Heaven in Her Arms by Catherine Hickem
The tagline on the cover reads, "Why God Chose Mary to Raise His Son and What It Means for You." It is never a bad idea to get parenting advice from the mother who had it better than all other mothers and the mother who had it harder than all other mothers, Mary. Mary is the mother from whom we can learn about selfless love, fostering independence, managing joy and grief. The book unfolds all the appearances of Mary in Scripture, the circumstances surrounding them, and what we can learn. Written by a licensed psychotherapist (Catherine Hickem), the book deals with many of our greatest fears and failures as mothers, and how we can learn to overcome them by Mary's example.
The book was overall very helpful and informative. As an advocate for foster care and adoption, though, I found a real damper on the wisdom here to be the author's approach/attitude toward adoption. The author is an adoptive parent and admires God's faithfulness in providing her with an adoptive child that "met all the criteria on her requirement list" (must be born from older, married, Christian parents, medium-high level of intelligence, and no drug history in the family, pg. 30-31) and her suggestion that God wishes adoptive children to resemble their adoptive families (pg. 38).
To be frank, that spoiled the book for me. What about all the other children out there? What about the kids who don't fit on the list of "desirable" qualities? What about the abundance of minority children in foster care needing families with a prevalence of Caucasian adoptive parents? I don't personally believe that God creates each child to physically "favor the very family that will raise him or her as their own" (pg. 38). I think it's a narrow-minded approach that suggests we can pick and choose our preferences regarding our responsibility to care for these children, and it sours my stomach to think of this presented as a holy perspective. I do believe God hand-picks each family for each child, but not that we can put superficial parameters like hair color or IQ score on our willingness to help kids in need.
Disclaimer: The publisher provided me a free copy of this book through BookSneeze.com in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.
God Gave Us You by Lisa Tawn Bergren, art by Laura J. Bryant
This is an 18-page kids book for children ages 0-3 by WaterBrook Press. It tells and illustrates the story of Mama Bear and Little Cub, a fuzzy little girl bear, tucked in her bed, asking, "Mama, where did I come from?" Mama Bear recounts the story of many little bears and babies everywhere, two praying parents, growing tummies, doctor's visits and the birth of a healthy, whole baby Little Cub, a gift from God.
My 4-year-old son nuzzled down and enjoyed the story, particularly the playful illustrations. I felt it was a good book to help answer young children's questions about pregnancy/birth, but I would recommend that you skip this one for any child who isn't born under the parameters above. The way it's written could cause some discomfort for the child not born to two praying parents, in a healthy pregnancy with a doctor-assisted delivery, and a healthy, normal birth. It's a cute, heart-warming book but doesn't make exceptions or leave room for other family circumstances such as adoption, foster, disabilities, home births, NICU, non-traditional families, etc., unless perhaps you'd like to use it as a catalyst to engage in discussion about what's different in your family than in Little Cub's.
Find more info about the book here.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. All opinions are my own.
Wait No More by Kelly and John Rosati
After having worked as a houseparent at a children's home, just recently becoming certified as a foster parent, and currently in the throes of adopting a teenager from foster care, I was so excited to see this book as a review option in honor of national foster care month. I started reading it immediately when it arrived. Wait No More tells the story of the Kelly & John Rosati, who have adopted four children from the foster care system.
What I liked: I loved that this story started at the beginning and explained just how their family unfolded, and didn't leave out the "bad" parts. Finally, a book that tells the truth about the foster care process, how daunting and scary it can be, and the issues of the children you're likely to encounter if you become involved. The Rosatis faced mental illness, physical disability, failure, victory, marital stress, and limitless frustration, but have a worthy story to tell and don't present themselves as martyrs but as blessed. They didn't let the difficulty stop them from changing the history of these four kids, and that's inspiring. I think the story they paint is extremely accurate of what the process is like, what the children are facing, and the impact it has on a marriage.
What I didn't like: The book is a Focus on the Family resource, so I expected a bit of political agenda going into the reading. I wasn't wrong. I would have appreciated the story so much more if I weren't constantly reading into the subliminal commercial threaded throughout (Support our ministry! Vote Republican!). For anyone thinking about or involved in foster care or state adoption, it's still worth the read, but be aware that you'll find this agenda sprinkled into every chapter.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.
Always There: Reflections for Moms on God's Presence, edited by Susan Besze Wallace
"God is there in every busy, exhausting, and exhilarating moment of being a mom," says the back cover of Always There, a MOPS ministry supported collaborative project featuring the writing of Amy Parham, Ann Voskamp, Hayley DiMarco, Kathi Lipp, Kim Hill, Renee Swope, and other Christian-mom contributors. Always There is a collection of essays on finding God in the details of motherhood, with a short space for reflection after each piece. I enjoyed the ease of read here, that I could flip a page open while the coffee brewed or the bathtub filled and get a touch of inspiration and maybe a laugh or two.
As an editor myself working on my own collaborative project with many authors, I sympathize with the difficulty of maintaining continuity with so many different voices. Still, I found that this resource was lacking mainly in organization. It felt a little like already-written blog posts and magazine articles were just filed together in no particular order and bound with a pleasing cover. In fact, I recognized some of the pieces as blog posts I'd already read from familiar authors. Still, it's a handy book to keep around for those frequent moments I find myself feeling discouraged, overwhelmed, or ill-equipped. There's nothing like knowing we're not alone in our toughest moments of motherhood.
Available May 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. I received a copy of this book free from Revell in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.