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Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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Tuesday 4th August 2015

#TellHisStory: Rock Bottom, the Color Purple, and a GIVEAWAY

The purple grabbed my attention.

Dozens of bottles — in shades of violet and plum and lilac — glistened under the lights of an antique store in North Carolina, where I attended a retreat with girlfriends. I lingered a long time near the purple bottles, touching the tops of them, while my friends moved along to the next aisle.

The sign said the bottles were about 100 years old. But they weren’t purple back then. One hundred years ago, the bottles were clear. The glass contained something called manganese dioxide. And when that kind of glass is exposed to sunlight, the glass gradually turns purple.

vases

I was intrigued.

“Buy one for Liz.”

It wasn’t audible. But I heard it.

Some people call that a nudge. Others call it “hearing from the Lord.” Others say people who hear voices are a little off.

So yeah. I am a little off — probably a lot. But I also know that God whispers messages into people’s souls from time to time — even the “off” among us.

Still, I ignored it. Until:

“Buy one for Liz.”

There it was again. The same “voice.”

I shook my head. Oh for the love. I’d only met Liz a year ago, and while we were friends, I didn’t know what she’d think about a gift from someone she sees only once a year.

But, sure enough, it came once more: “Buy one for Liz.”

“Ok, fine,” I muttered. It felt like a nudge, a dare. I couldn’t resist.

I grabbed the bottle, took it to the cash register, plunked down a few bucks and stuffed a little purple bottle in my purse.

***

Earlier that day, Liz had stood before our group and spoke some lovely words over us. She quoted Bible verses, had us all laughing with her self-deprecating jokes, and gave us encouragement for our writing journeys — all in the span of about 10 minutes. But the part that stuck with me most is how she called us each to live into our individual strengths, our callings … and our personalities.

I didn’t take notes, so I’m not going to get this exactly right, but she said some people have the soft personality of a beige, a pastel pink, or a light blue hue. And others are bold, like the color purple.

Liz is the color purple. She’s head-to-toe purple. Bold, vivacious, and full of life.

There’s something else you’ve got to know. That same Liz, full of Jesus? She used to be full of … how shall we say this delicately? … “illegal substances.”

Now I’m not letting any secrets out of the bag here. The first time I heard Liz’s story, she told it to me and a few thousand other women at a Women of Faith gathering in Des Moines, Iowa.

DSC_0550

Here is a part of Liz Curtis Higgs‘ rock bottom story:

She was a small-town girl. She stole her first smokes from her mom’s purse. Had her first joint on her senior class trip. In her twenties, she had a favorite bar stool, and preferred Southern Comfort in her glass.

She was a radio personality, hosting an afternoon show at a rock station. The guy who had the morning show? Howard Stern. Yes, THAT Howard Stern.

He once told her, “Liz, you’ve got to clean up your act!” (You know there’s trouble when Mr. Stern gives you a talking-to.)

“By the fall of 1981,” Liz says, “I found myself in Louisville, Kentucky, playing oldies at an AM station and playing dangerous games with marijuana, speed, cocaine, alcohol, and a promiscuous lifestyle. I’m one of those people who had to fall all the way down to the bottom of the pit, until I had nowhere else to look but up.”

At the bottom of that pit, a husband-and-wife radio team shared the Good News with Liz. She says she “was powerless to resist it.”

When I saw those purple bottles at an antique store in North Carolina, I couldn’t help but think of Liz.

She was now a vessel for Jesus, who had turned a beautiful, royal shade of purple — on account of standing in the presence of a great Light.

DSC_0548

***

I found Liz in the corner of our gathering room, by the coffee.

“I have a little gift for you, Liz,” I said, blushing. “It may see a little … odd … but I, uh, I really wanted you to have this.”

What if she didn’t really want a purple bottle? What if she didn’t like it?

But here’s what happened next:

She accepted a gift with grace. She looked at me, with the kindest, softest eyes, put a hand on my shoulder, and said: “Thank you. That really means a lot to me.”

Why am I telling you a story about a purple bottle?

Because this is a story of giving, and receiving, with grace.

No one would deny that giving gifts is a form of grace. But so is receiving. You know why? Because if we don’t accept gifts from others graciously, we deny them the blessing of giving.

God has called us to the grace of giving. He has also called us to a grace of receiving graciously.

I have been a good giver, but perhaps an ungracious receiver. “Oh, you shouldn’t have,” I’ll say.

With those words, I’ve dismissed the beauty of the gift, and the heart of the giver. What if they, like me, had lingered a while, wondering if their gift would be valued, or misunderstood? And what if they had gotten up the nerve to give the gift, but felt they’d made a mistake when they gave it?

Liz teaches us about the grace of receiving.

I didn’t know it, until after I’d gotten home, that this was a lesson she’d recently learned herself.

Just yesterday, I read the last chapters of Liz’s brand-new book, It’s Good to be Queen.

One of the last chapters was titled: “It’s Good to Receive Graciously.” Isn’t that something?

In the chapter, Liz confessed that she, too, enjoyed giving gifts, but was not so good at receiving them. God had been teaching her the same thing He’d been teaching me.

“The truth of His Word began to sink in,” she wrote. “‘Every good and perfect gift is from above …’ Gift giving isn’t so much people being generous as it is God being generous through his people.”

22389_Beautiful_Gift

Go ahead, friend. Listen to the crazy voices in your head. Take the dare. Buy the purple bottle. Give the gift to the new friend. Give with grace; receive with grace. And most of all–

Stand in the midst of a great light. Because purple looks so, so good on you. (But if you’re more beige? Girl, be all beige. We love you just as you are.)

We’re Giving Gifts – An Amazing Giveaway

It’s a giveaway! In the spirit of giving and receiving gifts, we’ve got gifts for YOU!

It’s Good to be Queen

it's good to be queen, liz curtis higgs Liz is giving away a copy of her amazing new book with a purple cover, It’s Good to be Queen. I read this one in one sitting. Could. Not. Stop. This book is engaging, insightful, and hilarious! I read many of the stories out loud to my husband as he drove us home from vacation. This book includes a study guide for group or personal study. You won’t want to miss It’s Good to be Queen. Journey across the desert with the remarkable queen of Sheba. The queen’s quest for wisdom will surprise you, challenge you, inspire you, change you.

The Regina Necklace

ReginaNecklaceImage6 (2) Plus, ViBella Jewelry is giving away the Regina Necklace, made in Haiti. Liz has partnered with ViBella Jewelry to create jewelry that honors the spirit of her new book. The jewelry is providing work for artisans in Haiti.

 

 

Queen_of_Sheba_marquee_for_website1-924x484 (Check out the whole line of custom jewelry — “The Queen of Sheba Crown Jewels” — by clicking here.)

 

Enter to win the book and necklace below, using the Rafflecopter. (Email subscribers, click here to enter.)

UPDATE: A winner has been randomly drawn. I have contacted Randi S. by email. Congratulations!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

$20 off coupon for Women of Faith

coupon

The sweet Women of Faith people are giving any and all of my readers $20 off the price of any Standard or Premium ticket in any city with the code: JDLEE20.

What a fun opportunity to hit the road with friends and make a memory. Take a look at the tour schedule here and click “more info” to see which speakers will be part of each particular event. Then register for a ticket (Don’t forget the discount code – JDLEE20.)

#TellHisStory

Hey Tell His Story crew! It’s always a joy to gather here every week. The linkup goes live each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT). If you would use the badge on your blog, found here, that would be great. And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful! Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there! Our featured writer this week is Lydia Lee! She’s our 13-year-old daughter. Find Lydia here. To be considered as our featured writer, be sure to use our badge or a link to my blog from your post. 🙂

xo Jennifer


  • Mary Flaherty

    oh my gosh I LOVE this story! I must be off too, because I hear those voices too. I heard God whisper to me to buy this little girl with special needs a balloon I’d bought for a sick friend. It was the only smiley face balloon, and I said, “No, God! That’s Melanie’s balloon!” (I don’t recommend saying No and God in the same sentence.) When I gave it to her, she shoved it at her father and said, “I don’t want it!” I learned the same lesson-just do it, even if it seems silly. Because when we give joy, we get joy.

  • Kate

    Beautifully written account, as always. Thank you for sharing your heart and your gifts in this space — and thank you for hosting this giveaway! Would love to win!

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  • So wonderful– and what a lovely story! (And I’d love to win this giveaway! =) )

  • What a great story, I have been trying to be more gracious about receiving as well. I would love to win this giveaway!

  • Jody Ohlsen Collins

    The Holy Spirit tells me little things like that often….I want to get better at listening! I’ve read some of Liz’s other books–this one looks intriguing–perhaps I’ll win? Thanks for offering it, Jennifer.

  • Julie Lefebure

    Liz’s story sounds incredible. I’d love to read more of it, and would enjoy winning this! Great post… trying to figure out what color I am! Blessings.

  • Patti LeBlanc

    I would like to win this!

  • Susan

    I love Lizzie! And, definitely she is the color purple. She was a very precious grace friend and encourager to me years ago via email. I was suffering the effects of my own bad girl days by walking through my adult daughter’s bad girl days. Liz was as responsive as a good friend. I will never ever forget that kindness. I reached out to her but she reached back with the hands of Jesus. I believe if I emailed her today and mentioned my daughter’s name and her (now) 12-year old son – she’d say “oh yes I remember.” There’s not many more committed than Liz Curtis Higgs. I love her.

  • Lizzie S.

    Wow! I was taking a quick break for lunch and breezed on in to your blog to fill up my spiritual tank (so-to-speak!), and saw Liz’s pic and something about purple!! I just had to read the post…I would absolutely love to win this book!!!! I saw Liz a few years ago in Pigeon Forge, TN. We all laughed and laughed! Liz has a way of opening your eyes to spiritual truths and lessons and can be serious when she needs to be. I have been reading Love Idol, and, with God’s help, am trying to smash my love idol to pieces!!! I love the book—I can’t recommend it highly enough to all my friends. I want them to experience what the Lord is allowing me to experience through your book. Thank you for being so real and honest. It gives me hope. 🙂

  • karen

    I would love to win this book! I have heard lots of great things about her writing, but have never read one! THANKS for the chance and for telling the story!

  • Mary

    Lydia was such a blessing to me last week. Loved that we visited each other. I love Liz Curtis Higgs and have heard her speak a number of times and never tire of her love for Jesus as well as her love in sharing that with others. A big thank you to Liz for the giveaway and for you for hosting us each week. 🙂

  • Laura Hicks

    Wow, this post really hit home. I love to give but have a hard time receiving graciously. Convicted! Thanks for the reminder. God, help me to receive graciously.

  • What a beautiful story Jennifer! I have been looking at Liz’s new book, but haven’t had a chance to buy it or read it yet!

  • Karlene Arthur

    Beautiful post! A dear friend (older and wiser than me) once told me, “If you are feeling that nudging, it IS most likely the Spirit of God.” I’m a long-time fan of Liz and her books.

  • Thank you for this opportunity ~ each week the beautiful linkup with gifted writers ~ and today, the chance to win such great goodies. I have been intrigued by Liz since listening to a Compel podcast recently. I’ve had my eyes on this book and loved hearing more about your time with her.

  • Meg Gemelli

    Beautiful…the story, your photos, and the graceful acceptance of a heartfelt gift. What a wonderful example Liz sets for all of us. I too struggle in the area o receiving. Thank you Jennifer for your writing, but also for the opportunity to connect with other beautiful and encouraging women!

  • Tracey Mayo Nave

    Loved this story!

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  • Love this post more than anything…I sat on the bus behind Liz on the way back to the airport after Allume and wish I had the guts to say hello…she sounds amazing!

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  • Karrilee Aggett

    Oh friend… I love this, and Liz, and how God spoke to you to buy her a little gift… and that lovely Giveaway? Hello! Oh and this… your sweet Lydia and her Happy Place! So Much Yes!!! xoxo

  • Love this – that you stepped out and gave even though you didn’t know how it would be received. And that you give us permission to be beige, if that’s who we are – that’s a gift in and of itself. 🙂

  • Smiling over God’s graciousness and the beautiful ways He weaves our stories together like a patchwork with overlapping pieces and threads you can’t see until you take a big step back. Love this story. So glad God blessed your time in such a personal way. xoxo

  • What a lovely woman. Thank you for sharing. Would love to win that book!

  • Liz sounds like such a wonderful, gentle soul! Would love to win and read her book. 🙂 Thanks for the chance to win!!

    • She’s awesome. If you don’t win, be sure to put the book on your to-buy list. 🙂

  • I love Liz’s writing – she has such a unique and poignant way of expressing things that makes them seem fresh and new.

  • Susie

    What a lovely opportunity. I would so like to win. Liz’ books have blessed me before, and I am sure this one will be wonderfully uplifting, too. I loved the blog post about Liz being “purple”, and reading of her receiving of the purple bottle – took me back to 2005 when someone told me the same thing – when I had received their gift gladly – that by receiving graciously I had given joy. It had been a fluke; I usually accepted things awkwardly and with a feeling of needing to pay back – quick. So it was a lesson for me, and I’ve never forgotten it. Thank you both, Jennifer and Liz, for writing so beautifully and for pouring out your heart for us to receive with joy.

    • What a great little story, Susie. Thanks for sharing.

  • Love her…need a good laugh! 🙂

  • Christy

    I would love to read her new book! Have loved some of her other ones!

  • Lynn Mosher

    I knew in the beginning you were talking about the only Liz possible. She is a beautiful purple vessel! Don’t you love how God works with His little nudges? So awesome! Would be awesome to win. I loved your post…as always! ❤

    • Ha! Love it. Very discerning of you. 🙂

  • Jennifer,
    So many good nuggets in your writing about the grace of giving and receiving and of believing it is okay to be the person God made us to be…Thank you 🙂

    • Oh, that’s okay. Any comment will get you entered in the drawing. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, as always, Dolly. xo

  • Beth

    This is a beautiful post. I love how God works our stories together.

  • Beth

    P.S. I didn’t say in my last comment that I would like to win, but I would like to win!

  • Suejen

    What a great story! I’d love to win this.

  • Laura Johnson

    I saw Liz talk about this book at a women’s retreat. I would love to win one!

    • Isn’t she FUN? and WISE!? Yep. If you don’t win, put this book on your to-buy list!

  • Jeannie Hughes Turpin

    I would love to win her book!! I loved your story about the purple bottlenecks s. Purple is my favorite color. I also need to learn to receive graciously, from friends & mostly from our Heavenly Father. Thank you for your story. 😊

  • Pam

    Thank you for sharing your story about the bottle! I am learning how to accept gifts from others as this year has been a very tough one but made so much easier with so much loving support, God is so Good
    I am learning how to know who I am in Christ and stop listening to the lies,
    May God Bless you and the work that you are doing

    • Learning, right along with you, Pam.

  • Pamela F

    I loved your story about Liz and the purple bottle – so glad you listened to the “nudge!” I’d love to win this giveaway, the book sounds awesome.

    • It is awesome. You’re entered in the giveaway!

  • Sophia DeLonghi

    I love Liz Curtiss Higgs! She makes me laugh and think at the same time! Thank you for a giveaway!

  • Cindy Penrod

    Praising God for His still, small voice that nudges us. I’ve been anxious to read Liz’s new book and am considering it for a women’s study in our church.

    • Highly recommended for group study. The questions are great at the back of the back. I can’t believe how much content she came up with. It’s researched in depth, but not in a boring way. The Queen of Sheba’s story really comes alive through Liz.

  • Loved it that you listened AND acted – takes a team of sorts and what a great reward – and what a great smile she has.

    • A great reward, indeed. Thanks Sue!

  • Kathy

    This story of the purple jar made me realize how we need to listen and then act when the Spirit speaks to us. Your giving and Liz’s receiving made a joyful experience as God was glorified. I would enjoy reading about Liz’s story and become more of a queen myself.

  • When the Holy Spirit prompts, we should respond with the most open hearts and actions… the way God orchestrates all the facets of His blessing is a blessing all of it’s own sometimes… 🙂 And you and Liz are perfect examples!

  • Linda Lee Krueger-Hudig

    I met Liz years ago at Sharp Women’s Health Conference in San Diego. Yes, she is purple! I love how the gift was chosen and given, what a wonderful lesson. I would love to win, but gift the necklace…..I would love to read her new book.

    • She’s a gem — a purple one! Thanks for being here, Linda.

  • Deanna Dobie

    I love this story. I especially love how the whisper keep coming until you could no longer “ignore” it. I would love to win this awesome sounding book.
    Deanna

    • Exactly! Good thing God is generous with his nudges. I’m a bad listener, at times. 🙂

  • Brooke Montgomery Cassinelli

    Would absolutely LOVE to win… I’ve been eyeing this book 🙂

    • If you don’t win, be sure to consider buying it! It’s so worth it.

  • Miranda Miller

    I would love to win this book because it sounds like an intriguing book to read. Like Liz and yourself, I am not that good at receiving gifts. I feel like I do not deserve them and there are more deserving people in the world than me and more people suffering worse than me. I need to learn when the Spirit speaks to me about things and when the enemy is lying to me.

    • I think that’s a common issue with women — we give, but are uncomfortable receiving. But if we don’t receive with grace, we deny the blessing from the giver. I’m slowly learning. 🙂

  • Eva Bridges

    Although my rock bottom looks different, I’m thankful it brought me closer to Jesus. I’m looking forward to reading this book!

    • So glad you found the Rock at your rock bottom.

  • Mitty

    I would love the book. I’ve read several of Liz’s books and they were great. The necklace looks lovely.

    • Do you know about ViBella Jewelry, the job-creation ministry that made the necklace? It’s worth a look. They’re doing amazing things in Haiti and Mexico.

  • What a beautiful story of transformation. What a beautiful vessel she’s become.

  • Lara Brindley Martin

    I would love to win this giveaway! I’m hoping to find a book to lead in a small group and this looks wonderful!

    • Yes. Highly recommended for small group.

  • I have heard Liz speak twice & love her heart. So yes, I would love to win this giveaway & read her book. And then share it 🙂

    • Your name is in the drawing! And yeah … Liz is so very lovable.

  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Jennifer,
    I would absolutely love to win. I feel like I’ve won already by reading this beautiful post. My favorite color is purple…I wonder what that means? Love your and Liz’s honesty and openness! Blessed to be here this am.!
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • My fave color, too, Bev. …. Liz is a gem. A purple one. So glad to share about her on the blog. I assume you read her posts over on incourage as well?

  • I love the way you wrote this, because it did not occur to me that your “Liz” could be THE Liz until I saw her face in your pictures! What a fun story! Thanks for following your heart, and then sharing the way it turned out with all of us — maybe we’ll be brave the next time we start to “hear voices!”

    • Brenda Williams

      Me too, Michele. Such a fun story indeed!

    • Thank you, Michele!

  • Paige Estes

    I’m excited to read this one!

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  • Jen Miller Langley

    Loved this story. Thank you for sharing about giving. The Lord prompted after reading your story and I am praying it is well received and will try to be more mindful of being a gracious receiver as well.

  • Faith Ganchua

    I have several friends who are purple lovers through and through. It’s so interesting how purple draws us in, makes us feel like royalty.

    • Yes! Purple’s my fave, though I’m not sure purple is my personality color. But I love the color.

  • Kristi

    I saw Liz speak in June at an event in Michigan and she is amazing. Would love to read this book and then share with others.

    • I have heard her a couple times now, and find her so relatable. Thanks for stopping by Kristi.

  • randall031

    Pick me. Pick me 🙂

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  • Brenda Williams

    I loved this post. Such openness and a sweet memory. So happy to be a part of this give-away. I already have the book, but, can think of many others who should also have a copy of it! (Right Sisters’ Sunday School class?)

    • Isn’t it so good? Thanks for being here.

  • Linda N

    What a great story! It makes me want to be a “purple bottle” and find one for a friend whose story is similar to Liz’s. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this book. It’s on my “To Read” list already.

    • You will love the book, Linda. If you don’t win, buy it! 🙂

  • Wow! What a lovely story Liz has! Thanks so much for this giveaway! This book looks amazing and life-changing.

    Sarah
    http://mybowsandclothes.blogspot.com

  • Jeannie

    Wow, beautiful story! God has been speaking to me about the richness of deep colors such as purple. Thank you for the opportunity to enter for the giveaway but mostly thank you for being obedient to His voice and sharing the fruit with us! blessings to you — Jeannie

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  • I LOVE this story! I may need to start a purple bottle collection. Lovely. Heart Hugs, Shelly <3

  • Asheritah Ciuciu

    What a wonderful story of learning to give and receive graciously. Thank you for sharing. I’d love to win!

  • I am a lover of giving gifts and one who receives them often, but I still feel so unworthy. I appreciate this beautiful story. I would literally not be alive without the giving of others. God is still humbling me to take gifts as if they were from His very hands.

  • I’m so glad you listened to His voice, Jennifer. These little prompts can be extremely “uncomfortable” but then, when we are weak, He is strong. Thank you for sharing.

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  • Jen

    I’d love to win! Thanks!

  • Shawna Haley-Bear

    I’d love to win! Purple is my color too…healed, redeemed & saved by grace!

  • Hi Jennifer, what a wonderful story you shared about Liz! I heard her nearly 20 years ago at a Women of Faith conference here in Tucson, AZ. I have loved her since then! What I loved about your story were two things: heed those nudges from the Spirit. I’m missing it and need to follow this lead more often–and be a little off! Second was the sharing about it being a gift to “receive graciously.” Such a beautiful thought.
    Thank you for the give-away! See you around again.
    Blessings,
    Janis

  • S.Etole

    I thought of our mutual friend Joanne as she loves the color purple. Thankful for the reminder in your post to heed those nudges. Sounds like a fun giveaway.

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  • Pam k

    I have been wanting to read this nook, and this is a great reminder that I need to get a copy. Thanks for the reminder to not only give but receive graciously. The jewelry looks fun too!

  • Nikki Koon

    Thank you so much for the story and the message. I haven’t had a chance to read Liz’s book yet but would love to!

  • I was instantly drawn to Liz because any woman who loves and wears purple is already a friend in my book! But most of all I love the redemptive experiences she has had and how she shares her story to help others to enjoy the same. I’d love to read her book and receive its well wrought wisdom. Thank you for profiling her here, Jennifer, for giving us an opportunity to win a free copy of ‘It’s Good to be Queen’ and for sharing some of Liz’s marvellous testimony too.

  • I’d really like to win. 🙂

  • Kristen Marshall

    I’d love to win! I love giving gifts, but I haven’t always received with grace.

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  • Kristi Woods

    Love, love, love this post. Was just blogging about something very similar, a gift of silverware. The purple bottles…how beautiful. I’m sure they’re treasured. To God be the glory.

  • CM Hazelwood

    My mother used to have blue bottles made blue by the cobalt they put in to keep them clear 🙂

  • MB

    Haha, your comments about the “nudge” made me giggle.

  • I’d love to win this contest. And thanks for a post we can use in homeschool science!!