Letters to GriefToday marks one year since the e-book, Letters to Grief, was published.

If you don’t have a copy yet, you can grab one here for just $0.99. It’s a super short read — only twenty pages.

If you’ve read the book, would you consider leaving a review on Amazon by clicking here?

To celebrate the one-year anniversary, we’re having a special edition link-up.

You’re invited to write your own letter to grief and share it with us right here.

You could either type your letter into the comments section of this post, or publish it on your own blog and share the direct post to the Inlinkz link-up below.

For sample letters from a similar link-up last year, click here.

Thank you in advance for sharing! We look forward to reading your words.

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Here’s an excerpt from the book:

Dear Grief,

You are water.

You rain down in rhythmic drops, a constant tapping on the tin roof of my empty heart, and you refuse to be ignored. You’re a leaking faucet, a steady drip into an open wound.

Yet I need you to water my soul. To make me grow. To survive. You stretch me and draw me tall toward the sun; without you I would shrivel up and wither away.

Letters to Grief
Image by Katie Reid, katiemreid.com, Twitter: @Katie_M_Reid

Even in stages of evaporation, you don’t disappear entirely, but wait to be stored up in the clouds until a storm is ready to thunder and pelt you down in stinging drops. Sometimes you’re a pounding downpour, and I want to run from you — to escape to dry shelter and not be touched by you. Other times you’re the gentle patter that lulls me to sleep at night, soothing and almost unnoticed.

At times you stand still, a puddle at my feet — not threatening, but leaving me soggy and uncomfortable.

You’re the morning dew, sparkling in the dawn of a new day, the residue of last night’s tears.

Like the ocean, you pull in strong currents, and your depths are unknown. You come in waves, rising with lofty swells that crash down incessantly. I ride in your crest until you break and I wash onto the shore, empty and defeated.

In winter you form stoic icebergs that line the shore, masses of frozen mounds that keep well-intentioned visitors at bay, too fearful to set foot on your unpredictable foundation.

You’re a powerful waterfall, charging over the precipice and crashing loud into the abyss, leaving a cold mist to rise up in a foggy haze. The melted mountain snow run-off, trickling down the rivulets of rock, causing others to stop and look. You’re a flowing river, free to run its course in unchartered territory not designed by me.

I’m carried along by you, and I am undone.

But as your Master fixed limits for the sea which He created and “set its doors and bars in place,” so He limits you.⁠ As He says to the waters He formed, so it is with you: “This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt.”⁠

As much as you threaten to flood and drown, you will not overcome. For there is One who gives living water — “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”⁠ And you, Grief, will dry up and be gone forevermore.

***

The holidays can be a particularly vulnerable time for people who are well acquainted with grief.

Do you know someone whose heart may be aching this season? Consider gifting them with a copy of this book.

Thanks for joining us today! Looking forward to reading your letters!

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I realise this post has the potential to spark a measure of controversy, though that’s certainly not my intention.

Here are some questions for you:

What makes Christians different from those who don’t love Jesus?

What do they have that non-Christians don’t possess?

What marks them and sets them apart from the rest of mankind?

You might be thinking of the word, “forgiveness.” Amen, and thank God for it.

Forgiveness is a huge aspect that sets Christians apart from those who are not.

The presence of the Holy Spirit is another major component we shouldn’t ignore.

There’s another significant difference that always strikes me whenever a non-Christian person has died:

It’s the element of hope. Its absence is deafening in a funeral home.

 

hope

 

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13 Paul writes to the believers, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope” (emphasis mine).

“The rest of mankind, who have no hope.”

Isn’t that just so sad?

Doesn’t it make you want to reach out and offer hope to those who don’t have it? 

Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

As believers in Christ’s death and resurrection, we have confidence. We have assurance. We have hope.

Let’s rejoice today in this gift of hope. Let’s hold unswervingly to the anchor of our souls.

 

Anchor Hope

And let’s do everything in our power and in God’s to be a beacon of hope to those in the darkness.

 

***

Letters to Grief - Final cover

Part of the reason I wrote my e-book, Letters to Grief, was to offer hope.

If you know someone who might be in need of hope today, consider sending them a copy of this short book. It’s only 20 pages long, and it’s only $0.99, so you really can’t go wrong.

Maybe it’s the first step that God is nudging you to take in offering hope today. Or maybe you’re the one in desperate need of an anchor.

Either way, I pray this book is a blessing. 

I’m honored to welcome Joy B. Rudolph to the blog today, with a guest post on grief. I asked her to share her experience after reading part of her story on her blog.

 

This post is in conjunction with the release of my e-book, Letters to Griefwhich is available on Amazon for just $0.99.

Please join me in welcoming Joy, and maybe even take a moment to thank her for sharing by leaving a comment at the end of the post? Thanks for reading, and thank you, Joy, for blessing us with your honest words today!

***

“I feel like God is a big jerk who gets pleasure from taking things from me.”

The words come out as tears run down my hot cheeks.

I am tired, on the brink of depression, and feeling trapped in a space that is suffocating in a city I don’t yet love.

 

Grief_Guest_Post

 

My husband listens. He is there with me in my tears and grief. He is struggling, too.

I repeat the words to my counselor. They are ugly, difficult, but oftentimes feel like so much truth to me.

Some weeks later, we open the doors to our POD and a bad dream has come true. We see puddles, smell the scent of mildew and feel cardboard crumble beneath our fingers. Moving to a brand new city, leaving everything we know and love behind has been a kind of hard I never expected. But this is completely out of left field.

We assess the damage. A lifetime of journals ruined. Words poured out to a God I believe hears even when I’m not sure He cares. Art that has been made with hours of love poured out on canvas and layered on paper. Destroyed. It is irreplaceable and unquantifiable.

 

My dad died in December.

Some days I feel incredible loss. Others I feel relief. But most days I don’t know what to feel. I am numb. Our relationship was a disaster and his death leaves a different kind of hole.

In January, we started preparing for a cross country move and in March, we came to a city thousands of miles away from home. For the first six weeks we not only grieved what we left behind, but the trouble that seemed to wait for us behind every corner.

Moving to Houston has reminded me of the parts of grief I had forgotten.

Parting from those closest to us reminded me of my first husband’s death. Of how I wanted to to stop dreaming. Stop hoping for the future. Because you certainly cannot see the death of dreams if you don’t have any.

Saying goodbye to a city I loved reminded me of standing in the airport and putting the Colombian orphan we loved as our own son on a plane. It reminded me how I never wanted to open my heart again. You cannot have holes in your heart if you refuse to let anything take up space there in the first place. Giving up the life I loved reminded me of our miscarriages and failed adoption. Of what it feels to have something wrenched from your hands as you try desperately to cling to it.

I know grief intimately and yet I feel that grief is unknowable. It is broad, full of surprises and all encompassing. You never know what it may deal up next or where it may choose to show up unexpectedly.

Perhaps you’ve gathered this already, but I can’t wrap this up with a nice bow for you. I can’t tell you anything amazing about how to survive loss, suffering, or tragedy. I’m in the middle of it all over again, and if I’m honest, so many of my past losses have yet to be fully grieved. But recently I read this from Emily P. Freeman:

“He doesn’t shame me for my hesitation to trust Him. But He is inviting me to set those hesitations aside.”

So what if we sit in these hard places instead of running from them? What if we feel the ugly emotions, and experience the grey, and ask God all the hard questions? What if we’re not afraid to be mad at Him and not understand Him? What if we don’t hurry through grief and try to wrap it all up with a nice bow and move on?

That’s where I am. It’s hard. I don’t like it. But it is reality in this season. So I’m inviting you to join me. So that together in the midst of the difficulty we can begin to set our hesitations aside and let God regrow our faith.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Let me know where you’re at on your journey or how you cope when life is at it’s darkest, because we’re in this together.

 

Headshot1Joy is a Florida girl currently living in Houston, with her husband and drool-covered basset hound. She is currently accepting applications for people to do life with around her table (a.k.a. friends). She writes to women about living intentionally on mission at joybrudolph.com. Find her on Instagram @JoyBRudolphBlog, Twitter @JoyBRudolph, and on Facebook.

Hello!!

Welcome to another edition of Five Minute Friday! I’m so thrilled that you’re here.

If you’re new in these parts, feel free to click over here for a better picture of what we’re all about! In a nutshell:

 

One fun new feature we’ve added in 2015 is Five Minute Friday Introductions — a series of interviews conducted by the loveable Asheritah of OneThingAlone.com with various members of the FMF community!

Before you read any further, go ahead and subscribe to Asheritah’s YouTube channel by clicking here, so you don’t miss any future video segments!

 

FMF Intro logo

 

This week I’m thrilled to share with you an interview with Katie Reid, who blogs at The Tightly Wound Woman.

Katie has a special place in my heart for many reasons. For one, she and I got to meet in person just a couple of weeks ago! She’s the first FMF community member that I’ve met in real life! (Sorry for the blurry photo — that’s what you get when you give a mediocre phone camera to a nine-year-old .. ) 😉

 

Katie Reid

 

Katie is a tenderhearted, generous woman with multiple gifts. Not only is she a writer, but she also sings — and she even has her own CD! How cool is that?! Check it out by clicking here.

Besides writing and singing, Katie also has some fabulous graphic design skills.

She graciously offered to design several images (using photographs she took herself!) to help launch my first e-book, Letters to Grief  — which is FREE all day Friday, February 27th! Get your copy today, by clicking here!

Here are a few of the graphics she designed for me, using quotes from Letters to Grief:

 

Consistent as Seasons - Katie Reid
Image by Katie Reid, echoesofmyheart.com, Twitter: @ImprintsKatie
Image by Katie Reid, echoesofmyheart.com, Twitter: @ImprintsKatie
Image by Katie Reid, echoesofmyheart.com, Twitter: @ImprintsKatie
Image by Katie Reid, echoesofmyheart.com, Twitter: @ImprintsKatie
Image by Katie Reid, echoesofmyheart.com, Twitter: @ImprintsKatie
Image by Katie Reid, echoesofmyheart.com, Twitter: @ImprintsKatie
Image by Katie Reid, echoesofmyheart.com, Twitter: @ImprintsKatie
DSC_0020at
Image by Katie Reid, echoesofmyheart.com, Twitter: @ImprintsKatie

 

Letters to Grief - Final cover

Just because I love you guys so much, Letters to Grief is FREE all day Friday, February 27th.

Spread the word, will you? Maybe you know someone who needs this right now? Someone who is plodding through knee deep grief and struggling to see the sunrise behind the thick layer of clouds?

(And psst .. you don’t need a Kindle to be able to read it! You can get a free Kindle reading app to use on any device, by clicking here.)

Here’s Katie, sharing some wise words and a challenge for all of us:

 

(If you can’t see the video, click here.)

This week’s prompt is inspired by Katie’s closing words of encouragement in her video, as well as the sweet reminder of our brief time chatting together in person.

So without further ado, I present to you this week’s Five Minute Friday prompt:

 

FMF - Visit

 

Ready? GO.

 

One thing I miss most about living in Africa is the visits.

The spontaneous drop-ins. The don’t-have-to-call-before-you-stop-by’s.

The unexpected knock on the door when the potatoes are at a full boil, and you switch off the stove and turn on the kettle instead and sit and drink tea until you’ve forgotten all about dinner.

I miss the strolling down the street on a sunny evening with a warm breeze and the random popping in at a friend’s house just because, without warning. I miss the standing around, watching as friends flit about, barefoot on cool kitchen tiles, whipping up a red latte just for you, at a moment’s notice. With fancy spray whipped cream, from a can, even.

I miss the sunset chats by the braai with empty two-litres of coke and ashes smoldering and the smell of boerewors lingering in the fragrant coastal air.

I miss the laughing till it hurts, and the laughing some more.

 

STOP. 

Now it’s your turn! Share your five minutes of free writing on the word VISIT .. (and psst .. don’t forget to VISIT some other blogs to leave words of encouragement!)

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Remember that Letters to Grief link-up we had in December? Well, thirty brave writers linked up their own letters to grief, and totally blew me away with their powerful words. I found myself quoting like crazy on Twitter, and took so many gems away with me from those posts.

Here are some of my favorite quotes, all meshed together into one letter to grief. Click each quote to visit the full post of each respective writer:

 

Dear Grief,

“When I was younger, I thought you only had to do with death. … But that’s not the only place you lurk. You don’t just stand on the sidelines after death visits. You’ve made your presence known in other ways.” ~ Jen D.

“I blamed you for so much. … You remind me I once had something worth missing when lost. The memories are tinged with hurt and sweetened with love. You give that to me. You grant me the ache to remember.” ~ Jessica H.

 

Dear Grief 1.1

 

“You are there in the deep ache of my soul, the missing beat of my heart. You are the empty place at my table, the missing smile from my photographs.” ~ Sara M.

“You swept in on the tail of Loss and haven’t looked back. Your goal is to overwhelm and overtake and your success is marked by the emptiness left behind.” ~ Mary G.

“Sometimes I’m not sure if you are still lurking in the spare bedroom or if you’ve left for good or just momentarily. You tip toe around my house and I feel on edge that you are going to pop out and catch me by surprise, because that’s the way you always seem to show up.” ~ Syndal L.

“You are not what I once thought you were. You are both more and less. I have severely underestimated you.” ~ Abby A.

“The moment before I was cut in two, you looked me straight in the eye and didn’t look away. You took refuge in the emptiness of my heart. You crept in while I was in shock, and wrapped your tendrils through my insides. Perhaps you think, as I do, things would have been better if we never met.” ~ Meghan S.

“You have made me feel like I have to have it all together and I need to get it all together. I look back over this past year and see the path of destruction like a tornado’s path with nothing but pieces left behind. Pieces of me are there. I’ve been working my mind to exhaustion looking back there and longing for the pieces of myself. Thinking I had to go back there and pick them up and fit them back inside of me.” ~ Shana W.

“You are also the only one with whom I have danced cheek to cheek since then and  you are not a graceful dancer. Besides my toes, you also stepped on my heart. Then you dipped and twirled me at the wrong times and places as we waltzed to life’s music.” ~ Michele K.

“Your problem is that you cannot be predicted nor defined. You come as a unique visitor to each of us, rarely on time and often in disguise. You hide yourself in many forms, putting on a mask of anger to make us feel strong instead of weak. Sometimes you sink deeply into the soul, bringing depression and despair that seems impossible to escape. 

… We the Redeemed can meet you without despair; acknowledge you without empty clichés; join with others who dwell in your shadow without demanding answers or reasons.

So come, dear grief, teach us to sorrow well because of the hope of a risen Savior who will make all things new and eradicate your presence from our broken world entirely when He returns again. You will not own us, though you may visit us more frequently than we would choose.” ~ Heather N.

 

Letters to Grief - Final cover

Thank you so much to all who wrote and linked up. To read other posts from the link-up, click here