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Everyday life, Family, Kate, Luke


***Update*** Kate has been peeing and pooping on the potty since I posted this!!!!!!! You all are prayer warriors!!!!!!!  If you haven’t read this entry yet, this will make no sense, and this is probably an uncomfortable moment for you…yikes 🙂 I am SO excited that several of you will be coming to the women’s conference in Lexington…anyone wanna do the speaking for me?
Love to you all, and thank you for all the amazing homeschooling suggestions…I have started a notebook with all of your nifty ideas. I am hoping to have another update on Bible study soon…we’re getting closer!!!!!!!!! I can’t wait!!!

Hi all!

Sorry I haven’t posted in a bit..we were out of town visiting family in Georgia. We had such a great week watching the girls playing with their cousins.  It was great to just all be together and stay up late playing dominoes after the girls had fallen asleep to Miley Cyrus’ 3-D concert.  We are truly blessed to have the kind of family that really loves to be together…
Yesterday, we went swimming with Pete and Brandi and their three precious boys (Jett, Gage, and Brewer).  You may remember that Pete is the Pastor of Crosspoint church, who did the awesome video about Audrey.  We had so much fun watching Jett patiently allowing Kate to follow him all around the pool, floaties working overtime, and then pounce on him as soon as he got still.  I heard Ellie say to the other boys, “I think my sister is going to marry your brother.”  She isn’t subtle, but she is certainly determined.  I can’t wait to see what God does with her as she grows up.  I think she is going to be a warrior for the Lord.  On our way to meet them, she decided to test-drive the word “crap” from the backseat of the car.  I whipped around and asked her what she had said and she was kind enough to repeat it.  I looked at her and she realized that must be a no-no word.  She looked at the floor of the car and then at me.
“We don’t say crap, do we, mommy?”
“No, Kate, we don’t say that word.” She considers this for a moment, and then says,
“What about ‘Oh my crap.’  Do we say that?”  Seriously, where does she come up with this stuff?
“No, Kate, we don’t say that either.”
“How ’bout ‘What the crap.’ Is that okay?” In my mind I was thinking Yes, in certain situations, like when you can’t find the match for that stinkin’ kids shoe you JUST bought…

“No, honey, nothing with that word. Let’s think of another word to say.”
“We don’t say ‘hell’ either, right momma?” Now that’s tricky.  
“Well, we say it when we are really talking about hell.  That is a real place, and that is what we call it, but we don’t just say the word. Only when we are talking about the real hell.”
“So I can say ‘Oh my hell?'”
This continues through many shades of crap and hell, and by the end of it all, I am convicted because I think crap (while not a glorifying word) is sometimes the only one that sums it up. It’s kind of rebellious while not completely offensive.  However, it’s not one I want to hear my two year old repeating on the way to a pool date with our friend the Pastor.
A few years ago, I was putting Abby and Ellie to bed and we were doing our night-time routine. I like to ask them to think of one thing they are grateful for, one thing they want to pray for, and one thing they would like to apologize to God about.  Abby decides to go first, and starts by saying that she is grateful for colored chalk and bubbles.  Then, she says that she wants to pray for our neighbor, who wants to have another baby.  She pauses.
“Abby, is there anything you want to say ‘I’m sorry’ to God about?”
“Yeah. About me hitting Ellie today.”
“Okay, well then go ahead, because when you are done you will feel so much better.  You will have a clean slate! Isn’t that great?” She nods, closes her eyes, and puts her little palms together reflectively.
“Jesus, I am so sorry that I hit Ellie today, because that was wrong.”  My sweet Abby, humbling herself before the Lord…what a beautiful moment….
I see one of her eyes open into a little sliver.   She is looking at Ellie with a smirky little expression. This is about to go downhill.
“But, Jesus, you know I hit her because she took my dolly, and I really hope she will say I’m sorry about that and that you will forgive her for what she has did.” She closes her eye again and a little smile creeps across her face…mission accomplished. Apology, complete with justification and blame.  What a pleasing aroma to the Lord….
After stifling a snort-giggle, I made her do it over again, while explaining that when we come before the Lord, we must do it in humility, not righteousness. We need to seek Him, and not ourselves.  I always think of this story when I am praying for something and my own agenda sneaks in.  The past few weeks have had a lot of those moments.
We have these seasons in our lives where we take inventory and start to decide what needs to change, what needs to be worked on, and what we need to do to be a better steward of the gifts that we have been given.  I am right in the middle of my “inventory,” and it feels like I am starting to make some progress. I told Todd on the way to Georgia that I felt like God was preparing me for some kind of ministry, and I’m not all that sure how I feel about it.  Some parts of it I am comfortable with (I love writing, and I love Bible study.  I love being with people and living life together. I love Jesus, and the idea of being a part of anything that brings people to Him) and others I am not (public speaking, being in the spotlight, being open enough to draw criticism for my faith and my decisions).  I’m just so darned thin-skinned, and so worried about letting people down all the time.  God kindly told me to get over myself and be obedient.
So, after much prayer and trepidation, I have accepted my first speaking engagement (it’s in Lexington, KY on October 3rd in association with Southland Christian Church).  Please pray for me. I am a bundle of nerves, and have actually tried to back out a few times, but the Lord keeps telling me it is the right choice. Todd and the girls will be coming with me (that is part of the “deal” I made with God about these types of things…my family is my primary ministry, and I am not willing to be away from them), so that makes me feel a little better.  I have been crying a lot, but wanting so badly to be in God’s will. If you live in Lexington and you decide to come, just know that there is a good possibility you will see the keynote speaker throw up, so bring your camera phones. There is also a good chance you will discover that I am actually quite ordinary, and not nearly as exciting as you might have hoped:)
A few other prayer requests while I’m at it…
~I have started homeschooling Abby and Ellie.  I am really, really enjoying it.  It started out as something I wanted to do so that we could travel with Todd, but it has evolved into a sweet time with my girls. I am having a little trouble figuring out how to entertain Kate while I am teaching, and welcome any thoughts or suggestions about that (and homeschooling in general).
~I am so excited about “Stepping Up,” and am still in the process of working out the details. We may have found a church to host it!!!!!  I will keep you posted:)  I smile every time I think about meeting some of you face to face and digging deeper into the Word with you.  It is going to be a great time of fellowship, and from what I have heard, Beth knocks it out of the park again with this study.  It is seven weeks long, and has a pretty fair amount of homework.  I am also trying to figure out creative ways to make it feel interactive for those of you who do not live in Nashville.  I am going to start another blog for the study, and I am thinking about ideas for it.  There are many of you who are much smarter than me about this stuff, so feel free to email me if you have suggestions.
~I am potty-training Kate, and it isn’t going all that hot.  You know her well enough by now for me to spare you the gory details (Okay, just one.  She climbed up on our kitchen counter and pooped on it.) Let’s just say it is a battle of the wills, and I am losing.
This post is all over the place, isn’t it?  Oh well, that’s life I guess:)  If you have written me and haven’t gotten a response, please forgive me.  I have really had to limit the amount of time I spend in my email because I have started the school year with my kids.  I do hope you will continue to write, and know that it is a privilege I do not take lightly to be included as someone who can pray for you.  I do read your words, and I do pray.  It has been an incredible blessing to me to hear your hearts…thank you so, so much.
p.s. I wanted to let you know that Greg and Nicol have started a blog in honor of Luke.  If you want to, please stop by and feel free to reach out to support them. The address is:
p.p.s.  I am in contact with a sweet woman who is expecting her fourth child. She is in the hospital, and is faced with a very difficult prognosis, although her beautiful faith is unwavering. Her blog is Please pray for her and her baby, Stellan.
Audrey, devotional, Kate

Holy Ground

Take off your sandals, for the place
where you are standing is 
holy ground…
Exodus 3:5

The funeral home called a few days ago (7/8) to tell us that Audrey’s grave marker was in.
This week has been hard, and for some reason, this pushed me over the edge emotionally.  I don’t even know if I could say it was sadness, because I have been waiting for weeks for this call.  I wanted her to have more than the little plastic placeholder with the piece of paper in it. I was relieved that it was finally there, but it took my breath away to hear the words.  It feels so final.
Immediately, I told Todd I wanted to go over and see it.  We only have one car right now (I kind of wrecked the other one a little bit, but I contend that it was the pile of cement’s fault.  It practically jumped out and ripped off my bumper) and the twins had a friend over, so I started out the door.  Kate saw me grab my keys and she started screaming and begging to come with me.  I told her that I was going to see Audrey and then to the grocery store, and that I didn’t think she would have as much fun as if she stayed and played with all the girls.  She protested. And then she started putting on her shoes and saying over and over, “Ona go, momma.  Ona go.”  When Kate says she “wants to” go, she is pretty persistent.  I didn’t have the strength to fight her, so I told her she could come. She ran to the playroom and grabbed the back page of a princess magazine they had been reading, wiped her eyes, and said “let’s go, momma. I go wif you, just you and kate, momma.  just us, right?”
“Just you and me, Kate.  We’re going to go see Audrey.”  She climbed in her car seat, clinging on to the magazine page.  
The whole way to the cemetery, I watched her smile in the rear-view mirror.  I love taking each of my girl’s out for “alone time,” because we get to connect in a different way than when we are all together, and I think it helps them to know they are each so special to me.  Kate really needs this time, especially lately.  
We got to the cemetery and I grabbed my camera to take pictures so Todd could see Audrey’s marker.  I obliged when Kate asked to take off her shoes.  She loves the feeling of grass in her toes; she is the kind of kid who wants to “feel” everything fully.  She wants to touch the flowers (pluck mercilessly), sort my purse (turn upside-down and use up my new lipstick), and to enjoy her food (shove fistfuls of it into her mouth while closing her eyes and purring “mmm-mmm.”). She doesn’t know how to do life halfway, and I love that about her. 
She grabbed her little page and started walking around the cemetery with this big grin.  I spent some time talking to Audrey, and then asked her if she wanted to come over with me (she had discovered the joy of stealing the little flags from several vases….don’t worry, they have been returned…).  
She looked up at me, confused.
“Ona see Audrey.”
“She’s right here, honey.  They just gave her a special new plaque that tells about her.  It has her name on it.”  I ran my fingers along the letters and she took a step in my direction, then stopped.
“Ona see her, momma. Where is she? Where is Audrey?”
Tears filled my eyes as I realized what was happening.  She thought that we were going to see Audrey.  The Audrey she held, not the one who is under this marker.  The Audrey that wore a dress and looked like a baby doll.  That’s why she had been smiling the whole way here.  No wonder she wanted to come with me so badly…she probably wondered why it had taken us so long to go back to see her.  I didn’t know what to say.  She kept looking at me, clutching her little page.
“What did you bring, Kate?” I studied her face.
“A book for Audrey.  I give it to her.”  She looked at the grave and then looked at me.  
“Okay, honey.  Let’s give it to Audrey.”  I couldn’t see through the tears because in that moment, my emotions did not stretch farther than the bounds of her 2 1/2 year old brain.  I couldn’t stand it either.  We should be reading books at home with her, not sobbing together in the middle of a cemetery.  Oh Lord Jesus, come be near to us.  Hold us with Your unfailing love, we cannot sustain ourselves…
She bent down and gingerly set the page on her sister’s grave.  

 I read the words over and over in those moments…
                                                Audrey Caroline Smith
                                                       April 7, 2008
Not many words.  Not many hours.  So many, many tears.  
I cannot seem to find my way these past few days.  I have bruises on my legs from bumping into furniture that has not moved in years.  I got lost driving home the other night from a very familiar place, and didn’t even realize I was lost until I had been driving in the wrong direction for almost 15 minutes.  All day long, I forget the most simple words, the most familiar faces, the words to a song I know by heart.  Sometimes I just stand in the shower with the water scalding my skin so that I can feel something that registers. My brain just doesn’t know it’s way around the sorrow, it seems.  I know all of these things are part of the process, or so my grief books say.  I have stacks of them, piled up by my bed, nestled on shelves, stored on the coffee tables. They are to be my roadmap through this valley, and yet, in this moment, all of the words are just meaningless.  I know this is “normal,” but I assure you, it is anything but.
We figured out a way to tuck Kate’s gift into the back of Audrey’s vase so that it wouldn’t blow away.  Kate cried as we walked back to the car, because she finally realized we were not going to “see” Audrey.  I put her sandals back on her dirty feet and wiped her cheeks clean.  Then I wiped mine clean as well.  
As I drove away, I looked back at the roses and I couldn’t help but think of how much I wished she could have had a wedding bouquet herself.  
I thought about something I haven’t talked about here yet, and I want to.  Well, I want to start talking about it.  It has been so hard for me, but this blog has become a sort of therapy for me, and I think it will help me process if I can begin the conversation…
The day we buried Audrey was really hard.  It was a beautiful day, and God made Himself present in amazing ways, but humanly speaking, it was one of the worst days of my life.  Tom (Uchida Photography) gave me the photos from Audrey’s burial tonight and I have spend quite awhile lost in memories of that day. I wanted to remember the way that everything had gone, because some of it was a blur.  In my letter to Audrey, I said that we were going to take the band-aids off her bunny because she was healed.  The day of her burial, we set up the bunny by her tiny little casket and we stood together while Abby, Ellie and Kate peeled them off her heart.  I knew in that moment a great peace, a peace passed understanding, as the Bible says.  I knew she was healed.  I knew she was in the arms of the Lord, and that was enough for me.  I missed her, yes.  But I truly rejoiced knowing that she was in the arms of her Savior. Good, strong, beautiful, safe arms.  
There are a couple of things that I remember feeling that day, and one of them was a nice, steady breeze.  It was a warm day, and it felt like grace itself was winding it’s way through the tent as our Pastor spoke powerful words of truth. My hair blew all around me and it reminded me that we are not alone.  We are never alone.  There are wind chimes in the baby garden where she is buried, and there is always enough of a breeze to make them dance with music. I remember thinking that the wind was like the Holy Spirit, unseen in this moment, but moving. Ever moving.  
I remember the scriptures that my niece and nephew read in front of the crowd.  Verses they had picked out themselves for this occasion.  I was so proud that they had done that, and they chose words that ministered to me greatly. 
I also remember the feeling of absolute panic and shock when I saw her little coffin.  We requested a wooden coffin because they are so simple, and we wanted something that looked like it had been carved by human hands.  I originally wanted an Amish coffin, but our funeral home told us that they had a Jewish one that was wooden, and I thought it was beautiful.  All of the “example” pictures were of regular-sized coffins, and so were all of the displays at the funeral home.  I guess my brain didn’t fully understand that hers would be a very, very tiny version of the ones I was seeing.  When I first saw it, I gasped out loud.  It was small.  I had to remind myself that she was small too. 

There are a lot of moments I will treasure from that day, and I will share more with you as time goes by, but I really wanted to show you a few that are special to me in the hopes that you, my faithful friends, will feel like you were with us. Not just for the burial, but for the healing that God performed when He brought her to His side.  No more band-aids, sweet Audrey-blossom. Only Him.
Only Him.
We have received a few questions about the beautiful light that sits in her flowers…the truth is that we have no idea where it came from.  It doesn’t appear to be from the funeral home, but we didn’t put it there, either.  It seems it is a sweet gift from someone who has heard her story…we would love to know so that we could thank you in person for such a thoughtful gift…
Thank you for your love, and for your time.
I love to meet you here and tell you the story of a little girl who had weight in this life.  
We miss you, baby.  Every day.
Family, Kate

A Lot to Say

Kate does not like the idea of someone else having the spotlight…she would rather just keep going (and going and going…). I hope you giggle your way through this…I just figured out my camera can do video and I captured this yesterday. Abby is on the left, Ellie in the middle, and Kate, well, you will know which one Kate is.

I have many other things to post.  I had a very eventful day on Tuesday…we are still processing. When I can find the words, I would love to post about the day and ask for your prayer.  I will try to do it later this evening.
For now, enjoy:)  You might want to pause the music so you can hear it…but don’t expect to understand too much of it….