Today is the day my dad's book, entitled Between Heaven & the Real World: My Story, hit the bookstores. I would encourage you all to check it out (you can purchase it HERE). I think you will be blessed and find it encouraging.
I sat with my girls the other night, after they stopped by my dad's Facebook LiveSigning to receive their own copies of his book (they were so excited!), and read aloud the first chapter. It was kind of surreal . . . reading my dad's story to my own children. I was asked this weekend how I feel about my dad releasing this book . . . I think the first thing that pops into my mind is "privileged." There are so many of us that wish we knew the stories of those that pioneered the way for us and our families. It is no small thing, and I certainly don't take it for granted, that I have both my mom's story (Choosing to SEE) and my dad's story in book form. Forever, we will have a written account to share with our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren of the faithfulness of God to our family. So, the first thing I feel is grateful for this privilege. I find myself inspired to continue writing bits and pieces of my own story . . . to declare the faithfulness of God in my own experience, to remind myself of the ways God has provided for me, and hopefully in doing so, encourage others to discover God at work in their own lives.
I think I'd be lying if I didn't also say I have had some nerves . . . not bad nerves . . . just nervous nerves regarding the release of dad's book. The nature of my dad's career has lent itself to our family's story, and bits and pieces of my own upbringing, being lived in the "public eye." Everything from radio singles, to our family's adoption journey, to the loss of Maria, have been accessible by many. And today, a bit more of my father's story, my family's story, my story, becomes our story. When the idea first surfaced of dad writing a book, some three years ago, my immediate reaction was to protect what I feel as sacred . . . the way in which God has met my Pops, and subsequently our family, in life's highest highs and lowest lows. But, as my dad began to pen his story, and today as it hits the streets, something has shifted in me . . . maybe there really is something profound that happens when we let go of our stories, and in a sense, give them away that just can't be uncovered when we try and protect ourselves by withholding them.
Henri Nouwen once wrote, "Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend . . . Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place" (Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life). I think that hospitality, in its truest sense, demands a giving up of myself to create space for another to enter my story, to partake in my story. I guarantee you've had the experience of being invited into someone's home and upon walking in, you notice how immaculately clean it is and wonder to yourself, "What in the world am I doing so wrong that my house doesn't look like this?" What would it look like to be vulnerable in our hospitality . . . to not feel the urge to tidy up and put everything in its rightful spot before company drops by? Does true hospitality demand a level of vulnerability? What would I feel if I walked into someone else's house and it look exactly like my house on any given Monday morning? Would I feel a sense of belonging? Maybe, just maybe, by releasing ourselves to transparency, we encourage that in the lives around us, and cultivate deeper, more meaningful relationships.
What started for my dad, as a great adventure following our leader into the glorious unknown, has become a journey of "holding onto every promise God has made to us (as we watch) this glorious unfolding." From unknown to unfolding . . . what began as a quest to figure it out and do it all right, has become, for my dad, a hospitable welcoming, of sorts, of his inability to do so but a deep trust in a God, a redeemer, who has always remained faithful and true. In that, there is something for all of us in my dad's new book . . . insights to be gained and encouragement to be found.
Pops, I'm so very proud of you on this momentous day.