Saturday, November 1, 2014

Refined by Fire, A Journey of Grief and Grace


As most of you know, who read this blog, I am on the staff of the Write-to-Publish Conference. One of the benefits of this gathering is the many wonderful writers I meet. One of those I met a couple of years ago is Mary Potter Kenyon. Today I am honored to be part of her launch team and share with you how God has been present in her life, even though her life has been filled with much loss.

Mary is a writer and when she was hit by the loss of a mother, a husband and a grandson, all in just the past few years, she cried out to God. She then did the thing which was most familiar to her: she wrote.

She filled journal after journal with the pain and the questions that we have at those times. Many of those entries and blog posts became the recently released book titled: Refined by Fire, A Journey of Grief and Grace.

Mary shares, with raw emotion, just how much life can hurt, but also how God shows up in many ways to carry us through difficult times. Some words from her book, after the death of her mother:

I netted more than just quiet writing time from those cold winter days I spent in my mother’s house, writing and looking through her
things. I got a glimpse into her soul, and though I didn’t realize it then,
into my own future as well.

After her husband’s death left her a fifty-three-year-old widow, she says:

“Where is the ‘Handbook for Widows’?” I’d asked the (funeral) director earlier
as he’d walked us through displays of guest books and memorial cards.
It was surreal, to think of myself as a widow. Weren’t widows old ladies?
And yet, as I sat at that table frantically scribbling on a legal pad, I remembered that my mother had not been much older than I was when she’d planned my dad’s funeral. That gave me strength. She survived—maybe I would, too.

I’d rise at 6:00 a.m. and make my way down the stairs to put on coffee, studiously avoiding the sight of the small kitchen light above the coffeemaker. David had always been the one to turn it on, and I couldn’t bear to turn it off.

When Mom died, the wound was deep, and it hurt. 
But when David
died, it went right through the bone, to my very core—leaving a huge gaping hole. 
I needed more than the prayers of my childhood to bind
up such a wound. I needed God’s Word.

Her husband's death occurred on a Tuesday and read how she turned that painful day into one of hope: 

For several weeks after his death, Tuesdays were simply a reminder: the
reminder of a Tuesday loss. One Tuesday, I just couldn’t bear to . . . keep counting. Tuesday had become an unbearable reminder of a life without David.
I decided that every Tuesday I would send at least one card, a letter, or even a package to someone. Instead of focusing on my pain, I would reach out to others.

Whatever loss you have experienced, you will relate or gain insight into the feelings of others, between the pages of this book.

Mary Potter Kenyon graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a BA in Psychology. She lives with three of her eight children in Manchester, Iowa, where she is touted as the "Dubuque Area's Coupon Queen" in a weekly coupon column in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald newspaper. Mary is the Director of the Winthrop Public Library in Winthrop, Iowa. She conducts couponing and writing workshops for local community colleges, libraries and bookstores. Her book, Coupon Crazy, was released by Familius Publishing in August 2013. Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage released on April 8, 2014.


  1. Hey, Tammie, thanks for sharing. I will have to read this one and maybe it will help me as well.

  2. I hope you benefit from it, Diane. Thanks for commenting.


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