Finding Sanctuary: How the Wild Work of Peace Restored the Heart of a Sandy Hook Mother

I did not want to read this book.

Finding Sanctuary by Jennifer HubbardThe review copy of Finding Sanctuary: How the Wild Work of Peace Restored the Heart of a Sandy Hook Mother by Jennifer Hubbard arrived in my mailbox and after a glance, I determined it would be too painful to read and set it aside. But something about the beautiful cover with its active, yet soothing, colors, the butterflies, and that “sanctuary” script kept drawing my eyes. Curiosity finally got the best of me, as I wondered, how? How does someone survive losing a child at Sandy Hook and go on to write a book about finding Peace? Too many people experience the loss of a child, through accidents, illness, suicide, drugs, and for Jennifer Hubbard, the unthinkable – a school shooting. What could she write that would help others understand and walk forward from that kind of pain?

So I started reading it, even though I was afraid of that first chapter – the one that holds our own worst nightmare. I’m not going to lie, that was an ugly cry moment. However, she shares that day without giving us more than we needed to be able to walk with her through the wild work towards peace. There was one particularly breathless moment in that first chapter, in a section titled “Living in the moment of It,” where I found myself right there in my own moment of “It.”  And just like that, we were connected in the story together. I knew what she meant, the before and after, because it really doesn’t matter what your “it” is; everyone has one.

After the first chapter, I settled in as she shares the experience of moving forward and lessons learned. She invites us to sit with her “…in the unexpected places where graces are afforded…” and there are chapters that felt like she is talking directly to me. Her journey did not happen overnight, but through everyday perseverance to choose another day, to be open to God in her pain, and to allow others to walk with her. In the end, she accepted that which she did not choose and found God’s peace.

I didn’t read this book in one sitting, rather I took it one chapter at a time. Each chapter concludes with three questions. Don’t skip over them. Whether you’re reading this as part of a book club or alone, privately journaling, spend time pondering these questions.

The real beauty of the book is her ability to capture those moments when God spoke to her or revealed the gift of His presence, leading her to peace. And some of her prayers are my prayers. Maybe they’re your prayers too. At times I found myself physically nodding my head in recognition: that moment of leaning on God, asking Him “Do you see me?” and then a catch of breath when she receives such a clear answer in such an unexpected way. Maybe each of us are more the same than we think.

If you are still holding onto the pain of your “It” moment, longing to know God Sees You, and afraid of walking forward, I invite you to let Jennifer Hubbard’s experience of Finding Sanctuary inspire you to start walking and know that you are not alone.

I’m so glad I read this book.

“In lieu of flowers…”  

Please visit the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary for more information.


Shelly Henley Kelly