Isaiah 9:1 & 6
Monday, December 24, 2007
Isaiah 9:1 & 6
Friday, December 21, 2007
But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people.
Glory to God in the highest [heaven], and on earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased [men of goodwill, of His favor].
Monday, December 17, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Remember to take time for those you love in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Christmas.
Enjoy their presence!
"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us." Matthew 1:23
This Christmas I have been telling myself, on a daily basis, that it is all about presence...not presents.
I, naturally, want to bless all the people I love and who are important to me with gifts, lots and lots of gifts...especially my children. What parent doesn't want to bless their children abundantly?
But due to the constraints of life...mainly, time and money...this is just not possible on as grand of a scale as I would love. Don't get me wrong, my kids will get gifts and gifts and gifts...more gifts than they need. I'm not saying they won't get much. I'm saying I won't get to buy as much as I'd like.
I love to shop and I love to give.
It is a wonderful combination when the budget is large!
But, when it's not as large as I'd like I have to remind myself...Christmas is all about presence.
Presence of family.
Presence of friends.
And, most importantly, Christmas is about Presence.
Presence of the One I long to be with and can't go on living without...the One I love.
I have to constantly remind myself the presents are not as important as the presence when what I long to bless people with is not even close to the gift I end up actually giving.
If money were no object, what fun I would have buying each loved one the perfect gift.
Unfortunately, I am restricted to spending only the money in my pocket, using only the time that comes in each day and happen to be very thankful that Christmas is about presence not presents.
I remind myself of this when I am busily crafting Christmas presents (presents that looked much cuter and craftier in my mind).
I remind myself of this when I rush out at the last minute to get the one I forgot. I remind myself of this when I end up settling because I didn't leave enough time to figure out what the perfect gift would be.
Today, I did my Christmas shopping...virtually all of it except for the two errands I ran yesterday and the one last week.
We went to place after place after place. The crowds were big, the traffic was slow, my heart was racing. In the hustle and bustle of one afternoon, the completing of just one list, I was pressed to forget about the presence of the One we celebrate this season.
As we ran from store to store to store to find the perfect little gifts for everyone, Julia and I had so much fun...yes, she helped to purchase one of her own gifts and she will look so fashionista fabuloso in her fun-fur scarf, hat and gloves on Christmas Eve because I couldn't resist it!
When we had to search three stores for the one certain play-doh-pick-up-stick-tool that Alyssa so desperately wanted and ended up at Super Walmart the evening of December 23rd in the pouring, freezing rain, we laughed. We couldn't even get our cart down the aisles it was so crowded, we lost our car in the parking lot and got separated no less than a hundred times! But, we were together.
Rare, precious time for me to be with only one of my girls...we had presence.
I pray I will have the gift of presence with each of the ones I love this Christmas holiday.
I pray you will have the gift of presence with each of the ones you love too.I also pray we will all make time for the One whose presence we can't live without...Presence.
What a good lesson for my kids to learn, what a good reminder for me...Christmas is all about Presence.
Immanuel...God with us.
Wouldn't you agree, Christmas Presence is the perfect Christmas present?
I long to experience Christmas Presence...God's presence all year long.
I pray you experience His presence all year long too.
Let's celebrate with Christmas Presence each day of the year!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
And at that time Mary arose and went with haste... " Luke 1:38-39
Monday, December 10, 2007
Remember the Wonder Twins? They could activate their super powers in different forms. One would be fire and the other water or something like that.
This year the Grinch morphed into the chicken pox and tried to spoil our Christmas.
Saturday was to be the official start of the Smith family's holiday celebrating.
We were going to dress in coordinating Christmas outfits for the first time in years and take a cute little picture before we started our day.
We would then pile into the limo with the rest of The Smith Team and head to Houston.
We would play our fun white elephant gift exchange game on the way while watching Christmas movies and spreading holiday cheer.
We would stop along the way at a fine dining establishment and enjoy ourselves while filling our tummies with some yummy cuisine.
And end our evening in the Heights in downtown Houston for Lights in the Heights. This is a fun night, a tradition for our family. Andrew's brother and sister-in-law live in the Heights. Each year their neighborhood has a fun celebration where the city closes down the streets and every single house decorates the outside of their house.
No grinches here!
Lots have live music and entertainment on their porches and parties and refreshments inside. Serious Christmas cheer.
Just what I have been needing to get into the holiday spirit.
Lights in the Heights along with a couple of Red Bulls could probably get my tree up in no time!
"Many are the plans in a man's heart but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21
Just like many other carefully laid plans this year's Christmas got off to a different start.
Really, it was okay that Hunter got the chicken pox on Friday because our Christmassy coordinating clothes would have been a little too warm for Saturday night.
Anyway, Saturday afternoon as Andrew was preparing the limo to leave sans us, Hunter comes up to me and whispers in my ear, "Did I ruin Christmas?"
I tenderly reassure him, "No, Christmas can't be ruined."
He says, "By getting chicken pox?"
I reassure him using even more tenderness, affection and sympathy, "Baby, Christmas is about Jesus. Nobody can ruin that. We'll go see the lights next year."
Words can't really convince a four-year-old of the truth. At times those eyes only see this world's injustices.
We watched Christmas movies, played Go Fish and cuddled lots Saturday night.
But, we didn't really have as much fun as we thought we were going to have in Houston. No lying here. Everyone tried to brave a great attitude. Nobody blamed anyone.
It was just a bummer.
Hunter was sad.
Once more Sunday morning, Super Daddy came to the rescue.
He took Hunter out of the house letting him skip out on quarantine in order to save Christmas!
They went to the Christmas tree lot.
They bought the biggest, prettiest, tallest tree they could find. It's tall, fat, full and flocked. It fills up our window and the star brushes the ceiling.
Little Hunter got to save Christmas by choosing the best Christmas tree ever.
Here he is with his tree.
I was reminded of another Father who used another little boy to be the Savior of the world.
"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21
So this Christmas as you celebrate, remember why that baby boy is so important. Take some time to reflect on the significance of the first Christmas tree.
"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed." 1 Peter 2:24
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Don't throw out your monthly Smith Team newsletter!
Open it, read it, follow the directions and...
Coming your way.
Compliments of The Smith Team.
We had a big boo-boo, a computer programming no-no, we went uh-oh
we invented a game, a contest with a freebie, a really cool, hip, fun prize for fifty people.
Easy as pie, which you could purchase to eat with your cup of java when you get your FREE Starbucks gift card.
Cool and stylish people who like to have that Starbucks cup as a trendy accessory will all be rushing to our blog so email me quickly to get added to our list. We'd like to have ALL our friends on it. This way when you get added to our mailing list you get something free out of it!
'Tis the season for peppermint mocha!
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Friday, December 07, 2007
Always the first response, "Are you hurt?"
More screaming, sobbing and general hysteria.
Always second, "Did you throw up?"
I have a thing with throw up.
A personal vendetta.
Every time a child throws up and I have to clean it up, I throw up too.
The last time this happened was this summer. It was over a hundred degrees outside. Alyssa leaned over the third seat and lost her stomach all over Palmer, his car seat and Julia.
You see why I ask it.
I need preparation if I'm having to clean it up!
No throw up.
Thank the Lord!
But, ears were hurting.
I had started thinking we might have a small problem Wednesday evening when I noticed red dots on his face.
Mosquitoes I reasoned.
Then yesterday when they spread to his ears, I suspiciously asked, "Did you play outside yesterday afternoon?"
When he got up last night, Pocahontas exclaimed, "Hunter has chicken pox."
We're on our way to the doctor.
Verdict is still out.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
How can we sing a new song if we don't experience new things, new triumphs, new victories, new places, new friendships, new life?
How can we sing a new song if we live the same old life, the same old way, everything looking exactly the same, everyday, all the time?
How can something predictable and ordinary be marvelous enough to cause us to create words and music...a new song?My friend Kathryn just wrote a post about moving the furniture.
She has always rearranged the furniture in her home as a sort of therapy. When she had problems or got stressed, it was therapy to her. Then...she got furniture she couldn't move. That's when her issue came out. She realized she did this in her life as well. Instead of dealing with her "stuff" head on, she rearranged it
making it look fresh, different, better.
Same old struggles, problems, issues and sin...just a brand new look.
This got me to thinking.
I don't really like to rearrange the furniture.
I like things to be steady and predictable. I like the sameness of a perfect fit, a perfect arrangement, a feeling of accomplishment each time I look at my room. When I rearrange, which is rarely, I adjust and tinker with everything for days until it pleases my eye. Once it pleases, I've done something. No reason to mess with perfection, I say.
I sit in each room of my house for hours trying to figure out how the furniture should be arranged.
Then I arrange it.
For a long, long time.
As long as possible, really.
I leave it until it doesn't work anymore.
Until we've outgrown the current arrangement or situation.
I leave it until we've added so many pieces, knick knacks and art, I have to rearrange it.
I leave it until it breaks or my children outgrow it.
I like something finished. Rearranging takes days to perfect and finish. The lull between start and finish stresses me. I lay in bed at night thinking it over in my head until I have the perfect solution. Once my eye is pleased, it is pleased. It remains pleased until I can ignore imperfection no more.
I leave it that same way until the need becomes so great that I have to change things because I have a specific purpose or need that is not being met.
For example, I fixed up the cutest nursery ever nine years ago before Julia was born. Although I had to move it to a different room, it's still the same nursery.
Although it has certainly seen better days, I still have the same nursery.
It is a faded, mismatched room with many parts missing that I once considered essential to raising a baby.
Many missing parts such as a mobile, fluffy teddy bears on the shelves, sweet memorable baby outfits on pegs and sadly enough, even a baby bed!
We've lived in our house ten years. The arrangement in our living room has changed very little.
We've added a little, replaced a little, grown a lot but our couch is in the same place. Our TV is in the same place.
I think just like Kathyrn, this represents my life. I like to spend time analyzing each issue I see in my life.
I seek God, seek his word, seek wise counsel, fix the problem...and then don't expect to do anything else about it for as long as possible. It's true that each problem, character issue or sin in our life is built on others. Once we begin untangling the mess, it seems that it will never end...Although, thankfully the Bible says it will end on the day Christ returns.
I am a very yes or no, black or white, all or nothing, forever kind of girl.
I have a hard time with change.
Okay, very hard time.
Change is the primary reason I took a blogging sabbatical a couple of months ago.
So, in honor of Jesus, and Kathryn and the encouragement to embrace the new that comes with our friendship, I'll be rearranging the furniture in the living room this month.
Does putting up the Christmas tree count?
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
My sister-in-law drinks Red Bull. Says it's like drinking five cups of coffee in that little bitty can.
Me, I like coffee.
I tried Red Bull once when it was first introduced. I wanted to see what all the hype was about. It kind of tasted like a cross between strawberry soda and bubblegum. I didn't really like it. I didn't feel more focused, energetic or hip.
That was that. One fad I could do without...
You see, I've been kind of tired lately. Exhausted...fatigued...sluggish...and, well irritable.
Last week moving was difficult. I had no other symptoms except that I could hardly hold my eyes open or concentrate on anything. I had a case of mind funk and body fog. I felt like I was trying to run a marathon...under water! Last Monday I even called Andrew at 4:30 and asked him if he could come home so I could sleep. He did. I slept for over twelve hours without waking up once. It was incredible. Amazing actually. Apparently the children thought of all sorts of interesting tidbits they needed to share with me during those twelve hours. They shared, according to Andrew and I slept.
When I woke up I was still tired, weak, numb in the head. All week life was hard. Exerting energy on any task was difficult. Cleaning, a near impossibility. Talking, too much work. All week my gestures were poor and my words were short. I was desperately trying to overcome this funky, sluggish state and miserably failing.
I tried to make myself drink more coffee. But it just didn't really taste good. I was too tired to drink it!
Yesterday I got fed up with being tired.
I decided to fight the foggy mind mush...with caffeine. I was actually feeling a little more peppy in the morning by by 3:00 I needed a Diet Coke. We didn't have any. But, alas, we had Red Bull.
I drank one.
I cleaned the house. I began the kids homework. My brain function was returning. So I drank another. I made it through the night triumphantly. I stayed up long enough to complete the evening routine and visit with Andrew a little bit.
This afternoon at 2:00 I stopped to measure my day's performance so far. It was fair. I had washed and folded six loads of clothes but none were put away. I had vacuumed the floor but not mopped. I definitely needed a Red Bull. After all, all four kids had been at school all day. My day was only about to begin! I indulged.
I picked up the boys, headed to HEB, picked up the girls, got three kids haircuts, fixed snacks, put the groceries away, put the clothes away, checked my email, bathed the kids, helped the girls clean their rooms, I mean really clean and it was only 6:15! I had time to listen to Alyssa read her home reader and help Julia with her report on Pocahontas...All while sipping on another Red Bull.
I love this marvelous little can of magic potion.
Pure energy in a cute little can.
Amazing, miraculous and awesome! It has cured my tiredness. It has cleaned my house. I am now thinking of putting up the Christmas tree...tomorrow. Even the outside lights that have seemed so daunting sound like fun. I love Red Bull! My family loves Red Bull too. They love having me back in action!
I know what this little can of super power is doing for my house (and I love it).
But, what's it doing to my body?
Monday, December 03, 2007
Friday, November 30, 2007
What is it about a good cup of coffee and a nice long chat with a really good girlfriend?
My soul can get the endorphin fix it is craving simply by planning this time. How uplifting it feels to have those I love the most take time of out of their hectic, crazy, busy lives to sit and linger over a cup of coffee with me...with me.
My mom calls it coffee cup counseling. I've heard it called mentor meetings, coffee and accountability, girlfriend gab. I think the English even call it tea time. No matter what we call it, I love it. I'll take all I can get!
I can leave this scenario feeling more encouraged and connected than I have in a really long time. Especially if the friend is someone I care about deeply and don't see near enough of in my crazy life.Things are really good in life right now. God is moving mightily. The kids are doing well. The marriage is going well. The business is booming. I feel in tune with God's purpose and voice.
But lately I've felt rather lonely. Not alone, not depressed, just apart from those who happen to know the deep parts of me really well. Disconnected from the ones who know my heart, hear my heart, feel my heart...a feeling that one cup of coffee and one glance into my soul can cure.
Thankfully, I am learning to recognize this feeling and reach out to connect to someone before I launch into a pity party, cry for no reason or just become plain old isolated.
My life is entering a phase where it's harder to find gobs of time to bond over coffee, corporately pray and worship on weekends or evenings outside of church or even sit on a park bench and watch kids ride bikes.
I became intentional in building intimacy with girlfriends in college. I needed the accountability, encouragement and support. With my older friends I needed wisdom, accountability and experience that their life had given them already.
Now my life is more full and more busy than it's ever been with my family's responsibilities. Sometimes this breeds loneliness. Not a bad loneliness, more like a purposeful loneliness. I know what God is calling me to do. It's just different. Wonderful. Wonderfully different. I love it. I miss my friends. Friends I used to see regularly.
However, I am involved with many people on a regular basis...I don't feel many are involved in my soul life. The deeper life. The place where God speaks.
One way to enter that place together where God speaks is to spend lots of time there...together. The ladies who have reached out to the Lord, responded to him with me and prayed me through many, many years of life...They get me. They know me.
It's not that any of my newer friends don't get me or know me in this way. It just takes time.
Just like our relationship with the Lord, our relationships with our friends and loved ones take cultivating. We spend huge amounts of time together. Great quantities of time are spent together when life is slower, easier, smoother. Then when we hit a bump in life, the relationship is in place, the trust is built and we have that to fall back on for help and support.
Quality time is born from quantity time.
We can't build quality.
We can invest quantity.
Thank you to everyone who has invested quantities of quality time in my life. I pray God will continue to grow us and connect and add to our numbers.
Thank you to all my girlfriends who touch my soul. Your prayers, love, concern and support carry me to the throne of God on a regular basis.
Whether it's been short or long since we shared that cup of coffee know that as I think of you and pray for you today I am encouraged. I hope you are too!
I love you!!!
Thursday, November 29, 2007
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” "(Luke 10:40-42)
Martha has been introduced.
Was she mortified that her actions would be giving a message that her heart did not feel?
“Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”" (John 11:21-22; 27)
She left them to meet Jesus. She knew where to find him.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Julia did a really great job. She's been sleeping with her soccer ball for a whole year in an effort to get us to allow her to play this team sport. She convinced us. She loved it. She's a natural.
She loved playing forward. She loved being in the action. She was in her coach's words, "The new girl that won't stay back. No matter where she's told to stand she goes further into the action!" That's pretty much who she is in life. One who seeks the action. One who can't seem to stay back. (Yes, we are praying!)
She certainly doesn't get any of those skills from me! Team sports was not my thing. I love to watch her play. She's confident. She's enthusiastic. She loves to run. She loves to compete. She has the greatest fun doing it.