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How can we embrace poverty as a way to God when everyone around us wants to become rich? Poverty has many forms. We have to ask ourselves: “What is my poverty?” Is it lack of money, lack of emotional stability, lack of a loving partner, lack of security, lack of safety, lack of self-confidence? Each human being has a place of poverty. That’s the place where God wants to dwell! “How blessed are the poor,” Jesus says (Matthew 5:3). This means that our blessing is hidden in our poverty.

We are so inclined to cover up our poverty and ignore it that we often miss the opportunity to discover God, who dwells in it. Let’s dare to see our poverty as the land where our treasure is hidden.

A Thousand Pieces:  A Story of Mercy, of Courage, of Love. by Shirley J. Buxton.  Forrest Press. San Bernadino, CA.  171 pages.  $11.95  (Available on Shirley’s web site )

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Now in its third printing, A Thousand Pieces, is the story of how God’s glory shines through human frailty and how His love is confirmed in mercy.  The book is dedicated to Shirley’s husband Jerry, “who lived it.”  Jerry Buxton could have died.  More than once he appeared to be dying.  Now the Buxton family are Christians, secure in their belief that if Jerry had died, he would be with Jesus in heaven.  But he did not die.  The fact that Jerry Buxton did not die creates the storyline, but it is not what this book is about.

A Thousand Pieces is a chronicle of a woman’s faith.  Surely, if her husband had died this book would have taken a different form (or not been written at all).   The two shortcomings of the book that Shirley Buxton names in her “Afterward”: that [she] should have written more about “Jerry’s intimate feelings and close thoughts” and that she should have included “a few pages written personally by Jerry” are not shortcomings at all.  Perhaps, Jerry knew this, when she was writing it.  Although it is Jerry’s body that has been broken and is slowly healed, this is not Jerry’s story.

The book was written after Jerry Buxton was home and well on the way to recovery, but the  story centers around a woman whose life has been “broken into a thousand pieces” and how her faith and the faith of those who surround her sustains her from day to day, as she copes with the myriad of details the accident brings.  It appears that Shirley was too busy living at the time to take notes during the actual events she describes.  Later access to medical record and cooperation with medical personnel with whom the Buxtons formed deep, meaningful friendships made the accuracy of details possible.

The theme is faith in action.  Shirley Buxton documents the role of faith in giving her the courage to believe and cope, when her husband was in a coma and throughout his medical ordeal.  It shows the intermingling of miracle and medicine in Jerry’s healing and how faith becomes determination: how she, along with her family and friends, love Jerry through his long recovery  (physical and mental), without succumbing to the pressure as the bills pile up. 

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This is also a story of gratitude. While recovering, Jerry Buxton himself ministered to patient and doctor alike, not because he could get something for it but because he is a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ.   The Buxton’s are “forgiven” their hospital bill of thousands of dollars, which makes possible the continuation of a comfortable standard of living.  For this, they are grateful.  But the mercy shown by God in A Thousand Pieces is really toward Shirley herself, whom God loves so much that He gave her husband back.

 

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