“Why my child? Why us? This is not the way it’s supposed to be!”
“Why won’t God fix this? Doesn’t He care?”
“I’m the wrong parent for this child. I’m not qualified.”
“No one understands what I’m going through.”
“I can never die. What will happen to my child?”
Regardless how rare a diagnosis, no matter what a family’s socio-economic, marital, or ethnic background, every special needs parent, reeling from the shock of a new diagnosis, struggles with these universal, core questions.
When our son was diagnosed with autism in 2004, I was destroyed. I struggled intensely, yet felt unable to articulate my spiritual disillusionment, fear and anger. I stuffed my anguish instead, pasting on my best “good Christian” face. Feeling trapped with nowhere to go with my grief, I raved into a private journal — a password-protected Word document. As if an omniscient God didn’t already know how I felt!
“How could God let this happen? I can’t do this! How will my child have a meaningful life? Where is God in all this? How is He or the Bible relevant any more? How will I get through this?”
Years later, as I met and ministered to other special needs families, I realized we all shared the same core struggles. It wasn’t just me.
Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. But when 90% of special-needs families are unable to attend church, how can they believe in whom they have not heard? Who hungers more to hear the Good News that God cherishes and values our children as wonderfully and fearfully made? Who needs hope and reassurance that God has a vision for their lives, plans to prosper and not to harm, plans to give a hope and a future? Where does their help come from?
1 out of 5 of US families are impacted by lifelong disability. Yet most live sight unseen –and underserved– within their own communities. Enter Worthy Publishing, March 2017. In a world that worships excellence and devalues those who are different, I’m thrilled that this visionary publisher deemed this “niche” audience ($mall market) of special needs families worthy of their investment: a priceless and meaningful “coincidence.” God affirms special needs families as Worthy!
Unbroken Faith: Spiritual Recovery for the Special Needs Parent, releases April 3, 2018, in time for Autism Awareness Month. It’s the book I wish had been available for me during the initial season of grief after receiving our son’s diagnosis. My son had been diagnosed with disability. But I now was spiritually disabled, too. We both had special needs. But only his got treated.
Joni Eareckson Tada writes in her gracious foreword,
“Unbroken Faith is offered as medicine for a hurting heart. Diane pulls back the curtain on some of the toughest faith questions asked by parents of children with special needs. She points you to the Word of God in hopes that you will experience heaven-sent comfort and compassion. She will help you grasp how God understands your pain and how He suffers with you. In this extraordinary book, Diane reassures you of God’s goodness, reminding you that it’s okay to grieve . . . weep . . . doubt . . . and to ask the hardest of questions.”
Loosely structured on the Kubler-Ross cycles of grief, Unbroken Faith gives wounded parents permission to grieve, process, pivot… and dare to hope again. We are not alone. God gets it. He is in the trenches with us, through all the mess and mystery. His Word is entirely relevant to the raw, gritty yet hallowed spaces of special needs parenting. What the enemy intended for harm, God can redeem into a blessing. He is a redeeming God, the only kind He knows how to be.
Who (Else) is Unbroken Faith For?
Unbroken Faith isn’t just for special needs families. It’s also for their extended family, friends, church and community — anyone who want to help but may not know how.
It decodes the hidden hurts deep within the heart of a special needs parent, who usually don’t have time, bandwidth or energy to explain:
“With raw authenticity and sensitivity, Diane helps me understand the unspoken cries of a special-needs parent, and offers guidance on how to love, support–and most importantly–do life together.”
—Kathi Lipp, speaker and best-selling author of Overwhelmed, and Clutter Free.
It’s also for ministry leaders/volunteer teams, counselors, therapists and MFT’s who desire to strengthen special needs families, but may feel hesitant,
“An excellent resource for support groups or Bible studies, it is a valuable tool for any church leader, friend or family member who wants to better nurture the hearts of special needs parents.”
“Unbroken Faith meets a profound need. Scripturally sound, it is a fantastic tool to help facilitate validation, emotional healing, and most importantly, spiritual growth. I am thrilled and proud to recommend this resource to churches who want to help special-needs parents grow in a relationship with Jesus Christ.”
–Amy Fenton Lee, author of Leading a Special-Needs Ministry: A Practical Guide to Including Children and Loving Families, blogger at theinclusivechurch.com
“A must read for every parent of a child with special needs. My new number one resource to give to every newly diagnosed family with special needs!”
–Stephen “Doc” Hunsley, M.D., pastor of Grace Church, Overland Park, KS, SOAR Special-Needs Ministry Director, and special-needs parent
Universal Brokenness (Everyone Gets Wrecked)
Lastly, Unbroken Faith is not just for the disabled community and their immediate circles of support. It’s for anyone who’s been “broken” or devastated by disappointment. Whether by diagnosis, disillusionment, a death—or the death of a dream— we all get “crippled” by something. No one is exempt from the jagged edges of a broken planet. Everyone struggles to reconcile faith with disappointment. Disability may impact a segment of the population. But sin and brokenness steal, kill, and destroy everyone, indiscriminately. But no matter what the spiritual diagnosis, Jesus is an equal opportunity Healer and Redeemer.
“Unbroken Faith is not just for special needs parents, but for anyone devastated by loss or crushing disappointment that cripples our faith. Diane masterfully takes us on a journey of processing our grief. It moved me to tears and connected me in a real way to the Father-heart of God about my own suffering, limitations, and ‘repurposed pain.'”
— Anna LeBaron, author of The Polygamist’s Daughter
“Wisdom not just for the parent of the special-needs child, but for all who have faced brokenness in ourselves or our loved ones. My highest endorsement for the transformational work God is doing in those brave enough to pick up this book.”
–Cynthia Zierhut, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist, former Research Psychologist at UC Davis MIND Institute, Champions Director at Capital Christian Center
FREE Extended Preview, Available Now!
My gracious team at Worthy has agreed to offer an exceptionally generous Extended Excerpt. They appreciate that families like ours must allocate our resources judiciously, and devote every spare dime towards our kids and families. In this extensive 57-page (!) preview, you’ll find:
- Five sample chapters (out of 29)
- Foreword by Joni Eareckson Tada
- Complete Table of Contents
- All endorsements
- And more!
If you PRE-ORDER by April 3, you’ll receive these free, helpful and practical bonuses:
- Help Wish List. Friends and family often want to help support a family affected by disability. But they often don’t know how –and fear getting it wrong. Meanwhile, special needs families are in need of ongoing help and support, yet find it extremely difficult to accept –much less, ask for!– help. This tool can help bridge the gap, by starting the conversation.
- Help Vouchers. “Gift card” offers for specific, practical helps (e.g. meal delivery, babysitting, judgment/guilt/advice-free venting session, fill-in-the-blank/Your Choice, etc.)
- Scripture Packet. Key verses selected from Unbroken Faith, for on-the-go-encouragement (while you’re in the minivan or sitting at the therapist’s office)
- Journal pages: Write your own book of Psalms.
The Book I Never Planned to Write
This is a blog post/announcement that’s taken me 46+ years to write… about a book I never intended to write… and almost didn’t because it was too hard. But God wouldn’t release me from it, no matter how hard I ran. When The Lord puts His thumb on you with a particular assignment, good luck trying to squirm out of it, whether your name is Noah, Jonah, Evan Almighty or Diane. But that’s another story for another blog (series?). All that said, I am glad I obeyed. Faithfulness is its own reward. HALLELUJAH.
Thank you so much for your support… and for sharing about the upcoming release of Unbroken Faith: Spiritual Recovery for the Special Needs Parent!
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So very, very excited for you on the upcoming book! You and your family has been such a blessing and encouragement to me. I’ll definitely be sharing your book with friends and people at work, and wherever I can 🙂 !! Lots of love to you and your family,
Thank you so much, dear Jessie! You have encouraged ME <3 So grateful for your support!
What a very special book, just a beautiful story of wisdom and hope. Bless you, Diane, as you bless so many families!
Jennifer! How marvelous to hear from you 🙂 Thank you so much for your encouragement. God’s been good to both of us, hasn’t He? Many blessings of fruitfulness upon you and your ministry, too!