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One Hundred Birds Taught Me to Fly: The Art of Seeking God

4.48  ·  Rating details ·  545 ratings  ·  172 reviews
One Hundred Birds Taught Me to Fly is for restless souls who desire to know God more deeply. Ashley Mae Hoiland bids us follow her down “the hallowed and well-trodden path between the heart and mind,” where glimpses of godliness are discovered in rainstorms, bus rides, temples, and mountains. As a Latter-day Saint, Hoiland explores the complexities of faith in everyday ...more
Paperback, 212 pages
Published November 1st 2016 by Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
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Morgan Lewis
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: htr
I devoured this in one sitting. I just couldn't help myself, I couldn't stop. I let myself cry in public for this one. The stories are so poignant and Ashley's spiritual journey feels so close to my own. Her prose is delicious and breathtaking. I want to force everyone in my life to read this book.
(To be fair, I had an especially strong reaction to this book because I share the same faith as the author, but I think it can be widely enjoyed)
Steven Peck
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the most important books on faith I've ever read. I love this book, it's beauty and insight took my breath away.
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mormon, nonfiction, memoir
Not a crisis now - just my story, the surprising story that was one of faith all along. (108)

I first came across the work of Ashley Mae Hoiland in the form of a question she posed on Facebook a long time ago. I forget the precise wording, but it basically asked what we lose when we talk about periods where our faith is challenged as "faith crises" and asked what would happen if we used other, more positive and open words to describe the experience. Living in crisis mode is not sustainable.

I took
Alisa Haws
Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is not your stereotypical Mormon book, chock full of feel good cheesy stories. It is instead a compilation of thoughtful musings and memories of a Mormon woman on how she has found joy, love, God, and godliness in both the every day and extraordinary things she has accomplished thus far in her life. While not written only for women, it touched my woman/mother/sister/wife heart immensely. It calmed my worries, reinforced my own feelings of joy and reverence at the small and often routine ...more
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful tapestry weaving impressions, poetry, essay and images together into a warm heartspace that invites the reader into honest reflection.
Liz VanDerwerken
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is beautiful and quietly spoke to my soul in so many necessary ways. Ashmae writes of the mundane and minute, finding sacredness in quiet moments and unassuming objects or situations, in a way that reminds me of some of my favorite writers, Annie Dillard and Mary Oliver. These small essays and explorations refract light like raindrops sparkling in the sun; they spread reassurance and hope and faith like so many hand-sewn packets of wildflowers.
Dec 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"I believe we can find God in many ways," writes Ashley Mae Hoiland in her book One Hundred Birds Taught Me to Fly. Through a series of vignettes, Hoiland opens up the possibility that God is intimately woven into ordinary human experience — experience so ordinary that's it's easy to overlook the beauty the moment contains. For me, this book is a training in how to see with new eyes and feel with a new heart. It reveals how soulless binary thinking is, how much we miss in our efforts to acquire ...more
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is my second time picking up this book (honestly i've only ready like 15 books the last two years so it was probably just life and sickness and netflix). This time almost every story spoke to me. This time I valued how Ashmae was telling her story even if it was in a very different tone and voice than I would tell my own; especially because the way she looked at life gave me a glimpse of how much depth to everyday mundane life there is - if only you have the eyes to see it. And I am in the ...more
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
So beautifully written and brought some peace to my soul. I admire her goodness, authenticity, and perspective. ...more
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow, I really loved this book. It was somewhat jarring at first maybe because the author is also an artist? It has a very artsy feel to it. The book does not follow a linear path and so in the first few chapters, I struggled to find my footing. I was liking where it was going so I just decided to embrace and find my artsy side (it has to be in there somewhere) and dove in with both feet. I'm so glad I did. I found myself and my family and friends in these pages. The author spoke right to my ...more
Kami Reeve
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This little book is filled with many wonderful and unexpected soul-stirring passages. Highly recommend.
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
"What I want to tell you as you read these stories is that I've both found and lost God a hundred times over. In fact, maybe I've never actually found God at all, but imagining that I have indeed found something so much larger and more beautiful than I can explain is most often enough for me. I believe that somewhere in all this, we belong to parents who love us with that fierce and tender love reserved for the moments when you observe a child trying their best at something...I've both found and ...more
Apr 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
My favorite of many refreshing insights references the paralytic man in Mark who was lowered through the roof to Jesus. Hoiland asks, "How do I think of people who are coming to Christ in ways that differ from my own?"
Feb 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Hoiland's prose is beautiful and she provides a much-needed perspective on faith in Mormonism. That said, this is exactly the kind of book that Mormons love because the female perspective is completely intertwined with maternity; Mormons love smart, creative housewives and Hoiland is among the best. Additionally, she performs all the hallmarks of the trendy "faith crisis" without challenging the reader to walk that journey with her. The elevation of the quotidian to the divine, used so ...more
Nov 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ashley is full of heart, and so is her writing. 100 Birds is a compilation of short essays about motherhood, womanhood, Mormonism, godliness, and brave storytelling. She is a master of metaphor and of finding meaning in the physical poetry we all live in.

I was able to connect personally with this book because I am living an experience similar to the author's, but this book can certainly be enjoyed by any peacemaker or peace seeker regardless of race, religion, or gender. Ashley shares universal
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Multiple times this book found the groan before the sob in me. The yearning that meets understanding. It gave me much to think about in regards to my own faith and hopes for my children. More than anything, her willingness to put certainty next to uncertainty in a personal way that doesn’t sound at all like the conviction we are taught is RIGHT in fast and testimony meeting showed me that I am capable of and absolutely SHOULD document my own glorious path of belief. I can’t think of a better ...more
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely beautiful. In addition to making my heart grow at least three sizes, reading this book made me want to pay better attention to the everyday world I live in. And even though I've never met the author, I feel like we're good friends. So if you like spiritual memoirs in the vein of Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and could use a really good friend, I'd highly recommend this book. I'm really hoping my new friend decides to write another one...
May 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book eloquently put words to feelings and thoughts that I haven’t been able to articulate for myself. I finished feeling inspired to love more, laugh more, and to relish in questions and doubts rather than fear them.

One of my favorite quotes sums it up nicely, “I am a spiritual being who does believe in miracles, not because I am required to see them, but because my choosing to find them has, at the most simple level, made me happy” (149).
Jan 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There are not many books I'd like to re-read, but this one will get more of my time. Very thoughtfully and beautifully written. I like how the author presents different, sometimes troubling ideas and then personally works through them, often with beautiful imagery.
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It doesn't seem like the kind of book you read just once. I wish I had words to describe how I felt reading it. I felt like being better, I felt encouraged, sad, and hopeful all at the same time.

It is so beautiful.

Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: church, 2017
Perhaps it's not a healthy response but I was nearing the end of the book I couldn't help but thinking about what my Goodreads assessment of this book should be. As I considered this I thought that it doesn't really make sense to rate this book here. Something about the book defies categorisation or rating - perhaps it is so personal that it's hard to separate the book from the author and thus any sort of rating of the book feels like an attempt to judge the person. It's a book unlike any other ...more
Heidi McQuay
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One I will be reading regularly. Voiced so many of my thoughts. Made me cry, made me laugh. It's short, but I needed to read it slowly to absorb it, let it all really soak in.

"I could no longer give my spiritual questions and wanderings the name of "crisis." I could not continue pelting my own sincere heart with stones of shame and guilt because I did not believe perfectly, or understand perfectly, or even sustain a constant desire to do either of those things. " pg 106
Lisa Guzman
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
At first I wasn't sure I was in the mood to read this, but it was given to me by a friend who often gets my spiritual struggles so I went for it. I identified with parts in the beginning and then somewhere halfway through I devoured her words and drawings. A young girl standing in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus. Please and thank you.

I loved when she stopped using the word crisis. I loved her lists, especially the times she laughed and the things she no longer believed. I admire her
Lauren Smith
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religious, 2017
Honestly this book had a very profound impact on me. Disregard the fact that it is beautifully and tastefully written, masterfully artistic, and sweet in approach (though it is all of those things). The author’s testimony of Christ, of Heavenly Father, and especially of Heavenly Mother resonated with me in a way that other testimonies have not.

Near the end she writes:
“There is something about the ideas in the Book of Mormon that make me want to be a better neighbor, mother, and wife. The story
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book took my broken heart and patched it back up with soul, intent, color, beauty, but mostly with the knowledge that one can think for themselves, however they will.

I loved this book.

I more than loved it. I needed it. Every time I picked this book up, I bathed in its beauty. Ashmea astounded me time and again with her heart and her prose. I want to pin all the pages of this book up on my walls and read them religiously.

Motherhood, womanhood, curiosity, wonder, prayer, life - Hoiland
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautiful and enjoyable. A bit enigmatic as the stories read more like long poems or brief snapshots of an essay.

Parts that especially resonated with me:
"What I want to tell you as you read these stories is that I've both found and lost God a hundred times over. In fact, maybe I've never actually found God at all but imagining that I have indeed found something so much larger and more beautiful than I can explain is most often enough for me. I believe that somewhere in all this we belong to
Kathrine Holyoak
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Blackbird singing in the dead of night. Spread your broken wings and learn to fly. You were only waiting for this moment to arrive. Blackbird fly. Fly to my nest and tell my heart more. Your lists are my favorite. That man who tells Christ, "I believe, help thou my unbelief"... us too. Thanks for your grace and space. And for your belief.
Twila Newey
This little book is like a balm, so vulnerable and poignant. The language of each piece is so beautifully wrought, it was a pleasure to walk through these sentences. For me, it is still a rose-colored view of Mormonism and it was interesting to watch where I reacted because my experience was different. However, it works because of her choice to ground all of it in her deeply personal experience of what it means to be Mormon, female, a mother, an artist and a human being. And each moment is ...more
Kaylee Tanner
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I think my opinion of this book might depend heavily on my current mood. Luckily I was in a pretty open-minded, contemplative, sentimental state of mind when I finished this, so I will say that I liked it. This is not my usual genre, but I was very impressed with the insight and wisdom Hoiland wove so smoothly with her beautiful prose. There were definitely parts where I felt annoyed and/or bored, but I think that just happens whenever you're given the freedom to explore another person's mind as ...more
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Genuine, thoughtful, non-cheesy expressions of faith.

Writing an inspirational book is a tough job. You have to be confident enough that people feel they should listen to you, yet humble enough that people want to be like you. I loved the author's honest explorations and beautiful poetry found in unexpected, everyday moments. I wished I had this book 8 years ago, when my children were small and my questions many but had so little time to explore them. I feel closer to God and more inspired
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I write, I paint, I teach, I explore, but most of all I try to connect to the people and places around me.
“It is Christlike to assume that people are trying to do the best they can. I know I am a better person when I cultivate empathy, and I have been blessed for having received it from others. As members of the body of Christ, we are each responsible for creating a space not only of acceptance, but of joy and encouragement for our sisters and brothers and the stories they are working so hard to live well.” 2 likes
“I believe we can find God in many ways. I believe our heavenly parents seek us out wherever we live, whether that be strictly in the mind, in despair and joy, in an office, or in nature. It is sometimes hard to recognize them or their efforts because we have already written their parts, made up our minds about what a spiritual life looks like. I know for sure, though, that when I stop and enter that space where my children are most comfortable--a space of play, imagination, and possibility--calmness enters in as I believe again that many things are possible.” 1 likes
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