Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Plan with an Open Hand!!

The Plan!!
This is a written plan presented to me by Noah yesterday morning while I was still in bed.
(Note he is supposed to bring cookies to his Valentine's party at school)

1) Everyone clean the kitchen
2) Gets the ingredients (plus food coloring, sprinkles and icing) - Hannah
3) Mixes the ingredients and food coloring (w/out the sprinkles and icing - Dad
4) Flattens the cookie dough and shapes them into hearts - Mom
5) Puts them on the tray - Clara
6) Puts them in the oven - Hannah
7) Takes them out of the oven - Dad
8) Put on the icing and sprinkles - Hannah and Clara
9) Put a cover on the cookies and put them in the fridge - Mom
10) Eat the cookies - Noah and Elijah


Hannah and Dad - sick and slept all day
Mom - school w/ Elijah and Noah, weary from a busy weekend
Clara - trying desperately to catch up on school work

Mom and dad went to Kroger to buy cookie dough. Hannah put the cookie dough in the oven and went to take a shower. Mom took cookie dough out. Noah decorated cookies and put in the fridge.

Lessons Learned

Noah is a great planner!! He learned sometimes things don't turn out exactly like we planned. We have to plan with an open hand. In the end it does all work out. While he will not be eating cookies made from scratch, he will be eating cookies.

Besides...the cookies and cupcakes pictured were prepared by my good friends Alisa at My Sweet Tooth Cupcakes and Elizabeth. Who needs to bake when you have the experts to bake!! Noah had these fabulous desserts on Saturday night!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Epic Fail

Week Two--not a single post!!

Must do better!!!

Today, Noah will post. He asked me a million times to do it last Friday and I got busy and kept putting him off.

Sunday, January 08, 2012


My one word resolution for 2012 is - LESS.

Not a word I would have chosen. And, I admit it frightens me a little. Why? Because all my life it seems that I have wanted more.

So, I stand at the beginning of 2012 and commit to LESS. That's all I have to say for now (shocking, I know), but hey it's the year of less..less words seems like a great place to start.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The Tree

Thoughts from Elijah

I painted it because I wanted to paint a tree with dirt,that is why it has brown on the bottom. And, I like it because I really wanted to do some art.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

New Day, New Me

Thoughts from Hannah...

It is a new year. Last year is gone and we are given another chance. Many people say, "New year, New me." This is thought to be cliche, and not sincere or genuine.

What if we, as Christians, really used this saying. When we accept Christ, we really do become a new person. Our old self is completely dead, we are made new and clean because of the blood of Christ. But there is a catch to becoming a Christ-follower. Many people think that they will become a Christian and their lives will be perfect and dandy. They believe that this new life will be like frolicking carefree in a field of flowers with no worries.

This is the complete opposite of what really happens. When you accept Christ, you sign up for war.

These two ideas of Christianity are polar opposites.

Utopia, and War.

In the end though, signing up for God's army has eternal rewards. He helps us in the war. The God that we are fighting for has defeated death and darkness. What do we have to fear? He has already won, but we are still daily attacked by Satan.

This leads me back to the saying, "New year, New me." How can we as Christians use this saying, or a variation of it, in our daily lives. You see, even though God has won the war, and when we accept Him and sign up for His army, we still mess up. We do not become perfect when we become Christians. What if Christians woke up every day, spiritually defeated because of the mistakes of yesterday? We wouldn't be living our life to the fullest in Christ.

The beauty of being a Christian is that God forgives all of our sins. No matter how bad. He forgives the sins of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I want to resolve to wake up every day, believing that I have been forgiven.

I can be a "New me" if I do not hang on to the sins of yesterday. I can live life to the fullest, serve Christ everywhere, and love like Christ does if I believe that Jesus forgives me, loves me, and is on my side. So my variation of this saying would be, "New day, New me."

Workout Plan

This is my workout.
I need to get back in shape for soccer.
This is what Im gonna start with.
What's your workout plan for 2012?


So Tuesday is Clara's day to share. As you can see....it's Wednesday, so she is a little late. Let's just say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. If only I was as in shape as she is. If I did this workout, I would end up in the cardiac care unit!!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Monday Musings!!

Chateau Smith, the blog, will be revamped in 2012. You will have the chance to hear from our whole crew. There are six of us and we will be sharing our lives with you. Meet David who will bring you his musings on Mondays.

David is an awesome husband and a fabulous father. He's a great listener and a great friend. He's one of the wisest men I know and you will definitely want to tune in on Mondays to hear from him.

He's the dude who originally named this blog. For those of you who don't know...Chateau Smith was the name of our home in Dayton, Ohio. It was a place where lots of friends hung out. This blog represents our desire to continue to share our lives with friends nearby and friends around the globe.

Today David's busy driving a busload of college students to Passion in Atlanta....I love him and his servant's heart!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

One Word Resolution

As 2011 draws to a close and 2012 begins, I want to share a blog post written by our friend Brad Dunlap. He posted this last year and it was a life-changer for me.

Brad suggested picking one word and commit to that word for the year. That actually seemed like something I could do. So, I decided to give it a try in 2011. I sat down to contemplate what my one word should be and the word REFRESH came to mind. And, let me tell you I quickly dismissed it because that didn't seem cool enough.

And as quickly as the word rattled around in my brain, some Bible verses came to my mind. (Trust me...this doesn't usually happen to me!!)

Acts 3:19 - Repent, then and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing my come from the Lord and that he may send the Christ, who had been appointed for you--even Jesus.
Proverbs 11:25 - A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

Little did I know at the beginning of January how the Lord was leading. I may have initially thought that refresh would mean that I would relax/rest and be refreshed. No way!! Nothing could have farther from the truth.

Here's what I have been up to in 2011 and I am so thankful for every moment!!! And, I'm wondering what the Lord has in store for 2012.

What about you? Will you set resolutions for 2012?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

All I Want For Christmas...

Technology amazes me!! When I was growing up we didn't have cell phones, Facebook, the internet, instant streaming videos, digital cameras, laptops, Ipods, Kindles etc. I remember having a handheld computer football game with different colored dashes that you could move with arrows and I thought that was sooo cool. I remember getting up on Saturday morning to watch cartoons, the highlight of my week. There were three channels to choose from. (No, I didn't walk to school 3 miles both ways uphill in the snow).

Since I grew up in the dark ages, I'm a pretty huge fan of technology. I have fully embraced technology. Well maybe not fully, we don't own a flat screen TV, have an Ipad or a Mac, so I'm an still old school in many ways.

However as I type this, I am on my laptop in my bed with my coffee sitting beside me, cozy and comfortable. My youngest daughter attends a virtual school. I work at a non-profit and the staff all works out their homes. I communicate with 50+ volunteers on a weekly basis via email. Facebook keeps me connected to friends and family near and far. Pinterest...what more can I say?

I rely on technology on a daily basis.

But I am realizing technology has a dark side, a really dark side. Sometimes I wonder if so many choices and the ability to do what we want to do when we want is feeding the monster of selfishness. I wonder if technology has really complicated the teenage years, as if they were not complicated enough. I wonder if technology fractures families. I wonder if technology becomes a substitute for relationship. I wonder...

As we head into the Christmas holidays, I want to ponder all these things that I wonder. I'm thinking it is time for me to control technology, not allow technology to control me. What does that mean?

I don't know.

Of course if someone gave me an Ipad, I wouldn't complain :-)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Blog Hog No More!!!

This morning I spent some time looking back at this blog and realize that I'm really glad I blog because it gives me perspective. It helps me quickly look back and glance at my life. For me, I didn't start a blog to make money or become an accomplished writer or even develop a following. Which is a good thing because I haven't done any of those things :-)

Why did we start the blog? Because we live far away from our families and are terrible about sending pictures. We decided to use technology to our advantage and eliminate guilt from our life (well maybe not eliminate, but at least reduce it).

Actually David started the blog in 2005 and I hijacked it in 2006. Crazy that I have been blogging for six years. This blog does tell our story over the past six years. I am thankful for every moment!!

As 2011 draws to a close, I realize that my time as the primary author on this blog is drawing to a close. It is time for me to turn the reigns over to my family and allow this blog to be a reflection of our family. It is time for me to quit being a blog hog.

We'll see how that goes!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Rest of the Story!

We were looking for a couch. We really needed a couch. Really!! When people sat on our love seat we would have to say..."Watch out for the nine inch nail that is sticking out below the cushion" or "I know it's really low on the ground and you may have to roll yourself off the loveseat".

Last week we found a leather couch and it was really cheap. The rest of the story is that the while we really needed A couch, we really wanted either a sectional or two couches. After all we do have six people in our family. At the same warehouse sale where we found our couch we also found the couch part of this sectional. It did have a tiny little tear on it and it is obviously meant to be part of a sectional, but we were able to get this for $150.

We were a bit nervous about this purchase. When we got it home we realized that our living room really is smaller than it appears. It took us 24 hours to figure out how to arrange these two LARGE sofas! But, we are very happy with the results.

So, God provided more than we imagined and we are so very thankful!!! Two leather couches for $350.

I'm also thankful to my parents and my aunt for their Christmas gift last year and their patience as we took 11 months to buy the couches.

And...we still have some $$ to finish out the room. Hopefully it won't take us 11 months to finish it out.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Extravagance of God!!

Meet our new couch!! Well this is actually not our couch, it is a picture of our couch. This couch represents months of waiting, agonizing and praying. Last Christmas we were given $$ to purchase a new couch by my parents and my aunt. We went shopping in January, but the choices were overwhelming so we couldn't make up our minds.

Plus, David and I aren't the best furniture shoppers on the planet. Once we bought a chair that was cheap, really cheap. When we got it home, we realized it was largest chair know to mankind ..although it sure is comfortable. The mammoth chair made our living room look like a fairy tale. This loveseat is too small. This chair is too big. This chair is just right.

Also, about the same time we started shopping for furniture, I began to work at Habitat for Hope and admittedly got a little distracted, well maybe a lot distracted. There was so much to learn and so many people to get to know!!

In addition, David and I also decided to freeze any extra spending. Why? Because this dream job is a support raising position (in case you don't know what that means, it means my paycheck comes from the generosity of others). If I had $20 for every time I've told someone that it is my responsibility to raise support and their response was "I could never do that" then my salary would probably be fully funded :-)

Honestly....It has been hard, really hard to raise support. And it's stressful.

Looking ahead to 2012, I'm thankful to have people who have committed to partner with Habitat for Hope and provide salary support. This support enables me to do my job to recruit, encourage and mobilize volunteers to serve families with critically ill children.

The difficult thing is the support I have raised is only a fraction of my salary. Imagine getting 10% of your paycheck....that's where I am right now. This week David and I have had some time to really pray through and talk through this reality. We have decided to continue to walk forward in faith, trusting the Lord to provide for our needs. We've decided to be thankful for the 10% and trust God to provide the 90%.

At this point you might be wondering what in the world this has to do with this gorgeous leather couch? I'm glad you asked. Tuesday I started in earnest shopping for a leather couch and went to several stores and picked out a few couches. On Wednesday I was on my way downtown to visit with a family from Uganda whose son was having brain surgery and I decided to stop by the Ashley Furniture Outlet (thanks Shelley for the recommendation).

A bright light shone upon one couch in particular (not really!!). This couch was very similar to a couch I had been looking at the day before which cost $700 in the Ashley showroom. I decided to ask a guy who was unloading the truck how much the couch cost. He comes over and starts looking at the couch and said $299. (I'm thinking yippee!!). Then, he looks a little closer at the couch and said, No, make that $199 and I fainted on the spot (not really).

I said...we'll take it and called David to get his hiney down to the warehouse immediately. It took him forever to get there because his truck kept overheating. (And now we're praying for God's provision for our truck)

There's more to the story...but here's the bottom line. I'm sitting here on this brand new, all leather, incredibly comfortable sofa that my whole family can sit on, overwhelmed by the extravagance of God. He cares about the details and as we move into 2012, I choose to rely on Him and trust His generosity and His provision!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ugandan Friends

I thought you would like to meet the dear family from Uganda that we searched for at the airport Friday night!! Please pray for them today as their son, Omega is in surgery to remove a brain tumor. He is a delightful little boy!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Lesson from The Pantry

Note (This is NOT my pantry!!)

This morning I decided to skip church (gasp) and stay home to clean my house. I know, I know that seems crazy and wrong, but my house seriously needed some help. It's starting to look like an episode of hoarders!! My family is awesome about helping to keep things picked up, but organizing and throwing things out are a foreign concept to them.

So, I gleefully scooted my sweet family out the door, tuned Pandora to JJ Heller and got to work. First up on my list....The Pantry. Which did not really look like this pantry pictured. It was messy for sure, but really didn't have a ton of food.

So I start throwing out old stuff and clearing everything out. It was going fine until I got to the bottom of the pantry, which by the way is where we store our paper bags from Aldi and plastic bags from Kroger. Rather than being neatly stored in the bins I have designated for bags, there was plethora (one of my favorite words that you just can't work into conversation that often) of bags shoved in the bottom. I decide to throw out said bags (double gasp...I know I paid for the Aldi bags and I should recycle the plastic bags).

As I was working, one the nastiest smells known to mankind hits my nose with the force of a mack truck. A couple of orphan potatoes in a bag were buried underneath the mountain of bags. I'm not sure how long they had been there, but I do know that it was YUCKINESS of epic proportions. Think liquified potatoes!!

Foul!!! Seriously FOUL!!

As I am scrubbing the floor about to vomit, it hit me that my sin is like that. I try to bury it. I try to fool myself into thinking it's not there. I might be able to cover it up for a while, but eventually something is going to happen and it will be revealed for what it is Foul, seriously foul!!

The verse in Psalm that says "Create in me a clean heart, O God" came to my mind as I am on the floor cleaning up nasty potato rot. I need God to flood my heart with his Living Water, to get rid of all the rot. I want a clean heart even more than I want a clean pantry.

So, I may have "skipped" church, but the pantry became a place of worship for me this morning.

Spirit of the Living God....fall fresh on me!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Trip to the Airport

When word came that Habitat for Hope would be serving a family from Uganda, there was a flutter of excitement inside of me. You see about two years ago I fell in love with Uganda and the people of Uganda from reading the Kisses from Katie blog. I read the entire blog in two sittings, much like a great novel that I just couldn't put down. It's an incredible story of a young woman following Christ with reckless abandon. When I read her story I remember thinking that I didn't want to go to Uganda necessarily, but I did want to follow Christ and be who He made me to be and do what He wanted me to do. She seriously inspired me!!

Fast forward two years and here I am trying my best to live as Christ would have me live my life. I'm serving families whose children are chronically or critically ill. My heart has been opened wide to the silent suffering of so many families who are walking down a really dark and difficult path. My job at Habitat for Hope is to equip, empower, encourage and mobilize volunteers to move into the lives of these families...to love them, serve them, hang out with them and become friends. These families come from all over the country and the world and often they don't know anyone here.

Back to the family from Uganda. When we received word they were coming, I knew that I wanted to be part of the team to serve them because even though I don't know them, I already love them. So, the first thing they needed was someone to pick them up at the airport. David and I decided we could definitely go pick them up. Our 16 year old daughter begged to go with us because she said, how often do you get to meet a family from Uganda?

So we head to the airport with very little information....a name and an arrival time. That's all the information we were given. We tried to get more but that's all we had. Memphis is a small airport, right?

We spent the evening searching the airport for a family from Uganda. I'm sure people thought we were a bit stalker-ish. The security guys probably were wondering why these three people were pacing to and fro....who am I kidding, Hannah and David quit wandering after about thirty minutes. My husband is quite smart and parked himself right by the arrival area. He and Hannah played a mean game of Lie to Me and trying to figure out people's stories according to their body language. Hannah might have discovered that when you hang out at the airport, you see lots of cute boys. Her favorites were the Navy guys. We're in trouble!!!

Meanwhile I continued to pace....my beloved friends that I hadn't met yet from Uganda were nowhere to be found. After a while we received word that they had been delayed in customs in Dallas and wouldn't be arriving until 11:30....which if you know me is way past my bedtime. So, we called in reinforcements, went ahead and delivered some groceries to the HFH apartment where they will be staying and went home.

I must tell you that I loved, loved, loved my daughter's response to this crazy evening. She laughed and had a grand time. She said even though we didn't pick up the family, we had an adventure.

Sometimes things don't turn out like we expect, but we just have say.."It's okay!!" (which by the way is Hannah's favorite expression) and keep going.