A Beautiful Disaster: Finding Hope in the Midst of Brokenness

Interweaving biblical insights and personal narratives, this eloquently written book shows how God often uses suffering and desert experiences to form us into Christ's image. Marlena Graves shares her experiences of growing up poor in a house plagued by mental illness as a means to explore the forces God uses to shape us into beautiful people in the midst of brokenness.

This book offers a window into suffering through the motif of desert spirituality, revealing how God can use our painful experiences to show himself faithful. While no one welcomes suffering, God often uses desert experiences–those we initially despise and wouldn't wish on anyone–to transform us into beautiful souls who better resemble Jesus. Graves shows how God can bring life out of circumstances reeking of death and destruction, whether those circumstances are crises or daily doses of quiet desperation.

Readers who have experienced suffering and question God's purpose for it will benefit from this book, as will counselors, pastors, professors, and mentors. It includes a foreword by John Ortberg and Laura Ortberg Turner


In her writing, Marlena reflects on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus amid the beauty, wonder, and tragedy of this God-haunted world. She desires to offer a taste of the beauty and goodness and the hospitality of God through what she writes and how she lives. At the same time, she thinks about this: if Jesus reserved his harshest words for the religious people of his day, challenging their attitudes, in what way is Jesus challenging her and others within the Church? She is a bylined contributor for Christianity Today's Her.meneutics and Gifted for Leadership blogs as well as Our Daily Journey and Missio Alliance. She has contributed to Christianity Today, On Faith, Relevant, the Conversations Journal, Rachel Held Evans's blog, Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank About Faith, and other venues. She is married to her favorite person in existence, Shawn Graves. He's a philosopher. Together they have three little girls. They enjoy their life together and always desire to welcome others into it. She's on staff at her church offering and coordinating pastoral care for their beloved seniors. Her first book, A Beautiful Disaster: Finding Hope in the Midst of Brokenness (Brazos Press – Baker Books), debuted in June 2014. She blogs at and her Twitter handle is @MarlenaGraves. She welcomes you in the name of Jesus.