Month: February 2017

Embrace Grace and Love in a Box

Enter the Embrace Grace Giveaway!

What is Embrace Grace, you ask? And what’s Love in a Box? I was asking the same things when the folks at Embrace Grace sent me a request to discuss their ministry on my blog.  They sent me one of their Fearless journals as well as a Pro-Love necklace.

Like this:

And this:


From the folks at Embrace Grace:

Love in a Box is a pro-love initiative launched to help save babies and help moms get plugged into local churches for spiritual, emotional and physical support through an Embrace Grace group.

Boxes are distributed to pregnancy centers nation-wide and given to young, single women with positive pregnancy tests. The box is full of gifts that will inspire hope and impart love to a mom that may be scared for her future. Each box consists of a Fearless Journal and pen, a Bump in Life book, a baby onesie, testimonial letters of girls that chose adoption and chose to parent, an invitation to join an Embrace Grace group and a Brave Girl letter that can be written by YOU!

You have the opportunity to speak into the life of a mom that could possibly be contemplating a life or death decision. You can encourage, uplift and inspire her to choose life and to get plugged into an Embrace Grace support group at a local church.

We want to help brave moms choose life and get plugged into a spiritual family so they can be saved, discipled, mentored and be a part of a community that loves them the way Jesus loves.

Ways you can join in with this ministry:

  1. Start an Embrace Grace at their local church so young women with unplanned pregnancies have a support group.
  2. Partner with the national organization through prayer and support at
  3. Download and print our brave girl letter ( and mail to address below for us to place inside a Love in a Box.  You can mail your Brave Girl letter to:

Embrace Grace, Inc.
Attn: Love in a Box
700 W. Bedford Euless Rd., Ste. G
Hurst, TX 76053

Oh! And don’t forget to

Enter the Embrace Grace Giveaway!

Learn more about Embrace Grace and Love in a Box ministries to women experiencing unexpected pregnancy

My thoughts on the book and necklace I received in exchange for an honest review:

I’m impressed by the enthusiasm that is going into this project, that’s for sure.  I can tell there’s a great deal of heart and care behind it.  I do have a couple of misgivings, though.  I like the journal, but I think that’s heartily due to the fact that I already believe in God; the journal seems to be designed with a belief in God presumed–or presumed that you’ll play along in order to get the help being offered.  In short, I’m troubled by the feeling that this books was put together with the mentality that Simcha Fisher calls Making Poor People Pray.  That said, the bullet-journal style lists are tidy and encourage the recipient to look beyond the present moment’s anxieties, which is a neat way of inviting someone in a crisis to consider a future past the present pain.

Regarding the necklace, I like the design and the message.  I also love the idea of helping a pregnant woman feel more beautiful than she might feel when she first looks into the mirror in the morning after a night of discomfort in all its dimensions.  I’m wondering if a necklace made from other, more natural materials than the ones chosen for this particular design might make a better presentation.  I hate to say it, but there’s no other way: the necklace looks cheap.  I understand needing to make the ministry affordable.  However, I have to wonder if other equally-affordable materials could be chosen to create something beautiful… or have the ministry at the church dig deep and buy the woman a quality necklace, even sterling silver, to remember her courage for years to come… and maybe even one day pass down to the child she gave life because of it.

These are just my opinions, however, so your mileage may vary.  It does seem like a noble idea, one that I might tweak a little, if I ran the zoo.   My girls and I will be joining in by writing some Brave Girl letters ourselves.  I think that’s a neat way to encourage someone who’s scared to the point of possibly biting off her own arm in order to escape a trap, if’n you know what I mean.

I received these products from Embrace Grace through Front Gate Blogger Network in exchange for an honest review.

You Carried Me: Review & Giveaway

You Carried Me : A Daughter's Memoir is an experience of tragedy, pain, hope, healing and triumph, told by an abortion survivor. Don't miss this book! You were warned when I covered You Carried Me for this month’s Open Book linkup.  Here’s a more in-depth review

You Carried Me: A Daughter’s Memoir

by Melissa Ohden

What’s it about?

What happens when an abortion survivor finds her birth mother… …who never knew her daughter was alive?

 Melissa Ohden is fourteen when she learns she is the survivor of a botched abortion. In this intimate memoir she details for the first time her search for her biological parents, and her own journey from anger and shame to faith and forgiveness.

This intensely personal story of love and redemption illumines the powerful bond between mother and child that can overcome all odds.

Startling details of Melissa Ohden’s story have never been shared publicly before. The book includes an account of her first meeting with her birth mother 38 years later.  The compelling human interest story, and the sensitivity with which Ohden personalizes issues such as adoption and women’s rights, will appeal to readers regardless of their views.  This is not a pro-life or pro-choice book, nor is it overtly religious: one family’s story highlights the complexity of the issue and will leave readers with more compassion for every woman impacted by abortion.  For too long, discussion of abortion has been dominated by male politicians. It’s time for individual women impacted by abortion to have their voices heard. Melissa Ohden breaks the taboo that silences too many women, empowering others to share their own stories and reclaim the narrative.

Get to know some more about Melissa here.

My take on You Carried Me

This was a moving memoir of a complicated existence. Ohden told her story with compassion, intellect, honesty and courage.  While there are few people alive today who can relate specifically to her experience of living a life that was supposed to have been snuffed out, countless numbers of us can take heart and healing in her message of forgiveness and hope for those of us who have been deeply hurt by the very people most meant to love us.

The most validating parts for me were where Ohden talks about the experience of being silenced.  I’ve experienced it myself, being a survivor of something incredibly rare, so rare that people will do anything to convince themselves–and me–that it didn’t, doesn’t,  simply could not have and can’t happen.  Ohden’s story brought into sharp focus the reality that terrible guilt demands terrible silence, if not of the guilty then of those who speak that guilt’s name.

Giving a voice to the silenced is a powerful thing.  Let those hear who have ears to hear.

You Carried Me honors the pain on all sides of the abortion debate and does so fearlessly.  Thankfully, Ohden also does so with care and sensitivity, to the point that I feel comfortable letting even my young teens read the book once I finished with it.  If you need a dose of compassion, healing and courage, you can get it in You Carried Me.

More You Carried Me goodies:

A video trailer with more info about You Carried Me

The book’s webpage

Melissa Ohden’s webpage

Abortion Survivors Network

Giveaway Details

Click the image below for your chance to win your very own copy of You Carried Me: A Daughter’s Memoir. I believe you have to enter before February 15, 2017, so don’t delay and make with the clicky!

Enter to win a copy of YOU CARRIED ME, the memoir of an abortion survivor

Brief disclaimer: I did receive a complimentary copy from the publisher.  All opinions here are my own.

Okay, let’s hear from you.  What did you think about the idea of being “silenced”? What does that look like to you? Have you ever found yourself silenced and why?  Is there ever a place for silencing another person’s story?  


An Open Book (February 2017)

Carolyn Astfalk has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup!


 Sabbath Rest Book Talk will return in March!

Sabbath Rest Book Talk: a monthly live interactive event where we talk about the value of fiction in developing compassion, empathy, and healthy relationships

There will be a few changes–good ones! First of all, I’ll be adding a few co-hosts.  Both Carolyn Astfalk and Rebecca Willen will be joining me for March 5th’s SRBT.  Also, we’ll be hosting the event over on my YouTube Channel as a YouTube Live Event.  You can still comment and play along, of course.  Lastly, I’ll be announcing the book selections and focus ahead of time, so you can read along and join the discussion a little more easily and thoughtfully.  To keep on top of each month’s SRBT selections, do sign up for my monthly newsletter.

While we’re here, here are the selections for SRBT for March, focusing on JUSTICE:

An Open Book Linkup: Dying for Revenge (murder mystery)

mikemulligancover Sabbath Rest Book Talk: Where Fiction Is Good For You! March 2017 will focus on JUSTICE


Meanwhile, I’m still reading.

HER ROYAL SPYNESS SOLVES HER FIRST CASE, Review by Erin McCole Cupp for #OpenBook Wednesday

Her Royal Spyness Solves Her First Case by Rhys Bowen.  

Oh, this was a rip-roaring fun thing to read. I initially picked it up because it’s been on my mind for a while to start this series, and Bowen’s latest (I think the latest?) was mentioned the 2016 list of Agatha Award nominees. The Agatha Awards are, “Loosely defined as ‘mysteries which contain no explicit sex or excessive gore or violence,’ the Agatha Award salutes the books best typified by the works of Agatha Christie.” There’s a little too much racy talk in there for me to feel comfortable sharing this with my tween-readers. There are not, however, any actual sex scenes or horrifically detailed murders, etc. It was adult-funny, cleverly plotted, and peopled with fully-fleshed characters in spite of the fact that there were so many. I’ll be looking for more Royal Spyness.

Review of IN THE PLEASURE GROOVE by John Taylor (yes, that John Taylor) by Erin McCole Cupp for #OpenBook WednesdayIn the Pleasure Groove by (Nigel, ahem) John Taylor

In the Pleasure Groove was everything you’d expect from JT. It was compelling, entertaining, slick, sexy, jet-setty… and flavored with a sad undercurrent of, well, narcissism. Still. Even in his chapters on facing down his drug and alcohol addictions. Don’t get me wrong: I am super glad the guy is working so hard health in all its dimensions, so invested in being a good father and husband. I’m concerned, though, that as long as he stays his own Higher Power, it might not last. In the end, that made the book unsatisfying. Still, if you’re recovering from or still a hardcore Duran Duran addict, I can’t not recommend In the Pleasure Groove. There’s a bit of depth for the reader in it, even if the author himself may have missed it.

An Open Book book review linkup hosted by Carolyn Astfalk: get your recs here!Nutureshock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

One of the most influential books about children ever published, Nurture Shock offers a revolutionary new perspective on children that upends a library’s worth of conventional wisdom. With impeccable storytelling and razor-sharp analysis, the authors demonstrate that many of modern society’s strategies for nurturing children are in fact backfiring–because key twists in the science have been overlooked. Nothing like a parenting manual, NurtureShock gets to the core of how we grow, learn and live.

It’s amazing how actual science works and how easy it is for us to turn our backs on factual reality when it doesn’t fit what makes us feel good about ourselves, isn’t it?  Long story short: NurtureShock confirms the value of common sense parenting in the face of everything from participation awards to gifted class placement tests to fat shaming and schedule-cramming.  I got a lot of validation out of this book and some ideas for modifying my own parenting choices as well.

Get your recs here: An Open Book monthly book review linkup hosted by Carolyn Astfalk Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Yeah, totally embarrassing that this is the first Agatha Christie novel I’ve ever read in my whole life.  To my credit, I was in And Then There Were None in freshman year of high school (Ethel the maid–first one offed, but I got to scream really loud, so that was cool).

Anyway, quick read, clean enough, tight plotting, and even I forgot about one of the big clues at the beginning so that the end was a well-timed surprise.  That said, the end was a bit… unsatisfying in a moral sense, if you get what I mean.  As an investigator, Poirot was warmer than Sherlock Holmes and in that sense more enjoyable from a human perspective; Holmes quirks my eyebrows at both his brilliance and his awkwardness, but Poirot brings me along for the ride.

You Carried Me: A Daughter’s Memoir by Melissa Ohden

You Carried Me : A Daughter's Memoir is an experience of tragedy, pain, hope, healing and triumph, told by an abortion survivor. Don't miss this book!What do you do when you find out you were not supposed to live?  Would you want the find the birthmother who, according to all medical records, wanted you dead? And how do you hold onto a voice in a culture that calls you a liar and silences you at any available opportunity… because your very existence challenges the culture’s most cherished ideas?  This is the story of a woman who survived an abortion in 1977 then went on to search for her birthparents.  The pain, healing and triumph of her experience is one that every human should read.  I give You Carried Me both five stars (would give a sixth if Amazon would let me) and a Four Kleenex Warning. I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.   I am honestly confident in giving this book the highest recommendation.  Look for an upcoming in-depth review and giveaway in the next few days.

That’s it for February!  While we’re here, gentle reminder: To keep on top of each month’s SRBT selections, do sign up for my monthly newsletter.

What’s your #OpenBook?

Don’t forget to link up YOUR #OpenBook reviews over at Carolyn’s!