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resurrection people

April 20, 2014

“…I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die…” John 11:25-26

Easter 2014

Sam’s ENT Special

April 5, 2014

This Monday will mark three weeks since our Sam began his recovery from surgery.  After months and months of recurring hearing and sleep apnea issues, we met with our wonderful ENT specialist who performed Sam’s first Myringotomy.  It was then determined that he needed a second myringotomy, adenoidectomy, and tonsillectomy- an ENT Special, if you will.  The doc said he would feel like a “new kid” after all this is over and we were anxious for him to be helped in this way.

The staff at Children’s Hospital was top notch.  They went above and beyond to prepare and reassure Sam (and us!) about everything leading up to the surgery.  In all honesty, Sam thought it was the best day of his life (that is until they wheeled him out of the ICU and the morphine began to wear off), he loved everything from the hospital toys and bubblegum flavored gas mask to the fun oversized jammies and the limitless supply of popsicles and juice he was offered.

A significant gift during this whole ordeal was that my mom was able to come and help.  Sam was more or less on bedrest for about a week and didn’t begin feeling more like himself until the end of week two.  Since a tonsillectomy is such a painful surgery, we had to wake up every three hours throughout the night for almost two weeks to administer pain meds and get him to drink more fluids- it was like we had a newborn again and were no doubt exhausted. My mom was there to help care for Sam, keep the house running, and to bathe a cute little brother.  [This is just a sidenote, but worth mentioning: Joe and I could not be more grateful for our moms and the way they serve us.  Just last month, Joe's mom came to town and served our family in this exact same way so I could go on a much-needed retreat with friends.]

Sam has recovered wonderfully! We can already tell a significant difference in his hearing and will know even more about his recovery next week at his post-op appointment. Until then, here are just a few pics from the day.

Sam's Tonsillectomy

Sam's Tonsillectomy-2

Sam's Tonsillectomy-3

Sam's Tonsillectomy-4

Sam's Tonsillectomy-6

We had some rough nights and a few hiccups during recovery, but we knew we were in good hands…

Sam's Tonsillectomy-7

 

a summer in rockport :: part one

March 29, 2014

I’ve realized lately that I, at times, respond to peoples e-mails, voicemails, and texts as soon as I receive them…but only in my mind.  I have the response all formulated in my head but forget to actually press send or dial the number.

Consider this a post that I meant to press ‘send’ nine months ago, but alas, am not publishing it until now.  It must be the warmer temperatures outside that have me thinking about summer, which then led me to digging up this old post in my draft folder after many, many months of lying dormant.  It’s a two-part post, really. This one with my side of the family and the second with Joe’s side.

I didn’t take many pictures last summer, so these are just a glimpse of the wonderful memories we made with the boy’s grandparents and cousins last summer.  All pictures were taken in Rockport, Texas- our family’s most favorite place to be.

Rockport 2013 Smiths-9

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wintertime in minnesota

March 20, 2014

Sledding 2014

I couldn’t help but laugh when my mom walked into my bedroom and announced,  “Tomorrow is the first day of Spring!”  I laughed, of course, because I was lying in bed next to Sam (who is currently recovering from surgery) watching the snow tumble down from the sky.  What is this “Spring” she speaks of?

According to the Star Tribune*, those who live in Minnesota have just endured the “harshest winter in more than 30 years.” For those who like numbers, here’s a glimpse of the actual weather conditions we’ve recently experienced.

50: Total days with lows below zero.
17: Consecutive days of subzero lows.
21: Days with lows below zero in an average year.
May 3: Last snow of last winter.
Nov. 3: First snow of this winter.
6: More weeks of snow than usual.
9,361: Minneapolis cars towed for snow-related violations.
23: Days with windchill warnings.
Minus 25: Temperature at which windchill warnings are issued.
6: Weather-related school closings in Minneapolis and Rochester …
7: … and in Duluth
700: Frozen home water pipes in St. Paul’s Regional Water System.
159,463: Heating failure service calls to CenterPoint Energy.
225: Frostbite cases at HCMC in January and February.
95.7: Percent of Lake Superior iced over.
61: Inches of total snowfall as of March 19.
24: Inches of snow at its greatest depth, Feb. 21.

“Harsh” is definitely one way to put it and for this Texan-turned-Minnesotan it has been, at times, an honest fight for joy.

I’m not sure when it happened exactly (maybe right between our furnace breaking  and the 20th windchill warning), but the Lord began working a precious truth deep down in my bones and that truth is this:

“…had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you had the choosing of your lot, you would soon cry, ‘Lord, choose my inheritance for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows.” -C.H. Spurgeon

How many days this past winter would I have chosen a different lot? A different place to live?  A different wintertime for my kid’s childhood?  They would have outnumbered the inches of snow.  But divine love did not put us somewhere warmer, somewhere more comfortable to live- He put us here, and in his great wisdom, this is where me and my family will grow.

Around early February, I began making a mental list of all the gifts, both big and small,  we’ve received because of this winter God has given us.  I’m recording a few of them here because they will no doubt be a source of  hope for me come next November.

1.) Sledding. When I am old and gray, I hope I still remember the pure and exuberant joy I felt while watching my children sled down the snowy hills of Minnesota. There is nothing like it.  Our family could sled for hours and never tire, it was the highlight of the winter for all of us.

2.) Snowed-in. It occurred to me one day this winter how much time our family spends together, especially during these cold months.  It seems we are together all of the time.  This of course provides ample amount of time to work on our relationships with one another.  If you spend very little time apart, you are forced to learn how to live peacefully with one another. When I began to feel weary of the dropping temps outside, I was reminded that it’s on these long winter days that our boys are becoming each other’s closest friend- a relationship I pray only deepens as they grow older- and this lifelong friendship begins now in these early years together.

3.) Cabin fever. Staying home for months-on-end has given my boys countless hours of uninterrupted, creative play.  I have seen their imaginations soar this winter. Not filling up our days trying to get out and entertain our kids has been a gift to them, and to us. They’ve learned how to busy themselves with what we have here at home and it’s been such fun to watch their minds at work.  (This doesn’t mean there weren’t days when I wasn’t tempted to plug an extension cord into my hair dryer in hopes to melt the snow because maybe- just maybe- Momma had had one too many indoor sword fights, hockey matches, and archery tournaments and has been found in her bedroom to be rocking herself without a baby.)

4.) Snowball fights.  My boys and I chased each other around the front yard for half-an-hour the other day pelting each other with snowballs. We played until Joe got home and then the boys and I joined efforts to attack Daddy.  We had the time of our lives!

5.) Seasons. Growing up in Texas we experienced two seasons: Summer and Hotter Summer.  Living in Minnesota has given my family the opportunity to experience every season, even if some last longer than others.  A friends of ours recently joked about the weather in Minnesota: “I hope summer falls on a weekend this year!”

6.) Gratitude. When temps warmed up last week, we headed outside in our rain boots to splash in the puddles.  Five minutes in and we were screaming with delight over the five blades of grass we discovered in our neighbors yard poking through the snow .  Spring holds out so much hope for those who live in the land of Always Winter and Never Christmas and we can’t help but be grateful.

And so we are.  For this coming Spring and so much more.

*Thanks to Abraham Piper for sharing this article. 

the day Adrian Peterson showed up in my front yard…

February 26, 2014

(This post has been sitting in my draft folder for almost a year.  For whatever reason, I decided to post it today.  Perhaps this winter has me dreaming of warmer weather and the day when we can take full advantage of the wonderful new playground in front of our house.) 

If you’ve been a long-time reader of our blog (and have a great memory), you might remember a few years back when I wrote about the playground in front of our house being torn down.

Below is an almost two-year old Sam watching the destruction of his favorite stomping grounds.  I’ll never forget worrying that the playground demolition would bring an onslaught of tears along with it, but to my surprise, having a construction site in your own front yard is a little boy’s dream come true. Sam didn’t leave this spot until the entire structure was torn down and removed.  I really should have provided popcorn.

For two years now, we have waited and wondered if anything would ever come from our city’s decision to tear down the old (but dearly loved) school playground.

Playground Final-3

Playground Final-2

 To our great delight, the beautiful, hundred year-old school which has sat vacant for nine years is now under major renovations to be re-opened next fall, and with school renovations under way comes a new playground!

We caught word that not only would the school district be rebuilding a new playground, but that they would also be building new picnic tables, raised garden beds, an outdoor theatre-style classroom for the students, and new benches.

So where does Adrian Peterson come in to all of this?

Turns out, the Minnesota Vikings contribute a large amount of money each year to a community building project in order to provide a school or neighborhood in the Twin Cities with new playground equipment.  And not only do the Vikings donate the funds, they also donate their time to come and help put the finishing touches on the building project.

Last week, there was quite the community event taking place in front of our home. A hundred or so volunteers showed up, rolled up their sleeves, and got to work.  About two hours in, a giant bus pulled up and out poured the entire Minnesota Vikings team along with their coaches and mascot.

I will spare you the details of how utterly clueless I was about the Vikings until my friends quickly gave me a crash course as the players were piling out of the bus.  Turns out, Adrian Peterson was named MVP of the NFL in 2013.  Who knew?! (the entire country, Jen, the entire country.) Apparently it goes without saying, but I don’t follow the NFL very closely.  I’ll watch a college football game any day, but I can do without the rest.  I showed up this day for the new playground and free cupcakes.

I am happy to admit, though, by the end of the afternoon, I was a bona fide Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder (Vikings QB) fan. Not just because they are Vikings or because they are both from Texas, but because they were both so genuinely kind to us and our kids. They were happy to sign autographs and get down on our kid’s level and take pictures with them.  In case our kids forget this day, I’m glad I snapped a few pics to help them remember.

Vikings Playground-4

Vikings Playground-3

Vikings Playground-2

Vikings Playground-1

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New Playground with Vikings-22

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a few glimpses of christmas

January 5, 2014

It was a different Christmas for us this year.  Two weeks before arriving in Texas, we were in Minnesota unpacking our bags from having just been there for my father-in-law’s funeral.

Knowing we’d only be back in town a short time, we were determined to celebrate Christmas in our home and carry on as usual.  We trimmed the tree, made treats, decorated our home, built a gingerbread house,  mailed Christmas cards, and celebrated Advent in our own traditional way. There was an underlying sadness in it all, the daily mail was filled with more sympathy cards than Christmas ones. Losing Joe’s father during this holiday season, however, made the hope of Christmas more precious to us than ever before.  God gave us his son, the one who would rescue us from sin and death,  and we were going to celebrate.

Christmas Card 2013 4 (1 of 1)

Christmas Card 2013 (1 of 1)

Christmas Card 2013 3 (1 of 1)

Christmas 2013

Our ornament for Christmas 2013: Aslan, of course…

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Our first Christmas staying at Uncle Robby and Aunt Alison’s new house…

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Aunt Kayla teaching the boys piano…

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Listening to Papa read the Christmas story…

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green with envy

December 11, 2013

The two weekends before we made our trip down to Texas for my father-in-law’s funeral, my husband preached a short sermon series at our church.

The topic of the series? The often neglected, but oh so very important topic of the sin of envy (and all of its ugly cousins: jealousy, covetousness, rivalry, resentment, malice, hatred, flattery, corrupt desire, smoldering anger, perverse comparison, a fixation on the blessing of other people).

God blessed the preaching of his Word during this series and I’d encourage you to watch or listen to these messages in hopes that you will be as helped, challenged, and ministered to as I was.

Here are other envy-related resources from Joe recently published at the Desiring God website:

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