7 Days of Soul Care, by Dolly Lee

7daysofsoulcare_mockup2-e1476393741791

Good news for Dolly Lee’s readers: 7 Days of Soul Care is now available. Let me introduce you to Dolly.

About Dolly Lee

dollyheadshotDolly Lee believes in the power of God’s love to transform a person from the inside-out. She’s grateful for how God’s grace allows second acts and second chances.

Dolly has lived and wrestled with the soul care practices and questions she writes about in 7 Days of Soul Care: A Guide to Letting God Do the Extraordinary with Your Ordinary. In 1999, she asked God to show her how he created and designed her. She wearied of trying to fit her circle in the square expectation of certain key people. God led her on a surprising journey of self-discovery and a deeper experience of his love through some valley lows, mountain highs, and the mundane daily. In short, God led her into darkness, shadow, rays of light, and eventually to greater light. Because of her experiences, she believes in the power of God’s love and presence to transform and redeem brokenness into unexpected beauty.

Since late December 2010, she has blogged at Soulstops.com where she invites readers to stop and connect with God. She has also written for online venues, such as Tweetspeak Poetry, Deeper Waters Ministry, The Mudroom, the Jumping Tandem Retreat blog, and had her poem, “Laundry,” published on The Curator. Since fall 2015, she has attended Fuller Seminary. She has also participated in Peninsula Bible Church’s two-year intern program and the St. Ignatian Spiritual Exercises through the Contemplative Center of Silicon Valley.

She has been married for twenty-five years to her best friend/husband. They have one daughter (a grace gift), who keeps them on their toes with her questions, and one demanding but lovable dog. A lifelong Californian, she enjoys hiking, reading, and sharing meals with family and friends.

Her goal is to collect enough in royalties from the sale of her book, 7 Days of Soul Care, to donate $500 to the work of International Justice Mission.

Q&A with Dolly Lee

Get to know Dolly a little more with a few Q&A’s:

What is your book’s big idea?
Dolly Lee:
We let God do the extraordinary with our ordinary when we connect with God in our everyday moments—whether marvelous or mundane. And our connection with God grows when we can trust and believe God’s unconditional love for us. And our belief in God’s love allows us to be exceptional (which I define as connecting with God to be our best as God created).

I believe “each person’s best has a distinct and unique worth” in God’s eyes. Being your best, as I define it, is not about comparison and competition.

For example, I greatly admire and respect Ann Voskamp and I saw 700+ people signed up to launch her latest book, The Broken Way. I prayed for many to read her book because I believe in its message. I’ve lived it, and I’ve been privileged to know people who live it and continue to do so.

God asks me to be faithful with my best and so I am and I don’t let competition or comparison derail me. Though I admit, the enemy of my soul did tempt me to give up. But God’s love and grace (and friends) picked me up and told me to keep walking—one step at a time.

What are three reasons someone should buy your book?
Dolly Lee:

  1. They help IJM rescue more victims of human trafficking because my goal is to raise $500 for IJM via royalties.
  2. A reader can get some of the benefits of what I learned: a) from counseling (without paying for it), b) from God as I wrestled in prayer over deep heart issues, and c) from wiser spiritual leaders.
  3. If the book’s message resonates with them: connecting with our extraordinary God transforms us so we can be exceptional in our ordinary life.

Why did you decide to raise $500 for International Justice Mission with royalties from your book?
Dolly Lee:
Two reasons.

  1. I can’t grow a beard. Last year, IJM’s newsletter shared how a guy shaved half of his beard to raise money and awareness of IJM’s human trafficking rescue and restoration work. I prayed: “What can I do to help besides donating money (which we do)”? I don’t have a beard or any hair I want to cut in a dramatic way.
  2. Our church had an IJM Freedom Sunday when I was finishing my book and the thought came: why don’t you donate royalties? $500 is a God-sized goal for a small blogger like me. God can do more if he chooses, but for me, this is another big step of faith beyond publishing and writing this book. God keeps reminding me: my role is to trust and obey and not to worry about results. I keep asking God for the grace to trust and to keep moving forward.

Find out more about 7 Days of Soul Care!

7daysofsoulcare_cover_20161006-1-e1476394936339

God_s love sets me free from the chains of letting fear of others control me.(1).png

Advertisements

Do It Again, Lord! (Guest Post by Cynthia Hyle Bezek)

I am delighted to host Cynthia Hyle Bezek as today’s guest writer! Cynthia’s greatest passion and privilege is to help ordinary men and women connect with an extraordinary God through prayer. Leading people into satisfying, two-way, relational, personal conversation with God is the aim of whatever she does, whether as an author, editor, prayer leader, speaker, teacher, mentor, or prayer retreat leader. The following is reprinted with permission from Let’s Talk: Deepening Your Relationship with God Through Prayer.

Desert Sunrise I

Do It Again, Lord!

by Cynthia Hyle Bezek

Sometimes I get annoyed with Bible people. Like this morning. I was reading in Exodus and getting really excited about God. He parted the Red Sea for the Israelites—incredible to imagine! And then when the Egyptian army tried to follow, the waters crashed down on them and they all were destroyed. What an amazing rescue!

Is it any wonder the people rejoiced and worshiped? Moses led them in a song of praise to the Lord. And then his sister, Miriam, led all the women in a joyful dance before the Lord. As I read, the people’s joy nearly vibrated off the pages.

“I will sing to the Lord. He has won a glorious victory!”

“The Lord is my strength and my song. He is my Savior. This is my God, and I will praise him, I will honor him!”

“O Lord, who is like you? You are glorious because of your holiness and awe-inspiring because of your splendor. You perform miracles!”

“Lovingly, you will lead the people you have saved. Powerfully, you will guide them to your holy dwelling. The Lord will rule as king forever and ever!”

(excerpted from Exodus 15, God’s Word translation)

But a mere two verses later, I got pretty upset with the whole lot of them. For Pete’s sake, they act as if God had died! True, they’d traveled for three days in the desert without water. That’s a problem. But instead of asking God for help, they griped about Moses. Instead of trusting God to provide for them as He had done not even 72 hours earlier, they whined: “What are we supposed to drink?” (verse 24).

I paused from my Bible reading. “I cannot believe these people!” I said out loud.

Really? a Still Small Voice asked in reply.

I realized I’d been busted. The Holy Spirit was gently pointing out how much I have in common with the Israelites. Immediately I thought about a situation that I’m struggling with. It’s a genuine problem, no less real than the Israelite’s need for water. And I am utterly incapable of solving this problem. If I think about it very long—like more than about three seconds—I am very likely to gripe and whine, just like the Israelites did.

The irony is, like the Israelites, I have also experienced God’s deliverance in desperate situations. I can name at least three examples of God’s loving intervention, working things out in ways I never would have imagined, and never could have orchestrated on my own.

Still, I forget. The new crisis looms in front of me, and I forget the victory song I’d sung just a few days earlier. Or I doubt. Sure, God delivered me before, but who says He’ll do it again this time?

Either way, my responses are not pretty.

God, I don’t want to be like the Israelites, I told Him this morning. You have delivered me wonderfully before. You have walked through fires and floods with me on other occasions. You have never abandoned me. You have never failed me. I am sorry I forget. I am sorry I doubt. Please help me to remember Your deliverance. And please deliver me again.

It’s a full 15 hours later, and God has not answered my prayer yet. He has not led me to water as quickly as He did the Israelites in Exodus 15. I’m still waiting for His deliverance. But however long I have to wait, I want to do it with faith, not doubt. I want to hope in the Lord. I want to trust that He will help me—as He promises always to do when I call on Him. So that has been my prayer throughout today, and probably will be for days to come: Help me to remember, Lord—and please, please do it again!

Looking back

Photo credit (bottom photo): Susanne Nilsson via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo credit (top photo): TLV and more via Flickr Creative Commons

Guest Post for Jean Fleming: Two Aromas

I used to think being a sweet fragrance for Christ meant directing that fragrance to others—living so that people will like me, even if that meant conforming my personality to theirs.

But in my thinking, the direction of the aroma was all wrong. Being a sweet aroma does not mean being a people-pleaser. We are a fragrance of Christ to God …

aroma2

***

I’m delighted and honored to be a guest writer for Jean Fleming: Live the Mystery. Click through to read the entire article, Two Aromas (and get a peek into my Bible-reading journal, including some drawings and doodles like the ones I wrote about in Behold the Beauty, chapter 4).

Bible Out Loud

Storytime

Ever since our firstborn’s first day home from the hospital, we’ve been reading out loud to our sons every night. The book we chose to inaugurate this ritual? Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott.

Not your typical bedtime read-aloud book, but for a one-day-old, we figured it was okay. Our main goal was to establish the daily routine early.

Besides, we ourselves wanted to read Ivanhoe. Also, the newborn began to learn and recognize the sound of his parents telling him a story.

After Ivanhoe, we switched to board books and picture books—Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon, Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Sandra Boynton’s Moo, Baa, La La La!

Rich & Sabina - storytime

We read them slowly, savoring the words and illustrations. We read them so many times that, even now, I can recite them by memory and tell you when to turn the page: “In the great green room / There was a telephone / And a red balloon / And a picture of— [turn page] the cow jumping over the moon.”

Before my second son started walking, he used to crawl to me, dragging a book in one hand. I remember sitting on the floor (as I often do) with my back against the bookshelves, watching him bring me another Sandra Boynton. Here he comes.

As he crawled into my cross-legged lap, I resolved to stay put and read the book to him no matter how many times he asked.

So when I turned the last page and he said, “Again?” I read it again.

And again.

Through every iteration, I made sure to still read it slowly and enjoy the story. No rushing.

slowly

We read that book seven times in a row before he crawled out of my lap. I stayed, waiting to see if he would ask for the eighth.

Of course, we adjusted as our sons grew older. Five or ten minutes of bedtime reading turned into half an hour or more. On weekly library trips, we took home Frog and Toad (Arnold Lobel), Poppleton (Cynthia Rylant), and colorful, well-mannered dinosaurs (Jane Yolen).

Deep and thoughtful discussions became part of bedtime reading as we read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Count of Monte Cristo (all unabridged). Currently, my husband is reading Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper to our nine-year-old, and I’m reading Shelby Foote’s The Civil War (Volume I) to the older two boys.

The initial intent stuck: we established a habit of reading every night, fifteen years and counting. The fun ritual that started with a one-day-old who slept through most of Ivanhoe has become part of our routine, part of our relationship.

Hear the Bible Out Loud

When was the last time someone read aloud to you? When did you recently sit down for nothing but the joy of hearing good words artfully woven together?

sheersound

How to Listen to Bible Gateway’s Audio Bibles

1. Go to BibleGateway.com, hover over the “Bible” tab in the upper left, and click on “Audio Bibles.”

audiobible1

2. Choose your preferred audio version. (For a special treat, try one of the versions “by Dramatized”!)

audiobible2

3. Choose the book of the Bible . . .

audiobible3

4. . . . and the chapter.

audiobible4

5. Press play, and hear the story!

audiobible5

Consider it a treat. Someone is reading aloud to you. Like the child who asked for the same book seven times in a row, savor the story and hear it as many times as you want by pressing “play” again and again.

Related:

Did you know about International Day of the Bible on November 23, 2015? Check it out.

***
A portion of the above is excerpted from Behold the Beauty: An Invitation to Bible Reading. For more details, including quotes and the book trailer, visit the book’s web page.

A portion of the above first appeared in one of my articles for Charity Singleton Craig’s How to Bring Words to Life Column, 5 Reasons to Go to Storytime (even if you don’t have children).

***

Photo credits:

Elliot Margolies, via Flickr Creative Commons

Alexander N, via Flickr Creative Commons

For quote image: denise carrasco, via Flickr Creative Commons

Book Review: Safe, by Jill Case Brown

safecover

I crave fiction. A good novel makes an internal connection with me and gives me characters I care about. A good novel gives me phrases or single words so delightful that I smile on the spot. A good novel gives me a story I can live in and live through. Safe satisfies this craving.

Jill Case Brown textures this story with details, then brings those details back around in a way that anchors the characters while giving the story momentum. (Wait till you see the different ways “WD-40” comes up.) She builds a suspense around the characters that makes me want to skip to the end and see how these people and their relationships turn out. But at the same time, a delightful phrase makes me want to linger on a page and read that part again.

The relationships in Safe draw from me a depth of response that carries over to my own relationships. They remind me to do the hard work of leaning into instead of backing away from relational conflict (“Hearing the first stir in his voice, I braced myself. . . . I wanted to back away from it. Instead, I made myself go over and sit on the sofa across from him.”). They remind me to listen (“Fork in hand, she considered. One of the things I liked about my mom was how seriously she took what other people asked or said.”). They remind me of myself (“Then, one after another, in a sort of mental stutter, the details came clear.”). The person I was at page one was not the person I grew into by the last page.

Safe takes me into an unknown wilderness—then invites me to see if there might be some way to navigate through the desert to find an oasis or two. Author Flannery O’Connor said, “Fiction is about everything human and we are made out of dust, and if you scorn getting yourself dusty, then you shouldn’t write fiction.” The book Safe isn’t afraid to get dusty, but it shows the reader how beauty can come from ashes and hope can be found in the wilderness.

Two Book-Review/Book-Response Songs

The created world—a gift to mortals—is fertile ground for playful, daring hearts. And I’ve only really begun to let my inner adventurer enjoy it, so that I might live life more fully, more courageously. . . .

If you scroll back through your life, you might find that your fear of disapproval has blocked your playfulness. Maybe it’s because you’ve felt the sting of rejection and self-doubt too many times.

If you’re not careful, you could stop trying anything that seems scary or dangerous—little things, like playing the French horn, or momentous things, like being a parent. The perfectionists’s mantra is this: If you can’t do it right the first time, don’t do it at all. Let your new mantra be this: Do it anyway, even if you fall.

– Jennifer Dukes Lee, Love Idol (188, 189-190)

The best part about trying something new is the stretching and learning that inevitably happen. Songwriting, for example. I have no formal music education, but several years ago I had this crazy idea to try writing a song.

Ann Kroeker has written “book responses” instead of “book reviews.” (Here’s one of Ann’s book responses.) Since my two most recent songs were based on books, I think songwriting might be one way I respond to a good book. The song helps me receive, remember, and respond to the book’s message. So each song you see below is a book review/response of sorts. Each song was also intended as a gift to the book’s author.

And when I finish a song based on a book, it means I can sing the book!

Thanks to free music-notation software (like LilyPond and MuseScore), I can make lead sheets of the songs I write. Find the links below to download these, if you’d like to sing along with me. (Please do!)

Most of all, I encourage you to read these two books. You’ll find sample chapters at their Amazon.com listings.

1. “Already Loved” (based on the book Love Idol, by Jennifer Dukes Lee)

already-loved2

Ever since Jennifer wrote this blog post about singing your prayers, I’ve carried a mental connection between her and the band Third Day. So after I read Jennifer’s book Love Idol (Tyndale, 2014), I wrote a Third-Day-copycat song called “Already Loved.” Be sure to sing it in your best Mac Powell voice!

Click here to download the “Already Loved” lead sheet.

2. “It’s Never Too Soon” (based on the book Pursue the Intentional Life, by Jean Fleming)

I sang “It’s Never Too Soon” with fifty other women at a retreat where Jean Fleming was the speaker. We were in beautiful Estes Park, Colorado. What a memorable weekend.

The song “It’s Never Too Soon” is based on the book Pursue the Intentional Life (NavPress, 2013).

Click here to download the “It’s Never Too Soon” lead sheet.

To listen to an audio recording of “It’s Never Too Soon,” please leave a comment below, and I can e-mail the audio file to you.

And if you are a songwriter, I would welcome your feedback. I appreciate learning from people who know what they’re doing!

FYI: Editing Page and Book Giveaway

Just a couple of things I wanted to share with you:

1. I have a new editing page.

Monica Sharman Editing

Unless you’ve read my Twitter or Google+ profiles, you may be unaware that I’m a freelance editor. Click over to Monica Sharman Editing to learn more. Tia Smith and David Rupert were kind enough to write recommendations.

2. I’m privileged to be a guest at Dolly Lee’s SoulStops.com today. She and I are hosting a book giveaway you won’t want to miss. Here’s what one reader said about the giveaway book and its author:

“She writes my heart thoughts, puts words to the deep wrestlings of my soul.”
–Becky

Come over and participate in the giveaway!

Foreword to Jean Fleming’s Pursue the Intentional Life

Jean Fleming's Pursue the Intentional LifeBelow is the foreword I wrote for Jean Fleming’s new book, Pursue the Intentional Life. (More details below.)

***UPDATE*** Amazon.com now gives a “Look Inside” preview. The preview includes the foreword, chapter 1, and even part of chapter 2. Read it here!

It is early March in Colorado when I meet with Jean Fleming for the first time. We’re sitting at Backstreet Bagels near First and Townsend. She sketches a tree on a paper napkin, putting heart-shaped leaves on the branches and writing “CHRIST” down the trunk. I know this tree; it’s the one she wrote about in chapter 3 of Between Walden and the Whirlwind. This is our first face-to-face meeting, but I first met Jean through Continue reading

Walking in Red

We were backpacking in September, so I should have expected it. Everything was dead or dying. Branches wilted and drooped. It was fall.

browning grass

drooping branch

dead flower

dead queen anne's lace

“Can you imagine what this place looked like a month or two ago?” I asked, taking uphill steps in my hiking boots with a pack on my back weighing fifteen percent of my weight.

“Yeah, full of wildflowers,” Charles said. I pictured what the scene must have been in mid-summer — the whole field vibrant with wildflower glory. But now, in September, only withering and wilting sorrow. Because of the fall, everything was dying.

We hiked for three and a half hours — plenty of time for my mind to do its destructive kind of wandering. I wondered, as I do now and then, if I was really being useful to God on this earth. I remembered when I asked a dumb question at work (over a decade ago!) and the other two engineers looked at each other, silent and smirking and obviously thinking, “She doesn’t even know that?” I dwelt on that friendship I had lost, and the other one. I replayed scenes at home with the children, remembering the graceless, yelling voice I had used with them. I thought of all the lacks and failures I exhibited as a wife and mother. I thought of the cruelty I had shown to a friend.

Then, in the midst of remembering sin and its effects, I remembered where I was: the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Sangre de Cristo — the Blood of Christ. God in His love had spoken to me. Child, you are walking in the blood of Christ.

I was walking in the blood of Christ, the blood that still flows over wounds to heal them, over sins to cleanse them.

When I remembered where I was, I saw that everything was red, or reddening. Creation bleeds before it dies, like Christ the Creator who also bled and died.

reddening leaf

red leaves

red buds

red branch

red leaf

red lichen

red rocks at upper lake

The wilderness itself, the mountains on which I trod, the leaves and branches and rocks, reminded me: I am forgiven. Jesus died for me. I am cleansed. I am walking in the blood of Christ — estoy caminando en el Sangre de Cristo.

I saw the shocking beauty around me — September beauty. The dying things were beautiful, too, there in the blood of Christ.

I spent no more time during that three-day backpack dwelling on sins, on failures, on pains inflicted and received. I saw the red everywhere, and I walked in redeemed joy.

And on top of that, the fishing was great.

Charles fishing at Goodwin Lakes