Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Christmas Present

This Christmas a chapter of my life was officially closed. Elijah no longer wears diapers. He is potty trained!!! It is my favorite Christmas present.

Around the Smith house we've had diapers in our home for about 13 years now. I'm ready to be done. And yet as I look at these sweet baby pictures I realize that we also no longer have a baby in the house.

Well I'm off to church (with no diaper bag in tow)!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008


Three events are banging around in my head and causing me to think seriously about life. That is quite a feat considering I've been going through my life at warp speed not really pausing to think about much. I've only been thinking about what to buy, what to cook, what to clean, what to wrap.

First, my friend Jill from college (who am I kidding, she's really like my sister and I thank God continually for her) had to leave her home of six years abruptly. When I spoke with her she was pondering what to pack (suitcases on a plane are limited) and what to ship. And, what to simply leave.

She pointed out when they moved from Las Vegas to Russia six years ago, they sold their household goods in a garage sale for $2,000. As she said "It's just stuff!!!"

The real difficulty, the gut-wrenching cut to the heart part is that they had to leave behind two precious children they've been loving on for over a year. Two children that they thought by now would be adopted as part of their family.

Second my friend Matt's (and Jana) grandparents home burned to the ground recently. Just typing that makes me want to sit down in a heap and cry. I can only imagine how that must have felt to watch your home crumble before your eyes. Granted I don't know them and have never met them, but I know their grandson and I know his character. Therefore, I know even though they are grieving the loss of their home and their possessions, their eyes are fixed on Jesus.

And finally, yesterday morning we found out that some friends from church came home Thursday, opened the door to their home and realized their house was on fire. Thankfully, they were able to put out the fire, but there is considerable smoke damage to their home. So, they are in a hotel for Christmas and are sorting through the rubble. It just so happens that their daughter and Clara play soccer together, so this family is well connected to our heart.

So three stories, if I heard them on the news I might think, "Oh, that's sad". But, since these are real people that I know personally, people I care about, I'm camping out here. These events are converging together in my mind and are really changing me.

It's changing my approach to the holidays. Last night there were about a hundred things I could have done, but I chose to sit down on the couch with three of my children and watch a movie. And I mean by sitting down with them, we were all not just on one couch, but on one couch cushion....serious snuggling (I'm glad I picked an intense movie). This season is an opportunity to slow down, relax, spend time with those we love. Why do I allow the commercial aspect to rob me of the joy of my family?

It's changing my approach to the stuff. Good grief, the last thing we need is more stuff. No I'm not boycotting Christmas and we do have presents wrapped under the tree, but this season is NOT about these gifts.

It's about the greatest gift!!! The gift of a baby born in unsavory cirmcumstances, in a less than perfect environment. His parents weren't at home when he was born, they were in a stable. It wasn't a perfect night. It had to have been quite difficult for Mary and Joseph.

Real emotions. Real fear. Real hardship. Real difficulty. Real labor. A child wrapped in cloths and placed in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

What about the witnesses to this miracle birth...shepherds living in the field nearby keeping watch at night. They were minding their own business All of the sudden an angel of the Lord appeared.

That might freak me out a bit. It also said, "The glory of the Lord shone around them." In the darkness the glory of the Lord shone around them. Then a great company of heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests".

So of course the shepherds go to check it out. I suppose if that happened to me I would go check it out.

They find Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in the manger. Doesn't seem like that would inspire what came next. "When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what they had been told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told him. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told."

The reality of his birth probably more reflects the experiences of my friends....hardship, heartache, difficulty, fear, tears, stress. And yet the glory of the Lord shone around them. And yet God was praised. And yet Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

The difficulties ended in Joy..Jesus was born!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Elijah's Photo Shoot

Since Elijah didn't crack a smile during his Christmas program, I thought I would snag a couple of good shots. After all I'm currently borrowing people's cameras to figure out what kind I would like to buy. So, I have a fabulous camera in my grubby little hands and am seeking a picture perfect shot of my little man.

Here's what I got...not a smile in the lot...

Elijah Stage Fright

Elijah's preschool put on a "Christmas play". It really was adorable!! I was proud of Elijah. He had two poses in particular that I thought I'd share. The first is he did do the "O" that they were supposed to do when singing O Christmas Tree. Let me just say I was proud of that "O" considering he was one of the few children that actually did it. The rest of the pictures reveal what he did pretty much the rest of the program.
I'm fairly certain he didn't sing. And, I'm fairly certain he didn't smile. I had a blast playing with my friends DSLR camera!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Remember the $4 turkey

Right before Thanksgiving I bought a $4 turkey at Kroger. We had it for Thanksgiving. We had leftovers a couple of times. And, I made soup. And, I froze the leftover turkey.

Two nights ago I made turkey pot pie for dinner from the leftover turkey. There was only one piece left which David and I fought over to take for lunch....I won!!! The filling however seemed to multiply before my eyes....I had enough leftover filling to make two more turkey pot pies that I gave as Christmas presents to my co-workers.

Tonight we are having the last of the $4 Turkey in Turkey Corn Chowder.

We got seven meals out of one $4 turkey. I have much to learn about frugal living, but this is definitely my biggest success so far.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Playing with Piles

The Smith's are on the long road of fiscal responsibility. We've been dabbling and now are attempting to get serious. Balancing our budget doesn't require an act of congress. Balancing our budget does require time, patience, humor and love.

Balancing our budget does require that I remember we have six people living in our home. It's like I have woken up from a drunken stupor (I mean fog) and am wondering where all these little people came from and why they cost so much money.

Anyway, I'm trying something different. As a visual person I've written each item from our budget on a separate notecard and am pretending it's a game. After all I always loved games...Life and Monopoly being two of my favorites from childhood.

After shuffling and re-shuffling, here's where I am at the moment and it's shocking realization. Our wants pile is much larger than our needs pile. We NEED shelter, food, clothing, transportation, medical care and a few things. We WANT a whole lot more.

I've read a few verses from 1 Timothy lately that keep hanging out in my brain. "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that."


"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.


"Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of life that is truly life."

So, today as I play with my piles...I lay them before God and ask for His wisdom, His guidance, His heart.

Monday, December 08, 2008

When Life Doesn't Make Sense

Sometimes life just doesn't make sense. The unexpected happens. Hearts are broken. Dreams die. Life takes a turn in a different direction. For my friend Jill that I wrote about a few days ago, life just doesn't make sense right now.

She and her husband will be unable to adopt the twins (who they have invested in and loved on for more than a year). And, to add insult to injury...due to circumstances beyond their control, they must leave Russia where they have built their life for the last six years. I can only imagine the pain they must be feeling.

Only God knows where they are headed. The thing that amazes me about my friends is that even though all hell has broken loose in their lives...they continue to trust God. Please pray for them in the days and weeks ahead.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


Last year Hannah received a sewing machine for Christmas. She's been taking a class through the homeschool group at church (Here's a pic of her and her friend Katie at sewing class). Recently they sewed some really comfy pajama pants.

Well, let's just say that Hannah's sewing skills have surpassed mine. Really, it wasn't that difficult for her to do.

Two of my kids are in a musical at church this Sunday and I found out a couple of weeks ago that they both needed biblical costumes. Biblical've got to be kidding me. My idea of a costume is one you pick up at the dollar store.

Thank the Lord, some friends have had mercy on me. Hannah's sewing teacher must have sensed my panic and had some serious pity on me. She just flat out sewed Clara's Mary costume out of the goodness of her heart. Then, my neighbor came over to "help" me sew Noah's wise man costume and bless her heart she sewed pretty much the whole thing.

Here's my funny story for the day. Hannah has been helping me finish up Noah's costume. We've had some challenges, like a broken needle...which I'm happy to say we've figured out how to change.

We're putting the last hem in the sleeve. Hannah pinned the sleeve. I ironed the sleeve. Hannah sewed the sleeve.

When I handed her the costume to finish sewing I said:

"We make a great team sewing!!"

She said:

"Yeah, I do the hard part and you do the easy part!!!!" (said with sarcasm)

Wow, she's turning into a witty young lady. She wants to be a writer...I'm thinking satire might be the way for her to go.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Go Bartlett 98

Tonight was Clara's last soccer game of the season. They won!!! We love this team and the girls and their parents. The team really worked well together and each girl grew so much individually. The coaches did a GREAT JOB!!

For Clara, it was a difficult season, because of the hairline fracture in her leg which kept her out most of the season. However, we are VERY proud of her. She went to practices, sat the bench and cheered her team week after week. She also accepted gracefully the reality that it's hard to come back after an injury. Her leg may have been weak, but her heart grew strong...this was a character building year for her.

Monday, December 01, 2008

$4 turkey 4 ways

So, I scored a significant deal on a turkey at Kroger last Tuesday. My plan for Thanksgiving was to make chicken and dressing, but the $4 turkey changed my mind. In an effort to be frugal, I'm trying to make every ounce of meat count. So, here's how my $4 turkey fed my family.

1. Baked the bird and consumed it for Thanksgiving Dinner
2. Everyone had leftovers at least once, some twice (Clara...that girl can eat)
3. Boiled the carcass to make turkey stock (My house smelled so good yesterday) and made soup using stock, meat I was able to pull off after boiling, carrots, peas, onion, green beans, celery and egg noodles.
4. Froze leftover stock and leftover meat to make another dish later.

So, that's the summary of my $4 turkey four ways.