Years later, after becoming a widow, she lived with my family until her death. My early childhood memories of Nonna are colored with hearing her fervent prayers for the least and the lost during her daily devotion time—always in Italian, always out loud, now—and her singing worship choruses in that lovely language. These images remain with me, along with a few rustic artifacts, which I was delighted to bring back with me from my visits to that little stone house on the family farm in Italy. Now I treasure and display them in my own home, because they connect me with that place and time. My grandmother’s Italian Bible sits on my desk. But what I treasure most is my rich spiritual heritage from Nonna, the first Christ-follower in my lineage. I envision her now, in heaven singing with the angels…
Come bello camminare/con Gesu, nostro signore...
100 Most Beautiful Words
A spoken or written work in praise of someone.
A person who enjoys fine living, especially food and drink.
A sudden revelation.
“Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. Switchback after switchback. And the point of biblical stories like Joseph and Job and Esther and Ruth is to help us feel in our bones (not just know in our heads) that God is for us in all these strange turns. God is not just showing up after the trouble and cleaning it up. He is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and for the glory of Jesus Christ.”
— John Piper
"Humility is perfect quietness of heart, It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble."
Book Review: Grumble Hallelujah:
Learning to love your life even when it lets you down
Caryn Rivadeneira (Tyndale House)
From the cover:
"This is not how my life was supposed to be."
If you had told Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira while she was crying on the kitchen floor that she could find a way to praise God in this situation, she wouldn't have believed you. In fact, she might have thrown something at you. Looking around at a life that was disappointingly different from what she'd dreamed, she couldn't imagine honestly singing out a hallelujah. But the it occurred to her that...well, maybe she could grumble one.
Have you been there? During life's lowest moments, it is so tempting to blame ourselves, our circumstances, or God. But what would happen if we turned to God with praise instead, in whatever way we could? Might he help us find the things in our lives that he made to be loved?
If you're desperate for hope, relief, and perspective form a friend who understands your struggle, Grumble Hallelujah offers humor, candid stories, and solid scriptural backing that will help you see clearly just how your life is meant to be lived—and loved.
I must confess that I been dismayed at the way authenticity is sometimes lacking in Christian community. We all know that everyone "has stuff" but somehow we've bought into the message that it's not okay to express ourselves in our struggles, that doing so makes us somehow less spiritual. In this book, the author, with great insight and humor, gets real, and shows us how, within our struggles over disappointment at life's unexpected twists and turns, we can still find a way towards transformation and spiritual growth. She does this with very practical steps on how to let go of the things that deter us from moving forward. There are helpful questions for reflection and discussion at the end of each chapter. I was especially impacted by the chapters on grieving our losses, living satisfied, and letting go of the things that hold you down. Some important quotes:
"If we can't exhibit the depths of pain, neither can we fully share the heights of our joy."
"More often than not, the junk that holds us back and keeps us stuck is our desire to be in control and our own fear."
"We need to be willing to let go of what's supposed to be and grab hold of what God has in store."
We all live with disappointment, and there are countless treasures to be mined here for wherever you are in the process of "getting real" about it—all backed up by scripture and illuminating stories. I found this book to be deep, refreshing, hopeful and helpful, and I highly recommend it—both for individuals as well as to work through in a small group.