A New Birth
About the Guest
Coming to faith in Christ was just the beginning of a new life for Angie. Angie and her husband, Christian recording artist Todd Smith, recall the joys of marriage and their biggest challenge to date - a pregnancy gone terribly wrong.
Coming to faith in Christ was just the beginning of a new life for Angie.
A New Birth
Bob: Todd Smith, who sings with the music group Selah, remembers the day that he was preparing to lead worship at a church in his home town. When, all of sudden, he found himself—well, shall we say—distracted.
Todd: I remember this really cute beautiful red-head walked in. She kind of popped her head in, and I was like, “Wow, she’s cute.” But, I needed to be spiritual and pretend that I was above everything. She said, “I’m a Catholic girl.” I’m a Baptist boy, so I was like (Todd makes the sound of car screeching to a halt) “Oh! OK, it was nice meeting you...”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday May 26th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey and I'm Bob Lepine. Todd Smith and the beautiful red-headed girl, Angie are here with us today to talk about how (Bob makes sound of car screeching to a halt), became “Vroom!”
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. I remember when a friend of mine said “Have you gone to Angie Smith’s blog, and have you heard their story?” I hadn’t. But when I did, I thought to myself, “Dennis is going to want to read this, to see this… He’s going to want to meet this couple.” Because, there are some cross-currents between what Angie and Todd have lived through, and what your family has been through.
Dennis: Yes, our daughter Rebecca, more than a couple of years ago gave birth to a little girl who lived seven days, then miscarried again in the following twelve months. So she lost two babies in less than a year then, gave birth to twins. Something similar has occurred to both Todd and Angie Smith, and they join us on the Broadcast. Angie, Todd, welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Angie & Todd: Thank you.
Dennis: Todd is a founding member of Selah (“SAY-la”), not to be confused with (“SEE-la”), I was corrected before we even had a chance to flood that on the air. You’ve been singing for 13 years as a group.
Todd: Yes, I’ve been singing since I was three years old. My dad was a music pastor and then a missionary in Africa, so we used to go back to all the churches on furlough and the whole family sings. So, basically we’ve been doing that my whole life. But, as a group we’ve been together for 13 years.
Dennis: You look a lot older than 16 if you started when you were three.
Todd: Well, you know. It’s that Oil of Olay. I am a little bit older, I’m almost 40 now.
Dennis: You didn’t start when you were three, that’s the point.
Bob: The band didn’t start when you were three.
Todd: That’s right.
Dennis: Angie, is an author, she is a blogger, and that’s really, I think, how we came across your story. She’s a speaker and, obviously married to Todd. You guys have soon to have five daughters. Right?
Angie: That’s right.
Dennis: You’re pregnant right now.
Angie: Yes. Can you tell?
Bob: Can you tell? Every night when you go to bed you can tell. Can’t you?
Dennis: Angie has written a book called I Will Carry You, and we’re going to get to that story in just a moment. But, before we get to that, she shared with Bob and me something of her experience with FamilyLife Today as a student. Share that with our audience. I think they’re going to find that very interesting.
Angie: Well, I was just so honored. I didn’t find out till yesterday that I would actually get to meet you. It was such a full-circle moment for me with the Lord. About 11, maybe even 12 years ago I was a graduate student at Vanderbilt University studying developmental psychology. I was not a believer. I was not in a good Christian environment. I was actually with someone who was very abusive. It was just a very, very hard time in my life.
God had it planned that it just so happened when I was on my way to Vanderbilt, or on my way home, I would be flipping channels and I would hear your show, and I would always stop and listen. It just brought me such peace, but it felt like “This can’t be real. This sounds like a fairy tale. It’s just so soothing.” But, I really feel like God used that and a few other things that, now when I look back, I just think, it was no coincidence that He had that time set aside for me to start learning about Him.
Bob: Now, I have to assume that you met Jesus and surrendered to Him before you met Todd and surrendered to him.
Angie: I didn’t, actually. It was a very interesting story. When I was in graduate school I got a phone call from my father and he said “I need you to come home. I need to talk to you about some things.” So I drove to Cincinnati. He sat me down and explained that he had been diagnosed with a very serious form of cancer. At that point it looked like they were giving him an estimate of three months to live. He wanted to show me how to handle the bank accounts, how to take care of my mother—I’m the eldest, I have one younger sister. It was something that I’m very much a daddy’s girl. It was my world completely turned upside-down.
I don’t advise doing this unless you expect to lose, but I made a bet with God. I basically said, if You will heal my father, I will find out about You. I will try to figure out who You are. On Christmas Eve we got a phone call from the doctors saying, “We have no medical way to explain this, but we can’t find the cancer anywhere in your body.”
Bob: Oh my goodness!
Angie: So, I went back to graduate school, and because my father’s side of the family’s heritage is Catholic, I said, “Well, that’s my dad’s church, that’s the only thing I know anything about, so I went through RCIA, which is the Catholic rite as an adult to become Catholic. I went through it for a year and became confirmed in the Catholic church. I just felt like that was part of my journey the way everything unfolded. I needed to have that connection with my father’s side of the family.
Todd: I think that year, too was a really safe period for you to question who God was, and really investigate. I think a lot of times, in Protestant churches, when you do have a message of salvation—we were talking about this a little earlier—But there can be a quick conversion to faith and believing in Christ, but people don’t necessarily know what they believe. So, for her it was the opposite, where there was a lot of questioning.
Dennis: Do you feel like you became a Christian then in that year.
Angie: I believe that He was wooing me during that year, but I don’t believe that I became a believer until later than that.
Dennis: How did that happen?
Angie: Basically, there was one night I was heading to—it was ironic because I wasn’t a believer—I started doing a Beth Moore Bible study called Breaking Free. One night on the way to church, I was sitting with my best friend Audra. We’ve been best friends since 1996, almost 14 years. We were not believers, now are both believers, but have walked through that together. She had already accepted the Lord at that point.
I just looked at her and started crying. I said, “Audra, I keep hearing people talk about accepting the Lord, and I feel like I’ve talked to him, but I don’t hear anything back. I don’t know if I’m in. I don’t know if I’ve done it right. I don’t understand the process of it.” She sat with me in the car, held my hand and just talked me through it. We went to the Bible study. I got home, it was pouring rain, and I just sat in my car and cried my eyes out. I feel like that was the moment where I said, “Lord I’m yours, I don’t really know if I’m doing this right…”
You sort of expect to have… you hear about this amazing moment where you accept the Lord. I think that for some people, you are expecting angels to start singing, and you’re expecting some definitive feeling of, “I’ve done it.” I wouldn’t say that, but I had a total peace in my heart that I felt; like, I had united with my Savior in this way that I hadn’t done till this point.
Dennis: You know, I’m listening and watching your face. It was a moment of surrender to the claims of Christ that He had on your life. I think too often today in our culture, there’s more of an equation that people kind of figure out in their mind. They’re going to “accept the Lord,” but it’s really not an issue of the will, and it doesn’t demonstrate faith. I think to truly become a follower of Christ, whether it comes to a point in time, or over a period of time, there has to be a place where you finally say, “I surrender. I’m yours.”
Bob: Todd, let me ask you how you intersected with Angie, and with her story. Where was she on her journey when you met her?
Todd: She had gone through confirmation classes and had been confirmed in the Catholic church. Then, my sister Nicole had gone on the road touring her solo project. So, me and Alan, who is in the group, and our producer, Jason, the three of us were asked to lead worship at the First Baptist in Nashville. We’d done that several times. I remember this really cute, beautiful red-head walked in. She kind of popped her head in. And I thought, “Wow, she’s cute.” But I needed to be spiritual, and pretend I was above everything. So the next day after we sang, she asked me out on a walk. She was like “Hey!”…
Dennis: She asked you out on a date?
Todd: Oh, man!
Angie: I knew he was going to go there. I was just waiting. He always has to add that part to the story.
Bob: Well, is it true?
Dennis: Yes, is it true?
Angie: It actually is. I was so fascinated. I just said to him after one of the meetings. “Could we just go for a walk? Can I ask you some questions about your upbringing?” Really, Todd does a great job of telling his story from stage that makes you want to know more about his spiritual life.
Bob: “Want to go for a walk?” You wanted to take a walk with him.
Dennis: It’s called missionary dating.
Bob: I hope you’ve toned that down.
Todd: Well, and the thing is, the day before we’d gone to play flag football. And she just said, “Yes, I’m a Catholic girl.” I’m a Baptist boy, so I was like, (makes sound of car screeching to a halt.) “Oh, OK. It was nice meeting you.”
We just started talking. The great thing was, we both lived in Nashville. So there were times when you might go and do a concert and meet someone and really connect with them. But it’s usually like, “OK, well I’ll see you in a year.” Whereas, this was something where we could get to know each other. As we did, I was very cautious. Just, because I knew there were theological differences. So, we met in October and started dating probably in November.
Dennis: Had you made a commitment to Christ by then?
Angie: No, it wasn’t till January of that year. I felt like, if you had asked me at the time, I probably would have answered in a way that would make you think that I had. I felt like I had. On paper, everything I would say. But, there hadn’t been that moment of surrender you were just talking about. It wasn’t till January of that year that I had a definitive moment.
Dennis: Todd, how did the red-head change in January, after she made her commitment to Christ?
Todd: I’ve never seen anybody grow as quickly as Angie has.
Angie: He means spiritually.
Bob: As opposed to…
Angie: He almost forgot I’m seven months pregnant.
Todd: That never crossed my mind, baby. I mean when you look over a ten-year period. We’ve known each other nine and a half years, it’s just amazing. There were times very early on after she gave her life to the Lord where she would talk about conversations that she had with God in the car. They were just so real. I’ve been saved since I was five-years-old and I grew up in a missionary family. I’m a preacher’s kid, a missionary kid, and I thought, “I’ve never experienced that kind of realness that you’re experiencing.”
So there was such a depth. There were some times where, when we got engaged, I got cold feet about things, and even though internally she was wondering what was going to happen, she was very at peace. She’d say, “I know that we’re supposed to be married. I’m going to marry you.” That really set me at ease. So, there were many things where…
Angie: OK, but you really loved me too right? (All laugh) Every story you tell…
Bob: She said, “Let’s go for a walk,” she said, “I know I’m going to marry you.”
Angie: I know! I scored the first touchdown in that flag football game that you failed to mention.
Todd: I did. I thought I did. I was just amazed by who she was. She was just incredibly brilliant and intelligent, and so loving. She was the kind of person where, she would go into a room and she just brightens it up. She loves people. No, I fell in love with her.
Angie: Ok, you redeemed yourself a little.
Todd: I’m redeeming myself.
Dennis: So, we have to finish this love story quickly here. So, how did she propose to you?
Todd: I actually did do it.
Bob: You manned up, way to go.
Dennis: Way to go!
Todd: I surprised her. There was a ring that she really wanted. I told her “I can’t. I’m sorry honey, and I can’t afford that.” I made a deal with the jeweler to hide everything and pretend. So the day we got engaged, I presented that ring to her. No, so I actually did ask her myself.
Bob: Good for you.
Todd: We were married—it was very quick. We were married in August of 2001.
Bob: Well, you know what, I’d just say to those who are engaged and know it’s right, don’t drag it out. Because all you’re doing is borrowing trouble if you drag it out. Right?
Dennis: But, I want to make sure, if we’re talking to single people who are contemplating engagement or who are engaged. You can really save yourself a lot of heartache and pain, especially if you have this cold feet thing that was going on in this relationship. If you come to a Weekend to Remember® and go through the engaged track, you can begin to build your house on the rock. I’m going to fast forward here because I know the story. How long before you found out you were pregnant Angie?
Angie: With my first child? We actually were married in August, and we lost a baby that winter. We weren’t expecting to be pregnant, and got pregnant again quickly after that.
Dennis: So you didn’t actually know you were pregnant the first time.
Angie: I did. I knew for a few weeks before we lost the baby. We had talked about waiting a little while. Of course, as humans we have all these great detailed highlighted and marked plans for our lives and God just comes into the picture and makes it so much more beautiful. But, after we lost that baby, I just felt this yearning to have a child. So, we got pregnant pretty quickly after that, went in for the first ultra sound and found out that we were having twins.
So, the pregnancy was a little bit of a surprise, and the twins were definitely a surprise. We had no idea. We don’t have twins in our family. So, we had two baby girls, after a pretty traumatic pregnancy. They are miracles, Ellie and Abby who are now seven.
Not that long after that we got pregnant with Sara Kate, who is now four. Because I had so many complications in my pregnancy with the twins I like to joke that she was my easiest until she was born. (All laugh.) She is a pistol. She keeps us on our toes. Then, we would have had Audrey. Audrey would be two this coming April, and we’re expecting again in June now.
Dennis: You actually got pregnant with Audrey when Kate about two years old herself.
Angie: That’s right.
Dennis: There was something even from the beginning of that pregnancy that signaled to you maybe something is just not right. What was that?
Angie: I feel like it was the Holy Spirit preparing me. I was, very, very early on, not more than seven or eight weeks. I went in for my first appointment. From the very beginning I just said, “I don’t have peace. I feel like something is going on.”
Then as it progressed, I still continued to feel like—I would say “I don’t feel like I’m gaining weight like I normally do.” They would do all the standard tests and just say, “There’s nothing that’s significantly off.” But my intuition during that time was… And, it was totally different from anything I had ever felt in my other pregnancies.
Bob: I wanted to ask you about that. Because, we have five children and I know in Mary Ann’s pregnancies, there was always a season in each of those pregnancies where she would start to wonder. “I haven’t felt the baby kick for a while.” Or, there’d just be this momentary anxiety “Is everything OK?” What you felt during Audrey’s pregnancy was different than what you’d felt in the other pregnancies.
Angie: It was. I think that anxiety—it’s hard to ever be doing something so miraculous and not wonder what’s going on in the depths that you can’t see. But this was a weight that was just a part of the pregnancy that I just was so unsettled about it.
Bob: Obviously the doctors are telling you nothing is wrong, so there’s nothing to confirm this restlessness in your heart. But there was, maybe a spiritual foreshadowing. The Holy Spirit was just preparing you for what was to come.
Dennis: A couple of days ago Barbara and I were at a wedding. You watch those two young people stand before each other. I have to think, Angie, you and Todd have to reflect back on those days. I was sitting out in the audience with Barbara and I was thinking, “You two have no idea what’s in front of you.” It’s not that God is a bad God or one who wants to punish His children, but He will allow that young couple, and he allowed you all to go through some very deep dark valleys. I’m thinking back, Angie to your decision to surrender to Christ.
I’m sure you’ve thought about it. What would have happened if you had married Todd and not had a relationship with Christ—the ability to believe in His word? Because, it was Christ who made this statement in John 16:20: Jesus says, “Truly, truly I say to you, you will weep and lament. But the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.
There’s really only one who is able to turn sorrow into joy. At least, as I’ve looked around in all of life, I don’t know of another savior who offers the ability to take tremendous hurt, grief, loss which you experienced—we’ll hear more of that story later—and replace it, and turn it into something where you really can smile. Because right now, Angie is smiling.
Bob: You know, as Jesus was speaking those words, He was preparing His disciples for His own resurrection—the sorrow that would come at His crucifixion, and the joy that they would experience in His resurrection. Really our own hope, our own joy comes for that same reason. We have a hope today because of what was accomplished at the cross and at the empty tomb.
The grief that you guys experienced as you walked this path; if there’s no God, and no resurrection, then where is the hope? Where does your hope come from? Where does any sense of meaning or purpose come from? But, the fact that there is a God and He’s revealed himself. And, not only revealed Himself, but demonstrated His power in His resurrection gives us strength for today, and a bright hope for tomorrow. That’s a great song lyric, you guys might want to think of that for the next album you do.
We have copies of the book that Angie has written called I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy that tells the story of your pregnancy with your daughter Audrey, and how God walked with you on a very difficult journey. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about Angie’s book.
Again it’s called I Will Carry You, and of course it brings to mind the book that your wife Barbara and your daughter Rebecca wrote together called A Symphony in the Dark, that tells the story of your granddaughter Molly who lived for seven days before she died.
Again go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about these resources. They’re good to have on hand to share with somebody who experiences the loss of a child during pregnancy or at birth. Just to give as a gift to help provide comfort in those moments. Again go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about Angie’s book, about the book A Symphony in the Dark. And, I might also mention, we’ve also got copies of Selah’s most recent CD called You Deliver Me in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center.
Selah is going to be joining us next February. Valentine’s week we are going to be on the FamilyLife Love Like You Mean It Cruise. Dennis and Barbara are going to be there, Mary Ann and I are going to be there. Selah is going to be there. We’ve got other speakers and artists who are going to be joining us. It’s going to be a great week-long cruise.
More information about the Love Like You Mean It Cruise can be found on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and we hope you’ll find out more about it and consider cruising along with us next February, Valentine’s week, February 14th – 18th. Again all the details can be found online at FamilyLifeToday.com.
I know a lot of our listeners are gearing up for a holiday weekend, kind of the kick off of summer. Of course, Monday is not only Memorial Day; it’s the last day of May. I wanted to remind you before your holiday weekend gets under way, about the matching gift opportunity that’s been made available to us here at FamilyLife. Some friends of the ministry have pledged to match every donation we receive on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to a total of—now—almost $350,000. And, we have till next Monday to raise those funds.
So, if you can, today before the holiday weekend gets under way, go online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or call, 1-800-FLTODAY. Make a donation online or by telephone, and help us take advantage of this matching gift opportunity. When you do that, you’re helping FamilyLife Today continue on this station and on our network of stations all across the country. So, we appreciate whatever you’re able to do in support of the ministry, and want to say thanks in advance for your support and hope you have a great holiday weekend. I hope you’re able to spend some time together as a family.
I hope you can be back with us tomorrow, when we’re going to hear more from Todd and Angie Smith. In fact we’ll hear tomorrow how they got the news that there was a problem with Angie’s pregnancy, and how they worked their way through that news. I hope you can be here tomorrow.
I want to thank our engineer today Keith Lynch and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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