Book Review
Bella’s Blessings: a Humble Story of Providence by Timothy Ringgold

I’ve never had a baby, not to mention gone through the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) experience as a parent, so I can’t say “Oh sure, I understand.” There is no way that I can fully comprehend what it’s like to find myself forced to ponder the mortality of my own offspring. I can try to imagine, but I really don’t understand on the deepest level. However, in the memoir Bella’s Blessings: A Humble Story of Providence, Timothy Ringgold gives no choice but to understand, to feel what he feels, to see what he sees, to hear what he hears. The author makes a close and memorable connection with the audience immediately at the start of his riveting story. Timothy recounts his family’s journey with no reservations, no hesitations, heightened intensity, and no preparation. After all, there is no preparation for parents who have a newborn swiped out of their arms and rushed into intensive care, requiring  special medical attention at birth. The condition is Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) and was completely unforeseen and undetected in obstetrical tests and ultrasounds.

The author has a wonderful wife and two beautiful girls. He owns and operates Sonic Divinity, a music therapy service agency in Orange, CA. In addition, he is a board certified music therapist with specialized training in the NICU setting. In other words, he is qualified and trained to help infants heal faster when hospitalized. Unfortunate fate or divine blessing? Timothy states his case clearly in favor of divine blessing.

The journey of Bella’s Blessings consists of 2 major sections: the first 48 hours and the blog. As soon as the social worker at Children’s Hospital of Orange County introduced the author and his wife to, the author regularly posted blog updates as information came in, as challenges were met, and as inspirations dawned. Bella’s first 3 months are documented. In his journey, the author describes the many trials, tribulations, and solutions that come with a newborn emergency: doing research on the disease, getting in touch with the best professionals, coping with financial issues, settling into a new lifestyle, and bonding with Bella through music therapy techniques. He describes how he and his family come together and get to know Bella using music therapy before she is ready to be held, when she experiences distress, and in those especially difficult moments when he and his wife bathe, feed, and change Bella’s dressings. The most touching and grounding aspects of getting to know Bella is keeping the faith, focusing prayer, and taking note of Every. Little. Piece. Of. Providence.

The author vividly describes the honest and raw human experience as a father, husband, and advocate for his family. His story evokes a broad spectrum of emotions from anger, sadness, denial, shock, and confusion, to confidence, courage, joy, and resolve. Purely authentic and real, Timothy takes it day by day and shares how he relates and does not relate to medical staff, meaningful moments of supporting his wife, strengthening the marriage, “The Good,” “The Bad,” and the big picture. In reading the author’s take on providence (which is expressed in various formats in every blog post), I’m reminded of Byron Katie’s book Loving What Is. As Katie suggests “It’s not the problem that causes our suffering; it’s our thinking about the problem.” Full of wisdom, as well as practical solutions to real problems, Timothy expresses his own personal perspective on “thinking about the problem.”

If you are having trouble finding [the Silver Lining] in any given situation, ask for clues. God will reveal them. Just be willing to deal with the fact that [the Silver Lining] may not be what you originally were looking for.

Because of Bella’s inspiration, the author also sends out occasional requests to readers, offering clarity to those friends and family members who want to support the family. The question from loved ones is often, and sometimes desperately “What can I do?” A perfect example for the power of focused prayer, the Ringgold family’s requests in the blogs are always specific and focused. Any family can learn a great deal from the Ringgolds.

Bella’s Blessings reminds the public of the power of prayer, how equally real the unseen is in our physical plane, how spirituality and faith integrate and manifest into physical outcomes, and the importance of consciously acknowledging signs of providence in every day life.

All along we thought that Bella needed the healing. In reading Bella’s Blessings, she actually heals us, the readers.

Read the author’s blog and see more pictures here

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