A common saying goes, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him about your plans.” But what if He was not laughing, but we’re the ones who don’t know the plan? Let Iona Rossely guide you with love, humor, and honesty through the path to reconcile faith and uncertainty.
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The last few years have been unforeseen: from icons that keep falling as an ongoing part of the #MeToo movement to the COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged the world. And we don’t like uncertainty, which our minds equal with danger and turn into crippling anxiety. In the same month this book was published, the WHO reported a 25% increase in anxiety and depression.
Help, in this case, comes in the form of a brief devotional written by Iona Rossely titled The Unexpected: A 40 Day Devotional for Living with Unexpected Times. Iona had a particularly stressful pandemic experience, being trapped on her Australian farm and separated from her husband, who was in Dubai. What she also has is a sharp mind and an unbreakable faith. Thankfully, she shares both with us.
The most surprising asset of this book is its relatability. Iona is a minister, and my relationship with religion is loose at best. But I ended up feeling like I was talking to a friend. Her voice lacks the “holier-than-thou” tone that plagues most religious books, and her honesty and the simplicity of the narrative reached me. Iona loves animals, she used to be a professional sportswoman, and she’s also super fun. I would join something called “prayer, praise, and pizza.” It sounds much more appealing than many services’ endless drone and constrictive stiffness.
In this same line, the relationship Iona teaches us to have with God is one of intimacy: she lashes out at him as one would lash out to a friend, she acknowledges her prayers can be selfish (been there, done that), and admits she used to pretend to faint to get out of Church. Hey, we are not always in the mood to meet with friends. On top of it all, unlike most religious books, Iona doesn’t use vague terminology. Spiritual and religious terms can be challenging for less-enlightened readers like me. For example, after using the more generic term “worshipping,” she clarifies what she means is singing. Furthermore, Iona walks the talk, which brings credibility to the book. For example, she spent a lot of time running an anti-slavery initiative.
The Unexpected is also a modern read. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes struggle to come to terms with a book written two thousand years ago. But Iona acknowledges the benefits and struggles of modern times. For example, how nowadays, our life is hectic. Not only that, but she offers solutions.
This devotional is full of self-improvement advice that even non-religious people can find helpful:
-Keeping our schedules organized but flexible enough
-Stepping outside of our comfort zones
-Leaving toxic relationships
-Trusting our intuition
Of course, she phrases this much more inspiringly than I do.
Finally, the book is full of love for animals and nature. This is not only endearing but also a true testament to a magnificent heart. One that acknowledges and respects all of God’s creation. Not to mention that her stories regarding her horses and cats are just adorable.
The format of this devotional allows readers to have bite-sized pieces of wisdom without feeling overwhelmed or lost. The author opens with a short Bible quote, follows with a personal anecdote that connects to said quote, and closes with a prayer to cement what we learned. It worked great for me because the stories were relatable, and the prayers helped me internalize the message.
Though I was raised a Catholic, and the author is part of the Anglican Church, I didn’t have any conflict understanding her message. This book works for all Christian denominations and non-religious people who are willing to keep an open mind.
The Unexpected is a heaven of healing in these tumultuous times. Don’t hesitate to visit it.
- Title: “The Unexpected: A 40 Day Devotional for Living with Unexpected Times”
- Author: Iona Rossely
- Genre: Nonfiction
- Theme: Christianity, Personal Growth
- Publication Date: August 4 2022
- ISBN or ASIN: B0B8T4KMTC
- Number of Pages: 116
- Minimum Audience Age: 13
(Note: 0=none, 1=a few, 2=considerable, 3=pronounced, 4=excessive)
- Sexual themes: 0
- Religious themes: 4
- Violence, self-harm, etc.: 0
- Crude language, expletives, swearing, etc.: 0
- Other adult themes: 1
- Content: 5 stars
- Writing Style: 5 stars
- Appeal to Target Audience: 5 stars
- Uniqueness: 5 stars
- Editing: 4 stars
- Other factors: 5 stars
- Overall: 4.8 out of 5
Book Details Synopsis The Unexpected, a new book by sporting champion Iona Rossely draws upon forty real-life experiences to empower and strengthen faith. The Unexpected: A 40-day devotional for living with unexpected times is a practical guide on how to live in unexpected and changing times, penned by former international sporting champion, Iona Rossely. This…
About the author*** Iona Rossely is a British international speed Skier, Irish endurance horse racer, Formula 1 representative, television personality, author and public speaker. Iona is an Anglican Church of Australia lay minister. Prior to publishing her book, Iona worked as the Coordinator of the Global Sustainability Network (GSN), an interfaith organisation dedicated to anti-slavery…
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