Kuyper Coffee Dates- Monday

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Last fall I began to see an increase in comments from students at my Alma Mater, Kuyper College, which was extremely flattering, yet somewhat confusing.

Then one of them mentioned in their comment that they had been given an assignment to read my blog for Spiritual Formation Class.  At that point I was beyond intrigued so I called my former Philosophy Professor, Dr Jessica Maddox, to investigate.

When I got her on the phone she filled me in that she was the very one assigning my blog, along side that of another female alumni, Jill Burden.  I was blown away and in tears that Kuyper, a place that was so formative to my journey, now sees my writing as something valuable and spiritually formative for students.

This is especially reassuring because I came close to failing Spiritual Formation class myself.  I could never make my work match what the (different) professor at the time was looking for.

The students were asked to choose one of our blogs and read ten posts, then write a paper about their reaction which included answering this question:

“If you could have coffee with this writer, sit across a table face to face, what would you ask her?”

A few weeks back I received a fat manilla envelope containing all of the student’s papers, names omitted.  That night I sat on the couch, devouring them through smiles and a lot of humbling tears.

And students? Even though about ten years separates us, the insight that you shared on faith, loss and life is so refreshing and insightful.  I would gladly have a real coffee date with any one of you,  as long as you don’t expect perfect recall of Dr Felch’s Doc 1 or 2 that is.

Since these coffee dates are just a dream, I’m going to try to spend this week responding to your questions here on my blog.

I have to say, it feels a little strange (A LOT STRANGE!) to answer questions about myself, my faith journey and my writing. I guess I don’t really feel worthy of a Q&A but I do want to honor the questions you all asked.

And readers, if you have questions you’d like to add or have answered I would love for you to chime in as well.  I guess this will just be one big “ask Leanne” week, which I have to say again feels odd and a little vain…. but deep breath, here we go.

“I would ask her why she blogs… why not a diary? why not a book? Why not start a ministry that helps people deal with similar issues?”

First of all Hi, thank you for reading, I’m flattered!  Stay in School, Kuyper’s a great place!

Okay, why do I blog?  Well for starters I’ve had a blog going for almost ten years now, although for a long time it was just pictures of my pets, outfits and vacations.  I’m pretty outgoing and extroverted, so blogging is something that has always come very naturally for me.  I blog rather than keep a diary because I really find healing in holding my struggles and questions up in this space to see if they resonate.  Simply put, blogging leaves me feeling less alone in the hard questions.

But the reason for this blog here is a lot more specific, God very directly communicated to me that he wanted me to write through my grief and loss, my questions and anger in a way that helped other people who found themselves going through painful seasons.  Within twelve hours of my Mom’s death he let me know quite bluntly that although he didn’t cause my Mom to take her life that he wanted to use it through my writing about it.

Why not a ministry?  Well, since I have two young kids and my husband already runs a college ministry it would be more than I could handle well.  Plus I would argue that this blog is a ministry to people, we don’t have T-Shirts or a building but there is a community of faith here.

How has the ability to grieve with others either helped or hindered you in your own journey through grief ?  What conscious decision did you make in order to positively gain from the experience?  Grieving with others is such a hard thing

Hello love, I like you…  grief is hard, it’s just always dark, knock you over, take your breath away hard.  Whether it’s my grief, that of a close friend or that of a reader my heart always sinks when I realize that someone is in the throws of it.

I hate it, this ripping apart of souls who have shared life on earth.  It’s so out of everything we were created for and everything we’re used to.  Almost every part of life is negotiable, there are second chances or Plan Bs but not death.  It’s here and we cannot bargain with it.

When I am praying for or sitting with someone who is going through loss I still “go there,” every time.  It’s still not easy and I pray that it never ever become easy, because that will mean that I’m not tender hearted anymore, God Forbid.

In Psalm 34 God says that he is “close to the broken hearted” that he “binds up their wounds.” I believe that we are all called to be a part of that, that as his people we are one of the very real ways in which he draws close to the broken hearted, that sometimes God uses our hands and feet to bind.

For me my grief journey is redeemed a bit more every time when I’m given the gift of helping someone else with theirs.  I try to be open with my grief so that people are comfortable coming to me with theirs, not because I’m great at it but because I get it and I want to move heaven and earth to help if I can.

Thanks again students for your questions, if anyone else wants to add to the questions that the students sent me you are always welcome to ask me.  I’m really excited about this week.  

  • http://www.leighkramer.com hopefulleigh

    Leanne, how cool for your blog to be used in such a way! Somehow I don’t think my alma mater will ever have as interesting an assignment.

    I write sporadically about my past losses but when I do, it is for similar reasons. If exploring grief and loss can help someone else, I’m all for it. Part of this is because of my bereavement background (modeling how to mourn well) but also because it is important to let our communities, online and real life, be a part of our pain.

    • http://leannepenny.wordpress.com leannepenny

      Exactly Leigh, modeling how to grieve intentionally is something that is so important to me. I am all about God being glorified through my healing and grieving, it lightens the pain knowing that it can bring hope and help to others.

  • http://modernmrsdarcy.com Anne Bogel

    I’m so excited about this week–and what an amazing backstory! Thinking about that manila envelope arriving in your mailbox gives me shivers.

    • http://leannepenny.wordpress.com leannepenny

      Thanks Anne! To be honest I’ve been reading them a few at a time, saving them like a phenomenal and finite gift.

  • http://www.facebook.com/annevermeulen Anne Vermeulen

    So, so happy for you – I love the redemption of your Spiritual Formation class story (take THAT, professor!). I’m looking forward to this week as well!

    • http://leannepenny.wordpress.com leannepenny

      Thanks Anne! Yeah I suppose I do feel a little better about all those C grade biblical responses I turned in now…

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