From Blah to Awe

First off, let me say that it’s unusual for me to have so many review/giveaway/fun posts in a row, but I am loving it! For those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter, you might not know that I’ve been a little under the weather. Turns out I have mono :( I am trying to rest and do all the things they tell you to, but with 4 kids and everything else I have on my plate, staying in bed isn’t really an option. It’s really not awful but I do feel tired a lot and I have a headache ALL THE TIME. Any suggestions? Ideas?

Ugh. I think I have been living with exhaustion so long that when I kick this thing I’m going to feel like a million bucks :) In the meantime, thank you for enjoying all the laid-back fun stuff on my blog lately. It’s been so good for me to read comments and enjoy you all.

With that said, I want to encourage you to pick up a book for the teenage girls in your life. It’s called “From Blah to Awe” and it’s by Max Lucado’s daughter Jenna. She is a great writer, and this book just came out this month. Although my girls aren’t quite teenagers yet (Oh, mercy. I cannot imagine), I think this will be a fantastic choice when they are a little older. It’s very conversational, but also truth-filled. She includes a bunch of other people’s stories as well as her own testimony and the general idea is shaking up your faith and really seeking relationship with Christ. I also really like that it’s very interactive, and has sections where they can journal a little and really flesh out the ideas. One of the chapters talks about how a lot of people who read the Bible think it’s boring because they don’t understand it as a story, and she does a great job of bringing ideas like this home in a very age-appropriate, encouraging way.

These are the most brutal years for holding onto faith, and the more I hear stories of kids going to conferences like Passion and Revolve (WOF-Jenna is a speaker for Revolve :) ), the more I’m encouraged that this generation is doing things that are going to change the world. I’m also keenly aware that so many of them are choosing to walk away from their faith, in small ways and in big ones. I think that any of us who have teenagers in our lives can see the tension that society is putting on them, and the more “Jenna Lucado’s” we can put in their lives, the better. Let’s inspire our girls to chase after the Lord and seek a life with Him that goes past static and moves into a life-long love relationship.

And if I might ask for a little prayer as well? This weekend will be my first event in Dallas for the WOF One-Day events, and I’m pretty nervous. I have been working on my talk but for whatever reason I feel like I haven’t quite got it down. Please just pray that I will connect with the people there and that they will be blessed by whatever I manage to get out :) And also, please pray for smooth flights and for my kiddos to have a great night while I’m out.

Much love to you all!!! And if you will be at the Dallas event and you haven’t sent me an email, please do!

Ang

 

Women of Faith One Day Events!

It’s hard to believe I am only a few weeks away from my first One-Day event with Women of Faith. In the event that you haven’t heard anything about these, I wanted to tell you a little bit in the hopes that it might be something you could join us for! It’s a much smaller event than the regular arena-style events {cheaper tickets, but not as many!} so it’s much more intimate {yay!}.

It’s unfortunate that I have been paired up with Christine Caine {Perpetual slacker and all-around boring type. Or, you know, an abolitionist who is rocking the world with her amazing gifts…one or the other} and Andy Andrews {Also known to be boring. I’m kidding. We can all clearly see who the third wheel is at this point. Silence, people. Silence.}.

Anyway, I would love for you to come!!! I think these are going to be amazing, and with a killer (2/3) lineup like this, we are bound to shake it up :)

I’m going to talk about my fears some, and I really look forward to meeting those of you in person that I haven’t met yet…these are the perfect way to really make some personal connections and that’s my favorite part of all of it.

If you are planning to come to one of my dates {click here for complete list}, will you send me an email and let me know? Look forward to meeting you!!!

With love,

Ang

 

Higher

It seems like the deepest moments of my life happen in the most unexpected places.

I love that about God.

I can be watching a T.V. show about singers (this one was the X-Factor…that last guy who had been on meth and turned his life around?!?!?! BAWLING) or just taking clothes out of the dryer and I see the Gospel.

Not the little words on paper, but the real Gospel.

It’s so easy to read, mark, and move on without letting it penetrate your heart.

But to see it in the flesh? Totally different.

I asked the Lord several months (maybe years?) ago to show me Himself in little things, and to make Himself real to me in them. You might want to do the same, but you should know that your life will never be the same. People will say the sweetest things to me about how I see God in my children’s conversations or my wedding dress or something silly, but the truth is this.

I see because I asked to see.

I love that He honored this request in ways I could never try to spin into beautiful word-webs, because they aren’t always meant to be shared. Some are just His way of reminding me that He’s still in it all.

This last weekend, I spoke in Milwaukee at a Women of Faith event (BTW, I love this city. So fun!) and if you have been to one recently you’ll know that on the last day we each stand and give a little 3 minute take-away of our main message and we bring a prop up to help cement the idea. We didn’t choose our props.

Mine is a life preserver. A giant, red, puffy lifejacket, actually. I remember they handed Natalie Grant (whom I love, love, love, love) this dainty gold mirror. I looked at her and mouthed, “How nice for you.” We burst out laughing, which has become a bit of a ritual with all the girls on this tour. We laugh like our lives depend on it. It’s definitely one of the best things I’ve gotten to do ever, despite the fact that this lifejacket thing is going on.

I don’t wear it anymore because it was hard to take anyone seriously when they are talking about Jesus in a giant red vest on a giant round stage.

But the bottom line is that this weekend I was standing out there and I could hear Him whispering, “Just tell them.”

So I made it simple. I did a little of my closing thing and then I just said, “He is everything. None of the rest of this matters if we don’t know that.It doesn’t matter that I just walked up those seven stairs, or that I’ve faced some of my fears. Nothing matters if we don’t know this. He is everything.”

I don’t think I said it articulately, but as I walked off the platform, I felt incredible peace.

I looked ridiculous out there. To be honest, I was also having a seriously mediocre hair day. I had decided to throw it in a ponytail but hadn’t had a chance to look in the mirror (oops) and I had this huge lifejacket hanging off my arm. I mean, really.

But those three words.

I walked off the stage and Sheila leaned over to me and said, “That was it. I mean, if they didn’t hear another thing all weekend, that’s all they needed.”

This isn’t a pat on the back.

I didn’t do anything but show up.

Not just that day, but for all of it. It’s why I used the same three words when my book was released. Because it was never about the staircase itself. It was about Him.

I went through something terrible that many people go through, and I loved the Lord through it. Because of circumstances I didn’t create or ask for, He chose to use me.

And if that doesn’t humble me, I don’t know what will.

I used to cry after I spoke because I felt like I messed up.

Now I cry because I know He loves me in spite of it, and it’s too much.

It’s grace at work, and I get to report to duty every day.

When I came home, my three big girls came running through the backyard screaming because they were so happy. I hugged them and hugged them and told them how much I loved them and that I was grateful I got to go talk to the ladies.

They always tell people that their dad “sings to people about Jesus” and their mom “writes about Him and tells the ladies.”

Later last night I asked Ellie to read to me out of my favorite children’s Bible (The Jesus Storybook Bible), and she started. She randomly picked a page and the rest of us sat still while she read.

It was about the tower of Babel, and this one is written in a funny way so she was giggling while she went. She got to the end and we all hushed, though, because it says this:

You see. God knew, however high they reached, however hard they tried, people could bever get back to heaven by themselves. People didn’t need a staircase; they needed a Rescuer. Because the way back to heaven wasn’t a staircase; it was a Person.

People could never reach up to Heaven, so Heaven would have to come down to them.

And, one day, it would.

(pg. 54)

I felt my breathing slow down and I let my eyes close for a second. And He whispered to me then, because I asked Him to. I begged Him to.

Are you busy building staircases, or are you telling them that I’m everything? Because your answer matters. Ask yourself a thousand times a day if you have to, until you are sure of it.

Ellie looked at me and asked if I was okay. I told her I was. Abby tried to say something funny and I did a fake smile that meant I wasn’t all the way back from my thoughts yet.

Then she got serious, and she looked me dead in the eye.

“Mommy, didn’t they know?”

“Know what, honey?”

“That if they kept going up, He would just go higher?”

I shook my head no. But I smiled.

Because I will continue to walk up every staircase I am invited to walk up in order to share those words. I will never consider it anything less than a privilege.

And when dusk turns to dark, I will bend my knees to the One who allowed me to build.

Not a monument to myself, but a pile of stones that spoke of God’s glory.

May He be glorified through me.

And may He always, always be made higher.

Lord, bless those who read here. Bless them with Your presence and show them Your love in little things. Maybe something only they would understand. Give them a discerning mind for what You have called them to do,and allow them to feel the kind of joy that comes from building something that directs others to You. Keep us on our faces in prayer, and make us humble in spirit as we seek You. Inspire us to search Your word for truth and to be diligent in chasing after You. For Your glory, Lord…

My First WOF!!!

I am happy to report that I am still in one piece after my very first Women of Faith experience. It was honestly such a great weekend and I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. I was out of my mind nervous but the other women on the platform were so loving to me that I just felt like a little sheep that was being taken care of. I feel at home with them in a way that totally defies the amount of time I have been a part of the team. I thank God every day for such an awesome opportunity.

The audience was incredible and really made me feel at home…partly because I kind of was at home! My first official event turned out to be Columbus…I’m from Cincinnati and went to the University of Dayton so I felt like a hometown girl. That was really special for me. Lisa Harper, Sheila Walsh, Luci Swindoll, Nicole Johnson, and Kim Cash Tate were the other speakers, and we were blessed to have Mary Mary and Natalie Grant as well as the incredible WOF worship team for our music. It is amazing to see 11,000 women coming together to celebrate the extravagant love of Jesus.

But still, it’s totally scary!!!

My next event is in 2 weeks and it’s in Des Moines. This is going to be a really special event because it is the only one I get to do with Selah…if you are planning on coming, could you please send me an email to angelac519 at gmail dot com and let me know? If I can figure out a way I would love to set up a way to connect with you all. One of my readers said it should be called “Sunday Brunch,” which I think is precious. Let me know and I will get back to you if I can figure out a good plan.

Here’s a quick picture of me just as I got off the stage, with Sheila Walsh giving me a big squeeze. She is such an encouragement…have I mentioned how much I love these ladies?!?!?! OH MY GOODNESS. If you haven’t gotten tickets for an event this year, I hope you will. It is such a great weekend to share with girlfriends…

Sorry it’s so small! A sweet lady sitting behind us sent it to me…I will make sure and add more when I get them :)

Love to all!!!!

Ang

Life is good.

Just a quick hello from Nashville :)

We have been LOVING the weather and have pretty much been living outside these days. Todd has set up his gardening stuff, so pretty soon we are going to have more basil than we know what to do with. He has also gotten into making things, and has turned our garage into a little workshop. So far, in addition to the square foot gardens, he also made two swings that hang from the tree in our backyard. The girls are in heaven!!!

If you haven’t heard yet, Kelly had her sweet baby girl Hollis, and you are NOT going to believe the head of hair on this kid. She is gorgeous like her sister and mama, but I have to say my favorite picture is the “outtake” because it totally looks like our family trying to get a photo…

In other news, I went to Dallas last week for a Women of Faith video, and it was a complete blast. I honestly cannot believe how much I enjoy being with these ladies. I was so nervous, being the new kid and all, but they made me feel like I had been with them forever. Something I love and noticed right off the bat is how incredibly supportive they are of each other. I haven’t seen any cattiness or anything but genuine respect, and it just does my heart good. I got to wear shoes that might be more than my monthly mortgage, and a twirly dress that looked like it was from the 50′s. Here is a shot of us on the green screen, which will eventually look like a disco, I think. And no, we didn’t get to keep the cute outfits or jewelry :( We had the option to buy it but I decided I needed to feed my kiddos instead, so I passed. But I felt like a queen playing dress-up! And who knew dancing for like 6 hours straight in 4 inch high heels was such a good workout? Phew.

Me and Nicole Johnson pretending to be 50′s housewives who vacuum in heels…:)
I laugh every time I look at this one because as soon as Sheila Walsh saw it she said she looked like a giant hamster. She didn’t, but it was really funny :) That is Kim Cash Tate on the 
far right but we were missing Luci Swindoll for this shot :(  
I think that’s enough links for tonight (ha!), but I hope you will meet all the ladies I will be sharing the porch with…I am thanking God for allowing me this opportunity. Don’t get me wrong; I am terrified of the whole thing, but these ladies make it the experience of a lifetime. I’m just plain grateful I get to be in the company of women who can laugh and love Jesus together…I hope you will join us this year!!!
I’m heading up to put the little ones to bed…I’ll see you all soon :)
Ang

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