Sunday, March 08, 2009

Broken Vessel, Angie Breidenbach



Occasionally during our journey, we meet someone possessing the same spirit of God. That person causes us to pause and reflect, and we quickly realize he or she was placed in our path for a reason. We remember that God places angels among us when we need them the most!

Today I'd like to introduce to you one of those people, Angie Breidenbach...


Please tell us about your first two books and their inspiration.

Actually, my first two books are contest winners but not published. They are both women's inspirational fiction. The second is the better book and I set it aside because the inspiration was my own mother. She was mentally ill and I was her Full Legal Guardian. She passed away as I wrote it March 1st, 2007 and I just had to put it aside to grieve.

It won the 2007 Touched By Love First Place Contemporary and has several requests from publishers. I'm finally to a point that I think I'm ready to work on it again. My heroine's journey is loosely based on my search for my own mother when she disappeared in Denver. I had such a fear of finding my mom dead in an alley that I jumped on a plane with no luggage and rented a car when I got there. I actually went street by street and then found her in the most surprising of places.

Tell us about your next book, Insanity Rules: Gems of Wisdom:

This book has my heart and the hearts of those I interviewed in it. There are so many things we learn in life because of overcoming challenges. Too often people see those challenges as negative pirates stealing their treasure of peace. In reality, we defeat our pirates and claim our treasured gems of wisdom. Each chapter chooses a negative pirate for us to battle and each battle ends in claiming a different gem of wisdom.

The gems are worn as tactile memory anchors like God used gemstones on Aaron's priestly garments to remind Aaron of the people he represented in Exodus 28. I'm working on a jewelry line to complement the book with Pamba Toto (a company that uses fair trade beads, gems and silver from third world women to support two orphanages in Kenya.) Every piece is a set of prayer beads intended to help the wearer focus on the wisdom and meaning God has in the experiences He allows in their life.

In working with Pamba Toto to fairly purchase handiwork of women to support their families and then Pamba Toto's profits support the orphans in Kenya, I feel like the braids of a strong cord come together with such meaningful depth, humanity and value.

I know more authors from Montana! Is it something in the air or water?

Oh yes! It's all that wonderful fresh big sky air that fuels our imaginations. Seriously, there are quite a few people who love to write up here. I think it is a very compelling place with vivid living characters :-D

You hold the title of Mrs. Missoula 2008 – what was involved to win that honor? And tell us about the Jadyn Fred Foundation.

The Mrs. Missoula 2008 title is part of the Mrs. America organization. I was really excited to represent this title because I had the opportunity to help promote brain donations for the Brain Bank at Harvard's MacLean Hospital. That led to being invited to be a spokesperson for the Missoula Aging Services RSVP (a volunteer project that matches senior citizens to hundreds of community service needs all over our county) and the Jadyn Fred Foundation through speaking and at charity events.

Volunteerism and community service are things I am passionate about and Mrs. Missoula 2008 and now Mrs. Elite Ambassador 2009 1st Runner-Up are amazing opportunities to share that passion. I hope I can be an example to encourage others to passionately give of themselves through community service.

The Jadyn Fred Foundation
Jadyn Fred is very close to my heart. Jadyn died from a rare form of cancer in 2000. Her family was able to meet the financial needs but ached for the families in Montana that they met on their treatment journey with Jadyn. There are many families who cannot afford to get their child to the hospital because the costs are so high that it leaves them without food or gas money, some that had to leave the child in the hospital way over in Seattle while they worked in Montana to pay for the treatments (and the little one lay there alone) and some parents that slept in the car in order to stay with their baby because they could not afford a motel during the treatments.

The Fred family thought they might be able to help where insurance fell short. So they started the Jadyn Fred Foundation to meet these needs. Doctors and nurses fill out the proper forms for the non-profit foundation and send them in for the family. Then the family can be assisted once a year up to $1300 to meet needs that insurance won't cover. So far, we've been able to help 141 families with gas money, motels and even groceries when their own funds have been depleted. It's helped babies have a mommy or daddy present when they would have been alone or for the rest of the family to have groceries.

You used to be the president of your local Toastmasters. What led you into the area of speaking?

I was asked to lead a drama class for Sunday school teachers several years ago. It went really well and I just loved doing it. I started looking for ways to learn how to speak publicly. One of my good friends invited me to the Shootin' The Bull Toastmaster club at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. I had so much fun I just kept going! I found out that I had a gifting in public speaking and that I could make a difference helping others that way.

You speak on so many topics – and you sing, too! How did you get involved on so many different levels?

I began singing and performing on stage as a little girl. That led to musicals and now as an adult, I'm an Assistant Minister for our church. That means I am a liturgist (or for some non-liturgical folks, a worship leader.) I truly love singing, speaking and praying with and for people. I think God has continually led me into His path because it is more His plan and so it has become mine. I am most fulfilled when I am doing these things. He put it in my DNA :-) I can't NOT do them and be me. (When you keep getting confirmation through feedback, you feel led to do something and you have the ability--you are on the right track. Keep going and it will build naturally.)

You write for many blogs… tell us about them!

Each of these blogs has built from another. I took classes online to learn to blog from ACFW! I started my first and personal blog called
God Uses Broken Vessels from that class. (By the way, American Christian Fiction Writer members get online classes for free! Just go to ACFW to join.) My blog is focused on relationships, goals and personal growth for anyone who comes to visit. I also enjoy promoting Inspirational writers regularly.

Then because I had been to the ACFW conference, I met 5 new author friends. We all began chatting online and on the phone and along came
Writing By Faith a.k.a The Faith Girls. We each write one day a week and have a Sunday Free For All. We have 6 different authors, 6 different genres and 1 Great God.

After the next year's conference, I was invited to be a part of
Writers Rest as one of about a dozen authors. This blog is meant to uplift the writer's soul and uplift the reader.

From where did “God Uses Broken Vessels” originate?

I am a broken vessel. It's how God uses all those pieces of me as I've received His help, comfort and gems of wisdom. What I've been given, I choose to share. I find purpose in the trials by helping others through theirs.

This concept comes straight from 2 Corinthians 1: 3-5. "Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! The Father is a merciful God, who always gives us comfort. He comforts us when we are in trouble, so that we can share that same comfort with others in trouble. We share in the terrible sufferings of Christ, but also in the wonderful comfort he gives." CEV These verses "clicked" with me that troubles have purpose. Then I read Romans 8: 26-28, my life verses. (NIV)

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

For so long I saw myself as broken and useless. My mother was mentally ill and my step-dad was an alcoholic. I made all the worst relationship choices. What did I have to give? Then as I fought up and over those mountainous problems, I read those verses. God kept providing a hand, a shoulder, a word of wisdom and I kept climbing. I had something to give because ALL things God works for good, not SOME things. As I climb, I can now reach back and offer a hand to another climber over a tough precipice.

When I started mentoring young women as a Stephen Minister, I saw the same hurt hearts. I began sharing how I'd overcome some of my hurts, all those things that I thought had broken me actually helped the people I worked with too. I could show someone else how to overcome and how to make life better for their families. I could show them which handholds and which rocks to set their feet on that mountain.

From your posts, I sense you are a proud mother! Tell us something special about your family.

We have a combined family of six. Three girls and three boys--all grown now. I'm excited to have my first grandson too. My husband and I agreed when we were married that our kids would be aware of the whole world through experiencing it. We've made it a family priority to travel widely. It is important to us that we make a difference and leave this world a better place. I guess you could think of it as a hybrid of going camping. Always leave it better than before you were there. I think that's something God's put on our hearts.

Sometimes we don’t grasp our calling right away. When did you realize that speaking & writing were your tools for spreading God’s Word?

I think it's so important not to put stock in a moment of decision but in the process of the journey. I heard God's calling as an 11 year old when I won my first writing contest. I grew up had a family, made lots of mistakes and kept trying to figure it all out myself. When kiddos number 2 and 3 took off for college, I honestly fell apart. I began searching for me before kiddos 4, 5 and 6 left. I thought there might be nothing left of me.

That's where God found me, lost in a state of tears. I began looking for that dream I'd left behind in childhood. What had I always wanted to do? Who did I want to be?

I began reading books about writing and I found the Idaho Writer's League that led to RWA and then ACFW. I took online classes and have now attended 5 major writing conferences. Each class, each conference, each word I wrote confirmed what God had put inside me-the heart of a writer and speaker. I'm continuing my growth as a volunteer for ACFW as the new publicity officer. It helps me to offer my abilities and I learn as I volunteer. A beautiful chance for any writer.

My children are grown. I've entered a new aspect of my life. I've uncovered the me I buried instead of celebrated. Now I celebrate by helping others find themselves one step at a time. No journey is through a time warp. A journey is taken one step of personal growth at a time. My journey will not end until I can hear those words, "Well done, good and faithful servant." I want to look back and feel I have lived my life to the fullest of His plan because then I know it will be the best life I could have lived.

What is next for Angie?

My goal right now is to braid several strands of one huge dream into a strong cord like I'm doing with the Gems of Wisdom line of jewelry. I'm going to be certified this year as a Life Coach and specialize in coaching people to find the gems of wisdom in their lives. I want to teach confidence, strengthen relationships and how to unlock your own life purpose and then to teach them to pass it on.

My plan is to add more teaching through a series of books that plait my writing, speaking, life coaching into one encouraging support system called Gems of Wisdom. I'm working on weaving it all together this year with my inspirational non-fiction Insanity Rules: Gems of Wisdom book as the first strand. I believe I will do other things, sure, but I would like this to stand as a way for people to gain personal growth for years by learning from not only me but all the people I interview. Years of experience gleaned from countless others passed on to anyone who wants to gain their own gems of wisdom to pass it on to someone else. Yes, that's my dream.

What's yours? Please share with your comments.

And the last word… ?

All those things that go wrong are exactly those things will bless you to bless others because of what you have learned. Know that you are not the only person on earth to ever go through that pain. If you are in it right now, absorb everything you can from it. Soak up every drop. Someone is going to need to lean on your experience. When you can think past your own hurt to someone else, you can begin to value those things you would have missed otherwise because God uses ALL things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

What are your gems of wisdom and who can you pass them on to?

I'm grateful for such a wonderful opportunity to share my dreams with you today.Thank you,Angie Breidenbach-- ACFW Publicity Officer
ACFW

Angie's blogs:
God Uses Broken Vessels
Writing By Faith
Writers Rest
Montana Romance Writers
AngelaBreidenbach
Twitter

25 comments:

Allyn Evans said...

I love reading about the stories of others. Angie, I'm a fellow Toastmaster too. It's an inexpensive way to hone your craft and overcome nerves.

Allyn
www.allynevans.com

Marvin D. Wilson said...

Wonderful interview, BOTH of you. This right here caught my eye the most-

From where did “God Uses Broken Vessels” originate?

I am a broken vessel. It's how God uses all those pieces of me as I've received His help, comfort and gems of wisdom. What I've been given, I choose to share. I find purpose in the trials by helping others through theirs.

_____________________________________

I SO relate to that.

Morgan Mandel said...

As Angie mentioned, sometimes there are books you just can't write at the time because they touch you too deeply.

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

Helen Ginger said...

Great interview. Her book sounds inspiring. And I like the jewelry line idea.

Helen
http://straightfromhel.blogspot.com

Angela Breidenbach said...

Hi Allyn, So good to meet another Toastmaster :-) I really believe Toastmasters is a blessing of huge value and that everyone should join. The confidence building is amazing.

Thank you for visiting!
Angie

Angela Breidenbach said...

Hi Marvin,

I think we are all broken vessels. I believe God allows that enriching in order to teach us how to reach outside of ourselves. I am so glad you are one who wants to reach out too!

Thank you for connecting today.
Angie

Angela Breidenbach said...

Hi Morgan,

You are so right. It's that closeness that is important in writing emotion, but sometimes you need to be able to see it clearly too.

So glad to have "met" you today.
Angie

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Great interview, Angie. As someone who has read some of your fiction, I'm looking forward to when you're able to finish it. I think it will be a great story. But I've also been in that place of needing to set a story aside b/c it's too close and painful.

Belinda Peterson said...

Great story Angie!! You are a great inspiration...I've told you that before and I just keep getting inspired by you all the time. Keep it up girl!!

Angela Breidenbach said...

Hi Helen,

I am so glad to hear that the line of jewelry sparks an interest. I really hope to create connections to your heart, your journey, the women who are building their bead businesses in third world countries and the orphans in Kenya. I love how interconnected our world can be and want to inspire that!

Plus, love the pun on your blog title!
Angie

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

So glad to see Angie speaking. Speaking and teaching are my number one favorite ways to promote a book!

Best,
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Blogging at Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites pick, www.sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com

Angela Breidenbach said...

Lindi and Jennifer,
You are always uplifting and inspiring to me! I am so glad to be a part of the Faith Girls with you.

Folks, these gals are awesome too. You can see their blog over at http://writingbyfaith.blogspot.com

Angie

Angela Breidenbach said...

Hi Carolyn,

Thanks :-) I agree. I absolutely love speaking and the whole marketing side of writing. I became ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) PR Officer due to my love of marketing and my desire to continue learning about the industry. ACFW has done so much for me that it was a good fit for me to volunteer and give back.
Angie

Missy Tippens said...

Fantastic interview, ladies! Excellent quesitons. Inspiring answers!

Missy

Angela Breidenbach said...

Whoo! Thank you, Missy.

I just feel so honored to have been interviewed by Diane. She is an excellent interviewer. Very thoughtful and complimentary.

Thanks,
Angie

Sharon A. Lavy said...

Wonderful interview. I enjoyed getting to know you better, Angie.

Margaret Daley said...

Angie, I love reading more about you. Thanks for sharing. By the way I have read her new book about pirates and gems. Great!!!
Margaret

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Angie, I loved getting these insights into your life, your passions, and your goals. I'm looking forward to learning more as we serve side-by-side in ACFW.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Great interview, ladies!

Ang, I can't wait to read your Gems of Wisdom book once it's contracted and available.

You are certainly an overcomer in Christ and an inspiration to others.

Hugs
Cheryl

Leslie Lynch said...

Hi, Angie,

It's great getting to know even more about you! :-) I've learned about you in bits and pieces, following your journey as you post on RWA's Faith, Hope, & Love online chapter's loop. But this is a great overview and celebration of YOU! Thanks for sharing your faith walk so honestly and generously.

Smiles,
Leslie

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I really enjoyed reading this interesting interview.

Jane Kennedy Sutton
http://janekennedysutton.blogspot.com/

Christy LaShea said...

Great interview ladies! Angie amazes me at the many things she's involved in. She's like a fountain, always flowing...

Angela Breidenbach said...

I am overwhelmed at the kind words you all have shared. I am overwhelmed.

Thank you Lord for the gracious hearts of all these people. You have blessed me beyond measure with all their encouraging words.
In Jesus Name,
Amen

I can only hope to be as supportive and uplifting to each of you that you have been to me.
Grateful,
Angie

Anonymous said...

Angie, when I read your entry I was once again amazed at how the Lord puts people in our path at just the right times. I have 4 children and 3 of them will be leaving the nest in the fall. I cried out to God and asked him what I was to do next. I knew I was a good mom, but didn't know what else I really was. He placed it on my hear to write and share the wisdom He has so graciously gie me with others. I had several dreams last week and in them I kept seeing jewels and beads. Then He directed me to my bible at Joshua 4:9 where I had written 6 years ago in the marrgins "stonesetter". Reading your entry was a real blessing because it served as a confirmation to me that I am on the path He wants me to be. Thank you for sharing!

Angela Breidenbach said...

Dear Anonymous,

I am grateful you shared about the place you are at right now, waiting for that empty nest. It is a very scary spot after so many years of mothering. I encourage you to do exactly as you are doing and explore that God sent mission. Start now. You can do it in very small steps as you have time, but do something every single day so you will not get outside of the range of His voice.

May you sparkle like those gems you have been led to discover,
Angie