Sweet Sleep!

im not sure why the colors of the words are so funky in this post! i’ve tried (to no avail!) to figure it out and fix it but my suspicions are correct and i do believe wordpress hates me.



Jen Gash is not only a friend of mine, but an amazing woman of the Lord who has stepped out in faith and literally changed thousands of lives through her obedience. I have known her longer than I have known Todd as a matter of fact, and I’m pretty sure I have some rockin’ pictures of her doing a conga line at my wedding.

I have talked about Sweet Sleep on here before, but let me take just a second to tell you about it in case you don’t remember.

The goal of Sweet Sleep is to provide beds for orphans around the world, and last year ALONE they provided 10,000 beds (compared to 1,000 in 2009). There are several challenges that they are facing right now, but one in particular that I wanted to bring to you in the hopes that you will join me in making a difference in the lives of these sweet kids.

Next month, a team from Sweet Sleep will be heading out to Gulu, Africa and they had planned on providing 500 beds for orphans who had been displaced after 22 years of rebel attacks. Several weeks ago, they were told by partners that the need for beds in that area was about 4,300 and after consideration of the updated numbers they are doing their best to provide 991 beds when they go.

This is a God-sized challenge and they can’t do it on their own.

Our church has partnered with Sweet Sleep and during our version of VBS a few weeks ago they had a competition to see whether the boys or the girls could bring the most change. Abby and Ellie took it really seriously, because as soon as they got home they set up a lemonade stand in the driveway and sold lemonade “for the orphan kids.”

I laughed my head off when I went out there and heard them telling a passerby that they wanted to help the kids who had nowhere to sleep and then our little neighbor piped in and explained that the money she made would be going to a Pomeranian puppy she had her eye on. Ha!!!

Clearly she hadn’t been influenced by the power of a little boy against girl Bible camp competition…:)

I am really intentional about trying not to overwhelm you all with requests like this, and you can be sure that the ones I do talk about are near and dear to my heart. Jen is a hero to me and I would love to see my blog readers come together and try and make this happen.

Come on Sundays!!!! Let’s help these kids out!!!!

It’s only $8 for a mosquito net, $10 for a Bible, and $50 for a complete bed. If you donate $500 or more, you will get a Sweet Sleep t-shirt as your thank you :) $50,000 will provide beds for all 1000 orphans, and I cannot tell you the joy I will have if we all help out with this.

To make a donation online, click here and put “Gulu” in the comments box. If you would like to write a check you can make it out to “Sweet Sleep” and mail it to PO Box 40486, Nashville, TN 37204. Please put “Gulu” in the memo line, and remember if you donate $500 or more, please specify your t-shirt size.

Jen, I’m so proud of what you are doing…thank you for letting me share your heart and your passion here…and may God bless these precious babies with the sweet sleep they deserve.

Love,

Ang

 

Selah

Call me a proud wife. The boy can SAAANNNNGGG.

Call me a proud friend…Amy has lost almost 100 pounds. Does she not look UH-mazing?!?!?! And I for one can’t tell you HOW excited I am that she’s going to be putting a few of those back on in the coming months….

I love all three of these precious people and what they do for the Lord. They have a new CD coming out in August and I just saw this…their first single, “Hope of the Broken World” is gorgeous. If you are interested in hearing more about the backstory to it, click here.

In the meantime, take a few minutes and listen…you’ll be so glad you did :)

Click on the Youtube thing to watch it full screen (I think. I’m trying to figure out technology and it’s pitiful…)

Quick Favor?

Hey all! I am working on a little somethin-somethin and I would so appreciate your help. I’m brainstorming through some writing ideas and I think a little direction would be oh-so-helpful before I get started. Will you do me a favor and let me know if you have a favorite post of mine (it can be from whatever time period, funny or serious, whatever stood out to you!) I am curious about what has stayed with you. If you have a favorite (or a couple), could you leave a comment with either the name of the post or just a description of it?

I promise this is not a late night project to boost my ego :) It will help me more than you know:)

Thank you so, so much!
Angie

Honeysuckle and Fireflies

The first time I saw him was at dusk on the kind of summer day that makes Southerners whisper, “I’ll be,” while fanning their necks with whatever they can get their hands on.

Needless to say, I was on my way inside when his silhouette caught my eye. I turned just in time to see him motioning to someone else while his pitcher’s glove hung at his side. He looked to be a teenager from my vantage point, but I didn’t look long enough to know for sure. I had things melting in my grocery bags and air conditioning whispering my name while the crickets started their night songs.

I closed the door, pulled the curtains until they met in the middle of the back door, and figured I would introduce myself to the boy in the common area behind my house another day. Surely there would be a cooler day when I could be friendly, right?

A few days later I was on my way to a play date and I could see him from the back again. He had his mitt and was wearing a jersey that looked more like a winter choice than mid-July clothing. I could hear him yelling into the distance at what I presumed to be the same friend, and I made a quick waving motion in their direction and got into my car in an attempt to look friendly. As I reversed out of my driveway I paused, and as I watched his arms move wildly, I wondered how in the world someone could be vertical in this heat, let alone moving.

Three hours later we pulled back into the driveway, and I squinted through the trees to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me.

He hadn’t moved.

His jersey was soaked through with sweat, his hair sopping wet as he wiped his face with the back of his mitt-free arm.

“Is that…?” I stared straight ahead, convinced I must be imagining it.

“Those boys are always playing out there, mommy.” Ellie shook her head and unbuckled herself, eyeing the door and then in a swift, deliberate motion she burst it open and made a dash for the house.

I looked in the rearview mirror at Abby.

“Honey, have you met that boy yet? Does he play on the high school team?

Abby shook her head no and raised and lowered her shoulders, fingers on the door handle.

I carefully took Charlotte out of her car seat and watched him out of the corner of my eye. All of a sudden he shouted and I jerked her awake by accident. She was just a few months old at the time and had that newborn, panicked cry as I grabbed the rest of my bags and made my way inside.

He never turned around.

I walked into the house and told Todd that the boys were playing again and that I was going to go introduce myself to them. I handed the baby over, grabbed a couple bottled waters, and went outside.

Sometime in the span of those three minutes, he had completely disappeared from view. I sat on my back steps for a few more minutes and then gave up.

After all, it was hot.

By the time August rolled into our new neighborhood, we had gotten to know some of the other kids and one day while they were swinging outside I asked the little girl who lives across the street who the boy was.

“Oh that’s Andrew.” She replied nonchalantly. “But he’s not really a boy. I mean, he’s close to his twenties I think.” She sipped her drink and tucked her flyaway hair back under her hat.

“Really? Because every time I see him he’s playing baseball with someone else and he screams loud and points all around, and I can’t tell what…”

“Oh, Ms. Angie, he isn’t playing with anyone else” She interrupted. “He’s done that for years.”

She watched my eyes squint in confusion and offered up and answer before I could ask.

“He has Down’s syndrome. He just loves to pretend, I think.” She smiled.

I closed my eyes for a moment as I tried to retrace the outlines I had seen in the evenings, and I realized that I hadn’t actually ever seen another person playing. I had presumed there was because of his screaming, but there wasn’t ever another voice.

I looked at her and nodded. They ran off to play and I put Charlotte in a little bouncer in the shade while hoping he would come back out so I could meet him. He didn’t come out that day, nor the next. In fact, almost three weeks passed until one day I was upstairs cleaning and I heard the familiar sound of a player urging his players to round the bases.

I ran outside, bare-footed on the gravel, and started to walk towards him.

I took a few steps and stopped, sensing that it wasn’t time for me to speak. Without taking my eyes off of him I lowered myself onto the little brick half-wall around our porch as he raised his hands high in the air and shouted. It was clear that the game had gone his way, and as he waved to all the fans and made a victory lap, I was mesmerized.

My sundress was sticking to my back as the gnats made a mess of my legs. I tucked them up underneath me, scraping them along the ragged brick as I craned my neck to see what was going to happen next.

It was at this point that I noticed that although he always had a mitt, I had never seen either a ball or a bat. I smiled as I realized he didn’t need them.

He had everything he needed for the perfect game.

Something to receive the imaginary ball.

The voice to thank his adoring fans.

The persistence of a seasoned ballplayer on a hot summer day.

And last, but not least, the ability to see the whole thing in a way I never could.

Because on that night, and dozens more since then, I have seen the same thing happen.

A man-boy with a leather glove and a field of fireflies believes that he is victorious.

I have never spoken to him.

In fact, I don’t even know his last name.

As many times as I have watched him play, I have yet to even see his face. My house sits behind the catcher, I suppose. There isn’t much need to turn away from the field.

I asked one of the other neighbors and she told me he doesn’t really like to be bothered when he’s playing. As much as I would love to shake his hand and tell him the joy he has brought me, I have the sense that my back porch is close enough for his comfort.

I have prayed for him many times, and asked the Lord to grant me a version of what he has, because I realize I am woefully unable to dedicate myself to anything the way he has devoted himself to the game.

The game.

How do I play it?

Well, first off, I run away from the heat.

Also, I wouldn’t dare play without a proper bat and regulation-sized baseball.

I would have real bases, real fans, and also, real prize money.

And I wonder if I would bother to play at all if nobody was watching.

Yet day after day, season after season, the same boy in the same jersey with the same dedication takes his place on the field.

Why?

Well, I suppose it’s because the win isn’t in any of that other stuff, and more than that, I’ll tell you this:

In a solid year of living here, I have yet to see him lose a game.

He cheers, he runs, he takes grandiose bows in front of an empty field while we shuffle our groceries and our children and our dreams in and out of the car, in and out of the house, in and out of, well, life.

It was a mild October afternoon when I realized I didn’t ever need to see him to love him. I had started to learn some of his motions and what they meant, and one day before the sun fell down I heard him call out into the silence.

“Bring ‘em in! Bring ‘em in! Come on! Run! RUN! RUN!!!!.” He was waving wildly and I was sitting with a book on a blanket in the backyard. I tried to peek through the slats in the fence but he moved just out of sight. I jumped to my feet and while I have no idea what possessed me, I just got so excited that I lost track of monitoring my responses. His voice hit a fevered pitch and I felt my fingers tighten around the top of the fence, waiting in eager anticipation for what would happen next.

I would swear to you that just for a brief moment, I saw what he saw.

There were runners on the bases, coaches in a frenzy, and a crowd on the edge of their seats.

The ball dropped, the men ran, and the boy made me believe.

He threw his glove on the ground and started jumping up and down and clapping, and before I knew it, I let out a holler like I had just won the lottery. I knocked over my diet coke, and covered my mouth out of fear that I would scare him.

I didn’t.

In fact, he never knew I was there.

And you know what?

I made a promise to myself that I have been intentional about remembering when the days get long and the heat is oppressive.

It doesn’t matter who is watching.

It doesn’t matter what you think you can bring to the game.

What God needs from you is the sweat rolling down your neck and a heart that believes He can use you.

Every time the air starts to smell like honeysuckle and the fireflies dance through the trees, I peek out the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of the boy who taught me how to love the game.

I pray this is the summer that you see the glory of God through the lens of a boy who plays like he can’t lose.

Soak every bit of it up, even if it means your ice cream melts.

Because before you know it, the leaves will be falling and it will be too late. You have exactly what you need right now, and more than that, you have a God who stands perched while waiting to round you home.

Take your place, friends.

It’s time to play ball.

 

With love,

Angie

 

 

Laundry

OK, so let’s kick it off with some winners!!!!!

Mandy M, you have won yourself a copy of Beth Moore’s “So Long Insecurity!!!” I have your email so I’m going to send it there as well in case you don’t see it. Just reply and let me know where I can send it!

As far as Sarah Mae’s book, the winner is Michelle! (6/6/11 at 3:34 P.M) I have your email too and will connect you with Sarah Mae to claim your prize.

And now to some thoughts that regard both insecurity and, well, housekeeping.

***

I’m sitting here enjoying the sound of the dryer tossing laundry around (Todd does most of the laundry. Seriously.), and thinking about how I’m staying home today to get some work done while he goes to volunteer at Crosspoint’s version of VBS. He was adorable when he got home the other day and was like, “It was so fun I decided to stay instead of just dropping them off! And look! I got a t-shirt!” Precious. What a man he is!!!

There are so many days that I find myself biting his head off for not remembering where his cell phone is or forgetting me telling him something, and I just hate that I do that. And I do it a lot.

Without going into much detail, the past few days have been pretty challenging. I was honored to be a part of a very difficult deposition for a friend of mine on Wednesday, and because of the nature of the case I can’t say much more than that it brought back memories of Audrey and it’s going to be a long, hard road for her. I’m so glad I could be there, but it made both of us face the reality that no matter what happens, it won’t change the fact that we don’t have our children with us. This world cannot make up for that loss.

I feel like satan has opened every single major wound of my life in the last few days, through bizarre circumstances that are too “coincidental” to be anything less than an attack. Instead of identifying it for what it is, I have made excuses and tried to just press on, but the truth is that there is a different sense of warfare around me. I believe that when we as believers lift up our brothers and sisters, we change things. Please, Sundays, pray for me and any others that are dealing with something similar.

All we have to do is turn on the news and see that life is changing and the enemy is ever-present. Instead of filing through life without identifying what is happening, let’s make a commitment to asking the Lord to bless others (and ourselves) with the peace that only He can give.

I was praying here in my little blue chair before I started writing and I was noticing how quiet it was. I would have been tempted to say there was nothing moving, nothing happening, just me alone in the house. Me, sad and frustrated with nobody to talk to.

And then that silly dryer caught my attention and I realized it had been there all the while. I had tuned it out.

Constant.

Moving.

Tumbling life to turn it out, fresh and beautiful.

If you are reading these words, know that I am praying for you as I type. That even in the moment where it feels like you have been left in silence, you will close your eyes, steady yourself, and remember that He is in this place. There is a rhythm to it-this life He has blessed you with. It feels up, down, all around and half-soaked, but He isn’t going to leave you where you are.

I’m pretty sure He threw that one annoying sneaker in just so I would concentrate a little more on what was drying :)

So, in a roundabout, not-so-pretty, I wrote this post in 15 minutes based on what the Lord was teaching me kind of way, I hope you still yourself enough to pay attention to what He is doing today.

Todd-thank you, love of my life…for starting the laundry that always reminds me exactly Who is at work in me.

If you all want to join in on a great conversation about putting on the attributes of Christ, join us over at Bloom (in)courage…you have plenty of time to catch up and some of the emails we have gotten about Kelly Minter’s book have reminded us why we ever dreamed up this book club in the first place…what a blessing to be in a community of believers.

How can we pray for you today? What’s bouncing around in your dryer?

With love,

Ang

 

31 Days!!!

I am so excited to be able to share something with you all today…it comes from my dear friend Sarah Mae, who many of you know as one of the founders of the Relevant conference. I was blessed to be a part of it last year and got to connect with her, and let me say, she is a TREASURE. She is a fabulous writer, organizer, woman of the Lord…the list goes on.

Her most recent project is this:

First of all, doesn’t that cover just make you want to buy it???? I’m a sucker for a great cover :) Luckily for us, the goodness goes way past the image and walks the readers through a way to move toward a clean home in 31 days. Each day is totally manageable and there are fabulous suggestions all throughout. I am going to be giving away five copies of this book, which can be given as a nook, kindle, or PDF (you can choose! just click on any of those links and they will take you to the correct place to purchase).

Sarah has also added a “more do-able” Martha section to the book which can be found here.

It has consistently been on the Christian Living top 10 on Amazon, and is NUMBER ONE on the home cleaning chart!!! So, go ahead and purchase one (five bucks! that’s a steal!!!) and if you are one of the five who wins, your money will be refunded.

To learn more about the fantasical Sarah Me, click over to her website for this book and spend some time in her (neat) place :)

Your comments on this post will be entered in a contest to win one of the five I am giving away, so GO FOR IT!!!!!

Perspective

You want some insight into a blogger’s world? Here, hang on. I’ll grab the door and you add what you want to the coffee i just poured.

I wrote a post that I thought was a funny example of what I saw a mom doing in a shop. Most people got it, and most people know my heart by now. But the word “most” fades pretty quickly when you’re rocking your baby to sleep and wiping your own tears off her head. Why? Because a few others didn’t agree. I’m all about healthy disagreement, but  oh, MY.

If you’re wondering why (and I have several emails piled up from the past few months, so I know a couple of you wonder :) ) I haven’t posted about parenting or any other “personal” stuff, well….it’s because I don’t like to rock my daughter and cry on her.

Know what’s worse? When your eight year old asks you why you were crying and you say, “Because I hurt someone’s feelings.” She hugged me and told me she knew I would never do it on purpose and told me she had a broken heart. I fully expect artwork detailing her disappointment today…:)

But here’s the bottom line. I woke up this morning and I was praying and thinking about my intentions and my heart, and you know what? I’m not a mean person. And if you saw me as judgmental, smug, and spent your time picking me apart for failing to show a stranger the love of Christ, I sincerely apologize that this was what stood out. It was a commentary about our society and about my own weaknesses as a parent. And quite frankly (take a swig of your mocha) this is the reason I sometimes stick to writing about boring stuff. I’m not a shock-seeker. I swing my kids, I make their lunches, and I do my best to show them Jesus.

I’m not crying this morning, by the way. I’m really, really okay, so please don’t see this as a ploy for support :)

Honest to goodness I’m at peace and I know who I am and what I intended. My phone is full of text messages from people who are dear friends and are encouraging me, my precious nanny jumped into the comments to describe what she sees in me (and she, ummm, sees a lot…and it definitely isn’t all good), and my daughters are going to make me art :)

Those who really know me wouldn’t say that was my intention and I don’t think the Lord Himself would. He knew exactly what was in my heart when I was writing, and I need to just remember that when I’m bummed out that I feel like I hurt someone.

All that to say, here’s what I think is really, really sad.

I posted a quick blurb about how there were some unkind comments, and Y’ALL (correct apostrophe placement. Amen.).

I watched my traffic go through the roof.

Not terribly surprising, although it wasn’t my goal at all. I actually despise every moment of what I’m doing right now and would much prefer an unmedicated root canal, but I have a point worth making and I want you to hear it.

There was FAR more outrage over a post about a woman in a children’s store then there was about this.

And guess what?

I’m talking about me.

I didn’t go to bed thinking about this room (it’s the family room, bedroom 1, bedroom 2, kitchen, dining room etc. in case you’re wondering…) but about how I felt beat up and misunderstood.

Am I being judgmental? Absolutely. And I deserve that judgment.

It’s an ugly truth that I am often more concerned about my own immediate needs, desires, and petty “problems” than I am about the fact that some of my friends are halfway around the world trying to help children make it to the dawn of another day.

Lord Jesus, help me get over myself.

I’m not going to assume you see yourself in this criticism, but if you do, will you do me a favor? Please? Just read this blog post and pray about whatever the Lord puts on your heart as far as reaching out and doing something that really matters. And if it means that you don’t (ok, darn it. I don’t) get to go shop for a couple new things, then so be it.

Because if I’m going to be crying on a baby’s head, it should be about something like this.

I stand fully convicted, and I have repented to the Lord of my own sin. I apologize to anyone who inadvertently offended yesterday, but more than that, I apologize to those who don’t feel offended today.

Because if this picture and this post don’t offend you, then we aren’t doing our jobs as people seeking the God Who made Himself small so we could whisper His name.

The level of cuteness right here is out of this world. Would you pray about being a light to one of them?

Skip Gymboree. I’m pretty sure the sale is over anyway.

Go change the world instead.

 

Ang