I should probably be more happy or even more psychologically and emotionally stable right now.  But, alas, I’m more terrified than anything.

I finally told my story.

I wrote it in an actual book.

It took three years and three complete rewrites.

It’s finally coming out.

I should be thrilled, that’s what they all say.

But instead, I spent most of last week wiping away the leftover mascara I kept crying off, wading through sleepless nights like I did that summer twenty years ago when I burned my life to the ground.

Too many days of waking up after too little sleep,  splashing water on my face, reminding myself that it’s all okay now, that those impossible days are over.

Except they aren’t, for any of us, ever, this side of heaven.

Tears are good, I keep telling myself.

I’ve never really been able to tie my life or my past up in a pretty bow so that it all perfectly makes sense, even to me.  The last chapter of my book takes place in the cemetery where Daddy is buried, a place I run to more often than I care to admit, even now.

The truth is, life is messier than ever (I think that’s normal) and the place where I was hoping I would have ARRIVED to in my ripe old middle age keeps moving, always just beyond where I am, always an illusion that keeps me thinking some day I’ll have all this figured out.

I’ve written in this space for eight years and almost none of the stories in my book have been shared.  You might have found me because I like to post pretty pictures of my house or because I LOVE to make soup. But the real story of who I am  I am is a story I never thought I’d tell.

It’s a story of fatherlessness, of being untethered and unspoken for, of spending a lifetime looking for love in every wrong place.

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Of watching my life burn down around me in a million ways and sometimes setting fire to it myself.

So many times both literally and figuratively, I have sat in ash heap of my own life wondering how I got there and why there was always so much loss.

But maybe I was asking the wrong question.

Maybe a better question is who?

Who is all this for?

I think I finally know the answer.

This song says it better than I can.

But the short answer is, I wrote this book for us.

For my own healing and hopefully yours too.

I wrote it because I lived too long with hurts that kept me paralyzed.

I wrote because I was tired of running.  I wrote it because I finally saw that the path to peace was back through the rubble, back to the people and the places that I call home.

And for you.

I wrote it because I see that look in your eyes. I hear all the things you can’t say.  I see the hurt and the questions and the years of heartache. In so many ways, I know how your suffering has bankrupted you because I’ve lived it too.

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I know because you’ve told me so, in your emails and messages and texts.  Our heartbreak has made us sisters— like people who know some kind of secret language.

I know I don’t have all the answers for you, but God has given me words— a song to sing, a strained anthem, a broken hallelujah.

It’s called All the Pretty Things and it’s the only thing I know to bring to your fire.

Most of time all any of us can do for one another when life is crashing down around us is show up—with a casserole or maybe some cake with buttercream icing (that’s my preferred token of love, in case you ever need to know) and hopefully some words.

But my question is, what kind of words will we show up with when our sister gets cancer or her child dies or the money runs out, along with the hope and the fathers and all the American dreams?

What will we bring to her suffering?

Will we secretly wonder what she’s done to deserve this pit she’s in?

Will we wait for something to be revealed that helps explain the mess and chaos?

Will we be too scared to say the wrong thing and end up saying nothing at all.

(That’s what I’ve done too many times to count.)

Or will we sit with her and sing a song of blessed redemption—while the roof topples over and the side walls crack.

Will we carry her cross when she’s too weak to walk, will we sit with her in the heat and the pain?

This book is a flimsy gift in way, but it’s the one I’ve been given.

It’s me showing up to your fire with a few words, a lot of tears, and a hope that the gates of Hell haven’t been able to smother. 

If I’ve learned anything from living my story, I’ve learned that nothing eternal burns so we might as well brave the heat and sit with each other. It’s all I know to do.

Speaking from experience, this fire probably won’t be the last and none of us will ever be the same.

God will use it to burn the scales from our eyes that keep us from seeing Him and all the gifts He keeps lavishing on us while the world blazes.

Nothing is impossible for our Father. Nothing is beyond His repair and forgiveness and restoration. Nothing is beyond His wild and ravishing love.

Let it burn and in the end, we’ll watch for promise of His resurrection.

****

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I hope my story will lead you to tell your own.

Tell your story, change your life.

I believe it with all my heart.

And a million thank yous for all your love and support over the years. I could not have written this without you.

Love you forever,

xoxo,

edie

 

37 comments on “All the Pretty Things, My Broken Hallelujah”

  1. Hi! I have clicked around, and I see links for getting ‘goodies,’ but I cannot find a link that actually takes me somewhere that I can purcahse or preorder the book. Can you post a link? Everything takes me to a page that says ‘preorder now,’ but I don’t see where I actually put my info in to pre order.

    Thank you!!

  2. All the Pretty Things arrived in the mail yesterday. It’s been difficult to read because my tears blurred every page. I fell asleep last night with your book on my chest – over my heart – where I carry you and yours. I’m remembering things from long ago, another lifetime (Hickory Hill?).
    Thank you for this memoir. For pouring out your heart and soul on every page. I love you all. ❤
    Peace Be With You darlin’…..

  3. My copy arrives today and I can’t wait! Though I just cried my way through this post so I may be a weepy mess while reading. I have been reading this blog for many many years and always felt a deeper story was there. I feel we have walked many parallels and know your story will be a blessing as your words ALWAYS are. God has already used you mightily in my life and I’m certain many multitudes more. That is sure to only be magnified by the release of your truth in book form. Praying many blessings and His perfect peace upon you as your heart is released to the world. Our world is a better place for your transparency. Much love and continued prayers…

  4. I just got notification that my copy was delivered this morning. I can’t wait to get home! You are continuously one that delivers His word to me. God’s grace is on you and shining so brightly. I know your book will touch so many lives, including mine. Love to you and your people!

  5. Thank you for your love and your bravery and your honesty, edie. I will be buying your book asap! I have found in the bottom of the pit is where we learn to embrace our true selves, in all of our mess and brokenness, and cling to our Savior who sits with us in there and who promises to bring us out again. How beautiful for our brothers and sisters to not run from the pain in another’s story, but to get down in the pit with us and rely on the mercies of God together. Praying that you will experience no shame as your story is shared, but be awed by the power of God to use your life to bring glory to the Lord Jesus. Much love to you, my sister!

  6. We drove home from our vacation last night to find the welcome of a burgeoning box of mail and your book was right on top! I quickly read the last chapter of my holiday read, done, check. I made a cup of tea and settled in to read the first chapter. I read part of it out loud to my daughter (she’s only 7, so I edited a little while I read) and we both fell in love with your voice and your heart. I know already this book will break my heart wide open. It is a work of love and it shows from the first page. Edie, you are a gem. You are a precious soul and your generosity in writing this book will bless so many people… I feel it in my bones. Three years is a long gestation period, but it reads so well! Your voice is vivid, your soul is evident, your story is immediately captivating. Your editors done you right. :o) I can’t wait to read the whole thing! But first – life after vacation (aka: LAUNDRY).

  7. Hello!
    I pre-ordered mine through Amazon, and it was at the end of May. I did enter my email address into the boxes, but there wasn’t any place to add a receipt number. I am looking forward to reading it when it ships in October!

  8. Edie, I got your book in the mail yesterday and just finished it. I got online to tell you thank you for writing it. I am nowhere near as good with words as you are, but I want you to understand the multitude of places in my heart and on my soul your story has reached. My story is different from yours in many ways, but in the deeper ways I feel like we share some common threads. My father was not an alcoholic but in all the ways it mattered he didn’t show up for us-and I think you and I are wired in some of the same ways b/c I totally identified with some of the words you said about yourself. So, your words, your story of how our God is a redeeming God brings so much hope and renewed fervor for me. Thank you, my Christian sister, for sharing your testimony with all of us. I know it was healing for you to write it, but God is already using it in the lives of others for the same purpose.
    Thank you so much!

  9. “Nothing is impossible for our Father. Nothing is beyond His repair and forgiveness and restoration. Nothing is beyond His wild and ravishing love.” Your words spoke to me this morning. The Lord told me nearly five years ago that He was “not surprised by my imagined emergencies” and I’ve had to remind myself of that 100x in the last 5 years. You’re right. Nothing is impossible with our Father. Yesterday something happened that was a first step in a restoration process in my family. It’s been 5 years of fear, worry, brokenness, anger … emotions run the gammit … but yesterday I saw a light. Thank you for your words Edie. I can’t wait to read your book.

  10. Oh, Friend, your book is in my hands! I cannot wait to start turning the pages! And this song. Wow! Praying your words travel far and long, touch hearts, and radically change us!
    Thank you for this message!
    Tammy

  11. Edie,
    You are right in saying I stumbled on you a few years ago because of a Christmas Holiday Home Tour! But little did I know how finding you has impacted me. I just felt there was more to you. We like to say here in Kentucky “more than meets the eye”. You have a soul and spirit that draws people in, and normally than means somewhere along the way we were in “a fire” of our own making, or of another’s own making against us. You’re not a rookie. You have been through it to get to where you’re at. I too, had an alcoholic father and mother. I too have felt “fatherless” and alone for ole so long. My father died in 1986 at the age of 60. And 30 years later, I still struggle with my past. My mother is 86 but I never felt I got what I needed from either of them. And so on and on it goes. But, God is good. God is merciful. God is compassionate. Along the way, I have started to figure things out. I’m 59 years old and with age I have gained some godly wisdom. I am learning to forgive, and hopefully heal. Your book inspired me so much. I cried so hard at your last chapter, at your’s daddy’s grave. It brought such vivid memories to my mind about my daddy, and this has really rattled me. So much so, that I’m writing this. To let you know, thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I wish I had your courage and strength to tell my story. Because you are right. We all a story to tell and we help others when we do. I’m just a country girl from a rural setting. I was raised rough as a cob, and I did write my story a few years ago, but I don’t have the courage to tell it. So maybe, there’s always a maybe with me. I can do something about that after reading yours. Keep writing. Keep giving back. You are truly a blessing. Your sister in Christ.
    Betty

    • Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this.
      Writing your story, published or not, is so healing.
      Bless you and thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to say these words of blessing.
      All my love.
      xoxo

  12. Edie, I read your book in less than 24hrs…and that says a lot as I’m a Momma to nine with my youngest just 10wks. old! I could NOT put it down! Each time I started a new chapter I swore to myself, “Okay, I’ll take a break from reading after this chapter…” but your writing drew me in and made that impossible! Thank goodness for long breastfeeding sessions 😉
    I have followed your blog for about 4yrs now and I met you at the 2013 Becoming Conference…reading your book was such a beautiful, deeper insight to all that I already love about you! Thank you for your open and REAL expression of life, both the good and the bad. You’ve shared that it took three rewrites to finish this book…well, third time was definitely a charm! You’re truly a gifted, engaging author!
    God bless you!

    • Hey Kristy!!
      If you preorder it, you get a full digital download to read!
      And some folks got their books already from preordering but I think they’ve stopped shipping them now.
      Hope that helps!

  13. Hi Edie,
    I’ve read your blog for years, originally drawn in by your way of talking about books and home.
    I bought your book, read it during every spare moment, loved it and now cannot stop thinking about it. Thank you for being brave and sharing your story.
    Susan

  14. I just now this minute finished the last word of your book. You were destined to live this life, to pen these words, to remind us how we must die to self in order to live the life Christ intends, His gift, for us. I went to a family reunion in Kingsport this weekend and I didn’t take my iPad so I couldn’t read the rest of your story while I was gone. I now know why. Yesterday I stood at my father’s grave site, with the beauty of those majestic East Tennessee mountains, the sun shining, and had no emotion which is unusual for me. I was there with my Mother and oldest daughter with her two little ones who never had a chance to meet their Great Grandfather. Daddy was my rock and he’s been gone for 6 years and I agonize every single day over his leaving though I know he’s better off without that devil cancer torturing his body. I studied the little girls dancing around the headstone. I watched my oldest daughter fight tears to wait for a private moment to let them flow. I held my Momma while she shivered with missing him. I was there in body only. I had spent three days receiving perfect unconditional love from my Aunts. A tenderness and sweetness that is so comforting and something I didn’t realize I needed until I was there. I retired in December and I’ve been edgy and angry at myself for unexplained reasons. I stopped going to church about the same time my Daddy passed. I can’t explain it. After returning home to Brentwood and getting in bed to read at last, I came to part in your book when your Daddy passed and every tear I never shed came rushing out of my eyes and soul. It was a cleansing I needed and my heart broke for both of us, Edie. The intensity of events in your life…..there are no words. You’ve helped me realize that we must die to self to really live, those words of C. S. Lewis….and that is so true! I’ve been searching everywhere for joy and yes, there are happy times but I’m talking about that deep joy that comes from knowing the Father. Dying to self and knowing Christ Jesus… I’m reminded of this through your story and I thank you for peeling back all the layers to reveal Him and His love for us. You are called to be a healer, Edie. Not only of the physical body but revealing the Father to us all with your life’s story. It might have been scary for you to pen all the events that shaped who you are but it was your destiny to give Christ to us through your life story. Thank you. I feel lighter than I’ve felt in a long while. Thank you for sharing the joy and pain and realness. I just can’t form the right words to tell you how this book has impacted me. Love you! I’m sorry this is so long but I didn’t know any other way to get you this message.

  15. Edie, the book is beautiful.
    I do not comment on blogs, but I wanted to tell you that.
    You honored your family and God through this book.
    Thank you for being brave and sharing.

    Laura

  16. Edie, I’m brand new here. This column and the song stunned me, so gorgeous and stark and naked. Thank you. It feels like you are the answer to a prayer; another originally Christian blogger that I followed and loved so much seems (I say seems because how do I really know her heart), seems to have lost her way. I need sisters who love Jesus and find in the seeking, hope and pain and healing and love. Thank you.

    NOW, I can’t find a way to subscribe to your blog – help, please?

  17. Hi Edie! I just finished your book. I’ll tell you I got nothing else done around the house yesterday, because I kept going back to pick it up and read “…just one more chapter.” Thank you for sharing your story. Praying God blesses this beautiful work.

    Adrienne

  18. I ordered my copy just before I left on vacation a week ago…..to Savannah. I read the entire book that week and then Hurricane Matthew bore down on that beautiful city and we managed to get out in the nick of time. I think it’s a contrasting picture in the fact that many of life’s most painful moments can’t always be escaped. In your book you shared that so bravely and transparently. That will bring healing to many……not that our own journeys disappear but rather they become lighter when they are brought out into the open! The more we talk about our pain with trusted friends, and share it, it’s like pressure being released from a pressure cooker.

    I was raised and rejected by a step father who was an alcoholic and so there were so many parts of your story I could relate to. Over the years I see how God has used my past to lead me to Himself and also to be a listening ear for the hurting. God is doing the same for you.

    I’m part of a group of women who all have struggling adult children….a place that is safe, where we support and pray for one another and our children and grandchildren. It has been a lifeline for me in my pain. Community dissipates loneliness, shared brokenness brings healing, I’m learning that I have a good heavenly FATHER who ultimately is working Romans 8:28 AND 29 into our lives. THANK YOU EDIE for blessing me with your story.

    Bless you dear friend and I look forward to meeting you one day, if not here, than in Heaven.

  19. This is our book club read for the evening. It was my month to pick. I found this story to be unique and inspiring and hoping my friends found it to be the same. There is something so great to read a story of someone surrounded by dysfunction who has a redemptive story of survival and comes out of it becoming a whole, healthy person. It is as process, of course, and by sharing this story, you encourage others to not give up, to take that step to wellness and wholeness. Thank you for sharing your life.

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