Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Kregel Book review: Refresh Spiritual Nourishment for Parents of Children with Special Needs

I was blessed to review this book.  It's a devotional for parents of Children with Special Needs. My first comment is that most parents have children with special needs (gifted, learning disabled, adhd, behavior concerns, dyslexia) but this is geared to parents who have children with demanding, time consuming special needs that require a lot of parent support daily (1/5 of all parents).  The authors were thinking cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, genetic disorders, chronic illness, etc.   I would definitely add this is a book for parents of children from hard places (trauma, RAD, adoption, foster, mental health issues, ....).  We are parenting such a child, and this book is a gift to me. One of the reviewers, Janet Thompson, printed in the book calls the book "a life-line of hope."  And it is.  

Here's what I appreciated most about the book: 
  • Rich Scriptural connections, this is founded in the Word of God, truth statements for all believers. 
  • Format:  
    • Table of Contents with 8 Section Themes, each devotional titled
    • Stories from parents of children with many different special needs, including bloggers I was familiar with, and adopted parents.  
    • Brings perspective that is relate-able to all parents, no matter the special need.
    • The intro explains how this book is to 'pour hope and courage back into you.' 
    • Two authors, so different tones in the narration.  (Jocelyn and Kimberly)
    • Each devotional contains:
      • title, author, and a KEY verse.
      • a personal narrative that shares a story of struggle, dedication, consuming parenting, .... 
      • more scripture
      • an italics potential application/prayer
      • Digging Deeper, 3 questions that are higher level thinking, and help you connect your experience with the promises from God's Word.  
  • Digging Deeper really approaches the layers of feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and perhaps our actions/responses in the struggle or joys of parenting.  It really helps the reader process and internalize how he/she might feel and empathize with the experience of another. 
  • Stories are integrated with thinking and what the Word of God says to help empower parents, give insight to daily living, and help us know that we are not alone in the struggle, and to help us take care of ourselves, or have a moment of respite in life. 
  • Theologically accurate, it acknowledges the struggle inside of us, our fear, seeking truth/faith, role of sin and the need for nourishment, growth, pruning, bearing fruit, and branching out.  Good analogies for the Christian life.  
  • Short, sweet, to the point.  Even parents who don't like reading, could easily read these short thoughts and find promises to build their day on.  
  • It's affordable on the kindle: $1.99.  It's worth a whole lot more!  
This book I've kept in the van, and picked up while I wait for kids at school, at the doctors, etc.  It's a great perspective change, and really does Refresh me.  I'd recommend that local churches who aren't sure how to help parents with special needs kids, gift this book to those parents, and ask their leaders to read this book, and learn how life might look in homes where children's needs restructure everything.  It might help those who want to help, but don't know where to start, to have an understanding of daily life, and give ways to pray, support, and sympathize with parents who life this way for decades.  It certainly will encourage parents who are struggling.  

Monday, July 25, 2016

Book Review, Kregel- When There Are No Easy Answers, Thinking Differently about God, Suffering and Evil by John Feinberg

Kregel Book Review Tour

When There Are No Easy Answers: Thinking Differently about God, Suffering, and Evil

I read this 160 page book primarily in one sitting.  The author explains in his preface that the book is his story of embracing suffering, thinking about evil, and God.  He is a theological professor at Trinity University, so his lay person's approach to his story was rich with doctrine and scriptural support, but he makes it very readable, and easy to comprehend. Some of his big struggles were just that, his personal spots that his mind might get stuck on like: why they didn't discover that his wife had the gene when they investigated it, and what about the future.  But his answers to his questions delved into his specific needs, but also embraced many wonders and levels that anyone could have with any type of suffering present in their lives.  So I appreciated his style and the richness of the teaching that was layered into his testimony.  

This updated version is what as an educator we refer to as meta-cognition, Mr. Feinberg thinks aloud on the pages of this book and in his updates, about his wonders, concerns, struggles, with God in the midst of a genetic terminal disease that his wife was diagnosed with when they had three young boys, active full time ministry together, and a whole different plan and expectation for their lives.  His book is also helpful with ideas of what people would say to him that helped, and what hurt or wasn't helpful. He also teaches you what kinds of help and offers really help individuals and families who are living with long term suffering and need in their family.  He delves into real concerns in each chapter like: how dismal life can seem, Recipe for Disaster, or How Not to Help the Afflicted, the Goodness of God, Hiding the Future, and Grace, Justice, and the Suffering of the Righteous, Deceived by God?, Living with Dying, and Providence and the Purpose of Our Lives.  

Each topic is handled with his testimony and his view on the lens of the Word of God and then how that looks in life, changes his thinking, or helps him cope and live with ongoing suffering, as well as recognizing God's plan for evil as it appears in the lives of believers.  I think his appendix at the back with biblical reasons that God might use when a person or family is afflicted with suffering was a highlight of the book for me.  

This book would benefit someone who is living with ongoing suffering in any form.  In my case I interact with many adoptive and foster families who are parenting children from hard places and by embracing and loving the kids, their home often faces evil and suffering on a daily basis. But it would also benefit a family who is living with a terminal illness, a disease that includes chronic suffering, but isn't terminal, grieving individuals, and those who interact with anyone who suffers.  So I see it as a great resource for church leaders and in ministry, as well as tender-hearted individuals who want to grasp how God works in a sinful world.  

I enjoyed this book, and the thoughts are my personal opinion. I was blessed to receive this book for free as a part of Kregel Blog Tours, but it is expected I give it an honest review and that is what I'm sharing here. My thoughts.