My, My! What astute readers have I!
My, My! What astute readers have I!
Today, one of our local news reporters delivered his thoughts on this record-breaking weather while stationed up to his thighs in snow on a fake deck. Nice touch, I thought. One leg was in a “normal” section of the snow while the other was dramatically stomped into a tall drift, making the point that with the wind comes a new problem: blowing snow piling up to legendary heights.
Thoughtfully, this reporter not only called us all to personally use care and caution while outside, but to go the extra mile and check in on a neighbor. Blow out another driveway. Help someone get down the sidewalk. Keep your mailbox free and clear for the postal worker. In other words, exhibit some simple compassion.
This news snippet brought to mind a book I reviewed last year by Keri Wyatt Kent, Simple Compassion: Devotions to Make a Difference in Your Neighborhood and Your World. This book will be the subject of today’s free book giveaway! [Click on “Book Reviews” above for more information].
You have a week to do this–and a week to tell all your friends so they can throw their name in the hat. If living the Way of Jesus is important to you [instead of just talking or reading about it], this book is the perfect catalyst to get you thinking.
To enter your name into this contest, simply:
1. Link TO my blog FROM your blog, facebook page, or twitter.
2. Leave a comment below so that your name can be entered into the random drawing.
It seems that nothing has the power to transform meteorologists into giddy children like a rollicking storm. Weathermen and women posted outdoors in the bluster seem thrilled to be at the center of such epic developments, their stern admonitions to skedaddle to the gas station and grocery store delivered while leaning precariously on the margins of a barely-visible highway. There, hanging on for dear life, they convince us that the world as we know it may very well be coming to an end, sending school kids everywhere into a tizzy of snow day speculation. [Ours are prepping for a sibling slumber party even as I type!]
THANKFULLY there’s a spark of light in all this blizzardy drama! A free book for you!! Up for adoption today is my read-and-reviewed copy of Mary DeMuth‘s powerful memoir, Thin Places, published last February by Zondervan. [For more information, click on “Book Reviews” above]. Part of the reason I’ve chosen to share this book is that I found it to be so compelling, so raw and honest, that anyone who picks it up is bound to be changed. I hope that you’ll agree…and that you’ll pass it on to bless someone else in your community after you’ve laid it down.
If you’d like to toss your name in the ring, simply:
1. Post a link TO my blog FROM your blog, facebook page, or Twitter.
2. Leave a comment below so that your name can be placed in the random drawing [I use random.org]
That’s it! Unlike this blizzard–which should blow over in the next couple of days–you have a week.
This past week while huffing through a morning deathmatch with our eliptical machine, my gaze fell on the nearby spines of several books have been given to me over the years to review. Having gotten them with the intention of spreading the word, I figured that it’s high time they should be put up for adoption; after all, books can only inspire others when they’re read, which means they need to come down off the shelf and land squarely a pair of open hands. Maybe your hands?
So to kick things off, I’m giving away my Defiance Texas Trilogy set by Mary DeMuth. I’ve reviewed all three of these books for Mary and can’t say enough about her storytelling or the effort she invests in her craft. [If you’d like to read my reviews or learn more about any of her stories, click on the “Book Reviews” tab at the top].
To win all three gently-used books, simply add a link TO my blog FROM your blog or facebook page, then leave a comment below to submit yourself into the random drawing. Remember to enter your blog address in the comments form, leave an email address, or check back so that I can find you to discuss shipping options!
Tomorrow’s giveaway will be another fantastic Mary DeMuth book: her memoir, Thin Places. If you know anyone who has ever dealt with the pain of losing a parent at a young age, endured a broken home, or felt the shame of sexual abuse, you’ll want to visit tomorrow to enter. Perhaps your contest win could be a life-changing gift for someone you hold dear, if not for yourself.
If you’re the lucky owner of a portable reader such as a Kindle or a Nook, you’ll be dancing in your pajamas to know that a few great books are being offered as free downloads through next week–just in time for your upcoming winter vacation or the unexpected wait at your dental office.
One of the book offerings is the amazing Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth; Daisy Chain is the first in the Defiance Texas Trilogy, and was reviewed here last fall along with the second book in the trilogy, A Slow Burn. I am excited to let you know that I will also be acting as an influencer/reviewer for Mary’s latest release, Thin Places, out this January. I’ll be posting my review of this heartbreaking and redemptive memoir on Tuesday, and hope you’ll come back with your entire world of friends to check it out.
Read more about how you can download your free eBooks HERE.
Zondervan was gracious enough to provide me with a second copy of this book to pass along to my masses of spellbound and excited readers [cough]; to that end I am happy to launch a spiderweb contest to determine the winner.
Yes, I made up that descriptor.
At any rate, if you’re dying to read Gary’s book [you should be] but you can’t justify yet another trip to the bookstore [I’m with you] or you just lost your Kregel coupon in a pile of dirty snow [how unfortunate], TODAY’S YOUR LUCKY DAY!
To enter the contest, please:
1. Post a link to this entry from your own blog or Facebook page.
2. Add a comment below below stating where you posted the link.
3. Friends who see your link should leave a comment stating that “Sheila told me about this contest”; if these friends want to be entered themselves, they should also post a link to their blog or Facebook page.
4. The person who refers the most people to this contest by noon on Friday [2/5] wins the free book!
It is before 5 am as I sit here with my apple.
People who know me will realize that something is strangely amiss that I would be pulled from the warmth of the bed I love to descend to a computer and a rigid wooden chair before dawn.
The culprit? I am seriously hungry. [Hungry, people–not pregnant].
In light of the tragedies in Haiti and the devastating and legitimate hunger of others around the world, I will not say that I am starving.
I am not starving. Thank God–truly.
But I am seriously hungry.
Ten days ago I started a detox to help reposition my view of food and hopefully to change some habits that I was ready to conquer. This particular detox demands that for 28 days I eat sugar-free, dairy-free [eggs OK for part], gluten-free, and beef/pork-free. Additionally, at specific times of the plan [like this week], I am to cut out even lean meats like chicken and turkey, nuts, beans & legumes, and eggs. This is all supplemented with certifiably “yummy” shakes [read: grainy, gritty, and taste like a pile of wet autumn leaves]. That’s why I woke up hungry. Fruits, veggies, and rice, while delicious, aren’t really giving me the satisfaction that a warm and crusty piece of toast would, carefully smothered in jam and served still-warm on my plate.
My love of sugar, in fact my felt need for sugar, was something I did not run away from. I loved to sit with a glass of Coke–or three–or mix up a batch up chocolate chip cookies so I could devour a respectable portion of the dough. And don’t even get me started on the holy grail of chocolate and peanut butter. My goodness. That has the prospect of taking on a life of its own.
I began to acknowledge patterns I had long denied or downplayed. Like how my lack of self-discipline when confronted with certain things meant that food didn’t submit to me and my fork, but that I submitted to it. And the more I’ve been learning about enjoying pleasures and following Jesus, the more I realized that this kind of submission will only be realized when put in right relationship with my heart and faith. Giving free reign to self-indulgence doesn’t seem like the best way to move through life. At least not for me.
As I’ve mentioned before, I had the distinct joy of reading Gary Thomas’ latest book, Pure Pleasure: Why Do Christians Feel So Bad About Feeling Good? [I’ll be reviewing this book and offering the chance to win a free copy on my blog next week!] Gary approaches the subject of pleasure in such new and interesting ways I was unable to put this book down. While he lauds accepting gifts of relationships, food, hobbies, and intimacy with open and grateful hearts, he cautions how blind abandon can, though won’t always, lead to sin. His chapter entitled “Dangerous Pleasures” gave me particular pause as I contemplated this detox:
“I grew up in a conservative Baptist church. Many of the older widows wouldn’t be caught dead saying “heck” or “gosh,” much less their demonic counterparts. They wouldn’t think of watching an R-rated movie or, sin of all sins, participating in a poker game. But they would all but clean out the desserts during potluck. Perhaps bereft of many common pleasures, they gorged without restraint when an “acceptable” pleasure sat before them, in much the same way that a climber atop Mount Everest desperately tries to suck down some air…
“…It would be a monstrosity of a generalization (as well as a lie) to suggest that being holy means being thin. God creates different body types, and it can be just as much a sin of vanity to spend hours crafting a certain physique as it can be a sin of gluttony to exert no control over our food appetites. So without referring to body size, let me gently ask you this: Does your discipline toward food honor God? Is your witness undercut by your failure to control, or even address, this particular issue? [emphasis mine] Ultimately, only God knows. I raise the issue primarily because it would be simplistic to talk about “dangerous” pleasures and ignore the most common, and therefore perhaps the most dangerous, pleasure of all–gluttony.” [pgs. 150-152]
Am I the only one who reads this and says, “Ouch“?
Maybe I wasn’t cleaning out the dessert table at potlucks, but that doesn’t mean I have the right to ignore patterns of indulgence in my life. I want to honor God with a right view of food–one that allows me to enjoy the distinct pleasure of sharing a meal with friends, one that sees the gift in slowly enjoying and savoring my [one] piece of dessert, and one that reminds me that I eat to live–not live to eat.
So in these pre-dawn hours I think on these things. I remember that the inconvenience of giving up chicken and bread is a daily circumstance beyond the control of billions of truly hungry people around the world. That most people on our planet won’t have fresh fruit and vegetables today. That most people will be grateful for a bowl of rice and nothing more. That most people don’t even have a glass of clean water to drink.
My heart splits open at the images flashing across my TV screen. Children wandering along, crying out for relief. Mothers now merely existing with souls ripped out at the loss of family. Brothers and sisters scrounging for scraps of food, praying for deliverance from their hell on earth. All while I sit comfortably on my sofa, wrapped in a blanket, sipping my tea, lamenting a 4 week loss of bread and jam.
I think of them. I remember that my brief sacrifice is small and ordinary. That it is optional. I remember that my hunger is temporary and laughable. My sleeplessness: a poignant reminder that at dawn and always, my heart sings with gratitude for the gifts and provisions of God.
For an apple.
And for so much more.
This coming February I will be taking part in a blog tour for Gary Thomas’ latest book, the phenomenal Pure Pleasure. When I was invited to do the review, the title intrigued me [subtitled: Why Do Christians Feel So Bad About Feeling Good?] and I wondered if this was a thinly-veiled book about having hot sex and feeling great about it. You can imagine, my husband was thrilled to see it on the nightstand.
While Thomas certainly incorporates the gift of intimacy within marriage into his thesis, the broad topic of pleasure in general has been so compelling that I’m finding myself dog-earring or underlining something on almost every page. Because we’ve been asked to save our reviews for next month, I’m tapping into my shallow well of personal restraint and will end this post with a brief quote. Think about this as you move through your day and allow yourself to ponder whether you’ve been snuffing out God-given gifts of enjoyment and fellowship in the name of piety. Just as your heart leaps in excitement to see your children explode with gratitude on Christmas morning, imagine the Lord’s joy when, rather than rejecting his good and perfect gifts [James 1:17], we accept them with light in our eyes and thanksgiving on our tongues.
“Prayer and fellowship are among life’s richest pleasures, but let’s not stop there. Let us learn to fill our souls with beauty, art, noble achievement, fine meals, rich relationships, and soul-cleansing laughter. When we acknowledge these pleasures, we acknowledge God as a genius creator of brilliant inventions. Let us be wary of a faith that denies these blessings as “worldly” and unfit, as though Satan rather than God had designed them. Let us refuse to fall into the enemy’s trap of denying ourselves God’s good pleasures so that we end up deeply vulnerable to illicit pleasure.” [pg. 17]
Thank you to Keri Wyatt Kent for the comments she left [below] on the review I posted on her latest book, Simple Compassion: Devotions to make a Difference in Your Neighborhood and Your World. She is inviting interested readers to visit her website for a chance to win a free copy of this book! If you’ve been looking for practical ways to promote justice in your neighborhood, city, and world, this book will be an ideal springboard for you. Please link to me and tell your friends!