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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Boo to You






Saturday, October 28, 2006

Fantastic Four

Well, here they are the four, the fabulous, the fantastic...super kids with not-so-super powers! I guess the super power part could be debatable...depends who you ask!

I have noticed that where there are siblings there are endless comparisons...the exact likenesses they share and the polar-opposite, how-can-they-even-be-related traits...I get numerous comments on both ends of the spectrum all the time.

Julia...independent...mature...confident...charismatic...Julia is so herself...as unique as they come.

She knows who she is...what she likes...she sets her own tempo for life...awesome. What the crowd is doing has no consequence for her. Example...tennis lessons...Julia, "I'm wearing a skirt, jacket and boots."

Me, "Tennis players wear athletic shorts and tennis shoes."

Julia, "I don't."

The result...a compromise...she wears a skirt, jacket and tennis shoes...and is still the best in her class...skilled and stylish!

A natural-born leader...once her mind is made up about something...it's hers for the taking...the sky's the limit...with a goal in sight she's focused...hard-working...relentless in her pursuit of the prize. Can you say competitive?

But as much as she leads...she also loves. She is constantly including everybody by helping and nurturing...priceless.

Her assurance amazes me...she always knows the way to go...making choices comes easily to her...start out and never look back! I love this about her...the finish line is always in sight for her...she has endurance and perseveres to the end.

I love to watch her in her element...whether it's dance class or a limbo line...she's so incredibly focused...stretching...anticipating the end...the finish...the victory...she doesn't know defeat.

I love that she can be fully princess one minute and fully super-hero or secret-spy the next. I love that she can be totally grown-up one minute and my little baby sitting in my lap the next.

I love that she can play football and freeze-tag in high-heeled boots and a dress...sports camp this summer...she won the "Most Fashionable" award..."It's never too hot to make a fashion statement!"

I love that she is golden...successful...dynamic...serious.

She's the motivator...the organizer of the troops...the leader of the pack...Julia.

Alyssa...sweet...cute...cuddly...compassionate...humorous... intelligent...talkative

She's a diplomat...a peace-maker. She is at rest when everyone is happy.

She hates to see others hurt. A true intercessor...she begs for us to spare her brother and sister's punishment.

She'll share the shirt off her back...if you love it, you can borrow it. If it makes you more happy than her...it's yours. This is how she is, but others are dying to share with her just as much as she shares with them...her life is a demonstration of the golden rule.

She's content to observe...to gather facts before deciding...to measure the risks she takes. She looks before she leaps.

Her passion...animals. What she craves...individual attention. Her favorite memory of the summer is shopping for stuffed animals with her Gran...so cute.

I love that she always knows the punchlines to jokes...never forgets...always understands them...she gets humor. We have a friend who is a DJ; she sat and talked with Alyssa and told her about ten jokes...Alyssa already knew all the punchlines! She is truly humorous...and smart...and has a stellar memory!

She has the whole Astros line-up memorized...names and positions!

I love that she watches Rockets' games to get a glimpse of Clutch the mascot.

I love that she asks questions I don't know the answers to...that she laughs at jokes I don't understand...that she uses words I don't know the meaning of.

I love that she would rather have milk than Coke and a salad than pizza.

I love that she's becoming an unlikely leader...learning to stand her ground being closely sandwiched between two siblings.

She's the girl everybody loves...the one who can make you smile...Alyssa.

Hunter...masculine...wild...charismatic...friendly...talkative...out-going... affectionate...energetic

He's a social butterfly...loves everybody...remembers everybody's names...we walk down the halls at church and he greets everybody under age five...by name. If you don't look at him and say hi right back...he will walk over to you put his hands on your shoulders until you face him and acknowledge the greeting...with a kiss and a hug.

When we leave the swimming pool or any place really, all the kids are yelling, "Bye, Hunter!"...and so are all the moms...incredibly cute!

He's so loving...his newest memory verse, "Jesus says,'love one another' and I love Palmer." He says it everyday over and over...outrageously cute...and caring!

He loves cars and jets and trains and dinosaurs and pirates...all things boy. If it looks like a ball, he'll kick it and if it looks like a small ball, he'll bat it.

Roaring is one of his favorite pasttimes...as well as, eating.

His three key phrases are, "Where's my blankie?" "Mom, I love you," and "I'm hungwy," or "I'm stee-ill hungwy," depending on what time of day...or night it is. The last thing he says at night is, "I'm hungwy." The first thing he says in the morning is, "I'm stee-il hungwy!"

This phenomenon of the starving boy is new to me...I mean, the kid eats all day long and never stops and never gets full! I know that his dad and uncle once ate an entire Sam's lasagna...with all the side dishes...I guess I know where he gets it!

His new thing is, "I'm hungry and I can't hold it!" It's so dramatic...so expressive...so cute! I could just eat him up!

He's the boy who you love to death...the life of the party...Hunter.

Palmer...cute...cuddly...sweet...easy-going...baby.

He's the best baby...he goes with the flow...he babbles...he laughs...he sucks his thumb.

He loves to be held...by Mom...by Dad...by brother...by sisters...by anyone...guess that's why Palmer is such a good name! It fits.

He loves to talk...he's incredibly social...with a ready smile for anyone who looks his way...friend or stranger...no matter where we are...church...grocery store...anywhere...he loves to coo at everyone!

He's chubby...you can't help but pinch his cheeks...kiss his neck...he loves it and so do we. He's a real charmer...our Prince Charming!

We love him!

He's the cute-as-a-button-bouncing-baby boy...the baby...our baby...Palmer.

So...that's them...the super...the fabulous...the fantastic...the four.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Eight and a Half Months

Here he is by popular demand...Baby Palmer.

This is how he has been spending his recent days...bouncing...swinging...learning to crawl by putting his toes up under his body and lunging toward the object he wants to reach...so cute! As long as he does this...he can get around without taking his thumb out of his mouth.

He's also babbling...with his thumb in his mouth.

As a matter of fact, I am having a hard time getting a picture of him smiling because he always has his thumb in his mouth and when we take it out to get a picture...he cries!

He hardly ever cries. There is the hungry cry, the dirty cry and the thumb out of mouth cry and that's about it! He is a very happy, very cuddly, very easy baby!
We love you, Baby Palmer!!! See how much he's grown...seems like only yesterday...eight and a half months...time sure does fly!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Our Animal Angel

This is Alyssa, our animal angel...the animal angel. There is only one animal angel...the one who loves animals more than anyone else...Alyssa. That is her self-proclaimed title...it is very accurate too!

Alyssa loves Moxie. Alyssa loves Chloe, although I don't have a picture of Chloe. Alyssa loves Foxy.

Alyssa asked me (very seriously), "Mom, why are all my best friends dogs?

Out the mouths of babes...how sweet...how innocent!

Alyssa's favorite thing about Kindergarten...her teacher has a pet rabbit...in her classroom!!! Ferdinand is a rabbit that her teacher lets run around the room...it is very hard to stay seated when a bunny is running around your classroom!!!

Knowing what you do about our animal angel...could she have been placed in a better classroom? She thanks God everyday for Ferdinand!
Alyssa loves Foxy! Foxy just might be her favorite member of our family (besides Daddy)! Well, Foxy is her favorite dog...Palmer is her favorite baby...Hunter is her favorite brother...Julia is her favorite sister...I am her favorite Mommy...Andrew is her favorite Daddy...Wolf is her favorite big dog...you get the picture.

She spends the better part of her day carrying Foxy around...cuddling.

The occupations she wants to explore at this point are Zoo Keeper, Dog Catcher and Farmer...a farmer like Old McDonald...not to be confused with a farmer that actually farms (grows crops)...a farmer that cares for animals. We've tried to encourage a vet...but animal lovers cry when animals get shots. We found this out when I took Alyssa to the vet with me for the dogs' rabbies shots...she definitely cried more than the dogs!!!

This is a regular day around the Smith house...she'd rather be under a blanket with Foxy, one of her best friends, than anywhere else!!!

I think this is why God gave me Foxy...He knew I would have a little girl whose best friends were all dogs! Previous to marriage, I was not a "pet" person...I couldn't believe I had a dog at all when we married...I consider Wolf to be a big dog at 50 pounds; although, I am told by "dog" people that he is only a mid-sized dog...anyway, the fur, the messes, the stinky food...I mean, me with a dog...and then there was Foxy, my first baby, my number-one, little-girl love pre-kids...seriously, God knew.

He even gave me humor in this animally situation...at one point since we've been married, I had four...count 'em four...dogs in this house! God has definitely blessed my life with humor...and dogs!

Just last night when I tucked her in, Alyssa said, "Mom, I love you even more than animals!"

I love my animal angel.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Many Faces of Hunter

Expressive, dramatic, inventive and oh, so very cute...Hunter has the best faces of all my children. The following are a series of pictures trying to get one with a smile...everyone else was laughing so hard by the time we got the "gem" of a third picture, he couldn't help but smile!
This is his "fishy face"...the face made when giving Mommy a "fish kiss"...I love, love, LOVE this face. We make all kinds of animal faces and then make a way that they can kiss...this is how I get kisses all day long from this cute boy! No, I won't be posting my faces...they aren't quite as cute!
This is really just the determined..."I AM smiling" face...replace smiling with any other command that I give him and that's pretty much how he tries to convince me that he's obeying when we all know otherwise!
Here he is Mr. Precious, himself. Isn't this the face of one genuine, loving, hard-core-boy kid? Gotta love him!

Monday, October 23, 2006

JC: Seven, Sweet and Sassy

Here she is...seven-year-old Julia...the one and only. She had a super fun, super seven, soccer 1/2 sleepover party. We jumped on the trampoline and the bounce house, had a pizza picnic, ate a soccer ball cake and watched a movie in our pajamas and sleeping bags. It was so much fun!
Easy Bake oven, soccer ball, books, Barbies...that just about sums up seven!

Easy bake cookies and a game of soccer, anyone???

So, the Easy Bake oven brought back memories for me! I was so excited (and so was J) that the lightbulb actually cooked her food...mine never did! The real disappointment came when each family member sat down at the table and tried to eat the Barbie-sized cookie and piece of cake...disgusting!!! We all laughed really hard...the fun is in the measuring, mixing, stirring, pouring, and baking...the fun is, once again, found in making the mess!

Anyway, for my seventh or some birthday pretty close to that...my favorite toys were Baby Alive, the Simon that was electronic and you hit the colors when they lit up, Fashion Plates and Shrinky Dinks...do they still make Shrinky Dinks?

I was amazed that they still made Easy Bake ovens...so, what good ole toys are still out there?

Christmas is just around the corner...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Making Mudpies

Jump rope, four-square, mudpies...my three favorite things about elementary school.
I actually held the Double Dutch record for a week in fifth grade!
Four-square games that lasted for a week's worth of recess were super exciting until our teacher banned the same four people from taking up the same four squares for more than 10 minutes...what a bummer that was! Equal rights and rotation schedules were soon coordinated by the bossy chick in Ms. McMahan's class...I wasn't the only one...honest!

But mudpies...they belong in their own category.
The joys of mudpie making were confined only to my best friend Tracy Malone's presence. Her grandmother, Ninny, who lived across the street from me, set up a super-mega, deluxe, luxury backyard kitchen...all for the purpose of mudpie making. There were bowls, spoons, containers, shakers, bottles, jars, pans, shovels and dirt...lots and lots of dirt.

We would dig and dig and dig...sift and water and stir and pat until the ooey, gooey black slimey mixture was perfectly round, perfectly smooth, perfectly garnished (with leaves, berries and grass). Then we'd let it dry in the sun...revel in our delicious-looking work...wonder why it couldn't be real food...and start over again!

These are some of the best memories I have as a child...Here, at Ninny's house I was free to be a kid...to create something...make a big dirty, filthy mess and laugh...and laugh and laugh and laugh.

Julia recently had mudpie day at school...mudpies at school...what a revolutionary idea...how exciting...her original work-of-art...divine! The kids had so much fun celebrating the letter "m" and making mudpies...and they laughed and laughed and laughed. They had such a great time getting messy...mixing...measuring...and making magnificent masterpieces they could be proud of...from dirt!

That's when I saw it...something we sweep away...throw away...trash...even annoying tiny little specks of trash that no matter how much I sweep is still ever-present on my kitchen floor...dirt...could be made beautiful in the eyes of the beholder...

Webster's defines behold as "Look! See!"
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have been passed away; behold, all things have become new." IICorinthians 5:17
Let Him behold you and make you new.
Even a mudpie is beautiful to the one who beholds it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Search for a Story

Have you ever had a moment...a second of clarity...when the light goes on and a Bible verse you've known your whole life takes on new meaning?

I don't mean you just looked up the definition to a word...I'm talking about the Holy Spirit revealing hidden truth to you in a way that changes your whole make-up...your whole perspective...your whole life from here forward.

Author Jennifer Kennedy Dean says in her book Riches Stored in Secret Places that truth in Scripture is hidden for the sole purpose of being revealed. "Truth will be found only in God's Word...the wonderful, rich, consecrating truth is buried. It must be mined, like gold or silver...God has deliberately hidden deep truth so that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, can disclose it.
'For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open'"(Mark 4:22)

Have you asked God for that kind of revelation...wisdom...knowledge...understanding? He is longing to give it to you. "If you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and
understanding."(Proverbs 2:3-6)

I received a similar challenge to dig deeper into God's word not too long ago...

The room was silent as she spoke...sharing her experience. She had come from a religion that used the Bible, but its own edited version of the Bible, not the inerrant version we know as Truth. She came to a saving knowledge and personal relationship with God simply by reading The Bible, which makes sense as it is "living and active."
(Hebrews 4:12 NIV)

"For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are."
(Hebrews 4:12 New Living Translation)

Truth pierced her heart. The more she read God's Word, the more she saw herself.

As she continued to share "her story," She launched into a reading of the
"The Woman with the Issue of the Blood." (Mark 5:24-34; Matthew 9:20-22)

The emotion was real...raw...moving...touching...healing...there was not a dry eye in the room when she finished. You could have heard a pin drop. Many were quietly weeping.

It was there...the touch of Heaven...the place where this thing called Christianity becomes real...everyone wanted it...to simply know our own "story"...where we fit in...He touched us.

As the moment quickly passed...dinner was served...ladies began to visit...I realized I wanted it...He touched me.

That's when I knew...that's how I wanted to see the people in the Bible...I wanted identity in God's people...my people(...He predestined us to be called his sons through Christ Jesus.) ("because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.")... I wanted identity in Christ on a deeper level. (Ephesians 1:5 and Romans 8:14)

I wanted to see me...my life...relevant to the ancient writings of people who lived righteously in a different time...a different world...I wanted an ageless God("Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." Hebrews 13:8) to transcend the ages and mightily move in my life.

I wanted to feel Life when I read the Bible...receive wisdom to understand.
"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5)

The challenge was presented...she asked, "Find your story in God's Word. Who do you identify with?"

As I began the quest I read and reread stories of different characters Hannah...David... Elizabeth...Mary...Ruth...Esther...Jacob...Sarah...and many more. I've always felt some identity with each of these Bible characters. People who rejoiced when God fulfilled the desires of their hearts...people who girded themselves up for the battle God had called them to fight...people who gave all they had to the Lord and He gave back...people who were chosen and blessed beyond what the could have imagined...people who pressed into the Lord when the suffering was unimaginable and then danced with joy once more. Through it all...grief...pain... heartache... triumph...they sought the Lord and He answered.

Somewhere along the journey I realized very suddenly, "He showed me all I ever did."
(John 4:29)

As Jennifer Kennedy Dean says, "...at an unexpected moment, God will shine a search light on a truth from a scripture you thought you had already mined."

It was a truth embedded in my heart with a hidden meaning which I needed Wisdom...the Spirit of Truth...to reveal to me. Suddenly, out of nowhere I got it..."He showed me all I ever did!"

I've heard the story of the woman at the well (John 4:7-29) since I was a little girl. That phrase, verse 29, "He showed me all I ever did" always stuck out to me.

I know all of my sins...I realize I am very far from perfect...I totally get that I turn to all sorts of other people and things before I turn to Jesus...I get it...Why, Why, Why would she REJOICE and TELL OTHERS that Jesus repeated to her all that she...especially she...who had had five husbands and a new live-in boyfriend in her never-ending quest for happiness and acceptance...ever did...why? That was always the question I asked when reading this story.

Then in an instant the meaning was revealed...my life was changed...I understood...He didn't repeat all she'd ever done...He revealed it. He uncovered her heart's motives...hidden meanings...wrong-thinking patterns...rote habits that were sinful...haven't you ever discovered you were doing something simply because it was familiar not necessarily knowing if there was a different...perhaps better...way?

What He revealed to me was simply a way that I had perceived my life incorrectly...misjudged my role...always...my life was laden with responsibility...trying to help my loved ones in an unhealthy way...taking responsibility for things that I could not correct...things I simply needed to accept...things that should have had no bearing on my decisions...they should have just been.

Trying to change a circumstance...to make right what I had not wronged...to fix what someone else had broken...becoming more and more frustrated with myself and all those around me...I realized...this is all I ever did. I saw my sin and it was incredibly sweet...effortless...healing...I was free to hate my sin and feel incredibly loved with an everlasting love. ("I have loved you with an everlasting love." Jeremiah 31:3)

I had never felt so loved...so free...so different! "In kindness He takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change." (Romans2:4)

Really, what God revealed to me that day in His goodness and mercy is something too deep for words that totally transformed me and freed me to live a more carefree life as the me I was created to be...giving praise to the Father.

Discovering that I never had to do things the same way again...wow, what freedom..."the truth shall set you free."(John 8:32) This is why the woman at the well went and shared...quickly and immediately. She had been forever changed in an instant...those that knew her would be astounded at the woman she had become...absolutely miraculous...she might struggle from time to time...but from today forward, she would be visibly, noticeably different!

The woman that was so ashamed she had to draw water at midday...alone...so she wouldn't have to talk to anyone...was now running through town telling all,
"Come, meet the man who told me all I ever did!" (John 4:29)

Amazing...

Life-changing...

Liberating...

Loving...

I invite you to come, meet the One who showed me all I ever did...

"but whoever drinks this water will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
(John 4:14)



I am the woman at the well
Past secrets too dark to ever tell
I draw water at midday
Hoping no one comes my way
Sin and shame a heavy weight
Loneliness and frustration, twins I hate
Lost in thought, eyes cast down
Who's this Stranger come to town?
He speaks of living without thirst
Could He heal the pain and hurt?
He asks my name; I reply smart
How could He know my very heart?
He speaks of how life has been
I see all my hidden sin
Motives, reasoning, thoughts...all lies
Truth lay bare before my eyes
Here I find Life that's true
As I begin to walk anew
Then I run...telling all to "Come,
Meet the One who showed all I've done!"
No one ever has to thirst
Just seek Living Water first
"Many...believed in Him because of the woman's testimony, 'He told me everything I ever did.'" (John 4:39)

Friday, October 06, 2006

A Resting Place

"Come to me...and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28



I have a resting place
Where I go to seek Your face
Where I can run to hide
Freely walk by your side
I have a hiding place
Where I go to feel Your grace
Honestly confess my sin
Fully cleansed, once more begin
I have a seeking place
Where I go to find new grace
Come, let Your Spirit flow
Like a river, make me whole
I have a healing place
Where I go to sing Your praise
Here I leave all my hurts
As I yield to Your works
I have a praying place
Where I can receive Your grace
Here You hide me in Your wings
Release to me all good things
I have a sharing place
Where I go to speak Your grace
Telling others of Your love
Salvation come from up above
I have a trusting place
Where I go to know Your grace
Clearly You state Your will
Step by step You lead me still