Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Saturday Night Widows

"Saturday Night Widows" by Becky Aikman

This book is about 6 women who suddenly find themselves widows at an early age.  They are women who don't fit the mold of a widow.  Women whose lives have taken a drastic turn and they find themselves floundering and needing help navigating their new paths.  It is an unlikely group but the loss of their husbands has brought them together, that might just be the only thing they have in common.  "There's nothing you can do.  My husband was the best thing I ever had.  When I lost him, my life changed in an instant.  But this has made me totally fearless.  Because the worst thing that could happen has already happened."  Perspective, we all need it, and sometimes it comes in the form of hardship and loss.  "I often wondered about the definition of home.  Is it the place where you live, or is it the place where the people you love reside?  And if the people you love are gone, where is home then?"  The death of someone so close turns your world upside down, so many people feel lost.  "Then there was the missing.  The bottomless missing.  Of course, I knew that I would miss Bernie, but what I didn't know until those hyperconscious nights was that grieving would be so much more than any missing I'd experienced up to now."  "How does a human being remake a life when it's shattered by loss?"  That is the question that begs to be answered.  How do you hold on to the past and remember but still press on and make a future?  "Humor is one of the strongest predictors of an eventual return to emotional equilibrium."  You've got to be able to laugh.  Loss is hard, life is hard, but when you can laugh you can be okay.  "But grief has a way of invading the simplest things, the most everyday things, the happiest things, sometimes more than the sad ones."  It comes in waves and surprises you at moments.  "Sometimes, in order to get strong, it's necessary to...face the pain."  And oh is that hard and scary, but the only way past it is through it.  "Because she's fearless to the point where she doesn't care if she fails."  That is a kind of fearlessness that we all need, to not be afraid to fail.  Big things happen when we try and do not care what others think.  Success comes from those kind of failures.  "I'm trying to come to appreciate the not knowing."  For us planners, the not knowing can be torturous.  That is where the big faith comes in.  "How safe we feel with each other.  It's sacred."  And that is something to truly be thankful for, another human being that God has graced you with that you can be yourself with.  It truly is a gift.  "Yes, I still knew, attachment can be suffering.  Attachment can be scary.  Attachment can be messy.  But attachment is life."  And life without attachment is no life at all.  I enjoyed this book and the resilliance of these women striving to make a new life from the rubble.  They embraced the fact that loss is not the end, it is hard, but it doesn't have to be the end.      

Monday, November 18, 2013

Traveling Mercies

"Traveling Mercies" by Anne Lamott

This is about the author, Anne, and how she came to have faith.  It is quirky, and colorful and not at all righteous.  Each of our journeys are different, each are our own.  "I guess it's like discovering you're on the shelf of a pawnshop, dusty and forgotten and maybe not worth very much.  But Jesus comes in and tells the pawnbroker, 'I'll take her place on the shelf.  Let her go outside again.'"  Sometimes we feel like we aren't worth very much but Jesus says we are each worth a Son.  "And that is why I have stayed so close to mine-because no matter how bad I am feeling, how lost or lonely or frightened, when I see the faces of the people at my church, and hear their tawny voices, I can always find my way home."  This is what it shoudl be like, I just don't think it always is.  But this is what God meant, for the body of Christ to be this to one another.  "We in our faith work stumble along toward where we think we're supposed to go, bumbling along, and here is what's so amazing-we end up getting exactly where we're supposed to be."  Thanks to the hand of God directing our paths.  "I always thought that was heroic of her, that it spoke of such integrity to refuse to pretend that you're doing well just to help other poeple deal with the fact that sometimes we face an impossible loss."  Refusing to pretend takes such courage especially when others around you want and need you to be ok.  "She said that the world sometimes feels like the waiting room of the emergency ward and that we who are more or less OK for now need to take the tenderest possible care of the more wounded people in the waiting room until the healer comes."  I love this word picture.  "...in which he said that he's so savoring the moments of his life right now, so acutely aware of the love and small pleasures that he no longer feels that he has a life-threatening desease: he now says he's leading a disease-threatening life."  What a change of perspective.  "But courage is fear that has said its prayers."  We can all then be courageous, all it takes is some prayer.  "And then I remembered this basic principle that God isn't there to take away our suffering or our pain but to fill it with His presence."  He doesn't promise an easy life free of hurt or pain but He does promise to be there in the midst.  "When you make friends with fear; it can't rule you."  I'm not sure how to do that but I'm willing.  This was a interesting little read with lots of good tidbits.  It was quirky, fun and enlightening.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Dream New Dreams

"Dream New Dreams" by Jai Pausch

This book is written by the widow of Randy Pausch, who wrote "The Last Lecture".  That was a great book if you haven't read it, it is also on YouTube.  Randy died of pancreatic cancer.  After reading that book I wanted to read what his wife's perspective on his cancer and death.  This book is a very real book of the toll cancer takes on a whole family.  Randy and Jai have three young children.  Jai was thrown into the role of caregiver and writes how hard a job that is but how she wouldn't have traded it. She is a strong woman who has overcome and dared to dream again.  "When you are in difficult straits, identifying the areas where you need an extra hand or a smarter brain takes honesty and courage."  I think we try and do so much on our own because we are afraid to ask for help, afraid of being vulnerable and needy but that is what family and friends are for, to help each other.  That is why God gives us community.  "Please don't die, all the magic will go out of my life."  Jai said these words to her husband, fearing that when he did die there would be no life for her to live, that he would take all the good with him.  "His stories show the reader how our actions and treatment of other people have  a powerful impact on the shape of our lives."  When we give and serve others our lives are enriched and given purpose.  "Here in the safety of friends, the sadness didn't feel as heavy as when I was alone.  Perhaps that was because each of us held a little piece of grief's mantle."  I love that.  When we have community we are all sharing the good and the bad, carrying the burdens and celebrating the joys.  "I didn't have to be handcuffed to the past.  I had to learn to give myself the freedom to do what was best for my family."  "Most important, I was learning not to look at today through the lens of yesterday, which made the promise of tomorrow all the more magical."  So often we stay stuck in the past, past mistakes, past hurts, and that is not what God has for us.  Life is for the living and we need to walk in that freedom.  "At times, I still feel overwhelmed.  I think that's true for many parents-we're frightened by the fact that our children's lives are in our hands; it's a weighty responsibility."  A very weighty responsibility and one that should not be taken lightly.  Thankfully we have a God we can entrust our children to and pray to help guide them.  "I saw that the magic hadn't gone out of our lives when Randy died.  The magic was still with us, inside us.  It always had been."  "I had a wound that would heal according to no specific time line."  Grief takes many forms and takes lots of time.  Everyone deals differently and at different times.  "Randy said, 'In all likelihood, cancer is going to defeat my body, but it's not going to defeat my soul because the human spirit is much more powerful than any biological disease.'"  That is right, we can be hurt and even die but when we have Jesus we live on, free from death with Him forever.  "Life is a precious gift, and I don't intend to waste a day of it. Have I experienced tragedy? Yes, I have.  But it would be another real tragedy if I didn't recover from the sadness I have felt and thus missed the many happy moments along the way."  Most of us have experienced some sort of tragedy but we must keep living or we miss the beauty that God makes from those ashes.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Heavenly Miracles

"Heavenly Miracles" by Jamie C. Miller, Laura lewis, and Jennifer Basye Sander

This is just a short collaboration of stories about people who experienced miracles in their life.  It's a quick little read that is uplifting.  It's great to hear how God is working in others lives and that He still performs miracles today.  "In the midst of everyday stress and struggle, we want to believe and be reassured that there is a greater purpose to our lives."  Everyone wants to make sure that their is some pupose to their life, even the mundane of life.  We are all seeking greater meaning.  "Miracles that save lives are not always dramatic rescues; sometimes they are simply brought about by the guiding hand of love."  "You are special and worthy of a miracle because you are loved."  Everyone is worthy of a miracle because we are all created and loved by God.  Sometimes our eyes just need to be opened to the little every day miracles that happen and sometimes God has bigger ones in store for us.  These stories will bring a smile to your face and remind you that there is a God who cares and He is in the business of miracles.  

Friday, November 1, 2013

Don't Go

"Don't Go" by Lisa Scottoline

I devoured this book, it was so good!  I'm in a time crunch because I checked out 6 books at the library and have to get them all read before they are due.  I'm feeling the pressure but thankful I can read fast.  I just grabbed this book off of the New Release shelf because the cover grabbed me.  It is about a man who goes to war (I'm a sucker for war books) and leaves behind a wife and baby daughter.  He ends up getting wounded and comes home to his life that is in shambles.  Nothing is as he left it, his medical practice is a mess, his wife dead and his baby girl a stranger.  How will he piece his life back together?  Will he ever be the father that his daugher needs?  Will he ever recover from his losses?  This book took some twists that I didn't see coming.  It turned out to be a little bit of a mystery which I don't normally read but this one caught me by surprise and I liked it.  It was very well written and engaged me every with page turn.  It again, left me thankful for all the people who serve our country, fighting for my freedom.  They sacrifice so much.  "She's only human.  Don't judge her.  Just love her."  We are all only human.  We all judge but we all need to do less judging and more loving, showing grace to each other because after all, we are only human.  "Here's what I think.  If I hadn't gone over there, I wouldn't be the father I am.  I wouldn't be the man I am.  War changes everything, and everybody.  It changed me, and the sacrifice changed me.  I've decided to live my life in a way that honors that sacrifice, and all the sacrifices."  War does change everyone involved in it and the circle is big.  The only thing is to live honoring the sacrifice that was paid.  I also see this for the sacrifice that Christ gave us on the cross.  He gave everything and I want my life to honor that sacrifice.