Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Courageous Beauty Interview: Mrs. Montana International 2009-Angela Breidenbach

Hi all,
Because I have a reschedule today and a book review tomorrow. I thought it might be all right if I shared a really neat interview my agent, Tamela Hancock-Murray, did with me on her blog. I am very honored that she wanted to interview me and I hope that you will enjoy it too. I share why the Courageous Beauties interview series and what I'm trying to accomplish in the research for the book:-)

So this is a reprint of that interview and to give proper credit, this is the link that will take you to Hartline Literary Agency's blog (which, by the way, is a great one for the writing world!)

And here is a picture of Tamela and I at the most recent ACFW conference in Denver, September 2009.

Thank you,

Original post can be found here:
From the Heart: Interview with Tamela's client Angie Breidenbach

From Hartline Literary Agency's blog:
Today, Tamela is pleased to interview her author and the reigning Mrs. Montana International 2009, Angie Breidenbach. If you were present at the ACFW awards banquet and spotted a beauty in a red dress wearing a crown, you saw our Angie!

Tamela: Angie, you are working hard to become a published author. Tell us about the beautiful jewelry you have worked with an artisan to create as a tie-in to your future book.

Angie: Thank you, Tamela. The Gem of Wisdom jewelry came out of a Bible study while writing the book. As I was studying the Bible on how God uses stones through both the Old and New Testaments, it struck me that the Lord is the creator of the original memory anchor. He uses stones to build altars as thanksgiving, sacrifice, and memorials. God used gems on Aaron's breast piece to remind him who he was supposed to pray for and who he represented. Then I was amazed to see those same stones as the foundations of heaven. It didn't stop there. Rocks are repeatedly mentioned in very important ways from marking boundary lines to building protective walls. The gemstones became a crucial element as memory associations, for personal growth concepts, rooted in scripture.

I work with Pamba Toto's artisan, Colleen Briggs (in the above photo with me), to design jewelry from the spirit of my writing and speaking. I pray for God's inspiration on it because the value isn't in the sparkle--it's in the valuable results. When a woman wears My Gem of Wisdom jewelry, she has the joy of knowing she is connected to women and children in Kenya. She also has the joy of sharing her new gems of wisdom and filling the treasure chests of those in her path. The pieces are valuable for so much more than being genuine gemstones. They represent personal growth and powerful living!

Tamela: I can't resist putting in a plug here because I'm so pleased with the jewelry I purchased from the line. I own earrings, a bracelet, and a necklace and I gave a necklace to my teenager as a gift, too. The quality craftsmanship and lovely stones make it a pleasure to wear.

Angie, your jewelry is more than a fun indulgence. How will buying it help people?

Angie: God isn't just interested in those great and momentous actions we do in his name. He's interested in everything we do to the smallest degree including simple shopping and gift giving. Proverbs 31 follows a woman who shops! Have you ever thought of the concept "Significant Spending?" It's the idea that we use money as a tool to help others while meeting the needs of our family. If we spend, spend wisely and know the effect of your choices. I'm writing an article right now for Full Spirit Magazine with that in mind. Jeremiah 32: 19 “Your purposes are great. Your acts are mighty. Your eyes see everything people do. You reward each one of them in keeping with his conduct. You do it based on what he has done.” NIVR

When people buy the jewelry at they choose significant spending through supporting two orphan homes in Kenya. In fact, one necklace sale pays the salary of a necessary staff member for a month at the Sanctuary of Hope homes--and God sees it. By supporting single mothers with AIDS (the Taraja Project) who make the jewelry pouches--our acts are mighty.

When we use the gems as memory anchors for the personal growth concepts, God sees us learn to keep his conduct. Our actions, choices, and personal growth matter to God. I'd like to inspire others to be aware of even the smallest chores like shopping, and that how they spend their money matters. The My Gem of Wisdom line of jewelry also relies heavily on Fair Trade practices with the sterling silver, any available gems, and the jewelry pouches. Fair Trade practice values the efforts of others and allows a fair wage. I urge everyone to be more aware of being a significant spender! Make your money work harder to uplift others. Get educated on available Fair Trade products like coffee, gems, silver, etc.

Tamela: I am very excited about a new project you're working on, COURAGEOUS BEAUTY. How do you hope to help women with this new book?

Angie: Courageous Beauty is meant to empower women through sharing how other women have learned confidence and courage in order to lead a significant life. It's intended to help women become beautiful in spirit. A woman who is beautiful on the inside glows. She glows so much that she is beautiful on the outside. A woman who radiates this kind of beauty takes your breath away.

Look at those women who stun you. It's never the brittle woman no matter how gorgeous physically. It's charisma and radiance. I've met both kinds of women. I want to share how to become a radiant beauty from investigating what those radiant beauties have who leave a lasting impression. (I'll tell you a secret... radiant beauty comes from a humble servant heart.) I'm going to tackle the difference between humble and self-deprecating. They are not the same and are easily confused.

But what holds a woman back from releasing the power of that beauty? Usually it is a lack of confidence in herself. There's a mistaken belief that confident or courageous women are born that way. They are born "beautiful." That is so untrue! They become beautiful and confident because of what they have overcome and grown into. They become courageous beauties on the journey. I want to share some of those secret treasures that these women have discovered. Special secret: Faith is a key element.

Tamela: A lot of people think beautiful women breeze through life. Care to bust this myth?

Angie: LOL! I've been interviewing a LOT of beauty queens. I'm in the unique position of having the blessing to be in that sisterhood and so have been given the trust to ask some hard questions. I haven't met one that has had it "easy." These amazing women have causes they support, not because they are bored debutantes, but because they have battled cancer, heart disease, grief, date/relationship violence, severe illness or genetic disease in their children, natural disaster, racial or gender discrimination, and even learning disabilities.

In the battle, they've refused--yes, refused--to take it without a fight. These women have done something spectacular. They've gone public! They speak out, form organizations to make a difference, and found non-profits to raise awareness. They don't just speak out though. They live it passionately. They hit the road and spend their lives trying to educate, enlighten, raise funds, and change the problem into a victory. They become the voice for the problem. That is not breezing through life. It's becoming the champion in a hurricane.

Many have set a high standard! I hope I will have been like these ladies when I close my eyes for the last time. I hope I've spent my life helping others live the best of theirs. I hope I can face God's throne and hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant." I don't want to be the one who buried her talent or hear I angered God for squandering his gift. And I don't want anyone who could have heard, "Well done," to miss out either because I didn't live out my calling.

Tamela: You have worked hard to gain and maintain a perfect figure. How do you feel about the media's efforts to make voluptuous women feel more accepted?

Angie: Ah, the elusive perfect figure. :-) I don't believe in it because of the variety of body types. I think the perfect figure is a healthy one. I still have to work out or the law of sowing and reaping comes into play. I really battled my weight for about ten years. My mom was dying a slow, awful death from diabetes caused by being 100 pounds overweight most of her adult life. I caught myself growing angry with her. She spiraled into congestive heart failure and her death was needlessly young-at 64! As I watched this, I realized I was right behind her and following the example of what I'd been taught. I choked on my own attitude.

Here's me in the before Weight Watcher's shot:

I walked into Weight Watchers as a last resort. My knees were vibrating like jack hammers. But when mom died, I was 2 months from making my lifetime goal. This is hard to say. As she gasped for air, I resolved not to die from being overweight. I didn't want to cause the same feelings in my children that I was experiencing. I can't control everything, but I didn't want my failure to take care of the body God gifted me with as their example. So eating healthy and learning new habits became an intense drive for me. (Not kidding here, I was raised to have vegetables as a colorful condiment. What? I'm supposed to eat them??? Can you relate?)

Here's me in the after (and current) Weight Watcher's shot and 35 pounds lighter. Both of us have worked on eating healthier :-)

I believe the media could be so much more productive by promoting healthy living rather than idolizing one certain body type. My 5' 6 medium-boned body cannot sustain the same waif thin figure as a fine-boned woman. My most comfortable weight is around 132 pounds, not 102 or 152. It's that weight because my legs, back, and neck are eased of strain and I don't feel like I'm starving all the time. I feel emotionally strong and energized. That surprised me! Now I know when I'm healthy because of the emotional and physical sense of health.

But the healthy range is quite large for my height because there are different body types. I think the media does a disservice to women by focusing on one body type. A woman is beautiful because she is a healthy, confident woman.

I interviewed about a dozen men so far on their ideal beauty or body type. It was nearly unanimous. Beauty had everything to do with the the health and well-being of a woman, not a specific body type, hair color, or bust size. A big-boned healthy woman was as attractive as a petite figure. It was the radiance of vitality, confidence, and health that attracted a man!

In my opinion, voluptuous means curves. God has designed man to appreciate the visual of woman's curves. When we get so thin as to lose our curves, our bodies start to rebel. That's as unhealthy as having our blood pressure up and being at risk for adult onset diabetes. So if we women want to be attractive, we need to get healthy not skinny!

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:12, "Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial..." That goes for how we care for our bodies too. We can do anything we want because it's permissible, but that doesn't mean it is going to be good for us. We need to walk the line of balance in all we do. No, I haven't "arrived." I am in constant battle against those pirates that want to mutiny. When those pirates sneak up on me, I ask myself a few questions like: Is this good for me, the people I love, and my goals? Will it hurt me, the people I love, or my goals? It may be okay with society, but if it stops me from reaching my goal? Then it's not good for me because my goals are tied to who God made me to be. Any time I veer from that path, I know I am in for trouble.

Tamela: Do you think there is more pressure on men to look handsome now than ever? What advice would you give men who feel compelled to spend a lot of time on their looks?

Angie: Oooh, I love this question! Guys, you need to be healthy too! Healthy isn't overdoing the weights. It's taking care of the body God gave you without obsessing over it. Our body is a tool given to us to achieve the purpose God knit into our DNA. It's not a bauble to sit on a shelf and be admired. Get healthy inside and out so you can be the man God designed in order to carry out the mission he's given you during the short time on this earth. You cannot change the world looking for admiration. Go change the world and inspire us to do the same! Create a legacy so that other men want to emulate you. That is admirable.

Tamela: What is the best aspect of being a woman today?

Angie: I think women today have the most amazing opportunity. We have a voice! We also have been born in a time where personal growth and creativity are encouraged. Thank you, God, for that timing!

Tamela: Do you like public speaking?

Angie: Absolutely love it! I enjoy keynote speaking, presenting at seminars, and women's retreats. I'm excited that my new position with Full Spirit Magazine will let me both speak and write in my "day job" too. I have several events coming up including the Go Red For Women Luncheon in Missoula and I'm looking forward to a women's retreat with Jeane Wynn next fall. I'd love to be invited to more events like this.

Tamela: You have a great public platform. Why did you decide to write books, and what message do you want readers to take from your books?

Angie: You know, there are things that are woven into us by God before we are born. Writing is that for me. I can't not write and speak ;-) I started reading and writing at four years old. (Thanks, Dad, for teaching me.) I've written freelance for a long time. I decided to start writing books because the messages I want to share don't fit in articles anymore, lol. That's another reason I became a certified life coach. I wanted a way to share that wasn't limited to a short word count.

The overall message I share is personal growth = powerful living. God has designed us with the desire to learn and be in relationship. I want to help people blossom so that they have wonderful relationships and the confidence to live out their calling.

As I'm discovering still, all the things I've been through are a part of the gorgeous tapestry God is weaving for me. Even the things I perceived as bad are life lessons that have proven to be essential to who I am and what God has designed for my life's work.

When I look back, I am overcome by how something I thought was awful became imperative to the effectiveness of my future. Think Romans 8: 28 here. "All things work together for good for those love the Lord and are called according to his purpose." All things, even those that hurt at the time, are essential to work for my good according to God's purpose for me.

I describe it this way. I see the back of the tapestry. At the end of my life, God will show me the front and I'll marvel at the beauty of the design. I'll understand. Every now and then, God flashes the front at me for encouragement or I see the silver thread he's using to pull it all together. My job is to keep following that silver thread even when it dives in and out of knots. Those knots add new colors or decorative tassels. I wouldn't want God to leave out one color, one special thread, or have a missing tassel. He's designing it just for me. I can't wait to see the finished tapestry!

He's doing that for you too. Everything that happens in your life is designed by God for your good because he knows the plans he has for you, plans for a future and a hope.

May your treasure chest be filled to overflowing with gems of wisdom bestowed by God!

Tamela: Thank you, Angie, for such wonderful answers! To learn more about Angie, visit her at and

Until next time,

Find more out about Tamela at and (she's a wonderful writer too!)
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