When we had found out that Isaac was given a fatal prenatal diagnosis, a good friend of mine recommended that I take a look at Angie Smith's blog. I jumped in to her family's story shortly after their sweet daughter, Audrey, had been born and passed away. For those of you who may be new to reading, Angie's husband, Todd, sings in Selah, and I have mentioned on here several times what an encouragement Angie has been to me through reading her blog and corresponding with her over email. I felt like I connected with Angie in so many ways, and that she was able to put into words precisely what I have often thought or felt. I was so encouraged by Angie's authenticity, her desire to seek God in the face of unspeakable heartache... and I often thought to myself, "I wish I could just sit down with her over coffee and talk." Being that she's in Tennessee and I am in Maryland, the fact that we even connected over email was pretty awesome.
So, fast forward about a year later to this past spring. A sweet woman who reads my blog emailed me to tell me that Angie would be speaking at their church's women's retreat this fall. This woman's church isn't terribly far from us, nor was the location of the retreat. As the next several months passed, we continued to dialogue about this retreat, and this past weekend I had the pleasure of meeting this incredibly thoughtful and generous blog reader, as well as Angie herself.
I could only attend the retreat for the day yesterday, but after the morning session at which Angie spoke, she and I sat down for quite a while and talked... talked about Audrey, talked about Isaac as Angie poured over my pictures of him on my camera, talked about some of the hardest and most painful moments of losing a child that only two mothers who have walked that road would even think to discuss, talked about the emotions that come with losing a child, and talked about the Lord's faithfulness in how He has met each of us so personally in the midst of each of our journeys. Not that the journeys are over; there is no "over." But there was something that was just so refreshing about sitting down with someone who really wanted to hear about your child who is no longer with you, knowing that she really knows what it's like.
As if that hour and a half wasn't enough, I also got to eat lunch and dinner with Angie, as well as Todd and their sweet daughters Abby, Ellie, and Kate (sorry... no pictures!). It was such an incredible opportunity to get to know Angie in person, and to spend some time getting to know their girls and talking with Todd as well. They are the real deal, that's for sure.
That evening Todd did a concert featuring several songs of Selah's new album "You Deliver Me," including "I Will Carry You" which was written for their daughter Audrey, and that Spencer and I used as the song for Isaac's slideshow at his memorial service. It is an incredible album... one you seriously should go out and buy. I know you'll be blessed by it.
If you had asked be back then... in the late spring of 2008... if I ever thought I would be given the opportunity to actually talk with Angie in person, I would have laughed. I am just so thankful that I did, and that God used a complete stranger (who is thankfully no longer a stranger!) to help orchestrate such a divine encounter. And thankfully, Angie is also no longer a stranger :)