When we think of Christmas gift giving, we think of rocking horses, the latest and greatest doll, or maybe a shiny new bicycle and legos. Our minds and hearts turn to a simpler time in our childhood or at least what we wished for in our childhood. So much of Christmas revolves around kids because of the joy on their faces when they get a gift that they didn’t expect or even know existed. It’s exciting.
But sometimes there are people in our lives who aren’t thinking about rocking horses and legos. For them, even the thought of putting up a Christmas tree may send them back to bed with a box of tissues. They have encountered a rough patch where joy seems like a distant memory and one they may never experience again. They would love nothing more than to get a stocking full of hope this year. For them, or maybe for you, this Christmas is a different kind of Christmas.
I have the sheer pleasure and honor to have friends who have written books. I get a kick out of putting their name in the Amazon search box and seeing their work of heart pop up. They have chosen to put pen to paper in hopes that their story will help and encourage someone else in theirs. If you haven’t noticed, this is what EPFH is all about. Empty Plate . Full Heart It is for those who are able to empty their plates by sharing their stories hoping to fill the hearts of others.
So if you find yourself or someone you care for experiencing a different kind of Christmas, consider a different kind of gift. These books could be the stocking full of hope someone needs this Christmas. I have personally met most of these women and I have read and highly recommend each of their books. I’m not getting any kickbacks from this post besides the blessing of sharing their masterpieces with you.
In no certain order…
Roadmap to Redemption by Rebecca Bender
Rebecca is a survivor of human trafficking. She shares her story in this book and uses her ministry, Rebecca Bender Initiative, to help other survivors, equip professionals to recognize the signs of someone being trafficked and is on a committed mission to change the cultural mindset about trafficking.
Healing from Sexual Brokenness
Surprised by the Healer by Linda Dillow and Dr. Juli Slattery
I was on the launch team for this book and witnessed lives being changed as even those of us in the launch team read this book. Their ministry, Authentic Intimacy, has encouraged so many over the years, to find help, hope and healing in their intimate relationships. Surprised by the Healer contains stories of and by real women who have encountered sexual brokenness and somewhere along their road, they were surprised by the Healer.
Surviving Suicide Loss
The Gift of Second by Brandy Lidbeck
Brandy is a two-time suicide loss survivor. She is also a licensed therapist. This book is not a book of stories because she knows that someone going through this type of grief doesn’t need another story. They need a “me too” hand to guide them through the intricacies of this specific kind of pain. Her offering of experience and knowledge is indeed a gift. Check out Brandy’s website for more information and tools about surviving suicide loss. The Gift of Second
Encouragement from a Survivor
Faith, Fat and other F-Words, by Annisa Swanson
This author is not afraid of color. Without knowing her, if you saw her on the street you would see a lovely, vibrant, confident woman who tackles fear head on. But when you read her story of what she has survived and saw her on the street you would still see a lovely, vibrant, confident woman who tackles fear head on but you’d understand why. If you can handle colorful language, this friend’s story of fearless faith and finding life through incredibly painful situations will inspire. I’m beyond honored to be included in the endorsements of this book.
Finding Significance and Worth (Bible Study)
Unnamed Women of the Bible by Michelle Discavage
A little disclaimer but I have to confess that I haven’t actually worked through this bible study. I have it, though, and I have read through it. Michelle has put together this 4-week bible study for women who feel nameless about women who were nameless in the bible. She delves into the significance and worth that these women had even without a name. The same significance we have even if we feel unnoticed and invisible.
Helping Preschoolers Navigate Loss
Where Did My Sweet Grandma Go? by Lauren Flake
“A Preschooler’s Guide to Losing a Loved One” This is a book we wish our kids didn’t need but the reality is that we will all experience the loss of a loved one at some point. Lauren lost her mom to early-onset Alzheimers while she had preschoolers at home who wondered where their Grandma had gone. She has put this book together with such love and attention to detail. If you know a little one who is navigating loss this season, this is such a beneficial tool for them and their parents or another adult in their life.
Through Waters Deep by Erin Shafer
I was actually bumfuzzled (yes, this is the word that came to mind) when I read this book about cancer at how it affected me so personally. As I read Erin’s story, I was going through a time of pain myself which was not at all related to cancer but I found her cancer journey relevant to mine in so many areas. Navigating this unexpected and very much unwanted change, dealing with loss, grieving what was and what could have/should have been – I could relate. I “watched” her live through her painful circumstances but I also “watched” her survive. I tell ya’, when someone is in the process of surviving something, they desperately need to hang out with those who have survived. At this particular time in my life, Erin’s story was a breath of thick fresh air as I, too, struggled to breathe under water.
Recovery from Emotional Pain
His Comfort of Silence, by Eriko Valk
Eriko has been a part of my story for nearly 20 years. Eriko founded and runs a non-profit counseling ministry. She is deaf from a young age and has found God’s comfort in her silent world. She is an overcomer of obstacles. Until I read her book I didn’t quite comprehend all she has overcome. Since I’ve known her, she has always been so full of joy that I would have never imagined her enduring all that she has. When you buy her book to give away, go ahead and get two. You will want a copy for yourself. It is a “little book” and a quick read but it is packed with . Her story will absolutely inspire and encourage anyone who is going through anything. Her life story has offered me perspective and hope.
I hope I haven’t left out anyone’s book. That’s always a fear but if I did, please give me grace and share your book in the comments.
I know I haven’t covered every painful circumstance or hard life path, though. There is a wonderful program that our former church in Houston shares over the holidays. Check it out and see if it’s offered in your area and see if it would be good for you or someone you care about. GriefShare: Surviving the Holidays
Finally, while I had this post already working, a friend reminded me of this song. I knew it belonged here. Perhaps you’re having a different kind of Christmas this year but it is still Christmas. I pray that if you’re going through a challenging season that you don’t feel alone. I pray that somehow hope finds its way to you, even if it’s just a glimmer. For a glimmer of hope is still hope.
A Different Kind of Christmas by Mark Shultz
My friend, Kelly Smith, at Mrs. Disciple, hosts a themed Friday link up and the theme for this go ’round is “Gifts”. I’m linking this post up with hers and several other really great posts about gifts and giving. I hope you’ll jump over there and see if there’s anything that strikes your fancy.