The Waiting (The Book that Will Leave You Breathless)

Cynthia Herron Books 6 Comments

Image Credit: via Cathy LaGrow

Image Credit: via Cathy LaGrow

When buzz started to build about The Waiting, I must admit to a preliminary goosebump moment. I knew I had to have this book.

As a reader, who wouldn’t love a true story like this?

As a mom, how could my heartstrings not be tugged?

And as a Christian…

Well, as a Christian was I prepared for the gamut of emotions that would surface—the ones that might cause me to question God’s sovereign will? The ones that might grow me?

I didn’t know the answer to that one, but as I began to read, my heart stirred. Doubts dimmed. My faith grew stronger with every turn of the page.

Clearly, how Minka Disbrow’s life unfolded was not one of happenstance.

Put simply, one might say The Waiting (Tyndale House Publishers) by Cathy LaGrow and Cindy Coloma is a story of loss, longing, and restoration. However, that wouldn’t do Minka and Betty Jane’s (Ruth’s) story full justice. That’s too neat and tied with a bow.

The Waiting is anything but neat—and the “pretty” takes a lifetime.

But often, isn’t that how God’s best works? Beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3) is a trial by fire process. It’s the culmination of heartache and baggage mingled with hope, perseverance, and finally—blessed redemption.

As you read The Waiting, you’ll be tempted to devour Minka’s story quickly. However, you’ll want to have a tissue handy and you may find it necessary at various intervals to take short breaks. This will allow you time to digest the many complexities of a story—and a miracle—almost eight decades in the making.

The Waiting is a breath-catching journey from beginning to end. The writing is seamless and flows easily onto the page.

The author and collaborator do a superb job of connecting the dots and blending past with present, while at the same time, making the reader aware that this is no ordinary story. This is a lifelong trek on a detour-laden path—a path marked by sadness and pain, but one that is shaped and mended by God’s providential hand.

Here’s the set up:

As a young, sixteen-year-old girl, Minka “Minnie” Disbrow is used to hard work.

Laboring on her family’s farm has left little time for the simple pleasures in life and she yearns to do the same things other girls do.

The year is 1928—a year Minka will never forget.

The summer is a hot one and it’s the day of her sewing class picnic. She’s looked forward to wearing a pretty dress and visiting with other girls her own age.

When Minka is assaulted by a stranger in the woods, initially her mind can’t absorb what’s just happened. It’s a different time than the life we know today. The innocence of Minka’s youth is reminiscent of a gentler era. She knows nothing about the facts of life or anything beyond tales of storks dropping off babies.

Too ashamed to tell anyone about her encounter in the woods, Minka’s life goes on. For months, she doesn’t realize she’s pregnant, and she’s shocked when her mother makes the assumption.

Knowing the crushing blow that comes from wagging tongues and idle gossip, Minka’s mother and step-father make the difficult decision to place Minka in a home for unwed mothers—at least temporarily until after the baby is born.

It’s then that Minka does what she believes best for her precious “Betty Jane.” She gives her baby a chance at a better life and places her up for adoption.

This is the most difficult decision Minka has ever made in her life. Over the next many years, Minka never quits thinking about or longing for her little girl.

She writes letter after letter to the beautiful, blue-eyed daughter who forever leaves an imprint on her heart. Somehow, one day, she hopes Betty Jane will read the letters and know how much her biological mother loved her.

Time rolls by. Decades pass. Minka’s life is a semblance of highs and lows. More children come, but still, Minka never forgets and never ceases to pray for her sweet  Betty Jane.

One day, well into her golden years now, Minka asks God for a miracle: Might she see Betty Jane just once more before she dies? Minka promises not to interrupt her daughter’s life or cause undue interference. She just wants to see her.

Well, as God often does, He surprises Minka in a way that is nothing short of miraculous.

The many variables and improbabilities are no match for our all-knowing, miracle-making God. Faith triumphs over turmoil.

Wheels are set in motion by Betty Jane’s (Ruth’s) very own son.

Victory is at hand!

As I read the last paragraph of The Waiting, I sensed the enormity of Minka’s story.

I wept at the injustice of it all.

I wept for years lost.

I wept for heartache transformed.

I wept for my renewed faith.

I’ve not quit thinking about this book or the true story within its pages. You won’t be able to either.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Some additional thoughts:

God’s love knows no bounds. What we write off as impossible, His omnipotence creates a way. And when it appears as if time’s running out… that’s when our Creator shines.

Cathy LaGrow and Cindy Coloma have masterfully crafted a timeless story, breathing life into real characters, but ones authored by God’s own hand.

The Waiting. A must for your summer reading.


Cathy LaGrow

Cathy LaGrow

The Waiting is Cathy’s debut book. You can connect with her at her blog, Windows and Paper Walls and read more about her here. Cathy is Minka’s granddaughter so this book was very much a labor of love. (Image credit via Cathy LaGrow.)


Cindy Coloma

Cindy Coloma

Cindy collaborated with Cathy and is a contributor for The Waiting. She’s the author of eight novels and two non-fiction books. Connect with Cindy at her website and find out more about her here. (Image credit via Cindy Coloma.)


The Waiting was provided via the publisher for review. I received no monetary payment for this honest review. All opinions are my own.


A test of faith and a trial by fire: The true story of an 80 year miracle-in-the-making.

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The true story of love, loss, and heartache redeemed. How this mother never gave up.

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When time runs out, that’s when God shines! Read Minka Disbrow’s incredible story.

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Has God ever made you wait?

What lesson did you learn?

What part of Minka’s journey inspires you the most?

A privilege to have you stop by!

Blessings Always,

Comments 6

  1. Shelli Littleton

    Cynthia, I had thought that Minka was forced to give the baby for adoption.

    These stories are hard because my girls are adopted. When I heard Minka say on a video something like, “You’ve finally come home” … my heart sank.

    I’m thankful for God’s plan for them. But it always saddens me to think that the biological families will get a hold of my girls one day and proclaim, “You’ve finally come ‘home.'” As if “this” wasn’t their real home. You know? I’m their real mom and this is their real home. Because God made us a family.

    I just have to say a word for the adoptive families. We aren’t temporary babysitters. We are real home and real families. And I do hope the book addresses that, too.

    Do you think if you were in my shoes you could read it, or would it be too difficult?

  2. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Thanks for this review – I think that Barbara will love this story!

    For personal reasons I might find it a bit too hard, because the child of mine that I might have gotten to know is dead – killed in utero when his mother was murdered, an act I witnessed. I was unsuccessful in its prevention.

  3. Post
    Cynthia Herron

    Andrew, I’m speechless. I’m so very sorry for your loss, my friend. I can’t imagine the depth of your pain and to gloss over your experience would be to minimize it. I believe one day you’ll take your precious child in your arms and your reunion will be sweeter than anything you can possibly imagine.

    Prayers for you always. God bless you and Barbara.

  4. Post
    Cynthia Herron

    Precious Shelli, yes—you need to read Minka’s story.

    I realize your perspective is a different one, and I can empathize. (My beautiful nieces came to their mama and daddy from China.) Let me just say, because of space I was unable to delve into every single aspect of this miraculous story the way I would have liked.

    Minka didn’t want to place her child for adoption, but she understood, too, the ramifications of raising her little girl alone at a time when that was basically unheard of. Minka remained in the House of Mercy for approximately five weeks with her baby as she was allowed to recuperate and make her final decision. The people there were very loving and nurturing. No one physically “took” her baby or forced her into the decision of giving her baby away. She didn’t want to let Betty Jane go, but she didn’t want to destine her to a life of hardship or ridicule either.

    Betty Jane (“Ruth”) was adopted and raised by a very loving family, and although Minka ached for her daughter the rest of her life she knew she’d made the right decision. There was also some minimal communication for a short time between Minka and the matron superintendent, Miss Bragstad. Minka was aware Betty Jane (or “Ruth” as her new mama and daddy named her) went to wonderful, adoring parents.

    When Minka and Ruth finally reunited almost eight decades later, Minka’s intent was never to usurp Betty Jane’s adoptive parents’ role, and since both of her adoptive parents were now deceased, there was not the awkwardness there might be otherwise. Another key point: Betty Jane’s (Ruth’s) son was the one who found Minka!

    You’ll need to read the full story to understand all the dynamics of The Waiting. The issues that are worrisome to you are fully addressed and handled beautifully.

    Though never in your shoes, I certainly can appreciate where you’re coming from, Shelli. Think of Minka’s story as one of healing and restoration and I think it may reframe things for you.

    Blessings, dear one!

  5. flipper14

    Shelli, I am the father of an adopted daughter and Cynthia is spot-on with her assessment of this book. It is a beautiful story. Ruth was so blessed by her adoptive parents. Minka just longed for the child she placed for adoption. I can’t even do the book justice but I strongly encourage you to read it. It will stick with you for a long time to come.

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