Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Monday, June 29, 2015

Q & A with Laurie Coombs

Author of Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness

Q: What would you like for our readers to know about you personally?
A: I’m just a girl who loves Jesus. Someone who believes God enough to follow His lead. I love my husband and children more than I can ever say. I love spending time with my family and friends. I drink entirely way too many soy chai tea lattes. I am terrible at keeping a workout schedule. And I feel most alive when I speak about Jesus. 

Q: Tell us about your family.

A: My family is most certainly my greatest blessing here on this earth. My husband, Travis, and I have been married almost fourteen years but have been together for close to eighteen. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long––we were just babies, seventeen and eighteen years old, when we began dating.

Travis and I have two wonderfully amazing daughters, who are seven and nine years old, who we absolutely adore. But our family is not finished yet. We’ve been in the process of adopting from Ethiopia for almost five years now and are in the home stretch to bring our three year old little boy and five year old little girl home! Quite honestly, we cannot wait see this epic journey come to completion, and so prayers are very much appreciated!!

Q: Have you written other nonfiction books?

A: Not yet! But I have a sneaking suspicion God might call me to write a book on faith and belief enough to follow Him in the hard places. I have so many more incredible stories of God’s faithfulness in the face of difficult circumstances in me, but we’ll just have to wait and see where He leads!

Q: Do you have any other books in the works right now? 
A. Letters from My Father’s Murderer has been keeping me pretty busy over the last three years, and I quite honestly haven’t had much time for anything else. I told my husband I’m never going to write another book, when I was in the thick of it a few months back. His response made me chuckle. He told me writing a book is probably like having a baby––toward the end, you think you’ll never do it again, but once you give birth––and see the fruit of your labor––you get amnesia of sorts and are ready to do it all over again. I think Travis is right. This will not be my only book.

Q: What kinds of hobbies and leisure activities do you enjoy?

A: I absolutely love doing just about anything outdoors––hiking, camping, backpacking, snow skiing––and so does the rest of my family. Together with some of our closest friends, we spend most weekends outside, enjoying God’s creation in one form or another.

Aside from that, I love to read. I can often be caught reading four or five books at the same time (though not in one sitting). And I’d say one of my favorite things to do is to share dinner with our closest friends while our gaggle of kids run around playing with one another.

Q: Why did you write the featured book?
A: To be honest, I didn’t initially want to write this book. I wanted to share my story, but I knew that writing it in a book would require me to bare all. I knew I’d have to share difficult things, and I quite honestly didn’t want to. But greater than my resistance was my desire to see people experience freedom and redemption and healing as I had. I wanted God to be glorified for what He had done in and through my life.

I knew God was calling me to write this book. And I knew God well enough to know that if I answered that call I’d most assuredly see lives change as a result of the message He has given me. God allowed me to see that good could come out of the ashes of my past. That I could play a small part in the grand story He has been unfolding since the beginning of time. That I could participate in what He’s doing in the here and now, for the good of many. And so, I chose to say yes, and of course, I’m now completely on board with God’s plan for my life.

Q: What do you want the reader to take away from the book?
A: Hope is at the heart of my message. God truly has worked all things for good in my life. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” The first part of Genesis 50:20 says, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” God brings good out of evil. Love out of hate. Peace out of despair. I believe it is His desire to do this for every one of us. You see, our pain won’t be wasted. We don’t have to sit in it. If we bring our pain, past and present, to God, He will redeem it.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to tell my readers about you or your book?
A: I’d like the readers to know that we all have wounds. Every one of us. And my pain is no more valid than yours or anyone else’s. I believe pain is pain, regardless of its cause. But here’s the thing, Jesus came that we might have life. Life to the full. He came to bind the brokenhearted. To proclaim freedom to the captives. To release prisoners from their darkness. To comfort all who mourn. To bestow a crown of beauty instead of ashes. In short, He came to redeem. To make us new.

Jesus once said that we will have troubles in this life, “but,” He said, “take heart for I have overcome the world.” Troubles will come, pain will be felt, but our troubles and our pain are not without purpose. God uses everything. Nothing goes to waste. If He allows something to take place, it is because He has a plan for it. There is absolutely nothing we might face that won’t be used by God.

Q: Where on the Internet can the readers find you?
A: I write at but can also be found on and I also have had the honor of being featured in Billy Graham’s most recent film, Heaven, which can be viewed online at My Hope with Billy Graham. It’s well worth the time to watch!


Laurie Coombs is a passionate writer and speaker on the issues of forgiveness, redemption, and the hope found in Jesus. She is the author of Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness, an incredible true story of grace, mercy, and the redemptive power of God. Her story was featured in Billy Grahams film, Heaven, and she is a featured writer and blogger for iBelieve and Crosswalk. Laurie and her husband, Travis, make their home in Nevada along with their two daughters, Ella and Avery. Be sure to visit or connect with Laurie on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

So You Speak Canadian, eh?

One of the things that excites me about having my novel published is that I’d been told by industry professionals that if I hoped to sell my book to an American publisher, I needed to move the setting from Canada to the United States. That was one hill I was prepared to die on. Keeping my story in Canada is important to me, and I refused to believe American readers are that narrow-minded! I’m glad to be proving these naysayers wrong. 

As I’ve been working with my editor Shari in Oregon (a nose-to-the-grindstone experience if ever I’ve had one), she sometimes points out words or expressions I’ve used that might be uniquely Canadian and together we wrestle through how to keep them without confusing non-Canadian readers. In most cases, they are no-brainers like “Grade Seven” instead of “Seventh Grade.”  But at one point, I referred to the RCMP and she asked if I could spell it out to ensure readers would know what that meant. 

I tried to explain how awkward it would sound for the character to say, “there are two Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers at the door.” We just don’t speak that way. 

I tried to explain how we sometimes call them “Mounties” but that might cause even more confusion, especially since Mounties haven’t been “mounted” for about a hundred years.

In the end, I think I settled on simply “police,” but I’ll know for sure when the book comes out next January.

“Your characters say ‘eh’ a lot,” Shari noted. Then she caught herself. “Oh, duh. They’re Canadians. Never mind.”

“What?” I thought. I couldn’t remember using a single “eh.” I did a word search and “eh” came up exactly three times in an 80,000 word manuscript. Seems to me I actually underused it, eh?

Having married an American and having lived in the States for nearly ten years, having read American books and watched American movies, sometimes I don’t even remember which words are Canadian any more. At one point, my editor suggested I change some wording so that my character tells her little brother to “fetch” some apples from the cellar. I replied that I didn’t think we typically used “fetch” in that context. Later in the manuscript, I found two or three places where I had used the word “fetch” myself! So now I’m asking, do Canadians speak this way or do I just write this way due to American influences? I don’t know anymore.
A Google search led me to learn some uniquely Canadian words that were new to me. Maybe they’re new to you, too. Oh, we all know “double-double,” “toque,” “parkade,” “pencil crayon,” “loonie,” and “rink rat.”

But do you know what a “Whale’s Tail” is? I suspect it’s an east coast thing, but it’s a fried pastry known elsewhere as elephant ears or beaver’s tail. Did you know that “gandy” is a term for “pancake” in parts of our country, or  that “scoff and a scuff” means a meal followed by a dance?

I love that Canada has its own unique words, enjoys regional accents and dialects within our borders, and is home to a wide array of languages beyond the two official ones. I hope we always preserve our uniqueness and work hard to understand one another. Even when a fellow Canadian says, “Stay where you’re at and I’ll come where you’re to.”

Happy Canada Day, everyone!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dad's Patience Remembered

Call me spoiled, but I owned my own car before I had a driver’s license. And what a sweet ride it was! A 1974 ogre-green Dodge Dart.

I was never one of those teenagers itching to get behind the wheel. My sixteenth birthday went by without much thought toward my license. Then my seventeenth came and went.

I guess Dad decided enough was enough. I attended a Christian boarding school 800 kilometers from home, and each time I had a break from school, Dad would make the round trip to fetch me home, then a second round trip to take me back a week or two later. When presented with a deal on the Dart, my parents saw it as an opportunity to save time and money in the long run. They bought the car. 
This one looks pretty close to the one I had, I think.

Now to convince Terrie she needed to learn to drive before it was time to return for Grade 12.

I passed the written test with no problem and received my learner’s permit. Mom let me drive the 25 kilometers home, but I think she had only one nerve left when we got there. 

Home alone a few days later, I decided to practice parallel parking in our spacious backyard. Dad had some brand new eaves troughs waiting to be installed and I decided they would work well to represent the cars I needed to park between. How I drew that conclusion when I couldn’t even see them from the driver’s seat is beyond me. Maybe I figured I’d feel them, like speed bumps. I laid the troughs along the ground and started maneuvering the car into place. 

Did you know a 1974 Dodge Dart will flatten a brand new eaves trough like long johns through the wringer? 

At least I learned one thing that day.

Dad calmly hammered his eaves trough back into shape, but it never looked the same.

The next time I climbed behind the Dart’s steering wheel, Dad rode shotgun and we were going all the way from Amaranth to Winnipeg to pick up Mom. I putzed along at about 65 kilometers an hour for the first while, Dad patiently telling me to take all the time I needed and accelerate when I felt comfortable doing so. Eventually I reached the speed limit and cars stopped whizzing around us. 

Naturally, I assumed we’d pull over and switch seats long before we got into city traffic. But to my surprise, Dad navigated me all the way to my aunt’s house in Winnipeg where Mom waited, no doubt wondering what was taking us so long. That trip gave me the confidence I needed to take my driving test and pass. I figured I was good to go. 

But Dad had one more lesson for me. Before he’d allow me to hit the highway on my own, he needed to know I could change a tire. First, he explained the process. Then he parked himself in his favorite lawn chair to watch the show, a cold drink in one hand and a fly swatter in the other. I had to change the tire from start to finish, all by myself.

I haven’t changed a tire since.

Ten years later, my father passed away. Dad’s concern for my safety and his patient teaching are memories I cherish. Given the option, I still avoid driving in general and parallel parking in particular. But I’ve maintained my maximum number of driver’s merit points for nearly 40 years, so Dad must have done something right.

I miss that guy. 

Happy Father’s Day.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

...In Which I Discover the Fountain of Youth

I auditioned for the Prairie Players’ fall production of Arsenic and Old Lace and was assigned the role of Elaine. Elaine is 20 years my junior. There will be no living with me now.

Our director, Stephanie (bless her heart), seems to think I can pull it off. I knew I liked that girl. If I make a complete fool of myself, at least I won’t have as long to live with the humility as I would if I actually were 20 years younger.

Most thespians agree the best part of being involved in a play is the camaraderie with the cast and crew throughout the production. But did you know memorizing all those lines keeps actors young, too? It’s true.

The benefits to our brains of memorizing anything are well documented, including the improvement of brain function, neural plasticity, focus, and so on. Ever notice how easy it is for a child to learn a second language while adults struggle? It’s because the youthful plasticity of their brains makes it easy to chart new neuro pathways. Learning something new forces your brain to chart new paths and can help ward off dementia. The added benefits to your heart and spirit when you memorize scripture or meaningful poetry are greater still.

Regardless what you believe about the power of God’s word, memory training of any kind can stave off cognitive decline. According to a blog post on the Best Colleges Online site, “Memory-forming can become a healthy lifelong habit. Researchers from the National Institute on Health and Aging have found that adults who went through short bursts of memory training were better able to maintain higher cognitive functioning and everyday skills, even five years after going through the training. Practicing memorization allowed the elderly adults to delay typical cognitive decline by seven to 14 years. Students who start practicing memory training now can stay sharp in years to come.”

Having the ability to memorize a script for a play, yet being too lazy to memorize scripture, frequently leads me to “should” on myself. Shoulding on yourself is never a healthy practice. Either do the thing you think you should, or stop shoulding, I say. 

So a few weeks ago, after our youth pastor, Colton, invited the congregation to read Psalm 103 aloud together, I decided to try memorizing it verbatim. I printed it out and sticky-tacked it to the wall beside my bathroom mirror where I could work on it while fixing my hair and makeup each morning. Then I review it each night when the makeup comes off. By adding a line or two a day, it came surprisingly easy. And it’s a lovely improvement over my usual habit of rehearsing my grievances during this activity. Plus, it took no extra time out of my day!

Two weeks later, I recited the passage to my hubby. It worked so well, I decided to go to the beginning and tacked up Psalm 1 and 2. Two weeks after that, I recited both chapters. I’m now working on 3 and 4. At this rate, I could learn the entire book of Psalms between now and 2018. (I might have to take a break to learn Elaine’s lines.)

I’d sure like to make this a lifelong habit. You with me?

If I’m going to portray the youthful Elaine, I’m going to need all the help I can get. Now if I could just recall where I put that script.