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richard r blake
Age: Over 65
4 Stars Out Of 5
Lessons Learned from Megan a Handicapped Child
October 7, 2011
richard r blake
Age: Over 65
Megan's is a beautiful heartwarming story of how this mentally disabled child touched the lives of those around her. Father, editor, author, and pastor, Mike Cope shares experiences from the short ten years of Megan's life. Photos of Megan at the beginning of each of the four parts of the book help the reader understand why she had such an impact on those who knew her.
In addition to the anecdotes and stories from Meagan's life are stories of other young heroes faced with similar challenges. Cope used their circumstances to introduce lessons from the scriptures, Biblical characters faced with disappointments and decisions chose to claim the promises of God and follow His leading in their lives.
Cope quoted from the writings of several well-known authors, who also have experienced or written on the pain of grief and loss, including: Henri Nouwen, John Claypool, Philip Yancey, Frederick, and many others.
Cope shares his insights into the reality of the death of child this way, "Here's a little-known fact that many who have lost a child can testify to: life starts to make sense again shortly after the funeral_just before it falls apart and makes no sense at all. You realize that your life is going to continue, but your child will not be there. Ever."
I felt the emotions of pain, the grief of loss, as the tears came, as I sobbed bitterly throughout the pages of Megan's story and the poignant stories of others who experienced similar losses. I also laughed deeply as Mike related Megan's antics and how her joy and acceptance became contagious.
The comprehensive chapter notes and credits offer choice material for future reading. The discussion guide included add to the value of "Megan's Secret's" as a resource tool for grief counseling, support groups, and for individual reflection for family members and friends who are working through the process of loss.
I received complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.
As the parent of a mentally and physically disabled daughter I could relate on so many levels to what Mike shares in his book. Having lived through numerous spiritual and emotional ups and downs in the last 28 yrs I can say that it is absolutely 100% true that a child like Megan, or our Amy, shows you what love, patience, goodness and gentleness are all about.
Mike so adequately expresses what our family has felt and shared with others. I love how he affirms for us that life with a mentally disabled child is not bad or horrible or impossible, just different. His sharing of intimate feelings is poignant and beautifully interlaced with humor because that is what you have to do. See the beauty and the humor in every day moments with these wonderfully God-molded children.
I highly recommend this to anyone whether you are the parent of, family member of, or friend of someone raising or who has raised a mentally disabled child. You cannot help but see a small glimpse into what life is like for us and praise God for the privilege and honor of any time spent with our children. It would make a lovely gift to encourage a family, as well. I know I was renewed and encouraged to stand firm, trusting God in all things.
Well done, Mike and family!
Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy. I was not required to write a positive review. Opinions are my own.
From the opening page you are invited into a journey of joy and heartbreak. It is one of those journeys in which those along for the walk are brought closer to the throne of God and into a deeper understanding of His grace, love and mercy.
It is often those that seem most insignificant or cumbersome to the world that in that innocence of what the world labels "disability" we see the example of child-like faith. In these rare instances we are offered a personal glimpse of what heaven must truly be like - and what the heart of God is so desperately trying to communicate to the world.
Megan was one of those children. Though she spoke only a few words her silence spoke volumes. Maybe it was that very thing the world labels as a "disability" that enabled Megan to love more freely and more deeply. Maybe it was this very thing that allowed her life to be lived free of expectations and standards, religion or traditions of men - free from worry about others thoughts - free to be herself and to touch others in a profoundly deep and lasting way.
It is in this life that we are invited to throw off the weight of our expectations and to embrace the grace and love of God. To be both blessed freely and to bless freely without giving thought to what others may or may not think.
This is one of those books that when you read it your heart can not help but to be stirred to movement for Christ. It is one that reaches into the very depths of who we are as humans to touch that one place where there is a void and to open our eyes to the longing to know and experience Christ deeper and fuller.
Mike Cope has transparently lain open his heart and his life. He is honest about the struggles of raising a disabled child. He is honest about the heartbreak of that first diagnosis and the struggle to find the balance in life to cope and adjust. But more so this man is honest about the touch of God that could only have been brought through Megan's life. He reveals the deep truths of God that can only be experienced during the times of life that we so often think are difficult.
I strongly urge you to pick up a copy of this moving book and ask that the Lord speak to you as you read the testimony of this father.
Thank you B&B Communications for this review copy.
Mike says Megan, his mentally disable daughter, was the most profound teacher he ever had in his life. She understood the important things of life like unconditional love and forgiveness. Life with Megan, Mike writes, "was joy-filled and enlightening. In her presence, the insanities of this world tended to be exposed." (15)
Megan was born in Wilmington, NC, in 1984, just before the arrival of a 100-mile-per-hour hurricane. A heavenly omen. Megan's forceful winds blew clarity into her parent's lives. In 1989 a pediatric specialist pronounced Megan mentally disabled. A geneticist said Megan likely had a rare genetic syndrome called Goldenhar. Megan dies when she was ten years old.
Mike has woven his book around the "secrets" of Megan. She'd never go to college. She'd never take the SAT. Yet, "She was an incarnation of God's love." (25) She taught Mike that God will use brokenness for His glory, that the power is God's not his own.
In a world obsessed with beauty, Megan reminded people that God looked for beauty within. God values the qualities of the heart. Mike says, "she brought out the best in other people, as well as in us." (40)
Megan also reminded people it is in our weakness that God uses us. "Weak is the new strong." (72) We share the mystery Paul discovered. One of many stories Mike shares is how a lawyer was changed by the girl who "aspired to nothing but love," and "had no enemies." (92)
Another secret Megan taught Mike is that it is only in community that we find what sustains us for the long haul. (128) Just over a decade after Megan died their son Chris was in a serious automobile accident. Mike and Diane were crying, "No, not again." Their son survived and many supported them and the other families during this time.
"It's _ in these friendships that we can call each other to lives that are larger than our disappointments." (130)
Scars tell stories. Knowing another person means knowing their scars and the pain behind them. Mike shares the role of grief in our lives.
The fourth secret Megan taught Mike is waiting. There is the "not yet" aspect of the Christian life that includes groaning, longing, waiting, and hoping. "...[T]his waiting summons us to courageous living in God's world." (153) We are reminded, "that God is taking all things - our mistakes, our triumphs, life's joys and fears, all the stuff that's out there - and is producing good. _ The 'good' is that God is transforming us into the image of God's Son." (157) Mike reminds us of the hope in "and yet."
Mike also speaks of the healing that eventually comes. He spends quite some time on the story of his brother and sister-in-law and the work they have done after the death of their teenaged son.
Mike finally reminds his readers of the home we long for and the reunion that will happen there.
Mike uses stories from the Bible, from books and from personal experience to illustrate the secrets Megan taught him. He retells some Bible stories in a very interesting way, from the major character's viewpoint. He shares many stories from others who have experienced tragedy.
There is an extensivet discussion guide included. Many of the questions are quite personal. They are suitable for individual use or by a group where trust has been formed.
This would be an encouraging book for parents of special needs children. Any parent would benefit from reading this book, reading about the lessons learned in a challenging parental situation.
Mike Cope is an author, blogger, professor, minister and magazine editor. He has written four books, including What Would Jesus Do Today? and One Holy Hunger. He was a minister for many years at the Highland Church in Abilene and now works with Heartbeat Ministries. He and his wife, Diane, live in Abilene, Texas, and have two surviving children.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.