Monthly Archives: December 2014

2014 – A Review

Battle Lake Sunset 2Our family just spent a week up in a “cabin”…which in this case is code for very large home on a lake with its own theatre room which was ridiculous…except for a few of the bathrooms that only provided cold showers, we were surrounded in luxury. It was nice to get away from the “normal” and spend time with my extended family.

My dad commented that most years we get about 4 hours together at Christmas, and this year we had several days. It was a treat and a blessing that God provided for us. Yes, God has really provided for us this year. It hasn’t come without hard work, long hours and sacrifices…but He has been good.

I have been thinking a lot about the past year and what I thought 2014 was going to bring. In some ways I can’t believe that it is over and in others 2015 can’t come fast enough.

One of the biggest and continued blessings of 2014 has been the community of women that God has surrounded me with. Women that support and encourage me. Women that pray over me and love without judgement. These women in my tribe are the greatest gift I could have ever received this year. While community wasn’t what I was seeking when I started this God-sized Dream journey 2 years ago, it has been better than I could have hoped or imagined.

At the beginning of 2014, with wobbly and knocking knees, I shared my hopes to be called to the platform and speak. It terrifies me even still because even thinking about it makes me want to throw up a little, but still it is a calling that I feel. And while 2014 brought only 2 opportunities, one for my husband and I together at church and another at a local MOPS group early in December, both were an honor to be a part of.

I think starting the year, sharing that dream, I thought that maybe there would be something “bigger”…but I was reminded recently when listening to my 40 Day Prayer Challenge devotional by Mark Batterson, that I don’t have to influence thousands….maybe God calls me to be an influence to 1 who then goes on to influence thousands. Each is important. And so while my dream to speak didn’t end up looking like I had hoped, it was a blessing to be given an opportunity to share my story at all.

Because our stories matter, don’t they?! Our hurts and our hopes, they need to be shared. I have said before that I started blogging because of one woman who was brave enough to share the difficult…and her testimony and faith were what got me through a very dark time in my own life.

If you feel called to share your story, do it! We may not get a book deal, or a viral post….but our words may touch the heart of another who is hurting and THAT my friends is what makes it worth it!

At the beginning of the year I also felt challenged to find balance for my home, work and family. I felt like God wanted that for me and so I made it my word for 2014. And can I just say that challenge was a FAIL. Like a BIG TIME FAIL.

I think I walked away from 2014 with less balance than I started! 😉 So if you feel the same don’t feel discouraged! I am reminded once again that this road we are on is one of progress, not perfection. It is easy to look back at our year and feel like we have missed the mark. But I don’t want to end this year focusing on all the things that I didn’t get done, or I didn’t do well. Because intermixed in those failures are so so many blessings. And that is what I want to remember!

There has been growth in ways I hadn’t expected. Approximately 3 months ago I started my first 40 Day Prayer Challenge. I wasn’t sure what I expected, and with my track record of starting but not finishing so many other things….I didn’t hold high expectations for me on this. But yesterday I finished my 2nd 40 day challenge!

I have journaled through the process and while some of the prayers are yet to be answered, I have seen God moving and I can’t wait to keep going. I even got a new Prayer Circle Journal from my dear friend Delonna and it will be the perfect way to start praying through 2015!

Yes God has been moving.

So I leave 2014 filled with gratitude. No it didn’t always work out like I had hoped or imagined, but each step was a learning experience, an opportunity to grow, and for all of those things I am thankful.

And 2015? I thought I had a word to start the new year and now I feel like God has given me a different word. Because of course, and a little thank you to Christine who spoke life and truth to me this morning that helped in that revelation! I will share more about that tomorrow though.

Until then, can I just end this by saying thank you. Thank you for walking with me here, For encouraging me, believing in me. For each uplifting comment, and those who shared my writing. I know that many of us haven’t met in real life, but I count you all friends. You make this journey worth it! Happy New Year friends!

Today I am joining my friends over at God-sized Dreams linking up our dreaming stories from 2014!  And Kristin Hill Taylor’s Three Word Wednesday!

GSD Link Up Picture

 

TWW Button

Our 2014 Christmas Letter

Christmas picture 2014

Since Christmas is over and I finally have a moment to write, I wanted to share the Christmas letter that we sent out this year! 🙂 I hope you all had a wonderful time with family and wish you a Happy New Year!

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I have to be honest, I was beginning to think that this Christmas letter wasn’t going to happen this year. I don’t know that I have ever waited this long! It seems crazy to think that another year is coming to a close. How has it gone so fast?!

Isaac turned 18 a few weeks ago and is in his final year of high school. He is excited to be done and move on to his next phase of adulthood! We have toured a couple of different colleges and he is leaning towards SDSU and likely studying pharmacy. We are confident that he will succeed wherever he decides to go!

Gabriel, now 11, made the transition to middle school this year and is in the 5th grade. He has joined the band and is playing the Alto Sax. He has a natural talent and is learning lots of new songs. His favorite part of the year was camping with his Grandpa Johnson and fishing on our vacation to the Black Hills!

Elijah is 5 and is in full time preschool this year. He loves school and always comes home with fun stories to share. He wants to do everything and anything that Gabriel is doing! It is nice that they get along so well. I hope it continues!

Karlena will be 4 in a few weeks and started preschool herself this year. She attends 2 mornings a week and wishes it were more. She loves school! She is involved in dance and has an hour class every Tuesday afternoon. The have their first recital next week so we will finally get to see her progress! Karlena is obsessed with horses and wants to ride again as soon as the weather warms up! She got to ride twice this summer and it is all she talks about.

In July we added a new puppy to our family! Her name is Sydney and she is an Australian Shepherd. She is a very loving dog and wants to always be around us. She has been a fun addition to our family, even if she did chew a hole in our recliner!

Dominic and I continue to run Legal Estate Planning Solutions together and even have had Becky, Dominic’s mom, working with us part time since March! We continue to be blessed by this community and the clients we have the opportunity to work with.

We are looking forward to some time with our extended families this Christmas season and hope to enjoy some rest and relaxation as well! Our prayer is that you would be surrounded by God’s peace this season and would celebrate the Savior’s birth with thankfulness! Many blessings to you as this year comes to a close and we enter 2015!

Love, Dominic, Kristin, Isaac, Gabriel, Elijah and Karlena Smith

Finding the Wonder and Magic of Christmas

Merry Christmas

I dreamt about their house last night. It has been years since we have been there, but the walls and halls of my grandparent’s old home in Chicago City, MN filled my dreams.

We spent many years at their home for Christmas. It was a long drive, but my parents always made it fun. We would rent tapes from the public library and sing and listen to songs from Sesame Street….”C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me…”

Those were days filled with great excitement.

Grandpa and grandma’s house was huge and in it’s backyard, a massive lake….at least it seemed massive to me at the time. In the summers we would run down the big hill, dig earthworms out of a small wooded area behind the boat house, grab our wooden poles and fish off the dock. We would haul in sunfish by the bucket loads and haul them back up the hill where grandpa would come and filet the fish on an old board over the washer.

In the winter the hill was the perfect hill for sledding. Bundled up, we would head out and get out the tobbogan and go cruising down the hill. Snow angels covered the snow in the places we didn’t sled. They are magical memories.

The house was decorated for Christmas and grandma was always in the kitchen preparing something. In the summers she would stand over the stove and fry the bite size fish filets that grandpa had just prepared and we would feast.  On the holidays there were Christmas goodies and treats galore, cranberries and ham or turkey. Potatoes and fresh rolls….everything smelled so good.

They had a large dining room and we would gather there to eat, often the kids had their own little table, I remember being so excited when I was probably 12 and FINALLY old enough to join the grown-ups at the big table. Once dinner was done the dishes had to be cleared AND washed. Oh the washing drove us nuts!! As kids we just wanted to get to the presents already! 🙂 But as soon as every last piece of good silver was put away we would gather in a circle and hand out gifts.

Some years it was oldest to youngest and others the reverse. Each taking a turn, sharing their gift. It was painful to wait our turn, but we shared and laughed as a family. I think of those times today and long for the wonder of it all.

Family pictures would be taken sitting on the fireplace hearth and then we would head out to the church down the street. Every year there would be a very large tree at the front of the church covered with white decorations. It was beautiful. The choir would sing and we would join them in the more traditional hymns. Candles were passed and we would light each others as the flame was passed down the row.

Silent Night, Holy Night….

Then we would head home for some more Christmas cookies and off to bed to dream of Santa coming. It was magical and each year we would be certain that we had heard the sound of the reindeer stomping on the roof.

I woke this morning longing for that magic back. It feels like it has long since been lost. Packed away, or smothered by the demands of life, parenting….It hardly feels like Christmas most days.

Sure our house is filled with the sights and sounds of Christmas, but for me the wonder of it all seems hidden.

I am a gift giver by nature. I love searching for, finding the bests gifts for my family and friends. I do love that part of Christmas. I hope that when my kids look back on their time with family, that maybe they felt a bit of the magic as well.

But my heart seeks for more.

A slowing, time with family and friends. Enjoying the smiles on the faces of our kids when they see what is inside all of those packages. A reading of the Christmas story from Luke just like my grandpa would do each year.  As a child I don’t think I appreciated it like I would today.  We don’t get to celebrate with my grandparents like we used to, but boy would I love to hear his voice reading that story to my kids….“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered….”

I am so grateful for the memories we have in that house together. And while its walls and halls are now filled by new families, I seek to find that magic and wonder with my own.

Sometimes it is hard to grow up isn’t it?! As a mother myself I can now appreciate all that went into preparing for these few special days. I might not have done the advent readings like I had hoped this year, or been patient with my kids like I should have been…but in the next several days we will be sneaking away for time with family. Time to gather and laugh and make new memories and I will cherish them all.

Friends, I wish you Merry Christmas from our family and pray that you will find time to celebrate with your family, to laugh and find the wonder of the season. Always remembering the greatest gift we were given in the Christ child.

 

Photo Credit: freeloosedirt

Exhaustion, Influenza, Christmas and More

I realize I have been pretty quiet here lately. It is hard for me to believe that I had the capacity to write every day for 31 days in October. I posted 9 times in November and only 3 times this month. I think God knew that I could handle it in October, because clearly the remainder of 2014 was going to be an all out war.

To lay it out there honestly, I am EXHAUSTED.

Pretty much everything life is throwing at me right now is too much, and most of that is self imposed I know. Some of it was unplanned and those things have hit me the hardest.

I have lit the candles on my advent wreath twice. There I said it. Day 2 and I think day 6. We read a smidgen of the book I had all perfectly laid out and the pages haven’t cracked since. Sure looks pretty but it is all show. Plain and simple I have failed having a spirit of Advent in our home this season.

Advent wreath

Our Christmas Angel has moved each day, but typically not at 9:30pm when my reminder alarm is set because Karlena is ALWAYS still awake…so I forget and scramble at 5:30am instead. One of the days I am going to get caught.

Christmas Angel

Last week Elijah was sick and out for 4 days, poor kid didn’t have his spunk….except for the day he was at home with me when our daycare was closed, the day after my surgery, when I should have been resting but he and Karlena fought and screamed so badly that I may have lost my temper at them that my screaming caused me to double over in pain.

Elijah sick

Yes THAT was a proud moment…the moment when you tell your kids that LITERALLY they are going to make their mama explode if they don’t stop fighting.

Heading right on into our weekend was Karlena’s first dance recital…where I stressed over getting the perfect ballet bun. We tried a couple of times and figured it out thanks to You Tube.

ballet bun

She was adorable and while she doesn’t seem to be a natural quite yet, she looked beautiful in her costume and fulfilled my mama’s dream of having a dance daughter.

Karlena ballerina

 

I have not wrapped a single Christmas present. NOT A ONE. My kids keep asking me to please wrap presents, but first I would have to box everything up into unidentifiable containers so that I can wrap in front of them, or with them as they would prefer….but this mama is EXHAUSTED. Did I mention that?

Oh and yesterday I went to see a Dr. because I was feeling like I wanted to die, and was told I likely have Influenza. (They don’t even bother testing when you have all the symptoms) Because OF COURSE. So go home and rest mama, and oh too bad so sad the pharmacies in town are all out of the meds to treat it. 🙁 I cried a little and crawled in bed. I posted an updated to FB and someone I know, who will remain nameless, contacted me because they had just had Influenza and had extra meds…because the week before the pharms were packed full of meds and they were filling scripts for the entire family. And one of the peeps in their family didn’t use/need the meds they bought. This may be some black market/illegial stuff going on but I was desperate.

But Praise Jesus – I mean seriously PRAISE JESUS. These meds were a LIFE SAVER. I told my mom I feel 800 thousand times better today. Not great, but I am not whimpering in a corner either. Life is looking up.

Christmas is ONE WEEK away, and did I mention that I have NOTHING wrapped? Oh, sorry I am still a little foggy here…I am going to just go with it. We may just celebrate Christmas up in Isaac’s closet….where all the presents are “hidden”…and I use the term “hidden” loosely, but since most of my children are too young to know I blog, they won’t read this soon enough to know to go and peek. Mom for the win.

Some day I will post my award winning, best ever stuffing cups recipe. Some day I will maybe even share my family Christmas letter…but for today I am hanging on by a thread, guilty over all the time away from the office I have spent in the last week…stressed over all there is to do in ONE WEEK, one week people! Agh!!

So may your days be Merry and Bright…around these parts I am just hoping for a little less insane! <3

Not What I Wanted For Today…But…

Choose Joy

I shouldn’t be surprised really, it seems it always happens this way. Life hits, harder at times, and it can feel like things are spinning out of control.

Tomorrow afternoon I am going in for a fairly simple, “routine” laproscopic procedure. It is same day, I should be home around the dinner hour…I am not worried at all. But there is a TON of things I wanted to do to prepare for a few days of me being tied to the couch as I recover.

And so, on a day when we have client deliveries and need witnesses, a day when Dominic won’t be able to answer the phone, or prepare for the things coming up while I’m out…our youngest boy is sick and I am at home.

It is moments like this that I can get so frustrated. Why does this have to be happening now?

But what good does that type of attitude do me?

Yes it is inconvenient, yes it is frustrating…but it isn’t the end of the world.

While my natural response may be one of anger and pity, I can choose to have a different response.

This morning I spent a few brief moments circling my family in prayer. Praying over our meetings for the day, for the health of our family, my upcoming surgery and the big choices that face Isaac in regards to college etc.

What an honor it is to pray for my family.

While I do bring my requests to God, I also bring my thanks even when life isn’t perfect.

I am thankful for each member of my family.

I am thankful for all of the blessings that God lavishes on us.

We don’t worry about food, or heat, or how we will get to and from where we need to go.

We are spoiled really, and while a day like I hadn’t intended isn’t my plan, I can still be grateful.

But gratitude is a choice.

Each and every day I must make the choice to choose joy, in ALL things. (<==== Click to Tweet)

Yes it may be work, it may go against the grain of what my natural response might be. But my hope is that when I make that choice over and over again, it might become the natural response I have to any kind of situation.

My prayer for you today friends is that regardless of what you are facing, that you might make the choice to choose joy. Choosing right along with you this morning!

Grandma Gertie’s Caramel Creme Sandwich Cookies

Caramel-Creme-Sandwich-Cookies

In the spirit of sharing and receiving some wonderful cookie recipes I am sharing my all time favorite Christmas cookie recipe. This one is so good that I don’t know why I don’t make it all year round. It is my dad’s favorite cookie and a recipe from his mom whom I never had the chance to meet. But I think that I would have loved sitting down with her and a batch of these wonderful cookies.

For the dough:
1 cup butter softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
2 1/4 cup flour

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy and add egg yolk. Slowly add the flour until mixed. Then put the dough into the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.

Once chilled roll the dough into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Press flat on a cookie sheet. (I use a small cookie press with a little design on it) Bake for 8-10 minutes @ 325 degrees. Remove from sheet and cool completely before frosting.

Frosting:
2 Tbls butter – brown in a sauce pan on the stove
Add 1 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
Add 1 tsp. vanilla
Mix together and then add a Tbls of milk, one at a time until thick. (Usually just 1-2 necessary)

The frosting will be almost like a carmel-like consistency. Find 2 cookies of a similar size and frost the bottom of 1 cookie and press it together with the bottom of another cookie.

And what you are left with are sugary, wonderful bites of goodness! I am telling you these are RICH but wonderful and will sure to be a hit at your Christmas parties!

I hope you try these cookies and if you have any questions in the process please contact me!

What is your favorite cookie recipe at Christmas? I’d love for you to leave a link/recipe in the comments below! Maybe I will find a new favorite!

Merry Christmas friends!

Photo Credit: via

Come As You Are – A GSD Welcome Invitation

Allume 2014 Smilebooth

As you may have seen from our posts and pictures, several of our core writing team traveled from across the country and met at Allume this past October. It was fun to spend time together as a team, and an amazing opportunity to meet with so many new friends and dreamers as well.

We decided to host a little “meet-up” so we could visit with some of these new friends in person. While the majority of us who gathered ended up being part of the original God-sized Dream team, it was a wonderful time to come together and share about where we have been and how we see God leading and moving in our lives and dreams going forward.

Prior to the meet-up, I was up in my hotel room with one of my roommates and fellow GSD writer, Delonna. We were gathering up everything we needed to bring downstairs. Before we walked out the door, Delonna asked me if I thought she should change her shirt.

Now Delonna is a die-hard Ohio Buckeyes fan. DIE-HARD. Whooo, watching a game with this woman was an experience, especially when the game went into overtime. Yikes! 😉

She had been wearing her Ohio State T-shirt all day and wondered if she should change it. I probably looked at her with my crazy eyes and asked her why she would do that?

She said she wanted to make sure that she was making the right impression at the meet-up.

I told her she looked beautiful and to keep the T-shirt on! 🙂

This got me to thinking the next morning in the shower (that IS where I do my best thinking…I really need a recorder in my shower so I can get all these thoughts and prayers down during that time!!)

We always want this space to be a place where you can come as you are.

I am sharing the rest of this post over at God-sized Dreams, will you join me there?!

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