Saturday, April 29

A trip to Wilmington NC

We took a trip to Wilmington this past weekend to visit Grampi and Mummi. Even though the water was a little cold, Carson had tons of fun playing in the sound. Even a few nose dives did not stop him from playing for hours. Mama and Carson stayed the following week while Jon was out of town and grampi and mummi took good care of us! Chasing after Carson, cooking meals, letting mama get LOTS of rest,..THANK YOU!

Tuesday, April 18

making eye contact with Jesus

Isn’t it true that more than often our initial reaction to difficult news is, why me? Why this? Why now? We all are tempted in this way when news of suffering or trial knocks on our door. But what is the alternative to looking inward at ourselves? In answering the question “how do you persevere through suffering” I wrote of the importance for Jenni and I to be listening to Godtalk. This God really is our God, He really will give us aid, He really will strengthen us, He really will help us, He really will cause our weary bodies to stand, He really will uphold us. This real God does everything He is and says…He never fails, He never lies. He comes for us in the person of Christ, into our suffering and on our behalf. God isn’t against Jenni and I right now. He’s not angry with us and using this as an opportunity to punish us. He is feeling with us, sympathizing with us, stepping into our significant suffering (Heb 4.15,16). He will see us through and work with us the entire way. This breathtaking reality changes the question that rises up from our heart in times of sadness and temptation. This truth lifts our heads and gaze away from ourselves and begins to gently turn it to look at someone else.

We gaze outward and behold our Savior. We look to Christ, who is with us and instead of asking why me, why this, why now, we ask Him: why you? Why this? Why would you become a curse for me so that I might not ever be cursed? Why would you suffer alone so that I might never be alone? Why would you go through unimaginable pain, sorrow, hardship, weakness, death? Why would you do this for me, of all people? BUT YOU DID! You did this for your glory, my good, and for the joy set before you. Now the deeper reality is setting in, and we begin to see things clearly now. The universe is no longer all about us, and yet we aren’t irrelevant. This truth brings us down to just the right size. We face sorrow and pain but this truth helps us to know who it is who has gone before us, is with us and will always be with us to preserve something that can never be taken away. It isn’t about finding out who we are as Christians, its about finding out whose we are…we are Christ’s! And in this time of trial there is nothing more breathtaking than knowing that the King of Glory is with us and will never forsake us!

Monday, April 17

Spring PARTY!!!

Our friends had a Spring Party for the kiddos today. They had an easter egg hunt, lots of good food, playing outdoors and tons of sugar. Carson was successful in finding one egg before his attention was diverted elsewhere!

Dada helping Carson to find his one egg!

Opps...did I do that?

Sharing eggs with his buddy KJ

Easter at the Smiths

We had a wonderful time celebrating Easter with the Smiths. Nana went out of her way to make everything extra special for everyone (as she always does). One of Carson's favoties was mowing the lawn with poppy and dada (he didn't know exactly what to think of the mower!!)

Saturday, April 15

Wednesday, April 12 n
1. the divine highway to deeper and more glorious encounters with God.

If you could have anything in this universe what would it be? Think for a moment…riches, popularity, endless pleasures, comfort, what about fame, or security, beauty, or even a happy family? As a child I would often consider this question, and usually would always end up wanting money. I thought that if I had all the money in the world I would be happy. I wanted to be blessed, but have you ever stopped and asked yourself, “what is the greatest blessing to have in all times, in every place, and in every situation?” What is it that will bless our hearts in times of prosperity and delight, in times of doubt and oppressive anxiety, in times of sorrow and suffering?

As Jenni and I have begun to walk this joyful road of suffering we have experienced in new ways what we have believed…the greatest blessing in all eternity is the presence of God, and it is in times of suffering and affliction that there is more of God to be had. If I could chose to have anything, I would chose to have God. I would not choose to have money for money cannot sufficiently comfort the troubled soul. Riches cannot bring freedom from pain, or anxiety. I would not choose fame for there is no rest from the tabloids and endless responsibilities. I would not chose beauty for there is no rest from comparison to others. I would chose to have God with me, upholding me, strengthening me, comforting me, talking with me, fellowshipping with me, satisfying me…I would chose God.

Affliction and suffering are divinely designed highways that lead to deeper and more glorious encounters with the sovereign God. Paul knew this when he wrote, “this was to make us rely not on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead (2 Cor 1).” David knew this when he wrote, “earnestly I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is not water….Your steadfast love is better than life, therefore my lips will praise you (Ps 63).” “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever(Ps 73).”

What we have been in need of is not comfort derived from the removal of this challenge but comfort derived from God in the midst of this challenge. We don’t need to just “get through this” by our moral resolve and sheer will power b/c this mindset ignores God and disregards our need for Him. We don’t need to ignore this difficulty and pretend that this really isn’t’ happening, that’s just plain nonsense. What I need to know is that my wife’s most intense needs are going to be provided for. I need to know that God will work all things for our good. I need to know and feel that He will never turn away from doing us good. I need to know and feel that God will rejoice in doing us good with all His heart and soul. I need to know and feel that the steadfast love of the Lord is better than life. I need to look outside of myself to someone greater in power, love, mercy, and compassion. I need God! Our deepest need as a family is to encounter the living and eternal God and have Him impart to us His love for us and His perspective on this trial of faith!

Oh how awesome it is to be on a highway to knowing God in this way!

Tuesday, April 11

How do you persevere through suffering?

This is one of the many questions I have thought through lately knowing the difficult months that await Jenni and I. I cannot answer this question from experience, for this is the first real trial I have ever walked through. What I can speak from is what we are learning as God's grace meets us during this difficult time through opening up our minds to understand His Word.

In this time of suffering what is it that Jenni and I need most? Is it strength, resolve, companionship, peace, comfort, intimacy with one another? Is it truth, is it God’s Word, is it a sermon, a phone conversation, a lunch with friends to laugh and forget about this whole thing for an hour? What is it that our hearts need the most?

Our greatest need is to have the eternal God speak directly into this significant suffering. We need the truth of who God is and what He is like particularly with regard to what we are walking through. We need to taste and see His purposes, we need to behold and encounter the powerful effect of His unfailing promises. We need to hear God talking and experience Him working.

Is this a time for theology? If you mean truth about God, who He is, what He is like, and what He promises to do for us…ABSOLUTELY! Our primary need is to be near to God and hear His perspective on this. Why? Because God’s voice speaks louder than the screams of our pain, shines brighter that any present darkness, endures longer than anything that is or could be lost, and is the defining reality for all of life…including suffering. We need to know who it is that is with us to bring good out of our troubles and who purifies our deepest distresses.

Left to ourselves we would be delusional. This affliction would overwhelm us, obsess us and fill us with worry and distraction. God would seem invisible, silent, non-existent. Pain and how this leads to endless imaginations are intoxicating. We would be caught in a tailspin of fear, guilt, regret, confusion, anger, emptiness, and uncertainty. Who wants to live this way, especially in times of suffering?

What we need most in this hour is to hear our Saviors voice through God’s Word and to feel our heavenly Fathers hand by believing the truth found in God’s Word. We need to hear this voice and believe this truth as we spend those precious moments with God everyday alone. We need to hear it when we cry, when we pray, when we laugh, when we’re weary from the fight to believe. We need to hear it when we are staring at the sonogram machine, or when the doctor tells us our baby has minutes or days to live. We need to hear His voice and believe His truth as we fellowship with our friends and family. If we listen, we will become fearless. If we listen, we will endure. If we listen, we will fight the good fight. If we listen, we will know that we need to be rescued. If we listen, we will know that we need to be carried into battle, through battle, and finally from the battlefield. If we listen we will persevere. If we listen, we will live.

We need to look outward and cry outward rather than inward. We need to listen to God whispering in our ear, “I am with you. I am your God. I will still give you aid. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will cause you to stand. I will uphold you by my all-good, all-powerful hand.” Oh Lord, help us to listen to you with faith!

God is talking, even when dark clouds hover over our lives. Are you listening? If you listen you will live.

Monday, April 10

checkin in

This past week Jenni and I have been truly overwhelmed by the love and care of our family, friends and church body. We have recieved numerous emails, consistent phone calls, endless prayers all communicating one thing...your love and care for us during this time of difficulty. THANK YOU! We are grateful to God for all of you.

So many of you have asked how we are doing and after talking to one another we thought that this blog would be a good means to check in with everyone. So come back for updates on how mom, dad, and little buddy are doing. We want to help you know how God's grace is meeting us in this time of difficulty. We won't speak to these topics as if "we've arrived." We will speak to these topics concerning what God is teaching us and what we need. We will post many of the questions that this challenge is forcing us to ask and we will also post what God is teaching us regarding His grace and how it is meeting us during this time of significant difficulty. We will do our best to update as frequently as we can.

The Joy Carson brings us....

Getting some love from dada

Taking a ride with mama and dada

These past couple of days, both Jon and I have been so grateful for the gift in our precious son. He has brought us so much joy in a very difficult time. Carson has been getting over a cold, ear infection, teething and now a very bad diaper rash. The only way that he has been consolable is in his mama's arms. How the Lord knows exactly what my soul has needed in this time...hours of holding my son tightly in my arms! The Lord is good indeed.

Monday, April 3

Some Random Pics....

Little Buddy helping a sick mama to feel better

Playing with some of his old baby toys!

First time at the park...he loved the slides

what's in your ears?

Little buddy is rockin to "No One Like You" by David Crowder. He had no idea what to do with the headphones...he just stood and stared.

Carson's 1st Haircut

This is a week of firsts for Carson, today he had his first haircut. We loved the curls, but they were getting a little out of control (and we figure they can always grow back)! He really looks like a big boy now.

Updates in the Smith household...Carson and mama are recovering from a cold, Carson has two new teeth coming in, mama is right smack in the middle of morning sickness (more like all day sickness), where is dada in the midst of all this? Changing diapers, making meals, feeding Carson, playing with Carson, brining snacks to me on the couch, cleaning up, what is Jonny NOT doing is the question! I am so undeserving to have such an amazing gift in my husband. I grow more and more in love with him each day! Thank you love!

Sunday, April 2

Carson's 1st B-Day

Well, I am giving this blog thing a try. I figure it is a great way for family and friends to see picures of our adorable little boy and get updates on what is going on in the family. The biggest baby (or should I say toddler) just turned one! We were able to celebrate last night with his favorite meal and a birthday cake. He didn't know what to think of the cake or the taste, but he provided a lot of laughs for the rest of us!