What can a donkey teach you? Oh, just lots of stuff.
I still can't believe this, y'all.
My publisher, Tyndale Momentum, is sponsoring a trip for two lucky people to come and meet Flash and me in REAL LIFE!
Imagine! You and a companion....and Flash and me! We can hang out in the barn, and you can pet him and talk to him, while he charms you with his wit and dashing good looks!
Here's the skinny:
Tonight, at 7 PM CST, Priscilla Shirer and I will be broadcasting a video (a webcast, if you will) that we recorded recently. We introduce Flash and talk about how he is the perfect illustration for how God uses interruptions and everyday moments to get our attention. We have a lot of fun, and Flash is his entertaining self, as usual.
Now, for a chance to win the trip, you'll need to register for this free webcast.
1. Simply go to FlashtheDonkey.com and click on the banner.
2. Fill out the little form, and then
3. Share the webcast on social media. (2x)
I've had May 1 circled on my calendar for months. It was so far away when I first got a contract to write Flash!
But now, the day has arrived! And Flash *should technically* be on shelves around the country today!
15 Second Video of Rachel and Flash It's Here!
Don't call me, I'll be visiting ALL the bookstores personally, just to check! And I'll be sure to turn the cover so Flash is facing OUT!
"So how does it feel?" everyone is asking me.
Well....it feels surreal and wonderful, and just a little like I might need a paper bag to breathe into. Excuse me while I put my head down for a minute, everything got blurry just now.
Some amazing things have happened already:
Whaaat? It's an incredible honor to be on this list. I really can't believe I'm seeing Flash's face right there in the #8 spot. Flash you're so adorable!
But, to me the best part is the fact that real people are reading it. People are laughing with me at my entertaining stories, and they are crying with me through my tough spots.
People are already sharing Flash with their friends and loved ones.
And that means the world to me.
On this spectacular May 1st, would you celebrate with me?
Would you cheer for all the middle-aged women with dusty dreams, who give it one more try?
Would you give a "Woo Hoo!" for all the heartaches that are worked through, the rough patches that give way, and the relationships that are mended along the way?
Would you say "Hooray!" for people who encourage others, who believe the best, and who are always there for you?
Would you give thanks for all the times you didn't think you'd make it...and then you did?
Today, I'm celebrating the book release, and I'm celebrating all the people around me who have helped make it possible. My husband and kids, my team at Tyndale, and you: my wonderful, beautiful blog readers.
Thank you. It's a huge team effort, and we made it to this day.
There is still a long way to go.
Now, it's all about getting the word out.
If you would like to help, here are some ways you can do it!
1. Well, buy the book of course! If just each person in the U.S. would buy it, that would be like, 300,000,000 copies! Dusting off my dreams has gotten out of control, obviously.
2. Share the book! So many readers have already said they are gifting copies to their special people. I LOVE THAT SO MUCH! Get one to keep and one to give.
3. Spread the word! Don't hide his little donkey-light under a bushel! Let others know about FlashTheDonkey.com. Share his book trailer, follow Flash on Twitter and Facebook. Hey, bray in public for no particular reason! Why not?
4. Ask for Flash. Request that your local bookstore carry it! Support the brick-and-mortar book businesses.
5. Sign up for the webcast, with Priscilla Shirer and Me, which will air on May 5 at 7PM CST. It's all about finding God in our everyday moments, and also you'll get some free gifts, PLUS a chance to meet Flash and me in person!!
So, how about I give away a signed book?? I'm giving TWO copies away over at Priscilla Shirer's blog, Going Beyond today!
Pop over there and say hello - and leave a comment there for your chance to win one! I simply can't wait for you to read it!
Hugs and confetti all around!!!
A few years ago, my husband and I spent the evening in the family room together. I was checking email, reading blogs and doing my own thing. Tom was watching TV and doing his own thing.
Companionable silence, it was nice. I just love how we could just be with one another and enjoy the togetherness.
Suddenly, out of the blue, he says, "Hey, I don't really like the way you have your hair right now."
His words hang like a giant matzo ball in the air.
I lift my attention from the screen and fix my gaze upon him. Eyes narrow.
I bring my fingertips together and feel ice run through my veins.
I purse my lips.
I'll log THAT away.
The silence stretches, until I hear myself say, "Oh really."
"It just makes your head look kind of boxy on top."
Diggin' a hole, buddy.
"I liked it better the other way."
Diggin' a deeper hole, pal.
Now he's talking faster, as if he's realized he's in dangerous territory. Except for my raised eyebrows and piercing stare, I feel I am maintaining incredible cool.
"I just saw this newscaster on TV and thought she had good hair and that reminded me that I was meaning to tell you that I liked it better when it flipped out more on the sides or something...." he trails off and mumbles incoherently.
Too late, he realizes he's just stepped into some serious doo-doo.
"Well, thanks for the advice," I say. I am annoyed.
Why would you bring THAT up out of nowhere?
I was still annoyed an hour later as we were getting ready to crawl in for the night. I ripped the covers over me and made a point of getting my pillows organized.
Hmph. BOXY? The nerve.
It was then that I realized that there is probably never a good time for a man to voice a negative opinion about his wife's hair.
Out of the blue is probably just as good a time as any, because it's never going to go over very well.
Now, a guy might want to have a good exit strategy, like a getaway car waiting with engine running, if he values his life at all. At the very least, he ought to have a big distraction to pull off, like a fire alarm or a well-timed phone call.
It's a conversation that has no good ending, just a narrow escape.
Upon reflection, (and upon seeing pictures of my hair during those years) I can see that Tom had a point. My head actually DID resemble a UPS package, and it DID look better when it kind of flipped out at the sides. He knew how important my hair is to me, and he was just looking out for me.
Lord knows I can't see the top of my own head and need a loving set of eyes to help me avoid boxy hair.
His timing was just a little off.
I'm reminded that the words we speak are just as important as the moment we choose to say them.
These days, I'm trying to make a habit of pausing for a minute before blurting out my opinions.
Is now a good time?
Would it be better to wait until a favorite television show is over?
Does the recipient of my information feel loved in the process?
Should I just sit on it for a day and think about what I want to communicate?
Should I give a heads up that there's something we need to talk about later?
Is what I have to say–and how I say it–kind and gracious?
I'm still working on this, how about you?
Prov. 16:24 Kind words are like honey--sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.
Today, think about the words you say before you say them. Ask for wisdom, take a deep breath, and be kind.
And tread carefully when it comes to talking about hair.
The new book trailer for Flash is here! Here it is:
If you can't see the video, click here: Flash Book Trailer
I love the trailer because it reminds me of all the times in life that the answers we are looking for show up in unexpected, unlikely packages.
It's easy to miss that thing you're hoping for when it arrives looking nothing like what you anticipated.
I remember how Tom, a star quarterback in a huge Minnesota high school, had football scholarships being offered to him as a junior. That is, until ankle injuries sidelined his plans. His biggest disappointment led him to a small college in Texas...where he bumped into a girl named Rachel.
It was an unexpected twist that led to a lifetime of love.
I remember how my daughter Lauren* didn't get into the art program she'd worked so hard for....only to find her calling in graphic design - her "Plan B."
Or how, when I was most lonely, I received a phone call for an ordinary nursery mural job. I didn't really need the job - it took far too long to finish - but it led to an extraordinary friendship with Priscilla. That phone call changed my life.
Or how a friend's broken engagement to the "man of her dreams" opened the door for the right man to enter.
Or how another friend's unexpected pregnancy brought her to church and a rekindled faith.
Each of us has stories of prayers that have gone "unanswered," or plans that have gone awry...only to find that God, in His wisdom, has had a better idea all along. Somehow, He uses the ordinary moments, the shifts in schedules, the new jobs, the disappointments, the traffic lights, the people we meet...all of it...to bring us to where we need to be.
God is in all of it. Sometimes, we just need to open our eyes, and our hearts, to see it.
Have you experienced an unexpected answer? I'd love to hear about it in the comments today!
*Special thanks to my daughter, Lauren, for using her incredible "Plan B" skills to create and edit the book trailer. She is amazing! I could not be doing this book launch without her, behind the scenes, doing my graphic design, editing, web design and technical support. Not to mention hours on the phone....I am so grateful.
Everybody is invited to a special webcast with Priscilla Shirer, Flash, and me! My dear, sweet friend Priscilla sat down with me - in my barn - to talk about Finding God in Your Everyday Moments. Our conversation will air on May 5, and I want you to be there!
It's really what the underlying theme of my book, Flash, is all about. How God uses interruptions, inconveniences, and unexpected moments to speak to us. It's so reassuring, and it brings me great peace to know that He is involved in our lives this way.
And of course, we invited Flash to be part of the conversation. I mean, how could we not?
Here's a sneak peek:
If you can't see the youtube image, click here.
We had so much fun! And Flash was (mostly) good! I can't wait to share our conversation with you.
The webcast will air on Tuesday, May 5 at 7 PM CST on FlashTheDonkey.com.
It is FREE, but you need to register for it at FlashTheDonkey.com in order to receive some great gifts.....and have a chance to win this:
A trip for two to meet Flash in real life!
Yes, it's true!
First, let's talk about the gifts you'll get when you sign up:
1. A beautiful art print I created in mixed media, titled "Savor the Slow Path." You can download it, print it and frame it!
2. A download of the first chapter of Flash. No waiting, no wondering if it's any good...just boom, here ya go! (I think you'll love it.)
Bonus: After the webcast airs, I'll send you a follow up devotional on Finding God in Your Everyday Moments. You can tuck it into your journal or keep it on hand for when you need some encouragement.
Now, I know what you're thinking: "Let's get back to the part in which you talk about that free trip to meet Flash!"
I don't blame you, so let's get right to the point.
After you register, simply share the webcast at least twice on social media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram...whatever is your cup of tea.
Be sure to use the hashtag #FlashTheDonkey so we can find your shares!
That will put you into a drawing for the trip! The winner will choose a date that will be mutually-agreed upon, so that you'll get to spend some time with me...and of course...with FLASH!! **
You might get to come to Texas and hang out with the coolest donkey around!
Just hop on over to FlashTheDonkey.com and click on the webcast image. Fill out the little form thingy, and you're good to go. I'll send you a reminder email so we can all MEET UP IN MY BARN ON MAY 5!!!
Isn't this exciting?? I'm giddy!!
PS: the webcast will be followed by a Twitter event with Flash and me!
**This prize is only available to continental US residents.
My son Grayson was a pretty cute little guy (still is) and I used to love the way he'd pronounce words as a toddler. His favorite toys were "bwoks and twucks" (blocks and trucks), and he had some sayings that I never wanted him to grow out of....because I knew eventually he would.
I'm happy he turned into this guy, and it would be weird if he still said "bwoks and twucks," right?
Case in point, it took years before we told him that "hiccups" were not the "pickups" he called them.
Darn it, it was adorable when he used to get those "pickups!" It was hard not to smile when he'd announce that he had them, and we'd pretend not to hear what he said, just so he'd repeat, "I got da pickups!"
"I got da pickups!"
I got to thinking about hiccups and pickups.
If your life is anything like mine, you could say that running a household is all about those hiccups and pickups.
Not a day goes by without either of them - and usually in abundance. Things always come up at the last minute, someone loses their shoes, forgets a lunch, needs a science project done tonight, or the car has a flat.
You name it, hiccups are part of every day.
And who can survive without the constant picking up of life's debris? I sometimes feel like my arms are constantly in motion, picking up and putting away....or uh, stacking things for "later." (wink)
Today, let's try to avoid hiccups by focusing on pickups - what do you say??
Well wait, let's address each one individually....yeah!
Hiccups - Simply make a list and an easy plan for today's tasks. Planning is the first step to success, and yet I find sometimes when I get busy I start winging it without a written plan....a sure recipe for hiccups!
Pickups - Pick up one room of the house. Take 5 minutes to scoop up stuff and straighten.
You see, at heart, I'm still a "Sanctuary Girl." I want my home to feel safe and lovely and comforting. It's easy to get overwhelmed with all the stuff and busyness that crowds our lives and makes sanctuary fly out the window.
I still need small things - little manageable tasks like these that give me a sense of accomplishment and progress.
Try it: simply think about hiccups and pickups today. Focus on making a plan for the day, and picking up the mess in one room. I promise that you'll feel amazing when you're done.
Enjoy some sanctuary today, my friend.
Question of the day: What is one hiccup you're facing, and what room will you pick up?
I heard someone say recently that failure is an important part of character development. That failure, in some form or fashion, is inevitable...and it's what you do with it that can cause the most personal growth.
It reminded me that this whole adventure with my stray donkey and the book that followed, was a result of my husband's and my journey through failure. The years of the Great Recession were brutal for us. Our business, which relied heavily on the housing market, was hit hard. And even though we could blame the sluggish economy for our failure, in the end the "why" didn't really matter.
All we knew was that our dream had all but died, and we had bills to pay.
It felt like a big, fat failure.
And you know what, when you're in the midst of one failure, it seems that all your other failures stack up like airplanes coming in for landing at a busy airport. One after the other, the missteps, the bad choices, the poor timings, the forgotten birthdays, the cross words, the burnt dinners...they pile on relentlessly.
During those years (yes, years) I found it difficult to hold my head up. Everything felt heavy. I napped often. It's one of my coping mechanisms.
The worst part is that my past failures made me afraid to try anything new. I mean, why bother? I knew I'd fail at the next thing, too.
I was stuck.
Eventually, I knew I needed to move past this failure thing...but how?
One of my favorite stories about Flash is the time he discovered a greatness inside him he didn't know he had. The incident happened right when I desperately needed inspiration to change.
Flash had been hanging out with the cows in the neighboring pasture. The cows were on one side of the fence, chewing cud and looking bored, while Flash was on the other side keeping them company.
One day, another neighbor's three horses got loose and Tom rounded them up and put them into Flash's pasture for safe-keeping until their owner could bring his trailer over and take them home. These horses were BEAUTIFUL! Sleek, shiny, elegant equine specimens.
Flash, my dusty, shaggy donkey, suddenly looked up from his cud-chewing friends and discovered that he had company: three gorgeous stallions, who pranced like ballerinos around the pasture.
I watched as Flash had a choice to make: stay with the cows and watch the greatness of these newcomers from the sidelines, or join in with them and do some of his own dancing.
It only took a moment for Flash to make his decision.
He would run with the horses.
The horses pranced.
They circled and spun.
Flash circled and spun.
Flash...well, he didn't glisten. He magnetically collected all the dust the horses kicked up.
He looked ridiculous out there, with his short legs and choppy mane and oversized head.
But he didn't care.
He was running with horses.
He'd found greatness, and that's all that mattered.
That picture stuck with me.
In a golden moment of donkey greatness, I realized that Flash discovered the key to moving past failure. That afternoon, he focused on the things inside him that made him great: all the chromosomes he shared with horses (62 of them!) and he ran with them. Perhaps all this time he'd been focused on the one set of chromosomes he lacked - the one set that differentiated him from horses - and settled for a life of mediocrity with the cows.
I suddenly saw that I'd been so focused on the things I lacked that I'd given up pursuing anything great. I'd given up on trying.
I'd given up on excellence.
And I realized I'd been going about things the wrong way. Perhaps instead of trying to move away from past failures, I would try moving TOWARD something, just like Flash did that day.
And that something was:
Excellence, I found, is a state of mind that made me sit up straighter and pay attention to details. It said,
I can do better.
I can go the extra mile.
I can put away the clean dishes.
I can exercise today.
I can limit Facebook so that I have time for what really matters.
I can take on a new goal.
Maybe you're struggling with failure today. Maybe all your missteps and mistakes are flooding your mind, making you feel stuck.
Let me suggest:
Today, instead of focusing on all the things you lack and all the "reasons" you shouldn't try anymore, simply move toward excellence.
Focus on doing the best job you can on that thing that's in front of you.
I'm not talking about perfectionsm, I'm simply saying that each day, it's possible to embrace doing things better than we have before. We can intentionally choose which things to let go of and which things to apply ourselves to. We can take a couple of goals and work on doing them well.
Move toward something.
Why not? I'm willing to pursue excellence. How about you?
What is one thing that you can do better today? How can you apply excellence to your day? How can the pursuit of excellence help you move past failure?
On Tuesday, five boxes of my book arrived on my doorstep, accompanied by angelic music and a shaft of light from the heavens.
Okay, maybe it was just the UPS man honking and shining his headlights, but it felt like a heavenly moment nonetheless.
All authors talk about "that moment" when you see your first book...and I must say, it was a bit surreal. I breathed deeply and then screamed, "Flash is GLOSSY!"
I didn't get a chance to show Flash until yesterday. I found him in the bluebonnets, a perfect backdrop for a grand reveal:
"Look, Flashy! It's YOU on the cover!"
And see, there are pictures on the INSIDE, too!
Notice the back cover? I LOVE the ears!
"Read to me, Rachel! This is a great story!"
Flash LOVES his book! He gives it his stamp of approval.
I'm incredibly proud of how the book turned out. Flash looks like he could simply step off the cover and into your life. Re-reading the stories and lessons inside reminded me again how God uses inconvenient interruptions, (like stray donkeys) to do amazing things.
I know He is going to do amazing things with this book. Only a couple more weeks before it hits the bookstores, but already people have been preordering it like crazy.
What do you think?? Would this cover catch your eye in a bookstore? Would your mother like this book for Mother's Day? I think she might.
My Grandma Raaum used to have an unusual magnet on her fridge. It looked like this:
I asked her about it one summer day because it puzzled me.
"Oh, I finally got a Round Tuit so I stopped putting things off. Now I can get things done licketty split!" she said with a laugh. "A-round to-it....do you get it?"
Today, I'm giving YOU a Round Tuit....a virtual one.
It is a circular object giving its owner the ability to get done everything that would have otherwise been put off to a later date. Some say it has magical powers, but I can't verify that. All I know is once you get a Round Tuit, you feel invincible.
Now, you can finally say you got a Round Tuit.
It really feels great to be able to say that.
So....what have you been putting off?
What is nagging in the back of your mind each day that you know you should finish?
Yesterday I put my Rount Tuit to work and got my vehicle license plate renewed....it had expired and I was living in fear of getting pulled over by the police. Boy, it felt awesome to finally get around to it.
Maybe that circular object DOES have magical powers after all!
Driving is suddenly delightful again.
Now that you've got a Round Tuit, how will you use it?
If I was going to pick a Song of the Day, I'd choose: I Get Around, by The Beach Boys.
Hey, I wonder if that thing you've been putting off can be done within the space of this song? Ready, Set, GO!
In less than THREE WEEKS, this will be on bookshelves:
The past few days have been just FUN, as things are really starting to happen. On Friday, I got this text from my publisher:
The books, the beautiful hardcover books with that darling cover, are in. the. warehouse.
Rumor has it that I will receive my first REAL copy sometime today.
And then, I got word that Publisher's Weekly has given Flash a STARRED REVIEW. After I picked myself up off the floor and rubbed my eyes a few times, I read the words slowly and out loud:
Flash: The Homeless Donkey Who Taught Me About Life, Faith, and Second Chances Rachel Anne Ridge. Tyndale, $19.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-4143-9783-2
Artist and designer Ridge’s business was tanking, along with her attitude and emotional well-being. So why, Ridge wondered, would God have a bedraggled donkey show up in her driveway, adding to the stresses of her family? While it didn’t make sense to keep Flash, as he was lovingly dubbed, Ridge and her family made room for the poor wandering animal in their hearts and home. Ridge figured out, sometimes the hard way, how to properly care for Flash, and as she paid attention to his needs, she learned a whole lot of positive lessons about herself, her faith, and her life. Ridge examines some of life’s most difficult issues with insight gained from sharing a home with an equine personality, summarizing lessons learned in pithy statement that conclude chapters (“Be a service animal; “Make things right with others”). Readers will be clamoring for more of Flash as soon as they digest the last story in this powerful and uplifting memoir.
Agent: Ruth Samsel, William K. Jensen Literary Agency. (May) Reviewed on 04/10/2015 | Release date: 05/01/2015 | Details & Permalink
Y'all. I don't even have words. This is such a big deal. I'm just....grateful.
Yesterday, my dearest friend in the world, Priscilla Shirer, came over and we filmed some promos and a very special video IN MY BARN! With Flash. Shhhhhhh......I'll be giving you all the juicy details about that in the coming days. You won't want to miss it!
I love this picture of Priscilla and me:
Finally, these arrived in the mail:
I felt a bit lightheaded when I opened the package, because this means it's really going to happen. I'm going to have a party, y'all.
And you're invited.
If you are in the Dallas area on May 9, Flash and I would love to see you! We will be signing books, eating Flash's favorite snacks, and generally be celebrating! You can find all the details here....the event is free, but I need you to sign up so I know how many carrots to bring!
Come and do a happy dance with me! And kiss Flashy on the nose! In person!
We have a bunch of exciting things planned for the next several weeks and I don't want you to miss any of it!
As always, you can preorder Flash so you'll have a copy as soon as it hits the shelves.