Expecting the Unexpected: a book review

Last Fall I was asked by my buddy, Amy Kim, to review her upcoming book, Expecting the Unexpected: An Honest Look at Miscarriage, Postpartum Depression & Motherhood. I eagerly agreed. I read through the manuscript in one sitting - on a flight and in an airport. I gobbled up her words through stifled chuckles on the plane and wiped away tears in an airport terminal.

For years Amy and I shared parallel journeys. I struggled through the darkness of infertility and Amy braved the depths of a miscarriage and postpartum depression.

As ambitious career women and adoring wives I don't think we both anticipated the journey toward or into motherhood being so difficult. So many of the public stories told are of positive pregnancy tests, growing baby bumps, and sweet smelling babies who breast-feed without an issue.

That wasn't either of our experience. Over the years I watched Amy's journey in real life and online as she bravely, publicly, and appropriately shared her stories at the right times. 

Amy was authentic and courageous in her own pain. And she was committed to getting through it, not stuck in it. I remember going to a book reading and signing of Cold Tangerines, written my old friend, Shauna Niequist. That was over 4 years ago. Amy was in the middle of a searing loss and I was smack dab in the center of a seemingly never-ending adoption process. We'd both read Shauna's book and it spoke deeply to us both. We needed that night together. 

Fast forward all these years later. We have 5 kids between our two families and it looks so "happily ever after". But sometimes the end of the story isn't as good as the middle part. The middle part is the part that breaks us down, strengthens us, transforms us, and shapes us into the people (not just mothers) we need to be. That's what Amy and my journey into motherhood did - and is DOING - for both of us.

My endorsement of "Expecting the Unexpected" from the back of Amy's book.

My endorsement of "Expecting the Unexpected" from the back of Amy's book.

I know this book will be a gift to the women who's journey into motherhood isn't all fairytales and roses. I know you'll enjoy it like I did! 


April L. Diaz

April has been a visionary activist her entire life. She has made it her mission to lead high performing teams and develop leaders in the margins of society while caring for our bodies, mind, and spirit. Secretly, she’s a mix of a total girly girl and a tomboy, and is still crazy about her high school sweetheart, Brian. Together, they co-parent 3 fabulous kiddos and live in Orange County, CA.

Diaz Year in Review

This year has been an epic year of adventure. I don't think we'll fully appreciate and understand for many years the tectonic plate shifts that took place in our lives this year. In 1 Samuel 7:12, a priest and judge named Samuel, raised an Ebenezer. It says,

"Samuel took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer—”the stone of help”—for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!” —1 Samuel 7:12, NLT

That stone wasn't magical but it served as a symbol, a reminder for the people. That Ebenezer represented a fresh beginning for God’s people. It also said something important about God: his mercies are everlasting; his covenant is forever.

We've had that kind of year where fresh beginnings were prominent and God's mercies were needed new every morning. Therefore, in a valiant effort to raise an Ebenezer for 2014, here is our year in review.


Our family literally began 2014 on the sugar-sandy beaches of the Dominican Republic with 30+ of the Getz family. Once again, my uber generous Granny and Gramps swept us all away to spend 7-days in Paradise. Paradise was only slightly twarted by the virus of the century when all but 3 of us got massively sick...on the way home. To this day, Addise lovingly refers to that trip and airplanes as "when we all puked so many times". Yes, baby girl. That's what happened.

Three weeks after we got home from Paradise/Puke-fest, Brian and I headed to Hawaii for a week-long work/birthday celebration trip. Rough start to 2014, right?!? After a few days in Kona learning from YWAM global leaders, we took a quick jaunt over to Maui to celebrate Brian's 35th birthday. We stayed in the lap of luxury and enjoyed our first extended time away together since becoming parents. Thanks, Mom, for making it possible!

In April my man and I got to take another trip to New Orleans where I officiated a most spectacular wedding of a southern belle and a South African at a plantation. It was a most beautiful picture of love and reconciliation.

In May we took a quick trip to San Diego to spend a couple days with Brian's sister's family. We finally got to meet her hubby and 2.5 year old kiddo. Super great.

Of course Brian took his annual trip to mecca - aka Comicon - with a 150,000 of his closest friends. How my introverted husband loves this is so beyond me, but I love that he gets his nerd tank filled every July.

In August the Diaz Cinco took a 2-week, 3,000 mile road trip up Pacific Coast Highway (breathtaking views!) to San Francisco, up to Albany, OR, to Seattle, WA, to Vancouver, Canada, back to Albany, back to Monterey, CA. All along the way we spent time with dear friends and a mentor. It was an epic way to decompress from our recent ministry transition and get uninterrupted time with one another. Our kids LOVED the road trip and we soaked in the sights and ate spectacularly at the best spots along the way.

In Brian's words, "all the vacations were pretty great, the rest was pretty much hard." Truth.


This year our one and only girl, Addise, turned 4, then our "baby", Asher turned 2, and our first born, Judah, turned 6. That's just impossible. They are growing in every way beyond our ability to catch it all. Nearly 4 years into being a family, we felt like this year we moved past survival mode and realized "we're gonna make it" ... and enjoy it a bit along the way. Judah and Addise LOVE preschool and we are crazy grateful for their school, teachers, and classmates. We've found quite the little community there as they partner with us in raising our kiddos to become all God created them to be and do in this world.

In March Judah asked Jesus in his heart on Good Friday while driving in our minivan to the park to play with friends. What a reminder that total transformation is still possible in the most ordinary of places. This little boy has simple childlike faith and exudes Jesus' love.

Perhaps one of my most significant transformations this year was completing my first half marathonin L.A. with Team World Vision.What it did for me physically was powerful, but what it taught me about my mental, emotional and spiritual capacities still astounds me. And running with Team World Vision expanded my great love for our brothers and sisters in Malawi. I literally sobbed in the last 250 yards as I ran into the finish line with Brian pushing our three kiddos. (Hey! I'm running again this year and would love your support. $50 provides 1 person clean water for life!)

June 30th marked the end of a decade long journey for us at Newsong. The transition was a painful and intense because of the depth of love we have for the people we've walked through life with. That community became our family and walked with us through the lowest and highest moments of our life. We are forever grateful even in the midst of loss.

The Summer was dubbed the "summer to remember"! And it was all about reconnection, healing, recovery, and recalibration for what's next for our family. I read books and listened to endless talks on transition, leadership, and spiritual formation in mass proportion. It went entirely too fast and was exactly what our family needed.

Asher potty trained himself on a Tuesday afternoon in September. (He's a total third child.) I'm not kidding. Bless him! We are diaper free and pretty much loving it.

Brian got Lasik. Addise and I got glasses. Whatever.

I traveled 17 times in the Fall while Brian valiantly held down the fort keeping 3 kids alive and working his part-time job whenever he could get a spare minute. My greatest joy was the ability to work with remarkable churches and youth workers from all over the country. Brian's greatest joy was me coming home after every trip ... and knowing that one of us is almost always caring for our little ones. I'm also pretty excited that I earned a new airline status to make travel a little easier in 2015.

Seriously, though, it's not the easiest of things to move from a 17-year local church / pastoral vocation into the world of independent contracting. I'm really grateful for the work I've done this year with Slingshot Group, The Youth Cartel, and Fuller Youth Institute - and the myriad of other churches and leaders I was able to serve and (hopefully) strengthen for their mission. It's been really transformative to see great people doing great work in a variety of great ways.


Change always means loss, but it can also meet a longing. Most definitely leaving a 10-year job that I loved was filled with loss for us but it also opened us to a myriad of opportunities we never would've dreamed of a year ago. The challenge of letting go allowed us to cling more to our God and each other, while opening ourselves to new, undiscovered dreams and longings. We are challenging ourselves daily with living those dreams and taking risks to become all we are meant to be. 2015 will present a new set of challenges, but we are stronger now than we were a year ago and we are ready!

While on vacation in August, Addise and I were in a car accident with our dearest friends, Emily and Erin. Getting rear-ended lead us to massive pain, 30+ chiropractor visits over 3.5 months. It wasn't until mid-December that we really recovered. Chronic pain is no joke. We're grateful for great treatment (yay Dr. Dave!) and healing (yay God!).

Raising three little people challenges us daily. Brian and my conversations are often lamenting, confessing, processing, and questioning how we can raise them better. Going from zero to three kids in 15-months has pushed us heart and soul. We finish our days exhausted and grateful for the grace to be their mom and dad. We desperately depend on new mercies every morning.

In whatever state this Ebenezer-of-a-letter finds you in, we wish you a Merry Christmas and the Happiest of 2015. And when you find yourself in unhappy moments, may the JOY Jesus came to bring meet you there, too.

Here's to all kinds of adventures in 2015!

Much Love...

photo by emily bell

photo by emily bell

Review of Fuller Youth Institute's Latest Book

Sticky Faith GuideI was invited to review Fuller Youth Institute's newest book for parents called, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family: Over 100 Practical and Tested Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Kids. Here's what I think...

First of all, a disclaimer. I truly love everything FYI shares with the world. Their work is some of the best in the youth ministry world, for youth workers, parents, and students. Additionally, I've been on FYI's Advisory Council forever and have been very involved in the Sticky Faith movement since the beginning (ex: Kara's kind enough to include me in the acknowledgments). Currently, I'm a Sticky Faith coach for their cohorts and a certified trainer for Sticky Faith.

Second, my involvement and review are as a result of their work, not the other way around.

Finally, my reflections of their latest release...

This book is so easy to read. If you're new to the Sticky Faith research, this book will catch up in no time. If you've read everything they've published, this will give you new handles to exercise the research (Appendices 1 + 2).

This book is for more than parents of teenagers. As a parent to little ones (ages 6, 4, and 2) this book gives me inspiration, examples, and assessments to use with my kiddos. I love how it spans the years of parenting combining theology, theory, and the real world.

This book is covered in grace. It could be easy to read 100+ ideas and feel like you're the worst parent in the world. Sticky Faith is not about the "Gospel of Sin Management" - a reduction of the gospel to a checklist of do’s and don’ts (page 44) - but about undeserved favor. The principles and ideas in this book move parents toward grace and yet-another chance instead of judgment. The practical ideas are stories from parents like me, guiding me toward a better future with my kids. I found my head being lifted and heart expanded as I read stories of other parents' success and failure who want their kids to radically follow Jesus just like I do.

"Mom, Dad, Stepmom, Stepdad, Grandma, or Grandpa, please know this: Jesus is bigger than your mistakes too." (page 43)

This is a book about action over ideas. Ideas are great but they don't mean anything unless you put them into practice. These ideas are tested and true. They are field-experienced in families similar to mine and yours. This book compellingly invites us to evaluate and determine what we will do with what we read. It beckons us to DO SOMETHING with what we know, for the sake of our children and future. The questions, quick assessments, and ideas provide us with space to make familial application.

This book is about my faith ... not just my kids. It's easier to point a finger at what's not working at my kid. But it's far more honest and authentic to view my kids through a mirror. This books reminds us as parents that our faith will deeply impact the depth and health of our kids' faith.

The most important social influence in shaping young people’s religious lives is the religious life modeled and taught to them by their parents. —Christian Smith and Melissa Lundquist Denton (Soul Searching, 56)

One of my barometers for enhancing the quality of my life (as defined by John 10:10) is: Does it make me want to love Jesus more? This resource and my friends at FYI do. Without a doubt.

Perhaps what I loved most about this Guide is that it's not a copy/paste approach to parenting. It's literally 100+ ideas that can be contextualized for the uniquenesses of our family. I can read the research and stories of great examples of building Sticky Faith in our kids, assess our strengths and weaknesses, and come up with a plan for action that will work for us (chapter 13!).

I hope this resource will make it onto your "must have" school supply list this year. I have full confidence your family will be better for it. May this year be the best yet in building Sticky Faith in our kids's lives.


April L. Diaz

April has been a visionary activist her entire life. She has made it her mission to lead high performing teams and develop leaders in the margins of society while caring for our bodies, mind, and spirit. Secretly, she’s a mix of a total girly girl and a tomboy, and is still crazy about her high school sweetheart, Brian. Together, they co-parent 3 fabulous kiddos and live in Orange County, CA.