“It’s called What’s a Nice God Like You Doing in a Place Like This?” I told Judy Skaggs over the phone. Judy is otherwise known to me as Mama, or perhaps more appropriately, Head Cheerleader of Becky Skaggs Ramsey and Steve Skaggs and Anyone They’ve Married or Birthed. If you see me with a group of women, my mother is easy to pick out. She’s the sweet, mild mannered woman who stops total strangers on the street, in stores, airports, and maybe even in bathrooms if they wash their hands too long, and gives them the three minute pitch on anything I’ve written. At my last book signing at Quail Ridge Bookstore in Raleigh, I’m pretty sure she ushered in people off the sidewalk before they even knew what was happening to them.
I love my mama like nobody’s business.
“Oh that title sounds interesting,” Mom said. “But exactly what kind of places are you talking about?”
I could have skimmed the book and told her. I could have said, “Well, let’s see. There are entries about finding God on city streets and in cornfields, at doctor’s offices and a homeless shelter, in back alleys and parking lots. There are stories about finding God among kids gone wild and bug infestations, about finding God while perfumed by cat pee or while sitting at a poker table.” My mama wouldn’t have flinched. She knows God doesn’t just show up in places that religious folks deem “appropriate.” God shows up when God wants to. Or maybe we notice that God’s there when we look.
Anyway, I hope you’ll join me in saying “Welcome to the world, new book of ours!” And by ours, I mean me and Jim Dant. Do you know Jim? Jim is an amazingly gifted preacher, writer, speaker, pastor and the Senior Minister at First Baptist Greenville, where I work as Minister to Children. (In other words, he’s my boss, but no kissing up here. You’ll love and be nourished by what he writes. And he’s hilarious and completely honest and down to earth and doesn’t take himself too seriously.)
Jim came up with the title, which I love. If it sounds to you like a pick up line, something close to what someone might hear over drinks or -according to a single friend of mine- the produce section of Whole Foods, then yippee for us, because that’s exactly what we were going for! It fits. While we’re going along through life we find ourselves surprised by God’s presence, astonished and perplexed, so we laugh and ask the question, What’s a nice God like you doing in a place like this? And time after time it ends up being the perfect pick up line because God walks with us to the next messy moment.
And that’s where the cover photo comes in…
What would my mama have to say about the two beers on a table? As if God and I had met for a drink? What would she say? My mama, the lady who used to send my daddy to the ABC store across town once a year for crème de menthe for her Grasshopper Pie? My mama, who now enjoys a glass of wine occasionally, but still might have strong feelings about her daughter putting beers on a God book? What would she say?
“Mama,” I said to her on the phone yesterday, “remember what I told you is on the cover? It’s two mugs of beer.” Before she had a chance to reply, I started talking. “Because it goes with the theme of the book, you know, of being picked up by God, like a date, of finding God in surprising places, of God pursuing us and wooing us back home where we belong.”
Mama was quiet.
“I suppose some folks might have a problem with that,” I said.
“Contact paper,” said Mama. “I’ll have some on hand. If it bothers them, they can just stick it right over that part. What matters is what’s inside, even if they don’t like the cover. Not that it bothers me.”
How about that. My mama is pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.
Friends, before I go, I have a favor to ask. Would you mind giving Jim and me a hand? (And my mama? She can’t do all the footwork herself!) If you order our book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or if you email me (rebecca(dot)ramsey1(at)gmail(dot)com) and have me send you a copy, and you like it, would you help spread the word? I found with French By Heart that word of mouth really is the best way for folks to learn about books. Feel free to share this post if you want, or write a review on its Amazon site! That would be so helpful and would save my mother a lot of talking. Maybe. Well, I’m sure she’ll still talk, but she will LOVE that you’re sharing about it too! Thank you!
And thank you for letting me gush about our book!