Celebrate the Small Victories
—Grace & Truth Linkup

grace-and-truth-weekly-christian-linkup-its friday

Featured Post

Do you feel like you haven’t done enough? Read Lynn’s post on celebrating the small victories as she works with her One Word INTENTIONAL this year.

“I am intentionally accepting my worth is not in achieving or failing. I am learning to celebrate the finishes and accept what didn’t go as planned. Both have their place in this experience of life.”

Read all of Lynn’s post here at her blog, then link up your own blog posts below.

Intentional Acceptance

Do you have a small victory you can celebrate today? Share your thoughts in the comments.


1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).

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Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LAUREN SPARKS
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

TAMMY KENNINGTON – Restoring hope. Pursuing peace.
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

How the Brain Grieves

Grief Is Adaptation to Change

I’m surrounded by reminders. Reminders of people I love who are no longer here. The bin of candles under the bed, the smiling photo on the refrigerator, the pair of reading glasses on the bookshelf.

They each represent loss.

Loss is change. Our brains don’t like change.

Grief is our adaption to that change.

Grief Versus Grieving

If you are in a season of grief or just want to better understand grief, this new book by Mary-Frances O’Connor, The Grieving Brain: The Surprising Science of How We Learn from Love and Loss, may be as fascinating to you as it is to me.

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Instead of feeling bad about ourselves for how slowly we process grief, or for how differently we grieve compared to someone else, this book reminds us that it’s not all up to us. Blame it on the brain.

Dr. O’Connor (neuroscientist and psychologist) has compiled decades of research into how our brains process grief.

She makes a distinction between grief (the intense emotion that crashes over you and recurs over and over) and grieving (the process, not the moment of grief).

She writes,

“Grief never ends, and it is a natural response to loss. You will experience pangs of grief over this specific person forever. . . .

But, whereas you will feel the universally human emotion of grief forever, your grieving, your adaptation, changes the experience over time.

The first one hundred times you have a wave of grief, you may think, I will never get through this, I cannot bear this. The one hundred and first time, you may think, I hate this, I don’t want this—but it is familiar, and I know I will get through this moment. Even if the feeling of grief is the same, your relationship to the feeling changes.”

Update the Maps

Grieving is the brain at work.

Regardless of the source of grief (it’s not just about death), our brain has to update the map in our head to account for the absence of the missing people or things.

And updating the map takes time.

“Our brain trusts and makes predictions based on our lived experience. When you wake up one morning and your loved one is not in the bed next to you, the idea that she has died is simply not true in terms of probability.

For our brain, this is not true on day one, or day two, or for many days after her death. We need enough new lived experiences for our brain to develop new predictions, and that takes time.”

Experiences of Change

But in addition to time, rewiring our brain also requires experiences. We have to stop sending texts to our loved one who is gone. We have to adjust to not watching for their car. We have to stop reaching for them in the bed beside us.

“Your brain has to catch up. It is still running its regular programming of sending out notifications. You are not crazy; you are just in the middle of a learning curve.”

Day after day, the brain learns that the person, the situation, the object, is now gone. And it adjusts a little more.

Just as grieving isn’t quick, it also isn’t cheap.

“Grief is the cost of loving someone.”

To help someone grieving, Dr. O’Connor suggests that “cheering them up” is not the goal. Being with them is.

Even though each person’s grief is unique, the common experience of grief can bring us together.

“Once you have experienced deep grieving, you walk through a doorway to a whole community of people that you would otherwise never have understood and empathized with. You probably would not choose this door, if the choice were yours. And yet, here you are on the other side, with knowledge about yourself and a marvelous brain that you can utilize to build and navigate a new world.”

Just as love will always be with us (thankfully!), so will grief. Books like The Grieving Brain help us learn healthier ways of thinking about and processing our grief.


Share your thoughts in the comments.

My thanks to HarperOne + NetGalley
for the review copy of this book


On the Blog—February 2022

Here are brief summaries and links to posts on the blog, Lisa notes, in February 2022.

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  • 7 Books I Recommend—February 2022 (2/28)
    Here are 7 books I recommend from what I finished reading in February 2022.
  • This. Here. Now. (2/28)
    It’s good to use our imaginations. But it’s also important to stay grounded where God is present with us in this, here, now.
  • End Well (2/27)
    If you want to make the memory good, aim to end well.
  • Share Four Somethings—February 2022 (2/26)
    I’m sharing four somethings for February 2022. Here is something loved, something gleaned, something braved, and something achieved.
  • Let Go or Be Dragged (2/26)
    Learn when it’s time to release. Learn what it’s time to release. Let go or be dragged.
  • Why Do You Ask? (2/25)
    Instead of giving an answer, sometimes the best response to a question is: “Why do you ask?”
  • They Don’t Have to Understand (2/24)
    We will be misunderstood. If we let it, it can be an opportunity to grow in humility. They don’t have to understand.
  • Whatever Happens, We’ll Handle It (2/23)
    We’ll never be abandoned without resources of some sort. Depend on that. Whatever happens, we’ll handle it.
  • Love Matters More (2/22)
    Love no matter where. Love no matter how. Love no matter what. Love matters more.
  • One Word 2022 Linkup—February (2/22)
    Find three challenges to practice your One Word for 2022. Link your blog posts about your One Word.
  • Say Yes to This Moment (2/21)
    The small individual moments are actually the biggest moments of all. Say yes to this moment.
  • The Greatest of These Is Love (2/20)
    Faith and hope are things within us. But love is something we give outside us. The greatest of these is love.
  • You Are Never Alone (2/19)
    The presence of another person (and of God) is a true gift. You are never alone.
  • This Is Not the End (2/18)
    Life never truly ends. It just changes into something else. This is not the end.
  • Don’t Believe Everything You Think (2/17)
    Listen to what you say to yourself. But don’t believe everything you think.
  • Make the Memories Good (2/16)
    Today’s experiences become tomorrow’s memories. As much as it depends on you, make the memories good.
  • Oh, Well. So What? (2/15)
    Do we have to take everything so seriously? Maybe we should say more often, “Oh, well. So what?”
  • You Don’t Have to Finish Today (2/14)
    Give yourself permission to stop for the day if your project isn’t time-sensitive. You don’t have to finish today.
  • Book Review: Good Enough by Kate Bowler (2/14)
    It’s okay to not be okay all the time. Here is another great book by Kate Bowler: Good Enough.
  • Focus on the Highest Good (2/13)
    What is your ultimate goal for today? Focus on the highest good, not just the practical surface goal.
  • Presume Goodwill (2/12)
    When possible, give each other the benefit of the doubt. Presume goodwill. It’s better for everyone.
  • Take One Step (2/11)
    Sometimes taking just one step is enough for now. What one step can you take today?
  • Is Is True? Is It Helpful? Is It Kind? (2/10)
    Do your words pass this test: true, helpful, kind? Without these, your words may just be noise.
  • It Is What It Is (2/9)
    Accepting “it is what it is” can better position us to receive healing and to grow forward.
  • Tell Something Personal (2/8)
    Sharing something personal can foster humility and bring us closer together.
  • Empathize with the Hurt (2/7)
    Empathize with the hurt that needs healing. Sometimes that’s what matters the most.
  • I Don’t Know (2/6)
    Unless we can say “I don’t know” more often, we may never know. There’s always more we don’t know than what we do know.
  • Bad Things Happen to Everyone. So Do Good Things. (2/5)
    Do you think bad things happen only to you? They happen to everyone. But so do good things.
  • That’s Interesting. Tell Me More. (2/4)
    When you get stuck in a conversation, practice saying, “That’s interesting. Tell me more.”
  • See Everything. Forgive Much. Judge Little. (2/3)
    Everyone deserves to be seen, and to be given grace, because none of us knows the other’s full story.
  • Even This Will Change (2/2)
    Don’t get too settled here with the way things are, whether good or bad. Even this will change.
  • Just Show Up (2/1)
    Never underestimate the power of your presence. Telling yourself to “just show up” can give you enough courage to put your body where it needs to be.


7 Books I Recommend—February 2022

Even now, at this late day, a blank sheet of paper holds the greatest excitement there is for me—more promising than a silver cloud, prettier than a little red wagon.
– E. B. White

Here are 7 books I recommend from what I finished reading in February.

[See previously recommended books here]

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Nonfiction

1. Atlas of the Heart
Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience
by Brené Brown

Atlas of the Heart

One of my favorites of the year! With her usual insight and wit, Brené Brown walks us through 87 emotions that we all feel, but we don’t all recognize.

“The entire premise of this book is that language has the power to define our experiences.”

2. Jesus and John Wayne
How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation
by Kristin Kobes du Mez

Jesus and John Wayne

This is a thorough and painful look at the most recent 75 years of white evangelicalism. Kristin Du Mez walks us through the transformation of church culture from one thing into another. I highly recommend this one, too. 

“Understanding the catalyzing role militant Christian masculinity has played over the past half century is critical to understanding American evangelicalism today, and the nation’s fractured political landscape.”

3. The Book of Joy
Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
by the Dalai Lama XIV and Desmond Tutu

The Book of Joy

I listened to the audioversion of this book. Such a delight! The readers’ voices sounded so similar to the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s voices, capturing their personalities well. The content is joyful, of course, yet also sobering.

“Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters. We have hardship without becoming hard. We have heartbreak without being broken.”

4. The Grieving Brain
The Surprising Science of How We Learn from Love and Loss
by Mary-Frances O’Connor

The Grieving Brain

Grief isn’t just a function of our emotions. It’s a function of our brains. I learned so much from this book. 

“Because learning is something we do our whole lives, seeing grieving as a type of learning may make it feel more familiar and understandable and give us the patience to allow this remarkable process to unfold.”

[my review here of The Grieving Brain]

5. Wholehearted Faith
by Rachel Held Evans with Jeff Chu

Wholehearted Faith

Rachel Held Evans had been working on this book prior to her untimely death in 2019 following an allergic reaction to medication for an infection. Her good friend and author Jeff Chu took her notes and finished the book. It’s a beautiful collection of spiritual essays and reflects Rachel’s love for Jesus and God’s grace.

“Before we do anything wrong and before we do anything right, God has named and claimed us as God’s own.”

6. Cultish
The Language of Fanaticism
by Amanda Montell

Cultish

How do people fall into cults? Amanda Montell has done her research into all things cultish and writes about it with clear and disturbing details, from cults like Heaven’s Gate to the modern MLM (multilevel marketing) organizations.

“Language is a leader’s charisma. It’s what empowers them to create a mini universe—a system of values and truths—and then compel their followers to heed its rules.”

Fiction

7. State of Terror
by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny

State of Terror

This thriller centers on Ellen Adams, the new secretary of state, and a dangerous nuclear physicist with big plans for nuclear bombs, beginning with bus bombs. Interesting, fast-moving, and well-written. I totally enjoyed it.

Reading Now

  • Permission to Feel
    Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive
    by Marc Brackett
  • The Expectation Effect
    How Your Mindset Can Change Your World
    by David Robson
  • Love Letters to God
    Deeper Intimacy through Written Prayer
    by Lynn Morrissey
  • The Five Wounds
    by Kirstin Valdez Quade
  • The Storytelling Code
    10 Simple Rules to Shape and Tell a Brilliant Story
    by Dana Norris
  • All the White Friends I Couldn’t Keep
    Hope—And Hard Pills to Swallow—About Fighting for Black Lives
    by Andre Henry
  • Fall in Love, Have Children, Stay Put, Save the Planet, Be Happy
    by Frank Schaeffer

What good book are YOU reading this month? Please share in the comments.

My books on Goodreads
More books I recommend


This. Here. Now. {Mantra 28}

I’ve saved this mantra for last. It’s the one that’s helped me the most in reducing anxiety.

When I feel anxious, I jump too far ahead of God. I worry about many things that might happen (and they’re usually all negative).

Instead, to counter the future orientation, I try to come back to this moment, where God is most present.

I benefit by repeating this to myself:

This. Here. Now.

blankThis—This is the what.

Most of our moments are NOT tumultuous ones. And when they are, those events keep our attention focused in the moment; we don’t have to be concerned with those. But the moments that do tempt our minds to wander into worry are the ordinary moments. Come back from the future (or the past) and stay anchored in THIS moment instead.

Here—Here is the where.

We also are prone to imagine how wonderful we’d feel if we could be at the beach right now. Or how terrified we might feel next week in the dentist’s chair. But even if we’re in a bad location here in this moment, we’re more apt to stay clear-headed if we’ll stay present to it.

Now—Now is the when.

This is the crux of the mantra for me. Now is when I can talk to the person beside me. Now is when I can concentrate on this step I’m on. Now is when I can feel the emotion I’m feeling and process through it. 

Jesus—Jesus is the who.

And if you’re a Christian believer like me, I start this mantra with “Jesus. This. Here. Now.” Jesus is the foundation underneath it all for me. 

Our minds can be both exciting and sometimes terrifying places when they wander here and there and everywhere. It can be healthy to exercise our imagination.

But it’s also important to stay grounded where God is present with us in:

This. Here. Now.


Share in the comments.

Read More:

You are on Day #5 of the series: Find Your Mantra {28 Daily Mantras}

Find Your Mantra: 28 Daily Mantras

Previous:
End well” {Mantra 27}


End Well {Mantra 27}

We all love a good beginning . . . of a story, of a vacation, of a life.

But what about endings?

Did you know this? When we assess our experiences, we tend to rate them on two key moments:

(1) the best or worst moment, and

(2) the ending.

So says Chip and Dan Heath in their incredible book, The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact (I highly recommend it!).

As long as our event ends well, we tend to rate it well, even if there were horrible moments in between.

End well.

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But what constitutes an ending? The Heath brothers say:

“Beginnings and endings can blur—if you change cities for a new job, is that an ending or a beginning or both? That’s why it’s preferable to talk about transitions, which encompass both endings and beginnings.”

With that caveat, if you want to make the memory good, when it’s within your control to do it, aim to make the ending good. The end of your story. The last day of your vacation.

And the end of your life.

End well.


Share in the comments.

Read More:

You are on Day #27 of the series: Find Your Mantra {28 Daily Mantras}

Find Your Mantra: 28 Daily Mantras

Previous:
Let go or be dragged” {Mantra 26}

Next:
This. Here. Now.” {Mantra 28}