Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Launch of A Dream: The Launch of a Book

I can see the finish line.

It seems so far away and yet so much closer than I ever thought possible. This last February I pulled the trigger on a Kickstarter project and the troops rallied behind the dream of publishing a book on the 30×30 List. That was February. Fast forward to right now and in 5 weeks, we’re going to launch a book.

Book Launch - coming soon
It’s happening!

Wow. We’re 5 weeks out from launch time! Layout is done, the printers are printing, just signed the warehouse contract today, Amazon’s on board, local book stores are stocking up, and now it’s time to party. I’ve learned about ISBN’s, copyright, legal jargon, pricing, content editing, copy editing, font choices, layout design, epigraphs, social media campaigns, press releases, warehouse logistics, and so much more of the nitty gritty details that go into publishing a book than I ever wanted to know.

But now I know. And now it’s time.

Save the date for one of the upcoming book launch events, grab a friend and come raise a toast to all involved in this beast of a book! Thank you for believing in this project and backing a dream. It’s happening. *pinch pinch* Can you believe this whole process began in February? Thank you for being a part of this. This could never have happened without you. Let’s celebrate!

LAUNCH PARTY
Friday, Sept 26th @ The Book Bar in Lakeside
4280 Tennyson St, Denver, CO 80212
5:30-7:30pm

BOOK SIGNING
Friday, Oct 3rd @ The Bookworm of Edwards
295 Main St, Edwards, CO 81632
4:00-6:00pm (A happier happy hour)

How To Join The Secret Suicide Club

Robin Williams has passed away. That news alone was shocking enough while standing at the pool yesterday…and then the details came out. Suicide has claimed another life.

My friend stood across from me and gave me the news as she read from the alert on her phone, our eyes locking. She’s in the club too. Those who have survived the loss of a loved one in this manner know. They know.

This club is bigger than we think, and every time another member joins, there is heartbreak and the scar deepens. I remember the first time I heard about this club. I was sitting across from this same friend, sharing a beer over lunch and opening up for the first time about some of the emotions I had been dealing with after my world had been ripped to pieces months before. She shared details about losing her dad, identifying and recognizing the part of the journey I was in. After a long pause, she looked me deep in the eyes and said, “Weird little club we’re in, isn’t it?” Stunned, I stared blankly at her. She was right.

It’s a club no one talks about and no one wants to ever join. Unfortunately, it’s an irrevocable forced membership. Every 15 minutes, someone in the United States takes his or her own life. That’s 35,000 suicides every year in this country—and likely more, since many suicides are disguised as accidents. Statistically, only 10% of suicides leave a note. Sadly, suicide occurs among Christians at essentially the same rate as non-Christians. Each suicide leaves behind on average six to ten survivors – husbands, wives, parents, children, siblings, other close friends or family members. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people, including many of our church members, will grieve the loss of a loved one to suicide.

I am one of those people.

Though all deaths are tragic, suicide affects us differently than when someone dies in a car accident or from a terminal illness. Counselors call death by suicide a “complicated grief” or “complicated bereavement,” like death by murder, violence, or terrorist attack. Not only do family members grieve the loss of the loved one, they must also face the trauma of the suicide.

More than other deaths, suicides raise the question of Why? Why did he do it? Why didn’t we see this coming? Why did this happen? Why her? Why him? Why me? In other situations, we can often clearly identify the cause, a drunk driver or a disease, for example. But with a suicide, the victim is responsible for the death, not some outside force. That person is gone now. He can’t tell us why he did it or the reasons he had for leaving us.

More than anything, the biggest question that lingers in the air and haunts our thoughts is, Could I have done anything to prevent it? Scenarios, conversations, last words, and hidden signs flood the thoughts of those in the club. If only we had come home in time. If only we had talked to him that evening. If only I could have “seen the signs.” If only there were signs at all.

Asking why is not so much a search for answers as it is a search for comfort. We assume that having these answers will ease our grief and pain. But the questions are often unanswerable, and we must come to grips with the possibility—the likelihood—that we will never know why it happened. Even without knowing why someone chose to take his own life, survivors can experience God’s comfort and healing. God is a God of the broken.

While grieving, another question comes up, particularly among people of faith: Why didn’t God prevent this? There aren’t any easy answers to this. In short, God honors our human choices, even if they’re bad ones. If we choose to smoke, we might get the consequence of lung cancer. And if someone we love chooses to kill himself, God honors that choice as well. He is the God who makes all things right and can bring good out of any circumstance. This is one of the many mysteries of an infinite all-knowing God that does not make sense to our finite human hearts.

But this doesn’t mean that God doesn’t care about us or our loved one. The Bible tells us that God grieves with us in our loss. Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus, and he stands with us and weeps over our loved one’s death. Throughout Scripture, God comforts the grieving and brokenhearted, and he understands the suffering of grief and loss. He experienced ultimate pain, suffering, and grief on the cross. Where is God when it hurts? He stands with us, grieving beside us. He’s not only in the club, He’s the president and He leads it.

God loves the broken. He is a God of the shattered. Only He can put the pieces back together in a way that is even more magnificent than the original version. Our job is to trust Him to do so. When the journey makes no sense, when the pain is overwhelming, and when the process doesn’t seem to have an end in sight—keep trusting. He’s not done yet.

So as the memories flood back and the tears well up with the discovery of Mr. Williams and his tragic loss, I am reminded yet again that there are now more in the club than just me. We are never alone.

Quotable Quotes From People Much Smarter Than Myself:

Oh, great and just God, no man among us knows what the sleeper knows, nor is it for us to judge what lies between him and Thee.” – novelist Willa Cather, My Ántonia

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.Albert Pike

The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

Wrong Question.

You don’t have to look very far to be offended, see injustice, or experience something that seems unfair or hurts the heart. Sometimes it feels that there are more things happening out there that are wrong than right. Lately, as some big fat question marks plaster my world, I’m slowly realizing that there is a possibility that I may be asking all the wrong questions.

The Real Question

When stuff like this happens, when there is a loss, when the unfair and unjust occurs–the question is not, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” If this is the question being asked, then the answers we come up with (if any) will never be satisfactory or come close to satisfying our souls. There are things that happen that we may never know the “why.” How could this have happened to her? Why did that happen to him? Why me? Wrong questions. Instead the question perhaps needs to be asked this way, “What happens to good people when bad things happen?”

Really, what happens to good people when bad things happen?

The answers to this question make far more sense and are far more satisfying, if given a chance.

1. They become stronger.

Junk happens to us all. There’s no getting around it. Whether we consider ourselves good, bad, or somewhere in-between on the deserve-it-scale, there’s no escaping it. Being a “good person” does not excuse us away from being dealt life’s problems or from having bad things happen. There’s no “I’m sorry, that can’t happen to me, I’m a good person” card that blocks us from the hard stuff.

There’s no rule that bad stuff can only happen to bad people, or that good stuff can only happen to good people. But it’s interesting how our minds want to make things work out that way, and when it doesn’t, it’s labeled unfair.

Even more interesting are how the reactions and results of the exact same scenario can be drastically different depending on how one chooses to respond to the inescapable junk tossed their way. The exact same thing can happen to two different people, yet the outcomes can be completely different…and it’s not based on how “good” or “bad” they are or whether or not they deserve it.  No one is immune. No matter how good the heart or how caring the person, something (or even many somethings) is going to happen to try and take them out. We cannot escape the tough stuff, but we can have a say in how we react when it does and who we turn to, which is very much so linked to the end result. We can choose to keep going, give our hurts to the One who does know, and let it make us stronger.

The only way to build muscle is to challenge it. Strength is not built through inaction. We cannot become stronger if we never have to deal with anything, work through problems, or choose to always take the easy road. And if we’re not getting stronger and we try and avoid challenges we’ll atrophy,  become weaker, and eventually not be able to handle even the simplest issues. When bad things happen to good people, it doesn’t take them out, they get stronger.

2. They help others.

When the heartbreak comes or when the hurt happens, it’s the ones who flip it and somehow figure out a way to benefit someone else that are the victors. There’s nothing better than hearing a story of how someone came back from a knockdown or a failure only to use it to help someone else. It’s that much sweeter when despite the wrong, despite the wound, and despite the hurt, something good and loving soars through the dust and the rubble and positively touches others.

There is no better way to combat the darkness in our lives than by helping someone else while we are hurting. We may  not be able to solve our own problems or heal our own hurts, but there is something we can do to help someone else…and chances are they need it more than we’ll ever know. We may not have the ability to help ourselves or fix our own issues, but we definitely have the ability and capability to reach out to someone else who needs it. It’s in showing kindness in the midst of our pain where the breakthrough, the healing, and the triumph takes place. When the bad stuff happens, they help others and that’s when doors can open up for the really good things to happen.

3. They spread hope.

Despite the pain, despite the injustice, and in spite of how wrong it feels–those that survive and come back from the ashes are people that give hope and are examples of God’s goodness triumphing over evil. We need that. We need to know that no matter how bad it looks or how wrong it feels or how deep the injustice, there is hope that something good can come out of it. We need to know that failure is not final. Hope is free. It does not cost anything to hope…but it can cost us everything if we don’t.

Nope. The question is not why do bad things happen to good people. The real answers we need may not necessarily lie in the why, but perhaps may be found in the what…or Who.