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Miracles and Other Reasonable Things: A Story of Unlearning and Relearning God

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In her most personal book yet, popular speaker and bestselling author Sarah Bessey invites us into her long—and sometimes miraculous—road to recovery after a terrible accident and shares how it changed everything she believed about God. Sarah Bessey was in her sweet spot: a popular author, sought-after speaker and preacher, and an active and engaged mother of four, married In her most personal book yet, popular speaker and bestselling author Sarah Bessey invites us into her long—and sometimes miraculous—road to recovery after a terrible accident and shares how it changed everything she believed about God. Sarah Bessey was in her sweet spot: a popular author, sought-after speaker and preacher, and an active and engaged mother of four, married to the love of her life. Raised within the Word of Faith and prosperity movements, which declared that obedience to God led to untold blessings, her life seemed to prove the preachers of her childhood were right. Then she was in a car accident with life-shattering consequences, and everything she thought she knew about God and faith was upended. Weaving together theology and memoir in her trademark narrative style, Sarah tells us the whole story of the car accident that changed her body and ultimately changed her life. The road of healing leads to Rome where she met the Pope (it’s complicated) and encountered the Holy Spirit in the last place she expected. She writes about her miraculous healing, learning to live with chronic pain, and the ways God unexpectedly makes us whole in the midst of suffering. She invites us to a path of knowing God that is filled with ordinary miracles, hope in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, surprising holiness, and other completely reasonable things. Insightful, profound, and unexpected, Miracles and Other Reasonable Things is a wild spirit-filled story of what it means to live with both grief and faith in our hands as we wrestle with God.


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In her most personal book yet, popular speaker and bestselling author Sarah Bessey invites us into her long—and sometimes miraculous—road to recovery after a terrible accident and shares how it changed everything she believed about God. Sarah Bessey was in her sweet spot: a popular author, sought-after speaker and preacher, and an active and engaged mother of four, married In her most personal book yet, popular speaker and bestselling author Sarah Bessey invites us into her long—and sometimes miraculous—road to recovery after a terrible accident and shares how it changed everything she believed about God. Sarah Bessey was in her sweet spot: a popular author, sought-after speaker and preacher, and an active and engaged mother of four, married to the love of her life. Raised within the Word of Faith and prosperity movements, which declared that obedience to God led to untold blessings, her life seemed to prove the preachers of her childhood were right. Then she was in a car accident with life-shattering consequences, and everything she thought she knew about God and faith was upended. Weaving together theology and memoir in her trademark narrative style, Sarah tells us the whole story of the car accident that changed her body and ultimately changed her life. The road of healing leads to Rome where she met the Pope (it’s complicated) and encountered the Holy Spirit in the last place she expected. She writes about her miraculous healing, learning to live with chronic pain, and the ways God unexpectedly makes us whole in the midst of suffering. She invites us to a path of knowing God that is filled with ordinary miracles, hope in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, surprising holiness, and other completely reasonable things. Insightful, profound, and unexpected, Miracles and Other Reasonable Things is a wild spirit-filled story of what it means to live with both grief and faith in our hands as we wrestle with God.

30 review for Miracles and Other Reasonable Things: A Story of Unlearning and Relearning God

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Listen, I know I'm a bit biased (because I wrote it) but I thought this was a pretty good book. ;-) Listen, I know I'm a bit biased (because I wrote it) but I thought this was a pretty good book. ;-)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This latest book by Sarah Bessey made me cry and filled my heart with hope, as her words usually do. I've already read it twice. The second time I listened to the audiobook and was able to highlight some things in my kindle version. I was still moved to tears over and over again. Chapter 15 and the benediction are my favorite. And the chapter on letting God Mother us. Sarah is such a good storyteller and her writing is beautiful and poetic. Sarah reminds us at the beginning of her book, "I should This latest book by Sarah Bessey made me cry and filled my heart with hope, as her words usually do. I've already read it twice. The second time I listened to the audiobook and was able to highlight some things in my kindle version. I was still moved to tears over and over again. Chapter 15 and the benediction are my favorite. And the chapter on letting God Mother us. Sarah is such a good storyteller and her writing is beautiful and poetic. Sarah reminds us at the beginning of her book, "I should probably warn you right up front that I love Jesus with my whole heart. I have zero chill on this topic. I think he’s worth following, and that can get me into trouble. I have never evolved past Jesus: I still abide in the shadow of his wing." -- I love that so much! I am right there with her! I cried all the way through the benediction (final prayer) at the end, no surprise there... I highly recommend you read it for yourself. In fact, go read her first two books first, and then read this one. I agree with what Shauna Niequist wrote in the forward: "In friendship, if you want to create the kind of space between you that is strong and durable and deeply valuable, you have to be willing to go first. And part of why books matter and writing matters and storytelling matters is because the best writers go first: the best writers say the unsaid and unspoken, the secret truths we all feel but can’t quite speak aloud. And in these pages, Sarah’s willingness to go first in all sorts of ways is a sacred gift, a permission slip, a key unlocking doors long closed." 10/16/19 - I still need to finish writing my longer review, but I just finished reading this for a second time already. This time I listened to the audiobook and was able to highlight some things in my kindle version. I was still moved to tears over and over again. Chapter 15 and the benediction are my favorite. And the chapter on letting God Mother us. 9/16/19 - First read through: Longer review is forthcoming, but I just finished this tonight (thanks to the publisher for the ARC!). I cried through the benediction at the end, no surprise there... I highly recommend you read it for yourself. It hits the shelves on October 8. #ReasonableMiracles

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Howard

    Fantastic! Full review coming for Shelf Awareness.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andi M.

    Sarah Bessey’s latest book is absolutely gorgeous. She has such a big, welcoming, everyone-at-the table vision of God that inspires and fuels me. There were several issues she wrote about in this memoir that intersect with my own experiences in really important and affecting ways, and it was much like sitting with a good friend for a chat, prayer, hugs, and a good cry.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Victor

    Firstly, I'm so glad lots of people (women) are loving this book. Any time people read something and are helped, I'm all for it. Secondly, I feel bad not giving 5 stars to a book almost everybody is giving 5 stars to! What's wrong with me? Something, clearly. Thirdly, kinda weird but, if a man wrote a book and 96% of the positive reviews were by men, couldn't a woman point that out and go, hmmm, interesting, that? The subtitle is "a story of unlearning and relearning God." Besides the little secti Firstly, I'm so glad lots of people (women) are loving this book. Any time people read something and are helped, I'm all for it. Secondly, I feel bad not giving 5 stars to a book almost everybody is giving 5 stars to! What's wrong with me? Something, clearly. Thirdly, kinda weird but, if a man wrote a book and 96% of the positive reviews were by men, couldn't a woman point that out and go, hmmm, interesting, that? The subtitle is "a story of unlearning and relearning God." Besides the little section in Rome where her husband is befriended by two tall priests (which was great), this subtitle is the best part of the book--the idea that a person can unlearn and relearn God. Unfortunately I didn't see much unlearning in Sarah's story. This book is mostly for the people/women who know Sarah and her previous books and want insight into the next part of her life. And it's for Christians who are pretty set in their beliefs, even if those beliefs are a slightly more liberal version of evangelicalism. For a book on unlearning and relearning God, I recommend Pete Enns' How the Bible Actually Works. (There's a healthy mix of male/female reviews of that one, if that matters to you).

  6. 5 out of 5

    Christie

    Proper review coming later after my eyes stop leaking from Sarah's benediction. Proper review coming later after my eyes stop leaking from Sarah's benediction.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lori Jane

    I’ll start with this. I loved Sarah Bessy’ latest book, Miracles and Other Reasonable Things. Of course, I did. 5 Stars. And a few extra for courage and vulnerability because this one is BRAVE. Reading Miracles and Other Reasonable Things brought to mind a quote I read in an article about LM Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. Anne was our wardrobe, our tornado — our portal to the capacity within ourselves to make the mundane world magical. “Dear old world,” Anne murmurs, in what is to me her mos I’ll start with this. I loved Sarah Bessy’ latest book, Miracles and Other Reasonable Things. Of course, I did. 5 Stars. And a few extra for courage and vulnerability because this one is BRAVE. Reading Miracles and Other Reasonable Things brought to mind a quote I read in an article about LM Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. Anne was our wardrobe, our tornado — our portal to the capacity within ourselves to make the mundane world magical. “Dear old world,” Anne murmurs, in what is to me her most important moment, “You are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.” (Sarah Mesle, Los Angeles Review of Books) In Miracles and Other Reasonable Things, Sarah is my portal to the world of Evolving Faith. My Anne. Helping me to navigate the wilderness and see its beauty. Pointing me to hope and faith and the ability to see miracles, even the ones that do not look the way I hoped. Even more than in her previous books, Sarah bravely reveals her own story to readers and, in doing so, builds connection in a deeply personal way. Sarah writes that she loves her readers and it doesn’t come off as just words on a page. It feels true. I met Sarah at the Evolving Faith 2018 Conference. As I was standing in line, the organizer was begging us not to spend too much time talking to her. Things were running late and apparently Sarah just couldn’t cut people short. I watched her greet everyone – there were 1500 people at the conference – and I knew Sarah was already struggling with the physical challenges described in her book . She was undoubtedly exhausted. It wasn’t evident though, Sarah listened and hugged and responded to everyone. Like the woman in Luke 8 who wanted to touch Jesus’ cloak, I think we all wanted to reach out and touch Sarah’s metaphorical “cloak” and be infused with the hope and love that she carries in her heart and words. If you believe in miracles and even if you don’t… If you have questions about faith… If the church or religion has harmed you… If you’re a liberal… If you’re a conservative… If you long for meaning or purpose… If you don’t believe in God at all… If you’re angry at Christians and Church in general… If your only experience of faith involves judgement If you have been excluded because of your beliefs, sexual orientation … If your faith is changing and you feel lost… Sarah’s words can be for you. I’d encourage you to pick up Miracles and Other Reasonable Things or any of Sarah’s previous books – Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women and Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith. Perhaps Sarah can be your portal too. NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. Book will be out on October 8 and is available for pre-order everywhere books are sold.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    This book was balm to my weary soul. Sarah speaks so honestly and eloquently right into your heart. Her vulnerability about her own pain and wandering and her heartfelt, unwavering love for Jesus are things I so respect and admire about her. I felt like she was sitting right here with me talking with and praying over me. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has wrestled and wandered in their faith and/or dealt with pain. When I turned to the last page, I wasn’t ready for it to be done. I t This book was balm to my weary soul. Sarah speaks so honestly and eloquently right into your heart. Her vulnerability about her own pain and wandering and her heartfelt, unwavering love for Jesus are things I so respect and admire about her. I felt like she was sitting right here with me talking with and praying over me. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has wrestled and wandered in their faith and/or dealt with pain. When I turned to the last page, I wasn’t ready for it to be done. I think I’ll start reading it all over again. It’s worth every second you will spend reading it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Sarah Bessey always speaks to my heart. This story shows how God will always surprise us when we think we’ve got everything figured out. The benediction at the end is perfect.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tami Groth

    While I fell in love with this book right from the introduction. When Sarah describes how "this book persisted" the preacher in me knew it was going to persist in my heart and mind long after I first read the words. And then as I witnessed her beautiful vulnerable storytelling, the reader in me that simply loves story and words also fell in love with for the quality of writing and masterful storytelling. Finally, when I was just a bit sad to finish the book when I first read it, I slowly encount While I fell in love with this book right from the introduction. When Sarah describes how "this book persisted" the preacher in me knew it was going to persist in my heart and mind long after I first read the words. And then as I witnessed her beautiful vulnerable storytelling, the reader in me that simply loves story and words also fell in love with for the quality of writing and masterful storytelling. Finally, when I was just a bit sad to finish the book when I first read it, I slowly encountered the last chapter -- BENEDICTION -- and I knew I was experiencing something beyond mere words as here was Sarah's presence in pure intimate vulnerable blessing. While I've been returning to my favorite quotes the last few weeks, today as the book showed up in my audible account and I began listening, I realized that this book is not only for those deconstructing their faith or wondering how to live faithfully with chronic illness or those waiting for their miracle while witnessing others' miracles, and that this book is also for those that simply appreciate stunning storytelling and memoir that comes to life. With the audio I could hear even more acutely the rhythm that Sarah creates as she weaves together the pieces of her own story with the connection points to faith and culture. Her weaving in of personal vignettes along with telling the larger story arcs create an absolutely brilliant suspense and holiness as we wait in the hospital emergency room with Sarah and later are right there with her as she is visiting the Pope, and between and beyond these moments we are with her as she learns from her own children and embraces the holiness of a mothering God. And in Sarah's story many of us witness our own stories too, and this is what makes this so much more than a great book. As she begins her benediction Sarah is grateful for the reader's time, and I return the gratitude ten-fold for her time and vulnerability as an author. And I am grateful that others will also share in this communal story. May we rise together. NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. On release day (Oct 8 2019 I then received audio and all versions via order)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Zachary Houle

    To say that Sarah Bessey has had a tough go of it in recent years would be a huge understatement. The Canadian Christian author of the books Jesus Feminist and Out of Sorts has endured a nearly life-ending minivan accident, her father’s near-fatal heart attack, a book being rejected by her publisher, and the death of a very good friend, the great Rachel Held Evans. She has also, more recently, pulled away from her church over the issue of the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. In her more distan To say that Sarah Bessey has had a tough go of it in recent years would be a huge understatement. The Canadian Christian author of the books Jesus Feminist and Out of Sorts has endured a nearly life-ending minivan accident, her father’s near-fatal heart attack, a book being rejected by her publisher, and the death of a very good friend, the great Rachel Held Evans. She has also, more recently, pulled away from her church over the issue of the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. In her more distant past, she has seen four children die as miscarriages or stillbirths, though another four of them have lived. If you’re looking for someone as a Christian to write about pain and suffering, Sarah Bessey is probably the best candidate that we have to write with some level of personal expertise on the subject. And, would you look over here, she has done just that with her third book, Miracles and Other Reasonable Things. Before diving into the contents of the book, you should know that Sarah Bessey is becoming a very big deal in Christian publishing circles. Her latest comes with advance praise from a litany of successful Christian authors such as Jen Hatmaker, Barbara Brown Taylor and Jonathan Martin (who wrote the very thought-provoking How to Survive a Shipwreck, which guided me through a difficult season). The foreword of the book was penned by none other than Shauna Niequist, a New York Times bestselling author. These are some powerful heavy-hitters in the Christian publishing field, so you get the sense that Miracles and Other Reasonable Things is a bit of a coronation and that the publisher expects big things from Bessey. I’m happy to report that she more than delivers. Read the rest of the review here: https://medium.com/@zachary_houle/a-r...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Sarah Bessey has called this her most personal book yet - something I would definitely agree with. The author of “Jesus Feminist” and “Out Of Sorts” invites us into a new phase of her personal faith deconstruction and reordering, prompted by a devastating car accident that has left her with debilitating physical pain and a faith crisis. The things I’ve always loved about Bessey are present: lyrical storytelling, beautiful turns-of-phrase, and a warmth that makes you feel you’re sitting down with Sarah Bessey has called this her most personal book yet - something I would definitely agree with. The author of “Jesus Feminist” and “Out Of Sorts” invites us into a new phase of her personal faith deconstruction and reordering, prompted by a devastating car accident that has left her with debilitating physical pain and a faith crisis. The things I’ve always loved about Bessey are present: lyrical storytelling, beautiful turns-of-phrase, and a warmth that makes you feel you’re sitting down with her and discussing something over a cup of tea. Takeaways (just one for this book): (1) Bessey’s second-to-last chapter is framed in a “Once/Then” format (“Once my faith looked like ________. Then it didn’t.”) which reminds people to give themselves and their faith journeys permission to shift in expression. This was my favorite section of the book. Don’t be afraid to embrace the changing seasons of life, of faith, and of how God shows up differently as you become different. Somehow knowing that these changes must and will come softens the blow when it begins to unfold in your own life. All of this can help shine a light for others walking the path of faith deconstruction or disorientation. As Bessey states near her conclusion (p. 208): “Once upon a time, God was certainty and right answers. Then God became the questions. “Once upon a time, I believe God would heal me. Then God did. “Once upon a time, I believed God would heal me. Then God didn’t. “Once upon a time, God. And then God.” Yes.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Schuh

    I first discovered Sarah Bessey’s writing around 5 years ago. Her style reaches deep and the words that she crafts together are so true, soulful and articulate. They often are also poetic. This book is no exception. It met me right where I am and filled my soul. I would highly recommend this book for those who love Jesus with all their being, and for those who love Jesus, but have felt far away from him. This book is also for those who understand God is a God of miracles and also for those who d I first discovered Sarah Bessey’s writing around 5 years ago. Her style reaches deep and the words that she crafts together are so true, soulful and articulate. They often are also poetic. This book is no exception. It met me right where I am and filled my soul. I would highly recommend this book for those who love Jesus with all their being, and for those who love Jesus, but have felt far away from him. This book is also for those who understand God is a God of miracles and also for those who doubt a supernatural God. Sarah brings her own personal story to life and allows the reader to be a living part of her own personal journey of a tragic event, and all the pain and grace and grit and truth and revival of the fallout. It encouraged me to fully live right where I’m at; believing wholeheartedly God is a God of miracles while also allowing myself to grieve what was and what will never be. It is a gracious and kind and generous read, allowing me to love and hate my paradigm of miracles and finding solace in the midst of it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rachel A. Dawson

    This book was beautiful. Heartfelt. Tender. Lovely. I’m so grateful @sarahbessey gave us this gift — more a memoir than her other books, a treasure to read, and a story that bolstered my own faith and belief in a God of miracles. I’m so excited to share a copy of this one with one of you. I highlighted so many stunning lines in this one and found it so encouraging and moving, and hope you will too. All the praise hands.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. I had been waiting for this book for what seems like forever and so receiving it early was delightful. It took me very little time at all to read as the story drew me in immediately and didn't let me go until the last page. Like the previous books she has written, Sarah continues to offer up deep spiritual wisdom with the gentle and firm voice of a good friend. As she shares her own life, she pulls back the veil to deeper and more univ I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. I had been waiting for this book for what seems like forever and so receiving it early was delightful. It took me very little time at all to read as the story drew me in immediately and didn't let me go until the last page. Like the previous books she has written, Sarah continues to offer up deep spiritual wisdom with the gentle and firm voice of a good friend. As she shares her own life, she pulls back the veil to deeper and more universal truths about God, spirituality and what it means to be human. Sarah's bold honesty about both her assurance and her doubt allow the reader the safety to admit and wrestle with their own struggles as they read. This book is both the Miracle this reader needed and the reasonable truth that it presents. The book is comforting and uncomfortable, it deals in the beautiful parodoxes of faith. Sarah grasps the complexity of faith and doubt and with her words brings the two together to form a beautiful book. I will definitely be reading this again and recommending to many people I care about.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chris Crosby

    NOTE: I received an Advance Copy of the book from the publisher. Page number correspond to the 2019 hardcover edition. Sarah Bessey’s story contained in Miracles and Other Reasonable Things: A Story of Unlearning and Relearning God is not new. We humans have had unexpected complications and suffering since God created us. But Sarah presents a refreshing, honest story of the struggles we encounter and how we can still encounter God’s presence through them. My relationship with Sarah Bessey and h NOTE: I received an Advance Copy of the book from the publisher. Page number correspond to the 2019 hardcover edition. Sarah Bessey’s story contained in Miracles and Other Reasonable Things: A Story of Unlearning and Relearning God is not new. We humans have had unexpected complications and suffering since God created us. But Sarah presents a refreshing, honest story of the struggles we encounter and how we can still encounter God’s presence through them. My relationship with Sarah Bessey and her writings came through Rachel Held Evans. Rachel’s sudden death exposed me to Sarah’s social media presence where I witnessed her deep love of Jesus and Rachel, and her ongoing efforts to keep alive the work she and Rachel had been doing. When Sarah asked for a launch team to promote this book, I volunteered. I wanted to see where Rachel’s friend could take me in my liberal East coast Episcopal journey with Jesus. So here I am reviewing Sarah’s book, Miracles and Other Reasonable Things. And, you know what? This liberal Episcopalian found a whole lot to love in Sarah Bessey’s book; I now join a chorus of (mostly) women all exclaiming, “This is exactly the book I needed to be reading right now!” I was not clear that this is how I would react. I didn’t know Sarah or her story, beyond the relationship with Rachel. When we are out of our accustomed language, patterns, and experiences, we wonder how the Holy will find us. We become healthy skeptics. But Sarah knows all about putting God in a box and thinking the Spirit cannot exist without a particular language, pattern, or structure. That’s what this whole book is about. The “unlearning and relearning God” is what ties everything together. When Sarah visits Rome, which she describes as “the axis on which this story turns”: “I was still convinced I wouldn’t hear from God in Rome, I was sure Jesus wouldn’t meet us here, I was certain that the Spirit was far from this place and tradition. And instead, at every turn, I was being challenged in that notion, being asked to open myself up to the possibility of being surprised by God yet again.” (106-7) I was surprised by this book. New or not, her story of it drew me in; it is an incredibly powerful one and you must read the Introduction to get all the rationales and emotions right up front. I appreciated her honesty. It prepared me for how this “weird” (Sarah’s word, not mine) book would unfold. Sarah describes writing it as “a wild, balancing act,” and some readers might find it that. My surprise, instead, came from how familiar this story was, how completely I could follow her journeys through the “reorienting, bracing, dangerous Love” of God. I did not expect to find so many of my own faith touchstones in her story. Sometimes we forget how similar our lives can be even when the outward trappings might look so different. Sarah tells her story in what I would call braided threads, a style of writing allowing for a lot of back story to be brought in without entangling the primary narrative. For a story of faith struggles, this technique provides clarity. And so chapter one, for instance, tells the story of the crash that breaks Sarah’s body and the immediate aftermath in the emergency department of the hospital. But the chapter also tells us about her marriage to Brian and his personality, Sarah’s attraction for blue herons as signifiers in her life, the importance of her father in her faith formation and his love of eagles, all before we find out just how lucky she was not to be killed on the road and she is sent home to recuperate. Each chapter includes as many diversions or threads, including the rainbows of Bible study, all skillfully braided together to form a coherent unit. And while she tells her story, she weaves in all the colors of her learnings, unlearnings, relearnings about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. There’s a reason I reread the book almost immediately: Sarah packs so much into the story that I wanted to mark the poetic nuggets that made me hum in recognition. When she explores the feminine role in the church (I have not yet read Jesus Feminist), I practically stood and cheered her comment that “Women who are awake are dangerous to the powers and principalities around us.” (29) I resonated with her statement about knowing that the women at the retreat she had been leading before the accident were praying for her; “The reciprocity of sisterhood is something that sustained me even in that moment, I think; the mutuality, the way that we carry one another’s burdens and pray for one another, back and forth, and back and forth.” (344-35) I understood exactly what she meant as she describes how her father is changed by heart surgery and she and her family “all learn this is also love: the stern and steady presence of abiding with what cannot be changed, of the kind of love that shows up to work, and of finding this life just a bit more precious because of a possible good-bye and an imperfect, slow renewing.” (46-47) Our circumstances were not the same in any case, but she sure can nail how I feel about those kinds of situations! The stories of what happened after the accident, and how and why Rome is the axis of Sarah’s narrative in the book are all perfectly rendered. Sarah captures Roman traffic and crowds, the heat of the summers there, the effect of Italian air on travelers, the impact of people watching and wine drinking, the wonder of the street shows you will find at random. She sets the scene for the confrontation between her expectations of who she will find at the events she and Brian attend, and how she shifts her perception of those people in part because they share meals together. In these stories, I heard her friend Rachel’s influence because this sentiment could be from any of Rachel’s books also: “We began to laugh and tell stories and the table that had seemed so intimidating began to feel familiar. Perhaps this is one hidden reason that a shared table is at the center of our faith: We all relax when we’re around a table.” (83) (I might add it doesn’t seem so hidden when you think of just how many dinner parties Jesus attended!) And so Sarah tells how she felt while in Rome, how the city brought out her fears and also gave her hope, how the Pope was what she wanted and needed him to be, even while she still questioned the grandeur and pomposity of the Vatican and its liturgies and traditions. Her juxtapositions of the wonder and frustration of the city and the Roman Church feel so very true, if you’ve spent any time in Italy. Sometimes you just must let the struggle be. An Anglican bishop tells her, “If you hadn’t limped through Rome, if you hadn’t wept through Italy in pain, you would have missed seeing Italy with the eyes of the grieving and the hurting and the left out.” (122-3) Still, Sarah sees the “act of faith in our bruised unity, embodied” (93) in the gathering of charismatics in Rome. She recalls Pope Francis’s words, the touch of his hand, his eyes on her. She and Brian meet some Canadian priests and they remind her of how God’s word sometimes comes to us through strangers, just when we need it most. The seemingly chance encounters point to one critical unlearning she remembers about unanswered prayers, which she had thought meant she misunderstood what to pray for. “Perhaps the problem wasn’t God; perhaps the problem was the God I created and the God I had been given.” That’s the God that Sarah works with after she comes home from Rome, the one she had created or taken from her earlier work. The struggle is real, and God is so much bigger than we ever can realize. Our work on our own understanding never really ends, and sometimes it needs so much MORE effort than ordinary. Sarah notes, “it wasn’t until grief and unanswered prayers moved into my own home that I began to fully understand how a theology without language for lament and sorrow was insufficient.” (129) “I had lived in a narrative that didn’t recognize God in the grief, and so when sadness or loneliness or suffering came to stay, I felt that God had moved out of my life to make room for the suffering.” (132) Importantly for a writer, Sarah says “I was left grasping for my place in the story.” (135) Sarah’s story after Rome is one of making peace with both grief and with her body. Both, in and of themselves, are helpful exercises for women. We need all the affirmation we can get that our depressions and our bodies are things God can use to guide us and help us. Sarah spends a lot of time detailing how she had to learn how to pray again to hear God. “I am formed and re-formed by prayer—I know this. This awareness of the presence of God baptizes the everyday moments of my life now.” (144) “I call down fire and love and justice and peace like falling stars, and I also pray for the courage to crack open my own life to receive their burning clarity.”(148) What I learned from Sarah’s story is how, through prayer and good friends and doctors, she learns to love her “broken miracle” of a body. This includes the book she tries to write while denying the extent of her own hurt. The lesson she takes from this extended study is that “when we try to script our own resurrections, we miss the places where God want to surprise us with a more full, more whole expression of healing than we could ever imagine.” (157) She hears an invitation to “Choose life” and accepts it, finding her place in the story all over again. I too have struggled with spending a long time working on something only to find I need a new approach and a different outcome. God sometimes need us to step back and take stock and be truthful about work covering up our pain. This resulting weird book holds lessons we all can carry with us, along with her beautiful benediction at the end of the book. Seriously, that benediction is a miracle all by itself. Sarah’s braided story wraps up most of the loose threads she illustrates, except for one. In the first chapter, she worries about trying to find out the name of the man who helps her immediately after the accident. It’s a cute vignette of the long night at the hospital. (24) It worries me that I can’t find his name in the book. Maybe the afterword can be expanded when the second printing happens. (There WILL be a second printing, I am confident!) And, if you are a fan of Rachel Held Evans, have a full box of tissues for the In Memoriam. Eshet chayil, indeed. Sarah, you carry her spirit well. Thank you.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Thompson

    I was given an advance copy of this book by the publisher, but I had already pre-ordered it. This book is amazing. It is beautiful beyond words - Sarah is a gifted writer, and her way with words takes this story to a breathtaking level. As someone who has chronic pain and has a chronic illness, she put into words fears and feelings I've never been able to verbalize. She addresses how chronic pain and illness touches us on a spiritual level, and it is achingly beautiful. I cried multiple times rea I was given an advance copy of this book by the publisher, but I had already pre-ordered it. This book is amazing. It is beautiful beyond words - Sarah is a gifted writer, and her way with words takes this story to a breathtaking level. As someone who has chronic pain and has a chronic illness, she put into words fears and feelings I've never been able to verbalize. She addresses how chronic pain and illness touches us on a spiritual level, and it is achingly beautiful. I cried multiple times reading this - sometimes because I felt seen or known - someone GOT it, and sometimes because of the beauty of the Jesus and faith she presents. This is absolutely the book I have needed and have been looking for, for months now. It didn't exist. But now it does. It is a tremendous gift. I will be re-reading many times, I know that for sure. I will be gifting it to many people. If you love Jesus, if you love memoirs, if you have (or are close with someone who has) chronic pain or illness, if your faith has shifted/deconstructed - if any of those fit your life, read this book. It is a thing of beauty and grace, and I'm grateful beyond words that Sarah wrote it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I really enjoyed this book. Sarah writes from her heart about life events from recent years. It was interesting to read more detail of life events that i have seen her experience from afar on social media. Sarah writes well and communicates her thoughts well. She is inspiring and real. Her benediction at the end was one of the most beautiful things I’ve read in years.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    I am grateful to the publisher for providing me with a free advance copy in return for an honest review. To be perfectly honest, I would (and will) purchase this book anyway as I have followed Sarah Bessey's writing and speaking since her tinies were...well, tiny! She has been a mentor and guide to me in my faith and theological journey as I have navigated being a woman in ministry in an evangelical tradition that does not always affirm the leadership of women. I have journeyed with her from the I am grateful to the publisher for providing me with a free advance copy in return for an honest review. To be perfectly honest, I would (and will) purchase this book anyway as I have followed Sarah Bessey's writing and speaking since her tinies were...well, tiny! She has been a mentor and guide to me in my faith and theological journey as I have navigated being a woman in ministry in an evangelical tradition that does not always affirm the leadership of women. I have journeyed with her from the emotional highs of my faith tradition to wrestling with whether there is a place for me within it. She has been a thoughtful voice as I have also embraced the ministry of mothering my own tinies with all its joys and challenges. This book will persist as a favorite, from her skillful writing and phrases that had me pausing to re-read to her personal stories that had me reflecting on my own. Sarah's theological insights are profound as they come from her own personal stories of wresting with God through the unexpected grief and literal pains of life. Many readers will relate and find solace in her journey of deconstruction and reconstruction, experiencing the God who becomes and unbecomes (according to Master Eckhart). Likewise, we find and lose ourselves and find our way again as what we once knew as truth falls apart and we build a new understanding of God and self from the ruins. The message I take away is this is the story of the "miracle of an ordinary woman with ordinary grief and utterly ordinary suffering turning her face toward the life" (p. 160). And yet there is nothing simply ordinary about this book. It is beautiful, moving, and challenging and it is calling me to evaluate the ordinary miracles in my life and I seek to choose life for myself.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stefanie

    In her latest release, Sarah Bessey writes beautifully about the holy space between pain and healing — and what happens when things don't go as planned. After a car accident changes everything, she must relearn who God is all over again and how to recognize him in the places she hadn't before. Whether it's a missive from her monthly Field Notes newsletter or from between the pages of one of her well-worn books, reading Sarah's words is like sitting over cups of tea with a dear friend. She's at on In her latest release, Sarah Bessey writes beautifully about the holy space between pain and healing — and what happens when things don't go as planned. After a car accident changes everything, she must relearn who God is all over again and how to recognize him in the places she hadn't before. Whether it's a missive from her monthly Field Notes newsletter or from between the pages of one of her well-worn books, reading Sarah's words is like sitting over cups of tea with a dear friend. She's at once both wise and tender, fierce and soft. When I first read something by Sarah a few years ago it finally felt like there was someone else out there who just got it: someone who understood what it looked like to wrestle with God and still love him deeply. I know without a shadow of a doubt that the Holy Spirit brought her into my life to shepherd me back to my faith. And I’ve never felt so grateful. This book is no exception. I read these pages from a doctor's office a few weeks ago, waiting for an ordinary miracle of my own. Her words about inviting God into our own pain and suffering were balm to my weary heart, and again, I find myself greatful for her shepherding. With this book, Sarah has reminded me that I'm not forgotten. I'm not unseen. That God sees all of us and answers our prayers, just perhaps not in the way we expect Him to. This book is for everyone: the doubters, the wounded, the people who long to see God in a new way, those that want to believe in miracles again but don’t have anything left in them, and even us happy-clappy Christians who want to raise our hands in the air and say YES, LORD!! I'll definitely be buying copy after copy for gifts as soon as it comes out. I hope you buy a copy for yourself, too.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jen Bowers

    Hard for me to put into words how I feel about this book. Sarah has found words for things that I couldn’t. I have read this over the last few months after my own car accident. I found comfort, healing and wisdom in this book. Highly recommend it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amy Jackson

    Full disclosure? I was never not going to love this book. I adored Sarah’s previous works, Jesus Feminist and Out of Sorts. Every time either title appears in a flash sale on Amazon, I share the link to all my social connections. Whenever I encounter a friend who is feeling a little lost, I ship them a copy post-haste. When someone asks who has most influenced my faith, I point directly to Sarah. So, I was a sure-win for Bessey...I expected to love every word. I just didn’t expect it to mean so Full disclosure? I was never not going to love this book. I adored Sarah’s previous works, Jesus Feminist and Out of Sorts. Every time either title appears in a flash sale on Amazon, I share the link to all my social connections. Whenever I encounter a friend who is feeling a little lost, I ship them a copy post-haste. When someone asks who has most influenced my faith, I point directly to Sarah. So, I was a sure-win for Bessey...I expected to love every word. I just didn’t expect it to mean so much to my personal journey. In Miracles and Other Reasonable Things, Sarah continues to explore the deconstruction of a traditional faith in favor of an open, authentic relationship with God. She uses personal experience with healing – both immaculate and traditional – to frame much of the book’s narrative, but the real gems hidden among her novel-worth prose are the moments when she relates action to attitude. She never asks her reader to consider something she has not lived and learned herself but somehow, she can always draw wisdom from the mundane and wrap it into a beautiful heart-whisper no reader can ignore. Sarah calls this her story of unlearning and relearning God saying, “Once upon a time, God was orderly and neat and black-and-white and logical. Then God became a gorgeous rainbow of color and surprise.” See? Beautiful, rich, and real. While I want to unpack all of the jaw-dropping “aha’s” I experienced in Miracles... I think the real magic of Sarah’s work is how there’s truly something for everyone. Some will take away an empowerment to lead in places women are not traditionally welcomed to stand, others will relate to her anecdotes about embracing a different sort of faith than her parents, and still more will find a direct connection to her unexpected shift in reality as injury and healing changed everything, then changed it again. As I noted earlier...this is a continuation of Sarah’s personal evolution. Though anyone can pick up Miracles and Other Reasonable Things without reading her earlier works, I believe the truths found in this piece are best-served as a second course to those first two books, so I highly encourage purchasing all! Whether you scoop up all three today, or dive in with Miracles and Other Reasonable Things you won’t be disappointed, you may experience life-altering invitation to a richer faith, and you’ll definitely become a sure-win for future Bessey missives, just like me. I received an ARC of this book but had also pre-ordered a book as well (and will purchase several more)! #ReasonableMiracles

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Hay

    Oh, the benediction! Of course, that’s at the end of the book. You must start from the beginning but oh the benediction. In February 2017 Sarah Bessey was a speaker at Rise Up Sister, a conference I was attending in Chilliwack, BC, Canada. She left the conference intending to return, bought a double double at Tim Hortons and was immediately broadsided. Sarah’s life, as she knew it, was stopped cold. In Miracles and Other Reasonable Things, Sarah reaches deep inside and draws out the courage to f Oh, the benediction! Of course, that’s at the end of the book. You must start from the beginning but oh the benediction. In February 2017 Sarah Bessey was a speaker at Rise Up Sister, a conference I was attending in Chilliwack, BC, Canada. She left the conference intending to return, bought a double double at Tim Hortons and was immediately broadsided. Sarah’s life, as she knew it, was stopped cold. In Miracles and Other Reasonable Things, Sarah reaches deep inside and draws out the courage to face her most intimate fears. This is the story of Sarah crashing in pain, in disappointment, in loss, in denial, to come to a place where all she could say was Jesus Jesus. And then she slowly began to rise. Sarah’s faith had been changing, evolving for several years. She writes how she relearned and unlearned what to hold on to and what to let go of. She learned to live in the Both/And and not the Either/Or. She learned “to pay attention to the difference between self-care and self-comfort.” (page 169). She learned to choose life. I forced myself to read slowly, never more than a chapter at a time. I wanted to allow Sarah’s words to replay in my head. I am much older than most of Sarah’s readers, older than her mother. Yet I knew Miracles and Other Reasonable Things would disquiet my faith if I allowed it to and it did. And now the benediction. As with all of Sarah’s books and conferences, she ends with a benediction. These ALWAYS impact me to the point that I have to sit in silence for minutes afterwards. Then I read it again and again. Amen. (I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gabriella Llewellyn

    LOVE LOVE LOVE. If you're a fan of any of her other books, you will adore this one as well. There is an openness and rawness present in this book that keeps you flipping the pages like a novel. Sarah is the spiritual mentor we all want: wise, gentle, authentic, deep and keeps sh*t real. Haha. I'm so grateful this book exists and will be recommending it to everyone. LOVE LOVE LOVE. If you're a fan of any of her other books, you will adore this one as well. There is an openness and rawness present in this book that keeps you flipping the pages like a novel. Sarah is the spiritual mentor we all want: wise, gentle, authentic, deep and keeps sh*t real. Haha. I'm so grateful this book exists and will be recommending it to everyone.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    I am so grateful I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book! It was what my soul needed. Sarah is so raw and vulnerable when talking about her faith and the miracles she has encountered. And they’re not all big, in your face miracles. She has taught me that being at home in your body can be a miracle. I laughed and I cried and did both some more. I’d highly recommend that everybody get their hands on this book ASAP.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    “Once upon a time, God was certainty and right answers. Then God became the questions.” Sarah Bessey, Miracles and Other Reasonable Things On the journey from certainty to questions, Sarah Bessey’s voice has often been a life preserver of mine. This book in all its transparency & vulnerability is a healing balm. There is so much left unsaid in church circles. Sarah Bessey firmly and gently speaks into those silences. Yes, there is room for your whole self here. Yes, there are sometimes healings o “Once upon a time, God was certainty and right answers. Then God became the questions.” Sarah Bessey, Miracles and Other Reasonable Things On the journey from certainty to questions, Sarah Bessey’s voice has often been a life preserver of mine. This book in all its transparency & vulnerability is a healing balm. There is so much left unsaid in church circles. Sarah Bessey firmly and gently speaks into those silences. Yes, there is room for your whole self here. Yes, there are sometimes healings or mystical moments in life & other times not. Yes, that can be excruciating. Yes, these moments can bring great faith & great doubt. Yes, you can speak both truths aloud in this space. Yes, you are in good company. Yes, God is a part of that good company. This book is for those who once held a childlike certainty in their faith only to feel it come crashing down on them as they began to ask the hard questions. Those who have sat in the dark, lonely moments of grief & suffering. Those who have wrestled with the silence of unanswered prayers. Those who have wondered where God is in the midst of it all. Those who have felt alone in these moments. “I pray for the courage to admit that you are not fine. And that when you say those words aloud that you would be met by love and care. I pray that you would remain open to participating in your own healing, even if it comes to you in ways that you resent and fear at first. Just because it’s new to you doesn’t mean God isn’t already waiting there for you in the doctor’s office, in the therapist’s room, on the page, in the conversation, in the solitude. May you welcome the love of God to your most tender places.” Sarah Bessey, Miracles and Other Reasonable Things

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kat Coffin

    I've been trying to come up with the words to describe this book, but nothing seems to do it justice. Sarah's book is a long exhale I didn't know I was holding. Her story of healing in Rome made me gasp aloud and the following reconstruction of healing after--how it was unfinished, how it didn't fit in a neat little box--was mesmerizing. I long for the kind of closeness Sarah has with the Holy Spirit. There were so many lessons in this book, lessons I didn't even know I needed. Like listening to I've been trying to come up with the words to describe this book, but nothing seems to do it justice. Sarah's book is a long exhale I didn't know I was holding. Her story of healing in Rome made me gasp aloud and the following reconstruction of healing after--how it was unfinished, how it didn't fit in a neat little box--was mesmerizing. I long for the kind of closeness Sarah has with the Holy Spirit. There were so many lessons in this book, lessons I didn't even know I needed. Like listening to my body. Accepting my body as it is. And the differences between self-care and self-comfort--something I never distinguished before. Sarah's book is healing. And her note to Rachel made me cry my eyes out all over again. It was the perfect book to finish on the road to Evolving Faith.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michele

    I'm thankful Sarah wrote this book, specifically Chapter 14, as she has the story to so perfectly embody what it means to allow embodiment to become a component of faith. In Miracles, she takes her storytelling to a new level. She presents her unbelievable miracles paired with the disappointing chronic pain and sets them side by side without asking either to be evidence for or against a God of love and Shalom. She walks us through her journey of becoming acquainted with (what I call) Bothness. A I'm thankful Sarah wrote this book, specifically Chapter 14, as she has the story to so perfectly embody what it means to allow embodiment to become a component of faith. In Miracles, she takes her storytelling to a new level. She presents her unbelievable miracles paired with the disappointing chronic pain and sets them side by side without asking either to be evidence for or against a God of love and Shalom. She walks us through her journey of becoming acquainted with (what I call) Bothness. As I read how she struggled through this process, I held my breath in hopes for both her healing and her sense of peace and she brought me to a place where I felt closure, not because she could tie up this experience with a neat little bow, but precisely because she couldn't and yet she carries on. I look to Sarah for her treatises on theological elements, but this piece of personal reflection was a warm divergence with a familiar tone. **Disclosure: I was given a free copy of the advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Melissa T

    I was gifted a copy of this book by the publisher. Thank you! This is the first book I have read by Sarah, and it will not be my last. When you read this book you feel as if Sarah is sitting right by you and you have been friends for years. This is a moving book and it is her account of wrestling with her faith and God. She was also able to find miracles along the way. I have been wrestling with my faith after losing my son. But I see now that prayer will bring miracles as I was gifted another son. I was gifted a copy of this book by the publisher. Thank you! This is the first book I have read by Sarah, and it will not be my last. When you read this book you feel as if Sarah is sitting right by you and you have been friends for years. This is a moving book and it is her account of wrestling with her faith and God. She was also able to find miracles along the way. I have been wrestling with my faith after losing my son. But I see now that prayer will bring miracles as I was gifted another son. This is a book everyone should read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michaela Evanow

    I am so looking forward to digging into this one!

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