This Life I Live // Rory Feek

I have to admit that I don’t listen to country music. If I do hear a country song, it is purely by accident. So, there are a lot of country music stars that I simply don’t know. I may recognize a name or two, but couldn’t pick them out of a line up or name any of their popular songs.

And here’s another thing I must admit: until I received a copy of This Life I Live, I didn’t know the names Rory or Joey Feek.  I didn’t know their story or their music or the fact that they have a TV show.

Several weeks ago I happened to be watching the TODAY show and there was an interview with Rory.  Matt Lauer was talking to him, asking him questions and referenced Rory’s story like everyone watching knew it.

I didn’t.

But after reading This Life I Live, I’m glad I do.

The book tells the compelling story of Rory and Joey’s relationship: how they met, the fact that she saw herself marrying another man even while talking with Rory, the courtship and marriage that followed, the birth of Indiana and her battle with the cancer that ultimately took her life.

Rory and Joey’s story is both real and powerful.  Each chapter in the book reads more like a journal entry than a typical biography and Rory writes from his heart.  It was more like having a conversation with him and he was transparent about his successes and his failures.

While This Life I Live is the story of Rory and Joey, it is so much more than that.

The first half of the book gives Rory’s back story: about his upbringing, his family’s constant moving and the on and off again relationship with his father.  All of that leads into the man he is as he begins his relationship with Joey.

While This Life I Live is the story of Rory and Joey, it really is the story of how God was working in the life of Rory to make him the man he is today.  Through a rough upbringing, many broken relationships, a lot of mistakes, successes and failures, parenting, marriage, having a child and losing his wife to cancer, God used all of that to shape and mold Rory.

A quote that jumped off the page at me is from chapter 52 where Rory writes about his daughter Indiana. She is born with Downs syndrome and this was his conclusion:  I have a feeling – I’ve had it for a while now – that Indiana is here to teach me something.  To teach me everything . . . She will teach all of us.  Just because she’s different. Her extra chromosome will be the thing that changes our DNA. What we’re made of and what’s down deep inside.

Her extra chromosome will be the thing that changes our DNA.

This Life I Live is ultimately about change.  And growth.  And growing up.

While This Life I Live is the story of Rory and Joey, it’s really about how God doesn’t give up on His children and will teach us and grow us as long as we allow Him.

You can see more about Rory and Joey on their website which features a blog, videos and information where you can get a copy of the book.

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The Noticer Returns

The Noticer ReturnsBack in September, 2013, I wrote about reading Andy Andrew’s The Noticer. Jones (just Jones, not Mr. Jones) shows up unexpectedly to offer insight and advice (he calls it “perspective”) to people just when they need to hear it. Andrews has released a second book about Jones titled The Noticer Returns.

In this second offering Jones continues to offer perspective to people and he continues to show up at unexpected times. One time he meets a farmer in the middle of his wheat field and Jones almost gets shot (you’ll have to read it to see what happens).

Much of this book focuses on parents who have questions about the best way to raise their children and, maybe more importantly, how the parents know they are going about it the right way. It made for some interesting chapters.

There were two passages of the book that really stood out to me. One came out of conversation with the farmer. In talking about some of the decisions this farmer needed to make, Jones said this: “The man you become will be determined by the value you provide for others – those whom you meet on the road to who you are becoming. Great or small, your legacy will be judged one day by the quality and amount of value you were able to contribute in the lives of other people.” Pretty powerful thought about the legacy we leave.

The other passage was in a conversation with a man whose wife was dying. The husband was emotionally spent and was angry that he was losing his spouse of so many years. Jones offered some perspective to the man comparing her exit from this world like a birth into a new world. “She is not the end. She is at the beginning…for many years this dear child was happy and content in this body. But for some time now, she has struggled. She has become uncomfortable. She has begun to long for freedom from the pain of this body and has sensed that the world she inhabits is not where she ultimately belongs. Even now she does not fully appreciate the reality that is waiting on the other side of her struggle, but she is preparing to experience something new and wonderful that in her wildest imaginings could not be described.” I liked the description that the world she inhabits is not where she ultimately belongs. God has more in store for us than just this life.

The Noticer Returns would be worth your time to read, whatever season of life you find yourself.

BELIEVE 2013

the presenceLast weekend we took 19 of our Junior High students and 5 brave adults to the Christ In Youth BELIEVE Conference held at Northern Kentucky University. I say “brave adults” because we joined with 6,00 other people . . . and the vast majority were sixth, seventh and eighth graders. There was a lot of junior high energy in the room.

We’ve attended this event for the last several years. The program is always top-notch and this year’s followed suit. The theme for the weekend was “The Presence.” The focus was on the Holy Spirit. When I first heard that theme, I wondered how they were going to take a sometimes confusing topic for adults and present it in a way that young teens would understand. They did an excellent job.

Weaving together the music sets, clear teaching and well-done video stories, three clear messages about The Presence came through the weekend:

The Presence gives life where there was no life.
The Presence creates community where there was no community.
The Presence gives courage where there was no courage.

Through the events of the weekend, we were challenged to accept the life the Spirit gives, engage in community and rely of the courage The Presence gives to live for God.

The program was great and we had a lot of fun through the weekend.  We enjoyed participating in BELIEVE, eating sardines in the hallway of the hotel, cruising around Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky in a church van and bus and killing some time at the mall.

Here are a few pics from the weekend:

Music & energy

stage 2

Sardines!

sardines

Sweet stage and lights!

stage shot

Joe Turns 21 Today!

Joe senior 59On this day, a mere 21 years ago, Joe showed up! He was born in Defiance (the name of the city, not his state of being) Ohio and much has transpired since then. We have lived in three different states (Ohio to Kentucky to Indiana and back to Ohio) and a sister joined the group a few years after his arrival.

Kind of hard to believe that he hits 21 years today. I was thinking this morning that I remember when I turned 21 and find it somewhat disconcerting that I now have a son that is 21.

He’s played football and basketball, performed in many band concerts, traveled numerous miles with Solid Rock, marched on many a football field, participated in several musicals, graduated high school and is making his way through college. A stroke darkened the picture for a little while in junior high, but he still managed to go visit Uruguay while in elementary school, take a trip to Southeast Asia with his grandfather and cousin and go to Ireland with a crew from college. Not a bad itinerary for the first 21 years of life.

I know God has good things in store for Joe and look forward to what He will do through him. So, Happy 21st Birthday!! Here’s a “cup of Joe” to help celebrate. (Hitting pf changs later in the day for a good birthday meal)

Cup of Joe (Brackemyre)