Friday, July 8, 2016

The #LifeWeNeverExpected - A Book About Parenting Children With Special Needs #FlyBy Review

The Life We Never Expected
The Life We Never Expected: 
Hopeful Reflections on the Challenges of Parenting Children With Special Needs
  • Written by Andrew and Rachel Wilson
  • Foreword by Russel D. Moore
  • Published by Crossway
  • Released June 30, 2016
  • Paperback or eBook Available
  • English Language - 152 Pages
  • Purchase Your Own Copy From Amazon  (Prime Eligible)
I remember being pregnant with my twins and the things I imagined when I contemplated motherhood.  I thought about sweet moments singing lullabies in a rocking chair and blissful snuggles.  When they were born two months early there were no rocking chairs - just Ohio tables and plastic incubators. When I got them home there were feedings every three hours around the clock, and machines with alarms that helped me to monitor their breathing and heart rates.  In a constant state of sleep deprivation, I had to soothe colic and minimize the sensory stimulation they received.  As they grew a bit older they began to exhibit signs of  autism, so it was really no surprise when they were officially diagnosed with Asperger syndrome.  Motherhood was nothing at all like what I imagined, but still, every day, I thanked God for allowing them to live and for giving me the privilege of raising them.

Many friends have wondered how I handle it - especially with homeschooling.  I am never sure how to answer.  These are my children!  They are not perfect in the eyes of the world, but they are certainly precious to me and I have no doubt the Lord considers them as fearfully and wonderfully made as any neurotypical child!   I think therein lies the answer - I "handle it" because I know that God doesn't make mistakes.

The Life We Never Expected
In this new book, The Life We Never Expected, authors Andrew and Rachel Wilson share similar thoughts.  As the parent of two autistic children and also serving as a teaching pastor at King's Curch, London, Andrew is able to tell their story and reflect upon their journey into special needs parenting.  Rachel also adds her perspective. They tackle the big ideas like, Is it okay to be angry at God? and Where is God as I am enduring these trials?  Thankfully, even when we are suffering, God sees us, He knows our needs, and He is bigger than our sorrows.  I have found that the best way to get though suffering is by laying myself bare and by trusting, even in the storms.  This is the Wilson's story, too.  After a reflection on Psalm 130 they describe their journey as a series of cycles divided into the stages of weeping, worshiping, waiting, and breathe. 

Here is how it breaks out:
  • A Foreword by Russel D. Moore
  • The Introduction
  • The Day of Deep Breaths
  • Psalm 130
  • What Do We Do With Suffering? (A Meditation on Psalm 130
The First Cycle:
  • Weeping; The Orange
  • Worshiping; The Call to Sacrifice
  • Waiting: The True Battle
  • Witnessing: Individialitis and the Dung Gate
  • And Breathe: The Special Needs Beatitudes (What Jesus Might Have Said
The Second Cycle:
  • Weeping; Lament
  • Worshiping: Fighting for Joy
  • Waiting: the Quest for Rest
  • Witnessing: Children as  Blessing
  • And Breathe: Joy Fuel
The Third Cycle:
  • Weeping: The Unresolved Why?
  • Worshiping: Thankfulness in a World of Entitlement
  • Waiting: the Storyteller
  • Witnessing: The New Ordinary
  • And Breathe: One Boy and His Dog
The Fourth Cycle:
  • Weeping: Handling Grief
  • Worshiping: Learning to Pray
  • Waiting: Some Reflections on Healing
  • Witnessing; Questions and Answers
  • And Breathe: The survival Zone
The Fifth Cycle:
  • Weeping: A Note to Friends and Relatives
  • Worshiping: Faith and Future Grace
  • Waiting: Daydreaming About Eternity
  • Witnessing: Marriage on Fire
  • And Breathe: Some Helpful Resources
Epilogue: The Captain
Scripture Index

The segments are short and easy to read.  Each one tells you if it is written by Andrew or Rachel from the start, which I thought was a nice touch.  It helped me to add tone of voice in my head.  I think they were genuine in putting their feelings into words which translates into a good read - especially for parents who might be reeling with a new diagnoses.  Although they express their lament, they also convey hope.

Of course, every family's experience with special needs parenting is unique, and this story does not mirror mine.  Even so, I did identify with many of the emotions and did experience similar situations.  Most of all I agree that I could not do this if  I didn't trust that God knows what I need and that His grace is sufficient for us, and that even in our sufferings, He is near.

Special thanks to FlyBy/Propeller for the opportunity to review this book.
Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.