giveaways · writing

Spring Fever :: Day 7 with Kimberly Rose Johnson

Welcome to Day 7 of the Spring Fever Promo! I hope you’ve enjoyed the chance to meet a few Christian fiction authors you may not have known.

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Today I’d like you to meet Kimberly Rose Johnson who married her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest. From a young child Kimberly has been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing. She especially loves romance and writes contemporary romance that warms the heart and feeds the soul. She holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She’s also a Faith Hope and Love Reader’s Choice Finalist.

Here’s what Kimberly’s has to say about her featured book, The Reluctant Groom:

The Reluctant Groom is a modern day marriage of convenience story that takes place in Seattle, Washington. Because I went to college in the Seattle area I felt like I had a pretty good feel for the area. I discovered I was wrong last spring when my husband and I went to visit our son who attends college in the same area.

It didn’t take long for me to realize the Seattle I remembered had changed in the past twenty-five years. For starters, it was louder and dirtier than I remembered. I noticed the smells, sounds, and energy of the city on this trip, and guess what? I needed to do some re-writing. I’m glad I held off on publishing this book since I needed to change a few things to make believable.

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The Reluctant Groom:
When everything goes wrong, can two friends discover true love?
When Ray O’Brien’s world is turned upside down, Katie Fairchild wants to help, but the personal cost is high. Neither desires a marriage of convenience, but when Katie blurts the first thing that comes to her mind Ray can’t dismiss her offer of marriage. It would solve all his problems except for one thing—they aren’t in love.
Can these two friends team up for the greater good and perhaps find love along the way, or are their expectations impossible?

You can grab The Reluctant Groom right now for only $1.99, but the price will rise to the regular price of $3.49 sometime in the next thirty days. Buy it HERE.

For news about Kimberly’s books, sign up for her newsletter on her website . And you can connect with Kimberly on the following:
Facebook
Bookbub
Pinterest

Here’s the link to the Spring Fever Promo contest and your chance to win a Kindle pre-loaded with all the books!

And don’t forget to add another chance to win in the Spring Fever Promotion by entering today’s secret Word of the Day: Seattle

Stop by tomorrow to meet Regina Rudd Merrick!

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1000 gifts · giveaways · writing

Ordinary Graces (Book Review + $75 Giveaway)

I believe wholeheartedly in the glory of the everyday ordinary.

The morning light through the window on the hardwoods of my kitchen floor. The coolness of clean sheets after a long, weary day. The colors of peppers and onions caramelizing in a cast iron skillet.

In her new book of everyday devotions, Lucinda Seacrest McDowell distills the great ordinary graces of this world into one word a day.

Sleep. Flavor. Resource. Restore. Story. Weary. Carry. Baggage.

Sustain.

I’ve been reading out of order, choosing a word that suits my early morning, sipping my first cup of coffee, dark-thirty before everyone’s up mood. I guess you can tell some of my struggles just from some of those words.

But each day, Lucinda’s reflections speak to me. She pulls out a verse, such as Psalm 3:5–

I lay down and sleep; I will wake again because the Lord sustains me.

Then in only a few short paragraphs, she unpacks its simple wonder and reminders that first and foremost, I am God’s beloved, and He is mine. Sometimes there are statistics (apparently I’m not the only one whose anxiety rears up during sleep), references to movies, pop culture, or great theologians. Always, the reading closes out with a short prayer, a moment when I close my eyes, breath in my coffee’s steam, and open my heart.

A lovely devotion perfect for any one, in any circumstance, Ordinary Graces will bless your heart. In the good way of course.

Want to win a copy for yourself or a friend? How about $75 for Etsy? I’m delighted to be participating in this awesome blog tour giveaway with LitFuse Publicity. You can enter to win below.

Ordinary Graces Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Are you ready to receive gifts of ordinary grace and abundant life from God and His Word? Join Lucinda in focusing on one word a day through devotional readings and short benedictions in her new book, Ordinary Graces. God has given us many gifts, such as his grace—the gift we don’t deserve and can never earn. Promises from the One who declares we are already loved, already accepted, already created in his image. The question becomes, will we truly receive that gift? Will the reality of it actually change the way we think and notice and reach out?

Celebrate the release of Lucinda’s new book and grace your holiday season with a $75 Etsy gift card giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy of Ordinary Graces
  • A $75 Etsy gift card
  • A grace bracelet
  • A set of Ordinary Graces greeting cards

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on November 24. The winner will be announced November 27 on the Litfuse blog.

Did you know Lucinda endorsed my novel? She called it a “brilliant debut”. I’m still smiling. You can get it right here.
I adore this book. It is wonderfully written and tells the story beautifully.

 

amelia · Christmas · giveaways

"God Bless Our Christmas": A Giveaway for the Day Your Child Gets a Diagnosis

My sweet friend Hannah who ate chocolate chips out of the bag with me on the last night of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference and won the award for best blog is an actual real book-on-the-shelf writer.

She wrote this sweet story and its accompaniments: God Bless Our Easter and God Bless You and Good Night. Beautiful board books for familes, not just children. She used vivid words and a soothing rhythm to remind us in God Bless Our Christmas who is the reason we have all these blessings to enjoy.

“The Christmas carols that we sing
Are full of joy and love.
I have such cheer this time of year.
It comes from God above.”
–except from God Bless Our Christmas

I cuddled up on the couch last week to read this with Amelia, my four year old, and her best friend Ellie. They took a break from the ponies in the dollhouse to tuck into each of my sides and hear the words. Amelia liked the penguins best. Ellie liked the polar bears. I liked the simplicity that so often gets overlooked in our busy holiday.

But most of all I liked having a normal moment with my baby girl. Normalcy has become a thing of the recent past for us in the last few days. I suppose that’s common–because when you get news that’s hard and uncertain, a new normal develops. 
When I wrote these words to those who bear sadness this Christmas, I didn’t know how true they would become for me–
Let this season of love put you back together again.

In the midst of uncertainty and fear, we are welcoming the arms of love that have wrapped tight around our family during these last few days.

Last week, I took my four year old for a stat CT scan and prayed only for an answer to why she had stopped using her right hand and begun stuttering and being clumsy. The test revealed that Amelia has an arteriovenous malformation (AVM).  It’s a scary moment to realize your mother’s intuition is right. That, yes, there is something very wrong and it might get worse before it gets better.

But here’s the truth of our diagnosis. She will get better. This is a treatable condition that we still don’t know about completely and there’s still more testing to be done. But she will get better. Even if that better means a surgery or a drug regiment or who knows what. They tell us we’re the best case diagnosis for something being wrong in her brain.

And I’m scared out of my mind that it will be nothing or something or anything. I’m scared I won’t be strong enough for her, for my husband, for my other girls. I’m scared I’ll run out of energy to give.

But I don’t have to have enough of me to go around. I have a great big God who formed her and knows her and formed me and knows me. He knows what we need and what we can handle. He’s given us a network of friends and family who are already begging for jobs to do, already bringing meals, already replacing my favorite lost pair of earrings.

God Bless Our Christmas indeed.

So today I’d like to spread a little Christmas love. I’m giving away one copy of God Bless Our Christmas. Winner will be chosen at random from comments left on the blog. You can comment on Facebook too, if you like, but I won’t pool entries from there. One location is all I can handle.

Tell me whose Christmas would you like to bless?

giveaways · motherhood

Mom Guilt: I’m Getting Over It {Special Guest Post and Giveaway from Lisa Jo Baker}

Y’all. Seriously honored to have Lisa Jo’s words here on my little space today. To celebrate she’s letting me give away 3 signed book plates to accompany your copy of her beautiful story Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom. To enter, all you have to do is leave me a comment below about how you’re getting over your own mom guilt. For me, the guilt I’m letting go of today revolves around letting my four year old hang out with the ipad while I hang out with the word processor. Sometimes that happens. I’m pretty sure she’s not scarred from too much My Little Pony. At least I hope not.

And now, Lisa Jo.

I know in theory we all know there is no perfect mother. In reality, however, we seem to hold ourselves to a standard of motherhood that’s insane. I mean flat out, crazy-making, cuckoo land kind of nuts. And if that weren’t bad enough, we trick ourselves into believing we’re the only ones who fail at all. the. things. And then we beat ourselves up. And tell ourselves mean things at the end of long days. Days spent keeping tiny humans alive and thriving. Untitled When we’ve cooked and cleaned and commuted and brought home the bacon and washed and cleaned some more and checked the homework and sung the songs and read the books we sit down on the sofa and shake our heads and tell ourselves what bad, bad moms we are. That’s insane. And exhausting. And in case you thought you were the only one, here’s a small taste of the crazy that runs in wild and vicious loop through my mind on any given day:

  • You should have added pureed spinach to dinner tonight.
  • You should have remembered to buy spinach.
  • You should have been meal planning for the last four years so that spinach could have made it onto the shopping list.
  • You shouldn’t have let them watch TV while eating last night. Or this morning.
  • You should be having more meaningful dinner conversations.
  • You should have baked the birthday cake from scratch.
  • You should have bought more favors for the party gift bags.
  • You should have taught them to do their own laundry by now.
  • You should at least have a chore chart.
  • You should have done more educational activities this summer.
  • You should read more to them.
  • You should watch less TV with them.
  • You should work less.
  • You should educate more.
  • You should stop feeding them Chef Boyardee anything.
  • You should make them actually open the library books we checked out.
  • You should enjoy them more.
  • You should lose your patience less.
  • You should have a more creative system for displaying their art than just putting it up on the fridge with the magnets that come with the pizza delivery.
  • You should have built more fairy gardens instead of just giving them the leftover parts of the last vacuum cleaner to fashion into random pirate swords, wands or zombie weapons.
  • You should make home made snacks.
  • You should wash their sheets more regularly.
  • You should eat less ice cream. You should exercise more.
  • You should go to bed earlier.
  • You should be like her.

You should. You should. You should. Until my head is about to split right open. Until I forget that I showed up. I parented. I made dinner. And you know what? You did too. You showed up, you went to the parent-teacher conferences, you read the books, you worried the test scores, you prayed the desperate plea of courage. You woke up when they threw up. You cleaned up, loved up, got up early and went to bed late. You let her paint while you wrote that paper or report or presentation on the day the babysitter was sick. Untitled Untitled Untitled

You carried on and over and through and around all the obstacles of getting to school on time and remembering the activities and writing down the lists and buying the right size cleats and paying the fortune to attend the dance recital that you paid the lessons for all. year. long. You listened to the spats about hair clips and jean brands and tried to find a way to build bridges over the Grand Canyons that recently caved in between best friends. You made lunches or paid for lunches or cut sandwiches into creative Bento Box shapes and still somewhere in the back of your head something screamed, “You’re not doing enough.” You did the car pool and got stuck in the commuter traffic backlash and lost the last chance to re-review that presentation that was due at 9am. You built forts out of old towels and let them jump on your bed. You laughed while they braided your hair within an inch of losing your head. You are a warrior. You are a wonder. You are a mighty-doer-of-grand deeds. You are wildly under-rating yourself. In this season of deep, up-to-the-elbows busy. You are already doing all the things. That’s what counts. Not that you’re doing them differently than the mom at the school pick up, or around the corner or in the next row over at church. You are mothering. You actually already are. So go ahead, let yourself off the hook. Dish up the ice cream at 10pm and not the guilt.

{To see the video reminder of why mothers are braver than they know, click here}. surprisedbymotherhood-book-banner

This guest post comes with love from Lisa-Jo Baker to our community in celebration of Mother’s Day. If you haven’t already – treat yourself, your mom, your sister, your BFF or your grandma to a copy of her new book, Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected About Being a Mom. No matter what stage you’re in when it comes to motherhood, we promise it will encourage. And remind you that you are braver than you think.  

To enter to win a signed bookplate from Lisa Jo herself, leave a comment below about how you’re letting go of your motherhood guilt. Patience as the conversation loads? Sometimes technology is reminding us that we move too fast 🙂

giveaways · linkups · motherhood

Surprised by Motherhood {The Launch and the Giveaway and How I Stalk Lisa Jo Baker}

The first time I met Lisa Jo Baker she was totally cool about the fact that I was stalking her via twitter and the Dayspring booth at the MOPS convention.  This incredible woman who put my heart into words on her blog about motherhood and how it can break us into a million little pieces and then put us back together in the best possible way looked straight into my eyes, recognized my twitter handle and my Five Minute Friday presence, and hugged me like a long lost sister.

Then she told me she loved my earrings and in the most real way exclaimed that she thought she had the same ones from the dollar clearance at Kmart.

Because she may be my writing hero and have thousands of followers and a real live book on the shelves of stores today, but really, truly, Lisa Jo Baker is a budget-conscious mama who knows the power of a great pair of earrings no matter where they came from.

So just like that, she took me in and talked to me about motherhood and writing and the balance and waiting for God’s timing and having a story that I’m not sure I’m ready to share and all the messy grace in between. We stood surrounded by waves of moms and people who I’m sure needed her time and attention, but she gave it all to me, and that’s when I knew that the internet may sugar coat some things, but this woman? She was exactly who I imagined her to be because she doesn’t write to make herself look good.

She writes to glorify Jesus and to pour out the love He’s poured on her.

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Surprised by Motherhood is her offering to mamas everywhere. She wrote the back story, the before story, the story of how she went from being a civil rights lawyer rescuing women from sex trafficking to a mom with three kids who believes “motherhood should come with a superhero cape.”

She wrote a book for every mom at every stage.

To the mama with the screaming toddler in the checkout line at Target who just wants to get home and cry on her bathroom floor.

To the mama who has worn milk stains and vomit and possibly poop all day long because she packed extra clothes for the kids but forgot them for herself.

To the mama who has pried chubby arms from around her neck and put her crying child into the arms of another so she can bring home the daily bread.

To the mama who has wondered how she got here, surrounded by little people, in a world that seems foreign compared to her degree and high heels.

To the mama who makes the beds and sweeps the floors and churns the laundry every singe day on a constant cycle of rinse and repeat wondering if she’s ever going to feel that magic she’s read about.

To the mama who has navigated blindly into playdates and church visits and library storytime in an effort to meet someone else who just might understand.

To the mama who has never felt undone by her child but whose skin prickles when she thinks of her own mom.
To the mama who has flown cross country and cross ocean flights to bring babies home to the world that raised her.

To the mama who has had enough of feeling like she’ll never be enough.

Reading Surprised by Motherhood was like having a friend bring me a chocolate milkshake and then offer to watch my kids so I could take a bath by myself in a tub that’s not drowning in toys.

It was like hearing my own voice when I read, “There’s no rage like the exhausted rage of motherhood” and just about every other line in the chapter titled “How to Fall in Like” as she discusses with frank honesty what it’s really like to parent a child with a strong will and a fiery temper.

It was having someone finally understand that while we all know motherhood is so much better than we expect, we also choke down the reality that it’s so much harder than we expect.

But here’s the real beauty of Lisa Jo’s offering back to those of us who sometimes wonder if it matters that we’re just a mom—this offering came first from her knees when she realized that it didn’t matter whether or not she mothered, it mattered that the great Creator of all that is good and perfect* loved her.

He loves you too. And if you struggle to believe that, I’d like to put a copy of this book in your hands today.

Then I’d like to have you over for chocolate cake and coffee and tell you a little more about my own story and how I’m learning after nearly ten years as a mother and twenty-five as His child, how to finally find comfort in the skin He knit for me.

And if you’re not a mom or don’t want to ever be a mom? Read it anyway, just for the sheer joy of seeing these words:
“But when we metabolize love, it can sustain us for years.  It feeds the parts of our hearts we didn’t know were starving. This never-giving-up, always-chasing love that isn’t afraid…this lavish love that loves us first.”

You can get a copy of Surprised by Motherhood here or here or here.  You can read more about Lisa Jo here and you can read the first three chapters here. There’s a linkup over here (scroll all the way down) where our launch team is posting all our reviews and lots of those bloggers are giving away books too.

It’s a powerful thing when a community comes together to say we believe this is important. We believe this story is that.  We also believe it’s important to give back a measure of what’s been given to you, so that’s why portions of the book sales also benefit Lisa Jo’s South African home. 

You can read about how I’ve fallen in love with the world next door right here.

And my giveaway today?  It’s going to be for one of my personal facebook readers.  So many of you are my real life mama friends who have walked this journey with me.  So leave a comment on my personal page where we do life together with silly pictures of our kids and our dogs and our piles of laundry, and I’ll have the random tool pick one of you to get a copy by the end of the week.

So much love to my online community who writes raw on Fridays with Lisa Jo at the helm, and so much gratitude to my real life community who shows up with Chic-fil-a and donuts just when I need it most.

Motherhood surprised me. But you people who love me like Jesus through it all? You’re a gift straight from the Father above.

Follow the movement on twitter and instagram with #surprisedbymotherhood .

*James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Linking up with Crystal over at Behind the Scenes as well.  Because we all need a glimpse into the reality that’s on the edges of those photos.  My beautiful family pics? My friend Merideth takes them and that day was a hot mess.  That’s the only picture of Gus where he’s looking at the camera and wearing both shoes.

faith · giveaways · linkups · motherhood

What You Can Give (and get) From Your Kitchen Table {Falling in Love with the World Next Door: Part 2}

My baby boy is spooning oatmeal into his face faster than I can say hot-hot! He’s sitting at our kitchen table that my husband helped me sand and my children helped me paint and he’s just eating instant oatmeal out of the pack.  It’s not even the good homemade baked kind my kids are liking lately with blueberries.

It’s just instant oatmeal that I made in five minutes because I have an electric stove and a microwave and a refrigerator that is always full even when I say it’s empty.

My kitchen is nothing spectacular and it’s not getting featured on HGTV anytime soon unless it’s on a remodel show because usually all I ever see is what’s wrong. Like, how my cabinets are unfinished inside and need new doors and that my super-deep cast iron sink could use a new finish.

And if I had $16,000 to put toward a new kitchen, you can bet it would be something spectacular.  I’m dreaming of gas stoves and soapstone counters and pull out storage in brand new cabinets and one of those really big fridges you can put trays in and an entrance straight from the kitchen to the deck so people don’t have to trek through my bedroom anymore when we’re having a barbecue.

But in Maubane, South Africa $16,000 can buy a kitchen for dozens of families and the orphans they’re raising. It can buy a roof instead of a tent and a stove instead of a fire pit in the ground.

It can buy a place for a community to gather.

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It can buy a place where we can help save the future for the motherless and fatherless who are coming to know the one true Father and Creator of all.

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Now, that’s a pretty spectacular kitchen.

Today won’t you sit at your kitchen table and join the online community who is helping make this crazy dream come true? I’m part of a team that’s writing alongside blogger Lisa Jo Baker, who champions moms to believe they can do great things at their own kitchen tables.

But this is more than a project to her.  It’s a lifeline because Maubane, South Africa is her hometown, her kitchen table, her community. It’s where her father is raising another family of rescued orphans and where he doctors during the week and preaches on Sundays.

This isn’t a random group of people. These are people who are connected to those of us who read Lisa Jo’s words and believe them because they are a part of her story.

So, when you bow your hands with your children in prayer, when you wipe the spilled milk and the stickiness off that table, when you set it with everyday china or Solo cups, give thanks for the table you have.  And maybe consider giving this gift to another mom who’s a lot like you.

A mom who wants to teach her children gratitude for the hard times and the good times. A mom who wants to teach her kids how to trust in the love of people because we trust a great big God to bring us together.

Sometime we’ll dance in Heaven about how God was glorified in the building of this community.

Or maybe before then, we’ll dance in Maubane, together, in the kitchen while we peel potatoes and slice oranges and give thanks.

There are so many fabulous ways and rewards for giving to this project today (or any day between now and Mother’s Day). You can click here to visit Lisa Jo and read all the details, but here’s a quick set of links:

Pure Charity: Give right here directly to the fund and watch it grow!

Buy a Vintage Dictionary Necklace from Krafty Kash and $12 goes directly to the fund. (Mother’s Day, hint! hint!)

Donate $40 and Money Saving Mom will pre-order you Lisa Jo’s book, Surprised by Motherhood, to be released on April 1, 2014 (April Fool’s Day, of course!).  She’ll also send you her own great read Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. 

If music is your love language, click here to order this beautiful album and learn to sing Jesus Loves Me all over again while supporting the building of this community center.

Finally, if you just pre-order Lisa Jo’s book right here, a portion of her proceeds goes directly back to this community because she knows motherhood is never short on surprises or encouragement. 

AND if you leave me a comment telling me that you donated and why you’re choosing to support this community, I’ll randomly select someone to get a sweet little package in the mail. It’s nothing big, but sometimes you just need a new dishtowel, yes? https://www.purecharity.com/widget?aff=jwgo5&slug=community-kitchen-and-welcome-center&utm_source=9jpa6&utm_medium=widget&utm_campaign=community-kitchen-and-welcome-center

birthdays · faith · giveaways

Birthday Wishes with 163 Design Company

I wore it like a talisman all those long days and nights that went by impossibly quick slow that last week of last year into the first days of a new beginning.
Jennifer, who was my roommate at Allume, and shares more than just a corner of this big internet with me, offered them up as gifts to us when we first spilled our luggage and our hearts onto beds in that hotel room in Greenville back in October.
It is well with my soul.
It takes courage to offer up those words.  It takes courage to make a little piece of yourself and hope others love it and buy it so you can pay the bills but share it so you can know it means something.
The first time I choked on those words I was a senior in high school sitting in a church pew of First Baptist holding a hymnal with shaking hands and mourning the death of a girl I used to run the side streets of town with for cross country practice, a girl I’d known for as long as I could remember, a girl who should have gone on to live a longer life than just nineteen short years.  It wasn’t well with my soul then.
But I grew up and I opened my heart more to faith and I saw the peace that passes understanding on so many whose souls were well.
And I want that.  A well soul.  
I’m 34 years old today and it’s taken me this long to learn and become well with the idea that I am not well. I am broken and scarred and flawed and made in the image of God. And everyday I get to choose to live in grace and forgiveness and joy so that all will be well–
or I get to choose not.
And let me tell you those days of choosing not, those days of choosing despair and self-deprecation and dilemma over delight, those days will eat through your soul and leave you with nothing.

So, everyday I’m trying and somedays, I wear my necklace because I need that little tangible reminder that 

IT. IS. WELL. WITH. MY. SOUL.
Since it’s my birthday, Jen is letting me give one of these beauties away to you!  And since she’s super kind, she’s offering up another one as well, so today’s giveaway will have two winners, which is perfect because she and I share hotel rooms and mom fears and coffee love and husbands who are recovered from perimyocarditis (how crazy is that?!?) and first names (yep, mine’s Jennifer) AND February birthdays. I tell you, no one but God could have crafted together a bonding like ours.
If the It Is Well piece doesn’t speak to you like it does me, perhaps you’d like this one?
 
It reminds me so much of Jennifer because she does seek to Glorify God in all she does whether it’s handcrafting these beautiful wooden necklaces (read about the process here) or designing prints and art to bring a little nautical joy to your home or blogging about ending the slavery of women.
If you’d love to win one of these, here’s the super fun widget from Rafflecopter.  Enter as many times as you want and give me a birthday gift? Share this post even if you’re not interested in winning. Thanks so much!
And if you are yourself or know an expectant mother, send them over here to enter the giveaway for a free newborn session to honor my own baby girl’s birthday. 

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