Heartbreak to Strength Blog

The Broken Way

My November Book Recommendation is Ann Voskamp’s new book, “The Broken Way: a daring path into the abundant life.”   I have read a lot of books this year and I have to say that this book is by far the best book that I have read all year!   Every chapter was literally speaking to my soul. It is a very deep and powerful book and in my opinion, a must read!! She writes in such a creative way and shares such profound truth!

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In her book, Ann becomes very vulnerable and shares her life story.   I have read a couple of her other books and I never knew how hard her childhood was. She shares in this book that at a young age, she witnessed her sister being run over and killed. Sadly, because of this, her mother ended up in and out of mental hospitals so she felt abandoned a lot of her childhood.   She shares that she use to cut herself to try to ease her pain. She had a very broken childhood- extremely heartbreaking. So in her book, when she talks about a place of brokenness or pain, she is sharing everything first hand.  As she is trying to make sense of this brokenness, she shares this, “maybe you can live a full and beautiful life in spite of the great and terrible moments that happen right inside of you. Actually- maybe you get to become more abundant because of those moments….Maybe the deepest wounds birth the deepest wisdom.”  Such great truth!

In her first book, “One thousand gifts”, Ann dares herself to find a thousand things to be thankful for. In this new book, there is a new dare. She says, “A dare to let all my brokenness be made into abundance. Break and give away. The broken way.”

Her book goes into lots of detail about how to live the broken way and I promise you it is life changing!!! Today, I want to focus on one of the main themes of her book: Giving! She says, “ This is how you live with your one broken heart: you give it away.” In one chapter, she talks about time and how the average person lives to be 70 years old which equals 25,550 days. She says, “You have only one decision every day: how will you use your time?” Will your time be used for only you and your family or will you use your time to bless others or help others in need? She continues to say, “Time isn’t something to grab, it’s something to give.” I love that fresh perspective on time.

In another chapter, she continues this theme of giving and says, “learning the art of living is learning the art of giving.” She takes the word GIFT and makes an acronym: Give It Forward Today. She says, “maybe the only abundant way forward is always to give forward.” She shares in the book about her 40th birthday and how Ann and her family went around town all day and GIFTed people. I loved this- during the day, they walked into a diner and paid for someone’s dinner, they went to the tennis courts and left a whole bunch of tennis balls, they went to the dollar store and left dollar bills in the aisles, they went to the local coffee shop and paid for the line of coffees behind them, they went to the library and left some of their favorite books, they put quarters in the bubble gum machines at the nearby Walmart, they bought groceries and dropped them off a food bank, they tucked parking fees in envelopes and left them on cars parked at the hospital….. the list keeps going on! What a great way to model giving to her kids! It totally inspired me! If we could just do one of these ideas, we could help our kids see the joy in giving love and kindness to others! Honestly, this book is phenomenal and will change your life.

Another chapter talks about a bucket list and how she was waiting at a doctor’s office and read an article about people and their bucket lists, things they want to do before they die. She said this, “What if instead of waiting for good enough things to happen to us, we could be the good thing to happen to someone else who’s waiting.” Again, it is all about giving! One more great quote from Ann, “The world is brokenhearted and full of suffering, and if you listen to what life needs instead of what you need from it, you could fill the brokenness with your own brokenhearted love- and this will in turn fill you.” Such amazing truth!

As I was thinking about this, I think sometimes we are okay with giving our time and our money but it is much harder for us to give our whole self, our brokenness, our struggles. It is easy to be real and share the good things in our life but much harder to share our insecurities, our failures, our broken places. But what I think to be true is that when we are vulnerable and share our brokenness that is where real community and connection begins. Ann says in her book, “It’s always the vulnerable heart that breaks broken hearts free.” I totally agree!

I challenge you to read this amazing book and let God grow you in ways you never knew! Ann says in her book, “Not one thing in your life is more important than figuring out how to live in the face of unspoken pain.” Sadly, we will experience some pain in our life; it could be the death of a loved one, the loss of a friendship or the pain in our childhood….. I know that pain is not easy but I do think there is a purpose in our pain. One last quote from Ann, “There is no growth without change, no change without surrender, no surrender without wounds- no abundance without breaking. Wounds are what break open the soul to plant the seeds of a deeper growth.”

Just like Ann, do you dare to take the broken way to abundance?

Here is my prayer for you:

God, I pray right now that you can use all of our pain to help us grow deeper and fully dependent on you. I pray you can use our brokenness to help others who are hurting. I pray you can use our whole self, the joy and the sorrows of our life and we can give it forward today. God, thank you for being close to the brokenhearted. We love you. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

 

 

Shaken

I heard of this book from one of my favorite authors, Lysa Terkeurst when she was promoting her new book “Uninvited” (My August book recommendation). She did a special facebook interview with Tim Tebow about his new book called “Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms.” I loved the premise of the book and decided to pre-order it on Amazon! It arrived in the mail just a couple days ago and I literally read it in 24 hours; it was that good!

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I highly recommend reading this book!   First of all, I love how Tim is honest and vulnerable as he shares about his many highs as well as his many lows in his life. Life many of us, he had hopes and dreams for his life but it did not turn out as he expected. He asks these questions in his book, “Who are you when everything is going great? Who are you when your world is shaken?” What defines you? What is your identity? Tim likes to say in his book, “identity comes not necessarily from who we are, but from whose we are.” The fact is that we will all experience storms and disappointments in our lives: our health may fail, we might lose a job, our marriage may crumble, our kids may make poor choices, a loved one may pass away, our dreams may not come true, and our world might get turned upside down. During those hard times, we need to ask ourselves if we are going to let those circumstances define who we are or not. Tim says, “When we are grounded in whose we are, not only can we handle the storms that come, but we can being to move forward in a more purposeful direction. We can begin to live a new way. We can impact others even when our circumstances look bleak. We can use our stories to help others in their own.” Now you can see why I love this book so much!!! God truly never wastes a hurt!

What is super cool about this book is that Tim not only takes us through his own story but he shares many other true life stories from people he met through his foundation or on a mission trip to the Philippines or through his football career. Honestly, each of the stories is powerful and will pull on your heart strings and perhaps even make you cry!! I think these stories inspire us to be better people! Many of this people will endure and face extremely tough circumstances that we will never fully understand, yet their attitude on life and joy despite these hard circumstances is amazing! Again, hearing these stories makes me want to strive to be a more grateful, loving, helpful person! I hope they do the same for you. Again, I wish I could share all the amazing stories and truths with you from this book but I will focus on one of them.

Tim shares the story about a sixteen year old named Garrett who is in need of a heart transplant. It would be his third one. Sadly, his left ventricle had stopped growing in utero and he had his first heart transplant at 12 weeks old.   The heart seemed to be doing okay but Garrett started to have complications in Kindergarten. Again, there were more problems as he got older and sadly, Garrett is back on the heart-transplant list. He waits almost 6 months and then they get news that they have a heart for him. His parents are excited at the news but super sad that someone else had to lose a life for him to get a new heart. About a year later after the transplant, Garrett meets the parents of the 18 year old girl named Amanda who died in a car accident. Amanda’s heart had saved Garrett’s life. When they met, her mom had brought a stethoscope with her so she could listen to her daughter’s heart! Honestly, just trying to type this story to share with you is bringing tears to my eyes. Can you imagine the pain and heartbreak? As a mom, I cannot imagine how hard this would be. Tim shares this in his book, “As she listened to her daughter’s heartbeat, with tears rolling down her face, she whispered in a broken voice the words. “I love you.” Later in an interview with the local media, the mom says, “There is no doubt in my mind that God intervened. This is tragic and awful and unspeakable, but it can at least still bring something miraculous from the tragedy.” Wow- this is a powerful story.

Tim shares this in his book, “Not every prayer is answered in the way that we want. Sometimes things happen for reasons we can’t explain, that don’t make sense, that seem unfair. If today you’re going through a tough time, know that it’s for a purpose.” In his book, he says that one of his favorite quotes is from his big sister Christy. In the midst of her struggles with health and the challenges of being a missionary overseas, she became convinced, “God will never waste pain that’s offered to Him.” Tim continues to say, “I love that, God never will waste your pain. He will never waste your heartache. He will never waste your loss.” I agree 100% with Tim and his sister! I truly believe that God never wastes our hurts and pains!  When we turn them over to him, we give God the opportunity to do something with it- “whether it’s to mold our character, teach us something important, grow us in some way, or make a difference in the lives of others.”

I wish I had time to share more with you. Here are a couple quick things: in his book, Tim talks about the importance of having others in your life to encourage you. He has a chapter on how to handle criticism and the voices of negativity.   There is a lot of truth in his book!   Tim even talks about how “when life throws us curve balls, it’s easy to allow doubt to creep in, no matter how strong of a Christian we think we are. Why me? Why now? Why?” He shares about Job in the Bible. As you may know, Job loses everything in one day: his finances, his home, his children, his health.   Basically, his world gets turned upside down. Tim says, “Job does not turn his back on God. He does, however, wrestle with doubt. He prays. He questions. Why God, Why?” We all want answers when something bad happens to us and our world is turned upside down and sadly sometimes we will not get answers until we get to heaven. Tim sums up how Job reacts like this: “Even though my world is shaken, and even though I will ask why? I am still going to trust You. I’m still going to put my hope in You.” Again, such great truth!

Tim ends his book with a chapter called “What matters most.” He talks about the dash, the line that separates a person’s birth from their death. “This tiny mark of punctuation represents what we stand for, what or whom we impact, and ultimately what legacy we leave behind.” He encourages us to think about our lives: are you living for yourself or are you making a difference in the lives of others? He says, “when we think about our dash, we can live with more passion. We can identify our priorities. We can be intentional in how we live. We can make a difference and do things that matter.” I want to live a life like that and I am sure you do it! Again, this comes back to our identity in Jesus! He ends with says, “When we know whose we are, we live differently. We are no longer the same. Our outlook changes. Our perspective shifts. We understand that some things we do on earth will last for eternity.”

My prayer for you and me is that we will remember we are daughters of the King! We are fearfully and wonderfully made. God has a special purpose and plan for our lives!   Sometimes our hurts and pains will become our greatest ministry if we trust them to God!   I hope someday that when people look back on your life, they can say, that you made your dash count. You invested in people, you helped others in need and you showed Jesus’ love in everything you did!   Tim calls this, “the ultimate legacy: a life of faith, believing the gospel and living in a way that exemplifies Jesus.”

God, I pray we can remember whose we are especially in the storms of life! I pray for all of my friends and loved ones that are in the middle of a storm right now. I know first hand how hard it is. I pray that they can cling to you, knowing you will never leave them nor forsake them! I pray that they feel your comfort and love!! I pray for all of us that we can be intentional and seek opportunities to help others in need! God, make our dash here on earth count! In Jesus name, Amen!

Love you all,

Jodi