Here at Doorkeeper, we celebrate those who are opening doors for others, either through mentoring, mothering, teaching, writing or more. From time-to-time I’ll be interviewing a faithful Doorkeeper—especially if she’s a fellow booklover—and giving away a book by her favorite author.
You’ll find giveaway details for The Thorn by Beverly Lewis at the end of this post. But first, take some time to get to know a fellow Christian fiction enthusiast!
This week’s booklover, Emily DiRenzo Steele, wanted to be a Broadway singer when she grew up, but God, it seemed, had other plans.
You won’t find Emily on a New York City stage, entertaining an adoring crowd before flitting off to sample the night life. But you just might find her driving the back roads of her quiet hometown, singing a duet of Mighty to Save
with her three-year-old daughter Bella, while fifteen-month-old Gabbi looks on. Two beautiful daughters are all the adoring crowd this young mother needs!
Emily and her husband Jon are members of First Baptist Church of Rhinebeck, New York, and together they head up the youth ministry. Emily also teaches the teen girls’ Sunday school class.
Emily’s take on church life: “Being in the Youth Ministry means that Jon and I are always busy. But it also means that my girls get to have the influence of some awesome, Godly young people. We like when the teens are in our home, eating, and hanging out. It brings all that we do together.”
True Life Romance
Emily first met Jon on a Word of Life Youth Mission trip to South Africa. They became fast friends, along with two others on the team. After the trip, Emily returned to high school in New York, and Jon returned to Michigan.
On a long weekend, Emily traveled to Michigan to visit her new friends. That was when she and Jon began dating.
Emily says, “I don’t know that there was one single moment where I thought he was ‘the one.’ I just knew in my heart that this young man loved the Lord. That serving God was important to Jon.”
“And,” she adds, “I think being ten hours apart was the best part about dating. It truly made us get to know each other. I remember getting snail mail from him and smiling from ear to ear, just reading about his week. He was my best friend.”
Emily describes their family life as crazy—in a good way. Jon works second shift at the Dutchess County Jail (on the Corrections Emergency Response Team). So it’s an event to have him home for dinner, and a special treat for the four of them to pray together before putting the girls to bed.
Since Emily was saved at age four (cousin Tara prayed with her to receive Christ during a sleepover), she understands how vital those first years are in a child’s faith journey. She
loves when life offers an opportunity to open the “faith” door with her girls—and not just through church, AWANA, Scripture memory, or praise music. And her efforts are paying off. Recently while watching the Narnia movie, Bella exclaimed, “Aslan is like Jesus. He died and came back to life!”
One of Emily’s special joys is hosting Thanksgiving for her siblings, a job which she inherited from her grandfather. “I would sit with Poppy and memorize how he made the stuffed mushrooms and prepared the turkey. Now I make everyone’s favorites, and it literally makes my heart happy when we all sit down to eat. I love it!”
Though Emily’s life is presently rosy, it hasn’t been without its thorns. (Notice the title of the book giveaway!)
During her high school years, she realized she’d gotten in with the wrong crowd and needed to flee the bad influences. The insightful teen begged her mother for a chance to attend Northern Dutchess Christian School, and Mom made it happen. Emily enrolled, blossomed, and stayed for three years before graduating.
During her adult years, Emily has also had to work through some residual issues caused by her parents’ divorce, which she sees as hugely impacting her life. Emily comments, “I know my parents love us kids so much, and I have a great relationship with both of them. Praise God that He’s been so good to us . . . The divorce has shaped me, though.”
Emily wrote, “Last week I sang a song in church, and one of the lines said, ‘When anything that’s shattered is laid before the Lord, just watch and see. It will not be, unredeemed.’”
“God is so much more capable than I am! Yet I always try to do things on my own. I am a worrier, and I am borderline obsessed with getting things done yesterday.
God uses those weaknesses to bring me to my knees often! Whether it is my shattered attempt at conquering the world, or my shattered attempt at being humble and asking forgiveness, He is always able to redeem, and always able to do it FAR beyond what I have ever imagined.”
“I would love to see my kids firmly rooted in the Lord! I want the same for my marriage. I don’t know that I can think of any other goals for myself. Though, opening my own hair salon and keeping my laundry from piling up would be wonderful!”
The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers: “This book illustrates how the weight of our sins was removed by Christ, our Last Sin Eater. I loved Cadi, and her desire to understand God’s forgiveness. This book grabbed me with its characters.”
This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti: “I love the way that he paints a picture of the war for our souls! Incredible book!”
Shades of Blue by Karen Kingsbury : “Covers the topic of abortion and all the healing that God can do through even our sinful choices. I read this one in two days—couldn’t put it down!”
The Centurion’s Wife & The Hidden Flame by Janette Oke & Davis Bunn: “This is the latest series I have read, and I’m so glad it’s not finished! An awesome look into the time of the disciples. It brings Scripture to life!”
ANYTHING by Beverly Lewis: “I have read everything she has written! I think she is one of the greatest authors ever. I have NEVER been disappointed.”
In honor of Emily, I’m giving away a brand new copy of The Thorn by Beverly Lewis. If you haven’t read this, sign up today and get reading. Then you’ll be ready for the sequel, The Judgment, which will be out in April!
Steps To Enter the Giveaway:
1. Join this blog through email or Google Friend Connect. To join by email, enter your email address in the space provided on the sidebar. But you’re not done yet! Look for an email from Feedburner in your personal email account. Follow the link provided to verify your subscription.
2. Leave a comment here to let me know that you are a follower or subscriber. Be sure to put your email address in your comment. However, write it like this jenniebee [at] yahoo [dot] com and NOT like this email@example.com. (This helps keep your email safe from spammers!)
Confused? For blog newbies, if you’re reading this on the main page, look for the tiny words “Leave a comment” in the notes at the end of this post. If you’re on the post page, you should see a large box in which to leave a reply.
So whether you’ve known Emily a long time or just met her today, why don’t you leave a comment to encourage her? And if you’d like to view more of her photos, check out the Sidebar Photoblog. Simply click on the cover photo so view the rest of the pictures.
How about you? Do you have a list of favorite books you’d like to talk about, some family photos to share with us, a life story you’d like to tell? Maybe we’ll be reading about you here at Doorkeeper in the future!
Amazon.com book summary of The Thorn:
Lancaster County, with its rolling meadows and secret byways, may seem idyllic, but it is not without its thorns. THE ROSE TRILOGY is the stirring saga of two Amish sisters on the fringes of the church, and the unforeseen discoveries that change their lives.
Rose Kauffman, a spirited young woman, has a close friendship with the bishop’s foster son. Nick dresses Plain and works hard but stirs up plenty of trouble, too. Rose’s sister cautions her against becoming too involved, but Rose is being courted by a good, Amish fellow, and so dismisses the warnings. Meanwhile, Rose keeps house for an English widower but is startled when he forbids her to ever go upstairs. What is the man hiding?
Rose’s older sister, Hen, knows more than she should about falling for the wrong man. Unable to abandon her Amish ways, Hen is soon separated from her very modern husband. Mattie, their young daughter, must visit her father regularly, but Hen demands she wear Amish attire–and speak Pennsylvania Dutch, despite her husband’s wishes. Will Hen be able to reestablish her place among the People she abandoned? And will she be able to convince Rose to steer clear of rogue neighbor Nick?