Addiction & Sobriety: Interviewing Dan Maurer

Speakeasy - Sobriety - Daniel Maurer

I love comic books and graphic novels. From childhood on, comics have grown with me, from the teenagers of Riverdale High to superheroes like Peter David‘s Incredible Hulk to complex tales of myth and biography. But I’ve never seen a graphic novel like Dan Maurer’s semi-autobiographical Sobriety. I was so moved by its story and even existence that I wanted to share a deeper cut of his insights with you, here.

Dan, what inspired you to write Sobriety?

There’s a story behind this. When I was in treatment at Hazelden in Center City, Minnesota, my father had given me a copy of another graphic novel. The topic (believe it or not) was Bertrand Russell’s attempt to prove the foundations of mathematics. (That book is actually a New York Times bestseller.) I was so taken by the format of comics to show such a powerful story, that I began to wonder if anything like it existed in recovery publications. There wasn’t.

There were a lot of different mediums and styles you could have chosen to talk about this journey – why on earth did you choose to do this as a graphic novel?

Now that the book is a reality, I’m convinced all the more of the potential groundswell of comics to enter into mainstream culture. Comics are simple without being simplistic. The medium itself is actually quite old, ancient really — look at the cave drawings in France or the walls inside the pyramids of Egypt. Artwork doesn’t dumb down the subject matter any; it only makes it more accessible and entertaining. Comics rock.

Sobriety SampleYou were a Lutheran pastor in another lifetime. If you don’t mind sharing, how did your faith and vocation play into getting you into addiction – and bringing you out?

Ha! In another lifetime … I like that. Yes. I initially went into ministry probably out of some innate desire to please my mother. Maybe that’s too Freudian, though. I was good at what I did back then, but being a pastor is a very lonely life. Moreover, you have to be okay with being alone, especially so in rural ministry, which was where I served in western North Dakota. But let me be honest: I abused drugs and drank, because I like to get high. That’s all there is to it in the end.  I thought all the others who we see nearly constantly in the news, or friends or relatives … they were just weak. I thought I could do both. I couldn’t. So how that plays into my faith life today is that I believe that all the sh*t I got myself into was ultimately the situation I needed in life to allow me to really live, to really understand how God genuinely loves us, despite our frailties and weaknesses. Today, I’m a believer, not because I published a book, but because I believe I’ve been given a purpose and meaning to share my story. My failings also gave me a great gift, you know. It’s the gift that no one’s story — my own included — is never really finished. God alone determines that and I remind myself of this fact daily.

Are the characters in Sobriety real people you know?

Short answer: no. But some people I’ve known (and know, present-tense) probably influenced characteristics each of the characters has. You know, everyone has mannerisms. Probably I swiped a few to give the characters more depth.

I was impressed by how your characters navigated their very different spiritual backgrounds, from devout Christian to atheist to several points in-between. Do you observe these kinds of conversations happening a lot these days in AA and NA circles?

Great question, Mike. Honestly, “in the rooms” a person sees the whole gamut. In the Midwest, where I live, the spectrum isn’t as wide, I believe. However, some of the people with the deepest spiritual lives I know wouldn’t proclaim themselves as Christians. For me, that used to be anxiety causing. Nowadays, I’m more relaxed. I guess I try to see a Christ-like existence working in others, even when they, themselves, don’t know it. It’s very freeing.

What’s one thing you wished non-addicts (or at least, non-identified addicts) understood about addicts and recovering addicts?

It’s not our fault. Really. And by that I don’t mean all the crazy crap we do. No … for that we’re culpable. That might seem contradictory, but what I’m saying is that we didn’t choose our brains. If we’re really going to embrace the illness/disease concept of addiction, we have to acknowledge that the craziness that goes with it is only expected. That doesn’t mean the legal system should give us a free ride. Not at all. In my case, the legal system was probably the “bottom” I needed to shake me into understanding who I was, and who I will always be: an addict. We’d definitely need more time to explore this topic fully, but I hope people understand that the brain, too, is an organ that can get sick. It becomes well when a spiritual conversion takes place. That’s all the Twelve Steps are about, after all, an orchestrated spiritual conversion. It doesn’t seem like it should work, but it does.

What’s one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you began your recovery journey?

That things can get better. I was a ball of nerves when I started. I had lost almost everything. It’s hard to look up to the sky when the well seems so deep, and the water you’re standing in seems to be rising. It does get better. Sometimes we need to experience a real death to know what rising again is about. That’s painful … but it gets better. Much better!

How can interested readers (whom I think will be many by now!) find out more about you and your work?

Thank you for asking! I keep a blog of transformational stories (more than only recovery-based stories) called Transformation is Real. It’s found on my website, Dan the Story Man. I hope you’ll visit!

Dan Maurer IIDan Maurer is a freelance writer and openly lives in recovery in Saint Paul, Minnesota. His current books include Sobriety: A Graphic Novel and Faraway: A Suburban Boy’s Story as a Victim of Sex Trafficking (co-written with R.K. Kline). Dan enjoys spending time with his two boys and wife, Carol. He plays the Great Highland Bagpipes and also makes a mean latté … although not at the same time. His non-fiction writing focuses on stories of transformation and how anyone’s story is never yet finished, even in times of great struggle.

The Day I Met Jesus: Interviewing Frank Viola & Mary DeMuth

DIMJFrank, Mary – why did you write  The Day I Met Jesus?

Frank: Back in 2007, I got an idea to create a new genre of Christian literature. I call that genre “biblical narrative.”

The new genre would contain autobiographical fiction closely based on the Scriptural narratives and faithful to first-century history. It would also contain a nonfiction section that practically applies the narratives to our lives. Finally, it would include a discussion guide so that readers could better digest and apply the content.

God’s Favorite Place on Earth (2013) was my first book in this genre. In it, Lazarus tells the story of when Jesus came to His hometown Bethany and all the amazing things that took place there.

The Day I Met Jesus (2015) is the second book in this genre. I wanted it to tell the story of five women whom Jesus encountered, allowing each woman tell their own story. I also wanted to draw out practical lessons and critical insights from each narrative.

Because I’m not a woman, I couldn’t do justice to the stories on my own, so I asked the top female Christian fiction writer of our time — Mary DeMuth — to coauthor it with me.

Mary: I wrote it because I love stories, and I felt that some of these encounters with Jesus didn’t get the air time they deserved. By doing careful research and weaving more of a story arc into the five women’s encounter, I hope to show people that the “characters” of the New Testament are actual, breathing people with stress and dysfunction and hopes just like us. Frank pioneered the idea of this book, so all credit goes to him for imagining it. I’m grateful he asked me to be a part.

How did you two came to coauthor this?

Mary: Frank wrote God’s Greatest Place on Earth and had long wanted to do something similar with five women of the New Testament. He approached me about writing the fiction side of The Day I Met Jesus after he found out I wrote fiction as well as nonfiction.

Frank: When I began to think about a female coauthor for the project, I wanted it to be someone who (1) writes fiction (2) is a remarkable writer, and (3) believes in the classic tenets of the Christian faith (Jesus is divine and human, He rose again from the dead, Jesus is Lord and Savior of the world, etc.)

As I investigated authors who fit the bill, I quickly thought of folks like Francine Rivers and Karen Kingsbury. But then I discovered that Mary DeMuth wrote fiction. I had known that she was a non-fiction writer, but had no idea that she could “switch hit.”

I also discovered that she was an outstanding writer of fiction as she was of nonfiction. (I regard Mary to be the Mickey Mantle of Christian literature — she has enormous power from both sides!) So Mary ended up being the only name on my “short list.”

You feature five women from the Gospels. Why pick women in particular as your subjects?

Frank: Some of the most gripping, instructive, inspiring stories in the Gospels involve women. The longest recorded conversation that Jesus ever had was with a woman. And some of the most amazing things He said and did related to women. So I thought that a book in which some of these women told their own stories about Jesus would not only bring the Gospels to life in our minds, but it would also bring Jesus alive in our hearts.

Mary: Women had significant, personal encounters with Jesus, a fact that we sometimes miss, particularly since so many stories revolve around the 12 disciples (who were men). I love that we’re elevating these stories, helping people reimagine just how radical it was that Jesus so beautifully interacted with these women.

Which one is your favorite – and why?

Mary: For me, it’s hard to say. I love them all in different ways. This week, I’ll say it’s Mary of Bethany. She didn’t have a blatant “need” for Jesus. She was just downright faithful and often misunderstood. I think a lot of people can relate to that.

Frank: Mary of Bethany is my all-time favorite disciple of Jesus. This came home to me when I wrote God’s Favorite Place on Earth. (Mary was the sister of Lazarus, so she gets ample airtime in that book.)

I love Mary because she knew Jesus better than most, anticipating His reactions and even His impending death. She also paid the price for loving Him, for she was falsely accused by both her sister and the other disciples (on two different occasions), mostly out of jealousy. In both situations, Mary embraced the spirit of the Lamb, refusing to defend herself. But Jesus Himself rose to her defense on both occasions. He also gave her an enduring honor that He gave no one else.

Why would someone want to read this book?

Frank: If someone wants a good story to get tied up into . . . or if they want to see the Bible come to life in a compelling way . . . or if they want to experience Jesus Christ anew and afresh . . . or if they want to identify with people who were far worse off than they are, and see what Jesus did for them . . . or if they want to be given hope and encouragement in their situation . . . or if they are lacking love for the Lord and want that love to be rekindled . . . or if they want new motivation and fresh inspiration to follow Jesus more closely . . . or if they want to increase their faith and expectation in the Lord, they’ll want to read The Day I Met Jesus.

Mary: Someone would want to read it because it’s truly unique. It’s biblical narrative, but in short story form, but it doesn’t end there. After you’ve been absorbed into a page-turning story, Frank exegetes the wisdom from each encounter and helps you apply it to your life.

Did I hear that there’s a course that supplements the book!

Frank: Yes. The Day I Met Jesus Master Course is designed for those who wish to delve deeper into the themes set forth in the book. It includes a workbook and 20 audio messages delivered by Mary and I. In addition, it includes 8 bonus eBooks from Mary and I. It also includes a closed forum where people can access us both directly for Q&A and dialogue. People can check it out at

Tell us what readers get if they purchase The Day I Met Jesus from March 3rd to March 17th from

Frank: They’ll get these 7 exclusive bonuses:

  1. An exclusive audio interview where Mary and I give a behind-the-scenes look at all the facets of the book. The interview covers where the idea of the book came from, why we wrote the book, what it was like collaborating, the hardest part about writing it, and much more.
  2. Mary’s Book Beautiful Battle in Kindle & Nook formats.
  3. My Book, Rethinking Spiritual Growth in PDF, Kindle, and Nook formats.
  4. A never-before-released audio conference message entitled “A Woman Inside of a Man.”
  5. Mary’s Book What To Do After People Poop on You in PDF.
  6. A never-before-released audio conference message entitled “He’s Not Ashamed to Call Them Brothers and Sisters.”
  7. A 15% discount off The Day I Met Jesus Master Course.

Click here to order The Day I Met Jesus from Parable before March 17th and get your 7 exclusive bonuses.

Rene Girard’s Mimetic Theory with Head AND Heart – “Desire Found Me” available now!

Desire Found Me II


Mimetic Theory: French anthropologist Rene Girard’s exploration of the nature of violence, sacrifice and scapegoating in global religious cultures has moved from an obscure academic idea to an influential – and exciting – interpretative philsophy among Jesus-followers in recent years, inspiring fresh readings of spirituality, human behavior, Scripture, and the very meaning of Jesus himself. But those of us wading into this rich body of literature often feel lost:

  • Where do we start?
  • Is mimetic desire always negative?
  • Is there anything that makes this practical?

In Desire Found Me, itinerant minister Andre Rabe masterfully paints a paradigm-shifting picture of atonement that stretches the very limits of who we know ourselves – and God – to be. Exploring the unconscious movement of desire – how it forms us, connects us, shapes our greatest ideas, molds our societies, influences human history and is bound up in our very hope of the Life of Ages, Desire Found Me is an encounter with beauty…with God…that will leave you practically, practice-ably changed.

If other books on mimesis and Girardian theory have left you confused or intimidated, I think you’ll find Desire Found Me to be warm and readable. It’s a mimetic mediation on the Good News of God’s contagious splendor that has head and heart.

Request a review copy via Speakeasy

For a limited time, Andre’s book is available via my independent bloggers’ reviewers network, Speakeasy. If your request is approved, your agreement is to blog about Desire Found Me within 30 days of posting, sharing your blog’s review URL in the comments section below. Go here to see Speakeasy’s full review terms.

Sound good?

Request Desire Found Me here (US residents only)
Request Desire Found Me eBook (Kindle only)

A taste of Desire Found Me:

The Bible is therefore not a book that holds to any one theology – it contains multiple competing theologies in conversation with one another. Often these conversations were responding to the ethics, the historic situation, and the beliefs of its time and region. And so in it we see ideas develop.

We will look at five developing ideas in the chapters that follow. We will discover in the scriptures how events were re-interpreted and adjusted. On occasion, religious practices that were common and acceptable in earlier Israelite religion were later condemned and replaced. It’s a fascinating journey and even if you do not agree with the approach I trust you will find the journey informative.

The five ideas we will explore are: the mystery of who God is, the changing story of sacrifice, the paradox of evil, the history of Satan, and the growing expectation for a coming Messiah.

Here’s what others are saying about Desire Found Me:

“Using Rene Girard’s ground-breaking anthropological insights, Rabe has crafted a masterpiece… The strength of this particular book lies in the way he has brought together critical scholarship on the Old Testament with a generous Spirit-filled devotion; a mix rarely captured by authors who seek to be both informed and inspiring. I heartily recommend this book…”
– Michael Hardin, Executive Director of Preaching Peace; author, The Jesus-Driven Life

“Andre’s brilliance as scholar and teacher combines in this epic study on Mimetic Theology. He boldly tackles many traditional beliefs and superstitions, providing insights that would shift paradigms for many! In buying Desire Found Me, you are investing in a library of thought in one brilliant volume!” -Francois du Toit, author of The Mirror Bible

“Just when I thought I had wrapped my mind around this beautiful, too-good-to-be-true Gospel, Andre comes in and delivers one of the most thought-provoking, paradigm-shifting, and enlightening books I’ve ever had the privilege of reading!”
– Cory Dueck, Lead Pastor, Genesis Church, Abbotsford, BC

“It is a complete game-changer regarding our understanding of who we are and what brings meaning and fulfillment to our lives. This book is a must read for anyone who is seeking to understand the deep questions of human identity and meaning. Whether you agree with all of the assumptions or not, it will stretch the very notion of who you are, and will help you to let go of self-limiting mindsets.”
Michael Wayne Regier, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist

“Andre Rabe has done us all a favor by taking a topic which is often presented in a very academic and complex manner, and making it clear, simple, and practical.”
Martin Trench, Lead Pastor at Gateway Alliance Church, Edmonton

Want to learn more? – Andre’s home online
Andre on Twitter
Andre on Facebook
Andre on Youtube

About Andre:

Andre Rabe, along with his wife, Mary-Anne, are acclaimed speakers, authors, musicians, and missionaries, having lived and served in some of the most obscure corners of the earth as well as in some of the most well known cities. In 2010, with their kids all grown up, Andre and Mary-Anne packed everything they had in two suitcases and took to the road, knowing only that they had a message that made life worth living for them and everyone who understood it. Whether it’s a small group or a large church, whether it’s an academic audience or a charismatic party – to inspire love remains equally relevant.

They have published five books and two music albums that reflect the unique focus of this message. Their online course ‘Word Made Flesh’ has been translated into a number of languages and used in many churches and small groups.

3-6-5 4-3-2-1 – Ignition

My heart burned within me like a molotov cocktail
Melting atrophied organs of sense and perception
Third eyes blinking open from awakenings rude
Iridescent night vision seeing sights long subdued.

Tricksters, gods and monsters find themselves drawn in
To boys kicking off the covers revealing themselves to be men
Without apology.

Things hidden share secrets by flickering flames
Word-making devices now turning a page.

Ruthless grace shows up – mercilessly – picking me off the ground
Charred nuclear shadow where unused conscience once lay
Shrugging off my hangover from that first awful drink
‘Good’ and ‘evil’ hallucinations – that overripe fruit.

“Get up, Man,” Kali taunts me, blue angel of death
Shrunk heads of men who died trying hanging mute ’round her breasts
Her lips curled in kindness, a shared moment between us
Daring me to do better, Mars rising from Venus

While Michael, archangel, the template of me
Stands silently, original, master of all that he sees
Bedouin warrior of Thrones, desert Jinn and bright devils,
Has work to do once my apocalypse settles.

Alchemy seeps down deep in my bones
Leaden dreams long abandoned now spin into gold
Boy’s nightmares arouse to find themselves man’s playmates
(Amid tonight’s deadline and next week’s penciled play-dates)

Eden – alas – left me no forwarding address
Shangri-La (from saved seeds) now blooms in its stead
Could this garden-city be New Jerusalem’s nest?
I’ve been saving ’till now; it’s time to invest.

The invitation is intuition
A ceremony of recognition – my body and blood’s rhythmic repetition
Mercury’s metal on my tongue and sweat on my brow
Life’s transubstantiation – here and now.

Remembrance is re-cognition
Re-membering this disposition
That gives rise – then and always – to original face
Holy Sun Absolute shining shelter and grace

Kindling the compost of what had begun
Seraphim and Destroyer erect such a pyre
Food for the moon from all left undone
“Why not be utterly changed into fire?”


Reimagining How the World is Fed


“Rejuvenating the earth should be the outcome of the food system.” Vandana Shiva made this call for awareness and action last week during her visit to Wake Forest University. On Tuesday, Nov. 4, Shiva lectured as a part of the “Make Every Bite Count” speaker series, organized by the university’s Office of Sustainability and co-sponsored by the School of Divinity’s Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative. On Wednesday, Nov. 5, Shiva led a community forum with students, faculty, and staff at the School of Divinity.

The “Make Every Bite Count” series featured other events including a panel discussion and film screening of GMO OMG with filmmaker Jeremy Seifert. The series aimed to investigate the role of agricultural biodiversity in our local, regional, and global food systems. The final keynote lecture by Shiva highlighted the challenges and opportunities of feeding the world with sustainable agriculture.

Shiva is the author of Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development and the founder of Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources – especially native seed – and to promote sustainable farming and fair trade. Her newest book, Who Really Feeds the World?, will be available next year.

During her lecture and in the community forum, Shiva consistently referred to the “patenting of life,” in relation to the patents held on seeds by industrial food producers. “Ecosystems produce food, not companies,” she said. “Destroying seeds destroys life. Saving seeds is an ethical duty.” The world is at a point where the diversity of creation needs to be reclaimed and valued for that diversity.  Saving seeds is one way to preserve and continue the variety of life forms around us.

“We are not masters of the earth, we are a part of the earth family,” Shiva said during Tuesday’s lecture. “The process of commercial agriculture displaces diversity and people. There is a division in labor and knowledge.”

Shiva has concerns not only for the production methods of agriculture, but also the impact of food on health and wellbeing. “How we grow food is related to disease,” she said. She gave examples on how malnutrition occurs because food lacks essential minerals and the ways toxins from the chemicals used impact bodies in negative and life-threatening ways.

“Rejuvenating the earth should be the outcome of the food system.” This call echoed as Shiva gave glimpses of hope about the work that is being done and the work religious leaders are called to do on food issues. She recalled the abolition movements in the U.S. and India as a historical framework of resistance movements that changed social practices. She encouraged faith communities to plant “gardens of hope” as a beginning point of resistance. “Faith communities throughout the world already are responsible for feeding communities through soup kitchens and food pantries,” Shiva said. “Let’s link the feeding and outreach to the growing of food.”

Shiva’s call to action resounded with many. Fred Bahnson, director of the School of Divinity’s Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative, said it was encouraging to have her on campus. “She inspired us, challenged us, and made us laugh. To hear this global food leader talk about the importance of faith communities working to create food justice and ecological healing was especially encouraging, because it means we’re on the right track.”

Second-year divinity student Pia Diggs is interested in learning more about holistic health and how the food industry is impacting the food she consumes. “After hearing Shiva speak, I have an increased awareness to be more cognizant about my intake of food and a greater concern for how it is being produced,” she said. Diggs worked in a community health center last summer in a low-income area of Greensboro, NC that has been designated as a food desert. “What you eat effects your mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional states, so if you are not eating well-prepared food, it will directly affect your entire being.”

See also:

Focus on food in the forest – WFU News

Make Every Bite Count: Fall Speaker Series

Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative

Thrive: Well-Being at Wake Forest University

Two New Babies

Mike Nova Blog PicFall is in the air! I hope this new season is greeting you with grace and opportunity.

This week, my family and I celebrate six months with our new addition, Nova Rain! She is adorable – I realize I might be biased. :)

I’m also celebrating another baby today – the release of the Buzz Seminar Master Class! This summer, bestselling-author and top-rated blogger Frank Viola and I invited two other friends to spend a weekend in Orlando sharing everything we know about how to make a real, sustainable living online – just like I do.

The in-person response was so positive that we decided to convert the 9+ hours of course content into into a Master Class Course which you can take from the comfort of your own home …and we made it more robust than ever.

The course is a physical edition that’s shipped directly to you. The Course contains all the talks from the seminar on an MP3 CD, plus a hefty manual. In it, we share how writers, speakers, bloggers, and really, entrepreneurs and business people of all stripes can earn a real, sustainable living from their online presence while reaching people eager to hear their message.

buzz-seminar_packageThe Buzz Seminar Master Class is only available for 8 days – we’ll be closing it on October 2nd at 8:00 AM EST.

We have limited copies, and the course won’t be available again for several months. And when it re-launches, the price will go up.

Go to the for details, testimonials, bonuses, and ordering info if you’re interested.

Thanks. And may the new babies in your life continue to grow!

The Buzz Seminar: Masterclass – Coming Soon

buzz-seminar_packageThis summer’s Buzz Seminar was a resounding success – it exceeded even our rigorous expectations. Participants shared some humbling and beautiful reflections (see below), and asked us if we were planning on making this training more widely available, as they want their friends and colleagues to be able to take the Seminar in order to ignite their online presence and make a living.

My co-organizers (Frank Viola, Michelle Shaeffer, David Hancock) and I have decided that there was just too much positive impact to keep the Buzz Seminar limited to our live participants. And so, we’re hard at work creating The Buzz Seminar: Masterclass, which will be open for a limited time this fall. Want to know the moment it’s available? Sign up for our waiting list here. Or, if you prefer clicking on banners:

Join the Course Waiting List & Get Our Free eBook

Like I said, hearing what Buzz participants have had to say, and watching their online Hives grow even in the short time since our live training, has been so gratifying. If you need more reason to sign up for the waiting list, it’s like LeVar Burton used to say on Reading Rainbow: You don’t have to take my word for it…

Buzz Buzz: What others are saying

“I absolutely loved The Buzz Seminar. The presenters didn’t give vague advice – they gave us step-by-step advice to maximize my blogging efforts and how to actually build a platform. I went in hoping for a hands-on seminar that would walk me through how to create content, drive traffic to my blog, and how to work towards writing a book, and that’s exactly what I got. If you want to earn money through blogging, to take your blogging to the next level, good advice on how to use social media to promote your work and more, I can’t recommend The Buzz Seminar enough.”
Deanna Ogle

“The Buzz Seminar provided a treasure trove of resources, insights, and practical direction. The presenters’ desire to help others succeed was palpable. They gave more than one might think they should. The whole seminar and participant interaction made me come away with a feeling and knowing “I can do this!” – with things I was formerly totally ignorant about or things I thought impossible to do. What a valuable investment!”
Nancy Teague

“The information was practical and easy to immediately implement. This wasn’t a typical seminar as much as an education on how to profitably blog, publish a book and all with a purpose and integrity. It surpassed my expectations!”
Manny Hernandez

“I went to the Buzz Seminar looking for information. What I got was empowerment. This course is usable-right-out-of-the-box and jam-packed with no-nonsense, step-by-step, valuable information from a talented panel of professionals who have proven these processes with real results. The Buzz Seminar is hands-down one of the best investments I’ve made in my own future.”
Richard Jacobson

“The material was stellar and the presentations were informative in ways that even I could understand… plus they were so entertaining!  Thank you all for a wonderful two days of exploring the possibilities of venturing into the unknown realm of blogging and publishing for profit.  I look forward to continuing the journey with you with the “Hive” FB group.”
Renee Robb-Cohen

“As an entrepreneur, blogger, and licensed REALTOR, I have taken professional and entrepreneurial classes and seminars. I have also attended many hours of continuing education for my profession. The Buzz Seminar will far exceeded my expectations for content and practical application. You will be able to start applying the principles you learn right away. The presenters are successful and unique in their industry and highly esteemed among their peers.  The Buzz Seminar was by far the best investment into my business that I have ever made. I encourage you to assess your current business plan, dream bigger, and take the Buzz Seminar as soon as you can.”
Alissa Dietz

“The Buzz Seminar was like drinking from the proverbial fire hydrant for me.  I went with a great many questions about how to practically, step by step begin the process of moving from a blogging hobbyist to somebody who knows what the next steps or areas to concentrate upon are.  I came away with a feeling that I finally know not just what to do in answer to those questions, but also what the next questions should be.  It was worth the time and investment to be a part.  I’m glad for the opportunity to be there.”
Bart Breen

“The Buzz was an amazing event with amazing presenters. Each presenter shared loads of their best insight into the writing, blogging, and publishing world.  I received so much practical information that I am now taking a week to go back over the material and form an action plan to implement what was shared.  To be honest, I really wasn’t that hopeful that I could replace my income through writing, but after the Buzz Seminar, I am very hopeful that my dream of writing and working from home may come to pass.  The presenters were authentic, their advice battle-tested, and their encouragement motivating!  I highly recommend this class if you are considering starting a writing career.”
Mark Lake

“There was SO much information given. The Buzz Seminar definitely over-delivered, which is the goal.  I am humbled to be a part of such a talented and gifted group of people, and to be mentored by such grizzled (excepting Michelle) veterans of the information age. My main takeaways are:

– It is possible for me to have a career blogging and writing and provide for my family doing it.
– There is a definite roadmap for success and the tools to implement the roadmap
– Having key performance indicators (KPIs) of performance and progress (hive creation) makes the journey encouraging, versus just looking at posting views which is discouraging.”
Steve Berman

“My overall impression of the Buzz Seminar: MAGNIFICENT!!! It was two days of highly impactful and comprehensive information for a lifetime of usefulness.  Well beyond worth the price for the goldmine of information that you receive.”
Cecilia Blades

“The seminar has given me so much material to look at, so I am taking my time to absorb it into my vision. My goal in blogging is to write and possibly sell my paintings through my blog for which I write about them as well. Thank you to all of you who I now travel with.”
Marilyn Short Davis

“Coming from someone who has the desire to write but hasn’t started yet, the conference was a perfect launch pad. It was great to hear from 4 hosts who have similar success but all teach from a different vantage point. Each speaker taught in a way that was easy to comprehend and I walked away confident that I can have success through writing. The messages were free from fillers and contained practical advice that can be applied immediately.”
Kalil Harrigan

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Why I Stopped Believing in Jesus On A Mission Trip

By Emily T. Wierenga

a deeper story

It was the Lin Yeng Temple, a Hindu temple in Richmond, BC, and we were supposed to be praying over the false spirits, we were supposed to be converting lost souls, but I found myself taking off my shoes instead.

I found myself on holy ground and all of my 18 years of being a preacher’s kid did nothing to prepare me for that moment.

The moment in which someone else’s faith in something other than Jesus would be stronger than mine.

The temple smelled of incense and all I could see were the soles of people’s calloused feet, the posture of their bent backs, and I’d never found this in a church.

There was no live band, there was no projector or stage or pulpit, there was just the awe-struck silence of worship.

I tiptoed down those temple steps leaving my faith there at the top, dead, for crows to pick apart.

And we were supposed to be telling people about Jesus that week but all I could do was feed them sandwiches and listen to their stories.

I didn’t have any magical words for them, I just sat there on East Hastings Street in the parks with men and women who had needle marks in their arms and red around their eyes and we did church together, the only kind I knew how, the real kind.

And after a week of serving hot dogs on fancy china and sorting through clothes at a distribution center and watching the homeless fall on the floor during a charismatic drop-in service, my Mum called.

She called the church basement where I was staying with my sleeping bag and my suitcase filled with bell bottoms.

And she asked me about Vancouver and what we’d done and then she said in her British accent, “Emily, can I ask you what’s been going on this week?”

I said, “I thought I just told you, Mum.”

And she said, “No, Emily, I mean, why has God been waking me up every single night at the same time, the past seven days, to pray for you?”

I nearly took off my shoes right then and there.

My faith, it just picked itself up from those temple stairs and ran back into my life all pecked by crows and disheveled, but alive.

Jesus loved me.

He loved me enough to wake my mother up seven nights in a row to pray for me.

He loved me enough to pursue me.

I don’t know why I felt such holiness at that temple, why I’ve never found that kind of reverence in a church, but I know that Jesus Christ is real.

And that is enough.



My memoir, ATLAS GIRL, is releasing this month, and I am excited to give away a copy today.

Our own Mike Morrell says this about #AtlasGirl:
“Emily Wierenga’s Atlas Girl is a heartfelt reflection, poignantly told, of growing up in the shadows and light of ministry life. She spares no longing, sensuality, heartbreak, ambiguity, or epiphany in telling her story. I wish that all spiritual memoir coming from evangelical circles would be this true-to-voice, grounded, and real. Take and read–you’ll be glad you did.”
~ Mike Morrell, journalist and party-thrower;,

Just leave a comment below to win!

From the back cover:

“Disillusioned and yearning for freedom, Emily Wierenga left home at age eighteen with no intention of ever returning. Broken down by organized religion, a childhood battle with anorexia, and her parents’ rigidity, she set out to find God somewhere else–anywhere else. Her travels took her across Canada, Central America, the United States, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. She had no idea that her faith was waiting for her the whole time–in the place she least expected it.

“Poignant and passionate, Atlas Girl is a very personal story of a universal yearning for home and the assurance that we are known, forgiven, and beloved. Readers will find in this memoir a true description of living faith as a two-way pursuit in a world fraught with distraction. Anyone who wrestles with the brokenness we find in the world will love this emotional journey into the arms of the God who heals all wounds.”


Click HERE for a free excerpt.


I’m also giving away a FREE e-book to anyone who orders Atlas Girl. Just order HERE, and send a receipt to:, and you’ll receive A House That God Built: 7 Essentials to Writing Inspirational Memoir an absolutely FREE e-book co-authored by myself and editor/memoir teacher Mick Silva.

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ALL proceeds from Atlas Girl will go towards my non-profit, The Lulu Tree. The Lulu Tree is dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. It is a grassroots organization bringing healing and hope to women and children in the slums of Uganda through the arts, community, and the gospel.
Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including the memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

Len Sweet Calls It a Masterpiece! ‘Jesus Now’ – 50% Off with Free Study Guide Until May 8th

Jesus NowMy Buzz Seminar partner Frank Viola’s latest book just released: Jesus Now: Unveiling the Present-Day Ministry of Christ.

Leonard Sweet acclaims:

“Frank Viola is a master at the discipline of historical context, and Jesus Now is a masterpiece that shows us how to ‘Christify’ our story—to move from an unscripted spirituality to a scripturally scripted identity.”

Jesus Now contains 8 chapters of fresh material on the present-day ministry of Christ, responding to the question, “What is Jesus doing now . . . since his ascension?”

The book explores every text in the New Testament on the subject, breaking it down into 7 ministries that Jesus has today:

Great High Priest * Chief Shepherd * Heavenly Bridegroom * Author and Finisher of our Faith * Builder of the Ekklesia * Head of the Church * Lord of the World

Frank let me know that if you purchase Jesus Now between May 5th and May 8th from, not only will you get the book at a 50% discount (the best price anywhere), but you will also receive the companion Study Guide at no charge.

Order Jesus Now at the 50% discount and get the complimentary Study Guide before the deadline

You can download a sample of the book here.