Two New Voices

Well, actually not so new. Both Amy Simpson and Sarah Thebarge have been writing a lot of blogs and articlesenough to build up the kind of head of steam it takes to write that first book. Both of them have courageously tackled subjects that are not so easy to talk about. Amy writes about mental illness; Sarah about cancer. Both authors connect the dots between physical and/mental suffering and their own journey of faith.  These are not triumphalistic stories, but redemptive stories of of real hope in a God who is present and doing deep work in our darkest struggles and brokenness.

I met Amy for the first time at Synergy2007 in Orlando. Based on a couple of emails we’d exchanged before that, I already knew she was a kindred spirit. You may recognize her as the driving force behind Christianity Today’s Gifted for Leadership blog. What I didn’t know about Amy until later was how her whole family has struggled through her mother’s mental illness which Amy says “has presented the single greatest test to my personal faith.”

Her first book, Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission, opens a discussion about mental illness that couldn’t be more timely, yet sadly remains neglected within Christian circles even though mental illness is a reality among us. My copy just arrived, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

I don’t have to think twice about recommending this book.

“In Troubled Minds Amy Simpson opens the door into the hidden struggles of those caring for a mentally ill loved one. Between descriptions of her own real-life experiences she eloquently presents information that every Christian should have on how to recognize and appropriately respond to those living with mental illness. This book will prompt you (and your church) to action among a suffering people.”

Matthew S. Stanford, Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience,
Baylor University

I first met Sarah Thebarge online when my niece sent me an email containing a link to Sarah’s blogMy Tropic of Cancerfollowed by two words: “Read this!”

I did.

Later in Portland, Oregon, where I grew up and where Sarah resides, our paths crossed and we met face-to-face. 

The blog, which was the warm-up to Sarah’s new book, chronicled Sarah’s journey following her diagnosis at 27 with aggressive breast cancer and the life-altering battle that ensued to save her life that took her into Job territory. It’s hard to read Sarah’s vulnerably honest writing about her physical ordeal and her wrestlings with God and maintain a dry eye. I couldn’t. My eyes clouded over repeatedly as I read her blog.

Sarah’s refreshing and fearlessly honest writing reminds me a lot of Lauren Winner.

In The Invisible Girls Sarah weaves her own story with her life-changing encounter and friendship with a Somali refugee mother and her five young daughters. This is a book readers won’t want to put down.

Here’s my endorsement for The Invisible Girls:

“Sarah Thebarge’s story is a double gift because her raw, honest wrestlings with God free us to be honest with God ourselves and because her generous passion for The Invisible Girls reveals the healing that comes from pouring our broken selves out for others. I loved this wonderful book!”

Carolyn Custis James 

Here’s hoping we’ll be hearing a lot more from these two gifted writers. To order their books go to:

Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission
The Invisible Girls: A Memoir

About carolyncustisjames
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3 Responses to Two New Voices

  1. Becky Byrne says:

    Both of these books look so interesting and helpful. I always appreciate good recommendations. Thanks Carolyn!


  2. Bev Hislop says:

    Well said, Carolyn!

    Sarah TheBarge was our main speaker at Western Seminary's April 20 IGNITE here in Portland! Her story and her passion for Jesus Christ permeated every word. You won't be the same after hearing her. CD and MP3 from her talk are available at

    THANKS! Bev


  3. Carolyn says:

    I'm hearing great reports of Sarah's speaking. She's very gifted and has experienced a lot of life that deepens her message. I look forward to a lot more from her.

    Thanks for the comment & link, Bev.


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