Over the holiday break I had a chance to read two amazing books.

The first is, “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown. Amazing work. She is a funny and personable writer who conveys hard ideas in a very accessible way. The crux of the book is a study of people who live ‘whole hearted’ lives. She became interested when she began to meet and interview these ‘whole hearted’ people, while researching shame, and more particularly, shame-resilience. Shame resilience is the idea that we all experience shame, but some learn to work through it with more adeptness than others and grow from it rather than letting it lessen them.

I love that.

The second is “Proof of Heaven” by Eban Alexander, M.D. Amazing story. He is a neurosurgeon who developed a very rare form of e.coli bacterial meningitis in his brain and was in a coma for 7 days. During his coma he firmly believes he went to heaven. One of the reasons this fascinated him is that, as a neurosurgeon, he had often heard of near death experiences, but had written them off as the last throes of the brain creating fantastical dreams and images. He most likely would have thought the same of his experience, except the part of the brain that would be responsible for that was completely non-functioning during his coma.

I love that.

Both books came at a good time for me. “Daring Greatly” really encourages you to be vulnerable and to live life fully. I had started it about a week before I got the call in Georgia that dad was going to the hospital. Dealing with his passing has left me extremely vulnerable and sensitive. Instead of running from that, I’ve tried really hard to live with little defenses. To just experience what I felt and deal with it. I’ve had to work to let go of worrying about what anyone else thought of me. It’s been tough. It’s been really tough, but this journey belongs to me and I can walk through it. I have an amazing God who has given me a incredible support system. My husband is just my lifeline in all things, but he has really been everything I’ve needed during this time. I am so so thankful to have him in my life. I have lots of family who love and care for me. We all have our own journey and none of us truly knows what path the others are taking, but we love each other and we have shown great respect, I believe. That’s all you can ask for, isn’t it? Love and great respect for each other’s path?

“Proof of Heaven” was just a great read after losing my dad. I don’t know about you, but it is sometimes when I need my faith to be it’s very strongest that all my weak places show up. It is in the dark of night when I cry out for God to take all of my doubt and I am met by the darkness of night. It’s so crushing. But it is in those times, when my heart finally does land in the right place and I can see God, it is those times he shows up in such brilliant color. This book gave me a glimpse of heaven that I can really connect with. It made me feel so joyful for my dad. So hopeful.

I feel like I live in two worlds – there is the one world, this world that I love so much it hurts. This world that is filled with my children and my husband. This world that has each of you in it – I just love people. I love the possibility and potential we all hold. I know that there is indescribable evil among us. I know there are problems that we must fix, but truly the world is beautiful. Our potential to love one another and the millions of kindnesses that are done every day – it’s beautiful. Even just sitting here writing – the people all around me, connecting with one another, living, striving – beautiful.

And then there is the spiritual reality that I claim, the fact that this world with all it’s beauty is over in the blink of an eye and then we are a part of the perfected reality of God. Something so incredibly amazing that I don’t believe we are even closely capable of comprehending.

I am a dual citizen – residing currently on earth. But I have many people who have gone before me. I both envy them and I am thankful to be here.

While I am here, I vow to dare greatly, as often as I am able.

Brene starts her book with this quote:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly….”

Theodore Roosevelt, April 23, 1910


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