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Book Review: It Is What You Make Of It by Justin McRoberts

Tuesday, June 1, 2021


Happy Tuesday, My Lovelies!  Today I'm reviewing It Is What You Make Of It: Creating Something Great from What You've Been Given by Justin McRoberts.  

According to Goodreads:

Justin McRoberts dares you to move beyond “it is what it is” thinking and become an agent of love and redemption in your household, neighborhood, and workplace.

“It is what it is”—a common phrase you hear and maybe even say yourself. But the truth is that there is not one square inch in the whole domain of our human existence that simply is what it is. Justin McRoberts invites you to embrace a new mindset: it is what you make of it.

With warmth, wisdom, and humor, McRoberts shares key moments from his twenty-plus years as an artist, church planter, pastor, singer-songwriter, author, neighbor, and father, passing on lessons and practices learned about making something good from what you’ve been given rather than simply accepting things as they are.

Thought-provoking but actionable, It Is What You Make of It declares that love doesn’t just win, mercy doesn’t just triumph, and light doesn’t just cast out shadow. Rather, such renewal requires the work of human hands and hearts committed to a vision of a world made right (or at least a little better). When we partner with God in these endeavors, we love the world well and honor the Creator in whose image we are made.

We will not be remembered for who our parents were or where we were born or what our socioeconomic circumstances were. We won’t be remembered for our natural talents and strengths or the opportunities we were given or the challenges we faced. In the end, each of us will be remembered for what we made with what we were given.

"I create to provide language for the process of faith and life. What I create is to help you live generously as well as help you to faithfully produce good work in the world. For that reason, I really like teaching, storytelling, and songwriting, which I’ve done for nearly twenty years. I’ve written books, recorded albums and also curate and host The @Sea Podcast.

Whether I’m teaching, sharing songs and stories, leading a workshop on the creative process or inviting folks to engage in the fight against global poverty, I value every opportunity to encourage, challenge and inspire."

My Review:

I was happily surprised by this book.  Each chapter shares a little vignette from Justin's life and the lessons he learned from them.  For example, from the chapter "They're Not Here to See You Fail," Justin tells the story of a young woman singing her original song at a charity benefit.  She is extremely nervous before her performance, and Justin and her friends make her feel at ease when she makes a mistake at the beginning.  The audience clearly loves the song and shows their appreciation.  The point of this chapter is that when people show up for you (whether you're a performer or not), they aren't there to witness your failure: People want you to succeed!  

Each chapter ends with questions under the heading: What Do You Make of This?.  The first chapter suggests that you use a notebook to answer these questions and go back and reflect about what you've written.  I actually did that!

And per Justin's request, there were no beet recipes in the notebook...
He has major issues with beets.

The questions at the end of the chapter mentioned above challenges the reader to reflect on instances when he or she has blown it professionally, and how did he or she move on from failure.  Another question asks about others and how they might be afraid of failure.  That's one thing I appreciate about this book: It's not just about the reader, it's about the people in the reader's life, how to encourage and advocate for others.  

Although a few of the scenarios in this book do not apply to where I am in my life, I thought of several people who would benefit from reading about them.  I think the person who is going through a transition (like me) or needs to make a change professionally (not me) would benefit the most from It Is What You Make Of It.  Justin has led an interesting life so far, and I enjoyed reading about his challenges (many of them hilariously self-imposed).  His stories are very entertaining, and I admire his positive attitude when facing professional rejections (an opportunity to discover something new).  

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I received a paperback copy of It Is What You Make Of It from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill


  1. It sounds like a very inspiring upbeat book! Thanks for the review Ricki Jill

  2. It sounds like a thoughtful book. Thanks for the review, RJ.

  3. I value your reviews. This sounds like a pretty good book.

  4. I think I might give this one a read. Love the message!

  5. Beets are the worst! :) Thank you for being on this tour, I enjoyed this one myself. Sara @ TLC Book Tours


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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