boys and men, captive audiences, Faith, featured, G.K. Johnson, history, Israel, mikvah, op-ed, The Zealots

What’s a Whitewashed Tomb?

By Historic Novelist, GK Johnson

There’s a tree outside my office window that is currently blooming, tufts of life springing from the branches, evidence of spring approaching. Last summer a friend of ours, a landscaper, was at our house and pointed to this same tree.
“That tree’s dying,” he said matter-of-factly.

I was so bummed out! I love trees, especially living in the climate in which we do, where their shade shields us from the hot summer sun. Looking at the tree right now it seems healthy, but on a deeper level, it’s dying from the inside out. It took a warning from our friend, a professional, to know what’s coming.

It is recorded in Matthew 23, that Jesus talks about behavior that looks great from the outside but is filthy inside.

STRONG LANGUAGE

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look immaculate on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything decaying and unclean. In the same way, on the outside, you appear to people as good and helpful but on the inside, you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Pretty strong language! The Pharisees were well-respected by the Jewish people and were considered to be examples of righteousness. Jesus himself was a Pharisee, but he was far different from them. While most Pharisees enforced and created additional laws for the people to follow, Jesus demonstrated grace toward the people and removed the crushing burden of the law from their backs. The people loved him for this, while the other Pharisees hated him for shining a light on their hypocrisy. So it’s easy to see why the verses above would anger them even more.

If you’re like me, you may wonder at the significance of whitewashed tombs.

We’ve recently experienced mandatory times of quarantine because of a deadly virus, so we understand what it would mean for one person to have to sequester himself or herself away from the normal goings-on around town and home. No fun! What a shame to miss out, right? And, what a bigger shame to know that because you were involved with friends and family after being contaminated, you may be the cause of their illness or death, right?

Arena-death-scene Sketch by James Dawson

Because it is natural that people do not want to be left out of parties and normal gatherings, the law is required to step in and make demands on individual behaviors.

According to Jewish law, any person who came in contact with a dead body, whether it be actually touching the deceased person or simply the grave with a dead body sealed inside, this brush with death and contagion made the person involved “unclean” for a time and required him or her to undergo a period of separation and cleansing for seven days. This was the law commanded by God thousands of years prior for the Hebrew’s protection from disease.

In order to mitigate this risk, the Pharisees had come up with a plan.

Prior to Jewish festivals that drew thousands of Jews to Jerusalem, the Pharisees commissioned the whitewashing of all tombs. This way no one would accidentally touch a tomb and miss out on the festival due to the cleansing period of seven days. Jesus was saying that the Pharisees looked great on the outside, but inside they were unclean and those who followed them were touching death without even knowing it.

Yeshua heals the Leper in GK Johnson’s The Zealots,
by James Dawson, artist

Jesus’ intense words challenge me to look at the condition of my heart. Jesus has the power of life over death. He arose from His own tomb and offers this same life-transforming power to our own grave actions and attitudes. No-one else has that power, not even doctors, researchers, or nurses. Their skills too, rely on the Creator-Savior for a cure.

How do my outer actions compare to my inner motives?

I am helpless without the mercy and power of Jesus to forgive me for the times I focus my attention on looking good on the outside, rather than bringing my broken and sinful heart into His presence in honesty so that He can heal me.

GK Johnson’s debut historic novel featuring the lives of Barabbas and Simon the Zealot is scheduled to appear on or about January 1, 2021. Watch for it.

The Zealots cover sketch by James Dawson

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captive audiences, Charmayne Hafen, Cyndi Kay, featured, Friendship, op-ed

Friends, Young and Old

By Cyndi Kay

“Thank you for being a friend” plays out as the hit TV show Golden Girls rolls the cast in the opening scenes of every episode. As we know, a friendship of the sticking kind, the deep-understanding-about-life-events kind, is not always an easy achievement. These four ladies give us hope that even in old age, we can have a best friend.

TOUGHEST FEAT OF CHILDHOOD

Book cover Return to Twilight
Sam teaches Lorna what a friend looks like.

Finding and making friends as a child has always been one of the toughest feats that we face in our lifetime. We try at an early age to find someone who we can connect to and spend time with as we go through a time when we are only concerned with what fun can we have today.

Little do we know that when we finish school, these friends will change. Honestly, it’s a rare treat if you make friends in grade school and continue that friendship into the awkward junior high years and throughout high school. We change so much as we go through puberty.

Becoming young adults together is to create a trail of breadcrumbs: into the house of post-graduation, careers, and new ties we go, building new tribes.

TWILIGHT is a modern-Celtic story where a bicycle challenge transfers children into the Land of Twilight. For third-grade — sixth-grade kids.
Big Problem, by Brianna Osaseri, illustrator

It is the trail in which we individually answer life’s choices and dilemmas, those choices will form our futures and often depreciate our past relationships, innocence, and values. So, it’s only natural that our friends change; yet there are instances when some of us maintain that first friendship from kindergarten all the way through high school graduation and beyond. Such as that of Monica and Rachel who end up living life together and being there for each other through thick and thin.

Do you have one friend whom you’ve held onto for years?

Although they were fictional characters, Lucy and Ethel always showed us how friendships should navigate life. Always getting each other into a compromising position, these two remained friends regardless of what they went through. I remember a time when a good friend had encouraged me to go with her to a gathering at a mutual friend’s house. As neither of us wanted to drive, we grabbed a ride with our friend and set out to have a great evening. However, that is not how the night turned out. Our mutual friend received a call and left, stating he would be back in about 20 minutes. Well, 2 hours later, we were walking home as I was trying to contact someone to come and get us. Thankfully, one of my other close friends was available and came to get us so we didn’t have to walk 12 miles. I learned then that friends sometimes do not have the best advice.

A DEEPER PURPOSE FOR FRIENDSHIP

Friendship and loyalty aren’t always about the fun; most of the time, the courage gained from our friends’ opinions or stature is what helps us face the hard times. When a person feels as though they have no one else to help them navigate hurt and pain, a friend is the one person they count on.

There can come a time when we lose the closeness of our friend. Because as humans, we change. When our lives change, so do the people we see daily. Things that were once important to us as friends are no longer the things that connect us as best buddies. So, there we are, doing life without the one person we thought would never leave our side.

On a good note, there will be a day we meet a new person, and soon find that person is our person. The only who truly gets us and what we have been through. We identify with our new friend because both of us have experienced many of the same things in life or because we have developed a relationship due to work. Much like Meredith Gray and Cristina Yang. They have portrayed the classic adult scenario of best friends, there for each other regardless of what they are dealing with individually. These two women taught us what it meant to be someone’s person.

What if the reason we truly understand the way our new friend feels is because the loss or pain we each feel individually is related? What if the very thing that caused one of us pain is also the reason the other one has pain.

This is exactly what happens in the latest book that I have read and highly recommend for summer reading. Indebted. This great read is a tale of a young girl seeking to find her mother. Wanting answers to questions no one will ask. Longing to know why she is blamed for something that she doesn’t even understand. Wren, the fierce young girl who leads the story, becomes entangled in deceit in hopes of finding the answers to questions she has held in her heart for so many years. Not only does her life take twists and turns, but the decisions she makes also leads her through pain and love. This is a classic story of life, friends, and love. This is a definite add to any young girl’s summer reading list as it will take them to a different place and time to find that friends are sometimes the only people, we have to push us to be better.

FIGHTING LIFE’S BEASTS

While reading the book Indebted, I realized that we all have our “beasts” we must defeat during our lifespan.

Each of us have a different “beast” that keeps us in turmoil. It isn’t always something we can easily confront. The thought of facing it alone is overwhelming, yet we do not want to place our people in harm’s way. There are times it is hidden within the depths of our soul and the only way we can overcome the hurt is to lay it at the feet of Jesus. We have to find our strength in the Word and pierce the heart of the beast with our “sword” in order to be free of the grasp of the “beast”. Once we have faced our beast and we are worn from battle, we realize, our person never left us to face it alone.

Friendships change and grow as we mature and develop different priorities. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t have anyone to do battle with you when you need them most. It simply means that each battle may have different friends standing with you to achieve victory.

Cyndi Kay, Freelance Writer
Cyndi Kay, Freelance Writer

Cyndi Kay is a freelance writer and a content writer for Christian Women Living magazine and Books for Bonding Hearts.
www.cyndikay.net

Bridges, captive audiences, featureed, ingenuity, op-ed, poetic, Replete, Tonya Jewel Blessing

The Metaphor Bridge

By Tonya Jewel Blessing


A bridge is a meeting place, a possibility, a metaphor

Jeanette Winterson

Last Sunday, Chris and I, along with my sister and brother-in-law, toured the covered bridges in Ashtabula County in northeast Ohio. The region borders Pennsylvania. We viewed approximately ten bridges located almost exclusively on hard-to-find backcountry roads. The weather was delightful, and the homemade fried pies we found at a roadside stand delicious.

The quote by Jeannette Winterson is a new favorite of mine. As an author, I am also looking for a meeting place with other authors and readers; a possibility of sharing my books on numerous platforms; and direction, even in the form of a metaphor, about how to engage people with my writing.

Most of the bridges we viewed were old and worn, yet sturdy in form and function. Since my novels are set in the late 1920s, I understand the old and worn. I enjoy writing about legends, history, folklore, and people of the past. As an author, with the help of wonderful editors, I stick with writing form and function as much as possible. I do, however, lack form and function when it comes to marketing. I am constantly and consistently looking for new platforms to promote my books. Capture Books, a publishing house, has been extremely instrumental in helping me and has thankfully spurred me onward. Laura Bartnick is my representative. Her innovative ideas keep me on my toes.

This month, I am pleased to say that some new bridges have been crossed. An organization that promotes books that feature minority characters, Diversity Between the Pages, wrote an amazing blog about my latest novel. I have a podcast interview set up for next week. I am in the processing of writing an article for a Christian magazine, and I am excited about an virtual book tour with Prism Book Tours, on June 22-26.

Whether you are a writer, singer, teacher, leader, or dreamer remember to engage in bridge meetings, entertain possibilities, and examine metaphors.


captive audiences, Cyndi Kay Green, family caregiving, interview, journal, memoir, op-ed, poetic, Replete

Memories

By Cyndi Kay

Books For Bonding Hearts / Blog

The stories of our youth aren’t just stories. They represent who we are based on where we were.

My sister loved watching the movie “The Way We Were” which featured the song and lyric, “Memories, light the corners of my mind”, mainly because Robert Redford was the leading actor. As I have grown older, I can understand why the movie was one that became a classic.

What we’ve experienced carries into the present on the backs of who we have become.

Have you reached into the past to pick out and relish a time that brought a smile so big your face hurt? I have. Once upon a time when things seemed easier… I can recall how much life has changed. Do we drift back in time because we are unhappy and long to smile? Or do we simply drift back because something sparks a thought of moments long ago?

I’m just as sure that you, like me, remember the pain that we’ve faced only to realize the strength and insight that we now possess because of the experience.

As I write this blog, Barbara Streisand’s famous Memories song reminds me of my sister, even though she never talked about romance, she was definitely a fan of Streisand’s. The song’s invitation to memories that two people once shared during a brief romance, asks us to remember similar feelings. Even if we haven’t experienced them yet, the song causes us to believe we did.

Memories. What causes us to take a detour from current events?

Drifting Into Yesteryear

We were young, never thinking we would have overnight shopping available or carry phones in our hands at all hours of the day and into the night. We find a different kind of peace to soothe our aches. For me, during the time when  “All in The Family” was the most offensive show on television, life didn’t seem to move so fast. Shopping shut down by 6 p.m., or 8 or at the latest during the holidays, 10 p.m. Television went static at midnight, and kids came in when the streetlamps began to light the neighborhoods in glowing orbs, halos and electric rays. At least that is how it was for me in rural America in the late 60’s and early 70’s. We could count on the Saturday Evening Post to chronicle this American life. With its meticulously drawn photos of kids, parents, and everything idyllic to an modern family, the Post brought to life the legacy of our great nation and the best part of life we had enjoyed within the states that define America.

Ask Them

Many of our elders know that life was not so ideal. After all, World War I occurred, named the great war for a reason, then the Cold War came directly after World War II. Race oppression and uprisings and the Korean War, Vietnam, etcetera, transformed perspectives and friendships and changed society so fast. The stress of cosmopolitan politics, women’s liberation, and homemade fears created amazingly complex memories full of contextual stories that are better than any Snapchat or TikTok.

Our great-grandparents’ memories tell us of the poverty and mothers’ abuse or father’s abandonment, the stock market crash and the Great Depression and how their momma made a meal for a family of six with wild dandelions, herbs, and vegetables from the previous year’s garden. It was a time of experimental vaccines for the years of polio epidemics, Franklin D. Roosevelt as president, and the dust bowl.

Our great-grandparents’ memories tell us of the poverty and mothers’ abuse or father’s abandonment, the stock market crash and the Great Depression and how their momma made a meal for a family of 6 with wild dandelions, herbs and vegetables from the previous year’s garden.  It was a time of experimental vaccines for the years of polio epidemics, Franklin D. Roosevelt as president, and the dust bowl.

Dorthea Lange captured one of the most dramatic and historic photos of that era.

The Story from a Cold War Rocket Scientist

Sometimes, we are able to get these stories into a book so that many may be able to dive back into the days of our elders. One such book is Mister B: Living With a 98-year-old Rocket Scientist. This book is a memoir written by Mr. B’s daughter-in-law. In this lively memoir, we read story after story about the life that Joe Byk has lived throughout the realities of his century. We are taken back and forth from the current neighborhood where the street is lined with perfectly mowed yards to his seemingly ordinary tales with a twist, and some of them are simple antidotes. He is not one to beat around the bush when he makes his mind up. He gives us a glimpse of aerospace and the Cold War. We can learn some lessons from this quaint book about the memories of an immigrant turned Rocket Scientist.

• Keep track of what is going on in the world in order to understand the bigger picture.
• Getting out of the house is good for the soul.
• There is a chance that being a pioneer will not get you fame.
• We live in a world where computer training is must

There are many more lessons the characters observe and learn from each other’s perspective, but these really paint a picture of how life does certainly change.

Three Little Things

If you are on a mission to delve into more memories from yesteryear is a book by Patti Stockdale, Three Little Things. In this enticing book, the author uses love letters from her grandparents as inspiration for Hattie and Arno. The book takes us through the memories of being in love during wartime, but more intriguingly, we are guided through a relationship that grows from Hattie and Arno sharing three little things with each other. It all starts before wartime when Hattie had a crush on the neighbor boy, Arno.

As they grow, she finds herself trying to let go of that “love” because she feels that it can only be one way. Not until seeing the letters during wartime, does she realize that he had loved her all those years.

The couple’s coping memories for wary yearnings take you right into the very place they are standing. Whether it be in the parlor or the barracks, you are right there as they find the love that they have known all this time.

As we grow older, our stories are the most important thing we can pass down to our children and grandchildren. Of course, not all of us will have the rocket science stories, but we each have a particular legacy to share. The stories of our youth aren’t just stories. They represent who we are based on where we were.

How to Preserve a Legacy with Memories

There are two great ways to preserve our legacy and memories for our future generations. One is to write them in a 365-Day Journal. If you do not like to write, then have a family member help you with this. You can pick up a journal at any Walmart or Costco; even dollar stores have them. They do not have to be expensive. Some choose to use regular spiral notebooks or the composition style notebooks. Another way is to create a photo album, just like the days of your grandma.

If possible, photograph the magnificent moments in life. Not just the grandiose places but capture the moments that make your heart sing. Moments like your grandbabies swinging in the backyard. Those moments that you and your husband are making dinner and mistake sugar for salt.

Most of us have a cell phone nearby nowadays, so a quick snap and boom, there it is! — No more expensive copies of your photographs needed. Then you can pick a day once a month to go to the nearest photo printing shop and have your favorite captured memories printed directly from your phone. I am sure Mr. B would be one to pass on this, but it could be a way to share your story with the future generations of your family.

Memories are what connects us to the past as well as the future. Make sure your generations are able to know the stories and lessons of the “good ol days” by passing them down.

Cyndi Kay

Cyndi Kay is a freelance writer and a content writer for Christian Women Living magazine and Books for Bonding Hearts.
www.cyndikay.net

better together, captive audiences, Inbound and Outbound Marketing, interview, op-ed

A Conversation Among Top Ranking 2020 Female Podcasters

Coming from Captive Audiences, where highlights of passion and purpose come together, I’m your interviewing host, Laura Bartnick.

Evelynn Whispering in Dee-Dee’s Ear (A Perfect Tree)

I’ll just dive right in because this discussion will include a lot of subjects and take some time and space. 

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS, Meg, Mimika, Doctor Michelle, Tina, Misty, September, Michelle, and Kate! for ranking among the top 50 female podcasters list featured in the May 2020 Podcast Magazine!

I saw where the Podcast Magazine lists a significant group of editors for specializing in many diverse interests including: comedy, fiction, technology, t.v. and film, society, culture, news, history, education, music, science, religion, government, health, gadgets and gizmos, and sports. Whew! What a comprehensive list! I don’t expect these ratings to come from hosts who’ve just been reading Podcasting for Dummies, but who knows? Let’s check these gals out!

Now, your ratings came in a Mother’s Day Special Edition, so gals, are you all focused on motherhood? Will you briefly name your podcast and tagline or give us the purpose for your podcast?

  • Mimika Cooney: “I’m from Johannesburg to North Carolina, and places in between, I have Mimika TV Podcast an interview-chat show connecting you with today’s inspiring thought leaders. My show offers advice, inspiration, encouragement, leadership tools and tangible tips for empowering Kingdom minded leaders, entrepreneurs, authors and ministers of faith.  We dive into important topics like faith, purpose, business, marketing, leadership, personal development, and mental health.  Just like coffee with a friend, we get to the heart of the matter so you walk away inspired for action. I also run a boutique publishing & marketing agency at Mimika Media LLC. I connect the dots as a motivational speaker on ‘Discover Your Purpose’.”
  • Kate Brown Battistelli, from Franklin, Tennessee: “I’m the author of The God Dare.  And, I also speak for events and I’m a mentor. You found me because I’m 1/3 of the MomtoMomPodcast.com. We’re three generations of moms who have experience nearly every season of motherhood.  Our tagline is, “a podcast for every mom for every season”.  We don’t have all the answers, but you can be sure that we’ll always point to the One Who does.”
  • Meg Glesener: At Letters From Home Podcast “Everyday Extraordinary Faith Stories”, we cover a lot of territory, from Tennessee to California to Washington. We love sending audio letters of encouragement to your doorstep!  We bring you a new real faith story, every other week, from people of all ages and demographics. You will hear their dreams…their struggle…their pain…their life changing encounters and extraordinary moments.  We pray that our listeners  leave each episode, loving their God and their community more deeply. II Cor. 3:3. You can reach me at: lfhpodcast@gmail.com
  • “I’m Tina C. Smith: Raising Kids On Your Knees.  I’m definitely focused on parenting and motherhood. This is a ministry dedicated to equipping parents to pray and parent life into the lives of their children.”
  • Michelle Bengtson: “Motivational speaker hailing from Greenville, South Carolina, I’m a  board certified clinical neuropsychologist, blogger, and international speaker at Dr. Michelle Bengtson, and I speak and write about mental health and health issues, overcoming adversity, and finding hope, peace, and joy in the midst of difficult circumstances. I’m the author of three award-winning books: Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises, Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression, and the Hope Prevails Bible Study. I’m the host of the weekly podcast, Your Hope-Filled Perspective with Dr. Michelle Bengtson  where we talk about every day real life issues but from a biblically-based, hope-filled perspective.”
  • Misty Hinckley PhillipsBy His Grace Podcast– Empowering YOU to live By His Grace. She is the author of The Struggle is Real: But so is God Bible Study, and the Spark Podcast Planner. (www.MistyPhillip.com) Misty is the founder of the Spark Christian Podcast Conference (www.SparkChristianPodcastConference.com), the first conference exclusively for Christian Podcasters. She is the Co-Founder of The Rocket Podcast Community (www.RocketPodcast.co), an online membership subscription community to coach, train podcasters. She currently serves as the Houston Connect Leader for Christian Women in Media. Misty and her family reside in the Houston, Texas area.
Podcaster headphones

Laura Bartnick: How did you first characterize your audience, or how did you find out who was listening after you’d done your podcasting preparation and starting promotions?

  • Misty:  Between analytics and social media interaction, I have access to a pretty good understanding of my target audience.

Laura Bartnick:  What kind of analytics do you use, or is that a plug in or part of a software program or email platform?

  • Misty: I use a combination of analytics from my website, podcast, social media, and my email subscriber list.
  • Kate: Our audience is moms, typically from age 25 through 55.

Laura Bartnick: How did you find out who was listening?

  • Dr. Michelle Bengtson: I’ve found through social media, and those who leave comments and share episodes that our audience tends to be middle-aged to older women who are going through life’s struggles and want to hear from someone who has been there, made it through, and can offer a hand to one who is in the trenches now.
  • Michelle Diercks: My audience is primarily women 35-55. I’ve learned this through my Instagram and Facebook analytics. I also have an email list and my audience engages with me through my email and on social media.

I’m going to pose this question in a way that sounds strange to my ear because the singular form of criteria is criterion. The standard and most common plural form is criteria; less common is criterions, so with that aside, do you know what the criteria were for being listed in Podcast Magazine, what surprised you most about this listing?

  • Misty Phillip: Our podcasts were voted on by peers and listeners. I was happily surprised to see so many faith-based podcasters in the top 50.
Mic chord

Laura Bartnick: Yes! So was I. It is always surprising to learn that so many faith-based programs come floating to the top as the cream, but welcomed to know. Hey all, were you tuned into a particular podcast, whether a story podcast or a self-help podcast, before you started podcasting yourself? Which one and what was your inspiration to learn about podcasting?

  • Meg:  For me, it’s kind of crazy, but I started my podcast having only listened to 2 podcasts, 1 episode each!  I hit the search bar in Apple Podcasts, and couldn’t find what i was looking for…and this thought popped in my head…maybe i should start a podcast?  And what encourages me most, is hearing real life stories. As i followed this thought in my head, 30 faces popped in my mind, of beautiful, everyday people, like you and me whose lives I consider extraordinary, and have captured so many of these stories on Letters From Home Podcast.  As i began podcasting I realized, what a wealth of wonderful podcasts are out there, like all of these ladies in our conversation.  One podcast, that captivated me early on is “Terrible, Thanks for Asking.” Nora McInerny, draws u into each life’s tale…as they walk through calamity, and share how their world changes. I learn so much!
  • Tina: Interestingly, I never listened to podcasts until I started podcasting.

Laura Bartnick: Oh. I wonder if that is because podcasting is a relatively new media form?

  • Dr. Michelle Bengtson: I wasn’t a big podcast listener either, prior to starting my own show. I occasionally listened to More Than Small Talk or That Sounds Fun, but not on a regular basis. Interestingly enough, I felt in my gut that I was supposed to start a podcast for over two years before I took the leap.

Laura Bartnick: Okay, so being new to public broadcasting, it couldn’t have been an easy row to hoe. Please tell us about one technical struggle you’ve had and how you surmounted it. I mean, did someone mentor you in the difficulties?

  • Meg:  Editing has been a challenge for me.  In February 2020, I went to Spark Christian Podcasting Conference, where i met Misty, one of our other Top 50.  One of the speakers Misty had lined up is Thomas Umstattd Jr.  His talk packed so much into my apron pockets!  Since then, on his suggestion, I have upgraded to Hindenburg.  It is user-friendly and has cut down 3-4 hours of editing time per episode, what a gift!

Laura Bartnick: That’s amazing. I did an interview with someone this year who was very sick and had coughing fits while we were recording, so Hindenburg editing would have been useful to delete those episodes quickly between minutes and seconds to the second her voice recovered.

  • Tina:  Yeah, the sound of a voice is so important. I started out with the wrong kind of mic.  Eric Nevins helped me to find a mic that worked well and it totally changed the sound and quality. so the amount of editing changed drastically, saving tons of time.

Laura Bartnick: Ah! Nevins has helped me with several things too, the recording equipment, editing, and introducing me to Zoom.  What a great guy, and I’m also a fan of his chat-based podcast, Halfway There.

  • Mimika:  When I first started my show in 2013, I launched it as a live broadcast.  This was before the days of Facebook or YouTube live so there were more challenges.  I used a company that streamed the feed of my guest and I at a cost of $350 an episode!  Obviously, the cost was prohibitive, so I switched to pre-recording the interviews on Skype, editing them myself and syndicating to YouTube and iTunes.  When Blab came out and allowed live broadcasting through Google+, I was excited to go back to live shows.  I personally enjoy the live format because of the audience interaction.  After Blab shut down, I reverted back to pre-records using Zoom, post production edits, and syndicating to all audio platforms plus YouTube and my website (since mine is a video show). Now that we are at home dealing with home schooling and other responsibilities, I decided to revert to hosting the show live on Facebook to engage the audience in real time and reduce my post production efforts.  So far, I’m loving it!

Laura Bartnick:  Wow, Mimika, I thought I had tenacity.  Just listening to all of these redirections and stuff makes me realize how incredibly flexible you had to be, and willing to research and do the new work.  You probably also had to set aside any misgivings of making yourself look foolish until you learned the ropes.  I’m impressed, Mimika.

  • Dr. Michelle Bengtson: Starting out, the editing presented my biggest challenge. It was a steep learning curve for me. Fortunately, I had a friend who was in radio who taught me some of the essential basics and then I grew from there.
  • Michelle Diercks: I am involved with a group called Hope*Writers. Alana Dawson who is now a Podcast coach, helped me work through the technical issues. She directed me to Pat Flynn’s Youtube channel. In the Hope*Writers group there are a number of podcasters, so I would post questions to them and they would help me. 

Laura Bartnick: Michelle, that’s interesting that Hope*Writers sees the benefit of incorporating podcast hosting into a writer’s platform.  Thanks, I know a lot of writers will be interested in knowing this.

Laura Bartnick: It’s interesting to me why you each have a different host platform. Can you explain for us why you chose the podcast platform host you have?

Misty:  As an author and blogger too, I chose Blubrry as a host because because I have a Wordpress blog and their plugin seamlessly integrates with my site MistyPhillip.com.

  • Meg:  I chose BuzzSprout after Googling videos on best podcast hosts, as well as consulting fellow podcasters regarding their hosts, pros and cons.  BuzzSprout has been a very easy switch from Anchor. They have a nice interface, with design choices. They also have an easy plugin for websites using WordPress.
  • Tina: Honestly, I chose Anchor.fm because it was free and it was easy.
  • Michelle Diercks: I chose Libsyn because I was already using it for some audio devotionals that I had recorded. 

Laura Bartnick: Thanks everybody. So tell us, what kind of personality interviews or programs pique your interest for featuring in your shows?

  • Dr. Michelle Bengtson: Wow! Well, I had my production calendar fairly set, and then COVID19 hit. Because I’m a neuropsychologist, speaker, and author with expertise in mental health issues, and depression and anxiety specifically, it became obvious to me that anxiety levels were escalating at unsurpassed levels. Because of that, I decided to throw my production calendar to the wind and opted instead to do an 8-week episode series about defeating anxiety during times of crisis. It has been a very popular series and a good fit for my listening audience. I’ve also had a lot of experience being interviewed on radio, so many of the questions I’ve been asked as a mental health expert have been turned into episodes on my show.
  • Misty Phillip: I look for interviews that both pique my interest and will also serve my audience well. On my show we center each topic around the struggles we face in life and we focus on how God gets us through.

Laura Bartnick: After you decide on a show, what kind of research do you do?

Empty Mic Stand
  • Dr. Michelle Bengston: my program is typically an interview format. Once I’ve learned of a potential guest who is interested in being on the show, I have them complete an introductory questionnaire to help determine if they are truly a good fit for my program. I research them on their website or social media, and if they’ve authored a book, I will read that ahead of time to help prepare me for the interview.
  • Misty: By His Grace Podcast, works with a combination of guests and friends coupled with a variety of PR firms who send me media kits for each of my guests. These media kits include biographical information, online presence, social media links and talking points. I will look for a unique angle, and research to best serve my audience. If they are an author, I will typically read their book before our interview.
  • Meg: A huge part of what I do at Letters From Home Podcast is personal, since it involves someone sharing their story, oftentimes difficult.  Beforehand, I want to know how they are feeling about it, what they aren’t wanting to share, the major chapters of their lives, and some fun facts. Afterward, we always text or chat a couple of times.  It is encouraging to hear how their families and friends are being inspired by their stories.

Laura Bartnick: How many people work on behalf of your podcast, and what are their duties?

  • Meg:  Oh boy, it is definitely a family affair, Team Glesener! We have 8 kids, and every single one has been on the podcast, as well as all three grandkids. I love incorporating them as they are willing.  Our daughter Hannah created the artwork, our teenage son Jordan has been my technical director, has created music for the intros and outros, and has done voice work. Our theater son, Josiah has also created music for the intros and outros, voice work, and was my first guest. Our daughter Eden has co-conducted interviews, & has been my millennial appeal consultant. My husband does teaching moments. In the day to day though, this Mama does 99% of everything.
  • Misty:  I currently have a team of three. I am the host and do all of the marketing, promotion, and communication. My husband handles all of technical side of my website, and podcast production. My son is my assistant who helps with some graphic design and data management.
  • Tina: My son writes the music for my podcast and he does editing when needed.

Laura Bartnick:  I’m seeing a trend here.  It helps to have family members who are willing to help and are knowledgeable, or at least interested enough to learn some skills.

  • Dr. Michelle Bengtson: Yeah, three to four of us work on any one episode of the program. I’m in charge of hosting the show, researching guests, marketing and promoting the show. My husband has co-hosted with me on numerous episodes. My youngest son helps with editing. An assistant will help with the back end and create graphics.

Laura Bartnick: Hey, so at what point did you start realizing that your listeners had spiked?

  • Dr. Michelle Bengtson: After I had been podcasting for approximately six months, Your Hope Filled Perspective really started gaining some traction, although I don’t know what to attribute that to.

Laura Bartnick: That spike happened to one of our authors, Tonya Jewel Blessing after about two and a half years. We never knew what caused it, but it has continued to grow steadily.

  • Meg: Letters From Home Podcast has had a steady growing general interest audience, too.

Laura Bartnick: Maybe it’s like a new author whose content is well-written enough that it takes off through word-of-mouth.

Are you following the Podcast Magazine on Twitter https://twitter.com/ThePodcastMag/photo or some other social media, sharing the love? When I went to Twitter to follow Podcast Magazine, I mentioned this interview. How do you layer publicity or reuse content?

  • Meg: I have been very active on Instagram and have followed and supported Podcast Magazine there, through posts and live stories. I love celebrating fellow podcasters, and podcasting in general. It is fun to use #’s and @’s, to draw attention to great podcasts, people might not know about. Twitter is a newer social media venue for me, and Podcast Magazine is one of the first accounts i followed. 
  • Dr. Michelle Bengston: I’m much more active on FB and IG than I am on Twitter. But I love sharing other people’s podcasts, and support Podcast Magazine there.

Laura Bartnick: Do you find that posting upcoming interviews or shows helps you stir up interest or gains you followers?

  • Misty: I have a very engaged and growing social media presence. I use a variety of platforms to share about the podcast, and I definitely think it helps stir up interest.
  • Meg:  Absolutely. It can be a win-win. Posting and tagging in stories ahead of time, can alert our listeners to a new author, podcaster, story, etc.; and if the interviewee is on social media, it can also alert their followers to a whole new audience.
  • Tina:  Yes, I use Instagram and Facebook to announce my podcasts.
  • Mimika:  When my show was pre-recorded, I put all my marketing efforts into pushing views after the show aired.  Now that my show is hosted live, I can promoted it as an event and I’ve found it garners much more attention with the live format.
  • Dr. Michelle Bengston: I usually share about upcoming episodes on social media a couple days before a new episode drops, and then again on the day it releases. I think it helps build interest.

Laura Bartnick: How do you let your listeners know about an upcoming podcast so that they can tune in if they are particularly interested?

  • Mimika: I’ve always been a big believer in nurturing an engaged email list.  By having loyal followers, I can ensure that every new event, podcast interview or book launch is received well.  I think email marketing is one element of the marketing mix that many podcasters dismiss and focus too much on downloads and numbers.  At the end of the day, we are creating content to support, nurture and empower listeners, so if they already love what we offer, why not make it easier for them to listen by sending an email?
  • Michelle Diercks: I use both Social Media and my email list to let my listeners know what is going on with the podcast. 
  • Dr. Michelle Bengtson: Absolutely! It helps to remind your audience of your program because life is busy, they’ve got a lot on their mind. It also helps create conversation and learn what my listeners’ needs are.
  • Kate: We use Instagram and Facebook.  Both of these are sharable announcements in case our listeners want to introduce someone to one of our podcasts.

Laura Bartnick: I can imagine that gaining new audience exposure is always a struggle. Do you use social media to announce your podcasts?

  • Misty: Yes! I use a variety of social media platforms and have found this very beneficial.
  • Meg: Always. On Instagram I do three posts per episode ahead of time, one with a photo of their family, one with a quote from their story, and then the episode cover. I just started using BuzzSprouts, free audio clip on my IG/FB stories, to give a sneak peek. 
  • Mimika:  Yes, utilizing my social media platforms is imperative in letting my audience know about the show. I love to repurpose content and recycle old interviews because I’m attracting new listeners on a regular basis, listeners who would enjoy past episodes too.  It takes a lot of effort to create a podcast show that every piece of content I create needs to be re-usable, repurposed, or promotable on an evergreen basis.

16.  I’ll admit, in both writing and publishing, there is a very lonely, agonizing element to the writing, the waiting and the marketing aspects. Okay, all of the phases are basically agonizing. Finding a tribe or community is helpful. In what ways do you act as a community of this female podcaster club or is this a competitive field?

  • Meg:  Zero competition, 100% celebration. I view every female podcaster as part of my tribe. We are not alone. right?  And personally, I love being surrounded by all of these wonderful women, trying to get more encouragement out to our hurting world.
  • Tina:  Um-hmm. I find seeing other female Christian podcasters as competition is counter-productive to the calling we all have on our lives.  We all have different voices and each voice is important.  Our voices, together, are much louder in the grand scheme of things.
  • Dr. Michelle Bengtson: We are better together. I don’t look at others as competition—there’s enough room for all of us. And when someone finishes reading one of my books or listening to one of my podcast episodes, they are going to look for another book to read or podcast to listen to. So, if I can help promote other podcasters, it helps my listeners, which is ultimately my goal.
  • Michelle Diercks: I don’t see other female Christian Podcasters as competition. Each one of us brings something different to the table through our stories and the stories we share about others. 
  • Misty Phillip: I have created a variety of communities to celebrate other podcasters both in person and online. Locally I’ve run a Mastermind group of authors, bloggers, speakers, podcasters, and entrepreneurs to foster education and community for the past four years, and currently serve as the Houston Connect Leader for CWIMA. I also created Spark an online community and live event for Christian podcasters, and most recently Eric Nevins and I have partnered to form the Rocket Podcast Community which focuses on coaching and community. I believe all of our voices and messages are needed in our world today and I love to champion and collaborate with other women. In fact over half of the women in this article have been guests on my podcast. 

Laura Bartnick: The world has been altered in the pandemic, but I’ve also seen some wonderful things come of the experience; how did Covid-19 change you, good or bad, or change your podcast?

  • Meg:  One thing I have loved about COVID-19 is the sense that we are all in this together. A few weeks ago, i was feeling that my family was getting complacent, involved with good things-homework, cleaning, projects, but not thinking globally.  So, we took a prayer drive through downtown Seattle. We stopped at 4 hospital parking lots, a jail, the police headquarters, a homeless encampment and a cemetery, and prayed in each parking lot, each family member at each stop. We prayed for the elderly, for the sick, for the front-line workers, for the cleaners, for the launderers, for the homeless, for the imprisoned, for the firemen, for the engaged, for those having to bury family, for teachers, for young moms, for families, for governments, and for the countries of the world. We went home, remembering, we are all in this together and every little bit helps. 
  • Kate: We typically air every 2 weeks, but we added several episodes to help out since everyone had to suddenly homeschool during the pandemic.  As all three of us are homeschoolers, we added extra episodes to give guidance to women who had never homeschooled before and were caught off guard and didn’t have any clue what to do now that their children were home from school.
  • Dr. Michelle Bengtson: Covid-19 put a temporary halt on my traveling, but the positive side to that is that I’ve had more time at home with my family and it’s given me time to batch record dozens of upcoming episodes. Covid-19 has made me much more grateful for the little joys in life. It has also helped change my perspective from “I have to,” to “I get to” which lets me live from a place of peace rather than panic.
  • Michelle Diercks: I added on some Facebook lives and events. My audience responded well to them. I think they were looking for a better connection and more interaction during this time. 

Laura Bartnick: What kind of interviews or subjects will you be featuring in this upcoming year?

Microphone
  • Meg: Holland Web!  He’s one story I look forward to sharing.  He’s a Dad who adopted two boys.  Holland is a single young man in his twenties, and he just put out a wonderful parenting book, “Adventures in Fatherhood.” His story is remarkable.

Laura Bartnick:  Yeah, wow, that is so rare, a single young man who has such a strong sense wanting to nurture! So, usually, people ask very productive women, “How do you get all of that done?”, and in this case, I’d want to pose that question to Holland.

  • Meg: I also have a friend who had an affair, that nearly ruined her marriage, but didn’t, so I want to interview her regarding how they worked through all of that.

Another friend has a ministry where she and her friends bring care packages to strippers. 

Laura Bartnick:  Oh, love that!  I have a friend whose daughter died.  Then she found out through her daughter’s friends offering their condolences, that her daughter was a dancer-stripper downtown with the majority of them.  What a shock.  But, she turned that experience into an array of new understandings and relationships when she began inviting them over.

Meg: Auralee Arkinsly, an author, gave me one good connection awhile back.  It looks like a great list. I also have a friend who lost 125 pounds and is now leading Refit classes and podcasting about health. So many inspiring stories lined up, my guest list is so full through next year. 

  • Misty: On my podcast we talk about the struggles we face in life and how God sees us through. So everything goes through that filter. We provide content that we believe will educate or inspire my audience.
  • Dr. Michelle Bengtson: I’ve got some guests on upcoming episodes that have fascinating victory stories. I interviewed a former airline pilot, who earned the nickname “Miracle Man” because he suffered a traumatic brain injury on the job and shouldn’t be alive today but is. I also interviewed a woman who was involved in a motor vehicle accident and accidentally killed another individual and has had to live with that in her thoughts on a daily basis. I also interviewed a woman whose family went through financial devastation but has come out on the other side. So many amazing guests are coming up in the next year.
  • Michelle Diercks: My podcast focuses on God’s Word and helping women find Peace in God’s Presence, in all circumstances.

Laura Bartnick: Wow! This has been a special opportunity getting you all together for an interview. Thank you again for coming together for a lively and technical discussion – wait, can lively and technical be used in the same phrase? Well, it’s the definition of sparking- so thank you for coming together for a sparking conversation with the authors at Capture Books and Captive Audiences where highlights of passion and purpose come together.

-Thanks for the opportunity, I’m Meg 206-931-9110 at Letters From Home Podcast. Here I am on Facebook.

– Hey, thank you for allowing me to participate in this panel. I can’t wait to see this. I’m Tina C. Smith at Raising Kids On Your Knees and that’s aa MAP Global Partner Ministry.  You can find me on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/raisingkidsonyourknees, Instagram:  www.instagram.com/raisingkidsonyourknees, Twitter:  www.twitter.com/prayingforkids

-September:  Yes, thank you. If you have questions, you could dig a little deeper into one of my websites, raisinggenerationstoday.com,  septembermccarthy.com or contact me at: oneseptemberday@gmail.com

-This is great.  Thanks again, and you can always reach me, Mimika, at: Hello@mimikacooney.com

To connect with my podcast and leadership mentoring, find me at Mimika Cooney where we empower leaders and entrepreneurs. 📚Author 🚀Media Marketing ✝️Jesus https://www.mimikacooney.com

– Dr. Michelle Bengtson, how fun! I’m host of “Your Hope-Filled Perspective with Dr. Michelle Bengtson” and award winning author of Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression, the Hope Prevails Bible Study, and Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises, Michelle@texnant.com. You can connect with me on my websiteFacebookTwitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or YouTube. Thank you.

– It’s been great. I’m Kate with MomtoMomPodcast.com. Remember, “To do the impossible, you must see the invisible.” –The God Dare.

-Thank you for this!  I’m Misty Hinckley Phillip, author of The Struggle is Real: But so is God. For more information check out my websites: MistyPhillip.com, SparkChristianPodcastConference.com, and RocketPodcast.co