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Kristin Vanderlip

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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.

 

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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

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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

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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

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October 31, 2017

My Favorite Ways to Store God’s Word in My Heart

This is a follow up post to my previous post “How to Survive a Spiritual Winter.” (Click here to read that post first).

 

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” Deuteronomy 11:18

There’s no way around it, if we’re going to store God’s Word in our hearts and live with expectant hearts, hearts that expect to see God’s faithfulness to His Word in our lives, we have to learn and know what His Word says. Knowing it means we have to have read or heard God’s Word in such a way that it becomes intimately familiar with us.

I love the two definitions of the word “know” given in the Oxford dictionary. The first is “to be aware of through observation, inquiry, or information.” We come to know God’s Word by observing it around us, in church sermon’s, in our own Bibles and Bible studies, and so on. We seek to gain information about what His Word says, through both listening and reading and studying it. I also love the word inquiry here. When we seek to know God’s Word so that we can store it in our hearts, we need to first inquire God about what His Word says.

The second definition that the Oxford dictionary provides for the word “know” is “have developed a relationship with (someone) through meeting and spending time with them; be familiar or friendly with.” And I think this meaning applies to knowing God’s Word as well. Not only do we need to inquire about what God’s Word says, observe it, and gather information about it, but, perhaps more importantly, knowing God’s Word is about being in relationship with Him. It’s about meeting with Him, spending time alone with Him reading and studying His Word, and, as I’ve already mentioned, becoming intimately familiar with Him and His Word.

For many of us, when we talk about knowing God’s Word in order to store it in our hearts, we might often think that this means scripture memorization, and in some ways yes it does, but this post is not about rote memorization.  Read more