When author Stephanie Morales-Beaulieu learned that her vivacious, hard-working father, a pastor who came to the ministry later in life, had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, her world turned upside down. By the time Jesse Morales died 15 months later in 2009 at the age of 61, his vulnerable faith and patient endurance had impacted myriad people, both those who knew him personally and those who learned of his story through Morales-Beaulieu’s blog.
Now, in this biography of her father’s life, Morales-Beaulieu relates Jesse’s childhood experiences in the Philippines, especially his fraught relationship with his abusive father; his trauma because of immigrating to Canada and finding his way as a newcomer; his years of rebellion and hard living; the early years of his often-discordant marriage to Kathy; his submission to Jesus as his Lord and Savior; his eventual call to enter the ministry; his role as father to his four daughters; and his excruciatingly difficult journey with ALS.
After her father’s funeral and the glowing eulogies were spoken, Morales-Beaulieu noticed something that troubled her: “Over the years, I’ve observed something that I’ve since concluded is a bit problematic: the longer my dad has been gone, the more perfect his memory becomes. Why is this a problem, you may ask? Perfection leaves us impressed, but not inspired. We intuitively understand that no human is perfect, but that doesn’t stop us from forgetting that our heroes are, in fact, human.”
To counteract the idolizing of her father and to provide an avenue for inspiration and not just being impressed, Morales-Beaulieu offers a biography of her dad that is raw, vulnerable, and realistic. In her pastoral, frank, and deeply affectionate narrative, Morales-Beaulieu refuses to idolize anyone, even her beloved dad: “Perhaps we could acknowledge that our heroes are simply human, closing the gap between us and them. And since they’re just like us, they don’t belong on a pedestal. We belong together, both standing on the level ground at the foot of the cross, where all the ordinary folk have the opportunity to live lives of faith.” (Word Alive Press)