Sketched

One of my favorite games growing up was playing mommy with my dollies. I remember one car my dad had in particular, and the way my favorite doll, Abby, could fit right beside me in the tiny seat. It was perfect. I would buckle her in, smile, and dream about the day that she would be a real daughter.

Later I would pull out all the dishes I could get my hands on, set up place settings for my 5 or 6 favorites, and invite them all to kindly come to dinner. I would change their outfits because I felt like dinner should be more fancy than their playtime outfits. I would giggle and move them in and out of their seats, help them pick up empty milk cartons, and excuse them when they had finished their supper.

I spent a lot of time dreaming then.

Sketching what it would be like when those little babydolls came to life, and came to my real house, with my real husband. And we would giggle then, and set them in their beds and dance beside them, all the while wondering what they would be like when they were 5, 10, or 18. What her first date would be, and how they would break our hearts, because little girls always do, you know.

I shouldn’t say I was a dreamer, for truly I never have been. I don’t say that as a criticism of myself, but simply as an alternative reality. Dreaming sounds far away and impossible, so I think I prefer sketching. I have the gist of it-the outline and form. I don’t know the faces because I haven’t seen them yet, but there is room for hope in all the lines. There isn’t color because I’m not in charge of how things will be-just a girl who has lived her life with a nicely sharpened pencil, and while she goes through today, she is always (always) sketching tomorrow. Dreamers dream big, and I love that. But I don’t, really. And it’s okay. I just want to have an outline and an eraser and a few things to feel like inspire me enough to pull the covers off of me on a cold winter morning.

But it isn’t always easy to be a sketcher. Because it’s art and it’s beautiful, and it’s all heart and love and wishing. And sometimes you get to the frame you’ve imagined one way or another and it isn’t right at all. No matter how you try to erase and redraw, you can’t get it to where it feels like joy.

Do you? Do you sketch, friends?

Before we had children we found this lovely farm very near to our house and we fell in love with it. I imagined taking all of my kids there for giant pumpkins and running around all the while laughing and breathing in Fall. There were games to play, a sun to soak in, and the joy of another long awaited Autumn breeze. And it was just as I had always seen it sketched.

The girls in bright orange, pigtails on either side. Nobody knew who was who and we got mixed up ourselves in some of the photos. They were holding pumpkins, loving the smell of cider, and we were mommy and daddy.

Just mommy and daddy.

Another year passed, and then another. A new baby came along, which changed the sketch. But there had always been room for her. We just didn’t know how to draw her eyes and her lips and her sweet, deep, full laugh. And then, there she was. We went back to the farm the following year, and yes, one more pumpkin please. We smiled, set them on a wagon and waited for three sweet smiles. We got them, despite Ellie being sick. I still love this photo because she is trying so hard to look happy and she isn’t. But then again, she’s like her momma that way.

Years drift in and out, and the farm stays the same. We are pregnant, sketching life, and then the Lord tells us this particular drawing will be altered. And it’s because He loves us. I do know that, but it’s sad. It’s sad because I wanted to bring my new baby to this farm that we always go to, every Fall, because that’s what we do. But He says no and eventually we see that she won’t be ours.I grieve her deeply (so deeply).

But Todd hasn’t sketched his grief. He hasn’t, even from the beginning.

It comes in waves and it comes unexpectedly. He holds it until its time to let go, and like a bird it flies to a place he can’t see, and comes on its own will. There is no plan, no pencil. It is a different grieving for this father who wanted to love, wanted to draw a life with a girl named Audrey who loved his voice and moved when she heard him.

Time slipped away after that and we got lost. But we knew there was the farm and all of the right, normal things that make for photo albums and all that and so we went back. Every year we went back. Because they love Jesus at this little (not-so-little) farm and they love the company that floods it in the Fall. It’s such a happy place.

This Fall was sketched for me before I had the chance to realize. As the days passed I became sad. I realized that for the first time I wasn’t going to get to take them to Gentry’s farm. It wasn’t what I planned. I was so sad because it was something that always was, and you know how beautiful those “always-things” are, don’t you?

I cried one night in my bed. My hotel room bed. Because I knew I was supposed to be there but it wasn’t the way I planned it. I always meant to be at the pumpkin patch and here I was. Alone. Longing for the stability of a pencil so I could just draw it and show my girls how much I love them. How much I would choose them over everything else, and how much I needed them to know they are the light that shows me the beauty of who God is. I love them. I love them. Oh, do they know how I love them?

I didn’t get to go this year, and my heart broke. Not for the farm, but for the mommy who had always had a sketch of family being together and that’s what makes it so special, but I was working, and did I fail them? Did I, girls? I asked them and they shook their heads no and I remember it because I made a new sketch called grace, where I knew they knew. And I let that one be, just as it was. Which is always the way grace should be.

And their daddy, they have to know…when he saw the tour schedule, and their Birthday there on the calendar…they have to know that it wasn’t going to be in that city at the beginning and we were going to all be together. That’s how we sketched it and we trusted it would work but it didn’t and so now mommy is with you and daddy is not. There are as many tears from parents as there are from children, and I can’t see straight because everywhere I look there are more mistakes on all these drawings and I’m feeling like I have failed. That we have failed. Do they know the way we love them? Do they? Oh, Lord…I must know.

And then today, as we celebrated 9 years of life and good friends and of all things, painting. And we talked about what they would paint and why they chose those colors and shapes and I saw in them the same thing I see in myself. This is what I want it to look like…

But I know that it might not turn out that way. I want them to know that the beauty is in the work and the love, and not the perfect lines. The lines, well, they will never be perfect.

I talk to Todd on the phone and he is whispering about the night before. Telling me that he sings “Broken Praise” as Job on the Story tour, and I knew that but I didn’t know he would cry. I didn’t know that when God put him on this tour, He wasn’t stealing our sketch, but he was adding the grief process that Todd needed.

He needed to sing his sadness to God.

And he is. For really, the first time since she left us.

And I am painting with the girls and we are telling stories and all I want them to know is that they are loved and we would always choose them, but do they see the beauty of what God is doing with the brushes we have given over.

They say yes, and they mean it. I’m happy because I see that they really do. But I’m sad because I was a little girl with little dolls and I thought things looked a certain way but now I’m big, and I can see the way we hurt each other. I didn’t see that before, when I was little and she sat beside me. Perfectly, in the seat.

As we gather our things to leave our painting adventure, I am wistful. I’ve been watching their eyes as they paint, and they are so intent. So convinced and purposeful. Just how I am. And I do hope that once those beautiful pieces are put through the fire they will come out how they imagined them. But they probably won’t, and that’s ok too. They always get brighter and shinier anyway I tell them.

The girls have run out of the shop and are speaking to a sweet man when I leave. I hear one of them say, “It’s us,” only I don’t know what is, so I lean over and see the most exquisite sketch. He has been here a few minutes and saw my sweet children and their friends and decided to draw them and give it to me. He has a twinkle in his eye like he’s an angel and all of my kids hug him and I don’t know why but I want to cry. All I manage to get out is to tell him that their father is a musician and he is on the road and it’s the first time he’s missed their birthday and we’re all so sad. I tell him we have been working and we both missed things this year and it was hard and I get quieter. The girls love him so we talk for a bit, and he’s a very, very good artist. He hands me the drawing when it’s done and I see his name, very small, on the bottom of the image. But it’s a last name, so I ask his first.

“Jimmy.” he says with a smile.

I look back down and then I can see the letters come into focus.

Gentry.

He speaks, explaining I might have heard of his farm, and I forget that I can’t really see God with my own eyes because I know in this moment that He Himself has chosen to speak to me.

I am weak with love, knock-kneed and speechless that I am being wooed by the King. Mr. Gentry doesn’t even know that Jesus is speaking with his pencil and his twinkling eyes, but I do. I do.

“Yes sir. I do know your farm. And this is the first year I haven’t been able to come with my children. We love it there.”

He smiles. It’s a very popular place in this area, with thousands of visitors. I couldn’t put all of it into words before I got to my car, but when I did I got choked up and I stilled myself. Stilled the thoughts that had been haunting me about my mothering and all of my sketches, and I just listened. He spoke. I didn’t hear Him, I just felt the words enter my mind and heart and I knew them to be true.

When you are doing what I’ve asked you to do, love, you don’t have to worry about getting them to the farm. I’ll bring you the farmer instead. And when you think you have lost sight of all your sketches, just know that it’s alright. I know where they go, and what is right, and I will never leave you. Not in a hundred tomorrows or a thousand yesterdays.

I stared at the image, with its smeared edges and minimal detail, and in a way I can’t articulate, I felt something in my spirit that shook me so hard I cried.

Let go the grief. The sorrow. Release the anger and the plans set in stone and all the things you whispered, “never” to. Because I hold this in my hand the way he did in his. I watch and I draw, even when you don’t know. And I am concerned with all things that concern you.

My tight grip has loosened, Lord, and I surrender this season to you. You have shown me in such a magnificent way that I don’t want to sketch the way I used to. I saw something much more powerful today, and Lord if it’s your will, would you allow me, every now and then, to see a corner of one of your masterpieces? From your view, looking in?

Because I was so blessed to know I was watched over. And the sketches from an all-knowing, all-consuming, all-loving and mighty God must be rather spectacular.

How much I feel like a little girl again tonight.

Not planning, not drawing. Just sitting and enjoying the drive with my Father.

You make all things beautiful, Lord, and I love you. Thank you for letting me touch your hem this afternoon…

It will never, never, be forgotten.

~Soli Deo Gloria~


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  • Kathleen

    Thank you, Angie. As I sit here tonight, feeling more alone and messed up than I have felt in months or even years, this brought things a bit more into focus. I am not alone. I never was, and I never will be. ‘Not in a hundred tomorrows or a thousand yesterdays’. So I will bring Praise. Not because I feel happy, but because I am not as alone as I feel. Jesus is here. He knows I feel alone and scared, but He’s not going to walk away. Thank you…

  • Dana Young

    What a beautiful love letter from God.  Once again, I’m amazed! Thanks for letting us celebrate this beautiful blessing with you.   I’ve shared both on Facebook and Twitter so that my friends can be just as touched by your experience with God’s tender mercy and blessings as I am!  :)

  • RoseDefend

    Angie – you never cease to amaze me…….how God works through you……….you just don’t know how much I needed this tonight.  This is Rose in Nashville…………..my family has been through some really hard, trying months since Aug. when my younger sister was diagnosed w/TTP & spent 8 weeks in ICU in Illinois…she is in a Rehab Center now, fighting to learn to walk again, talk again & make those “sketches” again….it will be a very long, slow process we are told…..she loves our God & has her trust in Him……He has worked miracles since Aug. 15th. & we praise & thank Him for allowing us to keep our LoLo…..God is good & we are so undeserving of his love…….your little girls know you love them more than anything…….I love you too.  Please keep my family in your prayers…..my 19 year old nephew was involved in a motorcycle accident Aug. 11th. & is paralyzed from the chest down……God has been putting in over-time just trying to keep our family together…..Aaron got to go home Dec. lst. from Rehab in Chicago….he still has a long road of recovery….they only give him 1% chance of ever walking again…..but God has been there with him, encouraging & strengthening him everyday…….I’ll share one more thing….I took off a week from work when LoLo was having mini-strokes on both sides of her brain the first week in ICU……after a week, I needed to return to work, I was standing by her bedside (she was in a coma) crying out to God to please allow us to keep her, telling Him how much we needed her & how much we loved her & Angie……..I could feel HIIM standing right there beside me…….I was so dreading leaving her in a coma not knowing what His plans were….but after I prayed & feeling Him beside me, I knew it was His way of telling me “Rose, you know I have this under control…..I love her more than you ever thought about loving her……I’ll take good care of her!”  Although it was so very hard to leave her…….I could leave because HE had given me a personal assurance that He was taking care of her…….I knew He was there in her room, He had to be, or she would not have made it through all the mini strokes & problems that she had………had to share with you, Angie….love you so much.   Love, Rose in Nashville  <3 <3 <3 <3

  • http://g2gsk8.blogspot.com Laura

    Reading your blog always seems to reduce me to sniffles and dabs of a kleenex. Oh fine, who am I kidding – it ends with sobs and the whole darn box of kleenex. Thank you for letting the Lord use your words and this blog to bless us with His wisdom and grace.
    These two sentences were just so poignant and perfect: “I want them to know that the beauty is in the work and the love, and not
    the perfect lines. The lines, well, they will never be perfect.”

  • Amanda

    Wow, Angie you are so gifted. You will never be able to know how many people you have touched. Your spirit and attitude about life leaves me in awe. I hope one day I am able to see you again and hear you speak.  You are truly an inspiration and a light of God in some pretty dark spaces.

  • MG

    So beautiful…I have no great words after reading something like this.  Just soaking it in.  I do have to mention, though, that I’ve never heard someone put into words “not being a dreamer”.  That’s how I am.  I will say to people, “I just don’t think about that kind of thing, I don’t really allow myself to dream about those things.”  And I don’t mean it in a sad way, it’s just never been the way my thoughts or emotions operate.  Thank you.
    p.s.  Just finishing up “What Women Fear”…..very good read.  I love that our Lord is not compromised or brought down to our level.  I don’t want, nor need, a Savior brought down to myself.  That would be awful (although it’s extremely comforting to know that He did go through things we go through.)  I want to go, even if it’s ever so slightly, up closer to His level.

  • JD

    Weeping at the magnificent character of God recounted through your exquisite words…  What strikes me over and over again is how God is always loving us in such intentional ways — we simply don’t always see the evidence for what it is.  

    One of the best blog posts ever, thank you for sharing it with us.  What a treasure.

  • Jennyhopewilliams

    This about did me in! How great is our God! I am a scetcher as well! I tell my daughter all of the time that as much as it hurt
    me to let go of my first daughter to Jesus, Shelby Hope, I wouldn’t have her and I would choose her over and over. Much love!

  • Paige

    Wow! We do serve an awesome God. I am always amazed how in the details He is. I shouldn’t be amazed because that is who He is, but I am. He seems to take the things we think we want/need and transform them into something we never even dreamed (or sketched) about. I love to see Him do that!! I hope your weekend continues to be full of awesome God moments.

  • Ackleyr78

    What a beautiful sketch Angie! God is so good all the time, even in our difficult-unexpecting times.
    So happy He spoke with you and told you ALL will be fine. Your girls are going to know that you serve
    an awesome God, that they are important & precious to you ALWAYS!!  I’ve sketched in my life and had to
    erase and resketch many times. My four children are adults now. Life hasn’t always been the way I’d hoped
    but God has shown me time and time a different & better way:) One daughter has been disabled since
    birth. Sarah turns 27 tomorrow. Her bday last year was spent in the hospital. God worked things out tho:)
    Thank you for sharing your heart and family with so many. Your story sharing always uplifts & encourages
    many of us. God’s words are so HOLY to our being….

    “When you are doing what I’ve asked you to do, love, you don’t have to worry about getting them to the farm. I’ll bring you the farmer instead. And when you think you have lost sight of all your sketches, just know that it’s alright. I know where they go, and what is right, and I will never leave you. Not in a hundred tomorrows or a thousand yesterdays.” AMEN & HALLELUJAH

    P.S.  ~so glad The Story is bringing Todd healing:) Happy belated bday to your sweet girls!!

  • Ackleyr78

    My 4 grown pumpkins:)

  • http://iheartbowheads.blogspot.com hollyo1

    Chills! I have chills. I love this! Thank you!

    Holly
    http://iheartbowheads.blogspot.com

  • http://1prayingmom.blogspot.com Stacey

    This is a beautiful post and something I needed to read right now, something I have been struggling with.  Thank you for sharing your heart. 
    -Peace

  • Lacykastler

    Wow!  Thank you for sharing your heart and God’s!

  • Rebecca Bailey

    I prayed last night about my ‘sketches’ only I didn’t call them that – I felt they were frivolous daydreams….Angie, THANK YOU for writing this post – it is truly an answer to prayer. Thank you for sharing your heart, your struggles, and your love for the Lord. I needed this today.
    May you be blessed!

  • boomama

    You have no idea – NO IDEA – how this spoke to my heart this morning. Love you.

  • Patricia

    couldn’t read this post fast enough, but finding it harder and harder as the tears flowed and I was fighting to see the words through the flow ~ thank you Angie for such a beautiful post

  • Candice Anderson

    Angie, I was going to post on Facebook yesterday, but didn’t do it – now I wish I had.  I saw Todd on Thursday night in Wichita.  I knew his song would be Job, but he sang so many songs and I could see his passion for his Savior, but I kept waiting for Job’s song.  Knowing Audrey’s story, I knew that Job’s song was the perfect fit for Todd.  I cried as I watched him, a father grieving, yet having hope, singing that song for an audience – of One.  I am sorry that he wasn’t there for the girls’ birthday, but I thank you (and Todd) for sacrificing family time for The Story Tour – it is amazing and life changing!   Blessings!

  • Jeannett Gibson

    absolutely, heart wrenchingly beautiful.
    i won’t say more because it doesn’t matter.
    you have a gift my friend.

  • ANDREA

    THIS IS BEAUTIFUL….TEARS

  • Kbt098

    I have been struggling so very hard with being a working mom, being away from my kids so much, and generally feeling like I don’t give them what I think they need. Thx for this post. It reminded me that He only asks me to follow His will, and trust that His grace covers the rest.

  • Jessica Holmes

    My sketch is changing on a daily basis and each time it hurts.  I’m trying to get custody of a little girl who is in the foster system.  I’ve been on this journey for over a year and I feel like it will never end.  The last sketch was removing her from my Christmas celebrations this year.  She won’t be transferred to my home in time.  I’m 26 and I’m in graduate school.  As a child I NEVER imagined this being part of my life, but I can’t imagine my life without her now.  I am her Mommy.  Currently hoping by the new year she will be able to finally live with me, but I have learned that it is God’s sketch and I don’t have to keep erasing it because God has the best plan.  That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt any less, just that I don’t have to control it.  I hope your family has a wonderful Christmas together and it was great seeing you briefly in the hospital (I was the one whose friend had a baby a few doors down from a friend of yours).  

  • Anonymous

    I love you.

    That is all.

    xo

  • Mary

    Thank you for this beautiful post. Yes, I sketch too and this military life too often messes with my sketch. But oh, how wonderful is His masterpiece for me, for our family. So much more wonderful than my simple sketches.

  • Dana

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful words! Reading this felt like realizing my own thoughts. You have a gift! God Bless!

  • triciawit

    I am a mom who has been struggling with her sketch this week.  We lost our daughter Jenna to cancer ( it will be 5 years at the end of this month) and the holidays are hard.  I know she’s with our heavenly Father but it is still difficult.  I needed your post this morning.  Thank you for writing such beautiful and true words.

  • Leishanorwood

    I was in Dallas at the Story Tour Concert and Todd’s singing was amazing.  The whole concert was soul shaking – but hearing him sing the Job song was the highlight – especially knowing some of your family’s story  I know that God is using both of you in a most powerful way and I’m thankful that you are allowing Him to.

  • Michelle Found

    Wow. With the tears running, can I just say “Thanks” to you for this ‘sketch’. Beautiful. XO

  • Lyn Kearns

    I had the pleasure of attending last night’s Story performance in Dallas…and it had to be one of the most moving experiences I have had as an adult. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. Todd’s performance of Broken Praise left me speechless. I follow your blog so I obviously know your family’s story. My husband does not. After Todd finished singing, my husband turned to me with tears threatening to spill over and simply said “Wow”. My husband is not a man of many words but he summed it up with just one. Then I told him your story and, as a father, his tears were not contained. So thank you, thank Todd, and thank God for the Story and allowing us to be a part of an even greater Story. 

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing broken bread…His story and weaving is beautiful. He loves when His children notice, and when they share His work. You honor your King well, Angie. Love, Holly

  • http://www.dominicandkristin.blogspot.com kasmith03

    WOW-  thanks for sharing this..so so beautiful. May you be blessed today!!

  • Anonymous

    Oh Angie!  This is absolutely beautiful, and so very true!  Lately God has been showing be over and over about how He can change OUR plans, but that it has always been in His plans.  And to let go of my control. (This is hard, because apparently I have control issues a little-LOL) Thanks again for writing this, and sharing your heart with us.

  • Rameelin

    Oh Angie–This blessed me so much this morning.  Crying in my own release today….thank you for that.

  • JennyMSmith

    I was in Dallas last night for The Story Tour. I was excited beyond belief to get to see Todd and Amy perform again. (They could sing commercial jingles and it would be breathtaking and soul-moving to me!) I saw them in 2009 in Garland at Lavon Drive Baptist Church and getting to meet them (personally) and hear their stories changed my life. That is when I learned about you, your family and precious Audrey. . . . 

    Last night, as Todd sang, I had goosebumps up and down my arms. When the song was over, as tears spilled down my cheeks, I noticed that it was just silent – it seemed no one wanted to break the holiness of the moment by clapping. People were just stunned – it seemed by those simple lyrics that hearts throughout the arena were starting a healing process. That for some, tears were being shed for the first time. That for some, the goodness of our Lord God was being acknowledged, even through incredible, indescribable pain. And knowing a significant part of the Smith family’s life journey, I thanked God for letting me witness some of His healing power through Todd singing that song.

  • Andrea A

    So incredibly beautiful. Lately I feel my sketches have turned into scribbles and its hard to see the beauty in them, but I feel like God is whispering to let it go and He has confirmed this in your words. Sometimes I think I get so caught up in imagining out the beauty of my sketches that I forget to rejoice in the beauty of His.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, Angie.  So needed that today.

  • Mary

    Angie — keep sketching darling girl!  God is doing a mighty work in and through you.  I know this is a hard season, but I LOVE how He shows you His love — and through a humble farmer.  Thank you so much for sharing your heart and the difficult places. 

  • Joyce

    Beautifully written! Our amazing Father meets us in the quiet places when we least expect it. Thank you for sharing and encouraging us.

  • JustJess

    Angie, thank you. It’s amazing when the King whispers to us. I love it when you put the whispers into your words. It reminds me of the ways He loves us all. Thank you and God bless you and your sweet girls. Happy Birthday, Abby and Ellie.  

  • Anonymous

    I have so much to say, yet no words. This post was truly beautiful and touched my heart in a very special way. The Lord just SHINES through YOU, Ang, and it’s absolutely breathtaking. He LOVES us ALL so MUCH and he finds some of the most unique and UNBELIEVABLE ways of showing us! Wow! He is good. Thank you for being so open to sharing your “sketches” with us – your family, friends, sisters-in-Christ/ Sundays, and even strangers who come to know the Lord…because of Him speaking through YOU!  
     
    “There is room for HOPE in all the lines” … and I will be holding onto that today and as I continue my own ”sketches,” knowing that He is in each and EVERY one of them creating the lines according to His plan.
     
    Friend, I love you and am ever so thankful for you!
     
    XOXO

  • Nashvillemel

    Beautiful!    Love Gentry Farms.  I was able to go on a school field trip last year, but not the pumpkin patch.  It was a tour of the farm and the cattle, and SO, SO interesting!

  • http://itwasbroughtonbylove.blogspot.com Southern Gal

    There are no words to express how beautiful this is.

  • allison b

    Oh my. This is the most beautiful thing I have ever read.  You are so greatly talented and your words are so timely. Thank you for sharing your life and your heart. You make me want to seek Jesus more.

  • Barb

    Simply beautiful.

    I would call that a “God wink”.
    ;)

  • Patricia

    wow! you hit it big time ~ so many things resonated with me ~ thank you for putting alot of my thoughts and fears here in this beautiful place

  • Owlmavis

    Your blog of Sketches is thought provoking and was a  blessing.  Thanks for sharing.  Love the two books that you have written……!

  • http://adayinthelifesonya.blogspot.com/ Sonya

    Just beautiful Angie! This is why I love reading your blog.

  • Bloggergirl27

    I don’t even know what to say. It seems silly to tell someone “thank you for voicing my fears & to some extent my relief” ~ because though we have walked very different paths, as parents we are so subject to these. I’m a divorced mom… and a live with some of the same emotions you expressed. Just under different names & labels. Thank you for allowing Jesus to speak through you.

  • http://www.elmstreetlife.com Whitney Newby

    This is so beautiful. I have tears in my eyes not only because I know sweet Mr. Gentry and his farm (he taught me in school growing up), but even more so because I know the faithfulness of God. Thank you.

  • Brandy

    Truly a blessing. You have such a gift Angie in the way you share what the Lord has done in your life. God uses your words to help me get a better grasp of His specific love for me and my family. Thank you. Thank you for loving Jesus allowing Him to use you.

    Such a gift.

  • http://twitter.com/AshlieWrites Ashlie

    Oh, sister. Love, love, LOVED this. It squeezed my heart and spoke in so many ways. I’d call myself a “dreamer”…but this sketching…I relate to it so well.  When the lines aren’t perfect, I find myself in tears and feeling guilty. He’s been talking to me about the art that He creates, and how sometimes I don’t like it because I don’t understand. Thank you for this reminder that He is gracious, loving, and so, so good.

    Isn’t our God amazing in the ways that He meets us? 

    Thank you for this! I love that you are willing to share your heart and be transparent for His glory. Blessings to your precious family. :)

  • Paulaschaffin

    Wow!  Thank you for sharing this.  It was a much needed post!
    Merry Christmas to you and your sweet family

  • http://twitter.com/CristalDuBois Cristal DuBois

    Our Father doesn’t forget.  He doesn’t leave.  He never neglects.  And when we think, as parents, we have failed, He reminds us He is the Source.  The Source of our strength.  Of our joy.  Of our love.  Of our being “mommies.”

  • Laura

    Wow…tears. Angie, you have no idea how much I needed this right now. Thank you so much for writing and speaking God’s truth in such a vulnerable yet beautiful way.

  • Janice S.

    As others have said before me, I needed this tonight. Thank you for allowing your heart and your grief and your struggles to encourage and strengthen others around you. Thank you for releasing Todd to minister to countless people with his songs. Thank you for letting your heart be soft to what God wants to show you (and us through you). 
    Blessings.

  • Kate

    I needed this, to read these words this week. With our first newborn and already in her first week 2 hospital stays, 2 iv lines, 2 frazzled parents. I needed to remember that sometimes our sketches get muddled and the drawing changes and it’s okay because He knows. I know not the plans he has for her, and His sketching is greater than my own. Thank you for that reminder.

  • Amanda

    Oh my goodness.  Where did I put that box of tissues???

  • Anonymous

    I met Todd last night….and all I could say was ‘I love your wife’. (so does he fyi)

    What I would have said were that whole meet and greet thing not so awkward to me…..thank you. I listened to Broken Praise after he posted on incourage Monday and so I really wanted to go last night. At 4 yesterday a friend called with free tickets. That, undoubtedly, was grace being poured down on me.

    Since the beginning of your journey with precious Audrey, God has used your family’s faith, your willingness to hold to the truth that He is good, regardless, to minister to my broken places. Audrey’s song breathed hope into parts of my soul I thought long dead. And then to read the story of Todd coming upon Broken Praise and God making it his….I needed, ached, to be there last night and hear him sing it. As a mother, who has no living children, I am finding it so exceptionally difficult to offer up that broken praise right now. I know all too well the prayer that begs He make this night the one I don’t wake up from. But I bought the cd, that song is on repeat and will stay there until my heart agrees.

    And then I saw your tweet. He missed there birthday. He missed it so God could whisper those words into my pain through his voice. So…..all that to say….please tell him thank you, in the deepest most heartfelt, genuine way those words can be spoken, thank you.

    And thank you Angie, for the anguish you’ve spilled into this blog that seeped into broken hearts and empty arms all over the world.

  • Anonymous

    Occurs to me I shouldn’t leave it at ‘spilled anguish’…..but hopefully you know what I mean. You remind us each that we aren’t alone :)

  • http://twitter.com/thegrommom Monica Swanson

    That was beautiful…and then led me to read your story.  Glad I found you!
    God bless, and Aloha!

  • Diane

    Loved, loved this.  I want to listen to Todd’s song!  Your words remind me that God’s sketch is the ultimate sketch.  I’ve never lost a child.  Five years ago, almost, I did lose my aunt after a battle from cancer.  I’ve never truly and completely grieved her loss.  It was the day before I got married, and so every year I am truly conflicted about how I’m supposed to feel… happy about my anniversary or sad about my aunt’s death anniversary?  I usually skip her death, but this story reminds me that I do *truly* need to feel it, acknowledge it, so that I can feel the Holy Presence usher in a peace that hasn’t been felt in my soul for the last five years.  Again, thanks for your words and story.

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  • Tawnya

    Wow. Thank you Angie. It is difficult for me to sometimes understand that men and women grieve differently. I needed to hear that even among your loss and pain…you too have grieved differently. Thank you for words…they mean more to me than you will ever know.

  • abby

    This is what I needed to hear tonight. This year my reality hasn’t matched my sketch, it’s hard to re-draw the new reality. Thank you.

  • Coby

    Oh, but this is beautiful.  I needed to hear this – it reminds me to slow down, take a breath, love deeply, and see what God is doing right in my midst and be thankful – even if it looks different than what I had sketched.  He is sketching something beautiful for me. 

    Thank you for sharing your heart!

  • http://twitter.com/cantbeme55 Debbie Iverson

    What a wonderful thing to have God in our lives. I could never get through the tough times without him. My prayers are with you.

  • Kelly

    Loved this post… Cried as I read it. Thanks for taking the time to share. :)

  • Rebecca

    Thank you for these dear words.  I am in a broken place – but this post has brought me so much hope of things to come.  
    God Bless!

  • http://www.iwanttobesalty.blogspot.com Ruth Abel

    Your words have captured so eloquently so many things that I can relate to. Thank you for articulating so beautifully a lesson that I am learning right now and needed to be reminded of: That the Lover of my soul is the Artist, not me, and that when He holds the pens (they are the brushes of my life), the picture becomes something so far beyond my imagination, and life becomes truly beautiful, in His way. To be “wooed by the King” is a marvelous thing. Thank you!

  • Nancygirl

    why is it that we are always surprised by the Fathers plan…I don’t know the answer to this, but I am taken on a drifting journey of memories as I recall  time after time when this has been true in my own life.  How I praise God for His surprises! Each one has met an over whelming need inside of me. 
    This is a beautiful post Angie, thank you .

  • Inkling

    I love this post and the way you put it into words.  What a special way for God to love on y’all.  The year I taught in Franklin, we took the kids to Gentrys and I fell in love with it, the long banners with God’s voice recorded on them hanging in the barn, and the beauty and fun all in one place.  This year, I was visiting my parents in the fall and took my son to a farm just across the street from my old church home with all the excitement and expectation.  But it just wasn’t the same.  It didn’t measure up and I had to keep redirecting him away from the death and gore.  The Gentrys do have something really special going, and I just wish they were at every other pumpkin farm too.  Still smiling at what a fun hug from God you got.

  • Jennifer A. Tucker

    Thanks for reminding me of how God is there and cares even when I can’t feel it. 

  • Linda Chontos

    My eyes are filled with tears, and I look back from the vantage point of 65 years and know that you have written truth Angie. Your tender heart and sweet spirit bless – and your words….just perfect.

  • Heather

    I think God sent me here today.  I REALLY needed to hear/ read these words.  I thank you so much for being so honest and writing as you do!

  • Alexa

    What a gift Angie!
    Beautiful…

  • Katherine

    Angie – I went to The Story in Dallas on Friday night, as I see some of the others commenting here did. Please let me join them in saying what a BLESSING it was for me. Todd & Amy were incredible and the music was so powerful. But it was the song of Job that is forever imprinted on my heart and was the most meaningful to me.  I am a grieving mother – losing 3 babies in miscarriages, the last one this summer in the 15th week. It’s a deep, deep sorrow. Having followed your blog in 2008 & 2009 consistently, I knew your family’s story…and that is exactly what made the songs Todd sang so powerful & touching. I did not know that he had posted about this on in courage, but I knew when he was singing Broken Praise that it was a personal song to him. That also is what made it such a testimony of our God’s love and such an encouragement to keep pressing on. Oh the tears that were streaming down my face in that song! There was also a video (I’m sure you know that) but finally at the end of the song Job stands up to say “Hallelujah” and I wanted to just jump right out of my seat with him to stand up and raise my hands to the Lord. (Unfortunately I did not do that since everyone was sitting down.) I would love to have that video to go along with the music because it was truly remarkable.
    The show altogether was wonderful. And I realized, if I hadn’t had these losses, would the message resonate with me so strongly? Would my soul be yearning so much for God to renew this whole creation, redeem every hurt & restore every loss? After the show I was able to meet Todd briefly & thank him for his testimony – that by his praise he was giving a beautiful testimony to God which meant so much to me. Thank you for supporting him & “allowing” him to be away from your family and minister to others in this!!!

    • Diana

      Katherine,
      I was reading the comments before posting my own.  What you wrote was what is in my heart and head.  I too have lost 4 babies… one in my 17th week.  I don’t know you, but I share the sorrow that you only experience with that loss.  I know how hard it is to rejoice, and songs like this speak to us sweetly.  This season of my life changed my walk with the Lord and so many other things, and I am thankful for those changes.  Though the hurt is still deep, I know I’m on this road for a reason.  I know that I can be on my knees for other women who are dealing with this pain and truly understand what they are feeling. This post was just what I needed to remind me that even though we have a sketch in our heads, HE is the artist.  I will be praying for you.  Diana

      • Katherine

        Diana,
        Thank you for your  reply – I wanted you to know that I was so touched receive it. I usually don’t even have the courage to post on blogs! :) I am so sorry for your losses. Thank you for reaching out to me through your own pain. I appreciate your encouragement so much & I will be sure to pray for you as well.  Katherine

  • Kaye

    Oh how He loves us.  Thanks for the beautiful reminder.
    Continue to pray for Todd and for all of your precious family.
    Blessings always,
    Kaye

  • Michele

    Such beauty and truth in that post, and as always, it’s moved me to tears and smiles!  Thanks for sharing.  To Him be the glory. 

  • Trina

    Thank you for this post.  God knew it was just what I needed to hear this week.

  • Sarah

    *Thank you* 
    Just, thank you.

  • Kathy

    I am left speechless!  You are truly a gift from above!

  • Ashli

    How many times have I wished our picture was more perfect, when really it is the exact shade of imperfect it is suppose to be. I love it when the Father speaks to me in a way that I know is His unmistakeable outpouring of grace.

  • Melissaj

    This is the message exactly as I needed to hear it on this morning.  Thank you.

  • Lisa

    Wow, thank you.

  • Sheilannpat

    Angie, simply wanted to say ‘Thank You.’  I know God is speaking to me and I pray that my ears and heart are open and receptive.  In God’s love, sheila

  • Stacy

    That was beautiful, what a special reminder, that God never leaves us.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Theresa

    Written perfectly beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Diana Markland

    Angie,
    I wanted to tell you how much this touched my heart on Saturday morning.  I was overcome by tears and your words were so applicable to things in my own life.  Just wanted you to know.  Guess our Father adjusts our sketches, adding shading and light to our lives as He sees fit.  God bless.  Love you.   

  • http://weatheredgrace.blogspot.com/ Angie

    Thank you! As a single mom, whose plans weren’t just as I sketched either, I am blessed to have read this. I am so glad to know that the Master artist knows better than I. I used to be riddled with guilt for all the should haves, could haves, & why didn’t I’s that plagued my thoughts. But God knows better. And each day he reveals another brush stroke on this painting of my life, I see He can paint away the guilt, the shame, the brokenness of this sinner girl, leaving behind a canvas of grace filled colors & redeemed gentle strokes of new life. Have a wondrous Christmas, Angie! May you be blessed as you have blessed me today!

  • Riley Knight

    Angie, As I read your blog, I knew exactly which farm you were speaking of where you and Todd take the girls. I spent two summer camp weekends there in my youth before it was Gentry’s Pumpkin Farm. Mr. Gentry was my Biology teacher at BGA in Franklin about 30-something years ago. He is true treasure of a man: humble, generous, giving.  Again, I was not surprised when you described the ‘old man’ who was drawing a picture of the girls there as I knew it was him. He always drew cartoons and caricatures on the chalkboard and told us rich stories of his boyhood days growing up in Franklin. You might want to catch his book (with numerous personal sketches and drawings) called “An Amerian Life”.  He is truly an angel of God and has blessed so many peoples lives over the years.  Thanks for sharing your life’s thoughts and moments with us. -Riley

  • http://mrshargrave.blogspot.com Ryan

    I was sitting in the audience in Dallas for Friday night’s performance, so very excited to FINALLY get to hear Todd sing after reading all about him on your blog.  I told my husband all about you guys and about Audrey’s heartbreaking story.  We were both blown away by how amazing he (and Amy!) sounded and felt blessed to be able to experience The Story together. And then Todd began to sing “Broken Praise,” and the depth of his grief really hit me. 

    You guys have been such a light for the Lord throughout everything, and it’s easy for us to forget how difficult it must be for you both to have to open those wounds again and again so that the Lord can use you.  Not to mention the fact that you each have your own ministries, and it keeps you apart from one another you’d rather be at home together.  I know it can’t make the time apart any easier, but I just wanted you to know that you’re both making such an impact for the Lord, and I think I speak for many when I say thank you for letting Him use you.  (And holy cow, can your husband sing, or what??!!) :)  

  • Wanda

    Angie, you amaze me. I grew up going to church every time the door was open, and I am getting close to retirement age now.  I know you have said you didn’t know God until adulthood. The depth and clarity of your relationship with God is amazing to me. Oh that mine were so close to Him. Max Lucado has been my favorite author since I read “God Came Down” because he has a way of showing me Christ in such a personal, best friend kind of way. You are the female counterpart of Max Lucado for me.  In your writing such as this post – and all your posts and both books – you make me yearn for that same closeness with God that you  demonstrate.  I live in Amarillo, Texas, and as far as I am aware, Selah has never been  here or close enough to here for me to attend. I long to hear Todd and his group in praise to God, and I long to hear you speak. So…I read your blog, and it is like having a conversation with you – just you and me. Until I read the comments, that is. And then I realize there are many of us growing our relationships with our Father because of you. Your children are blessed to have both you and Todd as parents. Thank you for your strength and the courage to use your God-given talents. I wish we were at the coffee shop together! Wanda

  • Kate

    You have absolutely no idea how much I needed to read this tonight.  I know He truly had me read your blog to hear His message for me.  Thank you for sharing. 

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  • Shawna

    Oh Angie, thank you for sharing this amazing piece of your life and God’s gifts and care for his children. This story speaks so much to His goodness, His plan, and His care even when we are looking at our own plans and hurting at our ruined sketches. Thank you.

  • Shawna

    Oh Angie, thank you for sharing this amazing piece of your life and God’s gifts and care for his children. This story speaks so much to His goodness, His plan, and His care even when we are looking at our own plans and hurting at our ruined sketches. Thank you.

  • Shawna

    Oh Angie, thank you for sharing this amazing piece of your life and God’s gifts and care for his children. This story speaks so much to His goodness, His plan, and His care even when we are looking at our own plans and hurting at our ruined sketches. Thank you.

  • April

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I’ve been so discouraged lately with my parenting and how all my plans for this season have all fallen apart so far and it’s just all crazy and three of our boys are being challenging and just leaving me feeling like a failure!  Thank you for sharing this, thank you for allowing God to speak through you to all of us, especially me right now!! 

  • Alyson

    Angie, thank you for writing this. God’s hand is in EVERYTHING isn’t it? Sometimes we tend to forget that but he will hit us over the head from time to time to remind us that he is in control and he knows the plans he has for each and every one of us. Much love to you!

  • Alyson

    Angie, thank you for writing this. God’s hand is in EVERYTHING isn’t it? Sometimes we tend to forget that but he will hit us over the head from time to time to remind us that he is in control and he knows the plans he has for each and every one of us. Much love to you!

  • Carissa

    On the day this was posted, my husband and I were burying our second daughter who lived only an hour. Her name was Hannah and her kidneys never developed. When we found out last July that we would not be bringing our baby home with us, we had to change the sketch for our family as well. We have seen God’s hand working through this process but thank you for writing this and reminding me that even though we don’t always get what we want- God is always in control. 

  • Mamato4sweeties

    Thank you for bringing me to much-needed tears.  I don’t know yet what I am grieving, or what He is calling me to surrender, but I am broken none the less.  Going to take my Kleenex box and go to my bed and cry out to Him.  Thanks for the push.

  • Jlou7

    My kids are grown.  I remember crying when they went to college.  Not because I’d miss them, but because I felt like I couldn’t “get it all done”.  I had run out of time to teach them things.  What if they didn’t say “Excuse me” after they burped; what if they didn’t turn their wheels toward the curb when parking downhill.

    More what ifs followed.  They are out of school now with kids of their own.  I didn’t teach them everything, but God picked up my slack.  He formed them and is still continuing to do so.  Now they are teaching me. 

    Went to “The Story” tonight in Atlanta.  Talked to y’all at CNN.  Was moved to tears by Job.  Am in an obsessive worry pattern over one of my kids.  Talk to Nancy, I’ve messaged her.

    The musical was a beautiful picture of the God weaving in the good and bad or our lives.  Really, I was able to relax my fretting and breathe.

    Thanks to you all.

  • Zoomama

    This was beautiful! More than anything, it seems like a love letter. A love letter to your Savior, and then a love letter to your sweet family. I think this post will be one that will be treasured by your husband and your girls for years to come. 

    Thank your for sharing the intimacy of your heart, Angie.

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  • http://www.elisvalley-perfectlove.blogspot.com Jennifer

    Well, I am not certain why I chose to read this blog post today of all days, other than it is exactly what I needed to read today.  Oh how He uses the right words at the right time to speak to us all in different ways.

  • Cynthia

    Thank you for sharing this.  I have been trying so hard to “sketch” our holidays lately.  I have two girls and a husband who coaches basketball.  Unfortunately, this time of year is his busiest, which leaves me to do a lot of the traditional holiday fun on my own with the girls.  I have been really sad and disappointed with it all this year and hanging on white-knuckled to my sketch.  The funny thing is that the harder I hang on, the less enjoyment I receive.  I needed to be reminded to allow my Father, who really does love me, to hold the pen.  Thank you. 

  • Connorcolesmom

    Well that just made me bawl. 
    I see so much of myself in this post. 
    I try so hard to make my life fit into my sketch and when it doesn’t I get so frustrated. 
    Over the years God has shown me the error of my controling and prideful ways. 
    Life is so much more refreshing and beautiful when you can let go and let God draw the pictures. 
    Thank you for that reminder  :)  
    Kim

  • Diane

    Thank you, Angie, for being so real and open and vulnerable.  I have 3 grown children and 9 grandchildren.  God has surely been good to me.  My life didn’t turn out the way I thought it would–like going thru a divorce and being estranged from my children for several years.  But thru that experience God drew me to Himself in a way that I had never experienced before so I know from my own experience that He uses the pain in our lives to bring good. 

    I never could have imagined back in the 90s how abundantly my life would overflow with the love of my children and grandchildren.  God had to teach me that I wasn’t in control of my life and the lives of my children.  He showed me that His plans and ways are so much higher than my plans and ways. (Isa 55:8)

    Yesterday was my 64th birthday and I had to work 24 hrs.  My children got together and sent me a beautiful flower bouquet and one of those big, beautiful cupcakes.  It brought tears of joy and gratitude to my eyes and heart because of those years of estrangement.  When you get to be a little older and a little wiser, you realize that the best gift of all is for those whom you love to reciprocate that love back to you.  Just to know that were thinking of me was the best gift I could have received! 

    Praise the Lord! 

    Diane from Tn

  • Jen Doucet

    We watched the livestream of The Story Saturday, unexpectedly (to us anyway.  God knew), from our living room in Southern Mississippi. (How cool is modern technology!?) When Job came on the screen, we wondered who would be singing.  I first heard Todd’s voice, and  my mind tied it to the reality of what you have lived through together…Oh my… the tears.  “How is he singing this?!” I asked my husband.  Later I had a moment where I suspected that it wasn’t just a song. It wasn’t just a Godly man doing what God has asked him to do trusting that it would speak to someone.  It was your husband, the father of your children, standing before God.  Crying out.  And being scooped up into His lap. To be held.  

    And then this morning…I’m unexpectedly (there’s that word again) home sick from work.   I peeked at your blog. Have to admit, I haven’t checked in in awhile.  With the memories of Saturday’s show so fresh in my mind and speaking to my heart, and with me now having nothing planned to do, I thought…”I’ll just see if she has anything witty to say about her man and his sweet shout out from the stage.”  (Btw…as soon as he did that I imagined the girls jumping up and down and waving with pride at the tv and your Momma’s heart nearby swelling.  And having been the girlfriend to “the guy on stage”, I imagined your pride as your uber-talented man was about to ROCK it…and currently, as the wife to a man seeking God’s will, I imagined how full your heart was to see your man right where he needed to be.  Then tears realizing that where he needed to be at that moment was not physically with you.  In your living room.) 

    Ok…so I read this sweet little piece about how, in that absence and through the emotions that are tied to it, God unexpectedly found a moment to reach down from Heaven and speak to you.  And that same moment is intertwined with all of my UNEXPECTED moments, moments that we’ve “virtually” shared. **Weeping mess.** I have been waiting to hear from God.  About something specific.  And for weeks, He’s been silent.  I even posted on fb the other day that “Jen has had enough of this still small voice thing.  Trying to hear it is making my head hurt.”  A real spiritual giant, I am!!

    Had to reach out and say thank you for sharing.  These moments. Your stories. Your family.  I’m praying today that God will continue to minister to you all in your faithfullness.  And I’m praying that Todd will continue to have his moments to grieve.  I’ve been the one who’s put that off.  Who, even now, six years after my sister moved Home, is still learning not just to sing Job’s song but to make the time to steal away and do it.  Praying that soon, you’ll have sweet time together and that it will be sufficient and full of His love.  And girl…frame that sketch! That is a priceless gift!

  • rtaylor3

    This is the fourth time I’ve read this post. I’ve cried every time. My head knows the truth of your words, but my heart struggles to accept that some of my sketches will never be true. Praying that God will continue to work in me and bring peace and healing in the midst of the pain. Blessings to you and yours.

  • Andrea-Elena

    Angie, would you believe that I’m listening to Selah’s version of “Coat of Many Colors” while reading this blog post? Appropriate, no? Oh, yes. And I just today bought their newest album with a Christmas-gift iTunes card.

    God is in the details. Yes, He is. :)

    Thank you for continuing to write this blog. Blessings abound here. *big hugs and a funny ‘witch face’ grin*

  • AshleyAnn

    Goodness, I love how you write. Everything about this post…the farmer, the sketch, the questions of a mom…thank you.

  • http://www.thisjourneyourlife.com/ Rachel

    I have no idea why I have not heard of nor read your blog until now, but I am so thankful to have come across it (listed on another blog) and look forward to following along in reading! This post was so beautifully written; it brought tears to my eyes as the truth of it blessed my heart and soul.  It was exactly what I needed to hear today–thank you for sharing. 

  • http://www.thisjourneyourlife.com/ Rachel

    I have no idea why I have not heard of nor read your blog until now, but I am so thankful to have come across it (listed on another blog) and look forward to following along in reading! This post was so beautifully written; it brought tears to my eyes as the truth of it blessed my heart and soul. It was exactly what I needed to hear today–thank you for sharing.