This book is a moving account of the life of Ben Elliot, whose one life of pain, loss, and grief, brings about many ripples of joy, hope, and love. Written by his mum, the daily "raw journal" was meant to help Lisa process her inner thoughts and turmoil surrounding the discovery of Ben's leukemia. It is a life changing experience not just for Ben but for many friends and loved ones who surround him. His story has also made waves on the social media front, especially the Facebook blog called "Prayer for Benjamin Elliot" or "The Ben Ripple." The first journal entry begins on Sunday, August 17th, 2008, and the last on August 18th, 2010.
The prayers express Lisa's helplessness with regards to Ben's condition, but hopefulness with regards to trusting God's hand to work according to God's time and will. It speaks of the deep desire to get back to a "normal" life, but only seems to become a "new normal" in which the whole family tries to make the best of Ben's remission, or whatever sense of normalcy the Lord allows for. It reveals the courage and love life of Ben: Sarah, and how the love of the family drives them to seek out a bone marrow transplant. Chemotherapy brings about a deeper emotional challenge amid the physical angst. If Ben was suffering physically, the rest of the family was enduring emotional stress. Christmas becomes more like "Christ"-mess. The much talked about faith becomes a real life journey of faith happening before their very eyes. Every hope of Plan A has been supported by thoughts of Plan B. Finally, after all the mad rush for cures and treatments, freedom and living begins when Ben simply seeks to be assured that any option does not matter, as long as the family will stand with him regardless. This is the beginning of the Ben ripple of hoping, of living, and of loving.
True enough, there lies pages and pages of gratitude and encouragement from Canada, and other parts of the world, from people who have been inspired by Ben's courage and purposeful living. When Ben died, the pain continues. So does the gratitude to God for Ben, and the trusting in God for the future.
There are many messages of encouragement and inspiration.
"Living in the moment doesn't live in the land of 'what if.' It doesn't forecast the future, in case seeds of worry, anxiety, and fear take root. Ninety percent of what we worry about never take place anyway, so it's a waste of time and energy that I don't have to spare right now." (20)
"Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass; it's learning to dance in the rain." (115)
Ben's final message to his Church is a moving tribute to many of his supporters. (118-120)
With Ben-centric vocabulary such as "Ben-efit," "Benspective," and "Ben Ripple," the entire book essentially describes the ups and downs of living with the illness of Ben Elliot. The journal entries make the whole book looks like an unabridged version of telling the story as each day reveals itself. It is deeply personal, from the heart of a loving mum. It is intentional and can be used as a guide for others feeling pain and struggling in their own challenges of life. It is inspirational as we can read how one life can bring about hope and motivation to live. The photos in the book provide a visual impact to bring the words of encouragement alive through the smiles and the vibrant faith of Ben. It is a book that provides lots of biblical "lifelines" and many practical tips for anyone experiencing trying moments of their own. If you are down, and looking to be inspired, this book will very likely exceed your expectations.
Rating: 4 stars of 5.
Book has been provided courtesy of Word Alive Press and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available now from your favourite bookseller.