Content from this blog has moved to www.michellerayburn.com.

10.16.2016

We've Moved!

Life is pretty complicated sometimes, and keeping up with multiple blogs is, well something someone with a full-time marketing career just can't do! But I still want to stay connected.

To make it simpler, the content from this blog is migrating over to www.michellerayburn.com where you'll find occasional posts. If you'd love to see more current posts, Facebook is a great place to stay in touch. Connect with me on my writer/speaker Facebook page.

12.02.2014

When Life Hands You Crumbs...

I saw this basket of cookies at a place called Mana Sushi Teriyaki Wok in Port Orchard, Washington and it made me smile. The "misfortunate" cookies are broken fortune cookies wrapped in plastic. 

Isn't that a perfect example of what we can do when life hands us crumbs? We can choose to get upset, feel discouraged, or quit. Or, we can turn it around into something clever.

That's a #repurposed and #upcycled life!

12.01.2014

99-Cent Cyber Monday Sale on 'The Repurposed and Upcycled Life'

The Kindle version of The Repurposed and Upcycled Life is on sale on Amazon for Cyber Monday (December 1) for 99 cents.

It's a Countdown sale, meaning the price will increase in increments over the next few days until it returns to the regular price of $5.49.

Click here to download at the sale price


11.19.2014

How Many States Have You Visited?

Have you ever calculated how much of the United States you have visited? I just returned from a long road trip, and thought it would be fun to do the math. I'm not certain if I traveled through additional states as a child, but these are the states I have visited as an adult.

Someday, I will visit the East Coast!



Create Your Own Visited States Map


 How about you? Where have you traveled?

8.28.2014

I'm So Sorry for Your Loss...

Have you ever wondered what to say when someone has just experienced the death of a loved one? I'm not even sure what I would want someone to say to me, but here are some well-worn lines that often come to mind when words elude me:

  • I'm holding you in my thoughts and prayers.
  • We're praying for you at this time of great sadness.
  • I'm so sorry for your loss. 
Worn out phrases, but heartfelt, I promise!

That leads me to wonder; just how do the ones left behind express their experience to others? How can they begin to capture and describe the life-changing event?
  • My daughter passed away...
  • My mother went to be with the Lord after a long battler with cancer...
  • I lost my husband last year...
I once heard a well-meaning pastor give his analysis of that last phrase. His response to a widow who used that very expression was, "Oh, did you misplace him? He isn't lost! He has gone on ahead of you, but he isn't lost if he knew Jesus." 

He explained how we ought to avoid expressions that refer to death as a loss, and instead we should look for alternatives to express our sympathy.

An attempt at lightheartedness, I guess. No malice intended whatsoever. But...

I've thought about this often. He meant well, but I have to wholeheartedly disagree. After watching several close friends and family go through the painful process of outliving a loved one, I can't think of a better thing to say. 

I'm an outsider looking in. So, I could be completely off-kilter with my observations. However, death is a loss. Yes, I have hope knowing the truth of what the Bible says about eternal life. I know exactly where Jesus-followers go after they die. Of course, they aren't misplaced. 

But for the ones left behind, it's still a loss.

Death is a loss of communication. It's the end of conversations and tender words.

It's the loss of daily phone calls to mothers and sisters, and friends. Fathers, brothers, and sons. 

It's the loss of dishes done side-by-side and glances across steaming coffee cups and warm apple crisp.

It's the loss of mundane banter about weather and politics, newspaper articles, and reality TV shows.

It's the loss of potential resolution for tangled up relationships and harsh words.

It's the loss of possible restitution and redemption. For wrongs to be righted. For restoration.

For many it's the loss of the other half. The part so entwined with our own selves we can't tell where one begins and the other leaves off. 

It's the loss of future road trips, laughter, and family reunions. 

The absence of knowing smiles. 

The loss of plans. 

It is a loss. 

Let's call it like it is. When someone dies, we suffer a terrible loss. But in the midst of it, we have great hope. And that calm assurance is what makes the loss bearable. 

It's what makes it possible to smile even when everything is shaken. When hearts are broken. When we're torn up inside.

In the midst of the great emptiness of loss, there is also great possibility. For it is when we are the most empty we have room for God's love and hope to fill the void.

If you've lost someone dear to you, I can't begin to fully understand. I'm guessing you don't understand it all either. I care. I might not say the right things at all. But please know my heart breaks for you as you discover new losses each day. I'm so sorry for your loss.


6.26.2014

The Christian Chick's Guide to Surviving Divorce

The Christian Chick's Guide to Surviving Divorce:
What your Girlfriends Would Tell You if They Knew What to Say

Imagine you are newly divorced, or have just been served papers. You are a solid Christian and never imagined you’d find yourself in this position. What do you do next? Where do you turn for help? Now, imagine you walk into a Christian bookstore hoping to find something that would help you. You hope no one sees the tears on your face, so you keep your head down. You don’t want the world’s version of coping with divorce, and you hope you can find something here…

This is exactly what happened to author Suzanne Reeves. She says she didn’t want “the usual version of surviving divorce—have a glass of wine, slash his tires, head to Jamaica, and party like you did in college. I needed godly advice from a woman who had walked in my shoes and lived to tell about it.”

Suzanne wants to share hope with other women who are just where she was. She’s lived to tell about it, and she wants to encourage other women going through divorce. The Christian Chick’s Guide to Surviving Divorce is the book to give a friend who needs help processing the pain, praising God in the midst of the storm, learning how to forgive, and moving forward. She addresses how to learn from the pain and grow into a better person from the experience of divorce. Instead of bitterness, she urges her readers to be teachable.

One of the most important topics this book addresses is that of children. Suzanne’s biggest piece of advice is, “You must love your children more than you hate your spouse.” Hurt, anger, bitterness, and sorrow over the betrayal doesn’t need to become the pain of the children as well.

The other important topic this book addresses that many won’t is how to reconcile divorce with being a Christian. Suzanne talks about going to Bible study and asking for prayer, and wondering in her heart if she would have to break her own beliefs about divorce. It wasn’t what she wanted, and she struggled with coming to terms with that loss. This book addresses divorce from a Christian perspective, with solid advice based on what scripture says about God’s love and mercy.


The book also addresses some practical questions that many hope they never have to face. What do you do with the rings? What happens with mutual friends? What happens when ‘your song’ comes on the radio?

The author’s raw honesty, conversational style, and her ability to find humor in her experiences make this book read like a letter from a dear friend who understands. Suzanne has repurposed her own pain into coaching other women through the emotional struggle, shame, and discouragement of divorce to find the courage to move forward.

Find Suzanne on Facebook.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author for my objective review. I also wrote an endorsement for the book. 

6.23.2014

All My Belongings: A Book Review

Many Christian authors are off at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) this week, hobnobbing with all the names in Christian writing. Which means, it's the perfect 'cat's away, mice will play' opportunity for us to talk about their books, post a bunch of praise on social media, and stir up some new readers for them. Did I lose you at hobnob? Sorry. I love goofy words.

Author Cynthia Ruchti is among those happy ICRS hobnobbers, and I'd love to tell you about her new book, All My Belongings. It's won a couple of awards recently, including a first place Golden Scroll Award from the Christian Author's Network just this week. So, while she's off collecting awards, let me tell you about her book.

Back Cover:

Where do you turn when changing your name doesn’t give you the anonymity you want? When running hundreds of miles away isn’t far enough? When you search for a place to belong lands you right back where you began? 
One phone call destroys all the hope Becca Morrow has for a life beyond the shame of her past. Further discredited by the death of her elderly, ailing patient—the mother of the influential businessman, Isaac Hughes—Becca’s new life is shattered and her longing for love slips away. Working to clear her name, Becca must learn to see the beauty in the ugliness of dying , to accept the tenderness in forgiveness, and—at last—discover that where she belongs isn’t as much about her family history as it is about her faith in the One to whom she’ll always belong.



My Review
All My Belongings is about forgiveness, the longing to belong, the beauty of being loved, and the wonder of godly friendships. But the thread that ties it all together is healing from a painful past. Becca, the main character has suffered from loneliness and rejection embodied by her comment, “Sometimes parents give you away, but they make you stay.” In the midst of loneliness from a painful relationship with her parents, and the fallout of her father’s “occupation” as a Kevorkian-like mercy killer, Becca has found a dear friend, Geneva, who has taken a mother-like role in her life.

As Becca’s friend Geneva helps her change her name, relocate, and find work caring for one of Geneva’s relatives, Becca begins to open up a little about the pain she has experienced. She carries few belongings, but much emotional baggage when she moves across the country to start over. Why the name change? She doesn’t want people to know of her connection to her now imprisoned father, a connection that stands in the way of her desire to become a nurse. Without giving away the plot, I can summarize the rest of the book by saying it’s an adventure in caretaking accompanied by new friendships, a shot at finding love—at last, and some bumps in the road to starting over.

How’s that for summarizing more than 300 pages in a paragraph or two? Speaking of plot, let me tell you what I liked without giving it away. When Geneva meets Geneva’s handsome nephew, Isaac, I had more than a sneaking suspicion of where the book was going, and I thought it odd that the foreshadowing of the ending would be so strong in the first third of the book.

Wrong! Just about the time I had the ending of the book all planned out, an unexpected twist caught me off guard. Halfway through the book, it seemed as if the whole story was wrapping up, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Again.

A whole new development led to several additional twists that kept me riveted to the plot. And near the end, when I again figured the story was winding down, and additional twist made this stand out from other fiction. 


Many stories end with a happily ever after and leave readers with an unrealistic picture of life and relationships. In this book, the author ventures headfirst into confronting the pain of the past, rather than smoothing on some icing and calling it cake. Again, I can’t explain what exactly this means for Becca without giving away the plot, but let’s just say that she learns what real sacrifice and real forgiveness look like.

The realistic solutions to some of life’s nasty problems make this book stand out from other fluffy fiction. There’s nothing fluffy in true forgiveness and sweet freedom from regret. Ruchti engages the reader with a touch of humor and a delightful writing voice. Her unconventional—and not the least bit cliché—descriptions will satisfy the reader who enjoys a more literary style. I highly recommend the book, and Ruchti’s other books.


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