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The Independent Critic

 Book Review: Have a Beautiful, Terrible Day! by Kate Bowler 
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I sat down to read Kate Bowler's "Have a Beautiful, Terrible Day!: Daily Meditations for the Ups, Downs & In-Betweens" in the early days after my release from an 11-day hospital stay to address bladder cancer that would remove my bladder, leave me with an ostomy, unexpectedly also address previously undiscovered prostate cancer, and ultimately leave me having both beautiful and terrible days.

As my recovery continues, a combination of physical healing and adjusting to life with an ostomy while also praying that the removed cancer stays removed, Bowler's ability to tap into the wonder and holiness of what it means to live life faithfully wherever our path takes us continues to be an ability that inspires, informs, and engages with my daily journey.

While Bowler's own journey is by now well documented, I continue to marvel at Bowler's ability to both affirm faith and yet embrace those of us for whom the pressure to be cheerful and optimistic is not only unrealistic - it's downright unhealthy.

"Have a Beautiful, Terrible Day!" is inspired, entertaining, witty, vulnerable, and incredibly wise as Bowler invites readers to embrace their true paths and to resist the cultural pressure toward toxic positivity that can often feel particularly overwhelming within the world of faith.

Bowler's invitation into a different sort of faith journey feels truthful, honest, and embracing of those of us whose lives haven't always been embraced within faith circles.

This collection of short, accessible reflections with tangible action steps are proving to be the perfect companion for my own healing journey as I try, sometimes moment by moment, to get through my days whether I'm having a good day, a bad day, a mediocre day, or a day I simply can't define. My life, I would day say, would never be one held up in Christian circles as a lighthouse for the faith. Yet, Bowler gets it. She really, really gets it. Bowler composed these meditations during a season of chronic pain, a season that was often marked by the unpredictability of the life journey. She invites us warmly into feeling the full breadth of our life experiences without hesitation and without shame.

Deeply grounded in both Scripture and daily life, these reflections are typical Bowler - candid, transparent, often quite funny, and always insightful. We're encouraged to look for the ways we can expand our capacity for courage, love, and honesty and a deepened relationship with God. I've also been enthralled by Bowler's inclusion of bonus sections for use during Advent and Lent - opportunities to take these meditations and make them a communal experience.

As someone who is learning how to adjust and embrace my new physical realities, "Have a Beautiful, Terrible Day!" is a sacred, loving companion and yet another literary wonder from Kate Bowler.

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic