.

When asked what her favorite entry might be from SOLD OUT, Carla had this to say: “PRAY 911 pops into my mind. Shortly before I was scheduled to speak at a women’s retreat, I felt a heavy oppression. I know it was a spiritual attack from the enemy, and I was even doubting my reason for being there. That morning while sitting in my prayer chair, I opened my Bible to Psalm 91. The first verse seemed to jump off the page. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Peace washed over me, and God’s Word strengthened me for the event that evening. The next day I shared this experience with a close friend who said, ‘Next time, text me to pray for you!’ Later in the day I went back to Psalm 91:1 and this is what I saw—­ 911. My heart started pounding with excitement and I decided from then on, when oppression comes my way, I will text PRAY 911 to my prayer team. Sometimes there isn’t time to do anything more. But they don’t need to know why I need prayer, they just need to know to pray. I jumped up and started praising God. A smile emerges when I think of how God used this real life situation to teach me a spiritual life lesson.”

After her second book, My Prayer Chair was published and winning awards in 2013, people started requesting help in using it as a Bible study. They wanted to discuss the book with others who were reading it, but needed some structure to their discussions. A free leader’s guide was created and made available through Carla is creating a similar guide for SOLD OUT, available in January 2016. But the book is a wonderful devotional tool all by itself, with each section containing scriptures, personal anecdotes, a life challenge and a place to journal your thoughts.

Carla Headshot cropped

Beverly:  Where did you get the idea for your new book, SOLD OUT Live for Jesus?

Carla McDougal:  In October of 2014, Philippians 1:21 lingered in my heart, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” I couldn’t get it off my mind. Over and over I asked God, “What does it mean to live is Christ, to die is gain?” In the stillness, I heard, “Live sold out to Me. Let every action, thought, and conversation reflect an attitude that says, “I’m sold out to Jesus.” Suddenly, the cover of the book popped into my head. A woman with a sign covering her face that reads, “SOLD OUT Live for Jesus.” A message embedded deeper still, “It’s not about me, but all about Jesus.” Without a doubt, God embedded in my heart, “This is your new writing project!” I praise God for the unique ways He works, for it’s all about Him.

Beverly:  What is the purpose behind the name of your book––SOLD OUT Live for Jesus?

Carla McDougal:  God desires for us to live each day with purpose. From the moment we wake up, God waits for us to connect with Him. His voice calls, but do we listen? SOLD OUT encourages readers to find purpose in life by drawing nearer to Jesus in real and practical ways. The heartfelt messages and analogies bring laughter, tears and   understanding to God’s Word. Be inspired to live in victory and sold out to Jesus through your thoughts, words, and actions. SOLD OUT not only nourishes the soul but also ignites a purpose for living!

Beverly:  What inspired you to write SOLD OUT Live for Jesus?

Carla McDougal:At age 40, I heard a phrase that rocked my world. Changed my perspective. Moved me to tears. These nine words opened my eyes to view God’s  purpose for me in a whole new way… “Life is not about me, but all about Him.” Under  the umbrella of God’s Word, my focus changed from what I can do for Jesus to surrendering it all to Him. Over the past 12 years, God has used this statement to shape and mold my writing. The front cover of SOLD OUT is symbolic of what I want my life to be. Just like the sign covers the woman’s face, I desire for others to see Jesus working  in my life. SOLD OUT focuses on living out God’s Truths in every conversation, action,       and thought.

Beverly:  Is SOLD OUT Live for Jesus a devotional or an individual read? Can it be used as a Bible study for groups or individuals?

Carla McDougal:SOLD OUT Live for Jesus is unique because it serves as a devotional and Bible study in one. This format caters to those craving to dive deep into God’s Word and is just right for those without much time on their hands. SOLD OUT is designed both for group studies as well as an individual read. Either way, the reader will be molded to look more like Jesus by the end of the book. I am in the process of writing the SOLD OUT Leader’s Guide, which will aide the leader in facilitating an in-depth group study. The guide scheduled to release January 2016 as a free PDF download from the Reflective Life Ministries website which is

Beverly:  Share with us your favorite entry from SOLD OUT Live for Jesus.

Carla McDougal:Wow, this is a tough question. But, the entry PRAY 911,  from Chapter 1, pops into my mind. In the midst of an oppressive time, or should I say a spiritual attack from the enemy, I was scheduled to speak at a women’s retreat. The oppression was so heavy and burdensome. Doubt plagued my mind. The morning of the event, I was sitting in my prayer chair and opened my Bible to Psalm 91. The first verse seemed to jump off the page, He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the  shadow of the Almighty. Peace washed over me. God’s Word strengthened me for the             event that evening. The next day I shared my experience with a close friend who said,  “Next time text me to pray for you.” Her words continued to linger in my heart and  mind. Later in the day, I read Psalm 91:1 again, and this is what I saw––911. My heart pounded with excitement! Immediately, I decided when oppression comes my way I will text PRAY 911 to my prayer team. I jumped up and started praising God. A smile emerges when I think of how God used this real life situation to teach me His spiritual life lesson.

Beverly:  Besides SOLD OUT Live for Jesus, have you written any other books?

 Carla McDougal:  SOLD OUT is my 3rd book. The 1st book I wrote is a 10-week Bible study called Reflecting Him. Like Jesus’ parables, Reflecting Him uses familiar objects to   identify the connection between our physical and spiritual lives. God wants to be part of    everything we do, and this study is designed to help you become aware of His life lessons twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. My 2nd book is called My Prayer Chair, which focuses on encouraging the reader to engage in ongoing conversations with God – 24/7. My grandmamma is the inspiration behind My Prayer Chair. Her love, trust, and ongoing communication with Jesus played an important role in molding my prayer       life. My Prayer Chair won multiple awards in 2013 and is now available in Spanish and   as an audiobook through Audible, ITunes, and the RLM website, All of my books are available through Amazon,   Barnes & Noble, Lifeway, and other online bookstores.

 Beverly:  Just for fun… How do you deal with writer’s block?

 Carla McDougal:  Prayer. Waiting. Listening. For me, prayer is the key to writer’s block.         Communicating with God opens the door to the waiting room. In the stillness, I listen and anticipate His voice behind me saying, Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” Isaiah 30:20

Carla Headshot

Thank you, Carla!  I’m excited to read your latest book!


Your First Day In Heaven!



Recently, I was in a local gift shop and as I was checking out, I noticed a stack of books.  The title caught my eye as it said, My First Day In Heaven.  I looked to see who the author was and it was written by, Rita Brown.  I thought, “could that be the Rita Brown I know?”  I went to the back of the book to see if there was an author page and there was her beautiful picture!  I met Rita and her husband many years ago at a political event.  Her husband Dale Brown,was a City Councilman at the time.  Their family has always been an inspiration to the many people they know here and across the country.  When I realized it was the Rita I knew that had written the book, I knew I had to buy it!  I got chill bumps thinking how awesome that was for her to have her book published.

The next day, I set aside a special time to sit down and begin reading, My First Day In Heaven.   I was intrigued from the first page!  I read the entire book in less than an hour.  I only stopped once and that was to go get a tissue to wipe away the tears.

My First Day in Heaven is a scripture-based fictional story.  You will read all about Jenny and her first glimpse of Heaven and seeing all of her loved ones and of course the most special one of all, Jesus!

I hope you are inspired by Rita in this short interview about her adventure in writing, My First Day in Heaven.


Beverly:  Hi Rita!  I, so loved reading your book.  Can you share a little bit about yourself?

 Rita:  My husband Dale and I are both from California originally. We served as missionaries in Brazil for 4 years, but we have lived in Midland for 43 years. We have 6 married children, 26 grandchildren, and 1 great grandbaby. We have been married 51 years. I spend most of my time attending grandkids’ events or keeping up with birthdays. I have served on the Midland Christian School Board for more than 20 years. I love football, baseball, collecting recipes, traveling with my husband, teaching Bible, attending grandkids’ events, and coaching young women in childbirth.:)

Beverly:  I love the story of how you came to write your book.  Can you tell the readers a bit of that story?

Rita: I originally wrote My First Day in Heaven about 20 years ago to read to a ladies’ class at church. I had so much fun writing it; it was from God straight to my heart as I put the words on paper.

Beverly:  What was it that made you decide to seek publication?

Rita:  After I read the story to my ladies’ class, a sweet older woman, Connie Tate, came up to me and told me I needed to publish it. I laughed to myself and told her it was a sweet thought. She would ask me about it every time I saw her until I finally decided to publish a paperback version of it. We distributed about 2500 copies of that version. After the death of our 13 year old grandson in a tragic car accident, I wanted to make some revisions and update the original story; I learned a lot about grief and the importance of the reality of Heaven in the years that followed. I revised it a bit, and we were able to publish a hardback gift book version about 2 years ago. Now it has been picked up by Leafwood Publishers for distribution nationwide in the major Christian bookstores and online–Amazon, etc. It will be released June 9 and I am so excited. I am also so excited that we were able to get an endorsement from Max Lucado for the cover.

Beverly:  Do you intend to write more books?

Rita:  Of course I think about it a lot. Several have suggested that I do a version of My First Day in Heaven for children. I have a heart for children, and that idea appeals to me. I would love to see an illustrated version.

Beverly:  I think that would be wonderful!  If you were to encourage someone to write a book, what 3 things would you tell them?


1. Find something you are passionate about and let it flow from your heart. 

2. Make an outline. Just get something on paper. I actually started with thoughts that came to me as I was reading scriptures about Heaven one day. I began jotting ideas and scriptures on sticky notes and napkins and anything I could put my hands on as the thoughts came to me all that day. It was those sticky notes and napkins that were the basis for writing My First Day in Heaven.
We are often blocked by the need for the perfect words to come out on the paper immediately. The hardest sentence is the first one, but with computers you can revise and move and change over and over again. Put in on paper and then worry about perfecting it later.

3. Be patient with the process of publication. I believe God has led us in His perfect timing to the right path for the My First Day in Heaven, but it has taken 20 years.

Beverly:  What has been the most exciting thing about seeing your words in book form?

Rita:  The most exciting thing about seeing it in book form is being able to share the message with so many people. I believe the good news of Jesus and the truth and reality of Heaven is a message of encouragement and hope to all of us struggling with the stresses and challenges of life. It is a message of comfort for those who have lost someone close to them. It was the culmination of a dream to see the book in a hardback gift book. One of my favorite things is to be able to hand this beautiful little book to a clerk in a store or someone I meet who just happens to share their story with me. Yesterday as I checked into a hotel, I struck up a conversation with the clerk checking me in. I told her about My First Day in Heaven and promised to send her a copy. She was so excited.I could give you more details, but, I encourage you to get a copy as soon as you can and read it.  You won’t be sorry.  You will be inspired and encouraged of what we have to look forward to.  I would think it would be a great encouragement for those that have lost a loved one.  You may also know of someone that needs to hear about the saving grace of Jesus.

Beverly:  Thank you so much, Rita!  You are an inspiration and I pray great and mighty things will become of your book, My First Day in Heaven!  I look forward to your children’s book!  

I knew you would be inspired by Rita!  I hope you will go out and purchase a copy of, My First Day in Heaven.  After you read it, I’m sure there is someone that will come to your mind that you can share it with that may need some uplifting thoughts on a little glimpse of Heaven.

You can purchase your copy at Mardel, LifeWay, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, Christian Books Distributors and on Amazon!

Let me know if you read it, I would love to hear your thoughts!

In the mean time, I just have to ask you a question!

Do you know without a doubt that you will go to Heaven when you die?

I was 14 when I heard Billy Graham preach on John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

I realized that God loved me!  I had never heard that before.

Have you heard that before?

Have YOU asked Christ into your life?

If you are reading this right now, it is probably a given that the Holy Spirit has put you right where you are at this very second because He is calling you to let you know that He loves you so much and wants you to have that peace that you will have a home in Heaven.

Here are four things to think about:

*Face the fact that your sin has separated you from the God who loves you.

*Be willing to turn away from you sin and turn to God.  This is called repentance.

*Place your trust in the fact that Jesus died for you, and He arose in victory over death.

*Invite Jesus to take control of your life, forgive your sin and make you a child of God.

You can pray this simple prayer right now:

Lord Jesus,

I know I am a sinner.  Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins.  I open the door of my life and receive You as my Saviour and Lord.  Forgive my sins and take control of my life and help me become the kind of person you want me to be. Amen!

Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you have put your faith and trust in Christ today or at another time, I WILL see you in Heaven someday! Isn’t that awesome?!

Thank you for stopping by!














Author Interview – Tracy Ramos

Letters to Darcy by Tracy Ramos


1. When you received Darcy’s diagnosis, did you ever feel as if you were being punished for something you had done?

The question of whether I had done something that would cause God to punish me in this way did cross my mind. Jason and I both wondered this. But I know, as evidenced by how God used this special child, that he was not using her to punish me. Of course, the Bible says that God does discipline, or train, His children to put them back on the right course, but that’s not the same as punishment. If the blessings that came with Darcy are punishment, I don’t know what punishment is.

2. Were you ever angry with God?

I’ve been asked that question a lot. In fact, many have advised me that it’s all right for me to be angry, even at God.

I’ve always considered myself a weak person. Before Darcy, I was confident that God would never give me more than I could handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). I rested on that verse and just “knew” that losing a child was something that would never happen to me. But it did happen to me, and here I am walking in the aftermath. But, no, I never became angry at God. I was angry at a lot of people, but not at God. It wasn’t because I was some super Christian with nothing but pure intentions. It was simply that I’ve never embraced that concept. God was and is the source of all the good things in my life. He has given me a wonderful husband and beautiful children. We have never been in need of anything. How could I be angry at Him because something didn‘t go my way, despite how grave it was? Get mad at him? God forbid! Are we not supposed to love God in the valleys as well as on the mountaintops? Doesn’t He bring rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous?

His ways are not our ways. So many beautiful things have come from Darcy’s life and death. Even though Darcy never said a word, her story helped stop abortions. Her life has caused many parents to love their children a little more, to worship God a little more, and in some cases, even to come back to Him. Darcy had more impact on people in her fifteen days with us than I have ever had in my lifetime. Her legacy will live on.

Was I ever angry at God? No. Who am I to question my Creator?

3. How did you hold on to your faith in God through the trials?

I don’t know how I got through. It would be easy to say that I wish I had slept through the entire thing and then woke up when it was over. But that’s not how I feel. My time with Darcy was the single most difficult series of days in my life. But I would not have gotten to know my little angel were it not for those days. I once heard that it is a beautiful experience that I would wish on no one. Been there, done that, and it’s so true.

I know one thing for sure: The Lord is the author and finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:2). I had faith not because I had it in me to have faith. I had faith because He gave me just enough faith to go through this.

4. What more did you learn about your faith through your journey with Darcy?

I believe that the things I learned about my faith are only some of the blessings I mentioned above. The biggest lesson is that God will never leave us in our time of need. Another is that it relates to the second half of 1 Corinthians 10:13: that God will make a way for me to endure the testings, or trials, in my life. We should never underestimate the power of God or second-guess Him. He loves us and wants only the best for us. And even though we don’t understand how trials can be good for us, we must trust in God’s sovereignty. We need to have faith through the trials, and when we reach the other end, we can look back and see that He has been carrying us through them all.

A famous poem by Mary Stevenson, called “Footprints in the Sand,” expresses my sentiments more beautifully than I can.

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.

Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

In each scene, I noticed footprints in the sand.

Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,

Other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life,

when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow, or defeat,

I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,

“You promised me, Lord, that if I followed you,

You would walk with me always.

But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life

there have been only one set of footprints in the sand.

Why when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”

The Lord replied,

“The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand,

Is when I carried you.”

5. How did you find the daily strength to go on, knowing that your baby would probably not survive long after her birth?

In the beginning, my focus was on finding a cure or anything that could save her. Eventually, my focus turned to wanting to make the most of the time God would allow me to have with her. He gave me the strength and inspiration I needed to focus, not on Darcy’s dying, but on her living.

I wanted to make sure I had no regrets after she was gone, so I made a list that was based on advice I solicited from many people who had already walked this road before me. I made sure that we did as many of the items on the list as God would allow, so that Darcy’s life—however long it might be—would have meaning for me and for everyone else who knew her. We had to make a lifetime of memories in a very short time. We didn’t know how long Darcy would live, but we went through that list as if she were going to die before the next minute came. I believe that gave me the energy and drive that helped me bear what could otherwise have been a horrific two weeks. Jason made it his goal to see to it that every item on the list was accomplished. I believe it was his shining moment.

6. What did you and Jason need to do—in your relationship—in order to persevere through the pregnancy and then after Darcy was born?

Studies have revealed that there is a high rate of divorce for parents of deceased children. We were aware of that and vowed not be a statistic. Our relationship has been tested more through the pregnancy and Darcy’s life than at any other time in our twenty years of marriage. We still struggle, but we are persevering. I believe that our relationship will eventually become unbreakable because we have a righteous multitude who continue to pray for us and provide love and support. We used to think of ourselves as independent people who do not need to rely on others for help. We were determined to meet this challenge head-on. But during that time, God revealed the pride that was the source of our independent attitude, even toward each other. He showed us in practical ways by gathering His people around us in our time of need. I guess this is where the phrases “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health” from our wedding vows come in.

7. In what ways has your experience with Darcy changed the person you are now?

God has made me much more compassionate toward those who experience similar trials, especially those who have kids with any kind of trisomy condition. Also, because I survived this heart-wrenching ordeal, I know that I can survive anything and can help others do the same. Last, I have a renewed commitment to help spread a new kind of “pro-choice” message: that we must choose to help those who cannot help themselves, especially our own unborn children.

And, of course, the negative thing about the experience is that there will always be a Darcy-shaped hole in my heart, a hole that will never be filled in this life.

8. How has your experience changed your family and your life together?

It has brought us closer, and we value one another more. We now truly believe that life is a vapor and that any one of us can suddenly be taken up to heaven. Although the kids occasionally forget this and fight, the fights don’t last as long as they used to.

This is part of the silver lining in such a hard experience. Grief has a strange but powerful way of forcing us to confront the sins in our lives. And even though we have to go through more rough roads while we’re grieving, we also know that it’s the best way to deal with those sins in a lasting way.

9. What advice would you give to families going through this kind of experience—whether or not they know God?

Of course, I am not a psychologist. But because I have gone through it, I feel I have something to say about the matter. But I would give advice only if I were asked for it. The hurt of losing a child is so deep that the last thing people want is unsolicited advice. The reality is, I would much rather have my child here with me, alive and well. However, if someone asked, these are things I might tell them.

First, I would tell them that they will need to prepare for a long, hard road ahead. During the delivery, a nurse told Jason that we were about the face the deepest sorrow in our lives. She was right. In a way, this helped us brace ourselves and expect the worst. Knowing it was coming helped us deal with it better than we would have if we have not known what to expect. And, the proof is in the pudding. God does see you through, and joy does come in the morning.

Second, I would urge them to rely on one another and never forsake one another, just as God has never forsaken us. The death of a child can do irreparable damage to a marriage. Satan uses situations such as this one to split families. Husband and wives must work extra hard to keep it together both during and long after the death of their child. Do not lay guilt on the other person or blame him or her for the disease. Instead, be understanding with one another. Each person has a different way of dealing with the grief and stress. Realize that everyone in the family—not just the mother—is grieving. The grieving period will pass, but you need give family members as much time as they need.

Following that, I would encourage them to trust that the Creator has their little one in His care and that their precious child will soon be in His arms. If they want to see their child again someday, they must believe in God’s Son, Jesus. My advice would not change just because someone else doesn’t believe the way I do. I know that God’s Word always bears fruit, so I would rely on the Holy Spirit to direct what I say and to reveal His message to the hearts of those I speak with.

During Darcy’s time with us, we realized that her story is more than a message about life on earth. It is, in a more important way, a story of eternal life with our Creator. Jason called Darcy our “little evangelist.” I think we’ll see the truth of that statement once the book is released. The story of Darcy is a story of God’s grace, mercy, and loving-kindness. It was when we were in the deepest despair that we really got to know God. Our hope is that when people share our sorrow as they read about Darcy, they will come face-to-face with the Savior.

Having said all that, I would like to offer two pieces of unsolicited advice to those who desire to comfort grieving families: First, it is better to offer nonverbal support, such as giving hugs or simply sitting quietly and listening. A sweet lady at our church did that for me. Whenever she saw me, she just leaned over and gave me a long hug without saying a word. I will never forget those hugs. Second, and this is in line with the first statement, do not feel compelled to say something and end up being insensitive (for example, “at least you have other children”).

10. What were some of the supportive things that friends and family did or said that were most helpful in dealing with the pregnancy and adjusting to life after Darcy was born?

Our Family

We came together and supported one another. There was no bickering or whining. The focal point was Darcy. It was the one thing we shared. We assured one another that her condition was not a result of anything we did. We said, “I love you” a lot.


Where do I begin? Every day for several weeks, we enjoyed meals that church friends had lovingly created. Our deacon family coordinated activities during Darcy’s birth. During the delivery, several women were there to coach me. Those who had medical backgrounds were available to us 24–7. Those who knew photography took literally hundreds of pictures of Darcy and the family. Church families spent the night to help us care for Darcy. Our pastors and deacon constantly checked on us and made sure we were in need of nothing. They brought a church service to our home (one of the items on Darcy’s List was to go to church.) The list is endless, but the experience would not have been the same without the support of our church family. Our little church became a picture of how the body of Christ should act.


Friends (neighbors, doctors and nurses, and other acquaintances) were very understanding. Knowing that hundreds of these people were available to us at a drop of a hat was so reassuring.

Total Strangers

The comments posted on Darcy’s Web site from people all over the world were a source of inspiration to us. Finding out about lives saved, families reunited, and people finding their way back to God gave us a clear sense that Darcy’s life had purpose. We took comfort and strength in those numbers: Approximately four thousand people a day followed Darcy’s story!


Prayer kept us connected to God. That connection stayed strong, due in large part to the thousands of petitions people brought to the only One who could help.


It may be difficult to open the Bible in times of such intense pain, but there is so much comfort to be had in knowing what the Lord has to say about times like these. The verses I have stated above have been my inspiration.


I played several specific songs constantly during our time with Darcy. Now when I hear those songs every now and then, my thoughts return to the sweet moments I had with my little girl in my arms, her smell, her softness, her purity.


You may find out more about this book at

Author Interview-Sonja L. Samuel

“When I Accepted Me…” 52 Affirmations for Accepting the Distinct and Unique Person You Were Designed to Be! *Transform Your Life One Week at a Time

1. Why self-esteem and what is it exactly?

Self esteem is the extent to which we like, respect and accept ourselves. It reflects our overall evaluation or appraisal of our self worth. It encompasses our beliefs, emotions and behavior. However, many people operate from the perspective of what others think of them and it fuels a cycle of dissatisfaction and discontentment. Instead of finding peace within themselves and being the unique and distinct person God created them to be, they live a life based on who they think others want them to be. As a result then of achieving high self esteem they find their self esteem constantly under attack.

It has been said that 2 out of 3 people at any given time suffers from low self esteem, and low self esteem can negatively affect every part of our lives. If the negativity goes unaddressed, it can completely ruin our lives. If at the core of it all is low self esteem, we must address this issue if we want to live joyous, productive, and purposeful lives as God intended. From my experience it all starts with changing the way we think. The way we think is essential to winning over negativity and boosting self esteem.

2. Why is self-esteem important to you?

Self esteem is important to me because after dealing with a difficult separation and divorce, I found myself struggling to rebuild my self esteem. That whole experience had taken me down a road of despair and depression like I had never experienced before. High self esteem had never been a problem for me so when life became difficult and it challenged me to question myself, I was completely thrown for a loop. It caused me to question my self- worth and value, and in the end I really struggled with accepting myself. I started thinking something must be wrong with me.

Now, based on the Word of God I knew this wasn’t true but I still struggled. Once I was able to regain my confidence and repair the damage to my self esteem, I begin to see that I had gotten lost in my emotions when it really was about what was going on in my head. High self esteem starts with what we think! Of course, sometimes we suffer from ‘thinking stinking’ and that can present a different set of issues; overall, I learned that to develop high self esteem we must examine what we think because that is what shapes our perspective and allows us to accept ourselves along with the challenges of life from a more positive perspective than negative one. That’s why I focused my book on positive affirmations for accepting me.

3. What can a person do to build high self-esteem?

I would recommend starting with what I call my ACCEPT Principles:

A – Learn to accept your strengths and weaknesses. As humans we are a work in progress. Everyone has an up side to who they are and a down side. It is our down side that continues to remind us of our humanity and keeps us seeking to be better and do better. Often our weaknesses are just unguarded strengths that we must continue to manage them if it is something we can’t change but our weaknesses DO NOT make us a bad person.

C – Concentrate on the positives. It is real easy to focus on the negative and our world is full of them. However, to focus on the positives it starts with making a choice to do so. From there you make a commitment to release any and all negativity; negative thoughts, negative emotions and negative relations. The Bible says ‘think on these things …whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, and whatever is of good report.’

C – Connect to your passion and you’ll connect to your purpose. Find the things in life that you are really passionate about and involve yourself in them. That will do more to help you have the confidence that you need to succeed and win over any adversity life presents. Also you will notice how much happier your life will be because of it.

P – Persevere. It has been said when the going gets tough the tough gets going. In this life we will have trouble, as the Bible tells us so we must hold fast to the faithfulness of God and His promises to never leave us alone. When tough times now come my way, I often affirm and encourage myself with the scripture that says ‘this too shall pass.’

T – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your understanding. We may not see the hand of God at work but we must trust that He is at work on our behalf. That is called the providence of God.

4. If the ACCEPT Principles helps us build high self-esteem, what helps us maintain it?

Here are seven simple steps that we all can do every day. Building or rebuilding self esteem is the most difficult. Maintaining high self esteem is a lot easier if we implement these steps.

1. Smile often to yourself and to others. Greet others when you see them and ask how they are and how their day is going. This helps build positive relationships with others.

2. Eliminate the negative. When a negative thought enters your mind, stop and immediately counter it with a positive thought about the same subject.

3. Be nice to others and be nice to yourself. Conversely, don’t degrade others and don’t degrade yourself.

4. Face your fears and forget your failures (after learning from them). Focus on your achievements and successes. Reward yourself when you succeed.

5. Quit thinking about trying to be perfect. No one is, so just accept that as it is. Don’t be too competitive and don’t compare yourself with others.

6. Don’t worry about what others think of you. Just be the best you that you can be.

7. Hang out with positive and optimistic people who also have high self esteem and self confidence. But when you are around negative people, try to direct your positive and optimistic thoughts in their direction. Don’t let them pull down your level of self confidence or self esteem.

5. Can you be a good person, a successful person, and still struggle with

maintaining good self esteem?

Absolutely! Life happens to us all. Having high self esteem or good self esteem doesn’t exempt us from the trails and challenges of life. It does, however, puts us in a better situation to deal with them when they come.

Maintaining our esteem is easy but it is work. Sometimes our struggle comes because we are not putting in the work of being true to ourselves and what brings us satisfaction, joy and contentment. Remember, self esteem is not about our successes or failures but how we feel, see and accept ourselves. Living in a such a competitive and negative world that is constantly trying to get us to be something other than want we are can present be exhausting.

6. Does the focus on building and maintaining high esteem cause people to develop a

false sense of security based on feelings that may not match reality?

I don’t think so. Self-esteem is a very powerful thing to have. When you have healthy self-esteem you are a more confident person, you are better at dealing with life disappointments, you build friendship with others more easily, you perform better in school and overall experience a more fulfilling life. It is an individual’s perspective on how they see themselves. No one can take that away or define that for the individual.

I guess any one of us could have a warped sense of ourselves but that would be an indication of low self esteem.

7. Tell us about the creative process of writing this book?

Initially, I started writing a book on leadership but as I started the process, I kept coming back to this issue of self esteem. How can we lead others if we are struggling to lead ourselves? The more I reflected on that I started to reflect on my own personal experiences not only in the area of leadership but self esteem in general. That lead me to start writing down what had helped me get to the path I’m on today. What things did I have to do to overcome my fears, deal with the challenges life had presented to me and manage my emotions. These are all essential elements of being a good leader as well as having good self esteem.

In the end, I ended up writing over hundred affirmations that has been broken down into two volumes under the title of “When I Accepted Me.” We’ve just release volume 1 and volume 2 will be released in 2010. I divided them up into two volumes because I wanted to give people an opportunity to really reflect and internalize each affirmation to boost their self esteem. I’ve suggested to people to just take one a week (that’s why there are 52 of them) and internalize that one. Pray on it, see how it reflects in your life; maybe use it as a guide to write your own for that week.

I’ve encouraged some people to take on the 52 day challenge of reading one every day for 52 days straight and see if their perspective isn’t changed for the good at the end of it. Again, it is all about what is going on in our heads and when we receive positive information inwardly, we respond with positive behavior outwardly that leads to success in life …however, you may define success.

8. How can people get the book and what is some of the feedback you’ve received so


My book can be ordered from my website at It would be a great way to start the year and to recharge for the coming year. We are extending it at our special introduction offer of $14.95 because we want to get the book out into as many hands as possible. For me it is a tool for empowering others which is my personal mission in life.

It makes a great gift book for your friends, family and coworkers. I just gave them out as stocking stuffers and will be sending many out for Valentine’s Day as a way of saying I love and affirm you.

I have really enjoyed the feedback from people on how it has been such a pick me up for them when their emotions started to get the best of them and send them into a downward spiral.

One lady said she carries it around in her purse and when her day starts going south and she is ready to stick it to someone, she whips out her book, reads a few affirmation and it gets her back on track.

A lady told me about her husband that lost his mother this year and has been struggling emotionally. She said about once or twice a week she sees him reading through each page. She said she knows he’s gone through the whole book at least four or five times and she can see the difference it has made in his emotional health in dealing with the lost of his mother.

Interview with Elisa Morgan

What is the premise behind your new book, She Did What She Could?


Most of us care deeply about the needs around us – poverty, injustice, everyday concerns of those in our families and in our offices and in our neighborhoods. But faced with the challenges of getting food on the table and children to and from activities and keeping up with our jobs etc, we feel more than a little overwhelmed. Who has the time or the energy to start another nonprofit or to participate in yet another celebrity-help-the-world-athon? We conclude we have to do something BIG to make a difference. Not true. We don’t have to do something BIG to make a difference. In a Bible story where Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus with a beautiful gift of perfume before his death, Jesus applauds her action saying, “She did what she could.” We can make a difference every day by simply doing what we could in the given moment before us.


When did the idea for this book/movement come to you?


I’d been reading what I call the “Girl Stories” in the gospels – stories where a woman is the main character. I was stopped in my tracks by Mary’s acting out her love for Jesus and by his pairing her action with the gospel. Mary lived loved. She acted out her faith by doing something with who she was and what she had in a moment that mattered. At the same time I was reading that story, I was suddenly overwhelmed by issues in our world like the HIV-AIDS pandemic and poverty and needs everywhere I turned. I began to think about the power of one of us acting and then another and another. I began to prayerfully wonder – what if I did what I could – just like Mary did? And then each of us did what we could? The whole world could be changed!


What percentage of church members are active in ministry?


It’s reported that 20% of the people do 80% of the work.


What reasons do you think members have for not serving?


Lots of folks don’t participate due to the busyness of life and the perception that unless we do something BIG it won’t make a difference. We feel guilty that we can’t do MORE. We feel inadequate because we aren’t more godly – or because of something hidden in our past. We feel incompetent because we aren’t trained. We’re tired and overwhelmed. And then there’s the fact that lots of us aren’t even “members” of a church. We’re not sure what to do with church – even though we love Jesus. We have a million struggles that keep us from “doing”. SDWSC gives a bite-size offering to everyone to participate in living out our faith and making a difference.


Do you feel that many church members are intimidated by those who are very involved at church?

You bet. If you’re not in the “in crowd” or gifted with public gifs like teaching or are marginalized in some way, it’s WAY intimidating to step up and say, ”Hey, I’d like to help.” SDWSC welcomes ALL to join in and act. It refreshes those who are weary in well-doing as well.


In the book, you point out that this message of everyone doing what they can is Biblical. What story are you referring to specifically?


The story is told in Mark 14 but is also told in Matthew and John as well. Just before Jesus’ death on the cross for the sins of all humankind, Mary of Bethany took a jar of nard, a very expensive perfume, and poured it on Jesus – as a symbol of anointing his body before his death. In a moment when the gesture would mean the most to him. You get the impression that Mary hadn’t really planned out this action. It seems more spontaneous. And while the nard was expensive, that wasn’t the main point. Mary acted out of her understanding that Jesus really was the Christ and he really loved her. She wanted to give back. She took what she had – nard – and acted with it in a moment that mattered to Jesus and to the world. She did what she could.


You’ve shared your message with the MOPS organization. What has the response been so far to the SDWSC (She Did What She Could) movement?


Moms are passionate about being the best moms they can be. They’re also passionate to make a difference in their world. They know that they may not be able to do something GIANT in the day to day of raising children. SDWSC gives them a methodology for acting in a way that matters in their daily lives. With a neighbor or a coworker. With a child. To care for the earth. To reach out to someone who has less and needs more. Moms have pasted the SDWSC flare on their Facebook pages and are telling the SDWSC stories, encouraging others to do what they can as well.


How do you hope churches and ministries will use your message to mobilize their members?


Those who’ve never served can be invited to join in with the practical – doable – message of SDWSC. And those who are weary in well-doing can be encouraged that Jesus doesn’t ask us to do EVERYTHING or ALL we could but rather WHAT we could do.


How do you hope readers can change their lives with your message?


She did what she could (SDWSC) is a mantra that rules my days as opportunities come before me. I run each through the grid of SDWSC. Is it something that I can uniquely handle? Is it a moment that matters NOW? Will I make a difference if I do WHAT I could – not ALL or EVERYTHING I could? I hope and pray that readers will do the same. She did what she could. When I do what I could and you do what you could and we do what we could – we can change the world. We can be the body of Christ in action, on the earth, demonstrating individually and together what it means to live loved.

Elisa Morgan is a nationally recognized speaker and the author of more than fifteen books, including the best–selling What Every Mom Needs and Mom’s Devotional Bible. Elisa has served as CEO of MOPS International since 1989. She is also the publisher of MomSense and FullFill magazines and is a frequent contributor to Christianity Today. Elisa is married to Evan (vice president of strategic development for RBC Ministries, known internationally for Our Daily Bread, and founder of They have two grown children and one grandchild and live in Centennial, Colorado.

Need help in raising boys? Meet the authors of “Wild Things.”

Looking for answers on how to raise boys?
Ever wonder…
• Why can’t he sit still?
• Is he hearing a word I say?
• Why is he angry all the time?
Boys are born to be wild. Their strong spirit, endless imagination, and hunger for adventure are only matched by their deep desire to be affirmed, esteemed, and loved. In their new book Wild Things, therapists Stephen James and David Thomas help parents and educators understand what exactly makes boys tick.

Wild Things by Stephen James and David Thomas

1. In your last book, How to Hit a Curveball, Grill the Perfect Steak, and Become a Real Man, you addressed a lot of fatherhood issues about rearing boys. How is your new book, Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys, different?

How to Hit a Curveball felt like a perfect introduction to this book. That book challenges men to take a good look at themselves, their experience of being boys themselves and how they were (or weren’t) fathered. We strongly believe that men can’t father well outside of paying attention to their own stories. Whether we like it or not, we are all creatures of habit. We gravitate back toward what we know – good or bad. That book was an invitation to look a little closer at both.

Wild Things is an invitation to take a closer look at your son. This book is a comprehensive look at boy development from birth to young adulthood. In addition to laying out the biology of a boy, we also look at the mind of a boy and the heart of a boy. We break down what a boy needs from his mom and from his dad in every stage of his development. We also hit on all the hot topics surrounding boys, everything from the impact of media to substance abuse, the role of sports, and sex and dating.

2. The subject of Wild Things was inspired by Maurice Sendak’s classic tale Where the Wild Things Are. Why did you find this theme so appropriate?

If you read closely Sendak’s story, he brilliantly speaks to a boy’s hunger for risk and adventure, how boys crave power and purpose, and how they make sense of the world around them. Sendak’s portrait of boys felt so accurate to the two of us and a unique way of exploring and dissecting a boy’s inner world.

In Wild Things, we borrow from the passion and ethos of Sendak’s book and use that to provide insight and direction for parents, teachers, and mentors in what it means to love a boy well. We also try and give a lot of real life examples from our own lives and from the families we work with in our counseling practices.

3. You address five key stages that a boy goes through on his journey to becoming a man. What stage is the most difficult for most boys to navigate?

Each of the stages holds unique challenges. We worked hard to break down each stage in a way that is easy to digest. We think that that parents and educators will walk away with a clearer understanding of a boy’s unique design in each stage and some practical ideas in how to care for him within that stage of his development.

In many ways Wild Things is the kind of thing that you don’t just read once. It is more like an entertaining reference guide that parents and teachers can go back to time and time again for encouragement, insight, and direction.

But if we had to identify one stage as the most challenging, though, we’d have to say the Wanderer stage (13-17). This window of a young man’s development is plagued by physical and emotional change. A colleague of mine, who is pediatrician, said boys in this stage are 98% hormone, which translates to their being so emotional. A part of their developmental agenda is moving toward independence and pulling away. He’s often times the most distant and hard to read in this stage, which greatly complicates the process of letting him go and trusting him with more independence. And it is during this stage that is has the ability to make decisions that will effect the rest of his life. The risks are real and boys in this stage lack the ability to choose wisely with their future in sight.

4. Both of you are fathers of girls and boys. How is parenting a boy different from parenting a girl?

Parenting boys in the first three stages is just so physical. Parenting boys in these years requires a great deal of physical energy—and a good back. Whereas parenting our daughters is so much more relational and emotional. Both are exhilarating and exhausting, but in different ways.

When I (David) engage my daughter, it’s in sitting in a neighborhood coffee shop talking about her day at school. My boys can sit at the coffee shop long enough to finish a chocolate chip cookie, spill their milk and then we’re kicking a soccer ball across the street at the park.

We talk a lot in the book about boys in motion and how to engage these active, physical beings. Girls need that too, no doubt, but not in the same way boys need it.

We had our families together the other day over at my (Stephen’s) house. At one point all the kids went out in the front yard to play: five boys and two girls in all. There were a number of balls lying around the yard. The boys started playing soccer with one ball and the girls started playing soccer with another. After a few minutes the boys were trying to kick the ball at each other and the girls were off to the side talking to each other. To me that is a great picture of the differences.

5. What mistakes have parents and educators made in their approach to rearing and training boys?

For me (Stephen) the consistent mistake my wife and I make is that we over explain and over verbalize with our sons. This is a problem that is very common. In parenting boys, adults tend to talk to them and at them a great deal. We talk and talk and talk and end up sounding a lot like Charlie Brown’s teacher. “Whah, whah, whah.” In Wild Things we offer a number of different strategies for engaging and educating boys that better match their unique design. Boys learn through experience and physical repetition. They need consistent firm boundaries and loads of encouragement.

As far as school goes we speak a lot in the book that the compulsory model we use for schooling in the United States is generally well-suited to a girl’s learning style. It’s heavy on verbal and written expression, two particular areas of strength for most girls. It involves a good deal of sitting still for extended periods of time with mostly auditory instruction. These methods don’t match a boy’s way of learning or draw on his learning strengths.

6. How did you come to the conclusions you discuss in Wild Things?

The book is a combination of science and research, clinical experience (our own as therapists and that of others), and our own journey of parenting five boys between the two of us.

As therapists, we have sat with thousands of men and boys over the years. Our hope was to bring their voices into the content of Wild Things. We have learned so much from the males we’ve had the great honor of working with and hoped to bring their stories into this text. In addition to those, we are still learning so much from living with five of our wild things.

7. At what age should parents discuss sex, homosexuality, and pornography with their boys?

You may be surprised to hear this answer, but we’d recommend beginning a dialogue around sexuality at the age of two. We aren’t recommending education around homosexuality and pornography at two. That begins typically around age 8-10, possibly earlier or later depending on the boy. But we are strong advocates of a healthy ongoing dialogue with every boy around the design of his body, sexuality, and boundaries in relationships in stage one. We lay out a good portion of this in the book to take some of the guess work out of it for parents, and we recommend some useful resources in further guiding you through this life long discussion. As boys grow older the conversation becomes more specific and more technical. Think of it like painting: it starts with broad brush strokes and then moves to finer detail. But as a rule, it starts way before most parents think it does.

8. What are the three most important factors in keeping a boy from experimenting with drugs?

We continue to see three common factors among young men that we’ve worked with who either abstain from using substances or experiment and then make a decision not to continue. The first would be a strong faith and core values. The second would be a strong family open to dialogue. The third would be strong relationships.

9. Who are the most important role models in a boy’s life?

There is no question that a boy’s parents play a foundational role in the man he becomes. In Wild Things we have a chapter that specifically address a mother’s relationship with her son as well as a chapter that addresses a father’s relationship with his son. But it doesn’t stop there for boys. There is great truth to the old African proverb that says “it takes a village.” We talk early in the book about how a boy begins to hunger for other voices and a part of our role is to put them in his way, so that he ends up with this community of individuals who believe in him and hold him up.

10. What kinds of things can a father do to bond with his son and raise him to be emotionally mature?

One of the first things we’d challenge a dad to do is to pay attention to his own story. That was a central purpose in our book How to Hit a Curve Ball, Grill the Perfect Steak and Become a Real Man: Learning the Lessons our Fathers Never Taught Us. Unless we understand how our stories inform who we are as men, husbands, and fathers, we stand to make a number of significant mistakes with our own sons. So before a man starts making a list of things to “do” with his son, we’d encourage him to start with himself. That step doesn’t involve his son at all, but is one of the most powerful ways to love and care for him.

That step gives way to the second step. In order for a father to raise an emotionally mature young man, he must be an emotionally healthy man himself. A boy desperately needs a dad who has an interior life. Our culture is flooded with emotionally stunted, emotionally damaged males. There’s no shortage there. Men have a responsibility to lead their son’s in living from their hearts. Women can’t really teach boys how to do this. Mom’s can invite it and encourage it, but the action of it must be modeled by a man.

Thirdly, we’d challenge dads to study his son in search of his boy’s definition of enjoyment. That’s different for every boy. We both have a set of twin boys. Two males with identical genetic ingredients and yet the outcome couldn’t be any more different. These guys, born within minutes of one another, have different passions, different strengths, and different longings. And they experience enjoyment in some similar ways as well as some different ways. We are both on a long journey of discovering what that is. Just as soon as we get a handle on it, it can change just as his development does. So it’s a long journey of studying these boys and pursuing their passions and their hearts.

11. People often talk about the father’s role in teaching a boy to be a man, but a mother’s relationship is important too. What are some mistakes a mother can make?

A mother’s role is so very important. That message is woven throughout Wild Things. There is so much to the answer to this question. You’ll need to read the book to get a comprehensive look at your role throughout his development. We talk a lot with mom’s about two unique callings within their role, both of which lend themselves to mistakes and potential harm to the mother-son relationship. To boil it down though to a couple of things we would say 1) The first is being safe and 2) the second is letting go. We break both of those down in great detail within the book. By being safe we mean a mothers ability to let her son be a boy. By letting go we mean a mother’s willingness to let her boy become a man. We speak a whole lot more to this throughout the book. It’s such a big question, and an important question for moms to consider.

12. If you could give once piece of advice to parents and educators reading this book, what would it be?

The study of a boy is such a worthwhile use of your time and resources. Boys are complex, imaginative, mysterious, brilliant, challenging, creative, strong, tender, courageous beings—and each is unique. Parenting and educating them is a wonderful, difficult, complex, enjoyable, physical, emotional, delightful, maddening journey. Our hope is that Wild Things is a useful guide along that journey.

If we have to give one piece of advice it would be for parents and educators to continue to invest in their own emotional and spiritual maturity. Growing yourself is the best gift you can give a boy you love.


You’ve gained some valuable advice, but there’s more! If you would like to learn more from these parenting experts about raising boys, you can order a copy of Wild Things through
Based on clinical research, Stephen James and David Thomas have filled Wild Things with practical tips and suggestions for parents. They guide readers through the five stages of a boy’s development, providing an overview and explanation of each stage, followed by a plan to put new principles into action. Pick up a copy today!

Stephen James, M.A., and David Thomas, M.S.S.W., are speakers, authors, and therapists who work directly with boys and their families. They also travel around the country, speaking on parenting and marriage communication, and they have been dynamic guests on CBN’s Living the Life, Good Day Atlanta, WGN Midday News, Moody’s Midday Connection, and other radio programs coast to coast. Learn more at