Wow. What a page turner. If you’re looking for adventure, a melted heart, more understanding of those who grieve, and a just-plain-great heart-felt story, When Sunday Smiled is it! This book will impact any and every reader with greater trust in God, comfort regarding any loss, and a sense of empowerment for life’s challenges.
~Kathy Collard Miller, speaker and author of over 50 books including No More Anger: Hope for an Out-of-Control Mom www.KathyCollardMiller.com
You could say I am the most grateful man in the world for having a wild dream come true, for making an impact and for having the most wonderful family I could imagine having. If I ever lost one of them I’m sure it would take me over the edge and I can’t even imagine the grief, pain and anger that I would experience!
In his masterful book ”When Sunday Smiles” my former student/athlete Andy Davidson shares with us the grief he and his wife, Lori, experienced when their worst fears were realized … the unnecessary death of their son. It’s an incredible story of going from anger to forgiveness to faith and with nature as their care giver and advocate.
I am not surprised that Andy was able to tackle the biggest challenge of his physical and spiritual life by backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. You see, I was Andy’s coach in High School. He took on the trail, and healing, just like he took on every challenge I threw at him when he was a teen ager … with grit, determination and passion. Andy is a beacon to us all who have forgotten how to forgive and his words are the perfect game plan for spiritual invincibility!
~ Vince Papale, Former NFL Eagle, author, inspirational speaker and subject of Invincible, the movie. VincePapale.com
This book is brave. Not an action-hero, I-can-take-on-the-world, my-strength-will-save-me kind of brave. It’s a real kind of brave. A look-someone-in-the-eye-while-you-tell-them-you-love-them brave. A what’s-left-when-I-got-nothing-left brave. A tear-soaked brave. This journey is full of unique characters and an ever-approachable wry wit, and it never becomes anything other than deeply authentic. I read it slowly, sometimes with a grin and sometimes with my heart in my throat and my hand over my mouth. What a walk. When Sunday Smiled is joy and heartache and grief and miracles, an unchallenging read that absolutely challenged me, and it’s a book I’ll want to revisit every time I need to be reminded what’s important. I can’t recommend it enough.
~Kaley Rhea, author of Turtles in the Road and Messy to Meaningful: Lessons from the Junk Drawer.
A thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail is an emotional life changing experience. Andy Davidson’s life had already experienced upheaval before taking one step on that famous trail from Georgia to Maine. If you enjoy pure adventure you will enjoy “When Sunday Smiled.” However, this book transcends adventure. Not only is it a journey on two feet but a journey of the heart and mind as a father tries to comprehend the tragic loss of a son. Where was God when my son died? That answer was revealed to Andy as he neared the end of his Appalachian Trail hike.
~Paul Stutzman, author, Hiking Through. One man’s journey to peace and freedom on the Appalachian Trail.
In his compelling memoir, When Sunday Smiled, psychologist Andy M. Davidson wrestles with God on the Appalachian Trail much like Jacob wrestled with God by the Jordan River. Trying to cope with the loss of his first-born son Aaron, Davidson hikes the AT to work out his grief and the faith-conflicting emotions that pile on. This telling of one man’s physical, emotional, and spiritual pain on the 2,190-mile hike from Georgia to Maine is raw and heart-wrenching. From white blaze to white blaze [the painted rectangles marking the trail], Davidson learns to recognize and appreciate God’s creation, purpose, and provision. Like Jacob, Davidson’s “limp” serves as a holy reminder: “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered (Genesis 32:30).” I highly recommend When Sunday Smiled.
~ Clarice G. James, author of Party of One, Manhattan Grace, and Doubleheader
With deep insight and honest transparency, Andy invites his readers to journey alongside him on the Appalachian Trail as he chronicles his struggles around the loss of his son and as he questions God’s faithfulness. While it is his journey, he has captured the emotional instability that accompanies the heartache of grief experienced by many after the loss of a loved one. His book, written in vivid, expressive narrative has intrigue, adventure, inner searching, discovery and the revelation of God’s faithfulness. When Sunday Smiles is a book that will speak to many hearts and propel its readers toward a better and more peace-filled tomorrow.
~Janet K Johnson, author of Grief, the Unwanted Journey, pastor, mentor in spiritual formation
Akin to Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild”, coupling a grueling trek and devastating grief, Davidson’s account takes a fork in the road, as he is not grieving the death of a parent, he is grieving the unexpected death of his beloved son, Aaron. This Gold Star mom resonated with the grief and despair of the unexpected death of a son. I also resonated with his expression of how the presence of God brought him joy and hope and healing along the way. The rich descriptions of his trek and the story of his anguish kept me captivated, I felt as though I was hiking alongside him. With faith, grit, determination and the steadfast support of his loving wife, he treks on, honoring his son’s life.
~Marilyn Weisenburg, Author, Empty Branch, A Memoir: Finding Hope Through Lament
Since Peter Jenkins invited a nation into his Walk Across America in 1979, adventure-loving readers have waited for another storyteller who could guide us into the heart of our country and culture. Andy Davidson’s book Sunday Smiled does just that as he shares glimpses of beauty from the Appalachian Trail and introduces us to the colorful cast of characters he encounters along the way. But Davidson takes us on a richer, more profound journey than one defined solely by location and people. He also pulls his readers along a grueling expedition through his own deep grief and ultimately brings us out and into a new perception of the father heart of God.
~Holland L. Webb, Content Writer & Editor, Co-Host, The Afterword Podcast 6 \lsdlocked0