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Awful Beautiful Life: When God Shows Up in the Midst of Tragedy

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A gripping story of grace, faith, and triumph for a woman whose world shattered hours after her husband's suicide. Rebecca Powell faced the unthinkable on May 16, 2013. Her husband Mark called and said, "I've done something terrible." Within hours, she learned that he had taken his own life and, over a period of several years, millions of dollars from friends and A gripping story of grace, faith, and triumph for a woman whose world shattered hours after her husband's suicide. Rebecca Powell faced the unthinkable on May 16, 2013. Her husband Mark called and said, "I've done something terrible." Within hours, she learned that he had taken his own life and, over a period of several years, millions of dollars from friends and colleagues. Everything she believed to be true, the very fiber of her marriage, was called into question. Within a week, rather than planning carpool runs and volunteer fundraisers, she owed almost one hundred creditors millions of dollars and had her own team of ten lawyers. She was also the subject of open FBI, SEC and DOJ investigations-and faced potential criminal charges. And, although she instantly denounced every cent of Mark's $15M in life insurance and promised to repay every penny taken, her lawyers knew that in reality she faced years of court battles and lawsuits, and possible jail time. Yet from that first horrific moment, God was there. He showed up in his Word, in Rebecca's friends, in her lawyers and in the generosity of those around her. He worked miracles. CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and others covered the first moment, but what about the last? What about the story in which God gives your next breath because you can't find it on your own? What about the story of a mom and three kids trying to make sense of their pasts, present and future while living under a microscope? AWFUL BEAUTIFUL LIFE is Rebecca's journey through the two years surrounding Mark's death and how she overcame. It came down to a loving God who surrounded her, a present and dedicated family, and friends, who made her life, offered her sanctuary and showed up for her and her kids in tangible ways. This is a story of remarkable grit, strength and what the Body of Christ in action looks like.


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A gripping story of grace, faith, and triumph for a woman whose world shattered hours after her husband's suicide. Rebecca Powell faced the unthinkable on May 16, 2013. Her husband Mark called and said, "I've done something terrible." Within hours, she learned that he had taken his own life and, over a period of several years, millions of dollars from friends and A gripping story of grace, faith, and triumph for a woman whose world shattered hours after her husband's suicide. Rebecca Powell faced the unthinkable on May 16, 2013. Her husband Mark called and said, "I've done something terrible." Within hours, she learned that he had taken his own life and, over a period of several years, millions of dollars from friends and colleagues. Everything she believed to be true, the very fiber of her marriage, was called into question. Within a week, rather than planning carpool runs and volunteer fundraisers, she owed almost one hundred creditors millions of dollars and had her own team of ten lawyers. She was also the subject of open FBI, SEC and DOJ investigations-and faced potential criminal charges. And, although she instantly denounced every cent of Mark's $15M in life insurance and promised to repay every penny taken, her lawyers knew that in reality she faced years of court battles and lawsuits, and possible jail time. Yet from that first horrific moment, God was there. He showed up in his Word, in Rebecca's friends, in her lawyers and in the generosity of those around her. He worked miracles. CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and others covered the first moment, but what about the last? What about the story in which God gives your next breath because you can't find it on your own? What about the story of a mom and three kids trying to make sense of their pasts, present and future while living under a microscope? AWFUL BEAUTIFUL LIFE is Rebecca's journey through the two years surrounding Mark's death and how she overcame. It came down to a loving God who surrounded her, a present and dedicated family, and friends, who made her life, offered her sanctuary and showed up for her and her kids in tangible ways. This is a story of remarkable grit, strength and what the Body of Christ in action looks like.

30 review for Awful Beautiful Life: When God Shows Up in the Midst of Tragedy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I never write book reviews, but cannot let this one pass me by! Warning...this book will light a fire of faith in your Spirit!!! I first heard about this book and Becky Powell one day on the 4 things with Amy Brown podcast. The interview with Becky was amazing. Her faith, her courage, her transparency is absolutely incredible, so I quickly got online and pre-ordered this book. I read this book in less than 24 hours. I could not put it down. What I most love about this is that she has scripture I never write book reviews, but cannot let this one pass me by! Warning...this book will light a fire of faith in your Spirit!!! I first heard about this book and Becky Powell one day on the 4 things with Amy Brown podcast. The interview with Becky was amazing. Her faith, her courage, her transparency is absolutely incredible, so I quickly got online and pre-ordered this book. I read this book in less than 24 hours. I could not put it down. What I most love about this is that she has scripture verses weaved throughout her story. Every challenge, disappointment, fear, and moments of anger was not faced alone. God was with her and her children every step of the way. I just cannot get over this story! The incredible miracles that arose out of complete despair cannot be from anything but GOD! I laughed and cried! You will too! Becky Powell is an incredible person and mother. I am forever inspired!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chrissy

    A beautiful, honest, and at times funny book. Awful Beautiful Life is a must read. It will leave you hopeful and inspired. A beautiful, honest, and at times funny book. “Awful Beautiful Life” is a must read. It will leave you hopeful and inspired.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shana Slaughter

    I recommend this incredible book to everyone! It is a story of faith and of hope and will inspire everyone. Becky Powells never ending faith in God got her and her family through personal tragedy. I could not put this book down! So uplifting! I recommend this incredible book to everyone! It is a story of faith and of hope and will inspire everyone. Becky Powell’s never ending faith in God got her and her family through personal tragedy. I could not put this book down! So uplifting!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne Bell

    A must read! It is truly inspirational, as well as a can't-put-down kind of book. Katherine Reay does an amazing job of writing the story being told by Becky Powell. As I read the story, I found yourself wondering how anyone could stay so faithful in the midst of such adversity and tragedy, and at the same time, found myself laughing so hard at the reality of life as it unfolded. I enjoyed every page of this book!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    On May 16, 2013, Becky Powell received a phone call that would change her life. Her husband, Mark, called her and told her he had done something terrible. That day she learned he took his own life and that he also had borrowed millions of dollars over a period of several years and was deeply in debt. In her book, Awful Beautiful Life, Becky Powell tells her story with the help of writer Katherine Reay. Awful Beautiful Life: When God Shows Up in the Midst of Tragedy is Becky's story of how she On May 16, 2013, Becky Powell received a phone call that would change her life. Her husband, Mark, called her and told her he had done something terrible. That day she learned he took his own life and that he also had borrowed millions of dollars over a period of several years and was deeply in debt. In her book, Awful Beautiful Life, Becky Powell tells her story with the help of writer Katherine Reay. Awful Beautiful Life: When God Shows Up in the Midst of Tragedy is Becky's story of how she handled life and promised to pay back every penny her husband took from those he borrowed money from while he was alive. Even more amazing to me than that, is that in our modern world where many turn away from God, Becky turned to God every day to help her through the challenges and stress of this difficult situation. Becky and Mark also had three children: Madison, Boone, and John Luke. As a mom, she wanted to be sure she guided her kids to keep looking to God and not become victims in the midst of their difficulties. Becky has five pillars that guide her life: Faith, Family, Friends, Fun, and Forgive and Forget. Through Awful Beautiful Life, she shares how these pillars helped her through everything and helped her to guide her children through it all. I read Awful Beautiful Life within 2 days. I could have read it faster but I had to work and take care of my own family. I was impressed with how well this book read as the Powell family story unfolded. But more importantly, I was impressed with Becky's integrity. While she is honest about how she messed up a few times through the process, overall she worked to honor God and her family. Her story is one to look up to and emulate in a world where we don't always hear about the good things people do as much as the bad stuff on the news. I think there are things we can all learn from the Powell family and their friends. Most importantly, we need to be there for each other and we need to honor God through it all. Awful Beautiful Life was a great book for my first read of 2020--I can only hope that I can live a life with such faith and integrity. I encourage you to read it and seek to live a life for God and family as well no matter what life throws your way. I received this book from Faithwords. All opinions in this review are my own. #sponsoredbyfaithwords

  6. 4 out of 5

    Csimplot Simplot

    Excellent book!!!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    What a story. Imagine being an active part of the upper social class of Austin, Texas. Imagine receiving a cryptic phone call from your husband of 22 years that seems to indicate he is ending his life. Imagine the panic and then the trauma. Imagine finding out he owed millions in loans from friends. Imagine the possibility of lawsuits, investigations, and criminal prosecution. Powell and Reay have provided an interesting and very readable account of the aftermath of Mark Powell's suicide. The What a story. Imagine being an active part of the upper social class of Austin, Texas. Imagine receiving a cryptic phone call from your husband of 22 years that seems to indicate he is ending his life. Imagine the panic and then the trauma. Imagine finding out he owed millions in loans from friends. Imagine the possibility of lawsuits, investigations, and criminal prosecution. Powell and Reay have provided an interesting and very readable account of the aftermath of Mark Powell's suicide. The Powells had been part of Austin's high society, throwing lavish parties and taking frequent tropical vacations. That life was shattered when the reality of the Powell's financial situation came to light. The amazing thing is that Becky Powell vowed to pay back all the creditors – in full. No declaring bankruptcy. No paying cents on the dollar. Through the many delays and legal wranglings, she remained firm. Powell makes sure we know of the many friends who helped her with amazing support through the ordeal. She shares the many evidences of God's grace she experienced. She is honest about her struggles and her victories and her confident faith in God. This is a well crafted story of devastation, support, growth, and developing a new life. Do be aware suicide is central to the tragedy. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    6

    I am going to start with the good of the book. This lady is definitely a nice lady who tries to do the right thing all the time. Only if all rich people behave this way. Here is the bad and the ugly. I personally think if one doesn't count their money by the million, he or she would not like this book. A more appropriate title of the book should be "Awful Beautiful Life of millionaires: when money built relationship shows up in the midst of tragedy". Here are a couple of things on the top of my I am going to start with the good of the book. This lady is definitely a nice lady who tries to do the right thing all the time. Only if all rich people behave this way. Here is the bad and the ugly. I personally think if one doesn't count their money by the million, he or she would not like this book. A more appropriate title of the book should be "Awful Beautiful Life of millionaires: when money built relationship shows up in the midst of tragedy". Here are a couple of things on the top of my head that I can recall: 1. Probably half of this lady's friends are lawyers to start with. The other half are either governors, financiers, or ladies who have 6,000 dollar sofa and even more expensive rugs in their houses. 2. At her WORST moment, she has hundred-dollar-bills just sitting in her drawers. When the government starts investigation, she was shocked to find out that she can only keep $60,000 worth of assets in her house. ONLY $60,000. I live a relatively comfortable life and I don't have any hundred dollar bill and I try counting stuff I have in my house, really can't get to $30,000. 3. At the end of the book, she gave FIVE HERMES ties to one of her lawyers (oh, by the way, she has 8 of them and their fee is about $150,000 a month) to show gratitude. Because HERMES TIE is what makes her remember her husband and make her feel comfortable and the fact that her lawyer wears HERMES tie is a sign from GOD. Really lady? that's not a sign from GOD. It's a sign you all are ridiculously rich. I understand she went through a tragedy and all... but seriously... CANNOT RELATE. GOD DID NOT HELP HER, HER RICH CONNECTION DID. That's all.

  9. 4 out of 5

    C.E. Hart

    Im not a crier, so it was reasonable for me to think I could get through this book without shedding tears. I knew the events were tragic and painful. I knew my empathy would be on overdrive. But, like I mentioned, Im usually fairly stoic, keeping difficult emotions in check. Well, I got through the tragic parts. Whew. I got through the highs and the lowest of lows. Whew. But once I reached near the end of the book, my emotions betrayed me and burst out without warning. Despite the difficult I’m not a crier, so it was reasonable for me to think I could get through this book without shedding tears. I knew the events were tragic and painful. I knew my empathy would be on overdrive. But, like I mentioned, I’m usually fairly stoic, keeping difficult emotions in check. Well, I got through the tragic parts. Whew. I got through the highs and the lowest of lows. Whew. But once I reached near the end of the book, my emotions betrayed me and burst out without warning. Despite the difficult topics and the awful realities of Mark’s betrayal, greed, and suicide, as well as the burdens the family was forced to carry, this story has an undercurrent of remarkable tenderness and beauty. That is what made me cry. The evidence that through every storm—God is there. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” – Hebrews 13:5-6 I was previously unaware of who Becky Powell was or the ordeal she (and her family) went through, but learning Katherine Reay (an incredible fiction author I admire) assisted in telling her story, I was eager to read this book. I didn’t stop reading until the very last page. Yes, it’s THAT compelling. I love this crazy, tragic, sometimes almost magic, awful, beautiful life. – Lyrics to Awful Beautiful Life, Darryl Worley It was easy for me to connect with Becky finding comfort through listening too country music. And opening each chapter with lyrics to some of those songs gives the story a warmth and cohesiveness. What I’m most impressed with is the way Becky navigated through such turbulent times with strength, mercy, and determination. It’s remarkable, really. And a true testament of her faith. She allows readers to see, feel, and experience God on every page. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Leanne

    I read this in one sitting which doesn't happen very often, especially with nonfiction. An incredible story, beautifully told. I could see Katherine's capable hands throughout. I was happy to include it on my libraries staff picks.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    A truly inspiring story of a woman whose husbands suicide revealed a mountain of secrets. Guided by her faith, and a tremendous network of friends and family, Becky Powell managed to accomplish what can only be deemed a miracle through divine intervention. A truly inspiring story of a woman whose husband’s suicide revealed a mountain of secrets. Guided by her faith, and a tremendous network of friends and family, Becky Powell managed to accomplish what can only be deemed a miracle through divine intervention.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Openly Bookish

    This book is a masterpiece of showing how God works miracles in the midst of HELL.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Madison

    This is the most incredibly inspiring story Ive ever heard. The book is raw, genuine, intense, comical and humbling all in one. It really makes you grateful for what you have and puts life in perspective. A beautiful reminder that faith, hope and love trump all. Love all the F words and the country music playlist! An incredible read and story! I hope everyone gets the chance to hear this. Its a MUST-READ! This is the most incredibly inspiring story I’ve ever heard. The book is raw, genuine, intense, comical and humbling all in one. It really makes you grateful for what you have and puts life in perspective. A beautiful reminder that faith, hope and love trump all. Love all the “F” words and the country music playlist! An incredible read and story! I hope everyone gets the chance to hear this. It’s a MUST-READ!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Oak

    In May 2013, Becky Powells life dramatically changed. Her husband tragically took his own life, and she soon discovered that he owed millions of dollars to creditors. In Awful Beautiful Life: When God Shows Up in the Midst of Tragedy, Becky Powell tells her story of how she picked up the pieces of her life, repaid creditors, and relied on God in the midst of her suffering. Through all of the trials Powell faced, God was there with her. Powells story of persevering through pain reminds me of the In May 2013, Becky Powell’s life dramatically changed. Her husband tragically took his own life, and she soon discovered that he owed millions of dollars to creditors. In Awful Beautiful Life: When God Shows Up in the Midst of Tragedy, Becky Powell tells her story of how she picked up the pieces of her life, repaid creditors, and relied on God in the midst of her suffering. Through all of the trials Powell faced, God was there with her. Powell’s story of persevering through pain reminds me of the Bible passage Lamentations 3:22-23, which says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” No matter what trial we find ourselves in, God can give us new mercies each day. Powell’s story is captivating. I loved seeing Powell’s strength and dedication as she persisted through complicated situations. Powell has three children, and the book shows how the family grieved together – and supported one other. Awful Beautiful Life shows that even when situations are overwhelming, God will be with us. I received this book for review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Awful Beautiful Life: When God Shows Up in the Midst of Tragedy by Becky Powell is a powerful book of faith and hope that everyone should read. Becky's faith and courage is incredible. I am inspired by her ability to be real and what she has gone through is unfathomable. I read this book in a day and I could not put it down. This book is a quick read because once you start reading, you aren't able to stop. Through this entire book and trial, Becky is able to face the situation with God. She did Awful Beautiful Life: When God Shows Up in the Midst of Tragedy by Becky Powell is a powerful book of faith and hope that everyone should read. Becky's faith and courage is incredible. I am inspired by her ability to be real and what she has gone through is unfathomable. I read this book in a day and I could not put it down. This book is a quick read because once you start reading, you aren't able to stop. Through this entire book and trial, Becky is able to face the situation with God. She did not face it alone. God was with her and her entire family throughout each disappointment, challenge, fear and victory. The book is one that will make you cry, so have some tissues handy. I also celebrated for her and her family as well. Be sure to pick up a copy today. God is incredible and will take the most darkest situations and turn them around for His glory!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Young

    This is an eye=opening, tragic story of a family from nearby Austin that was torn apart by a basic love of money. An unknowing wife and family and friends all paid the price, and dearly, for a husband and father and friend's betrayal. If anything, this real-life story exposes the realities of what secrets in a marriage can do and how living a life of luxury became this man's god, which he valued over and above everything. The sad story becomes beautiful in the way the wife and family survived This is an eye=opening, tragic story of a family from nearby Austin that was torn apart by a basic love of money. An unknowing wife and family and friends all paid the price, and dearly, for a husband and father and friend's betrayal. If anything, this real-life story exposes the realities of what secrets in a marriage can do and how living a life of luxury became this man's god, which he valued over and above everything. The sad story becomes beautiful in the way the wife and family survived the horror of it all and came out triumphant and all the better because of what they had endured and because they learned to lean on their faith to get them through the darkness. A gut-wrenching story . . . .

  17. 5 out of 5

    Belle

    Wow. I'm in awe of everything this book entails. This is a must-read whether you're looking for hope, help, inspiration, encouragement, a good laugh or just a solid story. I couldn't put this book down - I've already read it in one sitting and listened to the audio book. I laughed, cried and had every emotion in between. God bless all of those who surrounded the Powell family throughout this tragedy. What an incredible testament to God and his unconditional love and provision. I am going to Wow. I'm in awe of everything this book entails. This is a must-read whether you're looking for hope, help, inspiration, encouragement, a good laugh or just a solid story. I couldn't put this book down - I've already read it in one sitting and listened to the audio book. I laughed, cried and had every emotion in between. God bless all of those who surrounded the Powell family throughout this tragedy. What an incredible testament to God and his unconditional love and provision. I am going to share this book with everyone I know!!! I hope they make this into a movie! Love love love.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rosalyn

    This is an amazing story of triumph, of what God can do in a persons life, of His Power in the darkest of times. Beauty through pain. Becky Powell experienced one of the most painful tragedies of all--dealing with the aftermath of her husband's suicide and the fraud that drove him there. It is a real inspiration to see how she allowed God to lead her, how she turned to Him and allowed Him to make her a stronger, better person because of this difficult time. This is an amazing story of triumph, of what God can do in a person’s life, of His Power in the darkest of times. Beauty through pain. Becky Powell experienced one of the most painful tragedies of all--dealing with the aftermath of her husband's suicide and the fraud that drove him there. It is a real inspiration to see how she allowed God to lead her, how she turned to Him and allowed Him to make her a stronger, better person because of this difficult time.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Julie Baselice

    Awful Beautiful Life is a story about how one woman's faith brought her through unimaginable circumstances. This book will make you laugh and cry and strengthen your own faith for life's roller coaster journey. I highly recommend it for anyone looking to grow in their faith or to find hope in their current circumstances.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    I commend Becky on paying everyone back. Usually when we make an investment that goes bad we get nothing so that was very good of her. I enjoyed the Bible passages and am glad that she was able to handle the whole situation but as she freely admits, she had a lot of help not only from her faith and God but also because she had a lot of money and many professional friends.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Pogue

    This story was captivating and heartbreaking mostly because it was real life. As a wife and a mother, I can i empathize with the authors heartache, as well as her courage to do whatever it took for her family. I was amazed at the ethics she continued to show throughout the whole ordeal and her insistence on doing everything the right way. Am inspirational read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Spitzer

    Easy to read, poignant story of how a woman found her strength and persevered after her husbands suicide brought on by a secret Ponzi scheme he created. She relies on her faith in God and her conscience to go against legal advise to find peace for herself and children. Easy to read, poignant story of how a woman found her strength and persevered after her husband’s suicide brought on by a secret Ponzi scheme he created. She relies on her faith in God and her conscience to go against legal advise to find peace for herself and children.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    Read this after hearing about it on the Jen Fulwiler show. Takeaways: when difficulty comes, you can ask yourself "how has God prepared me for this moment?" and the importance of showing up for your friends.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    WOW! What an emotional, vulnerable journey Becky has lived through and shared in Awful Beautiful Life. I highly recommend to everyone. It is a quick read that takes you on the inside of the pain she walked through. Her journey has put so much about life into perspective. WOW! What an emotional, vulnerable journey Becky has lived through and shared in “Awful Beautiful Life”. I highly recommend to everyone. It is a quick read that takes you on the inside of the pain she walked through. Her journey has put so much about life into perspective.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This book is raw and honest. Its a beautiful step to help take the stigma and shame out surrounding suicide. It is is a must read! This book is raw and honest. It’s a beautiful step to help take the stigma and shame out surrounding suicide. It is is a must read!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kayo

    What an absolute nightmare the author went thru. God really showed up, time and time again. Definitely a must read book!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paula

    A quick but interesting read of how the Lord empowered a woman to survive tragedy and her husband's terrible choices.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Christy Slaughter

    A little too long to tell the story.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    3.5 A riveting story of how Becky handled paying back her husband's enormous debt after his suicide while relying on and being guided by God.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tina Wilson

    Found this to be a fascinating read.

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