Author Archives: Kristin

About Kristin

I blog in my little corner of the www here in SW MN. I used to journal as a young girl and ever since I first heard about blogging I have been hooked! Thanks for stopping by and sharing with my journey of faith!

A Very Important Decision

Parenting has proven to be one of the most difficult yet rewarding aspects of my life. There are days that I am failing and need to ask for grace over and over again. And there are days that we count as a win, when our kids surprise us or act on a teachable moment.

It can be easy to get overwhelmed by all of the should-do-this and don’t-do-that whispers that come from all around us. If I am not careful and prayerful I can get caught up in those. But there are those rare and amazing moments that are God-filled and I want to share one of those with you today.

I should be having Dominic write this story because it is really his to tell. I wasn’t even there, but it was such a beautiful example of parenting with God’s leading that I wanted to document it.

On Saturday I had a special day planned with some of my girlfriends from church. We were heading to Sioux Falls for some shopping and then a evening conference featuring Lysa Terkeurst. It is rare that I get away for days like this so I was really looking forward to it.

Dominic took the kids over to get haircuts before I left town and then had a full day planned filled with work, a motorcycle ride and grilling hamburgers for the kids. It would be a pretty typical Saturday or so we thought…that is until lunch.

We have a 6 and 7 year old right now. We have been working with them on their understanding of communion. In our church there isn’t a specific “class” on why we celebrate communion, it is something that the pastor explains on the Sundays we have it and as parents we are encouraged to talk with our kids and help make the decision about when the time it is right.

For a long time Karlena has been asking about it and wanting to take communion but really just thought it was a time to snack at church. We knew she didn’t understand the significance of it all so we continued to talk to her about it.

After the last time we had communion at church Dominic took home a few of the little cups the juice comes in so that we could talk more about it at home. The cups have been sitting on our counter for a month or more but for some reason on Saturday Dominic got them out at lunch time and he and the kids started talking.

He told them again the story of Jesus, why He came and why He made a sacrifice for us. He talked about the significance of the last supper and why it is the reason we recognize the celebration ourselves today.

Then he asked the kids if they wanted to take communion together. So they got some crackers and he filled the little cups with some of his opened Monster energy drink…to which they all said it was “delicious and mom doesn’t know what she’s talking about”…they are on to me and my lies about how terrible sugared drinks taste!

Anyways, together they took communion and celebrated the gift that we have been given through Jesus. Dominic felt confident that they understood the significance and that they were ready to participate in church.

Then he asked them if they had ever asked Jesus to come into their hearts? Elijah had and so he said yes but Karlena shook her head no. Dominic asked if she thought she might like to say a simple prayer to ask Jesus into her life and she said yes!

So he called everyone together and they knelt down and he led Karlena through a prayer of recognition of who God is, confession of her sinful nature and then asked Jesus to come into her life and lead her. She repeated the words after him and was so excited that Jesus was now in her heart!

I got the news through a text after it happened, and I have to admit that I was a little sad that I wasn’t there, but I was so grateful that Dominic was able to share this incredibly special moment with his youngest and only daughter. And I am so glad that Dominic followed the Holy Spirit’s leading to have the conversation in the first place!

On Sunday morning when she got up, Karlena came to find me to tell me the good news. Wonderful news indeed!! Such an important decision, one that we all need to make. I know this doesn’t guarantee that her life will be easy. As much as I wish ease and comfort for my kids, more than anything I want them to be drawn to a personal relationship with Jesus. And if they are anything like me, they may need some hardship before they come to that place of surrender and being fully ready to let God lead them.

But regardless of what happens in the next 10, 20 or 40 years of my daughter’s life, she has the assurance that she is saved and loved by God. She is sealed by the blood of Jesus and her name is written in the Book of Life.

I am so proud of her and it is an honor to be a parent to the amazing kids God has given us!

When God Made You

Last night at our weekly bible study class we were discussing children. Specifically, we talked about the differences that are often seen even among children in the same family. Some may be concise and matter-of-fact, while others are adventurous or creative.

God made each of my children differently. This can make parenting difficult at times because one response or consequence doesn’t always work for all children. It keeps us on our toes doesn’t it?!

But these differences make our children unique and we should find ways to celebrate that.

In the new book “When God Made You” by Matthew Paul Turner, the creative way that God has designed each of us is celebrated. It is a beautifully illustrated book filled with color and whimsy.  The pages flow like that of a song, a dance of words that encourages and inspires.

“Use your talents and passions, those gifts that God fashioned. Think up ideas and then put them to action.”

” ‘Cause when God made you and the world oohed and aahed, in heaven they called you an image of God.”

My kids love to hear all the ways God made them special. Last year we started pointing out three words that described each of our kids. Words that were reflective of who they are, that encouraged them to focus on some of their best attributes.

Each morning when I would drop off our son at school I would remind him to be Kind, Compassionate and Brave. Day after day I affirmed him telling him to look for ways to use his God-given gifts to be a help to someone else.

It didn’t take long and he was calling out affirmations for himself and others. When we are focusing on those gifts our perspective changes. There still may be messes and mistakes, but the core truths of who our kids are haven’t changed.

These beautiful children of ours are a gift. “When God Made You” is a book that celebrates that gift. It is a book that your kids will ask you to read again and again.

“You, you, when God sees you, God delights in what is and sees only what’s true. That you – yes, YOU – in all of your glory, bring color and rhythm and rhyme to God’s story.”

I have ordered a copy of this book for all the young kids in my extended family. You should do the same! You can find “When God Made You” at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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I received this book as a part of the When God Made You launch team, all opinions expressed are my own.

Remembering the Gift – A Deeper Waters Guest Post

Recently my friend Denise Hughes reached out to me and asked if I wanted to participate in her study of the book of James over at her Deeper Waters site. It is always an honor to be asked by fellow writers that I esteem to join in their ministry and so I happily said yes.

We each had to choose a set of verses in James to study further and write on. I knew immediately which verses I wanted or should I say needed to write on.

James 1: 19-25 specifically addresses anger. This has long been a struggle for me. My temper has caused hurt and pain and I continue to have the opportunity to practice a different response.

It just so happened that I learned from one of those opportunities recently and I am sharing my heart over at the Deeper Waters site this morning. I would love if you would join me over there and I encourage you to sign up for the daily emails and keep walking through the book of James with us!

Happy Monday!

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Deeper Waters website

Where’s Your Mission Field?

I used to think that I needed to be called overseas to be on mission for God. I used to think that I needed to publish a book to prove that I was writing for Him. When those things didn’t happen, it was easy for me to believe that maybe God hadn’t called me to anything special.

But I was wrong.

This morning my daughter came to me with her backpack. The liner in it had ripped at the top and she didn’t want to use it anymore. I told her that I thought I could fix it, at least enough to use it. So I got out some thread and a needle and with just minutes to spare before leaving for school, I repaired her bag. Sometimes my mission field looks like a bad sewing job on a broken backpack. My girl was so grateful for the fix and it took me less than 5 minutes to serve her well.

Yesterday I spent 3 hours in a hospital room holding a very sick baby boy. His mama (with strong encouragement that she wasn’t being a bad mother) went to support her husband at his grandmother’s funeral. She struggled with leaving, but as a mom who has spent days in a hospital with a baby that almost died from rsv…well she knew I understood what to do. For 3 hours yesterday, this boy was my mission field. I took pictures and sent them to his mom to reassure her that he was just fine. I got to rock him and sing to him and even fed him his first bottle! What a gift that was to be of service in that way.

Every day my husband and I go to his office. We work hard to help people plan their estates so that their family doesn’t have to worry or fight once they are gone. Sometimes the days get long and we are at the office into the early evening. Sometimes we have projects or plans that are mentally taxing and it feels overwhelming. But we have the honor of helping people. We don’t take this responsibility lightly. Even though we aren’t a church or don’t serve people in a foreign country, we still have a mission field right here. 

I have always been someone that struggles with comparison. I see my friend who is leaving on a mission trip and I wonder if she is doing it better for God than I am. I watch as more and more of my author friends are releasing yet another book, or signing their first book deal…while I struggle to get posts out on a consistent basis. I wonder if God knows He can use them more than He can use me. I see those involved in the church and leading in ways I am not and believe the lie that my past failures make me unqualified.

It would be very easy for me to see myself as not valuable and unworthy. But that is crazy! God whispered to my heart this morning and reassured me that I was on a mission for Him.  My mission field is found in the ways I serve my family in love, in my prayers for others, when I find ways to be an encouragement to someone who is struggling, when we go to work each day and strive to do the best job we can for our clients.

Friends, we each have a mission field. Find ways to be of service to those around you. And do so with a happy and grateful heart. When we love others well, we are sharing the love of God. And what a mission that is!

My Warrior Boy

My posts here have been few and far between it seems. I have had lots that I could share but no time to sit down and tap out a post. So I am stealing away a few minutes at work to share an incredible story about our youngest son.

Elijah is seven and in the first grade. Like most kids his age he is starting to lose his baby teeth. It started with his two bottom teeth. Getting the baby teeth out has been painful. Not really painful for him, but for me. I can’t stand seeing loose teeth. When I was little and would get a wiggly tooth, it would be out. I worked it until it came out.

Elijah was filled with fear over the pain that might happen if he let us pull the tooth. So back in December he had a VERY loose tooth on the top. He refused to let us touch it. It was ready to come out around Christmas….it actually came out 2 weeks ago.

It was dead and grey and crooked and he refused to let us touch it. When we realized how much his new tooth had descended and that the old tooth was pushing on it in a bad way, we told him it was time. Dominic tied a string around it and it came out so fast. He had built up this fear of pain so much and in reality it was hardly anything.

Once that first top tooth was out the one next to it seemed to get more and more loose. It detached on one side completely and was crooked hanging in his mouth. In addition he had a tooth on the bottom that was also ready and on Monday night Elijah bumped it while eating and it was hanging on by a thread.

Last night we tried to convince him to pull the bottom tooth. I told him that he was a warrior and he could handle the pain. Dominic remembered an old favorite song of ours from the 80’s (The Warrior) and started playing it on the computer. (I’ve shared a video below in case you want a trip down memory lane!)

So we were all dancing around and acting goofy. Elijah and I were going around the dining room table and all of a sudden our dog, who has become a bit excited over all the commotion, came running out into the kitchen and into Elijah. Elijah falls to the ground and the dog apparently swiped her paw on Elijah’s mouth and BOTH of his teeth popped out!

It was so unbelievable.

Elijah started freaking out because his mouth was bleeding and one of the teeth was missing. It was an interesting sight seeing all of us on our hands and knees in the dining room crawling around with flashlights looking for the missing tooth. It was found and Elijah started feeling pretty proud of himself.

I told him that he was my warrior boy and that I don’t know that anyone else in the world will lose two teeth at the same time, because of the dog’s paw, AND on Valentine’s Day. What a story he had to tell today at school! 🙂 I thought I would share it here so that we won’t ever forget what a crazy Valentine’s Day we had in 2017! 🙂

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Pieces Woven Together

Our pastor has been teaching on the life of David and we have been walking through a good portion of 1 Samuel for many weeks now. I love this type of Bible teaching because we, for the most part, are going through this book verse by verse.

We did this in Romans and Acts too. It helps me get a feel for what was really happening. He gives us background about the time in history etc., and I can put myself into the story and see it from all angles.

David has an incredible story doesn’t he?! A shepherd boy, the unmentioned of many brothers who is chosen and anointed by God to be the king. A boy who then waits YEARS from the time of that anointing to the time he is actually appointed king.

Talk about waiting to walk into your calling!

And we see that David struggles. He makes mistakes, he runs from God, he sins and falls short. God knows David’s heart though and he uses him anyways. What hope stories like this give me. I too can be the chief of sinners and yet God has found ways to use my story for good. How we should fall on our knees grateful that He loves us that much to redeem our story and allow us the opportunity to share His grace with others!

Today our Pastor was talking about dark times. The bulletin referenced 1 Samuel 2 (or I thought it did)…we were actually in 1 Samuel 28. But I happened to turn to 1 Samuel 2 and started reading. I have to admit, I don’t have a full grasp of the entire Bible, and how things are woven together. But today I discovered a connection I hadn’t made before and it so encouraged me.

Back in 2013 I shared a post about a woman named Hannah. I was so moved by this woman’s faith. Childless for years, tormented by the other wife, she begs God to give her a child. In exchange she vows to devote that child to the Lord’s service.

God hears and grants her a son. And then she follows through and actually gives her son over to the priest at the church. I said it before, but can you imagine the pain of having to follow through on that promise? I’ve found myself bargaining with God, making promises I probably didn’t intend to keep. But Hannah followed through.

When I wrote about it a few years ago I was amazed at her faith…but I didn’t fully understand the rest of the story. I didn’t read on through the rest of 1 Samuel to see what happens. Today it came together for me in a new way.

You see the Bible tells us that Samuel grows as a man and in his understanding of the Lord. So much in fact that he becomes a trusted advisor and a prophet. Samuel eventually anoints Saul as king. Saul the very king that we later hear is to be replaced by David. Samuel becomes David’s trusted advisor as well. He has become a man of great influence.

Our pastor said today, “Samuel had been a spiritual anchor for the people for 50+ years.” Isn’t that incredible?! And my thoughts immediately went to Hannah once again. A women who desperately wanted a son. A woman that was true to her promise and let her son go.

Do you think she had any idea the man her son would become so many years later? That he would be a spiritual anchor? We don’t know for sure, but I honestly don’t think so. It may have been easier to give up her son had she known the outcome…but so often we don’t know what will happen.

But like Hannah we take those bold steps of faith and do the hard thing anyways. And when we do the results are often more than we could ever imagine they would be. This connecting of stories gave me hope today. It was a reminder that the trials I have gone through and the lessons that I continue to learn may not only impact me and my kids…but generations to come!

So we keep walking forward, taking those hard steps and allowing God to use us, knowing that we may not see an answer to our prayers in this lifetime, but that they may continue to bear fruit for years and years to come.

Isn’t it amazing how God works?

Photo Credit: ame h

A Lesson in Forgiveness

I was in the bathroom getting ready when I heard the screaming.

Dominic had been invited to attend a seminar tonight as one of their featured guests and we were 30 minutes from the time we had to leave. When we heard the screams we both went running to see what was going on.

Karlena came into the kitchen holding her mouth, blood covering her chin and teeth. It looked awful to me and I was pretty sure she needed stitches…but the clinics were all closed for the day and our only option was the ER.

I called my dad, he is a PA, and asked if we could send him some pictures. He confirmed that it needed to be treated. He said they may be able to glue it together but we needed to go in. A few calls were made to the group that was putting on the seminar to notify them we wouldn’t be attending, and we got ready to leave.

I sent a quick vox to some close friends asking for prayer. Prayer for Karlena and prayer for me. I have struggled to parent well in a few situations recently, and this was testing me in a big way. You see our son had pushed his sister and caused the accident.

I knew it wasn’t his intent to hurt her…but I was angry nonetheless. I wanted to handle this appropriately…it was important that he understand how serious this was. But on the other hand, despite his rough and tumble exterior, he is a boy with a tender spirit.

And if I am being completely honest with you, it is my nature to lay blame and also to create an environment filled with anger. And that is a dangerous combination!!

So we went to the ER and our brave girl was glued back together. Her lip continues to swell and because of the position of the steri-strip she is having a hard time opening her mouth very wide. Dominic told Elijah to come with so he could see what Karlena had to go through.

It is important that our kids understand that there are consequences to their actions….and sometimes they are painful ones.

Before we left the ER, Karlena was given this little bag with a coloring book, markers and a matching game for being so brave. We got home and one of the first things Karlena did was look at her brother and tell him that she forgave him. And then she asked if he wanted to play with the new things in her bag.

I was taken aback at how quickly she not only offered forgiveness but also took a step towards restoring the relationship. There was no blame or shame and guilt. Just love. Oh the lessons that I can learn from my 6yr old.

I went over to our E and hugged him and reminded him that we loved him. We talked about how our actions can hurt someone else, even if we didn’t mean to and we reminded him that he needs to learn from this lesson. But ultimately I want him to know that he is loved, especially when he has done something wrong.

I so desperately want to make sure that we are a home filled with love even when things aren’t “perfect.” I don’t ever want my kids to grow up thinking that our love was conditional based on their behavior. I was reminded tonight that I can teach consequences and model love simultaneously. 

Karlena taught me that forgiveness can be swift and without conditions and relationships can be restored without guilt, even when the pain still remains. What a gift she gave me tonight.

I know that I too must remain teachable. I can learn from my mistakes and seek to make better choices, and I can love well in the difficult and the easy.

Not what I had planned or expected for my Saturday night! And if you think about it would you say a prayer for our girl tonight? She is starting to notice the pain more now and everything feels swollen and “weird.” Hopefully if all goes well it will heal with little scarring but she is going to feel a little uncomfortable for the next several days. Thank you friends!!

Broken Pieces


We decided to go down to the beach for one last walk to look for shells.

It was much colder that morning and the wind was blowing the dry sand across the beach. The waves rolled and crashed and after a few minutes we threatened to go in.

I love hunting for treasures. When we vacation in the summer with our kids it is one of my favorite things to do. It maybe be quartz or agates or shells….but the thrill of finding that one perfect treasure keeps me going. So that morning I kept walking.

The reality was that most of what we found was broken. Hurricane Matthew had done some major damage on those beaches in Georgia just months before and so what was washing ashore was broken pieces of once beautiful shells.

But as I walked I reflected on some of the broken pieces of my own life. Times where I too had found myself shattered. Times where I had done the damage to someone I loved. At the time I could only see the shards of what was remaining….it didn’t seem like beauty could come from the brokenness.

But over and over again God has restored those broken places. Not because I deserved it, or even because I had changed, but simply because He is sovereign and merciful and He loves me.

As I picked up the pieces of the broken shells I could imagine what they looked like whole. I could see their beauty despite their brokenness.

I spent some time that morning walking and praying. I thanked God for all the ways in which He has changed me. I thanked Him for His love and mercy. God has been faithful to restore and redeem me even when I have fought Him and actively gone against His will before coming to that place of surrender.

He has always been constant in my life. A good, good Father. We sang that song in church a few weeks ago and it is so beautiful. A praise to the One who makes all things new.

Even when we can’t see it, when we are in the midst of the struggle, God sees us whole. Because of the saving sacrifice of His Son, God sees me as the perfect shell. He doesn’t see the chips and cracks, the shards left from the brokenness I have caused…no He sees the whole me. A vision of myself I may not comprehend this side of heaven.

Friends, I don’t know what might be the cause of your broken pieces, but I am sure you have them just like I do. It is easy to get stuck in the pit, focused on all of the negatives and unable to see the beauty.

But the beauty is there. Sometimes it takes a perspective shift to see it…but it is there. It is a new year. A time for fresh starts. Take a moment today and look for the beauty around you. Acknowledge where God has moved in your life and thank Him for that. Hold tight to the truth that He sees you whole and that those broken pieces in your story may just be the thing that gives another hope.

Merry Christmas from the Smith Family!

I wish that I was able to send out a Christmas card to everyone that has stopped by my blog over the years, but since I can’t I thought that I would share our Christmas letter and some of the most recent family pictures we had taken.

Merry Christmas to all of our family and friends! I am always amazed at how quickly time has passed when I find myself here once again sharing about our year!

Isaac, now 20, is in his second year of college. He switched his major after his first year and is now living in Sioux Falls with my parents. They enjoy having him there while he attends classes through the University Center and SDSU. He is working at the Hy-Vee pharmacy in Sioux Falls and he plans to continue working and focusing on his general courses through next year. After that, maybe Pharmacy school….we will see where God leads him!

Gabriel is officially a teenager and is in the seventh grade. This past year he has grown several inches and is now the proud wearer of glasses and braces! He is in an upper level math course this year and doing well. It is a lot of hard work, but he has grown in knowledge already, and it is exciting to see that continue. He is involved in jazz band again this year and they recently started their practices. Last year, because of his hard work, he earned a solo at the All City Jazz concert!

Elijah is seven and in the first grade at Parkside Elementary. He likes his teacher Mrs. Peterson and enjoys being in her class! He has become a wonderful reader and we are amazed at how much he has grown since the start of last year! He currently has four loose teeth that mom really wants to pull out for him!

Karlena is so very ready to turn six on the 20th of December and is in kindergarten at Parkside this year. She loves school and her teacher Ms. Austin! And she enjoys seeing her older brother in the lunch room or on the playground each day! She continues to love all things horses and has declared that when she is Isaac’s age she will buy one of her own and ride it to school. We fully support her and her dream! If anyone can do that, she can!

Dominic and I continue to work together at Legal Estate Planning Solutions, and we are grateful for each and every client we have had the privilege to work with in both Minnesota and South Dakota. We were invited to participate in a leadership and discipleship class through church earlier this fall and we spend each Monday night with others from our church learning and growing in our faith!

Our prayer for each of you this coming Christmas season would be that you be filled with an understanding and gratitude for the gift that Jesus is for us! In this time of what seems like increasing darkness in our country and our world, we, as believers, can hopefully be a light of peace and hope to others. Merry Christmas!

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

Keep Searching

I can hardly believe it is almost Christmas. I don’t know what happened really, I blinked and December was gone. The reality was that late in November our son was sick, then I got pneumonia which wiped me out for days and days and then he was sick again. We had a weekend stuck indoors because the straight temp outside was -25 degrees and now here we are a few days away from Christmas and all the plans I had to slow down and seek God through this month feel a lot like defeat.

And I guess there may be many of you that have found yourself here as well.

We start the season with the best of intentions. This year will be different and then, well LIFE happens, and we come through Advent just hoping to survive until the new year. Can I just say that we should all take a collective deep breath and relax?

I still have gifts en route that will need to be wrapped by Saturday morning. I have cookies to frost and clothes to organize. Our kids are still in school (I KNOW, WHAT IN THE WORLD?) and we have meetings at our office through noon tomorrow.

Yes, Christmas will come and go just as fast and I will wonder what happened there too…but I realized something this morning that helped me to accept where I am at today.

Just because the season will be over in a few days doesn’t mean we have to stop searching for the One, the Gift, that we celebrate during this time.

The story didn’t end with Christmas, we know that. And while we make attempts to focus and slow down during Advent it is still important that we keep seeking Him all year through.

I shared back in November about the Shepherd on the Search kit that I received from Dayspring. I knew it would be something fun that I could use to be intentional with my kids in December. I was excited about the daily activities they had on their web page and had plans to take even 15-20 minutes a night to be engaging in the Christmas story with them.

And then, you know….LIFE.

But like I said, the story doesn’t end after this weekend.

Yes, it is important to teach our kids about the significance of Christ’s birth at Christmas…but they need to keep searching for Him throughout the year as well. I want my kids to seek Him in all things. In all seasons!

Using these recipe cards is one way that I can do that. Day 15 is a lesson on the importance of giving to others. Day 21 encourages us to find ways to bring Joy to others, our neighbors or friends. And throughout the month you will find memory verses that will help place the Christmas story on our hearts over and over again.

I am learning more and more that if I want to know God, I have to seek Him out. I have to spend time with Him, learning about Him, being His light to others. Not just at Christmas but always.

It was a challenge my own heart needed this morning. I could feel frustrated that my Advent season didn’t look like I thought it should….or I can celebrate that the story is ongoing, and so is my search for Him.

My prayer for you friends is that you will be able to give yourself grace today. Enjoy time with your family this weekend, celebrate the Christ child and then continue to seek Him throughout the year! Merry Christmas!

Original Photo Credit: Dan’l Burton

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