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.
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:
- Start an Embrace Grace at their local church so young women with unplanned pregnancies have a support group.
- Partner with the national organization through prayer and support at http://www.EmbraceGrace.com
- Download and print our brave girl letter (http://egrace.co/brave) 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
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 were warned when I covered You Carried Me for this month’s Open Book linkup. Here’s a more in-depth review
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.
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:
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!
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?
Carolyn Astfalk has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup!
Sabbath Rest Book Talk will return in March!
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:
Meanwhile, I’m still reading.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Has your writing dream stalled on you? The jumper cables have arrived!
Join us! The Catholic Writers Guild will hold its 6th Catholic Writers Conference Online February 17-19, 2017. From the practical to the sublime–and probably some ridiculous thrown in there just for fun–this conference will give your writing dreams and goals a boost all from the comfort of your own home. CWCO features low registration cost and NO costs for travel, lodging and meals (I mean, unless you want to take your laptop out for dinner and drinks).
If that’s not enough to tempt you, my first CWCO is where my publishing career got its start. Seriously. I’d been stalled for about six years, then someone invited me to CWCO. That’s where I was contacted by FQP, and that’s what got me the contract for Don’t You Forget About Me. You can read that story here.
Ready to register for The Catholic Writers Conference Online, February 17-19, 2017?
Maybe you need more of a tow truck than a battery jump? Hopefully I can be that tow! Humble presenter, at your service…
The Other Side of the Desk: What Being an Editor Taught Me About Being a Writer
(Friday, February 17, 1:30-2:30pm)
Did that editor get my submission? How important are all these formatting rules anyway? Most of all, WHAT IS TAKING SO LONG? Writers have lots of questions when submitting work to and coordinating with editors. This presentation will demystify several aspects of the submission and publishing process while giving you the tools you need to build stronger relationships with the editors in your life, from acquisitions time all the way through those final copy edits.
I attended my first CWCO because someone invited me. This is me inviting you! What are the reasons you think you can’t participate in this conference? Give me a shot at helping you find a way through, and put your “can’ts” in the comments!
Ready to register for The Catholic Writers Conference Online, February 17-19, 2017?
Carolyn Astfalk has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup!
“On our first day of school, Robert and I stood at the designated stop at Hevers Avenue with our mothers, and that’s when we met for the very first time. We were five years old.” So began a lifelong friendship that fourteen years later would result in the formation of The Cure, a quintessential post-punk band whose albums-such as Three Imaginary Boys, Pornography, and Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me-remain among the best-loved and most influential of all time….
Cured is not only the first insider account of the early days of the band, it is a revealing look at the artistic evolution of the enigmatic Robert Smith, the iconic lead singer, songwriter, and innovative guitarist at the heart of The Cure. A deeply rebellious, sensitive, tough, and often surprisingly “normal” young man, Smith was from the start destined for stardom, a fearless non-conformist and provocateur who soon found his own musical language through which to express his considerable and unique talent. But there was also a dark side to The Cure’s intense and bewildering success. Tolhurst, on drums and keyboards, was nursing a growing alcoholism that would destroy his place in The Cure and nearly end his life. Cured tells the harrowing and unforgettable story of his crash-and-burn, recovery, and rebirth.
Hooray! I’m so old that the bands I listened to as a teen have earned the cred to write their memoirs! Seriously, though, I saw this at the library and hesitated at the idea of picking it up. The Cure was one of those bands I lurrrrved in high school but stopped following by young adulthood–frankly, once I’d achieved a certain measure of mental health (not saying that if you still like The Cure you’re bonkers; just that I liked them when I was not in a good place, so there are associations involved there). I figured, though, it’s the library! It’s free! What do I have to lose, even if I don’t actually get around to reading it?
Needless to say, Cured didn’t go back into the book return unread. In fact, I flipped open to the first page in the library parking lot while waiting for my brood to finish buckling up and was irritated that I had to, you know, STOP READING AND DRIVE THE CHILDREN HOME. I finished Cured in the space of 72 hours. I’m sure it helped that I had so many memories that connected to the author’s tale. After all, Lol Tolhurst is the reason I had such a hard time in the 90s adjusting to the idea that LOL means “laughing out loud,” not a nickname for “Laurence.” It turns out Lol also is the name of a compelling memoirist. Alcoholism doesn’t set many people free, especially those who descended so deeply into is as Tolhurst did. He writes from a space of honesty, regret and hope all at once. Cured is more than just a memoir of the post-punk age or even just an apology letter to a world wounded by alcohol addiction. It’s the story of the pressures of creativity from within and without and of the power of a soul’s potential to break through even the heaviest bonds. Even if you didn’t tease your hair into wild spikes, wear red lipstick and black eyeliner and powder your face white a decade before the word “goths” came into use as it is now (ahem, like I did, ahem), I still recommend Cured.
I’ve also picked up Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me for the first time in mumblemumble years….
The Secret of Glaston Tor (Book 1 of The Glaston Chronicles) by Donal Anthony Foley
Fifteen year old Matt Bergin is staying in Glastonbury for Christmas with his cousins, Luke and Annie Martin. Matt feels drawn to Glastonbury Tor, and St Michael’s Tower, which crowns its summit. The cousins learn the secret of Glaston Tor and find themselves propelled back in time to 1940s France and the Second World War. They are given a mission by an enigmatic stranger, who asks them to help a young German couple and their son escape from wartime France. But the fearsome Gestapo are on their trail. Matt and his cousins will discover that their destinies are intimately linked to this family, and to a mysterious young stranger who will stop at nothing to learn their secret.
I was approached by the author with a free copy in exchange for an honest review. It didn’t take much arm-twisting to get me to accept. British time travel with a Catholic twist, geared towards teens (two of which I now parent)?
I am relieved and delighted to say this was a rip-roaring good time of a read! Besides the fast-paced adventure, the story illustrates a number of big questions that the YA audience is just starting to tackle: Does God matter? Does prayer actually make a difference? Why doesn’t God always answer our prayers? Highly recommended for the YA set… and maybe even for yourself!
Seventeen-year-old theater geek Nanette believes her life is headed toward stardom on Broadway. But when her dream theater college rejects her and her best friend dies in a terrible accident, Nanette decides the world would be better off without her. Unfortunately, the afterlife offers something less than a heavenly situation. Trapped between alternating periods of utter darkness and light, Nanette is stuck following a high school freshman around. Soon, she learns she’s a guardian angel, and the only way she can earn her wings is to keep her young charge, Vera, from committing the same sin she did—taking her own life. Unfortunately, Nanette is missing more than just her wings. She has no tangible body or voice, either. Frustrated by her inability to reach out to Vera and haunted by memories of her old life, Nanette wants to give up, but then she sees what happens when another Guardian at the high school turns his back on his charge. The shock is enough to supercharge Nanette’s determination. She’s going to find peace in the afterlife…as soon as she can convince Vera that living is what life is all about.
I won a copy of this book from the author, no strings attached, and I’m also delighted and relieved to give it a hearty endorsement. The pacing is spot-on, the characters are well-drawn and well-motivated, the parents are a living (is that a pun?) and breathing part of the plot rather than just add-ons. One caveat emptor: I am concerned about how the resolution of the story might make light of the permanence of suicide, especially in the minds of young readers who are on the more impressionable side. I don’t want to give anything away, but I did want to put that out there as something for parents to consider when thinking about sharing Angelhood with their young readers. That said, it’s well-written and well deserving of all the awards it has received! I’m looking forward to my next Cattapan read.
8 Notes to a Nobody (Book 1 in Birdface series) by Cynthia Toney
“Funny how you can live your days as a clueless little kid, believing you look just fine … until someone knocks you in the heart with it.” Wendy Robichaud doesn’t care one bit about being popular like good-looking classmates Tookie and the Sticks–until Brainiac bully John-Monster schemes against her, and someone leaves anonymous sticky-note messages all over school. Even the best friend she always counted on, Jennifer, is hiding something and pulling away. But the spring program, abandoned puppies, and high school track team tryouts don’t leave much time to play detective. And the more Wendy discovers about the people around her, the more there is to learn.When secrets and failed dreams kick off the summer after eighth grade, who will be around to support her as high school starts in the fall?
8 Notes was a quick, engaging read that dealt with a number of heavy issues in a compact story. And isn’t adolescence like that, really? It’s such a short time when so much happens to the heart, mind and soul. 8 Notes tackles all those issues with courage and truth and not too heavy a hand. Wendy’s characterization was honest, as was the depiction of life in late middle school and the landscape of all the changing relationships therein. The pacing felt right, and the development between and within the characters was engaging. After this first book I have the rest of the books in the Birdface series now on my TBR list! [I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.]
Juuuust in case you’re wondering… what’s going on with Sabbath Rest Book Talk?
The first four months of SRBT were, frankly, far more successful than I anticipated they’d be. Taking that experience, I’m hoping to expand on it and develop something that is more useful to you as a reader. If you want updates on that, do subscribe to my EMC Reader Newsletter.
Don’t forget to link up YOUR #OpenBook reviews over at Carolyn’s!