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Tables in the Wilderness :: a giveaway and guest post from Preston Yancey

I’m so thrilled to introduce you to my friend, Preston Yancey. Preston and I have known each other for years now, initially writing alongside of one another at A Deeper Story, but then developing a true friendship. He’s like a younger brother to me in some ways. When we finally met in person a year or so ago – along with his then-fiancé-now-wife Hilary – it only solidified what we suspected: we were friends and would do life alongside of each other even from far away.

I finished an early version in a dingy filthy airport motel preparing to fly to Haiti in a few hours. I read it on the flight from Dallas to Miami, absolutely devoured it and gulped it down. Preston did good good work. It’s just so honest. He didn’t shy away from his own pride or even arrogance, but he deals so tenderly with his old self, too. It’s like a whole world I can’t even fathom because I didn’t get to go to school like him and his world is so different from mine, and yet I saw myself in his words. So much richness and goodness. Preston is never the hero of the story, the Spirit and the Church is, and I love that he had the guts to do that.

I loved this conflicted, honest, and beautifully written book. In some ways, it’s a glimpse of a foreign world for us non-academics and yet it’s a universal story of heartbreak, growing up, community, pride, friendship, and the disruptions and pursuits of a not-safe-but-good God. If you’ve tucked your version of God or Church or love into a stale airless room with three point manifestos, prepare for the free wind of the Spirit to sweep in and open up the doors. There’s a whole world outside.

 

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Preston: When Sarah offered me the chance to talk a bit about my book with her readers, it took some time to figure out exactly what I wanted to say. I considered a Q&A, an original post, something that was an excurses on the themes in the book. Each fell short, each did not quite feel right.

In the acknowledgements of my book, I mention Sarah as my first spiritual director. A fleshed-out explanation of that would be that her blog was the first one I read that I can say formed my faith, reformed my faith, and made me lean hard into Jesus. So while I jump at the chance to share something in her space, I can’t imagine doing so without in some way paying tribute to the significance she has been in my life and I imagine yours as well. So I have chosen here an excerpt from Tables in the Wilderness: A Memoir of God Found, Lost, and Found Again that is in no small way inspired by Sarah.

This is my story, but I imagine it rings true of yours too.

A parenthetical.

Walk about Zion, go all around it,

count its towers,

consider well its ramparts;

go through its citadels,

that you may tell the next generation

that this is God,

our God forever and ever.

He will be our guide forever.36

From the Psalms.

I think about this verse often, about the edges of Zion, the city where God’s glory dwells. The command of the psalmist is to walk about it, to go to its edges, to examine all of its facets, its points, the intricacies of its construction. We are to know this city so well that we may pass on to the next generation what we have seen, what they shall go and see for themselves so that they too may pass it on.

I think of the walls of this city, I think of the walls as orthodoxy. The edges of Zion are the minimal foundations of our belief. Our confessions that Christ is Lord or that the resurrection is literal or that in the beginning God created. The side questions, like whether that creation was by six days of literal work or the miracle of theistic evolution, are not the point. The point is that God is creator. The point is that stepping beyond that basic step, that wall, puts us beyond Zion.

My time at The Church of No Windows was spent mostly testing the soundness of the walls that they believed were in place, or perhaps, more accurately, I was walking around the fields of disbelief trying to bring back survivors to edges of the city. And here I stop, because I must admit that what I did most of the time was bring them back to the walls of my own construction. I had built my own small city within Zion, and I was critical of anyone who tested the walls I had made.

Our God is bigger than our walls. God has God’s own, but I’m not sure we’ve found as many of them as we think.

The action of grace in our hearts is secret and silent.

We bring heaven in.

Some of you know that one of the ways I connect most deeply to faith is by baking, so instead of the usual book giveaway, I was hoping to go one step further. Three commenters on this post will be chose to receive a free copy of the book, but one of them will be further chosen to receive my favourite bread book in the world, Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads, which I began to learn from over a decade ago. It’s my most-recommended, most-referenced text in my kitchen and it feels right in Sarah’s space, where we are so often reminded to do the good work in front of us, to share it here.

 

To enter for a chance to receive a copy of Tables in the Wilderness and maybe Bernard Clayton’s collection of bread making genius as well, simply leave a comment on this post answering this question: what is a wall of orthodoxy, of right belief, that you used to have that God has begun to challenge in your life?

 

Comments will close next Saturday. Winners will be contacted by email.

Continue Reading · giveaway, Uncategorized · 59

Giveaway! LoveFeast Velvet Pumpkins + “Jesus Feminist”

CONTEST IS OVER. Winner has been notified.

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Meet two of my very dear friends: Kristin and Chris Anne. These two have been best friends for years – Kristin lives in Baltimore while Chris Anne lives in Minneapolis but they used to be neighbours.

Over our long and lazy conversations from kitchens to paddle boards to Voxer, I’ve come to realise how incredibly blessed I am to have these two women in my life. I love listening to them talk – do you have friends like that? – I just like to give them a topic and listen to them chat together, laughing and dropping wisdom like it’s no big deal. They are real women without any masks or pretensions. When I grow up, I kind of want to be just like them. I find that I rely heavily on their wisdom and insight, particularly when it comes to grown-up friendship, mothering the tinies as they grow up, family life, marriage, and most particularly living a seamless life between “what I believe” and “what I actually do.”

These two women really live the Gospel in a beautiful way – far from stages, book deals, and the attention of the Church Industrial Complex, you know? They just get on with it, they live their whole lives as an invitation. They don’t preach or pontificate much but boy, am I ever challenged by them. I don’t have a big sister myself so I kind of imagine that this is what that must feel like. (At least, they’re the kind of big sisters that I would long to be.)

Anyway, all of that to say that together, they own LoveFeast which is an online shop of inspiration for a beautiful life. Their shop has been featured all over, from The Pioneer Woman‘s blog to Better Homes and Gardens. LoveFeast’s shop includes everything from decor to feast to gifts and style. (Sidenote: I have this gorgeous little bag that I use for my knitting bits like the finishing needle, stitch counter etc. Very handy.) They also have a blog where they write about all of their passions related to those four things. (Kristin also writes at A Deeper Story – check out her posts here. She’s the real deal.)

LoveFeast is the shop behind those famous velvet pumpkins that we all see everywhere in design and decor magazines and Pinterest.

And today, we have a joint giveaway for you to celebrate the start of autumn! That’s right – it’s finally the perfect time of year. Let’s light the spice-scented candles, pour a pot of tea, put on your yoga pants and a sweater, then curl up with a little yellow book and enjoy these beauties on your fireplace mantle or kitchen table.

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One commenter will receive the Large Velvet Set of Pumpkins from Love Feast AND a signed copy of “Jesus Feminist.

I have one of the tiny pumpkins on my mantle right now and it is one of my favourite little things about autumn. The pumpkins are plush velvet, handcrafted with heirloom quality and then finished with a natural stem. They are gorgeous. I don’t mind telling you, I envy the winner of this giveaway. This large set features a 6″ in Sage, 6″ in Acorn, 5″ in Putty, 4″ in Sangria, 4″ in Spice and 2″ in Stone pumpkin. Here’s a picture:

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And for those of you who haven’t had a chance to read Jesus Feminist yet, it’s my own book that was published last year. You can read more info about it here. Or if you HAVE read it, perhaps you could pass this along to someone in your life? Either way, I’ll sign it and send it along to you, too.

To enter to win this combined giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post telling us your favourite thing about autumn.

Unfortunately due to shipping restrictions, this giveaway is one of the rare ones here that is United States shipping addresses only. Womp womp. Make sure you include an email address so that we can contact you if you win. I’ll choose a winner randomly next Friday 3 October. Retail value of the pumpkins is $187 and $14.99 for Jesus Feminist (USD).

 

 

 

Continue Reading · giveaway, Jesus Feminist · 311

JoeFresh Back-to-School $50 Giveaway! CLOSED

Our teachers are on strike here in B.C. (rightfully so, in my not-so-humble opinion). But as the strike drags on and all people concerned with ending the strike drag their feet, the tinies continue to wait in an unending summer. Thankfully all of the Facebook back-to-school photos of beaming school children have ceased which means I’m not being gripped by jealousy everytime I scroll through my newfeed. It’s not just that it’s disruptive to our life and schedule, it’s also that the tinies truly love and miss school. My eldest daughter is (hopefully at some point!) headed into Grade 3, then our son is off to Grade 1, and our youngest starts preschool this year.

But the strike hasn’t stopped me from some hopeful back-to-school shopping. Delusional and hopeful, that’s me.

We recently picked up these items for our tinies at JoeFresh.com. Both of the girls love comfy dresses with leggings. And Joe just loves that these clothes come with his name already on the tag.

Joe Fresh Contest

 

We’ve always loved JoeFresh clothes from The Real Canadian Superstore and now they’re available online (which, for anyone who has ever tried to take three tinies back-to-school shopping, HALLELUJAH). The clothes are stylish while being age appropriate – and I can actually afford them, you know? (In fact, their kids and toddler denim is 2 for $14 right now.)

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To celebrate (the rest of you lucky parents and) your back-to-school week,

I have a $50 giveaway to JoeFresh.com online! 

You can do quite a bit of damage with $50, you know.

To enter to win, simply leave a comment on this post telling me your favourite subject in elementary school – what did you love to study/do when you were a kid in school?

Canadian shoppers only. I’ll draw a winner randomly on Saturday 6 September 2014 and notify the winner by email (so make sure you include your email address when you leave your comment!)

CONTEST NOW CLOSED.

 

 

Continue Reading · giveaway · 75

In which I write about motherhood – still :: a guest post by Lisa-Jo Baker + a giveaway!

Every day I wake up knowing by the time I crawl back into bed with my laptop, a book or a favorite movie I will have learned more than I bargained for.

I will be tired in every part of me. I will feel stretched out and squishy. I will often be frustrated that no one is staying in bed like they’re supposed to. But I will also know that the Lisa-Jo today has grown up. And the Lisa-Jo tomorrow will grow up further still.

Grown up, dragged up by her kids and the God that made them.

This unglamorous truth is my Gospel.

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I write about motherhood not because I always grew up dreaming of being a mom. Not because I am a “parenting guru.” Not because I have it figured out, or have read all the books, or understand even remotely the best ways to educate, discipline or shape young lives.

I write about motherhood because it’s where I understand why Jesus would have died for me and why the Father would have sent Him. It’s the place of Cheerios stuck to the sides of bowls and self sacrifice on repeat with the loads of laundry. A parent will always lay down their life for their child. Jesus loves me this I know, for my children teach me so.

I am not a Bible scholar. I write stories. They’re not long ones and they last all of a couple days on this blog. But they are the gospel that speaks the loudest to me. Not buried in Greek or Hebrew, but lisped by baby boys who hate when I call them babies.

God’s love for me is so loud when I look at my children that even my worst days can’t drown it out.

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Gospel climbs off the pages of Scripture on Mondays during the pre-school rush and reminds me that Christ lives in me. That this must make a difference in my day. It must slow me down when I want to rush and shout and gnash my teeth and wail at the child who’s lost his shoes again.

And some days I snap, “see, that’s what happens when you don’t put them away like I’ve told you a meeelllion times before!” And other days I remember the Gospel buried here in my mess and I swallow my shout and instead work hard at remembering that love is patient and kind.

Because it is hard work to remember to be kind and patient when you know mere minutes stand between the kid who can’t find his shoes and a “tardy” note from school.

In the living room, between the discarded pajama pants and the left over bagel I work out my salvation with fear and trembling. And then we buckle everyone into the car and Micah tells me school is stupid.

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I talk a lot here about how small a mother’s routine can feel.

Perhaps, however, I don’t talk enough about how big the impact of that routine can be. Celebrating the small is directly related to recognizing the massive, Kingdom impact. Kids are forever. They are eternity with skin on. And we mold them like so much play-doh until one day they walk out the door and take every small moment of a family’s routine with them.

I guess what I’m saying is that celebrating the smallness of a mother’s day in and day out is more than just making it through – friends, it’s a wild dance of recognition, of celebration, of courage. It has to be more than finding meaning in the laundry. It has to be a wild Hallelujah that laundry is just the tipping point for all that you invest, that you pour, that you knead and knead and pull and knead into your kids. These are the front lines. These are the glory days. This is the stuff of heroes – not the laundry, but the conversations that take place in between the loads.

Piece by painful, sometimes mind-numbingly boring piece, you are building a mosaic of memory love – a testimony. Something that your children will see the day they open the door and turn head back over shoulder for a last look.

It will all be there, the beautiful wonder you’ve woven into them.

And the miracle they’ve stitched into you.

{To see the video reminder of why all mothers are braver than they know and deserve a medal, click here}.

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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.

GIVEAWAY: And to celebrate each and every one of you who encourages, loves on and mothers others, whether you have children or not, we’re giving away 2 copies today. Just leave a comment sharing what has surprised you about motherhood or about your own mama to be entered. (unfortunately due to shipping, you have to be located in the USA or Canada to be entered).

Continue Reading · giveaway, parenting · 40