Friday, June 10, 2011

Craving Grace

Craving Grace
Lisa Velthouse
ISBN: 978-1414335773
May, 2011/272 pages/%16.99

For Lisa Velthouse’s whole life, Christianity had been about getting things right. Obeying her parents. Not drinking. Not cursing. Not having premarital sex. Vowing to save her first kiss until she got engaged, even writing a book called . . . well, Saving My First Kiss. (This, it turns out, does not actually help a girl get a date.) Yet after two decades of trying to earn God’s okay, she found her faith was lonely, empty, and unsatisfying. So she turned to more discipline, of course: fasting! By giving up her favorite foods—sweets—Lisa hoped to somehow discover true sweetness and meaning in her relationship with God. Until, one night at a wedding, she denied herself the cake but failed in such a different, unexpected, and world-rocking way that it challenged everything she thought she knew about God and herself. Craving Grace is the true story of a faith dramatically changed: how in one woman’s life God used a bitter heart, a broken promise, and the sweetness of honey to reveal the stunning wonder that is grace.

Lisa Velthouse is a freelance writer and speaker who has been working in communications and ministry for over a decade. She got her start in publishing at the age of 17 when she was selected from over 1,000 applicants to write a year's worth of columns for Brio magazine. While writing for Brio, Lisa began speaking at national evangelical events for teens, and she also came up with the idea for her first book, Saving My First Kiss, which was published shortly after she turned 21. In the years that followed, she worked as a ghostwriter and then served two years on staff at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan.

A believer in God all of her life, Lisa began to feel disenchanted about him during her mid-twenties. So for six months she fasted from sweets in an attempt to learn that God could be sweet. At the start of her fast, she doubted that the process would result in much more than mere discipline, if that. But half a year later, her life and her faith had been transformed. She could see for the first time that God's story is a story of grace, and she was surprised to find that God's grace is the only true sweetness. In her newest book, a memoir titled Craving Grace, Lisa tells the story of her sweets fast and of how life changed for her afterward.

Lisa's writing has been noted in Publishers Weekly and Focus on the Family publications, and she has been a guest on numerous nationwide radio and television programs. Her travels in speaking have taken her across the United States and abroad. She is married to Nathan, an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps; they live wherever military assignments take them. Read more from Lisa at her website.

As someone who has struggled with legalism, I could relate to and liked parts of this book. A time or two I worried that the author was skating perilously close to endorsing "cheap grace," and I was relieved when she specifically addressed that topic and opposed it. I did struggle a bit with the concept of community living that she enters into with some other couples; I don't personally "get" or agree with that. And I do think the timing of the book's release is rather unfortunate; like it or not, her time serving on staff at Mars Hill Church and the book's endorsement by Rob Bell, whose own recently released book is extremely controversial, is an unfortunate association for those who do not agree with the philosophy he presents. However, the underlying premise of Lisa's book is spot-on: the very things we do to become closer to God actually lead us farther away from Him when they become ritualistic practices done only for the sake of checking the box that said we did it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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1 comment:

Lisa Velthouse said...

Hi Linda! My publicist at Tyndale House sent me the link to your blog. Thanks for taking the time to read and review Craving Grace. I appreciate your comments!
Lisa Velthouse