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Sophie Hartman: Crowns of Beauty

Deliberately seek out ways to be used by Jesus to bestow His crowns of beauty on those who sit in the ashes of poverty, sickness, and  hopelessness.

A few times, details seem missing from the narrative of the book. Yet, this underscores its emphasis: this isn’t a book about stories, but about the work of Jesus – yes, through Sophie, but also very much in her. This is a book about the secret place, the place of being in the Lord’s presence. It is a love story to be lost in and an invitation to find it for ourselves. This book opened my eyes to new horizons of faith, love and intimacy with God, and invited me to move past merely admiring its author, but follow her example in my own walk of faith. The biggest danger to which I would alert this book’s readers is the temptation to seek to replicate Sophie’s experiences, or want to adopt a “heroic” stance based on her example. Instead, I believe God is calling us to imitate the posture of her heart before Him and before others. He is calling each one of His children to give in to Him in love and devotion uniquely, for His delight and pleasure. Finally, while Crowns of Beauty is primarily a story of one woman, told from her perspective, we must not forget God’s wisdom in calling the Church to serve Him as a collective Body. As we seek to apply the lessons we learn from Sophie Hartman’s testimony, I would invite us to extend our application not only to individual growth in love, courage and acts of faith, but also to more earnest pursuit of these in communities of believers, families, and friends.

In conclusion, I am humbled by Sophie. The fruit of her life, culminating in adoption of her two beautiful daughters, does not need outside affirmation – it speaks for itself. I was moved and challenged with every page of this book. Yet, I realize that the only way to fully know the beauty that Sophie describes is actually to put the book down and deliberately seek out ways to be used by Jesus to bestow His crowns of beauty on those, near and far, who currently sit in ashes – of poverty, sickness, hopelessness, or simply needing a listening ear and a kind touch. Thank you, Sophie, for being an example of courage and faith to us.

Reviewed by Anna Ermakova Paul


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Category: Living the Faith, Spring 2017

About the Author: Anna Ermakova Paul holds a PhD in developmental and educational psychology from Boston College, and is currently finishing her MBA training at the University of Oxford. She and her husband Tyson share a love for children, and have lived and worked with schools and low-resource communities in East Africa. Having grown up as an atheist in post-Soviet Russia, Anna became a believer in her teens, and carries a desire to share Christ with those who do not know Him, especially those living in contexts of poverty or oppression.

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