Join us for the 2014 Simply Faithful book club?

BookClub1I had good intentions of simplifying my life. I’d just take a year off of the whole Simply Faithful book club thing.

Who needs the hassle of scheduling interviews with authors? The struggle to balance work and home and extra reading? The nervousness of keeping up with Facebook chats?

Apparently, I do.

I’ve missed the Simply Faithful book club, and I’ve missed visiting with you.

Can we try this again? Can we read spiritual books together as a community?

The last time we did this was in 2012, and I picked a non-fiction book by Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts. That summer, we read the novel Rooms by James Rubart, and then in the fall, I chose three books for children.

This time, I’ll announce a non-fiction book on Feb. 3. I’ll sprinkle in discussion questions on for the following six weeks. Then, we’ll host an online chat with the author in late March.

I’ll be looking for people willing to host in-person gatherings the night of the author chat. I’d like people to open up their homes, or their places of worship or their favorite coffee shops and invite their friends to meet and talk about the book – and I’d like those hosts to help with the technology that night because we don’t want anyone left out of the discussion just because they aren’t familiar with Facebook or Google Chat or whichever platform we settle on.

Then, I’ll announce the fiction book June 9 and we’ll chat with that author toward the end of July.

Now, in the meantime, I’d love to hear your book suggestions. What books do you think we should all read? Are there authors you would love to visit with? 

I really enjoy discovering great authors who haven’t had a lot of attention, so feel free to suggest first-time or little-known authors. I also like introducing topics that people of all faiths would be interested in discussing.

My one stipulation is that the author needs to – how do I say this delicately – be alive. It makes interviewing the author and hosting a chat for readers much easier.

Give it some thought. Talk it over with your friends who like to read, and let me know by Jan. 20 what books you’d recommend.

I’m looking forward to reading and learning with you again.


This year we chose the book “Satisfied: Discovering Contentment in a World of Consumption” by Jeff Manion as our non-fiction pick and “Sensible Shoes: A Story about the Spiritual Journey” by Sharon Garlough Brown for our novel. If you are just now reading them, you can still join the conversation by chatting with us on the Simply Faithful Facebook page. The people who participate in that community are always up for talking about great books!

14 books to set you free this summer


This summer let’s honor those who fight for freedom and the One who designed freedom…

A couple of books I love:

Rooms Cover Final for email sigRemember Rooms by James Rubart?  I asked everyone to read it in 2012 and did an interview with Rubart, who works the theme of spiritual freedom into all of his books. Here’s a quick summary: In Rooms, Micah is a software tycoon with almost more money than he knows what to do with. He has a great girlfriend, a penthouse in Seattle, a hurtful relationship with his father and a heart still aching from the loss of his mother. A letter arrives from a late uncle he barely knew and tells him of a house the uncle has built for him along the Oregon coast. The house, it turns out, is actually a physical manifestation of Micah’s soul. And its rooms, which seem to appear and disappear on their own, offer the chance for healing, reconciliation and love.

SoulGate_02cv2(I’ve heard fantastic things about Rubart’s book Soul’s Gate and it has been nominated for a Christy Award this year.)

Capturing Saddam, written by Eric Maddox, is not the typical book you’ll find on my Simply Faithful lists. It isn’t overtly religious. It has curse words and it chronicles a high-profile manhunt. But it is written by a good friend of mine from high school — the kind of friend I’d hug in the street — and it’s the kind of tale that has your heart racing right up to the last page. It’s a story of perseverance, of staying true to what you believe, of sacrificing self for others. I believe it’s a story that has God’s fingerprints all over it. (Also, they are making a movie out of this. It’ll be called Mission: Black List #1.)

Some recommendations from my friends:

Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of your Identity in Christ by Neil T. Anderson: The book emphasizes the importance of believing and internalizing the truths of scripture as a base from which to renew the mind and fend off attempts to convince us that we are less than Christ empowers us to be.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl: Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.

Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer: The author teaches how to deal with thousands of negative or destructive thoughts that people think every day and how to focus the mind the way God thinks.

The Gift of Peace by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin: The Gift of Peace reveals the Cardinal’s spiritual growth amid a string of traumatic events, and he shares the profound peace he came to at the end of his life.  He accepted his peace as a gift from God, and he in turn now shares that gift with the world.

Breaking Free: Discover the Victory of Total Surrender by Beth Moore: The author embarks on a study of selected passages from the book of Isaiah, drawing several parallels between the captive Israelites and today’s Christians, in order to show how to make freedom in Christ a daily reality.

Transforming Grace: Living Confidently In God’s Unfailing Love by Jerry Bridges: Isn’t it time to stop trying to measure up and begin accepting the transforming power of God’s grace?


New books:

Rescue Team: Grace Medical by Candace Calvert: Tired of running from her past, nurse Kate Callison intends to become Austin Grace Hospital’s permanent ER director and make Texas her home. Then unthinkable tragedy wraps the ER in crime tape, bringing swarms of media, legal chaos—and a search-and-rescue hero who seems determined to meddle in her life. (I typically read historical romance but this was a nice change of pace for me and an easy read for the weekend!)

Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You are Saved by J.D. Greear: The author unpacks the doctrine of assurance, showing that salvation is a posture we take to the promise of God in Christ, a posture that begins at a certain point and is maintained for the rest of our lives. (In my mind, the essence of the book is this quote: “Salvation is not given because you prayed a prayer correctly, but because you have leaned the hopes of your soul on the finished work of Christ.”)

Wounded Warrior, Wounded Home by Marshele Carter Waddell and Kelly K. Orr: Every day service members are returning from combat deployments to their families. And every day war comes home with them. When a combat veteran struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and/or traumatic brain injury, every member of the family experiences the effects.

Perfectly Unique: Praising God from Head to Foot by Annie F. Downs: From head to foot, the way you view your body is directly connected to how you serve God. The book is designed to help teenage girls honor the Creator by learning to value his perfectly unique creations (themselves).

Man on a Mission: The David Hilmers Story by David Hilmers and Rick Houston: Dr. David C. Hilmers has launched into space four times as part of NASA space shuttle crews. But God had more planned for Dr. Hilmers. (Jessie, who is 14, read this and really enjoyed it. I’d say it’s written for kids 10 and up.)


Wanted: Great books for teens and kids

Colt and Jessie reading in the closet.

I’m looking for three books to feature this fall in the Simply Faithful book club: a picture book, chapter book and teen book. All of them need to have some sort of spiritual theme and they need to be the kind of book that you make your friends read.

Typically we like to offer an online chat with the authors, so they need to be… ahem… living.

Give it some thought. Talk it over with other book lovers and let me know what you think by Sept. 10.

I’ll announce the books we’ve selected on Oct. 8.

Thanks in advance for all of your help!

Read about our past book club selections:

Benjamin, who memorizes the stories for now, reads to Colt.

Doing more than we ever thought possible

Editor’s note: I first wrote about Kelly Nash a couple of weeks ago on my blog. This is a longer (perhaps better thought-out) version that appeared in the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle.

Some people naturally push the limits. Others, like my friend Kelly Nash, shove them.

She’s run 5Ks and 10Ks, marathons and ultras. But she wanted something more: She wanted to run for 24 hours and raise $1,500 for the Heritage Christian Legacy Mile & 5K, an event that supports people with developmental disabilities.

So, more than a dozen of us – friends, family and co-workers – gathered to pray and cheer as she stepped on the treadmill the morning of that long run. We took pictures, sang about friendship and freedom and wondered silently what was limiting us, how we should be challenging ourselves.

Most of my decisions seem to fall back on what it will cost me. Do I really have the time? Is it worth the effort? But those aren’t the questions that define Nash.

What if I just keep putting one foot in front of the other?

As part of her fundraiser, Nash rented out the treadmill next to her in 30-minute increments. One man, who was training for an upcoming half marathon, ran 13.1 miles with Nash.

“You’ll have to train for a full marathon now,” she said, still running. Still encouraging.

What if I really can go farther?

All of the 30-minute slots were full. They were taken by other runners; a friend of her dear, late father; her husband; her mother; her daughter’s fifth-grade teacher.

So, she was never alone. Not when her eyes got heavy with sleep. Not when her body struggled to cool itself. Not when her fundraising edged closer to $3,000. And certainly not when she grew close to the 100-mile mark and to the finish.

Can I say I’ve run the good race?

More than 200 people, many of them still sweating from their own morning run, chanted Nash’s name and counted down the seconds. When she threw her fist up in the air, the crowd went wild. The treadmill stopped at 106.49 miles. Four marathons in 24 hours.

I like to think she got her questions answered.

Join us: We’ll be chatting live with James Rubart, the author of Rooms, at 7 p.m. today. Look for us at the Simply Faithful page on Facebook. If you can’t make it at that time, send me your questions. I’ll ask Rubart for you.

Join our conversation with author James Rubart?

We’re fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Wednesday with James Rubart, author of Rooms. Won’t you join us? I’m sure we’ll be talking about freedom, about breaking away from negative voices and about really living the life God has for you.

It’ll be worth your time. I promise!

You can find us at 7 p.m. EDT Wednesday, July 25, on the Simply Faithful Facebook page. Just hit the refresh button often so you can see our latest questions and comments.

Hope to see you there…

His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me

It was sitting there on the grass beneath a tree, a likely victim of early morning winds. But it was still perfect. All the dried weeds woven tightly in a circle. A soft cushion in the middle for cradling eggs. A work of nature. A work of art.

I put the empty nest in my bag and gingerly carried it around all day so I could show it to my household of curious boys. I marveled at the expert weaving and at the care that went into preparing a welcoming home – a home strong enough to withstand a great fall.

A day later, winds blew at my house, too. Some of the hardest we’ve seen. Ours is a home built on love and trust, and also on post traumatic stress and attention deficit disorder. We have wonderful times, and we have times when dark memories threaten to temporarily eclipse the light of hope.

Those memories, those feelings of not being worthy, created a storm that day. It felt like our nest was loosening a little from the branch, like maybe our walls weren’t quite high enough or thick enough to keep the bumps and bruises of life at bay. We had little choice but to hold on and to trust the one whose eye is on the smallest of sparrows. The one who taught the birds of the air to gather and weave.

It’s hard when the nest is swaying to remember scriptures and hymns, to remember that the storm will end and its rain bring healing. I’m glad I carried the tiny nest home because it became a reminder, a symbol, to me in the days after.

I look at it and know that I need to keep weaving in threads of confidence and self-respect. I see I need to cushion my family with the kind of love that is steadfast and devoted. And I’m reminded that I need to hold tight and trust.

His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.

If you are reading Rooms with us, remember that Alpha & Omega Parable Christian stores in Penfield and Greece are hosting discussion groups at 7 p.m. July 10, 17, 24 and 31, and you can visit with the author, James Rubart, at 7 p.m. July 25 on the Simply Faithful Facebook page.

You’re invited to read with us

Scripture tells us that Job had a pretty charmed life. Seven sons. Three daughters. Thousands of sheep and camels. Hundreds of oxen, and a great reputation for serving God, which is apparently what made him a target for a spiritual tug-of-war.

As the story goes, Satan was trolling around looking for someone to deny God, so God suggested Job. He knew that Job’s faith was strong enough to handle anything thrown at him. Usually that’s where the Sunday School lessons focus, the perseverance and commitment angle.

But I’ve been thinking about how Job’s suffering was carefully mapped out. Even before the messenger had finished explaining how all of his camels were stolen, another messenger arrived to say that his children had died. Soon, Job was covered in painful boils from his feet to his head. No part of his life was left untouched.

So, why do I think I would be any different? Why should I think that evil won’t tug at my job, my family, my homesickness, my insecurities, the pieces of my heart that are broken? Do I even recognize evil?

“I’m convinced we live in chains – either of our own making or by the enemy,” said James Rubart, author of Rooms. “We each have a divine destiny, and the enemy is trying to keep that from happening.”

That idea of releasing the brakes we put on ourselves and throwing off the chains of those who keep us down – the idea of true freedom – is at the center of Rooms, the fiction book I’ve chosen for our second Simply Faithful book club.  In Rooms, software tycoon Micah Taylor receives a letter from a late uncle he barely knew telling him of a house he has built for him along the Oregon coast. The house, it turns out, is actually a physical manifestation of Micah’s soul, and there are rooms for places of his life where he needs forgiveness, healing and victory.

Alpha & Omega Parable Christian stores in Penfield and Greece, NY, will offer the book at a discounted rate of $9.97 and host discussion groups at 7 p.m. July 10, 17, 24 and 31. I’ll host a live chat with Rubart on the Simply Faithful page on Facebook at 7 p.m. July 25.

I hope you’ll join us. Maybe we’ll all find a little more freedom.

Theme of freedom finds its way into all James Rubart’s books

James Rubart knows success can feel empty. For years he ran a highly profitable marketing firm, all the while feeling there was more to his destiny – knowing that he needed to write more than TV ads.

He poured that experience into Micah Taylor, the main character in his first Christian novel, Rooms.

“I had the same choice Micah has to make in the book,” Rubart said. “I had the choice to jump off the cliff or stay safe.”

In Rooms, Micah is a software tycoon with almost more money than he knows what to do with. He has a great girlfriend, a penthouse in Seattle, a hurtful relationship with his father and a heart still aching from the loss of his mother.

A letter arrives from a late uncle he barely knew and tells him of a house the uncle has built for him along the Oregon coast. The house, it turns out, is actually a physical manifestation of Micah’s soul. And its rooms, which seem to appear and disappear on their own, offer the chance for healing, reconciliation and love.

Like its cover says, the story is a blend of The Screwtape Letters and The Shack, without as much controversial theology. Rubart uses Christian scripture sparingly and stays away from religious lingo, yet still manages to bring in topics like spiritual warfare.

Micah, and most people, get comfortable with the voices they hear – the thoughts that flash through their minds, Rubart said, and those thoughts, even if negative, seem to be true.

“I’d love for people to walk away and test the voices they hear every day,” he said. “Is that voice coming from me? From God?”

And is it a voice of forgiveness and freedom?

“For me, my theme is freedom,” said Rubart, who just finished his fourth novel, Soul’s Gate. It will be released in October and tell the story of people who are able to send their spirits into other people’s souls to help set them free.

Apparently the theme of freedom is resonating. Rubart receives letters and emails from people around the world telling him how Rooms has changed their lives. It has certainly changed his.

He once believed that he would never be good enough to write novels. Now, he has published three, finished a fourth and has a contract for four more. Rooms has sold tens of thousands of copies and even has a DVD study guide where Rubart visits the house in Oregon that is the setting of the book and actors bring key scenes to life.

Now, Rubart has stopped paying much attention to the voice that told him he couldn’t write. Instead he focuses on setting people free one character at a time.

About the book club

Joining the Simply Faithful book club is easy. Just pick up a copy of Rooms and participate in the community conversation. Talk with friends. Read it at church. Come to book discussions at Alpha & Omega Parable Christian Store.

Then, on Wednesday, July 25, log on to the Simply Faithful page on Facebook and meet the author, James L. Rubart. He’ll start answering questions at 7 p.m.

Also, send your comments to and read what others have to say about Rooms in the July 30 newspaper.

About the author

James L. Rubart lives in Washington with his wife, Darci, and two sons, Taylor and Micah. Besides writing novels, Rubart blogs at and sometimes takes pictures – like the one that serves as the cover of Rooms. He can also be found on YouTube and Facebook, and he uses the Twitter handle @jimrubart.

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: