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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.

Ashleigh Slater is the author of the books Braving Sorrow Together: The Transformative Power of Faith and Community When Life is Hard and Team Us: The Unifying Power of Grace, Commitment, and Cooperation in Marriage. With over twenty years of writing experience and a master’s degree in communication, she loves to combine the power of a good story with practical application to encourage and inspire readers. Ashleigh lives in Atlanta with her husband, Ted, and four daughters.

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Mended: Week 1

by Ashleigh Slater time to read: 4 min