So Proud of Him…

First of all, I am so glad to see that you all agree with me about Kate and my dad’s sister. I laughed so hard at how many of you thought the twins look like my dad!!!! He will get a kick out of that!!!
I’m also glad you all accept my random ramblings :)
SO, tonight’s 2 minute post is about my sweet hubby…I have been getting emails about Selah’s new CD, and I wanted to let you all know that the release date is August 25th, but you can pre-order it now through Family Christian Bookstores. If you pre-order, you get a CD with 4 of the songs from the CD sent to you now so you don’t have to wait :)
I have to say, I listened to it while I was out driving today, and it is amazing. I know I’m biased, but it really is unbelievable. I also have the tremendous blessing of watching the three of them live life, and I can tell you that they are the real deal. They are so honored to do what they do, and they don’t take a minute if it for granted. The result is music that truly honors the Lord and comes from the heart, and I am so moved to even be a small part of it.
“I Will Carry You” turned out incredibly well thanks to all of the people who put their hearts and souls into it (wait until you hear John Catchings on the cello!), and I am so honored that the CD includes pictures of Audrey and tells her story. The “boy” version will be available on ITunes when the CD is released. 
One last thing…if this is a CD that you would really like to have, but don’t have the money to buy it, please email me at angelac519@gmail.com. 
Much love,
Angie

No Doubt About It

Because so many of you made a point of noting the resemblance between Kate and me in my last post, I had to show you this picture. I saw it on my Grandma’s nightstand a few years ago and I literally gasped at how much Kate looks like my dad’s sister when she was a child. 
Check it out…..

Isn’t that HILARIOUS?!?!?!?!

And by the way, my grandma made all their clothes and she is particularly fond of this “bucking bronco” sweater my dad has on (isn’t he a cutie-pie?). My dad likes to say that she still makes him wear it to church sometimes. Hehehe :)
Had to share…now I’m off to watch a movie with Todd- you all have a great night~
Ang

I Blame Laura

***Updated to say that my old BFF from the wonder days backed me up on all of my antics in a comment on this post (12:47 p.m. today). She probably has some great pictures of us to share from the good old days-love you, Tef :)  Also wanted to tell you that after so many of you commented about Kate looking like me, I have decided to pull out the big guns. I am going to try and post a little something later tonight after the ladies are in bed, and trust me, there will be NO QUESTION whose genes she got!!!!***
(Original post follows…)
I am referring to Laura Ingalls, in the event that you are wondering.
And as a warning, there will be no deep, heady thoughts here for several weeks, because I am pouring all of my smart thinking and cohesive writing structure into my book.
So, for all of you sweet Sundays, you are stuck with babbling, random, “not so well-written” Angie until September. 
That last sentence alone should prove my point.
And now back to our unscheduled program…
When I was living in Japan as a child, my sister and I would get deliriously happy every time the little green light would blink on the TV. When it did, it meant that the show was being presented “bilingually,” which usually meant ENGLISH! Typically, it also meant that we were about to watch Magnum P.I. or Little House on the Prairie. Not a lot of variety, but we would take what we could get. 
So, Jenn and I were hooked on the Ingalls.  Which, for many reasons, would eventually lead to my social downfall and also explains my obsession with bonnets and braids, but we’ll get there.
Anyhoo.
Aside from Little House, my grandma would send us Betamax tapes of the popular American shows, and honestly, we were more than a little creeped out by some of them. What was with Alf? Small Wonder? 
If you have no clue what I am talking about, please don’t say a word. You will make me feel old and embarrassed because I was amazed by the stellar graphics and acting that led me to believe we could have a robotic sister and a pet alien when we got back to the States. 
Seriously. Look into it.
We got plenty of episodes of Family Ties and the Cosby show, but when the big cardboard box showed up every few months, we tore through it like wild animals to hunt down any episodes of Punky Brewster and Rainbow Brite. Does anyone remember the episode of Punky Brewster where Candace Cameron was a runaway and her face showed up on a milk container? Well I had the great pleasure of going on a cruise with her a few years ago (we weren’t together, but I still feel cool writing that…she was speaking and Selah was singing. As a sidebar, she is incredible, and is really making an impact for the Lord…absolutely beautiful on the inside and out). I told her that I remembered that episode and she laughed her head off. I hesitated to mention the Teen Bop photos of her brother that graced my walls during the era of rainbow pillows and waterbeds. 
I will never forget the day that we ripped into the box and on the top was a tape marked “Anne of Green Gables.” I didn’t have a clue what it was, and told my mom I wasn’t really interested, but about an hour later I was hooked and ran to my parent’s bedroom, flung myself on their bed, and in my most dramatic, Anne-worthy tone, informed them that if the rest of series was not in that box, I might die.
Luckily, it was. 
Words cannot express my love for Anne, Diana, and the rest of the crew who taught me how to effectively have kids hate me for my clothing choices a few years later. What? You don’t believe that I bought a dress that could have been worn by Anne and thought it a brilliant move to wear it to my sixth grade picture day in Cincinnati? 
I have photos, people.
And many scars.
Where was I? 
Little House, oh yes.
There was drama, and plenty of it. Mary accidentally sets the barn on fire, Nellie Oleson mistreats Laura’s horse Bunny and gets thrown off and then pretends to be paralyzed, a tornado wipes out the crops, Mary wakes up screaming because she’s blind…any of these ring a bell? I’ll stop now. 
But seriously.
What could be better than living in a simple, cozy house with your family and sleeping in a loft with your sister while Pa plays the fiddle and Ma sews a new dress for you?
Nothing, I tell you.
And in my ten year old mind, that was the life I wanted. I wanted my kids to walk to school everyday and enter in the one-room schoolhouse when Miss Beadle rang the big bell and the town bustled around them. Meanwhile, Ma was at home cooking on her precious new stove and the worst thing that could happen while you were coming home was that a boy would pull your pigtails.
The first red flag about my future lifestyle came in the form of sharp pencils being thrown at the back of my head on the school bus in sixth grade. This was quickly followed up by a girl pretending she wanted to do her science fair project with me and then explaining in front of our class that she was completely kidding. In fact, that same day I was completely banned from practicing “The Lift” with the cool kids who had seen Dirty Dancing. As a sidebar, the nasty Katie N. begged me to be her science fair partner later because she had blown it off and I did the whole thing with my dad. We studied how Venus Flytraps suck all the nutrients out of flies. I can see you now, writhing with envy. Venus Flytraps are the underdogs of the plant world, and had it not been for Little Shop of Horrors, they may never have earned the respect they deserve. I remember that Katie wore a Camp Beverly Hills shirt to the science fair, and I wore, umm, glasses. 
The good news is that I eventually went on to be a college cheerleader despite the lack of “lift” practice in recess. And Katie? 
Did not. 
She decided to chase after a life of harassment and cruelty which landed her exactly where her victims had been for years. Don’t worry, nothing tragic. Just a taste of her own medicine.
So, after coming home to a less than rousing welcome in the States, I decided that my “Little House” life was not going to cut it. I did my best to just blend in enough to not stick out, and as I grew into my nose and out of my braces, I started to gain some credibility with the in-crowd. I loved theatre and reading, so I think the best I could say is that I straddled the line between cool and not-so-much. I never got into trouble, although I did sneak out a few times to be rebellious. 
Ever the guilt-ridden “good girl,” I left a note for my parents in the event that they pulled back the covers and saw the pillows in my place.
I decided I had been born in the wrong century. I wanted to sit by my window and read for hours, and my prized possession was an old-fashioned rag doll I named Abigail, who still lays on the guest room bed in my parent’s house. 
I made a point of never using the phrase “bosom friend” when I met girls at school. Let’s just say it doesn’t fly like it did back in the day. But, I am happy to say that Audra is my Diana (I think there is a resemblance, actually!) and I am, well, Anne. 
And all of you who are tempted to say I resemble Anne, BITE YOUR TONGUES. Trust me, in a few seconds, you will have much more fodder to use against me. 
I bring it on myself.
The bottom line is that the world feels so complicated, and all I want is a porch swing and a horse named Bunny. You know what I mean.
So, consider this the rambling, incoherent introduction to the post I will write shortly about why I chose to homeschool. And by “shortly,” I mean “possibly before Christ returns.”
And it doesn’t really have to do with shielding my kids from life, but rather the fact that I kind of want to be Miss Beadle. 
And in the event that you do not believe that I was the girl I have described here, I give you Exhibit A, which I simply call, “What happens when a ten year old cuts her own bangs, dresses like Laura Ingalls, puts stickers on her un-pierced ears and goes Trick-or-Treating with her matching Cabbage Patch Kid in a country that doesn’t celebrate Halloween.”
Yeah.
So let’s make a deal.
Whenever you see a picture of me where you think I look cute, first, remember that I chose that picture, because it is my blog and I don’t necessarily want to put the bad ones on it (with the exception of Exhibit A). 
And second, picture me as an awkward kid with a weird doll, crooked hair, and an unhealthy love for the smell of books.
I assure you, the latter is more accurate.
I cannot end this post before ratting on my husband.
I’ll just come out and say it, because there is really no way to dress it up.
Todd used to be afraid of Laura Ingalls because he said that when the credits are rolling and the music ends, she is freeze-framed, frolicking down the hill in a way that makes her look, in his words, “demonic.” I asked him to be specific, and he explained (I’m assuming to make himself look better…oops) that it was “the way her braid slashed across her face when the music does that high octave finale note.”
Thank you, Sweetie.
I am trying to process this, as it was never on my list of credentials for a future husband. Please make sure and mention this phobia to my manly-man, should you meet him at a concert or something. Good times.
To his credit, he grew up in the bush of Africa, where there was no bilingual button.
Because seriously?
Laura is no match for Alf.

Beautiful.Simple.Creative.Inspiring.

Updated to say that you all are listing AMAZING ideas, books, etc…I can’t wait to visit these cool blogs and track down these songs!!!! Seriously, if you have a couple minutes, scroll through and make some notes! Blessings…
(original post follows)

This is kind of a weird post because I don’t usually write when I don’t have something specific to say, but I want to today.  We have had a hard few days, and I would love to write more about it later, when the kiddos are in bed. I am going to teach and head to the park in a bit…they are really in need of a “full-time mommy” after being at yet another funeral this week.  For those of you who don’t follow me on twitter, my dear aunt Fran passed away early Sunday morning and we have been in Georgia since Tuesday.  I have so many thoughts that I am trying to process about the heaviness of life right now…

When I feel like I am getting discouraged, I seek beauty and peace through scripture and prayer, and it may sound silly to some of you (and that’s okay! please keep reading :) ), but it really does help.  I may be quiet for a few days because I sense that the Lord is asking me to pull back from the blog and really be focused on the kids. I don’t really spend that much time on here, but I can just sense that they are a little off and I need to be more deliberate with my time.  We have been having some intense discussions about death and hurt and I feel like they are in a place of seeking.  It is really hard to watch them go through the process.
A precious friend of mine (thank you, Hollie!) made dresses for the girls, and as I dressed them for the funeral, I told them that my friend Hollie had made them for them, and I showed them the way the piping went along the collars and the seams, and told them how hard it was to sew like that and how grateful we should be to have these dresses. They are, by far, the most exquisite dresses they have ever had, and her talent is incredible. Ellie looked at me and said, “Is she alive, still, mommy?”  I told her yes, Ms. Hollie is alive and she said, “Oh good. I am so glad.”
Ouch.
The fact that they think to ask questions like that has really affected me and challenged me to make sure that I am responding fully to what they are walking through. Please pray for that, and that they will be able to see the Lord in all of this, and that death will not permeate their thinking. We try, and I think we are successful for the most part, but if you are a mommy who has walked through this, will you email me any suggestions you have on the subject? I would love to hear from you…I know there are a community of us who are trying to raise our children to face difficult situations with the Lord as our strength.
When I have a bit more time, I am going to post a bit about Aunt Fran and I am going to post a picture of the beautiful quilt she made for Audrey. Several of you tweeted me and suggested that, and I think it is a great idea.
For now (and I know this is random), I was wondering if you all would play along with me.
I realized last night as I skimmed through some of my favorite blogs that I am drawn to things that are beautiful in their simplicity, and just through images and words, I find great peace. One of those blogs is Lisa Leonard’s, a woman who has a beautiful heart, story, and incredible gift. She was kind enough to send me a necklace with my daughter’s initials on them after Audrey passed away. I didn’t know about her then, but I just love reading her blog because it is so pure and beautiful…if you need something inspiring, please click on over. It is so beautiful…to see her store of jewelry, just click on Lisa’s Store in the top right corner.
Another blog I love to read is the NieNie Dialogues, which tells the story of a sweet woman and her husband-they were involved in a private plane crash last year that took the life of the pilot, and while her husband Christian escaped with about 30% of his body burned, she had much more serious burns (85% I think?) and is still walking a very, very difficult road in her recovery. She has the most amazing outlook, and I am so drawn to her irrepressible hope. She is also insanely creative and infectious in her approach to love and life. Our theological backgrounds and beliefs are very different, but she is a true inspiration and I love the way she loves her family and her role as a mommy. Please join me in praying for her…she has never posted images of herself after her plane crash, and recently put the first one up.  You can see her eyes and the marks that this horrific crash has had on her, but the beauty is the same…
Another one I love is Amanda Soule’s. She inspires me in creativity and I could spend hours looking at her creative projects and ideas. I have her book, and if you are a mommy (or daddy!) who is looking for a great book of projects to do with your kids, I would highly recommend it. Mine is tattered and covered in post-it notes. I wish I had HALF of her creativity!!!! Love it. She has another book coming out soon, and you can be sure I will be talking about it :)
I could list many, many more, but today these come to mind and I wanted to share them with you in the event that you don’t know them…in the event that you need a happy place to drift off to for a bit, here are some tidbits :)
Random, right. I know. I warned you.
But I do hope you enjoy :) And as a sidebar, none of these people know that I am linking to them, and I don’t think Stephanie knows I exist :)
So, there’s a bit of beauty for the day.
(Switching gears)
I am going to write a post on homeschooling because a bunch of people have asked me questions about it. Keep in mind that I have only done it for one year so I am a total novice, but I would love to share my experiences with you all.  If you have any specific questions for me, could you put them in the comments section of this post or email me so I can try to address them? I also have some online and IRL friends that are way ahead of me in the process and I would love to have them chime in with their knowledge as well if you have questions about being “further down the road.”
So, in summary, today I am in processing mode and looking for inspiration and beauty in life. It comes in the form of music, art, books, nature, all of that. SO, this isn’t a contest, but I would love for you all to tell me where you go to seek solace from this crazy world. A song? A favorite place you go? A fun movie? A book you read and reread? A blog that inspires you? (And don’t any of you turkeys list mine! I am bored with myself :) ) Anything!!!
Make sure and read through the comments, because people say the coolest things. That’s my FAVORITE part of having a blog. I absolutely love what you all wrote when I asked about being “Her, here.”  I am printing them out for myself and have already used several!!! I have the coolest readers on the planet.
I love our friendship…
OK, off to teach. It may be an “on-the-lawn” day…the weather is gorgeous. I’ll stop back later tonight to read your thoughts.
Love to all of you, friends.
Angie

Her, here.

I’ve had a hard time reconciling in the past few weeks.
I hear this happens when you’ve been away.
I have been so emotional, and I feel like the Lord is challenging me to start doing things in a new way.  I haven’t blogged much because, as I said before, I am getting a little sick of myself :) I also haven’t blogged because I have needed to spend some time with the Lord, dealing with that little word and what it was going to mean for me.
Reconciling.
Because in Kolkata, I was her, and here, I am me again.
They didn’t know anything about me except that I had hands and that I was there to help, and it was a breath of fresh air to be used by the Lord in this way. Everything that I have tied myself to in life became beautifully, naturally, and completely irrelevant.
And I want to be her.
Here.
I have noticed a sad theme in many parts of the blog world, and it is disheartening to see people scrutinizing each other. Tearing down the good and building up the worst, endlessly searching for the thing that will make another person hurt.  It’s always the ones that are the most wounded who come searching, and what they find are others that are vulnerable. They all gather around and try to ignite a fire where God is at work.  I would be lying if I said I hadn’t had a few stop by to criticize me.  I am grateful it doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it usually packs a punch. 
Like the email I received while I was in India, describing in vivid and incredibly inaccurate terms exactly how my children were dealing with me being gone. How they were crying for me, searching for me, desperate to know where mommy was.  She went on to say that I cannot save the world and that I needed to get home to my children where I belonged. 
I sat on my bed, computer open, with tears staining my face.
Was I hurt because my kids were in danger, or because I thought I might have done the wrong thing by going? 
No.
I am, first and foremost, accountable to the Lord, and I knew He wanted me on that trip.  Also, my children were riding a roller coaster in the Mall of America with their dad and his best friend “Uncle Dan,” and I think if you saw the pictures, you would agree that they were not traumatized :) .
I was hurt that a “fellow sister” would spend that much time analyzing me from afar, and instead of praying for me, she sought to hurt me. Her tone made it very clear that I was in the wrong, and stung with it’s imagery of abandonment and distress.  
I read it to my roommate Anne, and she nodded sympathetically.  She isn’t a complete stranger to those kinds of things, because she is a brave, authentic and brilliant woman, and she says things that might make you think. And trust me, not all people want to think.  They would rather criticize.
I’m not going to dignify this with further details, but I will say that apparently there are also people who are wounded enough in this life that they feel the need to try and tarnish the name of someone who has a ministry. Why? Because they don’t want someone else to get attention? Because they are jealous? Because they are lonely? I don’t know why. But it makes me sad, because that could have been a place where something beautiful grew instead…an offering the Lord would readily receive, but no. The ego and emotions win out again. I just hate that. 
I don’t want to be here, where Godly women prey on each other instead of seeking to build them up. It breaks my heart to watch firsthand the way that can undo someone who needed to be reminded that the Lord is good, and He is with us.  They need a cheerleader, a reason to hope, a glimpse of love. And the stranger heaps coals and sits idly by while that little string she pulled begins to unravel. It is one of satan’s favorite ways of distracting us; convincing us that if we bring someone down, we will be higher.  It’s as anti-Gospel as it gets, and it seems rampant these days.
I feel so burdened right now, and not many people have a place like this where they can come and speak freely, praying that those who read would hear her heart. So I am going to write for a bit before I go to bed and ask the Lord to work with my exhaustion, because He has already made it clear that He will not bring sleep tonight if I don’t write these words.
I just want to be her, here.

Do you?
I want to be the girl who walked into a home for Mother Teresa’s home for the dying, and despite the conditions, went over to a man who was probably hours from death and put her hands… His hands… on the fragile man’s arm as he tried to speak. I liked who I was there because I was hands on flesh, heart lifted in prayer, silently begging for mercy on a stranger’s behalf. When I finished, he pointed at the sky and looked at me as if to say, “I am going…” Oh Jesus, to know that he was with You now would bring me such unspeakable joy.
So how do we manage to combine the beautiful calling the Lord has on our lives while actually living our lives?  Because I can’t get back to Kolkata today, and I am desperate to touch the sick and calm the fearful. Do you ever feel like you want to make an impact but your life doesn’t feel big enough? It isn’t right-thinking, but it is natural.
A little more than a month ago, I hadn’t met the faces that taught me about her. This girl who lived inside of me and wanted to be better, not because of the accolades, but because of the most exquisite peace that came going where He led me. Trusting Him relentlessly, with great joy.
And I liked her.
Yesterday I was in a funk and as the trash guys came to get the trash, I reminded Todd to see what their favorite drinks were. In the summer, we leave out a cooler on Wednesdays for them, right by the trash can.  After shopping for the drink that each man wants, the kids help us put them in the cooler and then they play until they hear the sound of metal coming down the road, at which point they high-tail it to the front window so they can make sure they get their drinks.
I also love to order pizza if we have someone helping out around the house with broken cable wires or a malfunctioning appliance.  I love to talk to them and make them feel at home.  I didn’t really think anyone had noticed, but the next time the cable guy came, Ellie  disappeared for a few minutes and then popped her head around the door and gingerly set something down before nervously running back down the hall.
She was gone before I looked down to see the plate she had brought over for our “helper,” full of plastic pizza slices and a wooden milk carton. She had also included one piece of plastic broccoli and a slice of delicious looking decorative cake.  
And I realized that in some ways, ways I may have deemed small before, I can be her, here.
And so can you, wherever you are. Even if you aren’t a she. All three of you who are men who read my blog can take over the him, here side of this :)
I guess the bottom line is that I feel the most in the presence of the Lord when I am serving others, and my great desire is to glorify Him in doing so. It’s easy to feel that when you are a bazillion miles away and the air is thick with desperation. But then you come home, and if you are like me, you have a pretty good life, and you get comfortable.  
I think my highest calling is to be a Godly wife and mother, and that is what I try to focus on. But I also want to feel more like a “city on a hill” in my everyday life than I normally do.
Raise your hand if you feel that way too.
Good.
I’m not alone.
And also I’m so glad I’m the one who decides how many hands are up.
:)
I have started to realize that while I don’t know what God has for me in the future as far as traveling to other countries, I have a ministry in my own backyard, and I want to make the most of it. I bet you do too, and that’s why I’m writing. 
It might be something simple, like walking around the neighborhood with your kids on a prayer walk and as you pass each house, mention what you know of the family’s needs and then stop and pray in front of their house. We do this sometimes and it’s awesome. It’s not as awesome when your four year old yells to your 40 year old single male neighbor, “Hey Mr. Chris! Did you get a wife yet?”

The point is, we are supposed to look different than the rest of the world. We shouldn’t be the ones that waiters dread because we don’t tip after dinner, or the ones that roll our eyes when something is taking longer than we feel like it should.  Quite frankly, we just aren’t that important. 
We are supposed to be a refuge, and encouragement, a reflection of the One we serve.  I know it isn’t easy to do it all the time, and in fact, I think is pretty much impossible. But it doesn’t mean that as you walk through your day, you shouldn’t search for ways to do everything a little better.  Talk to your boss with respect. Ask the girl at the coffee shop what her name is, and make a point of remembering it. Offer to help when no one has asked. Teach your children by example. Listen for what someone is really trying to say instead of what you want to hear.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. The reason I wanted to write this post is that I want to be inspired, and I want others to be as well. To that end, I would be so blessed if you would leave a comment with something that you do to be her, here.  And as you have the time, scroll through the comments and let the words of others plant seeds for you as well.  
I wrote as much as I could last night and then I fell asleep, so today I finished up and now I’m going to head out for the day. I can’t wait to come back and read what you all have to say, because I think we’re all in need of some good news.
Amen? 
If you want to get connected with some new ministries, these two are on my heart right now, and I think you will love them both. The first I have mentioned before, and if you click over to their site and blog, you will see what Baby Be Blessed is up to. I just love them and their hearts, and I can’t wait to tell you how they impacted our Compassion trip to India…amazing.  I also want to introduce you to a ministry I have recently learned of, and I think it is the coolest idea. It’s called Pass It On, Baby, and it is a great opportunity to help kids in need of clothing. Click here to read all about it.
You have no idea how the Lord will use you if you allow Him to fill the moments of your day that you see as mundane.  
I am happy to say that the photos I twittered several months ago were from a special wedding, and we were so excited to celebrate with “Mr. Chris” as he married an amazing woman we have been praying would come along.  
It was such a joyful evening, despite the fact that Todd did the electric slide with a fervor that made me want to hide under the table.
:)
I am so looking forward to hearing from you…
Much love,
Angie