aka The Frazzled Mom
Unexpected Blessings helps special-needs families move past the pain and confusion of their circumstances and slowly, firmly face the future with hope. Speaking honestly about struggles that accompany a variety of disabilities, Sandra Peoples shows readers how to
· let go of false beliefs that hold them back
· work through the cycles of grief
· focus on self-care and healthy routines
· understand disability based on what the Bible says
· rebuild a strong faith foundation
· create support systems for themselves and others
Filled with real-life stories and hard-earned wisdom, this book shines a light on the possibilities and blessings that come when parents see their new purpose in life–which was God’s purpose for them all along.
Sandra Peoples, MDiv, is a leading voice in the disability community as an encourager to special-needs parents. She has been a member of a special-needs family since the day she was born. Her older sister has Down syndrome, and in 2010 her son James was diagnosed with autism. Sandra is the executive editor for Key Ministry and Not Alone (Patheos), and her writing has been featured by FamilyLife Today, DaySpring, Parenting Teens (LifeWay), and (in)courage. Sandra, her husband, and their two boys live outside of Houston. You can connect with her at http://www.sandrapeoples.com.
The author offers good advice for special needs families. I think her advice could work for families in general. Parents that struggle to help their kids excel in school or in making friends, with life in general. We are saddened when situations don’t go as planned. We’re thrown for a loop when the unexpected happens. For example, decision fatigue! The feeling of being overwhelmed by all of the decisions needing to be made on a daily basis. By the time dinner rolls around, I’ve no plans and no idea what to cook, so we end up getting fast food. I started using a small, magnetic whiteboard that I place on my refrigerator. I have boxes (I used black electrical tape) to make each day of the week on the board. My goal was to mainly plan for Monday-Friday, but I’ve often been able to make plans for the weekend as well. Yes, it takes a little bit of time to come up with ideas of dinners (Thank you Allrecipes.com and Pinterest!). I usually do it once a week in the evening. Thanks to the whiteboard, I write down the meal plans for each night. So on that day, I don’t even have to think about it and I’m prepared mentally for the amount of time I need to devote to dinner. Pork chops? I need about an hour. Spaghetti? The sauce I can set it and forget it in a slow cooker and in the evening the noodles will take only minutes. The author’s point, with ideas like the whiteboard, is to remove as many daily decisions as possible so you don’t feel as frazzled or stressed by the end of the day.
Each chapter provides some personal examples from the author, who not only grew up with a Down syndrome sibling but also in raising her son James who was diagnosed with autism. She shares her fears, her reaction to her son’s diagnosis and the different responses between herself and her husband. That alone can be of encouragement for parents. While one might scour the internet looking for diet changes, or other helpful tips once a diagnosis is made, the other parents might be stunned into paralysis, unable to get their thoughts around the idea. The book has real-life stories and honest thoughts on the challenges from day-to-day. The author stresses the importance of self-care and healthy routines. Parents shouldn’t take a backseat to their own health. It doesn’t mean they’ll neglect their child. It just means if they get better sleep, they are better equipped (especially emotionally) to help their child. I, for one, can speak to the importance of sleep and that I get seriously grumpy when I’m lacking.
While I don’t have personal experience with a special-needs child, I do believe this book is a great resource for those that do, as well as the family and friends around them. It will help us better understand all that’s involved from diagnosis to raising the child (or living with a sibling) to everyday life activities that we take advantage of so that we can provide the love and support these families need. I received a complimentary copy of Unexpected Blessings from Bethany House publisher. The thoughts and honest opinions in this review are my own.