How does one go about reviewing a book that is written from such a personal place as was, The Face of a Miracle by Jodi Sampson? I sat here all day pondering and praying upon how to go about expressing what this book portrays to readers, especially to a reader who is unchurched. I say this because I immediately understood what Jodi was feeling and sensing, as Jesus Christ swept into life; as our Lord wrapped her, and her son Michael, in his loving, peaceful, protective arms. How could I possibly write an unbiased review, being a believer who has experienced miracles first hand.
I can’t…so I won’t try. In fact, I felt emotions welling up inside me as I typed. It’s not that the book is written perfectly and there aren’t any errors…I cannot even pay attention to those things in this instance. It’s just too much of Jodi’s heart pouring out onto the pages for me to stray away from her message, for an instant. But how do I begin…? I’ll begin by encouraging you to spend $15.95 on this book because the proceeds go to research for pediatric brain tumors; but more than that, because if you are human, you will not just be touched, rather amazed by everything this family had to endure (and continues to endure).
The Face of a Miracle is written from Jodi Sampson’s perspective; from a mother’s perspective and from a survivor’s perspective. However, the most important perspective it comes from is that of a believer in Jesus Christ, and the miracles that can, and will, happen in one’s life if you accept Him into your heart. The interesting thing is that Jodi didn’t start out understanding any of this in the beginning of her journey. Although it’s not quite clear, in the book, I sensed she perhaps was introduced to Jesus as a child but that her family wasn’t exactly walking in their faith. However, she understood the power of prayer and that is where it all began…there, with that foundation of belief, and with a simple, loving gift from an aunt: a Bible. (Side-note: I have to add my surprise to her stating she had never read the Bible–how did she understand prayer if this is the case? I presume it was taught to her at home but they weren’t encouraged to read the Word of God.)
Jodi and her husband Mark had already endured much in their relationship. It was the loss of Jodi’s brother during her third pregnancy, and the stress this caused, that helped her understand that the child she was carrying was a miracle, considering her history. I actually want to pose a question here, to Jodi, knowing what I know about spiritual roots to disease: Had she ever considered that the stress she endured is what led to the topic of this book? Cancer.
Yes, Jodi and Mark’s miracle baby, Michael, was diagnosed with a brain tumor just a few months shy of his second birthday. A tumor that was so massive, only part of it was operable. The rest of the tumor had to stay in tact so Michael had a chance to survive. With Michael being so young, the treatment options were few and tedious. Tedious for the mere fact that he endured chemotherapy, almost daily, for many years. This, after the doctor’s initial prognosis that he might live for six months after the initial surgery to remove part of the mass.
Time after time in this journey, Jodi sensed that the doctors were wrong in their deduction of the situation at hand. This she soon realized was God communicating to, and through, her. The best part of this book for me were her moments of boldness and her convictions in the Lord. In her FAITH that Jesus would bring them through this.
Years and years go by in this book and Jodi (and perhaps her editor) does a wonderful job with time-lapse and sequencing along the way. She keeps the reader up to par with where things were and what had gone on, but didn’t feel the need to feed us five-hundred pages (the book is relatively short for all it covers, at 156 pages) even though I’m sure she could have.
Just when the reader thinks all is well…another turn occurs and this time it’s Jodi on the operating table and in a battle with the “C” word. Jodi’s attitude reveals the strength and character of the One who lives within her. Also, what an amazing support system this family had for the over 8 years that this journey spans. That in itself makes a huge difference to a mother who is fighting for the life of her son, as well as her own life. I must commend her family and friends for their amazing dedication to being of help! She takes great care to mention them and all they did to keep their lives (she and Mark also have two daughters, Jordan and Kaitlin) as normal as possible.
Jodi’s faith seemed to have rubbed off on her husband and children after a while and that made me cheer. I sensed this was the purpose for the trial they endured. God knows how to get us to pay attention. I am so grateful that I serve, and that Jodi serves, a God who loves us but who also teaches us. As I read, I recognized some moments that Jodi mentioned, were God moments; they took a bit of meditation on the moment for her to realize it. I grew increasingly excited for her. For what she was realizing helped save lives in the end.
I could go on, and on…but I need to leave something for you to find out on your own. Again, I encourage you to purchase this book for the reason I stated above and then share this story with anyone who has eyes to see and ears to hear!
In fact, Jodi was kind and sent me several copies to give away! You have to follow me on social media in order to qualify. Look for the review on either Facebook, Twitter or Google+ and the first several people 1) like/follow/circle me and comment or 2) who already have joined me and comment will qualify! (If this is confusing comment with your questions.)
Jodi would love for you to visit their website and learn more about Pediatric Brain Tumor Research at Mass General Hospital in Boston, and how you might help!