Road Trip to Redemption: A Disconnected Family, a Cross-Country Adventure, and an Amazing Journey
A story of redemption
After discovering their middle daughter had been molested, the Mathias family heads out on a seven-thousand-mile trip across the country in a desperate attempt to reconnect their family. This book tells their story.
Road Trip to Redemption, unfortunately, is an accurate description of a lot of "christian" families today. Parents who are so busy with their lives they aren't spending the time with their kids they need to, unchecked behavior from children, playing at church and christianity and expecting it to be enough to ground the kids in the faith...the list goes on. While I may or may not agree with the way he may do things with his family, just realizing the fact that going to a "hip" church once a week is not the way to grow you and your family spiritually is something that many still don't grasp. Your kids need a PERSONAL walk with the Lord. They need to see you living for Him and not just going through the motions at church and doing your own thing at home. I appreciate the honesty of the author that many of the issues in the family were his "fault" and not trying to pass the blame along.
One thing about this book that really got to me was the fact that they were strongly urged not to take legal action against the guy who molested Bethany for her "mental and emotional sake" and so nothing was done. It isn't clearly stated in the book exactly what was done to her, but that mindset is one reason so many sexual assaults aren't reported and these guys get away with it again and again. I had to wonder how many other girls this guy has assaulted and will assault in the future do to their inaction.
I really enjoyed the journal entries at the end of the road trip chapters that show the kids' different perspectives of the day. As a mother of four, I know that each child is different and will look on things differently. What one child may see as horrible or very boring, another may love it. One may see the small things--the eggs in the nest or the sun glinting off a leaf in a particularly gorgeous way--while another may be content to sit down and enjoy the awe-inspiring vista as a whole.
I was expecting this book to be more about the road trip itself, but the book was nearly half over before the trip ever began. The "back story" was way too long and drawn out. I appreciate the fact that some of it was needed, but it was drawn out so long that the trip that was supposed to be the whole point of the story felt incredibly rushed. I'm sure it felt like it in real life as well. For someone who is trying to do something to draw his family closer, nine-hundred-mile-a-day drives seems more than a bit odd, especially since he clearly states that they don't do well on 3 hour trips! I really felt sorry for his family. Their map-reading skills were another story. To look at a map and think you can drive from Sioux Falls to Rapid City in two hours made me laugh out loud. I drove that road many times when we lived outside of Rapid City, and you're lucky if you can make it in 5 to 5 1/2 hours--it took them six.
The trip descriptions were very disappointing as well. "Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is a nice town...or so I've heard. We didn't stay long enough to find out." Mt. Rushmore was barely described, Yellowstone was deemed "amazing", but very little description of the places they visited there and he seemed rather unimpressed with the Grand Tetons at all.
This book had some great possibilities, but instead it felt drug out for the first half, and seriously rushed for the last half. The trip itself that he seems to be pushing for families to do is well outside the budget for a lot of families. $300 to $450 per day might as well be $1,000 per day to many families. The "insights" at the end, while true are pretty basic. Don't be a hypocrite--live what you teach. Look for changes in the heart, not just behavior, pray, don't be guided by fear. You don't have to go on a super long, super expensive trip to learn this lessons. Get into God's Word and draw close to Him and let HIM lead you as you lead your family.
I received a copy of this book from Tyndale for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
September 9, 2013
Road Trip to Redemption
Roadtrip to Redemption is a story about one manÃ¢ÂÂs journey to bring his family healing after a family crisis. The author started his story be recounting his failures as a husband, father, and Christian that almost resulted in divorce. He explained that the near divorce caused some major problems in his family, especially among his children. After he and his wife reconciled, the author thought that all was well until he started noticing some behavior changes with his youngest daughter, Bethany. At first, he thought her behavior was normal for a teenage girl and then as her behavior worsened, he thought that she was being defiant. Instead of seeing the danger and pain that his daughter was going through, he attempted to change her behavior through the normal disciplinary actions that parents take with their teens. However, when he and his wife confronted Bethany from GodÃ¢ÂÂs prodding, Bethany confessed of a horrible incident that she had endured months earlier. BethanyÃ¢ÂÂs confession rocked her parentÃ¢ÂÂs life and faith to the core. Though the author did everything he could do to help his daughter, he realized that only God could heal her heart and make her whole. The author wrote how God laid it on his heart to take a 2 week road trip that would result in the healing of not only Bethany, but of his family too. The author explained that this road trip would be exactly what was needed for God to show Himself to each member of the family in a way that would draw them closer to Himself. During the story, the author explained how the road trip started out rocky due to severe storms that threatened their safety and caused fear for each family member. However, he went on to write that the storms taught him an important truth: storms are a natural part of life but God is in control and will lead them out of the storm in His timing, which is perfect. Despite the storms the family faced on the trip, each made lasting memories and saw some amazing sites from the scenic views of the Canadian wilderness, Indian reservation territory, to Yellowstone National Park, and the mighty Tetons. What was really cool about how this book was written was that the author included short excerpts from the perspectives of his wife and children. These perspectives were personal and showed readers how God was using the trip to work in their lives. At the end of the book, the author included a story written by each of his children and wife where they told, in their own words, how God spoke to them during the trip. I found this book to be refreshing because it reminded me that though I may struggle with issues in life and go through hardships, God is in control and that He can turn those hardships into something that is beautiful.
August 24, 2013
A secret involving one of the authors children shakes the family and brings them to reality. As a result of this discovery the author devises a cross country family adventure complete with roadblocks, breathtaking scenery, and challenges unseemingly setting the stage for connection, discovery and faith. I was able to connect to the characters personalities very quickly as the author showed his readers the faith and core of each member of his family including himself. Differing and interesting journal entries by his wife and children show how each perceives their experiences in fright, calm, and becoming in touch with nature, self and each other.
The book offers much for each reader promising interesting and engaging storyline for the adventurer in us all. Road Trip to Redemption was inspiring yielding hope to those who suffer from family troubles, those with lost faith or those who read biographies. I was entertained by this faith challenging read and will recommend this book to others. I received a complimentary copy from Tyndale House Publishers for my review.
July 7, 2013
"Road Trip to Redemption" by Brad Mathias
This is the story of Brad Mathias, his wife Paige, and their children Jessica, Bethany and Caleb. Brad believed his family was doing well, coping with the normal ups and downs of life. That is until the night God literally told Brad and Paige to go to Bethany and, Ã¢ÂÂAsk her to reveal what she has hidden.Ã¢ÂÂ
Months of thinking that Bethany was just going through a faze, or being a difficult child, came crashing down with her revelation. Parental guilt overflowed that he hadnÃ¢ÂÂt seen the pain she was in, and confronted her sooner.
About a decade earlier, Brad had not been close to God. He had an affair, separated from his family, and divorce proceedings started. Brad had lived in another state away from his family during all of this. Paige had a renewal of her Christian faith, and didnÃ¢ÂÂt finalize the divorce. Next, Brad developed a real relationship with Jesus Christ, and eventually the two reconciled, and he moved back home. Their new found faith allowed the two of them to rebuild their marriage into something stronger than it ever had been before.
Unfortunately the separation, turmoil, and upheaval from that time had long lasting negative effects on each of his children. Because of that, Brad felt he had been unsuccessful as a parent, and never felt truly confident in his parenting abilities from that time forward. Now this incident made him believe that all those thoughts were true, and he had failed once again in the parenting department.
Nine months later, Bethany was doing a bit better. She was in counseling, taking medication, Brad and Paige had attempted to connect with some good heart-to-heart conversations. But things werenÃ¢ÂÂt at a place Brad was happy with. The joy was missing from BethanyÃ¢ÂÂs spirit and countenance. Bethany was still in a very delicate state, as if she were just one breath away from crumbling apart.
After BradÃ¢ÂÂs discovery of his faith, he changed careers and joined the staff at his church. He and his family attended church regularly, but Brad wondered how deep each of his childrenÃ¢ÂÂs faith really was. Brad prayed fervently for his childrenÃ¢ÂÂs faith to be real, to have meaning, to be something to lean on and draw power from during difficult times. He asked God for a break through among them to achieve closer relationships for his entire family.
Brad felt the Lord was telling him to take his family on a road trip into the wilderness of Canada and the USA. He questioned this often. Brad loved hiking and exploring in the Rocky Mountains of both Canada and the United States. Because of that, he wondered if this was some wishful thinking on his part, or was God really leading him to take his family on this trip? Could it be possible for a family road trip bring healing?
His kids fought as siblings do, so short trips with all the family in the car had hardly been bearable. They had never done a long trip as a family. A multi-thousand mile trip with everyone squished in one vehicle for hours on multiple days did not sound doable. He was sure his wife would shoot down the idea. But when he broached the subject with Paige, she surprisingly supported the idea.
The trip turned into a family reunion of sorts. BradÃ¢ÂÂs brother and his family would come too, following behind them to Canada in their own car. BradÃ¢ÂÂs parents would fly out ahead of them to Canada, and be there when everyone arrived. They would all meet up for a time of hiking, exploring and relaxing with each other.
Brad made an onerous driving schedule that involved driving 900 miles or more for three days to get to Canada. During that time, the kids togetherness consisted of them making sarcastically cutting remarks to each other, or retreating into a comatose-type state with electronic gadgets. The first two days of travel involved them driving through torrential downpours and literally dodging tornadoes. Brad really wondered if he had heard God correctly about going on this trip.
Once they all made it to Canada, however, things slowed down to a nice pace. For the first time, he got to share his beloved wilderness with his childrenÃ¢ÂÂhiking, viewing pristine lakes, soaking up the wonder of GodÃ¢ÂÂs creation. Much to BradÃ¢ÂÂs delight, his children appreciated the wilderness. With all of the extended family together, they made wonderful memories, and felt like their communication had gotten to a bit deeper level. Brad felt his familyÃ¢ÂÂs faith had begun to grow, but it had not gotten to the point he wanted it to be.
One morning on the journey home, Brad felt impressed by God to, Ã¢ÂÂTell them I have something special to show Bethany this morning, but all three will see something just for them today.Ã¢ÂÂ He was torn about telling his family that message and that it was from God. Would it be something that really happened, or was he indulging in wishful thinking? If he said it, and nothing happened, what would it do to his familyÃ¢ÂÂs newly growing faithÃ¢ÂÂespecially Bethany who was still very fragile?
Brad felt this message had to do with a moose. Bethany had been begging the entire trip to see this animal, and Brad had been praying the whole time it would happen. But Brad had told her moose sightings were very rare, and in the area of the of the country they were in now, it would be even more rare. He really was fighting not to say anything about this message, but the impression just kept getting stronger and stronger until eventually Brad had to give in. He told Bethany that God was going to let her see something very special that day, and to make sure she had her camera.
The visibility that morning was almost zero because the thickest fog they had ever seen surrounded the road and all the cars. Brad wondered how they would see anything in fog like that. Suddenly, Brad felt he should pull over immediately, so he complied. After his family piled out of the car, the fog seemed to lift, and there was a female moose. She was calming eating, not spooked at all by the gawking humans. Bethany was thrilled, and took many pictures.
Afterwards in the car, Brad reminded Bethany how very rare it was to see a moose, and female sightings were rarer still. He explained that God had arranged for that moose to be there just for her to see. Bethany felt very special, and the incident helped her in many ways. She felt favored by God that He would arrange a desire of her heart, and that He was listening to her prayers. Her confidence was boosted, and her faith strengthened from that day forward. Brad was happy to see the return of smiles and joy to her face.
Later that same day, Caleb and Jessica also had special moments. Caleb had a literal mountaintop experience when he took a trail to a mountain top, and felt the power and majesty of GodÃ¢ÂÂhis faith also increased from then on.
Right before sundown, Jessica and Brad witnessed a very rare sighting of three perfect rainbows. Their beauty was intense and awe-inspiring, and a great reminder that God keeps His promises. Jessica felt she had been singled out by God to see something special. The Lord became more real to her because of this trip, and her faith also grew from then on.
A road trip might not be the prescription for everyoneÃ¢ÂÂs recovery, but for the Mathias family it was just what the Great Physician ordered. The vacation did what Brad had prayed for: strengthened each family memberÃ¢ÂÂs faith and made it real, the beginning of true healing of the scars from the past year, and a new closeness for them all.
I enjoyed reading the Mathias familyÃ¢ÂÂs story. After of the first part of the book, the story slowed, but the book really got my attention again once they started their road trip. I liked reading the details of the vacation mixed with the thoughts and emotions experienced at the same time. I was delighted to read the Mathias family received such blessings from an activity that I cherishÃ¢ÂÂthe family trip. Some of the best memories in my own life occurred on family trips. I recommend this book and give it five stars.
The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book through Tyndale Blog Network (Tyndale House Publishers) for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner. Despite my receiving the book free, it has not influenced my judgment, and I have given an honest opinion.
June 29, 2013