It has been a long time since I’ve had the opportunity to read a book of actual letters. FrontGate Media provided one for me, with John Sowers’ new book, Say All the Unspoken Things: A Book of Letters. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Here are my thoughts on it!
About Say All the Unspoken Things
How often do we share the innermost parts of our hearts with those we love? Probably for most of us, not that often. John Sowers must have noticed the same thing, because one year after he lost his mom, the “Nana” of his three daughters, he began to write this book. As he says in the author’s note:
“Death has implications. There is urgency to it. When the end is near, either our own or that of a loved one, we may feel a rush of urgency. Have we done all we need to do? Have we forgiven? Have we thanked them? Have we told them we love them? Have we poured out our full, beating hearts to them?”John Sowers, Say All the Unspoken Things, p. ix
Sowers hadn’t just lost his mom and his daughters’ Nana, though. He had lost his dearly loved grandmother, who helped raise him and his brother while his mom worked to support them, when he was in graduate school. These experiences helped him think about what he would want his girls to know; how he could give his heart to them, again, via letters he’d written to (and sometimes, about) them. The result of these thoughts is an outpouring of wisdom, faith, guidance, and life experience in a beautifully-readable form.
The author has written 33 “letters” categorized in 8 different divisions:
- Part 1: You Are Created
- Part 2: Identity and Purpose
- Part 3: Growing Young
- Part 4: Becoming
- Part 5: Developing Character
- Part 6: Friends and Relationships
- Part 7: Finding and Being In Love
- Part 8: Dreams and Legacy
Within each of these are 3-5 letters. They are gentle, beautiful letters that talk about everything from how his daughters were joyfully imagined in the mind of God and then created with love; to the practices that will build character in his girls as they grow; to the things that they should look for in the friends and future spouses who will seek to woo them. He talks to his girls about faith, community, being “famous,” and the different kinds of love. As well as boundaries; what they are and how to build them.
The book lovingly closes with the kinds of things a loving mentor would say to his protégé. How to have dreams and callings, and how to pursue them. And to understand what time is, and how it really does fly.
In addition, there are both personal letters to each of his three daughters, as well as instructions readers can follow to create their own letters.
What I enjoyed about the book
Really–I can’t think about anything I didn’t enjoy! John Sowers’ book is so clearly an exercise of love to his enormously-cherished daughters. His instruction is gentle and kind, yet also truthful and based on his own life of faith in Christ. It’s very interesting. And, I can say, it is something that most readers could benefit from. Who wouldn’t want to hear kind instruction on what is important in life; what you should watch out for; and what to do as you’re hearing God’s invitations and calls?
I loved it. And I think so many people would. There are SO MANY areas of life we experience as we grow up; as children, to teens, to young adults, and so on. Maybe all of us don’t have know-how or excellence in all of these. But we can truly benefit from Sowers’ own experiences, as well as everything he observed not only from his mom and grandmother, but also from the perfect Parent, God.
And I can’t complete my impressions on Say All the Unspoken Things without sharing with you a few of my favorite passages! Such as:
- “We were not created to die. It was not this way in the beginning. This is why death feels so wrong and confusing. Death was not part of the original plan; it was not in the blueprint. We were created for life. Death is here now, but it won’t be forever. One day, there will be no more funerals or tears or goodbyes. This is all temporary.”
- “If you live complaining and speaking of your losses, ruminating on bitterness, hurts, and negativity, you will become these things. But if you live grateful and speak life, if you meditate in your hearts on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy,” you become these things. Be mindful of the stories you tell yourselves and the stories you tell others about yourselves.”
- “The worst part of that season was feeling abandoned by God….He is there. And he is inviting us to get honest, even if all we can do is show up. He whispers and reminds us that we are not alone….So open your ears. Open your hearts. Whispers are not usually audible, but they feel like peace.”
- “Guard your hearts. Be careful what and who you allow into them. Be mindful of the conversations you have, the things you see with your eyes and listen to with your ears. Be careful of asking people for validation, giving them power over you. Your hearts are precious, and it is your life.”
If you could only see how many colored flags I placed on these pages! I only share a few of my favorites. But these are, I think, enough to give you a flavor of this wonderful book.
Where you can purchase Say All the Unspoken Things
You can purchase Say All the Unspoken Things via the link below, from a variety of booksellers (like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Target, Walmart, and others). In addition, after you purchase, this link has a form you can fill out to receive some freebies which include a 5-day devotional and a 30-day guided journaling experience, both based on the book.
About the author
John Sowers is an author and speaker. His work and writings have been featured by Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ESPN, Mariah Shriver, Oprah Radio, the Oregonian, the Oklahoman, and others. John received the President’s Champion of Change award at the White House from President Obama.
John led a homeless shelter and has worked with youth and in prisons. He co-founded The Mentoring Project with Donald Miller and was multi-language director for the Billy Graham Association–working with twenty-six language groups in Los Angeles and New York.
He received his master’s of divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and his doctorate from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the author of Fatherless Generation: Redeeming the Story and Heroic Path: In Search of the Masculine Heart. John has written for the White House, Relevant magazine, Wilderness, and other publications. But his favorite accomplishment is being a dad to his three daughters, Rosie, Dass, and Eva. John lives in a cabin in the woods near Ozark, Missouri.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from FrontGate Media. All opinions are honest and my own.