Book Giveaway: Love Never Fails

Just in time for a Mother’s Day gift.

Just in time for love that’s in need of encouragement.

Whatever reason you need to reach for a new book to bless your spirit: Love Never Fails: A Journal to be Inspired by the Power of Love.

Love-Never-FailsAs I wrote in an earlier book review, Love Never Fails is a touchstone of love to hold fast in a landslide of fear; a stimulus toward generosity amidst the temptation of selfishness; a reminder to be faithfully diligent in the work the changes the world: listening, caring, connecting.

Give yourself (or someone you know) the gift of this beautiful book! To enter this week’s drawing for a free copy of Love Never Fails, simply drop me an email with the subject “Love Never Fails.”

All submitted names will be placed in a hat for a random drawing at 5:00pm eastern on Sunday, May 14. I’ll contact the winner for a mailing address to send the free copy of Love Never Fails. None of the email addresses received as a result of folks entering the book giveaway will be shared, and you won’t receive unsolicited emails from me after the giveaway has ended.

So take a chance that you might be inspired to greater love-filled living, and send me an email to enter the drawing!

Deliberate Acts of Kindness

Meredith Gould’s writing and wit — combined with her overall brilliance — produce books that are relevant, purposeful and compelling, including the newly-updated and re-released Deliberate Acts of Kindness: A Field Guide to Service as a Spiritual Practice.

deliberate-acts-of-kindnessBeautiful to hold and easy* to put into action, Deliberate Acts of Kindness is a resource for such a time as this, equipping a new generation of socially-conscious-and-eager-to-change-the-world folks with discernment tools for spiritual grounding & a hearty dose of wisdom for guarding against burn-out.

For those who have already burned out once (or twice or thrice) in their commitment to serve others, Deliberate Acts of Kindness offers a knowing head tilt and a friendly raised eyebrow to encourage deeper, more honest self-examination about one’s engagement in service:

“How will you know your call to service is … not merely something your ego deeply desires?”
(DAK 21)

“Got trust issues? These may need attention…”
(DAK 19)

And this reality check:

“You’ll need to learn how to deal with the jerks, scoundrels, incompetents, and frauds you encounter along the way.”
(DAK 74)

Personal testimony: As someone in a helping profession (hello, ministry) my copy of Deliberate Acts of Kindness is highlighted, margin-scribbled and dog-eared every time Gould prods — I mean, prompts — my self-candor and clarity. Which pretty much means that every page of DAK is marked up.

Cover to cover, Deliberate Acts of Kindness provides concrete guidance and frames important questions for engaging service as a practice of faith: starting with the whys that compel kindness (Chapter 1), attending to the Spirit of discernment (Chapter 2), scoping out opportunities and ideas for kindness-in-action (Chapter 3), emphasizing the importance of serving well (Chapter 4), and preparing for inevitable disappointments and disillusionments (Chapter 5).

In addition to Gould’s own wisdom, especially useful throughout Deliberate Acts of Kindness is the wisdom she invites each reader to find on their own through contemplative writing exercises. I’m a great believer in the pen’s honesty: when we don’t write for perfection or worry about words, writing or journaling often has the result of putting truth on paper before our brains have the opportunity to reconsider it.

The writing exercises, assorted prayers and sayings from varied wisdom traditions, and Meredith Gould’s practical expertise make Deliberate Acts of Kindness a rich resource for volunteer veterans and humanitarian hopefuls alike — not just to be read once, but to be returned to again and again.

Deliberate Acts of Kindness is a book well worth your time and practice, for the sake of a more equitable, more kind world.

Bonus tips:

  • When reading a book by Meredith Gould, always read the endnotes. Seriously. Always.
  • Consider treating Deliberate Acts of Kindness as a devotional tool, not just a practical guide. When you find a quotation or question that resonates with you, hold onto it, take your time with it, meditate over it. Your spiritual groundedness for service will benefit your works of kindness.
  • Don’t assume that Deliberate Acts of Kindness is only a book about helping others. Chapter 4 is basically a guide for interacting with any human system/relationship (familial, professional, religious, romantic), demonstrated through the lens of service organizations. If people are driving you up a wall, whether generally or specifically, take a deep breath and read DAK. See also: adulting.
  • In addition to recommending Deliberate Acts of Kindness for your personal involvement in goodwill, I highly recommend DAK for those considering a profession in service. For example, my current job relates to folks who seek to become ministers, who are ministers, and (sometimes) who need to no longer be ministers. I would gladly put DAK into the hands of many a candidate & minister and require its study (along with therapy) for the work of collective discernment.

*If we call soul-searching, gifts-testing, energy-draining, pouring-life-into-love, burning-out, soul-reexamining, compassion-into-action-converting, giving-a-damn, and praying-to-God-to-save-the-world-from-itself work “easy.”

P.S. Meredith, I might totally steal/borrow/use “ad majorem Dei gloriam” (to the greater glory of God) with my next book, because it’s true, because it’s beautiful, and because I’m not adept enough with Latin to have thought of it myself. Thank you for your commitment to a more just & generous world.

Book Giveaway: Sacred Pause

Dear clergy colleagues,

Congratulations, you made it through the Lenten marathon and across the Easter finish line!

Thank you for the many ways in which you led and journeyed alongside others through this sacred season: in congregations and on blogs, in hospitals and on campuses, by protesting and by preaching, in coffee shop presence and in the quiet of your own heart. Thank you for your faithful attention to the experiences of life & death & renewal in scripture and the world.

In gratitude and as a gift for your own renewal in bearing the Word Made Flesh into the world, I’m delighted to announce a drawing for the free giveaway of a signed copy of my book Sacred Pause: A Creative Retreat for the Word-Weary Christian! If you’ve not yet perused its pages, Sacred Pause is a book that will surprise your spirit and encourage your faith, a book that RevGalBlogPals’ reviewer said “will change your life. Not might. Not could. Not may. Will. Change. Your. Life.”

So if you’re a minister, drop me a message with the subject “Sacred Pause Giveaway” and tell me your name & place of ministry. If you’re not a minister but there’s a minister in your life you’d like to gift Sacred Pause to, send me a message with the same subject and tell me your name as well as the name & place of ministry of the minister who you hope might receive this book.

sacred-pauseAll submitted names will be placed in a hat for a random drawing at 5:00pm eastern on Sunday, April 23. I’ll contact the winner for a mailing address to send the free signed copy of Sacred Pause.

Send me an email to enter!

(None of the email addresses received as a result of folks entering the book giveaway will be shared, and you won’t receive unsolicited emails from me after the giveaway has ended.)

Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe

swim-ride-run-breatheThe first thing worth saying is that I should apologize to my friend for taking two years to read her book.

The second thing worth saying is that Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe: How I Lost a Triathlon and Caught My Breath is beautiful and quirky and encouraging, and I love it even though I can never remember the order of verbs in its title.

Because I know author Jennifer Brownell personally, on every page I hear her voice chatting and interweaving stories from her childhood and adulthood, from church to pool to hospital. And to my reader’s ear, she laughs easily through the stories as she does in real life, highlighting the odd and the comical in order to soften the impact of the book’s honesty about fear: childhood fears and adulting fears, fears of real life-and-death matters, fears and challenges of flesh, like the work of living in a body and the work of loving another body.

It’s the honesty that makes Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe so accessible and endearing and comforting, like sitting with a girlfriend over coffee and swapping troubles to remind one another that you’re not alone. (Although since we’re friends already, the next time Jennifer and I sit together over coffee we’ll need to talk first about our shared love of Free to Be You and Me and try to recite “Boy Meets Girl” together … and then we can discuss the deeper topic of incarnation.)

Because, like any good book, Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe is about more than it says it’s about, and Brownell’s book isn’t so much a memoir about a triathlon as it is a memoir about incarnate grace — of mercy and delight through (and sometimes despite) the flesh.

It’s not a hero’s story. It’s not a memoir of exceptionalism. It’s a tale of faith that acknowledges — without snark or animosity — life’s hardships and fears but still attests that love remains.

And that’s the most important part: that love remains.

Thank you, Jennifer, for this beautiful reminder and for putting to paper how you caught your breath.

Love Never Fails

Love-Never-FailsTime and time again, I am blessed to know the good people and the beautiful work of Paraclete Press. Most recently, I am moved by the thoughtfulness of word and art in Paraclete’s new book, Love Never Fails: A Journal to be Inspired by the Power of Love by Hilda St. Clair.

Love Never Fails is a creative book for such a time as this: a touchstone of love to hold fast in a landslide of fear; a stimulus toward generosity amidst an inundation of selfishness; a reminder to be faithful in the ways that change the world: listening, caring, connecting.

With compelling quotations, gentle prompts, and blank space for writing, drawing & coloring, Love Never Fails is a visually-engaging invitation to reflection …

love-never-fails-baldwin… and not just inward reflection, but outward engagement: living with love in the world, working for reconciliation in relationships, stepping across misjudgment to understanding, breaking open a spirit of gratitude.

Or at least, that’s what Love Never Fails does for me when I read it. And, having read it once, I’m planning to engage it more thoroughly a second time by making Love Never Fails my daily journal for Lent.

I encourage you to do the same — whether for Lent or not, if you find yourself discouraged for lack of love in the world or overwhelmed for a place to start, let Love Never Fails bolster your spirit and inspire you to greater love-filled living.