December 31, 2012

Mended by Angie Smith

As the familiar saying goes, “Nobody’s perfect.”  While this is certainly true, it can be easy to misinterpret this to mean that I am hopeless, a lost cause.  If I’m already a failure and nothing I do can help me, what use is there in trying?  Of course not one of us walking on the earth today is perfect and we are all, in fact, broken.  We struggle with shame, shortcomings, vices, and a pile of other sins that leave us feeling like a shattered vessel.  It is this image that Angie Smith uses in her devotional book Mended to represent the life of the believer who comes to Jesus feeling destroyed, useless, and disappointing. 
Smith begins her book by describing a bit about her experience of smashing a pitcher and then painstakingly reconstructing it piece by piece.  When the glue had dried and its previous form achieved, Smith realized that each of us is like the broken pitcher, imperfect and flawed but re-created in Christ into something new.  He doesn’t magically morph us into an earthly version of perfection, but instead meets us when the pieces are scattered and helps us rebuild a life where his grace can be seen through our weakness.  The image of the shattered pitcher becomes a metaphor that Smith returns to again and again through the chapters of her book.
Each chapter is derived from Smith’s writings on her blog, Bring the Rain.  She revises the entries into a more devotional-friendly style so the reader isn’t left feeling like they are just scrolling through a website.  Her writing is detailed and personal, frequently challenging the reader to thinking critically about their heart, their struggles, their fears, and their questions.  She doesn’t pull any punches, to be sure.
Smith clearly experiences her Savior and her faith in a very physical way.  In the chapter entitled The Scarlet Cord, the author describes how she refocuses on Christ by imagining him right in front of her and in her mind’s eye she reaches out and touches his face, the thorns on his head, the terrible wounds that cover his body that he endured for our sake.  Moments like this were very powerful for me to read, but difficult for me to relate to, not because it was written poorly (quite the opposite!), but because I just don’t experience my faith in that way.  On the other hand, I love the way that Smith pulls out events from the Bible such as Rahab in Jericho, Lot’s wife, and Peter stepping out of the boat to help the reader identify with the people who appear in God’s Word.  Smith also uses several anecdotes from her own journey, from her painful experience of losing her infant daughter to her ability to learn a truth about God from pulling weeds in her lawn.
Angie Smith truly has a gift for writing to women.  She connects with them with Jesus in a way that not many can.  I underlined a lot of passages and made several notes in the margin to re-read when I’m feeling insufficient, undeserving, and too broken for God to fix.  I enjoyed this book very much and I definitely recommend reading it slowly and purposefully, with a journal and a Bible at the ready because Smith provides several opportunities for deeper study and meditation.  
 As a devotional book that helps encourage a deeper, more personal relationship with Jesus, I 

would give this book 3 stars.  I like it a lot, but I think it was more a stylistic disconnect that keeps me from giving it 4 stars.  My learning personality just didn't jive perfectly with the way Smith teaches, but her principles are sound and her personal approach is nothing short of endearing. 
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