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Category Archives: Friendship

This Quiet Sky, by Joanne Bischof

I normally don’t cry in movies or books. I honestly don’t think I’ve *ever* cried in a book before.

Until now.

Now.. I’ve sobbed.

The incredible depth of this novella really surprised me; I typically think of novellas and short fiction as not having time to develop the characters enough to truly know and relate to them. This book has so much depth. I felt instantly that I had bonded with young Sarah Miller. And with Tucker O’Shay.

Joanne Bischof showed her talent with This Quiet Sky. Descriptions that encompassed my senses. Characters who leapt from the pages (or rather, from my ipod, since I listened via Audible). Scenery that transported me in a very realistic sense to the hills of Appalachia in the late 1800s, not all that far from where my own family has roots. All of these were present in this story.

This book captured me at a level I’m not sure I knew was possible. Down into the very depths of my soul.

My heart ached for Sarah, for Tucker. I connected with them, with Tucker’s need of a good friend, with Sarah’s compassion and desire to reach out to him. Although very different circumstances, I can relate to the fear that I know Tucker felt, because I’m a survivor of the disease that he had. I’m sure he had friends prior to this diagnosis, and I hurt for what he lost. Tucker’s thoughts and the way he pondered life, the way he set out to enjoy the moments that he had, dreaming as if he had all the time in the world, living with a grateful-to-God heart for his every breath.. these traits wove such a real character. I can relate to Sarah, as her heart breaks for Tucker, for his family, for herself… because I have been on this side too.

If you have the opportunity, I highly encourage you to listen to Gail Shalan read this book. She added a uniquely beautiful dimension to an already heartwarming, soul-gripping, tear-provoking book. I will be adding the paperback to my permanent book collection, but I will absolutely be listening to this audio book again and again as well. Very rarely do I feel like I could finish a book, turn back to page one, and begin again immediately. This book compels me to do so.

I would liken this story to dark chocolate. Very dark chocolate. Something like Ghirardelli’s Intense Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Soiree. The blend of flavors is delicate and perfect. But so very intense, daring you to take the next bite. Go ahead. Do it. Listen. Read. I can’t promise you won’t cry — in fact, I’d encourage you to be free to let this story affect you deeply and permanently. Let God use it in your heart. You will not regret it. And as you let God speak to you through this little book, be reminded of the truth that His eye is on the sparrow… and we can know that He’s watching us too.

 
 

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Just Show Up, by Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn

What a truly beautiful book.

Everyone goes through suffering of some kind at some point. It’s part of life. There are many types of suffering, but we all have some share in it.

This book by Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn was such a timely read for me. I had heard about Kara here and there but really came in contact with her story around this time last year. Just about the time I received my own scary diagnosis and discovered that I was entering my own hard. Over this past year, I’ve been through a lot. And when I began to hear about this new book, I knew Just Show Up was one I had to read.. sooner rather than later.

“Living our stories together,” as the back of the book says. That’s what this is all about. Although this book tells the story of Kara’s cancer, that’s not the focus. The focus is Jesus… and praising Him through our everyday lives by showing up for each other. By loving each other.

Showing up can take on many forms… bringing meals, sending cards and texts, phone calls, flowers, listening, organizing paperwork or calling bill people, transportation to and from treatments.. the list is endless. Sometimes showing up means just simply being available. Just being silently present.

As I read this story of community, God constantly brought to my mind different people who have shown up in one way or another for me over this past year. I prayed for these much-loved people as I thought of each one who has been a blessing in my life. I so related to the beauty that is this book.. the beauty of the community of dear friends that these ladies have written about.

I should warn you.. it’s not an easy, light-hearted read. There is much discussion of difficult situations. But it’s beautiful just the same because of their honesty and transparency and even smiles in the hard. It’s beautiful because I could relate, and I’m pretty sure that if we’re honest, we all can relate to an extent. And anyone who can’t.. well, then you need to read this book so you CAN relate. Because being available and just showing up for people who are hurting is something we all need to be able to do.

This book gives insights and ideas if you don’t know how to show up for someone, and it describes how to be kind and sensitive and respectful with words.. while at the same time stressing that there just no perfect words and nothing you say is going to fix it. And.. when we let God lead us, He will surely use us in the lives of others, using our specific gifts and strengths to be just exactly what they need.

It reiterates that suffering doesn’t mean that God isn’t good. We have to learn and choose to believe that He is still always good. Even when the world says otherwise.

Please read this book. No matter who you are. Whether you’re suffering or know someone who is, or if suffering and hard times are the furthest thing from your mind. Trust me, you need to read this book.

I’ve been considering what food I would liken this book to… I can’t go with one specific food on this one though. Rather, I have to say that this book is like a meal brought over by a friend. Made or purchased with love, whatever best fits the personality and life of the friend doing the giving. It just fits. You should read the book, and then you’ll know why.