Everything Happens for A Reason (A Book Review)

“Everything happens for a reason… Oh how many times, we all have heard those words; at a cancer diagnosis, at another medical diagnosis, at the loss of someone way too soon, and the list goes on and on. I don’t know about you but every time I hear those words, I honestly want to yell out a bunch of expletives. But being the person God created me to be, I simply have to step back and not say anything at all.

In my growing up years, there were many times I was angry with God; angry that my mom lives with a mental illness. Later in life, angry that another family member lives with a mental illness too. Yet I have come to realize how important it is to have people who will listen and simply sit with me during these difficult times.

So Kate Bowler’s book “Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Learned to Love” was just what I needed to read! In fact, now I understand why so many of my friends and colleagues were raving about this book. She has this way of honestly portraying what it is like to live with an illness and to wonder where God is and wonder why people are saying the things they are saying. She asks the questions and thinks the profound thoughts that so many of us have struggled with along our faith journey.

Don’t walk, but run to your local bookstore and pick up a copy of this book. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

And here are a few of my favorite quotes from Kate’s book:

“In this world there is no such thing as undeserved pain. There is no word for tragedy.” (Everything Happens, P. 26)

“I don’t know what the word ‘trust’ means anymore, except there are moments when I realize that it feels a lot like love.” (Everything Happens, P. 110)

“Jesus is on a donkey trudging into Jerusalem, people waving their arms in the air, tattered coats thrown down before the One who marches toward His death. It is a celebration. It is a funeral procession. Holding Zach in my arms, fifteen days from my next scan, I wish I knew the difference (Everything Happens, P. 112).”

“Sometime this ability to live in the moment feels like a gift. My pain feels connected to the pain of others somehow (Everything Happens, P.144).”

Faithful

The sun is shining outside. Birds are singing their morning songs. Signs of Spring are finally on the horizon. In other words, in these days of Easter, Easter continues to emerge. Yet even in the midst of new life, it is often hard to move on when death and grief are still such a part of our lives.

Earlier this week, I realized that this coming Friday April 27th one year ago is when things unexpectedly changed for me. I found myself living in limbo; trying to let go of the past and look towards the future but being stuck between the two. There is a sense of melancholy and bitter sweetness that is playing in my heart and my head this week.

This past year has been one of the most difficult of my 39 years on this earth in many ways. Yet through it all, God remained faithful like God always does. In the midst of the fog, it can be so hard to see the faithfulness of God. But through the fog, God reaches out God’s hand and asks us to take hold.

Taking hold of God’s hand is not for the faint of heart. In fact, it takes a lot of courage and strength to be able to reach for that hand when one cannot even see it. Much like Thomas, we have a need to experience God like everyone else. We must trust in the midst of life’s “hills and valleys.”

Faith is trusting in the one who calls and claims each and everyone of us by name; trusting in the one who sent God’s one and only Son into the world because God loves us that much. This is a kind of love that reminds us that the journey to the cross is a powerful reminder of how God’s love changes everything.

“I used to think grief was about looking backward, old men saddled with regrets or young ones pondering should-haves. I see now that it is about eyes squinting through tears into an unbearable future. The world cannot be remade with the sheer force of love. A brutal world demands capitulation to what seems impossible—separation. Brokenness. An end without an ending.” (Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved; Kate Bowler, P.70)

This Lent seemed so very long. In fact, at times, it felt more like 80 days or even 10 months long rather than 40 days. But the truth is sometimes we have to sit in the midst of Lent. We must feel the grit of the ashes on our foreheads. We must stand at the foot of the cross. We must experience the journey from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday to finally to Easter morning where we find the tomb empty. Too often we want to skip straight from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. But we cannot have Easter without the crucifixion and death of Jesus.

“Easter says you can put death in the grave, but it won’t stay there.” (Clarence W. Hall)

The reality is resurrection has and continues to emerge in this broken messed up world. In the midst of the many tears that were shed before God led me to a new community, I wondered if I would continually feel stuck in the journey of Lent. And there are still days especially after the death of my friend Ben and other beloved souls that death continues to be so fresh and I still feel stuck in the dreary days of Lent.

But through it all, what I have come to see is the goodness and faithfulness of God who always brings us to the empty tomb and Easter morning. Sometimes we just need help seeing that the tomb is empty and that Christ is risen! Because when we see that with our own two eyes, we know for certain that God is always and forever faithful to God’s beloved people.

Linking up with Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Porch Stories! 

 

 

Sunday Blessings 211

(1) A beautiful Spring rain!

(2) Texting with JK

(3) Texting with GI

(4) Baby snuggles

(5) Jazz concert and getting to see a college friend JB

(6) 60 plus degree weather. So glorious!!

(7) Sitting outside and reading for hours

(8) Italian sodas on glorious Spring days

(9) A beautiful PLN

(10) Finished two books.

(11) Texting with MH

(12) Messaging with my faves

(13) Annie F Down’s podcast That Sounds Fun

(14) Texting with one of my fave girls. Love you KM!

(15) My sissy

Joy in the Turning of Seasons

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “turn.” We would love to have you join us.

Hope is born in the turning of seasons. But in the Midwest, that hope can be so easily lost when it’s snowing in April. Snow isn’t suppose to fall in April, but it’s not unheard of here. This week many friends in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin received snow. Luckily it missed us here in Williston.

I don’t know about you friends, but I am so so ready for Spring. And today hope has been born. The sun is shining. It is 65 degrees. Flowers are starting to peak through the ground. On the farm, baby calves are being born. I found myself with a peach Italian soda and enjoying this day.

And as this hope is born, I find myself thinking of what’s to come…summer trips, etc. Soon the seasons will turn from spring to summer, then back to Fall and before we know it, we will be back in Winter. So I’m in no rush. I want to savor this Springtime. It’s bringing me joy!

Rush, Ruin, and Spirit Led Seasons

Yesterday afternoon, I popped my ear buds in and went for a walk since the snow escaped us here. While walking, I was listening to Annie F. Down’s podcast “That Sounds Fun” where she was interviewing contemporary christian music artist Tauren Wells. Tauren sings the song “Hills and Valleys.” It was a good thing I had my phone along so I could take notes because Tauren was PREACHING y’all!!!

One of the first quotes I wrote down from Tauren was this: “Faith is obedience in reverse.” Now think about that for a moment. He is so spot on. Faith is often defined as trust. But we cannot trust if we are not obedient to who God is. A year ago, it was really hard to trust God in the midst of living in liminal space. Yet because I was able to be obedient to God, faith followed me and held me in the midst of my fears and doubts.

In the midst of our own fears and doubts, it can be so easy to rush from one thing to the next; trying to grasp for where God might be leading us along this journey. “Rush always leads to ruin.” (Tauren Wells) But when we rush, things get lost and left behind. If I rush through my day without even thinking about what I am doing, I might not get the job done as completely as if I take my time. We must be patient and watch and listen to where God might be leading us along life’s journey.

As we watch and listen, we are led to “Spirit led seasons.” I don’t know about you, friends, but I have definitely sat in the midst of those Spirit led seasons. The Spirit blowing one way while I was searching and waiting it for it to blow another direction. Those Spirit led seasons have taught me much about obedience and what it means to trust in our God who promises to never leave us or forsake us. This God who holds us most especially during those Spirit led seasons! It is here that we come to feel and grasp what it means to have faith in the one who loves us so very much that he sent his one and only son into the world for each and every one of us.

Linking up with Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup and Jennifer and Tell His Story.

 

  

Sunday Blessings 210

(1) Awesome Confirmation night.

(2) A hug from one of my faves telling me how awesome I did at worship

(3) First Communion take two!

(4) Fun LLR mail

(5) Getting to see all my faves!!

(6) Youth for Christ banquet

(7) Driving to Minot with CG

(8) Finally giving KG her Christmas gift.

(9) Texting with my favorite

(10) A Vox from TM

(11) Technology so I can be a part of a friends book launch party at the Festival of Faith and Writers.

(12) Thin Mint brownies

(13) A gorgeous Spring day

(14) Annie F Down’s podcast with Tauren Wells.

(15) A great walk on a beautiful Spring day.

(16) Watching the ACM awards and getting to hear some classic songs from 25 years ago.

(17) A mini PLN

Who is the Other?

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “other.” We would love to have you join us.

Spring on the farm is a holy time as new life springs forth. There were so many times I stood on one side of the fence while baby calves were being born on the other side of the fence. Sometimes I’d stick a baby bottle through the slats to feed a calf or we’d have to crawl over to the other side.

Have you ever wondered what happens on the other side of the houses you walk by or drive by each day? Is it a lonely single woman like me? Or is it an elderly couple? Or is it a family gathered around a hospice bed saying goodbye? Or is it a new infant keeping new parents up at all hours of the night? Or a poor individual working to meet ends meet?

Who is that other? But the reality is we aren’t so different after all. We are all beloved children of God. God gave his son for us; for the others in our midst.

And of course I couldn’t not share this too!

Sunday Blessings 209

(1) A fantastic Easter Monday!!

(2) Tax return money!!

(3) Cinnamon Taffy

(4) Supper with KD and her family.

(5) Winning a Madison skirt as part of a live sale.

(6) Generous people reimbursing me for my train ticket to my friends funeral.

(7) Texting with my faves

(8) The musical Rent

(9) A beautiful nap on my day off

(10) A fun relaxing day off

(11) A PLN!!

(12) Lots of compliments on my sermon

(13) Jelly beans.

(14) Another sweet gift from KD and RD

(15) Many compliments on my sermon today. Thanks for showing up Holy Spirit!

Release Yourself

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “release” We would love to have you join us.

Nailed to a tree
A crown of thorns
upon his head.

Voices yelling out
“If you are the Messiah
Release yourself.”

Haunting silence.

Jesus cries out
“Father, forgive them
For they know not
What they are doing.”

Mary, his mother
looking on.

He breathes his last.

Three days later
The women arrive
at the tomb
and find it empty.

Where is Jesus’ body?

He is not here.

Jesus has overcome
Death and the grave.
Jesus is risen!

In the resurrection,
Jesus reminds us of
God’s love
For us.

Let’s Do Better!

Yesterday, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I came across a Facebook post that really really bothered me. The post came from what looked like a television weather source somewhere and read the words “Missing Person: Police are searching for mother nature. She is bi-polar and believed to be off her meds.” The first time I saw this post, my skin began to crawl and I couldn’t shake how awful this post is.

You see, I know all too well the realities of living with mental illness in my family. I am the oldest daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness. Our mom had a nervous breakdown right after my little sister was born. So I haven’t known different. I would say at least once a year, my mom would end up in the hospital due to this illness. I have seen my mom at her highest highs and her lowest lows, yet she is one of the most faith filled woman that I know.

And our story is not the only story of people living with the realities of mental illness. According to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, 43.8 million adults experience mental illness in a given year. (For more facts, look at these statistics!) In other words, mental illness is a reality for far too many people in this world. And when the world gets flippant about posting things like this post on Facebook, we only make it worse.

Mental illness is not something to poke fun at. People who live with this illness are beautiful beloved children of God. They are constantly trying to figure out how to live with their illnesses–what medications work for them etc. When we make it a joke, I believe we make it even harder for them to live in this world.

Friends, I believe we can and should do better!

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For more information about the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) social statement on Mental Illness, click HERE!

I am linking up with Holley and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Porch Stories.