Alison Julian graduated from Cal State University with a degree in graphics. Born into a family of painters, she followed her father into the animation industry. Alison taught herself to paint and has worked on feature films and popular TV commercials for 30 years. She became the first background painter to be invited to teach the craft at the California Institute for the Arts. Alison lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband, Darrell Dooley.

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Minnesota born author, artist, and recovery activist Amber Leone Murphy struggled with alcoholism for more than ten years in active addiction. She has now remained sober for over a decade and empowers women (and men!) all over the world through her use of art and sharing her own life lessons, on her walk with Christ.

Amber publicly speaks of her story. She cares deeply about the well-being of all, and has personally helped hundreds of women and men in recovery to remain sober, codependent-free, and empowered!

Her blogs "Can't Keep A Sober Girl Down" and "Can't Keep A Codependent Girl Down" have a following of thousands of people from over 65 countries worldwide! Amber continues to share her experience, understandings of recovery and hope as a motivated woman living the best possible life she can.

Barbara Björnson is a freelance artist and illustrator based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her style of art is based on training in classical realism. Barbara has been creating designs from her imagination for prints and greeting cards for many years. She strives to create images that touch people in a positive way. “If any of my pictures put a smile on your face, then I have succeeded.” Barbara lives in New Brighton, Minnesota, with her family.

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As a young boy, Bryan studied with author/illustrator Robert J. Blake, where he learned about drawing, design, and the whole book making process. It was during this time that the seeds were planted for Bryan to create his own books someday. After high school, Bryan attended The Art Student's League of New York. There he studied life drawing, first with Jack Henderson, and then with Michael Burban. He also studied painting with Harvey Dinnerstein. Bryan lives in Upstate New York with his wife, Nikki, and their son Oliver.

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Dave Howe is an award-winning author, speaker, musician, consultant, retreat leader and Regional Group Leader for Pure Desire Ministries.

Two years after his own battle for purity, Dave co-founded For Men Only, a support group for men seeking freedom from sexual sin. For Men Only grew from its humble beginning with one group, to multiple groups at churches across the Minneapolis metropolitan area, and holds a popular annual leaders retreat.

What motivated Dave then, and still motivates him today, is knowing there are men trapped in their sexual sin who are desperate for help. His prayer is that his new book will be a game changer for many men around the world, as they seek their freedom in Christ.

Dave has worked with The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as a Response Center Supervisor and was an organizer of the Billy Graham Prayer Center in New York City after 9/11. He is a long-time participant in the Minnesota Christian Writers Guild and studied non-fiction writing at the Loft Literary Center. He has regularly participated in the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference in Santa Cruz, California. Dave’s work has appeared in The Christian Examiner and the Christian Chronicle, in addition to other faith focused publications.

Dave is married to fellow author, Barbara Howe. He enjoys spending time with his son and fishing with his grandson.

Keep up with Dave at
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David Wheaton is an author, radio host, former professional tennis player… and dog-loving Egalitarian (Hint: It's in the Introduction of his new book).

Holding a sawed-off wood tennis racket and wearing nothing but a stars-and-stripes Speedo bathing suit, David was just four-years-old when his mother tossed him his first tennis ball down at the local public court.

That toss started David on an amazing journey that took him around the world on the professional tennis tour and then back to his home state of Minnesota and an unforgettable yellow Lab named Ben.

David’s close companionship with Ben is the focus of his new book, My Boy, Ben: A Story of Love, Loss and Grace. This is a special dog story, one that is personal and transparent and culminates with an uplifting message about how God's grace provides comfort, strength, and hope in our most trying times.

My Boy, Ben is David's second book. David is also a contributing columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the host of The Christian Worldview, a weekly, nationally-syndicated radio program. To listen to The Christian Worldview, visit

David is married to his lifelong best friend, Brodie, and they are the parents of a son… and two Labrador Retrievers.

A bit about David’s tennis career
During his 13 years on tour from 1988-2001, David reached the semifinals or better in singles or doubles of every Grand Slam tournament (including the semi-finals of singles at Wimbledon), attained a career-high singles world ranking of #12, won the prestigious Grand Slam Cup, represented the United States in Davis Cup competition, and scored victories over notable players such as Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Stefan Edberg, Ivan Lendl, Jim Courier, and Michael Chang.

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If one were to ask six-year-old Jessica what she wanted to be when she grew up, her answer was automatic: an author. Thirty years and a long and winding road later, young Jessica's dream has come true with the publication of “Papa's New Home”.

During Jessica's teen years, writing took a backseat to her other passions - music and acting. She attended Ithaca College, where she majored in flute and voice. In 2000, Jessica moved to NYC. The inspiration for “Papa's New Home” came from an acting class assignment to write an autobiography. Jessica found herself writing about her Papa. At the same time, she was noticing a trend among the children she was babysitting: many had lost a pet or a grandparent, and they weren’t just sad – they didn’t understand where their loved one had gone.

Jessica now manages to combine her loves of writing, music, and performing. Her short play, Everyday Wilcox, was performed in the Roy Arias Off Broadway Theatre in 2011. She has performed improv comedy at clubs all over NYC, sings with the Voices in Unity choir, and has even written and performed her own one woman show.

A Massachusetts native and die hard Red Sox fan, Jessica’s writing has appeared on Boston Dirt Dogs, the Boston Globe’s online Red Sox site. She has also been featured on Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox website performing her song, Voice of the Faithful, which was the winner of the Red Nation anthem contest in 2004.

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Joan Steffend is a dreamer. She has had dreams fulfilled; raising two daughters, being married to a great guy and working for years on local and national TV and radio, but the grandest dream is one of inner peace and connection to a kinder world. That dream led her to co-found “peace begins with me” (a small big peace project) and to write “peace in peace out”. Joan is also the author of “…and she sparkled”, a book that invites us to love ourselves just as we are.

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Jodi Hills lives in the South of France and is the J, of Studio J, part of our TRISTAN family of offerings. Studio J features Jodi’s collection of “visual verse” — all created with the intent to keep people guessing, praying, hoping and laughing. Through her books and line of original artwork, prints, greeting cards, journals and magnets, Jodi explores the days we thrive…and the ones we survive…finding beauty in both.

To send Jodi a note, e-mail
Visit Jodi's Website:

I get 75 words to tell you about 25 years of experience.

As a producer/director I’ve been fortunate to work with some amazing artists and major networks. Along the way, I’ve picked up all kinds of cool awards. ( many words is that so far?)

But that’s what I do, not who I am. I’m a passionate person, who loves his family and the north woods. I hope you can feel that in my pictures.

(80 words… darn it!)

Visit Joe online at
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An American self taught artist, Charlie spent 3 years in Paris, and 11 years on the Cote d'Azur, living in close proximity to the sea. He is inspired by his surroundings. His images are imaginary. Many describe his work as sophisticated innocence.

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Jonathan Smith is the Director of Technology for Faith Ministries in Lafayette, Indiana. He is also a national conference speaker and author. At Faith, Jonathan overseas all aspects of technology across multiple campuses. His responsibilities include financial planning and budgeting, network administration, technology team management, IT support and audio/visual team oversight.  From 2003-2015, Jonathan served as one of the elected deacons at Faith Church.   

In addition to his role at Faith, Jonathan is also the President of MBS, Inc. MBS provide technology services exclusively for churches and ministries.

In these roles, Jonathan has the opportunity to use his passion for all things technology to honor Christ, and to help others do the same.

Jonathan has provided input and expertise for two engagements at the White House during the Obama administration. He has used social media to build connections with NASA to help promote space exploration and fuel his hobby of chasing rockets. He is a frequent presenter at biblical counseling, church technology and leadership conferences and speaks at parenting workshops across the country.

He has worked in several IT and media-related fields including in radio as an on-air personality and commercial voice-over artist as well as with the Star Trek TV franchise in promotions. He continues to be a devoted Trekkie today.

Jonathan attended Purdue University and has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Phoenix in Management of Information Technology.

Jonathan enjoys traveling and eating.

Jonathan and his wife Heather have two children, Eric and Becca, and reside in Lafayette, Indiana.

More about MBS is available at

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Julie (J. Klenk) has been married to her better half, David, since 1995. They met on a roller coaster, became engaged on that same roller coaster a year later, and have determined that marriage is a lot like a roller coaster. Their favorite phrase is, “It’s an adventure!” Julie is a mom to three kids: Emma, Lily, and Elijah. She and David are super excited to now have added son-in-law Luke to the family. Julie ministered to kids for 20 years as an early-childhood educator before transitioning to adult ministry. She is a discipleship and biblical counselor, an author of Bible studies, and a teacher in a variety of settings. Julie loves spending time with family and friends, bringing the hope of Jesus to the broken, and encouraging others in their faith.

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Julie Wright is an author, speaker, Bible teacher and missions leader. Originally from Minnesota, Julie served at Grace Church (Eden Prairie, Minnesota) in a variety of roles including Minister to Children, OneLess Ministry Director, and leader in Children’s and Youth Outreach. She and her husband Jon also founded and led an international orphan care ministry for over 20 years.

Julie has consulted on projects with Awana, Compassion International, David C. Cook and the 4/14 Movement. She has authored and taught numerous Bible studies, children’s and VBS curriculum, devotions, and missions messages.

 A public speaker since 1992, Julie has shared transformational messages at retreats, conferences, and events, and on radio programs. She passionately proclaims the hope and healing found in Jesus wherever she goes, whether under a tree in Africa or at a conference in the United States or abroad.

 In 2021 Julie and Jon assumed stewardship responsibility for The Refuge at Lost Creek in Bailey, Colorado—A space set aside more than a century ago to provide solitude and rest for those needing a place for restoration, spiritual renewal, and a fresh encounter with God.

Julie and Jon have an international family of three beautiful adult daughters from the Ukraine, the U.S., and Liberia, along with a son-in-law from Ethiopia and three grandsons. They also have a son who lives in heaven with Jesus. Together they are an adventurous, entrepreneurial family with a love for travel and a deep appreciation for different cultures.

Kathy Cramer is a proud mother of two adult children, Kelly and Brent, and grandmother to Jacob. She is an accomplished elementary teacher and has taught 1st grade, 3rd grade and 6th grade science in the Kansas City area for the past 21 years. Kathy lives in Kansas City, Missouri, and has also authored several books on science lab activities for parents, teachers and children. Kathy’s biggest accomplishment is being a mother and grandmother. “I love to make a home for those I love.”

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Laurie Ellis-Young, a globe-trotting yoga teacher for 35 years and Nancy Chakrin, a multi-talented artist and photographer, began their friendship in Guatemala in 2008. An unlikely but complementary duo, they challenge each other to alternately "Do" and "Be", sharing a dance between structure and spontaneity. Their quest compelled them to explore volcanoes, lakes, mountains, deserts, ocean beaches, jungles and cityscapes all in pursuit of revealing the synergy between yoga and friendship.

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Marilyn Brown grew up in Edina, Minnesota, and has studied art at institutions around the globe. Starting at the Minneapolis College of Art (now known as MCAD) in her home state, she also received training at the Johannesburg, South Africa, Art Center and studied with Dimitar Krustev in Venice. A diverse artist, Marilyn uses pastels, watercolors, oils and pen and ink for her craft. Well-recognized, she created the “Seasons Bay Resorts” series for Department 56 and has been commissioned to paint portraits, murals, and even a vintage automobile. Marilyn currently resides in Chanhassen, Minnesota, with her husband.

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Richard Jorgenson grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota, and now lives in Faribault, Minnesota, with his wife, Caryl. Their daughters, Beret and Anna, have grown up knowing the joy of reading with their dad. Richard is a Lutheran pastor and has enjoyed a lifelong love of literature, especially poetry.

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Rick Kupchella is a Minneapolis-based news anchor, a virtual Renaissance man and a loving husband and father. His inspiration for “Tell Me What We Did Today” came in the form of his two young daughters, Caroline and Elizabeth. He enjoys spending time with his wife and daughters traveling, taking photographs and writing. When he is not with his family, you can see him as the weekend anchor at KARE 11 in Minneapolis. An award-winning journalist, he’s been recognized repeatedly for excellence in broadcasting by the New York International Film Festival, the Chicago Regional Emmy Awards and the Gannett Corporation. Kupchella and his family currently reside in Golden Valley, Minnesota.

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Ron Schara, a master storyteller, can be seen hosting ESPN2’s “Backroads with Ron & Raven;” KARE 11’s “Minnesota Bound;” and “The Call of the Wild” on The Outdoor Channel. Widely recognized as an expert fisherman and outdoorsman, Ron is also a regular contributor to the Minneapolis Star Tribune Outdoors section. Ron grew up in northeast Iowa and graduated with a degree in journalism and a minor in fish/wildlife biology from the Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. He currently resides in Ramsey, Minnesota, with his wife, Denise, and they have two daughters, Simone and Laura.

Ron is the Executive Producer and Founder of Ron Schara Productions. Learn more about their work here.

    A nationally respected writer, educator, cancer advocate, inspirational speaker and author Ruth brings a timeless message about the one constant in life – change.

    A Minnesota native, Ruth has served as a kindergarten teacher, children's choir director, aerobics instructor, international travel guide and volunteer coordinator. Ruth has been speaking to the public for over 25 years which has included work with the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. However, it was her 2003 encounter with a life-changing cancer diagnosis that lead Ruth to her current role – that of an advocate for integrative care for cancer survivors and a role model for managing change whole-heartedly; with resilience, courage, and grace.

    Before 2003, Ruth was a left-handed woman, wife and mother, in apparent good health. She ate reasonably well, was physically active, had annual checkups, practiced yoga and meditation, attended church regularly, volunteered in the community and even read to 4 year olds weekly! It has been said that “expecting bad things not to happen to you just because you are good is like expecting the bull not to charge just because you are a vegetarian!”

    Ruth serves as Chair of the Community Advisory Board of the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, and conducts workshops on behalf of the Center for Spirituality & Healing, University of Minnesota. She is a spokesperson for the Rein in Sarcoma Red Flags of Sarcoma Campaign, a member of the Minnesota Cancer Alliance Steering Committee, a contributor to the MN Cancer Alliance Cancer Support Network, and a speaking ambassador for Community Health Charities Minnesota and the Angel Foundation. Ruth had the privilege of participating in the Above & Beyond Cancer pilgrimage to Nepal in 2012.

    Out of a deep sense of gratitude, Ruth donates all proceeds from Growing Through The Narrow Spots to support cancer education, advocacy and research.

    To send Ruth a note, e-mail

    According to my seven year old son, this is how I spend my days. I help people who are dying and their families say I love you and good-bye to each other. He also explains that I help sad kids smile and be happy, by helping them remember the good memories of their person who died. His description sums up my purpose as a hospice social worker and school grief counselor.

    Since 1995, I have had the honor of spending my days this way. Through my work of helping people cope with death, I have learned so much about life and the gift of the ordinary day. I have been inspired to live the best life I am capable of living and live it straight from my heart.

    I live in Waconia, Minnesota with my husband Clay and our two beautiful boys, Max and Joe.

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    Daena Esterbrooks, MA, LPC

    I have known the pain and heartache that death can bring. I remember so vividly how suffocating my grief, at times, would feel. I also remember the obstacles I faced as I began my own journey towards renewed hope and healing. But as I sit here today, over six years out from the death of my twin daughters, I am a stronger person for the experience. Because of my own grief journey I am a different Mother to my daughter and a different counselor to the many students I work with.

    As a counselor with the Park Nicollet Growing Through Grief program, I have one of the greatest jobs in the world. It is an honor and privilege to be invited into someone’s life as they experience such raw heartache and pain and as they gradually rediscover hope and happiness in their lives.  These are the people that have inspired us to create Hope Heals.

    Sarah Kroenke, BA, LSW

    Pain and healing…I have experienced them both.  I’ve coped with many deaths in my life, the most significant being the death of my mother when I was a teenager. Being a motherless daughter for over 20 years has provided me sadness and challenges beyond words.  However, because of my mother’s death, I have been enriched with a deeper appreciation for love, life and all of its gifts. 

    Through my career, with Park Nicollet, as a hospice social worker and a counselor with Growing Through Grief I have had the privilege to witness the courage and power of the human spirits ability to transform suffering into strength.  I am constantly reminded that just as grieving is a life-long process and an extension of love, so is healing.  And, so we heal…

    Trained as a physician, Scott Abrams worked for 12 years in the hospital emergency room in Willmar, Minnesota, before leaving that position due to his addiction. He has been in recovery since 2014 and currently works as a family practice physician in a clinic setting. In the fall of 2018, he also assumed the role of medical director for Project Turnabout, a 120-bed chemical dependency treatment center in Granite Falls, Minnesota. He writes a daily blog on faith and recovery, which can be found at Scott and his wife Barb, live in Willmar with their two children, Jake and Maggie.


    Windahl brings hope, encouragement and inspiration wherever she goes! Whether speaking to a women’s group at a community event or a church, T. shares from her heart and her life, touching those listening at a deeper level.

    T. has a special message for those who suffer because she has suffered much herself. That suffering has included: trouble conceiving a child; a miscarriage; marital problems; a job loss for her husband and four cancers from 1991-2001 beginning with stage-four ovarian. T. delights in encouraging others no matter where they are on their life’s journey or what kind of circumstances surround them. She knows that life can be hard but that hope is always available.

    Life is an adventure! Along with encouraging and mentoring, her passions include reading and archery, as well as varied creative and adventurous endeavors. She enjoys spending quality time with loved ones over a cup of coffee or good food…especially her husband Pete’s. T. and Pete have been married for 34 years and have a son, Zach.

    For more information about T. or to invite her to speak at an event, please contact Sheila Waldman at TRISTAN Publishing.

    "T. Windahl shares her gift of extraordinary faith, and the source of that faith in the midst of great trials. You will be strengthened, comforted and inspired through T's experiences. And the pages of her book will leave you forever changed." Deb M.

    "T. Windahl has been an encouragement to me from the first day we met. Her life lived, as a faithful follower of Christ, serves as an example to encourage others needing hope when facing hardships." Kelly M

    Tom Hegg is a husband, father, grandfather, teacher, actor and writer. He has touched countless lives with his New York Times Best Selling title, “A Cup of Christmas Tea” and his series of books about “PEEF The Christmas Bear.” Tom trained at Carnegie-Mellon University and won a Bush Fellowship for Graduate Study at the University of Minnesota. Tom then enjoyed several seasons with the Guthrie Theater Acting Company. He is now the Director of Drama at Breck School in Minneapolis where he holds the rank of Master Teacher. Tom and his wife Peggy live in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

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    Trinco's love for children's stories began when she was a child herself in Minot, North Dakota. After every visit from the Bookmobile in summertime, Trish and her sisters would settle under their family's big willow tree in the backyard to read each exciting new story. Trish continued to nurture her writing skills in creative writing classes and by working in her local library while in high school. She attended Brown Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota, studying radio broadcasting. Throughout the years Trish enjoyed opportunities to interact with young readers as she worked in the broadcasting field in cities across the country including Minneapolis, San Francisco, Dallas and Denver. Trish lives in Colorado Springs.

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    Since 2008, Troy Dobbs has served as the Senior Pastor of Grace Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota—an active and growing non-denominational congregation of over 5,000 members and attendees.

    He earned a bachelor’s degree from Ball State University (in Criminology) and a Masters of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

    He has also pastored growing churches in Kentucky and Florida. Troy resides in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, with his wife, Cheri of 25 years, and their three children: Delaney, Marlee, Drake, and Grandson Jax.

    He is an avid reader and sports fan and still has a “pretty good jump shot.”

    To send Troy a note, email

    Warren Hanson grew up in Yankton, South Dakota, and currently resides in Houston, Texas. He earned his theater degree at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and pursued his art education at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul. A gifted writer, illustrator, designer, speaker and musician, Warren Hanson makes more than 200 appearances annually.

    To send Warren a note, e-mail