Six weeks before a rather significant birthday, I sent an email out to friends around the world that have worked with C in mission. There are great men of faith he’s been mentored by, and young men of vision he has invested in! Over the course of the next few weeks, messages poured in from the furthermost corners of the globe from people whose lives have crossed paths with his. As I secretly compiled the video messages and worked to piece together chapters of his life to gift him on his birthday, I was struck by a recurring theme that came through clearly message after message….
C has impacted lives for eternity through modeling a life of unwavering faith!
Our 9 year old Evie, (meloncholy-like-her-momma) actually cried when she watched the video.
“Happy tears momma“, she said. “I just cant believe that there are all these people all over the world who love God more because of daddy!”
And this is precisely the point.
His aim has not been to acquire the praise of men, material gain, or even stability, but always, to glorify the Lord and to make Him known! And in that, I believe, this amazing man has been hugely successful!
The kids see daddy leave. For weeks at a time they dont get bear-hugs and tickle-monster. They’ve had birthday calls from dad instead of birthday dates with dad more times than I can count. He’s had to miss performances and ball games and awards ceremonies.
They miss him.
Yet there are tears at times.
But this ‘wise-beyond-her-years’ glimpse from daughter of why, and the wisdom to discern the gravity of daddy’s impact and influence leaves me humbled. God is doing a deep work in their childlike hearts as well and giving them an eternal perspective of what really matters! They are proud of their daddy, and so am I!
There are a great many other things he does well that deserve accolades….
….I frequently acquiesce the kitchen to the preferred parent when it comes to dinner time. The kids love it when daddy cooks! Homemade pizzas and grilled fajitas and french onion soup are signature favorites!
…he is handy-man extraordinaire! There is precious little that he cant fix or rig or improve on his own. He’s currently out of town for two weeks and Ive already had to call a locksmith and a repair man and a plumber. Issues that would be resolved unbeknownst to me if my handyman-hubby were in town!
…he views father and husband as a high-calling. Its rare that he gets a guys-night-out because he chooses to be present in the lives of our kids. He makes family time a priority and still dates me and pursues my heart. Instead of golfing on Saturdays, he gets up and fixes made-to-order omelettes (can you tell my love language is food?).
…he leads spiritually by example and has imparted to our kids the importance of quiet time daily with the Lord.
…he is generous! Even as our own faith is stretched at times provide for our family of 9 while living on support, C’s heart remains sensitive to the needs around him and he responds with generosity to the ever pressing matters that are brought to his attention. Im constantly humbled by the way he seeks to be stewarding hands through which the Lord can bless others.
May the next 40 years ahead be even more fruitful and may the Lord continue to be glorified through his life and sacrifice and service. So grateful to be partnered in life with this man who lives with integrity and intentionality!
(its long, but for those who participated and care to see,
here is the 40th birthday video montage)
So this was fun….our little tribe was interviewed by an expat magazine here in Bangkok for their “relationships” issue. Apparently the sheer volume of Smiths make for relational complexities that seem interesting enough to take to print. We were honored to be asked to participate and enjoyed getting to share about marriage, family, and our nomadic life!
Read the full article here.
With 8 chock-full suitcases, 7 carryons, 6 tearful children, and a partridge in a pear tree, we boarded a plane 4 years ago today that would take us to the uttermost distant corner of the earth from the quite little home we’d raised our family in along the lake in the backwoods of South Carolina. And Ill admit, there was a lump in my throat too as C and I glanced at eachother across the very full row of littles in between us as the plane pulled away from the gate and as we struggled to fasten seatbelts and divvy out earphones and stow tray tables. As passengers peered warily waiting for a baby to scream or someone to spill their drink and wondering what would possess us to travel so far, the questions in my own mind brought the fiercest bombardment…. What are we doing taking 6 babies to the other side of the world!!? Will uprooting our children cause permanent damage to their little hearts? What about aging grandparents, parents, extended family and the weddings, new babies and cousin-Christmases we will miss? Is it really God calling us to go?
Im reminded that steps of faith never come with a blueprint or handbook. If we are certain of the course, it is not really faith, but only taking calculated risks. Faith requires us to step out into something of which our only certainty and security is the Lord, and usually something far out of our comfort zone! Knowing this does not mean that I havent gone back repeatedly to question this assurance. Ive watched my man-child suffer a grief as he’s tried to reconcile himself to a lifestyle out of his “natural habitat” hunting and fishing and instead struggles to tame his wild-side here in this concrete jungle where skyscrapers are a stark contrast to his beloved golden hour on the dock at sunset.
We’ve been saddened for our children to not have the anchor of steady friendships that they had “back at home” and to be navigating life as a missionary kid in an expat community where relationships are transient and typically short-lived.
And those things we deep-down-to-our-core-just miss!! Like girl-scout “thin mints” and one-stop-shopping at Target and affordable cute kids clothing and ranch dressing mix & taco seasoning!!!
But, glancing back at 4 years of God’s faithfulness here in Thailand, I would board that plane all over again! We’ve not just survived, we have thrived. Not necessarily in the material sense, but there has been such a richness of character that has been built and life-altering opportunities for our kids that I wouldn’t trade for all the stability and security in the world! There is no greater joy than seeing your children walking with the Lord. Their hearts have waded through some hard things and instead of becoming embittered, they have pressed into that childlike faith and trust of the Father.
Their compassion has grown as they’ve taken on ministry projects themselves to the underprivileged Cambodian camp we work at. Tristan has had the unique opportunity to travel the world with his dad and to be challenged in his faith among great men of God and wonderful role models. We’ve joyfully seen as a family the gospel brought to people in nations that are hearing it for the first time and embracing that hope! Abi has witnessed the first moments of babies being born into the world. Britain has learned negotiating skills for market bartering and even the youngest members of our family know how to hail a taxi or tuktuk and give directions in Thai.
Sometimes God leads us places where we are compelled by something contrary to common sense. Uprooting our family during formative years of their development….there arent many parenting books out there that will support these wild notions. And yet, somehow, our big kids are developing into mature, well adjusted, capible, contributing members of society. Not to the credit of their daddy and I. There can be no pride on our part because by a lot of standards, we’ve done everything wrong. We’ve made decisions that dont make sense for a large family. We’ve asked things of our kids that seem unfair and they’ve had to give up a lot. And Im not naive in thinking that we dont have some hard years ahead of us still as we anticipate many-teen-years that we are only now entering.
And yet God!!
And yet God has been faithful to shepherd their hearts even in this “barren land” at times. The friendships they have forged with eachother are, I believe, stronger than they ever would have been because of the nomadic life they’ve experienced together. Four years have grown them in more ways than their stature. Looking back, Im so glad God has gone before each step of the way on this wild ride!!
Grateful this morning as I ponder His goodness, for those of you who have been part of our children seeing and experiencing God’s faithfulness. Our family is supported by financial gifts of individuals who believe in our ministry and come alongside us. Our children have seen God provide and as a result, their faith has grown. Those of you who have checked in on us and asked how you can pray, sent care packages (its girl scout cookie time y’all….Im shameless!!), put an extra stamp on an envelope and mailed us a Christmas card or note of encouragement, come on short term teams and participated in our ministry, or just come to visit and encourage our hearts with your presence, thank you!! If you would like to be included in our family newsletter that goes out monthly, leave me a comment with your email address (or email me directly firstname.lastname@example.org)