Book Review: Unbound

Not so sure why I haven’t before done any book reviews, considering I both love books and am also a former librarian. I’m going to make an attempt to do them more often, but I make no promises on regularity 🙂

Book Title: Unbound: Finding Freedom from Unrealistic Expectations of Motherhood

Author: Jamie Sumner

What Caught My Eye: I spied this on the “New Book” shelf at my local library. Reading the subtitle I didn’t really think it was a book for me, as I’m not yet a mother, but I read the back anyway. And this is the sentence that caught me; “With honesty and vulnerability, Jamie Sumner walks readers through each stage of her own journey to motherhood through infertility and special needs parenting.” So, maybe, at least a part of this book would be relevant to me now…I added it to my armload to check out and headed home.

The Reading: I’d like to say I picked it right up when I got home from the library, but that was not the case. I actually had to renew it once before I started reading it. When I did dive in, though, it took me less than a week to finish it. The style of Jamie’s writing is like she’s chatting with a friend and it flowed fairly well. There are questions at the end of each chapter for reflection and Scripture readings that she references, but, to be honest, I’m going to have to read it again and do all of those. The first time through I just wanted to know her story and where it was going. As much as I do appreciate those added details, I just didn’t want to be interrupted by them.

My Thoughts: I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Going into it I imagined maybe just the first bit would deal with her journey through infertility, but there was so much more than I bargained for. I imagined that the “unrealistic expectations of motherhood” were how some people think it’s all going to be rainbows and sunshine. Or how some people think “I’d never do that as a mom.” That’s not what she was addressing at all. What she spoke of was how the road to motherhood often does not go as expected. It often doesn’t go as we plan. It sometimes doesn’t even go as we hope.

There were times when it felt like Jamie wasn’t telling her story, she was telling mine. I cried numerous times as she wrote of experiences I have also had, thoughts that have also crossed my mind (or just plain have gotten stuck in there), and prayers I, too, have prayed. The beginning of her story is so like mine: I read about how she found out her sister-in-law was pregnant, the joy and sadness felt, only a couple days before finding out that my sweet sister-in-law, whose road to pregnancy was also more difficult than expected, is expecting her first child. The comfort in knowing reading someone’s story that feels so similar to mine is really indescribable. I’m touched every time someone shares their story with me to let me know that I’m not alone and I’m thankful to Jamie for putting her story out there where so many women who may be facing similar circumstances can read it an know that they, too, are not alone.

I would be remiss not to mention more of the set-up of the book. Jamie writes each chapter in such a way so that it brings in a story of a different woman from the Bible. There are the expected ones about Hannah and Sarah, but the one that stood out to me the most was the one about the woman with the issue of blood. We never know her name, only that she has been bleeding for 12 years. Twelve years! She hears that Jesus is coming through town and knows she must see Him. Her faith is strong and she knows that if she just so much as touches His robes she’ll be healed. And that’s exactly what happens.

What I love about Jamie’s writing is her honesty throughout. She speaks of the woman with the issue of blood during the time she finds out her sister-in-law is pregnant. She doesn’t identify with this woman, but she does identify with someone else in the story; Jairus. Jairus was leading Jesus to his daughter who was ill when the woman stopped Him. In the delay a messenger comes to tell Jairus that his daughter has died. He feels like his opportunity for a miracle has passed. Who ever wants to admit that they doubt the might and power of our Lord? It’s not something anyone does with pride (and if they do, they have even more issues). I have great respect for Jamie and her honesty throughout this book. She reminds us what I try to remind myself of often; that God uses unexpected means to accomplish His will. Some of her final thoughts wrap it all up rather nicely:

Life is a continual etching and erasing. We form expectations, and God forms reality. Sometimes they line up nicely, like tracings at right angles. And sometimes God plays Jackson Pollock and we’re all over the place. But the point of it all is that a masterpiece is being made.

Who Should Read This Book: I highly recommend this book to anyone going through infertility, anyone who has suffered the loss of a child through miscarriage, anyone who has found out their baby will have difficulties because of a diagnosis while still in utero, and anyone who has a baby in the NICU for any length of time. I also think this would be a great read for women who have friends, sisters, or daughters in any of these situations. While not all experiences are the same, if someone you love is going through something like this and she seems somewhat unapproachable, this book might give a little insight.

Praying, that no matter where you are in life, you realize the masterpiece is in the making. The journey God has you on is not without purpose.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

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Creative Friday: The Mitten

One thing I enjoy to no end is creating and have henceforth decided that Friday will be set aside to share such creations. Here is my latest: a giant knitted mitten along with a slew of felt animals to go inside.

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“What a strange thing to make,” you may be thinking. Well, I assure you, it is not so strange if you are up on your children’s literature. I made this set for my niece for her 2nd birthday, giving with it a copy of Jan Brett’s The Mitten. It is probably her most well-know picture book that tells the story of a mitten, dropped in the snow by a little boy as he is going out to play. One by one, the animals find the mitten and cozy their way in with the others to be nice and warm. The story ends with the mouse sitting on the bear’s nose, tickling it and making him sneeze. All of the animals fly out of the mitten just as the boy realizes it’s missing and goes to find it. Boy and mitten are reunited, though one is now slightly larger than the other (one of the mittens, that is; neither of them get to be bigger than the boy). The story is a Ukrainian folk tale (which makes it even more special to me as that is part of my heritage) and the illustrations are intricate and beautiful. There are side panels on each page that show which animal is coming next as well as insets that show where the boy is during the story. They are so well thought out and executed that The Mitten has earned it’s place on my list of favorite picture books. Now that you’ve had a nice book review, let’s get back to the creating.

I had made a mitten for this purpose a few years ago and thought it fortuitous to stumble upon the pattern I wrote up for it when I started on this one. Sadly, after knitting the main piece once, the thumb three times, and trying to sew the thumb at least 4 times, I know I had to find another way. That’s when I remembered this great book at my library: Leisure Arts’ Snow Day Sets to Knit. So, using two strands of DK yarn and size 13 double pointed needles I got to work using the basic mitten pattern and making a few adjustments with the length (the size of the width was just right as written). This is how the finished mitten turned out.

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I like it for the most part, but should I do it again, I might make the thumb a little smaller; it seems to be just a tad too wide.

I bought some lovely felt at a local yarn & fabric shop/craft studio. At first I thought it might be too expensive, but when I started working with it I realized that the felt I could have gotten from one of the big chain craft stores would have never held up to both my sewing and a two-year-old playing with it. I found the basic shape I wanted all of the animals to have by searching images on Google and traced them our free-hand from there. For the most part, I cut the felt details on the animals free-hand as well and really couldn’t be more thrilled with how they all turned out. And here they are, top to bottom, left to right: owl, mouse, bear,badger, fox, snowshoe rabbit, mole, and hedgehog.

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This is what I really love about creating things; when they are your own, you can do them however you want! I’m so thankful that, for the most part, God gave me a desire to create in a way that things don’t have to be perfect when I first start out. They tend to take shape along the way. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you are making something and it ends up not being “perfect,” it’s ok. It is your creation and you have every right to be proud of it. I do realize that in some crafts “perfection” is important, such as checking your gauge before you start knitting a sweater…this is why I have yet to knit a sweater 🙂 But if you are making, say, a little felt hedgehog, and one ear ends up being bigger than the other, no sweat, he’s still cute, and your 2-year-old niece probably won’t even notice. Plus it makes it unique. It is evidence that these items we craftily create were not bought in a store. I don’t know about you, but I love that as well. Happy creating!

Love & Blessings,

KJ