from an article originally posted September 29, 2014…
Friday was a night I will carry with me forever. Forever. I entered a room full of so much love I could not take it in. I struggled to look into the audience, because I could not understand this room filled with people coming to hear my feeble words trying to express love unending. Honestly, it is not mine to take in—the words are not mine. I’m simply the one that has the pleasure of sharing them. I entered, I tried to look up, but I could not. So I let my gaze fall on the front row. The row I know well. My loves. My family, and dear friends to my family. I could look there. But the room, oh my soul, there was so much love in the room Friday night. It was unbelievably humbling.
Before we started, my dear Carl and his lovely Marti came and prayed for my frayed nerves. They prayed gentle words of longing for Jesus to be seen, known, felt in this place. They gently shepherded me in prayer onto the stage.
First my dear friend Lisa Anderson came and loved the room with her joy and gift in speaking and untying all the knots everyone came carrying. Lisa is a gift of joy and honesty in living. I am thankful to know her.
She photographed the audience, and brought sweet laughter to the evening. She welcomed me with grace, and I entered the room ready to share my heart.
This book, this book, this book is such a dream I never let myself dream. When I was approached to write this book, the publisher asked me who else had contacted me to write; my drink almost came out my nose when they asked me that. Seriously? Jason and I giggled after over how I almost choked to death as I was talking about writing a book. But what a gift, what a gift to get to share my heart in a book. To write about the edges of life that have met me, and the amazing ways Jesus has redeemed this broken woman. I cannot express the gift it has been to write this book.
I had a dear friend write me to prepare me for my book to not do well. It was a grace, a kindness, a love to let me hear that my story shared matters—even if a single copy doesn’t sell. He’s right. I did not write for hope of great sales, but I wrote to leave something behind. Something that matters. My heart. My heart in words, and if only my loves get a copy, I’m pleased.
But you dear gifts, you dear amazing gifts. You bought my books, piles of these books. Books to read, books to share with the broken, books to remind you of Jesus and His great goodness...I could not take in the gifts of your love meeting me at the table. Over and over telling me how you are living in the big love of Jesus and extending that love in your life. Though I would like to, I cannot take a bit of credit. God has done the stunning work in your lives. I cannot believe I get to witness it. It’s simply breathtaking. I’m simply a steward of words. God, through His Spirit, is the one affecting change in your beautiful hearts. As I was praying about what to share, a very clear thought came to me. In that room full of love, in that room filled with support of our story, our family, our community, I wanted four little people to hear from their mama. I wanted, in that moment, for the four little people in their life hear their mama cherish and treasure them. So I decided to brave the letter I wrote to them on the stage. Trust me, I practiced and practiced. I thought I could do it. And I suppose I did, but I wept through the reading. And when I finished, my dear Story Jane brought me a tissue. Jason said all the children cried. And I treasure those tears. Tears of sadness that their mama is sick, but also tears of knowing they are fiercely loved. But the fierce love comes from the greater love that will meet them after my last breath. The big, full, true, faithful, merciful, gracious, pursuing love of Jesus that will draw them in to grace long past my last breath.
Then I sat and heard truth in song. I listened to the words and sang as tears fell down my face. I am known, I am kept, and it is well. It truly is well with me.
Then I had the pleasure of meeting so many of you dear friends. Friends I know, friends from years past, friends I have never met. What a gift Friday was to my heart. What a gift. I could not believe every book was sold. I’m sorry for you dear friends that didn’t get a copy. Mardel is planning another book signing at their store. I would love to meet you if I didn’t get a chance to meet you Friday. I will be sharing that event once it’s planned. So many of you were so kind and patient to wait. I loved the tears so many of you shared with me and the stories I could capture. What an evening. What an amazing evening. Thank you, friends.
Jen Lints, thank you for capturing the evening so well. Mary, thank you for your gentle care of me. Jennifer Allison and the entire DCC team, thank you. You will never know. What a night. What a night.
When my chemo dates changed, I was so anxious I would not be able to make it through Friday. Jason assured me that Friday I would still be strong from the IV steroids they gave me with my chemo. He was right. I not only felt strong, I felt present. Then Saturday and Sunday came like a wrecking ball. But in the bottom, I thought of the joy that I captured Friday. It was a low weekend, but it was less low because of ya’ll. Thank you. You cannot know. Mary simply snuggled me in bed and loved us at the bottom. What a gift she is to my heart. Such love, such amazing love I know on this journey. Grace, love unearned, but love that is simply lavished upon us in our bottom. Thank you, friends. Thank you for sharing this story, these words, my very heart. I cherish you.