It's just gone 10:30am, and I'm nestled on an old chair drying off from the rain and eagerly awaiting to meet Anna in a quiet Brighton cafe. Despite having never met her before, I identified her right away: a bright beaming smile, long glossy hair and deep-red lipstick, she looks like everything she does on Instagram.
Mum of 6, wife to worship leader Martin Smith and lover of Christ, Anna Smith is not your average stay-at-home mum. Her eldest daughter, and aspiring photographer Elle Smith, joined us mid-chat for a latte. Matching her mum in red lipstick and a leather jacket, 18-year-old Elle and myself began to talk fashion, college and photography (she surprised me by going to the same college as my sister, and so there was plenty to talk about).
Living for a cause
"What's your prize, what's your aim in life? My prize is Jesus- my eyes are on Him. My prize is being obedient to my Father, and knowing that I am doing His will. I need to make sure that everything I do points towards that. And I love my life, I really enjoy it. It's not hard because His yoke is easy. I don't have to carry it all, because He already carried it. I have a lot of fun, and I can choose to have a lot of fun. I'm not going to make this a tiresome thing, I'm going to have a lot of fun along the journey. That's what God wants- that's what He's chosen. And anything that becomes heavy or burdened, I don't think you're doing it well. I think you need to put it down. And of course we all have tough times- but guilt, shame, forgiveness, we need to sort that out- it's not for us to carry. It's weighing you down, and stopping you from enjoying life."
"I love this chat! One of the biggest tips that I would always say is just hang out in big groups- get to know people. Get to know people that you trust well, who also know that person. Get conversations going, be open, and relax and enjoy. Don't be too intense- have fun! Also, don't rush into anything. Remember to really respect your body. Respect that you are a temple of the Holy Spirit. You are precious, and don't give that away to anyone."
Advice to young women in the church
"For me, I think we need church. We need community. I cannot bring up six children, with my husband away quite a bit, without family church. We need people around us- to correct us and to help us. Young women should just talk together- let out with people that you trust and admire. Especially for you bowmen, with all the stuff that's going on around you. And sometimes that's not always your peers. I mean it's great to have friends, but I think sometimes someone who has done a bit of life, somebody who has seen some hard stuff. Someone who won't condemn you, or judge you, but might just hug you for an hour and not say anything. And just spend time with God- know what you're called to. Don't be distracted from what God's put on your heart. Really get to know why you've been put here- just be amongst people that are going to cheer you further than that. As women we really need to surrender ourselves to God, and lean into Him saying 'you have a plan, and I trust you.' I still even get distracted now, and I'm 41. I still get distracted about what my calling is, and having someone like Martin my husband just to say 'this is where we're at, this is where we're headed.' I know what I'm going to do, and I'm going to do it great. I'm not just going to be an OK mum, or an OK wife, I'm going to be great at all those things."
"I love people. I want more and more people to be freed from whatever holds them back That is what my heart is- for my children and for other people to find freedom. I love being a mum, and being with my kids. In this day in age, that is so undervalued- people think that's not enough- but I'm a real fighter for that, and I'm a believer in cheering on women. We're all made differently and really need to celebrate that, cheer each other on, rather than be judging or pulling each other down. Just listen to God, just be obedient to Him and don't give up. I just want people to be encouraged and I think that's the biggest distraction for mums, and women today, to feel that they're not good enough, or that they're not going to make it. It's so from the enemy and not at all how God wants us to feel. He's cheering us on, He's proud of us women. Just tune into that voice."
Relying on God
"I rely on God every minute of the day. The first thing I say when I wake up is 'God I commit this day to you.' I've got my plans: meetings to have, jobs to do, but I commit each day, and whatever happens to God. So that I would be wise and know when to speak, know when to not speak. That I would be wise with my children, or if I have a meeting. I start my day just listening to Him. I actually read UCB word of the day, and I find that really helpful, and it sets out my day. Reading things like 'His mercies are new every morning,' just really helps."
Her home is always open
"I'm involved in this project called Safe Haven with the church, and that's just for the street women of Brighton. It can be quite chaotic and full on but I absolutely love it. So in my spare time I just go down there- paint their nails, give them food. It's not a service, it's something I do to help people. They are such beautiful people often with such big issues but you can only just listen; I often have no words. Sometimes I have nothing to say other than 'I love you, you are amazing.' We have lots of students around our house often, so most of my day is spent cooking. Our house is still being built so I am having lots of fun at home. We have a studio in the house so there's always lots of music in the house. Music, laughter and love."