Highs and Lows: an Interview with Todd and Angie Smith

It wasn't until this January that I even knew "Mom Blogs" existed (sounds impossible, I know). Thankfully, my friend Celesta opened my eyes to the fun, witty, winsome and wise Angie Smith, author of Bring the Rain. Within weeks of discovering and devouring her blog, Steve and I had the opportunity to interview Angie, and her husband Todd (of Selah fame), for The Boundless Show. Recently we got to interview them again—this time to get more details about how they started their family. 

What emotional or practical hurdles did you or Todd have to overcome in order to start your family?

Truth? We didn't plan to get pregnant, and I lost our first baby at about 7-8 weeks. Then, we didn't plan to get pregnant and I found out we were having twins. Now that is what I call A SURPRISE. We lived in this tiny apartment and Todd was touring all the time, so we just had to look at each other one night and say, "OK, Lord. This is it … remind us You're in it!!!!" He did, and we survived it (despite almost losing the twins in the pregnancy). We started out going 200 MPH, so we didn't really have a chance to address the emotional and practical hurdles. That would have been nice, actually. :)

Did either of you have any unusual cravings during pregnancy?

I craved chocolate and dairy stuff, but I was in the hospital for 10 weeks of my first pregnancy, so I had to settle for unidentifiable meat. The smell of the hospital food tray opening still haunts me … eeww. With Kate, I ate everything that wasn't moving. I have pictures to prove it.

What surprised you most about becoming a mom for the first time?

I wasn't nervous about it, just fascinated by the fact that a love so great could just fall on us. It also surprised me that I was really laid back, because I am pretty Type A. I think that's why God gave me twins! He wanted to make sure I was leaning HARD into Him and not into my own little plans of what life should look like.

What's the most annoying toy that parenthood has brought into your life? I think I was born in the wrong century. I like wooden toys and simple. Amish made furniture. I like plain, handmade dolls and giant cozy quilts with old-fashioned books. That's what I always pictured. But then I bought the irritating alphabet caterpillar so I could bathe. And then the Baby Einstein videos so I could put on clothes and (on a really good day) MAKEUP! You do what you have to, sometimes. I can handle a little annoying music to start to feel human again.

Confession? I did recently take the batteries out of Kate's pink guitar and tell her it was an "imagination-sounds" guitar. She pranced around the house for about a half hour, totally satisfied. Yes, I was born in the wrong century, but I wouldn't want to go back without the assistance of Dora and Boots.

How has having children affected your marriage?

People dream that having children will fix a difficult relationship. NOT A GOOD IDEA. Todd and I were in a great place when the twins came along, but you are sleep-deprived, spit-up-covered, volatile, and hungry as a horse. Self-esteem takes a back seat to survival. There's a lot of stuff they don't tell you about the whole process, which is probably good.

It's a lot of work, no question. And you will cry, laugh, and worship more than you ever have in your life.

But it is ALL worth it.

How has having children affected your relationship with God?

I see Him as a Father in a different way. Things I would have thought of as "bothering" Him (I know, that's silly), I now think of my children coming to me about and I feel so grateful they would. I have learned to rely on Him as not just the God who can form planets and make storms rage, but also the tender Lover of my soul Who cries along with me when I have nothing left at the end of the day. He is a Daddy in the sweetest way, and I revel in trusting Him this way, and depending on Him for all of my needs daily.

What have you learned through the highs and lows of starting a family?

The highs are as high as they can be, and the lows are like nothing you have ever felt. I have conceived five babies on this earth, and only held four. Of those four, I only got to keep three. When you start a family, essentially you are giving God permission to reign over the part of your life that is the hardest to relinquish control of. When we do, we find that He celebrates and mourns with us in ways we never experienced before.

He has never left me, I know that. But it would be a lie to say I never felt like He did. It doesn't look like it does on TV, and it doesn't look like your perfect neighbor's life either. I had to get to a point where I said, "Lord, You give and take away, and I worship You in whatever you choose." That doesn't mean I don't question, shout, cry, or have regrets. It means I know where to bring it all, and I do. Whether it is the loss of a child you kissed as they took her into the night, or even just a frustrating day with your toddler, you cannot do it on your own. You weren't meant to. Lay it at His feet and invite Him into the deepest as well as the most mundane. He makes Himself at home in the crevices of your life you may think He wouldn't even care about. He does care, and He wants you to seek Him daily—whether it's in the highs or the lows.

When do you find time to blog?

I have the kind of husband who does laundry, cooks, cleans, and everything else. When he isn't on tour, he is full-time dad, and I get to sneak off and write a little. We have a system that works because of his schedule, but if there is ever a conflict, I defer to him. He is the head of the house, and I am (happy to be) the mommy. He encouraged me to go to Calcutta for two weeks this spring as a Compassion blogger, and he will stay with our three girls by himself. He isn't the slightest bit intimidated by the prospect, because he is as involved as I am in every aspect of their lives. I am so grateful to have the privilege of being his wife.

I probably should have written this last night before we became engaged in some "intense fellowship" that was based on my acting like a spoiled brat (just a reality check for readers who are sketching out an image of me in their heads).

What advice would you give a couple considering starting their family? Seek the Lord.

Laugh when you feel like giving up.

Cry when you need to cry.

Talk about it. All of it.

Enjoy it, because it's gone as fast as it comes.

If you are a woman (and this can be hard to hear and hard to practice!), remember that your husband is still your highest priority beneath God. Love him the way you are called to biblically, and your children will sense the love of the Lord in your home from the moment they are born. It is so easy to put our husbands on the back burner, and it really can affect your marriage (speaking from experience, here).

Never forget that you have been given a gift from God that is lent to you in full assurance that this was part of His divine plan. He chose you. Now you choose Him over and over (and then over again), and you'll be in good shape.

----------------------- Angie and Todd Smith have four daughters. Ellie and Abby are identical twins (6), and Sarah Kate is 3. Their fourth daughter, Audrey Caroline, was diagnosed early in Angie's pregnancy as "non-compatible" with life, and several doctors urged them to terminate the pregnancy. They wanted to leave room for God to perform a miracle, and Angie chronicled her pregnancy (beginning the week of the diagnosis), and still continues to write on her blog Bring the Rain.

The Smiths did receive a miracle, but it wasn't what they had hoped for. They were given 2&1/2 hours on this earth with sweet Audrey, and were able to introduce her to her family and friends before she went to the Lord. She only weighed a bit over 3 pounds, but she had weight in this world, and Angie hopes it will continue to inspire families faced with such difficult decisions, both through the blog and an upcoming book (summer, 2010 by Broadman & Holman publishing).

Angie is humbled to be a part of a story that has touched countless people, and grateful for the little girl that taught her what it was like to fall into the arms of Jesus and find Him right where He promised He would be.