Sep 142014

kids sermon

My church –bless their brave, beautiful souls– lets me offer the children’s sermon on Sundays.

Here’s what I said to my Little Loves Today:

Hello to my favorite people on my favorite day in my favorite place!

Remember how I taught you that one of the most repeated lines in the Bible is: ”Do not be afraid?” Today’s Bible story is one of my favorites because it helps me remember to not be afraid.

Here’s the story:

God called some people to do a really hard thing – to travel through the desert for a very long time, and they were hungry and tired and scared. Do you ever feel hungry and tired and scared?

I do. Lots of times every day, usually.

Well, these people who were hungry and tired and scared prayed to God and said. “God! Help us!”

And God said, “Of course I will help you – I will always help you because I love you.” So God started pouring bread from the sky every morning. This magic bread was called manna. And God said – don’t even worry about saving this up, because I am going to rain down new blessings of manna every single morning for you. I will make sure that every day you have enough, because I love you.

And Loves: I think that ‘s also what God wants YOU to know today.  That every morning God will look at you and know exactly what blessings you need for that particular day. And that God will rain down those blessings for you fresh each morning. And that you will always have enough. Today, tomorrow and forever.

Do you remember our special prayer that Jesus taught us? The Lord’s Prayer? Remember that part that says: “Give us this day our daily bread?”  Well, bread doesn’t mean just food. Daily bread means everything we need to live and love that day. We only get what we need one day at a time.  That’s the way it works. But we wish we didn’t have to start over each day. Sometimes we’d prefer to pray for our yearly or monthly or weekly bread. Because we love to feel safe. But God loves trust. And maybe God knows that if we were able to save up- we wouldn’t  have to go to God every day and trust God to show up each morning with fresh blessings, would we?

And so maybe God just gives us enough each day so everyday God will get to see our faces. So every morning we’ll come back  with our open, empty hands and say: Please send us what we need for TODAY. Send us enough love and courage and food and money and wisdom for Today.  And we trust that we don’t have to worry about tomorrow because it’s always today, and you have promised us that we will always have enough for today.

Let’s end with a prayer.

Dear God, help us not worry about tomorrow or next week or next year. Help us stay in TODAY, believing that whatever today calls for, you will send.  Amen.

I love you so much-  and so does your whole church family. YOU ARE LOVED. Always and completely and No Matter What. Off you go to Sunday School.


Love, G

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Sep 102014


I just dropped Chase off at middle school. MIDDLE SCHOOL.

Like I’ve been doing for three weeks now- I let him out of the car. I let him walk away from me and toward that huge building filled with PEOPLE AND DYNAMICS AND IDEAS and other horrible wonderful things that will break his heart and MAKE his heart and that I have no business trying to control. I let him walk toward a life that is HIS and not mine. Toward experiences that he is meant to have without me. Toward journeys he has to take alone.

Someone needs to create a word that describes what happens inside of a mama’s heart as she’s watching her child walk into a school building. We need a word for the feeling that overtakes her after saying goodbye to her infant who is somehow masquerading as a young MAN and who is walking away from her into his adolescent life. A word to describe the phenomena that is a mother sitting helplessly in her empty van while her heart silent screams her daily PLEASEPLEASEPLEASES!!! PLEASE be good to him Please see his strengths and overlook his weaknesses Please sit by him at lunch. Please smile back when he smiles. Please want to be his partner. Please be gentle. Pleasepleaseplease.PLEASE.

And how as she watches him walk away- toward the unknown of his day and away from the KNOWN of her (SO BRAVE! HOW DID HE GET SO BRAVE??? IS THIS LEVEL OF INSANE BRAVENESS EVEN WISE????) her head understands that the world is unfolding as it should. Her head KNOWS that all is well. That he is beginning his LIFE and that LIFE in all its bruty is what he came here for. And that he is ready. But her heart will not receive that memo. Her heart wants to run after him and pull him close and say: JUST JOKING HONEY! WE MADE A MISTAKE! THIS IS TOO MUCH! Come home and we will stay together forever and I will make sure that life NEVER HAPPENS TO YOU. Don’t worry. We will snuggle forever. Because I am not ready.

So she just sits in her empty van for a moment- holding up the car line for a split second too long. Her body is temporarily paralyzed, short circuited by the opposing messages from her head and her heart. The mixed messages SWARM her being and all at once she feels pride and fear and terror and excitement and hope and hopelessness and tenderness and ferocity and loss and gain. All these emotions swirl until her heart becomes so swollen that it threatens to escape out of her throat into tears and so she instructs herself to snap out of it. She shakes herself a bit. She breathes deeply and shrugs it all off and she drives away. And on her way home she tries to restore her heart to its original size by thinking of other things. Practical things. Because it’s all too much. Whatever that feeling is- it’s a lot like looking right at the sun. It’s simply too bright to stand for longer than a moment.

Is it love? Is the word love? Damn. Love wins but love hurts.

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Sep 092014

5 Ways to Help Your Grieving Friend

We’ve never launched another author’s book here at Momastery. Today is a first, which is fitting because Rare Bird is a one-of-a-kind book.

Yesterday was the third anniversary of the death of Jack — the beloved son of my friend Anna Whiston-Donaldson. Three years ago yesterday, Jack and his little sister Margaret went out to play in the summer rain and Margaret returned alone. Jack was literally swept away. It is all unthinkable. But the miracle is that Anna thought about it. She looked all of it right in the eye and she did not turn away. She did not run or numb or fade. She felt it all and bore it all and so the hole left by Jack has become a Holy Hole for Anna.

Anna grieved and she still grieves, but somehow she grieves with great hope. And she channels her grief into service to the world. To that end, she wrote RARE BIRD – which LAUNCHES TODAY. Rare Bird is a book about Jack’s life and death. It’s about how a family survives the loss of one of its own and it’s about hope and miracles and pain and redemption. Rare Bird is an absolute masterpiece.

The incredible thing about this book is that while Anna is telling the story of her family- she is also telling the Story of Grief. Anna gives the world an incredible gift as she becomes Grief’s Translator. The horror of grief is that it so rarely can explain itself. Grief stuns the griever into silence or wordless wails so that those who love the griever cannot know what she feels or needs. And so the griever become even more alone, more isolated, with less hope. The magic of Rare Bird is that- ANNA BUILDS A BRIDGE FOR US- a bridge from our heart into the heart of the griever. Anyone committed to becoming a better friend or a wiser human being should read this book.

Please, please –  let us not say: I can’t. I won’t read it. It’s too much. That pain is too much. That is not what we say to someone in grief.  And it’s simply not true. We can bear each other’s grief and joy. That is what we’re here for, in fact. And so please remember that loss is not contagious but it is inevitable. Loss visits us all. And so when a prophet steps forward and says: Let me teach you. Let me tell you how this feels so that you can be ready when loss comes to you- and so that you can be ready to serve when grief comes to your friend. We say: YES. Tell me. I’ll listen. And I will understand that in telling me your story you are offering me a GIFT. I accept. Thank you. 

This book is a GIFT that Anna has offered to the world. Let us say THANK YOU and buy it and read it and give it. Let us do our part to conquer at least the alone part of grief. We can beat that part. Rare Bird will help.

One of the gifts of Rare Bird is the glimpse into how to help a friend in crisis. Below, Anna shares her wisdom with us.

ALSO- Listen to our podcast to hear Anna and me discuss how we met, writing, faith, and why – on the night of the accident- my van never made it to her house.

Anna Whiston-Donaldson’s
Five Ways to Help Your Grieving Friend

Show up.

Memorialize and Honor.



Don’t Give Up.

1) Show up. Go to her house. Go to the funeral. Mark your calendar for a few days or a week afterward to stop by with a latte and a hug. Do it again. Grief is isolating, while also being exhausting and overwhelming. Your friend will likely need you to initiate for a while, but if you remind yourself to “Just Show Up” physically and emotionally, you will help her heal.

2) Memorialize and honor. Honor your friend’s loved one by attending vigils, visitations, and any charity events held in his or her name. Support causes that are meaningful to the family. If you did know the loved one, write down your memories to give to your friend. If you didn’t, that’s okay too!  Let yourself learn about him or her through your friend. Keep your eyes and heart open for a meaningful way to honor him or her. A few women tied blue ribbons around trees and mailboxes in our neighborhood, and it spread throughout town as a way to memorialize our son. Small gifts such as a special piece of jewelry, a book, candle, or artwork, may give your friend something to hold onto even as her tangible connection to her loved one feels like it is slipping away.

3) Listen. Your quiet presence and silent hug mean MUCH MORE to your friend than any grand gesture. Supporting  a friend is scary because we are terrified of saying the wrong thing. Words are next to useless at a time like this, so give yourself a break. A simple “I’m so sorry” and a listening ear are enough. Your intention is pure, and your friend will be able to sense that. “Do you want to tell me what these past few days have been like?” might be a way to give her permission to open up if she wants to. But silence is okay.

4) Remember: Remember the birthday of the deceased, and the anniversary or the time of year of his or her death. Call, text, or send a card– “I’m thinking of you today as you miss your mom.” Or, make a note to reach out on a significant holiday such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or Valentine’s Day. Depending on the situation, this could also be the first day of school, or the opening day of baseball season when the pain could be acute. Don’t worry that you will be reminding your friend of her loss. She is likely already thinking about it, and your small acknowledgment will let her know you are too. Find a way to bring up the loved one’s name in conversation. The more you do it, the easier it gets, “I watched the Yankees play last week and thought of Jack,” or “Your mom really loved summer, didn’t she?”  This helps your friend know that even though time has passed, you still remember.

5) Don’t give up: Your friendship may feel one sided for a while. You may be tempted to back off, give your friend space, or let her reach out to you once she knows what she needs. You may even feel a bit let down that she seems to be relating to others more than you these days. Perhaps she has formed bonds with others who have experienced a similar loss, and you are wondering what this means for your friendship. The key is to keep letting her know you care. Let go of expectations of how/if she will respond. Grief is extremely disorienting and lonely, and you can stave off some of that by being consistently present even if that is just through Facebook, texts, and (unreturned) phone messages.  Yes, your friend has changed due to her experience, but she still loves and needs you. And if you are willing to walk beside her in her grief, you will both be richer for it.


Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest