“And they lived happily ever after…”
I don’t know anyone who wishes for a life of difficulty or uncertainty. In fact, I can confidently say that most of us sign up for the fairy tale at a very young age. You know…knights in shining armor rescuing damsels in distress and they live happily ever after in a 2 story Cape Cod with a white picket fence in a Mayberry like town. Sounds about right doesn’t it? It’s interesting because there are two very distinct definitions for fairy tale and it is very obvious which one we all prefer…
fairy tale (noun) 1) story in which improbable events lead to a happy ending 2) a made-up story usually designed to mislead.
I have to be honest, that second definition never even crossed my mind, yet as I read it I realized that this truly is the correct definition. Do fairy tales not mislead us? Do they not make us believe that the lowly servant girl can marry a prince, that true loves kiss will erase all difficulties and when the dragon is slain all will live happily ever after.
“Authenticity ministers far more than put-togetherness. And vulnerability builds a far stronger bond than perfection.” ~ Michele Cushatt
An unexpected life…who cannot relate to that…are we all not living one? If we all think back to our childhood aspirations, I bet few of our lives actually turned out they way we dreamed they would. Well maybe I shouldn’t speak for you, but last time I checked I didn’t end up with a law degree from Georgetown, I never entered the Washington political scene, and I am not running for president in 2016…LOL…nope my fairy tale did not come true…not even close. In fact, when I think about the dreams of my youth I wonder if God would have been able to speak into my life louder than my own ambitions. Thankfully, I’ll never have to know. At 18 the reality of an unexpected life put me on a very different road…one that lead me directly into God’s plan. Of course, I took the scenic route and I was derailed a time or two but God used this time of unexpectedness to speak His truth into me. I would love to say that as I gave my life to Christ my “happily ever after” came to be, but the reality is that the most difficult parts of my life came after I became a Christ follower. A child diagnosed with autism and losing a child to SIDS is where the reality of my life shattered any childhood fairy tales that lingered in my dreams. It was in these valleys that I had to make peace with an unexpected life. My words fail me as I try to articulate the ferocity in which the pendulum of emotion swings when you walk the darkest roads of life. I have often wondered if there would ever be a way that I could fully communicate what it feels like to be empty, when nothing makes sense and you cling to God with what little strength you have left. You wrestle with fear and doubt…you cannot help your mind from wandering to all the things that should have been…the very things that would have made your life normal and good, the fairy tale the child in you dreamed it would be. In the end, I think the one thing we all long for more than anything is the simple knowledge that we are not alone. That in a world that loves to put on the facade of perfection, there are people who struggle…just like we do.
“Character is not born of stillness. It requires the hammer blows of affliction” ~ Charles R. Swindoll
Have you ever met someone and instantly felt comfortable in their presence? The kind of person that exudes a certain special something and you want to soak it all in. This past July I walked up to a hotel suite door like a nervous girl on her first day of high school. I was at the She Speaks Conference and I was about to enter into my speaking peer critique group. Would the other ladies like me…would my speaking coach like me? Uggghhhh…what if she hated my speaking and told me I misunderstood God’s calling on my life?!?! Yes, these truly are the doubts that fill your head when you attend a conference with 600 other ladies who are gifted and called by God to a ministry of writing and speaking. My stomach was nauseous as I wondered what in the world I was doing there. Then it happened…I opened the door and on the other side was a group of some of the sweetest and most talented ladies I have ever met. In just a few short minutes that hotel room became a safe zone…it was a place where 12 strangers were bonded for life by the God who brought us together. An environment of encouragement and grace enveloped our group as those qualities exuded from our speaking coach, Michele Cushatt. From the moment she began to speak to us she soothed our nerves with her honesty and transparency. She reminded us that nothing we did or did not do in our group negated God’s call on our life…He had called us, of that she was certain. As her confidence poured into all of us our nerves began to melt away. In those moments God brought a mentor into my life…a mentor whose beautiful spirit and grace reminded me that one of the greatest blessings God gives us is this family we all belong to, the Body of Christ.
“Peace isn’t a byproduct of control, the payout of a happy conclusion. Peace is the infiltrating, life-giving presence of a very real God.” ~ Michele Cushatt
In real life very few people get to ride off into the sunset and bask in the glow of their happy ending. In real life things get messy and hard…real hard. However, it is how we navigate…or better yet, how we allow God to navigate us through the tough stuff that matters most. You see Scripture tells us in Philippians 4: 6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” But what happens in the rawness of your world crashing in around you? What happens when the devastating twists and turns of life try to rob you of the presence and the peace of the God who loves you? How do you make peace with an unexpected life?
You might not have realized this but this blog post is all about my beloved mentor, Michele Cushatt’s new book, Undone: A Story of Making Peace with an Unexpected Life. I have honestly never written a book critique and I am not really sure I know how. But when I was given the opportunity to be on the launch team for Michele’s book I jumped on it. Besides being a mentor, Michele is up there with some of the best communicators I have ever witnessed, there is a reason why she is on the Women of Faith tour, just sayin’. With such ease and grace I witnessed her weave stories around the beautiful truths she desired to convey. I knew that anyone who had been so gifted with words would write a fabulous book and I was not disappointed. You will find no spoilers in my brief summary of Undone for I do not want to rob you of unwrapping this book like the gift that it is. This blog is merely a tease…it is the build up to the real gift, Undone. I chose to write this blog as I did because I wanted you all to know who Michele is to me, I’ve never had the honor of personally knowing an author before. I wanted to give you just enough so that you would know what an amazing gift God has for you on the pages of this exquisite memoir written by a precious sister in Christ who has made a tremendous impact on my life.
I had the opportunity to write a little blurb on the Undone website and that is what I will share with you…
“The unexpected life is something we all have in common, however it is how we choose to walk the journey that makes the story uniquely our own. Michele Cushatt’s “Undone” is a refreshingly transparent memoir that tackles some of the biggest obstacles that one can encounter on life’s path; pain, heartbreak, divorce, blended families, betrayal, forgiveness, and cancer. A master story-teller, Michelle easily draws her readers in with her honesty and sense of humor. But it is the vulnerability in which she shares her deepest struggles and the grace that flows through her words that reminds us we never struggle alone. It is in the raw truth that we truly see how God’s story intersects with our own story, if we would just open our scared, bewildered, and broken hearts to Him. One cannot read this book and not walk away blessed by the beautiful soul that is Michele Cushatt. Her hand print highlights to us that God is good…all the time He is good!”
Undone will be released this coming Tuesday, March 10th and I HIGHLY recommend it. It give it two thumbs WAY up…honestly I wish I had more thumbs cause two doesn’t seem like enough. Head over to Amazon to pre-order your copy today…buy one for a friend while you’re at it, it’s that good. What is most captivating about Michele’s story is that we can find ourselves in it. Even if the circumstances of our struggles are different the reality is that we are all trying to make peace with an unexpected life on some level. And peace is something that God desires for us, in abundance. Whether you are walking through a valley or not, the wisdom and transparency of Michele’s story will touch your soul in a very special way and you do not want to miss it!
For more info go to http://undonebook.com/