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Mended: Week 1

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Hi Friends. Ashleigh here.

Welcome to Week 1 of our fall book club. I’m excited to dive into our selection, Mended: Pieces of a Life Made Whole, with you.

But first, let’s review the ground rules:

  • If you must “blurk,” feel free to. But we’d much rather have you as an active participant. It’s just more fun that way.
  • We’d love for you to have a copy of the book, but if you don’t, that’s OK. You’re welcome to read the posts and respond to the questions. Many of the chapters in this book were originally posts on Angie Smith’s blog, so you may already be familiar with them in some form.
  • Stay on topic. We want to hear personal anecdotes, but be sure they don’t distract from the main points of the discussion.
  • It’s OK to disagree with or challenge another member, but do so respectfully. The overall environment of our book club should be one of encouragement. One way to do this is with the “feedback sandwich” — layer praise, then critique, then praise.

OK, let’s start by introducing ourselves.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m the editor of Ungrind. I’m a thirty-something wife and mother of five — one of whom is what the CCM group Watermark sweetly coined a “glory baby.” After bouncing around a bit the last couple years — from Colorado Springs to the suburbs of the Windy City to the Show Me State — our family has settled outside of Hotlanta. We’re enjoying the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains and I personally love the fact that I probably won’t see much snow this winter; I never properly learned how to drive in it. My Michigan Man and Colorado-born daughters don’t share my enthusiasm.

I love to read. I’m currently hooked on Suzanne Collins The Underland Chronicles and actually found myself dreaming about rats last night. Yeah, that’s weird; I know. I also enjoy classic movies, and by “classic” I don’t mean Star Wars, although I do get a kick out of watching the original triology with my kids. What I do mean is films from that ever-so-Golden Age of Hollywood. You know, the one where Cary Grant wore a suit 24/7.

Your turn. Tell us about you — as little or as much as you’d like.

Now that we’ve met, it’s time to turn our attention to Mended. This week our “assigned reading” — wow, I feel like I’m back in school — was “Introducing Mended,” “The Past and the Pitcher,” and “Your Road to Emmaus.” Since there is a lot of material here, what’d I like each of us to do is share what stood out to us the most. When you closed the book, which of Angie’s words lingered? Maybe these words made you think deep thoughts, or perhaps they caused you to experience joy. Or maybe like me, you found yourself in tears more often than you liked; not bitter tears, but tears that flow from a heart overwhelmed by the goodness and grace of God.

I’ll go first.

The pitcher on the cover of the book looks a lot like the only pitcher I own. And it wasn’t cheap. So I admit that as I read “The Past and the Pitcher,” I didn’t even consider breaking it. One, because as I said, it wasn’t cheap. And two, I don’t fancy messes. I’m the mom who always finds an excuse for my kids not to paint.

But even though I didn’t literally break a pitcher as Angie encourages, I’ve had “pitcher moments.” Perhaps the most difficult and healing of these was the first baby quilt I made after losing our baby Noah to a miscarriage at 10-weeks gestation.

The quilt was for a friend whose daughter was due two months before Noah would have been. I made it a month after our loss. It took me three long days.

The first day was gut-wrenching. Honestly, I didn’t know if I’d ever actually piece together the squares I cut. It was just too hard. Too personal. But I made it to the second day. My heart still ached, but toward the end of that second day, I began to realize how healing the process was. Not in a warm, comforting kind of way, but in a man-this-wound-sure-is-sore-but-I-know-this-process-is-necessary kind of way. By the third day, I’d spent hours mentally and emotionally wrestling with God. At the end of it, I wrote this on my personal blog:

For me, grief can be likened to this baby quilt I spent the last three days making for a friend and the little girl she’s expecting this summer. Note all the different pieces of fabric that go into the whole. There’s polka dots, stripes, a delicate floral pattern, a print of children playing. Grief is also composed of many “pieces” — although the patterns that make up bereavement aren’t all attractive, as they are in a quilt. In the quilt of grief, the pretty (God’s comfort and closeness, the love of friends and family, the hope of heaven) and the not-so-pretty (sorrow, fear, anxiety, depression, anger, panic attacks) intermingle. I’m reminded though, as I struggle with the ugly aspects, that God is the master quilter of my life and my family’s lives. He’s working to craft all of these pieces of bereavement — the pretty and the not-so-pretty — into what I hope one day becomes a beautiful quilt.”

Like He did for Angie, God used the process of me piecing something together to whisper words of hope, healing, and truth to my heart.

Goodness, my eyes are tearing up again. Which means, while I grab a Kleenex, it’s your turn. Share what stayed with you from these chapters — and please, someone include something that makes us all laugh.

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Ashleigh Slater is the author of Team Us: Marriage Together and the editor of Ungrind. As a regular contributor at several blogs and websites, she loves to unite the power of a good story with biblical truth and practical application to encourage others. She has 20 years of writing experience and a master’s degree in communication. Ashleigh lives in Atlanta with her husband Ted and four daughters. You can follow her on Instagram here.

6 Comments
  • Hi Ashleigh & Fellow Book Club Ungrinder’s!

    I’m actually a fifty-something mom of 2 and wife to my husband and best friend of 32 years. Of course – the making of a best friend has been a work in progress and well worth the journey. We live in NE Tennessee and love waking up to the the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains with each new day.

    At any given time I have at least 3 books with covers turned back. A habit I try to break, but they call me to peek inside and then it’s all over. I love when they call me back to the shelf after years of lessons learned only to find the lesson was more than just for me – but to share with others.

    I would say my life mission is to Live On Purpose & Pass It On. I love deeply and learn along the way that I’m not a going to be a finished work on the Potters wheel until I am face to face with Him. The older I get, the more I am leaning into the place of being okay with it…leaning…not quite there…but leaning.

    The book spoke to me from the first moment I looked at the cover. In my ministry the ‘pitcher’ is a part of my logo and symbolism of my hearts cry to pour into others what Christ Himself has poured into us. To invest in the generations that come after us with the HOPE Christ has given us.

    The broken pitcher on the front cover is a reminder to me of my brokenness. A reminder of the place where God found me, pursued me and lavished me His love and grace. And a reminder that He could use every part of my life – not just the pretty shiny parts. That He does not leave one piece unredeemed.

    I was drawn to the front porch with Angie to risk letting the pieces fall as they may, and then trust Him. I’m invited to talk with Him while my fingers work and He stays near me. I needed a reminder that He uses the broken parts of me. Too often I try to clean it all up before anyone sees, all the while hoping and praying I can just BE and let others see the cracks between and how God Himself is pouring through them.

    These chapters are a reminder to me to listen to the still small voice of my Father who speaks in the everyday moments just as He speaks in the O God I need you now desperate times.

    Excited to be joining you ladies for this journey, turning the pages of Mended together.

    Thx for letting a fifty-something jump in the midst of your book club :-).

    HIS
    karen

    • Karen, I’m so excited you are part of this book club!

      I love how you wrote:

      I needed a reminder that He uses the broken parts of me. Too often I try to clean it all up before anyone sees, all the while hoping and praying I can just BE and let others see the cracks between and how God Himself is pouring through them.

      I loved this reminder too. In the last couple years, I’ve come to see more and more that it’s often those broken parts of myself that draw others too me — more often then the places it appears I have it all together (honestly, I don’t think there’s any area I actually have it all together even if it may appear so). I can’t help but think back to your article from a few years back, “The Transparent Me.” This line from it has stuck with me:

      Authenticity invites authenticity.

      I can see how Angie’s words in this book are hopefully going to inspire this even more!

  • Hi ladies! Sorry I’m a little late to the party, but I am excited about discussing this book with you.

    I’m a thirty-something stay-at-home/first year homeschooling mama to a 2, 3 and 4 year old, and also a precious glory baby (LOVE this phrase, Ashleigh!), Elizabeth Grace, whom we were privileged to hold in our arms for two days back in February.

    I was born and raised in South Florida, and my husband and I moved to Georgia when I was half way through my pregnancy with our first, five years ago. We left our wonderful church, friends and (none to happy) families in a move of faith. Not the easiest thing we’ve ever done, but we are so thankful for the Lord’s leading and for the way He has blessed us here.

    I also love to read (this must be a requirement for book clubs! ;) stay up way too late and drink at least 2 cups of coffee every morning with hazelnut creamer. Hmmm, might these all be connected? :)

    I read Angie’s first book, “I Will Carry You” while I was pregnant with Elizabeth and subsequently have a deep appreciation for her vulnerable, transparent writing. I had no idea of her past until I read the first chapter of Mended, and now I love her even more.

    I can very much identify with a less than pristine past and the brokenness and shame that it brings. Her words, “I wished I had always loved him, always obeyed him, always sought after Him the way I should” are my words too. The Lord has graciously been teaching me about how He redeems my past, and uses it for His glory. “He loves the gaps because there is more potential for more of Himself to be revealed in you.” This resonates with me and I am thankful.

    I am seriously considering the “break some pottery ” assignment. I am a kinesthetic learner and think it may be healing for me. Will let you ladies know if I do! I also love the five points of advice that she gives at the end of “Your Road to Emmaus.” Simple, practical, profound.

    Will catch up on the week two chapters ASAP. :)

    • Leah, YES! Let us know if you do complete the “break some pottery” assignment.

      I didn’t know the details of Angie’s past either until reading this book. I grew up in a Christian home and was raised to follow Jesus from a young age, so I couldn’t relate, but I love hearing stories like Angie’s and yours. Sometimes I wonder if those who have been “saved from much” appreciate God’s grace at a deeper level than those of us who have always been taught of it. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it’s definitely something I think about at times. Anyway, I love how you wrote that “the Lord has graciously been teaching me about how He redeems my past, and uses it for His glory.” During our one ladies night, you just radiated His joy!

  • Ashleigh and Leah,
    I wanted to tell you both I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful glory baby. I cannot imagine what each of you faced.
    Ashleigh,
    How In the world dis you finish the quilt for your friend? God had to have walked you through preparing the gift he had for them. Thank you so much for sharing The quilt story with us. I look forward to connecting with you as we turn the pages together.
    His
    karen

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

As you read, we hope you consider us friends, the kind you feel comfortable sitting across the table with at the local coffee shop. You can read more about me HERE and our team of writers HERE.

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Mended: Week 1

by Ashleigh Slater time to read: 4 min
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