When was the last time you went to a pajama party?
Well, that's too long.
WAY too long!
I would love for you to come to my PJ Party on Friday night (Oct. 7) at 7 pm!
Now, not everyone will fit into my living room, so this will be a VIRTUAL party, via Facebook Live! All you need to do is hop over to Flash the Donkey's Facebook page, and I'll be posting live video so you can join in!
There will be music, games, food, and a special book reading...and of course Real Life Flash will be there too.
So, gather your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, and any other kids in your life, and let's have some fun together!
Please wear your jammies!
PS There's a video invitation on Flash's page with a sneak peek at the "party set" we've been working on! (hint: there are life-sized storybook characters involved)
The winner in yesterday's drawing for Flash the Donkey Makes New Friends is Robin Brantley. Robin, send me your address via email and I'll get a book to you asap!
Well, what can I say about Jed? This guy...
Jed....well you could say he wears his heart on his sleeve.
You never have to guess what he is feeling because it's written all over his face.
And then there's his body language:
When Jed is excited, he leaps on top of tables.
When he is mad, he harrumphs up a pile of hay bales.
When he's annoyed, he crosses his arms and looks away.
When he's happy, he grabs a ukelele and belts out a tune.
Jed is the goat who shoots from the hip, speaks his mind, jumps to conclusions, and commands the room.
He's just like that "annoying little brother" that reeeally drives you crazy sometimes.
But you can't live without him because, after all, he's the one that brings the party with him wherever he goes.
Today, we celebrate the "Jeds" we know and love. Who is it that makes you laugh, drives you nuts sometimes, and lives life to the hilt?
Please share your own special "Jed" story today for another chance at a signed book!
I loved hearing about all the special "Rubys" in your lives yesterday! I got emails, blog comments, Facebook comments and tweets, telling me about the wonderful mother-hens who take care of everyone around them. The winner of the signed Flash the Donkey Makes New Friends book is:
Jane, honey...send me your address and I'll get your book to you!
You know how awesome it is when you get to introduce people to each other that you just know will be instant friends?
That's how I feel about my friend, Ruby–and you.
See, when I wrote Flash the Donkey Makes New Friends, I knew that Ruby had to be a central character. A mis-matched collection of companions MUST have someone who's in charge!
Everyone should have a chicken for a friend, right? A mother-hen type who seems to know just what to do in any situation.
Ruby will direct you to a chair so you can sit down.
Have an injury?
She will produce a bandage and ice, almost out of thin air.
Ruby happens to have a pot of soup on the stove.
There, there. Ruby knows just how to cheer you up.
Has someone done you wrong?
Well, that ruffles her feathers just thinking about it.
Ruby fusses. She clucks. She talks to herself as she bustles about.
And always stylish, she is never without her earrings and necklace.
You can be assured that Ruby is a fine feathered friend, who will forever believe in you, worry over you, and make sure you've eaten a good breakfast. She's always got your back.
See, I knew you'd love her!
Since I'm counting down the days until you meet Ruby in real life, (when my book releases on Oct. 1,) I'd like to do a little PRE-CELEBRATING!
One lucky commenter will receive a signed copy of Flash the Donkey Makes New Friends today.
Simply let us know: who is a "Ruby" in your life? Do you have someone who fusses, clucks and bustles about your life, making sure she knows all the details?
Let's cheer for all the Ruby's of this world! Where would we be without them?? (Mine is my daughter, Lauren - a first-rate mother hen of the finest sort!)
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.
God uses ordinary events to reveal His extraordinary purposes.
Just when you think you're going in circles in your everyday life, He can intercept your plans and make His ways known to you.
There's a story told in the Bible–1 Samuel 9–of a young man who is engaged in ordinary family affairs. His father's donkeys have gone missing, and he is given the task (along with a helper) to go and find them.
The young man's name was Saul...and he had no idea that his search for a band of renegade donkeys would start a chain of events that would eventually make him king of Israel.
The mission takes the pair of young men on a frustrating journey all over the countryside.
I'm sure they were thinking, "where on earth could these pranksters be?" They would have been familiar with the inquisitive nature of the animals, and probably realized just how much ground the sure-footed creatures could cover.
After three days of looking high and low, they finally give up and decide to head back home. Without cell phones to use to check in, Saul knows his father will be worried. In one last-ditch effort to find the donkeys they seek out the prophet Samuel, who just so happens to be in the area, in order for him to inquire of the Lord of the their whereabouts.
Unbeknownst to Saul, God had spoken to this prophet the day before, preparing him for their encounter. He told Samuel exactly what would happen and how the young man would come looking for him, and that this tall teenager was the one He'd chosen to be king.
The scene unfolds just as God described it.
Samuel invites Saul to feast with him and then just before they part ways, he anoints Saul's head with oil. This sacred action marks Saul for God's purpose in a tangible way.
Saul, however, is still concerned about his father's donkeys, to which Samuel reassures him.
"Those donkeys? Pssh, don't worry about them. They've already made it safely home on their own."
The donkeys didn't even really need to be found.
Because God had had something else in mind.
You see, the real purpose of Saul's journey was not to find a group of runaway animals. It was to get him to a place of encounter with God.
The task he was doing for his father was simply a means to move him into the right place at the right time.
It was when he was out of his comfort zone, his familiar surroundings, that God brought him face to face with what would be his true mission in life.
He was anointed for kingship right then and there.
I wonder if you, too, are on a seemingly insignificant journey?
Maybe your job is one that feels like it is going nowhere. You're wandering in circles, looking for your purpose, and yet somehow you know this is where God wants you. It all seems like such a waste of time and you're tempted to give up.
Perhaps God is moving you to place of encounter.
Perhaps, like Saul, God is leading you to moment of divine appointment. A place where your vision and purpose will suddenly come into full view!
Let me encourage you.
Watch and see: His purpose WILL unfold.
People and events will cross your path through divine appointments as you journey onward....things that would never happen unless you just keep going. Keep taking that next step.
God uses ordinary events in extraordinary ways.
He is able to take a "seemingly insignificant" job and boom! use it to put you right where you need to be.
Proverbs 16:9 tells us that a person can think he's planned his ways, but God is working behind the scenes to direct each step.
I love that.
Tell me: have you ever encountered God's purpose in the midst of the regular affairs of your life? Have you ever said, "so THIS is why I've been on this journey!" ? I'd love to hear about it.
Do you feel like you're going in circles today, trying to follow God's leading but can't figure out what His purpose is? Let me pray for you, that you'd encounter Him in a way that will clearly show His care and design for you.
Two weeks ago, I was invited to be on Daystar's Marcus and Joni show. I posted photos on Facebook and Twitter...and then sort of forgot that my dear BLOG READERS might want to see some highlights.
Sometimes, I wonder about my mental faculties. Well...
It was a THRILL to be on the show, and I'm sorry I held out on you.
You can find a link to the complete show here. My segment starts at about 15:30.
It was a good hair day, carefully planned as to when I shampooed (this was Day Two after washing) so as to have the least amount of pouf.
YOU HAVE TO THINK ABOUT THESE THINGS, PEOPLE!
The real star of the show was this guy, Flash. Seeing his adorable face on the book in Marcus's hands made me pinch myself. This is crazy, folks.
Next time I get my picture taken with famous people, I'll do the hand-on-my-hip-sorority pose so my large sweater poncho doesn't make me look extra wide.
That's a BIG note to self.
One of the most fun parts of the whole experience was that Flash and Henry watched, live, from the barn.
My dauntless husband Tom dragged the TV out there so they could see it.
Then Tom sent photos to the producer, who in turn put them up on the screen...so they even made the broadcast!
I'm talkin' about ya, Flashy!
Hey, now...that's a sharp lookin' donkey!
Flash, Marcus Lamb is discussing your life lessons! That's pretty cool!
Of course, now that it's all over, I think of all the things I should have said.
Oh, how I wish I'd mentioned the specific things I learned from Flash: facing my fears, letting go of the past, finding my passion, and making the most of each day, to name a few.
And I wish I'd said:
Flash taught me that slow and steady steps are the things that make pathways for grace.
It's in those daily small, methodical efforts that the real miracles take place.
Most times, it feels like plodding.
After all, showing up day after day, is hard.
But donkeys, and people like us, aren't afraid of hard things.
We just keep walking.
We just keep working.
We just keep serving, even when nobody sees.
And that's when we experience true grace.
Thank you, Flash.
And thank you, God, for still speaking through donkeys.
I had so many book orders last week, that I'm extending the sale through this week.
They make great gifts, and I hope you'll take advantage and order several for Christmas.
This is awesome: My largest single order to date is FOURTEEN books! That customer got all his Christmas shopping done in one fell swoop!
Anyone want to top it?? :)
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.
The late summer sun has scorched the pasture, leaving it barren and dry. Oh, it still has scraggly weeds and thistles, but the grass that Flash and Henry need for daily sustenance is long gone.
This is the time of year that we have to supplement the donkeys' diet with hay.
A section of hay for each, morning and night.
And hay brings out the best, and the worst, in these two.
Henry was adopted to be a companion for Flash last year, and really...he's been just great. He was found wandering the countryside with a group of about 20 stray donkeys in Henderson County, TX. Logged in as "Henderson #10," it seemed fitting to name him Henderson–Henry for short.
Now, I don't know Henry's past, but I can tell a lot about it from the way he acts when the hay comes out.
You see, Henry wants ALL of it.
He wants his pile, and he wants Flash's pile.
Henry doesn't want Flash to get any of the hay.
He'll run back and forth between the two servings, kicking, biting and bucking to keep it all to himself.
In response, Flash lays his ears back, and tries first to get at one pile, then the other. He grunts his displeasure at the little donkey who is bound and determined to keep him from it.
Henry is so intent on keeping Flash away from the hay that he can't even enjoy it himself.
It's a classic move by someone who has known scarcity.
When you're not sure when, or if, you'll get to eat again, you try to hoard what you have against the possibility of going without.
"Henry, Henry!" I call to him. "There's plenty for both of you!"
I set more out, more than they can eat in one feeding.
Finally, Henry chooses the biggest mound of hay and begins to eat. He moves his backside toward Flash in a defensive posture to guard his portion.
Flash hangs back, then approaches his hay with eyes on Henry. Ears up, alert. Somehow he knows that Henry's still got a few tender spots left inside that haven't healed yet. He lets Henry settle in to eating before he starts to nibble from the far side of his pile.
Henry has a scarcity mindset.
He is always afraid that there won't be enough.
He's afraid that if he doesn't fight for his share, he won't get any at all.
He's afraid that if he lets Flash get hay, then he might go hungry.
Henry would rather do without, by running back and forth to keep Flash away, than run the risk of Flash eating into his portion.
He is so busy keeping Flash out that he can't enjoy the bounty before him.
A scarcity mindset keeps him from experiencing the abundance all around him.
You know what? I see myself in him. Maybe you can see yourself, too.
I see the ways that we hoard blessings, rather than risk giving away too much.
I see how we withhold love, just in case there won't be enough to go around.
I see how we can't be generous with our ideas, our resources, or our time, because we fear others might get ahead of us in the race for significance or importance.
We can't enjoy the abundance because we're worried that someone else is getting more than their "fair share."
A scarcity mindset keeps us from experiencing the abundance all around us.
It keeps us locked in a defensive posture, afraid to open up to others.
It keeps us from living freely in grace.
It takes a week of consistently setting out more hay than they can possibly eat, before Henry figures out that there will always be enough.
After several days of receiving generous portions, he is actually able to relax. He can leave leftover mounds of hay, open for anyone to take. He comes back to snack when he feels like it. He takes a nap, and lets his guard down.
He even lets Flash eat from his pile.
Henry is learning that there is always enough.
It's simple, really.
It's adopting a mindset of abundance that makes all the difference. Abundance believes:
The more we give, the more we receive.
The more we allow others partake of the goodness around us, the more we can enjoy it, too.
The less we try to protect "what is ours" the less we need "what is ours" to find significance.
The less we worry about others getting more than their "fair share," the more freedom we'll feel to live generously, openly.
Listen. Can I share this with you?
There is enough for you, my friend.
There is enough grace for today. More than you can possibly use up.
You can lavish it on everyone around you, slop it all over the place and give it away....and there will still be enough.
You don't have to worry about what anyone else is receiving. You don't have to compare. You don't have to protect what's yours.
Simply receive the abundance set before you, and let others do the same.
There is freedom in that. There is generosity, and life.
And there is joy.
Always enough joy.
And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 2 Corinthians 9:8