Choosing Joy

First of all, if you homeschool you really should take some time and read through the comments on my last post. It is a PHENOMENAL wealth of helpful information and I am still making my way to a bunch of the links. I’m actually really surprised that there were so many curriculum suggestions that I hadn’t even heard of…so fun.

Just wanted to pop in tonight and say a quick hello. I’m in the middle of a busy week doing some book promo and getting ready to head to the dotmom conference this weekend. If any of you are going, please make sure and say hey. Would love to connect in real life:)

***

Along those lines, I really want to ask for your prayer for my friend Sara. I have never had the privilege of meeting her in person but she was a HUGE help with Bloom and has remained someone that I have loved chatting with online and getting to know a little through email and twitter. As many of you know, she has been confined to her house for several years because of disease, but recently she has taken a turn for the worse. Hospice has been with her for a few days and they anticipate that very soon she will be with the Lord. Jess gets updates a few times a day from Sara’s sister and it is devastating to hear what everyone is going through. Sara and Jess have become close friends and Jess got to go to Sara’s house with Elias and Adeline and I can hardly look at the pictures because they are so recent and it breaks my heart that she’s leaving this life.

Sara’s father passed away suddenly last year and she told Jess to tell me that she was going to find Audrey and introduce her to her dad because he loves kids. Oh, the tears of those words. I can barely even process what that feels like.

I know what Scripture says and I believe that it’s true. Better is one day in His courts…

But tonight I am aching for Sara’s family and all of those who she has blessed with her beautiful, selfless, Christ-centered life. She has chosen joy even in the worst of days and her example will be with us long past her breath. There are so many negative things about being online, and so many “downsides.” But the truth is, the other side is amazing. Sara has been in community with my dear (in)courage sisters and has “attended” my church alongside us through Crosspoint’s online services. It has been real relationship and it has been an honor to be a part of.

I’m reminded tonight of the power of a willing servant to impact a watching world.

If you would like to read more about Sara, please click over to her site. It is being updated by her family members and close friends. Also, Jess has been doing updates as well so check over there as well.

And please pray for everyone involved…and that the weight of glory would replace the burden of grief as we anticipate her homecoming.

We love you, Sara.

May we choose joy at every opportunity and display the heart of Jesus as beautifully as you have.

With deepest affection and many tears~

A

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.

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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

 

A Few People I Love…

Hey all! I just wanted to fill you in on a few exciting things going on in the world of those I love :) I’ll start off with our sweet nanny Kelsey. She has been in Haiti for the last week and will return tomorrow. We have been so blessed to have another pair of hands in the dishwater and another heart that loves us as a family and I can’t say how proud I am of her love for the Lord. I have prayed and prayed for this trip and can’t wait for her to return…please pray that she will be home safe tomorrow, with no complications in travel (there were some glitches on the way there).

Second, one of our Pastors at Cross Point is Blake Bergstrom, who I happen to think is one of the coolest guys you will ever meet. He loves people with an intensity that is so rare and infectious that you just want to spend time with him. Blake, his wife Ally, and their four girls are some of our dear friends and I would love to ask for your prayer for him as well. He is currently climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise money for a great cause. Also, please pray for Ally, Madison, Moriah, Montana, and Mercy as he is gone. I am so proud of you Blake!!!

Lastly, I want to introduce you to an amazing new etsy site. If you have little girls, you are going to HAVE to check this out. Remember when I told you I was teaching Audra to sew? WEEELLLLLL. She has found an amazing love for it and you will honestly not believe her creations. She has a background in art and she is able to make the most unique, precious dresses and kid’s clothes, and I wanted to introduce you all to her site. Here is her etsy site and here is her blog if you want to take a peek (please do! I know how encouraged she would be). I think her prices are really good given the detail and quality of the dresses…if you order one, I promise you won’t be disappointed :) Love you, friend. SO proud to be your best, best, best, best… :)

I don’t think Audra will mind me sharing this, and I know how many of you can relate. It is such a dramatic shift to go from working to full time, stay at home mom, and as much of a blessing as it is, it can be really difficult. Sewing has proved to be a passion that is therapeutic to her, and I am ecstatic every time I go over and see her glowing with excitement, rows of new creations hanging in her laundry room.  And I am here to tell you, she is incredible. I’m obviously biased, but I know you’ll agree :)

We are also going to be announcing our next Bloom book this weekend, and I think it’s one that all of us could use right about now…:) We are planning on doing it Sunday night so check back in on the Bloom site. You should go on ahead and join our facebook site if you haven’t yet, so we can all chit-chat.

Okay, and since this is all over the place, I wanted to mention that our taping at the Crystal Cathedral (Hour of Power) will air this Sunday (if you follow me on twitter you know about my little, umm, dress mishap :) ). I have been all over the place doing promo (I also did Celebration with Daystar…what a sweet couple) and will be heading to Focus on the Family, 100 Huntley Street in Canada, Revive our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and a couple other things. I’ll keep you posted on those when I hear about air dates…I don’t quite have the energy to hyperlink these, but if you’re really interested I’m sure you can track them down with Google :)

I don’t know if I mentioned this either, but if not I hope you all will join us for this amazing event…It is really going to be special! And I have no idea what my face is doing up there with these other ladies, but wow. What an honor :) Come join us!!!

I don’t love to go on and on about this kind of stuff because I don’t want to sound like an ego-maniac who just wants to talk about me, me, me…blech.  Please know I just want to share in case you are interested :)

Sorry about the hyper-link festival!!!

Hope you all are having a beautiful week…I’ll be back over here soon!

Love to all,
Ang

Plans

Well, for a Type A personality like myself, this past week and a half has been a wee bit of a challenge. Before I go any further, let me tell you that I am fine, Charlotte is fine, and my family is fine. I don’t want to incite any worry about us specifically, but I have a few things on my heart that I would really love to share.

Most of you probably know this, but in the event that you don’t (or in the event that you don’t know the specifics), Nashville was hit by a major flood last week. It started out a little comedically because Todd was out of town (not the funny part), we had lost electricity (again, not really funny), and our new nanny (we call her a babysitter because nanny sounds snobby, but she helps us out for several hours a week and I can’t wait to share more about Ms. Kelsey later :) ) was with us.

Here’s the funny part. I’m looking outside and waiting for someone on a broomstick to whiz by and I decide to call my parents. They have different cable than we do and I thought they might still have service. They did. I talked to my mom for several minutes while she explained that she was watching TV and they weren’t saying anything at all about weather. Which, given the aforementioned broomstick issue, seemed unusual.

Well, it would have been unusual had she not actually be watching a recorded episode of Days of Our Lives from earlier in the week. God bless that woman and everyone who is relying on her for life or death weather issues.

My dad was watching a movie but switched over and we realized it was more serious than we thought. In fact, we discovered that it looked like there was tornadic activity right where we live. Later we realized that it did some serious damage a few streets away. It was separate from the flood and knocked down all kinds of power lines, several hundred year old trees and more.

Then, it rained a lot. A LOT. We heard rumors of flooding and when we could get out to see it a bit, we were absolutely astonished. For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you will know that I live in the Bellevue area. People died in a very nearby neighborhood and when the National media reported on the flood, the streets they were showing were within walking distance. Nashville has taken a pretty serious blow, but as expected, the people are responding with love and service. It has been so encouraging to see all of the support in the midst of chaos. I will put up some videos when I figure out how to, but trust me when I say you can’t imagine what it looked like around here.

Did I mention this happened on the day of my book release? I have this blog I write and it’s called “Bring the Rain…” Hmm. I may need to rethink some things.

A few days after my book released, another one came out that is near and dear to me. I wasn’t able to write about it because of the whole “no internet” thing, but I was compelled to share it with you all tonight for several reasons.

               
You all know about my Pastor and friend Pete Wilson. He has been the butt of an endless amount of height and hair jokes (by me and the rest of the free world) because he is such a good sport, but there is so much more to him than all that. It would be really easy to look at Crosspoint on paper and say that it’s another trendy spot where borderline Christians meet and watch light shows while listening to fluff messages. It’s easy to say that because I’ve been to several of those churches and we kind of meet the prototype. We have a lot of artists who attend. We have catchy music and really nice flyers. We have cool sets and media that makes VH1 look amateur. We have a young, hip pastor who has been likened to Keith Urban. If you meet him, you’ll like him. And if you meet his wife, you’ll really be impressed. As great as he is, he’ll be the first to tell you he married up.

Here’s the deal, though.

When you dig deeper, you’ll see that the church has grown at a remarkable pace and it isn’t because of his cool jeans. This is a man who has a passion for the Lord and for the body of Christ that is totally inspiring. One of the first things I would tell you about him is that he loves people. I have NEVER seen a church that so actively puts into practice what they preach as far as loving on others. I could give you a million examples, but one night we went over to the Wilson’s for dinner and Pete was running late. When he got home, Brandi asked him what was going on and it turned out he had been interviewing a woman who was a crack addict and had been prostituting herself and soliciting business in the church parking lot. There’s obviously a lot more behind the story, but the bottom line is that she has accepted the Lord, now attends our church and has totally turned her life around.

I want to be careful about how I say this next part because I don’t want it to be misinterpreted, but it’s what I think so I’m going to give it a shot. As a good friend of Pete’s, someone who has traveled to a third world country with him and been privy to his teaching on the stage as well as from the other end of the dinner table, this is the gist of what I see in him.

He does the whole thing the way I think Jesus would.

He loves people and he chases them down with his passion for the Lord. He laughs with people who, according to some, he shouldn’t be sharing a room with. He doesn’t let the rules define the way he leads, and as a result, people all around him are inspired to do the same.  Don’t get me wrong. He is fully human and has flaws just like all of us. He just isn’t wrapped up in the package that makes Christianity unapproachable. The truth is that living the Gospel isn’t about being good for the sake of rules and focusing on every minute detail about others. Some of the strongest “Christians” I have ever met spend more time judging others than loving the Lord and being led by Him to minister to them instead. It comes down to the way you love Jesus and the way you show that love to those around you. Pete does that well, and also, he wears sandals like Jesus sometimes.

I had a really good post telling you all about his book, which is fantastic. I’m not just saying that because he’s my friend. I had a little outline of it to share with you and tell you all the powerpoint reasons I think you would benefit from reading it.

And then we had the flood.

And it changed a lot.

So, instead of going on and on about the book, I chose to tell you about the man behind the book, and I’m going to trust that there was enough in those paragraphs to make you want to read his words.

He is a really, really good writer. There are compelling examples, stories, scripture references, and the sense that you are sitting beside a good friend as you read. All of that is true and noteworthy.

What is more noteworthy is that he hasn’t been flitting around telling everyone about it, because he’s been a little tied up living it.

Several THOUSAND people volunteed at Crosspoint in the last week. They have helped at more than 250 homes in the past several days alone. He would tell you that he didn’t do it alone, and I know that’s true. What is also true is that they have come to a church where they are inspired to do it, led by someone who preaches from the trenches more than behind a pulpit.

I was watching Anderson Cooper on CNN the other night as he interviewed people down the street from me. At the end of the show, he mentioned Crosspoint and Pete Wilson and for some reason, that was the moment I lost it. I’m just so darn proud to be a part of what God is doing at our church.

Wouldn’t you just love to meet this guy? Well, good news. You can :)

Next Saturday (May 15th), Pete and I are doing a book signing at Lifeway in downtown Nashville from 11-1pm. I had other tentative book signings but because of Charlotte I’m not able to do them right now, so as far as I know, this one is it. Pete and I have walked through the process with the exact same deadlines and roadblocks, and have commiserated with one another about it all, so it’s really cool to be able to share this with him too. I assume Brandi and the kids will be there, and Todd will be as well. I believe three of my children will be joining us. I’m going to try very hard not to make that four.

I am so excited to give away 5 of my personal copies of Pete’s book here, so please leave a comment and you will be entered to win. 

Or, just click HERE to purchase it right away. You will be glad you did…

If you’re in the area, come on out to Lifeway on Saturday and let us thank you for your support.

Please keep Nashville in your prayers as we sort through the aftermath of the flood.

Much love,
Angie

October 15th, 2009

There is much happening in the Smith/Hamilton household, and I want to give you some updates really soon, but this morning I am greatly burdened.
It is the National Day of Miscarriage and Infant Loss, and like last year, I want to invite you to share your babies with all of us. I want you to know that each of them matter. I also want you to know that I grieve with you. I have received upsetting news related to this from someone close to me, so this year it feels even more weighty. All of us who have lost babies know that it isn’t just one day a year.
It’s Tuesday, when all the other kids are playing on the swingset.
It’s Sunday, when you don’t have one to bring to Sunday school.
It’s Thursday, when you wish you could know what her favorite after-school snack would have been.
It’s Friday, and you can’t stop crying.
It isn’t one day, it’s every day. Relief comes in pockets but the truth is that there is a gap that cannot be filled here. I feel that today as the rain falls outside and the day beckons me to move in spite of my brokenness. 
When I came to check my computer this morning, I found some horrible news waiting for me. We are not clear on all of the details but one of the slums that Crosspoint had begun to work with in India was completely destroyed by bulldozers. There was a school, a feeding center, hundreds of people…and now the very little that they even called a roof is gone. We don’t know what will happen next, and the pictures speak volumes about loss. Please pray for these precious people. We trust that the Lord is with them and is going to work this out for good, but with human eyes it seems hopeless.
This world cannot mend us, but oh how I wish it could.
Please tell me about your babies…I want you to know I am spending the day in prayer for them.
May God bless you with unexpected joy and peace despite the ache.
If you have a moment, will you please click here to read about Wyatt’s story and sign a petition on his behalf (and many, many other babies…). Tennessee will not declare his a live birth because of their laws even though he lived for two minutes. I don’t agree with this, and don’t believe they should classify this as “stillbirth.” Please help have this law changed if you agree-you do NOT have to be a Tennessee resident to sign it according to what I have heard. Thank you so much…
With much love,
Angie

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

Scarves and Prayers

I’m always talking about my friend Pete who pastors Cross Point Church (where I did my Monday night service) and his wife Brandi. They are good friends of ours, and I am so blessed to get to spend 2 mornings a week with Brandi in different “mommy” Bible studies.
I must add that several weeks ago, her hair looked totally different. If you want to know the full story, hop over to her blog, but let’s just say it involved the following:
1. A Christmas Eve church service
2. Those little tiny candles…..
It’s worth reading.
I’m posting this (from her blog) because I thought you all might need a smile on your Monday morning.
As a sidebar, see, they use the bell too! Whitney, I don’t know what is wrong with your dog, but they WORK!!!!! (See you in the morning:))
(Remember to mute the music…I always forget!!!)


Scarf Conversations from Brandi Wilson on Vimeo.

She is so great. Just LOVE her.
And keep praying for Baby Harper…some friends and family have set up a prayer blog for the Stamps’ family… to post, go to www.blogger.com, sign in with the id of prayforharper@yahoo.com, and password of: harperbrown.  Once logged in, feel free to leave your words for the family. 
Have a great and prayer-filled Monday~
Ang