Local Author named 2020 Best Book Finalist by American Book Fest for Resource Encouraging Abuse Survivors to Thrive


There is something about a new year that invites a desire to release and claim.  Many people were eager to release the hardships of 2020 and claim the hope of 2021.  Individually, we have the opportunity to reflect more deeply, more spiritually on what we wish to release and claim.  Survivors of abuse and trauma particularly need this opportunity.  That is because we often build walls to protect ourselves but they often keep out the very things we desire.  In the book, Awakening the Light: A Going-Forward Survivors to Thrivers Story, Tambry Harris talks about the powerful wall she constructed to protect herself.  The wall was built with stones called self-reliance, competency, perfection, distrust and distance.  These “worked for her” in the sense that she was able to be “successful” and appear highly functioning.  No one would guess the pain, fear, uncertainty, isolation and loneliness that existed behind that wall.

This story describes the vulnerability needed to look and see the wall you have built up and then how to dismantle it.  Many may wonder: “Why would you tear down something that was so sturdy and had seemingly worked for you for so long?”  The author’s answer is because it kept out the things that mattered the most:  life-giving things that we humans are created to enjoy such as connection, kindness, understanding, love and peace. 

This book is a resource to both survivors of abuse and trauma as well as those who serve them. 
Section One invites the reader into the author’s story by asking reflection questions. Together author and reader walk through the stages of forming, launching, evolving, awakening, claiming and thriving. 
Section Two focuses on the reader’s exploration and moves through a mindful process of exploring the main character of the story, the reader, and seeing that person more holistically, maybe even more compassionately than ever before. The reader claims a vision for future life-giving chapters of their Going-Forward Story.

Harris uses all of herself and her experiences to bring light to a difficult topic.  Her Masters in Applied Psychology, Certifications in Spiritual Direction, Leadership Coaching, Change Management and Diversity, life-long journey as a United Methodist, and survivor of sexual abuse and domestic violence makes her a trusted voice in the healing journey.

The book is available through Amazon (link - www.amazon.com/dp/1943070946) or at Park Road Books in Charlotte, NC.  There is also a supportive website for survivors called survivorstothrivers.com which offers blogs as well as individual coaching and retreats.   Feel free to contact the author: tambry@survivorstothrivers.com.

Several faith leaders share their thoughts about the value of the book:
  • Rev. LeDayne McLeese Polaski, Executive Director of Mecklenburg Metropolitan Interfaith Network shares, “The author’s stories and images of how God has been made known to her are compelling and reflective practices offer real guidance in connecting to your sense of the Divine. Having spoken so honestly about the darkness, she makes it possible to believe in being surrounded by the light of healing love.  This book is a true gift to anyone who has experienced abuse, anyone who loves a survivor, and to interfaith leaders who minister to them.” 
  • Rev. Mary Frances Comer adds, “Much more than a book of stories, this work gently asks the necessary questions needed to help survivors begin to thrive; thus, it is a catalyst for powerful transformation. It gifts readers with an invitation to construct our own “going-forward stories” which can untether us from a past that has often, sometimes without our own knowing, defined us, kept us stuck, or limited our ability to feel whole and worthy. This book does not leave you where you started; it is a vehicle for process and healing--complete with thought questions, exercises, and even reminders to breathe and take care of ourselves along the way. This will be my “go to” book to share with anyone who has experienced the trauma of abuse. It is an excellent resource for therapists and social workers to share with clients and a must have for every minister’s office, library, prison, or shelter--wherever survivors exist!”  
  • Finally, Rev. Anthony Hodge, UMC District Superintendent shares, “While Tambry's story of having to encounter personal trauma may not be reflective of all of our struggles with trauma, it gives a frame of reference to what can occur when one avails one's self to a process of transformation.  Tambry’s willingness to share her story of struggle with trauma and how she was able to get to a different place in her life after doing the hard work is extremely appealing. In reflecting on Tambry' s story, I was able to begin to look at my life from a different perspective.  My biggest take away is that it is possible for anyone who truly seeks to become whole to see significant changes in their life. The book reveals that each of us has an opportunity to move or progress from what one might call a dark place to a place of light or freedom.  For me, the book has a two-fold use and purpose. It can help all who have personally experienced trauma and is also useful to help persons who are in relationship with survivors of traumatic experiences.  As a leader of clergy, their families and parishioners, I see how Tambry's book can be used as a resource for life transformation and wherever I encounter persons who I feel can benefit from the book, I will certainly share it with them.  It has the capacity to help countless persons successfully address and live beyond the trauma they have experienced to in their lifetime.”

Resources for Vital Congregations



Lewis Center for Church Leadership

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Books

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Serve Your Neighbor

GBHEM Leadership Resources


Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church

Englewood Book Review

Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations

Ted Talks: The Golden Circle

Ted Talks: The Power of Vulnerability

Ted Talks: The Price of Invulnerability

Design Thinking

Meditations on the Ministry of All Christians


Be A Disciple

A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Adult Christian Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network

Traveling Together: A Guide for Disciple Forming Congregations


Living As United Methodist Christians

Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials

Reclaiming our Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today

John Wesley Sermons: Anthology


Get Their Name

Evangelism & Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit

Canoeing the Mountains

Fresh Expressions

Fresh Expressions: Dinner Church

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Reach New Disciples

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: 50 Ways to Reach People

Community: The Structure of Belonging


Institute for Emerging Issues

Congregations 4 Children


The Royce and Jane Reynolds Ministry Fund Grants

The Duke Endowment


The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:

  • Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
  • Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.

We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at hfleming@wnccumc.net.


  • Resources
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