For the next three weeks, I want to invite you to go deeper into a few of the themes found in Made Well. This week we will talk about Abigail (1 Samuel 25) and consider what it means to be a person who doesn't waste time and shows up in the lives of others at a moments notice. I’m grateful for the many people who have jumped into my family’s story and given us life. Who have your ‘soul nurses’ been and how have they shaped your journey?
Have you been on the fence about pre-ordering a copy of my new book, Made Well? Wondering who the book is for, what it’s all about and if it even applies to your life right now?
If so, let me tell you who this book is for…
Made Well is for anyone on the life-long journey of being made whole—it is for all of us.
I tell a story in the book about meeting Jimmy-the-worm-farmer on a particularly horrible day. The prayers I prayed that day weren’t answered in the way I had hoped. But years later, what I remember most, is Jimmy and his unbridled joy for worm poop. I’ve never laughed as hard as I did that day in his tent, on the side of a Montana knoll, dodging a rainstorm with my hands shoved into his giant bag of worm poop. I laughed till I cried. It absolutely wasn't the miracle I prayed for—but it was a miracle all the same.
The truth is, no one prays for worm poop.
We pray for big, bold miracles. Happily-ever-afters. We pray for God to fix things and make the pain go away.
But sometimes the pain doesn’t go away overnight and the healing doesn’t happen the way we hope it will.
Sometimes the broken things remain broken and the miracle we pray for doesn’t come to pass.
Yet, I believe in the midst of life’s most painful realities, God is at work healing, restoring and making us well in completely unexpected ways. Showing up at just the right moment with worm-poop and other half-baked-miracles. In my life, healing has looked more like good friends and therapists; Zoloft and chicken spaghetti; watching my daughter dance around the living room; sunsets and concert tickets; and remembering that God made me well in the first place—I am his beloved.
Made Well is for anyone who needs to be reminded that healing happens all the time, even if a cure doesn’t.
This book is an invitation to pay attention to the small moments of grace at work around us.
It’s about healing for ordinary people in the midst of ordinary life.
It’s about being made well—here and now.
I hope you’ll join me on the journey.
Welcome to Fall! I love new seasons—especially this one. In two short weeks my new book Made Well: Finding Wholeness in the Everyday Sacred Moments releases in bookstores across the country and I will give birth to Lucy, the newest member of our family. Talk about a season full of new beginnings!
I want to take a few minutes and tell you about Made Well and encourage you to pre-order your copies today.
Pre-ordering an author’s book is the single-most effective way to support their work—and I need your support more than ever.
If that’s all it takes to convince you—great! Hop on over to amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com or christianbook.com and order your copies while they are still on sale for under $10! Your book will be shipped to you on or around release date, October 4th.
After ordering, make sure you head to madewellbook.com and let us know you’ve ordered the book so we can give you exclusive, pre-order freebies!
These fun perks include: video devotionals, wallpapers for your phone, alivefashionable.com discount code, invitation to a private, online book reading and mini-concert from my living room to yours, and your name entered into our Made Well Launch Week Give-Away competition (which includes a prize package valued at over $200!).
Made Well is for anyone who needs to be reminded that healing is happening all around us. Even if the cure doesn’t come or the miracle we pray for doesn’t happen in the way we think it will, there is still wholeness to be found on the roads we never thought we would travel.
In the beginning we were made well and in the end all will be made well. But what about now? Living in between the now and the not yet, with so much brokenness around us? I believe God is at work—overtime—redeeming and restoring in a million unexpected ways. Made Well is about living with our eyes open and experiencing the healing that happens in everyday, sacred moments.
This book is for anyone that has experienced pain, loss, heartache, mental illness or hopelessness. Anyone looking for restoration and redemption—longing to be reminded that God shows up time and time again in the most unexpected places.
I pray you will see yourself in these stories and find the freedom to laugh out loud, cry, stand in awe of God’s faithfulness and leave looking for ALL the ways God brings about healing in our hearts. May these words give you permission to walk the long, hard roads of being made well.
Thank you for walking with me in this new season. It is no small thing to our family that you have been listening to our music and reading my words for over 15 years now. What a gift.
PS– I am honored to share the farm’s front porch with Ann Voskamp today! You can check out an excerpt from Made Well at aholyexperience.com.
I originally wrote and posted this in August 2014, but it feels more applicable this morning than ever. I have changed some of the original details to reflect our current suffering...
Dear Heartbroken World,
Our hearts grieve the deaths of our beloved Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Dallas Police and DART Officers; the helpless and terrified Syrian people; the bloodshed in Baghdad, Bangladesh, Istanbul; the senseless death of those in our LGBTQ community trapped in Pulse Nightclub; the babies growing up practicing lock-down drills at home that they learn from school, showing us momma’s what to do if a man comes in with a gun—
the pain of our own broken pieces of earth.
Disease, divorce, depression.
Our hearts are grieved and we are weary.
It all seems a bit cruel right now, doesn’t it?
Roger Cohen for the New York Times once said, “Shed a tear, shed a thousand, it makes no difference.”
Although he did not write those words in the context I am applying them to, I can’t help but think they are the sentiment most easily adopted by anyone who has watched the news this week.
Shed a tear. Shed a thousand. It makes no difference.
It feels heavy. Out of control. Frantic, spoiled, hopeless, despairing and fatalistic.
In his brilliant book on the chronic depression of President Abraham Lincoln, Joshua Shenk says, “Hopelessness, in an extreme form, leads people to think that only one thing can break the cycle, and that is suicide.” He goes on to quote Edwin Shneidman, the creator of the field of suicide studies, “The single most dangerous word in all of suicidology, is the four-letter word only.”
Only one way out. Only one option left. Only going to get worse. Only way to find relief.
Shed a tear. Shed a thousand. It makes no difference…
Says the fatalistic heart who sees only death, destruction and heart-ache with no hope for beauty, redemption or joy.
But I say a tear matters. A thousand tears matter. And you and I? We are going to make it here in this beautiful, tragic world because our tears do make a difference.
Empathy matters. Our voices, raised in unison and whispered in prayer, matter. Our love for one another- the child on the border, the teenager walking the streets, the elderly in our nursing homes, the Yazidi cornered into a mountain, the driver in front of you, the person bagging your groceries, taking out your trash, the officers selflessly protecting our communities, our own babies, neighbors, spouses, friends, grandparents- our love, mercy, attention and kindness to each of these matters. Volunteering matters. I don’t care if you save a whale or a chicken! If you are reading to our children, cleaning up the side of the highway, teaching vocational skills in a prison or playing Bunko at the nursing home… it matters.
It matters that you and I show up. It matters that our tears of pain, anger, injustice and sadness pool together; that our empathy- our humanity- is not lost in the current tidal wave of destruction.
It has been said that without vision the people perish. I would say that without hope, the people perish.
A hopeless society is far more deadly than any war, atrocity or dictatorship. When the bleak, despairing voices of fatalism and defeatism threaten to overwhelm a society- bold advocates of resilient hope, faith, optimism and joy must fight all the more to be known.
Though we are hard pressed on every side, we are not broken. Though we are perplexed, we are not driven to despair. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen. (2 Corinthians 4:10)
And what of the life of Jesus?
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Jesus in us does not look like hopelessness, death, defeatism or fatalism. Jesus in us—even in our current collective suffering—looks like life. Abundant.
Joy in the sorrow. Hope in the broken spaces. Peace in the midst of chaos. Beauty overshadowing, prevailing, over every dark dirty day.
We are going to make it, you and I. We are going to do so with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. We are going to do so as bold bearers of hope. We are going to do so through our tears.
With a firm, holy indignation I refuse to believe that our showing up makes no difference in each others lives. Indeed, our willingness to show up for one another in big and small ways, is the balm that soothes broken hearts and makes pathways out of the chaos and confusion.
Shed a tear, shed a thousand? Yes, PLEASE.
Because the only commodity you and I can offer a hurting world is our tears. Tears shed by people who continue to SHOW UP with brave voices of HOPE in the midst of heartache.
Fight the good fight, friends. Don't give up. Now more than ever, it matters.
So I found myself texting this to one of my best friends the other day:
“I’ve been so embarrassed to ask for prayer because sometimes it feels like my life is just perpetual drama. With all the financial loss Ryan and I walked through after Addison Road stuff and then walking the road of losing Maggie and Ellen a few years later (my sister’s daughters who died at birth in October 2014) it just feels like it should be the end of the 'hard stuff.' That there shouldn’t be more and if there is, it’s somehow my fault.”
I told her “I have this little voice inside of me that tells me I’ve used up my allotment of sympathy and prayers; that life should henceforth be easy and painless and perfectly put together because I’ve maxed out my quota for pain and people are tired of hearing about it already."
(Never mind that I am tired of living it already.)
Against all the blaring sirens in my heart and soul telling me I was “too much” and “out of turns to ask for help” and I just needed to “be quiet, suck it up and handle it on my own”…
I told her...
“But I need prayers in this season because my heart is breaking in a new kind of way that I didn’t know was possible. Who knew there were more ways for it to break? And I cringe asking for prayers, because I wish more than anyone it was all put together already and I didn’t need them. But I do. So can you pray for me? Again?”
As I texted those words, God so tenderly seemed to respond in my soul, “Who put a limit on mercy, Jenny? Was it me? Did I say you were out of turns for compassion, grace and love? Who told you that you were a burden and that people were weary of walking alongside you?"
Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times should I forgive this brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus looks Peter in the eye and blows his mind. “I tell you not just seven, but seventy times seven.”
Jesus looked me in the eye and whispered the same thing over my heart this week.
Who am I to limit how many times I can be on the receiving end of mercy and grace and forgiveness and prayers? Should I receive the tender and fierce prayers of my community only seven times? Or seventy times seven?
God himself is reminding me: if forgiveness is not limited, neither is mercy.
Or prayers. Or grace. Or love. Or compassion.
Do I deserve it? Have I earned it? Do I need to re-pay it? Will I have to ask again? Am I a burden? This week I am practicing the art of silencing all these questions and leaning into the grace of friends who have not once shamed me and told me to “just be well already.” Friends who have stood beside me and not grown weary in their love and prayers.
And I am standing in awe of a God who keeps whispering “seventy times seven” over me.
Maybe you need to be reminded today that seventy times seven is for you too.
Maybe you need to offer more than seven shots at grace to someone in your life.
Maybe God needs to step into your shame and fear and “people are SO tired of hearing this story from me” thoughts and remind you that this whole Gospel thing? It’s about mercy...
and mercy and mercy and mercy and mercy… the unlimited, never-runs-dry, seventy times seven kind.