Day 8 of the Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Celebration with Matt Patterson & Stephanie Shott!

We’re winding down on the Days of Christmas Book Giveaway celebration with only three giveaways to go! Have you had the chance to go back and leave comments on each posting for a chance to win the books for the past seven days?

Today I have two more awesome authors: Stephanie Shott and Matt Patterson. Their Christmas memories are well worth the read and be sure to have a tissue handy when you read Matt’s memory!

I have had the honor of being Stephanie’s guest on her awesome website at http://www.stephanieshott.com/ Both Stephanie and Matt are giving away a copy of their books, so be sure to leave a comment below about a Christmas that has special meaning to you and that you will always remember for a chance to win!

A winner will be chosen on December 18 and winners from all of the giveaways will be announced on Monday, December 19, so be sure to go back and enter! Anyone in the U.S. can enter, and confirmed subscribers receive two entries!

 

Below is the blurb for Understanding What Matters Most: The Book of Ecclesiastes by Stephanie Shott:

Ecclesiastes, Understanding What Matters Most is a six-week Following God workbook study that begins with a history lesson explaining how Solomon became king and then takes the reader into a verse-by-verse study through Ecclesiastes. The study offers a unique woman s perspective to an of avoided and misunderstood book of the Bible.

I have had the honor of reviewing Stephanie’s book and loved it and learned so much! You can read my review here: http://www.amazon.com/Ecclesiastes-Understanding-Matters-Following-Discipleship/product-reviews/0899570240/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#RDCPHHIWATSFA

Below is the blurb for My Emily by Matt Patterson:

This book tells the story of a hurting family, an amazing little girl and a mysteriously faithful God. Emily wasn’t born perfect – so one might think. She was born with Down Syndrome and many would jump to the conclusion that she would have very little hope for a life with any significance. Two years later came the diagnosis of leukemia. What little hope remaining turned to no hope whatsoever – or so one might think. The life of this little girl, with all its perceived imperfections, had great meaning. Her loving nature and courage touched the hearts of everyone she met. She also taught them how to value their own lives – even with their many “imperfections.”

 And now, some wonderful Christmas memories from Stephanie and Matt…

Ornaments, Vacations, & Memories by Stephanie Shott

I love Christmas! The sites, the sounds, the lights and the smells – all declare the most wonderful time of the year. But when our children were growing up, our Christmas season always began in October. That was when we took our annual vacations to the mountains where we would hike the Blue Ridge trails and meander through the quaint little shops in Waynesville.

It was there, in a mom and pop shop called Cedar Hills Studios, where we would pick out a few special Christmas ornaments to add to the others that would adorn our tree each year.

They were beautifully simple and simply significant. Each one inscribed with a different name of our Lord. Names like, Messiah, Word of God, High Priest, Christ and I Am, would dangle from the Douglas Fir in the corner of our room.

We talked about what each name meant and how great our God really is. We marveled at His majesty and were humbled by His humility. Those ornaments became prompts of praise and reminders of the babe in a manger who chose to begin His journey to the cross in a cradle.

Suspended from the branches were Scriptures declaring, “Unto us a child is born. Unto us a Son is given” (Isaiah 9:6) and “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14).

All ornaments that call our attention to the true meaning of Christmas. A Savior is born who offers hope to all mankind. The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. The Lamb of God became the sacrifice for our sins. The Redeemer came to purchase us back from the slave block of sin and make us His own.

Amazing love! Amazing grace!

And while we enjoyed sharing those destiny-altering truths with our boys, my favorite event of each Christmas season is the quiet moments when no one is home but me and Jesus. Only Christmas lights illuminate the room and in the silence of that place I seek His presence.

Each ornament a purpose to praise Him. Every Scripture reference a reason to rejoice. And every year, those moments with Him are the most precious of all!

As I glance through those ornaments of adoration, I remember when and where we bought them. I remember those vacations long ago that made this momma’s heart smile big time. I reflect on walks to the waterfalls, vacation cabins and irreplaceable time with my boys.

The years have gone by and my boys are now men. Those family vacations have been replaced with busy schedules and periodic family get-togethers. I miss our October trips to the mountains and the family traditions we created together, but every year, those ornaments become reasons to rejoice in our Savior and sweet memories of our vacations and Christmases filled with faith, family and fun.

Gifts by Matt Patterson

We all love Christmas gifts, don’t we?

I love giving Christmas gifts.

If you ask 100 people to give their definition of a “gift,” it’s quite possible to get 100 varying responses. Personally, the greatest gifts I have received in this life have come from some of my greatest trials.

Nearly 25 years ago, our first daughter Emily was born. The birth of a young couple’s first child almost certainly falls under the “gift” category.

We would learn the morning following her birth that Emily was born with Down syndrome. Beyond the initial dismay and sadness, emotions quickly turned to joy and happiness. Our angel was truly a gift from God.

Two years later, Emily would be diagnosed with leukemia. Three-plus months of chemotherapy were followed by tests, transfusions, remission, relapse and eventually, death.

One of my fondest Christmas memories took place only a couple years ago. I was stumped on what to get my wife and two daughters. A surprise type of gift – something they wouldn’t expect.

On Christmas Day, after all gifts had been opened, Bonnie and the girls started to clean up the loose boxes and shredded wrapping paper. It was then I stopped them.

“There’s just one more gift,” I said. “Wait here.”

I brought in three gift bags. I told them that they had to be opened simultaneously.

Each reached into their bags and pulled out a ring box. Of course my daughters were thinking diamonds. I love their naïve hearts.

At my prompting, each opened their box. Silence and confusion followed.

My wife Bonnie said, “Wait, what is …”

Our youngest, Kimberly jumped in, “This isn’t my birthstone.”

It was Lauren, our oldest daughter, who spoke up that it was Emily’s birthstone.

“I want each of you to have a daily reminder of her,” I said.

To this day, those rings remain on their fingers.

Matt loves to connect with his readers at http://www.my-emily.com/  My Emily is available at http://www.amazon.com/My-Emily-Matt-Patterson/dp/1449951554/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1323658364&sr=1-1

Be sure to leave a comment below about a Christmas that has special meaning to you and that you will always remember for a chance to win!

Interview and Giveaway with Author Stephanie Shott!!!

Stephanie Shott is one of my most favorite people and I am honored to have her return today as a guest on my blog. Stephanie is a Godly woman with a gift of explaining the Bible in a way that is easy to understand.

Stephanie is here today to share about her new book and also to share her touching testimony. I know you will be blessed by her words.  While this is a longer post than usual, I didn’t want to leave out even one morsel of Stephanie’s story! When you begin reading, you’ll see what I mean!

In addition, Stephanie is also giving away a copy of her book to one lucky commenter. So, be sure to leave an Stephanie an encouraging comment for a chance to win. As with all of the giveaways on my blog, you don’t have to be a subscriber to enter, but those who are subscribers get an extra entry. 🙂

So, without further ado…here’s Stephanie!

Hello Stephanie.  Welcome back to my blog. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.  I’m married to my best friend, Donald – mom to two adult sons, Karl and DJ – mother-in-law to Kristina – abuela (Grandma) to Kaitlyn Jewel. My hubby and I are empty nesters and to be honest, I don’t like it one little bit. I wish someone would have told me you have to give them away after you’ve raised them! 🙂

But I really want to talk about what Jesus has done for me, so here’s a little bit of my back-story…My life didn’t begin with a well planned pregnancy – my mom was raped and I was the result. I was adopted by two wonderful parents. So, I was born “Baby Salvatore” but I left the hospital four days later as “Stephanie Tyler.”

I had two wonderful parents who loved me as their own, but from the age of 3 until the age of about 12, I was repeatedly molested by two different people in my family.

At 17 I was pregnant – then married. At 19, I was divorced and a single parent. I spent the next four years as the poster child for the ‘Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places.” During that time, I met Donald in a bar. He was the drummer in the band and we were in love. I became pregnant again and we decided to get married in January of 1987

In October of that same year, God saved me and radically changed this girl with a bad past and a bleak future.

Since then, He has opened doors of ministry that were way beyond my wildest dreams and definitely beyond my own abilities!  In my journey with Christ, He has taken me from speaking to classrooms to speaking at conferences and from local ministries to international missions. My journey hasn’t been an easy one, but God has given me an opportunity to use the broken pieces of my life to encourage others and to glorify Him.

Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing that with us.What a wonderful testimony of how God can use all of us, no matter what our past held. I am excited about your recent release titled Ecclesiastes:Understanding What Matters. Please give us a short blurb about your book. We are all trying to figure out how to best live this thing called life. We want our lives to matter. We want to know that there was significance to our existence.

Ecclesiastes:Understanding What Matters (Following God Discipleship) (Following God Through the Bible Series)

Understanding What Matters Most is a six week journey through Ecclesiastes giving the reader an opportunity to personally sift the gamut of life experiences and define their lives by what matters most. With questions designed to examine the heart and inspire application, this ladies’ Bible study will ignite intentional living and give significance to the days we are given under the sun.

Your book sounds like one we should all have on our “keeper shelf” to refer to time and again.  So…what made you choose to write a study on the book of Ecclesiastes? It’s funny, but writing a book wasn’t even on my radar. I didn’t begin writing it with the hope that one day it would be published. Understanding What Matters Most was birthed from my own place of need during a time when God had called us to the mission field and my 19 year old son didn’t feel led to go.  My maternal heart began to wrestle with the details of the call – Who was going to take care of him if something went wrong?  What if he got hurt?  What about our parents?  I tried desperately to make sense of that which didn’t make sense at all.

That’s when the Lord gently led me to Ecclesiastes and gave me a bird’s-eye view of Solomon’s own attempts to make sense of the details of his life.  After he ran the gamut of life experiences, he understood what matters most.  I knew I needed that kind of clarity.  Not only for the circumstances surrounding our call to the mission field, but to help me walk through life knowing how to chose to live a life of significance regardless of my circumstances. 

My study of Ecclesiastes gave me the tools I needed to filter the essential from the non-essential in light of eternity. 

When God put it on my heart to send it to a publisher and they said yes, that’s when I knew  He wanted to use it for more than just notes for a conference. It changed everything! I began to write with readers in view and began praying for those who would read a book I never intended on writing.

What was your inspiration behind your book and what do you hope readers will take away from the study? When God began to expand my ministry borders and place writing in my lap, I knew it was an extension of His call on my life to communicate Him and His Word to women.

Ecclesiastes is an interesting book. Many avoid it because they feel it’s too pessimistic or because they just don’t feel they can really understand it. But it’s a book that gives clarity to the days we live under the sun. It helps us define our lives with significance.

I hope women will walk through this study together in a small group or Sunday School class so they can encourage and challenge each other along the way. There are so many truths wrapped up in those 12 chapters of wisdom Solomon wrote so long ago.

***1. Since we’re all trying to figure out how to do this journey called life, and we’re trying to understand how to properly view the events that come our way, Understanding What Matters Most was written equip each reader with necessary tools to filter everything they face through the lens of what really matters most. Ecclesiastes really helps us understand how to make decisions and deal with our circumstances based on what is and what is not important in light of eternity.

***2. I hope that readers will grasp the concept of eternity and the reality of our ultimate day of reckoning. I pray the awareness of that reality will help them live in light of that day.

***3. That readers will see the grace of God at work in Solomon’s life and understand that same grace is available to us.  Solomon was the wisest man to walk the planet earth, yet he blew it big time!  But the lesson here is that God still used him even after he failed.  I hope readers never forget that God is so much bigger than our failure – that as long as we have breath, He still uses us.  He will not forsake us, even when we blow it.

Wow, Stephanie! I love your heart for sharing God’s grace. Do you have a favorite Bible verse?  Philippians 3:7-14 have been my life verses for years. Not long after I became a Christian I read through that power-packed Pauline epistle and found those verses beautifully tucked in the pages of Scripture.

They remind me that nothing can be compared to the privilege of knowing Christ; that nothing is more important than my pursuit of knowing Him and making Him known; and that no matter what my painful past may whisper to my heart…no matter how things shake out in this life – that my job is to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Where do you see yourself in five years? In other words, what are your hopes, dreams, and goals? Oh wow! That’s a loaded question! Because we serve a big God, I tend to vision big! I desperately want my life to be about making Him known and I readily walk through every door my precious Savior opens. 

I know God has called me to serve Him through serving women in the Word – by communicating His truths whether that is through speaking, writing or one-on-one, hands-on ministry. I believe every encounter He gives me is an opportunity to convey His hope, His peace, His salvation and His sovereignty to women everywhere.

As a woman who has walked through my own painful past, I want women to know they are never too bad, too broken, too battered, too unlovable, too unforgiveable or too anything else for God – that He has a plan for their lives that far exceeds anything they can plan for themselves – and that He wants to make beauty out of the ashes of their lives.

I’m not sure what that will look like in five years, but I’m praying for my project that is sitting on a publisher’s desk right now to make a significant impact on the lives of women, not only across this country, but internationally, as well.

If you were given a million dollars to start a charity, what type of charity would you start and why? Because I’m also a missionary, I’ve seen many worthy charitable organizations impact the living conditions of people in the United States as well as around the world.

But while our heart-strings are pulled to make things better for people, if the foundation of our service is not motivated by our desire and a strategic plan to share Jesus with them, we are only making them comfortable on their way to hell. Because of that, I would love to start a mission organization that equips, trains and prepares missionaries while, at the same time, connecting them with local churches who can partner in the Acts 1:8 call to be witnesses to our own Jerusalems, Judeas, Samarias and to the utter most parts of the earth.

When I first read your comment above, I was so convicted. You are so right, Stephanie. We so need to focus on making an eternal difference, rather than just a temporary one.

So, what’s next on your writing agenda? I’m working on the study of Philippians and on the project I mentioned earlier. Speaking, writing, doing ministry with my husband and a full time job keep me busy beyond my 24 hour schedule – but my study of Ecclesiastes has been a huge inspiration to make each minute count for eternity. So, I’m doing all I can while I can.

 Where can readers connect with you? (website, blog, twitter, FB, etc.)

 Website: http://www.stephanieshott.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephanie-Shott/1303068879

Twitter: http://twitter.com/stephanieshott

Thank you, Stephanie, for being a guest on my blog. God’s blessings to you and your family.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share a bit about my story with you! You are a huge blessing, Penny!

Don’t forget, readers, that Stephanie will be giving away a copy of her book to one lucky commenter. Subscribers receive two entries, so be sure to leave an encouraging comment for Stephanie! The giveaway ends October 27, 2011.

Author Interview/Giveaway with Stephanie Shott…and a winner has been chosen!

Post update: A winner for Stephanie’s book has been chosen!

Yay! We have a winner of Stephanie Shott’s wonderful Bible study Ecclesiastes:Understanding What Matters.

Drumroll please…and the winner is Jeanne!

I want to personally thank everyone who stopped by and left a comment for Stephanie. I encourage you to check out her book, which is available everywhere books are sold, including Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Ecclesiastes-Understanding-Matters-Following-Discipleship/dp/0899570240/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1302225333&sr=1-1 Stephanie has such a heart for God and ministering to the needs of others.

Read on for the interview:

I am thrilled to have Author Stephanie Shott as a guest on my blog. She has an amazing and touching testimony that I know will bless all who read it.  Stephanie’s new book is the first in her Following God Through the Bible Series and is titled Ecclesiastes:Understanding What Matters.

Stephanie is going to be giving away a copy of this fantastic book to one lucky commenter. So be sure to leave a comment! The giveaway will end April 7.

Ecclesiastes:Understanding What Matters (Following God Discipleship) (Following God Through the Bible Series)

And now…without further ado, please welcome Stephanie Shott!

Hello Stephanie. Thank you for being here today. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.  I’m married to my best friend, Donald – mom to two adult sons, Karl (30) and DJ (23) – mother-in-law to Kristina – abuela (Grandma) to Kaitlyn Jewel. My hubby and I are empty nesters and to be honest, I don’t like it one little bit. I wish someone would have told me you have to give them away after you’ve raised them! 🙂

But I really want to talk about what Jesus has done for me, so here’s a little bit of my back-story…My life didn’t begin with a well planned pregnancy – my mom was raped and I was the result. I was adopted by two wonderful parents. So, I was born “Baby Salvatore” but I left the hospital four days later as “Stephanie Tyler.”

I had two wonderful parents who loved me as their own, but from the age of 3 until the age of about 12, I was repeatedly molested by two different people in my family.

At 17 I was pregnant – then married. At 19, I was divorced and a single parent. I spent the next four years as the poster child for the ‘Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places.” During that time, I met Donald in a bar. He was the drummer in the band and we were in love. I became pregnant again and we decided to get married in January of 1987

In October of that same year, God saved me and radically changed this girl with a bad past and a bleak future.

Since then, He has opened doors of ministry that were way beyond my wildest dreams and definitely beyond my own abilities!  In my journey with Christ, He has taken me from speaking to classrooms to speaking at conferences and from local ministries to international missions. My journey hasn’t been an easy one, but God has given me an opportunity to use the broken pieces of my life to encourage others and to glorify Him.

Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing that with us.What a wonderful testimony of how God can use all of us, no matter what our past held. I am excited about your recent release titled “Ecclesiastes:Understanding What Matters.” Please give us a short blurb about your book. We are all trying to figure out how to best live this thing called life. We want our lives to matter. We want to know that there was significance to our existence.

Understanding What Matters Most is a six week journey through Ecclesiastes giving the reader an opportunity to personally sift the gamut of life experiences and define their lives by what matters most. With questions designed to examine the heart and inspire application, this ladies’ Bible study will ignite intentional living and give significance to the days we are given under the sun.

What made you choose to write a study on the book of Ecclesiastes? It’s funny, but writing a book wasn’t even on my radar. I didn’t begin writing it with the hope that one day it would be published. Understanding What Matters Most was birthed from my own place of need during a time when God had called us to the mission field and my 19 year old son didn’t feel led to go.  My maternal heart began to wrestle with the details of the call – Who was going to take care of him if something went wrong?  What if he got hurt?  What about our parents?  I tried desperately to make sense of that which didn’t make sense at all.

That’s when the Lord gently led me to Ecclesiastes and gave me a bird’s-eye view of Solomon’s own attempts to make sense of the details of his life.  After he ran the gamut of life experiences, he understood what matters most.  I knew I needed that kind of clarity.  Not only for the circumstances surrounding our call to the mission field, but to help me walk through life knowing how to chose to live a life of significance regardless of my circumstances. 

 My study of Ecclesiastes gave me the tools I needed to filter the essential from the non-essential in light of eternity. 

When God put it on my heart to send it to a publisher and they said yes, that’s when I knew  He wanted to use it for more than just notes for a conference. It changed everything! I began to write with readers in view and began praying for those who would read a book I never intended on writing.

“Ecclesiastes:Understanding What Matters” is a Bible Study and the first in a series. Can you give us some insight as toupcoming books in the series? I’m working on Bible study series. My next book in that series is a study of Philippians. It’s so much more than a book of joy! I’ve been walking through the bones of it on an online Bible study that I host on my website. 

I’m also very excited about a project I’ve submitted to a publisher recently and am anxiously waiting to hear back from them. I can’t go into detail yet, but it’s definitely a labor of love and I believe the Lord is going to use it to change lives.

What was your inspiration behind your book and what do you hope readers will take away from the study? When God began to expand my ministry borders and place writing in my lap, I knew it was an extension of His call on my life to communicate Him and His Word to women.

Ecclesiastes is an interesting book. Many avoid it because they feel it’s too pessimistic or because they just don’t feel they can really understand it. But it’s a book that gives clarity to the days we live under the sun. It helps us define our lives with significance.

I hope women will walk through this study together in a small group or Sunday School class so they can encourage and challenge each other along the way. There are so many truths wrapped up in those 12 chapters of wisdom Solomon wrote so long ago.

***1. Since we’re all trying to figure out how to do this journey called life, and we’re trying to understand how to properly view the events that come our way, Understanding What Matters Most was written equip each reader with necessary tools to filter everything they face through the lens of what really matters most. Ecclesiastes really helps us understand how to make decisions and deal with our circumstances based on what is and what is not important in light of eternity.

***2. I hope that readers will grasp the concept of eternity and the reality of our ultimate day of reckoning. I pray the awareness of that reality will help them live in light of that day.

***3. That readers will see the grace of God at work in Solomon’s life and understand that same grace is available to us.  Solomon was the wisest man to walk the planet earth, yet he blew it big time!  But the lesson here is that God still used him even after he failed.  I hope readers never forget that God is so much bigger than our failure – that as long as we have breath, He still uses us.  He will not forsake us, even when we blow it.

Wow, Stephanie! I love your heart sharing God’s grace. Do you have a favorite Bible verse?  Philippians 3:7-14 have been my life verses for years. Not long after I became a Christian I read through that power-packed Pauline epistle and found those verses beautifully tucked in the pages of Scripture.

They remind me that nothing can be compared to the privilege of knowing Christ; that nothing is more important than my pursuit of knowing Him and making Him known; and that no matter what my painful past may whisper to my heart…no matter how things shake out in this life – that my job is to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Where do you see yourself in five years? In other words, what are your hopes, dreams, and goals? Oh wow! That’s a loaded question! Because we serve a big God, I tend to vision big! I desperately want my life to be about making Him known and I readily walk through every door my precious Savior opens. 

I know God has called me to serve Him through serving women in the Word – by communicating His truths whether that is through speaking, writing or one-on-one, hands-on ministry. I believe every encounter He gives me is an opportunity to convey His hope, His peace, His salvation and His sovereignty to women everywhere.

As a woman who has walked through my own painful past, I want women to know they are never too bad, too broken, too battered, too unlovable, too unforgiveable or too anything else for God – that He has a plan for their lives that far exceeds anything they can plan for themselves – and that He wants to make beauty out of the ashes of their lives.

I’m not sure what that will look like in five years, but I’m praying for my project that is sitting on a publisher’s desk right now to make a significant impact on the lives of women, not only across this country, but internationally, as well.

If you were given a million dollars to start a charity, what type of charity would you start and why? Because I’m also a missionary, I’ve seen many worthy charitable organizations impact the living conditions of people in the United States as well as around the world.

But while our heart-strings are pulled to make things better for people, if the foundation of our service is not motivated by our desire and a strategic plan to share Jesus with them, we are only making them comfortable on their way to hell. Because of that, I would love to start a mission organization that equips, trains and prepares missionaries while, at the same time, connecting them with local churches who can partner in the Acts 1:8 call to be witnesses to our own Jerusalems, Judeas, Samarias and to the utter most parts of the earth.

When I first read your comment above, I was so convicted. You are so right, Stephanie. We so need to focus on making an eternal difference, rather than just a temporary one.

So, what’s next on your writing agenda? I’m working on the study of Philippians and on the project I mentioned earlier. Speaking, writing, doing ministry with my husband and a full time job keep me busy beyond my 24 hour schedule – but my study of Ecclesiastes has been a huge inspiration to make each minute count for eternity. So, I’m doing all I can while I can.

 Where can readers connect with you? (website, blog, twitter, FB, etc.)

 Website: http://www.stephanieshott.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephanie-Shott/1303068879

Twitter: http://twitter.com/stephanieshott

Thank you, Stephanie, for being a guest on my blog. God’s blessings to you and your family.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share a bit about my story with you! You are a huge blessing, Penny!

Don’t forget, readers, that Stephanie will be giving away a copy of her book to one lucky commenter. So feel free to leave an encouraging word for Stephanie to be entered in the drawing…and check back on April 8 to see if you are the winner!