Day 1 of 3 Giveaways for the Heart and Soul

No one started crying ’til after 8:30 on Christmas morning. Since crying usually starts around 7:10, we called that a Christmas win, baby!

By 9:00, an inferno of neon blue Lik-a-Stix Fun Dip raged under the kitchen table. Fortunately, one quick-thinking kiddo knocked over his can of breakfast soda which dripped through the slats of the table and effectively tamped down the cloud of sugar dust, gluing it in place for clean-up.

I think the first grown-up melt-down occurred at 9:05am. And then again later in the day when the I-Said-Do-NOT-Throw-That-One-More-Time-In-The-House ball knocked over the bottle of red wine. But we big kids rallied, folks, which is the main thing. We rallied and kept our Christmas crap together, rolling on through the tremendous and glorious mess that is family.

Oh, sure. We have the Happy Christmas Photo like everyone else so we don’t have to hang our heads in Facebook shame.

But we also have the Truer Truth pics. Like the one of this mama and her kids (minus the sleeping-in teenager) in which I learn…

…I really should take my nighttime eye make-up remover regimen more seriously.

Or the one of the Christmas Dinner Aftermath…

…which makes me think I should add extra structural supports for my counter to next year’s Christmas Wish List.

Life is messier than I once imagined, friends. Marriage is more complicated and our successes more triumphant. Parenting is more gut-wrenching and our joys more transcendent. Everything we do in this condensed time of life is a wild mix of the Mire and the Magnificent, often in minutes right next to each other. And you know what? Life is also richer than I imagined because along with the complexity comes depth. Full immersion. Authentic living. I find it all stunningly… worth it.

And so, to celebrate the season of giving, I’m hosting three days of giveaways for the heart and soul. Each item I’m featuring has made a real difference to me this year in my ongoing quest to normalize authentic living.

Giveaway #1:
A Year Of Biblical Womanhood
by Rachel Held Evans

In the early fall, I received my advance reader’s copy of Rachel Held Evans‘ book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood. I loved it. Loved it, loved it. And I’ll tell you exactly why. I loved it because Rachel, by taking all of the Bible’s rules for women quite literally in a year-long experiment that has been called hermeneutical performance art, shows us with humor and grace how very much more the Bible has to offer when it’s not reduced to a simple list of rules, tight-fitting cultural boxes or constrained gender roles.

Sometimes hilarious, sometimes troubling, sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes triumphant, Rachel explores all the Bible has to say about women and, in the end, teaches us poignantly to love the Bible for what it is, not what we want it to be. In short, if you’ve ever read the Bible or heard the Bible preached and walked away with a gigantic “WHAT THE ??” in your heart, this is exactly the book for you.

As a sometime Rule Breaker, perpetual Questioner, and committed Love Follower — and especially as someone who’s more interested in the grimy, gorgeous reality than in maintaining a pretty facade — I highly recommend it.

Now, there are two ways to get Rachel’s book at a steal.

First, the Kindle version of A Year of Biblical Womanhood is offered today for $1.99. I grabbed a second copy this way because I want it in my electronic library, too.

Second, I’m giving away a brand, spanking new hard copy.

Aaaannnddd… this giveaway is now closed.
Congratulations to Clarence Warren!
Check your e-mail box, Clarence.

To Enter This Giveaway:

Leave a comment on this blog post (perhaps telling us what your Christmas really looked like… even if it was perfect, I suppose 😉 ) by 11:00pm (Pacific Time) on Thursday, December 27th. One entry per person, please.

This drawing is open to international participants ’cause this is my blog and I can do whatever I want.

The winner will be selected using a random number generator and posted on Friday. Stay tuned for another giveaway then! The next one’s not Jesusy — which may be a relief or a disappointment — but it’s revolutionary, too.

Disclaimer: Although I received a copy of A Year Of Biblical Womanhood, I was under no obligation to write a review or host this giveaway. Rachel doesn’t know I’m doing this, nor is she a sponsor of this blog. All costs are incurred by yours truly. I just think this book is cool beans and a conversation changer.


ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
  1. Our kids let us sleep in till 7:40 – a Christmas miracle.
    We are still finding wrapping paper everywhere….

  2. We picked up my husband on Christmas Eve and got home at 11 pm. He hasn’t been home since September. He was sick with a cold and his ear hadn’t popped from the plane descent. We were supposed to go to my family for Christmas Day but he didn’t want too. So I checked my agenda at the door and we stayed home and he slept while me and the kiddo played quietly. Eventually the hubby rolled out of bed late afternoon so we played snakes and ladders and ate an impromptu supper of leftovers since the fridge was bare cuz I had been planning on eating elsewhere for a few days. So a very low key time that would’ve bugged me if I hadn’t had an early morning quiet time with my bible and let go of my “perfect Christmas” which in actuality was a good day.

  3. I think our girls forgot it was Christmas when they woke up-we had to remind them;)

  4. Christmas was good…we had flu like stuff,but still enjoyed the day.

  5. My Christmas was… a three-year-old with the stomach flu. ‘Nuf said!

  6. Its sad but this mother of 3 can hardly remember Christmas. It could be because 9 month old number 3 kept me up most of the night. Not sure. I remember lots of wrapping paper flying, Lego’s, crafty stuff, oh and the Wii!! That’s it! The Wii was opened last and I didn’t hear from the two big kids for the rest of the day!! It was good!

  7. I love your brutal honesty. Makes me feel like I am not doing so bad.
    Our Christmas went rather well, just very busy. Both my husband and I have local family and both our families are close-knit. That means there is the annual, how are we gonna be both places stress. This year, my sister in law got sick, so the in-law event is this weekend instead. Being the oldest of 8, with 13 nieces/nephews all under age 10, one is enough. Loud, busy chaos for the day, but we all pretty much do hand made gifts which is so wonderful. Finished th day going to see Les Mis with all 7 of my siblings. All 8 of us haven’t done something alone together in at least a decade, so it was extra special.

  8. I just finished the dishes from Christmas day (yes, just now — a few were hanging out for two days). It was a wonderful Christmas with both sets of (our kids’) grandparents coming to our house to celebrate.

  9. My Christmas involved 13 other people and all of us like to draw attention so needless to say it was a loud crazy and fun day (just like most the days with my family).
    I have heard of this book and would love to have it, because your library should be filled with books that inspire thought and you enjoy and I think this would do both.

  10. please please please

  11. OK. I had to work on Christmas eve. But we were let out a little early, so I managed to get done the remainder of what I had to get done, shopping-wise. (Albeit kind of frantically-which should be my name at Christmas time-“Kindof Frantic.”) My husband was headed home about an hour before me, so I told him to wrap his gifts ahead of time so that we could spend a nice quiet evening with the boy, watching Christmas movies, feeling all warm and cozy. When I got home I immediately started baking (in my defense, I’ve been baking for weeks-for ladies’ bible class cookie giveaways, for the potluck after church etc, but we had no cookies.) I baked for hours, we did watch some movies, although I couldn’t tell you what after the Polar Express. The boy was SO excited, he wanted to go to sleep early (we didn’t let him) and when we finally took him to bed we gave him strict instructions to not wake us up before 6. My husband had NOT wrapped his presents when he got home, so he did it sometime around midnight (I was still baking.) After all was baked, letter from Santa written, the teensiest bit of straightening done, we finally plopped into bed at around 1:30. Of course, I had to wake my husband to bring him to bed. No sooner had I closed my eyes then my son said, “Mom! Dad! Wake up – it’s 6:35!”
    Bottom line: the house was NOT especially clean for Christmas day. That is still a goal for “someday.” The Christmas dishes are still not all done. But my son is happy, and I wouldn’t trade that for a clean house.
    There’s more: my MIL who “blessed” us with what SHE wanted for dinner, in spite of what I make traditionally (and still made this year, so we had double the dinner, double the fun.) My son mentioning at 9:00 p.m. Christmas eve what he “really hopes” he gets for Christmas this year, that something being something he NEVER mentioned before. My beautiful daughter giving me outrageously wonderful gifts, my husband actually remembering something I said I wanted months ago, thereby actually surprising me……oh, and a wee bit of snow on Christmas eve.
    We have Christmas part two in Virginia in two weeks.

  12. Our Christmas morning was wonderfully messy! We spent the morning at home so the girls could play with their new loot, instead of waking up opening presents, hey I hoped you liked it, now get in the car lets go. This is something I don’t think I’ve done my entire life, and friend it was amazing! Also, the oldest’s big present was broken by 7pm, yeah, Merry Christmas, mommy. 😉

  13. Our Christmas was filled with all the regular joys…plus a 2 year old consistently running a 104 temp (which, of course, is always a joy).

    We did have a delicious dinner with my parents, after which I won a feisty game of Yahtzee…and then was trounced for 2 rounds.

    Yep. It was a pretty perfect Christmas!

  14. Our Christmas wasn’t too bad. Our 4 month old had her first Christmas but of course was uninterested in just about everything. My husband (who is six foot four) and I had been sleeping on a futon for 3 days and were sore, the baby hadn’t slept well for 3 days and we were exhausted. She then cried and screamed for about 35 minutes of our hour trip back home. And we had a blizzard Tuesday night! But that was ok because it meant we got to stay home and do NOTHING!!!

  15. With two birthday’s and Christmas all wrapped in to the same week, life is a blur! lol Christmas was crazy but wonderful! We spent the day making wrapping paper hats, spending time with family, and eating. Ah yes, the eating was super fantastical!

  16. We had snow ON Christmas. That never happens and made for a magical day. Also, snow helps the kids sleep in (they didn’t awake until 6:30) so even more magical!!

  17. Oh, I would so love that book!
    I am here to give you encouragement and be the old person with the Christmas mess. It is passed down to the generations and it is a beautiful thing! My newly married son came home for Christmas to our new farm, with his darling wife and two puppies. The puppies ran around eating horse poop, came into the house and threw up, the horse poop of course. Then my son said these beautiful words,”Mom where are your cleaning supplies” and he had to say it more than once over Christmas….it wasn’t just MY mess anymore!!! Yippee for me!!! The puppies were really cute too!
    So that is my hope to you all this Christmas!

    1. Then my son said these beautiful words,”Mom where are your cleaning supplies.”

      Ellen, this actually made me TEAR UP. The horse-poop-eating pups are hilarious, but a son who ASKS to clean things? This is a miracle I can only pray for. Love this.

  18. I want the book, and so here is my story: This was the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!!!, as proclaimed by both children who are old enough to express such thoughts…and myself as well. We somehow managed to have a Christmas with NO TRAVELLING, and despite have 4 kids age 6 & under, we all slept in until 8am (that is all I wanted for Christmas, after all)! Santa thoughtfully set the coffee pot to automatically make coffee at 7:30, so it was hot & ready. I finished making my daughter’s stocking in time to hang it up before bed on the 24th. The kids each got the exact thing they asked Santa for (a doll & a transformer – thankfully they’re still too young to ask for any electronics). The toddler & the baby seemed content with their presents as well, as both sat and played quietly, periodically making excited happy noises. There was harmonious sharing of the new toys, puppy-pile snuggling, and joy. Baby Jesus survived Advent without getting lost or chewed by the dog and made it into the manger of the Nativity set. There must have been sticky moments along the way, but my selective memory hasn’t been able to retain them. Only the good times survived in my memory. 🙂

  19. Funny how our expectations change over the years. I used to anticipate a picture perfect Christmas morning…now I just pray my 17 year old daughter will bless us with her presence and be civil if not kind. She was lovely on Christmas Day and I’m so thankful I’m her mom. For I plan to watch her transform into a lovely young woman any day now. Thus my hope in a God bigger than me; He is more than able. Jesus’ birthday confirms that. Yes, fun times around the tree, thoughtful gifts, and a wonderful dinner at grandmas. So blessed!

  20. Well the Christmas I envisioned in my head was perfect and it all went exactly as planned as did the real thing…………….yeah I’m lying about that. All and all it was OK, my two year old kept ‘finding’ more presents under the tree because she got so caught up in playing with one she just unwrapped that she forgot there were more to open. Hubby and I are not on the same page with the whole Santa thing so we still have to figure that one out…..maybe next year……maybe we’ll have it all together and the picture in my head will actually be what it is. Hahahahahahahaha

  21. Our family Christmas was PERFECT! (even with the head strong, overly opinionated, everyone is right personalities throughout each of us)
    I got to fly home from Nashville, Tn to Oregon. OREGON! the best place on earth!
    My 3 nephews and niece were the stars of the show with lots of kisses and hugs and laughter and of coarse serious moments of tickle me til I almost pee. Love their laughter!!!
    We woke up to lots of new snow on Christmas morning with a brightly beautiful pink early morning sunrise on the mountain. Then is snow the rest of the day! We went sledding, built snow forts, and had snowball fights!
    Perfect Christmas that was not in tender Tennessee. Thank the Lord I was able to come home!!

  22. Our Christmas was wonderful. My daughter is nearly 2 and so opening presents was very slow-going, but very gratifying. She was delighted by every present and wanted to play with each of them before opening the next one. I got my husband a mandolin, which he played around with and plucked on all day (and still is!). It was great despite a handful of toddler mini-meltdowns and mommy desperately needing a nap. The book sounds fantastic and if I don’t win, I’ll probably head out and buy a copy anyway.

  23. Our Xmas with our 3 boys (1, 10 & 13 yrs) started @ 6am, and was quite messy with bows, and wrapping papers and presents all over the livingroom! We took a short break for breakfast, and then back to the gifts. Dinner later that evening with my elderly mom. Thank you for the chance to win this book, it sounds like a good one! Happy holidays!

  24. I just have to admit…. The first tears were mine, and they happened at about 7:30pm Christmas eve. I made the “adult” decision to use my only five hours of quiet time on the holiday break to cook/clean/and prepare! Which meant that after candle light service I had the house as ready as it was going to get for the chaos of Christmas morning, there were four loaves of homemade bread, six dozen cookies, and Christmas dinner was being dished up by my amazingly tolerant sweetie…. Apparently, “I need to get in front of you” (which translates in woman to “step away from the area, I’m switching cookies and need a three foot radius around my work area”) translates in man to “Excuse me, I need the six inches in front of where you are standing.” After burning my finger, being frustrated that my request was barely heeded, and just being darn tired; I SCREAMED “I’M SORRY” left the room, and had a little bit of a teary meltdown. I shall claim the first tears of the holiday season. *hang head*
    However, I shall claim a triumph of loving on my four littles and watching my sweetie try to learn to play Jingle Bells on his new steel drum. Everyone, of course, liked everyone elses toys better than their own. Santa managed to deliver presents in stealth. And we even made it to bed at a decent hour! Christmas was a success! <3

    1. “I SCREAMED “I’M SORRY” and left the room.” This was such a great story because it’s SO TRUE. Been there. x’s and o’s to you, mama, and congrats on finding the joy in the middle of the mess.

      1. “It was the best of times, It was the worst of times” and we wouldn’t trade those moments for the world! <3 (OK, maybe a little, where the screaming was involved, because "apologies don't count if they're screamed". But DEFINATELY not if we lost the good parts!)

  25. Our Christmas was small but blessed 🙂 Being out of school and spending my break with friends and family is the best Christmas I could ask for! I loved Rachel’s book, and if I win this copy I’m definitely passing it along to my girlfriends! They’ll definitely love it too!

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