Category Archives: Blog tours and Book Reviews

Walking each other home: Book review of Stitches by Anne Lamott

IMG_2539970996080 “My time is limited. I’m dyingyou know. Not that anybody cares.”

Sigh.

It is one of those conversations where I catch myself with one hand on the receiver and one hand on the ground so that the Earth’s trajectory – and her self pity – doesn’t send me hurling into space.

“Are you going to die today?”

“Well, no.”

“Good. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

It’s been almost four years since I first met Anne Lamott in Traveling Mercies. A lot has happened in those four years and in that time, I have read every non-fiction book she has written. I find that how I receive her books is very much contingent on where I am at when I read them. What jumps out at me today, might be entirely different tomorrow.

ultimately, we are just walking each other home. – Ram Dass

The main alcoholic in my life is dying Not today, or tomorrow, but soon. They have a year maybe two at the most left.I think they need to live with me so that I can help and they think they need to stay exactly where they are (over 1, 000 miles away.) They want to die the same way they live: On their terms.

I think that stinks, but nobody asked me.

I can either spend what is left of their life arguing with them, or I can see them for who they are, a child of God, and allow them the dignity of making their own choices.

Stitches is full of Anne’s trademark dry humor, subtle wisdom, and gentle heart. It’s almost poetic in its writing style and it’s soft-spoken much like Anne’s actual speaking voice. Rather than hammer at you, she almost whispers. Stitches is like a sacred conversation between old friends.

Anne writes and speaks with gentle authority and with the wisdom of a woman who has been there, done that, and lived to tell about it. Whether it’s as the overly sensitive child who learned the freedom that comes from choosing to see what is really going on, the woman who is walking her husband home after 40 years, the best friend who grieves, the mother with a mentally ill son, or the teacher who doesn’t give up – Anne teaches us that life is a miracle, the sun continues to rise with or without our permission, that we are not rags, and that if we hold hands, we can stand against the wind.

I don’t know what season you are in. For me, I’m in the thick of chapter two – The Overly Sensitive Child. Perhaps you are facing life without your mate, a sick or wayward child, the loss of a best friend or a community tragedy much like what hit Moore Oklahoma this year. And maybe you are wondering how to stitch your life back together.

Maybe, like me you need to hear that it’s okay to let other people in , that beauty has meaning, we can take our own turn and that we are not rags. Whatever season you are in, or what you may need to hear, Stitches is a book that has something for everyone. I give it 5 stars.

You can get your copy at Amazon.com

DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT: While I do at times receive free copies of books in exchange for honest reviews, no goods or services were received in exchange for this review. I purchased the book myself via Amazon and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to tell my readers about it.

New Book Release: Liar Liar by Sundi Jo Graham

What do you believe about yourself?

My friend Sundi Jo Graham has released a new e-book today called Liar Liar, which is a passionately written and honest short read. Sundi Jo covers so many of the lies we hear, tell ourselves and even sometimes believe about ourselves. Her manifesto takes readers from the beginnings of doubt and self-hatred to the solutions found in Christ and the Bible. While there are parts that are a bit in your face, her brutal honesty and lack of sugar-coating is actually refreshing. I think it’s a nice little read for newer Christians who struggle with their identity in Christ.

Taken from Amazon — If the words ugly, fat, stupid, and unlovable sound familiar to you, you are not alone. We let the world tell us who we are. We let family and friends speak lies over us that we start to believe. We let expectations of ourselves and others fill our minds so much that we believe the end will result in failure regardless of what we do.

“Liar Liar” is a manifesto about not only believing the truth about who you truly are, but also speaking that truth into reality. It’s a call to take the next step in your faith and take action with your words.
You can get your copy of Liar Liar for the Kindle HERE

To find out more about Sundi Jo, visit her at the following:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

What I’m Reading Right Now: Fully Alive by Ken Davis.

I am a huge Ken Davis fan. If you read my blog, you know that. I feel like I owe him a lot and I tend to gush when I talk about his impact on my life over the past 20 years.

Depression does horrible things to people. I have friends who can’t bring themselves to eat when they are depressed. HA! Not to be flip, but I don’t have that problem. When I went through my depression from 2004-2008 I went from 154 lbs to 207 lbs in just a few years. Instead of needing to lose 20 pounds, I now need to lose 60. Not fun. I’ve spent the last four years gaining and losing the same 20 pounds. To add insult to injury I have friends and family who thought taking bad photos of me would convict me to change. Nope, just made me camera-shy.

When I met Ken in 2009, he talked about how he was planning to ride in a triathlon of sorts. The dude is in his 60′s. I was 43 and in no condition to even think of doing such a thing. The photos never bothered me. Sitting in a room listening to a man old enough to be my father talk about a life change, got to me. I started following his blog. He placed second for his age group in said triathlon. He’s not depressed any more. His spiritual life is changing. His personal life is improving.

Now he has my attention.

I had an unexpected hysterectomy in 2010 and my doctor told me I HAVE to lose weight. I listened. I pursued multiple forms of diet and exercise and learned my ankle does not tolerate a lot of things. My bulimia became active again and I had to deal with that monster one more time. (Walking in victory today) I learned that walking, running, Zumba, Step Aerobics are all out as my ankle cannot handle the strain. I can however ride a bike and so I purchased my first real bike last October. I even lost 20 pounds (again) if you’ll recall. Then I got busy and gained it all back.

I got my first copy of Fully Alive in June and devoured it in three days. No lie. Loved the book. I even took the DVD to my Mom’s and we laughed ourselves stupid for an hour.  Then something humbling happened. My husband started reading the book and asking me questions about passages. “So what do you think of thus and such? I like his point, don’t you?”

I must have missed that passage.

“Oh well how about…..”

Nope..

“Did you read the book or did you skim it?”

I read it.

Hmmmm

OUCH.

My goal was to read the book. I read the book. I never allowed it to digest. I Deana, am a passive participant in literary pursuits. Nothing traversed past my brain. Sure I highlighted great tweetable quotes, but you know what – reading without gaining the nourishment intended and much needed and then regurgitating it all back to you guys makes me a literary bulimic.

Yuck.

My husband went out and purchased a new bike himself. He is at the “I own a grown up bike and it isn’t a Huffy” honeymoon phase. He wants me to ride with him. I like that. I also want to really read Fully Alive, not from a passive stand point, but as an active participant. I want to digest the chapters and get the words from my brain and into my heart. Once I do that, I plan to walk it out with my husband and with you guys.

Do you want to join me?

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “Many men die at 25 and aren’t buried until they are 75.” This book is intended to wake up these people.

Fully Alive uncovers forgotten signs of life in a culture seemingly filled with the opposite. Through action steps that led to his physical, mental, social, and spiritual health, Ken Davis recounts his journey back to the land of the living and the signs of life he found along the way.

The anchoring focus is based on the apostle Paul’s quest for life, when he said, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection.” A power greater than death is available for what we face today? Who doesn’t want a piece of that?

Filled with narrative stories, humor, and practical help, this book is for anyone who wants to live fully and wonders just what that might look like in daily life.

Many people are lurching in the twilight, hoping to sing once again…living lives of quiet desperation, searching in vain for signs of life.

St. Irenaeus said, “The Glory of God is man fully alive.” For those who have been sidelined in life, for those tempted to give up, this book screams…Live!

In Fully Alive, readers will learn how to:

  • Discover the adventure hiding in the middle of the mundane.
  • Exchange the pain of unmet expectations for the joy of living with expectancy.
  • Get unstuck and take the first step that will lead to a new body, mind and spirit.
  • Kick guilt to the curb and experience real freedom.
  • Drive a stake into the heart of your everyday fears and live again.
  • Tap into a power that will protect you whether you’re crawling through the valley or standing on the mountain top

You were made for more. It’s time to reignite your desire and live Fully Alive!  Go here http://fullyalivebook.com/ for more information.

Blog Tour: Kathi Macias, Deliver Me From Evil

I have a guest blogger today. I have been given a free copy of Deliver Me From Evil to give away to one of my lucky readers. If you are interested in receiving this book, please be sure to leave a comment below and I will draw a name on November 1,2011. Enjoy

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How did you come up with the idea for Deliver Me From Evil and the Freedom series?

It actually came out of a phone conversation with Andrea Mullins, the publisher at New Hope. We were discussing the Extreme Devotion series (about the persecuted Church), which I was still working on at the time, and we began to consider topics for a second series. Andrea was the one who suggested human trafficking, and it really struck a chord with me. The more I researched it and worked on the proposal, the more excited I became about joining forces with others working to abolish modern-day slavery, which is exactly what human trafficking is.

What was your favorite scene to write in Deliver Me From Evil?

This book/series has been the most difficult I’ve ever written, simply because the subject matter is so dark and heavy. More than once I had to walk away and clear my thoughts before moving on from one scene to another. But interspersed between the heartache and tragedy are several lighter scenes (written and incorporated into the book out of necessity), dealing with a pastor’s family and their Bible college-bound son who inadvertently discovers the human trafficking ring and becomes involved in the heroic and dramatic rescue attempt. Any scenes revolving around the absolutely functional and loving life of the Flannery family are my favorites.

What was the most difficult scene, and why?

There were many difficult scenes in this book due to the subject matter, but the hardest had to be when the main character, 18-year-old Mara, realizes that one of the younger girls is being tortured and killed in an effort to extract information and punish her. Though the actual violence is done offstage, Mara experiences each blow and muffled scream, as does the reader.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? If not, how did you catch the writing bug?

Oh yes, I never wanted to be anything else. From the time I discovered the power and allure of words, I was hooked! I was an avid reader before I started kindergarten. A short story I wrote in the third grade was turned into a play for the entire PTA, and I won all sorts of awards for poetry in high school. I even told my then boyfriend (now husband) Al when we were in our early teens that I was going to be a writer one day.

How do you go about writing your fiction books? Which comes first for you, plot, characters, and/or theme?

I usually get what I call “a niggling in my soul,” which eventually emerges into the very basic theme of the book. I hate outlining and writing proposals because I do NOT develop plots or even characters ahead of time. I start with a couple of main characters, a starting and ending point for my story, and just let the rest unfold as I go. I know. We’re not supposed to do it that way, but it works for me, and I so enjoy the surprises as the story develops and my characters take over. So much fun! So long as they don’t try to lead me away from my pre-determined ending. Then I have to reign them back in a bit.

How do you get your ideas for your books?

I have ideas coming out of my ears! I am a seriously addictive idea person. You want ideas? You can have my overflow! My challenge is to figure out which ones are worth pursuing. Not every cute or fun or even meaningful idea that pops into our head is meant to be a book. I pray, think, study, bounce them off people, etc., before committing to moving ahead with one of them. For the most part, however, nearly all my book ideas are, to one degree or another, born out of some moral or social issue that I care about.

How can we find out more about you, The Freedom Series, and other books you are writing?

Please visit my website at KathiMacias.com.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speakers Services (ChristianSpeakersServices.com).

Book Review: Real Men Don’t Apologize by Jim Belushi

Real Men Don’t Apologize

James Belushi

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; 1st ed/1st printing edition (May 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401301827
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401301828
  • WARNING: This is not my typical kind of post and I’m not sure it’s family friendly — but it is 100% me. Like it or leave it. Remember that dream I had about Jim last week? Well, I decided to dig into it and see if perhaps I might be able to learn something – so I bought his book. I never watched According to Jim because it was on Tuesdays and well, Fox rules Tuesday night. ;-D I have no idea what that show is about, but I do know about the book. I’m giving it 4 stars out of 5.

    Okay, I’ll admit it, I used to cry when Mr. Rogers came on TV. Why? Because he scared me.  My Grandfather owned a hardware store near Syracuse NY, and the rest of the men worked in construction.  My mother was a book-keeper for several construction companies. I had men around, they just didn’t wear cardigan sweaters and penny loafers. The men in my life came with blood, sweat, tears, mouths and beer. Mr Rogers looked like the creepy neighbor up the street all the kids were told to stay away from.

    Surrounded by construction, and raised by a single Mom, it’s really no surprise that I grew up to become the only female on an all male crew at Sprint Communications in Chicago back in 1987. These guys taught me everything I know about hard work, telecom and the essentials of smoking, drinking and swearing. (Something my husband has spent 22 years trying to unteach me) Even my Father-in-law was a Teamster and he taught me how to play poker and let me swear when his son wasn’t around. Dad is gone now, but oh I loved him.

     As frequently as I’d punch one of guys I worked with in the arm for “being a pig” I always knew I was the safest when I was with my crew. I could trust them — because they were men who behaved like real men when it counted. They protected me when I needed protection and they kicked me in the backside when I needed that as well. They were honest and they were real.

    The only exception to this rule is the married slime ball who tried to sleep with me when we were on a job together in Dallas. I turned him down and it wasn’t pretty. He was kinda mad. My shift manager found out and after verbally reaming me for being so stupid (I’d been flirting with the guy because I thought I could get away with it.) he sent me back to Chicago. The guys took me out, and filled me in on the facts of life, like I’ve never heard – the complete and unabridged version not fit for this blog.

    I was only 22, on my own for the first time and grateful to have men in my life who gave it to me straight, held me accountable, and protected me when needed. I owe a lot of who I am as a women today, to these men.  I never saw dipshit again. Rumor has it they sent him to work with the rats in the sewers. I’ve been to our warehouse on Wacker drive, I’ve seen those rats. (They are bigger than my dog) and I’m happy he found a home away from home.

    So what does all that have to do with Jim Belushi’s book, Real Men Don’t Apologize? A lot. I’m setting the scene. While this book is obviously written by a man for men — I enjoyed it. Yes, it’s sometimes rude, crude and vile and yes I did at times wish I could punch him in the arm for “being a pig,” however,  my past experience with men helps me sift through the BS. He has a lot of great truths in here that I believe women should know about. The problem is, most women I know wouldn’t be able to sift through or stomach the raw nature of his writing and that’s a shame some of it is actually laugh out loud funny. And some of it requires an interpreter — which is where my husband really came in handy. I’ll add — much to his dismay, there are some things that should just stay between the guys. He’s right. I didn’t need to really understand all of that.

    I read this book in two days. You don’t believe me, go look at my kitchen, it’s a mess. I’ll get it cleaned up. There were pieces in this book that kicked me in the gut - it reminded me of the good old days of Chicago and my crew, God how I miss those guys. There are things here I need to learn and do for myself and I’ll leave that for another day and another blog. 

    Real men don’t apologize for who they are – even in face of a woman who is trying to make them – That’s big ladies. If you are a harpie or someone bent on castrating a man, this book will really upset you. Jim’s advice to men – know who you are, live who you are, and know your boundaries, are great adages for women as well. (Things I’m not doing well right now)  It’s also good to know Belushi’s Five commandments — and Jim or Jim’s attorney, please forgive me — But I HAVE to share this – my husband has the same “rules.” This is what respect looks like to both my husband and apparently to Jim.

    1. Thou Shalt Not Shush Me – ever
    2.  Thou Shalt Not Steal 
    3.  Thou Shalt Not Banish Me to the Couch – this is a non-negotiable rule in our house, has been since I met my husband in 1987. Unless I’m snoring and then he banishes himself. (which of course I never do.)
    4. Thou Shalt not Compete with Me (Personal note: women don’t always know what competing looks like to you guys – really wish he’d expounded here.)
    5. Thou Shalt not expect an apology for something I am not sorrieth for

    This is an excellent book — language and crudeness aside — he speaks well of his wife Jenny and his children and the sweetest thing in it – the end. He tells what the ONE thing Jenny gave him that no other woman ever did — and to find that out, you have to read the book.

     If you’re brave, check it out – skim through the “yuckier” stuff if you have to, but I warn you don’t skim too far he’s buried some wonderful surprises in there.

    And for those who’d rather just judge the title of the book — don’t. Under no circumstances does he ever say, be a jerk, treat people badly and make no excuses. He sets the scene very early about that. Chapter One I believe in a “man quiz” — Real men own their mess — and I’m sorry is a manipulative word – if you did something wrong, own it and clean it up do not blame shift. And that — is respectful.

    To order his book check out the web page: Jim Belushi or to check out his newest show The Defenders on CBS

    This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart: Confessions of a Spiritual Bulimic. All rights reserved. No goods or services were received in exchange for this review.

    Blog Tour: Between a Rock and a Grace Place, Carol Kent

    I have a confession to make. I had originally agreed to give away a free copy of Between A Rock and a Grace Place in exchange for posting this interview.  I got the book and started reading it and I couldn’t put it down. Not only could I not put it down, this book is so full of wisdom and wonderful nuggets of truth, that I started writing in it. You can’t have my copy BUT if you leave a comment at the end of this post, I will draw a name on October 11, 2010  and one lucky winner will receive a new — unmarked — copy of this book, I promise you. I have also included links at the bottom of this post for other chances to win. Blessings — Deana

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    Click photo to read an excerpt

    Between a Rock and a Grace Place by Carol Kent (Zondervan)    

    From bestselling author Carol Kent comes a riveting journey of facing the impassable obstacles of life and discovering the last thing ever expected—the sweet spot of grace.    

    Carol Kent and her husband, Gene, are now living what some would call a heartbreaking life—their son, Jason, a young man who initially had so much promise, is now living out a life sentence for murder in a maximum security prison. All their appeals have been exhausted at both the state and federal levels—humanly speaking, they have run out of options. But despite their hopeless situation, Carol and her husband live a life full of grace. Kent reveals how life’s problems become fruitful affliction where we discover the very best divine surprises, including peace, compassion, freedom, and adventure. Through the Kent’s remarkable ongoing journey, Jason’s riveting letters from behind bars, and true “grace place” stories from the lives of others, Between a Rock and a Grace Place reveals that when seemingly insurmountable challenges crash into our lives, we can be transformed as we discover God at work in ways we never imagined. With vulnerable openness, irrepressible hope, restored joy, and a sense of humor, Carol Kent helps readers to find God’s “grace places” in the middle of their worst moments.    

     About the Author 

    Carol Kent

     

       Carol Kent is the bestselling author of When I Lay My Isaac Down and A New Kind of Normal. Carol is an expert on public speaking, writing, and on encouraging people to hold on to hope when life’s circumstances turn out differently from their dreams. She lives in Florida with her husband Gene.    

    Carol Kent is a popular international public speaker best known for being dynamic, humorous, encouraging, and biblical. She is a former radio show co-host and has often been a guest on Focus on the Family and a featured speaker at Time Out for Women and Heritage Keepers arena events. She has spoken at The Praise Gathering for Believers and at Vision New England’s Congress. She is also a frequent speaker at Women of Virtue events across the country.    

    Questions/Answers from Carol Kent

    What are “grace places,” and how can hurting people in need find them?     

    All of us experience tight spots when life turns out differently from our dream. When we face the overwhelming obstacles of life, we can experience the last thing we ever expect—the sweet spot of grace. Grace places have a variety of forms, but some include:    

    • Receiving love when we don’t deserve it
    • Finding safety in the middle of a fearful and uncertain experience
    • Being comforted by friends and family (people who are extensions of God’s love)
    • Experiencing the embrace of God when we have run out of strength and courage

    “Grace means the free, unmerited, unexpected love of God, and all the benefits, delights, and comforts which flow from it.” (R.P.C. Hanson)    

    How important are contentment and gratitude in finding grace and peace?     

    My son, Jason, is teaching me that I need to choose contentment and thanksgiving in all things. As an inmate in a maximum-security prison, all of his personal items must fit in one small one-foot-high and one-and a half-feet-deep and two-and-a half feet long steel lockbox. He has learned to live comfortably with very little, which brings him a surprising sense of peace.    

    When I was visiting him one weekend I asked how he holds on to hope in the middle of a life-without-the-possibility-of-parole sentence. He said, “Mom, I have a gratitude list. Whenever the clouds of depression try to discouragement, I get out a piece of paper and write down everything I have to be thankful for. I’m thankful I have two parents who will be my advocates for as long as they live. The average number of years a lifer gets visits is five years and then no one comes anymore. I’m also thankful I can be a missionary on a compound that houses up to 1,700 men.” I’m learning from Jason that I find contentment when I choose to be thankful and when I invest my time in helping other people.     

    What are some unexpected gestures of kindness you’ve received in the past, and how did they help you through difficult times?     

    A couple of years ago Jason’s appendix ruptured and he was rushed from the prison to a civilian hospital. Gene and I were not allowed to know where he was and I prayed for someone to care for him as a mother would. He had two armed guards in his room at all times. Nurse Betty was assigned to Jason’s care. She treated him with respect and extraordinary care—and I knew she was a direct answer to my prayers. A group of people who called themselves our “Stretcher Bearers” received an e-mailed monthly update on how to help with our needs. We were blessed with meals, cards, and financial gifts, often just before we needed extra funds for the next legal payment. These amazing people waited with us for two and a half years through seven postponements of the trial.      

    Tell us about the Christmas gift you received. How did it help you to find grace in the middle of a seemingly hopeless situation?      

    Two weeks before Christmas our doorbell rang at 9:15 p.m. It was dark outside and by the time my husband, Gene, joined me at the front door, we were surprised to find no one there. It was already dark, but my eyes fell on a large, exquisitely wrapped gift. The card on top said, “Mom.” Initially, it felt like a bad joke. Nine years earlier our son, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy had been arrested for murdering his wife’s first husband and he was in prison serving a life-without-the-possibility-of-parole sentence.However, I am a “Mom” and the package was left on my doorstep, so I opened it. The note appeared to be in my son’s unique handwriting. The note expressed his deep love for me and his gratefulness for what I had done to help him since his arrest. He said a “friend” had helped him deliver the surprise. Opening the box, I discovered a gorgeous russet-colored silk jacket—and it fit me perfectly.That night I discovered something new about God and something I had forgotten about myself. He loves to interject divine surprises into our lives. His timing is always perfect, but it had been a while since I had been surprised by joy, wonder, and grace in the middle of one of the tight spots of life.    

    How has your definition of adventure changed over the years, and why is it important to retain adventure in your life, despite your situation?     

    True adventure is seeing the potential of living for things that matter in the middle of your current circumstances. We had the adventure of launching a nonprofit organization that helps to empower our son to facilitate classes by having books and DVD teaching series sent to the prison. We also have the adventure of reaching out to other people who are in crisis, which brings purpose and deep meaning to our lives.    

    There is a theme of surprise throughout the book. What is one of the greatest surprises you’ve had?     

    The powerful story of Tammy Wilson and Matthew Ben Rodriguez is in this book. Tammy contacted me after I spoke at an event she attended because my son is incarcerated in the same prison where Matt, the man who killed her mother thirteen years ago is incarcerated. She had been praying for someone to lead Matt to Christ and asked if Jason would try to meet him. It turned out that Jason and Matt were already friends and this amazing story is one of forgiveness, redemption, and restoration that can only be explained in the supernatural dimension.    

    Between a Rock and a Grace Place releases 10 years after your son, Jason, was sentenced to life in a maximum security prison and includes excerpts from Jason’s letters. Can you tell us how he’s doing now?     

    He has just taken his 8th group of men through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University Course and he will be facilitating a biblical counseling class on marriage and family this fall. He has a prayer group of twelve inmates who fast and pray for the needs of each other and their families. Prison is a depressing, dark, and sad place, but Jason is living for things that will outlast him.    

    When you received news about Jason’s clemency hearing being denied, how did you respond?    

     I wailed like a baby, sobbed, felt angry, hurt, and disappointed in God. Then we saw Jason a day after this devastating news. He was calm and very much at peace. He hugged me as I wept and said, “Mom, this case isn’t about having the best attorney or about having the favor of Florida’s top executive political leaders. If I am ever allowed to walk in freedom in this lifetime, it will be because God miraculously opened a door that was closed.” My son helps me to develop an eternal perspective and that day he comforted me.     

    What advice do you have for those who are stuck between a rock and a grace place?     

    In the middle of your own hurt reach out to someone else who needs help worse than you do. When you involve yourself in meeting the needs of others, you discover an unexpected freedom on the inside. Corrie ten Boom once said, “What did you do today that only a Christian would have done?”    

    As a result of your journey, you and your husband have founded the nonprofit organization Speak Up for Hope. What are the goals of the organization, and how can people get involved?     

    Our vision: To help inmates and their families adjust to their new normal.Our mission: We exist to provide hope to inmates and their families through encouragement and resources.Please go to http://www.speakupforhope.org for a list of practical ways individuals, churches, and organizations can help with specific projects. Our goal is to live out the truth of Prov. 31:8-9: “Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the down-and-out. Speak out for justice. Stand up for the poor and destitute!”    

    Where may we connect with you further or to purchase a copy of Between a Rock and a Grace Place?     

    I would love for you to visit my web site at www.CarolKent.org, browse through the various events and other resources available. You may also join me on my Facebook page, please click here.    

    Please leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a free copy of Between a Rock and a Grace Place.Other Chances to Win include: FACEBOOK VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR , The Tour Itinerary,as well as  Christian Speaker Service Blog.     

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    This has been a huge thrill, blessing, and honor for me to share Carol with you. When I met Carol at E-Women three years ago, I had no idea her ordeal. She was simply one of the speakers and I was a worker in the Green Room (That’s where they keep the food — go figure) I was struck by Carol’s laughter, intelligence, strength and kindness. Carol lights up a room when she enters. Not in a here I am sort of way, but rather a “there you are.” — she’s always happy to see whomever is there.      

     I had over heard Carol speaking to someone about a homiletics class she had just finished teaching in Washington and I whispered to another volunteer “What I wouldn’t give to go to something like that.” Carol heard me. She stopped mid sentence, looked me in the eyes and gave me her web address and invited me to Grand Rapids for her next class. Carol didn’t know me from Eve. I was thrilled and signed up as soon as I got home that night. Carol, I discovered is a certified Bible Study Fellowship Instructor, and has an incredible depth of knowledge when it comes to scripture. Granted, this isn’t the time or place to share that story, but I get to share this wonderful woman with you today and that thrills me! Whether you enter to win, or buy the book yourself you will be blessed beyond measure.    

    Until next time,   

    Deana    

        

    Disclosure Notice: A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me as a blog tour host by Zondervan in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services. 

    Baggage by Nicole Johnson

    While putting together this new blog format and platform, I ran across my Nicole Johnson files. I first discovered Nicole when I was at Women of Faith back in 2004. Most of her sketches were humorous that year and being of the bulimic mindset that if a little is good well then the whole thing must be wonderful, I bought her entire set of videos and watched them all in one sitting.

    I do that you know, binge on things other than food. That’s part of what this whole blog series is about, the effects bingeing and purging, and trying to find balance and peace instead of control. I don’t just eat one cookie, I eat the whole bag. I don’t just buy one book, I buy the whole set. If I find a sweater I like, I buy every color in my size.  I don’t just join a health club to rehab my knee I, fill my living  room with machines and wear myself out.

     After a while guilt kicks in and I have a garage sale and purge my home of all evidence of my extremes.

    Fortunately for me, I hang to my DVDs.  

    This particular video is on Nicole’s Fresh Brewed Life You Tube page, and I think it’s very profound. This sketch was written for the Revolve Tour for teens and speaks to the baggage we all carry around with us.  Enjoy. Please note that the young woman acting in this video is not Nicole but rather a young woman named Katharine. Katharine Everett is a graduate from Baylor University and is a gifted and I dare say anointed young actress who really brings these sketches to life.

    This post written by Deana O’Hara for Confessions of a Spiritual Bulimic, all rights reserved. September 18, 2010. Confessions is not a bible study or teaching, but rather a resting place for the stories of my life as I learn to give them voice. In everything, test the Spirits, go back and look up the scriptures mentioned, read the commentaries and learn for yourself what God’s Word would reveal to you. Disclaimer: No goods or services were received in exchange for this post. I only write about resources that I find encouraging and want to pass on to others.

    Women of Faith: Tulsa Oklahoma, Imagine Tour

     Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

    Real Women

    Real Life

    Real Hope

    I can still remember the day back in 2004, that my friend Rita stopped me in the hall, pointed to me and said, “YOU need to go to Women of Faith this year. It’ll change your life.” I seem to think I rolled my eyes at her and laughed. I was tired, beaten down with life and grief (I’d buried 10 friends that year), and frankly I was not in the mood for some churchy, happy, smiling faced, woman’s conference. I was falling apart and the last thing I wanted to do was sit around and listen to a bunch of women who had it all together tell me how great they are.  Don’t mind my pity party or self loathing – or the fact that I lived in constant comparison at that time – and always (in my opinion) fell short of everyone else – I was apparently enjoying it because I stayed there for an awefully long time. There is defeat brought on by life and there is the kind of defeat brought on by ourselves – I was losing hope.

    The truth is, I was already secretly handing in my ministry resignation to God — going to a conference was not (in my opinion) going to fix me. I’d already convinced myself that I was too broken to be of any use anyway. Basically while I hadn’t given up on God, I had pretty much given up on myself – and thought he has too.

    Ever been there?

    Feeling smug in my ability to ignore my friend’s recommendation, I was not amused when I got a flier in the mail inviting me to a Women of Faith Conference in Oklahoma City.  Nor was I amused when a gal in my bible study announced that she was going and wanted someone to come with her and decided it would be me.

    I’m a believer that God speaks through people. When I hear something once I might pay attention — but when the message comes to me three times in one week, I’ve learned to listen even when I have a broken heart.

    I’ll never forget that first conference. I was introduced to wonderful teachers and speakers like Kathy Troccoli, Sheila Walsh, Patsy Clairmont, Luci Swindoll, Thelma Wells, and Marilyn Meburg. I laughed. I cried. I learned and I leaned into Christ for two solid days. I had no idea Christian women could be so honest with eachother.  Chonda Pierce was even there – which is how I met her, but that is another story.

    I knew then and there, if I only go to one conference a year WOF was it.  Every year, God breaks my heart open just a little bit more and makes room for His healing touch in my secret places. He fills my heart with scriptural truths, joy, and tears and faith in what He alone can accomplish.  This year was no different.

    This year I got to go with a bunch of gals from my church who had never been before and since it was in Tulsa they thought “Why not.” — What a joy it was to be there with them, laugh and cry with them — and stretch out to God with open arms — knowing that He was reaching back. One of the gals even asked if it was always like this and when I said yes, she said “oh this is a no brainer, I’m coming back next year.”

    How cool is that?

    Women of Faith is totally Christ focused. It’s full of gifted communicators and teachers who share their life stories, and share a faith in Jesus that always leaves me astounded – and hungry for more. I love it.

    I’ll give you a brief recap of the Imagine Tour and some of what we learned. If you want to know more about the speakers, just click on their names to go to their web pages.

    Marcus Buckingham: In a world that mainly focuses on fixing what we’re weak at, author and speaker Marcus Buckingham offers a rather different paradigm. Marcus believes that our strengths are gifts from God and he suggests that we find what we are strong at, and grow in those areas.  Now I’ll be honest I reviewed Marcus’ book Find Your Strongest Life Now a few months back and I had a hard time reading through it at first. It’s a bit too technical for me. I read a page of credentials and my eyes start to roll back into my head, but that’s just me. Once I saw Marcus speak and explain his thoughts at WOF’s opening day, I gained new insight into what it means to use the gifts God has given us – not for ourselves – but in order to make a difference in the world.  Strongest Life is definitely one for the tool box. Marcus has put together an easy test that helps you find your strength categories. I’m a Creator/Teacher. If you’d like to take his simple test, simply click Strong Life Test.  and see for yourself. – and remember, this is just a tool — Our toolboxes are only as useful as the tools we place in them. I like adding things to mine.

     Lisa Harper: My first question is how did this wonderful bible teacher keep from being on my radar all these years.  I really like this woman. She’s bright, funny, intuitive, and scripturally sound -  I could relate to Lisa on almost every level. I say almost, because I haven’t lived through everything she has. But close. Lisa talks about a personal relationship with a God who is passionate, powerful, loving, and untamed. She speaks of a Hero in her life – named Jesus and what he has done and continues to do.  She speaks about the women in his life from Mary to Martha to the woman in rags, she speaks of His grace, forgiveness, attention and love that he displayed towards them and continues to display towards us today. My only regret was not taking notes — I really wish I’d done that.

    Luci Swindoll: How do you describe a woman like Luci? She’s a painter, a singer, a liver and lover of life. She is passionate about everything she does and brilliant to boot. What I originally liked about Luci was her common sense approach to living out her Christian walk. She embraces the life God has given her and does her best to live it out to his glory and not her own. She’s a giver in every aspect of living. She spoke about the importance of feeding our souls – with important stuff, not stuff of the world, but stuff of God’s gifts to the world – she is also careful to remind us not to be selfish with that, but to share with others.

    Sheila Walsh: Even though Sheila is second on the roster, I’m writing about her last. I cried my eyes out the first time I heard Sheila speak – her story is so profound and heartbreaking and refilling all at once that you can’t help but be moved by it. I’ve had a wonderful time watching Sheila grow over the last six years. She is a beautiful, anointed, and gifted teacher, singer and speaker. I can only describe this journey as watching her grow into her skin and be happy there. She’s British (or maybe Scottish, I’m not sure) and it’s easy to mistake the posture that comes with it as cold assurance – when in reality I find Sheila to have this tender heart that just melts anyone’s who knows her. She teaches with clarity and focus and apparent confidence. This year she taught on trust — she spoke of Gideon and Abraham – and to quote my girlfriend – she got “in my business.” and I love it. She has a very gentle and affirming way of combining Gospel and Law in life changing lessons. If you saw only her — it would still be worth the price of the entire weekend.

    There were more speakers and skits and singers but it would take a whole week to write about them. They are all wonderful teachers and inspiring women who speak of a faithful and true God. If you’d like to know more about Women of Faith please see their web page at www.womenoffaith.com

    Have a blessed Monday ya’ll

    This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. All rights reserved. Please note that no goods or services were exchanged for this blog post. I am simply sharing my personal opinion on valuable resource.

    Ready to Win Over Depression: Blog Tour with Thelma Wells

    THELMA: Before I begin, let me first say, if you and/or a loved one are in a crisis situation and you need immediate assistance, please call your local emergency number or the mental health crisis hotline listed in your local phone book.

    In your introduction, you state that you’ve been there – you’ve been depressed.  Tell us about that.

    Yes, I have.  This story is told in detail in the book, however, I had surgery several years ago and within a few days the incision split open and my intestines were exposed. This was probably by far the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. After a quick trip back to the hospital to repair the damage, I spent over a year bed-ridden, disabled, and recovering. I’m not the kind of person to lie down and take things slow, especially when it’s forced on me. Yet, in this situation I had no choice but to stop and heal. It wasn’t easy and I faced a lot of fears and I experienced situational depressed during this time.

    How do you define depression?

    Some of us are more prone to depression than others. The influences that bring us down in our spirits can come from many sources and directions. Depression can be a complex picture. But let’s face it. The main reason we get despondent is simply because life happens. And nobody’s life is a constant procession of uplifting, rejuvenating, invigorating experiences. Everybody’s life has downers. We easily get off-balance in so many ways, and this hurts. The TV commercial that says, “Depression hurts” is true.

    Does your book focus on one type of depression?

    For most of us, the depression we typically encounter isn’t the severe or clinical category, medically speaking. The typical depression is situational. This doesn’t mean they’re painless or less important or harmless.

    Dr. Archibald D. Hart, a leading Christian psychologist and dean emeritus of the School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary writes, “While these depressions are not usually as serious as the biological ones, they can be much more difficult to cope with.”

    In your first Chapter, you talk about “Who get’s depressed?”  Does depression affect certain groups of people more than others?

    Every year depression strikes more than 35 million in the United States alone. We’re seeing depression with frightening regularity in ourselves, our relatives, and our friends. Dr. Harts states, “There is hardly a family today that is not touched by depression’s tentacles.” Depression affects people of all social classes, all races, and all cultures, but there’s one group that’s especially hard hit…women.  Also there is an alarming increase in children and the elderly.

    What are the triggers and causes of depression?

    Psychology Information Online, which includes content provided by the National Institute on Mental Health, notes that “a depressive episode” can be triggered by “a serious loss, chronic illness, relationship problems, work stress, family crisis, financial setback, or any unwelcome life change.” Sometimes depression is brought on by an underlying disease or biochemical disorder. Whatever the cause of our depression, it needs to be faced and understood realistically—and then accepted for what it truly is.

    Does the Bible speak about depression?

    It does in several places and we see it in the lives of David, Jeremiah, and Paul. Psalms 42 and 43 together represent the cry of a downcast soul—someone who is hurting and thirsting for God. Paul describes our loving Father as “God, who comforts the downcast” (2 Corinthians 7:6).

    Christians do get depressed, but it’s a temporary state. God allows us to experience it as a means to attaining something better. Our hope and contentment are based on seeing our past and present difficulties as gifts from God to prepare us and enable us to do more for Him by sharing Christ, finding delight in God and what He ordains.

    What are the steps you outline for “Doing something about it.”  And why are these important?

    • Get It All Out – talk to somebody about how you’re feeling. Emotionally and mentally, talking about your feelings is a healthy thing to do. Everybody needs somebody to confide in. That’s right. Everybody.
    • Take Care of Yourself Physically – How healthy we are physically always impacts our mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
    • Don’t be Deceived – Your emotions can fool you into questioning or not knowing what’s real or not real. Depression can cause some strange symptoms.
    • You’re Your Own Captive Audience – People talk to themselves. We all do it. When we talk to ourselves, we need to watch what we’re saying. You see, when we talk to ourselves, we invoke our consciousness. And in our conscious awareness, we truly hear what we say. Our subconscious hearts it—and believes it! Then our creative self-conscious gets busy working it out…whether or not it’s true, real, positive, negative, or healthy.

    Hope is a key word used throughout the book, but especially in the last chapter.  What does the mystery of hope mean?

    “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” (Proverbs 13:12).  Hope and prayer always go together. In fact, prayer is the voice of hope. When there’s hopelessness, prayer dries up and blows ways. Real hope is huge! To have a biblical hope found in Ephesians 4:1-16 is to possess “living hope.”

    From page 99 to page 109, I discuss the facets of hope that we can attain when we refocus our attention from us to God.  Our living hope is not in things, people’s opinions, positions, status, or any tangible findings of life.  No, it rests upon the spiritual and emotional stability of our minds on the only wise God, our Father, who can help us in our depressed states every day.  This living hope is in Jesus, the Anointed One, whose job it is to redeem us for all things that oppress us.  The only hope for the world is Jesus.  The only help for the world is a touch from God.

    You spend a whole chapter on “Looking Outward.”  Why is this important?

    At the risk of bursting someone’s bubble…the world doesn’t revolve around you. I know you might have thought it did. I used to think the same thing about me. One of the best ways to deal with depression is to do something for somebody without expecting anything in return.

    Search for a volunteer organization, mentor a child or young person, or find someone who needs help with something and help them. Do something.  That’s the key.

    I have several activities available via my ministry that offer opportunities to people to connect with others.  Join me on excursions across the country and to Israel studying the Word, relaxing, rejuvenating and enjoying the life God has given us. We are also launching the Ready to Win Web Cast University with a variety of experts to offer you the best in Christian instruction, study, and education. I have hand selected several outstanding speakers that will enable you to be READY TO WIN in every situation.  Both of these and more are available on my web site at www.ThelmaWells.com.

    How is the book different from others?

    This book is different from others because it gives the reader a non-threatening opportunity to ask themselves questions and answer those questions in the book as they are reading it.  It is not a course of study; it is a means of helping them “get it out.”  It allows them to analyze their state of being and work through it alone so that it is there personal and confidential analysis and directives for healing.

     What results do you see that can come from reading this book?

    The results I see from reading this book are:

    • People have a handy reference at their fingertips for calling their attention to what they are facing in terms of situational depression.
    • People have at their fingertips information that they can share with others who may be experienced the same kind of depression.
    • There are reminders in the book that are encouraging and inspiring that can be used as a devotional.
    • There are stories that people can relate to and realize that they are not alone and there is always help.

    How do you see individuals, small groups and even churches using this book?

    Not only is the book appropriate for individuals, it is designed for group work for small and large study sessions.  Because it is a simple lay-out and intentionally open-ended, it  can be used as a guide for therapists with their clients, ladies groups of any kind, church groups, Sunday School classes, Bible studies, or references for children’s groups that are concerned about situational depression in our children.

    Where connect with you further on this topic? Or, purchase a copy of this book?

    I would love for them to visit my web site at www.ThelmaWells.com, browse through the various events and other resources available, as well as sign up for my mailing list.

    READY TO WIN OVER DEPRESSION is also available online and at local bookstores such as, Family Christian Stores, Lifeway Christian Stores, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble Book Stores, Mardel’s, Anchor Distributors, Christianbook.com, and many other stores and vendors throughout American and the United Kingdom.

    I would also like to connect with people on the new Facebook page we set up specifically for this topic at www.facebook.com/readytowinoverdepression. Or they can find me on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/Thelmaw.

    Again, let me say…if you or someone you know is dealing with depression, you are not crazy. God knows you’re not crazy. And He also has a perfect antidote for your depression. Nothing escapes Him, and he knows you far better than you know yourself. Isn’t that a relief and comfort?

    A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me as a blog tour host by the author in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services.

    The Marriage Project: 21 Days to More Love and Laughter, by Kathi Lipp

    I grew up in a divorced home. My husband grew up with parents who stayed together, for better and for worse, for over 50 years. He and I bring very diverse sets of luggage to our home.  As a result of that, I love reading books on marriage. I love reading books period. And I love projects. Granted, when it comes to projects, I am a great starter and a not so great finisher. I love to dream, and plan, and think about ad infi nauseum… do you catch my drift? As easily as I jump into a project, I get easily bored.

    This book is different. Kathi has written a book on marriage that speaks to my heart. It is simple, easy to follow, organized and very conversational. I especially like the whole “love and laughter” aspect of it all because when laughter leaves your home, everything else follows. Good marriages, healthy marriages are not happenstance, they are intentional and that is the message throughout her book.

    This is my first introduction to author Kathi Lipp, and after just the first few chapters I found myself thinking, “Now this is a woman I’d love to hang with.” She is humorous, transparent, wears her heart on her sleeve, and she is insightful. Kathi’s non judgemental and transparent writing style makes her very easy to relate to. Kathi simply writes from the heart.

    The Marriage Project, is a book intended to be worked through as a couple and while I originally agreed to participate in this as a couple prior to writing my review, our life did not fully cooperate. My mother in law recetnly passed the best thing I can do right now is love and support my husband and save the book for us to work through at a later time.

    I know that in the future we will be able to make the time to follow the fun principles set before us in this easy to follow book. What is also great about this book is it is full of simple ideas that I can implement on my own to communicate the love and respect I have for this man I married 20 years ago.

    Your marriage does not need to be in crisis mode to work through this study. Ours isn’t. This is a study that can be worked through at any stage of married life.  I highly recommend reading this book. It’s intentional. It’s clearly written. It is focused.

    The Marriage Project is a project worth doing.

    Short description of The Marriage Project

    More love, more laughter — more lingerie.

    Was the last time you flirted with your husband before you had kids?

    Do you spend more time on the couch with your wife watching movies or with a bag of chips watching The Game?

    Does your idea of a hot date include a drive-thru and springing for the extra-large fries?

    What would your marriage look like if for 21 days you put it on project status? Plenty of books describe how to improve a marriage, how to save a marriage, and how to ramp up the intimacy in a marriage. In The Marriage Project, Kathi Lipp shows you how to put the fun back in marriage with 21 simple yet effective projects.

    Here are just a few of the results you’ll see when you put The Marriage Project into practice:
    - new levels of warmth and tenderness in your relationship
    - a deeper sense of security with your spouse
    - new ideas to bring fun and flirting back into your marriage

    If you haven’t given up on the dream of being head-over-heels with your spouse again, The Marriage Project will give you just the boost you need.

    About the Author

    Author and Speaker, Kathi Lipp

    Kathi Lipp is a national speaker and author who inspires women to take beneficial action steps in their personal, marital and spiritual lives. Her wit and wisdom will give you new ways to:

    •  Avoid settling for less than God’s loving plan for your life.
    • Develop new levels of warmth and tenderness with your husband
    • Return fun and flirting to your marriage
    • Boost your confidence to follow God-given dreams and goals.
    • Create and environment of encouragement in your friendships

    Join Kathi and renovate your life with a project for your soul!

    Q&A with Kathi

    • Kathi, you talk about a time in your life when your marriage wasn’t all that you hoped for. What were some of the things that you wanted to improve in your own marriage?

    Let me be clear – I love my husband Roger, but, this is a second marriage for both of us. I knew the statistics regarding remarriages are pretty bleak. But, I guess we were hoping that we would be the exception to the rule and would avoid all the drama – yeah, not so much… With both of us having two teens, plus both becoming step-parents to two teens, we had our challenges waiting for us.

    That is when Roger came up with the watch word for our marriage – “Intentional”. Whatever problems came up we were going to deal with them head on – not avoid them as we both did in our first marriages.
    The Marriage Project is one of the results of that – being intentional about making it work.

    • So, how does The Marriage Project work?

    The Marriage Project is like a workout program for your marriage – only with less sweat and more chocolate. You commit to do fun and flirty things for 21 days to raise the temperature of your marriage – everything from flirty notes on the bathroom mirror to more lingerie in the bedroom. It is a little bit of work – and a whole lot of fun.

    • How did you come up with the Projects?

    We ran 40 projects past 200 couples – most of them at our church in San Jose, CA. The ones that had the biggest impact – usually involving food and sex – stayed, while some of the ones that had the least impact got tossed. That’s how we came up with 21 pretty solid projects that both the husbands and the wives felt were fun and had an impact on their relationship.

     

    •  Most couples already may feel overwhelmed, so how can they fit these projects into their already busy schedules?

    Roger and I have real lives – lots of kids, little money, and even less time. So we made sure that the projects were as “doable” as possible. Most of the projects take less than five minutes.

    •  What’s the biggest reason that women stop putting effort into romancing their husbands?

    Time was the overwhelming factor for the women – between kids and jobs, home responsibilities and other family, it was easy to let their relationship with their husbands go on auto pilot.

    • How about the guys? What are some of the reasons a man may give up on romance?

    Surprisingly, most of the men wanted more romance with their wives, but didn’t feel like they were doing it “right”. “Will she be mad if I get her the wrong kind of flowers?” “What if she doesn’t like the gift I got her?” “It doesn’t matter what I do, she isn’t going to like it anyways.” If felt like a lot of the men wanted to do the right thing, but felt overwhelmed by “getting it right”.

    • You talk a lot about dating your mate in The Marriage Project. With all of the pressures of the economy, job stress, and family obligations, why do you think dating your spouse is so important?

    Dating is what helps us fall in love in the first place. It is the thing that most married couples give up first after saying “I do.” But dating is a great way to take a little retreat from those things that can pull us away from each other. At first you may have to look at dating as a project – setting aside time, money and energy for something (or someone) that is important.

    I know that it can be expensive to date, but if you are creative, you can have a fun date for under $20.

    • Are there really dates you can do for less than $20?

    Absolutely. In fact, we have a list on my website with 20 Dates for under $20.

    • What about if you have kids? How can you keep those costs down with the expense of babysitting?

    Starting January 15th, we are going to have great ideas on how to date with kids on my blog. You are going to love the ideas that all our readers are contributing!

    Purchase Links

    Amazon:  The Marriage Project: 21 Days to More Love and Laughter
    Christian Book: The Marriage Project
    Barnes and Noble: The Marriage Project

    Kathi’s Web Page

    Kathy Lipp

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for the above mentioned books, authors, or blogs other than a free copy of the book to read before my review. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”