I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Chris Cash of the Catholic Company at the recent Catholic New Media Conference in Atlanta, and he invited me to sign up for their product reviewer program — they send me books, and I get to read them and write reviews! How beautiful is that? Is that not a little slice of Heaven for this bookworm?
The first book I was sent is Audrey: The True Story of One Child’s Heroic Journey of Faith by Gloria Conde.
Normally, I do not do well with stories of tragedy and suffering, being rather prone to fearfulness myself. One family’s cross to bear becomes yet another item to add to my list of “things-to-be-afraid-of-that-might-happen-to-my-children-some-day-dear-God-no.”
So it was with more than a little bit of hesitancy that I sat down at my kitchen table to read this book… and was drawn immediately to this paragraph in the introduction:
“We love children, and we enjoy them because, more than anywhere else, in them we see the future. And since they are still lively, innocent, and spontaneous, vessels of God’s grace, we are made to think that the future will be much better and much brighter. And then suddenly God simply acts like God without asking our permission, and we discover that in the presence of the Ever-Present, the present is all that matters.” (9)
As terrifying as it is to write, we as parents eventually come to the realization (and may it be without this sort of tragedy!) that our children, while “ours” in the biological sense of the word, don’t really belong to us at all. They were created by God to fulfill a certain mission, which doesn’t always match our plan for their futures.
Audrey was an amazing little girl given the mission to teach her family, and those around her, what a life of faith, redemptive suffering, and total dependence looks like. By cheerfully accepting all that God gave her to go through, and offering up that suffering for the suffering and needs of others, she was used to radically transform the lives of those she came in contact with.
This was not an “easy” book for me to read, for the simple reason that the end was known before I even started, and I wanted to pull back emotionally and distance myself from the inevitable heartbreak at the end; however, I could not help but be drawn in by this sweet little girl, and I am in awe of what the Lord accomplished in her short life.