Pattern

It had been months since I last sewed, and I wasn’t even sure I was going to remember how.

I lift the machine cover and stare at the buttons, trying to recall what they all mean. My face is splotchy from crying and my eyes are swollen and hot. I run my finger along the right side of the sewing machine and they remember instinctively where the power switch is. The lights flash on but I sit paralyzed.

Because it’s all a mess.

The whole thing.

I can’t hear him anymore and he can’t hear me. I’ll just sew…I think. And then I’ll feel like myself again. I wind white thread into the bobbin and I’m a little surprised at how easy it comes back to me.

I thought it would be harder.

Now that I have it threaded, I reach for the pieces of fabric I left sitting months ago.

Or was it more?

They still smell laundry-fresh and I wonder how that happens. I hold them up tentatively, trying to remember which is the front and which is the back. I slip three pins out and separate the material, but it’s not coming back to me. I should remember. I’m so sad I don’t.

It would have been beautiful if I had just paid attention when it was new, and now I’m left with the pieces.

I am like that, and I know it. I start things ambitiously and I believe I will finish them, but I usually don’t. I love the fresh journal, the creases in a new pattern, the way a book looks on my shelf. But then the pieces pile up and my heart breaks and I feel it all over again.

You’re a failure.

I reach for the pattern because I’m not going to leave it, along with all the other half-finished skirts and dresses in the third drawer down. It can still be right. She hasn’t grown out of it just yet, and if I concentrate she will have it before the summer sun comes up again.

There’s a knock at the door and I know why.

Because he is splotchy-red too and we’re both holding pieces.

“Can I come in?”

I nod, but don’t dare to speak because I don’t know what will fall out. My hands are busy and I like it better that way. I look down at what they are doing and I pretend to be indifferent. I’m not, and he knows it.

“Working on her dress?”

I nod again.

I can’t help but think it looks like a movie scene, with me fumbling my way and him fumbling his.

“I just felt like I needed to sew again.” It means more than needles, and he sees through my small talk.

There is silence while I unfold the paper carefully. It bends this way and that and if it isn’t done just right the whole thing will tear apart and then where will we be?

I realize I’m missing a piece, and I say so.

“So what do we do?” He asks.

And the naked truth is this.

I have no idea.

I tell him I have to cut a new one and he tells me he wants to help. It’s easier to do it myself, but that’s the problem. I’m stitching and mending and thinking I can do it all and I can’t. He doesn’t wait for an answer, but reaches for the fabric and takes it from me.

“It smells like laundry soap.” He whispers.

I don’t say a word, but I reach past him for the scissors, and show him what needs to be done. He smiles because he loves me when I create, and he wants to remember what it’s like to be in my world. It’s been a long time since I opened the door.

He learns quickly, and I smile because he is a grown man with a three day old beard and flannel pajamas, but he looks like a boy while he cuts.

Out of nowhere, I feel the sting of sadness.

“Have we made a mess of it?”

He doesn’t answer before the tears come. My hands go to my face to cover the hurt before he fully sees me, but I can’t. I never could.

I just wanted to sew, I think to myself.

But it wasn’t the fabric I loved.

It wasn’t even the finished product.

It was watching the needle and knowing that it was working all the time to mend, even as it pierced.

It looks like it’s dangerous, and as if it’s wounding. It tears through layers and even through skin. I’m convinced it will come away flawed and torn, and then I see the beauty of it all.

And the hum of the sewing machine reminds me again what it looks like to allow yourself to be wounded because you believe in what will one day come of it all.

And while the tears come fresh, he holds me, even with the scissors still in his hand, and he tells me he loves me and will fight for it to be beautiful again. I believe him and I cry because there aren’t words that say what I want them to.

There are only patterns and dreams, and the way he came to knock on the door because he loved me more than his own pride.

We stay up late. Too late, actually. And we laugh because we have all these babies that won’t wait for us to sleep in tomorrow, and it will be time to stitch some more.

The dial spins around and the motor is warm to the touch when we leave.

It’s good to remember.

I still haven’t finished the dress, because there was too much sadness in the memory of her. I had thought it might be good to give it to her sister, but the truth was it was better left undone.

I folded it neatly and slipped it into her drawer, even as it was.

Not in this life, love…

Maybe one day I will take it out again and marvel at how it still smells like fresh life, even though it has been years since I saw it last.

Oh, how I miss her.

But there in front of me is the rest of it, and I so long to love it well.

I won’t forget the way we welcomed that midnight hour, crumpled on the floor in pajamas, laughing and crying because we didn’t know what else to do.

I have stopped resenting the third drawer down, because I believe that one day-

Well, I hope you know.

He’s going to make it beautiful again.

The Story!!!

Words cannot begin to describe how excited I am to be on this side of a project I believe in SO deeply.

I have been hearing bits and pieces of it for months, and have been blown away as I have seen it come together. There was a vision for what it would be, and when the CD finally came in the mail I got all emotional because I sincerely believe that this project will change our experience of the Bible in a dramatic and beautiful way.

If you’re going to start with a book, you might call Max Lucado to write it (done) or maybe Randy Frazee (check).

Then, you’re going to want to get the best producer on the planet (Bernie Herms…check). And how about some killer music…let’s see if we can think up a couple artists…see if any of these ring a bell.

Mac Powell (Third Day), Leigh Nash, Natalie Grant, Mark Hall (Casting Crowns), Todd Smith, Amy Grant, Francesca Battistelli, Michael Tait, Lecrae, Steven Curtis Chapman, Chris Tomlin, Michael W. Smith, Darlene Zschech, Jeremy Camp, Brandon Heath, Matthew West, Mandisa…to name a few :) .

And if you could pick the best Christian songwriter you know…(come on, say NICHOLE NORDEMAN!!! that was the correct answer :) ) to write the lyrics to the stories that make up the Bible, wouldn’t that be amazing? well, CHECK that one too.

The Story Project is finally out in stores and is absolutely AMAZING. The London symphony plays as well, in case you wanted some great strings and stuff.

Seriously, y’all. I’m speechless over it. The idea behind the CD is that different people sing different character’s stories (Todd is Job) and the CD tells the story of Scripture from beginning to end.

This will also be a tour, where people who come can experience video (amazing video) telling the story as each artist sings.

There is so much more, and I would love for you to click here to be re-directed to their website. There are interviews with artists, tour dates and cities, and all kinds of cool things…I think you’re going to fall in love the way I have.

You can purchase the CD from iTunes by clicking here. You will NOT be disappointed!!!!

Tell everyone!!! The Story is here!!!!

Ang

Pillar

I sat completely upright, eyes staring at him while I moved food around my plate nervously.

It was our first date and I had decided I was going to marry him. He ordered (delicious) soup for me and opened the car door when I got in and when I got out. I wanted to impress him but I choked on my words as I tried to come up with something less desperate than “Elope or have a wedding?”

Because that’s not always a good first date plan.

His eyes lit up as he shared a story he had heard about a little girl at church who had drawn a picture, and he just knew I would get a kick out of it as well.

“So, you know Lot’s wife?”

Clearly Lot was a friend I hadn’t met yet. I put on my best, “I’m sure I do. Give me a minute…” face and nodded for him to continue.

Was that the guy in Sunday school? Was he on the retreat? Lot. No, I would remember meeting a guy named Lot.

“Well her teacher tells her to draw a picture of what happened to Lot’s wife and she drew a salt shaker.”

He started laughing.

I laughed too, and shook my head side to side. Those crazy kids.

“Oh, that is great! How funny.” I bit my lip and tried to think of a good follow-up condiment story.

Nothing.

“So, Lot…” I just kind of threw it out there. I figured I would give him some room to fill me in on the backstory.

“Yeah, you know, from Genesis? The one who left Sodom and Gomorrah?”

Awesome. Thanks for clearing that up.

Note to self: find Precious Moments Bible that is somewhere in my apartment and find out who Sodom and Gomorrah are.

I nodded again, filling my mouth with pasta so I wouldn’t have to drop any more pearls of wisdom before the second date.

A few hours later I found my little Bible and hunted down this Lot guy. He’s umm, an interesting fellow, and reading about him next to images of Precious Moments figurines has got to be one of the strangest experiences a new believer can have. Seriously creeptastic.

With that said, I did find it pretty interesting. The gist of it is that Abraham is trying to save Sodom (Sodom and Gomorrah are places, not people. Also good to know for date number two) and kind of negotiates with God about it. This deserves a whole post of it’s own, but let’s come back to that some other day. Anyway, he works out a plan with God that if there are 10 righteous men in Sodom, God will not destroy it. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and God sends two angels to warn Abraham and his nephew Lot to get out of town before this happens. Lot tries to warn his sons-in-law but they thought he was joking and apparently didn’t listen. It says in Genesis 19:16 that Lot hesitated, so the angels grabbed his and his wife’s hands and led them out of the city.

As soon as they were safe, the angels said to them, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” Lot tells them he wants to go to another town instead. And guess what? It isn’t in the mountains, it’s in the plains. God wants Lot to go to one place, and he believes his idea is better than God’s. I read this and shake my head because that just sounds silly to me.

Well, as silly as it can sound to someone who does the same almost every day of her life.

So Lot and his bride head towards Zoar (which was called Bela before this incident), and as they do, Lot’s wife makes a critical mistake.

She looks back.

She looks at back at the city filled with sin and wickedness, and as she pauses, God turns her into a pillar of salt (the salt shaker thing is way funnier now).

We don’t ever learn her name, but her legacy is one of looking back. She has been rescued from death, from sin and depravity, and there is something that still haunts her enough to stop moving toward whatever is ahead.

Did she want to see if it would really be ruined? Maybe she wanted to see her things one more time. Was she longing for a person? Reflecting on the life she wanted to keep living?

I don’t know, but I do know this.

God has been gracious with me for many years in my turning back. A glimpse of what could have been, a temptation that makes me question my faith. An earth-shattering loss that beckons me to believe that the mountain is too far and the valley will be just fine.

I have wandered to the closest city while I know He desires for me to climb, and I have settled there for longer than I care to remember. I have failed Him many times over, head and heart turned, and yet He urges me never to settle. I don’t know what you are walking away from tonight, but as I have been praying about what to write the Lord has put this message on my heart so clearly that I had to share it. I want you to know I am praying for you as I write-asking the Lord to remind you tonight that there is a reason you have left that life behind.

It has been swallowed by grace, friend. And you need not miss what He has for you by believing there is something worth going back for. Leave it be. The Lord has told you where to go and it’s time to walk. Eyes straight ahead, tangled in the spectacular love of a Savior Who wants nothing less for you than the summit. And as you stare at what might have been, you are immobilized, unable to bring Him the glory He deserves. And also, He might make you salt. Just saying.

It has been almost exactly ten years from the night I went out with Todd for the first time. October will mark a decade of falling in love with the man who has given me five daughters and many, many more dates. No matter how many times we sit together over a meal, I will never forget the first one. The heart-fluttering, life-altering, dream-come-true night when I learned about a woman who loved in the wrong direction.

I still get confused about Bible references. I am the farthest thing from a Bible scholar that could be possible. I can’t tell you the Hebrew and Greek roots of words, nor every battle of the Bible or city mentioned in scripture. What I do feel confident saying is actually pretty simple.

He is Who He says He is, and He is whispering tonight if you care to listen…

“Flee, love. Flee and never look back…”

Winners and a Great Song :)

Click on over to my other site to see if you won!!! And if you didn’t, you can still use the code “markedbylove” to get 15% off your order until the 26th…here’s the link :)

I just mentioned on Twitter that Selah was nominated for some Dove Awards today…so proud. I thought I would post this video on here in case you haven’t seen it. It is definitely one of my favorite Selah songs ever. They should be playing it on the radio now…if you haven’t heard it it’s probably just not added yet (and hopefully will be!!!). I have gotten SO many emails about this song…the lyrics have helped me through more rough nights than I can count. I hope it ministers to you today…

Many of you have written me about this song and how the words have spoken to you. Please know if there is something in your life that feels “unredeemed,” I am praying for you now and would love to know your story. Feel free to leave it in the comments so we can all pray together for you, or, email me if you don’t feel comfortable sharing publicly.

Love, appreciation and prayers,
Ang

Music and Love

***updated to say that if you would like a copy of Crazy Love, please email me your request instead of leaving it in the comments because I would hate to miss it on accident…and be sure to include your address!!!! ALSO, we are planning on starting our first session will be on Sunday, September 6th…we bumped it back to make sure everyone could get their books in time!!!***
So the new Selah CD was released today, and I am pumped about it :)
I am ridiculously proud of my Toddy, and honestly think this is one of the best CD’s they have ever made. 
Here’s the link…it will take you to itunes, where you can search for “selah you deliver me” and purchase the cd right there. Any local store (Lifeway, Family Christian, Target, Walmart etc.) will also have it…
I love you Todd…and I am so proud to be married to a man who loves the Lord fully and with complete dedication. Your Father is honored by your offering and your heart. All your girls are praying for you today as you share your gift…
So friends, consider this an offer to be blessed through amazing music that will bring you right to the feet of the cross.
I’ll meet you there.
Much love and thanks!
*And for those of you who wrote and couldn’t afford it, the first round is going out tomorrow and we are waiting on the next shipment to come. Because of some very generous donations from people who asked to remain anonymous, we are able to send every single one requested. Praise the Lord!!!!
*If you have requested the book “Crazy Love,” just know that ALL of those are also covered as well. Feel free to email me and ask if you still need a copy!!! We have enough room financially to give several more and would love to do that. Please don’t miss a great study because if money…we would love to have you with us, and the Lord has provided a way to do that…
***
I also feel this pressed into my heart, and please feel free to ignore it if it doesn’t speak to you. You know I would never ask for your money if I was going to keep it myself. I have tried very hard to make it known that I am a good steward of what I have been given, and to make sure you know I am not out to make money with all of this. With that said, I would love to ask you to prayerfully consider helping “C” financially. We are making tremendous progress, and the Lord is showing up in amazing ways (you are absolutely not going to believe her story, which she is going to share here on a very special day).
Please hear my heart on this…I really want to help her, and she is about to lose her van and some other things which would really impact her life. We are actively a part of the process, but it just isn’t enough. Satan has thrown so many roadblocks in our path as she desperately seeks His will, and we know it is because the Lord is blessed by her decisions and her love for Him.
If this is something that the Lord pricks your heart about, could you please make a donation to my paypal account on her behalf (please specify that this is what it is for so I know…angelac519@gmail.com will take you to my account on paypal.com) or send me an email? 
I don’t like to ask these kinds of things, and am really sensitive about what I do, but I know that this is what the body of Christ is all about, and I want her to experience it the way I have. 
If you aren’t able or don’t feel led to give, would you please commit to praying for her? She and her family could really use those prayers…
The Lord is at work.
All praise to Him for everything we have, and praise even for what we do not…
With so much love and thanks,
Angie

You Have GOT to see this.

Seriously.
Could this kid be cuter?!?!?! I have seen it before, but I realized I had never put it on the blog, and OH MY WORD.
Selah has never sounded better.
:)
If you know Zoe or her family, could you have her contact me? We would love to send this angel a little gift of love.
ENJOY!!!!! And have a great weekend… (don’t forget to mute the music at the bottom of the blog before you start!)
Love,
Angie

So Proud of Him…

First of all, I am so glad to see that you all agree with me about Kate and my dad’s sister. I laughed so hard at how many of you thought the twins look like my dad!!!! He will get a kick out of that!!!
I’m also glad you all accept my random ramblings :)
SO, tonight’s 2 minute post is about my sweet hubby…I have been getting emails about Selah’s new CD, and I wanted to let you all know that the release date is August 25th, but you can pre-order it now through Family Christian Bookstores. If you pre-order, you get a CD with 4 of the songs from the CD sent to you now so you don’t have to wait :)
I have to say, I listened to it while I was out driving today, and it is amazing. I know I’m biased, but it really is unbelievable. I also have the tremendous blessing of watching the three of them live life, and I can tell you that they are the real deal. They are so honored to do what they do, and they don’t take a minute if it for granted. The result is music that truly honors the Lord and comes from the heart, and I am so moved to even be a small part of it.
“I Will Carry You” turned out incredibly well thanks to all of the people who put their hearts and souls into it (wait until you hear John Catchings on the cello!), and I am so honored that the CD includes pictures of Audrey and tells her story. The “boy” version will be available on ITunes when the CD is released. 
One last thing…if this is a CD that you would really like to have, but don’t have the money to buy it, please email me at angelac519@gmail.com. 
Much love,
Angie

What a Day

Final Update. Unbelievable.  He didn’t get to ask his question, but man, Wally-World never looked better.  Highlight of the evening: Abby asking why he was just listening to them and not singing.  She is irritated that he just sat still the whole time instead of performing.  Hard to explain the whole “potential leader of the free world takes precedence” thing.  Anyway I just talked to Toddy and he is on his way home….he said that Obama asked him what he did for a living and when Todd told him the name of the group, he said, “I’m going to look you all up on the internet.” And Todd volunteered to send him some CD’s.  Preach it, baby!!!! So, needless to say, I will have to post the funny kid stories tomorrow when I have gotten some sleep.  Thanks for all of your emails and notes of encouragement.  This served as a great distraction on a hard day….and please, be praying tonight for our country and our future president.  Goodnight!!!!
Update #3 Todd is the second one on the right of the stage, green shirt, bald head. He is next to another baldie…I can’t believe he’s that close (to the candidates, not the baldie)!!!

Update #2 Todd just found out where he will be sitting. Turns out you might actually see him because he is in the FRONT ROW. Yes. I’m serious. He is beside himself. He is all secret-service about it and keeps calling me and talking in code, telling me where he is. I don’t know that he needs to be talking in code, but I think he feels tough on account of his new outfit. He was right in the middle of a sentence and they called everyone into another room and he was like, “Gotta Go.” Click. Unbelievable. So there’s the 4:50 pm update. Also, C-SPAN will be covering the debate a half hour before and a half hour after if you want to tune in. If not, just look for cutie-pie bald man in the front row. Please pray for him to feel calm…he said that they don’t know who will ask their questions until the ACTUAL moment in the debate, where they say (for example), “Todd Smith has a question….” and then they ask it. Can you say AHOY, matey?!?!?!? I’m so glad it’s not me….

Update #1 (I’m sure there will be many today!!! Feel free to tune me out if you get bored:)) Todd just called me from a “break.” He was so excited he could barely speak. Apparently there are about 100 people who are there and he is definitely going to be “on the stage” tonight. Out of the 100,000 calls they made, he was #10, so he thinks that means he will be up there. And also, he just got to shake Tom Brokaw’s hand. I am trying to imagine what that would feel like, only in my version, it’s Brangelina. Anyway.
He might get to ask a question on stage tonight, and he is really pumped. He is going to murder me when he reads this, but bless his heart, he was pacing around our kitchen the other night in his boxers practicing his question over and over at 2 a.m. He is the sweetest thing, and his question is REALLY good (although I am sworn to secrecy because it could affect his chances of asking it). I’ll keep you posted!!!! Go TODD!!!!!!
(original post follows)
First, let me post this for you all from my sweet husband…he sent this email out this morning to friends and family.
“OK, here is the latest.

In case I didn’t tell you all. I got called randomly by The Gallup Poll last week and by the end of the conversation was asked to be a part of the debate tonight at Belmont between Obama and McCain!!

Gallup called again last Wednesday asking for my SS# and telling me where to meet today. They said I would be receiving a packet by Monday the 6th with instructions.

NO packet came yesterday so I thought, “Oh great, I just got duped by some brilliant con artist.” Angie was sweet enough to tell her Bible study last night about it and to pray about it.

Thank you ladies.

Gallup called at 7AM this morning. Apparently Fed Ex wasn’t so Fed Ex. A bunch of people didn’t get their packets, or they found them in their hedges, or on the other side of their lawn!!

All that to say I am in, and thanks to the 24 hour always open time I will be wearing something very fashionable from WALMART because I have not had time to go anywhere else!!
I got there at 2AM last night and kept all the tags on until this morning just in case I really did get duped.

I’m bringing my cell phone, but once I get to the meeting they said I will probably have to shut it off. I will try to update Angie if I can. Many of you had great suggestions for questions. Chad Cates said I should ask them about “CCM music, and who their favorite trio vocal group is in CCM!” Excellent question, but I won’t be asking that one. Allan had suggested, and I might take him up on this, that I write Selahonline on my belly, and than if I get asked a question raise my shirt up like I’m stretching and and show it off like the “Soybomb” guy did when Dylan performed at the Grammy’s!! Okay, very scary thought.

I am so excited and I can’t wait to experience this.

There is no guarantee that I’ll get to be on stage or ask a question, but if you do see me get to ask one, just pray when I talk I won’t turn into Pres. Bush on camera!! “We’re gonna put food on your family.”

take care

todd

I’ll email everyone tonight when I get back home. We meet Tom Brokow this morning and than they will go through and choose from the questions we have pre-written down. I’m allowed to prepare two.”



So, it was FOR REAL!!!!!!! I was scared yesterday that he had gotten his hopes up for nothing. The rumor is that they only invited 150 people by phone (completely random selection!) and Todd was one of them. He went to college at Belmont and is SO excited. He is wearing a green oxford-ish shirt and khaki’s, and he has no hair, so we might be able to spot him tonight at the debate!!!! Just wanted to let you all know. Incidentally, the doorbell rang while I was typing this and “the packet” arrived. I’m sure he will keep it as a souvenir…

I’m so excited for him. Please pray for his day!!!!!

In other news, the contest for “funny kid story” is over, and I will be announcing the winners today, so check back in a little bit. I am really excited to be a part of this particular giveaway because it involves one of my best friends. Remember Jessica? Well, her husband (as you may already know) is an author, and his latest book, “Churched,” released today. It is his first hardback book, and it is HILARIOUS. He gave me an advance copy and I read it in 2 nights:) It chronicles his life growing up in a very conservative church, and let me tell you, the world through Matthew’s eyes is a treat. If you are interested in purchasing it, you can do so here. His blog is jesusneedsnewpr.blogspot.com/. So proud of you Matthew…

And the winners of the contest will all get a signed copy of the book!!!! I still have a few more to read, but I will post them this afternoon.
Finally, there is a sweet woman who I have been corresponding with in the past few months, and today is the day she welcomed her baby boy, Isaac. He lived for about 16 minutes, and is now with the Lord. Please visit her blog if you want to offer support, and please pray for great peace for her today.

For those of you who follow my blog, you may have noticed that today is the sixth month mark of our Audrey’s passing. I am okay (I think?), but really missing her. It is a rainy day here, and somehow I knew it would be. I think we are going to head over to her grave in a little while and sit. Please remember us in your prayers today, and our sweet baby girl. It is hard to believe it has been half a year since she was with us. I want to write more about what I am feeling, but honestly, my spirit just feels tired.

I know there is a lot of information in this post, and it feels a little “all over the place.” I am not editing, and I want you to know I am grateful to have this place to come with my morning coffee and just share a little life, as jumbled as it feels sometimes. Oh, how I need Jesus today.

So, in conclusion…

Pray for the hubby
Buy a great book
Pray for Stacy and Isaac (and the whole family)
Pray for me
Check back for a good laugh later this afternoon when I post the great kid stories people sent

That probably would have been easier….

I will be back in a little while~
Angie

She asked me out on a walk…

Hey everyone, Angie asked if I would share some thoughts today.  It is a very special day for us.
Before I share, I want to say thank you to all of you who have traveled this incredibly painful road with us.  You have no idea how your comments and emails have encouraged us.  How your prayers have helped carry us though.  You have been family to us, the body of Christ, carrying this burden with us.  I can’t express how painful it has been to lose Audrey, and how empty some days have been, but we know she is with Jesus, and that He makes no mistakes even when it doesn’t make sense.  Thank you again for caring, thank you for sharing, and for your prayers. 
My name is Todd and I am Angie Smith’s husband!  This is my first time posting, and judging by the length it will probably be my last.  Writing is not my strong point, nor is grammar, spelling, sentence structure, or anything related to English, so be prepared for more a “ungifted post.” 
For most of our married life Angie has been known as my wife, but since she has started writing that has changed.  I’m completely okay with that. 
Two weeks ago we were in Georgia visiting Angie’s family.  We decided to go to the local mall with the girls.  Ellie, Abby, Kate, and I went to Chick-Fil-A while Angie went to the Apple store.  As we stood in line a lady came up to me and whispered “If you’re who I think you are I LOVE YOUR WIFE’S BLOG!!  Not, “if you’re who I think you are, I love your music, your voice, your group.” 
Right after she left Angie came to eat with us and as I was sharing about what had just happened another lady came up, recognized Angie and told her how much she loved Audrey’s blog.  She continued to share how Angie’s writing had ministered to her.  Then she noticed I was there and for the sake of being friendly said, “Oh, your music is good too.”  Than she went right back to Angie.  That day I officially became “Mr. Angie Smith.”  I’m smiling as I write this.
How could you not love Angie?  She is strikingly beautiful.  Her smile lights up a room.  She is one of the most caring people I have ever known.  She invests so much in relationships with others.  She has showed me by example what friendship really is.  The time and devotion that she gives to those relationships is incredible.  She has the ability to focus and make someone feel like they are the only person in the room.   When people share she truly empathizes with them.  She has a heart bigger than herself. 
I think that’s why so many people have been drawn to Angie during this time.  She is honest and funny.  She has wisdom beyond her years. She has incredible insight, and the ability to put thoughts onto paper that so many of us feel but don’t know how to put into words.  She’s a mother going through unbelievable suffering, trying to make sense of it, and dealing with it one day at a time.  She’s someone you feel like you’ve known all your life the first time you meet her.
Allow me to praise my wife and honor the life she has lived not only these past 8 months, but the past 7 years we have been married.  I want to spend some time reflecting on memories I have shared with this amazing woman I am blessed to call my wife .
Today we are celebrating 7 years of marriage!!!  7 YEARS!  One thing we were trying to figure out was, is the 7 year itch from year 6-7 or 7-8?  I think it’s 6-7, so it’s all good from here baby!
I remember October 14, 2000.  We were leading worship for a singles retreat at 1st Baptist Nashville when this beautiful red head popped her head in during our sound check.  The next day we played flag football and she kept lining up next to me.  The thing was she was on my team! 
I knew she was into me, but I wasn’t ready.  I had to keep a spiritual face because I was leading worship.  The great thing about leading worship and singing in general, is that it makes you look much better and more spiritual than you really are. 
Later that night she asked me out on a walk and our lives were never the same after that.
I remember January  17th, 2001 when she came to me in tears and told me she had truly accepted Christ as her savior.  That it finally made sense.  I have never seen someone so hungry to know God, and someone who has grown so much in such a short time.
I remember August 26, 2001 when we got married.  Angie looked so beautiful.  It was such peaceful easy day.  We had so much fun with our friends and family, and the new life we were going to share together.  It was also two weeks before 9/11.  Looking back it was a time period that felt safer.
I remember a day in January 2002 when I came home to Angie in tears.  She had just miscarried our first pregnancy.  Our baby was only 6 weeks old but you would not have known that by Angie’s face.  She was devastated.  She went through all the questions, “Is God punishing me?,” “what did I do wrong in college or high school?,” “will I ever have children?”
I remember the joy she had several months later when we found out we were pregnant again.  Several weeks later we went in for our first ultrasound.  As our nurse practitioner did the ultrasound I was the first to notice two flickering lights.  No one was saying anything about it, so I asked what both lights meant.  As soon as our nurse and Angie saw it, they screamed.  We were having twins!!
I remember going for an unscheduled ultrasound in September and finding out that Angie was going to be on bed rest in the hospital for 10 excruciating weeks.  She was so scared and so brave.  She did everything to keep our girls in her.  She endured medication for weeks that most people wouldn’t have been able to tolerate a couple days.
I remember December 2, 2002 when two little girls were born that would change our world.  Ellie was 4 lbs 11 oz, and Abby was 3 lbs 11 oz.  Abby was so small she had to stay in the NICU for 17 days.  When she first came out she didn’t look alive.  She didn’t move or make a sound. 
Later that day I went to check on her.  She had all kinds of tubes, IV’s, and sensors on her.  Her oxygen mask kept falling off.  I wondered if she would be okay.  Than the nurse tried to put the mask back in her nose and Abby took her little hand and swiped the nurses fingers off her nose.  She was irritated.  I knew right than she was a fighter and would be okay.
I remember when we found out in December of 2004 that Angie was expecting our 4th child.  She was so happy, and at the same time wondering what type of complications might arise.  Would she go on bed rest again?  Would she need a lot of medication to keep our baby inside her womb? Nine months later with no complications God gave us Sarah Katherine (Kate) on September 7, 2005.  She is a fireball, a little pistol.  She’s full of life and knows exactly what she wants.  Hmm, who does that sound like?  She looks and acts just like her mommy.  I lovingly call her “my little Italian.”  Angie’s maiden name is Battiato (Ba-tee-at-toe).
I remember the summer of 2007.  We were talking about having another child.  How great it would be for Kate to have a playmate, and for Ellie and Abby to have a baby sibling to take care of.  Our kids were really excited!  I was hoping God would give us our first boy! 
We found out in October 2007 we were expecting and about 14 weeks later that she was a girl!!  She was perfect.  We decided to name her Audrey Caroline after Angie’s best friend Audra and after Angie whose middle name is CaroIe.  When you go to your first couple ultrasounds your heart is racing because you want to make sure the baby is okay.  At 16 weeks Audrey was looking great.
I remember a phone call in late December from our nurse practitioner Susanna, saying that Audrey’s test for downs syndrome came back positive.  What that really meant was that there was a 1 in 120 chance that she had it.  The chances were very slim but still thoughts flood your mind. 
How I was going to tell Angie and how would she react?  At first she was devastated and than a couple days later she came to me and reminded me of a prayer she had prayed many times.  Angie’s master degree is in developmental psychology.  She worked with special needs kids and God had given her a gift with being able to help these beautiful children communicate.  She had told me many times how she had prayed that if God was going to give a downs syndrome baby to anyone that it would be us.  That’s what is so amazing about this woman. 
I was really scared and angry.  I felt like we had been given too much.  We had had so many problems with pregnancy why was God doing this?  My perspective was going to change very quickly.
I remember January 7th as we walked in for our 20 week ultrasound.  My mother was with us and there was a lot of anticipation, worry on my part, and wonder if our
Audrey had downs syndrome.  The technician started the ultrasound and immediately got quiet.  The doctor came in and in a matter of ten minutes he stopped everything and told us Audrey had complications that were terminal.  He asked Angie how she was feeling.  She was in complete shock and horrified, but her response was immediate, “I think my Jesus is the same as He was before I walked in here.”
It’s interesting when tragedy occurs how your perspective changes.  I went in praying “God please don’t let her have down syndrome,” and left praying “please just let it be down syndrome.”
My most vivid memory of Angie before Audrey’s birth was in March of this year.  We drove to the funeral home to make arrangements and pick out a burial spot for Audrey.  As we went to the grave site something happened that no mother should ever have the foreknowledge of experiencing.  Audrey started kicking as Angie stood over the very spot where she was going to be buried a couple weeks later.  Angie was frightened and in disbelief, but she was so brave that day.  She carried herself with so much dignity and strength, even though I know she felt hopeless.
I remember April 7th.  One of the best days of our lives!  Your prayers and God’s comfort gave us one of the most peaceful wonderful days we’ve ever experienced.  I remember being in the operating room right after Audrey was born.  We were crying over her and telling her all the things we wanted to say before she passed.  Angie was something to watch that day.  She was beaming as she showed off her little girl! 
I remember looking at each other as the nurse was checking Audrey’s heartbeat.  It was just the six of us on the bed.  The nurse nodded signaling Audrey’s passing.  We looked into each other’s eyes and felt complete peace in that moment as we looked on at her three older doting sisters holding her.
 Angie has poured out herself with every pregnancy.  She has poured out herself to God in this devastating time.  She has poured out herself to you.  Things I would never share she has shared gladly, and you all have been incredible in your response to her. 
She is an amazing writer.  In 11 years of Christian music ministry I have never seen a response to God like I’ve seen since Angie started this blog.  God is using her and I believe will continue to use her in ways she never imagined. 
Baby, I know this is long and everyone is probably asleep, or going back and reading one of your posts but I want to finish with this. 
Thank you for your life, thank you for the incredible mother you have been to all 5 of our children.  Thank you for the wife you have been to me.  Thank you for these incredible 7 years we have been together.
When we found out about Audrey’s complications we prayed that whatever Jesus decided He would do what brought Him the most glory, and He has.  It’s not what we hoped for.  Mom has described the deaths of Audrey and Luke like they are amputations.  You continue but you are never the same.   A dear friend of my family who lost her son shared that with her.
In the midst of all we’ve been through you have brought Him glory with the way you have chosen to handle this.  All the people who have asked Jesus into their hearts.  All the believers who have written in saying how they understand God’s love for the very first time because of your writing.  You have kept Audrey’s memory alive and honored her life by sharing honestly from your heart. 
You are braver than I will ever be.
Thank you for asking me out on that walk back on October 15th, 2000.
I love you
Toddy

Vous et Nul Autre


A few days ago I came across a book that I hadn’t seen in years.  I was re-arranging our bookshelves to try and make them neater (go figure), and pulling out old memories as I went.  I read it when I was in college, and although it was faded, I could still tell what I had highlighted. I flipped the pages and came to a section that had received the coveted “highlighted and starred” marking.  Highlighted usually means I liked what I read, and starred means it’s something I want to carry with me.  The author was talking about how she and her husband bought each other Shakesperean poesy rings, engraved with the words “Vous et Nul Autre.”  

I had no idea what it meant, but it was French and it sounded terribly romantic. 

I am looking at my wedding ring as I type, remembering the day that Todd proposed to me. I stood in front of him while he opened a ring box and I knew that I loved him more than I ever thought I would love somebody.  If you have been blessed enough to meet him, you will know what I mean when I say this. He is just “good.”  
I have a picture on my desk of Todd as a little boy.  He is bent over with his chin supported by the palm of his hand, obviously sulking about something.  His face is wrinkled in frustration, and his eyes are staring at the ground.  When I asked his mother if she knew why he was so upset, she said that it was because his sisters were telling him that one day they were going to get married. Apparently he wasn’t too keen on the idea of them not needing their little brother anymore.  
As a sidebar, these are the same sisters who:
1. Told him (repeatedly) that if they could cut his hair, he would look just like Donny Osmond. They did. He didn’t.  
2. Told him if he sucked on a bouillon cube (yeah, the kind that flavors a whole pot of water…), eventually he would get to the chocolate on the inside.  I have to admit, that’s clever.
3.  Convinced him one day that his voice echoing in a large canyon was actually a man named “Echo.”  Todd would scream, “Hey Echo! ” and then when the “man” would repeat him (ummm, yeah, every time), he would get frustrated. He told me that he was so excited that there was someone else who spoke English that he wanted to invite him over for dinner even though he was irritated that “Echo-man” kept imitating him instead of answering.
That was one dedicated kid.
I look at pictures of my Toddy growing up, and I just love his sweet face.  I always hoped that if we had a little boy he would look just like him (minus the Donny-do). He is not that different now from how I picture him then.  Just a sweet, loving, good boy who wanted to make the world right.  
The day after we met, we got into a van with a group of people and I sat next to him.  I was really glad we were all slammed in because it meant that my leg had to touch his while we drove.  I remember playing flag football and scoring the first touchdown because I wanted him to notice me.  I remember how I waited for him to call. I remember the way he surprised me with the antique wedding ring I had fallen in love with.  His hands were shaking and he bent down and I just kept thinking that it couldn’t be real.  We have the whole thing on video, me jumping up and down and hugging him, then slow dancing with our heads together, wondering what life was going to be like when we walked outside. 
What is our marriage?  It’s playing cards in bed.  It’s laughing hysterically at the parts of a movie that nobody else thinks are funny.  It’s me looking up from my book to see Todd waving at me as he mows the lawn.  Its dragging him to one more store looking for the perfect gift.  It’s burnt dinner (which he would never complain about), clean laundry (which most likely, he did), and staying up until 4 a.m. watching a whole season of 24. It’s telling the truth, even when it hurts. It’s spending your nights in a hospital room waiting to know if your twin daughters will live or not. It’s ordering Chinese food and singing along to eighties music. It is starting at least 10 Bible Studies together and then getting distracted talking about life instead.  It’s Todd and Angie, and it’s good.  
But it’s not perfect.
Sometimes it’s laying side by side in bed watching the ceiling fan spin, hands clasped, knowing that the grief lies with us. It’s slamming a door because we want her back.  It’s the sharp voice that comes out of you when you just meant to ask where your shoes are.  It’s your heart breaking because you can’t fix it all.  It’s wishing you could rewind to a chapel and tell the newlyweds that there really is some “worse” with the “better.” 
It’s buying your wife a purse that she has wanted for years in the hopes that it would make her smile on a very difficult Mother’s Day.  And even better, it’s smiling knowingly and hugging her when she says God told her to give it to the highest bidder because He had something better planned.  
It’s believing that what God does with what we give Him is far greater than what we could have done with it ourselves.

Toddy, you are the love that made it all worth waiting for.  Happy Father’s Day, and all our love.


You and no other…
Angie