Fragments and First Impressions

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Our POD arrived.  We spent the weekend hauling boxes and hampers up our driveway and into the garage because it was too steep for the truck to bring our container up near the house.  A hefty workout for the kids, but it felt like Christmas in September to be discovering the treasures and keepsakes that we’d stored and forgotten about.   We’ve lived fairly minimally over the years and the frequent moves (this is move # 10 in 16 years for our family) have kept the clutter down.  So, the boxes mounting in the garage were a bit overwhelming to be honest.  When you’ve lived without something for 5 years, you start to realize that actually, you probably don’t need most of it because you can’t remember much of it!

There is one sentimental box tho, that I knew I was looking for and told C to keep an eye out for it.  My loves in life are the Lord, my family, and my blue & white china!
Ok….there are some other things, but my dishes are up there!
I didn’t want traditional china, so didn’t register for every-day dishes when I was engaged.  Instead, before I got married, my daddy took me antique shopping and we bargained for beautiful blue & white miss-matched serving dishes, chargers, dinnerware, salad plates and tea cups & saucers.

C located the box as he unpacked the POD and handed me the oversized rubbermaid bin labeled “FRAGILE!  BLUE & WHITE CHINA! DO NOT STACK!  HANDLE WITH CARE!”
This sickening “crunch” as I lifted it from his hands was undeniable.  I peeled back the lid in horror to find shards of pottery and glass and fragmented porcelain in a rubble of broken beautiful pieces.  Much of my blue and white china didn’t survive the storage and move.

I needed a minute.

The vast majority of boxes in our POD I honestly don’t care much about.  An embarrassing amount I actually don’t remember.  We’ll be making some runs to Goodwill this week!
But my dishes!?  Why is this the only box we’ve (thus far) found damaged?

I have to think its another gracious lesson from God for me as a reminder to hold things loosely.  Im so richly and abundantly blessed!  We’ve been given a lovely home to call our own for the next year.  Our church family has warmly welcomed us with furniture on loan, a vehicle at our disposal, free extracurriculars for our kids, and sweet hands of friendship extended to us.  The temptation is always tho to take the blessings and begin to cling to the gift instead of the Giver.  The sentimental value of my dishes cannot be replaced.  The memory attached to them is precious to me.  But in the end, its still just “stuff”.
Stuff that’s going to burn, that has no eternal value.
The constant uprooting of our life tugs at my melancholy heartstrings at times, but Im grateful – I am – for reminders that our inheritance lies elsewhere and that when this all passes away, there is treasure that moth and rust (and moves) cannot destroy!

(….sidenote… mother made me save it.  Now, who has a “Pinterest” idea for some mosaic or something I can make outta this as a “reminder” to myself that broken is beautiful and a reminder to hold loosely to his gifts!?….)

We’re finding America strangely familiar.  Comfortable, convenient, but definitely dealing with a bit of reverse culture shock!  Here are some of the first impressions coming back to The ‘Merica:

~ Cars.  My kids are amazed that mommy knows how to drive!  I assure them Ive been doing this since before they were born, but some have never seen mommy behind the wheel!  Our littles think only bonafide taxi drivers are allowed to operate a vehicle!

~ No traffic!!  We’ve just come from a city which is rated in the top ten worst traffic cities in the world.  You don’t get anywhere quickly!  Wide lanes and short traffic lights here are a beautiful thing.

~Driver on the left side of the car and cars on the right side of the road feels completely backwards to us.  Gonna take some adjusting!

~Car seats and seat belts.  Eden is not a fan.  Restraints for the first time are making our happy little guy mad!

~ Everyone here calls you “honey” or “sugar”.  Warm welcome to the South!!

~ Convenience.  Dishwashers, clothes dryers, garbage disposals save you SO much time and simplify life!  And whoever invented seats for kids in grocery carts has my undying thanks.  Free refills on drinks, drive through banking and toaster waffles make this country great!

~ Drinkable sink water.  The kids are having a hard time with this one.  “You mean you can drink right out of the faucet?  Even in the bathroom?!!”

~ Shoes worn inside.  On this one, we think Asia’s got it right and we will not be adopting the western model.  It really is gross when you think of it!  Leave your shoes at the door please when you come to visit!

~ Target.  Its huge….that is all.

~ Clean and cool!  God bless America!  My house doesn’t need top-to-bottom cleaning every day here.  Bangkok’s pollution and city grit meant filth all the time.  And the 90-100 degree temps year round meant sweaty kids and 2-3 showers every day for everyone.  Things just don’t get as dirty and sweaty here in this brisk fall weather!

~ The great outdoors!  Bliss!  The sounds of birdsongs is foreign.  Shade, breeze and green lawns for my kids to play in…..forgot what that was like.  We are savoring the refreshment of beauty around us that we’ve missed!

We’re BACK…with a birthday surprise for Daddy!

Monday, September 11, 2017

We announced we’d be homebound in September, but we may have told a little white lie about WHEN.  We led my parents to believe we were arriving later in the month.  My sweet siblings had arrange a special surprise for my daddy’s 70th birthday and planned months ago to fly me in for the occasion.  As things panned out for our whole family to be coming back for a year of fundraising, we managed to coordinate the timing so that our Smith tribe could attend this special family reunion in the North Carolina mountains.

Daddy knew my mom was taking him away for the weekend, but we kept under wraps that almost all of his ELEVEN children, and spouses, and 20-something grandchildren would also be there for a weekend in log cabins in the beautiful blue ridge mountains.  18 months later, our little Eden finally got to meet his American cousins and grandparents and aunts and uncles.

This is our tribe!  We are many.  We are loud.  We are sometimes a little crazy.  But we are loyal and happily FAMILY!

….normal we are not!…..

Not exactly “restful” for our tired jet-lagged minds and bodies, but so good for our hearts to have time with these people we love so dearly.

The kids picked up with their cousins right where they left off 5 years ago.

We hiked the beautiful Smokies, roasted s’mores, played in the hot tubs, drank gallons of coffee, ate inordinate amounts of food, caught up in rocking chairs watching sunsets, played corn hole, star-gazed, and laughed….and ate some more.

This is a blessed man right here!  We are the lucky ones to have a daddy that has so faithfully loved, patiently served, and intentionally poured into our lives.  He is a man of integrity who has sacrificed and prioritized us, his children, and modeled Godly character for us!   This is what a full quiver looks like!

My talented friend Melissa has just started a business called Breadcrumbs creating memory books for special milestones and birthdays to tell stories of family members or commemorate relationships or honor individuals.  We loved working together with her as siblings to tell stories about my dad and bless him with letters and pictures through a beautiful book that he will have to read and cherish from all of us!

And check out these cakes by Cecilia Villaveces Cakes!!  We heard remarkable things about their bakery and were not disappointed.  In the book we wrote for my dad, there were dozens of references from us as kids sitting on the kitchen counter helping him make pancakes every Saturday morning.  It is a tradition he has continued with his grands as well.  It seemed fitting that we’d have a “pancake” themed cake to commemorate his trademark brunch contribution.

We just loved how this turned out and the grandkids got a kick out of it.  Delicious Italian Cream cake under all that frosting.  And since one cake isn’t enough to feed this motley crew, we had a Reeses Peanut Butter cake for him as well.   Delish!  Check out Cecilias Villaveces Cakes – a family owned specialty cake bakery located in Athens GA.

Happy Birthday daddy!  Hope these golden years are rewarding and full!  You are the daddy I would have chosen if I could!!

We’re back in beautiful America enjoying fall temps (and bracing for hurricane Irma).  Grateful for many things, not the least of which is proximity to family to get to participate in special gatherings like this and renew ties with the people we love the most!

Our Great God!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

24 hours ago, I wouldn’t believe where we’d be just a short time later!!

Who is like our God?
“Though you have made me see troubles,
many and bitter,
you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.
You will increase my honor and comfort me once again
Psalm 71:20

We have felt the comfort of the Lord in such tangible ways!!  He has acted mightily on Evie’s behalf yet again, and the prayers of so many have carried and encouraged us!
Are you ready for this….?

Since my last post, we have seen nothing short of a miraculous turn around!  Evie had a restful night (after such a crappy and painful day!) and woke the next morning with a little sparkle in her eyes that we haven’t seen in a long time.
Anyone who has seen “Frozen” will get a giggle from this…we got her propped up in bed sipping on some juice and in a little raspy voice, she started trying to sing:
For the first time in forever, I don’t feel any pain!”
Music to our ears for sure!

Doctor approved a liquid diet which she tolerated fine all day with no bouts of vomiting and nausea.  We got her up, pushing her IV pole around, (amazing when she couldn’t even sit the day before!) and even left the ward for a slow loop around the hospital.  As she was taking huge strides and improving, the doctors began talking about perhaps switching all her meds to oral instead of IV and releasing her the next day if the trend continued.  But then, when she blew her IV mid afternoon, we took that as a little prompt that she was ready!  Rather than inserting a new line, the doctors OK’d her discharge!!

We didn’t tell the kids back home, but we rolled up in a taxi and got to surprise Izzy just in time for her birthday dinner!  My sweet friend Cecilia got a cake for our girl, a weight off my guilt-ridden mommy shoulders!!  Thank you friend!

Evie is moving a little slow, is on a soft diet, we are administering 14 doses of medicine round-the-clock, and doctors expect it to take a full 2 weeks to completely heal, but we are so grateful to be home where she is surrounded by those who love her and can continue healing and get the rest she needs.  Man, hospitals are not the place to rest!!

Can we ask you to keep the prayers coming just a little longer?…
We returned to the hospital 16 hours after being discharged to have Eden checked by our pediatrician after a fitful, sleepless first night back at home.  We found out he has bronchitis and possibly RSV.  Figures I guess, after a week in the hospital.  There is no way to “baby proof” a hospital room and there were so many germs he came in contact with!  The flu is also running through our family with crummy tummies and fevers going round.  We are all pretty exhausted and run down and need to heal and recover!  Thank you for continuing to lift us up and pray for full recoveries and for sleep!  We have precious friends who have brought in some meals which we are incredibly grateful for!  And the emails and prayers from so many have blessed us immensely!

Gigi was singing “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do” yesterday at the dinner table.
Amen to that!!

“My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever”
Psalm 73:26