She asked me out on a walk…

Hey everyone, Angie asked if I would share some thoughts today.  It is a very special day for us.
Before I share, I want to say thank you to all of you who have traveled this incredibly painful road with us.  You have no idea how your comments and emails have encouraged us.  How your prayers have helped carry us though.  You have been family to us, the body of Christ, carrying this burden with us.  I can’t express how painful it has been to lose Audrey, and how empty some days have been, but we know she is with Jesus, and that He makes no mistakes even when it doesn’t make sense.  Thank you again for caring, thank you for sharing, and for your prayers. 
My name is Todd and I am Angie Smith’s husband!  This is my first time posting, and judging by the length it will probably be my last.  Writing is not my strong point, nor is grammar, spelling, sentence structure, or anything related to English, so be prepared for more a “ungifted post.” 
For most of our married life Angie has been known as my wife, but since she has started writing that has changed.  I’m completely okay with that. 
Two weeks ago we were in Georgia visiting Angie’s family.  We decided to go to the local mall with the girls.  Ellie, Abby, Kate, and I went to Chick-Fil-A while Angie went to the Apple store.  As we stood in line a lady came up to me and whispered “If you’re who I think you are I LOVE YOUR WIFE’S BLOG!!  Not, “if you’re who I think you are, I love your music, your voice, your group.” 
Right after she left Angie came to eat with us and as I was sharing about what had just happened another lady came up, recognized Angie and told her how much she loved Audrey’s blog.  She continued to share how Angie’s writing had ministered to her.  Then she noticed I was there and for the sake of being friendly said, “Oh, your music is good too.”  Than she went right back to Angie.  That day I officially became “Mr. Angie Smith.”  I’m smiling as I write this.
How could you not love Angie?  She is strikingly beautiful.  Her smile lights up a room.  She is one of the most caring people I have ever known.  She invests so much in relationships with others.  She has showed me by example what friendship really is.  The time and devotion that she gives to those relationships is incredible.  She has the ability to focus and make someone feel like they are the only person in the room.   When people share she truly empathizes with them.  She has a heart bigger than herself. 
I think that’s why so many people have been drawn to Angie during this time.  She is honest and funny.  She has wisdom beyond her years. She has incredible insight, and the ability to put thoughts onto paper that so many of us feel but don’t know how to put into words.  She’s a mother going through unbelievable suffering, trying to make sense of it, and dealing with it one day at a time.  She’s someone you feel like you’ve known all your life the first time you meet her.
Allow me to praise my wife and honor the life she has lived not only these past 8 months, but the past 7 years we have been married.  I want to spend some time reflecting on memories I have shared with this amazing woman I am blessed to call my wife .
Today we are celebrating 7 years of marriage!!!  7 YEARS!  One thing we were trying to figure out was, is the 7 year itch from year 6-7 or 7-8?  I think it’s 6-7, so it’s all good from here baby!
I remember October 14, 2000.  We were leading worship for a singles retreat at 1st Baptist Nashville when this beautiful red head popped her head in during our sound check.  The next day we played flag football and she kept lining up next to me.  The thing was she was on my team! 
I knew she was into me, but I wasn’t ready.  I had to keep a spiritual face because I was leading worship.  The great thing about leading worship and singing in general, is that it makes you look much better and more spiritual than you really are. 
Later that night she asked me out on a walk and our lives were never the same after that.
I remember January  17th, 2001 when she came to me in tears and told me she had truly accepted Christ as her savior.  That it finally made sense.  I have never seen someone so hungry to know God, and someone who has grown so much in such a short time.
I remember August 26, 2001 when we got married.  Angie looked so beautiful.  It was such peaceful easy day.  We had so much fun with our friends and family, and the new life we were going to share together.  It was also two weeks before 9/11.  Looking back it was a time period that felt safer.
I remember a day in January 2002 when I came home to Angie in tears.  She had just miscarried our first pregnancy.  Our baby was only 6 weeks old but you would not have known that by Angie’s face.  She was devastated.  She went through all the questions, “Is God punishing me?,” “what did I do wrong in college or high school?,” “will I ever have children?”
I remember the joy she had several months later when we found out we were pregnant again.  Several weeks later we went in for our first ultrasound.  As our nurse practitioner did the ultrasound I was the first to notice two flickering lights.  No one was saying anything about it, so I asked what both lights meant.  As soon as our nurse and Angie saw it, they screamed.  We were having twins!!
I remember going for an unscheduled ultrasound in September and finding out that Angie was going to be on bed rest in the hospital for 10 excruciating weeks.  She was so scared and so brave.  She did everything to keep our girls in her.  She endured medication for weeks that most people wouldn’t have been able to tolerate a couple days.
I remember December 2, 2002 when two little girls were born that would change our world.  Ellie was 4 lbs 11 oz, and Abby was 3 lbs 11 oz.  Abby was so small she had to stay in the NICU for 17 days.  When she first came out she didn’t look alive.  She didn’t move or make a sound. 
Later that day I went to check on her.  She had all kinds of tubes, IV’s, and sensors on her.  Her oxygen mask kept falling off.  I wondered if she would be okay.  Than the nurse tried to put the mask back in her nose and Abby took her little hand and swiped the nurses fingers off her nose.  She was irritated.  I knew right than she was a fighter and would be okay.
I remember when we found out in December of 2004 that Angie was expecting our 4th child.  She was so happy, and at the same time wondering what type of complications might arise.  Would she go on bed rest again?  Would she need a lot of medication to keep our baby inside her womb? Nine months later with no complications God gave us Sarah Katherine (Kate) on September 7, 2005.  She is a fireball, a little pistol.  She’s full of life and knows exactly what she wants.  Hmm, who does that sound like?  She looks and acts just like her mommy.  I lovingly call her “my little Italian.”  Angie’s maiden name is Battiato (Ba-tee-at-toe).
I remember the summer of 2007.  We were talking about having another child.  How great it would be for Kate to have a playmate, and for Ellie and Abby to have a baby sibling to take care of.  Our kids were really excited!  I was hoping God would give us our first boy! 
We found out in October 2007 we were expecting and about 14 weeks later that she was a girl!!  She was perfect.  We decided to name her Audrey Caroline after Angie’s best friend Audra and after Angie whose middle name is CaroIe.  When you go to your first couple ultrasounds your heart is racing because you want to make sure the baby is okay.  At 16 weeks Audrey was looking great.
I remember a phone call in late December from our nurse practitioner Susanna, saying that Audrey’s test for downs syndrome came back positive.  What that really meant was that there was a 1 in 120 chance that she had it.  The chances were very slim but still thoughts flood your mind. 
How I was going to tell Angie and how would she react?  At first she was devastated and than a couple days later she came to me and reminded me of a prayer she had prayed many times.  Angie’s master degree is in developmental psychology.  She worked with special needs kids and God had given her a gift with being able to help these beautiful children communicate.  She had told me many times how she had prayed that if God was going to give a downs syndrome baby to anyone that it would be us.  That’s what is so amazing about this woman. 
I was really scared and angry.  I felt like we had been given too much.  We had had so many problems with pregnancy why was God doing this?  My perspective was going to change very quickly.
I remember January 7th as we walked in for our 20 week ultrasound.  My mother was with us and there was a lot of anticipation, worry on my part, and wonder if our
Audrey had downs syndrome.  The technician started the ultrasound and immediately got quiet.  The doctor came in and in a matter of ten minutes he stopped everything and told us Audrey had complications that were terminal.  He asked Angie how she was feeling.  She was in complete shock and horrified, but her response was immediate, “I think my Jesus is the same as He was before I walked in here.”
It’s interesting when tragedy occurs how your perspective changes.  I went in praying “God please don’t let her have down syndrome,” and left praying “please just let it be down syndrome.”
My most vivid memory of Angie before Audrey’s birth was in March of this year.  We drove to the funeral home to make arrangements and pick out a burial spot for Audrey.  As we went to the grave site something happened that no mother should ever have the foreknowledge of experiencing.  Audrey started kicking as Angie stood over the very spot where she was going to be buried a couple weeks later.  Angie was frightened and in disbelief, but she was so brave that day.  She carried herself with so much dignity and strength, even though I know she felt hopeless.
I remember April 7th.  One of the best days of our lives!  Your prayers and God’s comfort gave us one of the most peaceful wonderful days we’ve ever experienced.  I remember being in the operating room right after Audrey was born.  We were crying over her and telling her all the things we wanted to say before she passed.  Angie was something to watch that day.  She was beaming as she showed off her little girl! 
I remember looking at each other as the nurse was checking Audrey’s heartbeat.  It was just the six of us on the bed.  The nurse nodded signaling Audrey’s passing.  We looked into each other’s eyes and felt complete peace in that moment as we looked on at her three older doting sisters holding her.
 Angie has poured out herself with every pregnancy.  She has poured out herself to God in this devastating time.  She has poured out herself to you.  Things I would never share she has shared gladly, and you all have been incredible in your response to her. 
She is an amazing writer.  In 11 years of Christian music ministry I have never seen a response to God like I’ve seen since Angie started this blog.  God is using her and I believe will continue to use her in ways she never imagined. 
Baby, I know this is long and everyone is probably asleep, or going back and reading one of your posts but I want to finish with this. 
Thank you for your life, thank you for the incredible mother you have been to all 5 of our children.  Thank you for the wife you have been to me.  Thank you for these incredible 7 years we have been together.
When we found out about Audrey’s complications we prayed that whatever Jesus decided He would do what brought Him the most glory, and He has.  It’s not what we hoped for.  Mom has described the deaths of Audrey and Luke like they are amputations.  You continue but you are never the same.   A dear friend of my family who lost her son shared that with her.
In the midst of all we’ve been through you have brought Him glory with the way you have chosen to handle this.  All the people who have asked Jesus into their hearts.  All the believers who have written in saying how they understand God’s love for the very first time because of your writing.  You have kept Audrey’s memory alive and honored her life by sharing honestly from your heart. 
You are braver than I will ever be.
Thank you for asking me out on that walk back on October 15th, 2000.
I love you
Toddy

Ever Sweeter

***note*** I just realized I have misplaced my list of people asking for a Bible.  If you requested one, and haven’t received it, please write to me again….I am so sorry about this.  
It is, of course, entirely possible that the devil stole my notebook and hid it on my bookshelf….he’s so stealthy…(that only made sense to about 15 women, but they are all laughing their heads off…love you, Amy!)
I started writing this post on 8/7, and was only able to finish it this evening…

It’s been four months today.

That’s hard to say. I guess in some ways it hurts to think about the fact that time continues to move along without her.
I am broken tonight.  
Todd and I are laying in bed, and we just finished watching the Larry King interview with Steven Curtis Chapman and his sweet family. I got goosebumps as I watched them boldly speak the name of our Lord in the wake of losing Maria.  They were so honest about the way they have been angry and the way they have screamed to the heavens, “Why?” They also talked about satan, and their description of our enemy made me shiver.  
I know that not all of you are Christians.  I want you to know that I am so grateful you are here, that you are reading these words.  I don’t say that because I see you as a “project,” or because I want to add you to my list of people I can brag about “converting.”  Before I was a believer, I had experiences with a few Christians who made me feel like I was on their “to-do” list, and I was irritating to them because they wanted to just cross me off and move on.  I promised myself that I would never make anyone feel like they were valuable to me because I had a goal with them.  I truly, truly, love people, and I truly, truly, love Jesus.  It’s actually pretty simple. With that said, I hope you stick around for this post.  You may choose not to agree (you are certainly entitled to your own opinion!), but it is important to me, and it is what I believe, so I would like to share.  As always, please ask any questions you have, and I will make sure to pass them along to my father in law and get back to you with a really smart answer:)
Here goes.
I believe that satan is real, and that spiritual warfare rages all around us every day of our lives.
I believe satan is the enemy of God, and that his desire is to see the fallen world turn their backs on the God he wanted to overpower.  I don’t think he has a pitchfork, and I doubt he has a long red tail.  I don’t think he wears Prada, but I do believe he was an angel once.  An angel with a beautiful voice who wanted to be greater than God.  An angel who God rejected and exiled from heaven. The fallen angel who rejoices in our sufferings and our regrets.  Who taunts us as we hold our dying children and who laughs as we crumble under the weight of it all.  
The day after we buried Audrey, we went to breakfast with Todd’s family, and we learned that Nicol was going to be singing that night at a showcase.  If you have ever heard her sing, you already know why we wanted to be there, but immediately, it was more than that.  I can only say it this way…God impressed upon me a desire to be there that was so strong that I would have moved heaven and earth to do it.
Later that night, as we were getting ready, everything started going wrong.  The kids were upset, we couldn’t find our shoes, we were late, and on and on.  We almost decided not to go, but again, I felt like no matter what, we were getting in the car. We did, and almost an hour later, in the pouring rain, we realized our navigation system was seriously confused about where we were supposed to be.  We could barely see the road, and no matter how many people we called, we couldn’t get anyone to answer the phone. Over and over we called Todd’s mom, Todd’s dad, Todd’s sister, Todd’s brother in law.  Nothing. Nobody.
I was angry.
Really, really angry.
Todd, his best friend Dan, and my dad were also in the car, and they will tell you that I was, by all accounts, being completely unreasonable as I huffed and puffed from the passenger seat.  I felt oppressed.  I felt like I was being sought out by the one who hates me the way he hates my God.  I felt an anger rise up in me that was almost inhuman.  What’s the big deal? I kept thinking, trying to calm myself down.  She will sing again.  You’ll see her next time.  You’ll get to support her next time. Still, regardless of my internal pep-talk, the haunting passion would not subside.
I must be there.
I asked the Lord to guide our car.  I asked Him to delay the showcase so that we would see her even though we were 45 minutes late for a half hour set.  I asked Him because that was all I could think to do. I felt like the devil himself was beside me, breathing on me, smothering me with his hatred.
We finally figured out where we were supposed to have turned, and we retraced our steps until the building stood in front of us.  We jumped out of the car and ran, hands over our heads in a feeble attempt to protect ourselves from the downpour.  As we entered the building, we heard nothing.  Silence.  I assumed we had just missed her.  We walked into the room where she was, and saw everyone standing up and talking.  I ran to Todd’s mom and asked her how it had gone. She told me it hadn’t even started and I almost started crying right there.  We found our seats and settled in. My heart was racing, and I remember thinking, OK Lord, we’re here.  Thank you. I don’t know what you’re up to, but I know You’re in it.

Just a few minutes later, Nicol got on stage.  She opens her mouth and Jesus falls out.  Trust me. I was just starting to close my eyes and relax when I heard a tiny little whimpering. The day before, I had watched my fourth daughter be lowered into the earth, and that sound, that tiny baby squeaking…oh it broke me.  I opened my eyes and saw my mother in law holding the baby.  I need to be selfless.  I just want to sit and listen and relax, but Lord, I need to help so she can stay and listen…
“I’ll take him, Mom.”
“You sure?” 

Not really, I thought.  I don’t know what it’s going to feel like to have that weight in my arms tonight.  
“Yeah, I’m sure.”  I swaddled him up and walked out the back doors.  
I stood in the foyer, ear pressed to the door for the next few minutes.  Every few seconds I would stare down at his sweet face, and just feel his warmth.  I couldn’t run from it.  I had to miss her the way I did in that moment, while he gurgled and shifted and turned his little head. 
After a few minutes, a peace came over me.  I just stared at him, every part of his face, and I started to whisper to him…Oh sweet baby…sweet baby boy…

The rain was pounding on the glass doors, and the sound of God was all around.
Weeks later, as I recalled this moment, I would realize what I didn’t know during that storm.
This was the only time I would ever hold my nephew Luke.

I am crying now as I remember the words I said to him.  I will never repeat them, because I believe that God allowed me those private moments with him to cling to for the rest of my life. Luke knows what I said.  He knows to this day that I fought the rain, I fought the clock, I fought the devil himself because on that night, he was meant to be held in my arms.
The name of the song Nicol sang as I rocked Luke? I couldn’t make this up if I tried…it was called “Downpour.” I now have, forever etched in my memory, the sound of my dear sister singing to Jesus while I held her son, worshipping the God who would greet him in heaven a few short weeks later.  She was singing to Him….singing sweet praise to Him…  
Several people have written me over the months and they have asked me this question in many different ways.  ”Do you believe that God was responsible for taking your baby? How can you love a God Who would do that?”  Here is my answer.
I don’t know why she is gone, but I do know Who had the final say.  And it wasn’t the snake.
And because I know Who, I am willfully unconcerned with why.  
I know that God will use this for good, regardless of who may have intended it for evil. If you are reading these words, and you know anything about my sweet Audrey, you will also know this.
He already has.
I listened to Steven tonight, and I thought about my sweet husband and my precious sister in law Nicol singing to the Lord, and I recalled a quote I read years ago in a Max Lucado book (ironically, I think the title has something to do with a storm…).  It told the story of a very young girl who was playing her violin at a concert and there was no question she was a prodigy, gifted well beyond her years. But while her fingers danced on the strings, a man in the audience leaned over to his friend and said,
“Can you imagine how beautiful it will be once she’s had her heart broken?”
The depth of sorrow has a way of changing the way you share your life, your heart, your God.  It makes you want to shout the name of Jesus because you realize that after all, in the very midst of it, He is real.  It isn’t just a big book.  It’s the truth, and it has changed me. He has used this season to show me an image of myself, kissing His feet while the tears slip to the ground. 
This week we will bury our sweet baby Luke in the same plot as Audrey. 
I write those words and then I shake my head, anticipating the tent, the benches, the flowers, the tears…..again.  It feels like too much to bear, and yet, I want you to know this.
There is much that the enemy cannot take from us. 
He cannot have our memories, our pure love, the way we have held each other up…he cannot. 
He cannot have our hope, nor our inexplicable peace. Never.
And this week, a sound most disturbing to satan will rise from a graveyard in Tennessee, where the echoes of loving praise will drift into the morning sky, ever sweeter for the brokenness.
I want to thank you in advance for the way I know you will lift us up in prayer, and for the way it will sustain us in the coming days. 
With much love, and more gratitude than I can articulate,
Angie

Where I’ve Been…

***update*** I just came up for lunch and am reading through all of your great advice…God and I have been talking through things this morning, and we’ll see what that leads to…also, to the lady who said her sister-in-law saw me here in the hotel the other day, you better tell her to give me a squeeze if she sees me again!!!! And I am also hoping my kids weren’t picking their noses or fighting over shovels…
And to those of you who have mentioned giving up coke, chocolate, carbs and coffee, just know that those are my main food groups (the four C’s. I’m sure there’s a pyramid with those somewhere…).  I’m having anxiety attacks just thinking about saying goodbye to those old friends….:)
Thanks so much for all of your thoughtful suggestions!!!
You all are so great to me.  I haven’t posted in awhile (we are at the beach and about to head home:) ) and so many people have written me to ask if I’m okay.  You have no idea how much this has meant to me.  It has been a really great week with my family (thanks, mom and dad!), but also a very hard one.  With grief, it’s hard to tell why or when it will hit, and I was a little blindsided to have it happen here, where it is so beautiful.  Every sweet baby I see has made me miss the opportunities I will never have with my Audrey.  Every time I see the water I want to tell her about the great God who makes it roll onto the sand.  I have to remind myself that she knows…she knows better than any of us.  I just miss her so much.
I have been having panic attacks first thing in the morning and then a few times a day.  I have this feeling of fear and dread that stays with me, and my mind is full of worry. I am trying to figure out if there is something natural that will help me before I reconsider medication (diet, homeopathic remedies, etc.). I have been doing a little online research, but would certainly love to hear from you if you have any constructive suggestions.  I am caught in a pattern of worrying that something is going to happen to one of the girls or Todd, and it is hard to get my mind back on track. I don’t feel rock-bottom, just kind of like a feeling I can’t shake off, and it takes a toll on me.
Sorry this is so short (you are probably relieved! I tend to be a tad long-winded…:)) but I just wanted to let you know I am okay.  I covet your prayers and am so grateful to feel like I have your support during this time.  This coming week is going to be incredibly difficult (please pray for the entire Smith family), and I will post about that soon…
Also, still waiting to post about the Michigan event…I believe the tickets are being printed and when they are ready I will pass along the details. Many of you have asked if I am attending the South Carolina Selah concert this weekend…we are trying to find cheap tickets, so I’m not optimistic right now, but I sure would be honored to meet you if it works out.
Until then, thank you friends. 
Angie

A Thursday Morning

I’m just going to come out and say it.
I was really nervous about the whole “homeschooling” thing.  I put it on the blog, and then immediately, I kind of panicked.  ”Why?” you ask.  Why would a woman feel fear when she says the word “homeschool?”  A little background…
Last year, Todd and I decided to go to a homeschool convention.  About $100 later I decided this was going to be fun.  Curriculum, planning, fresh pencils….ooohhh this is Type A heaven.  I told my neighbor I was thinking about it and she suggested I start braiding my hair and invest in a denim jumper STAT.  I did neither.  
Recently, one of my friends at church (Hello Heidi!) invited me to a homeschool get-together. It’s kind of a play-and-pray thing where the kids play and the moms pray.  What a cool idea, right? Yeah, cool up until the night before at about 11:00 p.m. when I start to wonder how this is going to go down.
“Todd.  They aren’t going to like me.  I’m not going to fit in.” I pause, waiting for him to play the role my dad did when I was in 6th grade and tell me I was sure to be everyone’s favorite friend (I wasn’t. I’ll save that story for another day…).
“Why do you think that, Ang?”  Oh no.  A reflective question.  He’s dodging it, I can tell.
“Because their kids are really smart, and Todd…..and I’m…..” I pause, and then with great conviction, spit out these words….
“I’m a subscriber…” I start hyperventilating.  This is not going well.
(If you haven’t read my entire blog, you have no clue what I am referring to. Don’t worry about it.  Just know I love Jesus, but I also want to know what Keith and Nicole named their new baby…Sunday Rose, in case you are curious. But you didn’t hear it from me.  I am a homeschooler.)
I am suddenly imagining kids who make the Sound of Music crew look like hooligans. And they are playing their violins.  I have recently discovered that all home-schooled kids play the violin, and you will do well to just say the word “Suzuki.”  That’ll get you in the door.
And then I am picturing Kate.  Who will probably try to eat the violin, and may use the bow as a weapon, while the well-mannered children lay hands on her.
This is going to be a train wreck.
And to top it off, my mom-jeans are in the wash.
I decide to go, and to make the best of it.  I adore the 2 moms who I know from this group so I thought I would survive.  On the way over, I told the kids to practice their new Bible verses, interspersed with the word “Suzuki.”  You know, just in case. 
I debated about leaving Coco in the car, but it was hot, and I didn’t want her to get all sweaty. She’s not heat-tolerant.  She likes it right at about 71 degrees.
I get the kids out.  Oh wait, I forgot the best part.  They wanted to color on the way over, and in my mind I was thinking, Perfect.  I will have them color maps of Russia, and then they can sort of just fall out of the car when we get there, and I’ll be like, ‘Oh, a map of Russia, you are so smart, Ellie!’ Maybe not Russia, maybe Africa….now we’re getting somewhere…

Um, no.
What happened was that the door opened, and Abby decided that she was going to boycott the whole shindig, so for three straight minutes, I had to say things (loudly and with dripping sweetness), “Oh Abby, honey, let’s go see your friends! It will be SOOOOOO fun!!!!!” and then under my breath, “Abigail Grace if you do not get out of this car and say something in Spanish, you are NOT going to Chick-fil-a. Remember Dora? You can count to ten, right? Uno, dos…..”
“NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!”  Abby throws a crayon into the driveway and I, unwilling to give up the charade, decide to make lemonade with my precious lemons.
“That is MAGENTA, Abby! You LOVE ma-gen-ta, right?” She looks at me like I am speaking French and coloring Russia.  Kate starts saying “ma-gen-ta” louder and louder while staring at me. Then she starts rocking back and forth and slapping her legs to the beat in her head. It’s loud.  REALLY loud.  ”MA-GEN-TA  MA-GEN-TA  MA-GEN-TA.”  She is now tossing crayons left and right, fully immersed in her new anthem.

Abort mission, abort mission…..
So I did what any self-respecting mother would do in that situation. I made a deal with them, and I’m not going to lie.
It involved the dollar spot.  
Bonus item for using the word “ubiquitous” appropriately in a sentence.
Dresses smoothed, hair spit-fingered down.  We walked into our homeschooling destiny like thoroughbreds.  I think two of them held hands.  What can I say? Overachieving is in their blood.
As we walked around to the back of the house, I saw some kids playing on the trampoline, and they looked, by all means, very normal.  Actually, downright adorable and laughing their heads off.  Feeling a little better…the kids are not ready to be integrated yet, so they come with me into the house.  Which is just as well, because at this point I need accessories. 
We walked through the back door and greeted everyone, and it absolutely turned out to be a blast.  The moms were all great, and the older kids took care of the younger kids while we all chatted.  Abby and Ellie loved looking at the birds and Kate didn’t hurt anyone, so by all means, it was a success.  
It really made me think about the way I compartmentalize people…this group intimidates me….this group will think I am too this…..this group thinks I’m out of my mind to do this….etc.I realized I had been worried about nothing, and I felt really welcomed and normal, and a little sheepish about my freak-out.
All it took was a Thursday morning.  If any of you GCC moms read this, know that I am grateful for you, and so glad to have such a great group of women to share life and teaching with.  And I am sorry if my kid kicked your kid in the shins.  She really is a dainty flower most of the time…
Yesterday, I was teaching the girls and we absolutely had a ball.  I decided it would be fun to let you all see our little classroom, and share some of our favorite time of day.  I have starting implementing some of the creative ideas that people sent to me, and I am really feeling good about the whole thing.  The room itself is what we in the South affectionately refer to as “The bonus room.” We don’t really have basements, so this is kind of the trade off.  I hope you enjoy these! And I will tell you ahead of time that if you like any of the decorations, they probably came from Ikea, and were less than $20.  I love that place….



                                                                 Ellie hard at work.
                             Kate’s very own pencil-bag to learn and to create and to…..
                                             …destroy my plan for a “no-bath” night.
                                 Um, yeah, that’s a glue stick. Say it with me, SU-ZU-KI.

                                                   All three girls…aren’t they sweet?
   I’m so proud of my girls (all 4 of them:)) …and so grateful to be their mommy.
                                                   I am a blessed, blessed woman.
As a sidebar, thank you so much for your support regarding my speaking engagement…I am so excited I will get to meet several of you.  I don’t have any more info about it right now, but I will post it when I do.  I’m also going to be sending you an invitation to come and meet the WHOLE Smith clan (and hear Selah sing:)…do you live in Michigan?), so stay tuned….
And the Bible study…still waiting for final confirmation from the church, but I am thinking we will start in the next 2-3 weeks, and I think it will be on Monday evenings at 6:30…this is subject to change, but that’s where we are now.
Love to you all on the eve of, well, another Thursday morning.
I hope it’s a good one for you.
Angie

Inventory

***Update*** Kate has been peeing and pooping on the potty since I posted this!!!!!!! You all are prayer warriors!!!!!!!  If you haven’t read this entry yet, this will make no sense, and this is probably an uncomfortable moment for you…yikes :) I am SO excited that several of you will be coming to the women’s conference in Lexington…anyone wanna do the speaking for me?
Love to you all, and thank you for all the amazing homeschooling suggestions…I have started a notebook with all of your nifty ideas. I am hoping to have another update on Bible study soon…we’re getting closer!!!!!!!!! I can’t wait!!!

Hi all!

Sorry I haven’t posted in a bit..we were out of town visiting family in Georgia. We had such a great week watching the girls playing with their cousins.  It was great to just all be together and stay up late playing dominoes after the girls had fallen asleep to Miley Cyrus’ 3-D concert.  We are truly blessed to have the kind of family that really loves to be together…
Yesterday, we went swimming with Pete and Brandi and their three precious boys (Jett, Gage, and Brewer).  You may remember that Pete is the Pastor of Crosspoint church, who did the awesome video about Audrey.  We had so much fun watching Jett patiently allowing Kate to follow him all around the pool, floaties working overtime, and then pounce on him as soon as he got still.  I heard Ellie say to the other boys, “I think my sister is going to marry your brother.”  She isn’t subtle, but she is certainly determined.  I can’t wait to see what God does with her as she grows up.  I think she is going to be a warrior for the Lord.  On our way to meet them, she decided to test-drive the word “crap” from the backseat of the car.  I whipped around and asked her what she had said and she was kind enough to repeat it.  I looked at her and she realized that must be a no-no word.  She looked at the floor of the car and then at me.
“We don’t say crap, do we, mommy?”
“No, Kate, we don’t say that word.” She considers this for a moment, and then says,
“What about ‘Oh my crap.’  Do we say that?”  Seriously, where does she come up with this stuff?
“No, Kate, we don’t say that either.”
“How ’bout ‘What the crap.’ Is that okay?” In my mind I was thinking Yes, in certain situations, like when you can’t find the match for that stinkin’ kids shoe you JUST bought…

“No, honey, nothing with that word. Let’s think of another word to say.”
“We don’t say ‘hell’ either, right momma?” Now that’s tricky.  
“Well, we say it when we are really talking about hell.  That is a real place, and that is what we call it, but we don’t just say the word. Only when we are talking about the real hell.”
“Oh.”
Silence.
“So I can say ‘Oh my hell?’”
This continues through many shades of crap and hell, and by the end of it all, I am convicted because I think crap (while not a glorifying word) is sometimes the only one that sums it up. It’s kind of rebellious while not completely offensive.  However, it’s not one I want to hear my two year old repeating on the way to a pool date with our friend the Pastor.
A few years ago, I was putting Abby and Ellie to bed and we were doing our night-time routine. I like to ask them to think of one thing they are grateful for, one thing they want to pray for, and one thing they would like to apologize to God about.  Abby decides to go first, and starts by saying that she is grateful for colored chalk and bubbles.  Then, she says that she wants to pray for our neighbor, who wants to have another baby.  She pauses.
“Abby, is there anything you want to say ‘I’m sorry’ to God about?”
“Yeah. About me hitting Ellie today.”
“Okay, well then go ahead, because when you are done you will feel so much better.  You will have a clean slate! Isn’t that great?” She nods, closes her eyes, and puts her little palms together reflectively.
“Jesus, I am so sorry that I hit Ellie today, because that was wrong.”  My sweet Abby, humbling herself before the Lord…what a beautiful moment….
I see one of her eyes open into a little sliver.   She is looking at Ellie with a smirky little expression. This is about to go downhill.
“But, Jesus, you know I hit her because she took my dolly, and I really hope she will say I’m sorry about that and that you will forgive her for what she has did.” She closes her eye again and a little smile creeps across her face…mission accomplished. Apology, complete with justification and blame.  What a pleasing aroma to the Lord….
After stifling a snort-giggle, I made her do it over again, while explaining that when we come before the Lord, we must do it in humility, not righteousness. We need to seek Him, and not ourselves.  I always think of this story when I am praying for something and my own agenda sneaks in.  The past few weeks have had a lot of those moments.
We have these seasons in our lives where we take inventory and start to decide what needs to change, what needs to be worked on, and what we need to do to be a better steward of the gifts that we have been given.  I am right in the middle of my “inventory,” and it feels like I am starting to make some progress. I told Todd on the way to Georgia that I felt like God was preparing me for some kind of ministry, and I’m not all that sure how I feel about it.  Some parts of it I am comfortable with (I love writing, and I love Bible study.  I love being with people and living life together. I love Jesus, and the idea of being a part of anything that brings people to Him) and others I am not (public speaking, being in the spotlight, being open enough to draw criticism for my faith and my decisions).  I’m just so darned thin-skinned, and so worried about letting people down all the time.  God kindly told me to get over myself and be obedient.
So, after much prayer and trepidation, I have accepted my first speaking engagement (it’s in Lexington, KY on October 3rd in association with Southland Christian Church).  Please pray for me. I am a bundle of nerves, and have actually tried to back out a few times, but the Lord keeps telling me it is the right choice. Todd and the girls will be coming with me (that is part of the “deal” I made with God about these types of things…my family is my primary ministry, and I am not willing to be away from them), so that makes me feel a little better.  I have been crying a lot, but wanting so badly to be in God’s will. If you live in Lexington and you decide to come, just know that there is a good possibility you will see the keynote speaker throw up, so bring your camera phones. There is also a good chance you will discover that I am actually quite ordinary, and not nearly as exciting as you might have hoped:)
A few other prayer requests while I’m at it…
~I have started homeschooling Abby and Ellie.  I am really, really enjoying it.  It started out as something I wanted to do so that we could travel with Todd, but it has evolved into a sweet time with my girls. I am having a little trouble figuring out how to entertain Kate while I am teaching, and welcome any thoughts or suggestions about that (and homeschooling in general).
~I am so excited about “Stepping Up,” and am still in the process of working out the details. We may have found a church to host it!!!!!  I will keep you posted:)  I smile every time I think about meeting some of you face to face and digging deeper into the Word with you.  It is going to be a great time of fellowship, and from what I have heard, Beth knocks it out of the park again with this study.  It is seven weeks long, and has a pretty fair amount of homework.  I am also trying to figure out creative ways to make it feel interactive for those of you who do not live in Nashville.  I am going to start another blog for the study, and I am thinking about ideas for it.  There are many of you who are much smarter than me about this stuff, so feel free to email me if you have suggestions.
~I am potty-training Kate, and it isn’t going all that hot.  You know her well enough by now for me to spare you the gory details (Okay, just one.  She climbed up on our kitchen counter and pooped on it.) Let’s just say it is a battle of the wills, and I am losing.
This post is all over the place, isn’t it?  Oh well, that’s life I guess:)  If you have written me and haven’t gotten a response, please forgive me.  I have really had to limit the amount of time I spend in my email because I have started the school year with my kids.  I do hope you will continue to write, and know that it is a privilege I do not take lightly to be included as someone who can pray for you.  I do read your words, and I do pray.  It has been an incredible blessing to me to hear your hearts…thank you so, so much.
Angie
p.s. I wanted to let you know that Greg and Nicol have started a blog in honor of Luke.  If you want to, please stop by and feel free to reach out to support them. The address is: thelukesponbergfoundation.blogspot.com.
p.p.s.  I am in contact with a sweet woman who is expecting her fourth child. She is in the hospital, and is faced with a very difficult prognosis, although her beautiful faith is unwavering. Her blog is www.mycharmingkids.net. Please pray for her and her baby, Stellan.