Book Endorsements

Mental illness hurts families in ways most people don’t understand until their own loved ones are on the line. In such times, we need experienced and compassionate voices to let us know we’re not alone. [Sparks of Redemptive Grace] offers such a voice, as well as the kind of hope that is always present in Christ. Amy SimpsonAuthor, Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission

Compassion, candor, heart ache and hope fill each page of Catherine P. Downing’s daily readings-type book. Her family’s journey with a loved one who lives with bipolar illness is intertwined with spiritual insights and prayers. Sparks of Redemptive Grace offers glimpses of grace-filled encouragement for care-givers especially. Carole J. Wills, M.A.R. Wellspring Mental Health Ministries

Sparks of Redemptive Grace is not just another book for families dealing with mental illness; it is an experience for all of us. Merging the reality of pain with faith in Christ is a unique mystery to express. Downing beautifully intertwines the two into a grieving interpretation of the heart, the Word of God and the prayers that find God weeping, rejoicing and answering us. Her pain seems to fuel our own eyes of faith as Downing takes us beyond mental illness to see “God shine His peace” into our secret places. This book is not about having the answers, but something far greater … finding comfort and hope unshakable.  Joe Padilla, CEO; Co-founder, Mental Health Grace Alliance

Catherine P. Downing has given Christian families a rare and long-awaited gift in Sparks of Redemptive Grace: Seeking and Seeing God Amid a Loved One’s Mental Illness. As the mother of an adult child who suffers from clinical depression and chronic anxiety, her book provides a balm for my soul. She seamlessly weaves together intimate personal experiences, powerful prayers of the heart and scriptural promises to remind me, my family and my church that God’s love is overwhelmingly unconditional, unceasing and always available for His imperfect children. With poignant wisdom, she underlines the truth that we are never alone in our sufferings, that no one is ever lost and that healing grace is abundant from a God who not only made us, but also suffers with us. Sparks of Redemptive Grace is an invaluable resource for all families of faith that can be used again and again as a prayerful devotion. It should be placed in every church library!  Valerie Holcombe, NAMI Four Seasons “Bridges of Hope” promoter

This inspirational description of a Christian family’s walk alongside a loved one with mental illness paints a realistic picture that is heartfelt yet simultaneously heartbreaking. Sparks of Redemptive Grace says much that other families experience every day but can never say out loud. The Downings’ strength is that they never stray from their constant hope and faith.   Alice Zaccarello, Executive Director, the Well Community

Downing’s marvelous account of her response to the reality of having a loved one with a serious mental health challenge is a must-read. If you have ever struggled to love a difficult person, especially one with a severe mental health condition, you will benefit from reading this book. It is deeply spiritual and deeply encouraging. Written with marvelous honesty, modesty and candor, Sparks of Redemptive Grace illustrates how to build faith and trust in a most difficult circumstance. Downing has been given the opportunity to grow into mature faith in the face of (really, because of) unrelenting challenge. The heartbreak of a loved one’s disability is poignantly addressed with beautiful prayers such as this: “O God, Who is love, teach me to love … reduce me to love.” You, too, will be reduced to love as you read this book.   Barbara Ryan, mother of a severely handicapped daughter, former lawyer and pastor’s wife, addiction and recovery lay counselor

Written with the compassion, vulnerability and yearning of a mother’s heart, Downing offers poignant keyhole glimpses of her pilgrim journey with God and her son through the uncharted territory of his mental illness. If a picture paints a thousand words, Downing’s powerful word pictures illustrate volumes. Caught up in her candid, grace-filled reflections, I twisted and turned with her in her wrestlings with denial and acceptance, despair and hope, brokenness and surrender. Describing the indescribable, Sparks of Redemptive Grace is a gift to anyone who can’t find words to express the emotional chaos of living with someone suffering from mental illness, and points the way toward finding certainty in God in the midst of daily uncertainties. This book is also a gift for professionals, enabling them to vicariously experience the emotional and spiritual impact of mental illness on the family system. And, for friends, extended family members or pastors wanting to understand and support those who care for mentally ill loved ones, this profound book will change your perspective—maybe your life.     Carol Floch McColl, M.A., LPC; Author, The Single Mom’s Devotional (2010, Baker)

Though Sparks of Redemptive Grace is Downing’s story, it is actually the story of millions who care for a mentally ill loved one—including me. Written from an intensely intimate and transparent perspective, Downing offers keen insight into the expectations and disappointments we experience daily. I thank her—we all thank her—for writing our story for us! In these few pages, Downing beautifully intertwines information with inspiration, and insight with encouragement, leaving the reader with a gut-wrenching hope and a hunger to know the God she does. Downing’s prayers are poetry and her narration is captivating. It only takes an hour to read Sparks of Redemptive Grace, but don’t rush it. Savor it. Meditate on it. Pray through it. And then share it with others.    Buzz Moody, Mental Health Grace Alliance Board Member and NAMI Dallas Family-to-Family trainer