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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About

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.


  • 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

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Mended: Week 1

by Ashleigh Slater time to read: 4 min
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