Wednesday, May 19, 2010

‘I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy’ by Angie Smith – Book Review

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People often wonder why God allows suffering and pain.  The loss of a child is particularly hard to accept.  The Smith family of Nashville, Tennessee experienced this loss, and Angie Smith shares her story in ‘I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy.’

Here is description of the book from the back cover:

Angie Smith was eighteen weeks pregnant with her fourth daughter, Audrey Caroline, when doctors discovered conditions leaving Audrey “incompatible with life.”  Faced with the decision whether to terminate the pregnancy, Angie and her husband chose to carry Audrey for as long as she had life.  This began what turned out to be three months of loving and carrying a little girl that was not expected to live more than a few minutes.
Audrey Caroline lived for over two hours, weighing three pounds, two ounces.  Yet, in the midst of the sorrow of loss, there was still joy.  Angie weaves the faith-filled story of Audrey Caroline with a biblical story of hope to help us all to understand how better to cope with loss and disappointment.

Here is the biography of the author:

Angie Smith is the wife of Todd Smith (lead singer of Dove Award winning group Selah) and author of the popular blog entitled Bring the Rain.  She holds a Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology from Vanderbilt University and lives with her husband and daughters in Nashville, Tennessee.

As Angie’s doctor’s initial diagnosis was made, she and Todd decided they wanted a second opinion.  They decided they would consult with Dr. F, the high-risk doctor and internationally recognized specialist who was involved in the birth of their twins.  Here is his assessment, and Angie’s reaction:

“This baby has something I cannot fix.  Miracles are the Lord’s business.”  He tucked my chart into his white coat and exited quietly, reverently.  Somehow this inexplicable peace continued to cover me, reminding me that the same God who raised people from the dead was forming my Audrey in the “secret place” (Ps. 139:15). (p. 20)

His suggestion was for Angie to carry the baby, because he knew where they stood in their faith.  Angie concurred:

We told him that we believed him and that we trusted him.  We also explained in no uncertain terms that our faith was in a Physician Who hadn’t fully expressed His will for Audrey, and we would wait for that diagnosis. (p. 22)

The Lord used the story of Audrey and the Smith family to allow Himself to be glorified.  Angie began her blog and shared their story wherever she went.  She found many opportunities to share her faith:

…The beauty of this situation was that people were so moved by the fact that I had chosen this route that they wanted to understand why. 
What better way to talk about the Lord?
I’m sure people considered me to be a nutcase to have such delusional faith in the same God who appeared to be allowing my daughter to die in the first place, but that wasn’t the typical response.  Sharing my story opened so many doors to conversation that would never have taken place.
She was already ministering, and she hadn’t left the womb.
My sweet, sweet Audrey. (p. 36)

During her pregnancy, Angie shared her journey on her blog, ‘Bring the Rain.'  She shared some of the blog entries in ‘I Will Carry You.’  I found this April 1, 2008 entry to be particularly poignant, and a wonderful example of Angie’s beautiful way with words:

We are all just doing the best we can, minute by minute, to love our sweet Audrey well.  We talk to her all day long.  Sometimes I will take a bath and tell her all about what swimming is like or what it’s like to be on the beach in the hot sun.  I tell her about my favorite poets, my favorite memories of childhood, and my love for God and her daddy.
The two of us have covered much ground in this sacred dance we call pregnancy.  I feel bonded to her in a way I never did with my others because I know this is all I have.  And yet there is much I can never giver her. (p. 70)

The Smith family took advantage of every moment that had with Audrey Caroline.  The girls decided that they wanted to go to Cinderella’s Castle with their little sister.  Here is a precious photo of the Smith girls enjoying their trip.

In her blog entry from April 6, 2008, she also shared that her view of God was not harmed by the potential loss of Audrey (p. 79):

He didn’t ask me to praise Him because He was going to perform a miracle, although He knows that I would.  He asked me to praise Him because He will be the same tomorrow regardless of what happens to Audrey.  Is that hard to wrap my heart around?

Audrey was delivered by caesarean section on April 7, 2008.  Along with Todd and their four year old twins Ellie and Abby, and their two year old, Kate, they were surrounded by family and friends.  Audrey Caroline lived for two hours.  Angie describes the scene:

I’ve seen a beautiful quote frequently referenced by various individuals that sums it up perfectly, “Joy is not the absence of trouble but the presence of Christ.”  I have no doubt that the Lord was in our midst and that He drank deeply of our sorrow that day.
In his infinite mercy He allowed us to embrace the moments we had and to live those hours as if they were going to go on forever.
The tiny hospital room became filled with the voices and prayers of our closest friends and family, and we rejoiced that she was in our arms.  As she was passed from person to person, I watched as they all cooed over her and touched her face.  It struck me many times that day that if anyone were to walk into that room with no explanation, they wouldn’t have known it was any different from a normal celebration of a child’s birth. (p. 87)

Selah released a lovely song called ‘I Will Carry You (Audrey’s Song).’  Here is the song and accompanying photos of this beautiful family:

Angie shared her heart and her prayer for others who are suffering inexpressible loss:

I stand before you in spirit, weeping, and I pray for the promise of eternity to be carved deeply, unmistakably, into the very fiber of your hurt. Do you believe that the Lord is who He says He is and that He has accomplished what He says He Has accomplished? If you do, then know that you are walking a road that leads to Him and to your precious lost children.
No, they will not return to us.
But one day, not so far from now, we will go to them. (p. 109)

I found this book to be so touching. Angie is a very gifted writer. This family has always struck me as so committed to the Lord, and so dedicated to His purposes. Their faith is incredibly strong, and I am encouraged in my faith by their example. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who has suffered loss and want to be encouraged in how to press on (which happens to be the title to another wonderful Selah song!).

The Lord is blessing this family in a new way. Angie is pregnant, and their newest daughter, Charlotte, will be arriving on May 22, 2010. I pray grace, peace, joy and happiness on this Godly family, and look forward to watching them grow and grow even closer to the Lord!

You can order this book here.

This book was provided by B&H Publishing Group for review purposes.

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