… my friend wrote a book

“Faith isn’t faith until it’s all you’re left holding on to …”
A View From There ~ Angela Slaughter

I sat next to her.  It wasn’t the first time we had sat down together to share a cup of coffee, visit over lunch or fellowship with our friends.  But it was the first time we had the opportunity to get together, the two of us since the book had been published.  My mentor, the one who, without even knowing had encouraged me to start the blog, this amazing woman who had now written a book; copies shoved into her stylish bag that she throws over her shoulder as she pulls her floppy hat down over her face …  humbly she stands behind the cover quietly admitting she is an author.

Chapter 1, third page in and I refused to read another word.  The house was quiet, the kids were with him and the one he had left me for.  They tell a very different story than what actually happened, they have to.  A husband, a father of 3 , a child with special needs that he walked away from for someone a mere 4 years older than my oldest; I trusted her, I confided in her and in the end she betrayed me more than he.  I had just spent hours writing about the importance of letting your past be just that, your past and the emotional freedom you receive when you let go of all that has hurt you and here I was Chapter 1, third page in reliving my life in black and white, right there on the paper in front of me.

I have come to dread the sting, the sting that comes before the tears.  The flood of cries that come from a heart that has been broken not once, not twice but many times over by those you love the most.  The pieces of your life scattered before your feet as you stand there, head down staring at them like a jigsaw puzzle wishing that if you could just put those pieces back together then everything would be okay, life would be good again, the picture complete and the tears … they would no longer sting.  I could hear my sobs echoing throughout the house, bouncing off the walls making their way back to my heart.  My heart literally ached, the hurt that those had caused it could be physically felt deep inside my chest.

I had been giving the book away to anyone I could get to take it.  I knew it was good, I knew it would hurt and I knew that it would heal.  She knew I hadn’t read it yet.  She knew that I would, in my time and she laughed that laugh of hers when I told her I had bought 25 copies from Harps and had yet to open the cover.  I couldn’t even read the description of the inside off the back.  I knew once I did I would have to commit to the story and I wasn’t ready for it yet.  I knew deep down I needed this book, I needed her words to encourage me as they had years ago.  I needed to find who I was, not continue to allow myself to be defined by the mistakes I had made in my life, but that there was hope and love and something good waiting for me.  So I read and the more I read I began to find myself in the pages of the book, I was there in that small town of Arkansas.  I knew the places, the people and I knew the story.  I knew this story all too well.

It was early Saturday morning and I had spent most of the night reading.  As I listened to the coffee drip into my favorite mug I made my way around the house turning on the lamps to light the quiet rooms.  The day outside was dark and cold, a perfect day to stay in and read.  My phone rang, 8am … not unusual as this is about the time my mom and I talk every morning.  But it was not like her to call this early on a Saturday when I didn’t have the kids.  I already knew, as if the ring had a tone that signaled bad news.  She had passed several days ago, I had never even met her but I knew who she was and my heart hurt for her children.  She had impacted an area of my life, one of the loves lost; a mistake that I was not going to allow to define me or be used against me as few have tried.  It was a part of my past that I had let go of.  She was my age, her children the same age as mine.  Within moments of this news, another phone call.  He had passed away early that dreary Saturday morning.  He was 16 years old and like her I had never even met him.  Many years ago a bond had formed with his mother; a sisterhood, a sorority if you will of a group of girls whose paths crossed for such a short time but we grieved with our dear friend that morning.

I longed to read, I wanted to know more about this character who only a few could see.  I knew there was a death, but who and why and when I found out, it became my reality.  When AC died I was furious with God.  I can remember begging and pleading with Him to save my brother, He could and I desperately needed Him to.  Our family would not be the same without him.  For a month I cried out to God to show me He existed, I was losing faith.

“Sometimes you just have to trust without a miracle …” 
A View From There ~ Angela Slaughter

Nathan was 6 months old when we lost AC.  Caroline and Alex had never met him, but they knew who he was.  His memory is kept alive with childhood stories that draw him into their hearts.  There are pictures, not a lot just a handful and they are all of he and I when we were younger.  Nathan used to tell me that Uncle AC would play basketball with him and  I was too mad at God to believe that his presence was here with us, seen only by those who God chose.  I told myself that Nathan had seen pictures of his Uncle playing ball and had made up this silly tale he would tell …. until the day Caroline told me Uncle AC had colored her with all afternoon.  I told her to tell me what he looked like and she took me to a picture that I had next to my bed of him when he was her age.  This wasn’t the first time he had colored with her, and this time, unlike with Nathan I believed that he was real to her.  My reality is not the loss of my brother, but the future loss of Elizabeth.  While we have no idea how long we each have here, as that early Saturday morning proved … we do know that her tiny body is fragile and doctors have told me time and time again that every morning she wakes up is a gift.  My last prayer at night before I close my eyes is that I will feel her hand on my shoulder, hear her voice and wake to see her standing next to my bed.  For 12 years I have prayed this same prayer, I need that miracle to know that God is who He is.  Just like AC, I have had to learn to trust God without it.  But then I am reminded of the miracles I have seen … Elizabeth is here, she is 12 years old when she wasn’t supposed to live for an hour after her birth.  And last year, how do you explain the story of our doctor who would not leave her side, who for 14 hours felt the presence of God Himself in that operating room.  Trust, how very difficult it is for me … so many have stolen that, so much that even God is challenged by me to prove He is trustworthy.

“… no moment of your life happens by chance.”
A View From There ~ Angela Slaughter

So this life and all that has taken place in it, He knows it all.  He has heard my laughter when life has been good and He has comforted me when those cries have echoed through the darkness.  He has brought me through the toughest of times and even when I have thrown my hands up in rage and questioned His love, His protection, His plan … the View From There belongs to those whose lives He and only He has chosen, those that have completed the work He laid out for them to accomplish here and for those of us He leaves it is by faith we must live.

A book, classified as fiction that all who read will find a piece of their real life deep inside the page filled chapters.  It will take you out of your comfort zone and into a life that throws you into the hands of God in ways you never thought possible.  If you are not ready to let go of your past, it’s time to read this story.

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