Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My friend Michelle is having a baby!

A book baby!!

I took this photo with my iPhone while sitting on a plane.  My dad had recently passed away, I was tired from all my traveling and still had more traveling to do.  I was about to read my Advance Reader Copy of Spiritual Misfit by Michelle DeRusha.

I love Michelle's blog and the way she writes.  She always makes me smile or laugh out loud, she might write something that makes me cry but she almost always makes me think.

Today, her memoir releases.  Folks, this book made me do all of the above.  I loved reading it and could not put it down.  When I finished it, I didn't want it to be over.

I've struggled to write since my dad passed away and while this post is short and to the point, and it really isn't a book review, I wanted to make my readers aware of this AWESOME book.  You can get it at AmazonBarnes and Noble or hop over here to Michelle's blog, she is giving away signed copies!  You can also read more book reviews!

Spiritual Misfit is Michelle's journey of faith...her winding road journey.  From Klee Klee's to Cheez-its it will be worth your time!  I promise.

  This post may contain affiliate links. You do not pay more for the item if you purchase through my link, but I will get a small commission.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

When there is beauty in the broken places

This past weekend I attended Refine Retreat hosted by Kris Camealy in Ohio.  Friday night Kris opened the retreat with a lovely photo of open hands and told us to expect the unexpected.

As tired as I was from the traveling I did in March, I went on to Ohio and Jesus met me there.  In an way I did not expect.

Truthfully, I had no expectations.  I knew I was tired and wanted to rest.  Kris had built plenty of personal time into the schedule.  It worked well for me.

We talked about brokenness and shame.  How shame can be like "duct tape that binds us up and keeps us from living."

I can't begin to process it all in these first couple of days, but one thing that stood out was that Jesus will take our brokenness.

Jesus will take our shame.

He will cover it with his blood and redeem us.

Our cracks will be filled and we will be redeemed.

On Saturday afternoon there was an art journaling session.  This beautiful piece of art was created by Annie Barnett, one of the attendees.  She explained to us about the Japanese art of Kintsugi.  How broken pottery is repaired with gold and them becomes more valuable after the repair.

As humans, we want to hide our flaws.  Not only from ourselves and others, but sometimes I want to hide mine from Jesus too.  Like he can't see them!  Yet, he created us.  He created ALL of us...even our flaws.

Jesus sees the beauty in us.  He sees the beauty even in our brokenness.  Maybe in spite of our brokenness.  Or because of our brokenness?

I don't have the deep answer, but I know I am loved.  And while I am not flawless, I am being redeemed on a daily basis through the refining process of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.

And you are loved.  And if you know Jesus, then you are also being redeemed.

Music for the weekend was provided by Christa Wells and Nicole Witt.  There album More Than Rubies has a beautiful song called Image of God.  The song speaks to our brokenness.

You can listen to Image of God here...

Our brokenness...our pieces...our fragments...our discoloration...all brought to Jesus and he makes us His. 

His - in His image.

His - in His time.

His - in His way.

Lord, may be embrace the fragments and pieces of our lives that make us yours.
May we learn to accept that refining is a process and takes time.

There is much more that I need to process and want to share.  Teri Lynne Underwood was also a speaker at the retreat.  If you have not met her or do not read her blog, run...don't walk to check her out!  More on what she had to say later.  But as a teaser...Rest is a blessing, but what if the gift of rest is what we give, not what we receive?  You can also read more about the weekend from Laura's perspective.
May our day be filled with unexpected blessings that remind us
that there is beauty in our broken places. 

  This post may contain affiliate links. You do not pay more for the item if you purchase through my link, but I will get a small commission.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Refreshed and resting, even though I am tired

Sometimes I find it interesting just how God works.  The things he does in my life to challenge me.  To amuse me.  To comfort me.  And I never fail to be surprised by his timing.

As you may know, my dad passed away on March 4th.  I shared some of my thoughts about that here and I have not written much in the past month or so.  During March I have spent 16 nights away from home, traveled over 10,000 miles, been on 8 airplanes and spent more than 36 hours in a car.  And I am tired.

Really tired.

But this morning, I am refreshed.  Not because I got the greatest nights sleep on a fabulous mattress in a luxurious bedroom.

No, I am refreshed because I read this verse this morning...
Blessed are those who mourn, 
for they will be comforted.
Matthew 5:4 

And then I read this "The way up is down.  Of all the virtues Christ commended in the Beatitudes, it is significant that the first is humility, being 'poor in spirit,' a quality that underlies all the others.  You cannot mourn without appreciating how insufficient you are to handle life by your own strength." (emphasis mine)

I read this in The Modern Life Study Bible God's Word For Our World (page 1332). I am refreshed because I am insufficient to handle life by myself.  Recognizing my insufficiency, allows me to rest in his sufficiency.  Recognizing my less, allows me to rest in his more.

Recognizing that I can't, but he CAN allows me to have peace.

And THAT, my friend, is why I am feeling refreshed this morning.  I can't.  But HE can!

I received an e-mail sometime back from Thomas Nelson asking if I would be interested in receiving this Bible in exchange for a review.  Since I was looking for a new study Bible, I jumped at the chance.  I spent a few days checking out the Bible and noting the various features, then my dad, who had fallen last fall, got worse, had a stroke and eventually died.  Spending much time with this Bible took a back seat to life.  But this morning I began anew.

A do over so to speak...and He met me.  Right where I am.  Just like I needed him to. 

There are a lot of things I like about this Bible.  I love the Insight articles.  They provide "information about the text and its cultural context."  While the Focus articles "present thoughtful explorations of scriptural passages, their significance and their relevance to modern life."  There are also maps that are helpful.  The pages are colorful and the format engaging.

Each book is preceded by information about the author of the book (Jeremiah, Joel, Matthew, etc.) and includes notes about key events that occur in the book.

I don't claim to be a Bible scholar.  But I do want to learn more about the Bible and how to apply it to my life.  I want a deeper understanding of the scripture and I am finding this Bible to do just that.

I am thankful to Thomas Nelson for this opportunity.  Again, I received a copy of this in exchange for my review.  

To my friends that have called, sent cards and text messages...thank you.  I appreciate your prayers.  

  This post may contain affiliate links. You do not pay more for the item if you purchase through my link, but I will get a small commission.

Monday, March 17, 2014

I search and I search...

I buried my dad one week ago today. I wrote a blog post for the Allume blog before he passed away.

I wrote about searching for answers.

 Searching for a solution.

 Searching...just searching.

Will you please take a minute and join me there?


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

On losing my Daddy...

The last time I wrote in this space it was 3 a.m. on the morning of February 21, 2014. I couldn't sleep and had been awake since before 2 a.m. I had to get up at 4 a.m. to catch a 6 a.m. flight to Little Rock, Arkansas by way of Chicago.  I was headed to Arkansas to visit my parents and celebrate their birthdays (91 and 92) and their 70th wedding anniversary.  All of these events had occurred during February.  Six of the seven children would be in attendance and many of the 15 living grandchildren and 27 great grand children would make an appearance sometime during the weekend.
The trip to Arkansas was the most expensive I have had since I move out east 7 years ago.  I wasn't thrilled with the cost, but John encouraged me to go.  I bit the bullet, purchased the plane ticket for a stay that would be less than 48 hours.
I arrived Friday afternoon, we celebrated on Saturday and I left early Sunday morning.
The following Tuesday morning, February 25th, after the last out of town sibling had left the previous night, my 92 year old dad had a stroke. 
The following Tuesday, March 4 he took his last breath at 12:40 p.m. and crossed into the glorious mysterious of heaven into the waiting arms of his Saviour.  I am convinced that in addition to being welcomed by the saints, he was met by his grandchildren, great grandchildren and son-in-law that pre-deceased him. 
He walked the streets of gold with a clear head and for the first time in years, he was pain-free.
John and I left that afternoon.  The drive is 18-19 hours.  We would drive 9 hours before stopping and finish the drive the next day.
Others would fly or drive in later in the week with Andy and 2 more arriving on Sunday due to commitments that could not be changed. 
We buried my Daddy on Monday, March 10th.  It was a beautiful, sunny day.  And while I am sad beyond what I thought possible, I am glad he is free.
He fell and fractured his pelvis on November 14, 2013.  He was in and out of the hospital and rehab until Christmas Eve.  My mother wanted to keep him home as long as possible and she was able to do that, thanks to my siblings in Arkansas and some private nursing that provided round-the-clock care.
He took his last breath in his own home.
While I have a gaping hole in my heart, I am thankful that
  • he did not suffer.
  • he knew people up until he lost consciousness, which was late in the week after the stroke.
  • he is free from pain.
  • he is in a place where I know I will see him again.
  • I spent that money for that short visit the end of February.
Jesus never promised skies always blue, but he did promise strength for the journey.
This journey I am on is not one I relish, but it is one that must be travelled.  Losing a parent is much more difficult that I imagined.  I am still crying at the drop of a hat yet, I have peace.
More than one person told my family, "what a great funeral."  We sang and celebrated the life of a great servant of the Lord.
I am blessed to have called him Daddy.
Friends, you sent flowers, texts, cards, letters and e-mails.  You prayed for me and called me on the phone.  Thank you...thank you more than you know.
As I ease back into this space, the path will be a bit rough.  I have commitments that will take away from my writing.  But I am coming back.
If you have lost a loved one, I encourage you to read this post by my friend, Susan Stillwell.  She lost her mom about a month before I lost my dad.  This post says it all.
Thank you again...