12 Children. Four Countries. Two Capitalists. One Story.
Disruptors, entrepreneurs, and unconventional do-gooders, Drs. Jodi and Garry Vermaas are not the people you would expect to parent 12 children.
From the child-trafficking slums of Manila to the barren corners of China to the baggage compartment of a long-distance train to Mumbai, each of their children has a tale to tell––if only they could find the words.
Follow Dr. Jodi Vermaas and her husband, CEO, and multi-millionaire Dr. Garry Vermaas, on a ten-year journey across the globe to discover what really matters. After living the American success story, they traded in all of their belongings to embrace a life of true purpose. But their race to adopt a dozen children wasn’t won easily. Governments opposed them. Children vanished. Persecutors campaigned against them. And how could they have anticipated encounters with the Taliban, deadly snakes, and––worst of all––alarmingly misbehaving kids?
Face-to-face with fierce opposition, wild success, and unthinkable heartbreak, author Dr. Jodi Vermaas takes you on a life-altering journey that challenges everything you know about altruism. Written from the perspectives of herself and her husband, their first-born son with autism, and their eldest daughter from the Philippines, this action-packed memoir shows you one family’s attempt to change the world one messy story at a time.
Get Money Do Good confronts child trafficking, capitalism, and autism in this brutally honest adoption memoir. In an age where society demonizes capitalists as the antagonists, Drs. Garry and Jodi Vermaas become anti-heroes to expose the startling costs of rescuing and loving 12 children. With alarming vulnerability and shrewd humor, Get Money Do Good upsets everything you know about getting money and doing good— and reveals the legacies that live at their crossroads. Debut author, J.D. Vermaas, invites you to count the cost of doing what matters most in life as you join her in this epic journey of unapologetic capitalism, extreme altruism, and reckless love.
J.D. Vermaas, PhD
Born in raised in South Florida, Dr. Jodi (J.D.) Vermaas was raised to work hard and do more. At 18, she relocated to New York City to attend Columbia University where she majored in English. While there, she also volunteered and later worked at a local church, earning ordination status in women’s ministry in 1995. During the first twelve years of ministry, she counseled and taught thousands of women and children in New York and Florida, as well as in Africa, the Caribbean, Canada, and Europe. During the numerous unexpected journeys that blossomed from that faithful commitment to full-time service, she met and married fellow Columbia graduate, Dr. Garry Vermaas.
Her experiences with diverse and hurting people alerted her to the need for trained mental health clinicians. She went on to earn her MA/Ph.D. in Clinical Christian Psychology, and later, her MS/Ph.D. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Counselor Education and Supervision. She pursued counseling while growing her family, which was frequently relocating and visiting various parts of the world. In Qatar, India, Haiti, and China, she counseled and served women and children in crisis. She adopted four of her children from orphanages in these locations and founded the non-profit organization, Priority One Worldwide, to meet the needs of missionaries, orphans, and widows.
Over the past four years, Dr. Jodi Vermaas has joined her husband to provide executive coaching and leadership development in his rapidly expanding and global firm, BASE4. In that capacity, she has transformed the leadership structure of the organization using a servant leadership model and promoting the values-based skills of the firm. In 2018, Garry and Jodi traveled to the Philippines and brought home six children, aged 5-12. With this growing family of 14, she and Garry settled in Franklin, Tennessee, where they are building a 22-acre farm (The Farm at Stonepile Manor) to provide a therapeutic respite for family and friends alike- while striving to do good.
My Current Library
Included below are some of my family’s most recent reads, some classic, others new, and all important. We will post reviews as noted.
Becoming Elisabeth Elliot
By Ellen Vaughn
Becoming Elisabeth Elliot demonstrates the courage it takes to follow those subtle but unyielding cries to go forth unknowing to make a difference in this world. Without meandering purposelessly through documented life events, Ellen Vaughn uses journal entries, interview data, and historical accounts to paint a vibrant portrait of a woman who did just that—and changed the world through her tenacious obedience to her life’s calling.
Unlike modern missionary movements and people, Elisabeth Elliot, her husband, and colleagues immersed themselves in another culture, both violently different and linguistically foreign from the one from which they came. After her husband was killed, she and her daughter, Val, relocated into the lives and community of these remote people, the same people who took her husband’s life. She did not force her beliefs on them, but rather, lived among them as they grew to know both her faith and her life—a combination that both startled and impressed her onlookers.
What fascinated me most about this biography are the very personal notes shared amid a much bigger public life story. Moments of fear, desire, frustration, loneliness, and anger pop up throughout the accounting, making Elisabeth Elliot a figure with whom we can relate. That is the power in this book—that readers can see themselves in her shoes, and by seeing it, move closer to living a similar life of impact.
Most profound to me was the account of Elisabeth’s friendship with the man who murdered her husband. He called her “sister,” and she accepted his claim. Although struggles with fellow missionaries, political and academic division, and the physical trials of living in remote Ecuadorian land could have derailed her mission, she pushed on to overcome the greatest divide of all: the hatred that leads to revenge. Through the detailed reporting and retelling of Ellen Vaughn, we hear of a woman who closed the gap on this vengeance, paving a way for progress, understanding, and faith. Of all the people who could have gone to the Waodani, Elisabeth was the most unlikely. In that strange and other-worldly decision is where truly amazing change occurred—both in herself and her hearers.
I recommend this book to anyone searching for greatness, and I thank Ellen Vaughn for her painstaking work to document Elisabeth Elliot’s extraordinary life in an objective, entertaining, and inspiring read.
By Kristin Hannah
This astounding historical fiction brought on tears of meaning and many moments of deep thought. Set in the backdrop of occupied France from 1939-1945, Kristin Hannah tells the story of two sisters—so different yet similarly, bravely determined to love—even through the ghastly cruelty of Nazi Germany. During the intermittent chapters told from a future perspective looking back, the reader understands the fate of both sisters and longs to see them through to a happier ending; still, the majority of the book keeps its WWII setting as both women struggle for self-identity, courage, and loyalty through the war’s progression. The book’s characters achieve immense personal growth, reaching self-actualization as they wrestle with their past’s familial disconnectedness, later brought into harmony through the clarifying lens of suffering and accomplishment. This book is hard to put down and equally difficult to forget. The Nightingale will stay with you and ask you to consider the depths of sacrifice you would endure for love, family, and country.
Greetings from the Witness Protection Program
By Jake Burt
Greetings from the Witness Protection Program is about a girl who has to go through many challenges just so she can protect the Trevor Family. This book is unique because it shows the bravery of a child who is willing to be part of a family who needs protection. Even though Nickie Demere (aka Charlotte Trevor) has to face hard challenges, she comes through the ordeal while discovering the surprising rewards of incredible new friends. Young adult readers will connect with the fears of doing something beyond what you ever thought possible–while confronting the feelings and questions that define being family.
The Master of One
By Jordan Raynor
My best friend sent me this book and told me I had to read it. She was right! For someone who does a lot of stuff, this book resonated with me deeply, challenging me to pinpoint my strengths and pursue greatness in a focused way. This book makes you think hard–and Jordan Raynor relates with you each step of the way. He is like a friend walking with you through a dark forest, shining a light on the narrow path. A definite read for anyone looking to change the world.
The Way of the Quiet Warrior: 90 Days to the Life You Desire
By Tom Dutta
This book surprised me. Not the typical leadership manual, this creative, reflective work weaved together numerous stories of real people making their way in an unkind (or at least untamed) world. The book grabs your heart with gut-punching stories, then relates the stories in a phased understanding of the journey to success and full life. As a full-life junkie, I really appreciate Tom Dutta’s passion, as well as his nod to leadership psychology and personality assessment as tools that can improve the speed and accuracy of our individual journies.
Educated: A Memoir
By Tara Westover
As a mother of 12, I often arrive at the book party late. Usually several years after print, I read books that I need to read at that moment–rather than the “hot new releases.” Educated was one of these books on my list to read for a while, and it does not disappoint. In addition to the heart-wrenching story, Tara Westover details growing up isolated, indoctrinated, and–yet–still desiring to live a life of great learning, open roads, and untold adventure. Her immaculate writing moved me to deep imagination as I stepped into her journey and rooted her on. Each person will find lessons, possibilities, and hope in this insightful work. Thank you for writing it, Tara Westover!
Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption
By Katie Davis, Beth Clark
Katie has 14 adopted girls–so this book makes me smile. In fact, I read a little each day, devotional-style, because of the enormous encouragement I received from a fellow mother of many. Laughter, tears, conviction, and fear are evoked by her courageous telling of the terrifying decision to leave everything she knew and everything she new to answer a divine calling. Through the many challenges, she documents pure joy and deep love that makes readers want to do more. This book is not new, but its message is timeless.
The Hunger Games: Special Edition
By Suzanne Collins
I know I am the last person on earth to read this, but my daughter insisted I add it to my list. Of course, I could not put this one down, completely enthralled by the relationships built through a harrowing and violent set of experiences. Since all the reviews have already been written, I just want to say that reading this book along with my daughter made it much more important than anything I have read alone. Read together and share!
The Heart Is a Shifting Sea: Love and Marriage in Mumbai
By Elizabeth Flock
I chose this book because I love India and have spent much time there with fabulous people and awesome couples. I have friends who experienced the “love marriage” and many who have an arranged marriage–with full disclosure about the challenges and satisfactions of both. This book tells the story of three such couples and their true stories, which span several years, shedding light on how our choices, and that of our cultures and families, can dictate one of the most important decisions of our lives. Entertaining, heart-felt, and uncomfortable at times–this book makes this old question resonate with new perspectives: Whom should I love?
It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way
By Lysa TerKeurst
We all start off with meaningful hopes, dreams, and goals–then life happens! Everyone relates to the idea resonating in this well-titled book about learning to accept and face great disappointments, pain, and loss. Lysa Terkeurst hits the nail on the head with this spiritual guide. With humility, self-awareness, and truth-seeking, she discusses the pain and fragility of daily life while offering hope and camaraderie. A thoroughly rich, helpful, and encouraging read.
By Kristin Hensley, Jen Smedley
I am so thankful for this book! Actually, I listened to it on Audible, which made it even better for me. In the midst of parenting woes, nothing is needed more than to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley serve moms everywhere by their honest assessment of parenting, marriage, friendship, and everything else in between. The Audible recording read by the authors feels like being at a stand-up club for hours of humor and light-heartedness, interjected with wisdom and kindness to all of us who feel like failures in doing what we seek most to do well.
By Charlotte Bronte
My favorite book of all time, Jane Eyre is a must-read for everyone seeking to be better people amid great challenge. First published in 1847, Jane still lives on, showing us what it means to hope and strive, endure and suffer until we find true joy through selflessness, courage, and self-control. I just love Jane, and this book makes my heart happy and more resilient. If you are looking to reread some of literature’s greatest gifts, Charlotte Bronte’s classic does not disappoint.
The Hate U Give
By Angie Thomas
This book predates the protests of 2020, and Angie Thomas captures the heart of the issue with this prophetic book. My son, James, read The Hate U Give while listening to it on Audible to help him learn to read English. He talked to me about it every day he read, as it resonated across cultures and languages to speak to his heart about identity and belonging. Because James has only been in the United States since he was 13, his accounting of the story meant more to me than anything I could have read on my own. I am grateful for the book, and James’ interpretations of such an important story.
By Nicholas Sparks
You Can Thank Me Later: A Novella
By Kelly Harms
The Joy Luck Club
By Amy Tan
The Magnolia Story
By Chip Gaines, Joanna Gaines
The Burn Zone: A Memoir
By Renee Linnell
By Rainbow Rowell
By Laura Ruby
By Louisa May Alcott
Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness
By Rick Hanson, Forrest Hanson
The Future Is Here: Senior Living Reimagined
By Lisa M. Cini
Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.
By Brené Brown
Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism
By Temple Grandin
Anne of Green Gables
By Lucy Maud Montgomery
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
By Erika L. Sánchez
Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World, by Bob Goff: Summary & Analysis
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
By Bessel Van der Kolk MD
By Leo Tolstoy
Pride and Prejudice
By Jane Austen