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(in)courage is a virtual living room where we build community, celebrate diversity, and become women of courage.

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  1. This will certainly be an interesting read. This statement resonated with me, “wrongly place your faith in the church instead of in Christ”. How often I have done so.

  2. That wild stirring in my soul, that ache and long for adventure and beauty…for these things I want in my life, I want also in my faith. To be extravagant and epic, courageous and anything but mundane.

  3. This post resonated with me & the season that I am in. Recently, something occured in my life that “woke me up” to some desires in me that I’ve spent years suppressing. I’m learning that life in Christ is not the elimination of desire, but the transformation of it. I would be VERY delighted to win & read this book. Thank you.

  4. I feel that Amber is speaking to my heart. Satan is truly unleashed on this earth. It is so easy to fall into the trap of friendship, clubs, social life within the church and I was just pouring my heart out to my rector about this last week. I almost left me church because of the chaos within and surrounding my church life. As we talked through these issues, it became clear that the real problem is not my church family or national church issues. The real problem is my reason for being a part of the church. Am I searching desperately for a fellowship with people or a powerful, soul filling relationship with my savior, Jesus Christ? I am anxious to read Amber’s stories and thank you for the opportunity to enter this contest!

  5. Her words reach out to me. “It was brokenness that taught her so, and she’s still learning.” Looking forward to reading more of her stories.

  6. How did we grow up with such a misguided view of church? That it was a place to “kill” desires and not have fun! I am learning that my views were very skewed and am thankful for what I am now seeing!

  7. The past year has been the hardest of my life. My heart has always been to serve God by serving His people. As a pastor’s wife I had lots of opportunity to do that. Sadly the church has not treated me as I have treated them. When I was at my lowest I really wanted someone, anyone to come along side of me to help me see in the dark. When I read “The wrestle with desire and how easy it is to wrongly place your faith in the church instead of Christ.” it smacked me right in the face. This is an all too familiar problem for me.

  8. Learning through brokenness & using the strength God provides in our brokenness to be agents of healing and restoration resonated with me. I think Amber’s book will be quite thought-provoking & an interesting one for group discussion.

  9. This thought jumped out to me the most. “When the heart longs for community in story or music, when it longs for
    pleasant memory and taste, and when we want expression in art of motion,
    to move on from where we are, what are we to do? What are we to do with
    desire?”

  10. So thrilled and excited to see your book come to fruition Amber. I’ve been a faithful reader for years. Your words always fit just right. “So many of my cravings are like this, a beckoning back to an innocent Eden…” This is what resonated with me today. My cravings are the same and I don’t have an Eden-like childhood to remember. I still miss and long for it though. I’m challenged by the asking of what is to be done with these desires.

  11. Favorite part…I waited for passions to die. I waited to feel alive. Even as I was ingesting Scripture like it was water to guzzle for the fires of desires within, I felt that I was losing my life and my strength. I’ve been there and done that. Fighting my way back out.

  12. Very excited to read Ambers story. I ordered my copy yesterday after reading the first few chapters online. Thank you for writing your story, Amber!

  13. Perspective. I appreciate and seek out perspective. “Mega Church” are the words which caught my attention. With my hubby, I’ve served on several pastoral staff teams and have worn the hat of lead pastor wife…I know my perspective. I’m curious to know Amber’s perspective.

  14. I can so relate to being more hooked up to the church than to Christ…funny how I didn’t see it while I was in it but perspective can “clear up” a view right quick! It seems almost like an oxymoron but I now am active in two churches but my eyes are now on the prize of Christ! I would enjoy reading Amber’s Wild in the Hollow!

  15. “… wrongly placing faith in the church instead of Christ…” This hit me like a kick in the chest!!! Aren’t we ALL guilty of leaning into the arms of the church rather than the arms of Christ? I think we seek the immediate gratification of wordly acceptance instead of the eternal gratification of our savior’s love. I know I’ve been left broken by this often good-intentioned but misguided quest more than I care to admit!

  16. I look forward to reading the rest of the story. You have made it come alive and I see what you read.

  17. I’ve read so many great books lately, and would love to add this to the mix. This book looks so great.

  18. I wrestle with wrongly placed faith and waiting to feel alive every day! I would love to read this book.

  19. I definitely wrestled with so many things with my walk with Christ, and can relate to so much of what is going on. Looking forward to this book!

  20. I have so enjoyed reading about the journeys of my sisters in the Lord! I would love to read Ambers story as we too left a mega church because we were losing ourselves…

  21. It’s so easy to lose sight of Jesus when you get caught up in the politics of the church. I can totally relate to the disillusion that comes with placing your faith in the church instead of Jesus.

  22. “But for me, I just left tired of wrestling desire. Church couldn’t help me with it anymore.” Enough said.

  23. I’m so encouraged that you are able to honestly discuss your shortcomings. And hopefully the redemption through God’s love.

  24. This book sounds very intriguing and like nothing I have read! I identify with placing trust in the church, not God, but thankfully have come out of that. I would love to read Amber’s story!

  25. This sounds like a very different and intriguing book. I would love to win a copy.

  26. This book looks AWESOME!!! Also reminded me of my thoughts yesterday, I was crying out to God and asking to be a part of a more Spirit filled church, but maybe He wants to fill my spirit with more of Him, so that I’m content with where He has me. I need to stop procrastinating with what He is leading me to do.
    p.s. Amber, your name means “a jewel” or “gemstone”. 🙂 You are a more beautiful than a precious jewel in God’s eyes. Be blessed!

  27. This – ” Does this sound familiar to you? The wrestle with desire or how easy it is to wrongly place your faith in the church instead of in Christ? ” YES! This is me!

  28. I am anxious to read Amber’s book and understand more from her perspective. What role should the church play in each life? How can I learn to meet other’s needs?

  29. It’s like I was reading, what has happened to me. I have been to 3 churches and haven’t found one that I could commit too. I found myself seeking a church instead of Christ. These past couple months I have learned so much about myself and my walk with Christ. I would love to finish reading this story.

  30. “When the heart longs for community in story or music, when it longs for pleasant memory and taste, and when we want expression in art of motion, to move on from where we are, what are we to do? What are we to do with desire?” This quote really resounds with me. I, too, somehow learned that to be passionate was wrong, and I proceeded to try to kill my desires and just do my duty as a Christian wife and mother. Until God, in His mercy, allowed me to fall apart. Now, at 51, kids almost all grown and moving on, I still am wrestling with desire and wondering where I belong within the church. I look forward to reading about Amber’s journey and insights.

  31. The part that touches me is the struggle of desires in this world and being torn between them and Jesus. And when abandoning the desires feeling dead.

  32. This reminded me of my dad, I have a love of nature, music, all the arts really because of him. I am so grateful. And it is interesting ebb & flow. After attending very small churches all my life, the last one my brother’s (he was Pastor), I never thought i’d find another when he stepped down and we relocated. To my amazement, I have found a home in a mega-church, which I said i’d never attend, lol. It is precious and I love our Pastor. I am anxious to read this book, I long to learn more about community.♥

  33. My soul is so restless for the true and deeper things if God. The things I have found to be so unfulfilled in “church as usual”. I lay at the altar just this past Sunday telling God I just could not keep up this charade any longer. My desires I am wrestling with, the church can no longer help me with. That is what sent my heart singing from this excerpt. I feel that pain right now….

  34. I heard about this book from another blogger and would love to read it, especially after being disappointed with another recently published work about the church. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

  35. I cannot wait to read this book! Although, my past is not relatable to hers, I am excited to get to know her story.

  36. I would love to read more about learning through brokenness and how Christ heals the heart and broken places.

  37. This really looks like a very inspirational, gratifying book. We can never receive nor give enough encouragement to one another!

  38. I love to read aloud. In my preschool classroom, I am the story teller. I am either reading a book to my kiddos, retelling a fairy tale from memory, or making up a story on request about the adventures of the peticular child. This book would be a great read!

    Wendy, Vermont

  39. It sounds like you had a wonderful Daddy. I learned my love of music and story from my Dad too, and sometimes I have to remember these little things that he gifted to me, and not just the bad I sometimes hold on to. I suppose it is the same way with church…we always have expectations and perspective has so much to do with how we connect. I struggled with the purpose of church earlier this year and was blessed to go through this with a wonderful group of ladies, many with the same questions. We do need to remember Christ is Number 1, not church. Thank you for your words.

  40. I have always been carried away by a good story! Thank you for the opportunity for the giveaway!

  41. Would love the read this book, I have placed my faith in the church and not in Christ

  42. Long brown hair, big blue eyes, sunkissed skin that was me. I was the girl in the hollow. I was the girl running wild and free barefoot through the grass. Laying down to stare up at the blue sky through the towering oak trees. Stomping in the crisp, cold water of the brook. Gliding through the air on a grape vine. Laughter, joy, peace like I’ve never experienced since. Its the place I’ve tried to get back to, but can’t. It was my Eden. I’ve grieved this reality that seems like a dream, but was so very true. One day this year in my quiet time God told me, “We will meet there in your mind. It will be our place to commune. Your place of refuge.” I have felt that joy again. I have laughed again. I have sat in the mimosa tree with my Lord as I told him my sadness, my dreams. I’ve smelled the roses and the lilacs. I’ve felt the wind, the heat, the sun. And it is good.

  43. Yes, the “desire killing”…so thankful God has helped me understand my identity in Christ better and to rest in His grace rather than a stale legalism that kills desire. I would love to read Amber’s story.

  44. This resonates with me. I struggle to feel like its okay to feel passion and desire for God’s gifts…like there is something wrong with enjoying what feeds the senses.

  45. “So when I came to faith, rather than give in to desire, fall into sin, and die, I decided to kill off desire instead. This is what I thought church was for.” Well, you have to comment on what hit you to “enter,” and I didn’t have to give it a second thought.

  46. Such an interesting discussion. I had never heard desire addressed in church until the past two years when I moved across the country and started attending a completely different sort of church and lived through two years of deep doubt.
    I would love to hear how your exploration of desire and faith connect, as I try to learn to desire God again. I think that I always believed that Christianity was contrary to vitality, in some strange way, but I’m learning that they are the same journey.

  47. The wildness. The desire. The disappointment and tiredness of it all as it is placed in some thing other than the Creator.

  48. Ah. That old Lady Desire. Pulls us down every time, and as we come up gasping for air, scripture and hope act as our life jacket while some would push us back down, saying we need more washing. And yes, I understand about worshipping the church. Glad to hear someone else use those words.

  49. I was so touched by the first paragraph’s of Amber’s “Wild in the Hollow”! Her comments about her Father, echoed my own feelings about mine. He was my first teacher about faith, and also my very best friend, until he passed away when I was thirteen. Like Amber, I just followed my Daddy, from my waking moments and throughout the day. Because he was so ill with a cardiac condition all of my life, and my Mother worked to support our family of four, I was his shadow when I was a young child, and his audience as I gained in years. He had lived such an interesting life, and captured my imagination with the stories of his travels and the people whom he had met! And, it was sitting on a cold Church pew bench seat, with his arm around me when I was a small child of seven, that I first knowingly recognized a God of Love! From that early start, I studied, took University classes in Theology and other training which allowed me to become an officially designated instructor in our faith practice. Through the years, I discovered that I had a gift to draw young people into our church sponsored classes, and more important, to “keep them traveling with me” as I continued to learn. I was presented with wonderful, beautiful and even miraculous experiences during the next ten years, and eventually became a certified instructor for all ages. There were a lot of really painful challenges along the way, while working in the adult church, and yes, sadly, with some of the Pastors. I would like to write an entire book about my experience which would hopefully give other women and men the impetus to volunteer for teaching programs in their own Churches; but I’m not sure that is the gift that my Lord wants me to share. Perhaps, it is because I am afraid to go back and face all those demons I encountered in attempting to win the respect of the congregation and the various Ministers? I taught Seniors down through the years to the youngest of our flock, and also sacramental programs to adults of all ages. There were the painful times when I felt my heart would break at being misjudged, and unable to fight for myself! I remember, at one point, feeling like such a failure; and Amber’s words reminded me of an article I read, called “Journey into Weakness”. I truly wish I still had a copy of that article, which I shared for many years with other pilgrims, trying to make their way with me in Lay Ministry. Things did not turn out perfectly for me in my ministerial efforts; but I can honestly say it was the most valuable thing I have ever done in my life, next to raising my own children with my husband. To steer one child on the path of loving the Lord is a grand success, I think; and to capture a teenager’s heart for God, is nothing short of miraculous. I was so blessed, repeatedly; and that part of my story, I would truly like to share! My spiritual advisor at the time, who had several Graduate degrees and had served in ministry much longer than I ever did, likened our experience (as women pilgrims in a church of men in power) to that of bringing the Church “kicking and screaming” into the new Century. She also likened our efforts to those of the Apostles, as in ACTs, saying that had they not already been written, we would be writing them, now! In Amber’s first few paragraphs, she captured my childhood heart with my own Father, shared her own weakness with me, and lifted me up to realize that my years in Ministry are still very much with me, as God Willing, they are with all my students and comrades along the way. I would look so forward to reading “Wild in the Hollow”, feeling that I might recognize this unique author as a fellow traveler of a challenging and difficult road, directed to a more complete understanding of God, and of the Church’s role in that journey. Thank you for the opportunity to know of her Book.

  50. I want to better understand how we can we discern whether our desires are from God or not and die to sinful desires and live out what God desires for us. How do we know if our desires are selfish or worldly in certain cases or acceptable and pleasing to God and if they are His will for us? How can we become awakened to, aware of and rekindle our desires, passions, and dreams when some of our desires and passions died long ago due to our circumstances or various other reasons. My current circumstances have severely limited what I can do for more than half my life now. Dreaming seems so unrealistic, painful, disappointing, and all hope of fulfilling any dreams seems insurmountable and unattainable, that I have stopped dreaming altogether. I ‘ve prayed a lot, yet it seems like a God still has me in a time of waiting. What would be your advice regarding trusting God and surrendering to His timing and will, yet also starting to dream again (even though it’s scary),so I can grow again, be used by God, and fulfill my life’s purpose? I hope what I’m trying to convey makes sense. Thank you for taking the time to read and for doing such a great giveaway!

    • I was definitely able comprehend what you were conveying! As a sole caregiver of my husband for the past five years, as he has been (I pray) recovering from a devastating series of illnesses, I, too, feel like I am once again in a “time of waiting”! Even at my very mature age, I still cannot always trust myself to be as discerning as I need to be when it comes to knowing God’s Will, as opposed to my own. Thank you for your posting! I believe a lot of readers will identify with what you shared!

  51. I don’t connect with the memories of her father. But I do resonate with feeling a need to suppress desire. I’m curious about the end of her story. I’m guessing suppressing desire is a bad thing. But what desires are good and which lead to sin as the bible verse she quotes says?

  52. My heart is still healing from being wounded by the church as a business/putting my faith in church instead of Christ…and I am now trying to simply follow Jesus.

  53. I have not been attending church regularly for several years…I did not leave God but the church for now. I am in the world reaching people differently on the week-ends….but feel God is in the midst. He is my focus, not the church. (…sadly, none of the pastors, staff or friends realize I am not in one of the three services.)

  54. There is a thirst, a yearning to look into another and see your soul’s reflection. . .that which makes us alike. . .but visualized, expressed, made real in another’s uniqueness & truth. . .when/if they are willing to unveil it to you. This is what I feel reading this. . .and expect I’d find in this book. Looking in the mirror of another’s heart. . .finding the same love. . .but painted, drawn according to another’s experiences.

  55. Learning that desire leads to death made me afraid to move… unless it was for church things. I knew I should be passionate about church things, but everything else outside of church seemed like dangerous grounds.

  56. Just realized this is for US citizens only. I will wait for it to be available in Canada and order it then through our Gospel Lighthouse store. Thank you.

  57. Looks like a great read. I often ask myself if I’ve discovered my “passion” yet. It seems so clear to some, while I feel like I’m still waiting. Praying God will open my heart & eyes to see the passion He placed in me. Thanks for a chance to win a copy of this book.

  58. “I am always hungry for this, for a story to swallow me whole”. Yes, that’s it exactly.

  59. For the longest time I felt this way about the church. Like my desires weren’t holy enough. I love what someone else said here about seeing them transformed not removed. I can’t wait to read the book, Amber!

  60. Wow. I, too, hunger to be consumed by a story worth my life, my soul, my all…and I, too, forget that I already have and am in Christ. Can’t wait to read this treasure.

  61. I relate to that feeling of homesickness and weariness with the church. Can’t wait to read Amber’s book!

  62. I loved the part about music, and how shoulders talk without lips. Amber has a lyrical way with words, and this bit about music gives me some insight as to where it comes from. I’d love to read the rest of the book!

  63. Amber,
    Such poetic writing! It is so easy to wrongly place our faith in pastors, churches, etc. when it belongs in Christ! He doesn’t want us to squelch all desires. He wants our desires to align with His! Sometimes I wonder why I go to church, but then it hits me–I want to see my brothers and sisters in Christ and hear more about Him!
    Blessings:)