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First Ask Why || Interview With Author Shelly Wildman & Book Giveaway!



Posted by on Apr 24, 2018 |


The internet has introduced me to a lot of writing friends, and when they go on to publish a book, I can’t help but stand on the sidelines and cheer. Today, I’m celebrating Shelly Wildman, an internet-turned-real-life friend who has just released a wonderful parenting book: Just Ask Why: Raising Kids to Love God Through Intentional Discipleship.

Shelly and I have a lot in common, starting with our age and including each of us having three children. We’ve learned over the years we share a similar parenting philosophy, and when she told me she was writing a book about parenting, I knew it would be one I’d recommend to others. I was right. It’s good, y’all.

This isn’t a how-to book, but it lays out a framework for (as I phrase it) parenting “hard and on purpose;” in her case, in particular, with the goal of discipling your children in their faith.

Parents of children still living at home will want this book, and it will make a fantastic Mother’s Day gift for anyone in the childrearing trenches. I’m also giving away a copy (comment on Instagram or Facebook). I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read the following interview with Shelly; you’ll understand quickly why I regard her counsel and why I’m bossing you to pick up your own copy.


Writing about parenting can be a powder keg—people have pretty strong opinions about raising kids. Why did you choose to write a parenting book?


I kind of feel like I didn’t choose to write a parenting book, but that the book chose me. (Sounds like a scene from Harry Potter, doesn’t it?) I fought writing it for a long time because I knew I wasn’t a perfect parent—I had messed up so many times that I didn’t feel qualified to write this book. I still don’t. But the idea kept nagging at me for so long that I finally felt like God might have been pushing me to do it.


I believe with all my heart that stronger families will make for a stronger society, which is so important today. And I believe that the strongest families are those that have Christ at their center. But so many parents today have lost their focus or their sense of purpose. They spend their time on meaningless, temporal things, when, really, the most important mission field is right in front of them. I’m hoping to encourage parents to look at the bigger picture, to ask why they are doing what they’re doing, and to think critically about God’s purpose for their kids and for their families.


I have three adult daughters now, and my hope is, now that my husband and I have raised them, that they will go out into the world and make a difference. And should they have children someday, that they would also make disciples of their kids. Instilling a Christ-following legacy is important work—I believe it’s THE most important work parents can do—and we’ve got to be intentional about it.


What makes your book different from other parenting books?


So many parenting books are “how-to” books. They seem to say, “Just follow these ten steps and here’s what you’ll get in the end.” But I don’t believe we can parent by formula. I think we have to look at our unique family and ask why.


Why are we doing what we’re doing as a family?


Why are we emphasizing these spiritual values? And are there others we should consider?


Why are we even here as a family? What’s our purpose for being put together in this unique combination of individuals?


Asking why gets to the heart of the matter; it exposes our motivations and desires for our family. Asking why leads to intentionality. And asking why helps give our children a sense of purpose as we lead them.


Why do you think some kids, even though they had Christian parents, don’t grow up to follow God? Is there anything Christian parents can do to ensure that their kids will choose to follow Jesus?


This is such a difficult question for me to answer because I honestly don’t know why. I know that parents can do all the right things—have time in God’s word together every day, take their kids to church regularly, pray diligently for their kids—and still have kids who struggle. I don’t believe there are any guarantees in Scripture that our kids will choose to follow Jesus into adulthood.


But I do believe that Scripture commands us to parent with the end goal in mind: having children who know and love the Lord. We are to be diligent in our calling to present our children to God, and we have to trust Him with the outcome. We have to persevere every day to show our kids that following Jesus is the path to true life, even though some days can be downright hard.


Deuteronomy 30:15-20 has been such a guide and encouragement to me as a parent, especially where it says, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life that you and your offspring may live.” We have a choice every day, and it’s our job to show our kids that choosing Christ is the only way to a fulfilling life.


What books influenced your husband and you as you raised your three daughters?


Honestly? Not very many. So many parenting books seemed to offer a formula—do this; don’t do that—and we weren’t looking for a formula. We knew that every kid is different and that every family has different needs, and most parenting books didn’t take that into account.


That said, there were a few that made an impact. Our pastor, Kent Hughes and his wife Barbara, wrote a book called Common Sense Parenting back in the ‘90s that, well, made sense to us. Some of the information is a little outdated today, but overall, it really helped us make good decisions about our parenting. And then there was James Dobson’s The Strong-Willed Child, for the obvious reasons. I think the book that made the most impact, though, was probably Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp. That book made me realize that my goal as a parent isn’t good behavior, but a changed heart. That, to me, was really impactful. If I were still parenting younger kids today, I’d also recommend Paul David Tripp’s Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Will Radically Change Your Family.


What was your lowest parenting moment?

You mean besides that time I locked my one month old in the car? (True story!)


I think my lowest moments were the times I let my daughters down. When I betrayed their trust by sharing too much with others. Or when I didn’t fulfill a promise I had made. Parents can feel their kids’ disappointment, which hurts so much. But more than that, too many disappointments lead to mistrust or a lack of respect, and I never wanted that to happen.


That said, parents are human. We do mess up. We do let our kids down. And those are the times we have to humble ourselves with our kids and apologize, sincerely. We need to let our kids know that we don’t always do things perfectly or say the right things or even parent correctly. But that we need grace and the help of God as much as they do.


Who do you hope will read this book and what do you hope they will gain?

I hope parents with kids of all ages will read this book, but especially parents of younger children. I hope grandparents will read this book. And I hope it sparks lots of discussion between husbands and wives, moms groups, or even small groups in churches.


My hope is that parents will come away from reading this book with a stronger sense of their purpose as parents and that they might gain a couple of new ideas that they can implement in their own family. I also hope people will read the last chapter very carefully and prayerfully. The last chapter of the book is on letting go, and it’s a concept that I think is becoming lost a little bit today. It’s so hard, but it’s so important, even when your children are young, to start thinking about letting go. We’ve got to be parents who demonstrate faith in God’s sovereign work in the lives of our children.


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Craving Connection Book {Order before December 15th & get a second free!}



Posted by on Dec 9, 2016 |



A year or so ago an opportunity was presented to me that sounded intriguing: submit a chapter for a collaborative work published by incourage in partnership with Lifeway.

This first book project by incourage was to be all about community, its tagline, 30 challenges for real life engagement. Other than that, I knew my chapter was to be based on John 15:12-17 and needed to be between 2,000-2,500 words. It was an easy “yes” and sounded like fun.

When I sat down to write I wasn’t sure what to share, but once I put pen to paper, 20 years of my life poured out. Amazing how you can squeeze over 7,000 days into 2,500 words.


A few weeks ago I received an early copy and joined a small group of people who agreed to read the daily chapters and take part in one (or all) of the challenges associated with each piece.


I don’t know exactly what I expected, but friends, I’m here to tell you, it exceeded whatever expectation I had! Day after day I was encouraged. Just about every chapter was something I could personally relate to. The material was accessible and inspiring, and I was so glad and grateful to be a part of such a solid, God-glorifying collaboration.

It was a blessing to be with two dear friends when my copy arrived. God love ’em, they let me read my chapter out loud to them. Because it had been so long since I submitted my piece, and I had never read it aloud – essentially “hearing” it for the first time – I was surprised that it moved me to tears. I mean, it’s not like I wasn’t familiar with the material.

In any event, Craving Connections releases in hardback on January 10, 2017. It’s available for pre-order now, and if you order by December 15th, you get a second copy free along with a few other fun incentives. 

Craving Connections - Pre-order incentives


Of course, I hope you’ll support this work (because I KNOW you’ll come away encouraged!), and if you do, please DO share your thoughts with me! I reallyreallyreally want to hear!

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Around/About: The “Let’s Read & Early Christmas Gifts” Edition



Posted by on Sep 27, 2014 |

A collection of links I love, sites I like, things to do and interesting reads.

Around-About GREAT Book Recommendations and Early Christmas Gifts


Just in case you were wondering, there are 88 days until Christmas. Some of you will bless me and some of you will curse me for that little reminder.

I wanted to share a few special reads and great deal; take a minute now to get out your credit cards so you’ll be ready 🙂 —

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift - A Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann VoskampHighly anticipated and a book I cannot wait to get my hands on is Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas. It’s #1 on Amazon for a reason: it’s a significant and meaningful exploration of the Advent season, providing a simple way for your family to celebrate together.

List price is $24.99. Use my link while you can get it for $14.99! Available now for pre-order, grab a copy for your family while you’re picking up this gift for everyone on your list!

Want to really reinforce this message? There are two collections of companion Greatest Gift ornament sets:

The Greatest Gift - Sculpted Resin Ornaments– If you’re willing to make a timeless investment for your family, buy The Greatest Gift Sculpted Ornament set. The price tag might deter you at first, but when you consider you’re receiving 25 high-quality resin ornaments that combine to tell a magnificent story, it’s absolutely worth it! Your children can handle them (carefully) and “touch” part of the story. There will be a limited number produced, so please don’t wait til the last minute.

The Greatest Gift Paper Ornament SetMore of us will be able to afford The Greatest Gift Paper Ornament Set, and don’t you dare consider it sloppy seconds. Yes, you’ll have to handle with care, but they convey the same message at a more accessible cost. Either way, it’s win-win and will only add to your reading of the book.



For Such a Time is This - Stories retold by Angie Smith with illustrations by Breezy BrookshireFor Such a Time as This: Stories of Women from the Bible, Retold for Girls by Angie Smith. Angie will bring stories to life for your daughter with her words, but it will be Breezy Brookshire’s illustrations that seal their memory. I can’t wait to see this one, too. List price is $14.99 but you can get it for $10.11 for at least the time being.






Four books by friends with strong, important messages,
all of which I’ve completed or am currently reading:


Great books by Christian authors
Lets All Be Brave by Annie DownsLet’s All Be Brave: Living Life With Everything You Have, Annie Downs. This is a battle cry, a call to courage, a mostly gentle kick in the pants to do that thing you’ve been afraid of. This is Annie’s first book written to adults following her previous two speaking to teens and the college set. Why you should buy and read it: You will suddenly see long-buried dreams coming to life and you’re going to want to do something about that. Highly motivating and easy to read. UPDATED: On sale for Kindle for just $3.79!! (Not sure for how long so grab it while the getting’s good!!)


I Want God by Lisa WhittleI Want God: Forever Changed by the Revival of Your Soul, Lisa Whittle. Where Annie’s book is a battle cry, Lisa’s is a beggar’s plea.  One of the funnest aspects of reading this book is having heard Lisa talk about it before it was ever finished. She wasn’t sure how it was going to go (what most authors discover) but I *think* she nailed it. Why you should buy and read it: Lisa is passionate about our need for revival and the way she speaks to the heart of the matter is inspiring. It’s hard not to want more of God as you consider how this fundamental desire shapes your faith.

Speak by Nish WeisethSpeak: How Your Story Can Change the World, Nish Weiseth, forward by Shauna Niequist. If you’re a follower of my posts at Deeper Story, you might recognize Nish as the site’s founder. Nish is young, strong and bold and she’s a champion of Story and Storytellers. She lives what she professes. Why you should buy and read it: Speak feels more like a conversation than a book and you’ll plow through it quickly because of it (I almost finished it in one sitting). You’ll come away realizing your story is of value, and through it, you can impact your little world and our big world.  UPDATE: Another WOW Sale! Only $3.99 for Kindle! Don’t let this get away!

The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurstThe Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands, Lysa Terkeurst. For years I bowed to the tyranny of the urgent and the idol of Busy. I didn’t think this book was for me because I’m on the other side of those challenges. I was wrong–Lysa’s message is so strong and clear, there was plenty more for me to learn. Why you should buy and read it: You’ll begin seeing more clearly the differences between “better” and “best” in your own life, and it will empower you to move beyond the paralysis of indecision to the power of making right decisions.


Lisa Leonard Weekend Instagram SaleLisa Leonard has just passed 30,000 followers on Instagram so she’s offering a weekend sale on a few of her favorite things. Click this link to see the qualifying items and use the code “insta30” at checkout. (There are also items in her sale shop, some of which are 50% off–wowza. The code won’t apply.) I love Lisa’s taste, style and the way she’s living her story, so I hope you’ll support her shop. (And that kite bracelet on the top left image? The PERFECT gift for any Kappa Alpha Theta on your list!!)

Please note that when you click through and purchase I’ll earn a tiny percentage through my affiliate links. This in NO WAY increases what you pay, it’s a thank you from the etailer for my referral. And…this is one of the few ways I’m compensated for writing in this space, so I’m incredibly grateful for your support and ANYTIME you use my affiliate links!

Typically my weekly round-ups are not related to e-commerce but I’m particularly excited about the books I’ve shared. I hope you’ll find something you can’t do without :).

Your turn: What have you read I might’ve missed this week?
Whether a book, a great blog post or interesting article, please share!

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A literary trifecta!!



Posted by on Oct 1, 2013 | 1 comment

Three books release today from authors I'm privileged to also call friend:

Though I received advance copies of all three, these will be books I'll purchase and pass along as gifts.  There are bunches of reasons to buy all of these–each book is special and important and carries a potentially life-altering message. 

I promise, that is no exaggeration.


Million-Little-Ways-by Emily FreemanThe subtitle of A Million Little Ways perfectly summarizes the content–"uncover the art you were made to live."  She invites you to see yourself as not only God's workmanship, but a poem…living art.

This is Emily's third book and I noticed something by the forth chapter:  this is the book where Emily's writing voice grows up.  She speaks with remarkable authority that took me by (pleasant) surprise.  

Her words here encouraged me in places I didn't even realize I needed to be encouraged.  In a very real sense this book gave me permission to lead out in areas I've been reluctant to pursue, and indirectly inspired my The Wonder of a Woman 31-Day series. 

Take 90 seconds to watch her book trailer and you'll be convinced A Million Little Ways is a must-read.


* * * *

One thing I appreciate about Pete Wilson's writing style is its accessibility; he doesn't talk over your head, he speaks straight to your heart.  In Let Hope In he explains our four choices:

  1. Let Hope In by Pete WilsonTo transform instead of transfer
  2. To be okay with not being okay
  3. To trust rather than please
  4. To free people rather than hurt them

LHILiveIG_tonightOnce we begin to see that we are always making choices; and by making healthy, intentional choices, healing can begin and everything changes.  Grasping the grace that God extends, the true hope that he offers, will not only make a difference today but forever

Pete is doing something really cool with his book launch today; tonight at 7:30 EST (6:30 CST) he's hosting a live online event.  He'll be joined by special guests Natalie Grant, David Landrith, Angie Smith, Mandy Hale, Plumb and a couple other surprises.  If you're near a laptop, tune in to watch and hear from Pete himself (and then you'll be itching to buy the book, too). 

* * * *

Audrey Bunny by Angie Smith_illustrated by Breezy BrookshireAnd then there's Angie Smith's Audrey Bunny, a beautiful children's story magnificently illustrated by the ridiculously talented Breezy Brookshire.  Angie's tender words combined with Breezy's whimsical images produce nothing short of a magical, modern-day classic.  Full of symbolism from Angie's personal story of loss and love, Audrey Bunny is poignant reminder that "God loves you and created you just the way you are".  This is a perfect gift for an expectant mother, a gift for children who love to hear stories, and for anyone who wrestles their imperfections.  List price is only $14.99 but it's currently discounted to only $8.99 at Amazon (not sure how long that price will remain, so snag a few copies while you can!). 



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Sparkly Green Earrings



Posted by on Feb 25, 2013 | 52 comments


Sparkly Green Earrings - Big Mama - Melanie Shankle

Brilliant title & product tie-in!


One of the things I like most about myself is how genuinely excited I get when a friend earns success by pursuing her passion.  Rather than fall culprit to jealousy or defeat, my heart does herkies (to which my friends Kristen and Dawn can attest…though they do real ones better).  

Don't get me wrong – there are plenty of other demons I battle – but witnessing Dreams Coming True is reason to celebrate.  Stories of people pressing past their fears, overcoming obstacle and chasing rainbows and finishing what they started inspire me.

But this post isn't about me, it's about Melanie.  And she is six shades of fabulous.


Wearing my sparkly green earrings

See the sparkle? Spectacular!!

Melanie is one of my oldest blogging friends, one of the first I met in real life, back in the days where we hid our identities (ish) and were concerned every blogger might just be a creepy man sitting in his basement eerily luminated by the glow of his computer, not bathing for weeks and living on beef jerky and pork rinds.  


Melanie was nothing but light and life, consistent with who I knew her to be from reading her blog.

Her first book, Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turndebuted a few weeks ago and lest you think I'm makin' much ado about nothing, she's already at #27 on the New York Times Best Seller List.  Beth Moore, Ann Voskamp and Ree Drummond have whole-heartedly endorsed it, and it's my delight to recommend it, too.  

Sparkly Green Earrings is a book you could read in a single sitting or two, but I didn't.  I found myself making myself take as long as possible to read it.  I don't recall doing that before–I'm usually rushing to turn the final page–but this was like a visit with a good friend, sweet conversation, relatable stories on motherhood.  Whether you know her or have read her blog, Melanie writes like you're long-time friends. 

And sometimes that's the cup of cheer you desperately need.  

Oh, and since Melanie (aka Big Mama) has written about fashion a time or 12, I thought the book title meant we'd be hearing about that.  How much did I LOVE learning the why behind the title…a little, lovely surprise, and you'll just have to read to find out yourself.  

Melanie is offering one of my readers a signed copy of Sparkly Green Earrings!!  

For your initial entry, leave a comment on this post telling me why YOU'D like to win this giveaway; once you do that, feel free to Tweet, Pin, Facebook Like and/or Share this post for additional entries and leave a separate comment with the URL to enter.  Entries will close on Sunday, March 3rd at 11:59 EST.  Giveaway is for book only :).

If you can't wait, DO buy the book NOW!!

Melanie explains more about the book below…mostly it's a love letter I suppose :).



Amazon affiliate link used.



Screen shot 2013-03-04 at 8.52.48 AMCONGRATS to commentor #32, Stephanie Auton,'s rabbit out of the hat for Melanie's book.

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Emily, Annie and Lisa



Posted by on Sep 17, 2012 |

Two of my favorite bloggers-turned-authors are Emily Freeman and Annie Downs.  

Our paths first crossed over four years ago when I met them at She Speaks (a speakers/writers conference); there was something about both women that drew me to them, they're the type friend who instantly makes you want to spend more time together.  A year after that, the three of us would be invited to write for a new, faith-based women's site, making it easy to stay connected.

Fast forward to now and it's time to

cue the confetti & streamers:

Emily and Annie just released books on the same day!

And if you have daughters, you need to head straight

to your favorite bookstore and buy them!

Graceful:  Letting go of your Try-hard Life, Emily P. Freeman 

Graceful (For Young Women): Letting Go of Your Try-Hard Life


Pefectly Unique, Annie F. Downs

Perfectly Unique: Praising God from Head to Foot


Annie and Emily speak with authority, having mentored and cultivated significant relationship with young women, tween, teen and older.  They have insight and wisdom worthy of your time.  I can't speak more specifically yet–both books are sitting bedside, next in queue–but based on what I've already read from these ladies, I'm 100% confident in endorsing their work.  

If you'd like to "try before you buy", read the reviews attached to the links above or simply read  Emily's and Annie's blogs.  It won't take you long to fall head over heels with their writing voices.  

And, oh, my–how could I almost forget?  Emily has a wonderful, unique trailer for her book!  I love how she tells a story with these beautiful images….(do click through to see it full screen).

Note:  I'm grateful to any of you who use the Amazon affiliate links above, provided for convenience & to line my pockets with pennies.




On another note, you know how when you have a conviction or revelation about something, and it's reinforced over and over and OVER?  You might see a related news story or a passage in scripture or a particular book or even on TV or in a song or heaven forbid a brilliant quote on Facebook? 

Be Still, Lisa ChanThat's happened recently with this call in my life to Be Still.  First, I feel this check in my spirit; then just for me Lisa Leonard created jewelry with that message; and then I discover Lisa Chan has produced an entire video series around the discipline of Stillness and True Beauty!

Yep, me thinks God might be boinking me on the head with this….

When I was approached about reviewing the intro to Lisa's series, I almost said no.  But because her husband's (Francis Chan) book Crazy Love had some beautiful, important things to say, I agreed.  

Lisa's vision for the series came after a romantic getaway was interrupted by life and she was "forced" to be alone for a period of time.  If you have no idea what it means to Be Still, this is a great place to begin.



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