Thursday, July 31, 2008

Side Ponytails and Shades

My friend Lauren says that when she was younger she wasn't allowed to wear side ponytails because she acted a little too sassy when she was sporting one...I think this may be the case with Stacey and sunglasses. He was "laying out" with his new shades while we waited for a table. Seriously, who is this kid?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Watermark News

Every week the Watermark News (our church bulletin/newsletter) runs a story highlighting specific ministries or telling stories of life change that are happening within our church. While I was on my trip they ran a story about our small group. The same story could be told by numerous leaders within student ministries so it was a honor to get to share about our experiences and time together with our girls. Check it out:
http://www.watermarkcommunity2.org/files/news2008_07_20.pdf

Amazon Experience

It is hard to know where to start describing my trip. It was incredible and once again a HUGE thank you to everyone who helped send me. The experience of spending a week on the Amazon, (which side note is not like any river you've ever seen. Most of the trip we could see both sides, but it is gigantic and more like being on a extremely large lake that goes on forever) on an open air boat sleeping in a hammock was one of the coolest things I've ever done.
The sunrises and sunsets were incredible and the stars at night had more depth than I can adequately describe. Several mornings there was a Sea World like show of dolphins (I know, who knew there were dolphins in the Amazon...?) jumping all around the boat. The coolest of which were the pink dolphins - yes Mary Kay pink!!
One night we got to go on an alligator hunt. We went in small groups on a little boat it was pretty intense. We spotted a few on my trip but they were too big to bring back, below is the catch from the second groups outing. I won't go into too much detail about the bugs which unlike many of the students thankfully didn't think I was the sweetest treat. But, about dusk they came out like gangbusters and laughed at anything less than the strongest deet spray available.
Each day we visited a different village and set up multiple ministries including, dental (we had two Brazilian dentists on the trip that pulled and checked teeth all week), medical (two Brazilian doctors handed out much needed medication), eyeglasses, women's ministry (we painted nails, cut and styled hair and shared our stories of grace), VBS (I helped coordinate this, but our students and translator did all the hard work) and soccer. These ministries would go on simultaneously then in the evening we would have a service and hand out the family packs with clothing and supplies to each family in the village.
When VBS wasn't going on I got to love on babies, help with the women's ministry and/or whatever else was going on and visit with the villagers. I did give a few haircuts so if anyone needs a trim give me a call :) The below picture is of a little boy who had just received his first Bible. The culture tends to be very works based so we focused a lot of attention on the free gift of God's grace. The highlight of my trip was praying with a women to accept Jesus as her savior!!!! She believed in God and Jesus, but she had never accepted him as her savior so I asked her what she was waiting for? She said nothing and I got to lead her in a prayer of salvation.
One of the most challenging parts of the trip was the language barrier. We had a team of great translators on the boat, without whom the trip would not have been possible. But not being able to have small talk or encourage the kids was a challenge. It taught me once again that that the word of the Lord does not return void and God was bigger than the language barrier.
The students did an amazing job serving and in addition to all of the above highlights I loved the time with my girls, Melissa and all the Watermark students.
As I reflect on the week I am overwhelmed with God's goodness. That he would stir my heart for this trip, use me in all my uselessness, provide every need necessary to go, pluck me out of my routine and comforts and show Himself to me through His word, His people and His provision. During the week we studied Romans 12, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." What a mighty God we serve!!!
All my pictures are on snapfish below:
http://www1.snapfish.com/thumbnailshare/AlbumID=226424653/a=11562758/t_=11562758

Monday, July 28, 2008

Home Sweet Home

I am back from the jungle safe and sound. We had an AMAZING trip and I'll post a much more detailed entry as soon as I get my pictures uploaded. Our flight was delayed a few hours so we didn't get home until around 2:00 last night and I have just been soaking up the day with my much missed boys!! More info to come soon...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Amazon or Bust

Well after passport applications, shots, meetings, prescriptions, generous support and packing I'm ready for the Amazon! Thank you so much to everyone who has so generously supported me with monetary contributions, family pack donations, encouragement and prayer.

This is a picture of the boat we'll be staying on. We sleep on hammocks!

I have to be at the airport tomorrow at 4:45 in the morning. We fly to Miami have a monster layover and then a five hour flight to Manaus, Brazil. My parents graciously offered to come in tonight to pick up the boys saving me a trip to Waco. They'll stay with GP and Honey through Wed., then go to Nannie and Big's until the weekend. I feel so blessed that my kiddos LOVE being with their grandparents. I will be missing them a lot more than they'll miss me with all the special treatment they'll be getting.

While I am prepared physically I have been feeling a little unprepared spiritually, doubting how the Lord can use my story and how to balance leading the students and ministering at the same time. But I have been reminded of Psalm 34:4 "I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears." He has met my every need in preparation of this trip and I know He will be with me every step of the way. As usual I have to put my pride aside and remind myself that He could use the rocks if he wanted to and it is not me, but Christ in me who will be in control. Here are a few specific things that you can be praying for:

· The Lord to prepare my heart and give me energy to serve the students and people we will encounter.
· Safety and protection as we travel there and back.
· Courage for our team as we share the gospel.
· My family while I'm away: health for the boys, that Stacey wouldn't worry.

I'll be back on Sunday the 27th.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Texas Tech Spray Park Party

I know I know we are brainwashing our child, but before he gets really opinionated about his sports teams we thought we would strike while the iron was hot and embrace his love of Texas Tech. And you can't deny that these pictures will be great at his high school graduation when he (all on his own without any pressure from us) decides to embrace the best college experience available and become a Red Raider.

Special thanks to Chris and Melanie for letting us borrow their elaborate tailgating supplies!!! And thanks to everyone for enduring the heat and helping Stacey celebrate. I took a lot of before pictures but didn't do a great job during the party...I forgot the traditional family picture :( as well as a few others. I am always trying to find the balance between getting a great photo (which of course means taking 500 to get 5) and just enjoying the moment right then instead of capturing it for later. That said there are a ton of photos so I have gone high tech and put them in a slide show...ooooo...ahhhhh.

Happy Anniversary

Stacey and I have been married for 8 years today!!! I have an incredible husband and I LOVE being Mrs. Stacey Smith. Among other things he is an amazing Dad, a Godly leader, a great provider, and a hilarious friend. There is no one I would rather be walking through life with :)

Monday, July 14, 2008

III is Three

You can get away with a lot when you have two kiddos two and under, if you look really frazzled, or seem a little insane, if you're house is a wreck and you leave a trail of chicken fingers and teddy grahams everywhere you go, people think,"Oh she has two under two." We'll no more -Stacey is now THREE YEARS OLD, so from here on out you can expect a lot more clean and calm from us - HA yea right everyone knows three is the new two (Kate said it on Oprah - so you know it is true).




Seriously though, I am always a little sentimental on the boys birthdays, it is so fun to see them growing up, but a little sad too. It just goes by so fast!! And it reminds me of what a gift they are and what a privilege it is that we have gotten to love and share in three wonderful years with Stacey. God is so good.



We had a great birthday weekend, starting out with Kacey and Josh coming into town on Friday night and the rest of the family joining us on Sunday. After much anticipation Stacey III got his "bertday." Here are a few pictures from Sunday morning. Party pics to come.



It's My Bertday!!!!!

Stacey was SO excited and so sweet that morning.

Checking out the incredible decorations.


Hey, there is a balloon on my chair.

Special birthday breakfast.

One!!


Friday, July 11, 2008

Two


Three


I Heart Our Community Group

We love our community group at Watermark. We have been meeting for a little over a year now and we feel so blessed by the hilarious, authentic, Godly people that the Lord has placed in our life through this group. Last night we had our final hooraugh with The Bozman's, our fearless leaders, who will be moving on to let us fend for ourselves (or at least that is what they think, we have elaborate plans to keep them around). We celebrated a great year with a trip to Joe T's and arrived in style thanks to Blake and Tara.

Stacey sort of took this one out of the running for a Chirstmas card or the cover of the Watermark News.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Four


Awesome Baby

A little birdie told me that Ryan Wood is an avid reader of our blog!! So here is a little message just for you Ryan, we love you!!!!

video

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Five


The Countdown Is On

As I mentioned in a previous post Stacey is really excited about his birthday but his concept of days and time is still a little off so in order to help him visualize when it will actually be his birthday we started a countdown. The first thing he said to me this morning was, "I'm gonna take off ALL these numbers and then it will be my bertday."

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Country

The boys spent the 4th with Big and Nannie at "The Country" AKA Cassie and Teddy's house in Jacksboro while Stacey and I celebrated our 8th anniversary a little early. Thank you Big and Nannie!!! We cashed in my small group gift of a night out and had a great weekend. Thank you small group girls!!! We missed being at the Lake for the 4th but enjoyed the long weekend and our unconventional celebration. Much to Stacey's delight I left the camera at home during our night out, so there was no awkward asking the waitress to take our picture. But here are a few of the boys, thanks to Sarah.Hannah is riding in the bucket!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Boys in Balls and Buckets

We're bored. So we busted out the pool-o-balls. A favorite that is saved for days like today. I could say we save it so that it is a special treat to have out, which is true, but the real reason we "save" it is because I end up gathering the balls from every corner of our house for the next few days, especially now that the upper layer of the ball pit is kaput. But what is a little back breaking labor compared to a few priceless moments of contentment at Camp Smith :)