Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Book Review of Ambushed by Grace: Help & Hope on the Caregiving Journey

Caregiving is a gift that comes wrapped with the price tag still dangling, a tag that reads: Inestimable Cost, Eternal Value.  To make caregiving simply a task is a distortion of its purpose; rather, it is a divine appointment, a redemptive encounter, and an act of worship.  God presents this gift to us, as He does all His gifts, as an opportunity to conform us to the image of His Son, to draw us more tightly to His heart as we learn to depend on Him.  It's as if His desire is to bind us to himself in a spiritual three-legged race until our pace matches His own, and the means He uses to entwine our body to His is the care of our loved one.  It wasn't until I learned to relinquish my stride to His, to abandon control of my direction, and to match the rhythm of my pace to His that I discovered that He was carrying me like a child standing upon her father's shoes, clinging to his legs as she stared into his face, waiting for the next step. -- Shelly Beach, Ambushed by Grace

Since much of my time lately has been spent in caring for my mother, this title stood out to me as I recently browsed our church library shelves.  I assumed it would be a resource that might give me some practical advice on caregiving.  And it did.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this book goes far beyond the typical what-to-do and what-not-to-do lists for caregivers.  This book starts with and ends with the heart and reminds those who care for their loved ones, in whatever capacity, to look at what we do from an eternal perspective. 

Written by a woman with much experience as a caregiver (she took care of her father-in-law and her own parents), Shelly Beach knows of what she writes.  She speaks honestly about the difficulties,  discouragements and sacrifices in being a caregiver.  She deals transparently with specific challenges, such as unforgiveness, guilt and pride.  But, more importantly, Mrs. Beach encourages that in the very tension of caregiving are found the incredible opportunities for joy and growth that God has for us.  Her focus is the Word and what God desires to do in the heart of one who chooses to trust Him amidst the incredibly redemptive work of caregiving. 

The author ends her book with these insightful words:

Spiritual transformation in caregiving is about giving what you were never intended to keep - God's unfathomable love - and along the way, discovering that the journey will change you forever in unexpected, soul-bending ways, as you're ambushed by grace.

(By the way, one of the most practical things I found in this book is an extensive form called Vital Information for Caregivers' Ready Reference in the Appendix section.  There are spaces to list all the important information about your loved one so that it's in one place - things such as listing all their meds, account numbers and insurance plans, attorney's name and phone, location of important documents, etc.  I plan to photocopy it and fill it out with my mom and then give a copy of it to my sister at our next family meeting so that we both have all of Mom's pertinent information at our fingertips.)

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