Angela Breidenbach, Mrs. Montana International 2009, spends much of her time helping others achieve their personal best.

She is a writer, a teacher, a wife and mother—with a combined family of six grown children and one grandson, a multi-award winning inspirational speaker, and the Publicity Officer for American Christian Fiction Writers. Angela also works with Hope’s Promise Orphan Ministries and the Jadyn Fred Foundation.

You have a number of outlets for your creativity. Which came first for you, writing, speaking, or coaching?

I’d have to say writing, but my teachers would all say speaking…let’s just say I was a chatty child. :  )   I caught the writing bug very early. By twelve, I won my first writing contest. It was a simple story about a photo. The entire school district saw the same photo and had to write a story. I think that experience alone proves every writer has a unique story inside them. None are alike. I formalized my coaching certification because I found myself mentoring/coaching on a continual basis.

How does your faith play into your work?

My faith infuses throughout every area of my life. But it’s in what I won’t do as well. I won’t write certain genres because I believe I am going to stand accountable for the influence I have as a writer, speaker, and coach. I choose what I do because I will stand accountable for the gifts and purpose given to me. So my faith in Jesus acts as a beacon for my choices, activities, and the intentional goals I set in my work life. I refuse to get to the end of my life and regret what I did not achieve with the opportunities I was blessed with or to ignore who I was made to be. Some people call me driven. I think God chose the desire to achieve as one of my giftings. I hope no one will wonder what I believed when I’m gone.

Has God ever provided an unexpected “detour” in your life that turned out to be positive?

Have you ever played with an etch-a-sketch? At first I thought all those jagged corners were horrible mistakes that needed to be shaken out and erased. But now I see the criss-cross patterns were God’s way of weaving me into who He needed me to be in order to have the experience, wisdom, and voice to help others.

Just in time for the holidays…let’s talk about your latest book, Creative Cooking for Simple Elegance (WestBow Press, October 2010). Please tell us about it.

Full color photos! The most important part of the book to me. I absolutely hate trying a new recipe when I can’t see it. Every recipe in Creative Cooking for Simple Elegance: How to create simple, elegant, and inexpensive meals has full color photos and many have a series of assembling photos.

I had a blast making each recipe and experimenting as I learned food photography. But my main goal was to make food everyone could eat together, enjoy (rather than be boring subsistence), affordable, and appealing all year long. So there are recipes for every holiday and great every day dishes.

Here’s the blurb:

Creative, gorgeous, elegant recipes to make inexpensive meals by a Weight Watcher Leader/Ambassador. Includes notations for Celiac, IBD (Colitis, Crohn’s, IBD), and Weight Loss. Full color photos for each dish including some step-by-step photos. Luscious uses for left overs, special Christmas treats, international flavors mixed with great American style made with easily found ingredients. Food that tastes like it’s been handed down for generations (well, some recipes have.) Try Swedish Pancakes, Quick & Easy Eggdrop Soup, Bruchetta Ensalada, Sweet Potato & Apple Streusel, Mexican Lasagna, Blooming Chicken Savories, and Grandma Bigelow’s Orange Rolls. Just don’t forget to make the Caramel Corn for your Christmas gifts, if you can get it out of the house!

Where did you get the idea for this book and your previous e-book, Creative Cooking for Colitis?

The Creative Cooking for Colitis e-cookbook came first because I was diagnosed with two forms of severe colitis. After six months of desperation, and prayer with a friend, I started a short fast to rest my system. Then by following what we called the Addition Plan, I was able to start eating again. Basically, build your diet one food at a time until you have a large variety of foods you can eat. We’ve done this for centuries for our children. It’s a proven system. I’ve written down how it works for adults and included other tips, a difficult food list, and websites for more research.

I regained my health and found joy in eating! I’d been hungry, depressed, and devastated by the disease. Everything hurt. Everything. The results were so astonishing for me that I wanted to share that with other people. Once the colitis cookbook hit the shelf I kept hearing people who wanted the recipes, didn’t have colitis or IBD, and wanted to learn cooking tips for simple, elegant, and inexpensive meals. I already had the recipes in the first cookbook, and they were great for the general market too. So I rewrote the tips to teach simplicity and added two more recipes.

Then I heard people wanted more than e-books. By combining the two cookbooks, Creative Cooking for Simple Elegance could go to print form with a bonus section on IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease), Celiac, and weight loss hints.

Long story short: I wanted to help people find hope and joy and be able to eat with their families again. All three books are great for bringing people together to enjoy bonding over mealtimes. But the print version combines the first two into one book.

If you, a friend, or loved one has IBD, Crohn’s, Colitis, Celiac, or want to watch your weight, Creative Cooking for Simple Elegance will blend to meet all your needs and let you eat the same foods together. It’s great to have on hand for guests with these conditions and great to give as a gift. It’s perfect for the general cook too.

Helping others seems to be a passion for you. You are a certified Life Coach. What is the most important thing you feel you can share with your students?

It’s crucial to understand that the difficulties in life produce gems of wisdom. When we can embrace that concept, we can fill our treasure chest and overflow it out onto others. The richness in wisdom nourishes every soul and changes a person’s life. If you can give anything away, give wisdom that you’ve earned to help someone else through. Your gems of wisdom have priceless value.

The “gems” concept is the centerpiece for your upcoming book, Gem’s of Wisdom: For a Treasure-filled Life (Journey Press, May 2011). Please tell us about it.

Everyone has life experiences and difficulties. They’re a mother lode to mine and share with others. When I began to understand that people didn’t ask me to share the happy things, I started looking at those hard times in a different paradigm. Like looking at the alexandrite in different light—it changes color. I was helping people get through their hardships based on gems I’d already mined. I was mentoring/coaching from wisdom that had immense value—not mine. Wisdom is given as a gift from God. In Proverbs we’re told to ask for wisdom and that it will be given. Search for wisdom and it will be found.

By helping other people to do that too, we change the world through love and generosity of spirit. This generosity is, again, precious because of the transparency it requires. Transparency feels like a sacrifice. But once you begin to practice transparency with discretion, it becomes a very joyful way of living. The amethyst stands for self-care. One we begin to take care of ourselves, we understand how to care for others. The Gems of Wisdom Companion Guide will be really helpful in digging out those gems too.

By revealing the connections between life concepts and the beautiful gems God created for us, I help people recognize their unique gems of wisdom that fill their treasure chests to overflow out onto others as well.

I don’t see past mistakes or hardships as negative now. I look for people I can help with what I’ve learned. I have incredible gems of wisdom to give away and so does everyone else. Fill your treasure chest so the treasure you leave behind is a massive legacy rather than an empty chest of regret.

Please tell us about the Gems of Wisdom line of jewelry.

Each gem of wisdom has a significant meaning in the book, Gems of Wisdom: For a Treasure-filled Life. There are sixteen gems and a treasure chest in the book and so the jewelry matches those gems chapter by chapter.

The goal isn’t about a pretty bauble, but about embracing the significant change a woman wants to make in her life and giving her a way to focus on each concept much like prayer beads or Aaron’s breastplate in Exodus 28. Aaron was told to wear the gems to help him remember the people he prayed for. As I studied the Bible, I found gems and rocks were used regularly by God to teach, create an historic memory, and even set boundaries.

I’m passionate about supporting Hope’s Promise and the Sanctuary of Hope Homes in Kenya. The line of jewelry specifically helps support those orphan homes bringing children out of the Methare Slums and permanently placing them with an indigenous family. To me, I can deepen my ministry by attaching missions I believe in to my work and when someone buys a piece, their dollar goes so much farther than they can imagine. It’s not only about personal growth with the Gems of Wisdom line of jewelry, but also about providing life and love for orphans. Christians are charged with the responsibility for orphans and widows. I love that this jewelry actually does that and fills a deeper, more significant purpose.

A few fun questions…

What is your favorite comfort food and why?

Oh this is funny. You want me to name one? I love Swedish pancakes, homemade honey wheat bread, homemade noodles…. Hmm, I see the correlation here. Evidently it’s carbs. But when I don’t feel well, it’s homemade chicken noodle soup all the way (with those noodles of course.) I think I feel connected to my heritage and family when eating these foods. Odd thing is that I’m not a stress eater. I’m a joy eater. So I eat more when I’m happy and have a hard time eating when I’m stressed or sad. It’s easier for me to drink a shake or broth at those times. I really do get that “lump in the throat” and can’t swallow food when stressed or sad.

If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?

A jazz ballad. I get lost in music like My Funny Valentine. It evokes emotion and transports me right out of the moment. Magic. I’m so amazed that Zechariah’s Song wrote a theme song for Gems of Wisdom: For a Treasure-filled Life. I can’t wait to share the rich, emotional, and gorgeous music. It’s a jazz ballad.  ; -)  I hear they’re going into studio to record within the week.

Are you a major or a minor chord?

Definitely a minor. Minor chords reach the heart and intensify the musical experience. They create very rich music. I want to make an impact and help others leave a memorable legacy too. The music swells when we change chords. I hope I leave a legacy that swells to a crescendo and inspires people to intensify their life experience.

In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?

I would love to hear what other people think I am. I think I’ve been all these at different times. But I get told I’m very confident so that makes me lean toward the strong, female lead at the moment. What people don’t realize is that confidence is the result of surviving both mistakes and successes. The other thing I hear is that I’m an “earth mother.” I think it has to do with all my kids.  ; -)

You have an unusual pet. Please tell us about him—and any other pets.

Spanky! He’s the cutest, most fun little pet I’ve ever had. Spanky is a class B miniature horse. He’s four years old and 36” tall. Being very sociable, we play a lot. One of his favorites is tag. He also likes to play King of the Hill with our standard sized horse, Chief. He climbs a little hill in our pasture and goes nose to nose with Chief. But we’ve found out that he’s afraid of wild turkeys. He tried to chase them out of his yard. They had the gall to all turn as a flock. Spanky spun and ran to hide behind Chief like a little kid who eggs on a bully and then scampers behind his dad. He also likes bonfires with s’mores. He steals graham crackers!

One interesting thing we didn’t expect is Spanky’s constantly changing color. He came buff with a more palomino look. Now he’s rusty with dappled white spots. Our vet says he will always be changing, never the same. Spanky, the chameleon.

We also have the last of the indoor animals since the kids are all grown. Louie, a border collie/lab cross and a little gray and white stray kitty, Adi, that adopted us several years ago.

What a beautiful photo! Thanks, Angie! It’s a pleasure to have you at DivineDetour!

I’m appreciative and honored to be here. Thank you so much.

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