As we await the release of my audio book (soon, y’all!), I can’t help but reflect on a spectacular 2019 book release. The thing I only dreamed of happening, did, in fact, happen.
People keep asking me, ‘How was the book tour?’ And, I never really know how to respond. I mean, of course it was spectacular and soul-filling. Yes, I loved meeting every single person and hearing the stories of each of them. You bet I ate all those cookies and drank all that Dr Pepper. Um, yep, I’m still sorting through all the photos. HELL YES there was spiritual warfare. But mostly? I got to meet God’s grace up close and personal.
It changed me. More importantly, it healed me.
If I’m being 100-percent honest, I was terrified to share parts of that book with the world. I was afraid of what people would think, of what they might say. I feared it would change the real-life relationships in my life. But, that very first stop on the tour grounded me in grace and I never looked back. That room in Austin, at St. William in Round Rock, was filled with my high school journalism teacher, my church friends, neighbors, school mamas, Christ Renews His Parish sisters, and so many supportive folks. I mean, it just felt so Christ-centered.
As the tour took me all over Texas (and I mean ALL over Texas), to New Orleans and the east coast, I started to wonder how my heart was going to carry all that love. After each event, I would come back at night and just weep. They were happy tears! I just couldn’t wrap my heart around all of it. Because while I certainly felt loved, I know that it was Jesus that filled those rooms, that inspired those women (and the men!) and that led us to embrace community.
And all I could think was, God is faithful.
In some cases, the stops were filled with people I knew and loved (looking at you, Indiana), but many more were just strangers I met on the Internet that said, ‘You should come visit us!’ And so I hopped on a plane and strangers turned into friends. It just felt so God-inspired.
These are a few of my favorites:
Driving all those miles, and sharing all those memories, with my mom by my side. We drank so much sweet tea and told so many stories. Miles and miles of gratitude for that one.
Sitting in living rooms reading aloud my favorite chapters (Cypress, TX, Falls Church, VA and Oakdale, CA) while babies squirmed and women wiped away tears.
Eating excellent BBQ in Katy and Memphis, inhaling beignets and Abita in New Orleans and drinking beer in Stamford, CT with some mighty fine people.
Sharing my faith with mixed denominations (and a handful of Aggie moms) in Sacramento, CA and Amarillo, TX. Seeing so many of my elementary and high school teachers and friends in Amarillo was the absolute icing on the cake.
Praying at the tomb of Ven. Fulton Sheen, begging him for a miracle, and then speaking with two of the most amazing warriors for Christ in Peoria, IL.
Opening the doors to my former parish in Carmel, IN, and nearly breaking down in tears because of the sheer joy of being back in a place that formed me so intimately.
Speeding (literally) up to Ft. Wayne just in time for a roomful of women and then touring campus in South Bend and meeting the Ave Maria Press team. Spectacular.
Walking into the sweetest bookstores and feeling so loved both in Austin and Westfield, IN. Nearly stroking out as I signed “Gig ’em” next to my name, while sitting in the Texas A&M campus bookstore just before Aggie football kickoff. (Boy was that a dream come true. My second grade teacher even came!)
Dallas and Fort Worth. These ladies filled my heart to overflowing. I would’ve expected nothing less.
Meeting Scott and a few Aggies we’d never met in a hotel bar in Chicago just because. And then loving on some moms in Mokena.
Watching my aunt and uncle beam with joy as I shared the book with their customers and friends at their jewelry store in El Paso, TX.
Making internet friends real ones in Westminster, MD and all over California!
Tucking myself into tiny parishes and watching them love on one another in West, Brenham, Temple and Lexington, Texas.
Eating so many “Live Big, Love Bigger” cupcakes and cookies (that was just about everywhere!).
Meeting a Polish priest and sweet southern hospitality in Bartlett, TN.
Being asked to appear on both secular and Catholic television in San Antonio and Washington, D.C. Um, I’m putting “hire a makeup artist” in my contract when I win the lottery. And then having my D.C. book signing crashed by my U.S. Congressman!
Hugging the necks of precious friends (and even a few of Scott’s Texas A&M corps buddies) all along the way, but especially in Amarillo, Dallas, San Antonio and Fairfax, VA.
Walking the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan, while chatting life with one of my favorite priests in the world., Fr. Dave. And then, appearing on his national radio show.
It was so spectacular, I just might do it again.
I share all those memories, partly for my own nostalgia, but also for you. What’s your dream? What is God asking of you in your current season? He wants you to build the Kingdom and the beauty and freedom in that charge is that it looks different for all of us. What a gift, to know that YOUR purpose is hand-picked, invaluable and unique. Your voice and your gift is needed in the world. Right now. No doubt, it will change and grow as you find your sea legs in life. Ask God what he wants and walk toward him, unafraid.
Go magnify his love, y’all. Pandemic or not. He’s counting on you.