Category Archives: Books I Love

It’s Not Fair – A Book Review and Giveaway

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It’s Not Fair – A Book Review and Giveaway

For the past couple of summers, I’ve been getting together with a group of young moms for book club. We agree on a book by a contemporary Christian author and spend most Wednesday nights discussing sections of the book around a table outside our favorite local coffee shop.

2016 Book CLub

A few of the beauties from Summer Book Club 2016

 

This past spring when Women Are Scary was suggested, I was not familiar with Melanie Dale but I was intrigued by the title (because, well…they can be) and the premise of the book. In it, Melanie compares “momlationships” to dating, complete with analogies of rounding the bases. I fell in love with her writing style.

Melanie’s sarcasm is totally relatable for me; I grew up surrounded by it and it might be one of my love languages. And yet, she has a kindness about her that draws you in close and makes you want to spend time with her words. (And her, but there’s only so much of her to go around, so we can be thankful she wrote this stuff down!)

When I learned she had written another book, I managed to worm my way right into the inner circle of awesomeness that is her launch team.

 

I’ve been privileged to settle into It’s Not Fair over the past few weeks. While our stories are radically different in detail, we share the inevitable reality that life has not been fair to us. And if we stopped there, the book would be nothing more than a reminder that some seasons of life just blow and we are not alone in our angst.

Melanie is authentic; she shares her journey through infertility and adoption with candor. She said herself that she can’t solve your stuff, so if you’re looking for a self-help book, move along…nothing to see here.

But if you are looking for someone to “sit next to you in your stuff” (or if you want to learn how to be a BOSS at sitting next to someone in their stuff) this is a must read.

Have you ever wanted to help but didn’t know how? There is an entire section titled “100 Things You Can Do to Help” but while you are at it, be sure to check out “Things You Should Say If You Want a Good Face Punch”. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there.

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Are you wallowing in the middle of something unimaginable right now? You will want to speed read over to the chapter on coping mechanisms but take your time because there is some really good stuff before you get there, some validation and empathy and I bet you could use that right about now.

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I have a list of favorite quotes. I laughed and I cried; I folded corners on pages so I wouldn’t lose them and I highlighted with fury. I drew smiley faces and sad faces and mad faces and I might have created some emojis of my very own. I felt validated and understood. Did you hear that? Validated. Understood. Seriously. Life. Changing.

Here are some of my personal favorites that:

  • “The words inside are like family. They’re raw and awkward and offensive and loving and encouraging and hopeful.” – (regarding the Bible)
  • “Safe people can let you lead the conversation and talk about what you need to talk about, not what they need to know.”
  • “Sometimes we need to stop trying to make each other feel better and just be together. Just join our friends in their ashes and sit quietly by their side.”
  • “Find the grace-bearers in your life. These are the people with whom you can be disgusting and they offer you grace and forgiveness.”
  • “But we need each other. We don’t need hordes of people, but we need a few to tether us to reality and remind us why our altered life might still be worth living.”

I loved all of it, including the rudimentary stick figure drawings and the chapter of recipes, because, well…food.

At the conclusion she didn’t wrap it all up with a nice bow and suggest we follow her step by step program to heal all of our pain and live happily ever after.

Rather, we display our scars, and when we pass each other and notice them, see the beauty in them, we nod. Solidarity.

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It’s not fair; we know it and we own it. For ourselves, yes, and for each other.

 

Wouldn’t you love to read this book? I suggest you run on over to one of the sites below and preorder it today! And if you comment below, right here on the blog page, I will enter you in a random drawing for a copy of the book! That’s right…I’m going to give a copy to one of my readers. I am so excited to bless you with this, but go ahead and order one, because you will want to give a copy to a friend!

By his grace, because Life’s not fair,

lorraine
The contest is closed. Congratulations Miranda! 

Thanks to everyone who participated! Now, order yourself a copy – you won’t regret it!

Pre-Order It’s Not Fair Today

FREE “Sur-Thrival Kit: Coping Strategies Activity Book” and “It’s Not Fair Discussion Guide” with pre-order.  Just email your receipt to unexpectedmel@unexpected.org to receive recipes, coloring sheets, group discussion questions, and Mel’s undying gratitude.

 

 

 

I Think We Need More Bread

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I Think We Need More Bread

I was looking through some journals yesterday when I came upon an entry I posted last March. I’ve read it three more times since then. I can’t get over the way that God gave me such a powerful word just because I asked.

It began with this sentence: “Yesterday it ran out. The last of Mike’s severance from the school. There are no long term prospects for work; there are no unemployment benefits. There is so much uncertainty about our provision.”

Those days were difficult. A job loss is not ever easy to accept, but this one stung. A lot. For reasons I won’t rehash, it was personal and painful. We were hurting; we knew God was going to move and that he had a plan, but it was hidden from our clouded vision.

We were in the boat with him, but when we looked around we couldn’t see past the water lapping at the sides. We wondered if we had adequate resources for this journey.

Certain writers use words that connect with my soul. One of those is Emily P. Freeman. At the time I didn’t know much about her, but I occasionally popped into her blog. That day, she posted this wonderful piece about leftovers.

Now, before you get the wrong idea, Emily’s site isn’t a cooking blog. She was talking about “making lists and then shaking them in God’s face” as if to tell him what he already knows. And she helped me take a hard look at what was left over after a miraculous provision.

“Are we going to be okay?”

That was the question I had written out and was shaking at him that day. For thousands of years, God’s people have looked at one another and at him with that question.

Emily’s post inspired me to look at my concern in light of Mark 8.

Bread was his idea. He never needs to be reminded of our hunger. Time and again he had compassion for the physical needs of the crowd.

While the disciples worried about bread in the boat, Jesus reminded them of the excess after feeding the crowd.

When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”

“Twelve,” they replied.

“And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”

They answered, “Seven.”

 He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

I am so slow to understand, but I get it – there was more left over that day than the original meager offering.

It’s been a tough week in the world around us. The things that have happened in my backyard in the last seven days are unspeakable.

I’m more desperate than ever to remember you when I hold the bread in my hands and taste the miracle of your provision.

The pieces are broken; broken because there was a very real cost to meeting our needs.

Your body was broken for me. I am eternally secure with you. No man can ever change that.

Today I ask the same question in a completely different context, yet in the shadow of the former.

Are we going to be okay?

His answer hasn’t changed.

In Emily’s words (thank you, dear Emily, for sharing these words with me last March):

This morning, I hear it, the invitation to hold the bread in my hands, to see my day with kingdom eyes, to feast on him, to move forward with the energy that comes from eating the broken pieces. This is My body, broken for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

Jesus Broken Breads.

I am sure I will ask the question again, but I pray that it will be with a desire to see with unveiled sight the places where he is meeting us with the broken bits that are offered so that we might become whole.

Whatever your needs, my friend, if you are in the boat with Jesus he’s got you.

lorraine

Please take a few minutes to check out Emily’s original post here:

http://emilypfreeman.com/bread-is-the-new-hustle/

I highly recommend her recent book, Simply Tuesday. It is a beautiful encouragement to look for the beauty in the ordinary. All of her books are here: http://emilypfreeman.com/the-books

 

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This is me enjoying “Simply Tuesday” poolside.

 Please visit and “like” the Grace and Graffiti Facebook page here.

And remember, it’s nice to share.  Thanks!

For the Love of Jen Hatmaker

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FortheLoveCoverFor the love….the whole world seems to have gone Jen Hatmaker crazy and for good reason. If you’ve not read anything else by her (for the love, why not???) you must get your hands on a copy of her latest book, For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards. I would demand that you not put it down until you’ve finished, but this is a fact…you won’t want to.

There was a song back in the early ‘80s called “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool”. Catchy tune and one that I am reminded of now. You see, I discovered Jen Hatmaker before it was cool to know her. Several years ago hubby and I were hosting a bunch of newly married couples in our home on Sunday evenings. After we spent several weeks talking marriage we really wanted to challenge the group. I went searching around the internet for something that might do. I discovered a YouTube video for a book study and there she was, in her white peasant blouse and signature long earrings, talking about giving up her prized cowboy boots and walking out of church barefoot in the freezing cold. That was the beginning of my obsession friendship with Jen, and I was all “We HAVE to do this”! And because my husband doesn’t really like to search the web for anything other than stuff to buy on Ebay trusts my discernment, we did the study and it challenged our hearts and we had many wonderful evenings of sharing how a barefoot church might look. That study was Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity. They’ve recently released a new, updated version but I can’t imagine how it could be improved. Life. Changer.

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Notice the dog-eared cover. I’ve read it more than once and I’ve loaned it out several times. This is one you will want to have in paperback – no E-book!

From there I was hooked. I went on Amazon and bought a copy of everything she had written to date. Next life changer from her heart to mine was The Modern Girls Guide to Bible Study. It was as if the woman had been riding in my car, listening as I talked to myself (and sometimes even to Jesus) about how frustrated I was with my inability to read and understand the Bible. I was over studies written by authors with contrived questions that would lead me to the same conclusions as them and for the first time in my adult life I wasn’t teaching a Bible class so I had no structured guide to exploring the Scriptures. I wanted the Word to speak to my heart. I decided to adopt her approach of reading the Bible a new way so that the words of LIFE would become my life.

That was four years ago. I’ve filled a couple of journals, and better yet, I’ve got my tribe of young moms coming with me on this journey through Scripture. I can honestly say that through this approach I’ve come to love the word of God. I spent over forty years following Christ, but never really mastering getting into the Bible and consistently hearing from Him. Sad, and a little embarrassing to admit, but true. If you are in the place that I found myself, earnestly desiring to hear from God, I recommend you read this one. I went from loving and respecting the book that’s called the Bible to loving the very words of God within that book.

Out of the Spin Cycle CoverJen, if you ever read this, can I just say thank you for that devo you did for moms called Out of the Spin Cycle: Devotions to Lighten Your Mother Load? Our little Bible study group goes all “summer book club” in June and we read that together a couple of years ago. We laughed and cried and agreed that every new mom should get this book at her baby shower…and then reconsidered and decided that might be premature. There is so much honesty it just might scare her! This is one of those that you deliver to that mom who is in the midst of the struggle, thinking she is the only one:

“Motherhood triggers something that went dormant about the time we left middle school. We’re seeded with this desire to be thought well of, to be admired, to be affirmed in our hard work as moms. We tend to report our babies sleeping longer than they do, our discipline as working more often that it does, and our systems as creating some efficient home that doesn’t exist. We are masters at propping up our lives, spinning a thread of truth into an elaborate tapestry of grandeur–when in fact, during young motherhood most of us live in what my girlfriend Loren calls a “poop storm”.”[i]

Read it, then gift it to a mom friend who is overwhelmed…and be thankful for the honesty (she confesses the time she told her son, who had just opened a sassy mouth, to grab a shovel and start digging his own grave), the humor and the truth within the pages. In these forty devotions, she shares stories from her journey of mothering along with thought-provoking questions and honest, practical steps out of the spin cycle. If I had read this back in the seventies, I would have been a better mom and friend to other moms, I’m sure of it. Of course, Jen was a baby when I was raising children, but you know what I mean…

And back to where we started…For the Love. Jen covers it all in this one, from fashion and family to recipes and the church. I love my church, but all of my life I’ve struggled to know where I fit. Jen’s affirmation of women and the kingdom is spot on:

“God is unveiling women around the world. He always has and continues to work through women and girls, who are half of His church. They are, like men and boys, His image bearers. They are also, like men and boys, gifted, empowered, smart, and anointed.”[ii]

And this…this has much to do with why I’m now posting a blog. Every. Week.

“Say yes to that thing. Work with a mentor. Stop minimizing what you are good at and throw yourself into it with no apologies. Do you know who will do this for you? No one. You are it. Don’t bury that talent, because the only thing fear yields is one dormant gift in a shallow grave. How many trot out that tired cliché—“I’m waiting for God to open a door”—and He is all, “I love you, but get going, pumpkin, because usually chasing the dream in your heart looks surprisingly like work. Don’t just stand there, bust a move.” (God often sounds like Young MC.) You are good at something for a reason. God designed you this way, on purpose.”[iii]

Are you tired of trying to live a balanced life? What IS that supposed to look like, anyway?

“Balance. It’s like a unicorn; we’ve heard about it, everyone talks about it and makes airbrushed T-shirts celebrating it, it seems super rad, but we haven’t actually seen one. I’m beginning to think it isn’t a thing.

Here is part of the problem, girls; we’ve been sold a bill of goods. Back in the day, women didn’t run themselves ragged trying to achieve some impressively developed life in eight different categories.”[iv]

Yes, Jen, a thousand times yes. So, trust me on this. You have to read it. If I cited every quote that spoke to me I’d have to pay her royalties and besides, the book has a great cover.  Just buy it and you can thank me later.

When I got to the end of For the Love, I saw that list of the 500 launch team members and I grieved. You see, 500 people were chosen to form a launch team for this book, seeking authentic endorsements from real people. I so wanted to be in that number, rather than the #4500 (the rest of the applicants who were not selected) where I landed. But grace is a beautiful thing, and I forgive you and your publishers, Jen, for not selecting me. Now that I have a blog and I’m a writer and everything….maybe next time. Because, for the love, why not?

After all of this, surely you can see that I AM her BFF. If you want to challenge me on that, I’m going to need someone to hold my earrings…..

[i] Out of the Spin Cycle: Devotions to Lighten your Mother Load – Jen Hatmaker

[ii] For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards – Jen Hatmaker

[iii] For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards – Jen Hatmaker

[iv] For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards – Jen Hatmaker