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God’s Provision ⏤ Even Before We Know We Need It // Guest Post by Edie Melson

Who would choose to write a book on grief—and how could that be God’s provision?

The third book in my Soul Care series is on grieving. I signed the contract for this series of books in 2018 and the publication of the books was the order set up then. The series idea was born out of a stressful time of caregiving and loss while my dad was in the last stages of Alzheimer’s.

The first two books—Soul Care When You’re Weary and Soul Care for Writers, came out in 2018 and 2019, respectively. I began writing Soul Care When You’re Grieving in late 2019. As I continued to work on the book, the pandemic hit.

I learned many valuable things during that writing journey. I discovered that the five stages of grief that everyone talks about—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance— aren’t really a set process. They’re a list of things that are common to most grieving events. For me personally, I found myself often skipping one stage, like anger, and then waking up months later immersed in a rage that lingered. These stages can be helpful only when we realize what we’re going through isn’t unique, it’s a shared experience. What is not helpful is comparing my process to anyone else’s.

Another thing I learned was the fact that we all grieve differently. As an introvert, I do a lot of my grieving in private. I’m not hiding my pain or purposely pushing anyone away, I’m also not trying to be perceived as strong or something I’m not. I’m simply processing my loss in a way that is natural to how God created me. An extrovert often grieves the opposite way. They usually need to process their grief by sharing it with others. Neither way is wrong or even better, just different. Beyond our personality type, I’ve found we grieve differently every time we’re faced with loss.

 

But what about God’s provision?

 

That came to light beginning November 23, 2020. That day our precious daughter-in-law was killed in a tragic accident, leaving behind our son and their 3-month-old baby. Our family immediately drew together, supporting each other as we began to walk out our intense grief.

In this journey, I found an unexpected foundation of strength from the year of writing this book.

 

These are the things that helped me most.

 

  1. I turned to God. I had learned I could safely take all my feelings (even the ugly ones) to God and He would embrace me. He is faithful to walk through the darkest valley with us—even when we’re angry with Him.
  2. I practiced grace. Giving grace to myself and to those around me and not judging the process of grieving. For so many years I had thought I was doing it wrong. This time, I just took the waves of emotion as they came—without condemnation.
  3. I read the Bible every day—first thing in the morning. I wasn’t in any kind of a formal Bible study, I just picked up the book and read. There is something incredibly healing about the word of God. By immersing myself in His healing words, I found the strength I needed.
  4. I accepted help from others. I consider myself a strong person, so accepting help isn’t natural. But by letting others take care of us, we were better able to cope.
  5. Accept the joy when it begins to appear. One of the hardest parts of grief for me, was when the enjoyment of life began to break through. It felt like experiencing joy was somehow a betrayal of the loss I’d had.

I don’t think there’s anyone reading this who hasn’t experienced some kind of major loss in the eighteen months. But it’s important to lean into God and let the healing begin. When I was ready, God began to once again flood my life with the warmth of His love. He has introduced us to a new rhythm for life—not one we’d have ever chosen—but still filled with beauty and a little more joy every day.

Cathy here! Edie, thank you for being our guest today.

Soul Care When You're GrievingIf you’d like to win a Kindle copy of Soul Care When You’re Grieving (release date is November 2nd!), leave a comment below. 

 

 

 

Edie Melson

Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. She’s a writer who feels lost without her camera and a reluctant speaker who loves to encourage an audience. And she embraces the ultimate contradiction of being an organized creative. She knows the necessity of Soul Care and leads workshops around the country on staying connected to God. Her numerous books, including the award-winning Soul Care series and Unruffled, Thriving in Chaos reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. Connect with her on social media & thru EdieMelson.com.

It’s Launch Day for My New Mountains Devotional Guide + Giveaway!

Pauses for the Vacationing SoulWhen we set out to live closer to the mountains last year, there was no way to know that the launch day for my second book, Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains would land on the anniversary of our closing date. But in retrospect, it seems fitting. Turns out, both are in the habit of making dreams come true.

In July of last year, after reading Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker ( a game-changer, by the way), I composed doodled my dreams for our next home. No judging, please.

 

 

House Drawing

Some dreams on this page have yet to come to fruition but the house we purchased two months later did have a barn, a built-in fire pit, a spacious yard (almost four acres) and a sprawling oak tree.

The tiny house is on hold, as is the desire for chickens. (In fact, that desire has shifted toward a Goldendoodle/Sheepadoodle.) Our neighbors raise chickens so I meet her at the fence on Friday mornings for fresh eggs. Did I mention snakes are attracted to coops? Yep, I don’t mind walking to the fence.

Publishing books is a dream, no doubt⏤but plans anchor dreams, allowing them to soar to their full potential. This planner keeps me grounded.

Blog planner

Why the Book Launching is a Dream Come True
  • The book is dedicated to my maternal grandparents, Henry and Elsie Knighton. Their love for home, family, and a Sunday drive to the mountains left an indelible mark on my life. It’s one small way to say thank you.
  • The book is foreworded by Edie Melson. I met her back in 2009 when I shoved my introverted self into the closet for a few hours and attended a local writer’s group for the first time. She welcomed me from the get-go and we’ve been friends ever since. We’ve written together, slurped down lavender lattes at the local coffee shop (okay, maybe I was the only one slurping), studied God’s Word together, and joined in prayer numerous times. Thank you again, Edie.
  • It proves that if I can self-publish, anyone can. Don’t you feel encouraged?
How You Can Help Me Today {Thank You!}
  • Pray. For readers to be drawn closer to their magnificent Creator through what they see, smell, hear, taste, and touch. Also, creating the printed version this time around proved to be quite a challenge. I won’t see or hold a copy before you do, so please pray it publishes nicely. Above all, let’s pray that God receives much glory.
  • Share. Please share this post, and any Facebook or Twitter posts you might see today and in the coming weeks. There is also a designated page on my site where you can easily click and share images on Instagram and ready-to-click tweets.
  • Review. Like I said in my guest post on Edie’s site, Write Like You Believe It, Marilyn got it all wrong. Reviews are a girl’s best friend. Thank you!
Mountains MugMountains Mug Giveaway – Just in Time for Fall!

In celebration of today’s book launch, I’m giving away this uber cool mountains mug. It features a quote by John Muir (The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go) that’s included in the new book. Simply leave a comment here on the blog sharing your favorite thing about the mountains to enter. I’ll randomly draw a name using Random Name Picker on miniwebtool and post the winner on Friday via Facebook.

Your support means everything to me. Thank you!

 

Ready to Head to the Mountains? I Have Just the Book For you!

Pauses Mountain CoverAre you ready to head to the mountains?

With summer fading and hopes of autumn just around the corner, I thought it would be the perfect time to share about my new book, Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains, set to release Tuesday, September 19.

When the idea for writing vacation devotional guides emerged, I admit the beach is where it all started, but the mountains quickly followed.

There has always been some type of draw to the mountains way down deep in this old soul of mine. Maybe it’s because my mom’s parents loved the mountains and took us there for roadside picnics by the river. Or maybe it’s because we had a five-acre parcel of land that sat at the foot of a mountain that we visited most weekends while growing up that makes me love them like I do.

All I know is that the draw to be closer to the mountains was so strong that the creature of habit within me took a giant step back and allowed a sometimes-friend, adventure, to step forward and move us away from all we’d known for the past twenty plus years⎯friends, church, our century-old home, comforting backroads, and the Ice Cream Station. Don’t judge.

 

There is just something about being near to the mountains that make us feel closer to God.

 

The sheer height reminds us of the mightiness of our God while the pristine nature surrounding us woos our heart to Him like a first love. Breathing in the sweet crisp air invigorates our senses, giving us clarity of mind, a sometimes difficult commodity in our busy culture.

Pauses for the Vacationing Soul // Mountains is designed for a one week vacation but it can also be used for weekends or even a single day trip, with all seasons represented. Each day invites you to draw closer to God through a brief personal story, a scripture verse, devotion, and a sensory exercise. And did I mention Edie Melson is writing the foreword? Pauses is a prayed-over, Spirit-led, and a beloved little book I trust God will use for His glory in beautiful and unexpected ways.

Blue Ridge Mountains

I would LOVE for you to be a part of the God-Lovin’ Mountain-Goin’ Launch Team! (It doesn’t require as much time as you might think.)

 

  • Read: Because the book consists of seven days you could choose to read a devotion every day if you like. The sensory exercises could be set aside for your own vacation in the future, which helps to cut your time significantly. You would have three weeks to read it.
  • Review: I’m learning just how priceless reviews are for any book on Amazon. Your agreeing to leave a review on the launch day is THE most vital part of your commitment. I will keep you updated along the way.
  • Share: On launch day and for a few weeks afterward, I ask that you share the book on your social media platforms. If you only do Facebook, that’s fine! No pressure here — share where you feel comfortable. If you have a blog, I would welcome the opportunity to guest post (just another way to share). I’ll have pre-made tweets and Facebook postings on my site. You need only click to share! I’m all about saving you time.
In return, I will joyfully do the following:
  • Send you a FREE PDF copy of the book.
  • Mention your name in the book.
  • Mention your name on my site’s book page, along with a hyper-link to your site (I reserve the right to decline this offer, if necessary)

If you would like to be a part of a project that inspires and refreshes while drawing readers closer to God as a result, here’s an opportunity! Thanks to those of you who have already contacted me saying you would love to join the team. Your support and encouragement mean the world to me!

Want to be on the God-lovin’ Mountain-Goin’ Launch Team? Please email me via the button in the sidebar or leave a comment. I’ll be in touch — thank you!

Above all, I welcome prayer from you, my friend. Self-pubbing is not for wimps and although I’ve never considered myself to be the bravest, I feel I’ve wratched up the ol’ survival skills scale this year but I still have a ways to go.

You’re the best and I thank God for you⎯often.

“One day’s exposure to mountains is better than a cartload of books.” -John Muir

Coming to our {Summer} Senses // Friendships & A Giveaway!

Sheltering Tree

We have a sheltering tree. Its double-trunk supports wide-sprawling branches, offering respite on these sweltering days in the South.

 

Friends are like that, too.

 

When we feel we’re being bombarded by the unexpected, wayward children, or a million little things⎯all at once⎯we find comfort in a friend’s touch.

When we fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to thinner, prettier, more successful, Mary-like women, our friends are there to pull us out of the muck and speak truth into our lives.

So, last week, three friends came over for lunch. There was no agenda other than to catch up, encourage one another, and offer respite through lots of laughter, good food, and raspberry lemonade.

Centerpiece

 

Friendships⎯like trees⎯grow, mature, and blossom in a variety of ways.

 

FriendshipsFor instance, when I think of Edie, the Lily-of-the-Valley tree, better known as Sourwood, comes to mind. This tree offers beauty in all seasons. In Spring, white fragrant pearly clusters of flowers bloom profusely. In Autumn, its red leaves gloss over like shiny waxed apples. Regardless of the season of life, she finds herself in⎯joyous or downright tough⎯Edie exudes Christ. But there’s one particular characteristic about the Sourwood tree that reminds me of her. This tree is a tremendous source of nectar for bees to produce honey. Over the last 9 years, I’ve seen her selflessly pour herself, her gifts, prayers, and talents into other writers, such as myself. As God brings her own hard work to fruition, the work of countless others who have drawn wisdom and insight from her help also bring Him glory. And then they, in turn, help other writers, creating a beautiful circle of life.

Vonda’s qualities, although too many to mention (truly!) remind me of a well-loved evergreen tree called the Southern Wax Myrtle. Like the Sourwood, it too puts on a show year-round with its lustrous green leaves in the summer months and bluish gray clusters of berries in the winter. The leaves release a very aromatic scent when crushed, that smell much like a bay berry candle. Although you don’t hear Vonda complain, she sometimes carries a heavy load behind-the-scenes. But like the Myrtle tree, when she is at her weakest, “crushed” beneath the weight, there is a sweet aroma released from her soul. It’s not the fragrance of bay berry, but that of Christ. And like the Sourwood, the Wax Myrtle tree also supplies nectar for the bees. God has used both Edie and Vonda to bless a multitude of writers over the years. {Thank you!}

And then there’s Pea, aka, Dee Dee Parker. She’s my Weeping Willow tree. Her sickness earlier this year had me shedding many prayerful tears but thankfully they’re now induced by laughter. Much laughter. One interesting fact about the Weeping Willow tree is that it’s often planted by streams so that their braid-like roots will protect the bank from erosion. In the same way, Dee Dee’s prayers are woven throughout her day as she too seeks a water Source⎯Jesus. He is the only One who can ultimately refresh, restore, and renew those she lifts in prayer.

All three friends touch my life and the lives of many others in ways they’ll only know once they reach heaven.

I could learn a thing or two from these women when it comes to being a sheltering tree for others. This hasn’t exactly been a banner year for me in that department. Partly because of the new distance between me and most of my friends back in our old hometown. And in all honesty, the struggle to discover the balance for needing long stretches of writing time and life in general, is real.

But isn’t that what sheltering trees are all about? When struggles, storms, and hard situations enter our lives, we know we can find refuge beneath their branches. It is there we also find refreshment.

 

A sweet friendship refreshes the soul. Proverbs 27:9

 

Leigh Ann Thomas is a friend whose gentle spirit and tenacious love for Christ is evident in her life as well as her words. Her recent release, “Ribbons, Lace, and Moments of Grace…Inspiration for the Mother of the Bride” is no exception. I wish her book would’ve been available when our boys were getting married. Mothers of the Groom need a little inspiration (and a lot of coffee) too!

Today, I’m giving away a copy of Leigh Ann’s beautiful book to one blessed reader. If you are a mother of a bride {or groom} prepare to be inspired. If you know someone else in this role, inspire away by purchasing a copy for them. I can’t imagine a better gift.

Enter the drawing by simply answering the question below.  I’ll randomly select a name next Tuesday!

How has a friend touched you⎯refreshing your soul⎯in recent days?

 

Join our Creative Community!

Subscribe to my blog and receive a scripture-based coloring page to enjoy on your beach vacation (and another goody is on the way!) No more bookmarking, searching, or waiting. Posts (once every week during the summer) and the monthly newsletter arrive directly in your inbox. The newsletter gives you behind-the-scenes information on the blog as well as my books. Oh, and did I mention there’s a giveaway each month? Yep, it’s the place to be and we would love for you to join us. Simply go to the sidebar and enter your email address. That’s it!

 

Why I LOVE the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference // Let Me Count the Ways

Blue Ridge Sky

Five ways to be exact.

Yes, there are more. Many more⎯but I’ll stick with my top five today. Like you, I’m busy preparing for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference and it would take hours to list the reasons I absolutely love it and look forward to it every year.

 

5 Reasons I Love the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference {And You Will Too}

 

{one}

Clouds Coffee Cafe

Clouds Coffee Shop. Starbucks has nothing on this cafe since their remodel. It’s beautiful⎯but not nearly as beautiful as those who work there. Ladies like Loretta, aka, “the Foaminator” greet us with smiles and show genuine interest in our days… and they’ve seen it all. Everything from mascara-blotted cheeks following a difficult critique to giddy grins when a book proposal is accepted. If you’re searching for a place to escape, or to slurp down a fancy frappe or sip a decent cup of coffee, you’ll want to visit the Clouds.

{two}

Staff. Experts in their realm of the writing community come prepared to equip, encourage and inspire us. They’re approachable and leave a lasting impact on the lives of many. The fact that conferees are able to enjoy lunch and dinner with staffers is a bonus. I’m especially looking forward to sitting with Todd Starnes from FOX news again this year. He’s a staunch supporter of our faith but he’s also a lot of fun, as are many of those on staff. Who are you looking forward to sitting with this year?

{three}

Two Peas in One Strange Little Pod…Productions! Last year, in the wee hours of the night, my cohort in crime fellow pea, Dee Dee Parker, came up with an idea to film our disappointment over the lack of real snack food available in the vending machine on our floor. While those on the upper floors were feasting on Cheetos, candy bars, and peanuts, we were stuck with Daisy razors, plastic combs, Listerine, and hand wipes. Not to say these items weren’t needed when enclosed with hundreds of other people but we had our hygiene under control. Our appetites, not so much. We went on to produce a few more videos that week and heard more than once how our friendship inspired others, and for this, we thank God. {Watch for us again this year!}

{four}

Fellow Attendees  Fellow {Quirky} Writing Friends. You may arrive at the BRMCWC with fellow attendees but chances are, you will leave calling many of them friends. Where else can you spend days surrounded by other believers and writers who totally get you? Quirks and all.

{five}

Tech Savviness. The BRMCWC Facebook group is stellar. Especially for newcomers. There, you can ask any question you have about the BRMCWC experience. Want to know what to wear? What to pack? How to prepare for an appointment? No question is too silly. It’s a closed group and you’re among friends. You will find nothing but encouragement awaiting you. {Bravo, Bethany Jett!}

And let’s not forget the collaborative effort that goes into the BRMCWC Web site. Our exposure to top-notch information is no longer limited to one week at the conference. It’s now available five days a week. It’s obvious this team values our time by the information they share on a consistent basis. Scroll down the home page to find the Ridgecrest app. And finally, if you’re not already following Blue Ridge on Twitter, do so today – @BRMCWC.

Dee Dee Parker and Cathy Baker

The Two Peas in One Strange Little Pod…with Frappes!

So, these are my top five reasons I love Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference. I can’t imagine a better way to close out my month of LOVE posts than highlighting a conference that has changed my life in many ways.

If you are a returning attendee, what’s one thing do you love about the conference? If this is your first year to attend Blue Ridge, what are you most looking forward to?

“Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3

 

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