Book Review: A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert {and Giveaway}

Don’t miss the Giveaway at the bottom of the post!

I rarely find time to read Christian fiction, but I refuse to miss one of Iowa author Katie Ganshert’s novels. Katie weaves real-life circumstances with biblical truths to create believable and compelling story lines.

A Broken Kind of Beautiful

In her latest novel, A Broken Kind of Beautiful (released April 15), Katie explores many themes through her characters, such as forgiveness, beauty, brokenness, trust, love, and commitment. But it’s the truth of God’s redemption that shines most brightly in this captivating read. I ended the book eagerly wanting more. 

A Broken Kind of Beautiful

In A Broken Kind of Beautiful we follow Ivy Clark, who went from being a rejected and abandoned little girl to a drop-dead gorgeous model at age 14. As a teenager in a fast-paced glamorous world, Ivy learns to use her beauty to her advantage and vows to never be hurt again.

But years later, as a 24 year old, Ivy begins to realize skin-deep beauty is not the kind that lasts. Her world turns upside down, and she grows desperate to right it.  

This desperation forces Ivy to face her painful past once again. She winds up living with Marilyn Olsen, a stepmother she never wanted, and working alongside Davis Knight, a man she doesn’t understand.

Although, I sympathized with Ivy’s plight, it was in the characters of Marilyn, Davis, and his blind sister, Sara, where I noticed reflections of my own life. Each of their struggles, in some sense, parallel those of ours as we strive to make sense of our walk in this broken world. 

As the story unfolds, readers are drawn into Ivy’s emptiness, Davis’ guilt, Marilyn’s heartache, and Sara’s loss. And we see glimpses of our own efforts to trust, forgive, and surrender control. 

A (Our) Story of Redemption

Katie Ganshert masterfully weaves the plot line of A Broken Kind of Beautiful, with veins of God’s truth and grace intersecting with human failings. Through her characters, she wrestles with the tough life issues we all face and gently draws us into a deeper understanding and acceptance of the depth of God’s love and forgiveness. 

But most captivating in this novel is the way Katie gently unwraps and exposes the gift found in brokenness: the beauty of redemption. His love for us rings true in this verse Sara pens for Ivy:

 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)

Jesus Christ bought redemption for us all through His shed blood. But if we’re honest, it’s through our brokenness that we finally become open to the Lord’s redemptive work in our lives. [←Tweet this.]

And that makes for a truly broken kind of beautiful. 

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

 You can purchase Katie’s latest novel at Christianbook.com or any of your favorite booksellers. 

And now for a fun giveaway! I love Katie’s books so much I want to give you a chance to read them for yourselves. Just follow the Rafflecopter prompts below for a chance to win Katie’s first two novels, Wildflowers from Winter and Wishing on Willows. (Read my review of Wildflowers from Winter by clicking here.) 

Wildflowers from WinterWishing on Willows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, Katie is hosting a A Broken Kind of Beautiful Facebook Webcast Party on April 21st, from 6-7pm (CST). Click here to see the Facebook invite. The fun includes 6 prize packages.

Disclosure: I received an Advanced Reader Copy from the author, but was not required to write a positive review.

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Yours in grace ≈


Julie


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Posted in Book review, Brokenness, giveaway, Redemption

A Life You Don’t Want To Miss {Savor Revisited}

This year I set out to savor my days. To embrace and delight in each gift of a new sunrise. 

OneWord2014--

Imperfect Progress

But it’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day (focusing on limitations, monotony, and tough circumstances) and begin to just get by. Going about the days with little passion and purpose.

This isn’t the way any of us are supposed to live. And this isn’t how I purposed to live my life this year. 

In my January 2014 post where I shared more about my One Word, I wrote: “Days unfold. Beckoning, bidding us awake to live a life of glory. A life created with the very breath of God.”

“A life created with the very breath of God. Each of us, in existence because God chose us to be! His very breath made it so. And more compelling, we are made in His image!

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

Surely that makes our lives something to behold. Something to embrace with awe and use for His glory. 

Yet how many of us live as something to behold? How many of us live like God-breathed heirs to a King? How many of us are savoring our days and using them to honor that King? 

Savor Forward

Admittedly, savoring each day has not come easy for me. I am not doing it perfectly. There are days I rather wish didn’t exist and others I mindlessly walk through, intent instead on the next one.  

As I reflect back on my progress since declaring 2014 a year to savor, I find I resort to this passionless walk more when I’m stressed, overtired, or have isolated myself from others. So I came up with several specific action items to put in place: 

  1. Get rest – in other words, go to bed!
  2. Fill up with God through His Word and prayer (every day!) as well as worship and song 
  3. Stay connected – relationships enliven our soul
  4. Intentionally record items of  gratitude, each and every day. (Sometimes this is really difficult, but it is critical for refocusing.) 

We aren’t honoring our Creator if we live as if we already have one foot in the grave and are just waiting to fall in the rest of the way. We aren’t honoring Abba Father when we are content to wait out our earthly days with little more intention than a worker ant or bee, mindlessly gathering enough sustenance to just get by each day. 

A Life to Live

No, as long as we have breath, we are to live with passion and purpose, to bring glory to our Lord! [←Tweet this!] To embrace and savor the whole of being alive. To look for ways to bring glory to the Father. 

Still_purpose-

As Ken Davis poignantly points out in his inspiring video clip: “God isn’t through with you yet. This life is not a waiting room for death.” [←Tweet this.]

So join me: Get out there and savor this life!

To that purpose, I’ll leave you to absorb one of my favorite Psalms, which can’t help but inspire: 

Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion;
to you our vows will be fulfilled.
You who answer prayer,
to you all people will come.
When we were overwhelmed by sins,
you forgave our transgressions.
Blessed are those you choose
and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
of your holy temple.
You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,
who formed the mountains by your power,
having armed yourself with strength,
who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy.
You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.
You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.
The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with grain;
they shout for joy and sing. (Psalm 65)

Reflections: How are you doing on living with passion and purpose in 2014? If you did chose One Word for this year, has it helped you stay focused?

Linking up again this year with Ann Voskamp’s 2014 Joy Dare. Find the linkup at A Holy Experience. Beginning where I left off in 2013. What a blessing! #2714–2734, read the entire list by clicking here.

  • Joey engaging Rach with basketball–his love and patience for her is a treasure (so grateful this can be said of all my boys); Afternoon hike in a gorgeous preserve with hubby; First butterfly of the year
  • Mom and Dad back from their winter home and close by again; Promise of being reunited with our loved ones for all eternity; Silhouette of geese in the morning light
  • Windows open in the house; Four kittens to enjoy, all different colors; Being told nice things about my boy’s character
  • Finally planting our fledgling weeping willow in its permanent spot; Rach “helping” me dig up parsnips–maybe I’ll make a gardener out of her yet; The moon in the daytime sky–something special about seeing it then
  • Flies in the house (really–it means warmer weather!); Imparting truth and hope into the lives of others; Dan’s fast trip home for Rach’s Confirmation & Zach’s play
  • Vivid lightening show; Hugs from nieces and nephews–grateful to be in their lives; Crazy antics of the youngest and oldest when they get together
  • Rachel’s confirmation of her faith in the Lord and celebrating with many family and friends. Green grass (overnight); Rach’s “drive” to share love

 

I’m also linking up with Circles of Faith as we revisit our One Words for 2014. 

Yours in grace ≈


Julie


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Posted in Blessings, Daily Living, Multitude Mondays, One Thousand (or more) Gifts, One Word

When Hope Feels Uncertain {and a Giveaway}

“This hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Romans 5:5 (HCSB)

Waiting used to be an eternity; now it’s just a blink. I used to beg for change to happen; now I ask for sameness. I used to pray for patience; now I request more patience. It seems everything has changed in the past two decades.

Twenty-one years ago. That’s when my first foray into motherhood began and ended in a 10-week rollercoaster, beginning with an ecstatic ride to great heights of anticipation and ending in an out-of-control descent to a shattered heart and empty arms. Sorrow, anger, bitterness, depression, uncertainty, loneliness, all mixed to create a lethal toxin that slowly ate away all hope.

I lived a hollow existence.

hope_does_not_disappoint_larger-

That is until God gently but certainly nudged me into considering that there is hope in the hopeless.

To continue reading click over to Mommies With Hope where I’m thrilled to be a contributing writer, sharing with other mommies as we wait on the Lord’s perfect timing…

(And author Teske Drake informed me there will be a giveaway of her uplifting book, Hope for Today, Promises for Tomorrow: Finding Light Beyond the Shadow of Miscarriage or Infant Loss!)

Today I’m missing Five Minute Friday but am excited to link up with Bonnie at the Faith Jam around the topic of Broken:

Yours in grace ≈


Julie


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Posted in Brokenness, Faith Jam, Hope, Mommies With Hope

Why Now Matters So Much

Last Wednesday we looked at C. S. Lewis’ quote–“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different…” Prince Caspian (1951); today we’ll explore a similar quote of mine. 

Isn’t it funny how a minute can last forever, but a lifetime goes by in a blink…
Me

It’s true, isn’t it? In the details of some moments, a snail looks like a speed skater. But looking back, 2o years somehow morphs into 20 seconds.

All_days_written_before-

In the past, I’ve made the mistake of ignoring some moments and embracing others according to my (imperfect) perception of which were more important. Yet in my pursuit of savoring the life God has given me, I’m learning to be grateful for the good, the bad, and the ugly and to be intentional about living fully in those to come.

Now Matters

Because although now may appear to stretch endlessly, this moment will barely be a memory in the morrow. And however long or short it seems, each moment  matters.

  • Now matters because it forms tomorrow.
  • Now matters because it is a gift. 
  • Now matters because it is one of the preordained moments prescribed for your life.
  • Now matters because despite its perceived length, all of our “Nows” put together add up to but a vapor.
“You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14 NASB)

Now matters because God uses each one of them for His purpose and ultimately for our good. 

In fact, the times I thought were the least important or the most difficult, the minutes I wished would just disappear … those least likely moments are the ones out of which God seems to make the most. [←Tweet this.]

God has a plan for your life as He does for mine. It consists of a certain number of minutes, hours, days, and years in which to fulfill that plan. 

As tempting as it is sometimes, we dare not wish that time away. For time is precious. Once gone, we can never get those moments back. 

So a great question to ask each morning is, How will I use this gift of today? You certainly don’t want to waste your blink. 

“Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all my days were written in Your book and planned
before a single one of them began.” (Psalm 139:16)

Reflections: What tools do you use to remind yourself to make the most of the moments you are given? Is it a specific Scripture verse, a picture, a person in your life who holds you accountable? Whatever it is, I’d love if you’d share it in the comments. It may just encourage someone else.  

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Yours in grace ≈


Julie


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Posted in Daily Living, God

The Most Important Lesson for Life

Many accounts in the Bible fascinate me. Some because they are exciting and full of adventure and action. But more often because I can relate to one or more of the participants.

Every book of the Bible chronicles real-life. I can’t remember a single biblical man or woman where their life began wonderfully, continued with no hardships, and ended fabulously. Without exception, everyone struggled. Just as you and I struggle.

And that comforts me, yet convicts me as well. It’s convicting in that whenever the person took his eyes off God, mayhem and destruction followed. But comforting in that when his eyes remained fixed on God, even though he died, he lived.

resurrection_life-

The journey through life wasn’t always rosy, but the the final ending always was.

Journey of Hope

Let me give you a few quick examples: 

In a time when child-bearing gave a woman status and worth, Hannah lived barren. For years she was taunted and ridiculed. Filled with pain, she focused her eyes on God. He eventually answered her prayer and opened her womb. (1 Samuel 1, 2)

King David began as  a lowly shepherd boy, the youngest of a long line of capable sons. Even though as a young lad he was ordained king by the prophet Samuel, he lived an unassuming and sometimes dangerous life for years, until finally obtaining the throne (and then he still struggled). David grievously sinned at times throughout his life, but he always sought forgiveness. Being “a man after [God's] own heart” (Acts 13:22), he lived a life of faith to the end and was rewarded with a place at God’s feast forever. (1 and 2 Samuel and others)

Ruth grew up a pagan in the country of Moab. She lost much, but gained more when she followed Naomi to Israel and accepted the one true God as her own. Keeping her eyes firmly on the Lord as directed by Naomi, she eventually became the great-grandmother of King David. (see book of Ruth)

And of course, there is Esther, Joseph (you know, the coat of many colors), the 12 disciples, the Apostle Paul–the list of biblical stories of pain and redemption is endless as are the lessons to be learned from them. 

Lesson for Life

But I want to encourage you in the most important lesson: To rest your trust, no matter your circumstances, firmly on the Son of God. 

Too often we look to this world for solutions to our struggles, certain if we try hard enough or search long enough we’ll find the answers. The biblical heroes did the same thing … for a while. 

But have you looked around lately? They did. 

Really, do you see anything in this world that gives hope for a resolution to your troubles? They didn’t either. 

Look to God’s Word and you’ll see the truth of what those “heroes of faith” discovered as well: The Lord has the only answer. His hope is the only true Hope. In Jesus Christ lies assured Hope for all eternity. [←Tweet this]

There is destruction and mayhem all around us, but keep your eyes fixed firmly on Jesus Christ and find the only true place of refuge.

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.’” (John 11:25)

Reflections: What biblical account brings you the most encouragement in times of trouble? 

Linking up again this year with Ann Voskamp’s 2014 Joy Dare. Find the linkup at A Holy Experience. Beginning where I left off in 2013. What a blessing! #2693–2713, read the entire list by clicking here.

  • A friend who challenges me and with whom I can explore tough issues; Speaking to college students; A short break from editing
  • Protection mercies extended to my nephew; Making Rice Krispie treats with my daughter; Mergansers on the water
  • Gorgeous orange-pink sunrise; God’s gift of time; Revisiting wonderful days and catching up with a friend
  •  Opportunity to eat lunch with hubby nearly every day; Strawberry pie for dessert–bringing in a bit of spring; Spring rains
  • Zachary’s acceptance to his third and final college = decision time!; Groaning of tree branches in the wind; Crazy laughter 
  • Red flash of a cardinal along the highway; Sparkle of a frosty morning; Good judgement expressed by a son–unprompted! 
  • Amazing Sunday School kids–so fun!; Tennis court nets up and ready for play; Truth of Scripture preached in my church 

Yours in grace ≈


Julie


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Posted in Bible, Faith, Multitude Mondays, One Thousand (or more) Gifts

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Hello, I'm Julie, an imperfect wife and mother of four. Life in this broken world is not always easy. Yet, joy can be found in each day through the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ. May the posts and pages on this site offer you a measure of peace and encouragement.

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The steps of faith fall on the seeming void and find the rock beneath. — Walt Whitman

One Word 2014

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