50,000

Y’all, I am pumped.  As evidenced by my use of the word y’all, despite the fact that I am from Cincinnati.
You may notice a new button on my sidebar.  And also, I am twittering.  Which makes me a technological genius.  And I want to use all of my new skills for good….
Let me start with a conversation I had with Kate the other day while we were walking to the mailbox.
“Come on, Kate, it’s cold.  Honey, keep up with mommy.”
“My feet hurt, momma.” 
I turn around and see her walking down the freezing cold aggregate driveway completely barefoot.
“I’ll wait for you here, momma.”
Note here that my children may need psychological help at some point, which works out well because I am a psychologist.
“No, babe.  I want you to walk with me (insert teachable moment here).”
She looks at me like she does when she has detected that I am on a mission. She starts to walk gingerly, and after a few steps, she calls out again.
“It’s too cold.  My feet hurt.” I know that this isn’t going to hurt her in the long term.  It’s uncomfortable, but not dangerous.
“Come on, hon.  I will carry you back, but I want you to walk to me.” She is mumbling under her breath, and paying close attention to where she steps. Eventually she chooses the wet grass.
After we got the mail, I picked her up.  Her feet were cold and had little pieces of grass all over them.  I ran some warm water in her tub and sat with her while our feet dangled in the bubbles.
“That hurt, didn’t it baby?” She nodded.
“Did you know that some people don’t have shoes?” She looked at me, genuinely confused.
“At all?”
“At all.”
For the next 20 minutes or so, we talked about what it must be like to have to endure pain everyday, and how grateful we should be that we have socks and shoes and warm, sudsy bath water.  I don’t want her to take it for granted.
I don’t want to take it for granted.
I heard about this great project called 50,000 pairs in 50 days. You may have seen it on other blogs as well, and I wanted to encourage you all to check it out.  $5 buys 2 pairs of shoes!!!!!! 
Oh, the thought of “Jesus” and “shoe shopping” in one sentence makes me a little giddy inside.
About 20 minutes after I posted the button on my sidebar, I read an email from Danielle, saying that she was thinking of doing a little something in honor the fact that she is about to hit 50,000 (yes, I’m serious) visitors, and she was wondering if I had any suggestions.
I laughed out loud at the irony, and told her that yes, in fact, I had a suggestion.
SO.
If you would like for Danielle to redesign your blog for you, for the next 3 days ONLY, she will only charge you $55 instead of $80.  Why $55 when she is hitting 50,000? Because she is donating $5 from every order to 50,000 shoes in 50 days.  
Which means that you get a fabulous new blog and TWO pairs of shoes are donated to a worthy cause.
Now that feels like the Christmas spirit.
Feel free to take a (barefoot) walk with you kids tonight.  And when you come back, sit with them at the computer and tell them that they can use their allowance to change someone’s life.
I want to live a grass-stained life with my babies, don’t you?
Consider me your friendly postwoman.
Mail’s here.
:)
Angie

I need some Sundays

I don’t normally post twice in a row, but this morning I have such a heavy heart. I want to ask you to join me in prayer for my friend Adrienne and her husband Jim, who are on a trip to adopt their second child. They have been anticipating bringing home their new baby girl for months, and were able to meet her soon after she was born. They received word yesterday that the baby’s mother has decided she needs a little time to think things over, and today she brought her daughter home with her.  Adrienne and Jim are still there, waiting to hear what will happen.  I don’t know if they plan to come home or if they will stay there, but I know their hearts are broken.  Too many of us know the pain, one way or another, of having a nursery full of clothes and toys and no baby to bring home to it.
Please pray for God’s will in this situation.  If this baby was meant to be with Adrienne and Jim, I am praying for a swift and peaceful decision by the birth mother.  If the baby is to stay with her mother, please pray for tremendous healing for sweet Adrienne and Jim as they prepare to go home empty-handed. While they knew this was a possibility, there was no indication that it might happen, and things have been very smooth up until yesterday.  One way or another, a mommy will be without the baby she loves, and we leave it up to the Lord to restore the wounds of loss and allow healing and peace.
I cannot imagine.
Well, actually, I can.  Which is why I want to call on all of you to join me.
I started a twitter account on the sidebar to keep you all updated on daily life, but also so I could post prayer requests that I receive.  It is so hard to post them all on here, but I thought this would be a good way to get the word out.  You are welcome to follow me on twitter (if you are confused, go to twitter.com and get the scoop…it’s pretty cool:)) and keep up with prayer requests.  
The other day I was driving and talking to God, and I told Him how grateful I was for all of you sweet strangers that have joined me in this walk.  I guess words don’t really do it justice, but I want you to know that there are times I feel so alone, and this image of all of you around me brings me unspeakable joy.  I have decided that you need a name.
Since I called the girls in my Monday night Bible Study the “Mondays,” (I know, incredibly insightful and creative…), I have decided that you all will be called the “Sundays.”
So, if you are a frequent follower of this blog or you just want to pray along with us, look for your name in upcoming posts. 
Now, Sundays…your first task…
If you care to, visit Adrienne and Jim on their site, and please go to the throne on their behalf as they face this very challenging moment.
Love you all,
Ang

Cider Carols

So you all know how much I love public speaking, right?
Well, a few months ago my sweet friend and CEO/President of the Hope Clinic in Nashville asked me if I would host a fundraiser for them.  I wasn’t planning on doing it (remember the whole pulling out my own eyelashes thing?), but when I accidentally stood her up for lunch I told her I would do anything to make it up to her.
It was a spur of the moment response. In retrospect, it was a little hasty.
Well, she texted me back and said “Good. Then you’ll host Cider Carols this year.”
So, there you have it.
I am the host.
If you are in the Nashville area and want to join us, it’s going to be a great, fun night.  The date is December 4th, and it will be a casual evening of singing and drinking cider to welcome the Christmas season. Families are welcome, and tickets are available online. There will be lots of great singers and shopping and it all goes to an amazing cause.  If you want to know more or purchase tickets, please click here.
There will be a silent auction that night, and if you don’t live in Nashville (or even if you do!) and you have something you would like to donate for the auction, please contact Lily at lsmith@hopeclinicforwomen.org.
Blessings!!!
Angie

The Glorious Hem

(updated at the bottom:))

Todd and I seem to be in “Spring Cleaning” mode a little early this year.  In the past few days, we have started tackling some home projects that we have been putting off for awhile.  One of them (which I was DREADING) was cleaning out our closets. I was dreading it for a few reasons, not the least of which was that there were some sassy pants in a size 2 that I knew God was calling me to surrender to the “in your dreams” pile. I decided I need to take some pressure off myself about losing all of my baby weight, so I was actually pretty liberal with my sorting this time around.  I was also dreading cleaning out the girl’s closets because there were stacks of clothes that needed to be sorted by size and season, and different piles for people who have little girls (Summer, Amelia, and Bella..comin’ at ‘ya!!!!).  I have been putting it off forever, so I committed the afternoon yesterday and set up shop in Kate’s room. I turned on the radio and started reaching for the piles.

About a half hour later, I was in tears.

I hadn’t expected it to be so mentally draining. I have mentioned this before, but I really feel like I see life in photographs. I remember the outfit Ellie was wearing when she realized that the hose water was freezing, and about 2 seconds later when she taught Abby the same lesson the hard way.  I remember what Kate wore home from the hospital, and what blankie I first photographed her in.  I remember the bathing suit that Abby was wearing when she felt beach sand for the first time.  

I remember the dresses the girls were wearing last Christmas, when I was a few months pregnant with a baby girl I thought was healthy.  I have one of our Christmas cards from last year and it is signed “Todd, Angie, Ellie, Abby, Kate and Baby Smith.”

I grieved all over again, in a different way.  I grieved because I can’t hold her in those sweet hand-me-downs while rocking her to sleep.  It seems like at this point, the hardest moments come in ways that are totally unexpected.  I start to feel like I am doing really well, and then I get hit over the head with this queasy feeling of agony.  

I sat on Kate’s floor and dreamed of Audrey for awhile.  I miss her so much, and I daily mourn the loss of the little moments of life I take for granted with the girls.  

As I made my way into my closet, I felt so heavy with sadness.  I started throwing my maternity clothes into a giant bag while I had a little “conversation” with God. It was pretty one-sided.

At least it was at first.

After a few minutes, I looked up and saw the bag that has my wedding dress in it. When I talk about “the Lord speaking to me,” it is in a time like this, when I feel a prompting to do something and I know that it is coming from Him.  In this moment, I felt like I needed to unzip the bag.  It seemed a little odd, but I know Him well enough to know that I should just obey the urging and let Him guide me to where I am supposed to be.  I unzipped the bag and for a brief moment, my mind was consumed with the fact that I used to have a 21 inch waist, but then I remembered that the God of the Universe was speaking to me (clap, clap!) so I returned to a posture of listening.

I pulled the bottom of the dress out of the bag and the train came spilling out.  I spread it out on the ground and studied it as moments of my wedding day came to mind.  I started to relax and my eyes drifted to the edges of the train.  And I saw the most incredible, unexpected thing.

The hem of my gown is dirty.  Really dirty.

And I know how it got that way.  I walked down a church aisle, took photographs in the grass, and danced and ate my way to happiness.  I lived in it.

A few dresses down from my wedding gown is the dress I wore when we buried Audrey.  It is dirty as well, but not from happiness.  It is stained with fresh earth, wrinkled from kneeling by my daughter’s grave.

And so I sat on my closet floor asking the Lord to show me why He had brought me here.  I closed my eyes and imagined the hem of my wedding gown as I danced with my new husband.

“… I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husbandAnd I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Revelation 21:2-5

I couldn’t remember the whole scripture, but the words “You are the bride of Christ” came to mind. I suddenly had an image in my mind of myself in a glorious white gown that floated all around me.  A seemingly endless train chasing after me as I walked. 

And then, Him.  

I couldn’t see Him in my mind, but I felt a great peace as I imagined my hands, clutching at fabric all around me so I could run to where He was.  I saw myself, falling before Him as my dirty gown settled all around me. Dirty from the hurt and the disappointment.  Dirty from the dancing in joy.  Dirty from years of walking across a wet graveyard.  Dirty from loving deeply, richly, completely. Dirty from the fears, the dreams, the sorrow, the confusion.  Dirty from the memories, the regrets, the mistakes, the injustice of this world.

Stained by this life I have walked while my Savior whispered, “One day I will wipe your tears, my sweet bride…”

What a glorious hem surrounds us all. It follows us wherever we go, gathering up pieces of this life in anticipation of the next.

And one day, I will bow to the King of Kings, and I will worship Him.  

And as He wipes the tears from my eyes, I will ask Him the question that cannot be answered fully from a closet floor….Where is she, Lord? 

And in the meantime, I will start to think of my days like a wedding photograph.  I will walk, veiled, down this long aisle, in breathless anticipation of the day that awaits me.

I will trust in the One Who will make all things new in His time.

I will keep my eyes on He Who waits for me.

I will. 

Or rather, I do.

Thank you, Lord. May my life be an offering that brings You glory…
Angie

P.S. How did the 7×7 prayers go this week? I would love to hear about it!!!

P.P.S. The gorgeous girl holding my dress is my best friend Audra, whom Audrey was named after:) She is due to have baby girl number two in a few months…actually, her due date is the week Audrey was diagnosed last year.  Audra, thank you for holding my hem in so many ways for so many years….I love you:)

7×7 Button

Hey everyone! OK, thanks for all of your great suggestions..I think I like the 7×7 thing (which several of you thought of!) so sweet Danielle made a button for it.  Thanks to those of you who asked for this, because I wouldn’t have thought of it myself:) And make sure and check out Danielle’s fun Christmas blog designs…she is so great!!!

If you want to add the button to your blog/site and help promote prayer for our kiddies, feel free. When people click it, it will link to the post with all of the scriptures.  People always ask if they need to link back to me, and while I’m not sure about blog etiquette, just know that it is much more important to me that people are praying for their kids than reading my blog:) Link me or don’t link me…just tell ‘em to PRAY!!!! 

How’s this week going, friends? I hope well. I am praying that the Lord blesses you as you lift up your kids in prayer.  
Angie

BTW, that is Ellie in the picture:) 

Seven Prayers A Day

*** In answer to some of your questions, I wanted to let you know that I do pray these out loud.  This morning, I kept my hand on Kate’s head while I read, and she smiled the whole time…and sat still!!!!!!! Praise God for small miracles….:) OH, and also thank you to the sweet reader who noticed I had written Ephesians instead of Philippians on the last one!!! I was tired last night:) It’s corrected now!!!! Thanks!!!***

I don’t really care that much about whether or not my kids are book smart.

Let me explain.
I do care, I just don’t care as much as I care about other things.  I don’t sit around and pray that my girls will learn to read today, or that they will understand a foreign language by the time they are 6, or that they will know their times table by next week.  I do spend a lot of time asking God to give them “undivided hearts (Psalm 86:11), ” and praying “that they will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel when they open their mouths (Ephesians 6:19).” I pray that God will help them to be good stewards of their time, their money, their words.  I pray for their character, their faith, their decisions, their husbands.  I want them to be wise, Godly women who chase after the Lord.  
I’m thinking that instead of getting a “My kid is on the honor roll” bumper sticker, I may create a “My kid has an undivided heart” one.  And then people will make ones that say “My kid kicked your ‘undivided heart’ kid’s butt” stickers.
Maybe not.
But, the point is that one of the most important things I am privileged to do as a mother is to pray for my children every day.  
The other day I came across a verse that God used to prompt me to write this post.  If you are a mom (or have someone else you want to pray for specifically), I hope you will join me as I do this for the next 7 days.  It struck me that I need reminders during the day to be praying over my girls, and I decided to choose 7 events in a day that would remind me to do so.  Then, I chose verses that had to do with that time of the day (for example: as my kids are getting dressed in the morning) and then I put them on notecards.
Here are the events and verses I chose:
1.  When they wake up: “Let the morning bring (child’s name) word of your unfailing love, for she has put her trust in You.  Show (her/him) the way (she/he) should go, for to you (he/she) lifts up her soul.” (Adapted from Psalm 143:8)
2. When they are getting dressed: “Therefore, as God’s chosen child, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Lord, help (him/her) bear with others and forgive whatever grievances (he/she) has against others.  Help (him/her) forgive as the Lord forgave (him/her).  And over all these virtues, help (him/her) put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Adapted from Colossians 3:12-14)
3. While they are eating: “Teach (child’s name) the secret of being content in any and every situation whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  Teach (him/her) that (he/she) can do everything through him who gives (him/her) strength.” (Adapted from Philippians 4:12-13)

4.  When they go out of the house: “(Name of child), do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Adapted from Romans 12:2)

5.  While they are taking a bath: Lord, give (name of child)  clean hands and a pure heart, and let (him/her) not lift (his/her) soul to an idol or swear by what is false. Let (him/her) receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God (his/her) Savior.  Let (him/her) be part of the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob. (Adapted from Psalm 24:4-6)

6.  When they are going to bed:  “The Lord Your God is with you; he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, be will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

7.  While they are sleeping:  “I pray that (name of child) will do everything without complaining or arguing, so that he/she may become blameless and pure, a child of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which he/she shines like a star in the universe as he/she holds out the word of life-in order that he/she may boast on the day of Christ that he/she did not run or labor for nothing.” (Adapted from Philippians 2:14-16)


I feel like God has been reminding me more and more lately that I need to live my life in prayer. For my children, husband, family, friends, country, those in need, etc., etc.  As a mother, it has been so pivotal for my children to hear me praying out loud over them, and I want to commit to do this every day (seven times a day!) for the next week.  If you care to join me, just copy these verses onto index cards (or, if you came here from Jessica’s blog, feel free to print them on pretty  scrapbook paper and embellish your little heart out….:))
Let me know if you decide to join me, and please keep me posted (either by comments or emails) if  God reveals anything to you/your children this week. 
Have a great (and prayer-filled!) week. And may God bless you and your babies richly.
Angie
P.S. I keep trying to come up with fun acronyms for this little challenge, but they all stink.  Anyone have any ideas what we could call it? Something to do with seven prayers a day? (But S.P.A.D. isn’t a cute name…I know).  Let me know if you think of something…