Monday, April 30, 2007

Back From Minnesota...

Millie and Me On the Plane

At the Airport

On the shuttle bus

Well, I'm back. The conference was INCREDIBLE, as expected. I learned so many new things. I am pumped up! I have always been passionate about teaching children the Bible, but returned from Minnesota with a renewed sense of purpose and vision. This conference gave me so much to think about. It reignited my passion for teaching my own children the Bible at home. It helped me to get back on track with the kids' Scripture memorization. It helped me to remember that I need to have reading the Bible as a daily top priority. There were so many phenomenal speakers, teachers, leaders at this conference. It was encouraging to see all of these Christians that were so passionate about God and about the next generation knowing Him and loving Him. I got a mega-boost of joy knowing that there are so many children out there who are being taught the Scriptures so intentionally and with such depth! It gives me such hope for the future of the church. The church that hosted this conference states that they would like their children to be "Bible-saturated". This is so in line with what I believe. I am not an "AMEN"er, but if I were, I know I would have been shouting it out! :)

We often hear our children being referred to as little "sponges". Yes, they are. The question is, what are we going to "fill them up with"? Are they going to absorb the lines to their favorite movie/television show or their favorite Bible verses? Are they going to learn all about Little House On The Prairie (in our case) or about God and his plan of salvation? I am increasingly convicted of my duty as a mother to instruct my children. This conference just gave me the kick in the pants I needed to get up and start training them! One of the speakers used the illustration of a sponge. He talked about how our children are like the sponge, absorbing everything in sight. He said that at their church, they aim to fill their children up with so much Bible that, when squeezed.... Bible comes pouring out. When kids sleep, they want them to dream about Bible. When they are pricked, they want them to bleed Bible. When they play, they want them to think about Bible. Bible saturated kids...... What a concept! That is certainly something to aspire to.

I won't go on too much about the this post... :) I'll just include a few pictures and relay some of what I learned at the conference on another post. I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked to. :( I wanted so badly to get some good pics of John Piper and C.J. Mahaney, but thought that it would be rude to take pictures during their lessons. I didn't have very many photo opportunities as we were either 1.sitting in a lecture area, 2.sitting on a bus, 3.sitting on a plane, 4. sitting somewhere else. There were no picturesque spots inside the church or hotel where we were staying. I carried my super-heavy camera around and only managed to get a few pictures. :( Oh well, better a few than none at all!

I met a few new friends, interesting girls. I told Josh that it is not often that I go somewhere with ten other girls and find, that I feel I could be good friends with any one of them! They were all such amazing women. We are planning a little reunion this summer. It is such a blessing to have friends like this!

Front: Jennifer, Lamar, Julie, Gabrielle,Heather Back: Tamra, Me, Kathryn, Millie, Kaye

Not pictured: My good friend, Jenni, who had to leave early for a wedding :(

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My Thoughts

I feel like I need to apologize for my lack of blogging lately. I have been extremely busy, in fact, that I have been feeling guilty. There are all of these things that I simply can't activities, meetings, and other things. I know I've mentioned this before, but a hurried and busy lifestyle makes my life miserable. It is hard sometimes to have so many truly good things that you need to be involved in. When I start becoming involved with too many things, though, it seems like the most important things (quiet time, time with family, time to be still) get shoved aside. I have a few girlfriends who are able to function well in the midst of busyness, I simply cannot.

On a positive note, I recently met a really fabulous friend through the blog world. This woman and I have been e-mailing novel length e-mails for the past week or so. I have enjoyed learning about her and her family, asking her questions and discussing religious viewpoints. My writing energy has been spent enthusiastically e-mailing this woman. It has truly been a blessing.

I have been thinking about lots of things lately. Deep thoughts (for me, at least)... One of these thoughts is just how many things that I notice myself doing that remind me of my mother. These are things that I swore I would NEVER do. For example, when I was little, I remember my mom tearing up and even (gasp!)crying during a worship service. YES! This is now happening to me!!!! It is so embarrassing! Last weekend, a group of teenagers performed a worship song on stage. They just looked so darn sweet! I....just....couldn' myself. Actually, I could. I got it under control just in time to keep the tears from rolling down my face. I remembered how much it embarrassed me when my mom used to cry in church. I was able to stop myself by saying, "I will not do this." and by biting my tongue until it hurt. To top things off, I can think of at least four times that I have had to stop myself from crying during the song service or during an especially inspirational sermon. Why is this???? I have been told by my closest friends that I have an "intense" personality. This is something that I do not like about myself. I would rather be less passionate, less apt to cry about the littlest things. I fear, it is only getting worse. On the flip side of that, I have decided that being compassionate is one of the gifts that God has given me. I feel such a sense of urgency towards the souls of others. I feel such a need to make sure others have what I have. I'm not trying to brag, but to give an excited realization that our weaknesses (for me hyper-emotionalism) can also be our strengths (deeply caring for others).

Today, in BSF, we were discussing Romans 14. This is the chapter in the Bible that talks about disputable matters. This was a really good lesson for me to hear! I have such a problem with this. I have these little convictions about certain things. Sometimes I wish I didn't have them. It would definitely make life a whole lot easier. I try not to judge other people and their choices about things that I consider to be the wrong choices. It is such a battle for me. Before you think I am both arrogant and proud, just understand that I am trying really hard to work on these things. This lesson was wonderful for me to hear. There are many things (that are disputable) that I get into the trap of thinking are actually stated in Scripture. These things that I feel so strongly about are NOT clearly stated in Scripture. They are my own personal convictions. I need to remember that some of these people are doing things according to their own convictions and are also doing the right thing, if they are believing and not doubting that it is the right thing to do. (Is that wordy enough for you? :) This sure makes life easier, doesn't it. I mean, I sure do have enough character flaws and decisions to worry about in my own life without ever thinking about what anyone else is doing. That is not beneficial to anyone.

Oh, and another way that I am finding myself to be just like my mother is the fear I am gripped with when I have to travel. I love travelling, just as long as the kids are with me. Tomorrow morning, I am leaving to go to a conference in Minnesota. I have been looking forward to going to this conference for months! A bunch of my sweet girlfriends from Dallas (and North Carolina) will be going with me. I shouldn't be jittery, but just get so anxious and guilty whenever I leave my kids. I absolutely hate to leave them. I am a mother with separation anxiety. So, what do you do when a child has separation anxiety? With my kids, I just gave them a kiss and a hug, told them I would be back, and left them. I am going to have to have that done tomorrow, in reverse. Josh and the kids will have to give me a kiss and a hug and tell me that they'll see me in few days. Then I'll just have to make myself go. Pathetic, isn't it? I know I'll have fun, though. I'm so excited to attend this conference again.

Today, after BSF, I went to Dillards to return a dress that I bought on Saturday. The dress was defective. I was sad about this too, because it really was an a- dorable dress. It was this really cute flowy, gauzy dress that you wear over jeans, very funky, very cute. It had these two large buttons on the front, kindof the same concept as overalls, but with buttons where the clasps would be. I had it on, worn over a t-shirt and jeans,... I was feeling pretty stylish.

When I returned from the hair salon, Josh gave my dress a puzzled look. He said, "Uh...Didn't that dress have buttons on it earlier?" Randomly, BOTH buttons on my dress had popped off while I was getting my hair cut. There were strings hanging off of my dress!!

I went to Dillards to return the dress, took it up to the cashier, handed them my receipt and the tags, told them of my defective dress and was told that I could not return the dress because it had been worn. I calmly explained that I had not played soccer in the dress, but merely sat in the dress for around two hours, and that it had fallen apart (rather quickly, I might add). They said that they were sorry, but that there was nothing that they could do because it was their "store policy". I wanted to ask them if it was also their store policy to sell fall-apart dresses. I decided not to say that. :) Remembering my friend, Holly Grubbs, I (sweetly) asked if I could please speak to the manager. I spoke to the manager, (firmly, but ever so sweetly) and was finally able to secure my refund!!!

One more thing.... Go to my friend,Tamra's, blog to read about just why I am so excited about this amazing conference I'm going to be attending!

Say a little prayer for me as I make the trip to Minnesota tomorrow. The kids will be fine. It's me I'm not so sure about.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Few Sweet Words

This is a letter that Mary Alice wrote to me yesterday:

(On outside of letter)
To !
From Mary !

(On inside of letter)
Dear Mommy,
I Love you
Youre the Best parents In the world

Disneys are not good or the best

the Bible Is
The Holy Bible

I Love you Dad and Major And Me

Love you

Love, Mary Alice

Earlier this week, I found this short letter that she had written:

I worship You God and Jesus.
Love, Mary Alice

So precious!!! I'm putting these letters in a little box that I keep in the top of my closet. I just love her sweet, innocent heart.

Also, I was getting her ready for church yesterday. She was wearing a green smocked dress. I was curling her hair. She said, "This dress is so pretty. Mom, I just don't deserve this dress."

"What do you mean?" I asked her.

"We don't deserve anything that we have." she said sweetly. "This dress is a gift straight from heaven. God gives us everything we have, even though we don't deserve anything."

What sweet words!!!! Once again, God used my little girl to remind me that every blessing we have is a gift from above.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Book Recommendations

Just wanted to pass along a wonderful book, The Word and Song Bible, that was recommended to me by my friend, Jenni. We ordered this book and CD a few weeks ago. It arrived last week. The kids haven't put it down! I have seen so many children's Bibles. This is by far my favorite! It has at least one story for every chapter in the Bible with a verse and a song to follow.

One of the things that I never fully understood until a few years ago was how the whole Bible fit together. I knew lots of Bible stories,facts, and trivia, but couldn't quite put everything together chronologically. I have really enjoyed reading through our children's Bibles along with the kids. Another favorite of ours is The Big Picture Story Bible. This does a great job of putting "the big picture" together.

Several times, I have told Josh that I wish they had resources like this for adults! I have often wished for the good old flannel graph to make an appearance in our Sunday morning Bible class. I would also greatly benefit from a "simple" study that went through the Bible, complete with time lines and songs for each chapter. Music is such a wonderful way to learn! One of these days, maybe adult Bible class teachers will cater a lesson just for people like me and pull out the old flannel graph instead of just utilizing power point or fill-in-the-blank worksheets. Those things are just not the same.... Anyway, I just thought I'd pass on these fabulous books. They are a wonderful way to help our children learn about God.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Loads of Fun!

We haven't left the house today. We have a list of chores that I've been putting off that is a mile long, so I thought today would be a good catch up day. Here is what the kids found to do with my laundry pile. Their little game is much like jumping in piles of leaves. There are no piles of leaves here at the Smith house. We do, however, have piles of laundry in abundance! :)

I'm going downstairs to fold some laundry! Gotta get back to work!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter Sunday

Yesterday, our family celebrated Easter. On Saturday night, after the kids were in bed, I ventured out to the local pharmacy to scrounge around for some candy for our Easter egg hunt. I hung my head in shame as I hurriedly rummaged through the clearance Easter candy, knowing that I deserved the "Lame Mom" Award for waiting until the very last minute to buy our Easter goodies. I spied one small bag of plastic easter eggs hidden beneath a large basket and quickly grabbed a couple of bags of half price Easter candy. I was happy to have purchased the only remaining plastic eggs, but realized that so few eggs would make for a very short hunt. I made my way across the street to another pharmacy to find more plastic eggs. I flew out of that store with the eggs just as they were locking up the doors for the night. Whew!

The next morning, Josh made breakfast for the family. While we ate, he talked with the kids about the reason that we celebrate Easter. Later, Mary Alice asked me why in the world we hunt eggs if we are supposed to be celebrating Jesus rising from the dead? I tried to explain the whole symbolism between new life, eggs, etc. and finally just told her that we just hunt eggs to be fun, that it is just something fun to do on Easter.

I don't think the egg explanation made much sense to her. She did understand when I finally told her that "We just hunt eggs for fun." I think she gets confused by the whole "Easter bunny" thing. We don't really do the "Easter bunny" at our house. The kids know that we hide the eggs and they find them. Mary Alice must have heard her friends talking about the "Easter bunny" . How do I explain this to her? Frankly, Easter is sometimes confusing to me. Bunnies+eggs+Resurrection = confusion.

Mary Alice is starting to ask questions for which I don't always have a good answer. For example, when I tried to explain the "new life" concept about eggs and chicks, she said, "Okay, so you're saying that you and Daddy have a new life that Jesus gave you....."

"When you decided that you wanted to follow Jesus?"

"Yes." I said.

"And be baptized?"


"....And you can have eternal life because of Jesus?"

"Yes." I said.

"When will I be baptized?" she said.

"Some day when you are old enough." I responded.

Then, with a pitiful face that looked like she was about to cry she said, "So you mean that I don't have a new life and I don't have eternal life with Jesus because I'm not old enough?"

What do you say to that? I told her that Jesus tells adults that he wants us to have hearts like children. I told her that because she is a child who loves and wants to serve Jesus, I believe that she does have eternal life. UGH!!! Yikes!!! Mary Alice and her questions wear me out sometimes!! What do you tell your children when they ask you things like this??? Anyone???

(By the way, I'm not trying to offend anyone who does do the "Easter bunny" at their house. We choose not do the Easter bunny for no reason other than that it is something that we don't really care about, not because of any religious beliefs on the subject. Just thought I'd make that clear.)

Mary Alice on the night before Easter

Easter morning before church (Isn't Josh handsome?)

After church, we ate lunch and hunted for eggs in our front yard. Major would hand his eggs to Mary Alice when he found ones that were pink or purple, explaining that they were "girl eggs". Notice the tacky gift bags. I do this every year. I never want to spend money on an Easter basket that I will have to store all year, so I just have the kids grab a gift bag from storage. They don't seem to mind. The kids came inside after the egg hunt and played tackle football. We all ate some of their candy and then laid down for a Sunday afternoon nap! This was my kind of Easter Sunday...being with my sweet family all day, church, chocolate, and a Sunday afternooon nap! Perfect!

Major hunting eggs

Hunting for eggs

The girl and her Easter bag

Off goes the Easter dress...Time for a game of tackle football!

My crazy girl

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Major's Birthday Party

On Saturday, we celebrated Major's birthday. We played mini golf and then went to Rosa's, his favorite restaurant. He's getting so big!

Major and his Cars cake

Hanging out with sis

Major and Grumpy

Riding on his brand new bicycle

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tuesday Morning

What a day today has been! The kids and I have been out and about all morning! We started off the day with a trip to Tuesday Morning. I hadn't been in there in such a long time and had forgotten just how much I love that store, a little too much I'm afraid. We originally made the trip because I had to buy a Rowenta iron at 50% off. I paid full price for this iron at Target two weeks ago. I bought the iron to give to my sis as a wedding gift. My plan was to breeze into Tuesday morning, quickly grab the item and make my way to Target to get my money back for the initial purchase. Things did not go as planned, as the kids and I spent over an hour walking through the aisles, oohing and ahhing at the many fun things they had there. I had to really practice self control to not buy too much. I saw all kinds of things that would make the best baby shower gifts, Christmas gifts, toys for the kids, and things for my house.

Things I bought:
1) The iron

2) Some $1.99 sidewalk chalk,

3) A $5.99 soap-making kit, which will be stored in our craft box for a rainy day.

Things I did not buy, but looked very cool:
1) My own half-price Rowenta iron (These things are the greatest!!),

2) A $7.99 bucket of sidewalk chalk,

3) Wooden blocks that were especially made for constructing cities (They were very detailed and were high quality specialty blocks from Germany.),

4) Some cute ice cream bowls that were multi-colored and looked like cupcake liners. These made me think of Traci.,

5)A football piggy bank (It had a little football player that kicked your coins down a football field and into the bank and would have been a perfect gift for my nephew, Landon.)

6)Some sweet little baby items for the next shower I attend. (There were so many cute things, but I decided not to buy since I didn't have a particular baby shower in mind.)

7)New pillows

8)A crystal making kit-- another rainy day project (It was 60% off and just looked like so much fun!)

9)A fully stocked Victorian dollhouse (for a steal might I add!), but Mary Alice does not really need a dollhouse.

10) A cardboard throne. (This I could envision in a classroom. If I were a teacher of young children, I would have definitely bought this. It was just so cool... and very cheap!!)

11) Candles (Again, don't really need these.)

12) Gardening gloves for the kids (I just almost bought these because they were so cute, but decided not to splurge on them.)

It was very hard not to buy the things I wanted for me, but even harder to not buy the things that I thought the kids would really like. I kept thinking, I know I'll never see another cool (fill in the blank) for this price again. The kids would have so much fun with it. Instead, I told them (and myself) that it wasn't their birthday, so we weren't really buying things for them. This is the line I use most often at the store when they request an item that we don't really need. "Maybe you can ask for that for your birthday?" Today, when Major would ask if we could please get this really cool whatever, Mary Alice would say, "Maybe you can ask for that for your birthday, Major." That made it a little bit easier.

Actually.... come to think of it... my birthday is coming up in a few weeks. Perhaps I DO NOT need to make a trip to Tuesday morning around that time. It could be disastrous! :)

On with our day.... We left Tuesday Morning and went to Target to return the overpriced Rowenta iron. We got our money back!! I was very happy about the saving of around $30!

After running around all morning I felt guilty about being out having fun while Josh had been working so hard. The kids and I went outside to pull weeds. There are plenty of them in our yard right now! It is a jungle out there! The kids helped me with the weeds for a little while, then sat in the shade and played with their chalk. It was getting hot outside, so I told them to go put on their swimming suits. They played with the water hose for about an hour while I pulled weeds. They filled up our old bucket and bobbed for apples and took turns squirting each other off and jumping in the mud. Every time I looked over at the kids I had to tell Major to pull up his trunks. They kept falling down with the weight of the water.

We had a fabulous Tuesday morning. I think we'll just stay home tonight.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Birthday Letter To My Little Man

Little Man,

You are three years old today. You are getting to be such a big boy! You are more and more fun each day and are learning so many new things! You are the joy of my heart, a fuzzy-headed little blessing. You bring us so much joy and constantly entertain us with your spunky personality!

I want to write down a bit of who you are right now and what you are saying and doing at age three.

You are always thinking and imagining things, thinking about different scenarios, playing the "What if" game. It is not uncommon for you to say something like, "What if....such and such happened?" inserting silly things that could never really happen, like "What would we do if my head was a burrito?" or "What if we went to the grocery store in just our underwear?" You are such a silly one and always like to think about the "What ifs" in life. I think you are creative in this way. You are my little inventor.

You love guy, trucks, sports, and doing things with your Daddy. It makes me a little sad that you are starting to become more and more your Daddy's boy and less and less of my little man. Even though it saddens me a little bit, I am somewhat glad, because I know that you being your Daddy's guy is 100% normal and just the way it should be. I just can't help but want to hold on to my little baby. You still suck your thumb, carry your Nima blankie and like me to rock you and sing to you at night, so I know you can't be that big of a guy yet.

You love music! You love instruments and listening to any type of music that I play in the car. Right now, you especially like your Steve Green, The Music Man, the CD that you and Mary Alice made singing hymns, and the classical station. I ADORE hearing your precious, scratchy little voice singing along with your big sister. You really belt those tunes out, too! It is not uncommon for me to go into your room in the morning and hear you LOUDLY singing Count Your Blessings, Holy,Holy,Holy, or another one of the songs that you learned in Bible class. So precious! I love to hear your little voice singing songs of praise and LOVE hearing your enthusiastic voice making music with such gusto.

You love to play church with your sister. The other day, you had your Bible and were leading a worship service (with your sister as the only other participant in the service). You led songs (complete with hand waving), said one of your memory verses for the sermon, said a prayer, SO SWEET!

You are headstrong, much different from Mary Alice at age three. You throw fits at times and find it easy to express your differences in opinion. Lately, when I ask you to do something (put away a toy, empty the trashes, etc.) and you don't want to do it, your response is a fit in the form of angry crying. We've been working on that. You eventually will do what I ask "with a happy heart", though I'm not really sure that fake smile plastered across your face is real happiness. :) You are a happy little boy, but have your own ideas about how to do things. Even though you are not a super easy child, I am hopeful that someday your headstrong ways will help you to stand up for what is right.

You love to go to Bible class and are always sure to remind us that you need to bring your Bible with you. You love your teacher, Miss Devonia. She might just be your best friend right now, other than Mary Alice, of course.

You can't say your "r's" yet, which is cute. When you say your name is sounds like, "Majuw". You say your "l's" now, which we are glad about. Right now, you say the phrase "What you say?" when you can't hear us. When you have a cold, you really have a hard time hearing me especially. During those times, we hear a lot of you saying "What you say?" It can be frustrating repeating things again and again. Sometimes I worry about your hearing. I hope that you don't have to ever go back to wearing hearing aids again. What a pain in the tail those things were! I am so thankful for your ability to hear!!!

Something that both you and your sister do right now... You will say, "Hey Mom!" or "Hey Dad!" to get our attention. Then, if you forget what it is that you needed to tell us, you just insert, "I love you."

You have designated pretend names for everyone in our family, including yourself. You are "Mr. Gower". Your Dad is "Mr. Bedo". I am "Mrs. Fap". Mary Alice is "Mrs. Bedo". The other day, we were singing the Name Game song, (You know, Billy Billy Bo Billy Banana Fanna fo Filly...) You kept suggesting funny words and would say "Let's try Mrs. Fap, Mr. Gower, etc." You are one silly little boy. You and your sister are both pretty silly most of the time.

"Shake it off." is something you've been saying lately. Two words: potty training.

You have some big ole buck teeth. If only you'd stop sucking that thumb! You have one goofy buck-toothed smile. If only we knew someone who could take care of that for you....:)

You like to stick your tongue out of your mouth and wiggle it from side to side whenever you are nervous or shy, usually when someone you don't know very well asks you a question.

You love to jump and LOVE to make noise!!! There are these metal grates at church that you always jump on every time we walk across them. You stop, concentrate, and put all the weight of your body into one big jump, which makes a VERY loud sound, sending many looks in our direction. You jump out of the car, out of the bathtub, off of the stairs, into my arms, etc. I am always afraid that you are going to hurt yourself.

You love for me to read to you and you ask LOTS of questions!! "Why?" "What is that?" "How come he's doing that?" etc.

You are such a complimentary boy and really notice certain things. Whenever I wear a new outfit or dress up you are sure to notice. You look up at me and say, "You look pretty cute mom." or "Mom, you're beautiful." or some other such thing. That kind of attitude will serve you well if you keep it up! Also, I have to note that you saw some Amish/Mennonite type women at Wal Mart the other day and kept staring at them and commenting about how beautiful they were. You said, "Hey Mom, those are some beautiful ladies. Aren't they such beautiful girls?"

One of my favorite things is when you don't think I'm paying enough attention to you and you put your hands on either side of my face and turn my face towards you. Sometimes, you just put your hands there and hold my face, just because. You also think it is funny to tackle me and press your forehead really hard up against my forehead. You just sit there and stare at me, until I start laughing. Then we both laugh. You are a silly guy. You also play with my hair. You're wanting me to hold you less and less. That is probably a good thing, because you weigh a ton!!!

I love your growling and other "boy" sounds that you make. You are like a train that is going full speed ahead lots of times, tearing through the house and roaring. You think it is funny to pretend that you are a lion or a dinosaur, or some other mean animal, and run around saying (in a loud, growly voice) "I AM A LI-ON AND I BITE!!!"

Even though you are rough and tough, you are (mostly) sweet to your sister. You play so well with her. This morning, after breakfast, you went and laid in her bed and listened to her read books to you for quite a long time. You guys love to play together, but I have a feeling the nature of that play will change pretty soon. She directs most of your activities, which means that dolls and house are lots of what is played. You go along with her ideas, for now.

Three years ago today your Dad and I were blessed with a special gift, our sweet little Major Gray. Major, I pray that you will grow to be a strong leader, a man who loves God with his whole heart and wants to do what is right. I pray that your Dad and I will use this time that we have with you wisely. I pray that God will bless you with wisdom, gentleness, and strength. I pray that God will give you a heart that wants to serve. We pray that you will know your purpose in life, that you will use your talents and abilities for God's glory. I know that God has great things in store for you, little man. We are so proud of you and are blessed every day by the extra special something that you bring to our family. I am so proud of my little man!