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The Gift of Hard Things Wins INDIES Book of the Year Award

gift of hard things

WESTMONT, IL—InterVarsity Press is pleased to announce that The Gift of Hard Things by Mark Yaconelli was selected as the 2016 Silver Winner in the Self-Help category of the nineteenth annual Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards.

 In The Gift of Hard Things: Finding Grace in Unexpected Places Yaconelli uses extraordinary stories from his own life and the lives of others to offer a narrative journey through ways in which disappointments have turned into gifts. Anne Lamott, author of Traveling Mercies, said, “To my thinking, Mark Yaconelli is one of this country’s most important and articulate spiritual teachers. Anyone seeking knowledge and union with God will be informed, edified, nourished, and utterly charmed by The Gift of Hard Things. I savored every story and was nurtured by the expression and depth. It is a book absolutely after my own heart.”

 Each year, Foreword Reviews shines a light on a select group of indie publishers, university presses, and self-published authors whose work stands out from the crowd. Thousands of books are entered each year, and a panel of over 120 librarians and booksellers take part in the judging, narrowing it down to a group of finalists and winners that represent the best books, all independently published, in over sixty categories. Winners in each genre—along with Editor’s Choice winners and Foreword’s INDIE Publisher of the Year—were announced during the 2017 American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago on June 24.


Come to Retreat In Austin!


Join Mark Yaconelli for a multi-day retreat at Austin Theological Seminary November 7-10th, 2016 . Titled “Soul Stop,” the four-day retreat is focused on rest and spiritual renewal. Mark will lead morning talks and various spiritual exercises focused on befriending God with mind, heart, soul, and strength. $600 is the fee and includes all the retreat content plus 3 nights lodging, meals for 4 days, individual spiritual direction, and a 1 hour massage! Space is limited to 14. This is a great way to spend election week! For more information go here.

Storytelling and the Soul

I have many secular friends who carry a strong critique of Christianity and religion in general. I agree with most of their criticisms. I have many Christian friends who carry a strong critique of secular, non-religious life. I agree with most of their criticisms as well. All of us are trying to figure it out and there is no easy answer. I did a long interview with Nomad Podcast in the U.K. They talked with me about my present work, the life of the soul, and the dark night. This is one person’s attempt to talk about the spiritual life with integrity. You can listen to the podcast here.

Mark Yaconelli at BBC Wrexham

Reviews and Interviews

I did a number of interviews in the U.K. on The Gift of Hard Things (titled “Disappointment, Doubt, and Other Spiritual Gifts” in the U.K.). Here’s an interview by Christianity Today titled, “The Gift of Failure.” Also a number of reviews of book on Most recent by Steve Austin, here.


Mark Yaconelli talks about The Gift of Failure at Greenbelt 2016

A Trip to The Jungle

[On May 10th I sent out a Facebook message seeking to raise $750 to help purchase supplies to help refugees in Calais. I had been invited by The Church in Wales to go and collect stories from refugees for an upcoming event in North Wales. I did not want to arrive empty-handed so I procured a van and asked The Hearth Community to make donations to purchase food. Within twelve hours over $1600 had been raised. Enough to purchase needed proteins (canned fish, beans) and vegetables/fruits (tomatoes, mandarin oranges). Thank you to everyone who gave generously! Here are my reflections on the trip.]

2016-05-13 17.58.22 HDR-2

We were five men from North Wales: a welder, a carpenter, a government planner, a vicar, and me, the lone American. We had procured two vans and filled them with food, lumber, plastic tarps, fire extinguishers, construction tape, and other supplies. We were taking time from work and home to help displaced people in Calais, France. And the feeling? The feeling was good. It felt good to try and do something right, something useful. It felt good to follow the most basic of human impulses—to share what you have with someone who has little. Spirits were high. We shared music we loved, remembered epic concerts we had attended. We smiled while describing our children, talked admiringly of our spouses. We told stories of adventures we’d had in other countries—a speeding ticket in Death Valley, a bar fight in Belfast, a dangerous sheep outside of Liverpool. We were on a mission. We were doing something that mattered. Hearts awake, spirits high, the mind clear with purpose. Continue reading

The Hearth and The Power of Personal Storytelling

joshua boettiger

The Hearth was profiled on Immense Possibilities, a local television and online program here in Southern Oregon. The focus of the show is on the power of personal storytelling. You can watch the episode here:






Spiritual Formation Intensive with Mark Yaconelli

storytelling fire

Each year I work with 8 to 10 people over a 3-month period to do intensive spiritual formation and counseling. The program is a mixture of individual and group work exploring a variety of practices that deepen our relationship to God, self, and others. The program begins with an intimate beginning and closing 24 hour retreat. This year it will be held in the Northwest (Seattle or Portland area). Read the description below and let me know if you are interested in working together. Program dates, costs, and descriptions are below.


Spiritual Formation Intensive is a three month program designed and led by author, spiritual director, retreat leader, and veteran minister Mark Yaconelli. Through contemplative retreats, practical teaching, spiritual direction, weekly spiritual practices, engaging group discussions, online correspondence, and selected readings participants will:

 *Deepen their experience of and relationship with the God of Jesus

*Grow in practice and knowledge of the Christian spiritual arts: prayer, discernment, contemplative listening, personal healing, and compassionate action

*Learn a variety of spiritual exercises, disciplines, and compassion practices for spiritual growth and use with individuals and groups

*Gain personal guidance and clarity on vocational gifts and calling

*Learn how to hold and heal relational conflicts and personal wounds

*Learn leadership skills for guiding others in prayer, spiritual practice, discernment, and compassionate action


 Becoming a Spiritual Guide is a personal, practical, and transformative program that is grounded in Christian spiritual growth. The program includes:

 *Two (beginning and closing), one-day retreats led by Mark Yaconelli

*Twelve weeks of guided spiritual practice (with print and audio versions)

*Copies and guidance for teaching each of the practices used within the intensive

*Twelve weeks of individual spiritual direction with Mark Yaconelli through correspondence and phone conversations.

*Weekly online conversation and support from other program participants

*A copy of Wonder, Fear, and Longing: A Book of Prayers by Mark Yaconelli

 Fees and Application Process

Becoming a Spiritual Guide is a transformative and intensive mentorship program. In order to give participants focused attention, spaces are limited to ten. There is a simple application (see below) designed to help interested leaders discern their own readiness and commitment to the program. We have tried to make the fees as reasonable as possible given the amount of time, resources, and energy devoted to each participant. Cost for the program is $1200 per participant. That includes all program costs for the two retreats, 12 weeks of online teaching, 12 weeks of individual spiritual direction and consultation, and all print, audio, and video materials. This fee does not include travel, food, or lodging for the two retreats.

Retreats take place Friday dinner through Saturday dinner.

Retreat expenses for the opening (March 13-14) and closing retreat (June 5-6) is $120 per retreat  (includes one night, single room occupancy and four meals). $60 scholarships are available for each retreat to help reduce retreat fees.


Send an email with subject header: Spiritual Formation Intensive to  Within email include your name, address, email, organization (if applicable) and a response to these three questions:

Question 1: How are you?

Question 2: What are you looking for?

Question 3: [Because the program has strict limits we want to insure that each person in the program commits to entire program.] If you are accepted will you commit to attending both retreats and honestly engaging all weekly practices, dialogues, and exercises?

Deadline: December 15, 2014. Once application is received applicants will be asked to sent $200 deposit (which will be applied to program fee) to secure a spot in the program.

Dates: Program begins with opening 24 hour retreat March 13-14 (Friday dinner through Saturday dinner) and ends with a closing retreat June 5-6 (Friday dinner through Saturday dinner), 2015.