Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Immeasurably More: Embracing Life with Down Syndrome

From generation to generation… tell the works of the Lord. (Joel 1:3)

Effective parenting includes handing down stories — letting the young learn from the journeys of their forerunners.  These narratives shape our cultural attitudes, construct our ethical frameworks and orient our moral compass.  As a child, I remember travelers stopping by our house and spinning tales – my vivid imagination ran wild with the limitless future possibilities of exploring and encountering new adventures.  I was grateful that someone had gone ahead of me, charting the treacherous course and encouraging my journey.

Immeasurably More: More Hope, More Joy: Embracing Life with Down Syndrome is written to do just that.  Linda Aalderlink successfully navigates the complexities of crafting a meaningful story of her son’s first 25 years.  She weaves together an intricate perspective of Zach’s life with Down Syndrome, drawing upon the recollections of 12 of his family members, teachers, classmates, and other friends from the community.   She relates the struggle of being a pioneer of mainstreamed special education, yet pairs them with the joys that come from fulfilled dreams, successful community integration, and independent living in the Friendship House at Western Theological Seminary, Holland, MI.

The 181 page paperback is a collection of 25 easily readable vignettes, each written with a concluding thought, scripture, prayer, and praise.  The writing style compels the reader to pause and reflect, not just about the specific episode and lesson learned in the chapter, but the power of friendship and relationship in all of our lives.  The concluding chapter summarizes the purpose of this book – families who discover they are new parents of a child with a disability need encouragement and hope. The special needs life is doable!

Immeasurably More is one of the best balanced personal memoirs written lately as it takes a retrospective look across the lifespan at several major transition periods.  Edited from a mother’s perspective, it will resonate well with new moms and can be a useful book study in a parent support group.  Pastors would be wise to read chapter 22; after living life together with Zach, new seminarian’s perspective of ministry changed forever.

This is a story I will be glad to share generation to generation!

Immeasurable More: Embracing Lifewith Down Syndrome. Linda Aalderink (Grand Rapids, MI: Credo House Publishing. 2012).  181 pp. Paperback, $10.00, ISBN 978-1-935391-88-3.


Disclaimer:  While Friendship House (locations at Western Theological Seminary and Duke-Durham) was named in honor of the work of Friendship Ministries, they are independent ministries which share a common heritage. As a board member of Friendship Ministries, I wrote about my experience touring Friendship House in 2008.