The Concert and the Car Door (again).

Thank you so much to all of you who came out last night to the Selah concert (and to those of you who were with us in spirit!!!). I haven’t heard how much we raised, but it was a great night and my prayer is that God was glorified by the sound of His people worshipping together and giving of ourselves to try and help this worthy organization.
I had to go on stage, not once, but twice, and I’m going to head this one off at the pass.
I have gotten several emails already about my cutie-pie jeans and I wanted you to know about a well kept secret (hopefully you have these where you live). Certain TJ Maxx stores carry a designer section (the one in Nashville is the HomeGoods store off Franklin Rd), and they carry brand name jeans (maybe last season’s or extras or whatever) and they cost less than half of the orginal price (I bought a pair for about $30 that retailed for $180). So, I wanted to pass that along. Yes, they were cute jeans…go get ‘em if you can find a TJ Maxx!!!
Shirt and scarf were courtesy of Kohl’s, which I can’t help but love (Oh, dear. Bigmama just passed out. Caroline, could you help her up, pumpkin? What am I thinking? She went down with momma. Dad? Neighbor? Anyone?). That place has everything. I love Carter’s and they are actual kid’s clothes, as opposed to the string bikini in a size 6 I saw at Old Navy yesterday. Sweet goodness.
OK, it is clear I have derailed into fashion world…let me get back to where I was headed.
I was so encouraged by all of your comments on my last post. I loved reading them (sometimes I just jot things down in a notebook that stood out…really neat or inspiring words, quotes, people I want to pray for etc.) and yesterday my hand was tired. But overwhelmingly, what I heard was that you “get it.” You’re with me…how do we figure this thing out? I am on my knees over it, and I will be praying that the Holy Spirit will speak to us about how to live in the in-between, and that we will have hearts that are easily molded to His will. 
I loved the way it felt like we were all just sitting around together, sharing life. Trying to see how it all fits together, and keeping our priorities straight. I also want to mention a thank you to those of you who commented or emailed and expressed that you wanted to be a part of the conversation, although you aren’t a Christian. You are welcome here….
(Insert abrupt shift in topic here)
Yesterday, I closed the car door on my finger again (yes, completely closed). Different door, different finger ( but as my tough-as-nails 90 year old Italian grandma said after she saw it happen, “At least it’s only a pinky…”).
So it is.
(Another shift, please…)
I got an amazing email from Shaun Groves yesterday (he’s heading up our trip to Calcutta). I told him that I knew that chances were virtually impossible, but if there happened to be a little girl in one of the projects that we were visiting who had the same birthday as Audrey, I would like to sponsor her.  Well, there wasn’t, but he did even better.
Turns out there is a 9 year old little girl whose birthday is April 7th, but she is not at one of the places we are going. Instead of just signing me up to take her (which, of course I would have anyway!), they have made arrangements for her to be brought to where we are on a day when we are close to her so that we can meet each other. I am crying as I write these words because my God never fails to amaze me. I cannot wait to share those pictures with you. I will be getting her packet in the mail next week, and hopefully I will get to know enough about her to bring her a gift that she will like.
I get updated every now and then on how many kids are being sponsored on my site, and let me tell you, the Sundays know how to give. 
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I am so proud to be a part of your lives. Whether it be jeans, scarves, cash, service, bad habits, secrets, shame…..let’s come together here and lay it before the Lord.
And don’t forget you can just click on that little Compassion sponsorship button and change a life. It is an amazing feeling….
And to all of you who wrote in about the Casting Crowns song about the in between- I LOVE it- I had never heard of it and now I am going to download it. Good to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with it:)
This post is partly jumbled because I am tired, and partly because I have to hold my right hand in an odd position to not let it touch the other keys….BUT, at least it’s just a pinky.
I actually think there’s a really good life lesson in there. In fact, I think I’m going to put you in my notebook, grandma:)
(Final shift. I promise.)
Pete is starting a new series at Crosspoint (and for clarification because so many of you have asked, this is not my home church, although I do Bible Studies there and led my Monday night study there as well). We go to Grace Community Church and we adore our church more than I can say. We also love the Wilson’s and support their ministry- they are dear, dear friends. We listen to his sermons online and sneak over to some of their night services on the days we need a “double dose:).” As you know, Pete will be with us in Calcutta as well, so please be praying for Brandi and her three boys as we are away.
Pete’s messages are now available online…audio is up the Monday after a sermon and video comes up Tuesday if you want to watch. I loved this intro to his new series…it looks so good that I wanted you all to get to see it. I get a lot of emails from people who are home-bound for one reason or another, and this is a great way for you to feel plugged into a church remotely. 
Have a great rest of the weekend, and may His love fill you to the brim (and maybe even overflow a little:)) Remember to pause the music, and try not to be distracted or irritated by the fact that a boy has hair this good. 

                                       
Back Seat Jesus_Promo from Cross Point Church on Vimeo.

Here is the link to all of the messages…http://www.crosspoint.tv/nashville/media/
Ang

In Between

Tonight is the Selah benefit concert, and it’ss a rainy morning here in Nashville (raise your hand if you’re surprised….).

I couldn’t sleep last night. I had an awful, weighty day yesterday that involved making arrangements for my daughter’s body to be moved, doing a bunch of useless real estate stuff that involved me getting lost and forgetting to bring cash, and sitting in my car crying. 

Oh wait, let me start at the beginning.

I awoke to an email suggesting that I track down some nasty comments that had been left on my blog (I will not mention her name, as it is fake and was created to pull this stunt).  I found them, and well, she got the reaction she desired. I started shaking and fell out of my bed onto my face crying over the hatred that spewed from her mouth. I won’t repeat exactly what she said, and I have deleted the comments. They were, without question, well over the line. If you read them, I apologize on her behalf. I am crying just remembering….Oh Lord, are you certain you chose the right woman for all of this?….I am such a weak vessel…

She made mention of my “beautiful” life and how many children I could feed if I wasn’t so selfish in moving my daughter’s body. She questioned what I did with the donations sent to me (and said that she believed I kept them all-forgive me if I don’t dignify this with an answer), and that essentially, this blog was for my gain, and who am I, this beautiful, talented writer to “pretend” to believe I was surprised by my success. 

I am paraphrasing, and you should be glad. The originals were ummm, not so kind.

I am going to be honest with you here. I composed several “fake” responses in my mind (have you picked up on the fact that I am a “self-talker?”), and some of them included words I probably shouldn’t mention here. But all I could see through the tears and the hurt was my baby, and I wanted (humanly) for her to get her payback. See? I’m not so perfect, am I? Or, maybe I am just a mother who raises up when someone brings up her child. There was no way to contact her directly because it was an invented profile, so I sat in tears. Todd had a photo shoot, and I was so paralyzed that my sweet father came and took Kate to school and then came back to sit with me.

I want to say this to you, because as inappropriate as her words were, it also brought up a battle that rages within me daily. I am the woman who encourages people to read scripture and yet snaps at my husband for leaving his clothes on the floor. I am great at teaching how to “feel” God, and then there are moments where I lay awake in my bed and can’t find His presence anywhere. I can’t feel Him….

I am the one who asks you to give to the poor (and I have and do sponsor children, I just don’t talk about it) and yet I do wear nice jeans and live a comfortable life. I am caught in the in between. The Lord knows what we do with our money, and I don’t feel the need to defend it, but still. I don’t want to have to live up to this “perfect woman” image, because quite frankly, I CAN’T.

I like nice things (in moderation). I like my jeans, my purse, my scarves, my house, my…..you get the picture. And yet I am flying to Calcutta (must interject here that my itunes is on shuffle and it just started playing David Crowder….thank you, Lord, for caring about the details) because my heart longs to help the poor. I spend hours responding to emails, trying to help others, trying to bless God.

I am in between, I guess.

Have you ever felt that way?

All of this may sound like a jumbled mess to you, but there is beauty when God urges you to face things in your life that are troubling. They may not bother some people (for example, I couldn’t care less if you live in a mansion or drive a nice car…it’s not how I pick my friends, nor how I sense people’s hearts, and if I know WHO they are, it doesn’t cause me to judge. It is not my place to do so…this is MY opinion), but I felt that the Lord wanted me to take something away from it. 

What satan intended for evil in her words, God used for good. He made Himself so real to me yesterday, I would have sworn I felt His breath on my cheek as I wept. He whispered as softly as He could…

Would You give Me everything if I asked? 

I didn’t even blink.

Yes Lord, every bit of it. It is Yours.

I think God loves the in between because He gets to show you things you can’t show yourself. I don’t think thoughts like that…He does. He was with me.

And He is with you, no matter what you are battling.

I didn’t compose a nasty email to the woman who wrote, in fact, later in the day, I revisited her words and asked for the Lord for wisdom. I started scrolling and saw the comments left shortly after hers by other Sundays, and to say that I wept with gratitude would be a drastic understatement. 

EVERY SINGLE ONE was either a scripture or a combination of kind words. They were loving, and recognizing the fact that above all else, this is a woman who the Lord loves the SAME way He loves them.

WOW.

If you were one of those women, I want to personally thank you for being Christ to her (and to me) yesterday. It is what this blog has always meant to be about.  There was no room left for battle, only love, and they did not allow the devil to get a foothold. You all mean more to me than I can possible express, and I am so proud to have you sharing life with me.

Also…

If you have been following me on Twitter (it shows up on the right side of the blog if you scroll down far enough), you will know that there is a woman who needs our prayers this morning. Will you join me in asking for a miracle?

And I couldn’t resist posting this….I think you will understand why. It was left yesterday by someone who I admire, who took the time to reach out….how very blessed I feel to have her prayer. I may or may not have screamed when I read it, depending on which side of me you would like to see of me today…here goes….


Blogger Beth said…

My Dear, Dear Angie, I am so moved, so blessed over what God, in His infinite grace and wisdom, is doing with your life and powerful story. I know this isn’t a new thought but, far more often than not, our passion is born from pain. It does us no good to wish it were not so. There is nothing, however, that awes us with His goodness and His fathomless plan like watching Him do it. Our hearts are often slain by His love for life. It’s all so odd and so beautiful.

Angie, my darling little sister, I will be praying for you. I would love some time to pray over you in person, just the two of us, if God would give us that opportunity. I know you have many mentors and they can give you so much that I cannot – so weak in my natural self – but, in the words of Peter in Acts 3, “that which I have give I thee.”

Love,
Beth

PS. Can I get my picture taken with you?

February 26, 2009 10:55 AM

Beth, if you are still reading, thank you. I am honored that a woman who has walked me through more emotional terrain than most of my best friends would take the time to write. You have taught me what it is like to be an ordinary woman who loves an extraordinary God. And also, I am very glad that your daughter is going with me on this trip, because there is NO way God is taking out a Moore. I may hide behind her for two weeks and request “close proximity seating” on our flights:) 
Back to you all.
I guess what I am trying to say is that you all, from the VERY beginning, have loved me for who I am, and I am humbled by it. More than that, it makes me want to be better (did anyone just picture Jack Nicholson?)
And if you come to the concert tonight, I just want to give you a heads-up.
I love Jesus, but I may be wearing nice jeans….
Ang

Her Story, His Words

I had every intention of writing this last night, but it turned out that God had other plans and He made them very clear to me. I understand know why He wanted my attention to be focused on Him alone, and I spend a good part of the evening in prayers of gratitude.
Sometimes He is so clear in His intentions, and last night was one of those times. My fingers would have been paralyzed if I had tried to type, because it would have been in disobedience. As it turns out, I had an amazing time just telling Him what I was feeling and reading through scripture, marveling at His ability to weave a story. We are all woven into that story, and last night was a night of humbling myself before Him.
Let’s back up a little.
I got an email a few weeks back from a very sweet woman in the publishing business, but truth be told, there wasn’t really a business feeling in her words. She made it clear that she was interested in being a part of telling Audrey’s story, but the focus was not on a “deal.” It was on my sweet baby, and the way she had become personally invested in her, and how she loved her story and what it had done for her.
It was a letter from a friend.
It started like this:
It is such an honor to write you. I have read your blog and am overwhelmed by the true power of God’s grace in your story– even as I write that the words feel so trite compared to how strongly I mean it. I could go on and on, but know you have much to do and don’t want to keep you too long…

She loves my little girl, and she wants to tell her story. 
You might imagine that because of the way the blog kind of “took on a life of it’s own,” so to speak, I have been approached by many wonderful publishers, and had begun to fret about it a little. That sounds silly, but it isn’t. Todd and I made a promise to each other before Audrey was born that if a book was ever to come of her story, we would not have initiated it. I prayed that I would not have to make “business decisions” that involved my Audrey. I begged Him to do it, and to reveal His will in such an amazing way that it could not be denied. If nothing ever came of it, well, then that was His decision. Once I really surrendered to that, and believed Him, a great peace came over me. 
Because I needed to be reminded of a little detail, and He was not unclear in reminding me of it.
It is My story, and I have simply chosen you to tell it.
We have kept our end of the deal, and have never contacted a single person/company/publisher etc. We just asked God to lead the way.
When I got that email, I was choked up because I sensed something in her that was different, and I felt a tenderness that surprised me. We wrote back and forth a few times, and the easiest way to say it is that it just fit
I had a speaking engagement last week and she came to meet me. As soon as she introduced herself, I (literally) attacked/hugged her. And the best part was that she didn’t think it was weird, in fact, I think anything other than that would have been weird.
After that night, I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me in a different way, and when Todd and I talked, I told him I wanted to work with her. I just knew she was the one who could do justice to this sweet baby of ours.
I prayed and prayed about it, and the day the proposal was to be sent to multiple publishers, my agent started with her. He told me we would send them out and wait a few weeks to hear back, so I settled into that mode.
15 minutes later he called to tell me that we would have our first offer that afternoon. He had not even had the chance to send it to other publishers. 
Well hello, God. Good to see you. 
True to her word, we did receive the offer that afternoon, and it was humbling to say the least. God chose her to be a part of this story, no question. And there it was, in black and white.
Speechless. Humbled. Overwhelmed by the love of a Father Who loves to remind us Who the author is. He knows me too well to present me with decisions over something so sacred, so He just laid it down and told me to pick it up.
And I did.
I am honored beyond words to tell you that I will be signing paperwork shortly to make it “official,” but the bottom line is that Audrey’s story will be published by B&H (Broadman and Holman…they are Lifeway’s book publishing division). Jennifer Lyell is my editor, but really, she is a friend who God allowed to walk with me.
Which only makes it slightly surprising that although we had never met, she attends my church as well. And only slightly odd that she accidentally overslept this past Sunday and missed the early service, and walked in at the exact same time as us, so we all sat together and worshipped.
After I told them that I had accepted, I received an email from Jennifer, and this is what it said:
I don’t know when I’ve been this thankful to the Lord for the job I have. Praying that we will all stay in step to the story He is weaving as you tell Audrey’s story. I’m here 24×7 for anything you need along the way.

Praying that today you will know His joy and peace upon you and the power of the resurrection all the way to the core of your being– and praying that it is a sweet day in the Smith household with much assurance of His love, protection, and guidance…
Business? Nope. Just the Lord Jesus Christ, Who has and will continue to sustain me in the coming months as I write.
You’ll never guess who also writes for B&H. I may have mentioned her once or twice on here (or, quite possibly, an embarrassingly amount of times)…and by the way, if you haven’t done her newest study Esther, YOU NEED TO. I think it’s my favorite, but I say that every time I do a new one so don’t hold me to it. 
I thought about trying to write something into my contract about getting my picture taken with Beth Moore, but that seemed, umm, inappropriate. There didn’t appear to be a box for that one.
So, Sundays, I want to beseech you, and it’s going to start with something that was whispered to me last night. I was kneeling on the bed, face down, and Todd literally covered me with his body and put both hands on my head as he prayed for me. I am going to ask you to do a strange thing, and I know it feels strange, because it would be the first thing that would come to my mind too.
In your comments, please don’t focus on congratulating me
It would take away attention from the one Who truly deserves it. I covet your prayers desperately, and there is thanks to be given. He has made a way for this story to reach people, to bring hope, and to make His name known.
I’m not saying these things to be falsely humble, and trust me, I am honored that I get to do this. But that isn’t what it is about, and I want my life (and my words) to reflect that.
I did do a happy dance, though, I’m not gonna lie. 
It may have included some loud spurts of shouting and jumping. It was short, and I think it alarmed the children (keeping it real here, folks…) but let’s keep our eyes on HIM. That’s what matters. Let’s praise Him together for this amazing opportunity.
Secondly, I have had a desire to do something for months, but I haven’t brought it up to Todd lately. When we asked about the possibility originally, we did not receive very good feedback, and had kind of decided to let it go. The other day, I told him that I wanted to have Audrey moved. It is complicated and it’s not cheap, but it doesn’t matter in the slightest.
I want her to be right next to Luke.  
There wasn’t a way to do that when Luke was buried, but the Lord has opened a door in His graciousness, and so in the next few weeks (with a portion of the money that will come from my book advance, thank you Jesus), she will lay right beside her cousin. There has always been one baby separating them, but I wanted them to be side by side, and now there is an opening on the other side of sweet Lukey. I know they aren’t really in there, but when I visit, I can’t help but think that it would feel better to have them next to each other.
I want to thank you for the support you have shown me up until this point, and thank you in advance for the way you will continue to do so.  You know as well as I do that there are a lot of good writers and a lot of great stories. 
He did this, and I fully, whole-heartedly (and with tears streaming like rain down my face…) believe that He will receive the glory for my daughter’s life.
And one day, face to face, I will tell Him those words.
But until then, let’s all say it here and now as a reminder that we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my fumbling fingers have managed to spill truth into your heart because of Him.
Lord, keep me soaked in humility and hungry for what brings You glory. Mold me in spirit and deed to be more like You until the day you call me home . I miss her, Father, and you know what my human, broken heart feels right now, even as I type these words…I would give it all back to see her again…

Father, in your mercy and for Your sake, would You allow me to be a part of the mending? I love you and need You desperately. She is safe with you, Jesus. I rest in that. May Your name be lifted high in everything You call me to do, and may I never walk where You have not led me.  Thank you, Lover of my soul, you have blessed me with favor I do not deserve.

Thank you.

Ang
P.S. Jennifer is the one who donated the extra tickets for the concert, so if you won them, I will make sure and arrange an opportunity for you to attack-hug her….:)

The Girl at Starbucks…

So I kept looking at this girl in Starbucks because I knew her from somewhere. I am really, really good with faces, but not always great at remembering names or being able to remember where I know someone from. I decided it must be that we were both there a lot with our laptops and didn’t think much more about it until she was walking past me and she paused.
“Are you Angie Smith?” 
“Yes, and where do I know you from? I have been racking my brain trying to remember?”
She introduced herself as Lindsay Ferrier, and reminded me of her blog, (Suburban Turmoil) which won as the “editor’s choice” in the same category I was in for the recent “Divine Caroline” contest.  
A few weeks later I ended up going to her house to tape the clip you will see below, and I timed it.
We live 3 minutes from each other.
So here we are, nominated in this national contest with thousands of other bloggers, and we both win in the same category, yet we have never met. 
It gets even stranger.
She and her hubby attend Cross Point Church (which, according to Kate, is also known as the church where “Mr. Peaches”  is the Pastor).
They happened to miss the Sunday that Audrey’s story was presented, but knew a little about me because of it.
Did I mention we live three minutes from each other?
She has a hysterical blog, and is and incredibly gifted writer-I don’t know her all that well but I hope I get to connect more, now that we realize the other exists, and that the commute is, uummmm, reasonable.
I thought you all might want to see this, and I have been so busy on my proposal (I PROMISE this post took less than 10 minutes, Greg :) !!!!!) that I haven’t written much…

Note the scarf as well…
Also, Todd had my wedding diamond reset in the most gorgeous setting. We had talked about doing it for our ten year anniversary, but this seemed the year to mark, and we found exactly what we were looking for. It is really special to me, and my next post will tell you a little bit more about why (whenever my proposal is turned in and life has returned to semi-normal again).
Ok, back to the writing. And please keep praying…it has proved to be one of the most emotional times of this whole journey. I know the Lord will sustain me, but I feel so weighted down by the grief. I am missing her so much…
Love to you all :)
Ang

It’s GO time!!!!!

***update*** It appears that in about 2 weeks we will know the exact projects we are going to in Calcutta and it may allow you to choose children for these specific projects. Thank you so much for all of the emails asking about this, and if I hear more, I will certainly keep you updated!!!!

This is a jam-packed post. That’s life right now I guess…

I continue to be in awe over the time you take to send me notes of encouragement.
To those of you who have chosen to share the dark corners of your life with a stranger, I am forever grateful.
That kind of made it sound like I’m shutting this baby down, didn’t it? Well I am NOT. In fact, we are just getting started. I just wanted you to know that even when I’m not writing, I am stil grateful:)
SO, here’s the deal.
I have asked the Lord for a certain number of you to sign up to sponsor Compassion kids (and no, I am not telling the number….it’s between me and the Big Guy, and I’m trusting Him for it!!!! But I do promise to ‘fess up when I get home:)). By the way, these suckers have a way of tracking what site you were using when you sponsored, so they will know you were on mine (isn’t that cool? I think it is. I am amazed by technology…..:))
You’ll notice the new Compassion Picture on the top left column of my blog, and once you click on it, you will be directed to a page where you can see all of the sweet faces of children waiting to be blessed by a giving family. If this is something you feel led to do, GO FOR IT!!!!!! And if you choose a child from India (I don’t know if they specify Calcutta or not), I will do my best to get a photo of myself with your sponsored child and send it to you!!!!!
I would like to say I am excited about this trip.
And I am.
But it also makes me want to throw up a little in my mouth.
The whole flying thing is DEFINITELY on the list of fears, but I just found out that they have very strict rules about stealing adopting children right on the spot, so there may be no need for me to book those 15 extra seats for my return flight.
I pray every day about what I am going to see there, and the Lord has gently whispered to me that there is no way to be prepared, and that I am only to remember that He walks with me, and it will be no different in Calcutta.
But I have (attempted) to watch a few videos and I have a sense of what I am in for. Sundays, I need your prayers.
And I know how hard things are economically right now (trust me, we are with you in the season of “Oh this is what it means to trust God….hmmm…..).
Many of you don’t know this about me because it’s a little awkward to mix it in with everything I talk about here, but I am a real estate agent here in Nashville. I don’t bring it up because I am trying to get business (in fact, that is why I haven’t really brought it up…) As is turns out, I’m pretty good at it, and it isn’t because I’m a killer business woman. It’s because I genuinely care and pray for every single one of my clients (and I keep in touch with all of them!!!!). I don’t do well because I’m a shark, but because people trust me, and there have been many, many times that I have taken the short end of the stick so someone else could prosper. I’m not trying to sound all humble here, I just do what I do because I love it (I mean, how fun is looking at houses with great people and then watching them fall in love with imagining their new life there?!?!?!). BUT, I’m not a “pusher.” So, the gist of this paragraph is that I’m not great at asking for money.
For myself.
When it comes to the poor, well, that’s a whole ‘nother (yeah, i know that’s not a word, I see the red squiggle under it…) story.
I’m not going to hammer it in to you all, but I want you to be a part of this. If you have kids, make them a part of it too. Let them look at these sweet faces and tell them what your money is doing for them every month. You might be surprised.
I know I was.
Yesterday Abby and Ellie brought me a dirty sack of change they had spent hours gathering from around the house and told me that they wanted to send it to the poor kids in India.
I praised them for their efforts with tears streaming down my face and then I took the bag and hightailed it to Starbucks for a Grande Mocha.
I really hope my sense of humor translates, because on occasion, it hasn’t. I received several (very sweet) emails informing me that there was no Biblical reason to believe that there are actual chairs in heaven. I do know that, and yet, will continue to contend that if there are, Beth Moore will have a good one. Did I mention that her daughter Melissa is going on the trip???? So excited to get to know her better.
I digress.
It’s GO time Sundays. Let’s do this together. And by all means, if you do sponsor a child, will you send me a picture of your child on the computer, or a photo of you with your chosen child? I am going to be doing something with them:)
And, as a sidebar, please pray for my writing. I have been largely absent from the blog because I have been so busy working on my book proposal. I am planning on turning it in to my agent tonight, and Todd prayed over me and then sent me out of the house to write. Please ask the Holy Spirit to do what I know I cannot. I will keep you all updated every step of the process because you are a HUGE part of why I have the courage and ability to write it. I will simply say that at this point there are several wonderful publishers who are interested in the manuscript, and I am asking the Lord to reveal His will to me. Once the proposal is sent out, we will hear back from whomever is interested and will then need to make a choice. I think this process takes several weeks, but I don’t really know. I just know I want to have total peace with who distributes this book. It isn’t “just a book” to me; it’s her voice and His story, and I want there to be healing brought by it. Will you pray the same?
I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be able to check in here and just ask you to “hold my arms up.” If you don’t know why I said that, flip yourself over to Exodus chapter 17, verse 12. In fact, if you haven’t read Exodus, just plop down and start from the beginning, because as Boomama says, “It is a GOOD WORD.”
Well Amen to that.
A

I Loved Jesus in the Night…

When I was 8 or 9 years old, my father and I were having a conversation which has been retold for years in my family.
We were talking about the things I might want to do when I grew up (for the record, at the age of four, I apparently wanted to be a “robber” and my sister wanted to be a mouse. Mom and dad were really proud), the dreams I had for my life, the person I wanted to be and so on. He was not the kind of father who talked about nothing just to pass time with his children. He was (and is) deeply engaged in who we are and what we are going through. He was a VP at Procter and Gamble, and regardless of how many many people reported to him, he would cancel business meetings to come see me if I was cheerleading. His family was first, no question. And we never felt slighted by his demanding job because there was no competition. As a sidebar (and to brag on him), you are probably familiar with much of the work he collaborated on at P&G (“the night-time, sniffling, sneezing…so you can sleep medicine”). Yep, that was my dad (“I’m not a doctor but I play one on T.V” Seriously). He always wanted us to be thoughtful people, who took notice of the world and cared about those in it.  I grew up wealthy, but to be honest, I didn’t realize it until I had to fill out my college applications and check the “income” box. When he pointed gingerly where I should put my check mark, I snapped at him for not buying me the Guess jeans I had requested a few years prior. I lusted after those stinking things. Pink, gorgeous, popularity-ensuring pink dream pants…..oh I still mourn that loss.
So back to the conversation. We were living in Japan at the time, and my dad said to me, “Angela (yes, my entire family still calls me Angela to this day), if you could be ANYTHING in the world right this minute, what would you be?”
“Anything, daddy?”
“Anything.”
I thought for a moment and from what I have been told, a smile stretched across my face as I responded.
“I would be a suitcase, daddy.” I stared at him, waiting to see what he thought of my answer.
He looked confused, but he sat for a moment and then asked me why.
I started to cry.
“So I could go with you when you leave for trips. So I could be your little suitcase and travel with you.” He pulled me into his arms tried to reassure me.
The gentle crying turned to sobs. I hated when he left, and he was about to go on another trip. They lasted weeks sometimes, and my only consolation was that we always got a present when he got got home. I distinctly remember him taking a trip back to the States and me telling him that I needed a “clutch purse.” He didn’t know what that was, but promised to find out, and true to his word, several weeks later, he showed up with a red clutch purse with little wooden handles that I adored.
Many of his travels were to India, and for as long as I can remember, he has instilled in us a love for the country.  He would bring back pieces that he had bought, including a handmade plate that was made on the site of the Taj Majal and is an exact replica of the structure. My sister and I would stare at it; the way all the pieces fit together, and try to imagine it as large as a building. 
He glowed as he told us of the love of a man who built this for the woman he loved. After losing his third wife, Shah Jahan (1631) was so grief stricken that he built this incredible monument as a testament to his late wife, and it sounded like a movie to me and Jen, as we sat listening to the stories of places we would probably never get to see in real life. He made it feel like we were there, among them, admiring the beauty and weeping over the poverty which brought him to his knees.
After one of his trips to India, he brought back a small, carved box that we were fascinated by. It was so intricate, and the best part was that when you opened it up, the smell of sandalwood would fill the room. Sometimes I would sneak into his office and run my fingers along the wood. I would open it and dream of the man who would love me the way Shah Jahan loved his wife. 
It was all so romantic to me, so intriguing. He told us about the Moghuls, and all about the history of this country that he loved so deeply.  To this day, the smell of sandalwood nearly brings me to tears because it reminds me of a time when all of my dreams were set in stone, and I was just waiting for them to happen years down the road. It told me that there was a great big world full of such an aching combination of desperate love and unimaginable poverty. I decided that one day, I would go there (I didn’t have the, ahem, fear of airplanes that I do now, so this all seemed very reasonable).
A few weeks ago I posted a picture of myself with Anne Jackson, Jessica Turner, and Brandi Wilson.  Anne and I were talking about travel and she casually asked, “Would you ever go to India?”
I didn’t think. I just smelled the sandalwood and I smiled.
“Yep. I would.”
What I thought was probably the end of a conversation began what will surely be one of the most difficult and God-ordained times of my life.
Instead of telling you all of the details, click here and you will understand why. Anyone look familiar?
I will be away from my family for almost two weeks, and the travel time (each way) is approximately 3 days.  If you are trying to do the math, don’t bother.
It’s going to be a LOT of Xanax flying.
I would love to ask that you visit the sites of the other bloggers/folks who will be going (you know Pete and Anne, and Melissa is Beth Moore’s daughter, and will be blogging for the LPM blog while we are there. The trip leaders are Shaun Groves and Spence Smith. I encourage you to spend time with each of them on their blogs and get to know our team so that you can be praying for all of us.
Since it’s a Compassion International Blogger trip,  I will be able to keep you all updated every day we are in Calcutta (the 26th of April through the 2nd of May, I believe). We will travel during the day to different projects and then come back to the hotel to blog, so you will get to see what I do firsthand. I am excited, honored, terrified, and about a million other things, so please pray. 
I feel I am being obedient to the calling of the Lord, which can be a very difficult thing, but I want to bring Him glory. I want to live my life outside the fear and inside His providence…
So, Sundays…we’re going to Calcutta. 
Will you walk with me where Mother Teresa walked and look into the faces of these sweet children who need us so desperately? I need to know you are going with me in spirit because it makes it feel so much more safe. We’ve walked tougher roads than this together, haven’t we?
As a part of all this (and really, the goal), is to get children sponsored. We’ll get into that more as time goes on, but for now, will you be praying about sponsoring a child in Calcutta? It is $32/month and it will change his or her life.
I am quite sure that if given the question I was asked as a young girl years ago, they might say the same thing. I just want to be a suitcase…
This is our best chance do that, and provide them with opportunities they never would have dreamed of having.
I will be talking a lot more about this, but I had to at least mention it so that you would know. You mean more to me than I could ever mean to you (don’t argue. I’m sure of it), and when I step on that plane, I will have you all in the forefront of my mind, because you have never failed me before….you are so, so dear to me. 

“I have come to love the darkness-For I believe now that it is a part, a very, very small part of Jesus’ darkness and pain on earth.  What a wonderful gift from God to be able to offer Him the emptiness I feel. I am so happy to give Him the gift….”  Mother Teresa

Thank you, each of you, for loving me the way you do. By the way, does anyone know a pharmacist who isn’t really into “moral distribution” of anxiety meds? Just curious….
Angie