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Picking Dandelions: A Search for Eden Among Life's Weeds Paperback – February 14, 2010

48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


'The moment I met Sarah Cunningham, I was blown away by her passion, deep wisdom, and love for God. Without question she is a voice that we all need to be listening to. Picking Dandelions is a beautifully honest look at life, the struggle of faith, and embracing change in our lives.' -- Mike Foster, creative principal at PlainJoe Studios <br><br>

From the Publisher

I'm a fan of Sarah Cunningham. For many reasons. And I'm a fan of her latest book, Picking Dandelions. You should buy a copy. ...Sarah has a fresh perspective on faith, a writing style that is personal and unique, and an uncanny way to make you laugh, smile, and cry all within a couple of pages.

The moment I met Sarah Cunningham I was blown away by her passion, deep wisdom, and love for God. Without question she is a voice that we all need to be listening to. Picking Dandelions is a beautifully honest look at life, the struggle of faith, and embracing change in our lives. -Mike Foster,

Well... the rumor is Donald Miller wrote the book under the pen name, Sarah Cunningham (joking).

Does Cunningham have anything to offer in this crowded [memoir] genre? Absolutely. For one thing, great writing. I read a lot of books, and a very few are characterized by the quality of writing in this book. A few pages into this memoir and I relaxed. It's the same feeling you get (I imagine) when you're being chauffeured by someone who really knows how to drive. -Daryl Dash

Sarah describes herself as a moderate middle-class white girl who grew up in the Michigan countryside, but speaks about God with humor and honesty more characteristic of liberal west-coast writers. Anne Lamott is one of her faves.

It's sort of refreshing that Sarah, raised in the right wing, can weave elements of faith into a spiritual memoir too because it suggests that there are valid, messy spiritual discoveries for all of us, no matter what corner of the earth or political landscape we grow up on. -Anne Jackson,

[Sarah Cunningham] is a great writer. She's an interesting person. She's got excellent stories to tell and makes thoughtful observations about contemporary Christianity. I loved this book.

...[Sarah] she has found how to tell compelling stories as Sarah Cunningham much like Donald Miller tells authentic stories as Donald Miller. You don't feel like you're reading a Miller clone, but you do have someone who knows how to tell a good story, to share self-deprecating scenarios, and to reflect on meeting God in the everyday scenes of life. -Ed Cyzewski,

Cunningham's writing is refreshing, particularly because she's a female contemporary--only two years older than me. I'm tired of reading about the spiritual journeys of 40 year-old men. -Amy Sondova

In Sarah Cunningham, I find all of the the raw, unembellished honesty, the fervent hope, and handcrafted needlework of poetic prose that made me fall in love with Anne Lamott. -Ian Scott Patterson

Cunningham's writing is crisp and entertaining, and her humor gently self-deprecating. She gleans her spiritual insights from the most mundane moments, but that doesn't make them mundane insights. -Marilyn Matevia


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; 1St Edition edition (February 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310292476
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310292470
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,421,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

From living in a Chicago homeless shelter to leading a disaster relief team at Ground Zero, Sarah sunk her early twenties into whirlwind attempts to save the world.

After earning a degree in Urban Studies, she convinced Westwinds Community Church to create a new position for her: "Director of Outreach" (it sounded better than "Overzealous Social Activist" on business cards).

Three years later, Sarah married Chuck Cunningham and joined her new husband teaching area high schoolers and living in an an unfortunately pink house on the south side of Prison City (nicknamed such because it houses the state prison). These experiences combined to inspire Sarah's first book, Dear Church: Letters From a Disillusioned Generation.

Sarah went on to publish Picking Dandelions, a memoir-style collection of writings on spiritual change. She also contributed to the Mosaic Bible (Tyndale 2009), unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity and Why It Matters by David Kinnaman (Baker Books, October 2007) and Out of the Ooze (NavPress, November 2007). In 2012, she released The Donkey in the Living Room, a 28-page illustrated children's book inviting families to unwrap manger scene figures and read each figure's story together in the days leading up to Christmas. She also has two upcoming releases, Portable Faith (Abingdon) and the Well Balanced World Changer (Moody) in 2013. Zondervan also plans to release a new, expanded edition of Dear Church in early 2014.

Amidst all the writing, Sarah became an idea junkie and freelance consultant to several mainstream Christian events. She also earned her Masters in Educational Leadership, none of which resulted in additional respect from her manic Jack Russell terrier, Wrigley. She and her husband currently live in southeast Michigan where Sarah serves as chief servant to the Emperor Justus (her 3 year old) and his chief of staff, Malachi (their 3 month old).

Sarah has contributed to Christian resources such as Relevant Magazine, Catalyst Publications and q ideas. She and her faith writings have been featured in a wide range of media, including the Dallas Morning News, the Wichita Eagle, the USA Today and Christianity Today's Leadership Journal.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Chad Estes on February 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
Some people write because they are gifted at shaping sentences into beautiful, poetic expressions. Holding a book from a gifted writer is like drinking out of a stemmed glass of fine crystal. The look and feel is captivating, even when the wine inside was poured from a cardboard box. Other people write because they have a story worth telling. Depending on the significance of the narrative the quality of the serving cup can be somewhat overlooked. So when you find a writer who not only has the talent for words but also a tale to tell, you have a found a rare gift.

When I started reading Sarah Cunningham's second book, "Picking Dandelions," I knew I had found one of those memoirs that were worth championing both for its prose and its purpose. Often times Christian books seem nothing more than an outline from a speaker's favorite sermon that have been fluffed up to fit between the covers. Even when the message is worth sharing the art of story telling lacks any creativity that gives the book real body. But my early response to "Picking Dandelions" was that Sarah Cunningham could write. And as I continued, fully enjoying her story telling, I recognized its significance as well.

Cunningham describes her "Search for faith among life's weeds" from her days of growing up the daughter of a Baptist minister to her current roles as a teacher and new mother. Along the way she recognizes that her faith wasn't a "one and done" event like a sinner's prayer, but incorporates a lifetime of growing. Her journey to and through this understanding is full of imagery that will pull the reader into their own faith pilgrimage as well.

Though broken into nine sections, Cunningham's book has three main parts.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Shelby on April 8, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A lot of readers eat up Anne Lamott (including this author, I have a feeling, who mentions Anne in her preface). They like Lamott's honesty and her irreverence. And let's be real: they like the dramatic ups and downs of her life story. Cunningham is cut from the same stylistic cloth although you almost wouldn't expect it since her life took a decidedly cleaner path than Lamott's. Her life is different (more solidly rooted in the faith and less rocky). But Cunningham's journey is still compelling and inviting. It takes up leading a relief team to Ground Zero and living in a homeless shelter among other things. And although she isn't a Lamott clone, you get the sense you're reading the opening book of someone whose name is going to cling to book club lists the same way. If you like Lamott for her style and honesty and humor, I think you'll see some of her younger prattling idealistic side in Cunningham.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Young on July 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
The following is a review of Picking Dandelions by Sarah Cunningham from my personal blog...[...]

I hadn't felt like I'd traveled backwards in time, and spent moments with someone I didn't know, like this since I read Donald Miller's, Blue Like Jazz. I'm serious. No hyperbole here. Sarah Cunningham's, Picking Dandelions: A Search for Eden Among Life's Weeds did that for me.

Do you know the feeling of seeing something you know you shouldn't have? Remember catching mom wrapping Christmas presents and then stashing them away? You saw something you shouldn't have, but seeing it opened you up to things as they really were. That's the feeling I've derived after reading Picking Dandelion's. She led me into her world- a world I should not and would not have seen otherwise- to find the truth behind the story that's been hidden behind the veil for quite some time.

One can't help but look at the world around him and think: "Something's not right about all of this." And one would be right. Things simply aren't as they ought to be. And yet we pant and search and claw and pursue the thing to make it all right. Often, we are searching for the right thing in all the wrong places.

Part I begins with Sarah's childhood. I was drawn into her experiences, seeing them open up, unfold and eventually shut. It makes you wonder if the Christianity we teach our children is something that will endure for the long haul. Are there too many holes? Too many voids? Could we be setting them up for major disappointment?

Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, I really wish I couldn't empathize with her, but I do, and altogether too often at that. Where we are different is that she began picking up on much of it early on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tim McGeary on July 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
"Pushing Dandelions: A Search for Eden Among Life's Weeds" is a memoir of Sarah Cunningham, who has previously published a book called "Dear Church: Letters from a Disillusioned Generation." Ever since reading "Dear Church", I've wanted to read more from Sarah because I connected so much with her first book. And I guess I was hoping to find out more of the story behind that book.

But that isn't what I found in reading "Picking Dandelions." Instead I found a story, still similar to mine, but divergent enough to keep me interested without throwing myself completely into a "yup, that's me, too"' type of self-help mindset that I've done with other people's memoirs. This is a very good thing, in case that isn't clear, because it requires me not to check out of my own story while taking in someone else's.

For some reason the intro and first chapter were very slow for me, but after that, the pace picked up very quickly. Where I really homed in are the chapters on Sarah's assisting efforts at Ground Zero after 9-11. Part of this is because I had just watched the movie "Reign Over Me" and part because it is such a seminal moment in our generation's history, but I was gripped by this section of Sarah's story. What I appreciated most is the comparison of the recovery and support effort to be an incarnation of real community and church: loving neighbor over ourselves. I tire so easily with church being our own patting ourselves on the back at church or being inward focused that I long for a more permanent outward focus like that, though not necessarily needing to be that extreme.

And other examples exist in other stories Sarah tells, about teaching experiences, her chance to lead in ministry at a church, or making up a blues diddy at a homeless shelter.
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