“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”–Romans 8:38-39
My friend Lindy shared this Scripture with me the other day and it couldn’t be more perfect. When 2018 started, little did I know how hard and heavy it would be. First my dear friend Ben died, then a beloved seminary professor Ralph, then Ben’s brother Aaron, then my friend Rachel, then Stephanie, then our dear family friend Jim and finally my beloved Grandpa Wilbert. It seemed I would just catch my breath and then I’d learn of yet another unexpected death. It was all so much!
In the midst of it all, I’ve learned and experienced the great cloud of witnesses. I won’t soon forget many colleagues and friends gathered around our friend Bens urn as we commended him to God’s care. I also won’t forget standing around our friend Rachel’s casket as I had my arms around more friends.
I’ve learned over and over again what grief is. Grief is a broken pair of sunglasses, a hymn and so many other things. It’s an unopened Christmas card/gift. It ebbs and flows. Grief changes us too. I love this quote that Lindy also shared with me.
“I had my own notion of grief. I thought it was the sad time that followed the death of someone you love. And you had to push through it to get to the other side. There is no pushing through. But rather, there is absorption. Adjustment. Acceptance. And grief is not something you complete, but rather you endure. Grief is not a task to finish and move on, but an element of yourself–an alteration of your being. A new way of seeing. A new definition of self.” (Gwen Flowers)
I’ve been changed this year because I knew and loved these dear souls. I am seeing things with a new set of eyes. Because of this, I am so ready for a new year. Ready to leave 2018 behind and ring in 2019 which means I’m ready for a new one word.
I often pray and ask God to lead me to my word. This year I had several words that came to my mind. But when I knew my word was my word, it was so clear. God definitely led me to my new word.
My new word for 2019 is heal. Now I know I won’t heal completely from this years losses. But my word will hopefully help me to continue to evolve and see life differently from all these losses. Heal will help me to continue to grieve when I need too.
Heal also will come through the people and places I surround myself with. Luna has been such a gift and a joy. I know she will continue to be. I’m also so incredibly blessed by the people God has placed in my life too. People who have held me in my tears and rejoiced with me in my joys too.
Healing also I believe will come in trying some new hard things; like respite foster care which I truly believe God has called me too. Living out God’s call for my life hopefully will continue to heal me too.
2019 will be more than a bandaid, but will be the healing I need; the healing that only comes from our great physician; God our creator.
I am linking up with Kelly, Mary, Sue, and Kristin this week!
After a long week, I’m now curled up on my couch with my sweet kitten Luna sprawled out on my lap. It’s these little things…my kitten, my blankets, my warm house that brung comfort to me. And last night and this morning, I got to spend time with dear friends that are comfort to me too.
When I began 2018 choosing the word hygge, I had no idea what that word meant. I did some research and found out it basically means contentment. After this year, hygge means so much more than contentment to me. It means home. It means hope. It means peace. It means knowing I am never alone.
Little did I know that 2018 would be a year of deep loss and grief. First my dear friend Ben, then a beloved seminary professor Ralph, than Ben’s brother Aaron, then Rachel, then Stephanie, then our dear family friend Jim and finally my beloved Grandpa Wilbert. So to say I’m ready for 2018 to be over is an understatement.
In the midst of such deep loss and grief, I’m rediscovering what is important. Time with those we love is so important. I’m trying to honor time as well. 2018 has taught me that hygge is so much more than contentment.
Hygge is loving my friends and family and spending quality time with them. Hygge is ladies who leave a prayer shawl in my office after Grandpas death. Hygge is honoring your grandpa by writing a poem and giving the eulogy at his funeral. Hygge is snuggling up with a sweet kitty on your lap. Hygge is peace embodied.
As a new year begins, Hygge will stick with me as a reminder of what’s important. Hygge will be lived out every day. Hygge has taught me so much this year. But I’m ready for a new year; a new beginning!
Come back tomorrow to learn what my new one word will be for 2019!
“But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)
Today has not been easy. In fact, it’s been anything but easy. My grief is heavy. I miss my Grandpa.
And 2018 has been filled with so much death; so much grief. My heart is slowly being pieced back in little ways. And in the midst of my grief, I’m trying to find glimmers of joy. I’m pondering much like Mary.
What I do know is these people, these memories I hold so dear are to be cherished; are to be held in my heart. But more than ever, I need this holy child to come and stir up his power.
Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living–Shauna Niequest. I have always been a huge fan of Shauna’s books. This one was no exception. I love how her words speak to my life. This book gave great practical advice about settling down and being less hectic.
She: 5 Keys to Unlock the Power of Women in Ministry–Karoline Lewis Dr. Karoline Lewis is a professor at Luther Seminary and is one of the regulars on their website and podcast workingpreacher.org. I picked this book up at the Festival of Homiletics in May of 2017 and was excited to dig into this book. Lewis has a way of helping women to see that they truly do have the power for ministry. Such practical advice for any woman who feels called to lead and serve in ministry. I love how each of the chapters focused on the five keys which made it easy to follow.
100 Days to Brave: Devotions for Unlocking Your Most Courageous Self–Annie F Downs Annie is one of my most favorite authors. I always feel like she is speaking right to me. This devotional book was a beautiful gift that she gave me this year!
A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging–Kate Motaung Kate is a blog friend and she is hosts one of my most favorite blog link ups the Five Minute Friday.This memoir is a beautiful gift that Kate gives to all of us as she journeys through the story of losing her mom to cancer while she was thousands of miles away. This book could not have come at a better time in my life. Her words were a gift as I journeyed through my own season of grief. It is a story that pulls us all back to our heavenly home. (You can my review of this book here: http://prayingontheprairie.net/our-heavenly-home-a-review-on-a-place-to-land-by-kate-motaung/)
Holy Hustle:Embracing a Work Hard, Rest Well Life–Crystal Stine Crystal is another blog friend. I served on the launch team for this book. This book is a great reminder of self care and taking care of ourselves. Crystal talks a lot about balancing and how to balance all the things in our lives. I cannot help but think of how God tells us to “Be still and know that I am God.” (http://prayingontheprairie.net/holy-hustle-a-book-review/)
Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved–Kate Bowler This book that spoke to me in so many ways. Oh how many times I was angry with God growing up because of our journey with mental illness. Her book is full of honesty and vulnerability that we don’t always get from authors when they tell their stories. (Read my blog review here: (http://prayingontheprairie.net/everything-happens-for-a-reason-a-book-review/)
The Little Book of Hygge; Danish Secrets to Happy Living—Meik Wiking. Hygge is my 2018 one word for the year. So of course I had to pick up this book when I saw it. Hygge loosely translated means contentment. How do we find contentment in our every day lives? As I read, I couldn’t help but reflect on the ways I can find hygge in my daily life. It truly is a cozy read and reminds us all of the importance of taking time for ourselves.
Girl Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so you can Become Who You were Meant to Be–Rachel Hollis. I picked this book up after I heard lots of friends talking about it. I am one who always apologizes so Rachel’s words hit home for me. Now I know I am in the minority as several friends of mine were bothered by this book. I’ll let you judge for yourself. You can take it or leave it.
Love Without Limits–Jacqueline Bussie Jacqueline and my paths crossed at Concordia in Moorhead Minnesota. This book is a true act of love as it was almost not published. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to serve on her launch team. Bussie pushes the limits and truly gets us thinking about what it means to love our neighbors for who God created them to be. The stories she shares are exquisite examples of God’s love for all God’s people. Please pick this book up and read it my friends! (The full blog review can be found here: http://prayingontheprairie.net/the-book-that-almost-wasnt-birthed-or-loving-beyond-limits/)
The Ministry of Ordinary Places–Shannan Martin Shannan’s book Falling Free has always been one of my faves. And this one is no exception. I was lucky to serve on Shannan’s launch team for this book. Her words always have a way of flowing so freely and getting me to think. This book helps us to explore what it means to find the extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary. It helps us to share God’s love with all the world.
Finding Holy in the Suburbs: Living Faithfully in the Land of Too Much–Ashley Hales Friends, how many of us have too much? This book explores the question of abundance. It really helped me to think about what I truly need and how to share my abundance with others. Even though I do not live in a suburb, Ashley’s words spoke to me too. I was lucky to serve on the launch team for this book as well.
Remember God–Annie F Downs I have been waiting for this book to come out since I knew it was going to be released this year. I even preordered my copy. Annie has a way of writing and sharing exactly what I am feeling in the moment. And this book was my most favorite book that I read this year. Tears streamed down my face as I read her words. She talks about home and how she wishes it were full of so much more life. All the words she writes are words that I have thought in my head. In Annie’s words, there is indeed always something on the other side of the pain and mystery.
Books I have started but haven’t finished yet:
The Inheritance–Niki Kapsambelis This book is a true story of a North Dakota family who have struggled with the Alzheimers gene. Almost all of the family carry the gene. This book is a beautiful memoir of their journey and reminds us that the reality of Alzheimers disease is all too real in our world.
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World made for Whiteness–Austin Channing Brown I have started reading this book and need to finish it. I appreciate Brown’s honesty. This is a book about the reality of white supremacy and whiteness in our world. Read her words and then be an ally!
Books I am looking forward to reading in 2019:
Everybody Always–Bob Goff This book has been on my to read pile for WAY TOO LONG! I cannot wait to read it!
You are Enough–Mandy Hales Mandy Hales is often known as the Single Woman so her words often speak straight to my heart. This is her newest book and I am excited to see how it speaks to my heart and soul.
Becoming–Michelle Obama I heard Michelle on a tv special recently and now more than ever I am excited to pick up this book. She is a wise woman and I have always respected her. Excited to learn more about her and read her stories. She is a beautiful storyteller who weaves her words together eloquently.
“Well, go ahead—twist and scream, Daughter Jerusalem. You are like a woman in childbirth. You’ll soon be out of the city, on your way and camping in the open country. And then you’ll arrive in Babylon. What you lost in Jerusalem will be found in Babylon. God will give you new life again. He’ll redeem you from your enemies.”–Micah 4:10 (The Message translation)
Oh how many have fled from their countries hoping to find freedom, hoping to find what they have lost. Yet so many are still searching. Or they never make it across the borders. I cannot help but think of how many children and families have been separated and my heart aches. How will we let their lives be redeemed?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, redeem means “to buy back” or “to free from what distresses or harms such as to free from captivity by payment of ransom” or “to change for the better.”
Christ is born and comes to redeem us all; to change the world for the better. Jesus wasn’t afraid to turn the world upside down. He wasn’t afraid to sit with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus even sat with Judas and Peter the night before his crucifixion and death knowing that Judas would betray him and Peter would deny him. That is a powerful witness of forgiveness and redemption.
What are we willing to do? Are we willing to speak up and act for justice, mercy and peace? Are we willing to call out Christ’s name asking him to stir up power and redeem all the world.
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appears.”
As Christmas quickly falls open us, I cannot help but be ready for the beginning of a new year too. 2018 has been a year of deep grief. Too many friends lost way too early and way too unexpectedly. My heart still hurts.
Grief comes and goes. It flows gently and then the next moment, it overflows onto the banks. Grief comes in an unexpected song, in a broken pair of sunglasses, and in so many other ways. This year has been a year of deep deep grief and I am so ready for a new year to begin.
But as I reflect on this past year, I cannot help but think of the reminders of resurrection hope and joy that come through the many children in my life. I will never forget sitting and reminiscing with friends at Ben’s viewing while his daughter laughed and played like any two year old should. I also can still see her asleep on her mom’s shoulder until the pastor began speaking the word’s of institution.
Months later, I see Jim’s grandchildren playing and even remembering things their dear grandfather taught them. Toby proclaiming proudly to his Grandma Leslye “Grandma, I’m holding the football like Grandpa Jim taught me. See.”
These are just a few examples of joy embodied even in the midst of grief. I keep coming back to one of my favorite verses from Scripture Psalm 30:5 “Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Joy does come! It’s just sometimes it is so hard to see that joy in the midst of death and grief.
God raised Jesus from the grave and reminds us of God’s power in the world. Grief and death do not have the last word. Life does! “Easter says you can put death in the grave but it won’t stay there (Clarence W. Hall).”
In the midst of grief, I ask Christ to stir up power in me; to give me the strength to still live. Stir up power so that we can share joy even in the midst of grief. Stir up your power in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus was born to bring joy in the midst of sorrow, hope in the midst of despair, and light in the midst of the darkness. Jesus is life given for all to see.
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her king. Let every heart prepare him room.”
The stillness of winter settles into the land. Snow covers the fields. Birds begin to migrate south. Some days, the hush of the prairie wind is silenced completely. While other days, the wind blows continually and one can barely hear oneself think. Yet there is a solitude that comes with the dawning of these winter months; a holiness that reminds us of the birth of Jesus. Come read the rest at the Mudroom today! http://mudroomblog.com/piercing-the-silence/
Linking up with Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Mary and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Porch Stories.