I trust you know by now I have resumed my ministry duties, having returned from leave last Friday. Pastor Andrew and I like to take certain times, such as annual meetings and reports, to express our deep appreciation for the privilege of serving CBC Ilderton, and to have our families supported financially whilst doing so. It is that same sense of privilege (and corresponding responsibility) that makes taking any sort of leave challenging. That being said, my time away has served its purpose well; I thank all of you deeply for the time of rest, reflection, and renewal!

As summer approaches and many of you take a little time for your own renewal we like to use our e-bulletins to recommend a book (or two or three). At the top of my list this year is a new book that was the first book I read during my leave. It is called Broken Pieces And The God Who Mends Them, Schizophrenia through a Mother’s Eyes, written by Simonetta Carr. Carr is best known for her P&R Publishing series called Christian Biographies for Young Children, but is also a home-schooling mom of eight! One of her eight children, Jonathan, was a bright and ambitious young man. He went off to college with thoughts of becoming a doctor. During his first term he developed many distressing signs and behaviours, eventually being diagnosed with schizophrenia. Tragically, within two years Jonathan was dead.

Broken Pieces is the account of a mom’s efforts to love, serve, and understand her son to the glory of God. The first half of the book is her first hand, very raw account of the last years of Jonathan’s life. The last part of the book is her personal theological reflection, and some practical advice. In her own words:

Caring for someone with mental illness is always difficult. I venture to say this is particularly true when your loved one has schizophrenia, because the person you have known for so long is often gone, and you are left with a stranger no one has taught you how to understand and love.

With this book, I am hoping to encourage other parents and relatives of people living with schizophrenia and possibly with other mental illnesses—regardless of their religious convictions—as they keep reading, finding resources, and seeking help.

I found the book immensely helpful; I highly commend it, and indeed have ordered a copy for our church library. It is undeniably a challenging book, but also one full of rich emotion, deep prayerful thought, and even great hope. Carr’s struggles and her deep love and trust of God is evident throughout, and will challenge you to embrace all – whether life or death, health or sickness, clarity or confusion – in and through Christ.

Here are a few reviews:

“By far the best book I have encountered . . . on a controversial topic. A great resource for families, students, and professionals.” —Richard Winter, Psychotherapist; Professor Emeritus of Applied Theology and Counseling, Covenant Theological Seminary

“The most honest and deeply moving Christian book I’ve read in a long time. . . . Opens the door of hope and help for other families by sharing . . . hard-won knowledge and resources.” —David Murray, Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary; Author, Christians Get Depressed Too

“The most inspiring story I’ve ever read. . . . A story of how God’s grace and love really can and do sustain his people.” —Brooke Ventura, Assistant Editor, Modern Reformation

“Parents . . . will find a fellow traveler who tells her story and provides wisdom and even hope that God is faithful in the darkest circumstances. —Mark Stephenson, Director of Disability Concerns, Christian Reformed Church in North America

With much love and thankfulness,

Pastor Gary