Q and A with author Michelle Lazurek

I met Michelle Lazurek at the West Branch Christian Writer’s Conference a few years back and her seminar on character development was so fun! Recently, I was a beta reader for her new book, An Invitation to the Table, and now she has two wonderful new children’s books coming out about being beautiful and strong (available NOW!) She is certainly a disciple for Christ and I am honored to know her and learn from her.

Here are a few questions (a re-post from the “Q” of our A to Z Challenge!) she answered for me so you can get to know her a bit better too! Be sure to check out all her books on her website (link below!)

Michelle, tell me a little about yourself.

I am a writer, speaker, pastor’s wife and mother. I’ve been in ministry for over fifteen years. I’m married to my wonderful husband Joe for fifteen years and have two children, Caleb and Leah.

How did you become a writer?

I’ve often said that I didn’t choose writing; writing chose me. In 2009, while attending a women’s retreat, I felt God impress upon my heart to write a book. I had never written anything before in my life. I was terrified! I prayed and asked God what he wanted me to write about, and I began to notice in the gospel of John how many times John referred to himself as “the disciple ‘Whom Jesus loved.'” As I researched, I found no one had written anything about that topic. That’s when my first book “Becoming the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved” was born. I’ve been writing ever since.

What kind of difficulties have you experienced as a pastor’s wife, and how did you handle those difficulties?

When you are in a position of power, there will always be people who try to take advantage of that power. It’s especially tough when you are in a place of spiritual power. The enemy will always seek to knock you own, using the same people who praise with you on a Sunday morning. Besides loneliness, that’s the hardest part about being a pastor’s wife- those within your congregation who don’t treat you with the same level of mutual respect because they believe things should be handled or organized differently.

You have two new children’s books that have just been released. Tell me what they are about.

When my daughter was four years old, she would spend hours parading in front of my husband, twirling around in her princess dresses and asking “Daddy, Am I Beautiful?” I realized in that moment that is the cry of every young girl’s heart—to be told by her father she is beautiful. My book explores the concept of self-esteem from a young girl’s perspective and teaches them that it is not what’s on the outside that makes you beautiful, but what’s on the inside. Mommy Am I Strong? is written for boys and explores the concept of their self-esteem. Boys want to be seen as strong and use their strength to prove their worth. This book teaches that true strength comes from the inside, not on the outside.

What lesson would you like young girls and boys take away from your childrens books?

Society is tough to raise Christian men and women in, especially for women. In this overly sexualized world, we tend to teach girls that their value in life comes from exploiting their bodies for others’ pleasure. I want girls to feel they are more than that. I want them to come away with the confidence that their worth does not come from their body type, but from God’s approval of them just as they are. With the increasing popularity of superheroes, boys are taught early that their worth comes from their strength. I want young boys to believe that even someone with a disability can be strong because of their ability to display humility and grace in the face of trials.

What are some upcoming projects?

I have a non-fiction book on hospitality titled An Invitation to the Table: Embracing the Gift of Hospitality that releases in spring of 2016.




Michelle S. Lazurek is a pastor’s wife, a mother, an author, and a speaker. A member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, she has been published in numerous places such as Charisma Magazine and Movieguide Magazine. Her newest book An Invitation to the Table explores hospitality and discipleship. For more information, Please visit her website at www.michellelazurek.com.


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U is for…

We’re nearing the end of our revised A to Z Challenge! I can’t believe I’m on U already, but as I contemplated this letter, I realized nothing stood out to me that started with the letter U. Of course there are a lot of words that begin with U, so I took to the dictionary to find a few in hopes it would spark something.

What I decided on was a list of Unusual U words that you might not have heard before.

Uxorious – excessively fond of or submissive to a wife.

Apparently, this word was used in the most recently popular novel, Gone Girl.  I didn’t read it so I’ll let you tell me. In addition, Helen Mirren is reported to have said it’s a trait she most admires in a man.

Ukase – a proclamation by a Russian emperor or government having the force of law or an edict.

Basically, this is an order from a dictator… some have called the Affordable Health Care Act a ukase.

Ultimo – of or occurring in the month preceding the present

It is also the name of a fictional giant robot in the Marvel Comics universe who fights Iron Man. I like Iron Man so, therefore, I do not like Ultimo much like I do not like to dwell in the past which seems to be the real definition of this word.ultimo

Umbel – a racemose inflorescence typical of the carrot family in which the pedicels arise from about the same point to form a flat or rounded flower cluster. (There’s a mouthful.)

Ever seen Queen’s Anne Lace? That’s an umbel.

umbel 16-queen-annes-lace-purple-flower

Unguent – a soothing or healing salve

1 John 2:20 – But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. (KJV) – The Holy Spirit is an “anointing unguent” for our souls. (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary). Also spoken by the bad guy in the movie, Fargo, when bitten by his victim.

Now I hope I’ve expanded your vocabulary today and encouraged you to find some Unusual U words of your own!

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5 Things Every Christian Should Know

If you’ve spent any time on social media I’m sure you’ve seen some tripe about sharing God’s love, lest you show God that you don’t love Him! Or maybe you’ve seen, “Share this message to receive God’s blessing on you today!” We’ve gotten so distracted by shiny graphics that we’re agreeing to false, mixed messages. Sometimes we send them on “just because” or we think if something just mentions God we should share it figuring people need to see “God” written down to get ANY message. But we’re sending the WRONG message! Here are a few tips every Christian should remember.

  1. Horoscopes are not of the Bible. I’ve seen so many “Christians” on social media share their horoscopes. Maybe you think it’s harmless. I used to read them myself, but, frankly, they said they same, vague thing every day. As I studied more about my faith, I found that God does not want us to put our faith in divinity such as horoscopes. In Deuteronomy 18:10-15 it warns against seeking truth from “secret ways.” To try and predict the future is to not trust in God. GotQuestions.org gives a great explanation by saying, “Faith in anything besides God is misplaced” and “Consulting a horoscope is a violation of God’s means of communicating with His children.”
  2. Sharing a Facebook post doesn’t mean you love Him more than the next guy. I’ve seen way too many posts chastising me that, if I don’t share the post, God will know I don’t love Him. God and I have a relationship that transcends social media. I speak right to Him anytime I want. He can FEEL my love for Him in all that I do – including NOT sharing a lame, condescending and manipulative post.love-God-on-Facebook
  3. God’s blessings aren’t like snacks from a vending machine. When you put a quarter (or six) in a vending machine you can get whatever your heart desires from the machine. A candy bar. A bag of chips. A soda. But God doesn’t work that way. You can’t simply put more in the offering plate to get the blessing you want, you can’t do loads of charity work, say extra prayers or share a Facebook post and expect that new car you’ve been dreaming about. God doesn’t work that way. He wants to bless us every day, but it’s sometimes not in the ways we think. Just like sending out a chain letter won’t guarantee you win the lottery – you can’t do anything to get God’s blessings. He wants to give them to you freely (but He knows what you need and it probably isn’t that new car.)b33eefd66ac4ec6a8d5a5c7fa2384ed1
  4. There are angels, formerly of this world, watching over us. Okay. This one is hard. I know if you’ve lost a loved one you would like to believe that they walk beside you and comfort you on a daily basis. It’s hard for me to discredit that because I’ve sometimes felt the presence of my own grandmother – or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I thought she had directed something to happen in my life. It is a comforting thought, I won’t deny it. But let me say two things: 1) God created angels as His agents to carry out His will on earth. There is no biblical evidence to show that any of them were previously human. 2) If you died and were present with the Lord – no more pain, no more sorrow, the strife of this world GONE – would you want to come back to this crappy world? Seriously, heaven is going to be SO much better than here. YOU won’t miss your loved ones. It’s the ones left on earth that do that. I know it’s hard to accept, but see this page for more and read 2 Corinthians 5.
  5. Some people know when the world is going to come to an end. Nope. Not true. Remember all those folks who believed Harold Camping – who predicted when the world would end TWICE. Right. He was wrong both times. But many believed him and followed him and PAID HIM MONEY. There was even those books that said they knew the “code” that the Bible had in it to predict the end of the world. Nope. Don’t believe anyone who tells you that – EVER. Do you know why? Because of Matthew 24:36 – But no one knows the day or the hour. No! Not even the angels in heaven know. The Son does not know. Only the Father knows. Even JESUS didn’t know. Only God knows. Don’t be fooled.

So what does all of this show us? For me, it’s taught me to direct my thoughts more to the words of God – the Bible. He might not tell us when the end of the world is coming, but He does tell us so much more in His word. Reading the Bible is the one sure way to know God and all He has in store for us. By reading and learning His text, we can ensure a closer relationship with Him and have a more solid foundation on which to stand. Don’t be fooled by imitators – seek out only His word for your life and you will not be led astray.

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T is for Tactical Mission

I recently coerced my hubs into venturing out to a local corn maze. The maze was held during the fall every year. We’d never been there before and, truthfully, didn’t see any benefit in the idea of getting lost in a field full of corn. But the venue added an extra incentive one Friday evening that caused us to change our minds: wine.

A few local wineries set up at the venue and gave free samplings (after your entrance fee for the maze of course). In addition, there were several incentive stands inside the maze to 1) “help” you along and 2) probably hinder most maze goers from completing the maze. We sampled a few sips of wine before stirring up enough courage to actually enter the maze. I’m a bit claustrophobic so I wasn’t truly looking forward to it, but my husband always makes things like this fun so I was ready to go.


John trying to make me laugh.

I didn’t realize it would turn into a tactical mission that would have made Ulysses S. Grant proud.

First area of attack: The enemy (otherwise known as the people who designed the maze) gave us an encoded map. We could pay an additional $1 to get special glasses to read the map – my spendthrift husband declined, stating we would “Take our chances.” Luckily, the enemy is not very smart and posted a better map directly outside the maze entrance. Thanks to modern digital equipment (i.e. my smartphone) we were able to image the map for reference.


Second area of attack: Determine wine stand locations throughout, hit up each once, avoid the rest of the maze.

Third area of attack: Get to end of maze without getting lost, but having fun in the process.

Fourth area of attack: Buy bottle of wine and revel in our accomplishment.

With these items in place, my husband quickly took the lead.



We chatted with a few ladies who had caught on to our tactics, following us along the way. We were unable to shake them, but they posed no immediate threat so we let them tag at a distance behind. As we rounded the bend in sight of one wine stand, the owner of Four Friends Winery in Montgomery shouted, “HEY! How are you!?” to us. (Tactical Hint: It’s not good for the enemy to know your name. Note to self: Visit winery less. …just kidding!) The other “armies” (or, you know, customers) backed off a considerable distance when they realized our position.

(Tactical Note #2: Wear appropriate footwear for missions. Flip Flops in a corn maze does NOT equal appropriate footwear.)

Near the end, and after accomplishing the second of our four-pronged attack, we became slightly lost and were still trying to avoid the two old biddies following. I felt disconcerted by their presence and wondered if they had ulterior motives to throw us off course. Perhaps they were enemy plants. John and I decided to regroup before moving forward and I awaited his signal.

20150911_183613 20150911_183610

Visual communication received, we made our way to the end, even making small talk with the enemy (i.e. guys on the bridge who were helping the lost [AKA LOSERS]). The two elderly ladies joined up with us once again (seriously, where did they come from?) just as we regained our freedom.

We set off to find the spoils of war: a nice bottle of Riesling.


Mission Accomplished.

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The day the black woman came to church

Two weeks ago a small, seemingly elderly black woman entered our church. Immediately, I could feel the amount of tension amidst my fellow parishioners. You see, we’re all white. I’m sure it seemed odd to some of them that this black woman had stepped into our church in our small rural town. After all, there are other churches in the area – some even all black churches. So why our church? I could sense from their looks and strained expressions that they were unsure how to proceed in this new, sometimes tension-filled territory.

Race issues are an ongoing conversation right now on most social media outlets. I’ve been reading articles and posts from black men and women, and trying to hold conversations in an effort to understand things better – from the black perspective. Although I’ve learned a lot, I have yet to truly step out to say, “We (i.e. white people) are doing things wrong.”

I grew up in a mostly white community. I had one black boy in my graduating class and I can honestly say that I never saw his color. He was smart, funny and handsome – still is in fact – those were the things that defined him for me. I can’t say whether he felt any discord, mistrust or ill-will being among mostly whites, but I never felt any between him and I.

Today I read this post about learning to break the silences that impedes us. The story she described reminded me of times when we had folks come to our door when I was little. Honestly, I don’t remember their color, but I think most of them were white. My dad never let anyone in. There was distrust for anyone he didn’t know. But now I’m thinking – even that wasn’t right. Although my dad had a right to protect his family, we don’t have the right to judge based on initial appearances.

So it was when this this elderly black woman came to our church.

The first week she attended, many said hello to her and welcomed her. That first week, she asked us, “How does one have faith?” We stumbled along with responses, but we didn’t try hard enough. We didn’t connect with her. I left feeling that we, as a congregation, had been nice, but did we do enough? How would we have handled it differently if she had been white? I said hello to her, I knew her name (Clara)… but that was it. I knew nothing else about her. She either would realize the tension or feel uncomfortable being surrounded by whites. Did she feel welcomed ENOUGH? Had we stretched ourselves past the perfunctory hellos to truly understand the person? I know I hadn’t. And I worried that we wouldn’t get another shot at it. I felt like I had failed God. He was working in my life to show me that we were all His children and yet I knew I had still let some prejudices hinder my work for Him.

This past Sunday, she came again. I was astounded and overjoyed. Although it was completely out of my comfort zone (not to talk with a black person – to talk with someone new), I engaged her in conversation. She told me she had two children who were my age, her husband lived in Philadelphia, but she chose not to live there because there were “too many people there.” She also told me she was a recovering addict. Her life had been “rough” and she was “in a lot of pain.”

Then she asked me, “How do you learn to forgive yourself for all the bad things you’ve done?”

I was speechless. You see… she truly wasn’t any different from you or me. She’s trying to find her way in the world, trying to figure out how God could possibly love a horrible sinner like herself and how He could forgive her when she can’t even forgive herself. And He had brought her here – to my church – to seek answers. He obviously thought we could help.

The problem now was: I didn’t know how to answer her. It wasn’t a race divide we were now experiencing, it was because we were simply two sinners seeking answers. We were lost souls. To be fair, she’s obviously had a much harder life than I have, but I connected with her a bit in that moment. I had no idea how to answer her because I struggle with the same question almost daily.

But I didn’t give up. I sent up a silent prayer to God for direction. I gave her a short answer – basically that it was a difficult, daily process – and then I went in search of literature in the church that could help. The pastor helped me find a booklet on finding forgiveness and I found one on knowing the Lord. When I handed them to her, I placed my hand on her shoulder and said, “We might not have the answers, but these will help. We can work on it together.”

I hope she comes back. I pray the Lord will show all of us how we can help or just even be a listening ear for her. She’s seeking the truth and I pray our prejudices, false thoughts and mistrusting natures will not hinder us from making a difference – in both her life and ours.

What are you doing today to understand others who are different from you? Whether it be in color or background, we are all children of God – find that common ground today and let’s start moving in a direction together towards Him.


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S is for Sue’s Snarky Snippets

“That needs to be a blog for the A to Z Challenge!” has been heard frequently during the last several months between my writing friends and I. It seems that every small snippet becomes a letter in our challenge to blog through the alphabet.

As we near the end, (really? It seems like we just started yesterday!) several of my verbal stories full of snark have amused my friends enough to say, “Write about that!” So here goes.

S is for Swans…not ducks

Several weeks ago, my husband and I visited Knoebel’s, a local amusement park in PA. It’s different than most amusement parks in that some people, like us, don’t go for the rides. We go for the atmosphere. It’s a lovely shaded park with terrific food choices throughout. We often go just to relax, spend some time on a bench and people watch (our favorite activity.) Recently, the resident swans at the park had some babies. We stopped to admire them swimming in the local creek and a few other “out of town” (ever see “Jersey Shore”?) families stopped to share the wonders of nature with their children. “Oh, look at the swan little Jimmy! Isn’t that pretty? And look at those ducks!” one father exclaimed, pointing to the family of swans before us.

I cringed. And then I looked around for ducks. Perhaps I had missed them? Nope, no ducks. How could they not know these were baby swans? I realize they might not have swans in the city, but doesn’t anyone watch PBS anymore?


This is not the Knoebel swans, but they looked very similar

I said to my husband, “Those are the largest and longest necked ducks I have ever seen!” He shushed me as another family came up to the fence. They too admired the “ducks.” How could this be? I thought. TWO families think these are ducks?

In all fairness, ducks come in all shapes and sizes, but… these babies looked identical to their swan mother and father, just with darker feathers.


These are one variety of ducks. I can slightly see the resemblance.

I was astonished and livid that these children were being taught incorrect nature. My husband had to eventually drag me away to save us from a scene. (After I told my friends this story, they suggested I should have said something to the parents, but I fear I would have exuded too much snark to have made any effect.)

S is for Perseverance … no wait, Stupidity

On our walk around the park we finally came upon the famed Grand Carousel. Riders can still reach out to catch a brass ring for a free ride. After watching one round of riders, I commented to my husband that many of the younger generation seemed to not be into grabbing the ring. Most just sat atop their horses and enjoyed the ride. (There’s another snark moment: people that get on the ride and then complain their horse doesn’t go up and down… people… LOOK UP when you get on. It’s pretty simply to determine which horses go up and down.)

On the second go round I noticed a young lad probably about the age of 7 or 8 reaching out for the ring. Alas, he was too small to reach.


This girl has nothing on this little boy we saw.

But that didn’t deter him in the least. I wish I had taken a picture. By the last go round, he was literally hanging on by a leg to his horse. He had scooted himself to the very edges of his brilliantly colored stead, balancing one FOOT (not leg actually – those shoes must have had awesome tread) and gripping the pole with one hand in an attempt to reach just one sacred ring. (He would have done Frodo proud). I was rooting him on, marveling at the child-like wonder and perseverance, until I realized: He could very easily slip from that slick horse and fall onto the very hard and not so magical ground. Stupidity, I decided was more like it. I breathed a sigh of relief when the ride finally ended and the boy dismounted.

S is for Sarcasm

I hope you know by now that most of this blog is done for silly fun and is filled with a bit of sarcasm. Although the actions of people do sometimes astound me, I know that I have made some pretty stupid choices in my life too. I often put some snark and sarcasm on myself as I go about my day, “That was smart, Sue. Let’s not do THAT again!” It’s a way to poke fun and add a bit of entertainment to my life.

Because as someone once said, “Some days I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.” Tweet this

I’d rather laugh – wouldn’t you? I hope my blog helped you laugh a bit today.

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Time keeps on slipping…slipping…

Time seems to always be against us doesn’t it? I love to watch “Chopped” on the Food Network and those cooks are always racing against the clock. It makes cooking a meal look like a Nascar event. It doesn’t seem like twenty minutes would go that quickly, but the chefs certainly would disagree with me. I’ve never timed myself in my cooking so I’m unsure if I could compete under that stress. And then there’s Ted:


Pretty intimidating, isn’t it?

On any given day, I often feel like time is against me too. My “to-do” list is always longer than my time allotted and I end up feeling overwhelmed and short on precious time. I’m racing like those chefs against the clock every single day.

But is it all just a skewed perception? Are we convinced that time is just running out faster than it truly is?


For instance: Today I got up around 8 am. I got dressed, had breakfast, fed the dog, cleaned up the house a bit, took cleaning supplies out to my car and did some touch-ups. This included: Wiping down all the car windows (inside and out) with Windex, putting bug spray stuff on the front and rubbing off all the little dead critters, removing old stickers from inside the back window, applying my new Simply Said Logo design to the back window, vacuuming the interior (with my Dyson), wiping down the other interior surfaces and wiping down the wheels. (I had run the car through the car wash yesterday.) When I was done with all that I went back into the house and took a shower (because…ick). It was 10 am.

Yep. Only 2 hours to do all of that! Time didn’t seem to have slipped away from me at all.

And the other day I put something in the microwave to give it a thaw. I hit the “30 sec” button twice and ran to the bathroom while it worked. I was sure it would ding before I got back, but it didn’t! One minute seemed like an eternity!

Months ago a friend suggested that I should sit down and write anything for one minute straight in an effort to break some writer’s block I was experiencing. That minute seemed like the longest minute of my life! I wrote what I wanted to write and then had to add to it just to use up the time! Go ahead and try it. Write something, anything, for one minute. I’ll wait.


See! It took forever didn’t it? I bet you wrote more than you thought you could in that time. See what else you can do in a minute’s time. I already know I can easily go to the bathroom in that time. I can dry my wet hair in about two minutes. And I can cook a meal, just like those chefs, in about thirty minutes. (Without Ted Allen pressuring me about the time or the professional chefs staring me down of course.)

So perhaps time isn’t slipping away from us after all. Maybe it’s all just a skewed perception of reality. The next time you think that time is rapidly running away from you, make a conscious effort to note the time. When you’ve done a bunch of the items on your “to-do” list – check the clock again. How long did it take you? I bet you’ll be surprised at the result.

What about you? What can you accomplish in a short time? Let’s commend ourselves for doing so much in so little time and stop worrying about the time slipping away!

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