My Most Meaningful Read of the Week: “The Life We Never Expected” ~ review & giveaway!

My most meaningful read of the week was a book I almost didn’t read.


Life We Never banner

Historically, I just haven’t been much of a nonfiction reader.  But for some reason, I have read more of them in the past year than I have since I HAD to read them in college.  I’ve been so fortunate to read these, and for many of them, host a giveaway on for someone else to be blessed with a copy.  These books have encouraged me, strengthened me in my walk with God, shown me things that I hadn’t yet learned on my own.

Andrew and Rachel Wilson’s honest, moving and intelligently written The Life We Never Expected, has been so powerful for me.  The story of their own family, and their journey, as they received regressive autism diagnoses for both their very young children, is the most incredible account of a couple who refused to give up…on loving and believing God when He promised in His Word that He loved them, and that His purposes for them were good.  In finding a way through suffering, in preserving their own marriage, in hanging on to hope when no hope seemed visible, they’ve held on to Him. Here’s a line from their Introduction:

“This is a book about surviving, and thriving, spiritually when something goes terribly wrong.”

How does a person hang onto his or her faith when unexpected, lengthy, and painful suffering is what they encounter on a daily basis?

The Wilsons have asked that question.  And it’s not that they don’t deeply love their children.  It’s just a life they couldn’t have prepared for; one in which every day requires everything from them; where research for social services, therapies, and possibilities for the things which just might help their children consume their days and their nights.  Where children who have acquired certain abilities lose them due to the nature of regressive autism.  Where each day starts at 4:30 a.m. when their son awakens; where their days’ work is all-consuming and requires all that is in them.  As they walked down the paths before them following first their elder son’s diagnosis, and then their daughter’s, they weren’t just desperate for physical assistance or emotional assistance.  They needed on the very deepest level, words that could come alongside them to keep them anchored in God and the hope He has for each of us.  They didn’t find these words, in book form anyway, anywhere.  So they very humbly and transparently, in The Life We Never Expected, share their own experiences, the conclusions they came to, and the truths that sustained their hope in God and their very lives.

Andrew and Rachel Wilson didn’t just write this book for the parents of precious children who have special needs.  In fact, they say they wrote it for three different groups of people:

  • “Parents who have just been thrown a curveball….and need encouragement” (p. 14) to hang on to God;
  • The friends and families of those parents of special needs children
  • Those who are suffering and need to know how to endure…and that God really is at the end of it all, as well as deeply present every step of the way

My thoughts about The Life We Never Expected

I never really expected to read this book.  Yet, the opportunity arose, and I received a free copy to read, and to share my thoughts about it here on

WHAT a blessing.  Andrew and Rachel are so thoroughly real, so transparent.  They graciously and openly share their struggles in parenting, with each other, with God, and with people in general who interact with their family.  While I’ve not experienced the challenges they daily live with, I have been in places of suffering and struggle where I wondered where God was in my experiences, how I could find Him, and how I could get past the barren landscape I felt I was living in.  This book has words of life and encouragement (and even humor!) which can, I believe, really point anyone who’s struggling into a place of hope and into the arms of God.

Here are some of the Wilsons’ words which were very special and meaningful to me:

  • “For those of us who are mothers (and fathers), God wants us to esteem the field he’s given us.  It’s not a tiring distraction from the true mission field we should be tilling; these are our people, for us to reach and for us to be trained and transformed as we do….” (p. 39)
  • “I love my kids most not by loving them the most but by first loving God.”  (p. 43)
  • “Of the one hundred million sentences I have read or heard in my life, the one that has probably impacted me the most is from George Muller’s diary: “The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day…was to have my soul happy in the Lord.”” (p. 57)
  • “Why? What is the Father doing?  The answer is obvious, and none of us likes it: we don’t know.” (p. 65)
  • “It isn’t because God doesn’t love us.  It isn’t because God doesn’t care….The Lion has tears in his eyes, and although I will never understand all he is doing, I know that he isn’t doing it because he doesn’t love me.”  (p. 81)

I could keep going and going with recounting to you all the underlined passages in this precious and meaningful book.  But I’m going to save some for you to read.  Just know this; this book is probably THE most helpful book on suffering I have read in at least the past 10 years…and maybe longer.  I have finished reading it; and I’m just beginning to read it again for the second time.

The things that Andrew and Rachel have learned as they’ve parented their beloved children are things that have been hard-won, at quite a personal cost.  But they are things that we need to know; and things that they have been willing to share with us in The Life We Never Expected.

Find a copy.  Get it at Amazon, or wherever you buy your books.  It is worth every single penny you’d pay  for it, and then some!

Or…enter my giveaway!  FlyBy/Propeller Promotions have graciously provided one copy of this astounding book for one of my readers.  Enter below in the Giveaway Tools form.  A winner will be selected on July 16, after the giveaway closes on the 15th.  (If you’ve won a FlyBy giveaway in the last 30 days, you won’t be eligible to win this one.)

Enjoy!  –Wren


Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”


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