An Unexpected Gift and An Invitation . . . For You

by | Nov 5, 2012 | Uncategorized

Tired, it’s what we are when we enter the room of strangers waiting on our arrival. We wear smiles, shake hands with jean clad pastors and their wives from around the country, pushing past exhaustion. One of them extends a hand my direction and his words, they startle me awake.

We extend pleasantries, find common ground. Learn that all of us are from Arizona, now serving in different states. He grew up in Mesa, a city known for its Mormon population, but his Dad raises him as an atheist, to prove something to the Mormon Church. And God breaks into his life as a teen, in the middle of a geometry test. Now he pastors a church in Texas.

I’m standing with my mouth open now. God reveals himself to an atheist during a geometry test? Wow.

I use tongs to put blanched green beans and asparagus spears on my glass plate, spoon curry sauce and crab cakes next to them. Stand at the granite counter in the kitchen next to the man with a mustache who led us in worship with his guitar, before we broke bread.

He tells me about the forty year history of friendship among most of the couples in the room and then he talks about his family.  He’s blindsided by his teenage son’s drug addiction, but Teen Challenge turns his life around. Then he whispers that tomorrow he and his wife will celebrate their 40th anniversary. They haven’t told the group yet.

And I’m not sure which miracle is greater:  Forty years of friendship, forty years of marriage, or radical healing from addiction.

A friend puts her arm around my shoulder, moves me to the end of her dining room table where the wives huddle in conversation. They want to know about me. Ask questions about marriage, ministry and my childhood.

These people aren’t strangers anymore.

We’re like the thief hanging on the cross next to Jesus, laying our cards on the table, admitting failures and pain in the hand life dealt. Instead of scoffing about our circumstances, we’re turning our head toward Jesus and echoing his words, “Remember Me.” (Luke 23:39-42)

Because relationship with you and with Christ, it’s born in the admonition of our failure. We’ve opened our hearts in revealing the mess strewn on the kitchen floor, finding ourselves drawn to the light shining around the table.

Jesus response?  Today you matter. And the proof is in the room. (Luke 23:43)

As we walk to the car in the dark, we hear it through the illuminated windows. The faint sound of voices singing Happy Anniversary to you . . . and I’m not tired anymore. He remembers.

An Invitation

Over the next six weeks we’ll explore answering the question, “How do you walk out your faith in the midst of pain, loneliness, disappointment, and suffering.” We’ll sit around the community table of this blog and hear stories from Tara Pohlkotte, Deidra Riggs, Danelle Landry Townsend, Darrell Vesterfelt, Kelli Woodford and others that help us see Him more clearly through our struggles. 

And . . . we’re inviting you to join us on Thursdays for Redemptions Beauty Book Club, a community discussion on the book Leaving  Church by Barbara Brown Taylor.

How can you be a part of all the fun?

Linking with Michelle, Laura, Jen, Eileen and Ann.

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  1. simplystriving

    No wonder you were excited! This is glory in the making right here…love it. Thank you, Shelly!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Excited you are joining in Nikki. Your copy of Jesus Calling is on the way.

  2. kd sullivan

    I am glad that you found rest in fellowship….I am excited about the future of this place…

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks for the encouragement Kim, I am too.

  3. Michelle DeRusha

    A book club – how fun!!!

    And I am really looking forward to this series, Shelly. I think it’s particularly good timing for me.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Glad to know Michelle. It is for me too, and I didn’t even know it at the time I decided to do it.

  4. sethhaines

    This is going to be good. I know it.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks for the encouragement Seth, I really do appreciate it.

  5. hopefulleigh

    Oh, Shelly. You don’t know how much I need this series right now. I will be anxiously following along. I loved Leaving Church so I’m hopping over to join the book club too.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      (((Leigh))) so glad your going to be here. Excited!

  6. Jillie

    Hi Shelly! Cannot tell you how EXCITED I am about your next series! How timely for me and my family. So looking forward to the gleaning of wisdom. And the ‘Book Club’ idea? EXCITED AGAIN! I’ve been wanting to read this book! Can’t wait!
    Your post today is wonderful! As a sister-in-law to a pastor, I know how very much he appreciates the getaways and conferences offered to pastors and their wives. So needed. And they always come away encouraged, refreshed and renewed for the good work ahead of them. It is so often a tough road for the pastoral ‘team’ of husband and wife…but it is always good. Always noble. Always right. May you go on with renewed vision and strength in Him.
    Love you, Shelly!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Jillie, I’m glad it’s timely and I think you are in good company according to the comments. And I’m excited about gleaning wisdom too.
      This dinner was really a gift in the middle of a very full schedule with leaders. And refreshed and renewed are good words to describe it.

  7. Lynn Morrissey

    Shelly, the Church so needs what you experienced with this group of fellow sojourners: TRANSPARENCY! We wear masks, we make excuses. We won’t allow others to see the real us. How can we possibly, truly encourage anyone (or receive encouragement ourselves) if we won’t reveal what hurts, what’s amiss, what needs mending? My personal purpose statement is “encouraging transparency,” and this is why I so love your posts. They’re transparent glass, letting in the Son-shine. Shelly disappears and Jesus shines forth (the most authentic transparency of all). I am so moved by what you are doing here and anticipate deep change as I take a seat at your table. I have also heard about this book, and have wanted to read it. Now I have a reason. =] God bless you, precious Shelly, for your transparency, which beckons us to flee facades, to reveal our pain, loneliness, disappointment, and suffering. Love, Lynn
    PS Your photos today are exquisite……and they, too, show transparency, the kind that is revealed when the fog lifts.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I agree wholeheartedly Lynn, we need more transperancy. This group was refreshing to be around. Glad you will be reading the book. I value your input as we engage in conversation.

  8. narrowpathstohigherplaces

    Shelly, I cannot wait! I’ve been exploring so many of these things myself and in my 31 days of why church? and I’d love to join this discussion. It’s going to be so good, I can just tell. Buying the book right now.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I look forward to your input, enjoyed the posts I read in your series. I think you have a lot to contribute.

  9. Christina

    I love the idea for this series! Right after my own heart. Looking forward to reading!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yay, so glad you’re joining in the fun Christina!

  10. Jennifer 'Miner' Ferguson

    I know almost all these people who will be sharing their souls. Looking forward to reading!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Me too Jen. Can’t wait to read their posts. I know they will be inspiring.

  11. Danelle

    So excited. 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Me too Danelle, so excited to be doing this with you.

  12. Kristin

    I just ordered the book! You are simply amazing. Love the idea of a Book Club with you and Leaving Church hits home right now. Hope to join you for this. Thank you, friend.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      So glad you are joining in Kristin. Your voice is needed around the table.

  13. idelette

    Such beautiful writing, Shelly. #livingwater

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh, thank you Idelette. I’m a big fan of yours, so that means a lot.

  14. Mindy Bowman

    What an awesome story Shelly and what a great way to share a book! Sounds like it’s going to be a fun adventure! Not sure I’ll have time to read the book but will definitely be following along! 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Mindy, it’s a gift to have you at the table, whether you have time to read or not.

  15. wynnegraceappears

    love the idea, the group, and thanks for the invitation. Honored.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Hope you will join the conversation from time to time Elizabeth. It was good to see you last night, despite the circumstances.

  16. Gayle

    I’m on board and looking forward to it! When I am able to I will blog on Thursdays and link up.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Great Gayle, so thrilled you’ll be joining in linking your posts.

  17. Sandra Heska King

    “How do you walk out your faith in the midst of pain, loneliness, disappointment, and suffering?”

    Just reading that makes my heart ache. I’m in.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I think it’s evident how much of this is relevant with people, just reading our prayer threads.

  18. Sylvia R

    Ahhhh! Thank you for bringing me along with you to this blessed gathering. Peace and the presence of God so evident.
    And I surely do want to connect with these good themes! God bless them!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Praying God reveals himself to each of us in a special way Nancy, so thrilled you are joining in the conversations.

  19. ro elliott

    One aspect of this journey into this blog world has practicing new…but old parts of my life…and this is one that has been missing… because I am in a season of Him stretching me…a because i love the “family’ here…I am in…look forward to all this part of the journey has for all of us…thanks for stepping out…for stretching too…to be the hostess for us.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thank you Ro, so glad you are part of the family here. Appreciate your prayers, that God will meet with people through it.

  20. ro elliott

    Ps…wow…i did not have FB until a couple of weeks ago…I could see so many reasons He lead me there…but don’t you love how He has hidden jewels along the paths He leads us down…I would have missed this…If I would have let old fears hold me back…praises:)

    • Redemption's Beauty

      You know, I thought about that. I am so proud of you and beaming about the way God is growing you in new ways. It’s awesome to be a bystander to all this goodness.

  21. Megan Willome (@meganwillome)

    That question? That’s my life.

    Looking forward to reading the book over your shoulder. I often get a book after the book club discussion!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      You can share my book any time Megan. Just happy to have you around the table.

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