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Different: The Story of an Outside-the-Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him Paperback – January 24, 2017
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From the Publisher
"Reading the unique perspectives of both mother and child is powerful. Moreover, the love that flows throughout this book makes even the most difficult experiences hope-filled and encouraging. I cannot recommend Different enough!" ---Shawna Wingert, author of Everyday Autism --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Mental illnesses are not casserole diseases. Well-meaning folks don’t show up on your porch with a covered dish and a shoulder to cry on when your child is struggling with mental illness. But you wish they would. With this book, Sally Clarkson offers weary moms the nourishing feast for which they are starved. With equal parts empathy and wisdom, she breathes hope into the lives of parents who daily labor to lovingly raise outside-the-box children. Nathan grants us unprecedented, invaluable insight into the mind of the child as he grows. Sally assures us that though we will certainly be challenged, humbled, and humiliated, this story is not about us, but about being faithful to God to raise a uniquely challenged and challenging child. With warm understanding, she gives us tangible tools and healthy, hearty food for the journey. (Elizabeth Foss, Mother of nine, author of Small Steps for Catholic Moms)
As a mother of two outside-the-box children, I found myself tearing up and nodding my head in agreement as I read Different. In the end, I felt so very grateful for this book. Sally and Nathan are both vulnerable and real as they describe the day-to-day life of a “different” child. Reading the unique perspectives of both mother and child is powerful. Moreover, the love that flows throughout this book makes even the most difficult experiences hope-filled and encouraging. I cannot recommend Different enough! (Shawna Wingert, Author of Everyday Autism and Special Education at Home)
For decades, Sally Clarkson has been a strong, wise guide for families. In Different, she is more vulnerable than ever before, recording a memoir of moving through a refining experience and sharing her notes from the journey. She and her son Nathan recount this ongoing struggle with faith-affirming honesty, offering insight and hope for families who face similarly bewildering battles. An at-times-painful story, Different is honest about Sally’s and Nathan’s progress without ending in a neat and tidy total victory. Instead, the book invites us into a faithful, resolved embrace of the story God is weaving even through the most painful and perplexing of our weaknesses. (S. D. Smith, Author of The Green Ember)
Sally has protected her family by keeping certain stories hidden from the public sphere until now. In Different, we are offered a vulnerable look behind the curtain into the story of a son with mental illness and a mother who fought to love well even when it felt impossible. The stories and truths in Different have not been shared before, and they will absolutely bring hope and freedom to those who struggle with their “different” children and think, I can’t do this; it’s just too hard. If you have an outside-the-box child, this is a must-read. (Sarah Mae, Coauthor of Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe)
Raw and uplifting, this book is the assurance for weary moms everywhere: You don’t have to feel inadequate or alone anymore. We all long to see our outside-the-box children as blessings, but sometimes that feels impossible. This book gives us the grace to struggle through it. Thank you, Nathan and Sally. Both of you are brave and beautiful. (Sarah Mackenzie, Author of Teaching from Rest and creator of the Read-Aloud Revival)
I have watched the ministries of Sally and Nathan over the years, and I’m thrilled to see how God has used a “different” boy to bless so many. This is a book of hope and inspiration told through the eyes of a mom who, like so many parents today, must deal with the day-to-day challenges of working with a unique and special child. (Dr. Scott Turansky, Cofounder of the National Center for Biblical Parenting)
In Different, Sally Clarkson invited me to pursue God’s heart for my own outside-the-box child. Her seasoned and experienced words lifted this mama’s eyes off What could be wrong with my child? or What could be wrong with me? and on to Christ and all the possibilities of His beauty and power in the life of a person. This is a message for every parent’s heart. I recommend these pages both to those who feel like they have outside-the-box children and to those whose children color within the lines. (Sara Hagerty, Author of Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet)
Sally’s and Nathan’s voices are needed in this day and age of parenting. This book was an encouragement for me on so many levels, as a mama, friend, and woman in ministry. Both Sally and Nathan display the love and grace of Jesus toward each other, and that is a message that transfers to people all over the world. (Jamie Ivey, Host of The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey podcast)
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Will you submit to the circumstances he brings to your whole family because you believe I am in control? Will you humble yourself and accept My will and stop fighting against him? Even if no one else ever sees the battles you have lived through or knows your quiet faithfulness to love him, your service of worship to Me is not lost. I see you! You may feel alone because so few understand, but you are not alone. I am with you and with him every day. Nathan is fearfully and wonderfully made; I formed him in your womb. He is different because I allowed it. He has My fingerprints all over his heart, mind, and soul—and his personality is a gift, not only a challenge.”
Wow! This book was exactly what I have been searching for for years. It is so rare to find such honest and poignant advice on raising these different kids but also raising them in a Christian worldview.
I love hearing from both Nathan and Sally in many different areas, learning what it's like from the person with the differences and also how a wonderful seasoned mom handled these challenges.
This is the book all of you moms (and dads) of those different kids need to read! Like Sally said, they aren't trying to help you fix your child, but rather to view them as a wonderful gift you can take joy in.
Each chapter starts with Nathan's story, and then Sally responds with how she dealt with that particular incident, or how she was able to learn how to guide him through his struggles.
If you have a child who has a mental disorder, or even just a difficult or different child, this book will give you a fresh look at how to relate, communicate, and love your child through the difficulties of childhood and adolescence.
Nathan was also struggling. He didn’t understand why he couldn’t sleep or focus. It was like his mind was constantly changing channels and not allowing him to stay on task. Sally and Clay were committed to finding ways to help Nathan navigate through these challenges. They didn’t want to just “fix” Nathan, but rather find ways for him to function within his challenges and unique gifts for the glory of God. Nathan wanted the same thing.
Sally tried allowing Nathan to use colored pencils during family reading time. She encouraged Nathan to draw pictures of the characters and their adventures as they read. It really helped. Nathan was able to focus more when his hands were busy and his mind was able to focus on the characters and the story. They also discovered that Nathan was very creative and gifted and he was captivated by the power of story and the hero. This book is a story of a boy struggling with many challenges and the mom who loved him and helped him find the way that God could use this unique and creative person. Sally and Nathan share more of this journey throughout the book.
Nathan has written, directed and starred in a full-length motion picture (Confessions of a Prodigal Son) and is pursuing an acting career in New York City. Sally is a popular author and speaker and has a wonderful way of encouraging moms. She can empathize with moms who are raising kids facing all kinds of challenges. Don’t miss the chance to be encouraged and inspired by reading the DIFFERENT book. I’d put it at the top of your reading list.