Fly a Little Higher: a life changing story {+ Book GiveAway}

“Okay, Lord, you can have him. But if he must die, I want it to be for something big.
I want someone’s life to be changed forever.”

This is what Laura Sobiech prayed when she found out her seventeen-year-old son, Zach, had only one year to live. With this desperate prayer, she released her child to God’s will and God answered her prayers in a big way.

One of the things Zach decided to do was write songs as a way to say “goodbye” to his family and friends. And what God did next is indescribable {watch Zach’s video below}


Last week Laura and I talked via SKYPE, and I recorded our conversation to share with you so YOUR life to be as impacted as mine has been. Laura’s faith is rare, her wisdom, grace and her poignant perspective will rearrange your heart with hope and comfort. Her’s is an amazing story of a mother’s honest struggle to trust God with her child’s life and a teenage boy’s determination to live his final days with unending purpose and joy!

In my next post, Laura shares what she prayed and how God moved in big ways – in her heart and soul, in Zach’s life and perspective, in her whole family and in millions of lives across the world!! 

God had bigger plans than they could fathom.
In May 2013 a documentary called “My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech” was released on the Soul Pancake YouTube channel and went viral – reaching over 12.3 million people within months of its release. During the week of Zach’s death, on May 20, 2013, his song “Clouds” reached #1 on iTunes and made its way up Billboard’s Top 100 chart, debuting at #26, and topping the Rock Digital Downloads at #1.

FALH Target edition coverTARGET Holiday Book Club Pick:
We’re so excited to share the big news that Laura’s memoir, FLY A LITTLE HIGHER: How God Answered a Mom’s Small Prayer in a Big Way” is the Target Holiday Book Club Pick!!

Just released this week, this exclusive edition created for Target is signed by Laura, and has special bonus materials including an in-depth Q&A with Laura, discussion questions for readers, small groups and families, and really powerful devotionals in the back!

Will you join us in praying this message will reach people who don’t know Jesus; hearts who desperately need His grace and love!!


Share your thoughts in the comments about Zach and Laura’s story, and why you’d like to win Fly A Little Higher  or who you’ll give a copy to this Christmas!!

Our family has been so impacted by this book, and Zach’s story, we’re giving it away as our Christmas gift to friends, extended family, co-workers, the kids’ teachers, and whoever else God puts on our heart.

I’ll share more of the amazing story behind Fly A Little Higher tomorrow, and a chance to WIN the book and a beautiful “Clouds” necklace. Plus a huge thing God did that connects our lives in a way we didn’t know about. It all unfolded in a way only God could orchestrate.

SUBSCRIBE for EMAIL UPDATE {in my top sidebar}
so you don’t miss the next part of our interview and more giveaways.


About Renee

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, story-teller, heart-encourager and grace-needer. She's also a wife, mom, friend, daughter and author of A Confident Heart, a Retailers Choice Award winning book that became a best-seller and has been published in six languages, with over 150,000 copies sold. Renee is speaks around the country at women's events and and serves on the writing team for DaySpring’s inCourage blog. For twenty years, Renee served in leadership at Proverbs 31 Ministries and as former co-host of the ministry's radio program, “Everyday Life with Lysa & Renee.


  1. Rachel Cutcliff says:

    I’m learning a new value to prayer now that I am married to a law enforcement officer. Every night when he pulls out of the drive way my prayers begin to go up and I pray until I am too exhausted to stay awake. I know that God will protect us no matter what – but I also know that His protection might not look as I expect. I am learning that prayer is the only thing that will sustain me through the nights that my husband is at work because it is my direct connection with our creator and protector. I can only imagine what this mother went through during this journey – a journey no one would want to walk. Yet her simple and trusting prayer inspires me to pray differently when my husband pulls out of the drive each night. I want to release him into the Lord Jesus’ hands, I want to have that much faith that no matter what God will use my husbands life for something big. I crave that peace that can come with that…and hopefully one day I will learn what that feels like.

  2. LIne Lanthier says:

    My husband just recently lost his father to a very aggressive cancer and was given only 1 month to live but passed away after two weeks. We know that he his know dancing with Jesus in heaven and we know that through that process he kept his dad pain free and so peaceful. God is our conformer and our sustainer. he is constant and our Prince of Peace.

  3. Linda Thompson says:

    I would like to win this book because I learn so much from other people’s personal struggles. I appreciate my life so much more!

  4. kerrie adams says:

    I have had the priviledge of being a small part of a handful of children who have won and also lost their lives to this horrible disease. Parents of these children become strong – thier faith stronger – but their hurt very real. I cannot imagine the hole in their heart in the shape of that child. So many of them have gone on to do beautful projects in memory of their to child and to help others that are where they were. There is also a family at our church that lost thier child to Batten’s Disease this year – talk about a faith journey. They have become an inspiration to so many all over the world with their story.
    If I were to be honored with this book – I would have a tough choice on who to bless with the other copy of the book as so many come to mind. Thank you for the opportunity.

  5. Jill Kuiper says:

    I’d like to win only to pay it forward with this book. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. I would like to win the book because we are going through the trial of glioblastoma brain cancer in my 51 yr old daughter, who was a much loved and respected kindergarten teacher. At her birth she was dedicated to the Lord and that has been our mindset all through life. She is married and has two grown children and a very attentive husband. When she made the cancer announcement, she said she knew she had the best of both worlds, but the journey is hard. God is good and this world is not our home.

  7. Becky Hawkins says:

    I have followed Zach’s story since the beginning. I lost my Mom to this dreaded disease right before Zach lost his fight. I would give this book to my cousin who is struggling right now with many issues. Thank you for sharing Zach’s story. I especially loved when you were at the Mall of America last year – what a sight!

  8. If I could win a copy of the book, I would give it to our friend and neighbor who has been given only months to live with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He is very dear to our church family and we are praying for a miracle.

  9. I can’t wait to pick up my copy of this book, however, would love to win one as well as a gift for a 10 year old girl that is fighting cancer as well.

  10. Mimi Landu says:

    What a priceless story it is amazing to see how God works in wonderful ways even when we do not agree with his ways all things always wprk together for the good of those who love God
    I lost both my parents at a young age i was angry at God. My dad was 30 when he died i was 10 months old didnt understand growing up why my mom asked us to be grateful i wanted a dad
    Then for my mom to die on my 18 th birthday was the hardest for me she loved God she prayed everytime she went on a mission trip and got poison how could God take my only parent i wanted to die as i watch her slowly leave this earth i prayed God will do a miracle save her but yet she left this world at 41 still praising God until the end for the people who hurt her
    Today at 36 i look back and now i understand that Gods plans are never our plans
    I am also with a law enforcement and at first i was scared but after 14 years we pray each day together before he leaves for his shift because all the worries in the world wont help i have learned to trust God no matter how hard i want to scream at him for not getting my way
    I am still struggling at christmas time but God planned for me to have my kids and nephews husband around christmas so i wont have time to hurt for my parents loss around that time i am too busy to worry he knew i needed a christmas miracle

  11. Ginger M. says:

    I would like to share this with my sister.

  12. This story is so touching to me. Just before I found Rene’s blog I was thinking I would really like to read a good, inspiring Christian book. I feel God is leading me to read this book and then share it. My sister Candy left an abusive relationship of 30 years and is struggling on her own. I would like her to read this book of God’s grace and hope.

  13. Renee What a truly amazing story. I am so glad you sharing this with us. What strength and compassion and an inspiration to all. That is one reason I would like to read this book, for the inspiration. I would like to give a copy to my dear friend whose daughter was recently given the news that they found a huge mass in her lung. They don’t know yet what it might be but they are all terrified right now. If you can all include C and her Mom J in your prayers also that would be so welcomed.


  14. Oh how beautiful. I would give a copy to my mom this Christmas. We lost my grandmother, her mom, in a house fire on Monday. Because this amazing woman of faith decided to love and follow Jesus, her whole family was changed. She has great-grandkids now who are saved and going to heaven, because she chose to put her family on the path of loving Jesus. I will forever be grateful. I miss Mama Stone so much today.

  15. I would share this book with my daughter. She is a pediatrician and deals all the time with kids going through hard stuff. Thanks so much for sharing this family’s journey. Was unfamiliar with this story till now.

  16. What a beautiful story. I would love to share this with my mother.

  17. This story is something I fear being my story one day. I would love to read a story of hope.

  18. I would love to receive this book because I am going through a loss at this very moment and am seriously trying to trust God with it and praying that someone will be touched in an Awesome way by God. I believe this book will bless me.

  19. Renee,

    Thank you so much for sharing! Love this and praying for awareness of childhood cancer to grow from this. Love you dearly!


  20. I am encouraged by stories like this and would love to have a copy of this book. Definitely one I would share with many friends.

  21. sherry fraunfelter says:

    I lost my baby brother of 57 in June 2014, of stage 4 colon cancer, after a year of battling the desease. I never gave up hope he would survive until the end after suffering so much and that’s when I told him to go when God called him home and he went peacefully.

    I still can’t believe God called him home because he had a wonderful family and a wonderful life and he was so loved in the community. I would love to read Zach’s story and share it with his wife and daughter. We miss him so much.

  22. We got a call from our son last night, he lives 1000 miles away, and he was struggling with car troubles, but that and the fact that he could not fix the problem quickly became a catalyst for a melt down, stress from a very demanding job as a social worker, in a city where so many need so much help. I am going to give this book to my son for Christmas, as I sit here praying for him, for the bigger picture beyond his car woes, to his finding his way back to God, to give his troubles to him and not try to solve everything on his own, or feel like he has to do it all on his own. This has blessed this mama’s heart this morning, and I am so grateful to have him healthy and working and coming home for Christmas in 2 weeks. That is my gift, both of my older kids will be here for Christmas. Thank you so much for this Renee, I had not heard this story before, but I know God had me pause and watch this and read for a reason. I am grateful to both of you.

  23. Good morning all!! If I win this book, I would give it to my sweet sister. Her son is diagnosed with Duchenne’s MD. I have in the past 2 years began going back to church and found an incredible loving church home. Every time we talk about church, she is so very hesitant to go. She is so angry and hurt (understandably so) regarding her son’s diagnosis and possible outcome. And she is very very angry with God. I try to find the words to comfort and lift her/him up and fail miserably .. I think this book from a mother’s point of view who understands and gone thru it would help tremendously. Bless you all :0)

  24. Encouraging and an excellent reminder of life’s shortness and uncertainty. Would share with our teenage daughter and son

  25. What a heartbreaking and yet uplifting story! I’ve been praying about what to give some extended family members for Christmas and I think this is it.

  26. Christine says:

    This story and song is so inspiring and uplifting! I would give this to a family member who has 3 wonderful children and two are teens. Such a wonderful story to pass on to parents!!

  27. Francine Long says:

    I would like to win because, although I never met Zach in person, I followed his story through his Caring Bridge site and became emotionally attached to him and inspired by him as well. I would like to pass the book to a special friend also. Thank you for this opportunity

  28. What a wonderful story!! I’d like to win because all of my kids just finished gathering around the computer listening to the song, interview and 20 more minutes of footage from their website. A year ago we lost our G’ma to cancer so parts of this story really hit…my 5 year old even asked, “Mom, I have a new question for you…when you go up there what do you do?” My 7 year old still struggles with the loss and deals with some fears, so I appreciate tools that help me reach out and give me hope as a mom. Laura’s walk has to be the hardest one I could imagine!! Thanks for sharing their story…hadn’t heard any of it before and since we’re in Iowa and their in Minnesota my kids already feel connected!! Blessings to you!!

  29. I would like to win this so I can share with someone special in my life who is going through a struggle. What an inspiring story to encourage others!

  30. Darla Anderson says:

    I think this book would be helpful to me. Just over seven years ago my husband passed away in my arms. It was like half of me was violently torn away. Although I have healed some, I realize that this is something you never get over, grieving takes a lifetime. I won;t go into all the details here, if I did, I would be sitting here typing for hours. Rodney had been diagnosed with atria fibulation during a visit to the doctor for a sinus infection. They were working on dosages of medication to try to get everything working right. One evening after we had gone to be he leaned over me and told me “I love you more than words could ever tell” I told him I loved him, he kissed me, then he was gone. This experience changed me, and I am always interested in reading how others have dealt with grief in their own life.

  31. Angelina Glass says:

    What an amazing giveaway.
    Thank you for this opportunity.

    I’m always searching for inspiration and things to keep me uplifted. I’d love to win this book.
    I promise, if I do, once I’m done reading it, I’d share it with someone else that could benefit from the story.

  32. Roberta Walker says:

    All any of us have is grace and hope. Those who don’t know Christ have no understanding of even that concept. I have 3 grown children and 2 small grandchildren. We all have difficulty keeping our focus on God at times. I would like for all of my family to get a chance to read this book. Being reminded of grace and hope in times of struggle might help us remember to keep our focus on God all the time. Thank you for sharing this story with us.

  33. I would love to read this book. My dad was just diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and has been given two months to live. I know that God has a plan and reason but it’s very hard.

  34. I would give the book to my son Jason, He had a head injury (work related), but the insurance will not pay for the medial bills, before that his wife left him, and he started a relationship with the wrong women. He feels alone, scared and is trying to put up the good front, but deep down, he feels that he did everything right and still he does not have what he desperately wants. A wife, a family, someone to love and have them love him back. Perhaps if he saw the goodness that God has in store when, you can’t see or feel him close, He would realize that all things are possible in God. Please keep Jason in your prayers.


  35. I just watched your video interview with Zach’s mom it left me wanted to hear so much more of this young man’s story. I cannot wait to read the book!! Thanks for sharing this story.

  36. I can’t wait to read this book. Inspiring and a great reminder to live every day to the fullest. One young man that has made an impact on this world. God bless this family. Our world needs hope! i would give a dear friend of mine the book, her husband (they are both early 20’s) is going in for open heart surgery in Jan. thanks for sharing!

  37. My 13 year old son, Gabriel, died by suicide in April this year. He was not the kid anyone thought would do this. He was handsome, smart, athletic, funny, well liked, etc. At first I was afraid our testimony was going to cause horror in every parent’s life. What parent wants to hear that the kid that ‘had it all’ did such a thing. Today I know our testimony is not about suicide. It is about God’s faithfulness in the storm. It is a lesson in crying out to God in your anguish and having Him answer directly in ways we would have never believed before Gabe left us. I want to read this book because I’m guessing that momma’s story is similar. I would share this book with my family and everyone in our little community that God is bringing along with us on this amazing journey.

  38. Kelli Wright says:

    I have a childhood friend that has about 3 months to live due to a brain tumor. His greatest desire is that someone’s life will be changed by hearing his story of the many ways God has worked in his life! Would like to give a copy to his wife and college age boys. God is amazing!

  39. My sister and brother in law found their 31 year old son dead in his apartment in March of this year. He wasn’t sick and it was just heartbreaking for all of us. They had lost their other son when he was just 9 months old. He was born premature and his lungs were not fully developed. It has been a hard life for the two of them and I cannot imagine the hurt they are dealing with. If I win this book, I will give it to them. I just don’t know how to help them, what to say. Most times I just listen. I thank God that he gave you the strength and courage to write this book.

  40. I just read about Zach this week…and what a powerful story and song God has used to give people hope. I will share this book with my family first, my husband, and our daughter and two wonderful grandkids 16 and 11 who live with us. I will then share it with my women’s small group bible study, to share the hope of eternal life with God.
    Thanks for sharing Zach’s story and song, and his family’s story, and especially his mom’s interview. I can’t imagine going through what they did, but God so graciously knows who to call… May God bless their family.
    Bless you Renee as you bless others.

  41. I am in the Proverbs 31 Ministries class on Before Amen by Max Lucado, and the story of Zach and his mother’s prayer coincides with what I am learning about prayer in the class. Zach’s story is so very sad and yet inspiring because of the way he chose to face his terminal illness. Zach’s mother prayed a beautiful prayer and it was answered in an amazing way. Clouds is a beautiful song. Thank you for sharing. I had not heard it before. If I had the book, I think I would give it to a relative of mine whose son had leukemia as a child and survived. I think they would be especially touched by this story as I was.

  42. nancys1128 says:

    This story is an amazing demonstration of not only faith and strength. but of the importance of living every day to its fullest.

    I tried to click over to the Target book club pick and got an error message that the page no longer exists. I was able to find the book on the Target website, though, by searching for “Target holiday book club pick”

    Thought I’d share in case others were having difficulties.

  43. As our family goes through trials (although none as difficult as this family’s!), it helps to gain wisdom and encouragement from others. God uses the stories and the faith of others. I am anxious to learn from this momma’s story. God’s blessings!

  44. Martha T. says:

    Neat song and neat story! That’s why I would like to win the book.

  45. Thanks for sharing. I need inspiration right now. Our family’s circumstances are changing drastically. I want to trust in the Lord with all my heart (Proverbs 3:5). I would love to win this book!

  46. This is a wonderful story. I recently read the book and would like to own my own copy. Zach’s song and story have touched so many lives.

  47. Belinda Leggett says:

    I was very moved. My oldest girl had Osteosarcoma of her leg at age 9. It is an experience that you can not fully describe to others to have a very sick child. You have to have FAITH to go thru this journey and thru your faith and hope your child is able to endure. God’s love is unconditional and he wrapped his loving arms around us and kept reminding me, I got you. Thank you God. I love you.

  48. I would love this book! I need the encouragement! I would share this with my friend who’s going through an extremely hard time with her son.

  49. Tammy Warren says:

    Wow! Clouds is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. Zach was a very gifted musician. I hope this song and Zach’s story give hope to our entire world.

    Thank you so much for sharing your heartbreaking, but very meaningful story.

  50. Denise Wisely says:

    I am a mom of triplets who are in their freshman year at college. This has been a big adjustment for my husband and me. As a mom, I am in awe of Laura. Her faith and courage are very inspiring. I have followed her story since I found out about Zach’s illness. I hope to read her story and grow from it. I also plan on buying a copy of her book and giving it as a gift.

  51. …if he must die, I want it to be for something big. I want someone’s life to be changed forever…

    This truly captured my heart, as my family is facing the same scenario like above, but it is my dad whom the doctor has given us a bad statement. The above statement has given me a new hope.

    God is good, all the time!

  52. I would give this book to a sister of my heart (she and my brother were married and even though their relationship ended, our relationship has survived over the years). Her daughter, whom I have claimed as niece ever since they joined our family, died from ALS in February. While ALS and cancer are two different diseases and while Zach was a teen and Katie was 33 when she was diagnosed (she died a mere 7 months later), I feel like this book would be of great help to Katie’s mom, Linda.

  53. What a sweet sweet memory for that family.

  54. Miss Mary T says:

    Renee, tears filled my eyes reading about Zach…the past two years have seen the passing of 4 of my students, all at a very young age. I would love to read this book and to share it with the parents and families of the children. It is hard to even think about still…yet I know they were so loved by God and it was His time to bring them home to Him. Their undying love and spirit lives on in my heart…inspiring courage, strength in my weakness and perseverance….hope for the future and of seeing them again…with Jesus! Amen! Praying now for all children and families especially those with special health care needs or illness…that they may never lose hope or lose sight of God, always in His Presence! Amen!

  55. Thank you for this beautiful story— it has touched my heart! There are many families who are walking through sickness (cancer, and other diagnoses) and our family is too. This message of hope, faith, strength and love is just what we all need to remember how precious life is — every day life! I pray that we will live it in Christ and He will make something beautiful out of our lives !!

  56. Candace Ledbetter says:

    I would like to win this book, because I know of Zach’s story and would love to read the book. I have so many people in my life who would benefit from reading this book.

  57. Amanda Evans says:

    I would love to win a copy of this book! What a blessing.

  58. Oh what a message this is…live in the here and now!!! This is something I struggle with! Would love to read this story!

  59. Alyssa Euteneuer says:

    Hello. I am from the Minneapolis, MN area and I remember hearing about this young man and his incredible song. I am a cancer survivor and his strength and peacefulness inspired me to be a stronger person in my faith. I was 18 when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and have been cancer free now for 10 years. I realize that I am one of the lucky ones to be able to survive a cancer diagnosis. I would love to read the story of his family’s strength through their loss. They are such an inspirational family. You are also an inspirational person, for giving away so many copies of this book. You will change many lives by giving this book away!

  60. Gail nelson says:

    Unfortunately this life is filled with suffering and we are. All affected in some way, I would share this book with a co-worker whose sister was just diagnosed with cancer last week.

  61. I would love to win this book and share it with a friend who recently lost her son. She could use some inspiration and encouragement.

  62. My young nephew has been diagnosed with a disease that we are having a difficult time getting answers to. I would love to be able to share this book with my sister as she is dealing with ‘picking up the chess pieces’. Thanks.

  63. The tears every time I hear his song. What an amazing young man with such a spirit of wisdom. Would love to win a copy of the book to share with a young mother just diagnosed with lymphoma.

  64. I would love to read a mother’s perspective and be inspired in my interactions with cancer patients and caregivers at work on an inpatient oncology unit.

  65. georgina hughes says:

    I would really,really like a copy this book to give to my prodigal
    …. God has a plan and a purpose. He saves whether by m.any or by few!

  66. Robyn May says:

    I lost my mom to cancer 3 years ago and I struggled to accept God’s will. My sister is a non-believer and I would like to share this incredible story with her.

  67. Wow! That is all I am able to respond with.

  68. I’ll have to keep it for myself because I’m dying to read their story!! Then I’ll pass it on to someone else!!

  69. I would love to read this book and then pass along to others.

  70. Brenda Engelkemier says:


    Can you pass along a message of thanks to Laura Sobiech? I am a mom who lost my special needs child at the age of 18. Her birthday was May 1, 1994 and she passed away on May 22, 2012. Laura’s story gave me comfort. I will be passing along my copy of her book to a friend that lost her 17 year old son recently in a tragic accident.

    God has a plan. We may not always understand it, but I have been inspired to continue looking for joy in the little things.

    Merry Christmas.

  71. Wow! such a personal story that hit me as a good friend’s granddaughter was just diagnosed with a form of juvenile leukemia. Don’t know if it the right time for the family to read the story but I’d sure like to offer to them hope and comfort.


  1. […] I wanted to share Renee’s post with everyone today. Not for the book giveaway but because it is a very moving story about Zach […]

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