MUST READ: I Will Carry You by Angie Smith

If I could only tell you one thing about I Will Carry You by Angie Smith, it would be this: You. MUST. Read. This. Book.


If you didn’t catch this from what I wrote above, let me rephrase it: I think every woman should read I Will Carry You, whether or not you’ve experienced the loss of a child. (And, guys, if your wife or another woman close to you has lost a child, you should read it too.) I haven’t lost a child, but I have supported friends who have. And this book spoke to corners of my life where I have experienced loss – loss of health, loss of dreams, loss of friends.

(The one loss neither Angie nor I have experienced was the loss of hope. Praise Jesus that hope rests in Him and not our circumstances!)

Angie Smith, the wife of the lead singer of Selah, wrote this tender book about the loss of her daughter Audrey. She was eighteen weeks pregnant when doctors told her that her baby had conditions that were incompatible with life. They chose for her to carry Audrey throughout the rest of the pregnancy, and this book chronicles their story – from beginning of pregnancy and beyond the end of Audrey’s life on earth.

It’s a tough book. A get-yourself-a-whole-box-of-tissues kind of book. It will break your heart. But, somehow, it will encourage you at the same time. It’s encouraging because of things like her reaction immediately after getting the news about that her baby isn’t expected to survive. When the doctor asks what she’s thinking, she says, “I think my Jesus is the same as He was before I walked through that door.” Amen to that.

She dives into the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead in great detail. I will never look at that passage the same way. Here’s what she wrote about John 11:35 (which, as the shortest verse in the Bible, says “Jesus wept”):
I want to share a beautiful distinction I came upon months after Audrey's death as I poured over these verses. At first glance it appears that Jesus, May, and Martha were sobbing together, but the original language of the text reveals that while Jesus was weeping (dakryo), the women were wailing (klaio). While Mary and Martha were crying out in agony over the loss of their brother, their tears moved Jesus, and He began to weep. This is the only occurrence of dakryo in the entire New Testament. He isn't crying over the death of Lazarus but rather the hurt He is experiencing with people He loves dearly. He isn't crying because the situation is hopeless, but because He is an empathetic God.

He knows that in a few moments Lazarus will walk out of the tomb.

He also knows they can't see that hope.

And neither can we.

There is a difference in despair and deep sadness over the time that will pass until we can see her again. It is a conscious, daily choice to experience dakryo, the sadness that allows one to grieve with the expectation of redemption.

We don’t have a God who is oblivious to our human experience. Instead, Hebrews 4:15-16 tells us this: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” What a blessing it is that we can approach His throne! Christ prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, acknowledging the Father’s ability to do anything and asking for the cup of suffering to be taken from Him … and then (get this!) prays, “Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36 and Matthew 26:39) and “may your will be done” (Matthew 26:42).

In Gethsemane, Christ serves as the perfect example of how we can approach suffering, asking for a change in circumstance but submitting whether God says yes or no to our request. Angie isn’t a perfect example for us like Christ is, but she is a precious example of what it looks like for an imperfect woman to take a similar path. And her writing style is vulnerable and real enough to make me wish she was my best friend.

I wrote this at the beginning, and I’ll say it again: you must read this book. It is both heartbreaking and heartening at the same time. It may empty you of tears, but it will fill you with hope as well.

The FTC requires that I disclose that B&H Publishing Group provided this book for me to review. B&H, however, required nothing from me and didn't ask for a positive review or anything else. Therefore, I like the letters B&H more than F, T, or C, but I include this disclaimer because I also like not being fined by the FTC.

The Beginner's Bible Animal Adventures: A Board Book Collection

This cute little box o' books was provided by Zonderkidz for me to review, and the four books have been requested - particularly by our little man, who loves animals of all kinds - many times this week. In the box, you'll find these books:
  • Lion's Big Sleepover (and Daniel's Scary Night)
  • Little Lamb's Big Scare (and The Shepherd's Great Care)
  • Elephant's Big Ride (and Noah's Stormy Adventures)
  • Fish's Big Catch (and Jonah's Second Chance)
Rather than being true Bible stories, these would be more aptly described as based on Bible stories (sort of like "based on a true story"). As the titles above suggest, the stories are retold from the perspective of an animal. The facts from the Bible are still there and accurate, though, so I'm not uncomfortable with the retellings. The illustrations, like any other the rest of The Beginner's Bible series, are cute, and the language is richer than a lot of Christian kids' books (multiple uses of onomatopoeia, good use of dialogue). I'm not sure if the box will hold up to the abuse love of two children, but it isn't poorly constructed either.

I would recommend giving this set as a baby shower gift (because right now the set of four books is only $11.69 on Amazon, because the box gives a nice appearance to the set, and because I think every baby shower gift should include a book).

As I mentioned above, I received this for my review. Zonderkidz didn't ask or require anything other than an honest review. I'm a big fan of complementary copies of books, but only my appreciation - not my opinion - can be bought.

Two new I Can Read! books from Zonderkidz

Woohoo! Two new I Can Read! books to review from Zonderkidz!

While my first review was from their science series, these are from the Bible characters’ series: David and God’s Giant Victory and Daniel, God’s Faithful Follower. The stories are consistent with the accounts found in the Bible (with the Daniel one focusing on the lions’ den), and I’m happy to add a couple of biblical beginning readers to our library.

(In case you’re wondering, these are Level 2 in the I Can Read! Rating, described as being for children who are “Reading With Help” with “engaging stories, longer sentences, and language play for developing readers.”)

One thing I didn’t love about the books was the hair. Oh, my. The hair.

Check out the locks on David, Daniel, the angel, and the lions below.

Jocelyn even tried to argue that David must be a girl because of his hair and headband. Wow. Just wow.

Oh, and one last nitpicky thing: One of the books uses a few pages to describe what went on while Daniel was in the lions’ den; however, Daniel 6 – where that story is found – doesn’t provide that detail. Daniel is sealed in the den in verse 17, he’s found there – fine, praise God! – in the morning in verse 21, and the verses in between are focused on the king instead of Daniel. What is added is consistent with the story – Daniel prays in the den just as he always did – but I don’t like it when children’s stories add to the Word. I've read a couple of other children's Bible accounts of the story this week, and they each did it as well.

The FTC requires that I disclose that Zonderkidz provided these books for me to review. Zonderkidz, however, required nothing from me and didn't ask for a positive review or anything else. Therefore, I like Zonderkidz more than the FTC, but I include this disclaimer because I also like not being fined by the FTC.

GREAT READ: The Creation Story for Children by Helen and David Haidle

I have another gem of a children’s book to review. Love it!

This one is The Creation Story for Children by Helen and David Haidle. I’ll use it during devotions, for science education during our preschool homeschool times, and as a welcome addition to our library.

The first 25 pages each, in two page spreads, include a couple verses from Genesis 1 or 2, a simple yet attractive illustration, and a paragraph with discussion questions (“Can you find the different fins and tails that help fish [in the picture] swim?”) and/or scientific facts (“Clouds are formed when billions of water droplets come together.”) The next six pages each include pictures of and paragraphs about specific animals and creatures in God’s creation. Finally, the last eight pages focus on God’s personal creation of each of us, drawing from Psalm 139 to teach children about God’s creation in you.

Good stuff, y’all. Good stuff.

Look? Our sweet girl even agrees.

(And, yes, she dressed herself. Black leggings? Check. Pink unitard? Check. Silly girl? CHECK!)

The FTC requires that I disclose that New Leaf Publishing Group provided this book for me to review. NLPG, however, required nothing from me and didn't ask for a positive review or anything else. Therefore, I like NLPG more than the FTC, but I include this disclaimer because I also like not being fined by the FTC.

GOOD READS: Hello, I Love You by Ted Kluck (Adoption Memoir)

This is one I definitely recommend. The subtitle of this book, Adventures in Adoptive Fatherhood, made me unsure about whether or not the book would have a broader appeal for me as a mom. I shouldn’t have worried. This is so good for moms, dads, anyone wanting to know more about international adoption.

This is the story of the Kluck family as they travel several times to and around Ukraine to adopt their two sons, Tristan and Dima. This isn’t the Christianified, sanitized version either. It’s the honest, brutal, sometimes-life-sucks account of a Christian couple who heeds God’s call to care for orphans. It’s also the loving story of a faithful father who is willing to deal with the paperwork, delays, and bureaucracy necessary to bring his two boys home.

He writes with an honest and authentic voice, and I loved reading it. I will lend it to friends to read and then read it again when they give it back. Good stuff. Really good stuff.

The FTC requires that I disclose that Moody Publishers provided this book for me to review. Moody, however, required nothing from me and didn't ask for a positive review or anything else. Therefore, I like Moody more than the FTC, but I include this disclaimer because I also like not being fined by the FTC.