Mr. Lewis

I am writing tonight with a heavy heart, asking you to pray for Audra. So many of you who have read my blog for awhile know that she has been my best friend for almost 14 years.

Audra’s dad passed away early this morning (around 3 a.m.). He had been ill for quite some time but still his same spunky self and none of us expected it to be so sudden.

Please pray for Audra’s mother, her sister, and all of the extended family as they walk through this season.

He was an amazing man and lived a great life, and he will be so missed.

Thank you, friends.
Angie

Relevant ’10

I’m enjoying the feeling of my own quilt tucked under my legs as a storm rolls into Nashville.

It’s not necessarily the kind of storm that will cause major damage, but it’s enough to shake me up a little.

Little known fact about me: I like to leave the T.V. on the Food Network when there is any kind of scary situation going on in the news because Giada keeps stirring in her beach house and the iron chefs keep chopping. Currently, Bobby Flay is throwing down with an unassuming fellow and none of the smily people know about the storm.

I like the Food Network.

I want to live there. Safe. Happy. Delicious. Unaffected.

I got home today after an amazing weekend in Pennsylvania at the Relevant conference. I must say, it was a breath of fresh air. I get really nervous about speaking but it isn’t like that’s the only part that scares me. I have to fly to get there (FYI, they still make propeller planes. I found that out on Thursday. Good to know). I have to meet people who I am intimidated by because I don’t know why on earth I’m sitting on this side of the table when there is wisdom on that side. I am an introvert who pretends to be an extrovert (unless it’s one on one…that, I love). I always mean one thing and say another and then end up crying in my hotel room alone because I feel like a fool. I don’t go to these kinds of events because I have created an image in my mind of the seventh grade, where everyone is chit-chatting and you feel like they are pointing at you and laughing. I fear I won’t make the cut, and the irony is that people come up to me with their hands shaking and say they are so happy to meet me and all the while I’m thinking, “How can I make my hands stop shaking and write something beautiful for them…”

I am going to write the rest of this post if it kills me (sorry, self talk).

I listened to Crystal Paine speak on Thursday night and I decided about 4 minutes into her talk that she was going to be one of my best friends as soon as I could figure out where to hide my True Religion jeans (pocket placement, need I say more?). She was equal parts charming and convicting, and (confession) I had never been to her blog before. I’m the girl who buys the three ring binder and stuffs it with the baseball card sleeves and for exactly 2 weeks I fill it with coupons for things I will never buy. Then I carry it like a badge of honor as I explain that yes, check-out lady, I would like to purchase 14 neutrogena lip glosses, a tube of snot-flavored toothpaste and the DVD “Cars.” And why is THAT weird?

Coupon FAIL.


I went to her blog tonight and spent quite a bit of time there…she ROCKS my socks off. But you already know that because evidently I’m the only person in the free world who just found out.


Friday was chocked full of Sally Clarkson, who is one of the most incredible ladies you will ever listen to or read. Her book “The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity” is one of my all-time favorites. She also wrote “Educating the Wholehearted Child,” which was one of the major reasons I chose to homeschool. I can’t speak highly enough of her and to see her in person was to respect her even more…wow.

I spoke Friday night and did not throw up or pass out. Noteworthy.

Saturday I got to spend a little time with Ann Voskamp and needless to say, she is every bit of what you would expect. Beautiful, gracious, elegant in an approachable “Audrey Hepburn” kind of way, but with the kind of laugh where you can see her back teeth (one of my favorite qualities in any person). She looks you in the eye, hugs you like an old friend, and whispers wisdom in the most unexpected moments. My editor Jennifer was with me and said that her favorite moment of the entire weekend was me looking up and realizing Ann was getting in the elevator as Ann saw that I was there. We both screamed and jumped up and down, hugging while the whole thing shook. To put flesh on computer words is such a blessing. And I suppose, kind of dangerous if you are phobic of elevators. Or propellers.

Ann is the kind of lady who loves deep, smiles teeth, and shakes elevators. She shines Jesus, and I know that she won’t like the last paragraph because it might make you look at her…Ann, we don’t. We see Him. Thank you for being brave to make Him famous. A tinge of color looks good in your wardrobe, friend. :)

All in all, I think the take-away message was unexpected for many who attended. Instead of learning how to increase stats and focus on being media saavy, we sat as sisters and shared the ways we wish we did it better. Saving money, parenting, walking with the Lord, being a wife, and on and on…

And in the middle of a blogging conference, the keyboard tapping stopped. We sat in the presence of the Lord and what He would have for us. So many wise women, all using their own words and gifts to say the same thing.

Bow low and put the first things first.

Hours after my book signing I sat alone in my hotel room, shaking with sadness as I remembered the tears and the stories. I carried their words with me to the desk, where I wept their sorrow. A lost child, abuse, doubt, fear, shame…and instinctively I reached to my side for the remote control.

I held it still, staring at the blank screen.

Who am I?


I’m not her. Nor her. Nor her, nor her, nor her…

Have you heard it too? Rain soaking the toys left outside, dishes piled high, children with dirty cheeks…it would be so tempting to wish it different.

I realize I have turned the T.V. on, and have already found the safe place, hardly realizing I had moved.

Knives chop. Laughter rolls. The oven opens and the perfect dish makes its way to the judges table.

All is right in the place where all is right. It’s perfect. I’m perfect. I didn’t choke on my words or doubt myself. They have no idea I’m up here crying.

The chefs, I mean. Right?

No. Actually I don’t.


So, here’s what I took from Relevant (and I am indebted to Sarah Mae for allowing me the privilege).

We have each been given a gift to be used to further the Kingdom of God. Your worth isn’t on the spine of a book or the statistics of your blog. You aren’t going to be judged by how many followers you had (As Ann so wonderfully said, “Jesus only had 12 followers…” :) ) or the way you curl your hair. And in this crazy world of blogging, sometimes the most powerful thing we can do is to close the computer. I needed to hear all those words.

It wasn’t a dangerous storm, remember? Just the kind that shakes you up…

This was a weekend spent with women who love well, and I’m better for it.

I will think twice before I click on the T.V. and believe it to be true.

And when you see me, know that I’m not actually that skinny.

They’re just really, really expensive jeans.

:)

Love and prayer,
Angie

Thoughts?

Okay, here goes another “all over the place and not the least bit spiritually deep or interesting” post.

Have you guys ever seen the little search box in the upper left corner of my blog? I had no idea it was there but it’s a handy little guy in case you want to find something from an old post. Hope that makes it easier if you’re trying to track something down, and if not, let me know and I’ll try and find it :)

Okay, I want to tell you about the AMAZING weekend I had this past weekend. I got to go to a True Woman Conference, and if you haven’t heard of Nancy Leigh DeMoss, you need to. I had spent some time with her for a radio interview the week prior and absolutely fell in love with her ministry minded heart. I finished her book “Brokenness: The Heart God Revives ” in one plane ride and I’m pretty sure I got snot on the guy next to me because I was a WRECK. A beautiful, humbled, challenged, grateful wreck. After I got home from visiting her ministry I told Todd I really wanted to sponsor one of the girls who works there (Meet Liz!) because they raise support instead of receiving salaries, and we are so overjoyed to get to be a part of their ministry in this way. And then I made a crazy, wonderful last minute decision to go to the conference in Dallas and caught a flight 2 hours later. I am so glad I did…what a precious time of worship and fellowship. I got to sit by (and have my picture taken with, thankyouverymuch) Priscilla Shirer, who is one of my Bible-teaching heroes.

And the most awesome moment of that was when the speaker asked us to turn to Zechariah and I broke out into cold sweats. Priscilla’s opened as if the hand of God did it Himself, and a light shone on the perfect verse as I tried to remember the song and play it cool. Anyway, it was fantastic other than that :)

If for some reason you might want to join me in raising support for Liz (I know, she’s a stranger, but she is awesome and you will be so blessed to share in her journey!!) let me know and I will fill you in on all the details. She’s a little short of her goal and sometimes strangers find amazing ways to bless others:)

I’m going to finish up my preparations for Relevant tomorrow and will head out on Thursday. Please be praying that I will do a good job of connecting while I’m speaking, and also that I won’t fall down or throw up.

And also, this will be my longest trip away from the girls (3 nights) and I’m really upset about it. Could you please pray for peace for all of us and safety for them? I so appreciate it. They will be in great hands but I’m a mommy and it makes me worry to be away…

(Awkward transition to next random topic)

I’m feeling like I’m either putting too much pressure for my kids to be doing chores or I’m not expecting enough. The girls will be eight in December, Kate just turned 5. So this is going to be a free-for-all but would you all be willing to tell me some things around the house you feel like are appropriate for different ages (running dishwasher, doing laundry, sweeping, cleaning rooms etc). I’m so curious what other people do!!! I’ve been wanting to ask you all about your thoughts on this and can’t wait to read what you write!

Sorry…too tired to try and make this post prettier  :)

much love,
angie

Sweet Sleep!!

I’ve shared with you before about Sweet Sleep, a nonprofit ministry based in Nashville which provides beds, bedding and Bibles to orphaned and abandoned children around the world (www.sweetsleep.org) . Thanks to you, Sweet Sleep has done amazing work in northern Uganda. And, with your support RIGHT NOW, we can do it again.
Here’s the situation:

Sweet Sleep and their partner, American Refugee Committee (ARC), is working with hundreds of thousands of children living in child-headed households in the IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps in northern Uganda. 20 years ago, the government of Uganda placed every person in every tribe into these camps to protect them from rebels which were attacking the North over two decades. A few years ago this area finally began to experience peace, however today, more than a million people are still living in these camps. An estimated 750,000 of these people are children who are orphans with no place to go. ARC is working to trace each child by their family name back to their home tribe. They then work with village leaders to determine what land their family owned and reclaim it for them. As part of the process, each resettled child receives a new hut from ARC.

Being resettled gives a child hope and a chance for a new life. There’s just one problem: the children have been afraid to leave. Until now.

Even though the Ugandan Government has closed these camps, it is very difficult to get all of the children to leave. The children in these child-headed households were born in these camps – it’s simply all they’ve ever known.

In January of this year, as Sweet Sleep’s partnerships began in northern Uganda, ARC hoped to resettle 600 children. This was more than the number of children they resettled in 2009, but they were hoping the children would have a good response to the opportunity of being provided with a bed, net and Bible.

By the end of this June, Sweet Sleep had already provided ARC with the full amount of beds, nets and Bibles they’d requested for the entire year! Much to the amazement of ARC leadership, the children are now lining up to leave the camps to be resettled into their home villages. The children are sharing with ARC and Sweet Sleep that they never imagined they could have such a thing as a bed, mosquito net or a Bible of their own. Many other organizations in northern Uganda have come to ARC to ask how they’ve been able to get so many children to resettle. Who would have known something as simple as a bed, mosquito net and Bible could be so completely profound on a child’s life? Amazing. Simply amazing!

So, my friends, here’s where you come in. ARC recently asked Sweet Sleep to provide 700 more beds to the additional children they’ll be able to resettle this November – in just 25 days! But we can’t resettle these children without you. A resettlement kit with a straw mat, new mattress, blanket, mosquito net and Bible is just $50! 
$50 to help a child find hope, peace and comfort in their new home. And thanks to some wonderful friends of Sweet Sleep’s, any gifts given to help resettle these children in October will be matched 100%! We need just 350 friends to give $50 or 175 people to give $100 – we can do this, right? So take a moment and think – how many beds can I provide? I know you’ll sleep sweeter knowing a child has come home and will sleep sweetly because of your gift. Just go to www.sweetsleep.org to donate any amount and be sure to write “Gulu” in the comment box. 

One more thing….read this letter from a child Sweet Sleep resettled in June. Let’s work together to help more sweet orphans like David finally come home.

Dear Sweet Sleep,

My name is David. I am 14 years old and am in primary four. I would like to thank you, Sweet Sleep for giving me the mattresses and mostly the Bible.

Now days I know more about God than I did before because I read my Bible and after I go for a sleep on my soft mattress. Am very happy this days because I start sleep right when I got on to my bed till morning without feeling any pain. 

So I again thank God for that special gift which I was not even expecting in my life and not forgetting to pray for you and also the organization called Sweet Sleep.

Thank you so much from David.

God Bless You.


Angie