Monday, November 28, 2016

4-Star Review of "A Different Kind of Beautiful"


Discovering and Celebrating Beauty in Places You Never Expected

by Courtney Westlake

When Courtney Westlake’s family was given the shocking news that their daughter, Brenna, was born in 2011 with a severe, life-threatening skin disorder, they began to discover a new and different beautiful in their lives–one that values extraordinary differences and appreciates the wonderful sameness found in humanity. In A Different Beautiful, Courtney explores what her family has discovered in raising a child with physical differences and what she has learned about true beauty. Through her personal insights and experiences, Courtney shares how you, too, can learn to find and celebrate God’s version of beautiful in your life, especially within our differences and struggles.

MY REVIEW:  Courtney Westlake's water broke earlier than she had planned, and she awaited expectantly for the precious daughter that she and her husband, Evan, would soon hold in their arms and gaze in her eyes.  It didn't work out that way though.   Brenna was wiped and confusion and worry showed on the faces of all the doctors and nurses in the delivery room.   The loving mother's heart cried out, "Where's my baby?  When can I see her, hold her, kiss her tiny face?"  Instead of placing her sweet daughter in her aching arms, a neonatologist was summoned immediately.  Something was wrong. Something was wrong.  Something was wrong with Brenna.   Brenna was facing a fight.  She just entered the world and she was in pain and she had to fight, because the medical staff told her that babies born with harlequin ichthyosis rarely survived more than a few days.  They could keep her painfree until she passed.  That's when the heaviest decision fell on their shoulders.  Were they going to let Brenna just go?  She'd just arrived and they longed for this daughter.  
        Brenna's young mother, Courtney Westlake, walks us through the struggle for Brenna's life and then the joy the beautiful little girl brings to their home.   Brenna is blessed with the most compassionate brother and parents that God could have given her to.  I love the personal stories and the brutal honesty expressed in this book.  I did wish there were photographs.  I looked on Courtney's blog and looked at Brenna and smiled with tears in my eyes and whispered, "She is beautiful. She is precious."  Honestly, from the description in the book of her birth, I thought she would look frightening.   But she does not.  Her smile is infectious.   I did think that more scripture would have been helpful to accompany the stories and opinions.   What a lovely book, what an inspiring family!   
       I rated this book 4 stars and highly recommend it.
       I received an ARC copy of this book from netgalley and all opinions expressed are my own.
        As I finished the book, I thought of the song, "How Beautiful" by Twila Paris.  
How beautiful the hands that served
the wine and the bread
and the sons of the earth.
How beautiful the feet that walked
the long dusty roads
and the hills to the cross.
How beautiful
how beautiful
how beautiful is the body of Christ.
How beautiful the heart that bled
that took all my sin
and bore it instead.
How beautiful the tender eyes
that chose to forgive
and never despise.
How beautiful
how beautiful
how beautiful is the body of Christ.
And as He laid down His life
we offer this sacrifice
that we will live just as he died:
willing to pay the price
willing to pay the price.
How beautiful the radiant Bride
who waits for her Groom
with His light in her eyes.
How beautiful when humble hearts give
the fruit of pure lives

About the Author:
Blessed by Brenna blogCourtney with her beautiful little Brenna

Courtney Westlake lives in central Illinois with her husband, Evan, and two children, Connor and Brenna.  When Brenna was born in 2011 with a rare and severe skin disorder called harlequin ichthyosis, Courtney began a blog to chronicle their family life and experiences raising a child with physical differences and special needs.  Her writing has also been featured on other sites such as Yahoo Parenting, The Huffington Post, (in)courage, and Good Housekeeping.  Besides writing, Courtney enjoys photography, traveling, and a good bag of Doritos.

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