Winners of Everbloom, the book!

Two happy readers just won copies of Everbloom: Stories of Living Deeply Rooted and Transformed Lives from the women of Redbud Writer's Guild.

And the winners, chosen by random. org and the random number generator, are:

  • Michelle Harris
  • Stacy Clegg

If you didn't win, check out samples of some of the essays, including mine, on Dorothy Greco's blog. Or order the book for yourself or for a Mother's Day, birthday, or just because gift for someone you love. Everbloom helps you to write your own redemption story, in your journal or otherwise, with prayers and prompts at the end of each essay.

You can buy a copy now at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, or christianbook.com.

Check out the video our exchange student and I made to promote my essay, "Bittersweet," the story of our adoption loss and the  joy found when we welcomed Isak into our home.

And if you live in the Fort Wayne area, watch for a free workshop I'm participating in titled "Writing Your Redemption" coming in June 2017. I'll post more information later!

Enter to Win #EverbloomBook by 4/28/17

If there is a time for everything, this is the time to tell you about our little story #Bittersweet, and how it is being launched into the world on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, through the book Everbloom: Stories of Deeply Rooted and Transformed Lives from the women of Redbud Writers Guild and the good people of Paraclete Press.

As you will see in the following video, we are plenty excited—and that excitement reaches from Indiana, USA, to 4,000 miles away in France:

Our stories matter. And when the hard stories are honestly told, we hope they gleam and shimmer with hints of redemption, and newness, and hope. Enter to win below or ask for Everbloom wherever books are sold. Available to order now at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and christianbook.com.

Now here's the fun part: I am giving away two copies of this book to two happy individuals. All you have to do to enter to win is submit a comment below telling me how the word "bittersweet" applies to a season or event in your life. The two winners will then be chosen by a random number generator, based on the number of entries. Ends midnight, Friday, April 28, 2017. You must be in the continental U.S. or Canada to qualify. Come back Saturday to find out who won!

And lastly, two things I learned from the story we talk about above:

  1. Be a participant in your story. Choose love; take a risk; step out in faith.
  2. Write your redemption. Whether it's in your journal, on your blog, in a book, speaking to an audience or over a cup of coffee with a friend—your story, honestly told, matters to the world. And God wants to use it.

Reclaiming Adam: Challenging Men To Take on the Sex Industry (a guest post by Beth and Chris Bruno)

Beth and ChrisThrilled to feature activists and allies, coauthors and spouses Beth Bruno and Chris Bruno today. What if men and women partnering together could take down the sex industry in their city through a comprehensive and prayerful approach? What will the gospel make possible in your city? For as we reclaim Eve, we are also reclaiming Adam. (Download their free ebook End: Engaging Men to End Sex Trafficking at the end of this post.)

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“In God’s Kingdom, every woman—no matter her circumstance—can be reclaimed.”

Beautiful words from Reclaiming Eve perhaps because they ring so true for us all, perhaps because they sear my soul as I consider their weight. For as true as they are for women, they are true for men. And as true as they are words of hope, words of calling, they are true words of restoration.

Can we all be reclaimed for God’s glory—sinner and saint, victim and perpetrator, exploited and trafficker? Do I believe the weight of glory, promised for me as an ezer, extends to the adam who has harmed fellow ezers? Does the promise of restoration even encompass men who buy and sell sex? 

I’ll never forget the Sunday when my husband leaned over and whispered, “Do you know how many men in this room buy sex?” Not the typical pre-worship chatter a couple engages in, but as a Christian counselor and anti-sex trafficking leader, it has become normal for our marriage. He counsels those on the spectrum of Johns and I empower others to join us women to end sex trafficking. Together, we recently co-authored END: Engaging Men to End Sex Trafficking. While our unified aim is to put an end to the sexual exploitation of women and children, our ultimate goal is to reclaim both Eve and Adam for their original intended glory.

Men who buy sex live their own version of hell.

In the entanglement of sexuality, far too many men have been deceived into believing that sex is their most basic need. Indeed, the most core aspect of the human heart, the most primitive place in every human soul, is to worship. Everyone worships something or someone. Everyone. Inundated and overwhelmed by sexually explicit messages, images and experiential opportunities, many men have found sex a worthy idol. It delivers the comfort and pleasure they have come to believe they deserve. It provides momentary power without demanding strength. It offers intimacy without insisting on relationship. The insidious trap is set, and men by the millions find themselves bound in the tentacles of arousal and shame. This is their hell.

As if that were not enough, the rabbit hole deepens. For on the spectrum of marred sexuality, Adam’s masculine culture not only creates Johns (men who buy sex), it creates Johns-of-the-heart. While not all men buy sex, they know the place of derision against women in such comments as “you throw like a girl” or “stop being such a sissy.” Far from the conversation about trafficking, these deeply rooted attitudes represent another end of the spectrum. Indeed, the far opposite end of the spectrum, but the very same spectrum nonetheless. In these comments and thoughts, we hear the echo of Adam’s murderous words against Eve, “She gave me fruit. My failure is all her fault.” Jesus is quite clear about blame, hate and anger and equates them to murder.

 “And while typical Western men may not involve themselves in physical murder, to use someone else for one’s own pleasure robs her dignity and repeals her humanity. It strips her not only of her clothing but of the image-bearing glory of her femininity, and reduces her to little more than an object” (END). This includes the entire spectrum of marred sexuality, from misogynous attitudes, to pornography, to sex trafficking.

If we are to reclaim Adam, especially with regard to the sexual debacle in which we find ourselves, we must inspire him to reclaim three specific realities:

1. The grace of God runs to him. As a Father, God awaits with anticipation the return of his prostitute-abusing son. He stands on the porch and longs to catch a glimpse of that once-familiar form. And when he does, he runs...with cloak and love and rings and parties, he welcomes the wayward woman-abuser home. Anyone and everyone is within reach of the gospel. Adam must reclaim his home. (Luke 15:11-32)

2. Adam’s primary purpose is to worship. Even the Hebrew word zakar, meaning “male” or “penis,” is directly linked to the ancient notion of worship. Worship is Adam’s nature. Men need to be reminded that they were designed for intimacy and devotion, and that their hearts’ true longing is to have rightly directed worship. Adam must reclaim his God. (Genesis 1:27)

3. Women need Adam’s strength, not his power/domination. For the sex industry to crumble and for every exploited woman to once again find safety, men must regain their strength and battle the darkness, protect the vulnerable and stand up against other men who seek to destroy the dignity of women. In so doing, they reclaim the very design of men to offer their strength on behalf of another. Adam must reclaim his strength.

These 3 realities represent the core of our ministry at Restoration Project: Heal your Heart, Know your God, Restore your World. Empowering men to bring restoration to their communities for those exploited by sex trafficking is vital to our work. END is designed to equip any man in any town to face the spectrum of marred sexuality, wherever they are on it and however they would like to engage. The important thing is that men engage. We need men to engage!

For us to reclaim Eve, we must simultaneously reclaim Adam, for femininity and masculinity are intricately interwoven and interdependent.

End-New-3D-no-shadow2-177x300FREE BOOK: Click here to order your copy of END: Engaging Men to End Sex Trafficking. As a special gift for Suzanne’s readers, the ebook version is free.

Beth Bruno and Chris Bruno are writers, ministry leaders, and non-profit founders committed to restoration. After a decade of working together in campus ministry overseas, they diverged to pursue graduate degrees and start separate non-profits. In END: Engaging Men to End Sex Trafficking, they have teamed up in their passions, skills, and experience again. When not talking strategy, vision, and direction they can be found parenting 3 kids, playing in the Rocky Mountains, or enjoying their local cheese shop. You can find Beth at bethbruno.org and Chris at restorationproject.net.

Your turn: What are you doing to end sex trafficking in your city? What are some ways you believe men and women could partner together to be more effective in this mission?

Reclaiming Eve, Out and About

“Reclaiming Eve reminds us that scripture empowers and uplifts women, calling them not to merely be helpers, but to become full partners in the work of God’s Kingdom. The Bible has become “bad news” for women in many churches, but this refreshing and liberating book sets the record straight.”Ed Cyzewski, author of Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life and co-author of Unfollowers: Unlikely Lessons on Faith from Those who Doubted Jesus

Jump into this important conversation by visiting this week's blog hosts or checking out the website reclaimingeve.org and sharing a quote or comment via our facebook and twitter conversations #ReclaimingEve. And here's a shout-out to all the great men endorsing this book and joining us for our blog tour and events. It is pure joy to partner with our brothers.

Want to hear more about Reclaiming Eve at your church conference or retreat? Contact me today about speaking at your event. 

reclaimingeveblogtour

Featured Blog Tour:

Broadcast:

  • Google+ Hangout, Friday, 3/21, 11 am CT/noon ET.  Apologize for some technical difficulties. The 45-minute conversation is now available here. Enjoy!

Other Posts:

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What's the one biggest thing you're learning from Reclaiming Eve? And how does it intersect with your story?

Reclaiming Eve, Out and About

ReclaimingEveWebBadgeWhat if the primary truth about Eve is different than our strongest impressions of her?

Praise for #ReclaimingEve: “Reclaiming Eve is a book I wish I could have read in my teens or early twenties, when I was just embarking on the adventure and challenge of ministry. Grounded in Scripture and brought to life by their own real experiences, the authors ennoble women.  I am thrilled to recommend this resource for every daughter of Eve who struggles at times to ground her identity in a solid place, who longs to make a difference for Jesus, and who hears false messages every day from our culture – which would include about every woman I know!” -Nancy Beach, Leadership Coach, Speaker, Champion of the Artists in the Church; Author of Gifted to Lead: The Art of Leading as a Woman in the Church

Jump into this important conversation by visiting this week's blog hosts or checking out the website reclaimingeve.org and sharing a quote or comment via our facebook and twitter conversations #ReclaimingEve. Thanks to those who have already done so!

reclaimingeveblogtour

Featured Blog Tour:

On the Radio:

Great time with the folks of Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, MI last night talking about how Jesus has set his daughters free. Pictured here with friend and store manager Sue Smith.

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Other Posts:

What about you? How does your journey intersect with the message of Reclaiming Eve?

Reclaiming Eve, Out and About

reclaimingeveblogtourWhat if the primary truth about Eve is different than our strongest impressions of her?

The conversation is happening over radio airwaves, through the blogosphere, around dining room tables and dorm rooms. "There are two stories of Eve," we admit. "But is it possible that the one that says that she is dangerous, easily deceived and inferior is not the primary truth about her or about us as women?"

What if Eve is primarily an imagebearer of the living God, a strong power (Hebrew word: ezer) meant to fully partner with Adam, and what if men and women must fully partner together to reflect God's love and justice to the world? (Full link list below.) 

Jump into this important conversation by visiting this week's blog hosts or checking out the website reclaimingeve.org and sharing a quote or comment via our facebook and twitter conversations #ReclaimingEve. Thanks to those who have already done so!

Featured Blog Tour:

On the Radio:

  • Coauthor Jamie Wright and I talked about Reclaiming Eve for a full hour on WBCL 90.3 Fort Wayne, Mid-Morning Show with Lynne Ford. Hear the recorded version. Enjoy! It was a pleasure to converse about how highly God values his daughters.

Other Posts:

What about you? How does your journey intersect with the message of Reclaiming Eve?

Praise for #ReclaimingEve: “In these pages, women and men are invited into life that really is life. Reading Reclaiming Eve felt like having coffee with a hip-young wise-old friend. (I hope you’re curious!)  So thank you to Suzanne, Carla and  Jamie for collaborating on this project. It is a gift.” -Margot Starbuck, Author of Unsqueezed:Springing Free From Skinny Jeans, Nose Jobs, Highlights and Stillettos and Not Who I Imagined: Surprised by a Loving God

Reclaiming Eve Giveaway: Win 5 books + 20-minute Skype call with me for your group

Reclaiming Eve - flat image As we count down to the release of Reclaiming Eve, I'm starting a book giveaway that will end at 12 am on March 5. It's easy to enter 4 ways via the Rafflecopter widget below:

  • • subscribe to blog via email  (3 points) (required; on form & on sidebar)
  • • tweet giveaway to friends (2 points) (you can do this daily)
  • • follow me on twitter (1 point)
  • • list 3 adjectives to describe Eve in a comment below (1 point)

a Rafflecopter giveaway Sign up now and not only will you enter to win this great prize package for book groups, you won't miss an installment of the soon-to-launch weekly "How does the gospel reclaim Eve?" video shorts on women of the New Testament. Let's get the word out that women matter to God, no matter their circumstance.

Subscribe to my blog via email in the right column. I’m also over on Twitter.

Book Giveaway - Refuse to Do Nothing: Finding Your Power to Abolish Modern-Day Slavery

A few weeks ago, my 12-year-old niece and I were talking chocolate over lunch. The conversation took an uncomfortable turn. Since I had recently finished reading the book Refuse to Do Nothing, I had learned that up to 40% of the cocoa used to make the chocolate we eat is slave-harvested.  Suffice it to say, there was no Hershey's on our s'mores that weekend, as I have not yet been assured Hershey's is doing what it can to eliminate "slave-free chocolate." Up until this conversation, I don't think my niece was aware slaves still existed. Her face fell when I said, "They estimate there are 27 million slaves worldwide." I didn't want to tell her what I've learned, but I can no longer keep quiet. Those of us who follow Jesus are called out to uphold justice, free the oppressed, and love like our Savior loves.

That's why the purpose of this important and necessary book is not guilt, but action.

Refuse to Do NothingAuthors Shayne Moore and Kimberly McOwen Yim, two abolitionist mamas, have crafted a book that not only informs us of the dark evil happening in our backyards, our cities and around the world, they convinced me I could do something about it.

Here are a few quotes:

“Poverty and extreme levels of gender inequality play a significant role in why women and children make up 80% of trafficking victims.”

“Pornography today…is a world where women are dominated, urinated on, spit upon, beaten and raped. But we are told pornography is a matter of personal choice and something we engage with in private. We keep silent because the world has told us we are prudish if we voice our concern about the effects pornography has on our children or our society.”

“The average time it takes for a runaway child to be approached by a trafficker is 48 hours.” -Polaris Project

While the book often took my breath away, it also covered the beautiful story of how women in the U.S. rose up to abolish slavery in the 19th century. The opportunities it afforded them were ironic; because they stood up on behalf of the defenseless, women began to be treated more and more equally themselves. They preached, they entered new spheres of influence, and they eventually garnered the right to vote.

All of this makes me wonder: what might we accomplish in abolishing modern-day slavery if brothers and sisters tackled this evil TOGETHER?

Instructions: 1) To enter, leave a comment below stating why you would like to read this book or tell us a story of what someone is doing to abolish slavery in your community.

2) Through random.org, I will choose a winner and contact them. (Be sure you’re signed into DISQUS with an email address.) Contest runs through Thursday, July 18, at which point I will notify everyone of the winner. 

(Participants must live in the United States or Canada to accommodate mailing costs. Thanks!)

Note: Shayne and I met through Redbud Writers' Guild, a fabulous group of ladies crafting some beautiful material that you should read. "Like" our facebook page or visit our website to learn more!