Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Just Show Up

Just Show Up: The Dance of Walking Through Suffering Together, by Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn
Publisher: David C. Cook
Publication date: October 1, 2015
Category: Biographies & Memoir, Christian
Source: I received this galley from the publisher via NetGalley in consideration of review.

Where to start? The publication of Just Show Up comes just six months after the passing of co-author Kara Tippetts. Tippetts published a book about her journey with aggressive cancer in October 2014, which I read and reviewed here in May. The book was about much more than cancer and I was awed by her faith. This connection did further my interest in Just Show Up, but not as much as the title itself. Much like Nike's "Just Do It" campaign, this book makes its topic a statement, rather than a question or consideration. The connection is that I find myself in a position in life right now to be of help to others, specifically in ways that I needed help in the past, but didn't always have it. I've learned it's not always easy helping others or being a volunteer and it's not always obvious how to be of good help. That's where this book comes in.

I gained two valuable insights from this book about helping others. The first is how the helping affects the person showing up. It's important to keep in mind that "showing up for another, extending yourself for another is always costly." It may be a sacrifice of comfort, time, money, and even your own emotions. Buteyn states simply that "showing up can get us hurt in the biggest way," whether it's that you are hurt by others in the process or the fact that the person you're helping is hurting and you feel his/her pain. 

So why bother? Buteyn says it best: "Friends. Community. It is the only way to know and be known. It’s where we see our own humanity and frailty, our gifts and our weaknesses. But when we show up for one another we invade each other in love, and become witnesses to the truth that trials and sickness and pain are not the whole story. There’s more, so much more. We can remind one another that our lives are not a mistake. And most importantly, that we are loved with an everlasting love." That's pretty powerful, but it's not easy. I can attest to the roller coaster emotions of being involved in the lives of those you care for. It helps to remember that the hardest things are usually the most worthwhile. And people are always worthwhile.

So, if you're ready to accept the difficulties of helping, the next thing to consider is, is the help you're offering actually helpful? The worst case is that you're causing stress or even a little more work for those you are trying to relieve of a burden. Here are a few aspects I found most valuable about helping people:

1. "So many people offer to help. They say, let me know if you need anything, but that offer is easily dismissed because it’s too broad." Making a noncommittal comment puts stress on our friends in need by handing the decision over to them and asking them to get back to us. (Although there are times where the person in need must reach out first.)

2. "If we go and serve not expecting to see them, even telling the family we’re not asking for their time, that is another gift we can give. Drop the meal off, do the laundry, or pick up the kids without expectations. People are going to welcome you when you want to serve because you aren’t making it about you." This can be difficult because you naturally want to interact with the people you love enough to serve; but, depending on the situation, it's not always feasible. So, if serving them in love as they need is truly your motivation, then this is a good point to keep in mind.

3. Kind of tied to number two, but possibly it's own thing at times, is the idea of "loving your person by releasing expectations that would remain with a normal friendship." Situations, especially where there's suffering, "can steal friendship moments from us—ones we really want to keep having. We crave those same conversations we used to have and the time we used to spend together." Depending on the situation, the typical aspects of your friendship may change and it's only fair to accept the changes because most situations that go this far are out of our hands, as well as theirs.

4. Don't offer platitudes, especially in suffering. And if details aren't offered, do not seek or press for them. "Our desire to fix things can often get in the way of our silent, listening support." Usually listening alone is what a person needs most. No need to fill it in with our own words when we don't know what to say. (I know trying to fill a silence is a habit I need to break.)

That's a whole lot of good information right there, but it's not done. The end of this book is invaluable as well. Remember that piece at the beginning warning us of the difficulties in helping someone? Buteyn revisits that topic, explaining to the reader exactly what a helper might feel (she speaks to hurt, jealousy, and insecurity), what the truth is, and how to fight those feelings. It is an extremely important section to the book.

It seems I've told so much of this book, yet there is much more. Not to mention, the details and examples missing from the points I briefly made. If you find yourself in a position of helper to friends and family in hard situations, this book is exactly what you need. Rereading the notes I made during my first reading was amazing in itself!

Any other good advice you've heard about helping others?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Going to be a Mommy...

No books today, but a really funny FB stunt to discuss. Actually, if you are reading this from my FB link, you're either a regular reader of my blog or you fell for it! Lol! Fell for what? Well, I liked one of those statuses that gets you in trouble on FB last week. You know, your friend says she won $900 on a lotto scratch ticket and of course you'll like it, except it was a joke and by liking or commenting, you then have to post a possibly embarrassing status without explanation.

I waited at first, knowing that the status choice stating "I'm a mommy again" would get a crazed mess of response from my FB crowd - so haha if you clicked my link based on this title. My kids are 16, 14, and 10 years old and EVERYONE knows that despite how much I love babies and toddlers, I am so happy to have independent children and have NO desire to start anew. And then I thought I waited too long for the whole joke and wasn't going to post anything. But within a few days, I did become a new mommy of sorts! 

On Monday, a co-worker told me about a puppy his family recently brought home. Not just any puppy, but a dachshund! (Ummm, if you don't know my love of dachshunds, you don't know me! My six-year-old mini dachshund Samoa is THE BABY in our house.) He said the tiny puppy wasn't doing well with the bigger dog they have and he was hoping to find a new home for the puppy. Completely understandable. So, thinking it was a small chance, I sent off a text and picture to my hubby, who wants a "big" dog one day, but is stuck with a wife who adores ankle biters.

Turns out my husband's a sucker for a cute face too. To make sure, I listed all of the possible reasons we might not want a third dog, and yet he said why not? So arrangements were made and the very next day, yesterday that is, we "became parents again." (Yep, with my kids growing up I've purposely adopted small dogs who will stay baby size and cuddly forever! I'm sure there's a Freud field day going on in my subconscious somewhere.) 

We picked him up and returned home nonchalantly, telling our kids we had some news. Cause, yea, joke's on them too. They are always wanting us to have a fourth kid, but from the sounds of it, it would be more like their little pet! So, when my husband walked in with the puppy after my "announcement" and the implied "news" shifted in their heads, they were just as thrilled. And so they should be. The puppy is a beautiful silver dapple miniature dachshund. 

And the kids want to name him now. I'm thinking favorite characters, of course, like Atticus, Gatsby, or Fraser (as in Jamie Fraser!). My family is thinking anything else! My husband said Bronco (he's a Denver fan), but then decided he wants to save that name for his future big dog. One friend, BC, who was with me when my husband came with the puppy to pick me up last night, said we should name him Dapple, since that's the name for the pattern of his coat. So far, it is sticking. 

Anyway, thanks for reading and sharing in our excitement. I'm sure I will have more fun dog stories to share in the near future, since the puppy loves to jump on our ten-year-old pug fox terrier and poor Samoa runs at the sight of him! 

Isn't he adorable?!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

Randomly thought of a topic I haven't googled quotes on recently - hope. Something we all need and can't afford to forget. Emily Dickinson put it quite elegantly saying, "'Hope' is the thing with feathers - / That perches in the soul - / And sings the tune without the words - / And never stops - at all - ." It is probably my favorite quote on hope, but looking through a few others, I found some I'd like to share.

I think life would be easier for people
if they realized this.

Regret has a way of sneaking up on you even
when you think something is too far past
for it to be a memory, let alone a problem.

I like this one a lot. Words that stand
for their meaning in some way are the best!

Last, but not least, my phone's 
ringtone has been the song "Hope Now," 
by Addison Road, for quite awhile. Enjoy.

Well, hope you have a hopeful week readers! 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Our Endless Numbered Days

Source: Amazon.com
I recently had the privilege of hosting author Claire Fuller on My Life in Books for the second annual #30Authors event. Her book, Our Endless Numbered Days, was coming up on my TBR list, so I jumped it ahead when I heard she was the author I'd be hosting.

Amazon has a succinct summary, so why reinvent the wheel? 
"In 1970s London, eight-year-old Peggy Hillcoat lives somewhat contentedly with her survivalist father and her concert pianist mother. When her mother goes on tour, her father abruptly kidnaps Peggy, taking her to a German forest. He claims that the world has ended and that her mother, along with every other human on Earth, has died. She resigns herself to a life in the cold, remote woods with her mentally unstable father, little food, and no medical care, not resurfacing until 1985."

The story is told by 17-year-old Peggy, going between present day as she reacclimates to life in 1985 and flashbacks of her life in the woods with her father. The piecing together of the story definitely holds the reader in suspense, always wondering what Peggy will endure next? However, it's the ending that makes you double take, doubting yourself and reexamining what you thought was and what could actually be. 

And that's all you're getting! Go read!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

Been thinking about journeys an awful lot lately. How life is a journey, but it's a journey made from a string of journeys. The journey can be hard at times. It demands courage despite fear. It demands steps of faith despite weakness. It gives even as it takes. The greatest boon is often found in the dark and scary places you overcome. And in the end, we are not the same person as when we started.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

#30Authors Presents Claire Fuller

We are ten days into one of the biggest book blogging events of the year - #30Authors! #30Authors is an annual event connecting readers, authors, and bloggers. Throughout the month of September, 30 authors review their favorite books on 30 blogs in 30 days. The event has been met with incredible support from and success within the literary community. In the six months following the event’s inaugural launch, the concept was published as an anthology by Velvet Morning Press (Legacy: An Anthology). Started by The Book Wheel, #30Authors remains active throughout the year and you can join in the fun by following along on Twitter at @30Authors, using the hashtag, #30Authors, or purchasing the anthology. To learn more about the event, please click here.

Hello there Readers! It's probably a given to most of us that authors are rock stars. They make our dreams come true in many ways. But who is your rock star if you ARE an author? #30Authors helps answer that question and today we have a glimpse into rock star author Claire Fuller's opinion of The Casualties, by Nick Holdstock. I am extremely excited to host Claire Fuller's review today. Her book, Our Endless Numbered Days, received rave reviews on all fronts and I highly recommend it! Without further ado, here's Claire:

How many of us know the people who live on our street well enough to describe all their quirks and idiosyncrasies? Not many, I’d guess. But perhaps it might be worth getting to understand them a little better.

Sam Clark is curious about his neighbours, he wants to find out everything about the eccentric people who live and work on Comely Bank, a street in Edinburgh in 2016/2017: the man who lives under a bridge and gives unhelpful health advice; the girl with bad skin who falls in love with Sam; the nymphomaniac who looks after an obese man with learning difficulties and many more. The novel is told by a narrator living sixty years in the future after half the world has been destroyed, and the post-apocalyptic sections, although much shorter than the parts set on Comely Bank, provide an interesting reflection on how we identify and describe people today. The narrator says that in the future people’s lives and actions won’t be explained by their histories – where they lived, what they did, who their parents were – but individuals will be taken at face value. And the fact that the reader knows that many or possibly all of these characters won’t survive adds pathos to each personal history.

Holdstock drip-feeds information about the disaster in a way that teases and intrigues, until the end of the book, when time and characters literally collide.

Like the novels of Richard Brautigan and Haruki Murakami, The Casualties is full of magic realism and black comedy, and to enjoy it completely you have to give yourself up to its strangeness. You have to accept, just like the narrator does, that there is nothing odd about people walking backwards, that it’s normal for a couple to stroll with their wrists tied together by string, or to come across a book called, ‘When Big Dogs are Small’. It took me a chapter or two to stop questioning the reality of the story, but once I accepted the odd and wonderful world that Holdstock has created, I loved it. 

Highly recommended.

Author Bio Claire Fuller’s debut novel, Our Endless Numbered Days has recently been published in the UK, US, Canada and France and will be published in a further five countries. It is the 2015 winner of the Desmond Elliott prize for debut fiction and has been nominated for the Edinburgh First Book Award. Claire lives in Winchester, England with her husband and children. 

You can purchase her book from:  Amazon (US)  Powells (US)  Amazon (UK)

Did Claire convince you to read The Casualties, by Nick Holdstock? You can find Nick and his book on the following sites: Amazon Goodreads Author Site

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

I didn't forget Sunday Sentence, just delayed! For the past three weeks, there hasn't been much up on the blog, but that's changing this week. Besides a couple book reviews, we have author Claire Fuller posting a review later this week, and hopefully Student Spotlights starting up again.

As a side note, blog self hosting is on hold for now. My car needed repairs and apparently so does my dog, so....yea, broke the bank.

And, finally, two Tyler Knott Gregson poems I came across this week. The man is seriously talented. I read his poetry and either can relate to it now or would have sometime in the past. I wish I could write feelings so clearly and beautifully!