by Patti Maguire Armstrong and Theresa Thomas
New Rochelle, NY: Scepter Publishers, 2013
Patti Maguire Armstrong and Theresa Thomas, who previously paired up to write and compile the wonderful “Stories for the Homeschool Heart,” have now come together to create “Big-Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families.”
What makes a family big-hearted? It is a spirit of generosity with a focus on putting God first. “The families in this book [share] the goal of striving to put God first, of trying to love well.” The authors encourage those who want to have big-hearted families to “sacrifice much. Choose God’s will. Love profusely. Be big-hearted. And then see how our almighty God, who is the same now as always, blesses you again and again.”
Armstrong and Thomas share their own experiences of being part of big-hearted families growing up and then creating their own version of such a family once they married and began to have children. This is not a two women project, however. Many other voices weigh in and share powerful, and sometimes difficult stories, of the struggle to love generously and be open to life.
Thomas Mahala shares his story of fearing having a child with Down Syndrome. When his 8th child and first daughter after seven sons was born with an extra chromosome, he struggled to love her, but with time and God’s grace, that love came. Calvin Bader shares he and his wife’s struggle with infertility and how they became foster and adoptive parents. DeeAnn Smith writes of her struggles with alcoholism and what it meant to have the unconditional love of her children as she worked to get well. Jeffery Gross highlights the life of his son who was born with cystic fibrosis and who also suffered from muscular dystrophy. Sherry Antonetti focuses on the adventure of taking a trip with ten children.
Light-hearted stories balance heart-wrenching ones, but each of the families featured in the pages of “Big-Hearted” have something to teach all of us about the power of love and the importance of putting God first in our family life.