Saturday, March 31, 2007

Hunter Boy's Big Day

Today is a big day for my Hunter-boy. He’s four years old. He can run and jump and growl really loud.

Gone are the chubby baby thighs and here to stay, at least for awhile, are the long, skinny big boy legs.

He longs for the day he goes to school with his sisters but still misses his mommy and his home and his bed when he’s away for a day.

He wants to be like Julia, Alyssa and Cousins Jack and Cooper but wants Baby Palmer to be just like him.

Going to Sunday school, Friendship Connection and Cubbies are the highlights of his week and he doesn’t understand why we don’t go every day.

He’ll do almost anything for a chocolate bar and won’t go anywhere without his blankie.

He’s always hungry, is a bottomless pit and has a hollow leg when it comes to eating. He likes every kind of food he tastes even pickles and raisins…He just “doesn’t want any right now.” He’s the only kid I know who hates ice cream but loves the cone. At night he helps himself to peanut butter from the jar and potato chips from the bag.

He’s Daddy’s little man and Mommy’s little boy. He can punch Daddy really hard and tickle Palmer softly. He can touch gently and love fiercely.

He can be totally independent and a helpful teammate.

He loves his friends and knows everybody’s name.

He wrestles hard and hugs even harder.

He hates bugs and loves puppies.

He can ride a bike and a horse with the same amount of confidence and ease.

He’s a busy helper in the house picking up toys, washing windows and folding clothes. He can make his own bed and organize his own shoes.

He knows his colors, alphabet and numbers. He can even read a book called "Wimberly’s Ice Cream Star" by Kevin Henke.

He loves matchbox cars, trucks, airplanes, Spiderman, Superman, Curious George, Buzz Lightyear and Woody.

As my little boy grows into a young man my heart swells with pride and my eyes swell with tears. Bye-bye, baby Hunter. Hello, Hunter boy.

What a big day! Happy Birthday, Hunter-boy! I love you!

We had such a big time on Saturday. We took the limo to Chuck E. Cheese and the parking lot carnival. It was a blast!

Hunter's favorite present was a $5 bill. It was "a dollar with a five on it instead of a one!"

When I had to give Julia a dollar for dance, Hunter screamed that he wanted one too. Then he asked if it had a one on it or a five. When I said a one, he said that it was okay he didn't want one. He likes big money! Imagine if it was a fifty or a hundred...

He's really growing up!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Alyssa is my thoughtful child. She loves words. She's talkative. She's in touch with her feelings.

I was rushing through the parking lot into the gym. I was carrying Palmer, holding Hunter's hand, trying to catch up with Julia and waiting for Alyssa. She was picking flowers, dandelions that had sprung up due to the many recent Spring rains.

"Hurry up," I said, "I don't want to be late to my class."

She picks a few more then runs to me and hands me a fistful of limp yellow weeds.

We all finally make it into the gym. I drop off the kids and as I am leaving the children's area for my class, Alyssa says, "Do you like your beautiful flowers?"

I say in the obligatory monotone way that implies hurry, hurry, hurry, "Yes, Alyssa I do."

She says, "I love you, Mommy."

I respond likewise.

Then she says, "When I give you a beautiful flower it is a way that I am saying I love you without having to actually say the words."

Then she takes my flowers from me and hands them to me again, an expectant look upon her sweet, radiant face.

I respond, more enthusiastically than before, "I love you too, Alyssa!" and plant a kiss upon her cheek.

She them proceeds to tell me that the flowers are a symbol of the love she feels for me and that if we do kind things for other people then they will always know we love them.

She's a sweet child. She's a contemplative child. She's a verbal child.

She's the one that can slow me down with just a sentence or two.

She recently took her Valentine's pillow that has "Kiss Me" embroidered on it to school in an effort to get her teacher to kiss her. Her teacher always hugs her but never kisses her.

Alyssa said, "I need to give Ms. Berrios a message. This is what I'm going to do." Then she held the pillow up and pointed to the words, "Kiss Me."

She's a cute one. She's a cuddly one. She's an affectionate one.

The other night she told me she wanted me to check on her while she was sleeping.

Andrew and I had been out of town for a few days. She told me she had missed my lips kissing her face while I was gone.

She said, "I need you to check on me all night long. I need you to just kiss me all over my face all night long so I can get caught up on your kisses."

She's the brilliant one. She's the creative one. She's the innovative one.

We were at a restaurant playing tic-tac-toe. I was X's. Alyssa was O's. She went first. Then I went.

Suddenly it was my turn again. I didn't see any O. I asked her where she was going to go.

She sighs and covers her face with her hands.

She then shows me the paper. There is the smallest O the size of a pin-head.

She thought that if I couldn't see the O she might have a better chance of winning!

She's a competitive one. She's a humorous one. She's a stubborn one. She's a perfectionistic one.

I love all the original, creative, humorous and wise things Alyssa says. I'm glad she loves words.

I love words and I love her.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Our All-Star

Julia is our star, our golden child. She does everything and she does it well.

This winter she played basketball. She was great!

She said it was a "rush." She said every time she got on the court she felt like she was on stage performing, like in a dance recital. Here, she is striking a pose on the court just after shooting her first ever basket. She was so at home on the basketball court, surrounded by teammates.

My favorite part of watching these girls play was the hugs. After each basket, they all ran to the other end of the court, hugged each other and squealed. Usually, the coaches would have to yell to get their attention to start playing ball again. They certainly celebrated each small victory...They did this after every single shot they made. It was so cute and girly!

People were asking how many years she had played previously and what league she had transferred from. I couldn't believe this awesome seven-year-old female athlete was my daughter! My team sports days were very long ones, very sad to watch and painfully short-lived.

I usually say, "Sports, ugh!"

But not when Julia's on the court!

She is a true leader in every sense of the word. She inherited Andrew's understanding of team sports' strategies. She knew where she was supposed to be at all times. She knew where everyone else was supposed to be at all times. If they weren't there, she walked them there.

Yes, she still had time to dribble, shoot and pass in every game. She shot and shot and shot. She made lots of baskets too. But, she shot...lots!

She is not a hesitator. She would get the ball, dribble it down the court and get rid of it either by shooting or passing.

If there was not shot, she would make one. She was described by the coach as one with "gumption."

She was not afraid to try to steal the ball either. She slapped the ball out of opposing players' hands on several occasions. In this league, the referees don't give many fouls. Julia got several. I was totally proud.

Andrew said he wished I got as excited about all sports. I guess it was because she's mine.

I was proud!
She loved the competition, the energy, the adrenaline, the fashion. Yes, I said fashion. She loved wearing the shorts, the shoes, the sweatbands. She fixed her hair a certain way for each game and practice.
Not only will Julia pass, shoot and score...she'll always look fabulous doing it! Like I said, she's golden. I love her!
You can check out her insights on basketball on her blog. You can check out Andrew's insights to her game on his blog by scrolling to archives and clicking on January.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Phone Talkin'

Has everyone heard that old statistic that men have something like 25,000 words a day to use and women have like 50,000? I have three times the average woman's number of words to use in one day. I like to talk; I'm chatty.

My theory in life is if it is fun for one person to do then it's tons of fun for more than one person to do together. Even chores can be fun...together. I am a social butterfly; I like people.

In January our pastor preached a series on disciplines of the Christian life. One sermon was about silence and solitude. Two disciplines I don't practice much. I asked God to train me to use both to become closer to Him.

One of my main prayers is that God will "hold my tongue." I hate that our words, spoken in a hasty moment, can bring death instead of life to those who hear them. When I get stressed at all, I talk too much. Hence...silence and solitude.

Remember this is January. I am also trying to morph into a real estate agent for a few hours a week. I already have "the list" prepared. You know the one. The one that tells God all the things I can give up in order to sell real estate.

You see, I am a very blessed lady. I not only have a fabulous family, I also have a support system of fabulous friends. This group of ladies pray with me and for me, provide companionship when I take my kids to activities and bring me Clorox wipes and diapers when my kids are sick. "The list" is comprised mainly of relationships.

God surely would never have me give them up! My friends.

Around this time my nifty, camera/cell phone broke, totally. I had to revert my service to an old phone Julia was carrying in her purse. It's like talking on a toy. I never hear it ring. It has no phone book in it. It's usually dead when I need to make a call.

Thus proceedeth life without the cell phone. That's okay, they're for emergencies anyway, right?

Then we lost one of our cordless phones. Things like this are common occurrences with a family of six. There is a big, black hole in our home. It has missing socks, shoes, TV remotes and a cordless phone in it.

That's okay. We have two cordless handsets because we know the reality of living in our home. We still had the remaining one. we guarded it diligently. We always returned it to its cradle. Still, it died.

Now we have no caller id and no way to answer the phone. No way at all. People can call. People can leave messages. We can hear the messages but we can't answer. We can't even return calls unless it's after 9:00 PM or it's a weekend. (I promised Andrew I wouldn't go over my minutes.) Even then, only if the cell phone is charged. When my precious friend, Hyeong-Sook, called, from Korea, I was totally helpless to our plight! Amidst the work, phone situation and craziness of Smith family life, I was disconnected from talking with any friends as much as I'd like.

Thank goodness for email...except that we just got a new internet server and I lost my phone book. Pages of emails of all those I love have been lost. Gone, totally!

I couldn't reach out to my friends at all. I had no time. I had no phone. I was disappointed. They were my lifeline. Would I drown in loneliness?

God's answer was a resounding "no."

Please do not misunderstand me. We need other believers. We need each other. I need friendships with other women, these women. I thought I could not victoriously survive without their prayers. Their prayers were my lifeline. Jesus is to be my only lifeline. My mistake was that I was allowing them to be a lifeline to Jesus instead of allowing Jesus to be my only lifeline to them.

I was discounting the fact that Jesus is praying for me. "Christ at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." (Romans 8:34)

I was taking my cares to them because I was looking for a way to relieve my burdens. Jesus is the only one strong enough to carry our burdens and powerful enough to relieve our suffering. "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you." (1 Peter 5:7)

When we let others meet needs that only Jesus can meet, we will always be disappointed. When we place life in any other line other than Jesus whether it is friendship, marriage or the telephone line, we set ourselves up for disappointment. I was disappointed. "Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed. Christ Jesus (is) our hope...And Hope does not disappoint us." (Isaiah 49:23b, 1 Timothy 1:1b and Romans 5:5a)

If we truly have Jesus Christ living in us, we should be free from disappointment. If we see the truth of Christ, we will see as He sees and desire what He desires. We will not have false expectations and we will not be doing anything other than what He would have us do. We will be free from disappointment.

It is in solitude I have been able to see His face more clearly because I am not looking at the face of another.

It is in silence I have been able to hear His voice more clearly because I am not listening for the voice of another.

It is in this place He can reveal the hidden motives in my heart, the idols in my life, the unhealthy ways I think and the lies I believe.

I am so much more free to say no to good, even Godly, things in order to bring silence and solitude into my life. I am so much more aware and confident of what God has called me to do. This is a good place to be...without a phone.

PS The reason these last few posts have been so verbose is because I have no other outlet for these thousands and thousands of words I usually speak on the phone!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Bring On the Change!

As I mentioned in a previous post, we are facing change on every front. Our life is looking completely different than it did just six months ago. This is the beauty of it. God takes what once what so lovely to us, burns it, refines it and makes true beauty from the ashes of our life.

When God is the One bringing on the change, it is good. "Therefore...the old has gone, the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17b) Bring on the new!

Well, I say, "Bring on the new," but what I mean is I'm trying not to fight the new kicking and screaming. My tendency has always been to hold off change, to find a way that works and to, well, work it. So, hopefully, this time will go smoother.

Back in November when we decided that I was the best candidate to help Andrew, I felt a deep peace about it.

"Now the Lord God said, It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper meet (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him." (Genesis 2:18)

I felt deep peace, yet, I cried. I cried for a whole week before I could even talk about it to anyone. I did not want to be misunderstood by anyone so I cried privately. I cried because change is hard. I cried because I didn't know what this change would look like. I cried because I liked my life. I liked the people and the activities that filled it. I knew that in order to spend time in real estate, I would have to cease spending time in other places. This made me grieve.

In all my humanness, I tried to figure out, on my own, what this would look like. My mind worked overtime to make a plan. I made a list of all the activities I could sacrifice. I told God the things I couldn't live without. This was an open invitation to God, which He thankfully accepted, to reveal, uncover and weed sin out of my heart.

So, this journey has been hard and painful but equally fun and vastly rewarding already.

The most amazing thing about this "work" is that it is so much fun it shouldn't even be called work. I get to look at tons of houses with lots of new and many old friends. This is just like shopping with somebody else's money! I get to rearrange peoples' homes for a cleaner, fresher, more polished and seller-friendly look. I get to spend tons more time with my husband. I love this! I also get to spend more time with my mother-in-law. Our previously good relationship is now great. My children are making wonderful memories with their grandparents. How rewarding it is to see these relationships growing.
In order for this family unit to function, each member is having to take on new and added responsibilities to carry and to share. I like seeing Team Smith growing this way. Teamwork is being redefined in our home. It truly takes us all working together to get from place to place prepared to carry out our tasks. I like seeing progress like this. I like how the things that were once hard are made easy with practice. This means we're maturing.

My biggest challenge in all this has been going from mommy to real estate agent in a millisecond. Sometimes I really feel like Clark Kent running into a phone booth to turn circles and reemerge as Superman. Most of the time I feel like I got tangled up in my cape! Like yesterday when I realized that I had been watching two clocks that hadn't been set forward yet. I went to get gas and discovered I didn't know the pin to Andrew's debit card. I left to meet my client with hope and a prayer that my award-winning personality and attention to customer service would more than make up for my tangled cape and twisted tights! I want to juggle these roles gracefully.

In Sally Clarkson's book, "The Mission of Motherhood," she talks about the cup we are given to drink. She says that when Jesus was about to hang on the cross, His prayer to God was that He would walk into the role of Savior with grace. In Luke 22:42 Jesus prayed, "Saying, Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but [always] Yours be done." She explains that Jesus spent His last hours on earth serving those He loved and shepherded. She says as mothers and as wives we should care for our family in this way, drinking from the cup God has given us with grace.

May I drink from my cup with the same grace that Jesus did.

"Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]." (Hebrews 4:16)

During these times of need, my quiet time hasn't been all that quiet. It is a good thing God told me to call this a time of devotion. He showed me a few years ago that this time spent in His word was a time of devotion, a time I pour out love to the Lord spending time in His Word each day out of love and devotion to Him.

I am so thankful my God is one who is closer than a best friend. I am so grateful that when we are fighting pinkeye, stomach viruses, the flu and the coughing, sneezing, sore throat, nasty crud and can't get our eyes open in the morning, literally, He is still there. When the only time we have to talk to Him is during afternoon carpool when all the kids are tied to a car seat and the little ones are sleeping (finally), He's still there. When the only time I have to read in His Word is when I am forced to sit, He's still there. When the only time I can actually hear to listen, I'm actually laying in bed dreaming, He's still there.

"Be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not,[I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!] (Hebrews 13:5)

Interesting this verse is about worry...when I'm busy I tend to worry. This on-the-go lifestyle is definitely not one I want to adopt for long. For me to remain focused on God, to not worry and to serve loved ones well I need time with the Lord. I need slow, quiet, set aside, quality time. Time for reading, listening, praying, meditating, pondering and processing.

Have you ever set aside time, maybe with your husband, children or an old friend, to be quality time? Have you ever been disappointed that it wasn't? After searching for a sitter all day you were too tired of talking to converse or after arriving at the ice cream store your child throws a fit because there is no blue ice cream that day or after planning for months to have lunch with a good friend the baby gets an earache and we're exhausted. We've all found ourselves here

Why? Quality time can't be scheduled or contrived. We spend large quantities of time with those we love and quality time just happens sometimes.

I realize this theory is so true in my spiritual life. In general, I need mass quantities of time with the Lord for there to be any quality at all to it, quality results especially. In order to achieve quantity time that converts to quality time we are to continually give thanks, pray and rejoice. This means we have to dwell with the Lord always, be focused on Him always, live in His presence always.

"Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always); Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]; Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
I want my lifestyle to be one dwelt in His presence. I want my lifestyle to minister peace in a chaotic world and love to hurting people. Without quality time with Jesus I am powerless to do this.

God just recently showed me the great thing about walking in newness; it doesn't always remain new. "And we...are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18)

While I'm super busy this month with many new tasks that take hours to complete, I'm learning. In the next few months, I'll be completing these same tasks more quickly.

So, while I am saying, "Bring on the new," I am also waiting patiently for the day I find a way to work it. A day when it's not quite so new anymore.

"Every valley and ravine shall be filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be leveled; and the crooked places shall be made straight, and the rough roads shall be made smooth." (Luke 3:5)

A day when it has all been made beautiful. There will be a time. For now, we appreciate the beauty of what is happening. Rejoicing that He has brought new things.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time." (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Supermom Strikes Green

"I'm hungry", "How much longer" and "Hurry" were only some of the phrases being repeated over and over in my backseat last night.

This brought back memories from my childhood when I was one of those little voices in the backseat. My mom made up a game that mt brother and I played every time we got stuck at a red light.

We would blow on the stoplight and use our "magic powers" to turn the light green. We had such a blast blowing on each other in our germy, spitty, kiddy way. My mom would say it probably got kinda annoying at times.

This is what happened with my kids...

The light was red. Every light had been red.

Then I remembered!

I tell the kids, "When I was little, Gran and I used to play a game. When the light was red, I'd blow on it and try to make it turn green. It always worked. The light always turned green."

One child says, "You blow!"

So, I the exact instant the light turned green. Seriously, it amazed even me. It was totally cool!

Shortly, we arrive at the next red light. They tell me to blow again.

I immediately see three flaws.

Number one, the game was created for children. The sole purpose of the game is to distract children from the fact that they are waiting. It is a game created to occupy their time making them blow all over each other and laugh instead of remembering all their former complaints. The game was not created for moms to blow just to see if they light turns or not

Number two, this light is not turning green any time soon for two reasons. It had just turned red. It was at the intersection of University and Texas. It was going to have to be one heck of a breath to turn that sucker green.

Number three, blowing air out of my mouth for long periods of time makes me lightheaded. That's why children should be blowing in loud, annoying gasps instead of me, their mother, but I succumbed to their pleas and began to ascertain the situation.

As previously mentioned, me being "grown up and all", know the light is not turning any time soon. What a rotten place to test my newly acquired super powers, Texas Avenue and University, the longest red light in town!

I stall and scheme for as long as possible. Then I blow and blow and blow and finally, the light turns green amidst many oohs, aahs and cheers from the backseat. This blew them away...literally!

I felt for a small second that I had arrived. I am not only the mommy they love, I now possess special super powers. I turn red lights green by blowing on them.

I almost ordered a cape with a giant "S" on it today. It seemed like a good idea. As mothers I think we should all get to wear one anyway.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Fifteen Minutes

Have you ever heard someone say, Everyone should get fifteen minutes of fame?" Well, half of our family did...almost. They got about fifteen seconds of fame on the local news!

For Andrew's account of the Daddy Daughter Dance see his blog.

Friday, March 09, 2007

It's JungWoo's Birthday!

Happy Birthday JungWoo.
Happy Birthday to you.
From America to Korea
Happy Birthday JungWoo!
Happy Birthday JungWoo! We miss you and wish we were there to celebrate with you.
You are so lucky that there is snow on your birthday. You are going to have an awesome party! We hope you have lots of fun with your friends.
What does your cake look like? We know your mom made it very special and tasty!
Tell us all about your party, your cake, your friends and your presents.
We love you and celebrate this special day that you were born. We are so very thankful that you are our friend.
Love, Julia, Alyssa, Hunter and Palmer

Check out Hunter's blog!!!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Workin' 9 to 5...Well,Sorta

Where have I been lately?

Well, let's start with where haven't I been lately? I haven't been to Maui or any other exotic location. I haven't been writing or reading. I haven't been relaxing in this awesome sunshiny weather drinking tropical juice drinks.

I have been to Austin, Dallas, Houston (twice) and Waco.

As the newest edition to The Andrew Smith Team, I can find you the dream home you've been looking for at a price you can afford and I can redesign your current home so it will sell quickly and for top dollar.

If anyone would've told me this time last year that I'd be doing this, I would have called them crazy! As my husband's helper, it is my job to help him in any way he needs help.

"The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." (Genesis 2:18)

Right now, Andrew needs help he can depend on in his office selling homes, working leads and helping clients. So, "Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work I go!"

Really, this can't be called work. The kids are always with my mother-in-law or with Andrew or any other available relative, twice a week at the most. Besides, it's really fun!

While I was working in Austin, my dad and Dina took the boys to get haircuts.

Well, really Dina took the boys to get haircuts. My dad tried to take them the night before and the line was too long. Then the next night I had a super-duper case of pinkeye. My eyes were swollen shut, dripping gunk and I couldn't see. So, my dad drove me across Austin to an emergency room that could see me and would accept my insurance. Not to mention this was one of the coldest days ever in Austin! I had to borrow Dina's clothes, Palmer basically stayed in his fleece pajamas the whole time and Hunter, as usual, never put down his blankie! Palmer is such a big boy now! They look adorable and tough too! They pretty much took over care of the boys while I nursed my eyes to health and sight, exposing themselves to all the evil germs. Thanks, guys!

While I was in Dallas, my mom and Pete corralled three wild stallions and their cousins at Chuck E. Cheese and around the house. They fed, clothed and kept everyone safe. They woke me up early in the morning and sent me off with breakfast and coffee. Thanks, guys!

While I've been in Houston and working here in College Station, my mother-in-law has loved on kids, scrubbed my house, folded my clothes, decorated a Valentine's table and just been a huge help in generally every area. I think the one thing I love the most about her is that every day is a celebration for her. She creates a party-like atmosphere whenever she comes...and the kids know it's always complete with gifts! She's brought scrumptious meals, magic band aids, grandmotherly love and lots and lots of elbow grease. Thanks, Linda and thanks, Cris for allowing her to help. She has also been exposed to every nasty germ the kids have brought around here and bravely fought many strange bugs. We totally appreciate you, Gramma!

All of these changes are a little overwhelming right now. We aren't just changing my duties, we are joining Keller Williams, completely changing our office.

Keller Williams is the nation's fourth largest real estate company and the fastest growing. The opportunity to be a part of a company with such great values and support convinced us to merge our own company with theirs and set up shop a little differently but a lot more efficiently.

Keller Williams will be making its College Station debut very soon. It is sure to an exciting event! For more information about the company and its opportunities visit Andrew's blog.

So, as you can tell, we've been very busy lately. Change is all around us. We're still trying to figure it all out. Bear with us. Pray for us. Encourage us. Change is in the air!

"Therefore...the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17b)