I remember reading through Rick Warren's A Purpose Driven Life with my church over ten years ago. I read it at a time when things were pretty easy in my life. I was newly married, we had just had our first baby, and I was attending my childhood church with my parents. Life was good.
Within the next few years, rough waters hit after we had our second child, and my father passed away suddenly seven months later. Only five months after my dad's death, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, and we spent a year filled with surgeries, treatments, hair loss, and sickness. Once she healed from that, she found herself in the ICU after a case of the shingles sent her body into toxic shock. Baby number three was on the way, and I feared losing my mother as well.
Thankfully, she fully recovered, and I had my third, only to fear for my life soon afterward as I had emergency surgery to remove my gall bladder. A dark cloud covered my life after that surgery. The emotion from the last few years of sorrow and fear came crashing in together. Fear held me captive and I felt isolated and alone. I had lost my purpose, and I had no idea how to regain a clear picture of what the Lord wanted for my life.
While reading Ashley Smith's story, I was captivated by the transparency and honesty that was required to write this book. Back in 2005, Ashley was taken hostage by Brian Nichols who had shot and killed three people while escaping from a courthouse in Atlanta. The story that circulated was abridged to something like: "She was taken hostage and read The Purpose Driven Life to her captor who set her free and then turned himself in."
When I was offered the book to read and review, I was curious to know the full story. How did that work? Did she read the whole book to him? How did she get him to listen?
At the time Ashley was taken captive, she was a recovering addict that had lost custody of her daughter after her husband's murder. Pause for a moment and take that in. In order to tell this miraculous story, first of all, she had to humble herself and transparently share her own personal captivity story that made her the right person at the right time to speak to Brian at his darkest moment. It's not a story I'd be dying to tell.
Once I started reading this book I couldn't put it down. Even though it's a lot of her own darkness to expose, the beauty of the book is that on every page God is glorified. Why did this man show up at her off-the-beaten-path apartment complex? Continually, she reminds Brian that it wasn't a mistake that God brought him to her door that night. Even more miraculous was the mirror that Brian offered her as she saw the choices that she had been making in life as paths to death. The most powerful moment was when she decided she'd rather die than take drugs again.
As her faith strengthens and the resolve she has found to turn her own life around cements, she decides she doesn't want to miss her time reading her Bible and this book that she was given - The Purpose Driven Life. She makes it through reading one page of reading the chapter she was reading aloud to Brian before a great conversation develops between them, and the thread of purpose is woven through all of their future interactions. It was a spark; a window of hope in a hopeless situation.
Since that time, Ashley has found her purpose in sharing the depths of the darkness she walked through and how God rescued and redeemed her. Her story has inspired me to think about ways that I have been held captive in my life and how God has brought about new purpose for me as I've sought His faithfulness in freeing me from my shackles.
- The fear that held me captive has developed a purpose in my heart to ease others fears...mostly moms that homeschool with me.
- The darkness of isolation that held me captive has renewed my purpose to be a builder of relationships and community.
On August 27th, my husband and I get to be a part of a special screening of the movie that has come from this book. Watch the trailer below to get excited with me about this powerful story.
I have the privilege of giving away a copy of this book to one of my lucky readers. It is such a great read, I wish I could give it to everyone!
The raffle starts Monday, August 24th and runs through Wednesday, September 2nd at 11pm Central time. There are several ways to enter. If you’re the lucky winner, you will receive the a copy of Ashley Smith's book Captive I will email the winner and they must respond within 24 hours, or I will choose a new winner.
Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and not influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller/FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.
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Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.