Friday, April 22, 2011

Who can estimate the value of a living fountain of water in a barren desert? - Finney

I haven't been blogging for a while now...between working from home, homeschooling, taking care of my home and my pocket beagle business...I just haven't had the time to remember to blog. But I have to say that I miss it so much. There is definitely something about blogging that encourages me in my spirit.

Blogging for me is about sharing what God is doing in and around me and recently he has really done something beautiful inside of me. About two weeks ago I went to a new church and while I wasn't expecting much from the church itself, I was expecting from God. Let me explain what I mean by "I wasn't expecting much from the church". I try not to expect too much from churches these days because honestly if you walk in trying to measure a church by some standard you've created then more than not, you'll be disappointed and once disappointment sets in, so does distraction and a judgmental attitude. When those things rear their ugly head I am no longer able to really learn and receive.

Just as no one individual is perfect, no church is perfect. So when visiting I expect little from the church but great things from God. As I sat there and worship began, I just started talking to God about the numbness I've been feeling. The "joy of my salvation" wasn't so joyful anymore, it was like a dull "hooray" on an honest day. Peace and hope for MORE change in my flesh tomorrow was hard to come by.

Have you ever felt this way? There is a great Keith Green song that quotes scripture and it says:

Create in me a clean heart, oh God
And renew a right spirit within me...
And renew a right spirit within me

I could write a lot about each line of this but I'll stick with "Restore unto me the joy of my salvation". This comes straight from Psalms 51:12 and has always resonated in my spirit. From the time I was saved I knew that I would never be the same. God saved me from so much but yet it was so much that not many could see.

I was not currently in an abusive home, my mother provided for my needs, I made good grades but on the inside, even at age 10, I was a wreck. I've always been one of those individuals that can not walk away from the question: "Why?". "Why in the world are we here? What happens when we die?". No matter what I did, once I got alone and it was quiet...these are the questions that plagued my mind. I couldn't understand why others weren't bothered by these questions and why it seems as if they sat solely on MY chest each day.

I was depressed, selfish, visionless and of them all...I was hopelessly hopeless. Hopeless is one of the most ugly places to be. Living day in and day out with no hope for tomorrow is no way to live at all. I'm going to try to not make this a really long post and say that God saved me at a camp that I went to as a child. They reenacted Christ's crucifixion on a hill and it was on that hill that I fell in love and was given hope.

I will always remember the nights and mornings that were thereafter totally lacking in hopelessness and how much I didn't miss it! The joy that sprung forth was amazing, I woke with a smile on my face and I dug into the word with giddiness. I was changed forever.

That same love has motivated me for the past 17 years but there are times when I feel as though that love and the reality of that love is a memory more than a reality. If you've walked with God for any number of years you've more likely to have experienced this - either due to allowing the cares of this world to entangle you, getting busy with the WORK of the ministry without keeping the relationship that started it all, allowing your time with Him to slip away or just consistently choosing what you want over what God is speaking to you.

Now back to church - as I sat there and the worship began, I began listening and singing along. As each word came out of my mouth about the blood of Jesus it was like a flood of remembrance washed over me. I remembered the darkness I once lived in and the hopelessness that plagued me as though it was yesterday. Hot tears began to stream down my cheeks uncontrollably and as I sang each word my heart pounded violently. I thought I might bust at the seams...what a gift I had been given, more precious than silver and gold, a gift worth my life.

While the teaching was very good that day, I walked away from the church building realizing that had I just come to him...expecting, this could have happened days ago. He is the reason for living - Yes, I love my husband and my children but HE IS MY REASON FOR LIVING. Without him, I don't know if I'd still be here. Nothing fills me like He does and nothing moves my heart like the love that I have found in Him....AND from THAT realization...the joy is unleashed, HOPE is restored.

I am saddened by the increase in Christians who have let go of the relationship and traded it in for the busyness of the ministry, they can only go so long until they sputter out. Or those who have just grown tired because of wrong teaching and they no longer feel that they can "do" what it takes to be right with God.

If you are one who has allowed ANYTHING to get in the way of the relationship that started it all, I plead with you to remember what you are saved from and the love that saved you from it. MAKE the time to spend in His word, REMEMBER what he saved you from AND even more importantly what He has saved you FOR.

I have hope for change TODAY, I have LOVE that not many know of and BLESSINGS not of this world.

Monday, July 05, 2010

When was the last time?

When was the last time you blew one of these?

Everytime I blow one of these I think of what the word of God does to us. When we receive it for the truth that it is and let it move us then we are blown away with full capability of reproducing and spreading the good news around with us. Cheesy huh? Well, I'm known for it so...too bad! ;)

Friday, July 02, 2010

Two words

Tonight I used two words together that I've never used before. They didn't come out naturally and actually I said it wrong one time. I spoke to my long lost half brother tonight on the phone for the first time since finding him a few days ago. I am still in shock. I keep asking myself...when will this feel real? It was a wonderful conversation and didn't wanna get off the phone.

It's so amazing to be talking to a man who knew my father and is in himself a piece of my father. A good man who has walked a tough road and has come out shining on the other end. I can't put the gratefulness and thankfulness I feel into words. I've always felt so thankful for everything. I know Thailand had a lot to do with the level at which I feel thankful but even before then I have always known how precious life is.

I suppose losing my father at 7 and then watching my mother deteriorate from degenerative disc disease I learned early on that life is precious and you can't take anything for granted. I had to make a late night run to Wal-mart tonight to get some dog food and while I was remembering things that we needed at the house I was grabbing them and throwing them into the buggy.

I'm a price checker but with the things that we normally buy I don't check out the price...I just throw it in. Tonight as I was tossing things into the buggy I just stopped...mid toilet paper isle...and said outloud: Thank you...thank you!! It was a precious moment between me and my God but the shear fact that I could just toss things in my buggy and not fret and worry over each penny is such a blessing.

There are so many people who struggle just to feed their children and here I am deciding which "healthy" bread doesn't contain high fructose corn syrup...not concerned with the $.50-$1 that I'll pay more for that "healthy" bread. I grabbed the toilet paper and thought about how thankful I was that I didn't HAVE to purchase the cheapest, most-fallin-apart-toilet-paper-ever-invented!!!!! I was thankful that I walked by the clearance rack and saw that cute shirt for $4 that Joss would love and I didn't have to pass it by.

Thankful that my legs can carry me out the front of Walmart and I was so greatful that I was about to go out to my running car that's tank is full. Thankful that I'm driving home to the love of my life and incredible children. As I looked at the sky driving home I was thankful to have been born in America and SOOO thankful that I was not born to parents that didn't want me and that I was not born into a country in the middle of a war. So many things could have happened differently...but they didn't.

But most of all I was thankful that I have peace - beautiful peace that passes all understanding. Peace in life and peace in death.

Tonight was a wonderful night and the conversation I had tonight will stick with me for the rest of my life. I'm so thankful to have found them both. I look forward to mastering the use of these two words over the next few weeks and months - for they are mine now...."Our Daddy" would be so proud.

Be thankful tonight friends. I'll leave you with my favorite song of all time:

Thursday, July 01, 2010


Today was day number 3 that I have not called my long lost half brother! I know it sounds insane but I've been looking for a moment without the kids so I could just cry my eyes out and talk but I just haven't found it...well, I haven't found it before 10:45pm (which is waaay later in his time zone).

Tonight he wrote me two messages and I just sat there and wept. I can't believe this is really happening. I'll share a few excerpts with you.

"Dad told me of his prostate cancer and I was devastated. The very next sentence out of his mouth was nothing about self-pity, or his tough road ahead. He looked at me and said...." I just want 5 good years so there is a chance Steffie (what he called you, not sure how he spelled it) may remember me. I know you don't remember much before age 10, but the point here is this is an example of his genuine love for you. You were always at the forefront of his thoughts. I get tired chasing my kids and I am healthy. Dad NEVER complained about raising a baby at his advanced age. I think this is why I have such a strong devotion to my kids ... he set the example."

As if that isn't enough to keep me crying all night long there was more....

"Dad was a very active person, generous to a fault, and was chronically late. Do you know how many dates I ticked off my girlfriends because I was so late arriving at the movies, or the skating rink? He could never be on time. I owe him because I am so punctual it is rediculous. I am never late, and my kids always tease me about arriving early to places. My wife and I had a new year's resolution a few years ago to try to actually be late to places we went to like parties and get togethers. Well....we weren't very successful."

And the last one:

"Dad's favorite meal: Steak (sirloin) medium rare, baked potato and boiled shrimp. "

Why did I choose these specific excerpts? Well, the first one is obvious but the last two...not so much.

First: Anyone who knows me knows that I have always dealt with being late to EVERYTHING. I was late so much in high school that they made me do two extra weeks at the end of the school year to make up my time.

Second: my two favorite foods are mexican food (specifically salsa) and steak...medium rare.

It's amazing how these small things mean so much. Andy's heart is so amazing to takes everything I've got within me not to forget my responsibilities and jump on a plane to spend a few days just talking. I wish I could do this so badly but there is just too much going on right now and besides - I'd want John to go with me but then getting someone to keep all three kids for a few day is a huge task.

I am so blessed.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Late Adulthood

Hello dear friends,

I've been thinking a lot about aging recently - yes, I know...not worth much of my thoughts but nonetheless, that is what I've been contemplating. I'm taking some online courses and my Human Development class is onto the "Late Adulthood" chapters and well it's just simply challenging. I've always been one that has thought about death. Even as a child I always thought about what life was all about and what it would be like to die and finally see Jesus face to face. I've often thought about what kind of legacy I want to leave behind and what will people remember about me. (this is all so me focused really...isn't the real goal to be so full of Jesus that non of you remains to be seen?)

All of these things are deep heavy thoughts but I remember thinking them as early as well, 10 because that's as far back as I can remember. ha! So with all of this talk about aging it got me thinking about things.

  • What would be on my bucket list?
  • What kind of legacy do I want to leave?
  • Am I doing what I should now to ensure that I'll be feeling good later?

So, I'm gonna sit down with my hubby and ponder our bucket list and talk about what kind of God legacy we want to leave for our children. I want to think about changes that we can make to ensure that we'll feel better later such as consistent exercise or a hobby that gets us moving - something we can do together - BESIDES COMPUTERS! (We're such computer geeks) Gardening is definitely out - I seem to have a black finger instead of a green finger...bringing death to all that I plant.

I welcome any hobby ideas and if you have the time to ponder these things then feel free to share what you come up with in a comment below.

Here are a few links to check out that were put up in my class:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


This is Stephanie...signing back on. Honestly, I don't know if I'll be able to keep up with writing but I enjoy it so much I figured I should get back on the bandwagon no matter what life brings my way or how busy I get. I'm a communicator and I have stuff to communicate dang it! ;)

I could go into a long update but I figure that that'll just bore you to tears so I'll start back up with the biggest thing happening at this moment in my life. As I write those words I can't stop the tears from welling up in my eyes.

My father died from cancer when I was 7 years old. I don't remember anything before I was 10. So as you can imagine this has been hard for me to deal with over the years. When my son Josiah turned 7 I had a revelation that I was not too young to have remembered anything...I just didn't remember ANYTHING! I pictured myself being 2 or 3 when my father died - not really being cognitively aware or relational on a mature level. But NO! I was 7 years old. When I look at Josiah - who is now 8 - and think about the conversations we must have had and the interaction we had my heart literally aches.

I can't remember a thing. Not his eyes, his smell, his laugh...nothing. Now, because I have a loving relationship with my heavenly father I've never been drastically affected by this. I don't have bouts with depression or horrific father's days but I do miss him and I miss the memories that don't exist. I have always wondered if I'm like my father...I've wondered what his favorite movie was...what his humor was like. So many questions...

Now to bring you to the point of my story. Before my mother and father met, my father was married to a woman named Nancy. From what I've been told they could not have children so they decided to adopt. They adopted two children...Andrew and Lissa. They raised these two children all the way to adulthood. These two people had my father all of their growing years. When Andrew and Lissa were about high school graduate age I was born. My father had apparently divorced Nancy (I have no clue when) and married my mother, who was significantly younger by the way.

Andrew and his family a long time ago

I don't know what happened between the kids and my father and mother but my parents left to live in Haiti to do medical missions work at a mission called the "Christian Mission of Pignon" that my father helped to start with his good friend Dr. Guy Theodore, a native to Haiti. My father died in Haiti.

I don't think I ever saw Andrew or Lissa again. After the death of my father, my mother went a bit crazy and was blown whichever way the wind carried her, or so I'm told. It wasn't until my grandmother broke her hip that we came to Texas to help her re-cooperate in 1989. We never left.

It wasn't until I was around 19 or 20 that I realized that Andrew and Lissa existed and were still out there somewhere. My family was out there some where. My mother pulled out a chest that I had never seen before and that day I beheld treasures more precious to me than any gold or money. I saw pictures of my father that I had never seen before. It blew me away - I looked just like him as a teenager and I had picked a man that resembled him as a teenager without ever having seen my father at this age.

I began doing searches on different search engines and the online yellow pages. I kept coming up empty handed because "Smith" is a very common last name of course! I was so discouraged. I even paid a search company to help me but they only provided me with a list of names and I called each and every one of them and never found them.

I had just recently been reviewed to be on a show called "Troy the Locator" to find them. I had been in the review process for being selected for their upcoming season. This show reunites family members. I had been waiting to hear back from them. Over the years I had randomly searched google, myspace and facebook but never with any success....until two days ago.

About two years ago I found out that Lissa married a man with the last name of "Frank" and I did a search for her on Facebook. There were a few but there was only one with the same hometown as my birthplace. I searched her page over for any assurance that she was the one I was looking for and then I thought to look in her friends for Andrew and there he was: Andy!

I could hardly believe it. I requested to be their friend and waited patiently. I received a message from Andy this morning stating that he was glad that to be in touch with me. He wrote:
"I understand from Lori that you have so many questions about our father and I imagine I can answer most of them. I will never forget the glow in his face when you were born."
"I imagine I can answer most of them" you know what those words mean to me? I feel like an emotional wreck. I suppose the realization of something that I've been waiting on for soo long is really surreal and I am filled with so many different emotions that it makes me feel like a typical woman! I've always prided myself in the fact that I'm pretty emotionally stable. Yes, for those of you who know me, I cry at the drop of a hat when watching a movie but in general I'm very stable and proud of it! ;0)

So all these feelings are catching me off guard. I've got so much to ask and I can't wait to meet them but I suppose there is always that possibility of rejection or finding out information that is less than perfect (which I'm ok with). The biggest emotion is excitement. I'm just so thankful to have found them and I am so thankful for the opportunity to get to know them and who they are...and hopefully more of the Smith family.

Pray for me as I put one foot in front of the other, walking through this door. It's not easy for me but I'm so ready.
If a picture says a thousand words then...enough said.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Renters nightmare...

I woke up this morning at 7am bright eyed and hopeful but as I began calling realtors to find a rental home my cheerfulness was over shadowed by a new gloomy reality. In Denver you must make 3 times the amount of your able to prove it with paycheck stubs and tax returns have great credit and pass an extensive rental history check...which all takes about 2-5 days!!!

At one point I just sat there staring at all the homes I had marked as favorites on the computer - they were all being rented out by realtor agencies...and all of them said I had to meet those requirements. They basically said..."Best of luck...did you get a Sunday paper because the only hope you have is with a rental by owner..."

Then a light when on and I remembered that John did pick up a Sunday paper! So...I started trying to weed through the non-user friendly paper...with no pictures...and vague descriptions. I prayed for a moment and then went to work. I ran into the same problem with many of them because they were by realtors also but I found 3 that were willing to show us their homes.

We loaded up the fussy kids and we met with Andy...who is from another country...not sure which one. He liked us right off and said we could move in today! No credit rental history employment verification...nothing! Normally I would say this guy is taking a huge risk but I know we won't do him wrong.

It's not that we have bad rental history - it's that the realtors didn't like the fact that we were in Thailand for 4 years and they couldn't check before this last December...and they didn't like that we didn't have check stubs...nor that our past years tax returns show a missionaries salary...not even a fraction of what would be required to rent these homes...but Andy didn't care...Thank God for Andy!

We're going to be moving in tomorrow...I'll post some pics soon. On an awesome...different note...the bible school started today and it went wonderfully! I'm so excited to get to go tomorrow and meet the students face to face. Keep us all in your prayers please! It's supposed to snow Saturday!?!?!?!! Craziness!