These are the faces that call me “mom,” the three children who made me a mother. When I started my journey into parenthood I never thought it would look like this. I never planned on having three adopted children, and I certainly never imagined that two of them would have Down syndrome. But like most of the things God does, once we stepped into the craziness and confusion of the unknown and unplanned, we quickly realized that we were indeed among the lucky few. When my husband and I decided to grow our family ten years ago, we were surprised to find that getting pregnant was not as easy as we had thought it would be. And as we navigated the ups and downs of infertility, God led us down the path of adoption. Of course, we would adopt! Not what we had originally planned, but certainly a wonderful option. But just as we began to get a comfortable grasp on growing our family through adoption, God introduced us to Macyn Hope, a very sick little girl with Down syndrome who desperately needed a family. As we continued to follow God’s calling, first with Macyn, and later with Truly and then August, we found ourselves further and further from the comfortable paths we thought our lives would take, and instead moving down some very scary, and often painful roads. Even though at times His plan seemed terrifying and even downright foolish, little could we have known how much goodness, blessing, and joy would flow out of loving these three little people He’s put into our lives. No, it’s not been easy: not the open-heart surgeries or the challenges of raising two children with Down syndrome or the complexities of dealing with birth-families or the struggles we’ve had with the public education system. But through it all, every new and uncomfortable situation has only proven to be another chance to see how very good God’s plan is for our lives and how downright lucky we are to be able to live it out. It’s only the lucky few that recognize that the most beautiful things in this life are often found in the differences. What some would see as misfortune, I’ve learned to see as nothing more than pure luck.
Mother of three adopted children---two with Down syndrome---Heather Avis has learned that it s the lucky few that recognize God s plans are best, even when they seem radically different than our own. Your life may be uncomfortable, messy, and nothing you would have planned, but you too can be among the lucky few."
How do you hold on to hope when you don’t get the ending you asked for? When Katie Davis Majors moved to Uganda, accidentally founded a booming organization, and later became the mother of thirteen girls through the miracle of adoption, she determined to weave her life together with the people she desired to serve. But joy often gave way to sorrow as she invested her heart fully in walking alongside people in the grip of poverty, addiction, desperation, and disease. After unexpected tragedy shook her family, for the first time Katie began to wonder, Is God really good? Does He really love us? When she turned to Him with her questions, God spoke truth to her heart and drew her even deeper into relationship with Him. Daring to Hope is an invitation to cling to the God of the impossible—the God who whispers His love to us in the quiet, in the mundane, when our prayers are not answered the way we want or the miracle doesn’t come. It’s about a mother discovering the extraordinary strength it takes to be ordinary. It’s about choosing faith no matter the circumstance and about encountering God’s goodness in the least expected places. Though your heartaches and dreams may take a different shape, you will find your own questions echoed in these pages. You’ll be reminded of the gifts of joy in the midst of sorrow. And you’ll hear God’s whisper: Hold on to hope. I will meet you here.
Author: Kelle Hampton
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: 2013-04-02
Genre: Biography & Autobiography
There is us. Our Family. We will hold our precious gift and know that we are lucky . . . From the outside looking in, Kelle Hampton had the perfect life: a beautiful two-year-old daughter, a loving husband, and a thriving photography career. When she learned she was pregnant with their second child, they were ecstatic. But when their new daughter was placed in her arms in the delivery room, Kelle knew instantly that something was wrong. Nella looked different than her sister, Lainey, had at birth. As her friends and family celebrated, a terrified Kelle was certain that Nella had Down syndrome—a fear her pediatrician soon confirmed. Yet gradually Kelle embraced the realization that she had been chosen to experience an extraordinary and special gift. With lyrical prose and gorgeous photography, Bloom takes readers on a wondrous journey through Nella's first year of life—a gripping, hilarious, and intensely poignant trip of transformation in which a mother learns that perfection comes in all different shapes.
A father’s exhilarating and funny love letter to his daughter with Down syndrome whose vibrant and infectious approach to life has something to teach all of us about how we can better live our own. Jillian Daugherty was born with Down syndrome. The day they brought her home from the hospital, her parents, Paul and Kerry, were flooded with worry and uncertainty, but also overwhelming love, which they channeled to “the job of building the better Jillian.” While their daughter had special needs, they refused to allow her to grow up needy—“Expect, Don’t Accept” became their mantra. Little did they know how ready Jillian was to meet their challenge. Paul tells stories from Jillian’s mischievous childhood and moves to her early adulthood, tracing her journey to find happiness and purpose in her adult life, sharing endearing anecdotes as well as stories about her inspiring triumphs. Having graduated from high school and college, Jillian now works to support herself, and has met the love of her life and her husband-to-be, Ryan. In An Uncomplicated Life, the parent learns as much about life from the child as the child does from the parent. Through her unmitigated love for others, her sparkling charisma, and her boundless capacity for joy, Jillian has inspired those around her to live better and more fully. The day Jillian was born, Paul says, was the last bad day. As he lovingly writes, “Jillian is a soul map of our best intentions”—a model of grace, boundless joy, and love for all of us.
Author: Mike Jones
Publisher: Worthy Publishing
Release Date: 2015-08-04
Genre: Biography & Autobiography
It is so encouraging to hear God’s people share their hearts with transparency and vulnerability...At Any Cost is worth the read! —Ben and Julianna Zobrist, MLB All-Star and Christian singer, and authors of Double Play Get ready for your life to be impacted by the radical message of the gospel. Get ready to laugh. Get ready to cry. Get ready to listen to the voice of God. —Thom S. Rainer, President and CEO of Lifeway and author of I Am a Church Member In At Any Cost, for the first time Mike and Hayley Jones share their remarkable chaotic, intercontinental story of adopting eight siblings from Sierra Leone. Facing doubts from within, character assaults from without, and a mind-numbing bureaucratic jungle, the Joneses and their two young biological sons embarked on a 34-month heart-wrenching odyssey that gave birth to The Jones Dozen. At Any Cost is the story of a couple who not only believe God calls each of us to trust Him more than we ever thought possible, but are living proof of God’s immeasurable grace and unfathomable love. Join Mike and Hayley on their inspiring journey of faith and obedience to the call God placed on their lives. You might just discover where God is leading you next.
“In her tender and genuinely beautiful memoir, Kelle Hampton encourages us to not simply accept the unexpected circumstances of our lives, but to embrace them like the things we wished for all along.” —Matthew Logelin, New York Times bestselling author of Two Kisses for Maddy Bloom is an inspiring and heartfelt memoir that celebrates the beauty found in the unexpected, the strength of a mother’s love, and, ultimately, the amazing power of perspective. The author of the popular blog Enjoying the Small Things—named The Bump’s Best Special Needs Blog and The Blog You’ve Learned the Most From in the 2010 BlogLuxe Awards—Kelle Hampton interweaves lyrical prose and stunning four-color photography as she recounts the unforgettable story of the first year in the life of her daughter Nella, who has Down syndrome. Poignant, eye-opening, and heart-soaring, Hampton’s Bloom is ultimately about embracing life and really living it.
Author: Lauren Casper
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: 2017-05-02
Popular blogger Lauren Casper shares poignantly simple yet profound wisdom about removing the barriers we construct around our hearts and doing life full-on, all from the least expected source: her five-year-old son, Mareto. Five-year-old Mareto finds color and light in the ordinary happenings of every day and delights in beauty just waiting to be found. Those are lessons he shares, often unknowingly, with his mom, Lauren Casper. For Lauren, living with Mareto is a lot like playing the telephone game. He blurts out little phrases that have their origin in something he saw or heard, but by the time they make their way through his mind and back out of his mouth, they’ve transformed—often into beautiful truths about living a simple, authentic, love- and joy-filled life. From “it’s okay about it,” a simple reminder that even when life is painful or difficult, things will be okay because God promises never to leave or forsake his children, to “you’re making me feelings,” which teaches the importance of leaning into one’s emotions and, in doing so, sharing a piece of oneself with loved ones—Mareto’s simple yet profound wisdom is a reminder to embrace the broken beauty of life, to believe in a God bigger than human comprehension, and to love others even when it doesn’t make sense. For all those looking to recapture the faith, simplicity, wonder, hope, courage, and joy of life, It’s Okay About It provides a guide to look inward and live outward, to discover the most wide open and beautiful life possible.
Listen to Elif Shafak's The Forty Rules of Love reviewed on NPR In this lyrical, exuberant follow-up to her 2007 novel, The Bastard of Istanbul, acclaimed Turkish author Elif Shafak unfolds two tantalizing parallel narratives—one contemporary and the other set in the thirteenth century, when Rumi encountered his spiritual mentor, the whirling dervish known as Shams of Tabriz—that together incarnate the poet's timeless message of love. Ella Rubenstein is forty years old and unhappily married when she takes a job as a reader for a literary agent. Her first assignment is to read and report on Sweet Blasphemy, a novel written by a man named Aziz Zahara. Ella is mesmerized by his tale of Shams's search for Rumi and the dervish's role in transforming the successful but unhappy cleric into a committed mystic, passionate poet, and advocate of love. She is also taken with Shams's lessons, or rules, that offer insight into an ancient philosophy based on the unity of all people and religions, and the presence of love in each and every one of us. As she reads on, she realizes that Rumi's story mirrors her own and that Zahara—like Shams—has come to set her free.
A preeminent scientist -- and the world's most prominent atheist -- asserts the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society, from the Crusades to 9/11. With rigor and wit, Dawkins examines God in all his forms, from the sex-obsessed tyrant of the Old Testament to the more benign (but still illogical) Celestial Watchmaker favored by some Enlightenment thinkers. He eviscerates the major arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. He shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry, and abuses children, buttressing his points with historical and contemporary evidence. The God Delusion makes a compelling case that belief in God is not just wrong but potentially deadly. It also offers exhilarating insight into the advantages of atheism to the individual and society, not the least of which is a clearer, truer appreciation of the universe's wonders than any faith could ever muster.
Author: Tom Brokaw
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: 2015-05-12
Genre: Biography & Autobiography
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • WITH A NEW PREFACE BY THE AUTHOR • A powerful memoir of a dramatic year spent battling cancer and reflecting on a long, happy, and lucky life—from the bestselling author of The Greatest Generation, whose iconic career in journalism has spanned more than fifty years Tom Brokaw has led a fortunate life, with a strong marriage and family, many friends, and a brilliant journalism career culminating in his twenty-two years as anchor of the NBC Nightly News and as bestselling author. But in the summer of 2013, when back pain led him to the doctors at the Mayo Clinic, his run of good luck was interrupted. He received shocking news: He had multiple myeloma, a treatable but incurable blood cancer. Friends had always referred to Brokaw’s “lucky star,” but as he writes in this inspiring memoir, “Turns out that star has a dimmer switch.” Brokaw takes us through all the seasons and stages of this surprising year, the emotions, discoveries, setbacks, and struggles—times of denial, acceptance, turning points, and courage. After his diagnosis, Brokaw began to keep a journal, approaching this new stage of his life in a familiar role: as a journalist, determined to learn as much as he could about his condition, to report the story, and help others facing similar battles. That journal became the basis of this wonderfully written memoir, the story of a man coming to terms with his own mortality, contemplating what means the most to him now, and reflecting on what has meant the most to him throughout his life. Brokaw also pauses to look back on some of the important moments in his career: memories of Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the morning of September 11, 2001, in New York City, and more. Through it all, Brokaw writes in the warm, intimate, natural voice of one of America’s most beloved journalists, giving us Brokaw on Brokaw, and bringing us with him as he navigates pain, procedures, drug regimens, and physical rehabilitation. Brokaw also writes about the importance of patients taking an active role in their own treatment, and of the vital role of caretakers and coordinated care. Generous, informative, and deeply human, A Lucky Life Interrupted offers a message of understanding and empowerment, resolve and reality, hope for the future and gratitude for a well-lived life. Praise for A Lucky Life Interrupted “It’s impossible not to be inspired by Brokaw’s story, and his willingness to share it.”—Los Angeles Times “A powerful memoir of battling cancer and facing mortality . . . Through the prism of his own illness, Brokaw looks at the larger picture of aging in America.”—Booklist (starred review) “Moving, informative and deeply personal.”—The Daily Beast “The former NBC News anchor has applied the fact-finding skills and straightforward candor that were his stock in trade during his reporting days to A Lucky Life Interrupted.”—USA Today “Brokaw doesn’t paste a smiley face on his story. Again and again, the book returns to stories of loss but also of grace, luck and the beauty of having another swing at bat.”—The Washington Post “Engaging . . . [with] the kind of insight that is typical of Mr. Brokaw’s approach to life and now to illness.”—The Wall Street Journal “Powerful and courageous . . . [Brokaw] looks ahead to the future with hope.”—Bookreporter
Author: Kate Merrick
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: 2017-03-07
Kate Merrick examines the Bible’s gritty stories of resilient women as well as her own experience losing a child—a journey followed by more than a million on prayfordaisy.com—to reveal the reality of surprising joy and deep hope even in the midst of heartache. Is it possible live fully—even joyfully—in the middle of overwhelming pain? In the excruciating aftermath of her young daughter’s death from cancer, Kate Merrick struggled to find a way to live. Not just to survive or go through the motions, but to live fully. Faithfully. With real joy amid inevitable tears. To discover how, Kate delved into the stories in the Bible of real women who suffered deeply and emerged somehow joyful. How did Sarah, after twenty-five years of achingly empty arms, learn to laugh without bitterness? How did Bathsheba, defiled by the king who then had her husband killed, come to walk in strength and dignity, to smile without fear of the future? In her encounters with these heroines of the faith, Kate discovered how to have contentment—and even joy—whatever the circumstances. By turns heartbreaking and humorous, And Still She Laughs reveals the secret to finding hope in the midst of devastation. In the end, no matter what hardships we face, we can smile, cry, and come away full—laughing without fear and eagerly looking for what is to come. “And Still She Laughs is the terrifying, tearful, heartbreaking, heart healing and humorous, definitive true story of survival and triumph.” —Kathy Ireland, chair of Kathy Ireland Worldwide “Kate Merrick is one of those women that I always wish I had more time with—her honesty, sincerity, and messy straightforwardness are different, in the very best way. Her book, And Still She Laughs, is the same way. It’s one of those books I will keep coming back to it for truth and inspiration.” —Lindsey Nobles, COO of the IF:Gathering
They called themselves “the lucky ones” They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family...until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever. Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She’s determined to find out what really happened that fateful night -- was it an accident or, as she’s always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her? But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she’ll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.
Author: Kristin Berry
Publisher: New Leaf Publishing Group
Release Date: 2017-04-15
Genre: Family & Relationships
You look into this beautiful child’s eyes and suddenly realize all the love you have to give, all the hopes you had for them can’t change the damage done to them in the womb before they ever had a chance. This is the heartbreaking reality for some adoptive parents as they realize the lifelong consequences of alcohol use during pregnancy. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder is a leading cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities in the United States. What do you do when the fairy tale family you believed in suddenly seems to be falling apart in the face of this harsh reality? Author Kristin Berry: There is no need to struggle alone or in isolation. Other families know what you are going through. Find strength in not only your faith, but in the community of others who understand your heartache and disappointment, and the desperate need to help these children have a future. Provides an account of real-life struggles and solutions from early childhood to young adulthood Opens a window into their life and family in hopes of encouraging others Reveals understanding, compassionate support for families facing these heart-wrenching challenges.