Friday, December 11, 2009

christmas card rejects

Taking a family Christmas photograph is ridiculous.  At least it was this year.  Just when Stephen and Abbie were at the age where they could give normal, natural smiles at the right moment, we went ahead and added 2 little munchkins to our family photo.

No complaints regarding D.  He is a great little smiler.  In fact, as soon as he sees a camera pointing anywhere near his face, he turns on the cheese.  Azariyah, on the other hand, is a monster-baby.  As soon as we were all positioned, she either screamed or whined and in one shot, she even jumped out of the picture.  UGH!

So, here are a few funny rejects and then I will show you the winner!

Reject #1

Reject 2 - What a beautiful smile Azariyah!

Reject 3: Merry Christmas from Matt, Tracy, Stephen, Abbie, D and Azariyah's foot

And the winner is....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

thank you, friends

Thank you for making the trip to the Tree Farm extra special for my kids!   They love you all so much!  Even little monster loves you, though it doesn't show on her face!  ;-)

thank you hallmark!

Monday, November 23, 2009

remember perfection?

I remember playing Perfection as a kid and being totally freaked out at that annoying timer:  tick, tick, tick....

The thought of that board popping up, causing an explosion of shapes was a fearful thing for any elementary school kid.  And do you remember that one stinkin' macaroni shaped piece?  That's the one that always got me!

After a long and close game of Settlers, where Fox took the win (ugh!), we whipped out a new game for a little competition.

Some notes on the pics below:

1- Allyson looks way to calm.  How annoying!  Then again, she beat the timer with room to spare so I guess her calm expression makes sense.

2- Becky looks panicked, though she beat the clock with plenty of time to spare.  No need to panic Fox!

3- Me - well I look panicked too, but like the other girls, I beat the clock so why the worry?

4- Pat looks calm but surprisingly, he is the one that needed to look worried.  After all, the first two times he played, the game beat him!

how do you eat an oreo?

Like this of course....



















Tuesday, November 17, 2009

stinkin' cute

I love this picture.

monday, monday part 2

In addition to having a leaf-jumping, playground swingin', pot-drummin' sort of day.....I took Stephen out for a photo-shoot.  Abs joined us, naturally.  She had to weasel herself in a few of the shots.  :-)

Here are some of my favorites:


Monday, November 16, 2009

monday, monday part 1

Matt home for the day + perfect fall weather = fun family day for everyone!

We hit the playground first and the kids ended up playing in the leaves more than anything:





























After the playground and leaves came lunch at Chili's (thank you Steve & Angie) and then back home for naps and drum lessons.

Since my pots and pans are old and icky and because I had a 30% off coupon and $10.00 off at Kohl's, Matt gave me the go ahead to purchase a new set.  The OCD in me could not wait to pack up my icky set and reorganize the new set.  That stinkin' kitchen cabinet that is a terrible mess would finally be clean and would now house a shiny set of new cookware.  Woohoo!  I took Stephen and Abs with me and with the help of a fellow shopper, who was a complete stranger that I quickly befriended, I chose a Food Network Stainless Steel set.  It's a beauty and I can't wait to cook something, though part of me does not want them to ever get dirty!

In the process of removing the icky set, Azariyah woke up from her nap so I brought her down for a little drum lesson.  Surrounded by pots and pans, she joyfully and violently drummed away until the plastic spoon actually broke!









Then, next thing I knew, she sat inside the steamer part of the stock pot and actually got stuck!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Call for Help, part 2

Created by Stephen Smith.

a call for help

My Stephen-boy (11) recently had to write his first persuasive paper for English class.   I thought he was going to write about the importance of choosing a mac over a pc, but he chose a much more important subject:  the need to help orphans.  I love my son so much and I am thankful to God for the sensitive and caring heart He has placed in Stephen.

Here is his paper!
A Call for Help, by Stephen Smith

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have no mom and/or dad, no clothes, no home, no food and living on the street?  Well kids that are orphaned usually live with this every day!

Most kids that are orphaned usually lose one or both parents and live on the street until someone finds them. There are over 45,000 kids in Ghana,Africa that are abandoned and/or homeless. In Uganda, Africa the churches face major challenges because of AIDS.  In Ethiopia, Africa, there are more than 1.2 million AID orphans. If you think that sounds bad, more than 10.6% of the adult population has this disease as well, which will only increase the future number of orphans.

UNICEF (which stands for United Nations Children Fund.) states that the worldwide number of orphans, from all causes and not just by AIDS is now 132.7 MILLION KIDS!  Out of that huge number, over 132,000 orphans reside right here in the United States of America.  We can`t wait one, four, or eight years to do something about this.  We need to act now!

Even God calls us to react. In John 14:18 Jesus says “I will not leave you as orphans I will come to you.”  Just as Jesus said ‘I will not leave you as orphans‘ we should listen to God. In James 1:27 we read that “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God,the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”  It is clear that God cares about these often forgotten ones and that is why we should care too.

There are lots of ways that you can help orphans.  You can sponsor an orphan on a monthly basis so that their basic needs will be met.  You can also donate money to help cover costs of building, toys, beds, food, etc. to organizations that are serving in orphan ministries around the world.  There are always opportunities to go and serve in building an orphanage or child’s home as well as helping to care for the children on a short or long term basis.  Another great way to help is by choosing to adopt a child in need.  Above all, the most important would be to pray for the safety of kids all around the world until someone finds them and cares for them. Helping orphans is away we can reflect Christ`s love.

Friday, November 6, 2009

special spot with my special girl

Abs is growing up.  She's a whopping 8 years old and is my adventurous child.  A special date with her, I have found, is best when it includes two things:  moving and nature.  So...we set out on a little hike to a special spot and I captured some keeper photos.





I love my little weasel!

Friday, October 23, 2009

fall fun with the kids

Today was the perfect, crisp, fall afternoon.  Before naps we had to get out and do a little neighborhood walk to collect leaves.  D loves to do this and even Azariyah got into the action.

Here are some photos of our walk, D and Abbie doing a craft with the leaves, and Azariyah getting into mischief.






Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Here are some shots of Abbie's new rodent.

Chopsticks is a Chinese dwarf hamster.  I mentioned in an earlier post that she is a good digger.  That remains to be true...but that's not all.  After 3 nights of silence from Abbie's room, Chopsticks broke the routine and decided to learn the art of wheel running!  We couldn't be happier.



Saturday, October 17, 2009

so long fluff...hello chopsticks

While Matt and I were enjoying an amazing dinner at our favorite restaurant, I received a disheartening text message.  It was from my friend Allyson, who was kind enough to watch our kids while we enjoyed an overnight getaway in the city.  The text read:

Sorry to interrupt...Fluff is dead and Ab is very sad.

Fluff is...well, was Abbie's beloved winter dwarf hamster.  We got him July 4th - the day we had to let Spot, our super speedy-only after one thing in life turtle, go back into the wild.  Fluff was a great first hamster for my daughter.  He was very affectionate as far as rodents go and despite that he looked like a round puff ball with legs, he faithfully ran on his wheel all night, every night.  I can attest to that personally.

So...before our desserts arrived, I snuck away from our table for two to give Abbie a call.  I could tell she had been crying but she seemed on the up and up.  Matt called her after dinner and again, she seemed to be doing pretty well.  Knowing that we were going to get a new hamster seemed to lessen the blow of fluff's death.

Matt and I arrived home and we all gathered outside under the rainy sky to bury Fluff and to thank God for his short but memorable life.  We all had our roles to play.  Matt was the gravedigger.  Stephen's compassionate heart was displayed when he went searching for flowers for us to put on Fluff's grave.  Allyson held the umbrella over Abigail's head, as she leaned against me crying.  Azariyah went from Matt to Allyson to me, wiggling around in her pink puffy coat.  As for me, I found myself unexpectedly giving a eulogy type message, reminding all of us how death - even for a winter dwarf hamster, is sobering.  It makes us think about where we stand with Jesus.

It was the first pet funeral  that we experienced as a family.  I know it won't be the last because we have a cat and as of today, we have a new hamster:  Chopsticks.  Chopsticks is appropriately named because she is a Chinese dwarf hamster.  She's quite cute with her mouse-like ears and she is an excellent digger!

So long will be missed!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

a great illustration for trust

Continuing on this road of what "trust" looks like, I found a gem when I discovered this link from one of John Piper's tweets.  I love and appreciate how he has created a visual image for me to picture and comprehend.  Hope it encourages others out there!

Your daddy is standing in a swimming pool out a little bit from the edge. You are, let’s say, three years old and standing on the edge of the pool. Daddy holds out his arms to you and says, “Jump, I’ll catch you. I promise.” Now, how do you make your daddy look good at that moment? Answer: trust him and jump. Have faith in him and jump. That makes him look strong and wise and loving. But if you won’t jump, if you shake your head and run away from the edge, you make your daddy look bad. It looks like you are saying, “he can’t catch me” or “he won’t catch me” or “it’s not a good idea to do what he tells me to do.” And all three of those make your dad look bad.

But you don’t want to make God look bad. So you trust him. Then you make him look good–which he really is. And that is what we mean when we say, “Faith glorifies God” or “Faith gives God glory.” It makes him look as good as he really is. So trusting God is really important.

And the harder it seems for him to fulfill his promise, the better he looks when you trust him. Suppose that you are at the deep end of a pool by the diving board. You are four years old and can’t swim, and your daddy is at the other end of the pool. Suddenly a big, mean dog crawls under the fence and shows his teeth and growls at you and starts coming toward you to bite you. You crawl up on the diving board and walk toward the end to get away from him. The dog puts his front paws up on the diving board. Just then, your daddy sees what’s happening and calls out, “Johnny, jump in the water. I’ll get you.”

Now, you have never jumped from one meter high and you can’t swim and your daddy is not underneath you and this water is way over your head. How do you make your daddy look good in that moment? You jump. And almost as soon as you hit the water, you feel his hands under your arms and he treads water holding you safely while someone chases the dog away. Then he takes you to the side of the pool.

We give glory to God when we trust him to do what he has promised to do–especially when all human possibilities are exhausted. Faith glorifies God. That is why God planned for faith to be the way we are justified.

Friday, October 9, 2009


I shared a few posts ago how I was being challenged to trust Jesus through our foster care situation.  As a result, a friend sent this helpful article by Jon Bloom (Desiring God) on this very subject of trust.

It is important to note that Jon is drawing from John 13:1-11 - where Jesus washes the feet of the disciples.
First, much of the Christian life is spent trusting Jesus now and understanding him later. Jesus typically does not feel it necessary to explain on the front end why he is doing something the way he is doing it. And, like Peter, when it looks wrong to us, we are tempted to object to the Lord’s will.

God understands and is patient with our confusion and even our deep wrestling or grief. But he wants us to trust him and not grumble. God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). His purposes for bringing or not bringing certain things to pass often extend far beyond us—maybe even generations beyond us.

So during those times we need to remember Jesus’ words to Peter: “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”

Second, what Jesus is bringing about in the sometimes confusing, sometimes very painful work he is doing in our lives is sanctification. He is washing our feet. He not only bathes us, completely removing the guilt of our sin in his cleansing work on the cross, but in love he keeps forgiving us (1 John 1:9) and disciplines us so that we will share his holiness (Hebrews 12:10-11).

Our understanding his purposes in a particular providence tends to be not as important to God as our trust in his character. So together let’s continue to “trust in the Lord with all [our] heart, and…not lean on [our] own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Because one day we will understand. And we will, with great joy, proclaim, “The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works” (Psalm 145:17).

You can read the full manuscript here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

sleeping beauties


the gospel and suffering

Matt and I have been going through an emotionally trying time right now as we wait, and wait, and wait, to see if we will be able to adopt our two foster children.

We aren't suffering physically like many others and we are not suffering persecution because of our faith, like many faithful believers are all around the world; yet we are experiencing a sort of emotional suffering that is very challenging.  Like any trial, we are left with the question, "Will I trust in Jesus through this ordeal?"   I know that I can.  I believe that He is there, sovereignly ruling and reigning over the details of my situation.  But will I trust Him and what does trusting Him look like?

I came across two quotes that have been helpful in training my mind to believe truth and then to respond to that truth in simple dependence and trust in Jesus.
...I realize that the gospel is not just one piece of good news that fits into my life somewhere among all the bad.  I realize instead that the gospel makes genuinely good news out of every other aspect of my life, including my severest trials.  The good news about my trials is that God is forcing them to bow to his gospel purposes and do good unto me by improving my character and making me more conformed to the image of Christ....I can (then) embrace trials as friends and allow them to do God's good work in me.   (A Gospel Primer, by Milton Vincent)

There is a joy in knowing that through suffering God is at work in you to sanctify you and make you more like Jesus.  There is also joy in knowing that through suffering God is at work in your life as a witness and testimony of the difference Jesus is making in how you live your life, especially the most painful parts. (Death by Love, Mark Driscoll)

If I was told that at the end of all this, we'd get to adopt these children, I think I would readily embrace these trials as friends.   But I don't know the end of this particular chapter of this story and that's where the embracing becomes near impossible.  Near impossible unless I first see how the gospel connects my struggle to his desire to fulfill His eternal purposes is me.

His eternal purposes are clear in Scripture.  He wants to sanctify me.  He wants to make me more like Jesus.

At the end of all this, God's plan may be for someone else to raise these precious children.  Will I trust Him?  Can I have joy knowing that His purposes in me will be fulfilled because I am becoming more like Jesus through all of this?  Is that enough for me?  I want to say yes.  I want to believe that wholeheartedly.  I want to be planted firm in these truths, I really do.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

bus thief

IMG_5335I had to laugh when Diamonte (2 1/2) decided to put one of his Fisher Price little people in a time out.

Why did this little Asian girl end up on the step you ask?  Well it all started when she decided to take her school bus for a spin.  Apparently she is not the bus driver.  The girl with the geeky outfit and huge glasses plays that role.  Since little Asian person broke the rules and drove off through the living room, D decided to handle the situation.

He quickly removed her from the bus and placed  her on the step.

LOL.  It's been 10 minutes and she's still there.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

an afternoon drive

Our fam took an afternoon drive to Havre de Grace on Monday and it was THE perfect day weather-wise for a stroll down the promenade.   Of course all roads lead to a sweet playground!

Here are a few pics.




Friday, September 18, 2009

one person can make a difference

Take the time to watch, cry, learn, and be amazed at how God used the life of one teenager to change the lives of countless orphans.

congrats to brian & amy smith

IMG_0537 It's been years since I have been asked to be a bridesmaid in a wedding.  I must confess that I was actually giddy and in tears when Amy asked me to be in her wedding.

Watching Brian and Amy's courtship develop and seeing first hand how they sought to honor God in their relationship was a beautiful thing!

I am thankful to God that I got to stand beside my friend on her wedding day!  What a privilege that was and it's a day that I will not forget!

Welcome to the "Smith Club" Ames!   To God be the Glory for the work He has done!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

can you tell?

O.K.  How obvious is it that my Stephen-boy is NOT into animals.  Especially not farm animals.

Big pig mama just squeezed out a litter of 18 piglets and we were there to greet them at the State Fair.

Piglets are really cute.  Adult pigs?  Not so much.



i know, we admit we're geeks

Yep, Matt and I are geeks.  As you can tell from the first photo, we don't even seem to mind.  For my birthday way back in May, Matt bought us tickets to see the American Idol Live Tour, so last night we drove to Reading, PA to catch the show.

We had amazing seats and the show was excellent:  very entertaining, fun, creative, and LOUD.

Highlights for me:

1- Adams's performances and hearing his voice range live.  My eardrums were actually throbbing.

2- Danny singing "My Wish" and his attempt to encourage those going through trials and hard times.

3- Allison's performances and hearing her sing "Cry Baby".

4- Matt's rendition of "Georgia".  My Matt was impressed with his piano playing.

Did you notice that I didn't mention Kris in any of my highlights?