Yesterday we were treated to a guest post by Deidra Riggs, author of Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are.

 

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Today, I have the opportunity to share a video interview with you, as well as my own review of Every Little Thing, PLUS offer a giveaway from Baker Books and Dayspring! Such a great week!

Firstly, allow me to introduce the lovely Deidra:

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Deidra Riggs is the author of Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are (Baker Books). She is managing editor at The High Calling, and a monthly contributor to (in)courage.

Deidra and her husband live in Lincoln, Nebraska. They are the proud parents of two adult children, and happy inhabitants of an empty nest.

Follow Deidra on her blog, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.​

 

 

I had such a wonderful time recording the following video with Deidra. She is the real deal.

Listen below as Deidra shares words of wisdom and encouragement for all who question their significance in this life:

 

As you can see from this quote I read in the interview, Deidra cuts straight to the heart in her book:

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These are difficult questions. Questions worthy of a long pause and serious, soul-searching reflection.

In fact, the whole book will make you stop and think long and hard about how you view your own purpose and influence in this world.

In her book, Deidra tackles subjects including fear and trust, obedience, significance and surrender, and what it means to live out the gospel.

She weaves biblical examples throughout the chapters, illustrating from Scripture how we can relate to the characters in the Bible and glean from their experiences with God.

One thing I appreciated about Every Little Thing was how easy it was to read. I found myself caught up in Deidra’s storytelling as if she were sitting across from me at a coffee shop. She is engaging and easy to relate to. In spite of the many challenges it poses, this book is inspiring and motivating, not burdensome. It left me feeling bolstered and spurred on to pursue the good works that God has planned in advance for me to do.

If you’re questioning your significance in this world, this book is for you.

If you wonder whether your life is making a difference, this book is for you.

If you doubt that your small contributions have any impact whatsoever — read this book, and be encouraged.

 

Favorite quotes (warning: there are many!):

“Could it be that the biggest obstacle to receiving grace is refusing to admit our deep and aching need for it?”

“We build trust in God by taking one small step in his direction and finding out he will always be there to catch us.”

“Many times God’s invitations are not at all what we’d expect them to be.”

 

“For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.”

 

If you missed Deidra’s guest post on God in the wilderness, click here. Here are a few of the many lines that struck me from that chapter:

“As much as we want to resist it, in the wilderness of our lives, God works to transform us more and more into the image of his Son and a reflection of his character.”

“When we’ve allowed the wilderness experience to strip us down to ‘simply me,’ we are just the right size for God’s big plans.”

“God walks every step of the wilderness journey with us, and he shapes us as we make our way through.”

 

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The chapter entitled, “Breathlessness” was one of my favorites.

What are you striving for? What lies have you believed from the world about grasping for significance and meaning in this life? What do you need to release and surrender in order to find true significance in Christ?

 

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As you can see from the many quotes above, you probably shouldn’t read this book unless you’re prepared to be both challenged and changed — in a good way.

 

ViBellalogoIn conjunction with the release of Every Little Thing, Deidra has partnered with ViBella Jewelry, a fabulous fair trade company that employs artisans from Haiti and Mexico. ViBella’s mission is to bring hope and healing to the artisans, their families, and their communities.

Here’s one piece featured in the Every Little Thing collection. It’s called the Alexandra Bracelet

 

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ViBella also has the Kyla bracelet, which is available here:

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And that’s not all! There’s a giveaway!

Baker Books, publisher of Every Little Thing, and Dayspring are offering a copy of Deidra’s book PLUS this beautiful Everlasting Light Shine necklace to one winner!

 

Click here to order the necklace from Dayspring.com while it’s still on sale.

Enter the giveaway by using the Rafflecopter widget below. Giveaway closes at midnight EST on Sunday, November 29th, and is only open to those with a U.S. mailing address.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. 

 

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Oh my goodness, there are so many exciting things packed into this post, I can hardly contain myself.

First of all, WELCOME! Have I told you lately that I love you? (Did you just hear Rod Stewart singing that to you?)

Seriously. I do. Some of you were not impressed by my choice of prompt last week, but you bit the bullet, took on the challenge, and you wrote.

And I was so impressed.

(I knew you could do it, by the way. Even if you didn’t think you could. I never doubted. You guys are amazing.)

If you’re new here, then an extra special welcome to you!

Five Minute Friday - 4Click here for more info on what Five Minute Friday is all about — but be careful — most fall in love at first sight. We hope this is the first of many visits to this fabulous community.

While you’re at it, go ahead and follow along on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest — and don’t miss the Twitter party every Thursday evening at #fmfparty!

And you’re DEFINITELY not going to want to miss #fmfparty next Thursday, because …

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The FMF Retreat Planning committee will be coming at you LIVE from the retreat venue!

Follow Holly Barrett, Mary Geisen, Jen Daugherty and me if you want to catch us live on August 6th from 8:45-9:30pm EST!

Speaking of the retreat, did you catch the guest posts from our retreat sponsors this week?

I loved reading the heartfelt words from Dan King at Fistbump Media and Amy Breitmann from ViBella Jewelry.

fistbump-media-header2Dan shared the heart behind Fistbump Media, and how his passion is helping people like you and me get our voices out there, to be a blessing to others.

ViBellalogoAmy shared about her recent trip to Haiti with ViBella Jewelry, and how she loves telling beautiful stories.

AND (!!!) ViBella is hosting a GIVEAWAY!! Click here to enter to win the beautiful ViBella necklace below!

WIN ME!

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And psst … one more thing — as your friend, I feel it’s my duty to tell you that Dayspring is having a crazy good SECRET SALE!

Sshhh .. don’t tell anyone — just click over and snag all the goodies before they’re gone!

 

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Okay … I don’t know if I can write after all that excitement, but I’ll give it a shot.

This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is:

TRY

Setting my timer for five minutes, and …

GO.

 

My kids had their second belt test in karate this week.

In this particular karate school, in order to advance to the next belt, students have to break a board.

One of the visiting instructors took a moment to explain to the parents why they include this element in the test:

“It’s a confidence builder,” he said.

“You’re going to face many obstacles in life that need to be overcome.

Nobody thinks they can break a board the first try.

And you know what? That’s fine. It doesn’t have to break on the first try.

But you have to keep trying.

You’re in a fight with a board, and you can’t let it defeat you. It doesn’t matter how many attempts you make — you just have to keep going.”

I don’t know about the kids, but I was motivated by his speech.

How true his words were for all of life. 

It’s like the old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get tired of trying.

Tired of trying to check all the things off my To Do List. Tired of trying to defeat the same sin in my life. Tired of breaking up the same arguments between siblings.

Like I’m pounding the same fist on the same board and the wood just won’t break.

The difference for us, as Christians, is that we have a secret weapon.

We aren’t laboring in our own strength.

If Christ is in us, we have His strength, His energy at work in us.

 

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He is the reason we can do what we do.

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13b-14).

He is the reason we overcome.

 

STOP.

 

Don’t forget to enter the ViBella Jewelry giveaway before you link up your own blog post below!

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The Five Minute Friday Retreat is just over a week away!

ViBellalogoToday, it’s my pleasure to welcome Amy Breitmann, Vice President of Marketing for our retreat sponsor, Vi Bella Jewelry!

Amy recently traveled to Haiti with Vi Bella, and has some moving words and pictures to share with us from her experience — AND she’s offering the Vi Bella Reagan necklace to one winner in the giveaway below!

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I have always been a storyteller.

At ten years old, I coerced my brothers and cousins to dress in costumes, and I directed mini plays with this small cast of characters. About that same time, I began scribbling thoughts and poems in my diary.

My mother gave me an appreciation for the history of our family recipes that have been passed down for generations. I loved to lean close and hear the story of how my grandmother made dinner at noon for the farmhands.

Antiques and vintage linens were always present in my home and I saw their weathered parts as pieces of a beautiful tapestry.

 

Even scratches, scars, rips and tears told a story worth pondering. They whispered bits of history.

 

 

In eyes of those I meet, in the intricate patterns of the summer leaves, in the hands of women that I work alongside.

 

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I returned from my first trip to Haiti more than a month ago.

My main role was as a storyteller, traveling as the VP of Marketing for Vi Bella Jewelry.

We visited Vi Bella’s two centers located there, taking supplies and training our artisans on some new skills for jewelry pieces that will launch this fall.

We also celebrated with the artisans and their families that employment has been consistent for them for four years. Their children have been fed and their living conditions have vastly improved.

All because of employment making jewelry.

All because someone believed in their story.

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I still haven’t processed all the stories. There are so very many.

Some stories will live forever in my heart, pressing quietly against my longing for a comfortable life.

Some stories have fueled me with an even greater passion for my part in moving Vi Bella Jewelry forward to employ more artisans in Haiti, Mexico, and right here in the United States.

The trip to Haiti confirmed in me why I was called to be part of this ministry.

Why God wove my life in such a way that I would meet Julie Hulstein, Vi Bella’s Founder.

 

If you are not familiar with Vi Bella Jewelry, this company exists to employ artisans who live in extreme poverty.

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The business began after Julie Hulstein was part of a mission trip to Haiti after the devastating earthquake of 2010. When her story intersected with those in this poverty-stricken country, her life was forever changed. As was theirs.

Vi Bella means “beautiful life” and that’s just what Julie and the entire staff at Vi Bella has set out to do: create beautiful lives and communities by providing jobs and education. We now employ 33 artisans in four Vi Bella-owned centers.

 

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I’ve come to understand something as a storyteller:

Their story becomes part of your life’s tapestry, and your reaction to their story becomes part of your legacy.

I want to be a voice of hope and healing in the stories of brokenness.

I’d love for you to join us in telling beautiful stories.

 

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Would you follow along on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook?

I’m certain that once you meet the beautiful artisans and see their creations, you will be changed and inspired.

 

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You will be part of their story of redemption.

P.S. For those of you that will be attending the first FMF Retreat in Nashville ~ I will see you soon and can’t wait to share more stories with you!

 

Amy headshot (2)Amy is a writer, dreamer, and visionary. She is the Vice President of Marketing for Vi Bella Jewelry, telling stories of hope and redemption through this jobs creation ministry.

Her name means “Beloved” and she’s on a quest to believe it. Her boots carry Midwest soil, but now she kicks it up in the south where she weaves marriage, ministry and motherhood together. As a cancer survivor, she was the Co-Founder of The Lydia Project, an international ministry for women facing cancer. She also is a lost-sock finder, a keeper of secrets for the best cheesecake recipe, and gets grace in the ordinary. The words that tumble out on her blog Beloved in Blue Jeans are balm that the Spirit speaks to quiet her soul.

Find Amy on her personal blog, Vi Bella Jewelry’s website, or be social on Facebook, or Twitter @AmyBreitmann.

 

 ***

Want to be part of the Vi Bella story? One way you can get involved is by hosting a gathering in your home, church, or workplace. Click the image below for more information

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Another way to support this work is by shopping Vi Bella!

Check out their gorgeous range of jewelry by clicking the graphic below:

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Plus! Enter below for a chance to win this beautiful Reagan necklace:

WIN ME!

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Giveaway ends at midnight on Sunday, August 2nd. Only available for entrants residing in the U.S.

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Remember that review I posted recently, on a novel called Secrets of a Charmed Life? Well, the book launches tomorrow, February 3rd (!!), and today it’s my privilege to share with you an interview with author Susan Meissner.

Not only that, but I have a signed copy of Secrets of a Charmed Life
to give away to one winner!
Enter to win by using the Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of this post.

You can read my review of Secrets of a Charmed Life by clicking here. You can also follow Susan on her blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Without further ado, here are a few questions and answers to whet your appetite for this delightful book.

How did you come up with the idea for Secrets of a Charmed Life?

The story began first as an image in my head of an impoverished girl on the brink of adulthood sketching wedding dresses in the tiny bedroom she shares with a younger half-sister. I could see her in my mind’s eye imagining a life far different from the one she is living. She wants a fairy tale life where love and comfort and happiness are in abundance, and for her, that charmed life begins with a wedding dress worn on that blissful day a girl’s childhood dreams come true. I decided to set her in London at the start of the war because I knew that even for a young woman not yet sixteen, war is a crucible. It is a tester of dreams and desires and determination. I knew the London Blitz was an opposition that would bring out the very best and the very worst in this girl, as war so often does.

Could you give us a summary of the plot?

Like many of my other novels, Secrets of a Charmed Life is historical fiction framed by a contemporary layer that links to a story in the past. An American college student named Kendra, who is studying abroad at Oxford, interviews Blitz survivor Isabel McFarland just when the elderly woman is ready to give up secrets she has kept all her life – beginning with who she really is. The story then takes the reader to England in 1940. An unprecedented war against London’s civilian population is about to take place and half a million children are evacuated to foster homes in the countryside. Fifteen-year-old Emmy Downtree and her much younger sister Julia find refuge in a charming Cotswold cottage, but Emmy’s burning ambition to return to the city and apprentice with a fashion designer pits her against Julia’s profound need for her sister’s presence. The sisters’ lives are forever changed when—acting at cross purposes—they secretly return to London on the first day of the Blitz.

 

Children leave London under the civilian evacuation scheme.

What drew you to include in your story the evacuation of London’s children?

Prior to researching for this book, I was only minimally aware of what London’s parents did to keep their children safe during World War II. I’d long ago read C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia and I knew the four children in those stories had been sent out of London into the countryside at the start of the war. But I didn’t know that for tens of thousands of children just like them that stay in the countryside lasted for the duration of the war. We’re talking five years. How difficult it must have been for the parents and their kids to be separated from each other – with just occasional visits – for half a decade, and during a time of fear, danger, and deprivation. From a storyteller’s standpoint, the emotional pull of this situation is intense. I knew I wanted to explore what this scenario might have been like for two young sisters.

 

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What were you most surprised by in your research for Secrets of a Charmed Life?

I think many of us who were born after World War II have a limited understanding of what England suffered because there were so many other more shocking situations, like the slaughter of millions of Jews, the occupations of nations like Poland and France, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the storming at the beach at Normandy, and the Bataan Death March, to name just a few. I didn’t realize the magnitude of what London suffered until I took a closer look. The city was never occupied by Hitler’s forces but it was bombed relentlessly. Seven of Christopher Wren’s beautiful churches were destroyed, as were thousands upon thousands of homes. More than sixty thousand civilians were killed in the whole of the British Isles. Those are staggering losses. And yet the British people were and are resilient. Their rallying cry of Keep Calm and Carry On (I truly can’t stand trivializations of this motto!) is truly the hallmark of that resiliency. You can go to London’s East End now and see street after street of 1950’s-era buildings, framed by a quiet horizon of much older buildings that the war did not flatten. London, Coventry and the other bombed cities rebuilt what was destroyed and moved on. The memories of the war aren’t in the streets but in the museums, and in national cemeteries, and sometimes, if you look closely enough, in the faces of those who survived it.

What would you especially like readers to take away from Secrets of a Charmed Life?

The title of this book, which I love, is meant to cause the reader to wonder if there really are secrets to living a life that has happily-ever-after written all over it. The title seems to suggest there are hidden truths to being able to have everything you’ve always wanted. But in actuality, and what I hope readers will take away, is that a happy life is not made up of what you have chased and achieved, but rather who you have poured your life into, who has poured their life into yours, and the difference you’ve made in the lives of others. Most of the dreams we pursue don’t have intrinsic worth, but people always do.  It’s not a perfect world, and we can only play our own hand of cards – if you will – but if we play the hand as best we can with love for others as the motivation, I think we can rest content.

Please note: Giveaway is open to entrants with a U.S. or Canadian mailing address.

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Susan Meissner is the multi-published author of seventeen books, including A Fall of Marigolds, named to Booklist’s Top Ten Women’s Fiction titles for 2014, and The Shape of Mercy, named one of the 100 Best Novels in 2008 by Publishers Weekly. She is also a speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. She and her husband make their home in Southern California.

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.

 

 

 

 

We made it!  It’s the final day of October!  For those who have been doing Write 31 Days, CONGRATULATIONS!!  This is me sending you virtual cupcakes, hot tea and lots of expensive, dark chocolate. Seriously, posting every day for 31 days is a huge accomplishment.  Well done!

This is also our fifth and final Words Matter giveaway.  I hope you’ve all enjoyed the giveaways as much as I have.  Thank you to all who have offered the fantastic prizes, all who have entered, and congratulations to those who have won so far!

This week I’ve put together a fabulous package to wrap up our month of goodies.

The winner of this giveaway will get not one, not two, but THREE books from women that I admire tremendously. 

These three authors have shown through their lives and ministry that words really do matter.

The first book in the giveaway is the beautiful new family Advent calendar just released by Ann Voskamp.

It’s called Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, and it is an absolute treasure.

If you’ve ever read Ann’s writing, you’ll know what an incredible gift she has, and this gem is no exception.  In fact, I opened it expecting to use it with my children, and I have been so challenged and blessed by it, even as an adult.  I just adore Ann’s perspective, and she weaves Jesus into every single page.

Even if you don’t win the giveaway, you want this book.

 

 

The second book in the prize pack is Vivian Mabuni’s Warrior in Pink.  I actually won a copy of this book on my friend Bronwyn’s blog several months ago, and it was so moving.  Since then, Vivian has become an online friend and a great encouragement to me through her writing and her testimony.  Warrior in Pink is Vivian’s story about her journey with breast cancer, and how the Lord cared for her during that intense trial.  Read my review here.

 

Warrior in Pink cover

 

 

 

On this final day of Breast Cancer Awareness month, Discovery House Publishers is offering a copy of Warrior in Pink for one of you to enjoy as well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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And last but definitely not least is Emily Wierenga’s memoir, Atlas Girl.  Emily is one author whose voice has really influenced my own writing, and I’m thrilled to be able to give away a copy of this thought-provoking memoir as Emily recounts her life’s experiences thus far, including a battle with anorexia and caring for her mother with brain cancer.  Read my review here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Again, even if you don’t win, you’ll want to get a copy of Atlas Girl as soon as possible so you can participate in Emily’s online book club starting November 3rd!  More details here.

 

In addition to her book, I want to take this opportunity to highlight a brand new nonprofit which Emily founded herself.  It’s called The Lulu Tree, and it exists to minister to women in the slums of Uganda.

 

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All proceeds of Atlas Girl go directly to The Lulu Tree, and not only that, but they have a boutique as well!  Check out some of the gorgeous items available — and all prices include free shipping!  You can even purchase your copy of Atlas Girl directly from The Lulu Tree boutique and not pay any shipping at all!

Check out some of the gorgeous items available at The Lulu Tree boutique.  This year, your Christmas shopping could really make a difference:

 

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Three Elephants print – Available at The Lulu Tree boutique
Hope Blooms Print - The Lulu Tree
Hope Blooms print – Available at The Lulu Tree boutique
Crocheted Headwarmer
Crocheted Headwarmer
Little Lamb hat
Little Lamb hat
Slouchie Beanie
Slouchie Beanie
Starry Quilt - Available at The Lulu Tree boutique
Starry Quilt – Available at The Lulu Tree boutique
Lulu or Akiki doll
Lulu or Akiki doll

 

Aren’t they lovely?  See all the beautiful and unique items available by visiting The Lulu Tree boutique here.

***

 

For this week’s Five Minute Friday, the prompt is:

 

FMF - Leave

 

If you’re new to Five Minute Friday, all the details you’ll need can be found right over here.

And since it’s the final day of Write 31 Days and 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes, and the last day of my 31 Days of Life in South Africa series, I had planned to write about the day my family and I left South Africa to move to the States for a temporary stint before going back.

But …

 

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So instead, you get a special treat ..

 

Today my sister is here, as my first ever guest Five Minute Friday writer!

 

 

 

 

 

(And since it’s Halloween, I’ll indulge you with this picture of the two of us, just a handful of years ago …)

 

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I love what she came up with in five minutes of free writing.  Her unique perspective as the sister of someone who spent ten years in South Africa is the perfect way to round out this series.

Here we go ..

 

***

Go. Don’t stay. It reminds me of the Bible. A time to laugh, a time to cry. A time to stay, a time to go.

 

Through various personality evaluations, I’ve learned what I already know about myself: I’m loyal. One of the hardest things for me to do is to walk away. In some ways, this helps. In some ways, it hurts.

 

I remember a specific time that I brought my sister back to the airport (though don’t ask me *which* specific time; there were a lot of trips back and forth to various airports). I wanted to pull up to the curb, drop her off, give her a hug, and leave. She wanted me to stay, come inside, chat for a while until the very last moment we had to say goodbye, I had to watch her walk through security.

 

It might seem counter-intuitive. I just told you I don’t like to leave. But since leaving was so hard for me, I wanted it to be fast, quick, over with as soon as possible.

 

Don’t get me started on the times I visited her in South Africa, when “leaving” usually took about 36 hours, from her house, to the airport, on a plane, to another airport, on another plane (one more round of that), then finally, home.

 

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***

Sarah Baar lives and writes in Holland, Michigan.  Read her other guest post, When it’s hard to find hope in the rubble, here.

***

 

 

 

Now it’s your turn!  Show us your five minutes on the word “LEAVE” by linking up your post via the inLinkz button below ..

 

 

 

Book Giveaway

 

Please note: Giveaway is only open to entrants with a U.S. mailing address.

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