It is a delight to be a guest on the incomparable Ann Voskamp's blog today.
My heart has been hurting for our children who may feel unsettled and afraid in this big old world. With everything going on, sometimes it's hard to know what to do to help them feel secure.
Won't you stop over there and read, "1 powerful thing every parent can do to make this world feel safe these days."
And, would you do me a favor? I'd love for you to share that post in any way you can: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest (just look at the gorgeous photos!) It would mean the world.
Now...go squeeze your little loves for me today!
Blessings upon blessings,
My friends, I'm so excited I'm about to bust.
My brand new book, written especially for children and starring my dear friend Flash, will be out on October 1!
(Pause for nervous giggles!)
Here is the official synopsis:
"A Stray donkey with a penchant for inventions is taken in by a mismatched collection of barnyard friends. Flash the Donkey Makes New Friends is the heartwarming story of a not-so ordinary donkey who needs a special place to belong. Flash is the inquisitive type who loves to invent things and solve problems, but his curiosity sometimes gets him into trouble! With the help of his new-found friends–Jed the goat, Carson the pig, and Ruby the chicken–Flash manages to turn problems into adventures and learns valuable lessons along the way.
Inspired by Rachel Anne Ridge's memoir, Flash, names one of Publishers Weekly's Best Summer Books of 2015, kids will fall in love with this endearing donkey as they learn to appreciate the value of true friendship."
This book was both harder (and more fun) than I could have imagined. As a mural artist, I went into it thinking, "Pfff, how hard can it be to create 9x10 inch pages?"
Turns out, pretty hard.
I drew and re-drew. I painted and repainted. I Photoshopped and re-Photoshopped.
I obsessed. Fretted. Gave myself hip bursitis from sitting in my chair for weeks on end.
And of course, I fell in love with my characters.
Above all, I wanted to create a story that kids would genuinely LIKE. One that pulled them in and made them laugh. I wanted a book that parents would enjoy reading out loud, possibly over and over again. You know how that goes, right? LOL
Between now and October 1, I'll introduce you to the characters and tell you why I chose them!
Until then, here is one of my favorite pictures of Flash:
You can pre-order Flash the Donkey Makes New Friends on Amazon – and I'll be honest, I'll love it if you do! Buy it for your kids, grandkids, students, and friends. You can even buy it for yourself, just because you know Flash personally and should probably have one of your own!
Here's a link to a bit more about the book. Flash the Donkey Makes New Friends.
I can't believe it's been a couple of months since I last posted! I can hardly remember what I was doing in February. I did not mean to leave you hanging, but I sort of dropped everything to work on some stuff. It's that unitasking syndrome again. I can now actually ONLY do one thing at a time. Multi-tasking isn't even an option. You'll have to forgive me while I retrace my steps so I can figure out just where I am right now.
Some of you might already know about this, but I've been working on a children's book. Well, it's not "out" yet, but it IS done.
Flash the Donkey Makes New Friends will be out on October 1, and (amazingly) is already available for preorder on Amazon. I LOVED getting to write and illustrate this charming story! Here's the official description:
Children will fall in love with Flash the Donkey as they learn the value of true friendship and what it means to be a good friend to others.
Hee-haw! A stray donkey with a penchant for inventions is taken in by a mismatched collection of barnyard friends. Flash the Donkey Makes New Friends is the heartwarming story of a not-so-ordinary donkey who needs a special place to belong.Flash is the inquisitive type who loves to invent things and solve problems, but his curiosity sometimes gets him into trouble! With the help of his new-found friends―Jed the Goat, Carson the Pig, and Ruby the Chicken―Flash manages to turn problems into adventures and learns valuable lessons along the way.Inspired by Rachel Anne Ridge’s memoir Flash, named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Summer Books of 2015, kids will fall in love with this endearing donkey as they learn to appreciate the value of true friendship.
And although I loved it doing it, I literally had no brain cells left by the time I turned in my last illustration. Not one. Somehow all that drawing and coloring was waaaay harder than I thought it would be! I found myself living like an old crazy hunchback woman who never bathed or changed her clothes, up in the bell tower (ok it was my upstairs office), only coming down for food and to squint at the light every now and then while I finished it.
Other than that, it was a piece of cake (wink). I should probably tell you that it's geared for children ages 3-7, aaaand the adults who love them! The story makes me smile, and it's one I hope you'll enjoy, too.
Now, stepping back through my mental fog...
This past fall I quietly wrote a book called Made to Belong: A Six Week Journey to Discover Your Purpose. The final edits got done during my blog hiatus, and as I've re-read the words in this workbook, I've gotten really excited about it all over again!
This is something that is SO DEAR TO MY HEART, because I think all of us struggle to find "that thing" we were made to do.
Made to Belong is also available for preorder on Amazon, and I'll tell you more about it (and the Belong Tour) as we get closer to the August 1 publication date!
Phew. I started to add to this post all the other stuff that went down but then my hunchback tendency came back and I thought, hey why pack all of this "retracing my steps" into one single post? Give these poor people (and your spine) a rest.
Okay, next post will be about the other happenings during my (previously unannounced but now completed) blog break.
I'm off to take a shower and find some clean clothes.
I'VE MISSED YOU!!!! Thank you for waiting.
When a stray donkey wandered into my life, I had no idea that I was about to learn some of life's greatest lessons. What could a long-eared, buck-toothed, braying animal possibly teach me, after all?
Turns out, plenty. Things like:
How knowing who I belong to changes everything
Where to find refuge in life's storms
How to conquer fear
How to find my passion
How persistence makes a way for grace
How to live honestly and authentically
Where to find abundance, even when you're in the middle of drought
What I'm made for - serving others in love
How to embrace change
How to make things right with others
And most importantly, I learned that my journey is not about fixing my problems, but it's about something else entirely.
Along the way, I learned the power of laughter...and it's one of the things I enjoy hearing most from people who have read the book: they've laughed the whole way through.
I've been overwhelmed by the many people who have emailed me to tell me that they are buying the book for friends. Oh my goodness, that makes me feel so happy. If you've been thinking of purchasing a copy for yourself or a friend, I want to make it easy!
This week, you can get signed copies of Flash for 20% off, when you buy them in my store.
That's like getting a FREE BOOK for every five that you purchase!
Books are signed by both Flash and me. To order, simply go to RachelAnneRidge.com/store.
As a bonus, I'm offering a flat shipping rate ($3.00 per order, plus $1.00 per book). Yippee!
This offer is only good through Friday, December 4, and only while my supplies last.
If you're looking for the perfect gift for several people on your list, I hope you'll consider this book.
It's from my heart to yours, and it's wrapped in a long-eared package that is sure to make readers feel encouraged and loved.
Please let me know any personalization you might like in the "Order Notes" when you check out. I'd love to make it special!
Thank you so much for supporting the message of the book, and this blog, which is: sometimes your answers arrive in unlikely packages.
I have such exciting news...I've been busting at the seams to tell you about it!
Flash the Donkey is becoming a children's book!
My wonderful publisher, Tyndale, will publish the book next fall so it will be in stores well in time for Christmas 2016.
I am both writing and illustrating the picture book, geared for children ages 3-7 or so.
And, I probably don't need to mention this, but this is an absolute lifelong dream come true.
Flash will come to life as an homeless donkey who is taken in by an engaging group of barnyard friends: a chicken named Ruby, a goat named Jed, and Carson the pig. Together, they have adventures, learn life lessons, and have a fun time doing it.
The story is really cute, and fun to read...and you'll find wonderful lessons to share with your child. I cannot WAIT to read this aloud to my granddaughters, who love nothing better than to sit on someone's lap and read books about animals.
What a coincidence, because I love nothing better than to hold them on my lap and read books about animals to them!
If I've been quiet around here, now you know why. (Confession: I'm also deep into another writing project, with a looming deadline...and truth be told, that's the REAL reason I've been holed up for the past several weeks.)
Beans: officially spilled.
Arms: black and blue from pinching myself
There you have it, my friends. All the beans.
Well, most of them anyway. :)
With a grateful heart, Rachel
PS You can find out all about Flash the Donkey–the true story version–right here.
Today, I'd like to introduce you to my friend Emily Wierenga.
Emily's newest memoir, Making it Home, releases on September 8, and I've invited her to post an excerpt from her book here. I know you'll love her story about finding finding peace, identity and purpose...and you'll also fall in love with her along the way, just like I did.
“I don’t know how to tell you this, Emily, but—they said no.” I’m on the phone with my agent two weeks after giving birth to my nearly nine-pound Kasher and I’m crying before she starts because I know.
“It’s been so long,” I whisper. It’s all the breath left in me.
“I know—I’m so sorry,” she says, and we’re silent together, except for my hiccupping sobs. An editor has been courting the manuscript for a year, and after three hundred and sixty five days of waiting, the publishing board has said no and I have nothing.
Forgetting how doctors had said I wouldn’t be able to have children, forgetting about the miracle that lies in my arms and the other one that’s coloring a picture at the Ikea kids’ table. Forgetting about the man who lives to make me laugh, who’s making wine in the kitchen, forgetting the sound of Mum’s voice on the end of the line, the voice of a woman I’d thought would die now lives, healed of her brain tumor.
Forgetting that a book deal is not what gives me a name, but it’s all I hear: the sound of rejection on the other end of the line, the sound of me, being made a fool, for all my waiting and hoping.
The champagne bottle unopened in the fridge.
“Everything okay?” Trent mouths the words at me. I shake my head. Kasher asleep in my arms and my agent telling me I should spend some time writing what I want to write. To put this book aside and just do something that brings me joy.
I don’t know what that means.
I don’t know how to do anything for joy and then I remember dating Trent. I remember that kiss in the rain outside his townhouse; I remember hours on the carpet with my head on his chest, talking, listening to the radio and I remember midnight bike rides to Rundle Park, playing Frisbee golf and watching movies just to hold each other’s hand.
A joy that writes what it wants to.
“Alright,” I say, and my agent prays with me and we say Goodbye.
I wonder how long she will put up with me. I haven’t sold anything yet and Aiden’s showing me his picture. It’s a scribble of green marker—his favorite color—and he’s got green on his lips and he’s smiling but his eyebrows are raised. He’s wondering if I like it, and he’s only two. His mommy’s fears course through him and I kneel down and hug him, tell him, “It’s magnificent, son, I can’t wait to hang it on the fridge,” and his small body relaxes.
He knows in this moment that I love him because I said I like his picture but I want for him what I want for me: the long-lasting sense of self in spite of what the world tells him. I want him to be so at peace that he can sleep in the boat while the storm rocks and I want him to know without a shadow of a doubt the confidence that makes a person walk on water.
And maybe if I learn it, he will too.
This excerpt is taken from Emily Wierenga’s new memoir (the sequel to ATLAS GIRL), Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity and Purpose. Order HERE.
What does it mean to be a woman and to make a home?
Does it mean homeschooling children or going to the office every day?
Cooking gourmet meals and making Pinterest-worthy home décor?
In Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity, and Purpose, author and blogger Emily Wierenga takes readers on an unconventional journey through marriage, miscarriage, foster parenting and the daily struggle of longing to be known, inviting them into a quest for identity in the midst of life’s daily interruptions. Get your copy HERE. Proceeds benefit Emily’s non-profit, The Lulu Tree.
Get FREE downloadable chapters from Making It Home HERE.
Ever pick up a book and have your jaw drop in the opening sentences? That's what happened when I started reading the new book, The Day I Met Jesus, by Frank Viola and Mary DeMuth. I learned something about a character in the Bible I never knew before, even though I'd read the story scores of times.
Five women of the New Testament come to life in this book, as each tells her own story, in her own words. Mary has skillfully woven scenes and dialogue that leap off the pages. I saw each of them in a new way–full of hopes, fear, failures and imperfections–and I loved how their encounters with Jesus challenged them, changed them, and gave them hope.
One thing I love to do when I get a new book is find out about the authors. I thought you might enjoy this interview with Frank and Mary today!
Be sure and read all the way to the end, where there are some fabulous FREEBIES for you if you purchase the book by March 17!
Without further ado....here is the interview:
Why did you write this book?
The new genre would contain autobiographical fiction closely based on the Scriptural narratives and faithful to first-century history. It would also contain a nonfiction section that practically applies the narratives to our lives. Finally, it would include a discussion guide so that readers could better digest and apply the content.
God's Favorite Place on Earth (2013) was my first book in this genre. In it, Lazarus tells the story of when Jesus came to His hometown Bethany and all the amazing things that took place there.
The Day I Met Jesus (2015) is the second book in this genre. I wanted it to tell the story of five women whom Jesus encountered, allowing each woman tell their own story. I also wanted to draw out practical lessons and critical insights from each narrative.
Because I'm not a woman, I couldn't do justice to the stories on my own, so I asked the top female Christian fiction writer of our time -- Mary DeMuth -- to coauthor it with me.
Mary: I wrote it because I love stories, and I felt that some of these encounters with Jesus didn't get the air time they deserved. By doing careful research and weaving more of a story arc into the five women's encounter, I hope to show people that the "characters" of the New Testament are actual, breathing people with stress and dysfunction and hopes just like us. Frank pioneered the idea of this book, so all credit goes to him for imagining it. I'm grateful he asked me to be a part.
Tell us the story of how you two came to coauthor it.
Mary: Frank wrote God's Greatest Place on Earth and had long wanted to do something similar with five women of the New Testament. He approached me about writing the fiction side of The Day I Met Jesus after he found out I wrote fiction as well as nonfiction.
Frank: When I began to think about a female coauthor for the project, I wanted it to be someone who (1) writes fiction (2) is a remarkable writer, and (3) believes in the classic tenets of the Christian faith (Jesus is divine and human, He rose again from the dead, Jesus is Lord and Savior of the world, etc.)
As I investigated authors who fit the bill, I quickly thought of folks like Francine Rivers and Karen Kingsbury. But then I discovered that Mary DeMuth wrote fiction. I had known that she was a non-fiction writer, but had no idea that she could "switch hit."
I also discovered that she was an outstanding writer of fiction as she was of nonfiction. (I regard Mary to be the Mickey Mantle of Christian literature -- she has enormous power from both sides!) So Mary ended up being the only name on my "short list."
You feature five women from the Gospels. Why pick women in particular as your subjects?
Frank: Some of the most gripping, instructive, inspiring stories in the Gospels involve women. The longest recorded conversation that Jesus ever had was with a woman. And some of the most amazing things He said and did related to women. So I thought that a book in which some of these women told their own stories about Jesus would not only bring the Gospels to life in our minds, but it would also bring Jesus alive in our hearts.
Mary: Women had significant, personal encounters with Jesus, a fact that we sometimes miss, particularly since so many stories revolve around the 12 disciples (who were men). I love that we're elevating these stories, helping people reimagine just how radical it was that Jesus so beautifully interacted with these women.
Which one is your favorite and why?
Mary: For me, it's hard to say. I love them all in different ways. This week, I'll say it's Mary of Bethany. She didn't have a blatant "need" for Jesus. She was just downright faithful and often misunderstood. I think a lot of people can relate to that.
Frank: Mary of Bethany is my all-time favorite disciple of Jesus. This came home to me when I wrote God's Favorite Place on Earth. (Mary was the sister of Lazarus, so she gets ample airtime in that book.)
I love Mary because she knew Jesus better than most, anticipating His reactions and even His impending death. She also paid the price for loving Him, for she was falsely accused by both her sister and the other disciples (on two different occasions), mostly out of jealousy. In both situations, Mary embraced the spirit of the Lamb, refusing to defending herself. But Jesus Himself rose to her defense on both occasions. He also gave her an enduring honor that He gave no one else.
Why would someone want to read the book?
Frank: If someone wants a good story to get tied up into . . . or if they want to see the Bible come to life in a compelling way . . . or if they want to experience Jesus Christ anew and afresh . . . or if they want to identify with people who were far worse off than they are, and see what Jesus did for them . . . or if they want to be given hope and encouragement in their situation . . . or if they are lacking love for the Lord and want that love to be rekindled . . . or if they want new motivation and fresh inspiration to follow Jesus more closely, they'll want to read The Day I Met Jesus.
Mary: Someone would want to read it because it's truly unique. It's biblical narrative, but in short story form, but it doesn't end there. After you've been absorbed into a page-turning story, Frank exegetes the wisdom from each encounter and helps you apply it to your life.
Tell us about the course that supplements the book.
Frank: The Day I Met Jesus Master Course is designed for those who wish to delve deeper into the themes set forth in the book. It includes a workbook and 20 audio messages delivered by Mary and I. In addition, it includes 8 bonus eBooks from Mary and I. It also includes a closed forum where people can access us both directly for Q&A and dialogue. People can check it out at http://www.thedayimetjesus.com/course
Tell us what readers get if they purchase it from March 3rd to March 17th from Parable.com.
Frank: They'll get these 7 exclusive bonuses.
1. An exclusive audio interview where Mary and I give a behind-the-scenes look at all the facets of the book. The interview covers where the idea of the book came from, why we wrote the book, what it was like collaborating, the hardest part about writing it, and much more.
2. Mary's Book, Beautiful Battle in Kindle & Nook.
3. My Book, Rethinking Spiritual Growth in PDF, Kindle, and Nook.
4. A never-before-released audio conference message entitled "A Woman Inside of a Man."
5. Mary's Book What To Do After People Poop on You in PDF.
6. A never-before-released audio conference message entitled "He's Not Ashamed to Call Them Brothers and Sisters."
7. A 15% discount off The Day I Met Jesus Master Course.
I loved getting to know these women from their personal perspectives, and the practical applications in each chapter were both thought-provoking and inspiring. I know you'll enjoy this book, too!
Tell me: If you have encountered Jesus, how has it changed you?
When I heard that Meg Moseley’s second book, Gone South, was coming out, I jumped at the chance to review it. I’d read her previous novel, When Sparrow’s Fall, and loved it, so I knew this one would be great as well. I was not disappointed.
Gone South is about a young woman named Tish who, on a whim, buys the house once owned by her great-great-great grandparents. She dreams of making a new life for herself, filling it with friends and putting down roots, something she never had growing up in Michigan. Tish’s life hasn’t gone the way she’d planned, and this impulsive move might be just what she needs to start over. It isn’t long before she discovers that her family name isn’t exactly welcome in this southern town and she feels completely out of place. Old grudges die hard, and there is a long-remembered family story that surfaces upon her arrival. The only person who seems willing to take a chance on friendship with her is George, a local antiques dealer, who just happens to be single and attractive. This is my kind of story, people. Give me a romantic interest and I’m into it.
Arriving right into the middle of the mix is the town outcast, a girl named Melanie. Tish takes her in, which doesn’t help Tish’s chances of being accepted by the community. Melanie has problems of her own and must sort them out with the help of Tish and George. Will the two young women find acceptance in a town that has so firmly rejected them? And will Tish deal with her past so that she can open her heart to George? Well, I won’t give any spoilers. You’ll have to find out for yourself.
I truly enjoyed reading Gone South. I made pots of tea, propped myself up on pillows and made my little self comfortable as I slipped into this story. It has a sweet, southern pace, which caused me to slow down and savor. I loved “getting off the fast track” and letting the story unfold. This town could make a whole cast of characters in a series, if the author wanted to build on what is started here. The characters are delightful.
Meg Moseley is a gifted writer who can tell a great story. I appreciate that she brings an element of faith to the characters, but uses restraint so that it feels believable. You never have the sense that the story is there to prop up a virtuous lesson, and I like that in Christian fiction. Gone South has a theme of grace and second chances that is both satisfying and refreshing. I finished it with a smile on my face.
I believe Gone South will be available May 7 (you can preorder it now) - I recommend you go get a copy for yourself, and then make a pot of tea. Put your feet up and enjoy.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of Gone South, but was under no obligation to give a favorable review in return. The opinion is my own.
Hey there, Girls! I want to invite you to join Priscilla Shirer's live webcast today at 10 am CST....in which I will be one of her guests! Priscilla has been hosting a book club for her newest book, The Resolution for Women, and this week's topic is "Loving My Children."
I am so honored to be part of the round table discussion with Priscilla and her sister, Chrystal (another incredible mom) and know it is going to be a fun - maybe challenging - hour. Hop on over and join us for all or part of it! I believe you'll be able to log in and "chat" while we talk...and you can pose your own questions about parenting and loving your children for us to discuss.
See you there!!