A Few Things…

I am so glad you loved those photos as much as I did!!! I have had several people comment about what a precious idea it was to have the pitcher with the cherry blossoms and the bunny, and I wanted to make sure I told you that I had nothing to do with it!!! Tammi was the creative bug and I just stood in about 2 feet of grass while mosquitos bit me to pieces.  Several people asked if Abby had already broken her arm and the answer is yes! Once again, creativity at its finest :) She didn’t have the neon green cast yet, it was just in a sling-thingy but seriously! You can’t tell at all!! I’m going to pay her thousands if she can do the same with my baby weight…

I wanted to give you all another update and ask for some prayer for next week. You might remember that we had put our house on the market last year and finally sold it. We found another one we loved and really felt like it was where we were supposed to be. Unfortunately, the floods happened and the people who were buying ours couldn’t because the people buying theirs lost their home (Did that make sense? I’m not getting much sleep).  We were so devastated for the family (and so many families) that lost their (s) it just wasn’t a big deal about ours. We were safe and sound and apparently moving wasn’t in God’s plan for us.

And then, a few days later, our buyers accepted another offer on their home, but the one we were going to buy had already sold. We had a few days and a wonky market to try and make a big decision. Todd and I were committed to putting ourselves in a position where we could be better stewards of our money and there just wasn’t much out there.

So, we had a little heart to heart and we decided to just blow off the whole “God leading us” thing in favor of a rustic mansion on a 100 acre farm in the Tennessee hills.

Not really.

God surprised us with a beautiful home in a safe, wonderful neighborhood with lots of trees and children. It is cozy and peaceful and we can’t wait to call it ours. It turns out that several others felt that way as well, and despite the fact that we didn’t even put in the highest offer (there were several…and at least one that was well above ours), we got it!!! Because we had no contingencies, they took it in place of the others.  Not everyone has the opportunity to do what we are doing, and we are extremely grateful to be able to be debt free as a result of our downsizing. Other than our mortgage, we are free and clear!!! YIPPEE!!!!

Until I talk hubbs into buying me that Range Rover I’ve had my eye on…uh, NOPE.

All that to say, we are praising God for His faithfulness to us. We are blessed to be able to make some adjustments in our lifestyle and share what we are given. It isn’t anywhere near what others are doing in order to serve the Lord better and I don’t want you to think I am saying it’s this huge sacrifice…it’s honestly not. We are together, we are healthy, and we will have a lovely place to be together and share life. How amazing is that? We are moving next week and as excited as we are, it’s still stressful to pack up a house and four children…we appreciate prayers for all to go smoothly and especially for the girls to adjust well. We will be farther from my mom and dad and their friends and they are struggling with all the change that’s been happening.

I am praying that the Lord will continue to draw us near to Him and burden us for those who have so much less than we do. Audra just got back from Africa and we have talked for hours about what she saw there and how it impacted her (I’m so incredibly proud to call her my friend…). I want to write about it in more detail but we have had great conversations about simplifying life. I actually want to pick your brains about how to do this in a society like ours, so stay tuned for a post where you can contribute.

Also, could you pray for my friend Adrienne? I have mentioned her here before…she has three beautiful adopted children and is now pregnant with her fourth. She has been having complications and is now on hospital bedrest. Her baby boy seems to have stopped growing and although she is only 26 weeks, they are trying to decide if it would be better for him to be delivered. There is a lot that seems up in the air and I just can’t imagine dealing with all of that while having your three young children at home. She and her husband are wonderful and I know they would appreciate your kind words and especially your prayers on their behalf.

Finally, I want to leave you with an image I think will move you.

It may move you to tears.

And ladies, I do hope what I am about to show will not cause you to stumble in your walk.

Deep breath…

Wait for it…

I don’t really know what else to say.

You all have a great night…that is, if you can shake the image of the gold chain.

And also, baby? Bill Cosby called.

He’s gonna need that sweater back.

~Ang

More Than Words

I think you’ll agree that it’s a good thing I inherited Tammi as a friend. She and Todd have known eachother since Junior High..back in the days when Todd wore clothes from Oaktree and rocked the mullet and thick gold chain combo. 
Let me catch my breath before I go on.
The images, they haunt me.
Despite his fashion sense, Todd was able to make a lot of great friends that I now have the benefit of knowing, and Tammi is one of them. If you are a member of Bloom, Tammi is the one who originally recommended the book we are reading now.  She is a missionary/mom extraordinaire/amazing woman of God/precious friend/defender of the poor…and on and on.
As you are about to see, she also has one other talent.
And regarding that talent, may I just say…..
RIDICULOUS.
Tammi, your creativity and heart combine in the most powerful way through your lens, and your photographs tell stories I could never try and recreate in words. Thank you for loving us so well and gifting us with these treasures.
                                    
I had to include a couple more that aren’t my own kiddos because they are so STINKING adorable…
Look at this baby!!!!
    
And these TWINS?!?!?!! Oh my WORD.
There are about a million more that I would love to put on here but I need to run and feed Charlotte. She is the most gentle, calm, sweet baby you have ever met in your life.
Unless you dare to put her down, in which case she screams like her head is on fire.
Blogging has become an interesting challenge…
Love to you all from rainy Nashville,
Ang
GO USA!!!!!!!! (Regardless of the maddening horn noise, I will be watching :)

Capturing Memories Through Scrapbooking

I have often marveled over my friend Jessica’s scrapbooking. I wish every one of you could sit on her couch and page through her albums. Since we are reveling in wonder over Charlotte, I invited her to guest post today. I hope you enjoy seeing her work as much as I do.

Scrapbooking is to me as sewing is to Angie.

A healthy obsession. :)

When I had my son, Elias, two years ago, scrapbooking took on a whole new meaning.

Suddenly, I felt responsible for telling HIS story. After all, he was too young to do it – or even remember it.

I found myself writing notes about his day on a calendar hanging in his room.

I took pictures of all the little moments – snuggles, diaper changes, playtime, etc.

I scrapbooked.

I have worked full-time since Elias was six-weeks-old, so my scrapbooking style was simple, but incredibly meaningful. I created pages like these:

It was all about photos+words.

Soon people began asking me how I was able to juggle full-time work, motherhood, marriage, church, etc. and still find time to scrapbook.

“You make time for what is important to you,” I replied.

But their questions got me thinking. I began praying for a way to help other moms discover my method for fitting scrapbooking in the midst of a busy schedule.

Soon, I developed an idea for an online scrapbooking class called Don’t Blink: Scrapbooking Your Child’s First Year, and I emailed a proposal to Big Picture Scrapbooking, the internet’s largest online scrapbooking class site.

I didn’t really think they would say yes. Afterall, I’m not a famous scrapbooker – just a scrapbooking mom, who loves putting photos and words together on pretty paper.

But they loved the idea and Don’t Blink was born! The class is self-paced and includes helpful hints, an audio file from me and dozens of layouts for inspiration. It is accessible online and there whenever moms can squeeze in a few minutes.

With Charlotte’s birth, I have once again been reminded of the gift of scrapbooking newborns.

Her birth story.

Her personality.

Her little hands and feet.

I couldn’t help but make a layout with the photos I took after Charlotte was born.

While I know I will never forget being there, this scrapbook page will last longer than me. :) I hope someday it is something Charlotte will treasure.

Do you scrapbook or journal to chronicle your kid’s stories? What are your favorite memories you have captured? I’d love to read them in the comments! And, if you have any questions about my BPS class, I’ll do my best to answer them.

To enroll in Jessica’s Big Picture Scrapbooking class, Don’t Blink: Scrapbooking Your Child’s First Year, click here. While I will probably never be a scrapbooker, I love, love, love what Jessica shares in the class- and all the layouts are simple and amazing. They are also offering a coupon for 20% off – just use the code blogblink at the check-out. (expires 12/20/2010 and is not good on any other classes)

Love,
Angie

The Cartwheel

Last Sunday night we went to a dinner party to pray Audra off to Uganda (she leaves on Friday with the AMAZING organization Sweet Sleep). Todd and I were inside talking to her about the trip while all the kids at the party played outside in the yard. For some reason I kept saying I felt like I needed to go out there and I just had this kind of unsettled feeling about being inside. Well, a few minutes later we heard this ear-piercing scream and someone came in and told us one of our kids was hurt pretty badly. I remember that everyone looked white-faced as I ran down the steps and several people were saying that one of the girls had broken her arm.

By the time I caught up with them, they were in the front of the house and Audra’s husband Shawn was carrying Abby. She was crying and begging me to save her, and when I got a good look at her arm I knew why. Oh my WORD. There was a wonderful man at the party who is going on the mission trip and it turns out he runs Vanderbilt Children’s O.R., so he called and let them know we were on our way.

The car ride over to the hospital was one of the hardest times in my parenting life to date. Sweet Abby kept asking me to pray for her and sing hymns to her and Ellie was completely beside herself in the backseat. She was more upset than Abby was, and at one point she asked hysterically if she could die so Abby could live. Awful. Awful. We kept explaining that this happens all the time and that we were going to get her fixed right up, but unfortunately, their experiences haven’t always ended up that way.  All the while I am looking at Abby’s arm and trying my best to act like everything was fine and the truth was I was just trying not to pass out.

The weirdest thing is that she was literally DOING A CARTWHEEL when she broke it. There were all these people around and they said she landed on her feet and then stood right up and looked at her arm. She could tell it wasn’t right so she ran to Uncle Shawn and asked what was wrong with it. I think it hit her then what had happened and she screamed. I just felt so helpless.

Vandy was AMAZING. Every single person we came into contact with was fantastic and they made a pretty scary experience as calm and easy as it possibly could have been. Randomly, one of her doctors went to the same high school as me in Cincinnati and we were there at the same time but we hadn’t known each other. I just felt the presence of the Lord there and we all made it through, but it has cracked open a tender spot in me that I am struggling with.

I am a worrier by nature, and the first to admit that my thoughts can run away from me if I don’t get a handle on them. I believe the enemy preys on me in this way, and has for most of my life. I know I’m not the only one who can get caught up in all the horrible things that could happen to my family. I also know that the Lord I have given them to does not want me to fear the way I do.

I love these girls (all of them) so much, and in the most profound, tender way. Each of their spirits have such deeply carved sweetness and goodness that I find myself trying to protect them in ways I know I can’t.

I can’t shake the images I have of that moment when I knew one of them was hurt but didn’t know what had happened. What a mother feels when her child is in danger is a powerful, awful thing. And it doesn’t  help when the worst thing that could happen actually has happened to you. I don’t want to live my life in this place of worry, but like I said, I am struggling.

This past week I took Charlotte to Children’s hospital for a scheduled ultrasound so they could make sure she didn’t have any fluid in her kidneys (she had some there when I was pregnant and they expected it would  remedy itself). Unfortunately, the fluid was still there. The technician did not seem at all alarmed, and completely put me at ease about what she was seeing so I don’t believe there is anything we need to be worried about.

I left the hospital clinging to her and looking back and forth at least three times before I crossed a completely empty road. I checked her buckles repeatedly and drove under the speed limit. I talked to the Lord about my fears and He gently urged me to remember that her life was not determined by any of my precautions, and that while I need to be a mindful parent, any sense of complete control is a sham.

When we were taking Abby to the hospital, she reminded me of what the Lord calls us to do. She sat with me, full of fear, and she spoke to Jesus. She asked Him to heal her and to be with her. She told Him she was afraid and that she needed Him. I sat with my arms around her, wiping down her sweaty head and kissing her little cheeks and it occurred to me that this really should be my ultimate goal in parenting. I need to love them well enough, true enough, and deep enough that they will let me hold them while they call out to Him. What a beautiful image; we as mothers get to be the holders while our children commune with the great One.

I’m sustained by that truth right now.

I have been a terrible blogger and I apologize…my arms have been busy and my heart has been a little restless. I know I’m not the only one to feel this, so as I write these words I am praying for all of the mommies out there who have had to face the moment where they can’t “fix” things. I’m praying for all the mothers who have heard a doctor tell them that they won’t get to hold their little ones again. I am asking the Lord to reach down to all of us as parents and remind us that we are the arms of Christ with our babies. May we never take that for granted, and may we never forget the Father Who loves us enough to let us weep with Him.

I wish I could just invite you all over for some coffee and hug on you. I know from the status of my inbox that many of you are hurting and processing your losses today, and I just wanted you to know that you aren’t alone.

After a few hours in the E.R., the doctors re-set Abby’s arm, and judging by the pictures, it’s almost as good as new. It has actually been a joy to be able to help her do things she would normally insist on doing alone, and last night I was giving her a bath while we talked about how she was feeling. She had her little sling up on the side of the tub and she made a comment about how it stunk that she was hurt but that she was remembering that she didn’t have to do things all by herself. It struck me that I do the same. Woundedness brings a desire for communion with the Lord if we allow Him into that place, and I am grateful for that.

As I wrapped her up in her towel, I could hear Charlotte cooing from her bouncy seat in the other room.

I looked Abby square in the eye and told her I wanted her to make me a promise.

“What?” she asked.

“When you get your cast off, honey, I don’t want you to be afraid of doing cartwheels.” I looked her square in the eye, my hand on her arm. “What happened here doesn’t always happen, and if you let it make you scared…”

I listened to Charlotte for another moment.

“Well, baby, you might just miss out on a great cartwheel.”

She smiled and gave me a one-armed hug.

I can’t wait to see her do it.