Believe

I’m going to start by saying something that may surprise you.
Growing up, my experience with several “Christians” led me to believe that I did not want anything to do with Christianity. They were judgmental, hypocritical, self-consumed, and some had pink hair (see TBN for more details).  I spent a good part of my life feeling like this was not a club I wanted to be a part of.  
What I have discovered in the last several years of my life is that these people still exist in churches all over the world.  The people who don’t care about the Christian walk, but they sure do care if the neighbors are arguing in their driveway (and then they add it to “prayer request time,” not to gossip of course, but for prayer, folks).  I continue to be disgusted when I see this, and even more so when I see it in myself.  And for clarification, I do see it in myself. More than I care to admit. We live in a fallen world, and we are all prone to unholy thoughts and actions that do not edify our Father.
I probably could have lived my entire life being someone who thought that Christians were (at best) delusional.  A baby? A manger? A cross? How silly. How useless. A bunch of dreamers who have come up with this great plan to make themselves feel better about life. I suppose I had better, more tangible things to do with my life.
And then one night (This January 17th, I will celebrate my eighth “anniversary”), I heard Him speak to me, and I have never been the same.  
It doesn’t mean that I turn a blind eye and think that the church is perfect (NO church is perfect).  What it means is that I have seen the tears fall in a group of people as we gathered together on a stormy night to hold hands and pray over the baby in my womb who had just received the diagnosis of certain death. The door blew open as we prayed and the rain poured in (no Sundays are surprised at this detail, right??:)) It means I have seen what the church was meant to be, and I love it.
I have seen true community, as a group of 30 or so people come to my house every Wednesday night and we share life. We don’t talk about the weather or the latest trends (usually…).  We talk about struggling marriages and kids who have walked away from the church. We talk about loss and heartbreak, and we celebrate the gifts that God has given each one of us. We talk about the parts of life that make it worth living. 
Images from childhood are racing through my mind at warp speed as I type.  The 6th grade girls down the road who told me I wasn’t as good as them because I didn’t care about Jesus. The same girls who invited me over to audition to be a ballet school teacher at their “school” that they were opening in their basement. I put on a leotard and some ballet shoes, kissed my mom’s cheek as she wished me good luck and then walked through the freezing cold streets.
I did every single move they told me to, and then, trying to play it cool,  I asked if I had made the cut.  They said they needed to think about it, and as the door closed behind me, I heard raucous laughter. I had fallen for their prank.  There was never a ballet school, just a chance to humiliate a little girl who didn’t know any better than to put on her shoes and walk toward opportunity.
Let’s not even get into the time I joined my first Bible Study (Breaking Free by Beth Moore…I like her a little bit), I was not yet a Christian, and I showed up nervously with the only (Catholic) Bible I had, which was, umm, a “Precious Moments” Bible. Score. 
It also had a whole bunch more books than the other girls’ Bibles…which was explained to me later:) Luckily, those women welcomed me wholeheartedly and helped me find the different books as they flipped through at the speed of light and I sat paralyzed with the giant book (those pages are like tissue, are they not?). They are still all close friends of mine, and I am so blessed to have met a group of people who exposed me to the true Gospel.
Do you have impressions or memories of Christians that sting? I bet you do.
And here is why I feel so compelled to write to you all today.
This is not the church that Jesus intended. This is not HIS church. It is what we, in our fallen state, have made it.
He is healer, refuge, forgiver, strong tower, peace-giver, redeemer, joyful, mender of brokenness…He is the Light of the world, and He came to give you the life that you were meant to have since before time began.
I am speaking from experience here, friends. I have met with Him, and I have fallen deeply, unequivocally, passionately in love with Who He is.
Last night, I had the great pleasure of spending an evening with several friends who live their lives chasing the Lord. We spent an evening with Mexican food, obnoxious laughter, homemade hot chocolate and watching as our 6 children run around like wild animals, so full of joy they could explode. To put it simply, it was, well, community.  The real kind. The kind where you hug someone because you know their deepest hurts and joys and you love each other richly despite their shortcomings. Nights like those restore my faith in what we are called to be as a body…they stir the fire that says, “This is my church, daughter. Now go out and DO something with what you have seen here…”
I have spoken of some of them here, but I want to reintroduce you.  You already know about Jessica and Matthew. I also spent time with an amazing, sweet couple named Chris and Anne Jackson.  Anne has an amazing blog and has her first book coming out in a few months (pre-order here).
Finally, you know about my dear friends Brandi and Pete.  People, listen to me. They GET it. Pete is the pastor of Cross Point Church (remember the cool videos they did of us for Audrey…he’s the one with the rockin’ hair), a church that is thriving because of the authenticity with which every message is presented. They are the real deal.  We went to look at Christmas lights in our pajamas the other night if that tells you anything…(and Brandi, you do not have my permission to tell the reason I was not pajama-clad….I am working on it…:))
SO…
I want to personally invite you (on behalf of Cross Point Church) to attend one of their Christmas Eve services, and I promise, you will be blessed. Services are at 2:00, 3:30, and 5 p.m. in Nashville, and 3:00 and 5:00 in Dickson.  Here is the link to their church site for more information. They don’t know I am doing this, but I just felt compelled because I know what an amazing night it will be, and if you can make it, you will be glad you did.
Maybe you haven’t even walked into a church for years. 
Maybe that feels scary or uncomfortable. 
Maybe you feel like you wouldn’t fit in, or that you would feel inadequate.
I totally understand, and I was with you there for most of my life. 
But maybe, just maybe, this is the year that you allow God to woo you the way He longs to…I am praying that for each of you. And by all means, if you do come, and you see me there, please say hello (and tell me I look skinny, because I am struggling a little with that…thank you to all my sweet neighbors who brought oversized plates of cookies….Crystal, yes, that means you. And Terri, also not helping.)
Here is a shot of us from last night- (Anne, me, Brandi and Jess)

I slacked a little on the Christmas card thing this year, so I thought I would post this for you all to see. It’s my favorite one I have ever sent, and I hope you love it too. I will go ahead and answer the inevitable questions (because I got a ton of emails when it went out in 2004!). Yes, that is Todd and the girls walking (look how TINY they are!!!!), and I digitally altered it to make the point that I hope you get when you see it.  
We can’t see Him the way we wish we could all of the time, but we can lift our hands to His and do what He longs for us to do….walk and believe…


This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe…
Romans 3:22
Merry CHRISTmas to you all, and much love to each one of you.
Angie

A Little Bling…

***UPDATE*** So many of you have asked about the frame, so I will tell you the truth. Todd began with a large piece of wood from our backyard and then he spend his evenings by candlelight, utilizing his newfound “wood whittling” skills. He also painted it and wrote the words, and even though it says “Albert Einstein,” it was totally Todd’s quote. We just want people to think we’re smart.
Either that, or we found it at a little boutique in Destin and it is manufactured by the Magnolia Lane Collection, which can be accessed HERE. Mine is the 20×20, and it is GORGEOUS in person.
But seriously, Todd whittling? Almost as funny as the nativity set featured in THIS post. I can’t stop laughing at Mary’s hair…sweet Caroline…
Also, if you want to cry AGAIN, scroll through the comments to this post and see what MckMama has to say…2 women who love Jesus and their babies. I am in awe of the Lord. Thank you, friend. Much love to you:)
You may have noticed new little gadget on the top of my sidebar announcing that I won the Divine Caroline award, and I kind of feel like I am at the Golden Globes.  Although, I am in my P.J.’s with no makeup and in no position to make a public speech:) There were almost 400 blog nominations in this category, and because of your kindness and love of my family, WE (you and I) won in the “best parenting blog” category.
At the risk of going a little Sally Field on you, I just want you to know that it means the world to me.  ALL of the proceeds will go to this really cute pair of shoes  THE HOPE CLINIC!!!!! Note please, that the strikethrough capability above was executed courtesy of MckMama, who was nipping at my heels for this award, and would have also given her money to charity. I love that girl, and I know you all do too:) I happen to know her a little more personally through e-mail and I can tell you she is WAY fun and just a true gift to share a little life with. What a strange way to become connected to someone, and yet I am so grateful to have met her.
So, all this to say thank you ever so much. I am super-duper proud to have won.
Instead of saying any more today, I will simply encourage you to do your scripture memory. I’m at verse 8, but it isn’t because I am an overachiever, but rather a procrastinator, and it’s a good idea for me to get ahead in anticipation of getting behind.  How poetic and revealing of me…
This is my thought for today, and it comes to you from just above my desk. It was my anniversary present from Todd this year, and  I look at it about a hundred times a day to ask myself which I am choosing.  Now it’s your turn.
Nothing, or everything?
Isn’t she beautiful? 
And what a miracle.
God be with each of you~
Angie

Psalm 139

OK, so I may have underestimated the desire of the Sundays to commit themselves to scripture memory… I did a quick twitter saying I was memorizing Psalm 139 and wondered if anyone wanted to join me….well, you all are a dedicated group of ladies (and at least 4 men). I have spent the last few hours trying to get all of my emails answered and then my sweet hubby told me I should just put it on the blog. 

Brilliant.

 So glad I married that one.

If you want to join us, we are memorizing the entire Psalm in 18 days! Psalm and schedule follow:)

Also, I just heard from Betsy at Focus On The Family, and Todd and I will be speaking at their monthly chapel service which is open to the public. It will be on January 23rd from 10:30 am until about noon. If you make it over, please don’t leave without a hug. And also, pray that I can get on the plane in the first place…nobody needs to mention that little issue to Mr. Dobson…

Several of you mentioned that you were in that area so I wanted to pass this along. Thank you so much for your support…

OK friends, it’s time.  Let’s do it!!!!!!
                Psalm 139 (NIV)
1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me 2You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
5You hem me in-behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. 6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.
19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! 20They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? 22I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Schedule:
I am starting this tomorrow, but feel free to do it at your own pace. If you choose to begin with me, we will finish on January 1st…what a way to start the New Year!!!
It is so important to have the word of God hidden in our hearts and this one is just amazing and so life-giving.  I grouped the daily verses together in case you want to print them out and make them little note-cards (that’s usually the easiest way for me to memorize scripture).
***You can DO this!!!*** Don’t get discouraged if you get behind.  I am praying for you all as we seek to serve Him with our whole lives.
Let’s get going, girls!!! You’re 18 days away from the power of Psalm 139 in your heart!
Day 1: Memorize verses 1&2
Day 2: Memorize verses 3&4
Day 3: Review/Catch Up
Day 4: Memorize verses 5&6
Day 5: Memorize verses 7&8
Day 6: Review/Catch Up
Day 7: Memorize verses 9&10
Day 8: Memorize verses 11&12
Day 9: Review/Catch Up
Day 10: Memorize verses 13&14
Day 11: Memorize verses 15&16
Day 12: Review/Catch Up
Day 13: Memorize verses 17&18
Day 14: Memorize verses 19&20
Day 15: Review/Catch Up
Day 16: Memorize verses 21&22
Day 17: Memorize verses 23&24
Day 18: Review/ Catch Up
 You can do it!!! Praying alongside you, friends…
Ang
sidebar:: isn’t this font adorable? it’s called “marydale” & it’s a fave of mine:)
             

What A Beautiful NIght…

***updated for those of you who may care to know:)*** In answer to your questions, YES. It is the same sweater I keep wearing in like every picture I have posted. I got it for $12 and I love it. Most people would laugh at my closet…I would just rather buy books!!!!
Bigmama, can you help a girl out?!?!?!
I love the popping in. No stress and it takes 5 minutes. And it’s all about good causes. LOVE it.
I wanted to share these with you who could not be with us in person, as I discovered that many of my precious Sundays made AMAZING donations. I know many of you were there in spirit, but in case you would like a visual, here are some photos from Cider Carols 2008.
These first 2 are from the pre-concert dinner for special guests/donors. It looked like a Winder Wonderland! 

This next one is a picture of me and Jason Catron - he was the musical host for third year in a row…such a neat guy. And a GREAT voice. People compare him to Josh Groban. If you follow his link, make sure and watch the video of him that pops up on the right side of him singing at the Crystal Cathedral. Wow…
Thanks for showing me the ropes, Jason, and many prayers for your ministry!!! You are SO gifted. 
A view of some of the silent auction tables…thank you for your gifts, Sundays!!!
And the night begins. Soft candlelight and a room full of people singing out to the Lord in the name of a good cause…beautiful.



And here is one of Renee Rizzo, the CEO and president of the Hope Clinic, holding a very special guest. This sweet baby girl and her mommy  live in “Audrey’s Room” at the Hope House. 
Waterproof mascara? Stellar choice.
And so when all was said and done, we raised $20,000 for the Hope Clinic!!!!! We praise you Jesus, and thank You in advance for the amazing things you will do with people’s generosity.
Much love,
Angie

Oh Holy Night

I like this popping in thing. Hello:)
This really moved me today (I’m married to him, so yes, a little biased). It was recorded before Nicol left Selah to go into full time ministry with her husband. This is from the Christmas CD released a few weeks before Abby and Ellie were born.
Who could have known what this Christmas would look like…only the Lord Himself…
(remember to pause the music first:))

I don’t know the person who put this video together, but it is beautiful. Thank you~
Blessings,
Angie

Advent

My favorite season.
Just spending time anticipating the celebration of our sweet Savior.  I can honestly say I am more in love with Him now than I have ever been.  I have been praying about what I am about to write because I don’t want it to feel like a big deal to you all, or something that you need to worry about.  I promise you don’t :) And you know I would tell you…I never seem to be at a loss for words, hmm?
I am going to take a little bloggy break for a bit…I will pop back in with quick thoughts here and there, maybe some great book recommendations or even what I call the Q.O.T.D. (Quote of the day).  Which, incidentally, occurred today at Target when Kate informed a complete stranger at the dollar spot that she was excited to grow up so she could “go to Bible Study and wear a brawl (bra).” Awesome.  Ready for check-out now, thanks for playing.
I feel like I need to be in a season where I am preparing my heart for the season, spending time drinking hot chocolate and praying over my babies, and I think I need to take the pressure off of myself to share deeply here (let me clarify that I am the one who places this pressure on myself!!!).  It is just such a season of joy and sorrow this year, and so intermingled that I believe it best to let my words be few with the world and many with the Lord.  You understand, I know. Because you are the Sundays, and you never fail to encourage me. Thank you for your support and love.
Along with that, I have 2 prayer requests.  The first is that I have begun to write the book of Audrey’s story, and am in the process of getting a proposal ready for my agent to send to several publishers.  It is an odd thing to mix something so personal with something kind of “business-like,” but I have felt such a great peace in the way the Lord is directing my steps.
With that said, I know that you have come to love my Audrey as well, so you will understand what I am about to say (as tears literally drop into the nooks and crannies of my keyboard).
Will you pray that I would bring great honor to the Lord Jesus Christ through her, and that I will honor who she was to us? I just so desperately want to do it well, and my insecurities have a way of making me feel inadequate.
I want you all to be involved in this process, and I will keep you posted as I know more, because I feel that I have had the great honor of your presence and insight for many months. I do not take for granted what you have allowed me to share with you, and the way you have supported me when I felt I could not do it alone. 
My second prayer request is that in January, Todd and I have been invited to come to Colorado to speak at Focus on the Family in honor of their “sanctity of life” week.  I am humbled beyond belief, but also intimidated and feel like it is so far from my comfort zone.  And also, there will be airplanes involved. ‘Nuff said there. 
Will you pray with me Sundays? I may be the one penning it, speaking it, experiencing it etc., but you are my loyal, faithful supporters, who have walked alongside me with dedication I can scarcely articulate, and I treasure you dearly.  
In the very first post I ever wrote on this blog, I said how grateful I was to those who were reading (initially the blog was intended to be for friends and family who lived out of town!) because they were a part of her story.
And here you are.
Part of a story that only the Lord Himself could orchestrate.
I praise You for your provision, Jesus, and for the peace that belies our circumstances…
As a sidebar, thank you so much for you prayers about Cider Carols. Honestly, it was a COMPLETE blast and I never even got nervous because it was just so fun I couldn’t be troubled with letting myself worry. And the Xanax didn’t hurt either, truth be told…:) We raised a ton of money and sang some great music by candlelight. It was amazing…
Also, I was asked to speak to a group of High School girls, and it fell on the Friday morning after CC.  I was really looking forward to it because I love this age group.  Honest to goodness, I adored every minute of it.  The teachers even let the girls skip their next classes so we could keep talking!!! These girls are ON FIRE for the Lord (in case you’re local, it was Christ Presbyterian Academy, where, coincidentally, the author of one of my favorite parenting books is on staff.) I loved every single minute of being there, and now I feel really torn, because I want my girls to go to school there, but I also LOVE homeschooling. And then there’s the whole tuition thing  (and remember I have multiples!!!), but I am praying about the will of God.  If it is what He wants for us, He will provide.  But all I can say is that when I left that school, a deep, unexpected, glorious peace filled my spirit and I felt such great joy at the possibility of the being a part of such a Christ-centered school.  Actually, could you pray about wisdom for that decision too?
I better wrap it up. I’m approaching rambling at warp speed.
All this to say…I’m off to spend some time in the land of simplicity this advent, but I will be back soon.  In the meantime, forward me your prayer requests, keep up with me on twitter, and above all, know that you are loved by the Most High.
Yes.  That much.
Angie

Reminder…

Just a quick reminder that tonight is Cider Carols.  I am so excited to see what God does.  It is going to be an amazing night of Christmas Carols, Warm cozy drinks and a chance to shop for a good cause.  I will just tell you that the Sundays came out in full force, and you will not believe the stuff they donated for auction.  Thank you to each and every one of you, and may God do amazing things with what we raise tonight.
It is a casual, warm, family-friendly night to welcome the coming of our sweet Savior Jesus.
I would love to share it with you…just click on the link above if you have any questions.
I hope to see you there:)
Blessings to you all.
Ang
p.s.  The 2nd was Abby and Ellie’s 6th Birthday.  We had an absolute blast! I was so caught up in it all that I haven’t had a chance to post, but would love to share some pictures with you all. It was a great day.  Thank you to all of you who wrote to wish them a Happy Birthday.
p.p.s. Sundays, could you pray for this Saturday evening? Greg, Nicol, and my parents and in-laws will be going to a candlelight vigil at the cemetery where Audrey and Luke are buried.  It will be emotional, I’m sure, and I am asking the Lord to bring a great peace in such a difficult season.  That His presence would somehow wash over us as we sit by these two tiny graves…we miss them so much.
Thank you, friends.  And remember, you are always welcome to send your prayer requests to me as well…we are all walking this together, and I am blessed to share in your lives as you have shared in mine.