Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Awards!

This morning something unexpected and special happened. . . .Madison received a certificate for Music Achievement at her school. She was recognized as an outstanding music student. . She was so pleased and wide-eyed, taking it all in. When her name was called she went up onto the stage to shake the music teacher's hand and receive her certificate. This is her first time in a school assembly to be recognized like this, and we were so very proud of her. Especially in light of our "discovering her passion" conversations lately, it was so precious for someone outside of her family and friends to encourage her and speak into her. Like my mom said, she's beginning to define herself, and this speaks to Madison the Musician. Also this week we met with her new piano teacher, and she's super excited about beginning lessons in the next week or two. Later in the morning, in a classroom awards time, Madison's teacher gave her the "Academic Award--Best All Round Student. . in recognition of being a person that shows the best effort in all areas" . Wow!!! Now we're doubly proud! So. . .I'm reminded that God knows the plans he has for my girl! He sees all her days before one of them comes to be. I'm so grateful.

*By the way, thank you to Stephen for designing my new "header" for my blog. I think he did a great job!

She just received her certificate.

With Ms. Hoffman, her music teacher

Proudly displaying her certificate

With Mrs. French, her principal

Friday, May 25, 2007

Gymnastics. . .

Thursday afternoon Madison and her class of gymnasts, displayed their skills for a captive audience of parents and various family members. Wow. It was an accomplishment for our family to have made it through an entire year of getting there on Thursdays from 4:30 - 5:30! What can I say about our first gymnastics experience? Well, Madison had fun! She absolutely smiled and bounced her way through each and every class. She did a great job at the program yesterday, she felt good about it, too. Stephen and I are really proud of her. We're not sure what we'll do next year. . . not sure what will be Madison's thing~her passion and pleasure that she'll want to stick with. We're going to try piano lessons this summer. . we'll see. . .here's our girl showing us her stuff!! :)

On a different note, I've been wanting to give you this AMAZING recipe. It's from the Dove's Nest in Waxahachie, and I'm telling you, you will not be disappointed. It's easy and yummy! I made a huge salad with field greens, apples, dried cranberries, candied pecans, feta, and grilled chicken one night for supper, and Stephen and I loved it. Enjoy!

The Dove's Nest Balsamic Maple Vinaigrette
(The measurements in parentheses are about 1/3 the original measurements. This made plenty for us.)

1 cup balsamic vinegar (2 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (1 ounce)
1/4 cup minced shallots (2-3 Tablespoons)
3 cups olive oil (1 cup)
2 teaspoons salt (1/3 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon pepper (1/3 teaspoon)

Combine all ingredients in a jar with tight-fitting lid. Shake together. Chill. Enjoy!!!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Tribute to Melody

Good morning. Well, a few days ago I totally laughed out loud when I got an email from Melody saying that I put a picture on my blog of her with a mad-face, and that I made her sound like a cry baby!!! (She was teasing me, of course.) Anyone who know our family very well knows that historically, I am the one who can be found crying at ANY maybe cry-worthy (or not) situation! Melody, historically, has more self-control, saving her crying for truly cry-worthy situations! So. . . it was noteworthy, in our family, for HER to cry and not me on Mother's Day!!! But it got me thinking. .. so today I'm including some lovely pictures of my BEAUTIFUL sister, and I want to say a few of the things that I admire and love about her.

Melody. . . .
I love how LOYAL you are to your family and friends. You can always be counted on to be there for your family. Your group of "girls" is so special, and I think it's awesome how ya'll stick together.
I love how you are always willing to COME-THROUGH for the people you care about.
I love how you are a HARD-WORKER. You have amazing expectations for yourself--and you achieve them.
I love how you are HONEST, never decietful in the slightest, about your thoughts and feelings.
I love how COURAGEOUS you are. Leaving the corporate world and getting your teaching certificate was a bold step. I'm proud of you!
I love how SMART you are. Oh, my goodness! You're smart!
I love how much FUN you are. You're always up for a movie or a puzzle or a game. . .
I love how you're a MOMMY. Just knowing that Caden Joseph Lilley is growing inside you makes me smile!
I love what a great AUNT you are. Thank you for loving my children. Thank you for being willing to play with them!
I love what a great WIFE you are. It's been so sweet to watch you and Nathan grow in your relationship over the last several years.
I love how you're a TEACHER. I know your students adore the lovely Mrs. Lilley! Even the tough ones. You are an excellent teacher of little minds.
I love how your WORK OUT! You are truly and inspiration to me!!
I love how your FAITH IN GOD shines. Walking through life's struggles hasn't always been easy, but you have trusted God's plan. This has been an encouragement to me.
Melody Summer Lilley. . . I love that your name rolls off the tongue like a song.

Look how cute! Melody as a toddler. I'm pretty sure this was 1982.

Melody with Madison on the 4th of July 2000.

Melody and Jackson at the beach Labor Day 2006.

Melody and her awesome husband, Nathan.

Melody and me a few years ago.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Jackson's Kids Day Out Finale!

Well, Jackson has completed his first year of school. This is quite an accomplishment for a 2-year old, don't you think? The first completion of many school years, God-willing. He has loved going to school on Monday's and Friday's. Ms. Michelle has been a great teacher, and his class is so sweet.
This is class singing. They sang "I'm Jesus' special friend. . . he helps me know what's right to do" to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell" and "Clap you hands and sing this song. . . thank you God for Jesus" to the tune of "Mary had a Little Lamb". Jackson did great!

Jackson with his friend, Finn. He really sang out like a true Smith!

Isn't he adorable? Before the program, whenever I'd ask him what song he was going to be singing, he always sang a Doodlebops song for me (a Disney channel show). I'm pretty sure he thought he was going to have a solo act!

This picture is from Madison's choir's production of Donkey Tales on Sunday night. Stephen designed the barn! He created it and painted the background red, then a set-painter came in to add the details. Madison is on the right hand side, third from the right.

Check out that incredible foot-work!!! Yee ha!!! Go, Madison!

Pretty exciting, around the Smith house. :) Thank you, God, for these sweet children. They fill my life with so much joy and so many reasons to smile and laugh every day!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Size Ones

My precious baby Hope is 8 weeks old today, and she's officially in size one diapers. I'm feeling just a little melencholy about the whole thing. . . no more newborn diapers. . . she's not a newborn anymore. Since I fully expect (unless God intervenes like crazy!) that Hope is my last baby, I just can't help noting all these milestones. . a series of firsts and lasts. Hope's first days in size ones, my last baby in newborns. I'm truly making an effort to treasure my little one. I have to admit that it's kind of fun that she's so little. . . she's staying little a little longer! :)

She's such a precious, perfect baby. She has actually slept through the night for the last 5 nights! And I mean in the bed at about 10:00 and up at about 6:00. Now that's a milestone to celebrate. . .I'm not going to go getting sentimental about my lack of sleep these last 2 months! :) She is just the cutest, sweetest thing. She goes with the flow, happily taking her 4 naps in her bed or in the carrier. She is starting to smile responsively a little bit, and we just all love her to pieces. If you haven't had the chance to hold her, I promise that I'll give her a kiss for you. I find myself kissing those oh-so-kissible little cheeks all day!

These 2 pictures are from today. . . both ASLEEP!!!

Well, that's enough gushing about Hope for now! We're off to Jackson's stage debut for Kids Day Out pretty soon, so I'm planning to gush about Jackson tomorrow! :)

Monday, May 21, 2007

I'm an aunt!

Happy news!!! Melody (my sister) has a baby BOY growing in her tummy!!! We are all thrilled! She is 19 weeks along. . everything looks healthy! Thanks be to God! Baby boy Lilley had his hand in his mouth and was, of course, terribly adorable on the ultrasound monitor! We love you, baby, already!!! Thank you to all of you who have prayed for Melody and Nathan. I'll keep you posted...

Happenings. . .

Hi, friends! Lots has been happening around here the last few days. Here's a run down on all the activity. . .

*Last Thursday: Madison's 1st grade field trip to the Fort Worth Zoo. We had a blast. The 5 little girls in our group were precious. Maddie and I can't wait to take Stephen and Jackson and Hope back to the FW zoo this summer. The craziest thing we saw was a white tiger pacing back and forth just inches away on the other side of a piece of glass. Jackson and Hope stayed with Miss Jenny (Travis) while I was gone. I got home at 2:30 pm. and then. . .

*Thursday night: Miss Kathleen came at 3:15 to keep all 3 kids while I went BACK to Fort Worth for a Smith Band date at the seminary. This was a huge blessing. . .John, Aric, and Stuart were with us for a college conference. Lots of Sagemont people were in leadership, and they did an awesome job. Vodie was the speaker and was amazing, of course. We didn't get home until 9:30 or so. . .boy, I missed baby Hope!! I've never left her ALL DAY like that! She did great, but it was hard on me! I do thank God for an easy baby girl who can go with the flow!

*Friday morning: I got the big kids off to school and then the guys came to Irving (I missed the morning session). We all went to eat Indian food for lunch. They headed back for the afternoon session (which I also missed), and I headed to Stipes for Madison's field day! This was a non-competitive field day where the kids moved around from station to station playing games. They had a ball!

*Friday night: Miss Jenny was back to stay with all 3 kids while I headed to FW. We went to eat at the Mellow Mushroom (YUMMY)! Ya know, it's a treat to go out to eat with just grown ups!!! :) The students were really responsive at this session and it was a blessing to be a part of the evening. Thanks be to God.

*Saturday morning: Miss Kathleen was back to stay with M, J, and H while we went back to FW for the final session. We finished strong! The speaker, Jim Henderson, really challenged me with this question: Do we try to impress people with our own abilities and strengths or do we try to impress people with GOD's might? Do they come to our churches to see our personalities and hear and see how great WE are or do we point them to God with what we do and say? This was on my mind Sunday morning. ..

*Saturday afternoon and evening: We all took a huge, long nap and then went to La Madeline for supper. Our kids actually like going there! It's all about the huge cookie you get with the kid's meal! I had this very yummy crepe with shrimp!! Tooooo delicious! Those of you with kids know that the pre-church/Saturday evening ritual takes a while. .baths for THREE. . clothes laid out. . bags packed .. . coffee maker prepped. . .house picked up. . .to bed.

*Sunday morning: I led with Stephen at our 11:00 o'clock service. This was a blessing because I haven't led with him on Sunday since the middle of March (pre-Hope). I was so glad to be back! :) My friend Alicia sat with Hope in the service and she slept the whole time, of course. She sleeps A LOT! I'm not complaing or anything, but people are always shocked when they actually get to see her with her eyes open!

*Sunday afternoon/evening: The kids and I went to Taco Bueno to grab some lunch ( I'm absolutely addicted to beef muchacos--not good for my weight-loss goals!) and then ran Madison home to change . . and then took her back to church to get ready for Donkey Tales, our children's spring musical! Stephen and I both had a parenting moment where we realized just how much she is growing up! She is so responsible and actually helpful!!! She helped with set-up and then they rehearsed at 3:00. After Jackson, Hope, and I had naps, we were BACK at church for the big performance!!! Madison and the kids did GREAT!!! She actually had a lot to remember. One great thing about our church is that it's big enough to do a full-on musical, but small enough that every kid has a few parts.. . so Madison had 3 big parts. . she rode on a wooden donkey and had to lean LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT-RIGHT through the song on the beat. . . she was the "preacher" in a song that told the story of the good Samaritan. She had on a red robe and carried a Bible.. . .and she also did "foot work" on one song. Why do they call it "foot work" and not "dancing"? I really do not know! Maybe so some boys will participate (though none did). It cracks me up!!! They basically did the grapevine-to-the-left and grapevine-to-the-right through the whole song! It was awesome! :)

Okay, so that's our weekend. We've got more excitement to come this week with Jackson's school program on Tuesday night and Madison's gymnastics program on Thursday.. . stay posted for more pics!

Have a blessed Monday. . oh, and check in later to find out if Melody is having a boy or girl!!!!! They have the big ultrasound at 4:00 which I will be attending via my mom's cell phone!! We are soooooo excited!


Oh, and please visit Amber's blog and/or to hear about their current trip to The Sudan.

Madison with Savannah, Esmerelda, GiGi and Jeannie.

The pacing tiger.

Jump roping at field day. I actually jumped a bit, too! It was fun!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Mother's Thoughts Today

Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

Psalm 147:1-2

This morning as I read this Psalm, I immediately thought of my children. Oh, that God would grace them with such a deep, fervent love for Him that nothing else compares. . .that they may live for Him all their lives--with all their lives. My prayer is for number of days and substance of days. . that they would not trust in princes and mere mortal man (verse 3-5), but would put all thier hope in Him alone!

My second thought was of my sweet grandmother. I love Grandmama so much, and she is a beautiful, living illustration of loving Jesus for all you days. What a legacy she is leaving for my mom, my sister, my daughters and me to follow. Her courage and determination in coming to the "Meet-Hope-Party" on Saturday in Houston was truly a blessing to me. I'm so very grateful that she set her heart and mind on coming. . .and she made it happen. I know she's paid the price with an extra-sore body, but I'm so glad she was there.

On Sunday, my dad got out the video camera for us to record words of thanks to our mom. That was an easy assignment! I told my mom, and it's always true--she is the most wonderful example of being a Godly woman--she loves Jesus, her husband, her family, her church, her friends--all in the right priority order. She generously and gracefully serves all those around her. She is wise in all things. I honestly think through many situation with the WWMD test--What would mama do? By the way, I thought it note-worthy that MELODY was the one crying--not me!!! SHE has the pregancy hormones to deal with--not me! :)

I have a renewed sense of mothering being the most important "career" (to use my dad's word). These children are my life's work, and it's my joy to pour into them. . .to labor in prayer for them. . . to read with them and play with them. . to care for their daily needs. . and on and on.

Thank you, Father, for this amazing journey of motherhood. You have been so good to give me living examples that I am glad to follow! Thank you for the three children you have blessed me with. I put my hope in YOU, Lord! I need YOU to give me a fervent passion for YOURSELF. . that I may lead the way for my little ones to follow in loving you all my days.
Grandmama and Hope chillin' at the party.
The beautiful table that my mom and Melody prepared. Yummy!
Madison and Jackson with friends Makenna and Delaney Crane (and Fudge). We were so happy to see the Cranes!!!
Hope with sweet friends Jan Hart and Anita Clark. It was wonderful to see these moms and Tara and Cathy. Also. . Jamie and Carol!!
Nathan and Melody!! (note the bump on Mel :))

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


I KNOW that God put it in our heart to just need friends--true friends. These last 10 months (yes, it really has been 10 months) in Irving have been interesting for me in this regard--I HAVE lots of friends--it's just that most of those in the life-long good friend category are not very close by proximity-wise. I have tried not to complain (too much) because I am not alone (though lonely sometimes). Anyway, Stephen's grandmother, Lee La, admonished me 3 weeks ago to pray that God would give me a friend because that's what she had done, and God had faithfully brought her a friend. So. . . I have prayed for a friend. . .and God has answered by showing me the friends that I DO already have and deepening those friendships. Examples: Jennifer Durham--who has CERTAINLY been my sweet friend--came over last week to eat lunch and hang out. That meant so much to me! I miss Tara and my other Houston lunch buddies. Also, my friend Sheri--who has been so kind to me (though we haven't done anything together since last fall)--emailed me to go to lunch before school is out--and we're going on Monday! AND, today as I read Tina's blog, I felt so connected to her--like I can relate!! AND, I'm going to Houston on Friday and will get to see some PRECIOUS FRIENDS!!! AND--last but certainly not least--my friend Amber Burger came over yesterday with her son Titus (who is Jackson's age). God so clearly showed me that Amber is my friend. He has brought her into my life with great purpose!!! She loves the Lord so much, and her heart for the nations (especially The Sudan) challenges me immensely--and I'm so grateful!!!

Here's a picture of Jackson and Titus after their play date. They had a ball in the play room and outside in the dirt pile!!

So, my heart is filled with thanksgiving today for the friends God has brought into my life--the life-long kind and the new kind--who I have a feeling might just turn out to be the life-long kind, too! I love you, sweet friends!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Fantastic Friday's

Stephen and Hope and I just returned from a lovely, peaceful Friday morning. . we have so enjoyed having most Fridays to go run errands and to lunch together. . and we have only a couple more opportunities before SCHOOL'S OUT!!! Oh, my goodness! I can't believe that summer is upon us! These Friday's have been treasures to us. . a date with no babysitter to pay!!! :) We can talk about whatever we want without interruption!! Amazing! I must brag on my wonderful husband. He is an amazing daddy--he loves our children to pieces and will do anything for them. He is wise in his parenting and so helpful in the day-to-day practical way! Now that we are out-numbered (as Jennifer Richard reminded me!), we really have to tag-team it more than ever! And thanks be to God, it's somehow working!

By the way, our outing this morning included a new experience--the farmer's market! We went downtown and bought up all kinds of fresh fruits and veggies! Yummy! We're going to grill some of them tonight and then have vanilla ice cream with the fresh blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries we got!! DELICIOUS! As you can see, I'm already looking forward to supper even though it's only 1:45!!

Well, almost time to go get the "big kids" and let the afternoon craziness begin! Have a wondful weekend!