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Book Review: Just the Way I Am image

Book Review: Just the Way I Am

Celebrating God’s Good Design in Disability

Introducing 'Just the Way I Am'

This is a book celebrating disability and difference – appreciating God’s control, intention and goodness in all of it.

Written by Krista Horning, who has Apert syndrome, each page shares a big and beautiful picture and is accompanied by a sentence and a Bible verse. The pictures show children playing, sitting, interacting with siblings, friends and parents. Some of the children have noticeable disabilities (like Down’s Syndrome or are pictured using a wheelchair). The text includes simple statements like, “God made me”, “God made me just the way I am”.

The book includes short sections written by Krista’s Mother and her pastor and has questions for discussion aimed at thinking more about disability plus a basic description of the Bible’s message by John Piper.

Who is the book for?

I read this as a mother who happens to have a child with a disability (his name is Mikey). I found it moving and lovely. There is a gorgeous picture of a child sitting on a jetty with his Dad, and at the edge of the photo you see his wheelchair. The accompanying text says, “Someday I will enjoy him (God) forever in heaven”. In the new creation, Mikey won’t need his wheelchair, his Piedro boots, his nappies or Signalong. I can’t tell you what a satisfying and motivating thought that is!

I showed the book to Mikey, but because it doesn’t have ambulances (what he calls “numulance”) in it he wasn’t interested! But sharing it with Mikey's brother Dan was a very special experience.

Dan is growing more and more aware of the differences between him and Mikey and it’s raising questions and worries in his mind. Last week he prayed that his dad and I would be alive to look after Mikey when he is a grown up because he needs more help.  There is a lot going on in his amazing mind and reading this book together was a lovely chance to allow some of those things to be raised and chatted about.

Dan was interested in the pictures of the children – some he spotted were children with disabilities and others he had different stories for (for example, he said a boy with a white stick was 'playing golf'!). The statements very gently allowed us to talk about how God made everyone and loves everyone and gave us the chance to talk about disability. We talked about the things Dan can and can’t do and the things that Mikey can and can’t do. We talked about how strong God is. Dan was very interested in the pictures of Krista as a baby and wanted to know more about the operations she has had.

It’s a book I’ll make sure is accessible to the kids because the chats it produced were so helpful and enabled Dan and I to talk about things in a constructive way without it being a forced agenda from us.

Just the Way I Am

Is it worth a read?

I like this book very much, more so after reading Krista’s Mother’s testimony at the end and  seeing the usefulness of the book in chatting with Dan.

The statements running through the book could appear extremely simple, even obvious, until you remember they are Krista’s words - a woman who has had over 60 operations and lives with the daily difficulties that her disability tests her with. When she says, “God made me just the way he wanted” or, “He is in control of everything he made, including me”, these aren’t empty words or platitudes from someone who doesn’t understand, these are provocative statements of faith which acknowledge God’s sovereignty and goodness in the face of severe difficulty.

The book raised a good conversation with a few family members. We chatted about whether the book was a little bit too positive and whether there should be more space given to the sadness of disability, recognising it is a result of the fall. But I feel it’s a book that does its job well. It reminds the reader of God’s goodness, without being trite or glib. It’s not a systematic theology of disability – it doesn’t say everything (and Krista hasn’t set out to) but it is an empowering, thought provoking and joy enhancing book. I’m very glad it exists.

I would recommend this book as a great conversation starter both for adults and children. It would be a brilliant book to use with Sunday kids' groups to help them think more about including children with disabilities, and it is a book beautiful enough to be left out on show and dipped into. On a personal note, it’s encouraged me to remember that God is still good and in control, even when I’m finding things hard because of the impact disability has on us as a family.

Thanks to Alice Buckely from Play on the Word for this review. Check our Alice's blog at [url=http://www.playontheword.com]http://www.playontheword.com[/url].

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