Welcome to the Smith family blog, where our life is told. The purpose of this page is to share our life with family, friends and co-laborers. We work for a Christian Junior College called Ignite, located in Christiansburg, VA. Ignite exists to educate, train, and equip emerging leaders to discover and pursue their Life-Mission. We are part of that story, and this is where that story is shared. Enjoy.

The Smiths

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Update...Finally!

Hello Everyone!
I hope you've been loaded with good days since the last post.  We have certainly had our share...especially with the days getting longer and warmer!  Spring is peeking around the corner!

Let me give you a quick update from the past month:  Mid-January we ventured up north to Illinois, Indiana and Ohio to promote Ignite.   We met some incredible leaders and pastors at Camp Hickory, Faith Outreach Center and Camp McPherson!  The students at locations had such a raw passion for God, which caused a chain reaction in my faith.  (one of the reasons I love youth ministry)

Following that trip we promoted Ignite at New Hope Worship Center (Concord, NC) and Hope Chapel (Apex, NC).  Both locations held unique significance to me and Sumer.  New Hope - the church that Sumer was raised in and where we had our wedding.  Hope Chapel - where we served as youth pastors for over 9 years...surreal.

Starting tomorrow we have another 10-day stretch of promoting!  (This time without the entire family)  Tennessee, New Hampshire and Virginia!  More connecting, promoting and recruiting!

So, those are the Ignite updates.  Next, I want to share a couple scriptures with you...and talk about their significance for us today:

Then Jesus said, "What is the Kingdom of God like?  How can I illustrate it?  It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches."

"Just a little bit of heaven" - Jesus teaches the followers a lesson on the Kingdom of God.  What is it like?  What can it be compared to? - A mustard seed.  That is what Jesus chose to illustrate the Kingdom of God.  Really?

Well, I thought about it for a while.  A little seed of heaven planted into the heart of man (any one who receives the Word by faith)  As the seed takes root in the heart of man, this new life begins to protrude.  It's an obvious difference.  That "something" that wasn't there before.   That "something" being the presence of God.  As the presence of God takes root in our life, a transforming work begins to take place.  This sprout of heaven, this God-presence solidifies us,   giving us the ability to weather the storms of life.  Now, without the seed, none of that would exist.  The smallest touch of heaven can transform a dead body into a living source of hope.   

Go get of bit of heaven today!

We love you all!
The Smiths

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Winter Fun...Ignite Itinerary

Snow snow snow!  It's been a while since we've experienced a winter season like this, so we are grabbing every opportunity to have fun in it!  Instead of writing about our time out in the snow, I thought it would be more fun to show you.  Below are some of the moments we were able to capture:

a true winter wonderland
 Aubrey is being a good sport, but she's really afraid of the 4wheeler

This is Aubreys response when you say, "look at the camera"
creating some fun memories for the girls
Look at that snow angel!

We had so much fun out in the NC snow...now we get to enjoy the snow in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio!  This Thursday we head north to promote and recruit for Ignite...and everywhere we travel, snow is expected!  We have one of those really cool car toppers for our extra luggage we're taking to weather handle the elements.  (pictures will come later)  This will also be our first long trip with the girls...so it should be interesting.  

We are eager to start connecting with the students and pastors from the East Coast districts! 

This is our Ignite Itinerary for the next 10 days:
Jan. 14    leave for Louisville  (half way point to Camp Hickory, Grant, IL)
Jan. 15    drive to Camp Hickory (Heartlands District Winter Retreat)
Jan. 16    promote Ignite @ morning youth meeting
Jan. 17    leave for Indiana
Jan. 19    Speak @ Wednesday night youth service at Faith Outreach, Rochester, IN
Jan. 21    Arrive at Camp Mcpherson (Mid-Atlantic District Winter Retreat)
Jan. 22    promote Ignite @ morning youth meeting
Jan. 23    leave for North Carolina

We'll post frequent updates to the blog or Facebook as a way to bring you with us!  Thank you for your continual prayers and encouragement!

(sorry for the "choppy-ness" of this post...I had several distractions throughout the process of writing)

The Smiths 

"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands."

Friday, December 31, 2010

Like Jesus

Hello Friends & Family,
Happy New Years Eve Day!  I'm wondering what party plans are underway to ring in the New Year!  For me and my house, we will probably sleep into 2011 - exciting I know.  I just don't see that keeping the girls up till midnight to see a ball drop will be worth the tiredness tomorrow.  Restfulness beats tiredness every time.  However you choose to celebrate the New Year is up to you, I only hope you have fun and stay safe.

I began a new reading plan a couple days ago called "Essential Jesus".  It's a 100 day plan that leads you through OT and NT scriptures about Jesus.  So far it's been refreshing to land on a few verses, meditate on them and allow God to direct my steps for the day.  Today I read Philippians 2:1-11, and this was my takeaway:

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider other better than yourself. You should not only look to your own interests, but also to the interests of others - your attititude should be the same as that of Christ."

I often think that my disciplines in selflessness are spot on - I put others before myself, I recognize and address the needs of others before my own, I'm not fixated on appearing significant to others.  These are my immediate thoughts.  It sounds a bit self righteous, as though I have my head on right.  The gross reality is that I do struggle to live in humility and selflessness. I often find selfish motives behind decisions I make.  I can even uncover moments in life where I have been annoyed by others with legitimate needs - much like the attitude of the disciples prior to Jesus feeding the five thousand.  "Their hunger isn't our problem"...was their conclusion.  

I am convicted when I observe Jesus' life.  EVERY moment, EVERY encounter and EVERY action of Jesus' life was honest, true and humble.  And here in Philippians we are told that our "attitude should be the same as that of Christ."  I don't see much wiggle room in that statement.  
The sad thing is that I often present Jesus with excuses and reasons for my selfish attitude.  This is why these verses are so powerful.  Jesus is the central figure of everything.  The world was created through Him.  Without Him nothing was made that has been made.  I live and move and exist because of Him.  All this is true of Jesus and still He is the servant of ALL.  This is where I ask myself, "Is my attitude the same as that of Christ?"

I want to be Like Jesus.  (Sounds like a good New Year's Resolution)

The Smith's

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Capturing Christmas moments

We've captured some sweet smith family moments this Christmas season and we want to share some of them with you.  There's a story behind every video and picture.  Enjoy!

Rarely does NC see big, puffy snow flakes!  I managed to shoot this quick video from the balcony of our apartment last Saturday while taking care of Hannah and Sumer as they were fighting through the stomach bug.

We've officially entered the season where it's impossible to take a "good" family photo.  Aubrey is regularly distracted by something (this time it's Christmas tree lights), and this is Hannah's new "smile" face.  (At least mom and dad are holding it together...haha)

Last night we went to see the Christmas lights at the Billy Graham Library.  This is one of my new favorite pictures of Sumer and Aubrey.  Don't be fooled though...Aubrey is looking towards the camera because a real camel is standing behind me.  (whatever it takes)

Aubrey joined in the Christmas shopping frenzy at Concord Mills...she is quite the shopper! 

To wrap things up, the following pictures are all from Christmas Eve...

Me and Hannah outside Harvest Community church, just before their Christmas Eve service.

Hannah mounted on Flicka with her six-shooter and harmonica...hilarious.  She's gonna ride and play...and if you don't like her song, she'll bust a cap.

We had an unforgettable Christmas...especially waking up on December 26 to a winter wonderland!  We hope you had an amazing Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tragic Realities in Kansas City

(Kansas City: Dec. 8-10, 2010)

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."
James 1:27 (New Living Translation)

Hello Readers,
I wish my hands could type as fast as the thoughts racing through my mind.  Sumer and I returned from Kansas City this past Friday, and reflecting on our experience has been mind-numbing.  This post is a regurgitation of the things we witnessed during our visit.  I use the word "regurgitate" because it's not a pleasant word...and though our visit was incredible, the things I will share with you are not pleasant.  In the following paragraphs I will share some of the encumbering realities in Kansas City. 

Sumer and I were in the Holiday Inn lobby when the IGNITE students returned from their service project.  They were covered head-to-toe with sheet rock dust.  Some raced by competing for first dibs on the showers, while others slowly shuffled in.  I was eager to hang out with the students and hear about the service projects that caused them to resemble powdered donuts.  I later learned that they spent the day renovating an abandoned hospital.  The hospital is now called "River of Refuge", a non-profit Kansas City based organization which transitions homeless families who have jobs from high rent motels and shelters into permanent housing.  (check out their website:  www.riverofrefuge.com...the story is phenomenal)  We spent the majority of Thursday morning touring the hospital with the executive director, John Wiley.  It was easy to capture the heart and vision as we walked through the massive building.  It was a little creepy walking through the morgue and operating rooms. (I thought, what a great place for a lock-in)  Seriously though, check out the website.  God may speak to you about contributing to the River of Refuge.  We spent a couple hours driving around the community and eventually landed back at the hotel.  We relaxed in the lobby for most of the afternoon talking with the IGNITE director, mapping out the next 7-8 months.  

The next morning we drove to Hope Faith Ministries, an outreach to the homeless.  Check out their website:  www.hopefaithministries.org.  This ministry serves between 450 to 500 homeless and less fortunate every day.  We learned that in Kansas City alone there are over 13,000 homeless.  The more alarming reality:  the median age is 7 years old.  That is not a typo.  Read again.  Now read it out loud.  How disturbing is that reality?  It fills me with a wide range of emotions, spanning from sadness to anger.  A voice from within screams, "THIS IS NOT RIGHT!"  Hope Faith Ministries is responding to that cry.  We were able to take a tour of the facility with Wilson, an employee of HFM who was also homeless.  Everything in the building was donated.  In fact, the new 47,000 square foot building was a donation.  Apartment furniture, food, commercial kitchen equipment, commercial freezers, forklifts, clothing...everything was a donation.  The presence and peace of God was so raw and real.  Perhaps the most chilling moment for me and Sumer was when Wilson explained the purpose of one particular exit door.

The picture above is a hallway where only children and women are granted access.  Many homeless women (and even children) are forced into the sex slave industry and they come to the Hope Faith facility for clothing and food.  (most of the time they arrive at the shelter with their pimp)  At any moment the women are separated from their pimp the Hope Faith staff lead them down this secured hallway.  They explain to the women that if they go through this exit door there will be a car and driver ready to take them to a rescue center.  They can either go through this door to receive the help they need to get out of the industry, or they can go back the way they came in. The choice is theirs.  

(Push pause:  I want to invite you to join in praying over this exit door.  Place your hand on the picture if you like.  Pray that God's love, peace and redeeming power rest over this doorway.)  

Let me offer a few other statements that may cause you to pray again:  Kansas City ranks highest in the nation for human trafficking.  Two months ago the Kansas City police performed a sting operation where over 600 sex slaves were rescued.  One sting operation, 600 individuals rescued.  I was stunned when I heard that news.  

I hope you're a little stunned too.  Please check out the websites that I've mentioned above.
Take a prayerful stand against the corruption that is in our world.  God might nudge you to go.  Go volunteer at a homeless shelter.  Go to Kansas City.  Go take the love of God where it is so desperately needed.
I want to conclude with some words from James 2:14-20:

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?  Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?  So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.  Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”  You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?

Thanks for reading,
The Smiths


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Travel Updates

Hello again!

As I write this blog entry, I'm sitting in my living room listening to soft Christmas music and  watching the first snowfall!  (random...I just witnessed Aubrey do her first somersault)  Between my sips of hot chocolate, I reflect on all of our "Christmas preparations" this past week:

-Sumer has knocked out the majority of the Christmas shopping!
-The Christmas tree in Hannah's room and the living room are all decorated!
-Lights were strung on the balcony.
-Amy Grant (Holiday) station has been set on Pandora.  (It's a good one)
-The Mistletoe Candles are unpacked and burning
-Hannah and I made the first batch of chocolate chip cookies for the Christmas season. 

That's a pretty good start to December!  I look forward to creating countless memorable moments this Christmas season!  I hope the same for your family.

Well, I promised to give travel updates as a way to include you in our journey.  This past Wednesday I traveled to Madison, AL with my father-in-law.  The scenery of snow-capped Smokey Mountains and cities tucked in valleys made for a fun 7 1/2 hour car ride.  Over 80 individuals gathered at Restoration Church for a two day, 16 hour disaster relief training.  We sifted through 184 pages of disaster relief details, learned FEMA leadership structures and reviewed Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and Kubler-Ross's Grief Cycle.  I can now say that I am a FEMA-approved Foursquare Disaster Relief Chaplain/Worker.  This means that I am certified and recognized by the government to bring physical and spiritual aid to disastrous situations.  We don't like that disasters happen, but it's good to know trained leaders are ready to take action should unfortunate situations happen.  

I was thrilled to meet some young guys at the training who were interested in going through IGNITE!  And speaking of IGNITE, next Wednesday Sumer and I will be flying to Kansas City for some planning meetings!  The momentum and excitement for IGNITE continues to build!  2011 is going to be incredible!

We love you all!
the smiths


Friday, November 26, 2010

Adjust: Acclimatize, Adapt, Habituate, Modify, Remodel, Tune

Last Wednesday night Sumer and I attended the mid-week service at New Hope Worship Center.  It was a family service that focused on "Giving Thanks".  We traced our hands on a sheet of construction paper and on each finger we wrote something we were thankful for.  I was having a good time recalling Gods blessings and expressing thankfulness for each of them.  The message that night was a great reminder to never take for granted all that God has done, is doing and will do in our lives.

Each family was invited to come forward to receive communion and pray with a staff pastor.  As Sumer and I made our way up to the front I was asking God, "What am I having a hard time with that I should ask prayer for?"  He gave me one word.  "Rest".  I thought, "Really?...you want me to ask for rest?  That just sounds wimpy and lame." 

We received communion and the staff pastor asked how he could pray for us.  Everyone in the circle focused their eyes on me (or at least it felt that way)  I explained that I was having a difficult time resting - and that I feel like I have to be working on some project, doing something or going somewhere.  The one word that God spoke settled deeply.  In that moment I realized my need to "feel productive" kept me from seeing God's gifts and blessings.  The way that I had been going about life needed to change.  God was directing me to adjust, acclimatize, adapt, habituate, modify and remodel to a life of rest.

This morning I woke up with the word "rest" on my mind.  After devotions the word was still lingering.  (I've learned to pay attention to "lingering" words)  I went to "Vines Expository Dictionary" to look up the word and I discovered that there are 11 different definitions of "rest".
All of them have significant meaning, but I want to highlight two that stood out to me. 

1)  ANAPAUSIS "cessation, refreshment, rest" (ana, "up," pauo, "to make to cease"), the constant word in the Sept. for the Sabbath "rest," is used in Matt_11:29; here the contrast seems to be to the burdens imposed by the Pharisees. Christ's "rest" is not a "rest" from work, but in work, "not the rest of inactivity but of the harmonious working of all the faculties and affections, of will, heart, imagination, conscience, because each has found in God the ideal sphere for its satisfaction and development" (J. Patrick, in Hastings' Bib. Dic.)

2)  ANAPAUO akin to anapausis, in the Active Voice, signifies "to give intermission from labor, to give rest, to refresh," Matt_11:28; In the papyri it is found as an agricultural term, e.g., of giving land "rest" by sowing light crops upon it.

The two definitions should be a regular discipline in our life.  It is important to rest IN our work.  It is also important to be refreshed, and take rest FROM our work.  I am learning to recognize the moments of rest that God gives me.  I have a long way to go, and I'm certain to fumble along the way.  The truth remains: He gives us the opportunity and ability to rest IN our work and He provides the opportunity for us to rest FROM our work. 

It's up to us to make those adjustments!

Be encouraged to REST!