Summer books: Simply Tuesday

Emily FreemanEditor’s note: This is the third in a series of four author interviews.

If I thought I could get away with it, I’d type amen after each of Emily Freeman’s answers. Because this author? She gets it. Her latest book is Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World. It releases on Aug. 18, which is of course a Tuesday.

What’s the message of your newest book?

My newest book is called Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World. Tuesday offers the gift of now, of seeing how the kingdom of God hides in small things – beneath the pile of laundry and woven into the dinner conversation. This feels counter-intuitive in my world. In our culture and even in the church, we always seem to praise the Big and Important: the growing congregation, the rising star, the giant donation, or the big and amazing dream. But Jesus said the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, he said God’s people are like salt, he said his kingdom belongs to the children.

Growing congregations, rising stars, giant donations, and big dreams are great! But the truth is that isn’t where most of us live. The Bible says we are not to despise the days of small beginnings. I admit, that sounds lovely and offers relief maybe. But when you have to actually live the small beginnings, when you have to get up every morning for what feels like an eternal Tuesday, it’s hard to not despise that. Too often my soul feels held hostage by hustle – which basically looks like me trying to hustle my way out of the Tuesday moments and grab on to something that looks more like a Friday night.

I sense Jesus inviting me to release my obsession with building a life and trust in the life Christ is building within me. And in my life the way he’s doing that is one small moment at a time.

In a world where we spend hundreds and hundreds on children’s birthday parties and create elaborate prom-posals, how can the small moments compete?

Prom-posals! Ha! How have I never heard that term before? Yes, it’s so true that it seems like the small-moments are over-looked and I understand why. Who would choose small if there’s potential for big? I guess my only answer to the question “how can the small moments compete” is that they can’t. Which is precisely the point. I think a lot of us are actually tired of competing – we live in this world of hustle, hurry, produce, deliver and maybe we’re successful at that. Sometimes. But beneath the surface, at the core of who we are, I believe our souls are longing for space, for margin, and for rest.

We might be able to sustain this pace for a while, but no one can do it for a lifetime. At least not in a healthy way. I don’t think it’s wrong to go all out or to celebrate or achieve in big ways. What I do think is that it’s also important to remember that Jesus came as a baby and not as a king. And that the kingdom of God shows up in ways we might not expect – in the whisper, in the seed, in the child.

3.What role do these small moments play in our contentment?

I’m still learning this. But one thing I’ve noticed in myself is that if the light of a Tuesday morning candle isn’t bright enough to light the room, a spotlight won’t be either. If the regular work I do on a Tuesday doesn’t feel important, I will become addicted to comparison and forget compassion. If the people in my life now aren’t sacred companions for me, I realize I’m competing with everyone and connecting with no one.

Jesus became less and arrived small and keeping company with him, celebrating my smallness in his presence rather than despising it – this brings a surprising freedom that seems impossible. I don’t always choose the small way, but contentment is a natural result when I do.

Summer books: The Plain Choice

Sherry GoreEditor’s note: This is the first in a series of four author interviews.

The Plain Choice: A True Story of Choosing to Live an Amish Life tells how Sherry Gore, who moved several times across the country looking for a new beginning, finally found one – in faith.

Gore’s book, which releases next month, walks the reader through her difficult childhood, her six months of homelessness and her eventual focus on living for God.

She graciously tells us more:

What do you hope readers take away from the difficult parts of your story?

All my life I knew God was real. I could see Him working in the lives of others. But my feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth were overwhelming. I couldn’t see an end to my emotional pain. The bad choices I continually made in the past left me thinking I’d missed any chance there was for me to ever have a personal relationship with God. I thought I was unforgivable. I had no faith. What I learned when I did give myself over to God – and every day since – is that His grace is powerful enough to redeem anyone. Including me.

Sometimes the Amish life – and even just choosing to live more simply – seems so far away. What are some steps people can take to begin to shift priorities?

Living with a sense of community in your heart can do wonders for your psyche. This is easily achieved by turning our attention away from things that drain us of our time, and giving more of ourselves – be it a listening ear, or offering a helping hand where needed for others. … Being present for others is what makes a community.

How common is it for an adult to join the Amish? What was it that the Amish offered that spoke the most to your heart?

Hosting visitors is fairly common in the Mennonite church. Actually joining the church is not. Most of the letters and emails I receive from those seeking the Plain community entail a desire for a lifestyle that appears romantic and ideal. Once the “romantic” aspect of living Plain wears off – this often happens in six months or less – they’re left feeling unsatisfied. The path that led me to the Plain church was any but romantic. My discovery that there were people in this world who were living a life parallel to my own (based on my own bible reading and convictions) was what set my search in motion. Once there, I knew I was in God’s will. I’m exactly where God wants me; in a place where I can fellowship with like-minded individuals allowing me to flourish in my relationship with Him every day.

When I go in Christian bookstores the shelves are full of novels that feature the Amish. Why do you think people are drawn to that subject?

I think the initial attraction to Amish fiction is the longing readers have for a simpler life. … I believe what keeps the readers coming back for more is that most Amish fiction books are written with wholesome, clean storylines, and have characters with surprisingly every day, true-to-life problems readers can identify with. At the same time they offer a look into the lives of a culture not readily understood by most people in society. Amish fiction is here to stay.

A dozen great books for Easter (win some!)

My addiction to holiday books started six years ago when a dear friend told me she read a book every night leading up to Christmas. And, well, once I started collecting Christmas books for my sons… I naturally wanted Easter books, too.

Visit the Simply Faithful Facebook page to see an album of our favorites — and then, if you’d like to add three free books to your own Easter book collection, click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway! The contest ends Monday morning at midnight. Enjoy!

Zonderkidz giveaway


Interested in teen fiction? Join us for a chat with Jill Williamson on Friday

Photo courtesy of Jill Williamson

Jill Williamson, author of “Replication [The Jason Experiment],” will be available at 7 p.m. EST on Friday, Nov. 16. You’ll be able to join the chat live on the Simply Faithful Facebook page.

For about a year now I’ve invited readers to join me in reading and discussing books with spiritual themes. So far, the community has read “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp and “Rooms” by James Rubart. The current book club picks — like “Replication” — were chosen to encourage younger readers to participate in the conversation.

In “Replication,” one of Williamson’s six Christian teen novels, Abby discovers her scientist father is working in a hidden human cloning facility called Jason Farms. One of the clones, J:3:3 (aka Martyr), escapes in her father’s pick-up truck because he desperately wants to see the sky and the outside world before he expires on his 18th birthday. Eventually Abby and Martyr work together to try to free the other clones, especially Baby because Martyr protects Baby and the other “broken” clones in the facility.

“Everybody loves Martyr,” Williamson said, “and I’ve had a lot of readers tell me that they have had to think about the things they have taken for granted. It’s made them pause and notice the world.”

To learn more about Williamson, visit her Website:, where she offers a free monthly manuscript review. You can also find her page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. Look for @JillWilliamson.

To read other articles I’ve written about her, click here and here.


‘Replication’ delves into purpose — even for clones

Photo courtesy of Jill Williamson

The idea that each person has a purpose in life is important to author Jill Williamson – so much so that it’s the current that carries readers through her teen book “Replication [The Jason Experiment].”

“Every person is created for a reason,” Williamson said, adding that people’s purpose can change, like in her life.

Williamson studied to be a fashion designer, then worked toward being a motivational speaker for teens before deciding to write speculative fiction for young adults. Now, she’s bringing the topic up for readers to wrestle with in “Replication” where humans and clones struggle with what their contribution should be.

In “Replication,” one of Williamson’s six Christian teen novels, Abby discovers her scientist father is working in a hidden human cloning facility called Jason Farms. One of the clones, J:3:3 (aka Martyr), escapes in her father’s pick-up truck because he desperately wants to see the sky and the outside world before he expires on his 18th birthday. Eventually Abby and Martyr work together to try to free the other clones, especially Baby because Martyr protects Baby and the other “broken” clones in the facility.

“Everybody loves Martyr,” Williamson said, “and I’ve had a lot of readers tell me that they have had to think about the things they have taken for granted. It’s made them pause and notice the world.”

“Replication” is planned as a three-book series, but Williamson is currently working on other book projects, raising an 8-year-old and a 10-year-old and involved with youth ministry in eastern Oregon where her husband is a youth pastor.

“I’ve always loved to read teen books,” she said, and she often shared books with the teens she knew and wished that there were more options in Christian fiction – more books that Christians could agree on.

Then reality struck. Agreement was hard to find and writing took practice. Publishing took networking.

Still, it was fun to create characters who are real and flawed, so Williamson stuck with it.

“Stories are powerful,” she said, like a woman who has found her purpose.

About the Simply Faithful book club

For about a year Marketta Gregory, author of the Simply Faithful column, has invited readers to join her in reading and discussing books with spiritual themes. So far, the community has read “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp and “Rooms” by James Rubart. The current selections – all four – were chosen to encourage younger readers to participate in the conversation. They are:

  • “Who Built the Stable?” by Ashley Bryan ($16.99, Simon and Schuster).
  • “Jackson Jones: The Tale of a Boy, an Elf, and a Very Stinky Fish” by Jenn Kelly ($12.99, Zondervan).
  • “Replication [The Jason Experiment]” by Jill Williamson ($15.99, Zondervan).
  • “Graceful: Letting Go of your Try-Hard Life” by Emily P. Freeman ($12.99, Revell).

Meet Jill Williamson

Learn more about author Jill Williamson at her Website: You can also find her page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. Look for @JillWilliamson.

Readers have the chance to chat live with her at 7 p.m. Nov. 16 on the Simply Faithful Facebook page.

May I recommend: Two kids’ books for fall

With a house full of boys I’m always on the look-out for good books — and good prices on those books. Here are two that we are enjoying this season:

  • “The Pumpkin Patch Parable” by Liz Curtis Higgs
  • “A Pumpkin Prayer” by Amy Parker

“The Pumpkin Patch Parable” tells about a man who grows pumpkins and lets his light shine. Each two-page spread includes a scripture.

“A Pumpkin Prayer” offers thanks for many of our autumnal blessings.

I picked them up a couple of months ago at our local Ollie’s Bargain Outlet for $2.29 each. Hopefully you’ll be as fortunate!

And the next books in the Simply Faithful book club are…

I know I said I’d pick three books for the next Simply Faithful book club – a picture book, a chapter book and a book for teens – but one other non-fiction book kept showing up.

First it flashed across in my Twitter stream, later it was a blog I like to visit and then the book publisher even suggested it specifically for our book club. So, I gave in. I rewrote the rules and picked four books for us this time. I think you’ll be glad I did.

Our four books are:

  • “Who Built the Stable?” by Ashley Bryan ($16.99, Simon and Schuster).
  • “Jackson Jones: The Tale of a Boy, an Elf, and a Very Stinky Fish” by Jenn Kelly ($12.99, Zondervan).
  • “Replication [The Jason Experiment]” by Jill Williamson ($15.99, Zondervan).
  • “Graceful: Letting Go of your Try-Hard Life” by Emily P. Freeman ($12.99, Revell).

I first fell in love with Bryan when a librarian suggested his book “All Things Bright and Beautiful.” Bryan had taken his mother’s sewing and embroidery scissors to cut intricate designs out of colored paper. He pieced those together to create stunning illustrations. His latest book offers a heartwarming retelling of the birth of Jesus and artwork that is bright and inviting.

For our young readers, I’ve selected a crazy funny book about a boy named Jackson who falls into his aunt’s big hairdo and meets elves, bubblegum-blowing birds and… danger! Kelly’s writing style is so conversational that it could easily be read out loud, and her message – that we are created for a purpose – begs to be discussed.

The teen fiction book takes a more serious turn because Williamson takes her readers inside a hidden human cloning facility. As the adventure unfolds, she delves into questions about the value of life and about forgiveness, even of ruthless captors.

My bonus book, “Graceful,” is a nod to all those young women who are trying desperately to live a perfect life. May you learn early on the lesson I still need today: “As good girls, we carry the weight of things that belong to God alone.”

In the past, we’ve hosted Facebook chats with authors and organized local book discussion groups. What would work best this time? How would you like to reach out to the authors and to each other? We’ll iron out the details. In the meantime, happy reading.

What book should every child read this fall?

We’re nearing the deadline for nominating books for our community wide book club. Several generous readers have offered suggestions, including Mrs. Sorensen who recommended 32 books before signing her name — and then another 20 she must have thought of after that!

Now, which books do you have on your mind? Which ones taught you lessons about faith and morals? Which authors would you love the chance to chat with? What books would you like to talk about with others?

I’m planning to choose one board book, one chapter book and one teen book. I’ll announce my selections Oct. 8 in the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle and here at


(Don’t worry. I’ll share Mrs. Sorensen’s list and recommendations from other folks, too. Look for that list around Sept. 24.)

Next up in the Simply Faithful book club: Rooms

For weeks I read books that readers suggested. I visited book stores and asked for recommendations. I bugged my husband and friends for their opinions on plots.

And finally, I found it. The next book for our book club: Rooms by James Rubart.

It’s not my typical genre — and I’d never read Rubart before. Still, the book tugged at me. It made me think of how I’m limiting myself, of how I allow the negative voices too much play time in my mind, of how God brings healing to broken hearts.

Give it a try and let’s discuss it.

Read my column and my profile of the author in today’s Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle:

15 Christian books to read this summer

I knew when I asked for book suggestions you would come through for me. I just didn’t know I’d be bombarded! Some of these just sounded too good to keep to myself, so I made a list (with descriptions courtesy of and thought I’d share these reader recommendations in case you find yourself in need of a great book this summer. Happy reading! 

  • The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews: David Ponder loses his job and his confidence – and then has a car accident that leaves him unconscious. While unconscious, he travels to seven key points in history and meets historical figures like Abraham Lincoln and King Solomon, who guide him to a more fulfilled life.
  • The Noticer: Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective by Andy Andrews: Like all humans on the planet, the good folks of Orange Beach, Alabama, have their share of problems – marriages teetering on the brink of divorce, young adults giving up on life, business people on the verge of bankruptcy, as well as the many other obstacles that life seems to dish out to the masses. Fortunately, when things look the darkest, a mysterious man named Jones has a miraculous way of showing up. Communicating what he calls “a little perspective,” he explains that he has been given a gift of noticing things that others miss.
  • While We’re Far Apart by Lynn Austin: In an unassuming apartment building in Brooklyn, New York, three lives intersect as the reality of war invades each aspect of their lives. Young Esther is heartbroken when her father decides to enlist in the army shortly after the death of her mother. Penny Goodrich has been in love with Eddie Shaffer for as long as she can remember; now that Eddie’s wife is dead, Penny feels she has been given a second chance and offers to care for his children in the hope that he will finally notice her and marry her after the war. And elderly Mr. Mendel, the landlord, waits for the war to end to hear what has happened to his son trapped in war-torn Hungary. But during the long, endless wait for victory overseas, life on the home front will go from bad to worse. Yet these characters will find themselves growing and changing in ways they never expected – and ultimately discovering truths about God’s love…even when He is silent.
  •  The Half Stitched Amish Quilting Club by Wanda Brunstetter: Join the club of unlikely quilters who show up for Amish widow Emma Yoder’s quilting classes. A troubled young woman, a struggling couple, a widower, a rough and tough biker, and a preacher’s wife make up the mismatched lot. But as their problems begin to bind them together like the scraps of fabric stitched together in a quilt, they learn to open up and lend a helping hand. Is this what God had in mind to heal hurting hearts and create beauty from fragments?
  • The Harbinger: The ancient mystery that holds the secret of America’s future by Jonathan Cahn: Before its destruction as a nation, ancient Israel received nine harbingers, prophetic omens of warning. The same nine harbingers are now manifesting in America with immediate ramifications for end-time prophecy. Hidden in an ancient biblical prophecy from Isaiah, the mysteries revealed in The Harbinger are so precise that they foretold recent American events down to the exact days. The revelations are so specific that even the most hardened skeptics will find it hard to dismiss or put down. It sounds like the plot of a Hollywood thriller with one exception… it’s real.
  • Deadly Disclosures by Julie Cave: How far will some go to silence an influential Christian voice? FBI agent Dinah Harris now has a missing person’s file to go along with a bad case of alcohol abuse and the depression she cannot seem to shake. Fighting to keep her focus, she struggles to find answers for why Thomas Whitfield, the prominent Secretary of the Smithsonian has vanished from his office with foul play almost guaranteed. Whitfield’s body is eventually found, and Dinah is drawn into a frightening conspiracy, as more people begin to die, and Whitfield’s faith is revealed as part of the motive behind his murder. Dinah finds troubling answers in an academic world filled with powerful financial endowments and a virulent opposition to the faith Whitfield only recently found. Can she reveal the truth before she finds herself the next silenced victim of a ruthless, unseen enemy?
  • Queen Of The Bremen: The True Story Of An American Child Trapped In Germany During World War II by Marlies Adams DiFante (of Rochester, NY): It is 1939 when five-year-old Marlies Adams travels with her family on a transatlantic journey from America to Germany so that her mother can visit her terminally ill father. As the SS Bremen leaves New York Harbor with Marlies and her family as passengers, no one could have predicted the events that are about to unfold as the Bremen docks in Bremerhaven, Germany six days later. As World War II begins, Hitler comes into power, and all borders and ports are closed; the Adams family is prohibited from leaving Germany.
  • Joshua: A Parable for Today by Joseph F. Girzone: When Joshua moves to a small cabin on the edge of town, the local people are mystified by his presence. A quiet and simple man, Joshua appears to seek nothing for himself. He supports himself by working as a carpenter. He charges very little for his services, yet his craftsmanship is exquisite. Despite his benevolence and selfless work in the community, some remain suspicious. Finally, in an effort to address the community’s doubts, the local religious leaders confront Joshua.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee: Robert McGee’s best-selling book has helped millions of readers learn how to be free to enjoy Christ’s love while no longer basing their self-worth on their accomplishments or the opinions of others. In fact, Billy Graham said that it was a book that “should be read by every Christian.” In this re-launch of this timeless classic you will: Gain new skills for getting off the performance treadmill; discover how four false beliefs have negatively impacted your life; learn how to overcome obstacles that prevent you from experiencing the truth that your self-worth is found only in the love, acceptance, and forgiveness of Christ.
  • Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller: In Donald Miller’s early years, he was vaguely familiar with a distant God. But when he came to know Jesus Christ, he pursued the Christian life with great zeal. Within a few years he had a successful ministry that ultimately left him feeling empty, burned out, and, once again, far away from God. In this intimate, soul-searching account, Miller describes his remarkable journey back to a culturally relevant, infinitely loving God.
  • Any book by Janette Oke.
  • Illusion by Frank Perretti: Dane and Mandy Collins have been a popular magic act for close to 30 years. In their late fifties, they plan to retire but their plans are devastated by a fiery car wreck. Dane awakens in a hospital and learns that Mandy is dead. A friend tells Dane there’s an act he ought to see. Dane has retired but agrees to watch the girl perform. He is transfixed by the magic he sees, illusions that even he, a seasoned professional, cannot readily explain. But more than anything, he is emotionally devastated by this nineteen-year-old who is in every respect identical to the young beauty he first met some forty years earlier.
  • Where the Pink Houses Are by Rebekah Ruth: When unthinkable tragedy strikes, will Brenna and her mother-in-law, Anna, find healing half a world away amid the green Irish hills? Brenna begins to think she may be able to build a new life in a new land when Anna’s eccentric family welcomes her with open arms. But it’s in the arms of the town heartbreaker, Luke Dillon, that she begins to wonder if she can truly fall in love again. As if one confusing relationship isn’t enough, when Brenna meets Ryan Kelly she’s instantly drawn to him. As always, Anna has comforting and wise advice but Brenna needs to decide for herself as she struggles to understand God’s plan for her life.
  • The Lies We Believe by Dr. Chris Thurman: This newly repackaged edition examines the lies people tell themselves that damage emotional health, relationships, and spiritual life.
  • The Cross Gardener by Jason Wright: Married and the father of a young daughter, John Bevan had finally found the traditional family he lacked as an orphaned child. But all that disappears when a fatal car accident steals away his wife-and the unborn child she carried. Filled with sorrow, John withdraws from life and love. He erects a small cross at the scene of his wife’s accident and visits daily, grieving. Then one morning he encounters a young man kneeling before the cross, touching it up with white paint. John’s conversations and travels with this mysterious man-known to him only as the Cross Gardener-will forever change his world.