Almost exactly a year ago, on January 4th, 2016, I received an invitation to contribute a chapter for the first ever book project published by (in)courage.

I had no idea who else would be contributing or how it would all come together in the end. All I knew was the title — Craving Connection: 30 Challenges for Real Life Engagement.

 

Craving Connection

 

Since I love (in)courage and I love writing, it was an easy “yes.”

I lifted up a feeble prayer that God would use whatever words He laid on my heart to bless at least one person. Twelve months ago, when I agreed to be part of this project, I had no idea how much God would bless me through the process.

When I received an advance copy in the mail and started to read the pages, I was astounded by how well all thirty voices came together with such harmony.

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We write about God. We write about friends. We write about community.

Most of all, we write about our craving for connection in this world as we seek to live according to God’s calling in our lives.

As the book’s website asks,

“How could your life be different after prayerfully and intentionally connecting with God, friends, and your community?

Craving Connection is a journey where (in)courage writers share real-life stories, practical Scripture application, and connection challenges that will encourage you to find out!

We all long for meaningful relationships, the Colossians 3:14 kind that fulfill our desire for unity and connection with God, our friends, and our community. But where do we start?

The (in)courage community invites you to grab a cup of coffee, pull a chair up to the table, and commit to creatively and prayerfully fulfilling your cravings for connection.”

 

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I’m so grateful for the opportunity I had to share a few words in this collection, and for all those who have worked so hard behind the scenes to make it happen.

My prayer is that you will be encouraged and challenged by the stories shared in this book, and that you will find the connection you crave in the One who made you in His image.

 

Order your copy here

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

One of my favorite things to do online is celebrate with authors on the release of new books — and I love recommending great books to you!

 

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This month, we have lots of reasons to celebrate! As I scrolled through the following list, I realized I’ve had the privilege of meeting four of these authors in person — what a gift!

Affiliate links used below. Click the titles to learn more about each book on Amazon!

 

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Today is launch day for Asheritah Ciuciu’s new book, Full: Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction.

If you’ve ever battled with food fixation or struggled with finding your satisfaction in something other than Jesus, this book is for you. In this book, Asheritah helps us refocus on the one thing that can truly satisfy our deepest longings — Jesus Christ. If you’re starting the new year with a desire to hunger more after God, grab a copy here. Learn more at www.thefull.life

Full Book Asheritah

 

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Today is also release day for the sweet Kelly Balarie’s new book, Fighting Fear: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears.

I doubt I know anyone who hasn’t battled with fear at some point in life — in fact, Kathie Lee Gifford even featured Fear Fighting on the Today Show as one of her favorite things!

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While we rang in the new year, Dorothy Greco released her book into the world: Making Marriage Beautiful: Lifelong Love, Joy, and Intimacy Start with You.

Let me just tell you — I’ve read a lot of marriage books in my day. Some people may ask why we need another one. Dorothy actually answers that question in one of her blog posts. Personally, I was pleasantly surprised by Dorothy’s offering and found her words and perspective to be both fresh and thorough. She makes an effort to provide a diversity of voices in the couples she interviewed, and openly shares the wisdom she has gleaned from twenty-five years of marriage. Her obvious dependence on God as the agent of change is a great reason to invest in this book.

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I can’t think of a better person to write about enjoying God’s good gifts than the delightful Trillia Newbell. I had the pleasure of meeting Trillia at our Five Minute Friday retreat and she is an absolute gem. Her new book, Enjoy: Finding the Freedom to Delight Daily in God’s Good Gifts is now available and is well worth your time.

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I’m excited to dig into this new Bible study from the dear Cindy Bultema on the book of 1 Corinthians. Cindy is full of energy and love for the Lord, and she is passionate about teaching and applying God’s Word. If you’re looking for a new Bible study either for yourself or for a group, check out Live Full, Live Free: Set Apart in a Sin-Soaked World.

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On January 10th, Craving Connection: 30 Challenges for Real Life Engagement will be launched into the world! Besides the fact that I contributed a chapter, I really think you’re going to enjoy and be challenged by it. 🙂 Learn more about the book and all 30 contributors at: www.cravingconnectionbook.com

That’s it! Which new books are you looking forward to reading soon?

Hard to believe we’ve reached the end of another year, hey?

I didn’t read nearly as many books in 2016 as I anticipated or hoped — largely because I took on a number of editing projects this past year. In most of my “free” evening hours, I was editing manuscripts that other self-published authors had written.

Here are the books I did manage to read, as well as the ones I’m currently busy reading, a few books on my TBR list, and links to the books I read in 2014 and 2015.

 

Books I Read in 2016

 

Click each title below to read more about the books on Amazon (affiliate links used):

 

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick

Books I read in 2016

I read this one to see if it was okay for my kids, and the verdict was “Yes.” I enjoyed both the storyline and the pictures and would recommend it as a middle grade reader.

 

God King, by Joanne Williamson

Books I Read in 2016

This was a captivating, well-written story that I read aloud to my kids as part of our homeschooling curriculum. It kept my attention as well as that of all three of my children.

 

The Golden Goblet, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

The Golden Goblet is among my top three favorite homeschooling books I’ve ever read aloud to my kids. We read it as part of the sixth grade Sonlight curriculum, and it was fabulous.

 

Roots & Sky, by Christie Purifoy

I savored every page of this gem by Christie Purifoy. The writing is stunning and made me want to read small chunks at a time to contemplate and digest the beauty.

 

InSomnus, by Molly Fennig

I had the privilege of reading an advance copy of this debut novel. You’d never tell from the reading, but the author was just 17 years old at the time of writing! Incredible. A compelling YA sci-fi read.

 

Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat, compiled by Susan Shipe

This project is dear to my heart because of its many contributors. We have more than 150 writers who bravely shared words in this collection. Its diversity speaks to the heart of the Five Minute Friday community, and to the heart of our God.

 

Waves of Mercy, by Lynn Austin

This was such a fun read, not only because it is set in my home town of Holland, Michigan, but also because I got to meet and interview the author in her home! Definitely a highlight and milestone in my writing career.

 

Craving Connection: 30 Challenges for Real Life Engagement, a collection from (in)courage

It was my pleasure to contribute a chapter to this book. I’m so excited for its January 10th release. I truly believe this collection is going to bless (and challenge) many. Learn more about the book and all 30 contributors at: www.cravingconnectionbook.com

 

Come, Lord Jesus: The Weight of Waiting, by Kris Camealy

Our family read through this Advent devotional by Kris Camealy this December, and it is a winner. Even my husband, who is the first to admit that he is quite picky and easy to please when it comes to Christmas or Advent books, said it was very well done — both from a writing and a theological perspective. Grab a copy now for next December.

 

New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional, by Paul Tripp

My husband gave me this book for Christmas last year, and it was such an encouragement to me during this past year. It seemed that more often than not, God used Paul David Tripp’s words to speak directly to my heart. If you’re looking for a new devotional for 2017, this would be a great option.

 

Books I’m busy reading:

Making Marriage Beautiful: Lifelong Love, Joy, and Intimacy Start with You, by Dorothy Greco

Enjoy: Finding the Freedom to Delight Daily in God’s Good Gifts, by Trillia Newbell

 

Full: Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction, by Asheritah Ciuciu

Full Book Asheritah

Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel, by Russell Moore

Books on my To Be Read List (including many more!):

The Happiness Dare: Pursuing Your Heart’s Deepest, Holiest, and Most Vulnerable Desire, by Jennifer Dukes Lee

A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl, by Susie Finkbeiner

Fighting Fear: Awakening Courage to Overcome Fear, by Kelly Balarie

 

… And here are the Books I Read in 2015 and My Top 14 Books of 2014.

 

What about you? What books did you read in 2016? Which were your favorites?

Share in the comments, or by linking up your own post via the InLinkz button below!

 

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It can happen to all of us.

Despite our best intentions, we can get sucked into the commercial rush of the holiday season, and before we know it, December’s gone. We blink, and we miss it.

This year, let’s determine a different way.

Let’s pause before the month even begins, and take intentional steps to slow down.

Let’s get ourselves ready to notice and enjoy the true reason for the season.

As I compiled this post, I realized there are so many amazing books available!

In this post, I’ll share about the following:

 

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Firstly, my dear friend, Asheritah Ciuciu has a beautiful, helpful devotional called Unwrapping the Names of Jesus

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This book promises to help you “rediscover the beauty of the greatest gift of all by unwrapping His Names one at a time.”

 

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 unwrapping names of jesus

And then there’s Ann Voskamp’s gorgeous family Advent devotional, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.

 

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Read my review here, then order a copy for your own family by clicking here. You won’t regret it!

These gorgeous ornament sets complement Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. Each ornament corresponds to a daily reading.

They come in an embossed, die-cut paper version, as well as a sculpted ceramic version. I was blessed to receive a set of the sculpted ornaments last year, and they are stunning.

STARTING TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 22ND, USE CODE FRIDAY16 TO GET 30% OFF YOUR DAYSPRING ORDER FOR BLACK FRIDAY!

 

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I also love Ann’s book, The Greatest Gift. It follows a very similar format to the family version shown above, but is geared more toward an adult audience.

 

My friend Trillia Newbell has a new book coming out soon, called Enjoy.

Right now, when you pre-order Enjoy, you will receive a free Advent devotional written by Trillia. To learn more about Enjoy and this giveaway, visit Trillia’s website.

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The dear Kris Camealy recently released a book called Come, Lord Jesus:

 

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AND … Christina Hubbard from Creative and Free is hosting an Advent Book Club based on this book, beginning November 27th! So order now and join the club!

 

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Finally, the delightful Anna Rendell is offering 25 devotions for time-strapped Moms in her book, A Moment of Christmas.

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The description on Amazon says, “This book is for the woman who craves a less crazed-feeling Christmas, who longs for a season that is intentional and full of joy. Including 25 devotions, each of them guilt-free, inspiring, and able to be read in 10 minutes or less! As you prepare your heart for Christmas by reading through these pages, you’ll be inspired to drop the pursuit of perfection and chase holy.” Sounds amazing, hey?

 

Don’t let this December pass you by.

Get your hands on some of these resources, then schedule a bit of time each day to dwell in God’s presence.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting this site!

In Part 1 of this interview series with Christian historical fiction author Lynn Austin, I shared about my surreal experience visiting one of my favorite authors in her home to interview her about her latest book, Waves of Mercy.

What I didn’t share in that first post was the remarkable impact that Lynn’s words and demeanor had on my own writing life.

 

Lynn Austin

 

If you missed the video from Part 1, you can watch it here:

 

 

Sitting in her living room, I absorbed her every word and folded her advice and encouragement into the fabric of my mind. Two days after our 90 minutes together, I had the pleasure of listening to Lynn deliver two keynote addresses at a Christian writers’ conference. I gleaned further wisdom during those hours and took copious notes to share with you here, in hopes that you’ll be similarly blessed.

Let me start with the writer mamas out there who are trying to write with little ones underfoot. Here are some nuggets of wisdom from Lynn:

“Don’t wait for perfect conditions; they’ll never come. Just put your computer in the middle of the table and learn to do it. Give your kids enough attention so that your writing life is not a competition and they’ll be much more accepting. Involve them in the process; talk to them about your writing. For a long time, my workspace was right in the middle of everything. Just do it; don’t wait. Be creative with your time — take materials with you in the car, think about your manuscript while you’re at the park. I’ve developed dialogue for my characters and had full conversations in my head while pushing my kids on the swings at the playground. Just take what you have and do what you need to do.”

Q: What encouragement would you give to the writer who has experienced repeated setbacks in the writing life?

Lynn: “I’m answering after learning the hard way. I did quit. After years of rejections before my first book was published, I quit. I took a teaching job and was miserable. But God steered me back. Sometimes you just have to go through it, and maybe you need to learn the hard way. If you have a calling from God, He’s going to bring you back. 

“A successful writer isn’t the person who is published—it’s person who keeps writing.” ~@LynnNAustin

 

 

It’s easy to say to writers, ‘Don’t quit.’ But each writer needs to have his or her own wrestling match with God regarding the question, ‘Am I called or not?’ Once that answer has been given, the next step is learning to depend and trust God for how He’s going to use our writing, because we have no idea.”

 

Q: Do you have any writing “must haves”?

Lynn: “I must have my daily quiet time for prayer and Bible reading —or else I don’t get anywhere at all with my writing. If I’m in a bad mood, if my relationships are broken or I’m anxious about something, it affects my writing. In my quiet time, that’s where I get all of this ironed out. Quiet time really settles everything else. It helps me to read Scripture every day. I started a plan to read through the Bible in a year — I’ve been doing it for 40 years. It gives me a foundation to build on.”

 

I could fill another whole blog post with quotes from the two conference sessions Lynn delivered.

Here are a handful of highlights:

  • You have to make up your mind: Is God calling you to write? Calling comes from God. If He believes in you, who are you to doubt? You can’t run from God’s call.
  • If you’re going to answer God’s call, it’s going to require sacrifice. What are you willing to give up to nourish your dream? Learn to say “no” to things so you can say yes to your calling. On the flip side, determine where your writing fits into the scheme of things. Don’t let your writing become an idol.
  • Write regularly and consistently. Offer to write anything, just for the practice.
  • So many writers give up because they get tired of waiting for the plant to grow. Trust God’s timing. He doesn’t measure success by results, but by obedience. It isn’t just about the books; it’s about you and God.
  • No other reward will ever compete with the satisfaction of knowing that you’re serving God and bringing Him glory.

 

What about you? What writing advice has encouraged you? Which quote(s) stood out as you read this interview? What question(s) would you ask one of your favorite authors if given the chance? We’d love to read your responses in the comments below!

 

Grab Lynn’s latest novel, Waves of Mercy, on Amazon.

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Affiliate links used in this post.