Prayer, Creativity & Faith

In Capable Arms: Living a Life Embraced by Grace by Sarah Kovac

a pseudo book review

My friend Peggy talks about “nuggets” — the best part of a message, what she takes away from it. My “pseudo book reviews” are just that: the one or two things I will remember, maybe all from one chapter. It may be a particular phrase or thought that changed the way I see something, or a quote, or a new take on Scripture. The nuggets are the parts that touched me the most, but may not represent the overall book in its entirety. If you’ve read them, I’d love to hear your take on any of these books, too!

One day, In-Capable-Arms-CoverSarah Kovac posted a video on CNN showing the ways she has adapted to living with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, a congenital defect that left her shoulders, arms and fingers shortened, weak and unable to bend. She was amazed at the response. In her book In Capable Arms: Living a Life Embraced by Grace, she wrote “What I shared that day was struggle. My struggle may look different than yours, but struggle is universal. It’s something we all have in common. Sharing a struggle has the power to unify, to strengthen relationships that would otherwise be hollow.”

And I think that’s what touched me so much about Sarah’s book. I haven’t faced the same challenges she has, but I’ve faced challenges. I haven’t struggled with the same self-confidence, self-worth issues she has, but I have certainly struggled with those issues. What Sarah shows, as she reveals her heart in this book, is how she has seen God in all of it. How He’s taught her, led her, held her. And although it’s her story, it resonates in me because it’s also my story. And yours. Because of relationship, because of the power that happens when one person shares something and we adopt, adding it to the fabric of our own story.

Sarah wrote, “When I was a little girl, I remember overhearing my parents and some of their friends having a conversation about grace. They were joking that you never want to pray for God to make you a gracious person because he might just do what’s necessary to make that happen. I thought and thought about what they were saying. I understood that God had to let you go through some difficult things, painful things, if you were going to learn grace, but I wanted it. So I prayed, so sincerely, that God would turn me into a woman of grace, who would respond to others with grace even when they weren’t being gracious.”

I read her story and thought of my own. After my mom was diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer, I claimed to have faith, but I dried up inside. When it came time to pray, I couldn’t do it. My words were gone, replaced with bitterness and sorrow and pain. When Mom died and I didn’t much care for the way God had chosen to answer our prayers, I built the walls even higher — fortified them, adding a moat filled with alligators, for good measure — to protect myself from being hurt again. I rolled my eyes when someone at church would stand up and testify that they had been healed. Or even that they believed in healing.

And then one Sunday morning at church we sang a song that broke through my defenses. “Through it all… I learned to trust in Jesus, I learned to trust in God.” I felt the walls crumbling as I thought-prayed, “I failed miserably through all that. Lord, I’m so sorry.”

Immediately I felt His response. “But I got to show you grace!”

Notice, He didn’t say that He had to. Nor that He did it grudgingly. Instead, it was like our magnificent, holy God was a little child himself, hopping from one foot to the other, giddy with excitement at the gift he got to give me.

Finally, I understood what grace is all about.


I feel very fortunate to share the same agent with Sarah, and I’ve enjoyed watching her publishing journey. She’s kind, generous, and open, and I love the way she sees the world. Because here’s the thing: she’s real. And she’s trying to live this same life that we are. She’s seeking the same God, longing for the same things. I hope you will read Sarah’s book, and I assure you, you will be touched by her story. I’ll leave you with one last beautiful quote:

“In art and in life, we have the choice to look for either those things that divide us or those that bring us together. We can argue the finer points of theology and politics, pick apart each other’s ways of living, and criticize the unfamiliar, but there are common threads that bind us all together. We all long for love, acceptance, respect, beauty, peace. We all want to feel part of something larger than ourselves— that foot-of-the-mountain, edge-of-the-ocean knowledge that we could never see it all, experience it all, learn it all is the adventure every human knows well. We want a home, a place to belong. A place of quiet spirit. A place our souls can be healed. A place where self is enough and love is not something to be worked for, only to be accepted. To be immersed in, to be given without any thought of repayment. We want unconditional love. Peace. Beauty. Family.”

One Response to “In Capable Arms: Living a Life Embraced by Grace by Sarah Kovac”

  1. Sounds like a wonderful book!! So inspiring and challenging.

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