Thursday, May 11, 2017

And Still She Laughs: Defiant Joy in the Depths of Suffering by Kate Merrick (book review)

I haven't written anything personal on my blog really since December 2016. It's been nothing but reviews and things of that nature - nothing wrong with that, of course (or I wouldn't be writing this), but I'd like to explain why.

I have been lost in a sea that I had only vaguely known prior to this past season of life. The sea of depression. It's weird to even write that, to be honest. I think I had some postpartum depression after my second son, Squirt, was born in 2009 but I started running after that. I think the endorphins honestly helped me get out of that fog.

Fast forward a few years. I injured my foot in 2013 and I'm still not sure if it's healed properly. My running hasn't been the same since, so less endorphins. I believe that has left me vulnerable emotionally. In 2015 we welcomed our sweet Princess into our lives but that first year of her life was marred by the epilepsy of my oldest son, Moose. He had brain surgery last summer, 2016, to remove ablasia cells that were causing his seizures. In that time period, I think things just built up and up and up and up. People prayed and helped and kept us feeling the love of God - being the hands and feet of Christ.

Afterward, it was like my guard was let down and the enemy kicked me hard. I have been struggling through this - talking to my husband and best friends, medication, and getting back to exercise/running - for a better part of a year. I believe that shows that people can look fine from the outside but you never know where their hearts are hurting. I'm doing well most days but I must keep my eyes focused on the Lord. In Kate Merrick's book "And Still She Laughs," she writes, "Perspective is a giver. Comparison takes. Perspective is generous. Comparison pares down the loveliness of your life until it appears a thin shred of its former glory. Perspective carries us through life laughing. Comparison evokes cursing and frowns and grumbling." How true and timely for me to read this book.

I have found myself these past few weeks grumbling and complaining (and yelling and crying). I wanted to read "And Still She Laughs" because I heard Kate Merrick and her husband, Britt, speak at the IF:gathering this year. I wasn't sure what I would get out of her book, never having lost a child like she has lost her Daisy to cancer. But God knew I needed to read this and so plopped it in my hands.

Reading is like oxygen to me but I've found these past few years that it's taken more motivation for me to finish books (you wouldn't guess that when you see I read 40+ books last year). I've numbed myself a lot while also trying so hard to live up to expectations (mostly my own) and to be there for my children (one of whom is growing like a weed...make that three of them, but one is still learning much of this world, one is better but has struggled in this season with anxiety, and one who is a wild card much of the time...a box of chocolates, if you will).

"Nothing stays the same. Nothing. Children grow up and people change. Church communities ebb and flow; hopes rise and fall. Marriages grow and weaken; some break up. ... For Pete's sake, even my rear end has changed, traveled south - and she's not coming back up where she belongs anytime soon, if ever.
So I drink in truth. I drink in the only life that is sure, the very Word of God. What was that he said? Remind me, for I can't see through the muddle of tears, the feeling of rejection, the shaking in fear.
If I idolize a certain season of life, I will drown. I must learn to extract the joy from each and every season, or I will experience a different kind of death. I can't life in the past; I can't live in a place of missing the good old days. I need to agree with Jesus that, while things can be different or even disappointing, there is still abundant life for me to grab hold of."

Nothing has pulled me from the muck and mire of despair, loneliness, and depression quite like the Lord has. From music about Him, to books by authors who love Him, to friends and church family who speak truth into my life, and especially from His actual Word, the Bible - that's been the real life giver.

I appreciate Kate's book for its honesty, beautiful writing, and how she wove her story and the stories of Hagar, Sarah, and mother Mary around the hardship, through the deep cracks that were welded together in the way of kintsugi from the Lord, and into the deep faith in Christ that sustained them and sustains her and sustains me. She also gives a fresh perspective on the Proverbs 31 woman we all love to hate. Really! I don't hate her anymore!

If you need to read something that speaks truth in love without brushing aside the hardships of life, this book is for you. If you need some perspective to see how life is still beautiful even in the darkness, this book is for you. If you need to laugh, this book is for you (she's awfully funny).

Disclaimer: thanks to BookLook and Tommy Nelson Publishing for allowing me to read this book. I received the book in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own even if you disagree with them. 

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