Beyond the Scars: A Giveaway

Back in 2007 when I first started blogging I met some amazing friends in this space. We did Bible studies together and encouraged each other and opened our hearts to one another in ways that made us sisters for life. One of my very favorite sisters is Elaine Olsen, who blogs at Peace for the Journey. Elaine and I have never met in person (though I did stand behind her once at SheSpeaks, too shy to introduce myself), but we’ve spoken on the phone and exchanged stories in a smattering of words over the years. Elaine’s saucy, southern twang has encouraged me through more than one season of doubt.
In 2010, Elaine was diagnosed with breast cancer. You can read her story here but suffice it to say that throughout her treatment—all the lows and, yes, the highs—Elaine shared her journey with courage and transparency. It was her sincere desire to help others walking a similar path. In August of 2012, on the second anniversary of her cancer diagnosis, Elaine releasedBeyond Cancer’s Scars, a devotional book that addressed some specific battles and triumphs she experienced during her treatment and after. The thing is—Elaine found herself steeped in ways of grace during her treatment that spoke a broader message of victory. Her book not only ministered to those walking through cancer, but spoke to others right where they were too.
When a series of unusual circumstances made the future of Beyond Cancer’s Scars uncertain, Elaine took the opportunity to edit the book again and re-release it as Beyond the Scars: Daring to Live Forward.That’s what she’s been doing. Stepping into the future with all that she is—letting the scars speak beauty instead of pain.

I’m pleased to say that Elaine has offered one of my readers the chance to win a copy of Beyond the Scars. Just leave a comment on this post by Friday evening and I’ll announce the winner on Saturday morning. And there’s more good news. When Elaine mails off the winning copy of the new book, she will donate a copy of the original edition to her local cancer center. Everyone wins! If you know a woman who needs this kind of encouragement–the kind it takes to move beyond the scars and step into the future, this book would be a blessing to her. 

And don’t forget to leave a comment on this post for another chance to win the sweet gift of story. Have a beautiful day!

It’s a Rhinestone Jesus Giveaway!

… I carried heavy sadness with me, the kind of sorrow that comes when you stop dreaming. Curled up next to Terrell one night, I thought about staying in bed forever.
I’ll never forget what he said to me: “What happened to the girl I married? The one who was going to change the world?”
My words hammered in my chest. “I don’t even dream of changing the world anymore. I just want to survive it.”
His response filled our bedroom. “We used to be dreamers. What happened to us?”Life happened. (Rhinestone Jesus by Kristen Welch)

She couldn’t say when things began to change. She couldn’t say when staying in the comfort zone became their religion. Maybe it was when the work he had loved and done for years dried up. Maybe it was all that trouble at the church. Worries about finances, that milestone birthday, parenting mistakes, unexpected hospitalizations, depression, worrisome choices from a teenager, and anger … so much anger.

How do you dream when every day is a battle? How do you keep your eyes on Jesus when all those little foxes distract and scratch and claw at your attention?

One small yes at a time.That’s what Kristen Welch says in her book Rhinestone Jesus:Saying Yes to God When Sparkly, Safe Faith is No Longer Enough. It’s the story of how she and her family founded The Mercy House, a home for pregnant mothers in Kenya.

Maybe you’re thinking: That’s not a small yes!You are right about that. But in the book, Kristen chronicles the many small yeses that led to this big one. And it starts there—in the comfort zone. That place where we can’t figure out why we aren’t happy. That safe place, the place where nothing changes and people don’t grow. Because we were made to always be being transformed. Until we reflect Christ’s image, we cannot be happy unless we allow ourselves to be stretched and experience new life in resurrection moment after resurrection moment.

Kristen’s story reminded her of this. So she’s been trying on some yeses of her own. Trusting God with it all. It sure isn’t very comfortable.

My sweet spot wasn’t exactly a success story. I think we often confuse glory with something glorious. Nothing really changed, not for a long time. But I had changed. I was pursuing my passion. I was living an authentic life. I was satisfied, and that changed everything. (Kristen Welch, Rhinestone Jesus).

Maybe you don’t want everything to change. Maybe you don’t yearn for the burn of transformation … but if you do, read Kristen’s story. It will set the heart churning in ways undescribable.

And that’s not comfortable. But it’s good.

Tyndale has graciously provide me with two copies of Rhinestone Jesus to give away in this space. Just leave a comment by Sunday evening, May 4, to be entered for a chance to win. I’ll announce the winners on Monday’s Playdates with God post. Good luck!

Days of Wonder: The Way We Walk (and a giveaway!)

I’ve been thinking about the walking we do and how a person can walk through a life blind. There’s this book I’ve been reading and it’s called Walk With Me and it has me thinking about what I’m journeying toward. The byline says Pilgrim’s Progress for Married Couples and I can see how it is just that, but this book? It is so much more. It is at both times a mirror and a crystal ball.
Walk with me is the story of Celeste and Peter and their lifelong journey together to the King’s city. It’s a beautiful allegory about our faith journey and the things that can either hinder or help in this walk. Author Annie Wald uses sweet word pictures that place my heart in the story and gently encourage me to think of my own steps to the King’s city and reflect on my own marriage. There are the cords of commitment (the marriage vows), the moon of honey (honey moon), drinking from the chalice (intimacy with one’s spouse), the little travelers (the children), and so many sweet metaphors for the stuff of life. Along the journey there is the Low Country, the Swamp of Selfishness, the Orchard of Earthly Delights, and the River of Unfaithfulness. There are the Plains of Distance, the Bridge of Forgiveness, the Mountains of Maturity, and other geography of the heart that we all will encounter on this journey.
In the foreword, Eugene Peterson says, Parents preparing their children for marriage, Pastors preparing their parishioners for marriage, and married couples who need a “story” for their marriage will find this book a treasure.
I have to agree, but I also tend to think this lovely story would be valuable to anyone who seeks to maintain healthy earthly relationships while pursuing the Kingdom of God. There is such sage advice on what it takes to love others well—all Biblically based too. Annie Wald even includes a section on scripture references in the back of the book. It would make a lovely study with teens who seek to know what true love really means.
Not to mention the storytelling is superb.
So I’ve been thinking about the way I am walking to the King’s City. And the story of Peter and Celeste has made me more deliberate in my stepping. It’s a beautiful thing to see with the eyes of eternity. I’m catching just a glimpse between these pages and it is a sweet, sweet vision.
Moody Publishers so kindly provided me a complimentary copy of Annie’s book to share with you! One commenter will be chosen randomly to receive a copy of Walk with Me and announced on Monday’s Playdates with God post. As always, mentions on Facebook and Twitter earn extra entries in the drawing. I have to say—I love, love, love this book. And I think you will too. 
With Emily:

This is my day 18 of joining the 31 day-ers. They’ve ignited a fire and the flame of their passion is contagious. I know myself too well to say I’ll post every day…but I promise to try. If it sounds inviting to you and you don’t mind coming late to the party (like me), you can read more about the wave at The Nester’s place. She’s the hostess with the mostest.

Days of Wonder: Dew–And a Supernatural Giveaway!

I can see my breath when I head out to the back yard to rake leaves. It’s early and the grass sticks to my MaryJanes—soaking through those long stripes on my socks. I breathe out and watch the vapor drift. I think about the Spirit that lives inside me…and I am glad for the company. Drops of dew sit on top each blade of grass like a crowning jewel and I compliment the Maker on such a fine design. The moisture is rising up in leggy tendrils…returning to the sky.
It’s supernatural.
Isn’t it?
The more I open my eyes in wonder, the more I see. God’s fingerprints are everywhere.
It reminds me of a book I read at the end of the summer—how my friend who wrote that book has a special way of connecting with Jesus. She says everyone can have this way. And then she tells amazing stories about her life with God. Amazing stories from an amazing woman.
God sometimes speaks to me in dreams so I am not surprised that He uses vivid visions to wrap a broken little girl in His love and tie her heart to his forever. This is what I read in An Invitation to the Supernatural LifeMichele Perry’s most recent book. It is that. An invitation.
I started reading the book during that span of time when both of my boys were hospitalized for emergency surgeries within one week of each other. I needed some supernatural faith then. Michele’s sweet voice talked me through…helped me remember that we are never alone.

Is this wonder-full? I am raking the leaves, getting my feet soaked clean through, and I am not alone.
I never have to be alone again.
Michele’s publisher was so kind to send me a copy of her book to give away to one lucky commenter on this post! Leave your comment by Sunday night at 10:00 pm and I’ll announce the winner on Monday’s Playdates with God post. As always, if you tweet or post on FB about the giveaway, let me know and you’ll earn extra chances to win!
This is my day 14 of joining the 31 day-ers. They’ve ignited a fire and the flame of their passion is contagious. I know myself too well to say I’ll post every day…but I promise to try. If it sounds inviting to you and you don’t mind coming late to the party (like me), you can read more about the wave at The Nester’s place. She’s the hostess with the mostest.

Because Sometimes You Need a Story (and a giveaway!)

I keep forgetting to eat breakfast because it’s not on the to-do list and there have been crises at work and crises at home and I have only gotten to run three miles this week and it looks like the rain is trying to make up for the drought all over the country today.
Sometimes I need a good story.
Sometimes I need to curl up with a warm beverage and Lucy Mae and just forget all the craziness of the world for a while. It’s good therapy. Really.
My friend Laura wrote just such a story. Her story makes me think hard about who I am—about who I want to be. Here’s what I wrote about it over at Amazon:

She’s been challenged to write a novel by a twitter friend and she just might do it. Maybe. But she has to find that darn tea basket first.

Laura, the complicated main character of The Novelist, never leaves her house (unless you count her porch or her soiree into cyberspace) but she takes the reader into “the great unknown” (as she quotes James Scott Bell from his book Plot & Structure). A copywriter who also writes poetry, Laura is completely daunted by the task of novel writing. The reader is treated to her internal process which delightfully weaves together her troubled upbringing, a broken romance, her love of tea, and poetry…beautiful poetry.

Such a clever book that highlights some of the tried and true rules of writing fiction and then breaks them all. Wonderfully. Plus there is all that delicious name-dropping of poets and other writers.

If you’ve read L.L. Barkat before, you’ll recognize her deep and smart writing but might be surprised by her storytelling. But if you’ve read her poetry, you won’t be surprised by the sensuality in this compelling story.

A lovely portrait that does justice to the complexities of life and the human spirit.

Have you read it? The Novelist: A Novella? You really should. And because it has been such good therapy for me, I’d like to make it easier for you. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of this lovely story. For more than one chance, tweet or Facebook this giveaway and you’ll be entered another time for each. Leave your comment by Monday and I’ll announce the winner on my Playdates with God post.
Because sometimes you just need a good story.