Tag: Christ

Something for Everyone in I’M ABOUT TO GET UP

Once you pick up this book from Julie Hunt, skip right to chapter 25 and you’ll see why a review of it appears on my “No Fear This Year” blog. I’M ABOUT TO GET UP is a memoir about grief written from a Christian perspective, but it has nuggets of truth to help anyone who wrings their hands when faced with death.

You’re at the funeral, next in line. The family stands there, red-rimmed eyes glistening with tears, hugging each person in turn. What will you say?

I’ll confess that I avoided a number of funerals in my younger years just because I couldn’t imagine how I would interact with the grieving family.

Until I was the grieving family. And I heard those cliché phrases that meant nothing or experienced the deep comfort of a wordless hug.


about_to_get_up_coverThis book came to me before it released to the public. A publicist whose newsletter I follow invited me to be on the “launch team” for the book.

Since I’m intermittently writing my own grief memoir-ish book, I thought reading one would give me an idea how other approach the topic.

I’ll admit, it was difficult to read the book in December. Christmas has been a difficult time since 2009 when my grandmother graduated to Heaven a few days before the holiday.

Julie’s experiences are raw and real. She pulls you in to the Rainy Day with her and the grief she depicts resonates. It was too close to my own heart some days, so it took me a few weeks to get through the less-than-200-page book.

If you read nothing else, read the appendices. Here Julie lists all the things people want to know, the “where the rubber meets the road” practical things. Like what you can do for a grieving person, what NOT to say at the funeral (or any other time) and words that do offer help or hope.

In a world where people want to sweep the grieving process under the carpet, this book is just the dose of reality we need.

My Review

It was obvious from early in the book that Julie’s religious beliefs differed from mine. There were moments when my eyebrows scraped my scalp as I thought, “They did what?!”

Still, that’s not what this book is about. And Julie didn’t defend or expound on her specific spiritual ideals. Well, not the ones that had me gawping. The ones that had to do with facing grief head on? Yep, those she tackles.

Nothing can prepare you for the death of a loved one. I speak from experience at the bedside of a terminally ill mother. When they go, you grieve. A part of you shatters and needs time and care to be repurposed.

Julie goes chronologically through her own grieving process. This approach worked well, making the book read like a novel. If you like “based on actual events” reading, this book fits that bill.

Advice and encouragement for both those struck by grief and those attempting to minister to them is sprinkled throughout the prose. You won’t find sermonizing or patronizing in these pages.

In fact, the best part of the book is the practical, pro-active lists given in the epilogue and appendices.

I give four out of five stars to this book.

My Recommendation

This book is a must-read for every person in ministry. The glimpse inside a grieving heart will offer the best hands-on training a person could get without facing an actual death in the family.

Julie admits that she couldn’t read books when she was grieving, but I think this book is the sort that could be read to a grieving person. It is certainly an exceptional handbook for someone who fumbles with how to comfort others in the face of loss.

If you’ve been grieving a loss for a while and feel like the pain is still more raw than it should be, pick up this book. I promise you’ll see yourself reflected from a page or chapter, and you’ll be able to take the next step toward healing.

Thank you, Julie Hunt, for being real with all of us. Your journey will empower others so they can get up and get back to living.

What books helped you deal with grief and loss on a practical level?

Commercialism: Christmas and Beyond

Image courtesy of 123rf.com

Two weeks before Halloween, I walk into the local WalMart to purchase some mums. Through the sliding doors and into a time warp.

Five artificial trees decked in lights sparkled to my left. Ahead, rows of wrapping paper, greeting cards and ornaments announced the Christmas season. Uh, what was I looking for again? Suddenly, I’m overtaken by disorientation.

It used to happen on November 1st. Halloween candy and costumes at discounted prices sat beside all the Yuletide trappings. In my mind, even that was too early.

What about Thanksgiving? This is my favorite holiday. This preference has only a little to do with the fact that I love stuffing. And nothing at all to do with college football games (just another form of commercialization, I say).

In American society, every little event is a reason for marketers to put up a promotional display.  Lose a tooth? Here are some envelopes signed by the tooth fairy.

This lambasting from marketers doesn’t just happen inside retail outlets either. Vendor carts at home shows try to sell everything from central vacuum systems to yard maintenance services. In the mall, walking down the expansive thoroughfares reminds me of going to the carnival.

“Care to get your hearing checked?” “Ma’am, one moment and I can show you how to look ten years younger.” (Does he really think I’m going to listen to him after he just called me OLD???)

You’ve been there. You know what I mean. Even your child’s Saturday soccer game is subject to people peddling shirts, snacks and soda. Can’t we just watch our kid without someone trying to extort a dollar?

Commercialization minimizes the significance of events. Maybe you disagree, but it only took one bridal convention to convince me. I didn’t want people hawking their photo services or cake flavors. Weddings are once-in-a-lifetime events and should be treated with respect and awe.

Courtesy of embedded-lab.com

When they replaced “Christ” with an “x” everywhere to make advertising easier, my temperature spiked. Then they told me saying “Merry Christmas” was politically incorrect. Offensive even.

The fact that I’m offended when Santa and snowmen are made into ten-foot-tall yard ornaments, while locating a lighted nativity set is like searching for a needle in the haystack? Whatever. My problem, not theirs.

Once all this hype begins, I tend to stay away from retailers and watch even less television until after January 1st. All these advertisements and extra emphasis on shopping drains the significance of this holiday for me. You know, the religious aspect.

I’m not trying to push my idea about focusing on family and faith during December on anyone else. It sure would be nice if I received the same sort of consideration from those who want to push shopping and Santa and reindeer to the forefront of my mind.

Turkey and stuffing are great, but Thanksgiving is about sitting around the table with people I love and sharing our blessings. My favorite Christmas tradition centers on reading Luke 2 by the light of the Christmas tree on Christmas morning.

I don’t want to think about Black Friday or post-holiday returns. Come January, I don’t want a credit card bill that makes me consider a second mortgage.

What is the sign of commercialism that bugs you the most? Maybe you disagree with me. I’d love to have a conversation about it.

Love Makes the World Go ‘Round

Image credit: flickr.com

With Valentines floating in the stores and hearts abounding, it seemed an apropos time to touch on the essential Christian topic of love.

Jesus loves everyone in the world and he has left us this ministry of love. In fact, if anyone will be born into Christ’s Kingdom, they must see this love. Since Jesus isn’t here in body anymore, those who claim His name must reach the world by loving them with a Christ-like love.

  • We are commanded to love

John 15: 12 – “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” Jesus spoke these words just hours before going to Calvary to prove His love by laying down his life for us. I can’t remember the last time I died for someone, but I’m pretty sure it must be easier to love others while I’m alive.

  • Love shows our true heart

John 13:35 – “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Jesus made it clear that if we want people to know we follow him, we must love other followers of him. Let’s face it, nothing turns people off “church” faster than people who criticize and condemn others. Love is the best testimony we have.

  • Love is more than a feeling

Read the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians if you want a clearer picture of what love really is. “Charity never faileth” Paul writes in verse eight of that chapter. Feelings fail us, but true love never fails. This fact alone is proof that love is more than a feeling.

  • Love involves sacrifice

John 15:13 – “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” This is the example Jesus set before us. I know of very few people who have been asked to die for another person. How many times have I given up my own desires to help another person? This sort of sacrificial giving is a small demonstration of the love Christ modeled for us on Calvary.

This Valentine’s Day show someone you love them. Share the gospel with them. What better gift could there be than the love of God poured directly into their heart?