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Friday, September 12, 2014

"Eight Twenty Eight" (Ian & Larissa Murphy)

TITLE: Eight Twenty Eight: When Love Didn't Give Up
AUTHOR: Ian and Larissa Murphy
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: B and H Publishing, 2014, (176 pages).

They were young. They had lots of plans. They were dating. They were in love. Since they met at college in 2005, they were living a fairy-tale dream of a romance. Ten months later on September 30th, 2006, Ian's station wagon was hit by an SUV, with Ian squashed helplessly inside. Just to survive the impact was itself a miracle. While the accident was shocking, the effects of it are far ranging. For one, Ian lost his short term memory. He also lost many of his fabulous ideas for his filmmaking company called Vinegar Hill. Soon, he would require assistance to do the basic things daily, even wearing his own clothes. The accident put their marriage to the test.

This is a book of how they witness God holding them and their fragile lives together as a visible promise as in the famous verse in Romans 8:28 which says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

That is not all. The title of the book does not simply refer to the Bible verse in Romans. It has quite personal significance for the authors too. Ian's dad's birthday was August 28. Ian and Larissa got married on August 28. They felt that God had held them together through eight-twenty-eight.  This book tells their story of how they met. Larissa vividly describes the many details of their dating days, the events leading up to the accident, and a powerful testimony of how Romans 8:28 had worked in their lives.

It is a story of courage, how a young couple took the bull by the horns and got on with life. Like the emotional struggles of Ian's brain injury and the subsequent challenges of rehabilitation. Or the disappearance of an ideal marriage that they had originally wanted. It is a story of marriage and commitment, of how both husband and wife maintained their affection for each other through it all. It is a story of how a couple had learnt to cherish little things, laugh little moments, pray many prayers, experience community with friends and Church. It is also a story of how they have developed a sizeable following via social media, like the website "prayforian.com" which gives readers on the Internet a peek into their story. Like the subtitle of the book, it is a story "where loved didn't give up."

It is a touching book, considering the couple overcoming many obstacles and staying together faithful and loving. More importantly, I am encouraged at how Ian and Larissa continue to place their trust in God, and to let their story be a reflection of God's love and faithfulness in spite of trouble. It is a story that reminds us that our stories can never be bigger than God. We can only be a part of God's bigger story, which is precisely why we all needed to trust God, like Ian and Larissa. The accident didn't damage their marriage. It brings them closer. Larissa summarizes her understanding of marriage in a beautiful way.

"Yes, God has given us a mystery in each other that we will unpack and uncover each year that we have together. He has given me an irreplaceable gift through my disabled husband who in few words has helped me more than any - more than can be told." (214-5)

Reading this book about two persons in love tells me that marriage is more than two normal physical persons. It is the heart that binds. I can tell from the book that Ian and Larissa love each other very much. It warms my heart and reminds me again that it is in a way like the relationship between God and us. For anyone questioning whether one ought to marry a person who is disabled, remember that if God had used ability or disability as a reference guide on whether to save us, we would have been condemned long ago. For God is Perfect. We are not. Yet, God chooses to love us and to give up his Son for our sake. Learn from Ian and Larissa that we do not need a lot of stuff or ability to build a strong marriage. It needs constant love and affirmation for each other.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of B&H Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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