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Lisa T. Bergren talks identity, spiritual direction and Glittering Promises

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Each of us must set upon a spiritual journey to find out who we really are. For Cora Kensington, the greatest discovery about herself occurred during an epic Grand Tour across Europe. In Glittering Promises (David C Cook/October 1, 2013/ISBN 978-1434764287/ $14.99), the final installment of the Grand Tour Series by Lisa T. Bergren, Cora comes to terms with the Father who will never fail her while wrestling with increased demands on her life and heart.

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Throughout the series, readers have joined Cora and her travel companions not only on a Grand Tour of the major sites of Europe, but on an adventure of forgiveness, spiritual awareness and self-discovery. Cora’s quest to find her place within her new family parallels her realization that her true identity rests not with her earthly family, but with her Heavenly Father. “The Grand Tour is not only Cora’s journey toward understanding true identity in Christ, but I hope it will help every reader understand it better too,” explains Bergren.

Q: The series begins by Cora discovering something huge about her true identity. How does finding her place within her new family parallel the spiritual discoveries she makes along the way?

While she’s biologically connected, what she’s really after is an “adoption” among her siblings. Along the way, she finds out what we all find out on our spiritual walk—our family is much bigger than any biological family tree... we have brothers and sisters the world over. And a familial bond is possible wherever we go. Now that process for Cora, of course, is rather challenging... just as it is for most of us. We make strides, and then we fall a few paces back. But then we stand up and make strides again.

Q: What inspired you to pursue a theme of identity for this series?

My husband and I are a part of a ministry called 3DM, and a core principle is to understand our covenant bond with our Father. If we truly understand the deep love He has for us and rest in that identity first (above all others), then we can move forward in obedience. We all often get so wrapped up in the wrong, temporal identities (whether it’s our work or familial “hats”) that we forget the eternal. And when the temporal identity ends or changes, we feel lost. If we can get that eternal bond down solidly in our hearts, no matter what comes at us, we can remain strong and sure in our walk.

Q: At the end of Glittering Promises, what message do you hope readers walk away with?

I’m never what I call a “soapbox” writer. So there is that theme of identity in there. But mostly, I love it when readers can try on a fictional characters troubles and triumphs for size and think about what they might do in the same situation. I think that’s the expansive power of fiction. But I also want just to tell an entertaining story, in order to fully engage the reader. I want my readers to reach the end of the series and say, “Well, that was worth my time.” It’s such an honor that readers spend their hard-earning money and hours on my books—I want them to be satisfied.

Q: When faced with pressures of what family, friends and society expect of us, what are some of the ways we can discern what God has planned for us? How have you seen God direct you in your own life?

It is hard to find God’s voice in the midst of all the noise, isn’t it? But the more I experiment with immediately acting on the Spirit’s direction, the more He seems to speak to me. It’s almost as if His voice gets louder and clearer in my heart the longer I walk with Him. But I greatly value weighing options and challenges with my brothers and sisters. Again, in the 3DM movement, we use a tool called the Circle, which begins with a “kairos.” We all get daily kairos, whether we recognize them or not. A kairos is sometimes small, and sometimes they’re big. They’re those moments you know that God is breaking into your everyday chronos-time to make you stop and think about what He’s saying. The challenge is to clarify that, and then decide what you’re going to do about it. Stopping to discuss it with people you trust allows the Spirit to speak further into your life about that particular kairos and formulate a plan. Giving those people permission to ask you about how you did on that plan is big encouragement to truly complete that circle. It’s incredibly motivating and gratifying as you continue to “work the circle,” daily, weekly, monthly. It’s kinetic. Through that process, I’ve seen God direct me on what to accept in work and volunteer commitments, reaching out to neighbors, and modifying and deepening relationships with loved ones.

Q: When you start writing a series, do you know how it’s going to end? For example, did you know which man Cora would choose all along, or did you make the decision right along with her as the writing process progressed?

I don’t know how each book will end. But I do know the end goal—romantic and theme-wise. So yes, I knew the hero Cora should choose, regardless of how tempting the other was!

Q: Do reader reviews from early in a series ever influence later releases?

Not as much reader’s reviews as reader’s questions. If I haven’t made something clear or satisfied the reader in some way, I seek to accomplish that by book three. That’s another luxury of a series! However, I’ve had bit characters that seem to take a life of their own and capture readers’ attention—they simply demand a bigger piece of the pie as we go.

Q: Cora’s tour comes to an end in Italy, which is one of your favorite places to visit. Were you able to go to Italy to research any specific locales for Glittering Promises?

Oh my, yes. I adore Italia. There really is something about the place that gets under your skin. And two years ago this fall, my daughter Emma and I spent ten days in Rome, a city you could spend a year in and a few more in Venice. But even ten days gave me enough new fodder for the book, as well as precious memories for the two of us.

Q: Now that the Grand Tour Series has come to a close, what’s next on the horizon for you?

I’m hard at work on a new dystopian series called REMNANTS. My readers know me... I’m always on to something different. So far in my career I’ve written contemporary romance, historical women’s fiction, contemporary fiction, speculative medieval fiction, time travel YA, back to historical women’s fiction for the Grand Tour Series, and now dystopian YA. It makes it hard to market me—a lot of readers stick to one genre, so publishers prefer that. But it gives me ultimate creative freedom to follow where God is leading me next. Still, my really hard-core fans who read everything I write deserve a badge or something...

Learn more about Lisa T. Bergren at her online home, www.lisatawnbergren.com. Readers can also join Bergren’s Facebook fan page or follow her on Twitter.

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