In Between

We had an awesome time on our cruise, despite the fact that I did not get to meet Kirk Cameron. The weather was unbelievable, and it was definitely one of those, “Umm, really? This is work?” kind of weeks, where we were just so grateful to all be together and enjoying the sunshine.

I did have a little breakdown on the first night because I realized that the last cruise we were on was almost exactly three years ago (same month) when I was pregnant with Audrey. We had her diagnosis and were trying to enjoy it but were so distracted and devastated by reality. There had been a point on that cruise where I was going to grab something to eat and I slipped on something slick and wiped out, landing (almost) full force on my tummy while I jerked my knees out just in time to catch me. The worst part was that everybody just stared at me and nobody helped me up. When I finally did get up I was bawling crying and ran to find Todd and all of our friends and I was bruised up for days. I hadn’t really even remembered it until I walked through a similar area on this boat and all of a sudden I felt sick to my stomach. It’s amazing how the mind works, and I have so many of those stored places in my mind that I don’t access until I’m in the moment and it just falls right on me. That seems to be the hardest part of the grief journey right now-just the unexpected times when something occurs to you or a memory comes back and you just weren’t mentally prepared to cope.

This was totally going to be a happy post! Sorry about that :) But it is, unfortunately, reality…

Overall the trip was really fun. I was going to post some pictures but who are we kidding? Not my strong suit…so, if you’re curious and want to see some great photos, click HERE to go to Kelsey’s facebook album and see how everyone looks so grown up!!! Seriously, Charlotte even has little chic-let teeth :) She has finally decided she would like to begin sitting up and making motions in the direction of crawling. I’m telling you, this kid is one in a million. So laid back and easy-going and her smile is absolutely infectious. I am so madly in love I cannot even tell you…

In other news, I spoke at my first official Women of Faith event a few weeks ago (not an arena event, but the one where all the group leaders meet up…about 2500 women) and despite the fact that I was honest-to-goodness terrified out of my mind, I got through it. The women were so incredibly gracious, and even though I feel like I did kind of a choppy and unpolished job, I’m letting myself relax a little because I don’t think I will ever be super put-together on the platform and I’m trying to embrace that :) At least people feel like they can relate to me, right?? Anyway, it was great to be with the WOF team and to really see their vision for the events. I love, love, love what they do and I can tell you from behind the scenes, these are INCREDIBLE women who I really look up to and enjoy being with. I was expecting to love it, but it’s so much more than I had anticipated.

If you are going to be at one of the events that I’m speaking at, I would love to know! It may not be possible but I keep thinking it would be so cool to have a little breakfast or something where we could all meet and share coffee…feel free to shoot me an email and I will start putting together a little list just in case :) It would be so neat to put flesh on you all instead of just reading your words :)

And, because I genuinely think of this as a safe place where I can come and share my heart, I want to ask for your prayer. Those of you who have read this from the beginning know that all of this other stuff was never on the agenda for my life :) I sincerely feel that my choices are in line with God’s will for my life, and I have gotten much better at saying no when I need to, BUT…

It’s a lot! And as much as I love WOF and all the opportunities the Lord has given through Audrey, I remain a wife and mom first and foremost. I am going to be really transparent in the hopes that I won’t receive judgment for saying this, because in all honesty, I think more people need to share this kind of stuff. I have NOT done a perfect job of keeping my priorities in check. I struggle with being a people-pleaser and there have been times when I have let this affect my decisions, and in that, I have failed to put my husband and children first. That does not mean I don’t think I should be speaking or writing or any of that, but rather that I am trying to be a good steward of my highest calling above all else.

I guess as I started writing this I thought about the fact that sometimes we don’t want to admit we haven’t done a great job, or that we need help (for example, Kelsey comes twice a week for several hours to help around the house and let me go write when I need to. She can pinch hit with teaching, laundry, or whatever is pressing, and I am so grateful to have her help! I don’t do it alone!!!), but I think I would be doing you a disservice if I painted the picture that everything was simple and easy and I never felt like I had screwed up. Because I have, and I will continue to, but I am trusting that the Lord knows my heart and my deepest intentions, and that He will guide me as I go.

To that end, I am asking the Sundays to pray for me in this season. Please pray specifically that I will know what God’s will is for me, and that I will not overstep His grid for my life. Please pray for my marriage, my kids, and my own heart as I discern the ins and outs of my ministry. I know I don’t have to share any of this, and I’m not trying to justify myself or my decisions. Quite frankly, I feel that I need and desire the accountability and support of many of you who have walked with me. At the risk of it sounding like I haven’t figured it all out, let me say it this way.

I haven’t figured it all out.

:)

One of the ways the Lord has spoken to me is that if there is ever something I am invited to speak at, I am going to plan to bring one of my kids with me. I have talked to the girls about this being a “special date” with mommy, and Todd and I are saving miles to make it feasible. Right this second in my life I feel like God has said there are pretty serious boundaries as far as what makes sense for my family (as far as the amount of time I’m gone, which is pretty much never more than one night unless I have the fam with me). In fact, tomorrow night will be the first night I have ever slept in a hotel room by myself…:)

I did ask Ellie to come with me but she said she was really wanting to play with her cousins instead and could she possibly go next time instead? Sweet girl. Don’t tell her but I’m kind of sad about it.

Anyway, this is jumbled and ugly but I’m praying that the Lord will speak through it anyway, and that you will know how humbled (genuinely, profoundly humbled) I am to be able to share my story, but also that I want to do it in the way that honors God the most. That means I get smaller, not bigger. That means my marriage and family life thrive. That means I keep my focus where it needs to be and not where it doesn’t. It means I confess to you that I don’t always get it right, and ask that you join me in praying as I go.

I hope some of this makes sense, and if it doesn’t, just click on the link and look at all the cute pictures.

But don’t expect to see Kirk.

:)

All my love and gratitude,
Ang

Blissdom and Randomness…

So I ended up going to Blissdom today and it was FANTASTIC. I have a phobia of conferences but I was blown away by how sweet everyone is. I’m going back tomorrow…I’m getting so brave, aren’t I? It has been really good for me to work past some social phobias :)

OK, so two other random things before I hit the sack. I changed my twitter name to @angiesmith19 so it would be a little easier. I don’t know if it will automatically bump you or if you will need to change it so I wanted to give you a head’s up :)

Also, I have talked quite a bit about Kelsey, who is technically our “nanny” but is really more of a family member at this point. We love her dearly, and so appreciate her heart for the needy. She is about to leave for a mission trip to Guatemala and they are a little (a lot) short on funds. She is trusting the Lord with it, and I know He will come through in one way or another but today is her birthday and I thought it would be a great time to ask if anyone reading might want to reach out and help. Please don’t ever feel like I’m pressuring you for money, it is just something I love to be able to throw out in the event that the Lord pricks your heart and you want to join in :) If that is the case, please sent me whatever you are comfortable with (angelac519@gmail.com on paypal and put “kelsey” in the notes). If you don’t feel led to share, could I ask for you to pray for her trip? Click here to read about what she will be doing :) You can also give directly on her site if you prefer.

OK, that’s all for now…gotta get some sleep for tomorrow! If you’re there, make sure and say hey!!!

Blessings and love,
Ang

Sweet Charlotte Girl…

You have my sweet nanny Kelsey to thank for these…is Charlotte not the most delicious baby? I can’t get enough of her sweet face and chunky little legs. So grateful to be her mommy :)  
I am tempted to ask you who you think she looks like BEFORE I post some baby pictures to support my case…thoughts?

I love this girl :)

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