Review by Rayna: Find the Good

Finding the Good:

Unexpected Life Lessons from a Small-Town Obituary Writer

 

Find the Good was written by Heather Lende a long time obituary writer.  I really enjoyed this unusual book.

Re-framing situations and events is a skill taught in coaching.  Re-frame means to look at something in a new perspective.  I was impressed with Heather’s ability to re-frame the tragedies that brought her into these people’s lives at that moment.  Her 30,000 foot view of the person’s life brings such comfort and wisdom.

Find the Good is filled with wonderful stories and golden nuggets of truth.   Heather was asked to write a short essay describing one piece of wisdom to live by.  After spending time thinking about what would important to share she boiled it down to Find the Good.  From this simple concept Heather wrote this book.

After years of interviewing families during one of the most difficult days of their life she developed the knack for finding the good.  Though the end of someone’s life might be tragic for any one of many reasons, she has found the power of discovering how to find the good in their life and share it in a wonderful way.

Some of the chapters included in this book are Stop and Smell the Fish, Draw Lines in the Sand So You Can Move Them, and Listen to Your Mother.  Each chapter has a story of an obituary and ends with the conclusion that brings it down to the title she gave the chapter.

I can’t say I have ever read many obituaries in my life.  And I know I have never read ones written with so much care and desire to honor.  Heather’s unique view of life and death brings great perspective. I hope you enjoy this fun read as much as I did.

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Review by Rayna: Scary Close

Scary Close:  Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy is an interesting read and a deviation from what I usually share here.

I have been familiar with Donald Miller because of his business acumen not as a person.  After reading this book I would say I know him pretty well.  He challenges everything you know about being honest and authentic.  To be honest at times a little uncomfortable honest for me.

This book is Don sharing about his journey to that altar and how he rose to the challenge of truly revealing himself to his beloved.  Realizing he has been very good at performing and keeping people at a distance he shares his journey to making that change.  Willingness to get Scary Close was required.

He starts the book with an author’s note that says, “We will never feel loved until we drop the act, until we are willing to show our true selves to the people around us.” Author Unknown.  This is a great opener to what Don will share throughout this book.

This is not a how to book.  There are no steps to follow rather a book to walk beside Don as he shares his journey to learning to perform less, be himself more and overcome a complicated fear of being known.

I’m not sure about you but those 3 things peaked my curiosity for sure.  Don’s stories both entertains and challenges us to look at ourselves and see what choices we are making in life. Are we living true to ourselves and developing relationships with others who know who we really are or are we playing it safe and just showing those around us the person we know they will like?

Don closes with a few bold statements about love and what he has learned about it.

“We are never going to be perfect in love but we can get close.  The closer we get, the healthier we will be.” And “Love is not a game any of us can win it’s just a story we can live and enjoy.”

If you would like to enjoy a challenging yet easy read I would encourage you to get to know Donald Miller better and learn how to get Scary Close!


I would love to hear your thoughts on this book.  Please share below.

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Review by Rayna: No More Faking Fine

No More Faking Fine:  Ending the Pretending

The title itself is one we all relate to I think.  We have all faked it during seasons of life and frankly I’m not sure there is any other way to make it  in public and on the job but the one time we NEVER have to fake it is with God.

Esther Fleece shares the story of her heartbreaking childhood and how the message to “suck it up” and do what she needed to do affected her life and relationship with the Lord.  She writes “Just because you picked yourself up again and keep moving doesn’t mean you are healed.  And if you keep moving with a wound that needs attention, you will only make it worse.”(58)

 

Esther’s journey to finding true healing is beautiful.  She has much to share with us about her experience but greater than that she challenges us to experience healing as well “Ignoring our past can rob us of the opportunity to encounter God when we need it most.  But lament opens our eyes to see He was there then and He is here now. “ (59) .  Life is painful and learning to experience lament can make all the difference in your healing.

Learning a new way to pray through the most difficult questions:  Why, How Long? Don’t Forget Me! and Forgive me brought hope to Esther and will bring hope to your life as well.

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Finding HOPE While Living with Loss

Finding HOPE While Living with Loss   

 Loss has visited close to home recently.  From a good friend who lost her mom to a dear friend who lost her battle with cancer.  Loss is difficult for everyone.

How do we find hope in the midst of loss is a difficult question to struggle with?  I have experienced hope during loss in a couple of different ways.

Sometimes there is hope even after loss when there is also new life.

The birth of my grandkids brought some hope even in the season of grieving the loss of my own children through miscarriage.

Their little lives brought joy and laughter even through the time of sadness.  I have also had a new a new dog bring hope and comfort when I have lost my best dog friend.

Most often I have experienced hope after loss through encounters with my Loving Father.  Some of the greatest losses in my life have been followed by hope filled experiences with God’s love.

When my mom passed away, though she had been sick for 12 years, it seemed like a shock.  I was not ready to let her go.

She died on a Saturday evening and the next morning while worshiping and grieving during church service, God blessed me with the reminder that Mom was worshiping that morning too.

She had been nonverbal for at least the last 8 years of her life (due to Alzheimer’s disease) so the thought of her standing at the feet of Jesus singing praises to Him face to face brought amazing comfort and joy.

The grief was made more bearable with the reminder of where she was that morning and for eternity yet to come.

The second time I experienced God’s great comfort was just a couple of years ago, when I was still struggling with the grief of losing my only children by miscarriage.

It was a difficult struggle for years, there were so many unanswered questions.  Why would the Lord let me get pregnant only to lose my children before they ever got to take their first breath and experience my love for them.

I had so many hopes and dreams.  Being a mom had been the desire of my heart for as long as I could remember.

Again, the Lord graciously reminded me that their death was not the end of their life.  They were safe with Him and my Mom in heaven.  When that truth came to me the overwhelming peace that followed was beyond description.

I had struggled for so long with questions and confusion regarding this loss but all of that became unimportant.  They were ok and I would meet them someday, peace & hope replaced all the anger and confusion that had just been there.

Today as I grieve the passing of my friend and grieve the disappearing of my dad, I find hope in the character of God.  I know that God is Good.

I know that God loves me no matter what happens in this life, and that truth motivates me to hold on to HOPE today and the many days to come.

 

How do you find Hope, even in the midst of grief?  

Do You See Your Spouse as Grace from God?

As Valentine’s Day arrived this year I received a very sweet card from my farmer.  He is usually the funny card kind guy so the card he chose for me this year really touched me.

I am so thankful for him in my life.  Moving beyond divorce and the disappointment, shame and hurt was not an overnight journey for me but it was so worth it.  If you find yourself in a place that you never expected, divorced, take heart there is hope.

God can restore what was or provide you with something new.  Seek Him, repent of your sin/your part in the end of the marriage, embrace grace, forgiveness and healing.  You can find the life you always thought you would have.

This weekend my farmer and I attended a marriage conference together.  It was such a great reminder to fix my eyes on all the things I have to be thankful for in my marriage.  Looking for the good in my husband will help me to see more of it.

Mingling of Souls is an annual marriage conference by Matt & Lauren Chandler.  During the conference, Matt reminded us that as Christians we are not yet what we will one day be.  We are a work in progress.

Strange how we want our spouse to be a finished product but we see in ourselves we aren’t there yet.  We often compare our very best moments or features with our spouse’s worst.  Keeping our eyes focused on the truth of our journey can help us show more grace to our spouse and find more growth in ourselves.

Matt also said when he was young and questioning his relationship with Lauren, a mentor once told him you will fight with someone the rest of your life; do you want it to be Lauren or not?  It is funny to think of our spouse being the person we will fight with our whole life but it is true.

We are both a work in progress so there will be conflict.  Too often we see conflicts as something that reveals our spouse’s weakness.
Instead we must see our struggles and conflict as a gift of Grace from God. Matt Chandler #TakeHeart Click To TweetInstead we must see our struggles and conflict as a gift of Grace from God.

How can that be a gift?  Each struggle or conflict reveals what is going on inside of us.  God is revealing to us something about ourselves so we can grow.

When he is late, do I give him the benefit of the doubt or do I become impatient and selfish?  When he leaves his clothes on the floor instead of putting them in the hamper, am I playing a martyr or being prideful?

Examining my heart will help me grow and progress in sanctification.  Being angry and holding him to an unfair standard will just make us both miserable and break down our relationship.

The process of becoming more like our Lord is not an easy one but it is one which we are called to engage in.  Our spouse is just one of the many things the Lord uses to help us grow.


In what way, will seeing your spouse as a gift of Grace from God change your relationship?