Category Archives: Blessings

Stopping to See

Sunrise

“Mom come and see, come and see!” Elijah yelled as he threw open the front curtains to show me the display that was right outside.

“What a beautiful sunset”….well technically it was a sunrise, but he understood what was happening and knew it was something to be enjoyed and shared.

He and his older brother had gone outside to do a few chores but when Elijah saw the sky he stopped what he was doing to run and get me. Gabriel was a bit upset with him but I told him that I always want them to stop and see the beauty around them.

So often we are in a rush. To-do lists and chores, things that HAVE to get done before xyz. Mornings can be particularly hectic around our home trying to get everyone ready and out the door. And Dominic has been gone for work since Wednesday so we all have to stay on task or we would be late late!

But this was one of those moments that needed to be enjoyed.

Elijah wanted me to take a couple of pictures for him and while our view is mostly blocked by trees and other houses, I was able to capture a glimpse of this magnificent display that God had painted across the sky for us.

I want my kids to learn to seek out God’s beauty.

I want them to be focused and taking care of their responsibilities, but I also want them to recognize when a time to pause and see the world around them is good and necessary.

This morning was one where we all needed to stop and see. To thank God that He created this earth, that He gave us one more day to enjoy. There is beauty among the hectic routine of our mornings and we need to stop and take it all in.

A “watch for God” moment if I have ever seen one.

In VBS we teach the kids to be watching for God. They get these bracelets to remind them that God is with them and all around them. We ask them to share their God sightings. We hope that they start to see that God is everywhere. In the people we meet, the earth we get to enjoy and yes the sunrise.

I hope you were able to take a moment to pause this morning and just seek out God’s hand in your surroundings…and if you didn’t, I encourage to watch for God and come back here and share your God sighting with me won’t you?!

Have a blessed Friday friends!

When Hospitality Looks Like A Late Night Cupcake Tasting

Cupcake TastingI think I need to start this post with an admission…or an apology. But it is highly likely that if you call our house, I will not answer the phone. Oh I may be there…but I am not going to answer an actual call. I know it is silly…I pretty much hate making or taking phone calls. It is something in my introverted self that feels intimidated by the potential for the “awkward silence.” So I screen and call back when necessary.

Last night I had already changed into my “don’t go out of the house lounge clothes.” Dominic was outside getting the garbages out and I was on the couch when the phone rang. I honestly figured it was the school with a graduation related announcement…so I let it go.

Then I heard the voice on the machine…was that Amy saying something about cupcakes and Dominic’s birthday? Sure enough, my friend Amy from church was calling asking if we were still up…she was making cupcakes and wanted to know if they could bring us some for Dominic’s birthday!

Can you even believe that?! Seriously I was blown away!!

So Dominic came inside and I played the message…he was surprised too. He said we could go over and pick up a few cupcakes… 😉 As a side story Amy and her husband Greg bought a house that we had looked at online several times before we moved here. It is a beautiful, older brick home with a ton of character…we had always wanted to see it in person.

So I called her back. It was 9:30 at night, I was in clothes I wouldn’t ever wear outside of the house…and we asked if we could come over instead. She said yes and we headed over.

Sometimes outrageous hospitality looks like a late night cupcake party! (<====Click to Tweet)

The heavenly smell that came out of their kitchen when they opened the door to us was AMAZING. Amy was making cupcakes for her kids to take to school on one of their last days. Lots and lots of cupcakes and all sorts of wonderful flavors.

Cupcakes with oreos on the bottoms and others with strawberries in the center. She was trying a few new recipes out, new creations, and wanted us to try a little bit of everything so we could tell her if it was a recipe she should use again.

She and her family gave us a tour of their home. She said don’t judge…it’s lived in. But all I could see was a space filled with love. Yep there may have been messes in the kids rooms and clothes in piles (just like my own)…but it didn’t matter. When you open your home, as it is, and invite people in…the condition of the space is the last thing that will be seen. What is seen is love.

We were showered with love last night.

The fact that she called and offered to share some cupcakes with us because she saw it was Dominic’s birthday was one thing. The fact that they opened their home, made us feel welcome and shared laughter and stories and cupcakes until probably way too late on a school night…that is hospitality.

She has a gift, not only in baking, but in making people feel like family. 

We went home last night full and with a few extra cupcakes to share. But more importantly we felt a covering of God’s love in a way we haven’t in awhile. All she did was pick up the phone and make a call.

Is it really that simple?!

Honestly I forget sometimes how easy community can be if we are willing to step out and make a simple call. What a reminder that was for me last night. What a blessing to be remembered.

Amy, what a blessing you were to us last night. Thank you for simply picking up the phone and making that call…for inviting us in and stuffing us full of your amazing creations. 😉 I pray that God pours our a special measure of blessings on you today!

Happy 40th Birthday Dominic!!

DSC_8158Today is a special day in the Smith home because my husband has FINALLY reached the glorious ranks that I have been living in since January. Yep that’s right…he is 40 today! 😉

I know that he isn’t as thrilled about turing 40 like I was….I did however get spoiled to a fun surprise weekend away. And while we aren’t wisking away for a fun filled adventure…I did want to take a moment and honor my man.

Dominic, I know we have different thoughts about how birthdays are celebrated…but I couldn’t start my day without telling you how much I love you. We have walked through difficult times but we have grown so much through them. We have laughter now. Sometimes at the most peculiar things…but it is a joy to be able to share life with you.

I was afraid what would happen when we started working together. Yes I may have quit 6 times in the first year…but you stuck with me in spite of my drama and today we make a great team. You work so hard for our family. I know most people don’t see the time, the hours, you spend so that our clients feel like they have received the best plan they can get. You truly care about each of the clients we work with. What an honor to be a part of the legacy you are leaving.

You love our kids well and I am so grateful that we have the opportunity to be parents together. You said once that our kids are one of the best things about the two if us together and you were right. They are amazing. They have a little of you and a little of me in them…and watching their personalities grow and develop has been fun.

I wouldn’t choose to do this life with anyone else.

You have taught me that life can be falling apart and yet we can still trust God. You had faith at a time that mine was failing…you were my rock. Thank you for continuing to work out your own faith so that you can be an example to me and our kids.

And while life isn’t and can’t be perfect, it is better than I could have hoped for when we first met. Yep we argue at times and we mess up…but I have never doubted your commitment to me. Thank you for always being steadfast in that.

I know that at times 40 feels old…but my prayer is that we have another 40 together. (Oh boy can you even imagine us at 80 together?!) 😉 Today I celebrate you. I thank God for allowing me to be a part of your past, present and future and I pray that you would be showered with blessings today and in the coming year.

I love you, Happy Birthday!

Roadblocks

Roadblock 2

Recently I got an email from a sweet reader B asking about roadblocks. I have written several times about the various ways in which our family faced difficult times, changes in our plan etc. She is facing a roadblock of her own and she wanted to know they whys…and what to do about it.

While I am at times an expert in living with the roadblock, I unfortunately don’t always deal with them well. In looking back at some of the major setbacks we have faced, I can see more clearly. I can see why God has us walk another path…why we needed to go through the difficulty.

But honestly, in the moment, all I can see is pain and frustration.

Dominic and I were talking again yesterday about how God answered a very simple prayer with a seemingly difficult answer. Almost 5 years ago Dominic started praying that God would bring him someone that would teach him another area of law…give him a chance to learn and thrive.

When we got that call from a head hunter about a position in MN, we did everything “right”. We researched the area, the type of law he would be doing, the man he was being interviewed by. We got down on our knees every morning and prayed together that God would clearly open or shut doors so we knew we were making wise decisions.

We didn’t want to make a choice based on money alone, and while the salary increase is what we needed financially at the time…we didn’t want to have dollar figures rule us. At the end of several months of interviews that resulted in a job offer, we took it excited to face the adventure ahead.

Dominic and I are the type that are comfortable in sameness. We don’t go out  much, we are homebodies and do well with routine. Living apart for the following 8 months, he in MN and the rest of us in SD, was one of the hardest things we have been through.

On top of the difficulty of living apart, his position at the new firm quickly turned to a hostile one. The environment there was awful, to say the least, and Dominic was under so much stress he was wearing it on the outside.

Why would God lead us to this place that was so toxic?

We pushed forward though, prayed about selling our house which sold after 1 viewing, in 4 days. An open door to make a move to MN to all be together.

And then, as I have shared before, months later we both found ourselves unemployed. How did this happen? How could God let this happen?! Those were the thoughts that went through my mind each day.

That year on my birthday my sister gave me a plaque with the following saying on it. “Sometimes God doesn’t give you what you think you want, not because you don’t deserve it, but because you deserve so much more.”

At the time I couldn’t see the truth in all of it.

I was bitter and angry at God and just wanted to be done with all the struggle. Have you ever found yourself there? Just wanting life, everything to come easy?!

But as you know, those dark times led to big steps of faith. Those steps led to the opening of our own business, my transferring to the office to work with Dominic…and today a successful business.

It isn’t easy. We are busy and often stressed at the workload, but it is a good stress. One that we are grateful for because we know that God’s hand was in the entire situation. God answered Dominic’s humble prayer so many years ago.

He provided someone that would teach him the basics of this new area of law, and while we had anticipated that he would be working there for a very long time…God had bigger plans for Dominic. Ones that we couldn’t have thought or imagined at the time.

Yes we had to face roadblocks and setbacks through the process, but ultimately our prayer was answered with a result that is far better than we could have hoped.

I don’t know what roadblock you may be facing today. And like I told B, I wish that I could tell her the “whys”, and the “what nows.” I don’t have all the answers, and honestly as I walked through my own I didn’t do it with a lot of grace.

So instead maybe learn what not to do from me! 🙂

Today I try and spend some time in the Bible each morning. I pray that God will guide our every step. And I try to remember all the ways that He has been faithful to us throughout the years, so when I face another roadblock (and oh they WILL come) I am prepared with my arsenal of faith stories to get me through in a positive light.

If you are facing a seemingly impossible situation today, would you leave a comment and let me know. You don’t have to give details if you don’t want, but I would love to pray for you!

Photo Credit: B4bees

A Weekend Filled with Love

What a whirlwind weekend of fun I had. I still can’t believe that Gindi, Christine and Delonna wanted to do this for me and that they worked with Dominic to pull off such an amazing surprise!

I feel so blessed. The trip to Houston (once I knew where I was going…) was a long one. What is it about trips that once you start you just want to be there already and once you start the journey home you just want to be home?!

Birthday 22

I was greeted by Gindi with a sign that she and her kids made for me, a balloon and beautiful flowers! And there were chocolates all over my bed when I got to her house as well. I felt so loved.

Gindi is an amazing planner and gets joy out of party planning, and she had a packed but wonderful schedule planned for us. On Sunday morning we got up and all went to church. Her church had these beautiful stained glass windows and rich hardwood pews. Her pastor talked about not getting stuck (frozen) in our lives as Christians, but rather we need to go out and be a people of community, we are God’s chosen and we need to start sharing the joy of that message with others!

Birthday 23

After church we ran home to get ready for all of the fun of the afternoon. It started with brunch at Benjy’s. This place was so fun and we had a wonderful meal. Next we were off to do a little shopping (because of course!) and then on to a high tea at the St. Regis in Houston to celebrate Gindi’s nomination of one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Houston!

I knew she had been nominated, but was even more excited when I go to the actual award ceremony! I had the opportunity to meet her boss and co-workers, her best friend (in Houston) Mary, her mother-in-law and niece and her beautiful mother. Gindi’s mama was such a joy to visit with.

I had not ever had high tea before, but they served us 3 courses! This close after a full brunch…we ate and ate on Sunday! The first course was several different petite sandwiches, followed by a scone (which I hadn’t ever had before!) and then 3 desserts. While I am not a huge fan of tea, this experience was so nice and to be able to cheer Gindi on as she was called up front…priceless!

Birthday 24

After high tea we did a little more shopping and found some great clearance deals. And then onto another restaurant for dinner. As if we hadn’t eaten enough already! The waitress knew it was my birthday and brought the most decadent chocolate dessert as a treat for us to share. So wonderful!

Birthday 25

Monday was a bit more relaxed. Gindi had booked us a morning at the Trellis spa, and for my first real spa experience it was oh so good! We got swedish massages first and then pedicures. If money were not object, it would be lovely to visit there once a month to relax and de-stress.

We shared lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen, which was also new for me…I clearly don’t get out enough! (BBQ chicken pizza that was to die for!) And then some shoe shopping. (Because of course) And then we grabbed some groceries to prepare the treats for the Turquoise Table neighbors party she was hosting that night!

Birthday 26

Because we were home early we got to surprise the triplets and pick them up from school. I should have gotten a picture of their uniforms, because they were adorable. All the way home the talked about their day, what their favorite part was, what they learned. It is fun hearing it from 1 5-yr old, but 3?! I just giggled all the way home! 🙂

They quickly changed out of their uniforms and into  something that was more appropriate for the “Let it Snow” party Gindi was hosting at her turquoise table from 5-6. And of course, Frozen PJ’s and cowboy outfits were the perfect choice!

We made several treats for the party, Snowmen noses (carrots and dip), hot chocolate, frozen hearts (strawberries dipped in melted white chocolate), snow (popcorn) and ice treat (rice crispy bars with blue sprinkles on them!)

It was COLD (even for the Minnesotan) and so it was a smaller gathering than usual, but I got to meet a few of her neighbors and it was so much fun….which leads me to my next post that will be titled “Dear Dominic, We ARE Getting a Turquoise Table” (look for that later this week!) 😉

Birthday 21

After the gathering we all went out for Mexican food at Los Tios. A fun, kid-friendly restaurant where we ate AGAIN. I am going home today happy, blessed, full and 10 pounds heavier!

This morning we were up early, early and out the door by 6am. I should be home shortly after the kids get out of school and I can’t wait to see everyone! And kudos to Dominic who spent the weekend with not one but two kids barfing. 🙁

I know it wasn’t the weekend he had hoped for and he had to work from home yesterday to stay with Karlena who needed a little more time to recover. I can’t say that I am sorry I missed all of that…but it is no fun being a single parent during times like that! I am so blessed to have him as a husband.

I keep saying it, but this weekend was such a gift to me. It filled my spirit in so many ways and just getting to do life with Gindi for a couple of days was over the top. I wish that Delonna and Christine could have joined us in person (heck I wish all of you lovely friends could have joined us!!) but really it was just a time of so many great memories and such good food! 😉

I don’t feel like I deserve all of this, so I truly am just sitting back in awe of what God has done for me in these beautiful friends! Thank you so much girls, it was a weekend FULL of love!

The Most Unbelievable Birthday Gift

Birthday BanditsI can hardly believe it, but I am sitting in the Minneapolis airport waiting to board a flight that will first take me to Chicago and then shortly thereafter, Houston, Texas.

On Thursday night around 8:30pm I got the surprise of a lifetime when I came downstairs after painting some more and sat down to send an email….I opened my computer and inside was the letter pictured above.

As I started to read it my eyes filled with tears, Gabriel had been in the room and he grabbed it from me and started reading it aloud. Dominic apparently at this point was taping me with his phone…. (The video is hilarious and I sound like a freak – if we are friends on FB you can see it there!)

On Saturday I was to report to the Minneapolis airport and would be flying to somewhere unknown for a special early birthday weekend.

I was stunned. I couldn’t believe that someone would do something like this for me and to pull off all the details….amazing.

My second thought after “are you serious, how can this be??”, was “yikes, I haven’t painted my toenails in weeks.” What can I say, vanity has been a struggle for me! 😉 Because I didn’t know for sure where I was going (although I had a strong suspicion) I wasn’t sure exactly what warmth of clothes I should pack.  But the reality is that most of the south right now is dealing with cold weather themselves, so anything I would wear during the fall/early winter should work.

So that night I packed what I could, tried to get Dominic to tell me ANYTHING, which he would not…and proceeded to walk around for the next day and 1/2 with a silly grin on my face.

This is too much.

On my route to MSP this morning I got a call from Gindi and she finally confirmed where I was headed. She said that back in December Delonna had started a secret vox chain with her, Gindi and Christine. They wanted to plan something super special for my upcoming 40th birthday.

These women are such an unbelievable gift to me. To think that just a few short years ago we were all strangers…oh God brought them into my life for such a time as this.

God knew…

Just 4 years ago in November I lost my best friend Karlena. A few months before she passed away I planned a secret trip to go and visit her. I worked with her husband and her MIL to arrange all the details and travelled to see her for the weekend. I was pregnant with our girl and Karlena had been so sick the few months prior that I just wanted to cheer her up.

It was a wonderful time, and the last time that I saw her  alive. I will always cherish that weekend.

Losing your best friend leaves a hole….and it was one that I didn’t expect would ever be filled again.

But God.

Oh those 2 words that seem to define so many of the remarkable moments in my life.

But God knew, and somehow a group of 99 women were chosen for a book launch, and then several of us broke off to encourage one another in a mastermind group, and finally a God-sized dream was birthed and a website was born.

And from that group, friendships were born.

From across the miles, voxer has kept us connected. Life has been shared, tears have been shed, cheering has ensued. These women are have filled my life to overflowing, and this…this birthday surprise?

It is the gravy.

Christine and Delonna weren’t able to to join us in person, schedules, work commitments etc., made it tough to find a way for all of us to be together. So instead, Gindi is hosting me for a weekend full of SO MUCH.

Seriously you should see the agenda, I am almost speechless.

But the fact that these three women worked so hard, schemed, planned and made arrangements with my husband, got ideas from my mom….it is just so much.

I don’t feel like I deserve it, but I am marveling in the lavish love that God has for me that he would place these women in my life so that in the month of my 40th birthday I would be treated to a surprise weekend. Something only the #birthdaybandits could do.

Ok, I probably should stop writing now because just thinking about it is bringing me to tears and the other people in the waiting area at the airport are going to start giving me the crazy eyes. 😉

Thank you doesn’t seem like enough…and I am sure that I will have more to share as the weekend unfolds, but for now, as I wait to board my flight I want to just say thank you. Gindi, Delonna, Christine, Dominic and my mom….for everything that you did to make this weekend possible, I am humbled by your gift.

Speechless (almost) and overwhelmed. I wasn’t really depressed about 40…but now, this? I am entering into this new season full of joy and hope. I love you all!

Celebrating A New Beginning {Virtual Shower Fun!}

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to a special young woman. But first before I do that, I need to give you a little of the back story!

I met Holley Gerth 2 years ago. I had the honor of being a part of her God-sized Dream team book launch. Several of us gathered at Allume again this year and celebrated all the places God has taken us in the past 2 years.

Holley and I!

God is just so good.

During this past year Holley and her husband Mark saw their own God-sized dream come true when they adopted their 20 year old daughter Lovelle. It is a beautiful story of God’s redemption and you must go read all about it!

When Lovelle got hitched to her fiance David I knew that I wanted to do something special to celebrate their new beginning. Holley has been a mentor and friend, but really is family to me, so I wanted to help her celebrate this incredible journey she is on as a new mama! Being miles and states away proved difficult. I had hoped Lovelle would be able to attend Allume so we could have a shower there, but that couldn’t happen so I got to thinking outside the box!

lovelle

I came across a site that posted about a Virtual Shower and they created a website  to use as the landing place for all the celebratory goodness.

I knew that was the route that I needed to take and so Lovelle’s Wedding Shower Website was born. Now let me be clear about one thing. I am not responsible for the adorable site design. (I wish I had that talent!) My dear friend Lisa, and master designer of my site here, volunteered to help and I just love it!

The idea behind a virtual shower is this…it gives those who want, the access and ability to celebrate with David and Lovelle, even when we can’t all be together in person.

So the “official” party time is November 1st through the 8th. I chose a week so that there was opportunity to share the site and people would find some time in the next week to join the fun.

Of course you will find a link to their gift registries, if you feel led, you can order something and send it their way. But even more exciting is a tab to read more about the happy couple with 20 questions answered by them…did you know what their answers would be?! A tab where you can leave a comment with advice/encouragement for David and Lovelle, and a tab to leave your favorite recipe to share! As a new wife I needed all the help I could get…so let’s fill up their virtual recipe box with some yummy goodness!

And no party should commence without some sort of party favor…so Lisa designed two amazing prints that are downloadable/printable! (I told you she was awesome!!) Each print is designed around David and Lovelle’s favorite bible verses. Love love!

It is my heart that we will shower Lovelle and David in a HUGE way. They are starting out their new life together in such a Godly, honorable way and as a community I hope we can cheer them on together.

So join me over there won’t you? Leave some advice, a prayer…maybe a favorite bible verse or recipe. I know that Lovelle and David will be blessed by your support, so thank you in advance for loving on them in this way with me!

In Him, Kristin

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