Undone by Michele Cushatt is a beautiful and truthful memoir of a mother who is striving to make sense of her unexpected and imperfect life. This book is for everyone. Many times throughout this memoir, I found myself replacing her story with my own.
This is a book for the perfectly, imperfect person. Whether you are married or single, divorced or remarried or looking for love this book is for you.
As someone who has met Michele (and embarrassed myself horribly in front of her and 250 other people), I can share that her sincerity and life is a testament to everyone who comes into contact with her. Chances are she will not remember me (and hopefully not my horrible dancing), this book is deeply touched me and I am blessed by her courage to share it.
Michele's story begins with a phone call that turned her life upside-down with the utterance of a single word… CANCER. The word that no one wants to hear – her Thanksgiving (her beloved holiday) took on a new meaning. Confusion, anger and how could this happen to me swirled through her head.
As she searched for meaning in her diagnosis she sought solace in her bedroom closet. In the dark and on the floor – she met God in this place. It was in this place that she came face-to-face with her disease. It was in the busyness of life that she realized he needed help.
She shares of the disillusionment of a failed marriage, single motherhood and the blessing of finding love for round two with all the struggles of creating and living within a blended family.
In the book, she shares this beautiful description of a marriage built on love and forgiveness:
A marriage isn't made of lace and pearls, slacks and ties. Nor can it be polished to a perfect shine or wrestled into submission. But it can be built one ‘I'm sorry', ‘I forgive you,' and ‘I love you' at a time.
She willed herself to beat cancer. She endured surgery after painful surgery to beat oral cancer back to its roots and then her life changed again. Just as her kids were ready to move on to adulthood, she was about to get another life-changing call.
That is how she affectionally calls her three newest additions to the Cushatt household. In her soon to be forties, she and her husband Troy brought love to and life to three young children when they needed it most.
The truth is God interrupts our comfortable life and makes us uncomfortable. She shares the dialog that continues with God as three kids under the age of five move in and transform her clean house into a romper room and art gallery.
As quickly as “the littles” moved into her home, they moved into her heart just as fast. With a career on the rise and three new additions, she juggled to keep it all in balance and then it happened…a panic attack.
Without her realizing, her world of perfection and imperfection collided like with thud and panic took over. As a sixteen-year-old, she told God she would give him everything. She would go anywhere and do anything…even Africa. Well, God brought her mission field literally to her doorstep in the form of “the littles”.
The Cushatt household was nine strong (including girlfriends) and a choir loft at an 11pm service was their destination. After the year she had, had…she just wanted all of them to sit together. The only place was the choir loft of a beautiful, old church in downtown Denver.
In that choir loft, with a young one fast asleep in her lap and the Savior's birth in a stable looming in front of her, she suddenly realized that she might have more in common with innkeeper than she first realized.
I wonder, at times, if the innkeeper's refusal was more personal than logistical. Sitting center-stage with a four-year old leaning on my arm, I saw myself in Bethleham's innkeeper.
Life interrupted and perfect plans no longer perfect, she realized that God makes all things new in His timing. Preparations that began long before she could utter a word, God began to prepare her for her perfectly, imperfect life.
Harvesting Is Hard Work
Woven in the pages of her story, Michele shares her good days and bad days. She shares exciting moments of kids graduating, planning for the next phase of life and getting a car that doesn't require funding a small country. Trapped within the pages of this book are stories of real life. A life that happens to each of us. Michele is bold enough to share her journey with us.
A long time ago, she prayed for a harvest. She forgot or just needed reminding (like us) that harvesting is hard work. Her friend Danny shared with her,
We all pray for a harvest, for God to give the blessing of bounty, [b]ut when the harvest comes and he gives us everything we've asked for, we complain. It's easy to forget that harvest is a whole lot of work.
Her world is not perfect, just as our's is not. We do good, strive for good, but somehow in the messiness of life we lose sight of our refuge and our strength – God. She boldly shares her triumphs and her tragedies. She challenges you to live with your frailty and brokeness in light of God that bigger than all of us.
Her story and life are not complete. The cancer returned and her father died of this own cancer battles. She still has “the littles” and showers them with love and grace along with her other kids and husband.
Michele reminds us that…
Our God is a refuge for the broken, not a shelf for the display of the shiny.
She encourages us to dive into life's adventure no matter where it takes us. The good, the messy and the Undone.
I encourage you to pick up a copy of Michele's book and read her story. It is a beautifully written book, and I believe you will find yourself in her story just as I did. I highly recommend this book.
Question: Can you identify with Michele's perfectly, imperfect world? I invite you to leave a comment by clicking here.