Memoirs: Stories of Hardship, Hope, and Faith

Life is all about stories. Stories of hope, hardship, families, struggles, spiritual journeys, and more. It’s through stories that we connect with each other, experience empathy, and understand our own stories better. These memoirs will encourage your faith and inspire you to hope. Enjoy!

*

What is it like to learn that your ordinary, loving father is a serial killer?

In 2005, Kerri Rawson heard a knock on the door of her apartment. When she opened it, an FBI agent informed her that her father had been arrested for murdering ten people, including two children. It was then that she learned her father was the notorious serial killer known as BTK, a name he’d given himself that described the horrific way he committed his crimes: bind, torture, kill. As news of his capture spread, Wichita celebrated the end of a thirty-one-year nightmare.

For Kerri Rawson, another was just beginning. She was plunged into a black hole of horror and disbelief. The same man who had been a loving father, a devoted husband, church president, Boy Scout leader, and a public servant had been using their family as a cover for his heinous crimes since before she was born. Everything she had believed about her life had been a lie.

Written with candor and extraordinary courage, A Serial Killer’s Daughter is an unflinching exploration of life with one of America’s most infamous killers and an astonishing tale of personal and spiritual transformation. For all who suffer from unhealed wounds or the crippling effects of violence, betrayal, and anger, Kerri Rawson’s story offers the hope of reclaiming sanity in the midst of madness, rebuilding a life in the shadow of death, and learning to forgive the unforgivable. Buy now…

Too often the world speaks words of harm, and too often we believe them — and so we live stories God never intended for us. Yet God longs to rewrite and redeem your story.

Tiffini Kilgore, founder of the lifestyle and design boutique House of Belonging, grew up in a broken home before marrying at the tender age of sixteen. Years later, divorced and with three small children, she remarried. The seasons that followed brought two more children, another broken marriage, chronic disease, major surgeries, and cycles of abuse — leaving Tiffini feeling alone and unloved.

Hungry for healing and a safe space, Tiffini began seeking Jesus through journaling and soon found bread crumbs of grace leading her down a new path. There, she found a rich table set for misfits just like her–a place of nourishment and restoration. Where she was fed lies of worthlessness, God fed her truth that she was his treasured daughter. Where she was told she was a helpless victim, God offered her the cup of his strength. Where she once held an empty future, God gave her hope and a fresh start. In cultivating an ongoing dialogue with her Abba Father, God transformed Tiffini’s pain into passion, and ultimately, fierce belonging.

Tiffini writes as a modern-day mystic, with lyrical force and deep tending of the soul, in this book for anyone who has ever felt out of place or at odds in the world. Each chapter features compelling narrative as well as a poignant response from “Papa” God as Tiffini calls him, and the result is a stirring invitation to come home to where you belong. Come and sit, take and eat, and join the battle cry to take God at his word. Buy now…

A raccoon bite on the arm doesn’t seem that serious, but it soon becomes a life-or-death medical crisis for Melissa Loomis.

After days of treatment for recurring infection, it becomes obvious that her arm must be amputated. Dr. Ajay Seth, the son of immigrant parents from India and a local orthopaedic surgeon in private practice, performs his first-ever amputation procedure. In the months that follow, divine intervention, combined with Melissa’s determination and Dr. Seth’s disciplined commitment and dedication to his patients, brings about the opportunity for a medical breakthrough that will potentially transform the lives of amputees around the world.

Rewired is the inspirational, miraculous story of Dr. Seth’s revolutionary surgery that allows Melissa to not just move a prosthetic arm simply by thinking, but to actually feel with the prosthetic hand, just as she would with her natural arm. This resulted in what others have recognized as the world’s most advanced amputee, all done from Dr. Seth’s private practice in a community hospital, using a local staff, and with no special training or extensive research funding. Buy now…

The inspirational story of a woman who moved mountains to provide medical care for an Iraqi girl badly burned during a roadside attack, Barbara Marlowe’s determination to fight for her future daughter highlights the way love can reach across both cultures and continents.

Barbara Marlowe was in her fifties when she saw the photo that changed her life. It was a photo of four-year-old Teeba Furat Fadhil, whose face, head, and hands had been severely burned during a roadside bombing in the Diyala Province of Iraq when she was just nineteen months old. It was Teeba’s eyes that captivated Barbara. They were wide, dark, and soulful. They seemed to cry out with a message across continents: Help me.

The story of Barbara responding to that call is as inspiring as it is improbable. With a powerful faith and determination, Barbara overcame obstacle after obstacle to bring Teeba to the United States for medical treatments—and to ultimately offer a home.

A Brave Face includes material written by Teeba and her Iraqi mother, Dunia, at key moments in their stories. The book also explores the connection forged between Barbara and Dunia over the past decade—a connection that has survived the strife of war and the horrors of Al-Qaeda and ISIS. In the end, this story highlights the power of love to reach across both cultures and continents. Buy now…

Behind the Laughter

“I was living every comic’s dream… with a nightmare attached.”

Anthony Griffith, a stand-up comic from Chicago’s South Side, has lived on the borderline of comedy and tragedy. At the very time his career as a stand-up comedian was taking off, and he had finally achieved his dream of appearing on The Tonight Show, he was also enduring an unimaginable personal nightmare: his two-year-old daughter, Brittany Nicole, was dying from cancer. While Anthony performed under bright lights, he struggled not to succumb to the darkness of losing a child.

Behind the Laughter asks, When your world is falling apart, how do you keep going? It’s the story of how Anthony and his wife, Brigitte, learned to endure the most painful of times and emerge on the other side of the “zombie years.”

This memoir is deeply moving yet also humorous—packed with laughs as Anthony takes us from his gun-toting grandma’s home to Chicago’s white and black comedy clubs, then to Hollywood, and to the world of network television. The surprising twists along Anthony’s path highlight the power of God that goes before us and prepares the way—a truth that later encourages Anthony and Brigitte after Brittany’s death and moves them to reach out and comfort others going through similar difficulties.

With humor and deep insights into the human spirit, Behind the Laughter explores the bonds of not only parent and child but also husband and wife. While Anthony and Brigitte’s story is uniquely theirs, it elicits powerful, relatable emotions and lessons that are universal and inspiring. Buy now…

The Story That Inspired the Major Motion Picture. I Can Only Imagine is the captivating story behind the bestselling single in the history of Christian music—and the man who wrote it.

MercyMe’s crossover hit, “I Can Only Imagine,” has touched millions of people around the world. But few know about the pain, redemption, and healing that inspired it. Now Bart Millard, award-winning recording artist and lead singer of MercyMe, shares how his dad’s transformation from abusive father to man of God sparked a divine moment in music history.

Go behind the scenes of Bart’s life—and the movie based on it—to discover how God repaired a broken family, prepared Bart for ministry through music, and wrote the words on his heart that would change his life forever. I Can Only Imagine is a front-row seat to witnessing God’s presence throughout Bart’s life. Whether falling in love with his childhood sweetheart or mourning his father’s death, founding MercyMe or flailing in the midst of its success, Bart continues to place his trust in God’s plans—plans that continue to surprise and surpass what Bart could have ever imagined. Buy now…

Preston Yancey arrived at Baylor University in the autumn of 2008 with his life figured out, then slowly each piece of his secure world fell apart: his church, his life of study, his politics, his girlfriend, his best friend, and his God.

It was the loss of God in the midst of all the godly things that would change Preston forever. One day he heard God say, “It’s going to be about trust with you,” and then God was silent—and God still hasn’t spoken. At least, not in the ways Preston used to think were the only ways God spoke. Journey with Preston as he navigates becoming a patchwork of Anglican spirituality and Baptist sensibility, of reckoning with a God who is bigger than the one Preston thought he was worshiping: the God of a common faith, who makes tables in the wilderness, who is found in cathedrals and in forests and in the Eucharist, who speaks in fire and in wind, who is so big, that everything must be God’s. Buy now…

“When you’re in the middle of the adventure, you just have to live it. When you’re on an expedition, you put your head down and battle through. Storytelling happens after the finish line. . . . now that time has come [and] Julia can tell her story. The full story.” — from the foreword by Bear Grylls

An incredible account of one woman’s record-breaking row across the Atlantic.

Thirty-two-year-old Julia Immonen and four other women take on a challenge completed by fewer people than have climbed Mount Everest or gone into space: row three thousand miles, unaided, from the Canary Islands to Barbados.

Row for Freedom chronicles that dramatic journey, detailing the grueling, peril-filled crossing, which broke two world records, as it weaves together Julia’s search for hope and purpose against a background of relationships scarred by violence.

As Julia’s physical and emotional treks unfold, you also learn about the plight of the thirty million victims of the modern-day slave trade that serves as the motivation for her row. Be inspired by Julia’s self-discovery and her team’s triumph in one of the most formidable physical quests ever undertaken. Buy now…

“I had tried everything: therapy, medication, meditation. Everything except God.”

Lily Burana was in crisis. Desperate for rescue from her depression and anxiety, the punk-rock-girl-turned-writer feared she would die. She was down to her remedy of last resort: faith.

A lapsed believer who had drifted away from the church and into a life on the margins during her young adult years, Lily had long believed that Christianity had nothing to offer her. Then an unmistakable sign from above led to her unexpected decision to let God in—just a little bit. But how could she come to terms with a religion she had dismissed as hostile and intolerant?

In this collection of linked essays that chronicle her spiritual recovery, Lily explores what it means to embrace “a faith of surprisingly Jesus-y shape.” Lily navigates her own unique path toward a trusting relationship with God as she addresses topics as diverse as coming out as Christian to your non-Christian friends, the intersection of faith and motherhood, and what it means to confront your history of mental illness and trauma.

Whether recounting her history as a “baby Goth,” extolling the healing power of glitter, or wrestling with God for control over her life, Lily proves that you don’t need to have a flawless faith in order to experience God’s grace in action. Buy now…

A Stirring Memoir on Parenthood and the Invisible Threads that Bind Us to Those We Are Meant to Love

The obstacles, surprises, and moments of grace that Jennifer Grant experienced, working through the adoption process to bring home her daughter from Guatemala, forever changed her life.

Love You More tells Grant’s deeply personal story of adopting her daughter, Mia. The process confronted her notions about what family means, pushed her into uncomfortable places, and—despite the waiting, adjustments, and challenges of a blended family—brought abiding joy.

Written for all parents but especially those interested in adoption, Love You More includes discussion questions, tips for prospective adoptive parents, and suggestions for readers on how to reach out in love and support for the world’s most vulnerable people, including orphans.

“From page one of her courageously vulnerable, intoxicatingly funny memoir about faith and family, Jennifer Grant finds the God of grace in each pot of macaroni and cheese, sticky little hand, doctor’s visit, late-night lawn mowing, and unlikely friend-turned-family-member that decorate her life.”—Cathleen Falsani, author, Sin Boldly. Buy now…

* * *

Your Turn

Are you into memoirs and biographies? What are reading this winter? Come share with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, FaithGateway Editor

Laurie McClure

Laurie is a Jesus apprentice, a single mama of five (three homegrown, one Kentuckian, and one Ethiopian), a writer, a beach lover, and she is addicted to radical grace, Perrier, and yoga pants. Here at FaithGateway she is the editor, the curator, and the leader of Faith.Full, our women's community.

Follow Laurie McClure on:   Twitter   Google+

Like the article? Share it!
Top