December 30, 2010

In Need of some Ideas

Well, I am back again to admit that my trying to stick to a schedule without being anal about it is still a dismal failure!  But, I am determined to find that happy medium.  I have decided to turn to all you wonderful people out there for some ideas:

--So, I need to get into the routine of getting up earlier and getting the day started with Bible study and exercise.  Honestly, Kevin and I don't go to bed all that late because I can barely stay awake past 9, but I still find it hard to get up and get going before the kids are up of a morning.  How do you all do it?  Right now, I honestly think that 6 a.m. is about the earliest I can do, but the kids are up between 7 and 7:30, which doesn't leave time for the two things I want to get done before they get up.  Any suggestions?  What works for you?  I also feel like it's important for the kids to see me reading the Word and studying and praying, but haven't totally figured out how to do that and be able to actually focus on the studying at the same time.  Sophie asks question after question, so it's hard to get through anything, which is why I want to try and do a decent amount of time with that before they are awake so I can actually focus on what I am doing!
--I worked some this semester with Sophie on her "homework"...we did a journal pretty much every morning and we did various worksheets most days, but I want to be a little more scheduled with it.  Is it best to try and do a little of each subject each day or just do one or two subjects per day?  I don't want her hating school before she gets there, but she really does enjoy doing the work.  My two big goals I have for her before summer are to be able to read a clock (not the digital kind) and tie her shoes.  She is already doing really well at sounding words out when reading or writing them and I am pretty sure she is better than I am at math!  I am going to start reading some short chapter books to her, one chapter at a time, to see if she can remember and follow the story when she's never heard it before and she's not reading the whole thing at once.  Any suggestions on books?
--How can I keep Ethan engaged/occupied/not feeling left out while I am working with Sophie?  I try not to do more than about 20 or 30 minutes at a time with her because that's already longer than her attention span (big apologies to her Kindergarten teacher next year!), but I don't want him to feel like I am just tossing him to the side.  We did get him a desk/easel for Christmas to put in his room so he can have his markers and paper and coloring stuff in there, so hopefully that will be a bit of a help in this area.

Hope this made sense!  Look forward to hearing a few responses...and thanks in advance for the help!

December 22, 2010

I have no title for this post...

So, when I was at my mom's a few weeks ago, I borrowed a few books from her, hoping I would get the chance to read them.  They were all pretty short, and during bath times, naps, etc, I have actually been able to read all three of them!  Yay!  I just finished the last one today (between Ethan's puking episodes) called Rachel's Prayer by Leisha Kelley.  After reading it, I am pretty sure this is a series and I now feel that I must look into it further so I can read the other books...pretty sure this one isn't the first one and now I need to know what happened in the other books!  Anyway, this book is set in IL just as the US has entered into WW II.  However, this family lives out in the country, has no electricity and none of those frivolous things of that time period.  As I was reading, it was really hard to think of it as the 1940's because everything seemed so Little House on the Prairie to me.  It got me really thinking!  They were growing all their own food, sewing all their own clothes, all their neighbors were truly family, and I actually found myself envying their lives!  What in the world!?!?!?!?!?  Then I got to thinking....for a vacation some year, I wish there was a place where the family could go for a week and each day of that week we live just as they would have in a different era.  Monday could be the early 1800's, Tuesday the late 1800's, Wed. the early 1900's and so on.  I think it would give a good few of what our early Americans felt like, and I think it would be a real eye opener to all the blessings we truly have today.  I'm not sure I could make through one entire day, even as they lived in the 40's, because there are just so many things I can't do, but it sure would be fun to try!!!!!  Not much depth in this post, but thought I'd just share what I was thinking!

December 16, 2010

Surrender

In the car the past few days I have been letting the mp3 player (that's right, the ole 2001 Escort has no CD player, but does have a tape player that I can use to play the mp3 player...I am soooo old school!) run randomly through all the songs.  It's pretty fun that way because you never really know what's next.  It drives Sophie crazy, but it's pretty fun to bounce from The Chipmunks to TSO to Passion to last year's children's choir musical!  Anyway, I digress.  As I was saying, I have been letting the music shuffle and there was one song that came on a few times that made me cry every time I heard it.  In fact, I have cried every time I hear since the very first time I heard it.  The song is "Surrender" by Barlow Girl.  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=at9z-ewIhOo&feature=relatedthink ) I the song is from 2004.  The first time I heard it was in TX while hanging out with some college friends about a year after we'd all gotten married.  The album was fairly new and Q and Lauren introduced it to me on that trip.  When it got to that final song, all three of us just sat and cried!  We all had so many dreams that we had been clinging to that it was just apparent weren't going to happen, for one reason or another and that song just overwhelmed us with the reality of it all.  This song still hits me so hard, even today!  There have been so many "dreams" that I have had my heart and mind set on and never once did the thought cross my mind to prayerfully ask God if those were the plans that He had for my life.  Until now, every time I listen to this the yearning to do more with theatre is what always hits me.  But this time, I was struck with my kids and the dreams and plans I have for them.  Am I willing to give that up and let God be the one who directs their path?  If He calls them to the wilds of Africa to serve Him, am I ok with that?  If He calls one of them home before ever being able to drive, am I ok with that?  More than anything, do I truly desire for God's will to be done in their lives, regardless of what it means for me personally?  Can I really and truly release them into His hands and completely trust that He is in control and He will lead them down the paths He has for them, whether they are good or bad in my eyes?  So many times I feel like I am ok with that for myself, but to think of letting my kids go just scares me.  But, I must be willing to let go and release them into God's hands, while at the same time allowing myself to be held and guided by Him so He can use me in their lives until the time they move out of the house or He calls them home.  I mean, I start to freak out just thinking about Sophie being in school next year making friends I won't know, learning things neither I nor the teacher taught her, people picking on her, not making the team, not getting the role she wants in the school play...and these are such minor and earthly things.  Do I spend as much time agonizing over her spiritual state?  Do I spend as much time seeking the Lord, asking Him to show me how to seize each teachable moment He gives me so that my children will be rooted in Him, ready to face that world of school when it comes?  Ahhhh, I think I am about to have a stroke just sitting here thinking about it!  My prayer for today:
Lord, calm my anxious heart!  Fill me with Your peace that passes all understanding.  Show me how to place my children in Your hands, while at the same time being the mother and protector You would have me to be for them here on Earth.  Give me the strength to praise you in every battle, every pain, every tear, every blessing, every report card, every tough decision, every loss, every moment, big or small.  Lord, show me how to be a wife and mother that leans on You for wisdom and strength.  Help me to be a woman who hungers and thirsts after you in all areas of my life!  Help me to realize that all plans and dreams need to be taken to You and sifted through Your hands!  Help me to let go of things that hinder my or my family's growth in You and help me to grasp tightly those things that will draw myself, my family, and others to You!

December 14, 2010

Musings, Ramblings, and Questions

Seems like it has been forever since I sat down to write a blog.  There have been many times that I have wanted to, but never really felt like there was anything to say.  Many times I had something to say, but didn't have the time to sit down and write it.  Of course, I also didn't write those thoughts down anywhere, so they are lost in the abyss of my overly crowded, yet somehow empty brain!

I think I have said before that our small group has been doing "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan.  It has been a good, tough, exciting, scary, full of questions journey for me.  I mean, I always think that I need "me" time...time to just relax with a book or watch a movie or just have 5 minutes of not thinking about anyone or anything else...but is this true?  Is that really how God would want me to spend my time, even 5 minutes of it?  I mean, we see Christ taking time away from other people, and yes, he did rest, but pretty much anytime we see him going off to be alone, it's in order to pray and get closer to the Father, not to have "me" time and not have to help or think about other people.  And I always like to think that I have done enough, given enough, it's now someone else's turn.  But, is that really possible?  I mean, if Christ is our example, He gave all He had, including His life, shouldn't I be willing to do the same (though giving my life wouldn't bring salvation to anyone, that's not what I am trying to say).  I mean, if I truly believe that God is sovereign and can do and provide all things, then should I not be willing to give everything I have (which isn't really mine in the first place) with the faith that He will provide what I need when I need it...and if He doesn't provide it, I probably didn't need it.  I mean, when you look at Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego (not sure if those are spelled correctly), you see them standing at the fiery furnace, without their spiritual mentor, and they look it head on and say, "King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” They were fully trusting in their God, no matter what the end result may be.  Believe me, I am far from that!  I am much more worried about my safety and the safety of my family than I am about declaring Christ to the world.  I guess the biggest question that this book has left me with, and I am praying through everyday, is where is the line between being wise and using the brain God gave me and living a life full of faith that no matter what, God is in control and has all things in His hand?  How do I live with wisdom and faith at the same time? 

Very excited about Christmas this year.  As I said in another blog post, we decided to do less presents and to choose items from the Samaritan's Purse catalog as a way to teach the kids how to be giving and loving and less self-centered.  It has been very fun and I can't wait to do it again next year.  I am also very excited about finding a way to do something like this at least once a month.  God has really shown me that my kids will never learn to be giving, loving, and unselfish if they don't see it in us first!  Of course, this is a little out of my comfort zone, but I am praying that God will grow me in that.

I am also looking forward to seeing family this Christmas.  Because we are so involved at church, we don't see either side of the family nearly as much as we would like to.  But, this year, I think we'll get to see pretty much all of my side of the family (though we'll be missing Uncle Mel and Aunt Marlene who just moved to Hawaii...but we'll be celebrating 10 years on 20130, so maybe we'll head over for a visit! ;)  I am very excited.  There will be lots of kids and lots of noise, which I don't always do well with, but I will do my best to put aside the claustrophobia and enjoy time to see all the kiddos playing together!

Well, it's time to get dinner going, so I better stop writing for now.  Hopefully I'll get better about writing more consistently in the future!

December 04, 2010

Back in Time...Again

Just ran across this a few days ago and it brought back some fun and sweet memories.  I have been helping this week at HLG with a little make up and what have you for their production of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  Oh, what fun it is to be back in a theatre dressing room again!  And, what fun it is to see the next generation of HLG theatre students carrying on the legacy that was handed to us.  And, they are probably doing it even better than we did!  How encouraging.  Anyway, you may have read this already.  I wrote it back in 2003 (I think).  I never deamed I would see or help with the students about whom I was writing!  Hope you enjoy!!!

I stepped into the back of the theatre, my eyes wide with awe. The walls, floor, carpet, stage; everything oozed with character. It was the most marvelous place I had ever seen. I turned to my family and declared, “I want to get married here!” Well, that didn’t happen, but I had no idea that day what a huge part of my life the Orpheum Theatre at 5th and Broadway in Hannibal, Missouri would become.



I came to HLG as a wide-eyed freshman in the fall of 1997. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into when I signed up for a scholarship with Kimberly Weast, but it didn’t take long to find out.


I had only been there a week when I was introduced to my first Set Day. Set Days occurred every Saturday at the Orpheum Theatre from 8 a.m. until Weast decided it was time to go. After a brief tour, it was off to work. It was on that very first day I was introduced to the task that would become mine every Saturday for the next 3 years: cleaning the paintbrushes! That was also the day I learned one of the most important rules of working at the Orpheum: always turn on the faucet when you go to the bathroom. It’s better for all involved!


That Saturday was just the first of many Saturdays spent at the theatre. I cannot even begin to count the thousands of hours I must have spent there in my three years of HLG theatre. There were weeks at a time we wouldn’t leave until 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning. But it was always worth it when you saw the set finished and the curtain opened for the first time. All the hard work paid off when you saw the gleaming faces of little children enjoying their first ever theatre experience.


It was there at the Orpheum I made friends that will last a lifetime. The memories are too numerous to even be able to put on paper. I walk into the Orpheum and it all comes alive again: the paint fights, late hours trying to build a bigger than life-size jukebox, the terror of having to do my first kissing scene, the pride when you stepped back and looked at a finished set and knew you had helped to accomplish it, the joy of watching children’s faces light up as they cheered on the Nutcracker, watching the door just fall apart right in the middle of a show, and making friendships that have lasted even to this day. And it all came from a building with a leaking roof and parts of the wall falling off.


I’m so excited about all the Roland Fine Arts Center will offer Hannibal-LaGrange. I cannot wait to see the new level to which the Theatre Department will be able to rise. But I must admit there is a little part of me that will miss the old place. I still tear up at the mere mention of its name. It may have been old-fashioned and a bit out of date, but the memories I made and the lessons I learned there will stay with me for the rest of my life. I have no idea what the future holds for the Orpheum, but I know that it will live on forever in my memory. The end of an era has come and it’s time to say good-bye to that marvelous theatre that captured my heart the moment I walked through the door.


How? I must admit I don’t know. I watched it fill up for the final concert and it was almost disheartening. It was full of people who had no idea what a special place it was. It was full of people who were just longing for it to be gone so they could move on to something better. I took one final walk through the old place. I walked through the balcony and sat for a moment looking at the stage. I went through the “pit”, reliving all the wonderful memories of times spent there. It brought a tear to my eye to see that my handprint was still on the ceiling from my freshman year. Though it breaks my heart, I know it is time for the old to step aside and make way for the new.


The Lord has truly blessed HLG with the Roland Fine Arts Center and the Parker Theatre. New friendships will start and new memories will be made by countless numbers of HLG theatre students. There are paint fights to be had and enough unexpected moments for everyone. Though the view may be different, students will still be able to feel the anxiety of opening night and the joy of performing for hundreds of little children enjoying their first theatre experience. There have already been many students who have walked through the back door to the Parker Theatre, their eyes wide in awe at the most marvelous building they have ever seen. They cannot begin to imagine what a huge part of their lives that building will become. But one day, many years from now, that student will know how I feel as they stand there for the last time to say good-bye. There are no words to describe it. Unless you’ve been there, you can’t understand it. I will always cherish the old memories I have of the Orpheum, as I hope future students will cherish the new memories they will make in the Parker Theatre.

October 28, 2010

Deep Thoughts...Or, Maybe Not So Much!

OK, you know how sometimes things get stuck in your head and they just never leave, even after like 10 years or so?  Well, since I can't sleep, I thought I would share some of those things that were funny or odd at the time, but I never thought I'd remember...yet, I find myself still pulling them out all these years later!  Hope you enjoy my randomness!

-I'm a dirty, dirty vessel and I don't deserve to be here.
-I'd like to change my vote.
-Oh dear, I broke your door.
-You have a face for comedy.
-And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down.  And they eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on Him. (dramatic pause) Whose eyes are fastened on you?
-Keep stretching!  Keep stretching!
-DelGado, Louisa.  Female.  15 years.  Site of death: 96th Street at Callen Ave.  Death due to massive crush injury caused by municipal snow removal vehicle.  Accidental.
-Bonvillian!!!!!
-Is Dave checking his email again?
-Camp Hades
-I have two feet less!
-Ryan!  We're praying!
-Ohio Stinks!
-Is Dr. Burt your holiness thermometer?
-Eisenhower!
-Remember? The Alamo!
-White trash.
-The back of the van is for sleeping!
-I have had 9 hours of sleep in the last 9 years!
-Women were not allowed in the synagogue.
-Distraction Spice, World's Most Eligible Bachelor Spice, Single Spice, Chester Spice, Scary Theology Spice, Old Spice
-The crow flies at midnight!
-Go to half!
-There once was a church up on a hill, where everything was fine, until...
-Love does not think evil thoughts...
-I'm so...possessed???
-Four years old!
-Let's get the heck outta Dodge!
-Jesus saw a person.
-Weast. Weastie. The Weastonator.  The Weaster Bunny.  The Wicked Witch of the Weast. Are you speaking Weastonics?
-There are worse things than death.  Worse things than dying at the height of your career.  You could be alive.  You hear the songs and watch the videos and know that you will never feel that wall of love again....
-I grabbed my grandmother's knitting needles and I shoved them into my eyes.  And I just kept shoving until the rats quit chewing!
-All souls come clean (pause) John 3:(pause)16.
-No, I'm not suggesting a new word.  I'm simply suggesting we practice the dynamics of this encompassing word (pause, pick up "phones") love.
-spoken as quickly as possible so as to end a nearly unbearably slow scene Just that's all, that's why I came over.  I wanted to tell Miss Abby to call the police, but if it was you and that's your car, then I don't need to bother her and I'll just be running along home now. (nervous giggle and huge, gasping breath)
-Cough drop?  Anyone?

Well, that's probably enough for tonight!

October 27, 2010

Lessons Learned

*DISCLAIMER: I have debated whether to even write on this topic, knowing that it is such a strong source of contention, emotion, and passion, but God has used this situation to teach me and make me much for thankful, and I felt I needed to share.  Please know that I am sharing what I have learned and that I am not intending to force these lessons on others.  God has given us all brains and a free will to make our own decisions, and He has lessons for each of us to learn.  My lesson may not be your lesson!  As you read, please bear in mind that I am not condemning, accusing, or looking down on anyone who may not share my opinion or feel the importance of the lesson I have learned.  I would prefer that no one comment, mainly because I know it could turn ugly quickly, but, as I stated before, God has given you a free will and I cannot control whether or not you comment.  But, I do ask that if you comment, keep it short, uplifting, and in an attitude of love.  If you have strong feelings against what I have to say, feel free to email or FB message me rather than write a comment so as not to start an argument.  Thanks for listening to the thoughts of an overly dramatic 30-something and may God bless your day!

OK, so, here goes.....As most of you know, yesterday the vote passed to change the name of my collegiate Alma mater, Hannibal-LaGrange College, to Hannibal-LaGrange University.  If you are an alum, faculty or staff member, member of the MBC, or Hannibal resident, you know this has been a HUGE issue over the past few months.  I have to admit that when I heard they were wanting to change the name (to University of Hannibal), I got very angry very quickly!  I was so mad I could hardly see straight, though I wasn't upset for the same reason as most.  I mean, change the name, that's great, but all I could think was, "Really?  Of all the things that you could spend what little money you have on, you choose a name change?  You must be kidding!"  Let's face it, we all know the college is far from being over-run with too much money floating around and I couldn't help but think that if they would first spend the money on their programs, then a name change, they would not only bring in more students, but actually keep more students!  And, if I am going to be totally honest, the thought of the words "Hannibal" and "University" being used together, in any combination, was totally laughable to me.  There is just nothing about Hannibal that makes it a "University" town!  So, I sat down and wrote a letter (though, I didn't sign my name, I was just too chicken.  I know too many people there was too afraid one of them would pick up a phone and confront me and I HATE confrontation!)  Shortly thereafter, madness erupted!  Accusations were flying.  Voices were being raised.  Friendships were demolished.  All over the name of an institution of higher education that only has about 1,500 students.  What in the world was happening!?!?!?!?!

It was then that God began to convict me about my pride and attitude.  First of all, I was making judgments and assumptions without having all the facts.  In fact, I was making them without having many facts at all!  As I began to dig deeper, several of my assumptions were proven wrong and I began to see just how much I was rushing to judgment.  I don't work there.  I don't visit campus, other than the mail room occasionally.  I don't know even a fraction of the students.  I don't know what's happening on campus or in the classrooms.  I really have no idea what is best for the school.  I was only focusing on what I wanted, what I thought would look good.  Second, the attitude with which I was sharing my opinion was far from Godly!  I just wanted to feel important, let my voice be heard, and let people know that I indeed had an opinion on the matter!  I mean really, who cares what little ole me has to say on the matter!  What was I thinking?  But, I think the biggest lesson I learned was to be grateful and thankful for all the Lord has given me.  He got me thinking back to my days as a student and staff member there.  What was it that made HLG so special to me?  What was it that made me want to return as a staff member after 4 years as a student?  Was it the name?  NO!  It was the people!  Honestly, I could have probably gotten just as good of an education, maybe even better, somewhere else.  Most people at any given college/university can probably say that!  What made my experience so different?  What endeared that place to me so much?  The people!!!  Most of the staff and faculty truly saw their jobs as ministry.  They asked for prayer requests, prayed for you, kept up with you, checked in on you, and poured themselves into you on a daily basis!  The friends I made there have been friends for life.  We may not talk in months, but in one short 5 minute chat, it's as if we've been together every day for the last 10 years!  I can still pick up the phone anytime I need advice or prayer and call any one of those great friends!  The most important lessons I learned didn't come in a classroom.  They came in the living room of a faculty member taking care of a grief-stricken, ill student.  They came in the lobby of an old, decrepit theatre with some of my best friends.  They came in a van with 7 or 8 other people as we spent the school year and summer traveling the country using drama to share Christ with others.  They came in great conversations with a great friend sitting in Taco Bell.  They came while chatting with the wife of a faculty member who loved her husband's students every bit as much as he did.  They came in watching faculty members turn what could have been paralyzing loss into honor and glory for God alone.  That is what I remember.  That is the education I got.  That is what I needed to be thankful for!  You see, no matter the name, those faculty and staff members, those experiences with other students are awaiting what I hope is thousands of other students to come, regardless of the name.  You know, I think I would have still had those same life-changing experiences even if the name had been Muddy Mississippi College of River Rats because God is bigger than any name conceived by man!  Hallelujah!  And really, in the midst of all this, God really pressed upon me His sovereignty.  He was there when they founded the college in LaGrange in 1858.  He was there when they moved the college to Hannibal and only kept LaGrange in the name to appease those who didn't want the college to move in the first place.  He was there when they wanted to close the doors and focus on the campus in STL instead.  He was there when fire nearly destroyed the campus.  He was there when they began discussing changing the name, again.  He was there when the Haiti team went rolling down a hill. He was there yesterday when the vote happened.  He knew.  He saw.  And none of it happened apart from His hand.  Now, whether the name change and switch from U of H to HLG-U was God redirecting His people to His path or God, like when His people cried out for a king and, though He knew it would destroy them, gave them what they asked for anyway, God was turning His people over to their own free will, I don't know and I don't know that it even matters.  All I know is, I love that college, I love the lessons I learned there, I love the people I met there, and I hope my kids go there someday and have the same great experience I had!  Most of all, I pray that God will pour out His Spirit on that campus in a mighty way!  May He greatly effect every soul that steps foot on that campus.  May He use that campus to change the world and may He get all the glory and honor!

October 22, 2010

Christmas Presents

So, Kevin and I are thinking of doing something a little different with the kids for Christmas this year.  We really want to teach them that they not only need to be thankful for the abundance that God has given them, but also they need to be giving out of that abundance (because it's all God's to begin with) to help others.  I got the Samaritan's Purse gift catalogue this week and an idea came to me.  It's nothing new and I am sure many of you have done or are doing similar things.  We've decided that, though we will get the kids some stocking stuffers and 1 or 2 bigger gifts, we are doing to decide on a dollar amount for each child, then let Sophie pick gifts out of the catalogue, and those will be their Christmas gifts this year.  They will be helping to buy Bibles, food, school supplies, etc. for children around the world who don't have those kinds of things.  Just curious if anyone out there has ever done this or is doing something similar this year.  We would like this to become a Christmas tradition here in the McSmith house and just wanted some advice or cool ideas to make this something memorable and something they truly learn from and look forward to each year.  Your ideas and thoughts are much appreciated!

October 19, 2010

Names, Names, Names

Maybe it's because there are so many people having babies, I don't know, but I have really been thinking about names lately.  Names and their importance and significance.  In Biblical times, what a person named their child was uber important.  The meaning of the name meant more than whether it would sound good or weird or whatever. 

So, I'd love to hear about your children's names, what they mean, why you picked them.  Most people have some kind of meaning or story behind the name choices for their kids, and I want to hear it.  Just to get you started, I'll share mine!  As you know, we aren't very good at coming up with names ahead of time in our house!  And, even though we hadn't discussed Sophia before she was born, it was always in the back of my mind.  I knew that it meant wisdom, which meant a lot to me.  I feel as though wisdom is one of the things I really lack in my life!  I wanted that name because I knew I could then pray that God would help her grow into that name and that it would truly become synonymous with her personality.  Her middle name is Anne.  Both my mom's and Kevin's mom's middle names are Ann, so I was pretty sure I wanted to get that in there, but I wanted to add the "e"...mainly because I think it looks pretty!  It also means grace.  Again, another thing that I could pray over her...that she would grow to be a person who pours out grace on others and a person who comes to understand the fullness of God's grace.  When we got pregnant with Ethan, I knew instantly that I wanted to pick a first and middle name that meant the same things as Sophie's (Wisdom and Grace).  There are a plethora of those names for girls...not so much for boys!  So, once we found out we were having a boy, my search almost came to a complete stop.  Then I read somewhere that Ethan the Ezrahite had written Psalm 89 (a beautiful Psalm of remembrance of all God has done).  I read that in Biblical times Ethan (and they presume it is the same one who wrote Psalm 89) was the second wisest man alive, second only to King Solomon.  So, of course, I settled on this name pretty quickly, and Sophie picked up on it quickly, but it took awhile for Kevin to come around!  ;)  Kevin chose the middle name, James, mainly because that was the book of the Bible he was reading at the time (though I must wonder if it had anything to do with his college roommate, James "Jimmy" Snowden!  JK).  That's what Ethan's name means for us, though they literally mean "strong, firm, impetuous" and "supplanter".

So, tell me your names and stories!  Can't wait to hear them!!!!!

October 14, 2010

The Lord Will Provide

This week in our worship service at CBC we will be focusing on Jesus as the lamb.  We will be doing this in the worship music and through the ordinances of baptism and The Lord's Supper.  As I was thinking of this, my mind was drawn back to a study that the ladies in our SS class did a few years ago.  It was called "I Want to Know You" by Kay Arthur and focused on some of the names of God.  The one that I was reminded of this week was Jehovah-Jireh, meaning the Lord will Provide.  The first time we see this name is Gen. 22:1-19 in the story where God has asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.  When God provides the lamb in Isaac's place, Abraham named the place where he sacrificed that lamb "The Lord Will Provide".  You see, never in my life had I ever really heard anyone talk about Jehovah-Jireh in any sense other than that He  provides for all our earthly needs: health, finances, other resources.  How selfish and prideful is it to think that His name is so focused in me and my needs alone? It was so eye opening to see that the name was given in such an instance that so blatantly points to Christ as our sacrificial lamb, paying a price we never could and receiving our punishment.  It is only because Christ was the lamb in our place that we can have our sins forgiven and have a relationship and eternal life with Christ.  Now, don't get me wrong, He does provide for all those daily, earthly, temporal needs (even when we don't think He's doing so), but the most important thing He provided was Christ as a lamb to cover our sins.  He provided salvation for us!  Wow!  One of the points she makes in the chapter is, "Within limits, people can provide for everything they need while they live, but they can't provide for death.  For death, there is only one provider, Jehovah-Jireh.  Jehovah, who in Himself possesses essential life, is the only One who can make provision for us as sinners to live.  He did so by providing us with the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.  How fitting it is, then, that the first time we see God as our Jehovah-Jireh we see a father offering his only son on Mount Moriah.  Love, worship, and obedience become three in one!"  Again, I say wow!  That pretty much blows my mind and makes me so ashamed to think that I had spent so much of my life thinking of this life-changing name of God in such a shallow way!  Lord, forgive me for not seeing the whole truth in Your name and for missing out on so much time to praise and honor and thank You, by name, for giving me salvation through the Lamb of God!  Thank You for the reminder today that Jehovah-Jireh provides so much more than money, food, clothes, and health!

October 05, 2010

It's Been a Long Time!

So, I feel like the queen of randomness.  Most of my posts just seem to come from nowhere.  Probably because I wait so long between posts and I try to cram in everything that has happened in between!  Perhaps I should blog more often and this wouldn't happen!  Who am I kidding, I am blogging about as often as I can find the time or inspiration!

I cannot believe how fast my kids are growing!  Sophie never ceases to amaze me with her skills, memory, and ability to understand things I never thought she could at age 4!  Of course, she also makes me smile with her sweet simplicity and total lack of understanding at times, too!  I love how God uses both of my children to teach me more and more about Him and about myself in relation to Him each day.  Sometimes, it's a little overwhelming!

Ethan is just growing like a weed, too!  I am constantly amazed at how quickly he has figured out how to work zippers, open sliding boxes, and how close he is to being able to open doors!  How did this happen!!!  He is saying several words now, though never when you want him to!  He now says mama, dada, shoes (though he said that before he said dada), more (mo), Sis, ball, and moo.  He will repeat what you say sometimes, but he hasn't ever said any of those words at any other time.  Yesterday, for the first time ever, he was following Sophie around her room saying, "Opee!  Opee!"  He hasn't done that since, either, so maybe it was a fluke! 

God has really been working a lot in my prayer time.  So many things have been going on around me and He's using that to help me see the true power and need for prayer in my life.  He's teaching me that it doesn't have to be me just sitting for those 15 minutes in the morning for it to be prayer...I can pray all day, no matter what I am doing or who is around.  Of course, He is also showing me that I do need that time, just He and I, in order to truly hear from Him, rather than just requesting everything under the sun from Him.  I need time to praise Him, hear Him, plead with Him, pour out my heart to Him!  I don't do any of those enough!  I have been so convicted, especially through our small group doing Crazy Love, that I do not use my time wisely or on things that will edify the Kingdom.  Too many times I give God my leftovers (in service, prayer, Bible study, parenting, as a wife, the list could go on and on) and use my best for things I want to do that have basically no eternal significance at all.  Wow!  It's going to be a process, but asking God to reveal in me the changes I need to make and to give me the strength to make those changes.

Our revival last week was pretty challenging, too.  He talked mainly about forgiveness, but also talked about having an angry heart.  Now, I would so not say that I have an angry heart, until he had us look further at our reactions to things.  Man, I am a much more angry person than I thought, I just tend to try and hide it so people don't know.  Oh, how I wish that my reactions to my children and husband, strangers and church family were loving and always in line with how Christ would react.  Again, that will take much work and time spent on my knees before the Father.  It's about more than just having patience, it's about truly relying on God, trusting in Him at all times, surrendering my heart and whole life to Him that He may live and speak through me.  Wow!  Much easier to type than do!  Lord, fill me, change me, and use me!

September 29, 2010

Hayes Perrin Update

Check out the latest update on Hayes.  Please continue to pray for him, his parents, and all those working with him.

http://phylldaniels.blogspot.com/2010/09/continue-praying-for-perrins.html

September 23, 2010

Jesus Paid it All

On Wednesday evening, the band will be leading the worship for our church's revival.  One of the songs we will be singing is Jesus Paid It All/O Praise the One.  As we were rehearsing it last night, I was reminded of the last time we sang this song, over 5 months ago.  The last time we sang this song, some dear friends were going through a bit of a trial with someone in their life who wasn't a Christian and was trying to cause trouble for them.  I was so convicted when we sang the words, "Lord now indeed I find , thy power and thine alone can change the lepers spots, and melt the heart of stone."  I remember at that moment having to admit to God that I believed 100% that He could change men's hearts, but that I had no desire to ask Him to change this man's heart, though I knew it would be best for him and for all involved in the situation, if He were to see His need for God to come into his heart and change his life.  I didn't want this man to change, I just wanted this man to disappear.  What a horrible thing to think about one of God's creations!  The Bible clearly tells us that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made and that He desires to see all come to Him, yet I was acting as if this man was nothing more than an annoying bug flying around all of our heads.  I was struck again last night as we sang those same words.  This time, I was clinging to the truth of these words, this time, begging God to do this mighty work in several family members who truly need their spots changed and their hearts of stone melted.  I have actually been praying this for these dear people in my life.  What a difference in my reaction!  God has softened my heart toward the other man and I have been praying for him, as well, and can now pray these words for him, as well.  God melted my heart toward this man and helped me to see him, not as a mere annoyance to be dealt with, but as one of God's creations in need of the Creator Himself!  Thank you, Lord, for continuing to work in my heart and mold me into someone who desires to know You and praise You in all things.  Thank you for being the only one who can melt hearts and change lives!

September 18, 2010

Urgent Prayer for Hayes Perrin

I was going to get on today and blog about a sweet little infant in need of prayer, then saw that the father had posted a link to an awesome blog that tells the story.  I am passing that link on to you!  Please read and pray.

http://phylldaniels.blogspot.com/2010/09/urgent-call-to-prayer-hoping-youll-join.html

September 13, 2010

What Kind of Day Has it Been

Yes, that is me stealing from Aaron Sorkin (that is the title of the season one finale for all three of his TV series--Sports Night, The West Wing, and Studio 60).  It feels like it's been totally crazy here all day!  It all started out by me forgetting to set my alarm, so I wasn't up to do any Bible study, prayer, shower, anything before the kids were up.  Then, the kids were grumpy from the moment they woke up.  Of course, I have to admit that I was also probably a bit grumpy because my day didn't start the way I wanted it!  And the whole day just went on that way!  Even at the park, the kids were grumpy!  Arrrrgh!  I ended the day with Ethan in bed early (because he woke up at 3 this morning and then never did take a nap), Sophie in her room for the night because she was in trouble, and me in tears!

Even after all this time at home, I am still struggling with finding a schedule.  Sleep seems to be what is keeping things from working.  You see, it doesn't seem to matter when I go to sleep, I always wake up feeling like I didn't sleep at all.  I have tried taking Midnight, Melatonin, and even sleeping pills, but no matter what I have tried, and even when I sleep all night long, I still wake up feeling like I was awake all night.  I was wondering if anyone out there had any suggestions...a change in diet, or routine?  I am willing to try pretty much anything at this point!  See, my goal is to be able to get up early enough to be able to get in Bible Study and prayer time, as well as some exercise before the kids get up.  But, because I feel like I haven't slept, it's all I can do to drag myself out of bed by the time the kids get up.  Then my whole day is thrown off and I go around all day in a daze because I am so tired!  It is so frustrating and my day is always better when I can get up and spend time in the Word before the craziness of the day starts!  Anyone out there have a schedule that works for them?  Any advice on how to get up and get going?  I appreciate all the help!
 

September 09, 2010

Scary Day, Great God

Well, it's been a bit of a scary day here in the McSmith household, but one in which God's hand has been extremely evident!

Today was the day our playgroup was planning to head out to the local alpaca farm for a morning of fun!  Sophie and I were both pretty excited.  But, when she woke up this morning, Sophie said she wasn't feeling well and she wanted me to take her temperature.  Now, this is not uncommon in our house as Sophie just loves to use the forehead thermometer, so I didn't think much of it.  But, I went ahead and took her temp and, lo and behold, she actually had a fever. I wasn't totally sure what to do, but Kevin decided that since he really needed to do office work today, he could stay home with Sophie and Ethan and I could head on over to the alpaca farm with the playgroup. 

While at the farm, I got a call from Kevin.  Shortly after we left, he had gone upstairs to get Sophie something to drink.  When he came back down, Sophie was having a seizure.  It was mostly her face that was twitching, but she couldn't look at him and couldn't respond to him.  He scooped her up, put her in the car, and headed to the ER.  When they got to the ER, her temp was 102.8.  They gave her some Motrin, did blood work, and got her some Popsicles.  Her fever started to go down almost immediately and Kevin said it didn't take long for her to get back to her normal self.  The blood work came back and she has a virus, so there's really nothing we can give her, other than Tylenol and Motrin.  She is home now and fast asleep.  We need to monitor her temp and be sure we keep giving her lots of fluids and if the Motrin doesn't reduce the fever, we'll have to take her back to the ER. 

All of that sounds pretty depressing, but I can't help but see God's hand all over it!  First of all, I think it truly was a gift from God that Ethan and I weren't there.  I would have been a wreck and a hindrance to getting her the care she needed.  I can't even imagine trying to have Ethan in the ER with us while she was having a seizure and getting blood drawn!  Kevin is so calm and steady in situations like that and God blessed all of us by his being there!  Second, when I left the house this morning, I had forgotten to take Sophie's seat out in case Kevin would need it.  At the last minute I remembered and turned around and left the seat in his car!  And, of course, the God Who Heals had His hand on our little Sophie the whole time!  How amazing that we can see Him, even in the little things, at all times if we just look! 

August 20, 2010

Old Pics

Well, I can't sleep, again, so I was looking at old pics.  I came across some older pics of the kids and just thought I would share!!!!! They really do look a lot a like, don't they?!?!?!?!

Newborn Sophie...well, maybe not newborn, but not very old. (2006)


Sophie Halloween 2006

Not sure how old she was here.

Summer 2008

A couple months old-2009

Fall 2009

August 06, 2010

Can't Sleep!

Well, Kevin had to make a rush trip to TX to work on the server at his dad's clinic and the kids and I are at my mom's.  I never sleep well when Kevin is gone...not sure why...guess I am just used to him being there after 7 years.  Anyway, since I couldn't sleep I decided to get on the computer and clean up the ole email.  So glad I did!  I found emails from all the way back in 2005 when we were on the road with Bibleman.  They brought much laughter to me!  Funny how much things have changed in those short 5 years.  We started out 2005 trying to pack up everything in our apartment, send it to our parents house, and get to CA to start rehearsing the show.  I had quit working at HLG (in the Admissions office) in December, so I did most of the packing and hauling.  When we got to CA we lived in a hotel for a little over a month while we rehearsed the show, built props, built staging, and got the "Banana" ready for two married couples to travel in for the next 6 months.  So thankful for the people in Rob and Anay's church who came and renovated that nasty truck so that two women (one of whom was already 5 months pregnant...not me, Anay) could stand to be in the back for hours at a time!  So much happened in that 6 months.  It was some of the best and some of the hardest times in mine and Kevin's lives.  We were tested, for sure, but God also revealed His mighty, gracious, and loving hand to us in many ways.  It was so neat to see Him work, in every detail.  About halfway through the tour we found out we were pregnant.  I think that's when both of us really began to get nervous and worry.  We had no maternity insurance and neither one of us had a job when the tour ended.  Oh, we also didn't have a place to live once our time in the dear old Banana was over.  We had saved up quite a bit of money and, before we found out Sophie was on her way, had decided to spend the rest of the year spending time with our two families, since we hadn't seen them in awhile.  Of course, knowing there was a baby on the way changed all those plans.  We ended up heading back to Hannibal, both searching for jobs (hoping that at least one of us would find something), and living in the upstairs of our best friend's apartment.  Not what we had planned at all!  The job search was failing!  Kevin wasn't even getting interviews, and though I seemed to get several, as soon as they found out I was pregnant, they lost all interest.  There was a job opening in Admissions at HLG and I just had my heart set on it.  I loved that office and I loved working for Dr. Carty and really wanted to go back to work there.  But, I did not get the job.  I remember the day I got the news from Dr. Carty.  We were actually still in CA getting all the show stuff packed away in storage.  I had to go into the bathroom and just sit there on the floor as I cried and cried and cried!  I was trying to trust that God would provide...I mean, I had just spent 6 months on the road seeing Him provide time and time again, but for some reason, it was much harder this time to believe He would "pull through".  Man, that sounds stupid even typing it!  Thankfully, God did provide...first, Kevin worked construction for a guy in our church.  He was working outside, on a roof, in December, in MO!  What a great husband I have!  He never complained and never resented that he had to work in those conditions for our family.  Then he provided an apartment for us, and even provided it at a lower rate than they were originally asking.  Then He provided a full-time job for Kevin.  Everything was settled and taken care of by the time our newest addition arrived.  How could I have ever doubted, even for a minute, that God was not in every detail!?!?!?!  Of course, I still find myself doubting at times.  So much is going on in the lives of so many around me.  There are times that I just want to scream, "Seriously?!?!?  What are you up to?  Where are you?  Can't you see what's going on down here?"  But, I know that God is working, even when I can't see it.  He is always right there and knows everything going on everywhere at all times.  He sees every little baby that the Dr. can't seem to find.  He sees every tear and broken heart.  He sees every pain and disease.  He sees every family struggling pay check to pay check because there is little to no work for the husband to find. He sees every person struggling with what their true calling is. He sees every person battling with truth and lies.  He sees every woman craving to be a mother, though her womb remains empty.  He sees every tiny baby born too many weeks too early.  He sees it all.  He understands it all.  He hears it all.  He knows it all.  Better yet, He controls it all!  There is nothing that happens outside His mighty hand.  There is nothing that takes him by surprise.  So many times lately I have been drawn to the opening of Job where God points Job out to Satan and even gives Satan the limits he must keep with regard to Job.  Even then, even in the midst of the suffering and loss, nothing happened without God's permission. He truly is sovereign.  God can reveal, heal, and provide...but even if He doesn't in any particular case, He is no less God and no less sovereign.  Wow!  If only I could remember this at all times and truly live every day as though I believed this to the very fiber of my being.  I must spend more time in His word.  I must spend more time in prayer, sitting quietly waiting for Him to speak.  I must cast off my foolish pride and run to Him and Him alone.  Oh LORD, Your works are marvelous and endless.  You remain faithful, even though I prove time and time again that I am not faithful.  You pour out your mercies on me, a sinner.  You have saved me, though I did not and will not ever deserve it!  Give me your strength to make it through each day.  Help me to see each and every situation through Your eyes.  Give me the strength to run to You daily.  Give me the strength to cast it all at Your feet and leave it there.  I need you!  I need you at all times. Empty me of me and fill me with You that I may be salt and light for Your kingdom.

July 24, 2010

Old Video

Found this cute video of Sophie from Jan. 2009 and had to edit it down for all to see!
video

July 17, 2010

Fishing

Sophie got to go fishing for the first time a few weeks ago in the pond at Aunt Linda's house.  She fishes like me...no touching the worm and no taking the fish off the hook!

video

video

Where's Your Nose?

This is how Ethan points to his nose!  He can aslo point to his belly and foot, but I couldn't get him to do that on video!  I love this little bundle of boy!!!

video

Bowling

video
This was Sophie's first time bowling.  I am not kidding when I say that she totally beat me!  And I was trying!  She broke 100 and I don't think I even hit 90!!!!

July 15, 2010

Great is the Lord

I sit here with so much to say, yet nothing to type, all at the same time.  The last 24 hours have been such an emotional and spiritual roller coaster...even though none of the events that have happened, happened to me.  Yesterday morning, in one phone call, things went from excitement to deep grief in less than 3 minutes.  A dear, sweet friend got some terrible news about her pregnancy.  It was devastating.  In all honesty, I don't think in all my life I have ever felt someone else's grief as deeply as I was feeling her grief yesterday.  It was as if one of my own children had been ripped from me.  I couldn't get a hold of myself!  I couldn't even call her because I just couldn't stop crying.  I spent as much of the day as the kids would allow praying and reading the Bible, searching for peace and answers.  She ended up being the strong one, passing God's peace along to us, instead of the other way around.  No matter what was happening around me, I just couldn't make the tears stop.  Then, out of the blue, it just hit me.  God is the God who heals.  He ALWAYS heals His people, just not always in the way that we humans would choose.  There was the peace that had eluded me.  He would heal.  He would heal my friend and he would heal that sweet baby, one way or the other.  Now, I had to decide, would I choose to give Him glory no matter what, or would I be selfish and give in to my human pride and only praise Him if things went my way.  When it all comes down to it, whatever way it turned out, He was still sovereign all the same, so He must be honored, praised, and glorified all the same, either way.  I spent the rest of the day and all of this morning in constant prayer.

This morning, my friend had another ultrasound and it reversed everything she was told previously.  Wow!  What an amazing God!  What a faithful God!  For me, and for my friend, there was no other explanation than the hand of God on her body and that little baby's body.  I feel slightly ashamed to admit that I was surprised by the answer God gave us.  I mean, I prayed believing 100% that God could provide this miracle, but, admittedly, not fully believing He actually would.  Lord, you really do change times and seasons!!!  Thank you Lord, for being faithful when I am faithless.  Thank you for turning my tears of grief to tears of joy and turning my mourning into dancing.

July 13, 2010

Pics

I was looking through old pictures on the computer today and thought you might enjoy a few!


This is me at about 2....and after a full day of crying and not wanting my picture taken!


This is Sophie at 2.
Ethan at 5 months.

There are some better pics where we look more alike, but they are on the other computer and Kevin is using it for business right now, so maybe I'll post even more pics later!

July 10, 2010

Friendship

I have been thinking a lot about friends and friendships lately. I don't have a lot of close friends or friendships, which is pretty much because that's the way I want it. Not that I don't like people, but I am just not one to share everything with everyone! I am also not really the most outgoing person you will ever meet, which probably comes as a shock to many of you reading this. Don't get me wrong, my years as a PK and New Ed and Praise Song member have taught me how to smile and mingle, even when I don't feel like it, and that's what I rely on a lot when dealing with others. Especially strangers or those I don't know very well. I would like to say that I have been working to make this better. That I have been going out of my way to get out of my comfort zone and meet new people, have lunches with ladies at church, and inviting families over for dinner, but that would be a complete lie. I know this is something I must get over, especially now that I am a deacon's wife and need to reach out to the families in our church. The problem now is that I am waiting for the desire to change, rather than just stepping out and making the change, regardless of how I feel. As I sit and have a nervous breakdown at the thought of getting to know new people, God has been reminding me of the great women (not that there haven't been some Godly male friends along the way, but there's really nothing better than Godly female friends) He has placed in my life through the years who have drawn me closer to Him and encouraged me and lifted me up along this journey called life. If someone is not mentioned, please don't be offended, but wanted to say thanks and show some gratitude to some of the ladies God has blessed me with over the years.
--Mom, Trish, and Aprille: What a blessing God gave me when he put me in your family. There have been ups and downs and more love and fights than there is space to write. It is a comfort to know that all three of you are there anytime I would need anything. You love my kids as if they were your own and you've put up with a lot of craziness from this little drama queen! You never laughed at any of my crazy ideas or dreams, and you never said "I told you so" when one or all of them didn't pan out. I don't make life easy and I love and appreciate you for hanging in there with me!
--Carol: You are the best mother-in-law a girl could ask for. You love our kids and you are so encouraging to me. I wish we got to see you more and hopefully one day we will be able to! Thanks for all you do for our family!!!!
--Lauren: I remember the first day that I met you....it was early registration day at HLG in May of 1997. We were in the Sports Complex registering for classes. I was a secondary education history major and Dr. Swisher was trying to put together my schedule, but was having a hard time remembering all the classes I had to take in order to keep my theatre scholarship, so I ended up with Weast. Back then, of course, we had to be downtown at the Orpheum at least once a day and I had no car. I was soooooo worried that I wouldn't be able to get to class. That's when Weast marched me over to you and informed both of us that you would love to give me a ride to class every day! Turns out we would live across the hall with each other and, by junior year, live together and spend pretty much every waking moment together! What a sweet friend you have been through the years. No matter how long it's been since we've talked or seen each other, we can always pick up right where we left off. You are an amazing blend of rebel and devoted follower, prayer warrior and wise advice giver. I know that I would not be the same if you hadn't been in my life!
--JacQueline: Oh where to begin with sweet Q! Even from the first time we met in college, you were the wisest person I had ever actually met! And I still don't think I have ever met a prayer warrior like you! I love that you turned that huge closet in your first dorm room into a prayer closet! That room has never been the same since, I am sure. I know I haven't been. And I haven't been the best of friends to you, either. I never call and I seldom write, but I do love and cherish the times that we do chat and the one or two times a year I get to hang out with you. Thank you for always being there, even while in TX, for anything I may need. It is a blessing to know that I can call or write at anytime with a prayer request or question, and you don't hesitate to answer or lift my request. It sounds cheesy, but earth truly is a better place because you are here! I am so excited to see how God uses your novels for His glory...and I can't wait to read the next chapter of your latest!
--Julie and Kristine: I have not been the best friend to the two of you since college, and for that I am truly sorry. We had some great times, and some not so great times over the years, but I know that if I ever needed either of you, you would be here or on your knees for me at the drop of a hat. Julie, I am so sorry that you were only an hour away and I never took the time to see you. That was pure laziness on my part. I am praying that all goes well in AZ and you make some amazing friends while there! Kristine, I think of and pray for you often as you serve God overseas. Can't wait to see pics of your little one in a few months!!!!!!
--Jessica: Who knew almost 10 years ago when your dad apologized for not being able to be at my college graduation because he was going to CA for his daughter's college graduation that I would one day become such great friends with that very daughter! What a blessing you are in my life! I can talk to you about anything, ask you any question, and know that you are on your knees for me and my family! I wish that we had more face time, but I do love the emails, chats, and random lunches and dinners! Thank you for loving my kids as your own and always displaying faithfulness to God, even when it seems there is no reason for it! You are an amazing encouragement and example to me and my family! I love you and look forward to all the years ahead! And who knows, maybe Ethan and Bethany will end up together some day...if she's willing to go for a younger man!
--Mandy: Our friendship isn't very old, but I do cherish it! You have been there for me and my kids anytime we have needed you and I love being able to share those sweet times with the kiddos! Thank you for your strength and witness of faithfulness, even in the hard times. Sophie loves Maryssa like she is truly her sister! And who knows, maybe one day we'll be neighbors and you'll have Internet and I'll have a van!!!!
--Sara: Again, we haven't been friends very long and neither one of us likes to share a whole lot with others, but you have truly been an encouragement to me, even from the first time I remember meeting you. I met you that first semester after Brian died when you were in our Acting 1 class. I remember seeing you on stage during "An Evening with Andrew Lloyd Weber" singing "Memory" as beautifully as I had ever heard it. My eyes were full of tears and I knew at that moment that God must have given you more strength than anyone I had met to that point to have endured your summer and come out on the other side singing and still praising Him. What a witness that was to a dorky little college freshman. And you have continued to be an example of faithfulness and trust in God as I have come to know you post college. Thank you for your silent witness and friendship!
--Susan: What a blessing it is to have SS teacher and Bible study leader like you! You are a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, truth, and honesty! Thank you for always being prepared and for always seeking God's will and God's best. Thank you for always being honest, even when it isn't pretty or convenient.
--Karen: I have not been a very good friend to you, but you are a great friend in return anyway. You are the most giving, loving, caring, and encouraging person on the planet...of this I am sure! All of Hannibal is better for your being here!
--Tammy: Again, our friendship is new and I probably don't know you all that well, but it has been fun developing a friendship. Thanks for always answering my silly questions and making time to see us when you come to town!!!!!!
--Playgroup moms: It has been so fun getting to know all of you this summer. I know I am not good at it, but I am working at building those relationships...well....at least on Thursday mornings, anyway! It is so great to spend time with other moms and learn that my kids aren't the only ones who throw temper tantrums or misbehave in public! It's fun to share great stories about our kids, how we met our husbands, and to pray for and with one another!

Thank you Lord, for all the sweet ladies You have placed in my life (even those not mentioned here)! Help me to honor and cherish those friendships, as well as develop new ones with the many ladies You will continue to place in my life in the years to come!

June 08, 2010

He Knows My Name

So, for some reason this song was really on my mind the other day and it brought back some great memories. As many of you may know, Kevin and I aren't well known for being able to pick baby names very quickly. When we were pregnant with Sophie, we didn't know what we were having, so we needed to be ready with a boy name and a girl name. Now, as anal as I am about being prepared and ready, you would think that by week 2, I would have been ready to go. Not so much. In fact, Sophie didn't have a name until about 10 minutes after she was born. With Ethan, we did find out what we were having, so one would think that, knowing it was a boy, it would have been much easier to have a name ready. Again, I say not so much! Even when he got here, we still hadn't totally settled on a name and once we did choose one, he still went at least 24 hours without a middle name! Anyway, getting to what this has to do with this song...we were leading worship one Sunday morning while I was still pregnant with Ethan and we were singing this song. I had been feeling kind of down because we hadn't chosen a name yet and I was actually a little jealous of friends who had just had a baby and had chosen their name months in advance of that sweet little girl's arrival. They were able to call her by name, pray for her by name, talk about her by name, talk to her by name...but we couldn't do any of that! I was so jealous and feeling like a bad parent for having to refer to my baby as simply Brother. God hit me so hard right in the heart when we started singing this song that I almost couldn't sing. My child has a maker and that maker knows his name, even if I don't! That maker formed him and knew everything about him before I knew him, knew his name, or even held him for the first time. It didn't matter if I knew his name, because God knew his name. As confident as I was that God knew me, I could be that confident that He knew that little boy growing inside of me. Whether or not I knew his name wasn't nearly as important as the fact that the God of the universe, the one who flung the stars in the sky and the One who knit this little man in my womb, knew his name, hair color, eye color, everything about him. And He always will! Hope you enjoy the song...and those of you out there waiting the arrival of your precious ones and still don't have a name...take heart.."He knows my name..."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXsiWoyjw60

May 25, 2010

10 years ago this summer.....

-I had just finished my junior year of college and was back on campus ready to start our summer New Ed rehearsals.
-I was serving as student director for the most interesting group of summer New Ed I think HLG has ever had!
-Weast's dad had a heart attack, which meant Weast was headed back to OK and I was in charge indefinitely! Scary, I know!
-I was standing in the lobby outside the bathrooms in some building on SBU's campus during mom and pop weekend for Super Summer with all of summer New Ed and all other HLG students working that week, when Micky Ary broke the news to us that Tim Champ (HLG alum, fiancee of a fellow New Edder -though she wasn't with us that summer-, and good friend to many of us) had passed away. It was unbelievable! We had no idea what to do! And we didn't have our fearless leader with us for two more days. It was a miserable two days. I don't think any of us had ever been so glad to see Weast as we were that Tues. afternoon when she walked through the doors of the SBU auditorium. I am pretty sure we just stood there crying and hugging, not saying a word, for at least a full 5 mins. Tim was my first "non-boyfriend" boyfriend at college. (Those of you who attended HLG or any other Christian college, you know exactly what I mean!) He was the fiancee of what I would have to say was one of the funniest, sweetest, and best ladies New Ed has ever seen. Did we stay at Super Summer? Did we leave to go be with Amber? Our dramas were the main crux of the services each night, so our leaving would leave a huge hole. But, we really wanted to be there to wrap our arms around Amber and cry with her. But, after discussing it, we decided Weast would go, but we would stay. I know there were a lot of people angry with us for that decision, but it was truly what we thought was best at the time. Tim loved youth and poured out much of his energy to help them learn and know Christ, so we felt that staying at Super Summer was a great way to honor him. It was a long, hard week. I was the only one who wasn't in charge of a group, so I had all day long to pretty much do nothing but think about Tim and Amber. I remember, the night that we were told about Tim's death, my group had been rehearsing and was unable to eat dinner. Two of the week's worship band members took me to McDonald's to get food for the team. As we were driving, I looked out the window and saw the sun just beginning to set. I remember thinking, "Wow! That is so pretty. And Tim is now seeing that sunset from the other side! I bet his view is amazing!!!" It was very hard, at the time, to accept that, no matter how much faith we had, no matter how we pleaded and begged God, Tim was gone. Many times, His ways are not our ways...but they are always higher than our ways! It would be almost three months before we would get to see Amber and hug her and cry with her and share memories with her. She is a strong woman and God has now blessed her with a great husband and two beautiful children!
-I took my first trip outside of the United States when our summer New Ed team became the first of many to travel to Switzerland to participate in Euroventure. Back then, it was through AweStar ministries. We spent a week in Switzerland and a week in Hungary. It was a lot of fun, it was crazy, it was weird. Our worship band that week was a little known group (at the time) by the name of Mercy Me. (It was so long ago that Bart, Nathan and Robby didn't have children, Mike wasn't married, Jim was still engaged, and Barry wasn't even in the group, yet!) I got to see the Swiss Alps and worship to I Can Only Imagine while staring out the window and seeing all the beauty that God had made in those mountains. I was accosted by a drunk man in a Hungarian subway while no one helped! Luckily, my ignoring him paid off and he eventually left! I got to go white water rafting for the first and only time in my life. It was a lot of fun and, if the waters were as calm as they were for us that day, I would totally do it again.
-I met the man who I thought was the man of my dreams. Thankfully, I was wrong.
-I was only a few months away from meeting, for the second time (the third, if you ask him...but I have no memory at all of the first meeting, so I am pretty sure he is making it up...JK!) the man who would become my husband.
-I was trying to prepare myself for leaving the comfort of New Ed and heading into the scary world of Praise Song. Not so much scary because the people were scary, I just didn't know them, and well, I'm not really all that musical! I can sing and that's about it...and I don't really sing all that well...I can't sing harmony, so...well....it was a fun year and that's where I met and fell in love with Kevin, so, regardless of my musical ability, it was all God moving things together as they needed to be!
-I was about a year away from graduation and had no idea what I would be doing after I finished. There wasn't really anything I had a passion or desire to do. OK, that's not true. If I could have travelled in New Ed for the rest of my life, I totally would have...no joke. I would still do that today if my family could go with me!
-I was preparing to say goodbye to my sweet friend Lauren Allen as she was graduating a year early and heading off to seminary. Man, we had some fun times that summer. "Take it home with ya, ladies!"
-I had no idea that I was heading into my hardest year of college. The classes really weren't that bad. I mean, I was a Comm Arts major when the degree was mostly theatre classes, so that was easy. But, the living situation was tough. One roommate was trying to finish a degree in three years that normally takes four, and could probably easily take five if you didn't want it to drive you crazy on the way there. The other roommate was trying to plan a wedding. We were all heading in different directions and I think a little crazy about graduating and not really knowing what was next. I was really missing the two constants we'd had up until that point, Lauren and JacQueline. Fortunately, we have all grown up and turned out just fine! One is a missionary for the IMB and is expecting her first baby in Sept., and the other is about to make a huuuuuuuuge move to AZ with the hubs and two sweet kids.
-I had no idea what great things God had in store for me, even though I was full of doubt and fear. What a great and mighty God we serve. He alone changes times and seasons. He alone sets up kings and deposes them! Praise Him that He doesn't always give us what we want, but rather what He alone knows we need!

May 10, 2010

Working In Your Strengths...

Yeah, that was the title for our FPU class tonight. Boy, it really made me think. I know what my strengths are...organization, remembering the details, getting things done, and being bossy. Pretty much, I should be a personal assistant...if I were single and had no children, I would make a better "Mrs. Landingham" than Mrs. Landingham! I am great at making order out of other people's chaos, keeping things moving on time, and getting the task done well...well, at least I am good at that in a job type setting...at home...chaos is king, I can't get on a schedule to save my life, and my house constantly looks like a tornado went through it. So, since my job is being a mom and taking care of the house, I guess that means I should be fired? Not sure! But, I really am going to buck up and work harder to get more organized here. First thing, getting things ready for a yard sale to get rid of a lot of the clutter in the house. Man, we have so much stuff that we just don't use and don't need. I don't even know why we bought or kept most of it!

The lesson also talked about making a three year career plan...hard to do at this point...but...then I realized...in three years I will only be a year away from having both kids in school! WOW! It feels like I'll have 10 years before I have an "empty" house 7 hours of the day. What will I do with my time then? Will I go back to work part-time? If so, what is it that I want to do? Are there steps that I need to be taking now in order to get ready or that? Then, I step back and see that, due to my control-freak nature and need to be run by a schedule and clock, that I must take things one day at a time! Today has enough trouble of it's own and I don't need to be borrowing from tomorrow's. I can make a "dream" plan of what I think I may want to be doing in three years, but today...today I get to love on, hug, teach, play, and spend my days with two of the sweetest kids in the world...and that's the best, albeit hardest some days, job in the world. I feel so blessed to be able to be home with my kiddos during this time in their lives. Lord, help me to enjoy everyday, make the most of every teachable moment You place in my path, and never forget that it all comes from you!