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Books + Stories
Did you win Everbloom?
May 2, 2017 at 4:21 am 0

What are people saying about Everbloom?

Once I began reading these stories I couldn’t stop. Each writer is a strong woman who has learned much from life and God. Gritty, funny, painful, affirming. No punches are pulled, but grace abounds.” —Luci Shaw, poet, author of The Thumbprint in the Clay “Everbloom contains a smorgasbord of personal stories and reflections that put the strong writing of women and the reality of women’s lives on display. I suspect every reader will find themselves in one or more of these chapters." —Carolyn Custis James, author of Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women and Maelstrom: Manhood Swept into the Currents of a Changing World
   

But the real question is, did you win the giveaway??

The winner of the giveaway for a FREE copy of Everbloom is....

Kellie Langenhop!

(Kellie, make sure you contact me with your address and I'll mail a copy!)

 
  If you didn't win, the book is still selling for less than list price on Amazon. So snatch up a few copies to give to you and all the mothers in your life. And as a SPECIAL FANTASTIC FREE GIFT TO YOU, I'm sending out my essay to all my newsletter subscribers tomorrow. So make sure you sign up and you'll get my essay, "I am a Desperate Woman," in your Inbox tomorrow. Don't miss out; sign up here --->
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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!

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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!

 
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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    
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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!    
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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.
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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:
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At other places
Book Giveaway and Link-up!
November 30, 2014 at 8:00 pm 5

I'm joining some other bloggers to give away some books and start a weekly link-up during the month of December.

Book Musing Hosts Our blog hop, Book Musing Mondays, is born out of a desire to promote family-friendly books and literacy activities. To kick of this new hop we are also having a giveaway! Here are all the books you can win: Mary at Mary-andering Creatively is giving away two books, 365 Pocket Prayers and A Donkey's Little Tale (a great Christmas book): DSC_1111 A Donkeys Tale Win Here at Circling the Story, I'm giving away this wonderful cookbook, Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast: Weeknight: photo 1 Melissa from My Recent Favorite Books is giving away a family-friendly romance! mrmiracle Carole from the Power of Words is giving away the novella Evergreen,   One winner will receive all 5 books. To participate in the giveaway click on and complete the entry form below. You have until December 14 to complete the entries. Good Luck!
If you've written a blog post about books or reading or literacy we want to see it! We hope you'll participate by linking up your post(s).
Here's how it works:
      • Include a link back or the blog hop button linked to this hop on your posts.
      • Link up the urls to your posts not to your blog.
      • Please remember this is a family-friendly linkup. We reserve the right to delete any posts that are not family friendly. We love all kinds of literature and genres including family-friendly inspirational romances. We do not welcome anything with excessive sexual content or cursing.
      • Be sure to visit at least two other bloggers' posts and share comment love! Remember it is also nice to follow them on their social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
      • Tweet about the link up too!
Click below to add your posts to the link-up!
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