Cathy GohlkeEditor’s note: This is the second in a series of four author interviews.

I’ve enjoyed three of Cathy Gohlke’s novels and am anxious to read Secrets She Kept, which releases in September. Read her answers below for a sense of why she’s one of my favorites.

I know you do extensive research for your novels and this is your second one that is set in Nazi Germany. What is it that intrigues you about that time period? What is it that we can learn? 

It has fascinated, even frightened me that an entire nation was swept into a passion while persecuting an entire group of human beings. Why didn’t more Germans stand up to Hitler and his degrading Nuremberg laws? How did intelligent people step onto such slippery moral slopes, losing their moral and spiritual compass, ultimately losing their ability to stop the monster they’d enabled? Can such superior racist attitudes be prevented in the future, and what are the warning signs? Do we see them in our society? If the answer is yes, what can we, as individuals, do about that?

One of my favorite things about your writing is that your characters struggle with faith and mature in their understanding of God. What are the struggles in this book? 

Secrets She Kept is my first time split novel.

Lieselotte, the young woman in Nazi Germany, needs love, acceptance and a purpose, but the cost for each of these is greater than she knows. When everything is taken from her, who will she be and what will she believe?

Hannah, Lieselotte’s grown daughter of the 1970s, longs for a connection with her estranged mother. Only after her mother’s death does she discover her family’s tragic wartime past. Hannah struggles to understand their actions and is desperate to redeem the tragedy of those actions. But, can any person redeem the deeds of another? Can one person forgive the deeds of another? Must children bear the consequences for the sins of their parents?

What makes this book different than your last book – and from most other books about Nazi Germany? 

Saving Amelie probed the consequences of the eugenics movement popular in Nazi Germany and around the world. It also asked why the church and German people did not stand against Hitler. 

Secrets She Kept explores questions of guilt, redemption and forgiveness of enemies as well as of those with whom we are in close relationship. It asks, how do survivors of war reclaim their lives? How do we respond when we, or someone in our family, have been responsible for something tragic—something that destroyed the life of another? These questions bring the aftermath and the results of war crimes and desperate acts home to us. Secrets She Kept reveals that the root causes of war do not disappear with victory or defeat, and when a nation is conquered, its ideologies do not necessarily or immediately change. Consequences of war cannot be swept away as if they do not exist—not in the current generation nor the next.

Sherry GoreEditor’s note: This is the first in a series of four author interviews.

The Plain Choice: A True Story of Choosing to Live an Amish Life tells how Sherry Gore, who moved several times across the country looking for a new beginning, finally found one – in faith.

Gore’s book, which releases next month, walks the reader through her difficult childhood, her six months of homelessness and her eventual focus on living for God.

She graciously tells us more:

What do you hope readers take away from the difficult parts of your story?

All my life I knew God was real. I could see Him working in the lives of others. But my feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth were overwhelming. I couldn’t see an end to my emotional pain. The bad choices I continually made in the past left me thinking I’d missed any chance there was for me to ever have a personal relationship with God. I thought I was unforgivable. I had no faith. What I learned when I did give myself over to God – and every day since – is that His grace is powerful enough to redeem anyone. Including me.

Sometimes the Amish life – and even just choosing to live more simply – seems so far away. What are some steps people can take to begin to shift priorities?

Living with a sense of community in your heart can do wonders for your psyche. This is easily achieved by turning our attention away from things that drain us of our time, and giving more of ourselves – be it a listening ear, or offering a helping hand where needed for others. … Being present for others is what makes a community.

How common is it for an adult to join the Amish? What was it that the Amish offered that spoke the most to your heart?

Hosting visitors is fairly common in the Mennonite church. Actually joining the church is not. Most of the letters and emails I receive from those seeking the Plain community entail a desire for a lifestyle that appears romantic and ideal. Once the “romantic” aspect of living Plain wears off – this often happens in six months or less – they’re left feeling unsatisfied. The path that led me to the Plain church was any but romantic. My discovery that there were people in this world who were living a life parallel to my own (based on my own bible reading and convictions) was what set my search in motion. Once there, I knew I was in God’s will. I’m exactly where God wants me; in a place where I can fellowship with like-minded individuals allowing me to flourish in my relationship with Him every day.

When I go in Christian bookstores the shelves are full of novels that feature the Amish. Why do you think people are drawn to that subject?

I think the initial attraction to Amish fiction is the longing readers have for a simpler life. … I believe what keeps the readers coming back for more is that most Amish fiction books are written with wholesome, clean storylines, and have characters with surprisingly every day, true-to-life problems readers can identify with. At the same time they offer a look into the lives of a culture not readily understood by most people in society. Amish fiction is here to stay.

IMG_4055I walked in to the church a bit nervous mainly because I’m used to the process of writing where I can cross my words out and try again before anyone knows my mistake. But these were women who had read my words in the newspaper already. They wanted to hear them. From me.

We talked for the better part of an hour and then the questions came. Some about my family. Others about my writing process. Then, at the end, we talked books. They wanted specifics. Titles. Names of authors. These were women who read, and read seriously.

They are the inspiration for what you’ll see in my columns for the month of July. I’ll share three books that are next in my personal queue today, and then each of the following four weeks I’ll share interviews with authors of new books that I know you’ll really enjoy.

Today my bookmark is on page 10 of Longing for Paris: One Woman’s Search for Joy, Beauty, and Adventure – Right Where She Is. It’s written by Sarah Mae and releases in August. It promises to be “for the woman who knows she can’t uproot her life to discover herself and her longings, but who desperately wants to uncover them so she can get unstuck.”

Next in line for me is Brave Enough: Getting Over our Fears, Flaws, and Failures to Live Bold and Free by Nicole Unice. It also releases in August and asks tough questions like, “Is fear holding you back from becoming your best self?”

“Bravery doesn’t have to mean cliff diving out of your comfort zone,” the synopsis says. “Life is about being brave enough – for yourself, for God, for your tasks, and for your calling – right where He’s placed you.”

After that, I’m hoping to start reading the Believe series by Randy Frazee. The premise is to encourage readers to think, act and be like Jesus. The study includes scripture, life application questions and books for all ages so an entire congregation (or family) can work through it together.

What are you reading? Remember I’m hosting the Simply Faithful Book Club starting Oct. 8 so email me at to share your book recommendations.

  The winter had been long and the opportunities to catch my neighbors outside had been few, so I slowed down and rolled down the window when I saw her crossing our short street.

I wondered if Colt’s hand-me-downs had fit her grandson and if she’d heard from another neighbor who was traveling out West – and just in general, how she was doing.

Good, she said. Considering.

Considering her son, the one who mowed our yard for years and grew up before our eyes, has heart trouble. Considering it’s the kind that can’t be fixed. Considering it’s the kind that threatens his life.

I hadn’t known. All I knew was what I had seen from two doors down: A perfectly healthy-looking 23-year-old who was working toward becoming a firefighter.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Still, too often I believe what I see and what I want to see. I see the woman with the high-powered career and think she never gets nervous or doubts herself the way I do. I drive past a beautifully manicured lawn and then look at the weeds blooming in mine and I feel discouraged. I forget that the property owner worked full-time until a disability took his career. I forget yard work fills his days and his self-esteem.

When you desperately want to be perfect, every picture points out your flaws – instead of pointing you to grace. And we’re a culture in love with perfection, in love with doing everything right on our own. Then, when we don’t measure up? Our own perfectionism holds us back, limits the risks we take and steals our joy.

We fall for the lie that if we just tried harder we’d be better at life, when the truth is that life is messy and we’re all broken and in need of God to make us whole and to make us holy. The truth is that none of us is good enough but there is mercy enough for all of us.

I know I’m not alone in my struggle with perfectionism. That’s why I’ve put together a free seven-day devotional for us. Each day features a column I’ve published in the past, a scripture and some questions designed to get us thinking about ways to grow and change.

If you’d like to download today’s devotion, just add your email address in the box on the lower left corner of this page and then click here :

Perfectionism – Day 1

Perfectionism – Day 2

Perfectionism -Day 3

Perfectionism – Day 4

Perfectionism – Day 5

Perfectionism – Day 6

Perfectionism – Day 7

You can also join the conversation on Facebook this week. Just search for the Simply Faithful page, and we can all learn together.

I added a small bookshelf from the flea market, a rug from the dining room. I dusted and rearranged the chairs – all the while thinking that the front porch would be a welcoming place for my friends and I to sit and visit this summer.

A well-placed plant here. Vintage soda crates there, and the porch was open for business. But many of my friends are busy or live a little too far away for a leisurely breakfast on the weekend. So, they come when they can and we eat strawberries and catch up on work and family and craft projects.

And in between those visits? I notice a steady stream of neighborhood kids sitting in my chairs. They leave their scooters on the sidewalk and they wander in to grab the chalk or the bubbles or the badminton set, and before I know it, I’m putting down my book and answering questions about the tattered globe I’ve decorated with. The basket of seashells is dumped out on the floor and I’m offering an old paperback book on how to identify them.

There’s sweet tea and water fights and muddy footprints and talk of families and home states – and hints of some of the struggles they face. Those hints make me realize that although I decorated the porch for my friends, it’s dedicated to whomever God sends.

So, the snow-white rug might not have been the best choice for this summer, but I need to be open and willing to adjust my plans. It’s not just grown women who need a place to rest from the tough things we face and a place to feel welcome. We all do.

College graduate or kindergarten graduate. Six feet tall or still counting to six on our fingers.

Thankfully, God cares for us all.

Coming up: Next week I’ll be offering a free seven-day devotional on the topic of perfectionism. Just visit to download your copy. Then, join the discussion on Facebook by searching for the Simply Faithful page. I’ll be sharing articles and quotes all week to get us talking about perfectionism and how it relates to faith.


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