Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I'm laughing as I read my last post.  My journey to health is just going to be never-ending.  And by "health" I mean losing 20 pounds.  I know health is not just about losing weight, but sometimes it feels  more concrete to think of it in terms of poundage.

Sidenote...I can make a smoothie now without the kitchen looking like it got slimed.

It's been a crazy few days and I don't have anything new or insightful to say about the terrible loss of life in Newtown, so I won't.  My first prayer was "No!", followed by "Jesus, please come back soon."  That's all I could think and all I could pray.  I wanted to jerk my kids out of school and keep them at home for the rest of their natural lives.  Rational, no...but neither is someone killing 20 first graders and their teachers.

I settled for going to visit two of my three girls during lunchtime in their cafeteria.  Wow.  That place is crazy town and every single time I walk in and sit down with a table full of fourth grade girls I am reminded why I am not a teacher.  They are presh, but man can they talk.  The kindergarten table is a little different.  Boys and girls still mix it up and sit together, and the conversation is super random and hilarious.  Quote of the day from Zoe's table: "When my Dad and my Uncle get jobs we are going to move.  I want to move to California.  That's where Katy Perry lives."

For the past week I have been reading the BEST book evs...and I'm not joking.  When I read it I can go from gut laughter to extreme conviction in about two seconds.  It's just so good and you need to go get it right now.  The book is 7 An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.  Do not pass go...just buy it and trust me.

In the book, Jen takes seven months and tackles seven different aspects of excess.  She spends the first month eating only seven foods, the second wearing only seven pieces of clothing, and on and on.  If I read that last sentence I wouldn't want to read this book because frankly anyone who does that seems a little cray.  But let me just tell you that she is NORMAL.  She is a mom of three, she loves food, looking cute, and watching Modern Family.  They could run an Apple store out of their house, and she's never really recycled before writing "7."  That's why I love it...it's just real.  And she has a group of hi-larious friends she calls "The Council" who help her through each month and come alongside her to keep her sane.  Great picture of the body of Christ at work in our crazy lives.

Reading this book makes me vacillate between extreme joy that someone is speaking right into where I am, and extreme jealousy that I didn't think of it and write it first.  I want Jen to come speak at our Women's Weekend at Windy Gap next year, but she is already booked up for that weekend.  Not that I would ever wish any retreat would fall apart, but if the weekend of September 6-8, 2013 happened to open up I would be thrilled (yeah I'm talking to you "IF" Conference in Austin, TX).  I'm joking.  Not really.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Heart and Health

So this past week I have been trying to live out what I learned on my week away.  And what a success!!!  I have been a pillar of patience and understanding, listening well to all those I encounter, and seeing them through the eyes of Christ.  Yeah, right.  Baby steps...

During our last meeting, Larry told us not to look at our notes or manual for a while (which of course I obeyed by waiting a whopping 48 hours before reviewing mine).  His thought was that we should see what comes to the surface for us...conversations, time alone, something we heard in a lecture.  One of the conversations that has risen to the surface for me has been one I had with a lovely and precious woman named Carolyn.  Carolyn was in full time ministry, but has since pulled away and is staying at home.  She is married and has no kids of her own, though she claims many of her friends' children and opens her home as an after school stop for these adopted ones.  As Carolyn shared about her life and how she spends her time, she kept returning to a phrase that I latched onto and now claim for myself.  She said that she is trying to focus on "her heart and her health" every day.  That's it.

That's it???!!!  That's it.  And ladies and gentlemen let me tell you it ain't easy.  I have tried to do just that each day.  Just those two things.  And I fail.

Taking care of my heart and my health can look different for everyone.  For me it looks like going to the gym and attempting to work out, take my vitamins, and eat food that doesn't look the same french fry color.  That's the health part.  And just for your enjoyment here is a blurry but adequate picture of my first attempt at a yogurt/spinach/flax smoothie in my new blender...

Gonna keep trying on that one, though how awesome is it that my brand new blender is now inundated in every single crevice with sitcky, yet extremely good for you, spinach liquid.

The heart part looks like being still, pulling away, and making a conscious effort to sit my booty in my red chair and read.  Sometimes it's the Bible, sometimes it's Real Simple magazine, sometimes it's Harry Potter.

This is proving to be SO HARD!

How can I justify sitting?  How is that ok?  How can I justify working out or spending time on my grocery list so I won't fill my cart with Lucky Charms?  How could I have the NERVE to actually snuggle up and take a nap?  While my kids are at school and my husband is working away all day?  While all my friends and neighbors are busy scurrying around doing what they do?  How is  it ok to take care of my heart and my health?

I don't know.  But I am trying my darndest.

As Ian so often reminds me, "Comparison is the thief of joy."  (We don't know who said it, but it's such a good one don't you think?).  So often I spend time looking at others to help determine my schedule, my parenting, my outfits...

The only way I know to go about this "heart and health" business is by battling back all my impulses to move.  To go against everything in me that tells me to go anywhere other than places that are good.  And I don't mean good places like Target or Anthropologie, though they are exceptional places.  I'm talking about good places that lead me where I ultimately want to go.  Places that push me toward what feels so unnatural, like silence and quiet.

Yesterday's Jesus Calling (by Sarah Young) was so spot on:

Lie down in green pastures of Peace. Learn to unwind whenever possible, resting in the Presence of your Shepherd. This electronic age keeps My children "wired" much of the time, too tense to find Me in the midst of their moments. I built into your very being the need for rest. How twisted the world has become when people feel guilty about meeting this basic need! How much time and energy they waste by being always on the go, rather than taking time to seek My direction for their lives.

I have called you to walk with Me down paths of Peace. I want you to blaze a trail for others who desire to live in My peaceful Presence. I have chosen you less for your strengths than for your weaknesses, which amplify your need for Me. Depend on Me more and more, and I will shower Peace on all your paths.

"I have chosen you less for your strengths than for your weaknesses."  How powerful and freeing is that?

So I continue plundering my way through the noises in my head to seek out peace and quiet in the presence of Christ.  And along the way maybe I'll learn to make a real smoothie.  I'm sure my kids hope so.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Today marks two weeks since I've been home from the School of Spiritual Direction.  Ian did such an amazing job with the kids that I'm thinking he needs to be Mr. Mom and I'll go to work.  That would be tough, though, because he makes the big bucks and ministry doesn't really bring in the dough.  We've got school debt to pay!  They did great, though, but we are all glad to be under the same roof again.  The kids loved their gifts from the Mast Store in Asheville...they LOVE Little House on the Prairie so I got them little bonnets.  Adorbs.

And just so you don't feel like my life is too swanky - jet setting off to conferences while my loving husband and little cherub daughters await my return - here's what my first day back looked like:

So I spent most of the day folding and catching up on morning TV.  A far cry from studying Obadiah with Larry Crabb, but such is the nature of the paradox of my life.

In other Smith news last week, Zoe lost her first tooth!  And Tori was student of the week.  Here is the Toothless Wonder and her Wondertwin:

Since I've been home I have been trying to process through all that I heard and learned.  People have asked me if I had a fun week and the answer is definitely no.  I had a great week, and full week, and intense week.  I loved being in the mountains and so enjoyed being with Jenn, Maribeth, and CC.  The week was never intended to be fun, though.  Sorta like in Narnia when the kids ask the Beavers if Aslan is "quite safe" and the Beavers respond, "Who said anything about safe?  Course he's not safe...but He's good."  That's kinda how the week was...not safe at all, actually quite risky relationally, emotionally and spiritually.  It was so so good, though.  Just what I needed and wanted.

I'll admit that I went really wanting the Lord to answer some questions pretty clearly for me...and we all know how that ends up.  I wanted Him to give me a vision for what great and wonderful things I am to do in my life now that my kids are in school and I have time on my hands.  Should I become a famous author, travel the country sharing my hilariousness at various women's retreats, or become a worldwide speaker and rock it like Beth Moore, (minus the big hair)?  Those were the options, basically.  Not too lofty, do you think?

The funny thing about God is that He really did answer my prayer, and He answered clearly, but He chose His own option...option "D" which is, "Just keep doing what you're doing."

Not crazy, not sexy, not cool (sorry TLC).

For the past ten years Ian and I have been on a journey through scripture that has really changed the way I see myself and those around me.  The major revelation has been that because of God's love for us and Christ's coming to live and die for us, we ALREADY ARE who He made us to be.  "Christ in us, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).  My friend Jeff calls it, "The Already and the Not Yet."  We know full well we are not yet perfect, but we already are who God made us to be...He is living in us and through us...we just kinda go in and out of really believing and taking hold of that Truth.  (BTW, whether or not we believe that Truth does not make it any less true.)  So often I major on the Not Yet and forget the Already.  This is part of the reason I wanted an answer to "what do You want me to do with my life"...like I'm not already doing it, or more precisely BEING it!

Throughout the Crabb week I was able to piece together through conversations, teachings, and time alone that the Lord really was giving me an answer.  Three people independently of one another, used the word "life" to describe who I seem to be as a mom, wife, neighbor, friend.  That's not a doing word, it's a being word.  A wonderful woman in my triad (aka small group) who had gotten to know me well used the word "obvious" when talking about where God has me here at home.  When she said that something clicked inside and it felt like real truth...that it's obvious where God has me.  I've been asking the wrong question.  I don't need find out what to DO, I need to seek out who I am to BE...in Christ.

A sweet, fun, spunky friend of mine named Allison decided last year that she wanted to learn to sew.  She took the bull by the horns and not only learned, but designed her own clothing line (which you can see here: Allie Mac Design - go get you some of that).  It rocks and I have three things that are in serious wardrobe rotation as we speak.  I was able to go to her first show in Columbia and was blown away by her talent, her care, and her candor.  She'll tell it like it is, tell you what you need, tell you what looks good and what makes your booty look big.  I bought a shirt and a dress noticed that on the label inside the shirt it had her tag line which is, "Be Who You Are."  Love, love, love this tagline.  During my time away this phrase was actually brought to mind, as He was softly, gently, and clearly answering my prayer.  What do I do next?  Buffy,  just Be who you Are.

Rockin my Allie Mac shirt
More to follow on what this all actually means in life...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What am I thinking...

So next week I am doing something crazy.  Crazy for many reasons, not the least of which is leaving my family for a full week.  I know people travel all the time with work or for trips and stuff, but when you're a stay at home mom it's a little nuts to think about just pulling out of the chaos for a week.

I turned the big 4-0 this year and for my birthday I asked to go to this thing called the School of Spiritual Direction led by Larry Crabb.  It's in Asheville, NC at The Cove, which is pretty awesome and fun...especially since it will basically be the only fall or winter I will see all year.  Seriously, there are like no trees in Florida and the ones that are here don't have leaves that change.  It's nuts.

Aaaaaaanyway, the other crazy thing about going on this week is that I can't really describe it.  There are some people who have been that I truly respect and admire their walks with Christ, so I'm really just wanting to be more like them/Jesus.  But I feel like a kid going to YL summer camp..."It'll be the best week of your life," without the money back guarantee.  I am thrilled to be able to hear great teaching under Larry, nervous/thankful for the personal sessions I will have with a counselor there, and excited to wear my fleece jacket.  Most of all, though, I am hoping for some direction myself.  Not that I think I will walk away with a true sense of a new calling (i.e. high paying yet super flexible job), but I am hoping that space will be created so that I can listen.

On the first day that all my kids were in school I decided that I wanted to start things off right so I came home, got my coffee, sat in my red chair and started reading scripture.  But quickly I was moved to begin journaling about the absence of quiet in my life for the past five (nine) years and the deep thirst I had for it that just could not be quenched.  That morning sitting in my living room I could literally HEAR the silence...and it stung my ears...in a good way.  Like a cold fountain Coke that burns your throat on the way down kind of way.  It was glorious and refreshing.  That's what I want more of next week.  More space...and cold Cokes.

So wish me luck and pray for me that I will listen well so that I can come back and love well.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Been a while...yes it has. Almost a year. That's turrible (said in Charles Barkley voice). Way too much to catch up on, and this isn't a diary anyway so I won't try. I will say, though, that if you heard whooping and hollerin' from the corner of Glenfield Crossing and Eagle Point on August 20th, it may or may not have been me dancing away from the school bus as it took ALL THREE of my kids to school. Seriously? Yes, seriously.

I love those little whipper snappers with all that I am. We had an amazing summer, which I'll get to later, but it was time for school. You feel me, mamas, I know you do. As always, the way we kick off the school year is by yanking our kids out for a few days and heading to Windy Gap for the Women's Weekend. What a blast this year. My mom spoke, and she rocked it! My hilariously talented, insanely goofy, and super hot friend Martha agreed to do program with me...so that was pretty good too. She and I were funny enough but the real show stealer was Maggie. She came up on stage with us on Saturday night, became one of "The Jans" and rapped...yeah, rapped. And not like you might think a little white nine year old girl from the burbs would rap. Um no, she killed it. Well, just here it is...

Sooooo, that's basically what I've been doing for the past year...getting two little divas ready for kindergarten and one not so little diva ready for the big time.  And by big time I mean Windy Gap.  Just praying she decides to "take her talents to the Holy Spirit" rather than South Beach or LA.  Lord help me.

And not to be outdone, Zoe, Tori and the other daughters had a little debut as well:

This year's retreat was even more meaningful than in years past.  I think because my mom, sister, sisters-in-law, mother-in-law, and aunt were there.  And my girls got to see some pretty strong, fun, caring and smart women in their lives do some amazing things.  They got to see their Gammy speak about being who you were made to be, they saw their mom act a fool (nothing new), and their aunts read scripture in front of 300 ladies.  As you probably know, my four sweet friends and I started this weekend nine years ago.  There were only three living kiddos between us at that time, but now there are 13!  We've been busy.  Saturday night at club all of our daughters came on stage with me and Martha, but beforehand I sat down and asked them why they thought we did all this crazy stuff.  They answered that we wanted to make people laugh and have fun.  So true.  I was also able to tell them, though, that when we laugh it opens up our hearts and gives us freedom to understand and experience what is around us...that in a way we were unlocking the door to allow folks to really see, hear, and experience the worship songs and the words in the talks.  Then Emma, one of my BFF's daughters, prayed for us and for the ladies at the retreat.  Wow.  What an amazing mom moment for me.

I've never been on the "votes for women" bandwagon, but I have to say that in Young Life I didn't see many women speaking upfront at camp, but even less women doing program.  Women were allowed to be in the "opera" as the frumpy heroine who becomes beautiful at the end when she falls in love (think Grease without the black spandex unitard).  Not a great picture of the Gospel.  Women were just considered unfunny upfront, and to a certain extent that is true.   We didn't need a woman up there just for the sake of having a woman.  It's just that the "right" women were  not being asked.  And there was no one showing us it could be done.  

Things have changed and I'm glad...not because I think things have to look equal, but because I think things should be good.  Really good.  And sometimes that looks like women making people laugh. 

 I'm just glad that through this women's weekend my four friends and I have been able to show our girls that they can do amazing things when they listen to the still small voice of the Lord...even if He's asking them to do something crazy like share Christ with women by filling up a camp every September.

Can't believe next year is our tenth!  I love you Dana, Anna, Shelly and Linds.

p.s. remind me to never cut my hair like that again