Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pancake Syrup

Yesterday we were having pancakes for breakfast. Whoops...we were out of syrup. So, I thought I'd do a little research and find out if I could make syrup from scratch with ingredients I had in the house. Sure enough I found a recipe and it turned out great. The only problem was it was a little messy getting it into my old pancake bottle. So, if you are ever out of syrup, give this a try.

Also, we were out of milk so we used Buttermilk (you may be wondering why on earth we have Buttermilk....David made homemade Buttermilk biscuits a couple of weeks ago) in our pankcakes. Good stuff!!

Friday, October 24, 2008


Rain, rain go away come again another day...for many that was probably the saying yesterday here in Rainville. For me I relished the rain. It was wonderful!!! I sat on the back porch in the morning snuggled under a comforter and read. And, then moved to my comfy chair in my bedroom so I could still hear the rain.

I read all day long and felt much like a bear in hibernation. I did nothing, but sit and read. And I'm serious. I mean nothing!!! There were a million things I could have done, but instead I chose to sit and soak and rest and read.

I read my BSF notes, Psalm 33, a chapter from The Green Letters, A chapter from the Light and the Glory, A History of US Book 2 (yes, the whole entire book covering the time from 1600-1740), pages from George Muller's autobiography. And then, I found a great resource of primary source documents on the internet and read from Foxe's Book of Matyr's, The Mayflower Compact, Last Will and Testaments from Settler's in Plymouth, The Westminster Catechism, and even transcripts from the Salem Witch Trials.

Rain refreshes the earth.
Rest refreshes my soul.
Reading refreshes my mind.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Smith Story Time

"Far, far away, where the trees were greener than the prettiest green and the sky was bluer than the brightest blue, there was a place called Happy Valley. In Happy Valley the brooks babbled, the birds sang, and everyone smiled all day long. The farmers whistled and hummed as they did their chores. Children sang as they skipped to school. In Happy Valley every day was a happy day."

PLEASE GIVE ME A GREAT BIG BREAK!! Last night Noah picked out a book and this was the first page. I seriously wanted to toss my cookies. But I refrained and read the book and sent my little one off to bed to dream of Happy Valley with a vow to throw this book in the trash after blogging about it.

Why do I react to Happy Valley so vehemenently? I think it's because in the past ten years in particular I've learned that life is not always so happy. People do not get what they want when they want it and everything does not turn out hunky dory.

Life is often hard. Dreams die. Loved ones die. Marriage is not on the horizon. The barren couple weeps. Sickness comes crashing in when we least expect it. People disappoint us. Money doesn't grow on trees, it flies like the wind. Our dream home needs a new roof. The children we long for go off the deep end when they grow up. You get the picture.

Our deepest longings are often unfulfilled. Happy Valley is an illusion. It's a lie. What is the truth?

The truth is Jesus came that we might have life to the full. Not once do I read that He came that we would be happy. His life resulted in death on a cross. And yet, He didn't stay dead, He came back to life. His call on my life is to deny myself, take up my cross and follow Him.

Today one of my dearest friends is dealing with the disappointment of not receiving what she longed for and my heart hurts for her. For many months she and her husband have been involved in the adoption process for twins. They've been loving on them, investing in them and yet they are at home again in waiting mode without them. Unfortunately she is 6,000 miles away and I can not be with her.

She's definitely not in Happy Valley right now, but I know her. Regardless of how she feels, she is trusting God. Why? Because He is God. Because He is good. Because He is Powerful. Because He works all things for the good for those who love him and are called according to His purpose. Because with Him nothing is impossible.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Recently David and I went to Ashville, NC. We had the opportunity to attend a conference at the Billy Graham Training Center. It is a beautiful location that provides a wonderful atmosphere for refreshment through the word of God. I highly recommend it!!! (And they have scholarships if you are military.)

We also went to visit the Biltmore Estate. It is also a beautiful location. The house is mammoth. David and I walked around for hours, listening to the audio tour. I had two favorite places...the veranda, the view was breathtaking. And, the library....I really wanted to sit and read the books. But, alas, everything at the Biltmore is off-limits. It's a museum and everything is priceless. (And, I might add the cost of touring the facility is PRICEY).

While I get that it's a museum, in my soul I was saddened. Thousands of books will never be read. Thousands of sunrises and sunsets will never be viewed. It seems like a waste really.

As I dealt with these emotions, I began to think about the investments of these two men. The man who built the Biltmore and the man who built his life around sharing the good news that Jesus brings. What are the returns on their investments? What are the results of how they spent their time? How were people's lives affected?

What investments am I making in the future? What kind of legacy will I leave? How am I spending my time? Weighty questions, let me just say!!!

Friday, October 17, 2008


Yesterday Little E, who's three, got sick on the way to school. We promptly turned around and came home. I set him up on the couch with waterproof tablecloths all around him. And of course we put the handy, dandy bucket beside him for his puking pleasure.

He never used the bucket, but let me tell you that waterproof tablecloth he was laying on was a cinch to clean...actually he would clean it himself (pretty nice since by this time I was joining in on the sickness venture).

This am my husband went to wake up our six-year old for school and smelled the dreaded smell. I'm glad I was still in bed, let me just tell you that. So now, our six year old is laying on the waterproof tablecloth.

Well, he just got sick and I'm so proud...he used the bucket. But my favorite thing was when his little brother said. "Oh, so that's how you are supposed to do it!!!!" Education at it's finest.

I'm off to do some serious cleaning!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Crazy at the Cove

David and I went to a conference at the Cove in Ashville, NC last week. It was spiritually renewing and I will talk about that later, but I wanted to share some of the quirkiness of our trip (in no particular order).
  • We ran into a former college student from our Ohio days. He's married now with one child and one on the way.
  • I met a man from Memphis who looked vaguely familiar. Turns out he was the judge when I went to try and wiggle out of my speeding ticket. OUCH!!
  • It rained and rained and rained!!!
  • The rain kind of blocked out the view of the mountains...what mountains?
  • When you go to the bathroom in an outhouse at the top of a mountain, it's kind of breezy.
  • We ate and ate and ate.
  • We opted to stay at a Bed and Breakfast since we knew the Cove didn't have TV's, after all it was vacation. Guess what...the B&B didn't have TV's either. Guess what else...a TV free week was nice.
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway is a beautiful drive.
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway is a spooky drive when the clouds are swirling around you.
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway is not the quickest way to get to Memphis from Ashville.
  • Traveling without kids is so much easier!!! (Although I did miss them!!)
  • Driving a Hummer really does feel like you are driving in a tank.
  • Driving a Hummer makes you feel way cooler than driving a grocery getter (minivan).
  • It was great to go, BUT it was even more great to come home to our sweet family.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Where have I been?

It wasn't my intention to take such an extended blogger break. But, the time away from the computer was well spent. We've been up to a few things around here.

First, my house needed some significant de-cluttering. Usually I spend all my time in other areas of our home and the master bedroom seems to become the dumping ground. My nice, walk-in closet is dubbed "The Pit" and you certainly couldn't walk in it. Now, it's organized...well for me it's organized. I can actually step foot in it.

Second, my husband and I had the opportunity to go away for a few days. We went to a conference at "The Cove". It was great. I'll post more about that later. I will say that spending time with my hubby was wonderful. And, thanks to my aunt who made it all possible by caring for my four kids while we were gone!!!

Finally, I'm reading a book called "Making Room for Life" by Randy Fraze. Well, first I read Ted Dekker's book "Adam". I digress. This book by Randy Fraze is making me think.

The Smith's are in a BUSY season of life. Sometimes I miss the good ole' days. When we lived in Ohio and we hung out with friends all the time. When we only had two kids and we weren't outnumbered 2 to 1. When it was just the two of us and we....I'll refrain. You get the picture.

The fact of the matter is I want to enjoy the moment. Today is a new day. This season in life is unique and once it is gone, I will not be able to recapture it. Period. So, I'm thinking and pondering.

What is important in life? I can certainly give the textbook answer to that question....God, family, friends...people. But, can I live out the answer? Does my life reflect a full-on commitment to pursue relationships?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Smith Family Bailout

With the state of economy and the rising cost of EVERYTHING, our family is in evaluation mode. It would be easy to be fearful right now. News articles seem to be screaming that we are heading into the next Great Depression. While I am no financial analyst, it does seem that our country operates in excess mode. We want what we want and we want it now. Cost seems unimportant.

If I am honest, unfortunately I've operated in that same mode and have taught my children to do the same. So, while I can't change the world or the country, I can change myself and greatly influence my family. That is why my family is taking stock financially. We're taking baby steps.

This week we evaluated what we spend on beverages. Well, I determined that we spend an average of $130 a month on drinks and that does not count if we go out to eat or pick up a drink at a gas station. For crying out loud. That's $1,500 a year. Surely we can do better than that!! So, the Smith Family budget cut #1 is that we will reduce our beverage budget to $50 a month. Milk gets first priority...we do have some growing kids. Then, tea, coffee and juice (in that order). Anything else is considered a splurge.

Our second cut is piano lessons. Both of our girls are taking piano and while they love it and are progressing well, that's $120 a month. Yes, piano is important, but it is a luxury. So, we've gone to the drawing board. We've worked with their teacher and have come up with a plan to have the girls take piano every other week. They still have to do two weeks worth of work so hopefully it won't slow down their progress. That's a $60 a month savings.

So in one brainstorming session we've cut $140 from our budget for October.

Let me conclude by sharing my Hannah inspirations. First, our daughter Hannah gave up drinking carbonated beverages a year ago. Granted we're paying her $10 a month to do so based on a good case she made . She said she would be saving money. She's decided to continue to abstain until her braces come off. Talk about will power.

My other Hannah inspiration is my mother-in law. She is very frugal and lives simply. When I'm with her I'm amazed at how careful she is with her resources. I could certainly learn some lessons from her.

Some of my favorite frugal websites are: