The Gifts of a Cold Sandwich and a Book Released in Tragedy

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During the first day of the 2012 Festival of Faith and Writing, I picked up my disappointing boxed lunch in a mostly deserted lobby at the arts building of Calvin College and regretted my decision. While everyone else I knew was going out for lunch, I was going to sit on a step and eat a cold sandwich by myself.

Way to network, champ!

Just as I was about to give up, I noticed an empty seat in a sitting area where five women were eating their equally cold and disappointing boxed lunches. I fought through my social anxiety and struggles with small talk, took the empty seat, and immediately introduced myself to the woman next to me.

Things started to look up immediately.

“Are you the Ed Cyzewski who runs the Women in Ministry series?” a woman across from me asked.

“That’s me,” I replied, relieved that the ice had been broken so fast.

It turned out that this woman, Angie Mabry-Nauta, is a pastor and had really appreciated the series on my blog where I hosted stories of women serving in ministry—a way that I hoped to outflank the tiring “women in ministry” debate. The woman sitting next to her was Christie Purifoy, a blogger and, at that time, aspiring author who had a freaky number of things in common with me.

  • Christie has a PhD in English Literature, the very degree that my wife has been working on.
  • Christie was pregnant and had a nearly identical due date as my own wife, who was pregnant with our first son at the time.
  • Christie also had plans to buy a house in the Philadelphia area, which happens to be my home town.

I exchanged business cards with Angie and Christie, found them on social media, and have since stayed in touch. Christie and I further connected as fellow writers on the Deeper Story website, which is no longer active.

Around two years ago Christie contacted me with some big news. She was finally sending out a book proposal to a literary agent. I enthusiastically read through her proposal and was completely riveted with her prose and story telling.

I’m terrible at endorsements and reviews, especially when I enjoy the book. Do I say it’s a TOUR DE FORCE!? A majestic triumph for the ages!!!!?? I can’t quite figure out the right tone and word choice for these things. It’s MUCH eaiser to be critical, right?

Truth be told, I’m picky, oh so terribly picky, about memoir. 80% of the memoirs that I pick up, I put down before the half way point. I don’t need simple, every day events imbued with embellished life-altering meaning. You ate a piece of bread and you thought some deep thoughts. Get over it and tell me something worth reading.

I’m the ultimate “get off my lawn” memoir reader.

Having said that, when I love a memoir, I really love it. For just a small sample:

When We Were on Fire? Amazing.

Any Day a Beautiful Change? Perfect.

Girl Meets God? Beautiful.

Tables in the Wilderness? I hate you, Preston.

Coming Clean? Breaks my brain.

So when I picked up Christie’s sample chapters for her new book, Roots & Sky, I found artful prose and engaging description of the everyday without unnecessary embellishment. She opens up about the simple longings and desires we all experience and invites us to sit with her over tea or to take a stroll in her garden to talk it over. It’s perhaps cliché these days to say that a book “helps you find God in the everyday events of life,” but this book takes a very unique, artful spin on that concept that I found engaging and enjoyable.

I could not be more enthusiastic about this book, but just as Christie should be celebrating this beautiful book, tragedy struck her family. Christie’s brother-in-law, the husband of her sister, was one of the 12 Marines who appears to have perished in a helicopter crash off the coast of Hawaii. Christie has set off to Hawaii in order to comfort her sister and her four nieces and nephews.

I can’t imagine what Christie, her sister, and the rest of the family are going through during this time of tremendous loss. Perhaps as you read this post, which is being posted on Friday, January 22, 2016, the families will be attending a memorial service for the Marines.

Would you like to help Christie and her family at this time?

First of all, I know that they would all deeply covet your prayers—prayers for God to be near those who are grieving so deeply, prayers for God’s provision for this family, prayers for these children who have lost their father at so young an age, and prayers that God will sustain Christie at this time as she comforts and grieves.

Secondly, as Christie has stepped back to serve her family, a group of authors, bloggers, and friends have stepped up to help get the word out about this book. While there is undeniable tragedy and pain in this world, authors and artists like Christie are creating beauty, and we don’t want to lose sight of that. Here are some ways you can help:

Order your own copy of Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons. (pre-orders are especially helpful)

Post a brief review on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. Reviews are critical since so many people buy books online.

Share this book with your network: Check out this new memoir: Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons by @ChristiePurifoy http://buff.ly/1Ta6PLz.

I’m trusting that God is going to bless a lot of folks through this book, and I can’t wait for you to read it for yourself!

Why Hurting Honestly Will Save Them

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Author Guy Delcambre writes about grief in his new memoir with this powerful reflection: “If you never fully hurt, you never fully heal.” Delcambre lost his wife suddenly in the course of five days, and was left to raise three daughters on his own. He’s sharing a guest post today based on his book about that experience: Earth and Sky.

 

“Do you get sad still?”

She sat quiet, half leaned into my ribs, lost in four-year-old thoughts, which roam and meander in a world too big. Her sisters cried through stories recalling time with their mom. She cried, too, nearly every night in the year after their mother’s unexpected death. But me, I exerted much of my energies moving beyond her death and growing strong again as fast as I could. This was my duty as their remaining parent: to pick up all the broken pieces and rebuild life. I am a 33-year-old widower, father to three little girls all under the age of eight. I am clueless as to what to do. That was over four years ago.

In the four years since my first wife’s death, I have learned much more about parenting than ever before. More so, I’ve learned myself in ways truer. On mountainous trails teaching them hiking basics and good enough fishing spots where patience delivered their first catch, I discovered how to recognize my daughters’ wanting hearts. My daughters taught me the art of the quick, perfect ponytail. For hours, I practiced on them as they modeled how to gather all the hair together in just the right spot. We celebrated with joyous dance when I finally got the hair band twisted tight enough to hold the ponytail in place. They, too, wanted the future and the warmth of hope that I often told them about, but they needed the past to get there. The past hurt. It reminded me of failure, of God not there where I needed him. Returning to the past scratched counter intuitively across my heart. When I left, I never wanted to return.

Back on the couch, my youngest tucked into my side, contemplating the world her dad knows free of apparent sadness, she taught me one of the most formative lessons to shape my parenting.

“Yes, sweetie, I get sad at times.”

“Well, you hide it really good, Dad.”

As a result of me always being okay and in the busyness of me liberating myself from the hurt of her death, my daughters grew more isolated in their own bewildering grief. Those simple little words of my littlest daughter found me moving ahead alone, leading no one, just in time.

To hurt honestly is to hurt wholly, to admit wrong and to welcome the future through the past. This is what my daughters were missing. Rather than me leading them, they only heard me talk about a foreign place of hope disconnected from the reality of death they knew all too well. Grief piled atop their grief. I was leaving them as well.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” At first glance, blessing coupled with mourning is a bad matched marriage. No one sinking in grief recognizes any sort of benefit in his or her tears, other than the momentary release that serves as a reminder that life has indeed twisted askew. However, the more I mourned, the more frequent the release of emotion proved to be blessing. Mourning guided me through grief. Sharing my hurts and fears and frustrations with my daughters served as guide for them.

Grief is a life-long journey that when committed to can bloom the deepest blessing in the darkest of life. The third Thursday of every November is Children’s Grief Awareness day, an opportunity to raise awareness and affirm healthy grief for children who have experience loss in their little lives. Death can be such a scary life event – in a moment a loved one can disappear into forever without understanding and so much as a proper good bye. Take time to consider those little ones who may be struggling through the lost of a loved one. If not your own, those little ones could be your child’s classmate, neighbor or friend. Revealing your own held fears and hurts about death could very well be their way out.

(*Matt 5:4 ESV)

 

Pick up a copy of Earth and Sky on sale today.

 

About Today’s Guest Blogger

Guy Delcambre Headshot1Guy Martin Delcambre is an author and public speaker based in Dallas, Texas, who writes about faith in thin moments, strength found in weakness, and God’s grace immeasurable. Guy was once a pastor, a church planter, and a widower, in that order. From the darkest night in life— the death of a spouse— to learning to live life as a single father to three young daughters, Guy has traveled the greatest distance of the heart to find home in God’s faithful goodness.

He lives with his wife, Marissa, and three daughters, Elizabeth, Emily, and Chloe.

Follow Guy on Twitter @GuyDelcambre.
Visit Guy’s Blog here.