New Book Release and a Giveaway!

In eighth grade study hall Miss Kerns asked me to tutor Mike Jones in math.

I was a straight-A student…quiet and well-behaved. Mike Jones was…not.

He wore his leather jacket all day, unapologetically, and his rough language and tough talk made for no mistaking his background. But he was nice enough, even kind of cute with his streaky blonde hair in stark contrast to the black leather he wore. He was like something straight out of West Side Story.

We got along ok. And he was pretty smart, so my efforts were rewarded. We went along several weeks just fine. Then one day Mike said something about a bar he went to. He was in eighth grade, mind you. Maybe he went with his parents. Maybe he was lying. I don’t know. I must have felt safe with him, though, because for whatever reason, I said something I would regret. Something honest. Something no one at school knew.

My dad goes there, I said.

Who’s your dad? He asked.

When I told him, I knew he wasn’t lying about the bar. The way he looked at me changed.

Laura, he said. Your dad is a lush!

And then he went to the other side of the room and sat down.

I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach.

I remember that Darren Oldaker was sitting in the seat in front of me. He looked at me and shook his head.

What? I asked.

I can’t believe he just said that to you, he said. He shouldn’t have said that.

His kindness made me want to cry, but I just bucked up.

Well, it’s true, I said. But I love my dad anyway.

I love my dad, y’all. Sure, it’s complicated. But I love him. Just as the choices I make in life affect my children, some of the choices my dad made rubbed up against me as a girl—shaping me into the person I am today.

My dad just happens to be an alcoholic.

I don’t think I need to tell you that this can complicate things for a family. Life was not exactly predictable for us.

After years of struggling, my parents divorced when I was twelve. The changes my family went through during that time were devastating for me and my siblings.

Difficult as these parts of my formative years were, they bred in me the desire to help other kids who were going through a tough time. This is why I became a psychologist. This is why I started to write. This is why the Wings of Klaio series for teens came to be.

I first heard the word klaio in a Bible study (the correct pronunciation is “klah’-yo”). We were studying Luke 19:41–Jesus weeping upon seeing Jerusalem during his triumphal entry. My Bible study teacher shared that the Greek word for wept in that passage is klaio, which can be translated as to weep, to lament, every outward expression of grief. She went on to say that Jesus’ tears in this passage were not pretty tears. Rather, the word indicates that he was wailing in sorrow, that he was overcome with emotion.

This description made an impression on me. The thought of our Lord expressing such sorrow broke my heart. Later that day, as I was out running, I found myself thinking about the word klaio. When I thought of the depth of grief the word expressed, I felt a strange longing in my heart–a recognition of sorts. It felt like something inside of me had finally been named. I realized that this was the kind of grief I had experienced as a child; klaio, gave word to the emotion I experienced in dealing with my dad’s addiction and when my parents divorced–changing my family forever.

As I ran along, lost in thoughts and memories, suddenly, a little bird alighted on the path in front of me. She seemed to look at me. She seemed to be there for a reason. The thought occurred to me that there is no greater sorrow than the fall of man. And so, the bird Klaio was born.

Klaio was the inspiration for my first book, Brody’s Story—which is about a young girl coping with her parents’ divorce and her father’s alcoholism. Klaio is one of God’s agents–a guardian angel, if you will–who helps Brody through. Now, the second book in the Wings of Klaio series has been released. It’s called Derek’s Story, and it’s about a young boy who is dealing with his parents’ addictions and the disintegration of his family.

When I started writing the Wings of Klaio series, it was my desire that these books might speak to those experiencing difficult times and reassure them of God’s presence in their lives. Both books have Bible study questions at the end.

Will you help me reach the youth of today with this valuable message of God’s presence? I’m giving two people copies of both of my books, Brody’s Story and Derek’s Story. If this is not a ministry you are interested in, won’t you consider donating your copies to your local library? If you would like to buy a copy and then donate it, all the better :).

All you need do to win is leave a comment on this post by this Friday, Sept. 3. If you tweet about the contest, I’ll enter your name twice…just come back here and let me know. Two people will be winners! I’ll announce the winners Saturday morning. Come celebrate the release of Derek’s Story with me!


  1. says

    Congrats on the new book! I appreciate your heart to help other people work through difficult issues in their lives… especially young people.

    Don’t put my name in the drawing. I’d prefer to see someone else win the free copies.

  2. says

    Congratulations on your book! It is wonderful that you are writing for such a good reason. Many blessings to you.

    Don’t put my name in the draw, postage to here is far too huge, but know that I am jumping up and down and clapping my hands for you 🙂 For the hurt girl you were to the loving angel you are now, doing for as many as you can what Darren Oldaker did for you that day.

  3. says

    Dear Laura!
    I am so excited for you. Even more excited for the powerful ministry these books will be to those who read them.

    I am passionate about the youth in our church – as I have been for many years. I can think of a young man I would love to have read it right now. Erik and I served on youth staff for years and I continue in “stealth” mode as an intercessor 🙂

    Much Love and excited for all God is going to do!!

  4. says

    Laura, I read your first book in one sitting and loved it. I know I am way older than your audience, but it seemed to speak to that age I still have inside me. I let my psychologist read it, and so, I am thinking of donating it to her collection in her office, because she also works with youths. I can’t wait to read the book II in the Klaio series.

  5. says

    Oh Laura, you’re such a beautiful example of the grace of God working out His best in our lives, and using that to bless others and draw them to Himself. I’m moved in so many ways. And can’t wait to see you in person to give you a big, congratulatory hug! XXOO

  6. says

    What a great opportunity to get your books out there to the teens that could grow and learn that they are not alone and that Jesus loves them.

    I would love to share these with our youth group!


  7. says

    Ahhhh…I have been waiting for this! Good name choice, by the way (same as my eldest)!
    I have a friend who teaches at a particular public school in town. Every one of her students can identify with this. She has told me stories, and I know she would love this for her school library (for students and fellow teachers).
    Laura! I’m so thrilled! Today is a day to dance. 🙂

  8. says

    Congratulations! I will recommend this series to my Youth Minister daughter! Sounds absolutely wonderful. Thanks, too, for sharing a bit of your story here.

  9. gretchen says

    Laura… now you”ve upped the ante… a big virtual cake bursting with celebration candles on top and party hats on the side.

    Truly a heartfelt time for celebration.

  10. says

    Wow, Laura. What a lovely story. I know that Steph loved Brody’s story. I haven’t read it yet. She loved it. I will let my friends know on facebook and will post something on twitter. This is something our teens need. I wish you much success with the book. Thank you, Kim

  11. says

    I’m so excited for you!

    I have always had a heart for kids going through tough times too. There needs to be REAL literature out there for those kids to connect with. This sounds like just the book.


  12. says

    Miss Laura,

    How did I miss this announcement?! Yeeeehaaaww! Did you hear me? I said, YEEEEHAAAAW! I may even dance a little ditty for ya too. 😉

    From a pained childhood to a woman filled with so much encouragement and compassion that it just sloshes over your sides…



  13. says

    okay…. I can’t believe I missed this post.
    so sorry.

    congratulations on having the second book come out.
    you are such an inspiration.

    I ache for your little girl heart, and rejoice in the one you share now.

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