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Kristin Vanderlip

January 30, 2018

Lost in a Fog

The black line of the cursor blinks, keeping time against the blank white screen. My freshly polished nails rest on the smooth keys, in ready position waiting to tap their familiar beat. But my fingers don’t move. Nothing moves except the cursor I’m staring at. Hypnotized, I sit frozen on the outside. On the inside my soul begs for words to emerge, thoughts to form. But there’s nothing but a paralysis of sorts.

I can’t name it. I can’t see it. But my mind and heart feel heavy and oppressive with both the presence of too much (of what exactly I do not know other than to feebly describe as a sensation of millions of molecules darting around in a blurred, cramped chaos) and the presence of a fear induced stillness, like being lost and confused in a void of emptiness and loneliness.

I’m a paradox of being too full and empty at the same time.

I’m a paradox of too much inner movement and absolute outer stillness.

How do I start?

At first I think the question refers to the words I want to write, but it beckons me and takes me deeper. This isn’t about the words.

Questions multiply and breed spiderwebs of thoughts. They further complicate, confuse, and frustrate me. I’m stuck, but I struggle to escape and write.

I am not stranger to deep sorrow or walking through the valleys trials bring. There was a time years ago when I wrote through the wounds of brokenness and each word wrriten was like a healing stitch administered with skill and ease.

But in this season… it’s so different. In this season my heart gives birth to words and they are met by shards of glass, shredding and destroying them.

Friends gently remind me, “You don’t have to write about this season you’re in.” They are kind and speak wisdom. And they are right, but they don’t know that I can’t write around it. Somehow I have to find a way to write through it.

And yet, I’m still left asking, How? What do I write? How do I start? Read more

December 7, 2017

Braving Sorrow Together (A Book Review)

I am a member of Moody Publishers blogger review program in which I receive free copies of certain titles in exchange for my honest reviews. Below is my review of the book Braving Sorrow Together: The Transformative Power of Faith and Community When Life is Hard by Ashleigh Slater. As always, I promise to only share books and other products I think will be meaningful to my readers. 

Braving Sorrow Together by Ashleigh Slater is a short non-fiction book written for those who are grieving any type of loss in life (control, relationships, home, jobs, dreams, health, life) and for those who are walking along side of someone who is experiencing sorrow and loss.

The book weaves together the author’s commentary on her own personal losses throughout her life, how she walked through and braved them, along with the stories of others’ to demonstrate and encourage us of what braving the sorrow together sometimes looks like as well as references to various sorrows we see in the Bible and the lessons they offer us.

The greatest takeaway from Braving Sorrow Together will be realizing you’re not alone in your sorrow or loss as well as gaining some insights and tips for how it is possible to brave the sorrows of life — and learning that it’s better when we do it together.

The author does an excellent job of clearly organizing the book’s subject matter so that it is easy to read and gives each type of loss its own chapter. For me personally, I think this book would be best to have on hand as a resource when needed and to be read topically, rather than straight through. The straight through read for me became a touch overwhelming.

For instance, if your spouse is walking through job loss, I would recommend you read that chapter so you can be equipped for ways to brave the sorrow with him/her. If you’re experiencing the loss of a loved one, then I recommend you focus on that chapter and find encouragement that you’re not alone and how community can help carry your sorrow.

Ultimately this book is a good reference of encouragement for walking through loss, but it left me longing for more of the “why and how of community,” which was included as an appendix at the end. Based on the title and subtitle, I felt this would have been emphasized more throughout the book or perhaps included to as an introduction to begin the book.

I must say a thank you to the author, Ashleigh Slater, for touching on the different types of losses that result in sorrow in our lives and encouraging the rest of us to engage in community in the midst of grief. Thank you for opening up the fragile places of your own story and the losses you’ve experienced and demonstrating what bravery looks like.

“Because, just as there is nothing greater God can give us than Himself, there’s nothing greater we can give others than our willingness to brave their sorrow with them.



You can find this review and my rating on my Goodreads account here.

If you’re interested in receiving future book reviews and blog posts related to finding encouragement and hope in the midst of sorrows and struggles, make sure you become an email subscriber.


November 27, 2017

What I Learned This Fall

At the end of each season I’m linking up with Emily P. Freeman and other women as we reflect back and share what we learned in that season. It’s a wonderful practice that’s helped me reflect, process, and transition into the next season. As someone who is a self-proclaimed slow-processor and suffers from a forgetful mind/ spiritual amnesia, this has become such a blessing to me each season.

Read more

November 20, 2017

How to Cultivate Gratitude When It’s Hard

*This post is the second post in a 2 part series. 

Last week I shared in my post “Hindrances to Giving Thanks” some of why I struggle with giving thanks, even though I long to. If you haven’t read it yet, you can read it here before you continue on to read these words below.

I’ve learned that in whatever we struggle with, whatever hurts our hearts, there’s power and healing in lament, and there’s power and joy found in thanksgiving. 

Recently I took a poll in my Instastories and asked people if they’ve ever struggled to give thanks. 88% of people who responded, answered yes. The reality is that the majority of us struggle to give thanks. My guess is that if you’re reading these words, it’s more than likely you have this struggle too.

Maybe you aren’t sure why gratitude is hard for you but you just know it is, maybe after reading last week’s post you were enlightened to some of the driving forces behind your struggle, or maybe you’ve been living very aware of what hinders you when it comes to gratitude in your life, but you just don’t know what to do about it.

Here’s the thing, wherever you are in the struggle to give thanks, it’s crucial to understand that the moment you struggle to give thanks is the exact moment you need to intentionally seek it and practice it the most. You need to choose gratitude and keep on choosing it. Don’t give up in the struggle.

When you arrive at the place where you understand that gratitude is hard for you, yet you know the importance of it and the Bible’s commands regarding it, you’re probably left wondering, But how do I do this? How do I give thanks when I want to, but I’m struggling to and I just don’t know how to? Read more

November 14, 2017

Hindrances to Giving Thanks

*This is the first post in a two part series on struggling with giving thanks.

Have you ever struggled to give thanks? Have you ever longed to be thankful, yet gratitude doesn’t seem to be the natural attitude of your heart — or maybe perhaps given your current circumstances gratitude just quite frankly feels impossible? Well, you’re not alone.

If you were to come over for a cup of coffee this week, you would see a DIY brown, cardstock banner strung across my dining room window.

Give Thanks it says.

What you might not know, is that my heart needs this banner strung across it too. Maybe I’m hoping as I walk past these words daily that they will somehow impress themselves upon my heart.

Giving thanks does not come naturally to me.

I like to think I’m a grateful person. (Don’t we all?) But an honest examination of my heart would reveal my struggle to give thanks, and not just in the hard times, but on any given day. Read more