The Grand Embrace – A Day on THE SHACK Film Set July 2015






3 years after our daughter, Adriana’s death, I experienced a synchronicity of events that completely took me by surprise.

I was busy painting the inside of our cottage with friends, doing new landscaping, working, and `staying open to Grace` – which is a full-time job all on its own when in the sorrows of grief. I was exhausted after experiencing great loss at Adriana’s birthday in November AGAIN and was stretched through a tender Christmas AGAIN – and kept moving until Spring which holds the month of her death and is full of painful triggers, amidst my work, therapy and family activities. I loved that I could do some of it again but was mindful of how little energy I still had at times.

We were out for a walk at the cottage with Brad and Eden Jersak when we saw the SHACK sign and wondered if it could be true that they were filming The Shack right in our cottage neighborhood. Brad knew Paul, they are both authors, and sent him an email with a photo of him and Dwight, my husband,and the Shack sign. Paul replied, YES, and that he was coming to one of the film locations soon – could they meet?  Next thing I knew I was asked to host Paul Young, author of the best selling book THE SHACK (22 million copies) at the cottage for a day while they were filming his book at the end of our beach. I was glad to do it but I hadn`t even put pictures back up on the wall. I was exhausted and not excited.  After remembering what the book was about my therapist, John Betts, suggested I open to chatting with him about my story of loss as Mackenzie, in the story, also loses a daughter. The story unfolds about his struggle with God allowing bad things to happen, his inability to trust God or open to God`s love. I shrugged it off but John encouraged me to watch for an opening since Paul had clearly wrestled with lots of the same questions and come to some strong peace. It could happen ‘in a flash of an eye’ he said. I opened just a bit while stuck in ‘The Great Sadness’ which it is called in the story.

The very next day Dwight and I were invited to go with Brad & Eden to meet Paul (and Producer of Life of Phi, Gil & Lani Netter) on the beach at the Lions Gate film location. It started with him welcoming us and giving me a hug that turned into a hold and when I started to cry suggesting he let go, he took my head and pulled me closer saying, “It’s ok, I got ya”.  The kind knowing embrace began to melt me and I was being undone. I said “I guess I’m invited back to my shack” – to the place of my pain, sorrow, and anger with my pile of questions and fears.  Paul had been told of our story and knew it would be difficult for us to face. God had my attention, something extra-ordinary was unfolding.

I watched the filming of the scene where Mack, whose daughter was murdered, expresses his anger at God (who is called Papa) saying you don’t cause bad things to happen but you don’t stop them, I’ll never trust you!!!  Papa (Octavia Spencer from The Help) shared powerful truths of God being with us and working for our good in everything. One, two, three  filmings and I couldn`t stop crying. They were acting out my inner drama – with props and sound…live – right in front of me – and I couldn’t get away – I was caught by surprise.  Imagine, 15 times I watched them hash this out feeling like it was me and God having it out. i hope they use the part where Mack hurls his coffee cup across the table and onto the floor!!! It took that many times to get into my wounded, broken, and closed heart. Love was coming through the locked door of my inner SHACK.

The next scene was of Papa and Mack watching a bluebird and Papa saying that this bird was made to fly and Mack was made to be loved but sometimes pain blocks love like our wings being clipped. Papa gently wooed Mack/me into this perfect and true healing love.  We went home after 11 hours on location.  I HOPE YOU GET TO SEE THE MOVIE!  Showing March 3, 2017

Many extra-ordinary things happened leading up to that day, on that day, and following. A few days later I was still processing what happened hoping I hadn’t simply been star-struck.  I began to feel like Saul who had become Paul after a visitation of a great light. Then I remembered John’s words, “It could happen in a flash of an eye.” Scales of hopelessness falling from my eyes.  The Great Sadness was met by THE GRAND EMBRACE.

A Reflective Writing on my blog:  The Grand Embrace 

*  Hope and Healing INTERVIEW with Dwight and Lorie on  The Drew Marshall Radio Talk Show


Wm. Paul Young

shares his film location experience (30 min in)

My friend Cathy AJ Hardy shares her song that emerged from this time of Grace “The Grand Embrace”