For quite some time, my mom has been trying to get me to read this book that a couple friends of hers wrote. Actually, to say they were “friends” is to sell the relationship short by quite a lot. Mom and Dad have known Holly and Heather Wall for as long as I can remember. I have a couple of early memories of these sweet ladies, because they lived just up the street from us in Jefferson City. I remember walking home from their house one evening talking with my dad about some lights he wanted to put in the driveway. I remember them coming over to our house to babysit. I remember their sister Heidi sitting with me on the bus my first few days of kindergarten. But when we moved away from Jefferson City in 1991, our families’ lives went separate ways.
As a teenager, I heard the tragedy Holly and Heather suffered when they both lost their husbands in the same horrific canoeing accident. At the time, I remember thinking “oh how awful!” But they weren’t a part of our lives anymore, and as sorry as I was for them, I soon forgot about their sad story. That is, until now.
Somehow, my mom heard about book Holly and Heather had published, called Dancing on My Ashes about how the Lord has brought them through all that grief and pain into something more wonderful than could have dreamed of themselves. Through the modern marvel that is Facebook, my mom reconnected with Holly and Heather. She eventually got a copy of their book to support them, read it and loved it. It came into mom’s life at an especially good time, because she was able to pass it on to a family friend of ours who recently and unexpectedly lost her husband of over 30 years.
But mom wanted me to read it, too. I kept putting it off, because I had other things I wanted to read more, and honestly, I didn’t think it would have much to say to me. I know that at some point in my life, I’ll experience pain and tragedy, but that isn’t where I am right now. I am living my dream life in a cute house with the man I love, staying at home with my precious baby every day. Why should I read a book about how to handle grief?
But yesterday I picked it up because it was the only book handy when I needed something to read for a few minutes. (Okay, while I’m being honest, I’ll admit…. I was going to the bathroom.) But a few minutes with the book was all it took – I was hooked. I couldn’t put it down. I read the entire book yesterday, and I was blown away by how it challenged me. The story of what happened to these two ladies was compelling, and kept me reading, but the way the Lord spoke to my heart while I was reading is something that will stay with me a long time.
The faith that has grown in Holly and Heather’s lives as a result of the pain they’ve suffered caused me to examine my life and wonder if Christ is really my all-consuming pursuit as he should be. And I have to admit, I wasn’t super pleased with what I found when I started to really allow the Lord to search my heart. Too often, I pursue other things – things that won’t last. I watch TV for hours on days I forget to read my Bible. I listen to country music in the car instead of worship music. I spend an afternoon on the computer planning how I’ll spend birthday money, but don’t always take time to seek the Lord’s guidance when we’re faced with more important decisions. And I’m not saying that TV or country music or shopping are inherently bad. I’m just becoming more aware that for me, those things often crowd out time with God.
I think I already knew that on some level, but reading Holly and Heather’s book yesterday made me come face-to-face with that truth. So thank you girls, for writing this book. And thanks, mom, for telling me to read it. If you’re looking for a good book to read, let me tell you – this is it!