Patrick McDonald did this spoken word with our band for the opening of The 16:5 Conference. Him and Nate Bantle wrote the song together. It is amazing!
Mended: Thoughts on Fear, Love, & Leaps of Faith
by Anna White
When Anna approached me and asked me to read her book and write a review I was so excited! I love writing reviews and love authors reaching out to me to read their new books. I love the dedication of the book “For my husband. Whose love showed me it is possible to be both broken and beautiful.” How true is that of each of us? How much is that something that I have been churning in my mind since the bombing. If not in those same words. “Both broken and beautiful.”
I love how she shared that her normal response to suffering is to withdraw. To retreat into herself. But when she suffered a miscarriage and shared her grief, wrote about it, told others about it, people rose up who had been through the same thing, who knew what she was going through, who could carry her through her sorrow and helped her heal. I can totally relate. Healing only happens when you open up, let it go, share it. It is amazing how many people will stand up and say “I’ve been there, I know what you’re going through, let me walk with you.”
Anna shares a lot about her suffering, her struggles, her growth. I feel like it all ties in. Suffering. Growth. She quotes Chris Cleave; “We must see all scars as beauty. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.”
The book reads as journal entries. Short little nuggets of life. A few paragraphs about each topic. She writes about fear, grief, love and God. He is the hope. Light in the darkness. Our perfect love. “No matter how old we are, not matter what our deepest words are, this is what the Father whispers: You too are worthy. You too are loved. You too are precious.”
I hope if you are struggling or in a dark place you can pick up this book and find some hope.
Sometimes it seems like pain and suffering surrounds me. Pete & Rebekah, friends from the bombing, friends going through hard times. It’s all around. My good friend Lindsay has been training to run the Boston Marathon, inspired to run after we were injured one year ago. Last week she injured her leg and continued to run on it for 20 miles. She is now on crutches, in a boot, and can’t feel her toes. (she wanted to be just like me) She wrote a great post about this experience and I just re-blogged it, so make sure you read it. But as this was fresh on my mind, I decided to keep blogging thoughts from The Storyline Conference. The first line of session three says “What’s so good about suffering?” Isn’t that really the question…
In the end of Genesis we meet Joseph. He was the son of Jacob and Rachel. He was his father’s favorite and therefore despised by his brothers. They threw him in a pit, told their father he was dead and then sold him into slavery. While a slave, he was accused of raping his masters wife and thrown into jail. Then he was forgotten in jail and abandoned by his friends who promised to help get him out. Sounds like he suffered right?
Every great story has one thing in common. Because change can’t happen without conflict, great characters always redeem their challenges. Character change can’t happen without conflict. Joy is what you experience after pain changes you. Joseph never acted like a victim. Because of this, he was qualified to lead later on. If he had acted like a victim, the end of the story would be completely different. He wouldn’t have interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams. He wouldn’t have helped prepare Egypt for the famine. He wouldn’t have saved all of Egypt and his entire family, the people of Israel. Joseph had no idea about this. When his brothers threw him in a pit and left him to die he didn’t know what God was planning. I’m sure he never thought he was preparing to be the second most powerful man in Egypt. At the end of the story Joseph tells his brothers “Do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life…to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God…As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 45:5-8 & 50:20
Suffering well doesn’t mean being an optimist about suffering. Suffering is painful, it needs to be grieved. But God can turn your suffering into a blessing. Joseph suffered so he could save many lives. So in your suffering, in the pit you have been thrown into, how are you partnering with God to save many lives? Jesus sees your pain and He wants to do something beautiful with it. Just because you can’t see the end doesn’t mean he can’t. Suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaningful context. God can help you redeem your negative turns.
My amazing, inspiring, beautiful friend Lindsay who decided she wanted to be just like me and experience crutches, a boot, and nerve pain. ❤ Love you girl!
A few weeks ago, my pastor Michael shared a story from the book of Acts. In the story, Paul and Timothy are trying to decide where to head next on their missionary journey. They head north, only to be rejected and turned back around. They head east…no such luck. Eventually, God appears in Paul’s dream, telling him to go west. I want to question: “hey, God, couldn’t you have given them a heads up before they trekked hundreds of miles on donkeys (or whatever else they road) and spent months…
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Session 2 started out with Allison Vesterfelt asking us the question “What would you do if you could do anything?” Think about it for a while. Its a tough question. I don’t even really know how I would answer it myself. What would I do if I could do anything…
Dreaming is not selfish. In a story, great characters know what they want and they work to get it. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t be interested in their story. Who wants to read about people wandering aimlessly with no purpose or end in sight? Could the people closest to you identify what you want out of life and what you’re actually doing to get it? We were not designed to be static people, we were designed to move. If you’re life doesn’t have any direction, it doesn’t make sense. Going after what you want, even if you fail, is still better than doing nothing or being complacent. Comfort never creates good stories.
Jon Acuff shared with us that in order to have a meaningful story you don’t need a perfect vision. You don’t need to ask your adventures for details. If adventures came with details, they’d be errands. And sure, you will be afraid, but fear isn’t the same thing as regret. A life makes sense when the characters know what they want.
Donald Miller talked about God and His relationship with us. He said that God is not a controlling, dysfunctional Father. He looks at us and asks, “Hey, what can we do together?” There are times when we are waiting for God to do something and He is waiting for us to do something. When God has a specific plan, it is very, very clear. It is not vague. Sometimes he lets us decide what to do. If you’re going to start a new story, you have to say YES. Keep going through those open doors until one is closed. Keep saying yes until it’s a no.
1. Where God commands, we must obey.
2. Where there is no command, God gives us the wisdom, responsibility, and freedom to choose.
3. When we have chosen what is moral and wise, we must trust the sovereign God to work all the details together for good.
Don’t ignore your dreams! What would you do if you could do anything? What would happen if you said “yes” to something that scares you? What if you took that job, or wrote that book, or moved to that city? What adventure do you need to go on? It’s exciting isn’t it?
I am behind in blogging about my adventures! San Diego and The Storyline Conference was such a highlight of the year! (And its only March!) Visiting my friend Liza in San Francisco was a blast, and now I’m looking forward to Asheville and Peter’s wedding. I have been all over the place it seems. This crazy journey since the bombing has taken me to Kansas, NYC, San Diego, San Francisco, Boston (several times), Maine, Prince Edward Island, France, Asheville, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin… YIPES!
The Storyline conference was amazing. I loved every single moment of it. I met Bob Goff, Don Miller, and my favorite, Shauna Niequist! I learned so much. My notebook is full of notes. Full. I feel like I need to listen to all the sessions again to get my thoughts in order, but I will try to share my biggest takeaways from each session.
The first session was with Donald Miller, Randal Wallace (wrote screenplay for Braveheart), and Mike Foster (People of the Second Chance). All amazing people, all with amazing stories. They all touched on finding a deeper sense of meaning. The big question asked was “What will the world miss if I do not tell my story?” We are all designed to experience meaning. To live life to the fullest. In order to do this, some things you need are a project that serves others, intimate, safe relationships (shared experiences), and a redemptive perspective on suffering. Suffering isn’t going to go away. When you make it through one trial there will certainly be another, but suffering is only suffering when it ceases to have a context.
We learned about redeeming our negative turns. Turning suffering into something meaningful gives it a context and helps you to see past the pain and actually learn something and grow from it. This is always so hard for me to do. It is so hard to see past the suffering to see what God is doing. Sometimes it takes years to be able to look back and realize that the hard times you were going through were actually preparing you for whatever you are currently facing. But there is always something redemptive in our suffering. Sometimes it is learning a lesson, or growing, or being able to empathize with someone else. Recognizing the redemptive turns helps give meaning to our suffering.
So the big question is “What will the world miss if you do not tell your story?” What is your suffering teaching you, and how can you make it meaningful?
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Storyline is amazing. I’ve taken pages of notes, and I’m sure my blog posts over the next few weeks will be filled with the things I am learning. Today we heard from Donald Miller, Jon Acuff, Mike Foster, Randall Wallace (Braveheart), Allison Vesterfelt, and a concert with Ben Rector. What a day! Tomorrow is even more exciting!
So many things stood out to me, but tonight before I crash into the bed, I wanted to sit on the balcony in the cool salt air and write. Share at least one thing with you. One nugget.
Mike Foster said this: ” Hope comes from putting your beauty and brokenness together.” This jumped out to me because conflicting ideas keep popping up in my life. A few years ago I went through a really hard time and the thing that comforted me was Job 23:10 “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” (Job 23:10 ESV) and a song by Superchick, Beauty From Pain helped me to see that God can turn our negative turns into positive ones. That’s when I got the tattoo on my wrist that simply says beauty from pain.
Currently 2 Cor 12:9&10 is a verse that has been a huge comfort. In light of the bombing and all the pain that my family and so many others have been experiencing, I just love the promise these verses hold. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 ESV)
These opposing forces… Beauty from pain, strength in weakness, beauty and brokenness…