Monday, April 27, 2020

A Plea for Help

Christian Publishers Outlet
I received an email from a perfect stranger this weekend. It's a plea for help for our very own local bookstore, Christian Publishers Outlet. And in an odd way, it was really no surprise because building community, connecting perfect strangers, is just what the folks at CPO do.

I'll get right to the point: this quarantine has been quite difficult on the store, after having to unexpectedly close their doors (due to our governor's orders) and keep them closed for weeks. They had just taken the huge leap to open a second location in Jackson, Tennessee, in the fall of last year. And in previous shop-talk with my friend Dave Tanner, the owner of the store, I learned that in order to keep prices low in the store, the margins from each sale are small--small, but just enough to keep his two locations afloat. However, closing the doors means even those sales aren't happening. Sure, they sell a few items online, but the bulk of their sales happens in the stores. 

The reason for this is that Dave's not interested in becoming the next Amazon. The billions would probably be nice, but if you live in this area, you've likely seen a flier for yet another community event taking place at Christian Publishers Outlet. He's having Kids' Days, Bible art classes, author signings--true community-building events that expect nothing in return. 

Well, folks, it's our turn. 

This store needs our support, and there are several things we can do:

1. Buy something now.* There are six excellent titles featured on their website. I just ordered Bob Goff's Live in Grace, Walk in Love and Intentional Faith by (my pastor!) Allen Jackson. It took 2 minutes and $30 (with shipping). They also have curbside pickup, if you want to save the $5 shipping fee. You can call (615-203-3052) or email them ( with orders as well.

2. Buy something later.* They will be re-opening on Wednesday, April 29, at 9 a.m. and will remain open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. If you haven't been, they're in the Target shopping center at 2033 Old Fort Pkwy, Murfreesboro, TN 37129 and in Jackson at 8 Stonebridge Blvd Suite A-C. Go show your support in person and with your dollars.

3. Share this post. If you're watching your pennies, as many of us are, you can still help to spread the word. It costs nothing and can be a great help.

4. Like and share their Facebook page (Murfreesboro). (Click here for Jackson.) This will keep you in the know about any sales on their already super-low prices and their upcoming community events. And sharing it will let your friends in on the savings and fun.

5. Sign up for their mailing list. Scroll to the bottom of the home page on their website, enter your email, and they'll send coupons and updates straight to your inbox.

6. Keep Christian Publishers Outlet in mind in the future. As you're shopping for gifts for graduation, Mother's Day, Father's Day, T-shirts, home decor, music, toys, and books, please remember that Dave's store is right around the corner--and really, truly has unbelievable prices! Dave and his wife live here and shop here. Their son goes to school with mine. They are our family, our community, and it takes little effort to support them first.

7. Say a prayer. Really. God is our provider and "owns the cattle on a thousand hills." He can provide for this store in remarkable ways. But remember, that provision may just come in the form of me and you.

8. All of the above. :) Easy peasy. You've helped to keep a bookstore alive and instilled hope in the world around you.

Thank you so much for whatever you can do to keep this treasure of a store open, afloat, and even thriving. And either way, don't you worry about Dave Tanner and the people at CPO. I'm told by my new email friend, "Dave is as joyful as ever, faith unwavering, and undeterred in his commitment to remain open, even as the crisis has certainly been more widespread and far reaching than any of us had imagined."

And that, my friends, is an example we can all get behind. 

*If you buy any of my books--they carry a bunch of them!--I will come to the store and sign them for you!

Saturday, February 22, 2020

New Release! Night Night, Bunny

Sold? Click here. :)
How do you share the gigantic message of Easter with your preschooler, your toddler, your baby? 

Well first, I think, you engage them. You give them gorgeous colors and adorable animals and sparkly covers (not pictured, but this cover is definitely covered in eye-catching sparkles :).

Next you show them God's gorgeous creation: rainbows and bunnies and frogs and sunrises. 

Then you show that creation bursting forth with the miracle and beauty of new life: baby chicks and butterflies and blooming flowers.

Then you tell them about Jesus and his unbelievable sacrifice because of his never-ending love for us, for them--your preschooler, your toddler, your baby.

You start as early as possible, planting beautiful seeds of God's amazing love for us. And then, sweet parents, we watch God water and warm those seeds until they grow into strong, lasting pillars of faith--that they then will pass on to their preschoolers, their toddlers, their babies.

Mamas, daddies, nanas, aunties, teachersall of you! These are not just board books. These are not just adorable bunnies in pajamas. These are carriers of God's love and hope and never-ending grace that will stick with your little ones for years--for generations, we hope--to come.

So as you consider board books and basket fillers for your little bunnies this year, I sure hope you'll consider Night Night, Bunny. I wrote it just for them. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

God Is Love

Get a copy of God Is Love here. 

Ah, February. This is the month when the world turns red, rose petals flutter from the sky, and I get another excuse to eat Ferrero Rocher in bulk. 

But Americans didn't invent this celebration of love, even as much as we commercialize it. The Romans didn't invent it, even with their good buddy Saint Valentine. Nope, the very first expression of love goes all the way back to when God swirled the galaxies together and set the stars in the skies to sparkle just for you and me. He breathed life into dust and created us, saying, "Yes, yes, this is good."

He loves us. You and me. God is love. 

We get a lot of mixed messages about what love looks like. But there is one love that is unchanging, unconditional, and completely un-quantifiable, and you can find that love in the One who created you, whether you love him--whether you even believe in him--or not.

He loves you.

To try to describe that boundless love in words that little ones--that everyone--can feel and understand, I wrote God Is Love. I described God's love within "the miracle of a kitten's first mew" and "the flight of the ladybug." But more than anything: 

God is the reason we celebrate
Love and all that it is.
We love because he first loved us;
He is ours, and we are his.

So, this February, whether you're celebrating Valentine's, Galentine's, or anything in between, please know that you are loved with a love that is infinitely deep and wide and true. Please know that God is love. And God loves you. 

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Where to Buy Christian Books

Choice Books locations in Nashville alone
A lot of people ask, "Where do I find your books?" And ten years ago, the best answer would have been: in a Christian bookstore. But with the closing of most of our major Christian bookstore chains, where does one find Christian books these days? 

The good news is: these books haven't disappeared--not by any stretch. But where you'll find them has. Most of us still like to hold books in our hands when deliberating a purchase, so let's start with brick-and-mortars. 

1. Independent Christian bookstores. Y'all, these are the heroes of this industry. Every year, I sign books at a conference just for independent bookstore owners, and these are the people, if possible, you want to buy Christian books from. They know their products and care deeply about the people they sell them to. Here's a locator for a lot of them (members of the Parable Group). If you don't see one near you here, there may still be one near you that's not part of this organization. So, just search for one in your area (Christian Publishers Outlet is the best here--and in Jackson). Then GO, visit the store as often as possible, and let them know that you still care about what they do. And say it with your $$$ too. 

2. At a spinner rack near you. :) No, seriously. Have you ever heard of Choice Books? Maybe not. But I bet you've seen their spinner racks and shelves--they are at airports and gas stations and everywhere in between. And, AND they have this handy-dandy locator where you can easily find one near you! Even if there's no official bookstore near you, you can still go shop through a curated selection of Christian books. I've met the staff and toured their distribution center, and these people are salt and light and serious about making the best Christian products conveniently accessible to everyone. 

3. The Religion section at your regular bookstores. The Religion section has always been there, but as the Christian bookstore landscape changes, so will the interior of your regular bookstores. Barnes & Noble, for instance, has moved their children's Christian books out of the Children's section and into the large Religion section closer to the front of the store. I have mixed feelings about this. (The children's section is way more fun!) But I'm happy to see them trying new positioning as it relates to my books. When I asked about it, the B&N employee did say that it was a trial. But for now, spend some time browsing the (growing) Religion section at your bookstore chains.

Okay, so most of you know your way around the interwebs, so the general bookstores--Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BAM!--go without saying.  Here are a few lesser-known avenues in the World Wide Web for buying Christian books. 

1. LifeWay. Yep, they're still here. They're just focusing all of their efforts on their internet storefront. You can still find the same great products--and more--through their internet store.

2. Author websites. Do you have a favorite Christian author? (Ahem.) Seriously, they're all out there, so why not start with them directly? At author websites, you can usually find more background about the products you're already interested in, free resources like their blogs and giveaways, ways to connect with them on socials, and fun things like reader guides and printables. (Ahem. :)

3. Publisher websites. There are lots of Christian publishers out there, and most of them have online storefronts to sell their books directly to you. They sometimes offer great discounts, and some of them even offer review programs where they offer you FREE books in exchange for honest reviews. HarperCollins Christian, Tyndale, and B&H are just a few to get you started. 

4. is definitely worth a mention. Besides having (often) the best prices on Christian books, they offer a vast array of other Christian products like toys, church supplies, music, and lots more. 

I hope that helps to make it easier to find quality Christian products for your family. Wherever you find them, never underestimate the importance of instilling these biblical values in your family. 

As a little added bonus, Brentwood Studios (who serves as my literary agency) is producing a podcast hosted by Mike Nawrocki (Larry the Cucumber!) and yours truly to give you background information and really just honest conversations about biblical resources available for our kids. Listen in at The Bible for Kids (or wherever you listen to podcasts). 

Where else do you find your favorite Christian products?