Category Archives: Parenting

Like Father Like Son by Pete Alwinson

Like Father Like SonAlwinson, Pete. Like Father Like Son: How Knowing God as Father Changes Men. Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2015. 192 pp. Purchase at Westminster Books for less.

Introduction

Pete Alwinson serves as Key Life’s men’s ministry expert. He is the founding pastor of Willow Creek Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Winter Springs (Orlando), Florida, where he served for 26 years as Senior Pastor. He has served churches in California, Illinois, Connecticut and Florida. In addition to his pastoral ministries, he has served as an adjunct professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL.

Summary

Divided into ten chapters over 154 pages of text, Alwinson offers a clear understanding of Fatherhood as rooted in the truths of Scripture concerning God the Father. Each chapter builds on the previous though can stand alone if one is dealing with a particular problem.

These chapters look at the irreplaceable father who knows you and is known by you. This Father is welcoming, gives approval, builds His son’s identity and offers freedom. There are other chapters, but the concept to be found on every page is that our model is in heaven.

Review

I needed this book. As a father, I feel like I fail daily. Truth be told, I do fail daily as a father to my children. I am grateful that I can point my children to a Father who will never let them down and always has their best in mind. As a matter of fact, this book helped me to realize I need to do a better job of pointing my children to God the Father. They often hear about Jesus, who died for our sins, but not about God who loved the world enough to send His Son.

The end of each chapter offers a “take it to heart” section that helps the reader to engage the subject matter at a deeper level. This could be used in a small group setting or for personal edification. While this book could be read quickly, the application will take the rest of your life.

Alwinson’s passion to equip men to be better fathers is evident on every page. His passion to glorify God is even more obvious.

Recommendation

If you are a father or know a man who wants to be a better father, I highly recommend this resource to you. It can be read over a 10-day period almost as if it was a devotional.

The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities by Kathleen Deyer Bolduc

Raising Children with DisabilitiesBolduc, Kathleen Deyer.  The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities.  Valley Forge: Judson Press, 2014. 192 pp.  $16.99.  Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

This is the second book by Kathleen I have reviewed.  The first, Autism and Alleluias, can be read here.  Thous she has a collegiate education, she has a more important education — first hand experience.  In this current work, she shares her successes and failures as a mom raising children with disabilities.

Summary

Divided into five sections, Kathleen takes the reader on a journey from complete brokenness – realizing you cannot do it all by yourself to understanding the God-given tools that will equip you as the parent to persevere through the tough times so that the lighter moments will be enjoyable all the more.  In section one, she lays the foundation that you cannot do this alone.  That you are truly powerless in and of yourself.  Section two helps you to embrace the truth of section one.  Section three offers practical advice on reorganizing your life for the long haul while section four looks at the bigger picture of what she calls the mosaic as community art.  The final section looks at the Spiritual Disciplines and how they enable you to continue in the battle.

Each chapter concludes with a relational exercise that is designed to bring the reader closer to God and to offer practical, hands-on tips to move them in the right direction.

Review

For the most part, this book is relating subjective first hand experiences of surviving and thriving during a season of life that many are unprepared for when it hits.  There are very few (are there any?) who pray for a special needs child from the womb.  Those who adopt special needs children are of a different sort and would also benefit from this work.  Kathleen’s insight is exceptional and offers a behind-the-scenes peek that many parents of special needs children would love to have had the moment they discovered they were about to venture down this road of joy and heartbreak.

I am concerned with her fifth section on spiritual disciplines.  Not so much that I disagree with Spiritual Disciplines, but those whom she quotes are a concern.  Men like Richard Foster and Henri Nouwen are a concern as they venture into a spiritual mysticism that can be very dangerous.  Yes, they write some decent and practical advice on the subject of spirituality, but they have also dabbled in the emerging church as well as New Age spirituality.  To better understand Biblical Spirituality, I would recommend Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. He avoids the pitfalls of the New Age mysticism and is rooted in Biblical and Puritanical traditions.

Recommendation

Kathleen’s practical insight is excellent and needs to be read for those struggling with raising a child with a disability.  I recommend this work to those seeking advice with the caveat that you read with discernment (always!).

 

Fostering Love by Dr. John DeGarmo

Fostering LoveDeGarmo, John, Dr.  Fostering Love: One Foster Parent’s Journey.  Bloomington: Crossbooks, 2012. 180 pp.  $13.99.  Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for much less.

Introduction

Dr. John DeGarmo has been a foster parent for 12 years, now, and he and his wife have had over 40 children come through their home. He is a popular and in demand speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system, and travels around the nation delivering passionate, dynamic, energetic, and informative presentations. Dr. DeGarmo is the author of several books. He also writes for a number of publications and newsletters, both here in the United States, and overseas. Dr. DeGarmo can be contacted through his Facebook page, or at his website.

Summary/Review

Divided into fourteen chapters, Dr. DeGarmo has written a biography of sorts detailing his family’s commitment to fostering children in need.  From all-nighters to expressing some doubts and confusion, DeGarmo peels back the curtain with a transparency many foster parents would have loved to know about when they got involved in this ministry.  He shows the willingness of his biological children to sacrifice for the well-being of others but he also shows the trials they encounter.

In Fostering Love, the reader, especially the one considering fostering, can pick the brain of another who has been involved in the ministry (regardless of whether you are a believer or not, this is a ministry) for over a decade.  In other words, John has the experience and the willingness to share his story with others.  This is evident by his willingness to have, in essence, an open door policy.  If you go to his website, you will find his email address as well as a phone number.  I greatly appreciated his perspective as a father though, to be honest, I would love for his wife to offer her perspective as well.

If there has been any criticism it is vagueness with certain details.  This, however, adds to the allure of this work.  If he were to offer specifics and explicit details, then many would read this as a step-by-step manual.  That is not the point of this book.  Rather, Dr. DeGarmo is giving his perspective on what amounts to a self-sacrificial life style.  Furthermore, he is sharing his story in order to show that it is not all a bed of roses and that the trials and tribulations faced by the foster families are typically nothing compared to what the children in the foster system have endured.

Recommendation

If you are considering foster care, I highly recommend reading this book. If you know someone who is involved in fostering or is considering a plunge into this important ministry, I would recommend gifting them with a copy of this resource.  Reading it will open your eyes to a spiritual battle that you may not be aware of in your community.