First, Birthing Hope. This book is part birth memoir, theological rumination on life and death, and study in family history, anxiety, and how hope shines through darkness. Rachel Marie Stone's writing is gorgeous and you should read it just for her excellent prose.
When I had a second with her at the Festival of Faith & Writing in April, I asked her how she managed to weave together so many things and still come out with such a work of art, rather than a bunch of jumbled threads. She answered "lots of drafts," and that she followed Marie Kondo's advice: first take out everything from the drawer and only put back in what sparks joy. Birthing Hope is my favorite read of 2018 so far.
If you're into the Enneagram and you enjoyed The Road Back to You (Stabile and Cron's first primer on the Enneagram with IVP), you'll loveThe Path Between Us. (If you haven't read The Road Back to You, pick that one up too). The Enneagram seems to be the personality typing program du jour, but don't let that turn you off. It's a wonderful tool that really helps you grow into health, rather than a "take me as I am" box-you-into-a-personality.
Stabile's latest, The Path Between Us (that also has a separate study guide!), is a wonderful start to discovering how different numbers on the Enneagram relate. It's an absolute must to navigate your relationships -- with your spouse, friends, and children (if you have those!).
And I want to give these two books: one gorgeous, the other more practical, female-authored books to ONE LUCKY WOMAN.
Yes, it's a Mother's Day giveaway but you don't need to be a mother to win. All of our stories can be told as birth stories, Rachel Marie Stone writes.
Hi friends! You guys, it's 2018 and I'm finally back from dreaded flu!
My book, Finding Holy in the Suburbs: Living Faithfully in the Land of Too Much, comes out with IVP this fall, and I can't wait to share more about it with you!
In the meantime, I wanted to start some conversations in my minivan where you can listen in to how I'm #findingholyinthesuburbs. You'll find those videos coming up on my Facebook page so make sure you "like" it to follow along. (I'm also super keen on Instagram stories!)
Here's a little minivan chronicle to get you started -- a little about me, my book, and how you can get involved!
Some links to know:
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All my newsletter friends already know (make sure you don't miss out on news first: subscribe here), but I have some big news!
October 2014 I had an infant, a 2.5 year old, a Kindergartner and 1st grader. My husband was starting to get antsy in his job and I had had so many babies and done so many things that I was starting to lose a bit of myself. Do you know what it's like to start to lose you? So I turned to Write 31 days, a 30-day blogging challenge just to have something that was for me. I wrote on finding beauty in the mundane because I desperately needed to find God in my busy, whiny world.
Writing saved me.
Not that I'd found my life's vocation or the heavens opened, but I did a small thing for me that opened me up, allowed me to think through things and helped me better care for others -- for my family, friends, and new friends met online.
After that month, I kept writing. I joined Tribe Writers and Clumsy Bloggers and Redbud Writers Guild. I wrote for The Mudroom because the editor, Tammy Perlmutter, liked what I wrote. I met new friends. I went to a writing conference in Portland in 2015 and then to the Festival of Faith and Writing in 2016. I wrote for (in)courage, ThinkChristian, Books & Culture, The Englewood Review of Books, The Well, other friends' blogs (see some of those here). I was chasing what I was curious about.
At Festival of Faith & Writing, I felt like I'd come home. There were academics (some of my undergraduate professors!), philosophers, poets, bloggers, authors I'd admired. We all fit there. I also met Helen Lee of InterVarsity Press and we had a lovely conversation about my book ideas.
I wrote a book proposal and kept putting myself out there -- not because I wanted fame or because I felt I was "all that" -- but because I needed to chase the ideas to the very end and I'd heard how my writing had met people. How it had clarified things for them. That something that I thought could save only me was also a gift to share.
Later this fall, that book proposal was revised and then accepted by InterVarsity Press for publication. I'm writing a real, live book that will get in your hands! I think I was stunned for about a month and now am in the trenches writing. It's exciting and yet I know that such work never happens in a vacuum and that writing is a form of prayer and sustained attention.
The book's working title is Finding Holy in the Suburbs, it's my own journey back to suburbia and finding belonging in Jesus rather than a zip code. It's my love letter to Christians who grew up thinking they had to do something radical to really follow Jesus. When more than half of Americans live in a suburb, we need a way to practice ordinary means of grace with delight, while eschewing the idols of our places. In God's kingdom, there are no little places and the suburbs can be a place to house the glory of God.
I know there are potential readers hungry for this book and that's where you come in, even now.
Book-writing is a long process and it's unlikely to be on shelves until 2018 with writing and editing. But I need your help with two things.
I need prayer. If you could commit to praying for my writing time daily or weekly, I need it. With little kids, a husband who is over-extended as a church planter, and all that we all do, writing happens in small cracks of time. I need prayer for those small times to be productive and Spirit-filled. Please comment and let me know if you want to join my prayer team; I'll add you to a separate, intimate list of pray-ers. I'd be honored.
I need people. I'm passionate about the message of Finding Holy in the Suburbs. If there's someone you know who could use the message of this book, could you share this with them? There will be plenty of time later for launch team and promotion and all the fun parties surrounding the book. But I want to make sure that the book I'm writing gets to the people who need it. And that means they're not only aware of it but also receive my newsletters to get the first bit of info. Thank you!
If you haven't signed up for my newsletter, I'd be honored if you would. I write nearly monthly. It's an intimate letter of sorts, holds my favorite book recommendations, and you're the first to know about book news and giveaways. I'm sending one soon with my favorite books of 2016. Don't miss out.
Thank you friends, for being on this journey with me. I can't wait to update you all about it.
Sign up now to hear more about Finding Holy in the Suburbs and be sure to comment or email to be added to my prayer team.
I know you have precious little time these days. What time you have to read is spent on the latest and greatest novel, the magazine you flip through to get a little peace, and the pertinent article you click through from Facebook as you stand in the grocery check-out line (if, of course, you aren't wrangling a toddler or two and trying to make sure they don't lick all the chocolate at their eye level).
We have so very many words thrown at us these days. They are often big words full of scandal and political angst. They are words meant to critique with a knife-point edge, not to eradicate the ivy grown around our hearts, but to show us the dexterity of the surgeon. I've just had the pleasure of reading so many books that welcome us into worlds where words are all about flourishing. I'll be sharing more and giving them away because, after all, words are gifts.
Can you imagine with me: words that do not wound, or if they do -- the wound speaks to your own hidden hurts and someone's words makes you feel less alone? They are words that nudge in the best sense -- to see anew. To pay attention. To find beauty right here in the harried middle.
I can't wait to share some reviews with you shortly! And hopefully some free books too! (Eek!) I'm planning for so many lovely little things in store on this online space. I'm practically bursting at the seams from all the good ideas.
But, dear reader, as a mama to four who chases dreams and words and quiet in very small slivers of time, sometimes the birthing is unseen. As far as my own words go, they've been slight here of late. I've been practicing the holy art of saying "no," or "wait," or "I don't need to be all things to all people all the time." It's a tricky thing to say. It's something that I'm learning slowly, feebly as I back off from being superwoman. "It's okay. We're all breathing. Life goes on."
I'm not sure if you're in a quiet season, too. We've had a touch of cool here in southern California and it feels like blessed relief (though I'm sure it'll get back to 80F in a manner of days). I grabbed my boots and drank a bunch of coffee and desperately want to go and get a pumpkin spice latte because everyone on Instagram is doing it. But quiet internal seasons often accompany climatic changes too. As the leaves begin to change (in other parts of the world), I realize that change and even death of good things are necessary for life to grow. For life to flourish.
I'm still here, writing away, but it is unseen now. I have books and documents spread and my eyes are opened anew to the gifts and landscape around me. I'm breathing it all in. And for once I'm realizing I needn't make it happen on the Internet for it to happen -- for it to be full, meaningful, rich and important. I can savor in the quiet, unnoticed spots. I can write there too. There is something both terrifying in being unseen and something quite delicious -- as if my words and I were huddled under a secret fort built cozily just for us.
I'm planning on opening bits of the tent soon -- as we continue to share our stories together (go on over here and submit yours!), as we savor good books together, as we learn to chase beauty and sustained attention in a world full of noise.
Because there are words shouted at us, there are words that are irrelevant mere seconds after we refresh the page, there are words we wish we could draw back from our mouths. Here, though, there will always be words that refresh. There will be words that sit with you in your pain and show you hope. Join me -- if you haven't already -- in signing up for my little newsletter. On there, I share with you first picks of what I'm reading, all the newsy fun stuff, behind-the-scenes on book-writing, and little gifts. It's just a little thank you for coming in and sitting in my fort with me.
Grace to you today, dear one,
Just kidding, I don't have prizes. (Unless, of course, you count helping out your friendly neighborhood writer as a big, fat carnival prize!!) But you do get to weigh in.
In case you didn't notice, I'm writing a book. Why, you might ask? Because I like to write to figure out myself and solve all the world's problems. Okay, maybe not. Scratch that. (I'm in a silly mood today.) But I do write to find out what I think and how to live better and more intentionally in the present.
Here's where you come in: I need my readers who live in a suburb to weigh in on JUST 4 QUESTIONS!Only 4?, you say. Gosh darn, I've got time for that in-between my scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, while I pretend to be productive. Yes, reader, just FOUR questions.
Click HERE to access this short little survey. I promise it'll be shorter than it takes to grab that nonfat latte in the Starbucks drive-thru.
And you'll have my undying gratitude, too, for helping me hone the message of my book. Pass this cute little link on to ALL YOUR FRIENDS. Because today is a day for lattes and ALL CAPS.