X

Books + Stories

Books + Stories
Trees & Wanderers: Sneak Peek of Everbloom! (Jen Pollock Michel)
April 27, 2017 at 5:59 am 0

Do you feel like a wanderer who has yet to put down roots?

What does it look like to trust in a God who promises roots when you don't have any?

How do we long for and look towards home?

  Jen Pollock Michel is the author of Teach Us to Want and the forthcoming, Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home. She is a dear friend, a sharp thinker and writer, and a wife and mother of 5 in Toronto, Canada. If you're looking for thoughtful books that engage your heart and mind, Jen's books fit the bill. Be sure to pre-order her book Keeping Place, and stay tuned because I'm going to have an exclusive interview here on the blog in a few weeks! (Insert all the celebratory emojis!) You can find Jen at her website, Twitter, and Facebook.  

Here's Jen Pollock Michel's excerpt, "The Tamarisk," from Everbloom!


 
It was dismembered in a morning. Before I had returned from driving my children to school, the crew had assembled. They were severing limbs with alacrity when I arrived. Weeks earlier, when a city arborist had knocked on the front door, conveying they’d “need to take her down to the stump,” I had nodded and feigned sadness. But the truth was: I had no attachment to the diseased tree. Three years in our Toronto rental home was not adequate time for loyalty or grief, not when the future would uproot our expatriate life. Indifference was one luxury of our impermanence. But when the chainsaws were loosed unexpectedly on a gray October morning, my detachment was felled like timber. I was angry that no one had informed us of the scheduled surgery, saddened that no one had insisted on good-byes. When the hard-hatted men broke the tree’s brittle skeleton, I thought in alarm of the picture my youngest daughter had hoped to take. “I want to remember what it looked like.” Before we could devise proper burial rites, the tree was mulched. ... Sometimes we moved for career; sometimes for the dim sense of a call. Usually it had felt right. Always it had seemed necessary. But now that we’ve lived in Toronto for five years and our bureaucratic paperwork has been renewed twice, I’ve begun to grieve the roots we have failed to plant. The children have grown tall and lean. And still— we have no permanent address. I find it immensely hopeful that Abraham, the hero of our faith, might also have been called a wanderer. He was called by God, quite insistently, to leave Haran: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house” (Gen. 12:1 esv). Despite God’s simultaneous promise of a new home, Abraham spent the remainder of his years wandering. His life replayed the same song, like a narrative needle catching a groove. Abraham pitched tents and pulled up stakes. At the time of his death, the only land Abraham owned was the cave of Machpelah, which he had purchased as Sarah’s burial site. Even Abraham’s nephew, Lot, managed more stability than he (that is, before brimstone and fire hailed on Sodom). While Abraham was a man of tents, the author of Genesis notes that Lot’s house—a more permanent structure—had a roof beam (Gen. 19:8). Genesis 12 records God’s sure promise of land and family to Abraham. I’ll give you roots, God said. But if we’re honest, throughout the course of his life, Abraham endured constant threat of instability. ...

Make sure you enter to win your own copy or pick up a few on Amazon! All proceeds go back to Redbud Writers Guild.

Stay tuned for ONE MORE sneak peek this week!

Enter to win a copy here.

Giveaway closes tomorrow!

CONTINUE READING ...
Books + Stories
Red Lips & Lady Danger: Sneak Peek of Everbloom!
April 26, 2017 at 8:38 am 0

What does it mean to grow up biracial in America?

What does it mean to wear red lipstick and use beauty as rebellion?

What does it mean to be fully made in the image of God and not be a poster child for the white majority?

What does it look like to do it all with grace and fire in your bones?

  Alia Joy is a gorgeous writer and a dear friend. She writes for (in)courage, GraceTable, and the Mudroom, and other various and sundry places around web. You do not want to miss her voice. You can connect with Alia on her website and Twitter.  

Here's an exclusive first peek of her essay in Everbloom:


Red Lips, Holy Rebellion, and Lady Danger

By Alia Joy

 
Oh, honey, you are much too yellowcomplected for red, plus red draws attention to your teeth. I always tell my customers to work with what they’ve got. For you Orientals, I always say stick with your eyes, they’re so . . . exotic.” She purses her lips at me, her fuchsia lipstick bleeding into the tiny wrinkles along her mouth. She tells me which parts are worthy of being seen and which parts aren’t. I leave the makeup counter with mascara. I spend my twenties wearing colorless ChapStick and lip balm because my teeth don’t line up white and brilliant. I don’t line up white and brilliant. I learn to smile with my mouth pressed shut. When I was a girl, I had never seen an Asian American model. There were no shows featuring prominent Asian American actors. There were hardly any books about Asian American characters. Our leaders were white, our television shows were white, our neighborhood was white. To be white was to belong, to be beautiful, to be someone who could smile with her whole mouth and open it and be heard. But I was just a girl. I hadn’t yet learned that I could own my story, that it could help me become someone. ... These days I don’t listen to the women at the makeup counter. I choose my color. MAC makes my favorite red lipstick. I twist it from the bullet, and it rises up in brazen scarlet and smears across my lips. Lady Danger on my lips is holy rebellion. I smack them together and lean into the mirror. I see all of me. I am a biracial Asian American woman, and I am beautiful; I am worthy of being seen. The strength to believe it is something I fight for every day. These lips were created to speak truth. I’ve got fire on my lips, blazing red. This holy rebellion says, I will be seen. I’m learning to harness my voice even when it strangles in my throat, because these things need saying. ...
You will want to read the rest!!

Pick up a copy today at Amazon, or enter to win my giveaway!

 
CONTINUE READING ...
Books + Stories
Padded Bras: A Sneak Peak of Everbloom!
April 25, 2017 at 7:44 am 0

What does it mean to be an aging woman?

What do we do with things like sexuality and bodies and all the messy parts of being human?

What does it mean to buy and wear a padded bra?

  Leslie Leyland Fields writes one of my favorite essays in Everbloom. It's laugh-out-loud funny; it's poignant; it gets at what it can mean to be a woman and to grow old. Leslie Leyland Fields is the author of more than 10 books, including her most recent, Crossing the Waters. She lives with her family in Alaska and commercially farms fish as well as leading a writing retreat on Harvester Island (with some drop-your-jaw authors coming). She is a fantastic writer and y'all I totally stopped her in the bathroom at the Festival of Faith & Writing because she was wearing the most fantastic black and white polka dot skirt. And red lipstick. So I obviously just had to say something.

Here's an exclusive sneak peek at her essay in Everbloom


My First Padded Bra

by Leslie Leyland Fields

The year I was to turn fifty I had plans. Big plans. I was going to get my first manicure. I was going to run my first marathon. I was going to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with Joni on her fiftieth birthday. Then, my hips and joints started getting cranky. My budget for international travel seized up. I forgot about the manicure. Instead, I had a party with fifty friends. And after that, I did it. I bought my first padded bra. I’m not exactly sure how it happened. It wasn’t premeditated. I was traveling and ended up in a department store, slinking undercover through the lingerie section. (Never quite sure I belong there.) Then— brain flash—I could repay my husband for Mr. Momming the week I was away with a sexy little something. Usually it was the foreign import section for me, but the padded bras beckoned—objects of both fascination and repulsion. I had never worn one. They looked like foamy dishes and came in an astounding range, from little tea cups to Italian restaurant-size bowls. And the sizing is the same as batteries. But no size was my size. (Even batteries come in AAA!) Then on a little end rack, I found it. A flirty, spongy little number that looked small enough to fit. I’ve worn sports bras most of my life. Not the fitted ones—the stretchy fill-as-you-can kind. I’ve felt their power all these years. No matter what I was wearing on the outside, underneath I felt sporty, ready to break into a jog or an aerobic routine at any moment. And often I did. My bra inspired me. I’ve always taken pleasure in my boyishness and the freedom it brought. I’ve felt like Peter Pan refusing to grow up, my chest proof I was still young, nubile, and mobile. Despite our culture’s unflagging obsession with breasts, I’ve never felt insecure about mine. They may be less decorative than others, but few have enjoyed the same utility. Mine have fed people—six, actually—grew them from mewling newborn to stalwart near-toddler. A full six years logged on these breasts, boosting closeness, intelligence, and immunities for us both, a whole string of benefits conferred from my milk-rich low-fat deposits. But my freshman year of high school I would have traded with anyone. Breasts were so much in demand that year that tissue-stuffed bras became something of a norm, a trend I joined while hoping for nature to take its usual hormonal course. I soon gave up on the venture, especially after my tissues crept unbidden out of my shirt one day in plain view of the boy I had a crush on. When I saw his eye wander downward, I should have simply yanked out a tissue with a flourish and blown my suddenly stuffy nose, winking seductively like, Aren’t we girls inventive creatures who can stow the most necessary items in such mystical places? I do recall a few other moments, in college, when I layered a second bra over my first, aiming for some kind of collegial shape to my body. To at least belong among the freshman femininity parading before the male upperclassmen, whom we knew were surveying the goods as we clicked by on our heels, swishing our skirts. (Yes, we wore high heels and [modest] skirts. This was a Christian college where “the men looked like men and the women looked like women.” A great obsession of conservative Christians in the unisex hippie days of flowing hair, platform shoes, and jeans.) But this new bra—all foamy and thick, plush in just the right places—was more. This was not a tame bra; it was leopard-spotted. ... You'll want to read the rest...

Make sure you enter to win your own copy or pick up a few on Amazon! All proceeds go back to Redbud Writers Guild.

Stay tuned for more sneak peeks this week!! Enter to win a copy here    
CONTINUE READING ...
Books + Stories
Win a Copy of Everbloom!
April 24, 2017 at 1:54 pm 0
Do you ever write a thing (or paint a thing, or say a thing) and then you want to bring those words right back? Well, that was a bit what it was like writing my essay, "I am a Desperate Woman," for Everbloom: Stories of Deeply Rooted and Transformed Lives. I wrote about bleeding and being a woman and at first, I wished I could take it all back. But here's the thing friends, I'm done with pretending that we all don't need to hear the human experience from the perspective of being female (or male for that matter). I think men should be able to read essays without blushing about birth and menstruation. After all, I read things all the time from a male perspective. So I'm standing by my essay in its vulnerable depiction of health gone awry, of the challenges of being female. I threw my essay into the lot and it's now a part of a book by some amazing writers and women from Redbud Writers Guild. You guys, it's a gorgeous book. I sat curled up and devoured stories from my writer friends. It's gutsy and encouraging, poignant, sad, and laugh-out-loud funny. There's essays. There's heart-wrenching personal narratives. There's poetry. There's prayers. There's writing prompts for you to tell your own brave story.

And I'm giving a copy away to ONE LUCKY READER!


Here's how to enter. Two things. It's simple:

  1. Sign up below for my monthly newsletter (if you haven't done so already)-->

2. Share the giveaway on social media. Be sure to tag me at @aahales on Twitter or Instagram, or at my writer's Facebook page.

I'll announce the winner on Friday!


  1. To whet your appetite, I'm giving you a little bit of my essay below. Please stay tuned, because I'll have excerpts from other essays this week! Don't miss it. 
    Most of my breakdowns happen on bathroom floors. When I did not know much about pain, I cried on the rug in my college apartment over a wedding decision standstill, feeling pulled between daughter and soon-to-be wife. A few years later, when I once had the hope of new life within me, I howled, hunched over the toilet as I miscarried my first baby. Since then, I’ve shut the bathroom door for alone time, hoping to find some inner calm. I’ve cried on the bathmat when the world felt like it was spinning out of control, when I could no longer be the one to hold together all the loose strands. The bathmat has been my altar – soaked with tears and the vessel to hold my sin, shame, and suffering. This last October, I cried in the bathroom because I couldn’t leave the toilet for more than an hour. I wouldn’t stop bleeding. I didn’t know what was wrong. My body felt twisted, confused, and ridding itself of its life force. This was it, I figured: my body was irreparably broken. I cried for healing and still the blood came, day after day, hour after hour. Find out more about how bathroom floor breakdowns helped to show me God in Everbloom
    If you just can't wait, pick up your copy today! If you buy it today on Amazon, you get the pre-order price guarantee of $12.20! Crazy deal!    
CONTINUE READING ...
Books + Stories
Want some life-changing books?
March 17, 2017 at 4:48 am 0
You guys, I'm thrilled to partner with InterVarsity Press to offer three readers a stack of books that are totally rocking my world. But hurry, giveaway ends on Tuesday. 

Three readers will get these THREE books!

Giveaway is open to everyone on my email list. If you're already on it, you're entered! If you're not yet on there, join here:

I honestly believe that books can change the world and these three with their emphases on thoughtful dialogue, practical application and a relentless chasing after beauty will be right up your alley: --Andy Crouch's Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing
Flourishing people are strong and weak. Two common temptations lure us away from abundant living—withdrawing into safety or grasping for power. True flourishing, says Andy Crouch, travels down an unexpected path—being both strong and weak. (from IVP's book copy)
--Tish Harrison Warren's Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life
"You don't need more to do in a day, Warren shows. Instead, reframe the everyday as an extension of worship, and folding the laundry, washing dishes, and even commuting become habitations of the Spirit."
Review from James K. A. Smith, author of Desiring the Kingdom and You Are What You Love
--Makoto Fujimura's Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for our Common Life.
"Culture is not a territory to be won or lost but a resource we are called to steward with care. Culture is a garden to be cultivated."  
Subscribe now, tell your friends. I'll be picking a winner on Tuesday! You don't want to miss your chance at winning a stack of gorgeous books.
 
CONTINUE READING ...
Books + Stories
Kindle Deals on Some of my Favorites! Just today!
November 28, 2016 at 3:35 pm 2
It's cold out and who couldn't use a lovely book to curl up with in front of the fire? These are some of my favorite reads (or on my to-read list) and wanted you to know about them! From what I can tell the crazy Kindle deals are only good today.

fallingfree2

Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted by Shannan Martin

$2.99 Kindle // $12.67 Paperback Shannan is the real deal. She laughs like she can't hold it back. She's thoughtful, smart, and deeply broken (like all good people are) and I'm encouraged to see how God has shaped her life's path. Great prose. Perfect for: Those who don't want to live "normal" lives but aren't sure how to step out in faith.  

The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life by Ann Voskamp

$4.99 on Kindle // $13.79 Hardback I listened to a wonderful podcast with Ann Voskamp all about her book and brokenness and being connected to her land. I really think that the type of leadership Ann offers could help center a lot of the messiness of evangelical celebrity. This is one I'm snagging! Perfect for: Fans of Voskamp, women who need to know that not being perfect is how God uses us.  

Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Isolation, Judgment and Fear by Scott Sauls

$8.57 Kindle // $9.02 Paperback (not a huge Kindle deal, but a great price on the paperback!) I reviewed Sauls' book for The Englewood Review of Books. Quite simply it's such an important for people of faith in this moment in time. Grab a few copies and read it with your friends (and make some friends who are different from you). The format is great to digest in smaller chunks. Perfect for: The Christian who is tempted to live in polarized spheres but wants to change.  

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

$4.99 Kindle // $15.87 Hardback (40% off!) If you haven't already fallen in love with this HGTV designer duo, then this will clinch it. This is totally on my list. I'm such a sucker for design, a love story, and the story of underdogs.  

The Best American Essays 2016, edited by Jonathan Franzen

$9.99 Kindle // $8.79 Paperback (Look at that paperback discount!) This is on my list because I love a compilation book full of good writing. That's like less than a dollar for an essay. Cheaper than coffee and lasts longer! Add it to your list. Perfect for: the person who loves good writing but can't be nailed down.
befriend There's bunches and bunches more like: Where'd you go, Bernadette? ($2.99), the latest Pat Conroy novel ($1.99) and Nicholas Sparks' latest, Two by Two ($3.99); Amy Poehler's hysterical memoir ($3.99), and Shauna Niequist's Present Over Perfect ($4.99).   I'll be back later this season with some other favorites, but for now, take note and grab these deals before they leave!   *post contains affiliate links, which enable me to write and run this site.

Don't forget to subscribe to my newsletter today because friends, I have some NEWS to share soon! -->

Subscription preferences (choose ALL that apply):
CONTINUE READING ...
Books + Stories
Are you tired of waiting? Win a FREE copy of this Advent devotional!
November 20, 2016 at 10:42 pm 0
You guys! It's getting all Christmassy up in here! Below, there's a giveaway and a video interview and it makes me want to just curl up under some blankets by a fire and chat. Wouldn't that be great to do? Well, in lieu of that option, come on over to my cozy online space, watch our fun video, and enter to win a book you can curl up with...
My good friend, Kris Camealy (who is an all-around wonderful mama-writer and curator of GraceTable), wrote the prettiest book for Advent called Come, Lord Jesus: The Weight of Waiting.   There are a ton of products and companies and books vying for your dollar this season. I'll tell you why I recommend Kris' book:
  • It's not fluffy. Her words sit with you with the itchiness of the waiting season;
  • She always points me back to the gospel: that there is a blessed Redeemer who is coming;
  • It's manageable. It isn't too short or too long on any given day so you feel like you have just enough to chew on -- just one reflection question that helps center you even with kids running around;
  • It'll refocus your season. I promise.
I even had the immense pleasure of holding a bit of Kris's story in this interview that I cannot wait for you to watch!! (Plus you get to see my totally excitable hand movements, so, bonus!) In this interview you'll hear:
  • How this Advent project surprised Kris herself;
  • How a busy mom of 4 carves out time to wait and to write;
  • How to carry the weight of waiting well and see waiting as opportunity;
  • What the work of waiting is for Kris;
  • How "feeding people is what brings [her] back in" and helps her practice presence; and
  • Kris' hopes for the book and how to not get sucked into feeling everything this season needs to be perfect or meaningful.
  But, wait! There's more! Make sure you enter to win a FREE COPY of Come, Lord Jesus below. (Tell ALL your friends! For real! Can you tell I'm so excited to partner with Kris to give a reader a copy?!) a Rafflecopter giveaway The giveaway ends midnight on Wednesday, so enter soon! And if you don't win (or even if you do, it'd make a terrific hostess gift as you travel for Thanksgiving!), pick up a copy by clicking the cover below:   Read more from Kris at her blog, at GraceTable, and see her gorgeous photos on Instagram
CONTINUE READING ...
Books + Stories
Win a FREE copy of The Road Back to You
October 6, 2016 at 6:30 am 7
We're busy, we read sound bites, and we think we don't have time to read. But I wanted to encourage you to do just that. So I'm partnering with a few publishing companies who have graciously given not only me a FREE BOOK (which feels like Christmas every time I open the mailbox!) but also want to give YOU a FREE BOOK! I'll be starting a series of snippet reviews -- nothing big, but something to help get you a feel for the book.
14358706_1211583128898436_8508675805087300355_n

Can you guess my kids' enneagram numbers based on this picture?

  First up, is Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile's new release called The Road Back to You, published by Intervarsity Press. If you haven't heard about the enneagram, this book is a great place to start. The enneagram is an ancient personality system that won't put you in a box, but that puts you on a path of learning how to be compassionate with yourself and others. It helps us to see the sin patterns of our personalities. It helps us see how to grow and where we go when we're stressed, angry, or healthy. It's actually been life-changing for our marriage. Because instead of seeing my husband (or he seeing me) as "he's just that way," it's helped me to see that beyond his exterior of having it all figured out and what I see as marching forward unfeelingly, he is a vulnerable, tender person underneath. Then I can learn compassion and empathy. Only then can we grow. There are 9 enneagram numbers. And each number has "wings" where you drift to a number close to your number. You all can psychoanalyze me now, I'm a 4w3, which means I desperately want to be a special snowflake, that my life is characterized by longing, and also because of the 3 wing, I want to be the best at it. So yeah, super intense. What number might you be?

Type 1-Perfectionists (Nelson Mandela and Hillary Clinton)

Type 2- Helpers (Mother Teresa and Desmond Tutu)

Type 3- Performers (Taylor Swift and Tiger Woods)

Type 4- Romantics (Vincent Van Gogh and Angelina Jolie)

Type 5- Investigators (Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates)

Type 6- Loyalists (Ellen DeGeneres and George H.W. Bush)

Type 7- Enthusiasts (Mozart and Stephen Colbert)

Type 8- Challengers (Martin Luther King Jr. and Serena Williams)

Type 9-Peacemakers (Pope Francis and Garrison Keillor)

  The Road Back to You is a book on the enneagram that shows us how to do the work; it doesn't shy away from our sin and it points us toward spiritual growth. This is a fabulous book if you're looking for an enneagram primer. If you already have read all about the enneagram and even have the app on your phone like I do, this is still a wonderful resource. I love that they have numbered lists about what it's like to be each number and conclude each type with ways to grow spiritually. It's a full resource that doesn't leave you navel-gazing. It helps you to understand yourself and others so that you can grow, not stay boxed in to a type.

I WANT TO GIVE ONE LUCKY READER A COPY!!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway     While you're waiting to see if you win and if you're interested in learning more about the enneagram, you can listen to The Road Back to You podcast or this great interview with the authors on The Liturgists Podcast. Grab your copy:
CONTINUE READING ...
At other places, Books + Stories, Faith + Vulnerability
#MamaPhD and the Delicate Circles of Relation (for The Well)
September 27, 2016 at 6:00 am 0
writer If you've been reading things I've written on motherhood, academia and this odd confluence of writing/motherhood/research/ministry, then you may have seen me use the hashtag #MamaPhD. It's after a fabulous book by the same name and so clearly encapsulates this life of motherhood combined with scholarship. I'm not in the classroom these days, but I still find that my Ph.D. matters quite a bit. Not just as some pretty letters after my name -- though I've been known to pull that out in conversation to feel "more than just a mom" (here my own insecurities are surfacing) -- but my Ph.D. matters because it is so engrained in who I am, my story, and the fact that I spent almost a third of my life (at that point) obtaining it. Today I have the lovely privilege at being over at one of my favorite new internet spots, The Well. It's a spot just for women in the academy and beyond. It's a spot that says that women can love God with all of their mind. I love that women share their stories there (from graduate school, academic vocations, and beyond), review good books, and care for our souls. We aren't just brains on toothpicks. We are whole people. And that's something that took me a Ph.D. and not teaching in the classroom to learn.  I'd be beyond thrilled if you wanted to read a bit more of my story:
We live boundaried lives. We can fight against the edges of our circles – where we come into intimate relationship with others and are responsible to them, or we can discern how to live faithful lives given those constraints. I pushed at my circle for years trying to expand it ever wider. I stewed like a petulant child — angry that my bright future was now full of dirty diapers, toddler tantrums, and my own inability to take it in stride. It would have been a valid choice to put children in daycare and to go about finding a successful job, but it wasn’t mine. And yet, I couldn’t seem to find God exclusively in the liturgy of the ordinary. Like Brene Brown says, if creativity isn’t used, it festers. I grew resentful, blamed my husband’s ministry job changes, and bought the lie that a tenure track job would satisfy all my longing for meaning and significance. Here I was, Ph.D. now in hand (9 years after I started), not in the classroom, but with three little children, and one on the way. What was I doing with my life? How could this be God’s plan?
And, I'd love to hear how you have both resisted and moved comfortably around in your own circles of relation. Go on over to The Well to read the rest // As always your support by "liking" my Facebook page and subscribing to my monthly newsletters helps. It helps me know I'm not alone and that we can share our quiet stories together. When you sign up for my monthly newsletter expect exclusive content and gifts just for you. Plus, you'll be on the cutting edge of all book-related awesomeness! Thanks friends.

Subscribe below:

* indicates required
Subscription preferences (choose ALL that apply):
  *post contains affiliate links  
CONTINUE READING ...
Announcements, Books + Stories, Letters to Weary Women
On words, silence, and an invite into our cozy fort
September 13, 2016 at 4:21 pm 0

Dear loyal, kind, harried reader,

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. succulentbook 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. tent1 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,

Ashley

CONTINUE READING ...