Summer’s almost over … but it’s never too late to promote purity … so we have a special sale on for you! (See details below.)
First, I’d like to tell you about Surrender, the sequel to Arms of Love, and how special it is to me. There were so many struggles in my life as I wrote this book, and now I’d like to share with you my own personal story of “surrender”.
Back in 2006, our family was at a time where we had to make the decision for my husband to go back to work fulltime (after having takensome parental leave with baby number 7) or let go of his permanent contract as a teacher. Letting the job go would mean there would be no more “stable” income in our life – not to mention the benefits. Going back to work would mean that we would be shutting down our ministry. There was no way I would have been able to continue writing the sequel to Arms of Love – I had started it, but it was far from done at that point — not to mention running a business and ministry along with managing family life.
We prayed over the decision. We agonized. I spent nights awake, crying out to God. Sometimes I’d wake up at night and find my husband had been up for hours praying. We sought direction and advice. We discussed the implications with our children … we wanted to know how they felt about a life of fulltime ministry – for we knew there would be sacrifices ahead.
We had prayed to St. Therese, asking if my husband, Jim, should stay home and pursue fulltime ministry or not, and on the last day of our novena something unexpected happened. We had been at a conference in New Jersey and were leaving our hotel to come home when a friend came racing down to the hotel lobby to find us on our way out the door. Just that day she had received a bouquet of roses from her husband (who was back home with their children), which he had sent to her hotel room, (something he had never done before) with 6 red roses and 1 white rose. She showed us the bouquet with great excitement, and then just before we left she stopped us and handed us the white rose – for purity! She had no idea about the novena, or that that was the last day of it!
That should have been enough to convince us, but we were still very nervous to take the leap. Finally a friend told me to go look up a passage in the Bible that she felt that God wanted us to read. I looked around for my Bible, and I couldn’t find it — that was strange, because I always keep it by my desk where I do my writing. I looked around and found my daughter’s Bible. It just so happens that a few weeks earlier she had bookmarked the very passage my friend had told me to go read:
`No man can work for two masters. He will hate one and love the other. Or he will obey one and despise the other. You cannot work for both God and money. So, I tell you this. Do not be troubled about what you will eat or drink to keep alive. Do not be troubled about what you will wear on your body. Life itself is worth more than food, and the body is worth more than clothes. Look at the birds that fly in the air. They do not plant or cut or keep any food. Yet your Father in heaven feeds them. Are you not worth more than birds? Can any one of you live any longer by troubling yourself about these things? And why are you troubled about clothes? See how the flowers grow in the fields. They do not work or make cloth. Yet I tell you, King Solomon was a great man. But he was not dressed as fine as one of these flowers. God dresses the grass in the fields so it looks nice. It is in the field one day and the next day it is put on the fire. If God dresses the grass like that, he cares much more that you have clothes to wear. You do not believe in God very much! So then, do not keep asking, “What shall we eat?” “What shall we drink?” and “What shall we wear?” It is the people who do not believe in God who work for all these things. Your Father in heaven knows that you need them all. Work first for God’s kingdom and what he calls good. Then you will have all these things also. So do not be troubling yourself about tomorrow. Tomorrow will have its own trouble. Today’s trouble is enough for today.’ (Matthew 6:24-34)
(Taken from the Worldwide English Bible – Public Domain)
When I asked my daughter why she had this passage bookmarked, she said that it struck her while reading it that that was the answer for our prayers. Our other children agreed that we were being called to do this work – and that it was obvious to them that God would provide for our needs. I cannot express to you how much it meant to us to know that our children have and do support our work! For them to believe in this message enough to make daily sacrifices for it, is indeed a blessing from God!
Finally, while at Musical Eucharistic Adoration one night, the young man leading worship had us singing a song where we repeated “I surrender all to you Lord” … and by the third time saying it, I knew that I have found the title for the sequel that I had been working on! It was time to indeed “surrender” all to the Lord.
So, we made the decision for my husband to stay home and to pursue this ministry of promoting purity fulltime. Surrender was finished six months after that, and we set out to live by providence in a way which we never had experienced before. Of course, each one of us – yourself included – we all live each day by God’s providence, but now, we were living like farmers! The Lord would have to send the rain and the sun and help us to have a bountiful harvest … for us that is measured in readers’ lives being touched and by the sell of books to keep us afloat … and our job was to just keep giving our best to the Lord and leave the results up to Him!
I often am in a position to advise young people on relationships, and repeatedly I tell them to TRUST in God’s Perfect Plan for their lives. I take this from my favourite passage from Jeremiah:
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans of good, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future. “ (Jeremiah 29:11)
This is not just idealic advice! This is something that me and my family have to grapple with daily … it’s personal! We have to TRUST that God does indeed have a perfect plan for us, even when we cannot see it or understand it!
When I am talking to young people, encouraging them to wait on God’s timing in their life — to trust that the right person will be there when the time is right — I am aware of just how hard it is to do this. Trust is hard … it takes a real act of faith to trust that God will deliver on His promises when there is no apparent “success” or “evidence” that things are going to work out!
It is this very faith that strengthens us and helps us to grow closer to God. No matter what the struggles we face — financial, relationships, health – we have to believe that God has a perfect plan for us and that He will get us through the storm! And His plan will be much bigger than we could have ever imagined for ourselves!
This brings me back to my novel, Surrender:
This is a story where readers, young and old, can identify with the characters of the book as they discern lifes many issues — some big, many small. And with these characters, we discover that God’s plans are always bigger and better for us than we could have ever imagined. They are unfolding before us daily … and if we can learn to patiently surrender our lives to His will, we will begin to see His footprints in our life, leading us toward His perfect plans!
Surrender is the continuation of the story of Joanie and Brandon from Arms of Love, but you need not read Arms of Love first to enjoy Surrender! Plus, it is the story of Joanie’s sisters, Maggie and Amy, as they discern their vocations in life.
It is a story that twists and turns unexpectedly, with many fun moments along the way. So put on your seatbelt and get ready for the ride!
It is the story of this John Paul II generation of Catholics, living fully their faith in a way that shows they are not ashamed of their Catholicism. They are real, human, and have their shortcomings like the rest of us. Their foundation of faith is inspiring, as I have experienced in so many young Catholics today. As these characters struggle, they model discernment — prayerful, sacramental, gut-wrenching discernment.
Where else will our families encounter this discernment process in the media? How many books, movies, t.v. series demonstrate a Catholic way to discern life’s tough decisions? How many opportunities have you or your children had to see vocational discernment modeled? Yet this is an issue each young Catholic needs to face. Are we modeling it for them? Are we providing them with resources to inspire them? Even with some good books on saints and theology out there (if you can get your kids to read them) … we seldom see these things lived out in our day and age.
Finally, it is also a story of the importance of Christian community in our lives! I often hear from people how they long to have a parish community like the one in my books! My family has been extremely blessed to have a parish community much like it! Though “idealic”, I use this social setting to inspire my readers to work to build the kind of Christian community in their life that will support themselves and their families in living fully their Catholic faith. As Catholics, we have fallen short in supporting each other socially. We can’t survive in the 21st Century if we don’t begin to rebuild the kind of network of support we as parents and youth, families and single people, religious and lay, need to live out our faith! Surrender and Arms of Love provide this vision — and it is as real as the JPII generation!
A very personal experience:
Surrender is a powerful story, one that, whenever I go back to read any parts of it, I find myself once again immersed in a world of wonderful friends – full of life, love, and great senses of humour! Yet, for me personally, the writing of Surrender was one of the hardest things I ever went through. I was plagued with doubts the whole time. At every turn, it seemed Satan wanted to thwart my efforts to write this book. Many times I had to be reminded by others that this work was too important to give up on, and that it would change lives, otherwise Satan wouldn’t have been trying so hard to stop it! Now, each time I hear back from readers about how this book has touched their lives, I am deeply moved — sometimes to tears.
Every time a reader thanks me and my family for the sacrifices we have made to write these books – that have changed their lives – I am reminded of the many challenges we faced as we crossed the bridge into fulltime ministry … and yes, it has been worth the price we have paid to “surrender” – which is NOTHING compared to the price HE paid when He surrendered it all for us!
Making a decision to “surrender” everything to God (like for my hubby to come home fulltime) was one thing … living out that decision day afer day, month after month, is quite another! There are many times we fall under the burdens of financial struggles in our family. Stress can take its toll in many ways at times! We have come through so many struggles, been knocked down so many times, and yet, here we are still standing!
As I look back over the darkest hours we’ve faced, I’ve seen that God truly has provided for our every need – sometimes very creatively – sometimes at the very last moment – but indeed, He has never forsaken us! And He has strengthened us through the crosses we have carried. We have grown – each one of us – and we continue to grow through these trials, learning many lessons along the way.
One of our family meditations this summer has been this (inspired to me while in prayer) which I called: Peace in the Storm
What need is there to find Peace once we are safely on shore? Even the pagans and atheists can do as much. Peace is needed most while we are still being tossed about by the waves. It is then that we must remember that Christ is still with us on the boat and that all shall be well!
I hope that somehow these thoughts I have shared from my personal life help some of you out there who are struggling. I hope that you will all be able to find Peace in the Storm — whenever those storms of life present themselves! One observation a friend of mine recently made was that you know that you truly have peace when you have found your sense of humour again, even as the storm rages on! So keep laughing through the storm … and if you laugh so loud that you wake Jesus up — well, maybe He’ll decide it’s time to calm the waves! It’s worth a try!
And now … our special for a very special book:
Surrender is on sale until August 15th
(Feast of the Assumption of Mary)
(See details below.)
For those of you who have bought Arms of Love and passed it around to family and friends, please consider adding Surrender to the collection. There are special lessons that a book as powerful as Surrender can teach like no other! There are people in your life who need its life-changing message!
“My oldest adored Surrender (hasn’t read Arms of Love yet) and has seemed to begin modeling herself after Amy, which is a welcome treat!! She was secretly dating lots of guys, now she’s wearing a purity ring! Thanks so much!!” (Mother of 9)
“Your books bring me back to the heaven inside me, and give me hope for what He has in store for me, despite my indecision.” (Emily)
“Arms of Love and Surrender … Informational and inspiring – page turners. They truly lift up Catholic family life. Will be sharing these works with my children and grandchildren.” (John, Age 76)
“I have a couple of friends who introduced me to your wonderful and inspirational books. I have to say that they have got me thinking and aspiring to live a pure and holy life as a daughter of God. Thank you so very much for writing these books.” (Anna)
“I have just finished reading “Arms of Love” and “Surrender”, what a treasure. I am the second oldest of eight children, five girls, three boys in that order. We were raised Catholic and are still living our faith. I just turned 50 and wish that books like the above mentioned were available when I was young, it would of saved a lot of heartaches and failures. Please keep your Ministry going strong, the world needs authors of your magnitude. God bless you and your family and may Mary Our Blessed Mother wrap your family in her Mantle and keep you all safe and leading you to her Son.”
So, we truly hope that you are able to step forward and help our ministry, while at the same time helping others to discover the joy of “surrendering” in their own lives!
Buy one copy of Surrender ($18.95)
and get the second for 1/2 price ($9.48)
PLUS a FREE Deck of our Pure Virtue Playing Cards (A $6 value for FREE)
… That’s 2 books and 1 deck of cards for a total of $28.43
(A savings of $15.47!)
Thank you for your support … both past and present! Please remember us in your prayers!
Blessings to you all, our Partners in Promoting Purity!