I have started this blog post several times and keep erasing everything I write. Sunday was Audrey Caroline’s memorial service. It was a beautiful celebration of the story God had written for Audrey and her family. Amidst the sadness of losing a child, there was peace, hope and thanksgiving to God.
Angie and I had talked about the memorial service before Audrey was born and the elements Angie wanted included – a guest book, cards for people to write messages on, possibly (Lord willing) a slideshow of photos of little Audrey, music, prayer. All these elements were included in the memorial service, which was a beautiful tribute to this little girl who lived for just 2.5 hours, yet truly impacted the world.
Angie was able to pick up a guest book and I cut cardstock into 4×6 cards for people to write notes, prayers, verses, etc. on. In the years to come, I believe that God will continue to use the words of encouragement on the cards and in the book in the Smiths’ lives. As the scrapbooker that I am, I was passionate about these items because I believe that chronicling one’s story through a variety of ways – including have others participate in the story – is so important.
Anyway, when I walked in to the church I immediately saw the precious family photo that Tom took of the Smiths’ less than a week before Audrey was born. It was on a beautiful large canvas on an easel. Beautiful lilacs and hydrangeas were at the alter and on the table with the book and cards. Everyone was very peaceful. I would estimate about 200 people were at the service, which was perfect. We didn’t know what to expect in terms of numbers, but thankfully, the number was not overwhelming.
The service opened up with the singing of Jesus I am Resting, Resting; Be Still My Soul and Give Me Jesus. Pastor Scott Patty talked about God and how He has used Audrey and the Smiths in the lives of many. Then there was a beautiful slideshow about Audrey, filled with beautiful pictures that Tom Uchida shot. It was underscored by Carry You, a poignant song sung by Selah that Todd and Angie wrote. Audra then read Angie’s letter to Audrey that is posted on the blog. Despite tears, Audra read the letter with passion, grace and love. Selah then sang The Lord’s Prayer and How Great Thou Art. Before they sang, Todd took a few moments to speak, with Kate in his arms (she didn’t want to leave her daddy when he went up on the alter to sing). He told Angie how proud he was of her through this entire process, encouraged and loved each of his sweet daughters and thanked the community of believers from around the world who had been praying for his family. The service closed with Pastor Scott sharing the gospel and the congregation singing the doxology:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’ly host;
Praise Faith, Son and Holy Ghost.
I cried my eyes out through much of the service, grieving for the loss of Audrey, the Smith family and the situation, but also thankful that God has revealed much good in spite of it all.
Many people have written me in thanks for keeping Bring the Rain updated when Angie was delivering Audrey and in the hours that followed, as well as for being “a good friend” and with prayers for me and Eli. With each note or comment, I am struck and humbled. I believe that in most cases, we do not get to pick the trials we walk through – who would pick to walk through any of them? In spite of our circumstances, God calls us to walk by faith, knowing that He will protect us, guide us and love us no matter what. And so that is what Matthew and I have done. I am so thankful to call Angie one of my closest friends. I have cried many times over the past few months – for Audrey, for Angie, for the Smiths, for Elias, (who I thought would grow up with Audrey), and over so many other things.
Though the memorial service is over and some might say the story is done, it is not. Just a chapter has concluded. I know that God will continue to use Audrey’s story for His glory, and I pray that Angie and Todd will be blessed with opportunities to tell it and encourage others. Please keep the Smiths in your prayers. I think oftentimes, after a memorial service, people cry, give their condolences and move on, so to speak. The days, weeks and months ahead are going to bring about much grief and new trials. Please pray for strength, peace and continued faith in God for the Smiths. Please also pray that Matthew and I will be able to serve them in whatever ways they need it most.
Peace be with you today.