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If you’re a fan of A Fostered Life Podcast, you may remember Episode 1, “From Foster Youth to Foster Parent.” My very first podcast guest was Amber Jewell, a former foster youth, licensed social worker in the foster care world, foster parent, and adoptive parent who was very helpful in shedding light on how being part of the system can have a long-term affect on youth in care. As she shared from her own story, she gave wonderful insight into what teens in care need in order to thrive as they move into adulthood.
Now, Amber has opened the pages of her life even more in her new book Finding Hope: The 12 Keys to Healing Hardship, Hurt, and Sorrow (Hatherleigh Press, 2021). Finding Hope is the personal story of the lessons Amber has learned in her quest to live a life filled with hope in spite of years of abuse and abandonment. By exploring what she calls the twelve “keys” to healing past pain, Amber unpacks a mindset shift that must take place in order for someone coming from a place of pain to “create a life you will love.”
Acknowledging that the healing journey begins with “challenging the lies and misinformation that we have allowed to take over our thoughts,” which she calls “weeds in our garden of hope and resiliency,” Amber confronts head-on the devastating effects of abuse and neglect many children experience during their formative years. She is honest and transparent about how abuse and abandonment can lead to hopelessness. But she does not leave us there, because, while she has “been there,” she did not stay there. This book is her effort “to roll away the rock from covering the mouth of our life-tunnels and instead show a glimpse of the brightness we each can seek.”
In fact, this book would be great for anyone who has experienced trauma early in life that continues to affect them in adulthood. While there are several books that have come out recently that deal with childhood trauma and healing, not many seem to be written by people with Amber’s unique perspective. That perspective lends credibility to the message she delivers that, despite being “a person who has floundered in puddles of abuse, physical and emotional brokenness, imperfection, hopelessness, and even the shadow of death,” there is healing and hope “for what is yet to come.”
For me, the most powerful section of the book was chapter eleven, “Seek Freedom Through Forgiveness.” No one except a fellow former foster youth has the credibility to tell others in foster care about the power of forgiveness, but, as Amber points out, both scientific data and her own experiences support the fact that unforgiveness is a prison that keeps its victims in chains. Without shying away from the costly act of forgiveness, describing the process as “long, gruesome, and exhausting,” Amber asserts that it is only through forgiveness that one can experience true freedom and find real hope. I appreciate her honesty and courage to make that claim.
If you know a teen in foster care, a former foster youth, or an adult who continues to struggle from childhood trauma, or if that describes you, consider adding Finding Hope: The 12 Keys to Healing Hardship, Hurt, and Sorrow by Amber Jewell to your library. Her warmth and winsome example of grace and strength will be a wonderful encouragement to you. If you’re a foster parent, I also recommend having it on your shelf for later. You never know when you might have an opportunity to share Amber’s powerful path of healing with someone in your care.
Note: the link to this book is an Amazon Affiliate link, meaning if you use it, I will receive a small commission.