Walking Through Twilight by Douglas Groothuis

book teilight

This book grabs you. You pick it up, anticipate what you will find, and then get surprised. Though being real, or “raw” as they say, is all the rage these days, after you read this book you may decide, as I did, that you’ve hardly ever read something that’s “raw”. So much of the rawness of our day is merely façades more painstakingly crafted, but here the author detonates dynamite under his façades. He is a philosopher, an academic, an accomplished speaker, the man that is supposed to have it all figured out, but in the waves of bewilderment that crashed upon his soul as his wife descended into the twilight of dementia he found out he did not. What he could figure out when he forced himself to examine this bizarre, unexpected place is worth contemplating. It reminded me of my dark places, which were not as dark as his, and taught me what to examine the next time.

This effort is not along the same lines as the other titles Mr. Groothuis has produced, other than his quality writing skills. For example, I was greatly instructed by his “Philosophy in Seven Sentences”. He was able to marshal philosophy and especially the Bible for his struggles. He did it without an ounce of superficiality. He wasn’t able to tie everything up in neat little packages either. The profound part was that the more crushed he became the more sufficient his Savior became. I was moved.

Usually, when I review a book I overview the contents, but I think that would be a mistake in this case. Just experience it. Approach every chapter with a clean slate. You won’t regret it!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Together Is A Beautiful Word by Guest Blogger Jennie Bender

bender family
Here is a story that will reach your heart. Jennie Bender and her family walked through the fires of trial. She is wife to Shane and mother of Sabrina, Elaine, Darcy, and Davison. They are a wonderful Christian family living now in Fairborn, Ohio. The other day when I wrote a blog post called “What If Your Healing Doesn’t Come”, Jennie privately wrote my wife and I on her experiences with praying for a healing that didn’t come. In her case, it wasn’t for herself, but for her child. That is just as appropriate to the subject as any parent would realize. What she wrote was so touching, powerful, and real, I asked if I could share it as a guest blog post. Be sure to read the extra information she gave at the end. It is an honor to give her piece here. It is little edited so nothing of her heart is lost. Here it is in her words…

I just read your piece on healing. It was a blessing. I believe He can, but I have peace that He didn’t. God gives grace, mercy, and peace to go through trials. I could not do without any of those three at any given time. I have learned more, gained more, so much more. If I could go back– I’d probably selfishly choose to take away trisomy 18 (explained below) and have my daughter alive– without sleepless nights and burning tears, without knowledge of impending death, without… But I’d not know this great grace, I’d not have a strong realization of Heaven, I’d not have a measure of faith, I’d not have the blessings of brokenhearted strangers who reached out and gave me friendship through our mutual suffering, and I’d not have lifelong friendships given to me on her behalf by God’s hand…

I had so many say that God would take away this problem and it’d just go away– because He is God. Death was surely not coming to my house– according to them. They meant well; it was what we all wanted.

bender children

The Lord showed me that wasn’t the way I was going– though I wanted it badly, more than anyone passing by could fathom. I remember my own prayer– “Lord, I know you are praying for me because I don’t know what to pray.” I even went so far as to pray for her death so she could be truly safe– and hastily recanted it as soon as I spoke it– because I couldn’t believe I spoke it aloud. Only a mother dealing with a fatal disorder could understand that prayer and its depth. I wanted her more than I could bear, but my love for her wanted the fullest, happiest life for her– and with her diagnosis the best place was not with me but with God.. There was a guilt after I prayed that prayer because of my absolute humanity, but my heart later knew that prayer was because of my love for her — her grave struggles and future caused me to desire to give her to God– though it broke my heart in pieces. And I am sure someone will say that’s wrong, but the Lord knows how desperately we wanted her– with or without her so-called deformities. She was perfect to us and still is, no one dare question our love for her. Even if they did, there is no point to prove to them. We stand before God Almighty; He knew and knows our hearts. We only wanted her best– and that is love– and the greatest love is someone else’s best over your own selfish desires.

baby pic

This is a real issue, as you say. There are so many remarks you receive… some are not helpful. I am so thankful for the people who came into my life– people who were broken hearted, mended, and ministering because they had seen God. They all spoke the same words, just like a painter’s hand is recognized in every painting, you could see His hand and hear His voice through their unique stories. Others did not have that, only the broken ones. They had seen God work –they were compelled to comfort as He had personally comforted them and as they had been blessed by His people through their own sorrow.

I am changed because of those days. They are painful at times to recall, but the changes God made have only made our lives better. Every move He makes is for our good, and I trust the loving kindness of the Lord.

And as for your family and mine, our situations are not the same and not to be compared, but the Lord has made us better friends because of our trials.

(Editor’s Note: There is a hard-to-explain camaraderie in suffering.)

Trisomy 18 is a generation of an extra chromosome. It can be shattered, misplaced, or a duplicate chromosome. The simplest explanation is– it is like an extra puzzle piece. It fits, it is perfect, it is useful, fully functioning, alive. The only problem is–it is extra, therefore it destroys the whole. It can be genetic, it can be due to the age of a mother, but most of the time, as in our case, it is simply an accident at the onset of the division and multiplication of cells. Every time the bundle of life multiplies and divides it creates more problems. Since it is in the actual cells, there is nothing to do but wait. We were told she would die before her due date, she would have great struggles and die eleven days after her birth on average, and if she survived beyond those early days–she would surely be dead within a year.


Elaine had an extra finger, water on the brain, strawberry shaped skull, a twisted foot, and three holes in her heart– nearly every marker of T18. Our marriage was given a 1% survival rate because of the stress before and after her delivery. God has been good, we’ve not been prefect, but He has led us gently all the way. We have an unexplainable daily joy and gratitude that was given to us because we put our child and our broken hearts in God’s hands. “We are better for knowing her–even if it was just for a moment.”

She is the reason we say and know, “Together” is a beautiful word.

Thanks Jennie


If you know anyone going through such times, please let us know –jennie@benderparty.com.

Also, Now I lay Me Down to Sleep is a non-profit organization consisting of professional photographers who photograph families whose children have been given a fatal diagnosis. They were a great blessing to us. Lori Anderson of Simply Southern Photography took pictures of Elaine through NILMDTS.org.


What If My Healing Doesn’t Come? The original post Jennie responded to.

Confessions of a Disability Marriage Jennie mentioned God’s grace in her marriage getting through what wrecks many marriages. It is tough and I have written on my own case.

The Master’s Hand–Guest Blogger David Wagner

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What Happened to Me When I Yielded Myself to the Masters Hand

By David Wagner

[I am so glad to have David guest blog for Reagan Review. Here is a man who was a pastor and now lives a very challenging disability. His perspective is helpful as we think about disability and the church. Here is his moving story…]

I am a special person, and it is not because I am disabled. I am special because God chose me to be His son. In accepting His Sonship I also accepted His will for my life. To be honest I would not have chosen the life I now live if I had been given the opportunity. God in His amazing wisdom took a simple pastor of mountain people, and transformed him into a tool meet for the Masters use.

I began serving God in 9th grade working on the buses of Shawnee Baptist Church. For seven years I visited and picked up intercity kids for Church. In my final year of Bible College I was approached to take over New Hope Baptist Church in Kentucky. Over the next seven years God would build me to be a Pastor that He wanted me to be. There were many times when food and diapers were the earnest prayer request. God however was teaching me to be dependent on him.

At the end of those seven years I began to show signs of a disorder that my mom had called Dystonia. Preaching and teaching 4+ times a week and working a full time job began to take its toll. God was moving my heart back home to Beth Haven Baptist Church in Michigan. As long as I was able I wrote the S.S. material for the Elementary classes, and taught the College-age class. My form of Dystonia causes violent muscle movement for 45 minutes to 4 hours. The men of the church were gracious and helped me out of the service when that happened.

Soon the attacks became every service. I talked to my doctor, and found out that they would only get worse. I asked my Pastor to come over, and talk with me. I had to quit it all. I even had to quit going to church. I am blessed to have a Pastor with God’s heart. He understood and encouraged me to live my Christian life from home.

A life of disability is a life of losing things. I lost my job. I lost my ability to drive. I lost mobility. I became dependent on others for many things. For some people, watching me live in pain was too much, and I lost their company. Losing things for me is the hardest part of disability.

The one thing I had not lost was that fact that I was still His son. I also was still a pastor, and God had work for me to do. God had a gift for me. His gift was disability. I would live the life of someone with chronic illness, and He would give me an insight to be a blessing to others who had chronic illness. I have been blessed to publish a book, preach in several states, and talk to people that I would have never had opportunity without disability.

I am not saying you can not be a help to people with chronic illness unless you have it. What God did for me was give me the gift of disability, and the heart to help others. This is my ministry. One of the early lessons that God taught me comes from 2 Corinthians 12:9,10:  “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

It did not happen overnight, but I began to learn a valuable truth. The grace of God becomes more evident in our lives as we need it. The more we realize that we are weak and He is strong; the more His grace fills our lives. When we come to the place when we realize that the infirmities in our lives are truly His gifts His power can rest upon us. So we are strongest as a Christian when we realize that, (Philippians 4:13) “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” We can only accomplish His will with His strength.

God has firmly let me know that it is not in His will to heal me. My prayer is not for healing, but to be used for His glory. For only by Him using me will my life have value. You may not be experiencing chronic illness. My wife likes to tell people, “Our struggles are obvious, and yours may not be. However God uses different trials to make us who he wants us to be.”

So I close with this. Only by yielding to the Master’s hand will your life have eternal value. The trials of today are but for a moment. How we deal with our trials will have eternal significance.

Forever, In His Service.

David Wagner

(David is a regular contributor on Partners For Gospel. Look for his articles there).

“Unstoppable” By The Inspiring Nick Vujicic

You’ve surely seen a video by Mr. Vujicic. If you are like me, I imagine it held your attention. He’s a Christian and an advocate for folks with disability to live life to the fullest, to reject the stereotypes that disabled individuals often face, and live beyond discouragement.

This is his second book, here published by Waterbrook Press, that follows up his very successful first volume Life Without Limits. The cover gives you an idea of what you might be in for with this book and Mr. Vujicic. The subtitle”The Incredible Power of Faith in Action” accurately defines the ground he covers.

The book begins with him telling you how successful and busy he has been. If that were to hit you wrongly, he will quickly mute it when he tells you the emotional crisis he has gone through the last few years. He relates that although the first book and speaking ministry have been successful, his company almost crashed at the low point of our economy. This shortly after he had expanded the company, hired new people, and let his parents pull up stakes to move here from Australia to help. His Dad is an accountant and a classic believer in fiscal responsibility! He fell into deep depression and really spares none of the gory details when he tells the story. What he learned and how he dealt with it is worthy reading. He relates to a secret suicide attempt in childhood because of the sadness of what he imagined his life would be. He encourages us in showing how he, a motivational speaker, had to relearn a lesson he should have known well. I can relate to the relearning thing for sure.

In another story he tells about the highs and lows of the journey of God bringing his wonderful wife to him. It is as gripping as a novel, except he draws out real life lessons from the ordeal. You find yourself cheering when he gets her.

The rest of the book is not as good, but he addresses practical matters illustrated by stories of people he met along the way of his ministry. His dealing with bullies, since he had much experience with it, was well done.

The book is in no way theological. It is motivational, with a big you-can-do-it push. It does declare on several occasions that the Lord is also critical to handling adversity, but that is not so carefully brought out. Still, for what this book tries to do, it really succeeds. You will be inspired!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 .

Life, In Spite Of Me–An Inspiring Read

life in spite of me

Do you need encouraged? Inspired? This book delivers. Kristen Jane Anderson gives us her tragic story that becomes transformed by the Lord into triumph. A suicide attempt on a train track left her a double amputee. She should never have lived (that’s no exaggeration as the book proves), but she did. Listen to her story and finally see the hand of God become clear.

I had never heard her story until my wife, a paraplegic herself, had been reading about Ms. Anderson and was fascinated by it. That intrigued me, but I began reading thinking I would decide for myself. I did and it was a page turner!

When you read the advertisements that this book is a tool for suicide prevention, don’t assume that is all the book is about. Yes, every person contemplating suicide needs this book. Beyond that, though, every person fighting depression, or even a round of discouragement, will find this volume a rallying cry to not give up. Actually, if all you are looking for is a story of the mighty power of God on a life, grab this book. It reads easy and holds your attention throughout.

What makes this book work? Ms. Anderson doesn’t hold back. No matter how unpleasant the detail, if it is needed to tell her story, she tells it. Depression, partying, all the things that added to the darkness she went through are given in all the gory details. At the same time, dark things are never glamorized. She tells us what she thought and felt each step of the way.

Adjusting to her new found disability was shown in a clear way that as one who watched his wife adjust, I could relate. I thought that part was especially well done. Then, there was guilt. It haunted her through everything and we find where she found victory. Even with counseling and dealing with prescription drug issues we are let into her life. Failures, setbacks, and finally success are laid bare.

The point where she found Christ was an emotional high in the book where you felt like cheering. Later, when her loving mother did the same, you find yourself excited again. Finally, there’s the lesson she learned–a loving God saved her on a train track so He could save her soul later. A lady with so much sadness became a lady filled with love and gratitude. Ms. Anderson, thank you for sharing your story that clearly can help so many.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 .