09 November 2009

Jantsen's Gift by Pam Cope

Jantsen's Gift: A True Story of Grief, Rescue, and Grace, by Pam Cope and Aimmee Molloy is a therapeutic, deeply personal story. However, it's also a greatly inspiring, soul-stirring, question-asking tale that makes its readers inspect their value system to see how it stands when their world is shaken to its core.

Pam Cope had her world toppled when her son died at the age of 15. What she thought was important- stacks of beautiful throw pillows on the couches, her children's new clothes, serving at church, all seems trivial and empty of meaning. She suffered, incapacitated by the most simple of tasks, for months, asking her pre-teen daughter to even do the shopping. Pam resisted the urge to wrap her daughter in her arms and infuse her with love, because she was afraid if she loved her daughter, how could she survive if something happened to her also

This is a story of the power of service to take our eyes off of our own suffering. From start to finish, Pam tells us to look outside of ourselves. Relieving the pain of others lessons our own pain.

Essentially, the purpose of Pam's life unfolds as she and her husband try to determine what to do with the $25,000 that they recieved in lieu of flowers at their teenage son's funeral. A neighborhood playground? New baseball uniforms for his team? Nothing seemed right or lasting.

Pam was totally and completely depleted by the mere thought of Thanksgiving with her family who seemed to expect her to move on with her life-- hadn't it been a few months already?! They had just approached a friend about giving the fund money to their work in VietNam, who suggested they first come to VietNam in person to see the work in person before they donated it. From her book:

"Vietnam? I knew nothing about the place, other than old stories about the war. It seeeign. It seemed like the farthest place in the world from Neosho, Missouri, and Thanksgiving dinner and birthday celebrations and family expectations... I accepted immediately."
"As I packed our bags and told Crista's school we were pulling her out for two weeks, I couldn't help but wonder if the decision had been too impulsive. But then I'd run to the store for something we needed and get home and realize that not only had I managed to get there and back without collapsing, but I was even feeling a strangely unfamiliar emotion under the sadness: excitement. I know I should have welcomed it after how hopeless I'd been, but I had grown so accustomed to feeling bad that a moment of excitement made me feel a little guilty, like I was being unfaithful to my grief... It was such a relief to be somewhere this mysterious and colorful and new, where Jansten's absence didn't seem as obvious."

After her heart is pricked for the lost, orphaned, unloved and trafficked children of Asia and Africa, she dives headfirst into a new world of visa applications, donated surgeon skills, diptheria shots, fundraising and international travel. Throughout the book are excerpts from letters she wrote to her son, telling him how he has helped her on this journey.

This book had me crying over a dozen times in the first 150 pages. It rocketed up to the top 20 books on my mental list of favorites. If you wish you could do something for the kingdom of God, for the hurting of the world, but don't know how, this book could be the first step. I'm going to write more about it on Wednesday and Friday. There will be a drawing on Friday afternoon to see who recieves a hardcover copy of Jantsen's Gift, valued at $25. So stay tuned for 2 more posts about it! Leave a comment to qualify- if you comment on each of the 3 posts, you get 3 chances. To learn more about this book, to read excerpts, or to join a book group about it with others who have enjoyed it, go to the publisher's website linked below.

This is a review for Mama Buzz. You can see their button in my left sidebar. I recieved 2 free copies of this book (one for me, one for a reader) by Hachette Book Group. I hope you found this review informative!


Renee said...

Sounds like a powerful book.

Angie said...

Sounds like an inspiring story. Isn't it amazing how God uses heartbraking experiences to cause change not only in our hearts but changes that impact many sometimes in ways we don't even know. Just recently in the middle of a bad situation the thought came to me...this current turmoil could be the beginning of something wonderful...I sure hope so.