Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Fall Festival

Fall isn't really a season in Arizona. There are no leaves changing on the palm trees, and the weather forecast still calls for a high of 85 degrees. However, the calendar still says that today is October 31, and as such we are going to my best friend's parents house for a Chili Party. Their neighborhood also hosts a block party (the police literally shut down the neighborhood to thru traffic) - so the kids will get a chance to walk around and get candy if they'd like. K-Bug is going to be Tinkerbell (I'll have to blog the story of that costume sometime later) and Lore-lin is going to be Winnie-the-Pooh. They are of course, going to be the cutest kids on the block ("New kids on the block...let's rock...hee,hee....sorry, blast from my past) Provided everyone can stay semi-healthy today, we will load up for the festivities around 4:30 p.m. this afternoon. Blessings to everyone who is working at their own churches this year preparing for their own fall festivals!!

Musings From The Church Office

I wanted to share this with all of you. This is a post from a story I wrote to be included in a letter sent to our church family. (I will try to include a picture of mosiac). We are starting a new season of giving to help pay for our new church building. Yeah Compass Church - you are my family and I love you!

I remember walking into the space that would be my “office” on the church grounds. My computer was up (albeit on a card table) and I loved the receptionist space with its large windows that overlooked the grassy hill across the courtyard. However, construction
still abounded-the offices would be occupied while the rest of the building was still in its finishing stages. Looking around, my edge of excitement was tainted with a thread of anxiety. The church campus swarmed with a sea of construction workers, all wearing orange jumpsuits. The workers were inmates – female inmates- from the local prison in Perryville. I had never had cause (and I’m now ashamed to admit, never taken the opportunity) to spend time with felons of any type. As the weeks went by, God began to soften my heart and open my eyes to very real hurts and needs in the lives of these women. They were grateful for the little things in life, and open to discussion about the larger issues. As trust was built (on both sides), the ladies began to stop by my desk for a few minutes to talk with “that little white girl”. I began to know their names, get a feel for their personalities, and they began to ask questions about why I believed what I did. There are so many things that I learned, and I haven’t the room to write them all here. Hoewever, I will share my most vivid memory. The church was nearing its completion, and we called upon the ladies to help us construct the very beautiful mosaic that now graces the entrance of the auditorium. Part of the process involved breaking black tiles into large shards with a hammer. The ladies invited me out to join in the “breaking”, and were all generally teasing me about how such a little person could swing a hammer so hard, when a sudden thought popped into my head. Breathing a prayer, I cleared my throat, and said, “Ladies, I promise I’m not trying to get religious on you, but breaking these tiles has reminded me of something that God does for us. He takes the broken pieces of our lives and turns them into something beautiful.” Reactions were varied, some thought the sentiment “cool”, and “sweet", but one of the ladies wanted to know if I thought that they were “broken”. I went on to explain that we are all broken – and that I had made the decision to allow God to be the one to put it back together for me.
I don’t know how God used that moment in their lives, but I do know how he used it in mine. There has never been a time since that I don’t think of those ladies as I walk over that mosaic. And I am constantly reminded of how God is putting together the pieces of my life into a work of art.
The doors of the church have opened to the community now, and many new faces have walked across that mosaic and into our church family. I am waiting for the day when one of those faces is one that I recognize from those many months of construction. For those ladies, the church literally represents their blood, sweat, and tears. Our ministry to newcomers is enhanced by their work – a home to call our own and a place to offer an ever-growing community hope, purpose, and true life.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Retreat! (Part One)

October has officially been the "Month of The Retreat" for my dear hubby and I. He left the first weekend in October to go for his third annual just him-and-God retreat. That's right - he packs his Bible, a journal, and a pillow and spends an entire weekend with no-one else but the Lord. I personally marvel at this, as my limit for being by myself without needing another human being beside me is very short-lived. My introverted husband, however, revels in this time to refresh his spirit by just being by himself and listening to the Lord. We've found a wonderful Christian retreat center that offers great accomodations for personal retreats right outside of Sedona. Dear hubby came back from his time completely renewed, and I only slightly dragging from my 'flying semi-solo with the girls. (I tried to blog about my own adventures that weekend, but I hit the wrong button and it slipped into oblivion. I haven't gotten around to re-writing it yet).
The next weekend, it was Mommy's turn. I packed up for our church's first-ever women's retreat, held a short drive away in Prescott. It was, in a word, mind-blowingly awesome (ok, so that's three words.. :) The best part - hard to pick just one. I loved the drive up (besides the hurtling speed of our driver, who apparently feels that the speed limit is a just a suggestion, and that slamming on the brakes 'for fun' is an enjoyable pasttime. Ha! I love you anway, friend!). I loved the full-sentence conversations with my other Mommy friends, who usually have toddlers wrapped around their legs, as do I. I loved the deep conversations that just seemed to happen (I know God brought them about) at the dinner table - with people sharing from their hearts their own struggles and prayer requests. I loved the spontaneous fun that erupted from the crazy gaggle of ladies in our cabin (let me just say, I love the McMillen clan, and Lisa's crazy sister Joy. You guys make life fun!). I loved staying up so late I could barely keep my eyes open in the morning (two in the morning, and three in the morning were my respective bedtimes). I loved the climing wall and zip-line - the challenge, the adrenline rush, and encouraging other ladies to overcome their fear and conquer the wall when they though they couldn't. I loved the speaker - she was wise, she was kind, and she was involved in our lives that weekend. She loved us, pushed us, and challenged us to take the next step in our journey with Christ. Most of all, I loved the ministry that took place - ladies praying for each other, ladies sharing their hurts, their joys, and their lives with each other. I came back strengthened in my relationship with Christ and with other women.
One weekend at home, and I am "off" to do retreat number two. That's right - two women's retreats all in a three weeks span. I think it's a little crazy too, but my dear hubby gave me persmission months ago and said that he and the girls would be "great" so I'm taking him at his word.
I am looking foward to this retreat just as much, if not more, than the first (and forced to choose one retreat, I would have chosen this one). See, this weekend is sacred to me because I get to spend it with very best girl-friend, "T" (her nickname that I've used with her for years). We have been to a women's retreat for a church that neither one of us attend anymore for the past two years - it was the church where we met as a high school junior/senior and became the best of friends. Awww...isn't that sweet? We have committed to going on a retreat with each other once a year from now until we are old and gray and can't get the Senior Bus to take us anymore. HA! I think every women should have someone who is just like a sister to her, and I am so blessed to have that with T. We love the retreat - we get to see a few "old" friends, but we mostly get to hang out with God and each other. As we both have extremely busy lives and very young children, our times together have been few and far-between as of late. Although I haven't really had a chance to stop and think about it, my heart is very ready for this weekend.
Well, I am going to finish up this rather large post, and start my housecleaning, packing, etc. However, my suitcase never got fully unpacked from the first retreat, so that means less packing for the second, right? :)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Big Girl Bed

Well, I've delayed the inevitable, but it's finally happened - my K-Bug is taking a big step in growing up. The other morning I stepped out of the shower with both girls still in bed...so I thought. I had heard them both in the baby monitors playing away in their beds (the usually read books in their cribs until we come in to get them) as I stepped into the bathroom. As I got out and wrapped a robe around me, I stepped down to K-Bug's room first to get her up. Only...she wasn't there. I panicked at first, and calling out her name, a little cheerful face popped around the corner. "Oh, there you are!" she said. I did manage to find out how she made her escape, but the inevitable had come - time for the "big girl" bed. I made the trip to get the Toddler Bed today- the box awaits in our living room. I guess that's Mommy & Daddy's project tonight. I have grown so used to her crib, I hardly know how I feel about her sleeping in a bed she can get in and out of on her own accord. I have avoided getting one until now, because I know the next step is teaching her to stay in bed, whereas before it wasn't an option. We'll see what kind of adventure this is....

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Caught Between A Rock And A Crib Rail

So, this is another escapade from the week that was so crazy. Last Sunday (September 24) as we had returned from Payson, K-Bug had a fever, and my sweet hubby had set off (with my blessing) to go and watch a UFC sporting event at the home of a good friend. I bathed, jammied, and put the girls down to bed. I went in later to check on Miss K-Bug and her fever and found her awake (but not overly grumpy) in her crib. I decided to sit beside her crib and read some books with her in the glow of the nightlight. Now, here's the part where I made a big mistake. I stuck my arm through her crib slats (something I do regularly in Lore-lin's crib) so that I could have a hand in reading books, turning pages, etc. When I was all done, I went to pull out my arm and stand up only to realize that my arm was stuck fast in-between the two crib slats. And by stuck I mean *stuck*. I was quite sure that I would be there for hours until my husband came home to cut me out. K-Bug thought this was all a game, and kept saying, in between giggles "Oh no! Mommy stuck!" Finally, with no small amount of force I yanked my arm out. I carried the quarter-size bruises on either side of my arms for the better part of this week as evidence of my struggle. It came to me, though, that there are many times that I feel "stuck" in between situations in my life - currently, I am struggling with wanting to be a stay-at-home Mommy and the need to stay-on at the church as their Administrative Assistant (my help there is needed as our church is going through a rough time with staff right now). I praise the Lord that when I am stuck between a rock and a hard place, the Bible says that He is my rock on which I can stand. Amen and Amen!

Double Ear Infection

Hello all. I am going to try to make this the last time I apologize for not blogging as often as I'd like. My new motto is God, blog, and jog. Those are really the three new things that I am trying to cultivate consistently in my life. I am committing to all of you now to blog every Tuesday night, regardless of the post size. I have a feeling this will lead to several posts a week, as I jump on and give everyone snapshots of the Smiths.
This past week has been a week of sickness for the Smith household. We went out of town last weekend (September 23-24)to visit some friends in Payson who were having a baby shower. The evening of our return home K-Bug, who had been fine the entire weekend, starting running a fever. Lore-lin had been running a fever the week before with a small cold virus, so I thought we were probably in for a repeat performance. Sure enough, a few days of moderate fever and I ended up cancelling K-Bug's pediatrician appointment due to the fact that she had been without fever for 24 hours. A day goes by, when all of a sudden, K-Bug wakes up from her nap with dried blood all around the outside of her ear. Needless to say, I felt a little freaked, but after some examination decided she probably had scratched herself with her very long fingernails. I cleaned off the outside of the ear and went on my way. The next morning, however, she woke up with more dried blood and white goo crusted on her ear, a very cranky disposition, and an unmistakable smell (think spoiled meat) coming from the vicinty of the ear itself. Now, I was very freaked out, but found out a few short keystrokes later (all of you who are new parents - www.askdrsears.com - best website ever!) that K-Bugs eardrum had ruptured and she most definitely had some sort of infection in there. A rushed trip on a Friday afternoon for a last-minute pediatrician appointment, and we discovered her double ear infection. Althought she had stopped running a fever, the infection in her ears had apparently continued to the point of rupturing, at least in her right ear (the left ear was "bulgy" in the pediatrician's words, but has remained intact). K-Bug was immediately started on antibiotics, both with medicine and drops in her ear (the antibitocs had me worried as well, but that is another long story for a different time). K-Bug's ear has continued to drain (ewwww, huh?), but she is 150% better then the super cranky toddler she was. I, of course, had all sorts of Mom guilt for not catching it sooner, but certainly had thought that whatever sickness she had was resolved when the fever dissapeared. After several days of sleepless nights and a moody two year-old I am just exceedingly thankful to have K-Bug on the road to recovery.