Here's a list of things that have helped me along in my journey.  It is my prayer that they can provide comfort to you or someone you know.

  • Heaven, by Randy Alcorn
    • I read this book shortly after Audrey died.  I bought it because I needed to know more than "Heaven is a better place."  Recognizing that I would not leave Audrey in an earthly place I didn't know anything about, I determined to study the Biblical doctrine of Heaven.  I'm so glad I did.  What I learned in this book has been a game-changer. 
    • I love the way clearly presented Biblical facts are intertwined with logical extrapolation.  The fallicy, Alcorn reasons, is not that we spend too much time speculating about Heaven but that we spend too little time using our imaginations.  He concludes, "We cannot desire what we do not imagine."
    • This book is not for the faint of heart, so eat your Wheaties before you attempt it!  I have recommended it to many, but few have finished it.  Alcorn gives a comprehensive theology of Heaven, so you have to think.  But, you will be richer for it.

  • If God is Good...Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil, by Randy Alcorn.
    • I can't say enough about the way this book has challenged my thinking and permanently changed me!  Before I personally suffered, I was so selfish.  I deliberately turned a deaf ear to the world's suffering because it allowed me to keep pursuing my own pleasure and comfort.  This book helped me get outside of myself and see the problem of suffering from a larger perspective, both geographically and throughout all time.
    • This book is counter-intuitive.  You would think that the last thing you would want to study when you are feeling pain is the topic of evil and suffering.  But, for some reason, this is the book I go to when I feel the lowest.  It always rips me out of my pity party and right back into the truth of Scripture.  Ironically, it gives me great hope!  Try it out!
    • This is another one you have to steel yourself to complete.  It is a theological and philosophical doozie.  But, oh the treasures you will find!  I can chew on a paragraph for a week.  Take your time, but whatever you do, finish it.
    • I recommend this book for anyone you know who is intellectual and questioning how God can be loving and omnipotent and still let bad things happen.  Alcorn gives thorough and convincing arguments against every theory outside of Biblical truth.  If you are already a believer, your faith will be strengthened as you realize that the Bible's explanation for suffering and evil is the only one that makes logical sense and offers a real resolution and real hope.

  • Safe in the Arms of God: Truth from Heaven About the Death of a Child, John F. MacArthur
    • A friend whose nephew drowned mailed me this book the week Audrey died.  I didn't want to read much of what anyone sent me then, but this one was reassuring.  It was an excellent first taste of what the Bible says about where children go when they die. 
    • This book dispells the myth of the "age of accountability" and explains why most Biblical scholars believe children go to Heaven: Jesus' special love for children expressed in the Scriptures.
    • MacArthur includes a section on miscarriage which may be very helpful and encouraging to those who have experienced this specific and devastating loss.

  • A Grace Disguised, by Jerry Sittser
    • An honest look at one man's grief process after he lost his wife, his mother, and a daughter in a tragic car accident.  It is both raw and thoughtful and contains some spiritual nuggets worth gnawing on for a while.  Mr. Sittser's book is a personal story, but it is also a thorough look at the subject of loss and how one's life can be changed by it...for the better.

  • Room of Marvels, by James Bryan Smith
    • A beautiful work of fiction with so much inspiration.  I was moved to tears and also to dream of Heaven and what it may hold.

  • Heaven is for Real, by Todd Burpo
    • This is a quick read.  If you need a burst of enthusiasm for the eternal, pick up this book! 
    • It is the story of a little boy who almost died at age 3 of an undiagnosed ruptured appendix.  In the months following the child's hospital stay, he revealed that he had been to Heaven and back.  The story is told with great detail and honesty by the boy's father who is a pastor.
    • I know.  I was skeptical, too.  But, if you are a believer in Jesus, after you finish the book, you will be convinced of the possibility of its truth if not the probability.  I was tremendously excited by this book.
  • Choosing to See, by Mary Beth Chapman
    • I love it when people are real, don't you?  Mary Beth Chapman does an amazing job of relating her story with humor, joy, and faith.  She is so entertaining and authentic.  This book is a peek behind the scenes of a family who started out just like you and me: flawed, but in the grip of the grace of God.  I love how candidly she shows their growth through many seasons of life.  It is about choosing to see God along the road, even when the darkest times come. 

  • The Barbarian Way: Unleash the Untamed Faith Within, by Edwin Raphael McManus
    • I devoured this book in two days.  Full of good imagery and story-telling, it is a short read...and so inspiring!  McManus motivates us to follow Jesus passionately from the heart.  This book is a call to relationship instead of religion.  McManus encourages you to learn to be led by the Holy Spirit, to discover what God made YOU to do, and to dive into the adventure of the Christian life and mission--risk, sacrifice, and all.  You won't be able to put it down!
  • Beauty Will Rise, Steven Curtis Chapman
    • In the age of iTunes, I rarely purchase a whole album.  This is a grand exception!  If you only download the radio hits, you will be missing an enormous blessing. 
    • I have admired the song-writing talent of Steven Curtis Chapman for decades, but this latest effort is anointed with a unique depth because of personal pain.  There is no substitution for experience.  Mr. Chapman wrote beautiful songs before...even some for friends who lost a child.  Those songs were filled with truth, but the songs on this album show how one comes to a decision to believe the truth in the midst of extreme grief.  The beautiful music is filled with raw emotion that culminates in a choice to stand on God's promises.  The songs on Beauty Will Rise reveal the process of working out your faith much like the Psalms of David do.  Listening to this CD has brought me a feeling of camaraderie in pain and has inspired real hope.   

  • Everything Sad is Coming Untrue, Jason Gray
    • This album has a particularly redemptive theme, and I love it!  Bryan and I both especially like "The Golden Boy and the Prodigal".  It is a must-purchase.   
    • I also like "Better Way to Live", "More Like Falling in Love", "I Am New", "Everything Sad is Coming Untrue", and "Jesus, Use Me, I'm Yours

  • Other songs that encourage and inspire me:
    • "At Your Feet", Casting Crowns
    • "Before the Morning", Josh Wilson
    • "Better Is One Day", Matt Redman
    • "Better Than a Hallelujah", Amy Grant
    • "Born Again", Newsboys
    • "The Change", Steven Curtis Chapman
    • "I Refuse", Josh Wilson
    • "Love Has Come", Mark Shultz
    • "Our Hope Endures", Natalie Grant
    • "Sunday", Tree 63
    • "To Know You", Casting Crowns
    • "Unredeemed", Selah
    • "Until the Whole World Hears", Casting Crowns
    • "What Could Be Better", 33 Miles
    • "What Do I Know of Holy", Addison Road
    • "You Never Let Go", Matt Redman
    • "7x70", Chris August
  • "As We Forgive", a Laura Waters Hinson film
    • This is an amazing documentary that chronicles the journey of two women toward forgiving the men who murdered their family members in the Rawandan genocide.  The movie powerfully tells the story of a terrible evil and the miracle of reconciliation.
    • If these people can forgive, then so can I.  Enough said.
Emotional Health
  • Crossroads Counseling and Associates
    • When Bryan and I faced the impossible task of picking up the pieces after he confessed a problem with pornography and infidelity, we didn't know where to turn. It was so devastating and embarassing.   A trusted source pointed me toward Crossroads Counseling Center in Austin. 
    • Placing that first call was one of the best decisions we ever made.  Though the counselors at this center accommodate many needs, they specialize in recovery from sexual addiction and infidelity. 
    • When I made that first appointment, I asked the receptionist, "Is there really a whole counseling center devoted to helping people through infidelity?  Is it that big of a problem?"  Her response was one I will never forget: "Yes, honey, there is.  And, yes, it is.  But, we call it bittersweet.  We see a lot of success here."  And, they do!
    • At Crossroads, we found an unapologetically Christian counselor who is all about grace.  I don't know how he does it, but he manages to make BOTH of us feel better when we leave than we did when we arrived.
    • I am professionally trained as a social worker, and I know that choosing the RIGHT counselor for you and your situation is imperative.  Not all counseling is equal.  There are many kinds of training and much of counseling is an art.  BUT, if you need good counseling, I am not hesitant to recommend that you try this place.  I am impressed by their compassion and professionalism.
    • Counseling is hard work and not a quick fix.  But, it is worth the money and the time and the effort.  I cannot say enough about how helpful it has been for our family. 

Physical Health
  •  Inspire Fitness, co-owner Chad Kroll (shown at right)
    • I have been working with Chad for over two years now.  He has helped Bryan and I and several friends make big improvements in our physical health. 
    • Chad has just opened his new gym in Cedar Park.  I am really excited for him.  His passion in life truly is fitness and nutrition.  This man's vision for your gym experience really breaks the mold.  If you are near Cedar Park, Texas, I highly recommend giving him a call.
    • Why a plug for a gym on a blog about Jesus?  Read my blog posts from Jan-Feb 2011!