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Refined by Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace Paperback – 21 Oct 2014


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Review

When we experience grief, what we long for most is the hand of someone who knows the depth of our pain. "Refined by Fire" is a friend's hand as you travel your journey of loss. It is the gentle, compassionate voice of someone who's walked in your shoes and who knows the rocks beneath your feet. Mary Kenyon brings practical experience clothed in gentle grace, unflinching truth, and unwavering hope. I recommend this book to pastors, therapists, and anyone who has lost a loved one. Shelly Beach Award-winning author of 10 books, including "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" Managing editor, "Hope in the Mourning Bible" (Zondervan 2013) Co-founder of PTSDPerspectives.org Caring.com expert ShellyBeachOnline.org/PTSDPerspectives.com"

When we experience grief, what we long for most is the hand of someone who knows the depth of our pain. "Refined by Fire" is a friend's hand as you travel your journey of loss. It is the gentle, compassionate voice of someone who's walked in your shoes and who knows the rocks beneath your feet. Mary Kenyon brings practical experience clothed in gentle grace, unflinching truth, and unwavering hope. I recommend this book to pastors, therapists, and anyone who has lost a loved one.

Shelly Beach, Award-winning author of 10 books, including "Precious Lord, Take My Hand," Managing editor, "Hope in the Mourning Bible" (Zondervan 2013), Co-founder of PTSDPerspectives.org, Caring.com expert, ShellyBeachOnline.org/PTSDPerspectives.com

"Mary Kenyon's "Refined by Fire" reminds me of my grandmother, Madeleine L'Engle, who taught so many of us that writing can be a form of prayer that leads us to grace. I was moved to read how her influence inspired Mary to write and heal as well. Mary's writing style is extremely accessible, and her voice raw, authentic and brave. By the end I was crying with her. I would definitely recommend her book to anyone who is going through any type of loss."

Lena Roy, granddaughter of Madeleine L Engle, author of "Edges," and seasoned writing instructor and Program Manager for Writopia Lab, a not-for-profit dedicated to empowering youth through creative writing.

"Not long into the writers' workshop I was teaching on a Midwestern college campus, a woman in the front row of desks began to weep. I didn't know why at the time. But I sensed I was witness to something holy happening in that room. The book you hold in your hands is a result of that holy moment when the God of heaven gave the author permission to write out of the midst of her pain to provide a holding-on place for others in theirs. Mary Potter Kenyon's breathtakingly real thoughts reveal that razor edge where despair dances with hope and the ugly becomes elegant. I'm already creating a list of those laid on my heart to receive the gift of the story of Mary's grief journey."

Cynthia Ruchti, author of "Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices""

About the Author

Mary Potter Kenyon graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a BA in Psychology and is the director of the Winthrop Public Library. She is widely published in magazines, newspapers, and anthologies. Her essay on the connection between grief and creativity was published in the January/February 2013 issue of "Poets & Writers" magazine and she wrote several of the devotions included in the NIV Hope in the Mourning Bible released by Zondervan in 2013. Mary writes a weekly couponing column for the "Dubuque Telegraph Herald" and conducts writing and couponing workshops for women's groups, libraries, and community colleges. Mary's public speaking repertoire includes the topics of couponing, writing, utilizing your talents in your everyday life, and finding hope and healing in grief. This is Mary's third book published by Familius. "Coupon Crazy: The Science, the Savings, and the Stories Behind America's Extreme Obsession" was published in 2013, and "Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage" was released in April 2014. Mary lives in Manchester, Iowa, with three of her eight children.

Cecil Murphey, author of 112 books, has also assisted well-known personalities in writing their biographies.

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x9e6744c8) out of 5 stars 16 reviews
HASH(0x9d9d4dec) out of 5 stars Masterfully done and most engaging. 6 April 2016
By Mary Helen Tully, Myrtle Beach, SC - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I attended a national grief conference, just about a year ago. I came home with a lifetime supply of books on grief. I've just now gotten to Mary Potter Kenyon's book, as it was low in the stack.
It should have been on top.
Mary writes with such power and gentleness at the same time. She's captured my thoughts, my agony, my experiences as though we are twins. We are sisters. Sisters and members of the same club; the club that no one wants to join. And yet here we are.
Mary's book will bring comfort, grace and hope to anyone who is a member of our club.
Take a bow, Mary. Job well and masterfully done!
HASH(0x99761504) out of 5 stars Highly Recommended -- Not Just for Widows but for Mourning Children and Parents 16 Feb. 2015
By Dianna - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a mother whose one-hour old daughter died a few months ago, with other losses I can attest to the benefit of reading Potter Kenyon's book. After reading several grief books which left me unsatisfied, I will be recommending this book to my therapist and friends who work in health care. I am impressed with the writer's honest and rawness. She writes about being a widow, but also discusses losing her mother and her beloved eight-year-old grandson to cancer. Her reflections on grief are spot on, but also she is researching grief and shares what she finds in writings by L'Engle, C.S. Lewis and others. As a writer I appreciate her skill and authenticity.
HASH(0x99761408) out of 5 stars Uplifting book written by an expert in dealing with loss 14 Aug. 2015
By J. Kramer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book in one sitting, staying up way past my usual bedtime. Mary shares the grief she experienced after losing three family members in a short period of time. First her mother, then her husband, and after that a grandson. Even though I am related to the author, and the people she lost, I had seen only glimpses previously of how these losses changed her life. Mary has the ability to speak to her readers in a way which touches the spirit; her works aren't only informative but they soothe the soul.
HASH(0x9b655c50) out of 5 stars Truthful and Compassionate Outreach for Grief 19 Mar. 2015
By Amy Bovaird - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Refined by Fire, by Mary Potter Kenyon, spoke to me. It chronicles a little more than a year of her life as she struggles to come to terms with her husband’s sudden and unexpected death. While the deaths I’ve faces are not spousal, I’ve had to adjust to losing my father and, more recently, my sister who was just 57 years old a few months ago.
I can relate to Mary’s grieving, and while I did most of my crying before as I blatantly bargained for God not to take my sister, I feel her all-encompassing grief. This book helped me to see my mother’s grieving through more compassionate eyes. I could relate to the chapter on the wedding ring. My father, normally undemonstrative, gave my mother an expensive ring for their 50th anniversary. The next year after a brief and shocking illness, he passed away. That ring, worn in conjunction with her wedding ring, gave her much comfort. She wore it for five years until she fell and her fingers permanently swelled up and she couldn’t wear them anymore.
I also appreciated how she shared the light that began to emerge in her life little by little as hope came to her. She says, she searched for a message of hope in many books. I felt in the end, God brought it to her of his own volition and through different means, like a shiny coin.
As Mary’s story unfolded, I felt like I was getting to know her as a friend and even wrote comments throughout the book at various points – Aha moment! Good for you! Hey, we’re the same age! YES!!!
Mary’s book, written so that others wouldn’t feel alone in their own grief, is sure to strike a chord with many!
HASH(0x9d9d4e88) out of 5 stars Must-read 28 Oct. 2014
By Denise McFarland - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace is author Mary Potter Kenyon's memoir of sorts about the tremendous loss she endured during a very short period of time: of her mother, husband, and young grandson. The book description reads:

"Where is the handbook for widows?" Mary Kenyon lamented as she planned a funeral for the beloved husband whose triumph over cancer she chronicled in Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage. During the ensuing weeks, as she attempted to make sense of his untimely death, she filled two journals, blogged, and read the inspirational writings of others who had gone down the road of grief before her--authors like C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L'Engle. She eventually found herself studying grief and bereavement in her quest to unearth answers to alleviating the pain associated with profound loss. In the process, she discovered a strength and emotional reserve she didn't know she had, along with an evolving faith that helped her face the impending loss of an eight-year-old grandson.
"In the midst of the darkness of loss, I found light. Admittedly, in those first weeks, it might have been but a single small spark I sensed deep inside of me, but that spark guided me in the twisted, dark journey of grief. As I stumbled over the roots of hopelessness and despair, that light grew to illuminate my path, a path I sometimes felt very alone on. At some point in the journey I'd turned around, and there was God.
That is grace."

This book was markedly sadder to read than her previous book, Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage. Chemo-Therapist focused on how her husband's cancer healed and improved their marriage relationship, whereas Refined By Fire focused on the grief process Mary went through throughout her tremendous losses. However, although parts made me weep (especially her young grandson's cancer and death), it was a wonderful book. I read it in less than 24 hours because I just couldn't put it down. Mary intersperses journal entries that she wrote at different points and stages of grief throughout the book, and I found those lovely and was happy she decided to include these private writings, because I feel they could be so helpful to someone who's recently suffered a loss - to see that their feelings are normal, and to get an idea of what to expect throughout the process of grief. She also includes excellent resources for those dealing with a loss. This is a must-read book for anyone going through a difficult loss, or anyone who enjoys reading memoirs.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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