Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pictures to follow...

I can't get my pictures off my camera for some reason tonight, but I'm going to post anyway. Here are some random (recent) Smalling stories...

Madeline's favorite sport is basketball and she wants to be a photographer. I had no idea until I read it on a homework assignment she did for school...again, mother of the year is OUT for me! Although to be fair she has never: a)played basketball, b)watched more than 5 minutes of a basketball game on tv or live, and c)expressed any interest in playing or watching basketball. I think that might have been by process of elimination since she is as un-athletic as her mama (and daddy)! In her defense, she has been asking for a camera for quite some time (she's had a few disposables before, but not on a regular basis), so I guess that really should go to the top of the birthday/Christmas list! On a positive note, I did correctly guess her favorite color (PINK-- 4th, 5th, 6th & 7th birthdays, pictured),

favorite food (pb&j), favorite movie (Esther), favorite book (Junie B. Jones), favorite song ("The Battle Belongs to the Lord"), favorite candy (chocolate), favorite pet (cat), favorite game (Princess Monopoly), and where I want to visit (Honduras). The last 2 I did not guess, but was thankful to hear her say: 1)When am I the happiest: with my family. 2) Why I like myself: because my family loves me!

Setting: in Honda Odyssey somewhere on I-65 N, near White House, TN
Me: Noah, what is that you're coloring?
Noah: Oh, I'm just drawing an angel.

Little angel Noah

Me: Really? What kind of angel? (expecting the response of either "it's an angel that's really an....ALIEN!" or "an angel BRAIN", since aliens and brains are all he draws lately)
Noah: It's the angel that visited me last night when I was in my bed.
Me: Hmmm...and what did it do?
Noah: It said, "Do not be afraid. I am with you, and I am God, the Lord."
Me: Were you afraid?
Noah: (incredulous) Not after I saw the angel!

Jack spent last weekend with my parents, which was a nice break for me and a fun treat for them! He had a blast and did NOT want to come home (both of the other kids would have been, especially at his age). My dad was sleeping in his chair Sunday afternoon (some things never change!) and Jack decided he wanted Poppi to read him a book, so instead of asking Poppi, he just dropped the book on Poppi and startled him awake. Dad sat up and said something harmless like, "Jack, please don't do that" in his Daddy voice. Jack pooched his bottom lip out and ran to Dani and said, very distraught, "Dani, Poppi talked again!" As if he, of course, had done nothing at all...mean ol' Poppi just "talked again".

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

JackE's World

Jack brought me Noah's "reader" this afternoon and read it to me! It goes like this, "I like soup. I like socks. I like milk. I like alligators." Noah has to read it to us 3 times every night, so I guess after 2 days of that, Jack has memorized it! But I still thought it was cute...he loves to be big!

Jack's monkey impression:

Jack believes strongly in his SuperJack powers of invisibility...if he can't see you, then you can't see him! Lately he does this anytime I drop him off at Bible class or preschool.

Jack was trying to look like a pirate, but it turned out looking more like Jim from "The O.ffice" to me. I think it's the hair sticking out at the ears...

The pirate says "Arrr!!"

Monday, September 24, 2007

Madeline's PTA program

The 2nd graders performed "Autumn Songs" for the parents at this month's PTA meeting (it's the PTA's way to get parents there!).
Above is Madeline dancing and singing; right is the entire 2nd grade class singing. They did a great job. She really enjoys music and has a great teacher. Of course, that makes me happy to see my children appreciating music on any level! For some reason I cannot get good pictures on that stage (I'm sure it's me!) but pictures of the boys while we waited turned out pretty clear.

Here the boys are being entertained by taking turns wearing my sunglasses...much more interesting than the toys they brought to play with!

Left: Noah is big into the thumbs-up. He's such a positive kid...his standard answer to "How are you?" or "How was school?" is a very enthusiastic "GREAT!" He is proof that fussy babies can make happy kids!
Right: Jack saying "cheese"...can you tell I'm holding him back because he really wants down to grab the camera and check his shot. This kid is proof that calm, happy babies can make wild kids!

I realized as I looked at my blog, that there are not many pictures lately of Madeline, but here are a couple from this summer.
At a skating party for a friend (her 2nd time skating ever)...

Playing princess dress-up...I'll try to get some better pictures of her soon! She's a precious girl, who is just growing up too fast! She has really hit a comfortable stage in life (I'm SURE it won't last long!) where she is pretty independent when it's helpful but still sweet and loving. She has her smarty-pants moments, but she really has a love for the Lord and a desire to do right. We are so very proud of the little young woman she is becoming.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Prayer request

I'd like to ask for prayers for a precious friend of mine who lost a baby a couple of weeks ago. Please pray for peace and comfort for her, as well as the strength to continue being wife and mommy to 2 young kids, as well as working. She is also dealing with some family members who are making her grief even more difficult by their words and actions. Please pray she will be surrounded by those who can love and comfort her and that God will use this difficult and painful time to draw her closer to Himself and to His family. Thank you so much.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Noah's First Kindergarten Field Trip

Walking to Ellin.gton from schoolWe are very thankful to live just down the road from Ellin.gton A.gricul.tural Center. It is another one of our favorite places in the city...a little piece of the country. Our favorite part is the horses, but there is also a museum, vegetable and flower gardens and several old cabins that have been preserved. The kids' school is in the same neighborhood, too, so usually a couple of times a year, the classes walk to Ellin.gton for one thing or another. The Kindergarten classes went today and learned about Covered Wagons. I don't know how teachers keep up with 21 kindergarteners all day, even contained in a classroom. They are...well...exciting, to say the least. I spent the entire 2 block walk either tying a shoe, guiding the "strays" back into line, or fielding questions about everything from "If I jumped in that creek, would my mama get mad?" to "Did you know green is my favorite color? Do you know what my favorite food is? Spaghetti. Did you know my brother's name is..." (ad nauseum...from the same kid) to "Are there bears in those woods? I can't go in woods that have bears, my mama told me that before"!! It was so fun, and so hilarious to be around so many kids so full of life, with such curious and imaginative minds. But WHEW, I couldn't do THAT day after day. For ANY amount of money. So I am reminded of just how thankful I am to those of you who have been gifted to teach (or just are brave enough to do it anyway) and work with our children. You are SUPER-heroes in my book!! Noah & friends watching beans being picked from the vegetable garden

Noah in front of one of the cabins

Jack thinks he's an elephant...

Poor, poor Jack-E had to have his first breathing treatments this week. Neither of the other kids has had this problem before...apparently every other kid in Middle TN has. He probably just had a's RSV in infants, the doctor called it bronchiolitis for his age. Maddy supposedly had "bronchiolitis" as a baby, but didn't have any treatment for it, so I guess it was less severe...either that or, as a first-time mom with a 2-week old, they just thought they'd better call hers something so I wouldn't feel like an over-protective nut of a mommy for bringing her in because she sounded a little "stuffy"--no fever, no cough, just "stuffy"! Boy, have I changed! Jack was up ALL night last Thursday with labored breathing, and I was actually not 100% sure I should take him in Friday morning! He's had croup before, so I figured it was that, but it didn't improve as morning came (like croup usually does), so I bit the bullet. He definitely needed to go in, but with the nebulizer and steriods (can a two-year-old have 'roid rage?? cause he's been really mean!) he's fine now. He was very proud of his "elephant nose" that "blows dragon smoke". He did GREAT! He didn't fuss at all about it and sat still for 7-10 minutes IN A ROW...several times a day. What a trooper!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


We just started our Wed am women's Bible study last week. We're using "A Heart Like His: Seeking the Heart of God through a Study of David" by Beth Moore. There are nightly lessons through the week, so I've actually been studying the Bible every night. And I've actually been trusting God (which has been a HUGE obstacle for me since Ruby died) to speak to me through His Word and teach me what He knows I need to hear from Him.

"I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"
Psalm 119:102-103

And He's been SO faithful through His Word to answer me. And yet, as I studied, I kept finding myself distracted. SO distracted. I wait til the kids are all in bed, so it wasn't them...Jared was working on other things...the supper dishes were in the dishwasher (yes, I am as shocked as you are)...nothing urgent happening...and yet, I could not focus. I can't help but think it is Satan's way of keeping me from hearing what I need, even want, to hear from God.

Blog Book

For all of you bloggers, this looks interesting: . You can have your blog printed and bound. So prepare for my entries to get even if that's possible!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ruby's 1st "heaven" birthday

I know it's weird to most people that we would celebrate Ruby's birth into heaven, but it's one of those things you don't "get" until you've been there (so I hope none of you ever "get it"). Madeline asked, soon after Ruby died, if we could celebrate her 1st "birthday" with balloons, flowers and cupcakes. Well, who's going to say no to the grieving 7 year old sister?! So that's what we planned. As the day actually got closer, it didn't seem like such a good idea, but it's something that was special for our family. Even though it doesn't serve any practical purpose, it feels good to do something for her.

The cemetery is behind a church and is a huge area with beautiful hills (as you can see below), but there aren't many graves there. There are lots of wide-open spaces and for the most part you feel like you're in the middle of nowhere, right in the middle of town. So, we actually love to be there. There are months where the kids ask to go once a week or more and months that nothing is mentioned. Most of our time there is spent climbing the hill, but it's a special place for us, our little private retreat just down the road. Thanks, Ruby, for reminding us to take a deep breath, step back from the craziness that is our life, and really enjoy our blessings.

The Tradition Continues...

Jack (aka NEMO) finally got his turn to make chocolate-chip pancakes with Dani (Jeanne White). This has been a Saturday morning tradition for the kids when they are at Dani's (or when she happens to be a our house on Saturday morning). Madeline started it when she was about 2 or 3, and then once Noah was that age, he took over the duties. Now, Jack has taken his rightful place as Pancake King! If you don't mind a little eggshell in with your chocolate chips, they're delicious! ;-)

Family pictures

I of course think my kids are adorable, but they will NOT pose for pictures! What is wrong with them?! Everyone else's kids LOVE having their pictures taken...not mine. Madeline tolerates it, but is usually busy bossing the boys when I snap the picture. Jack's reaction is obvious here...he gets mad. Noah is either being silly (as in this example) or hiding (which he may have also been in the process of here). Any suggestions??

Optimus Prime vs Megatron

Thanks to Memaw (Shirley) for these cool Transformers! Our boys (even the biggest one!) sure love to fight...I mean compete :) Jack kept beating everyone...when he beat Daddy, of course Jared had to investigate...turns out Optimus Prime (Jack) can't lose...poor Decepticons (Noah & Daddy). Autobots unite!

Noah, you're a reader!

Noah reading to Daddy...his first library book of elementary school and he's actually reading it! We are so very proud of you, Noah-boy!

Monday, September 10, 2007

From my husband

It was one year ago today that many of you stood (literally) with Melanie and I as we buried our daughter. I wasn’t certain what the future would hold for our family after such a terrible loss. One year later, even though sad, we are whole. The Lord has been faithful to us through your hands and your prayers.

Each of us has and will suffer as long as we’re in this world. Some of you are suffering as you read this note. But I tell you to hang on to God and the hope of a better place not so long from now. Don’t rely on me, but rely on God and perhaps He’ll choose me to help you. He chose many of you to help me.

Please say a prayer for Melanie and me this week and remember this scripture from Philippians 3:20-21.

“But our homeland is in heaven, and we are waiting for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, to come from heaven. By his power to rule all things, he will change our humble bodies and make them like his own glorious body.”

God bless you.


Deeper Still...

WOW. God is good. WOW. I spent my day Saturday at the Curb Center at Belmont, the satellite location for "Deeper Still...The Event" featuring Kay Arthur, Beth Moore, and Priscilla Shirer. The ACTUAL event was at the Sommet Center (GEC) downtown, which sold out last year--that's 20,000 women, y'all! They opened the Curb Center and showed everything on huge screens, and there were another 3,000 women there! It was amazing. I missed Friday night when Priscilla spoke, but I was so blessed by the little bits of time she spoke on Saturday. I hadn't been sure I could go, but my sweet Mama came down Friday night and took my kids to BG...delivered 2 to the Smallings and kept 1. Jared went to a car show Saturday, so I had the day to myself.

I got there Saturday morning unsure if I could even still get a ticket, but when I walked to the ticket counter, the woman put an armband on me and said someone had just dropped off an extra ticket with instructions to give it to the next person who stopped by...and that was me! I sat in an empty seat and soon realized it was one row behind some people from church that I didn't know were coming, so I wasn't even alone (even though I had decided I didn't care if I was).

I sat down and looked at the booklet they gave us at the door about the conference and was struck by something in the "welcome": "God has drawn you here to experience Him. He has been planning this weekend for you for a very long time. He knew you would be here in the exact circumstances you are living with today." WOW.

Saturday started with worship, which I'm sure you can imagine was pretty overwhelming with 3,000 women (I can't imagine the 20,000!). Then Beth Moore spoke. I listened as God spoke through her EXACTLY what I needed (not really what I wanted) to hear, with tears literally streaming down my face for 2 hours. Her whole lesson was on:

1. Moving past our devastation with God [How could He let my baby die!]
2. Returning to whole-hearted obedience [God didn't obey me, so I will obey Him sort of, but hold back that last little bit so He understands how He hurt me.]
3. Having the courage to see the fulfillment of God's promises to us

It was based in II Samuel 6 when Uzzah is struck dead by God for touching the ark of the covenant and David is devastated with God (angry & afraid, II Samuel 6:8-9) because he doesn't understand how or why God would punish him when he had such good intentions (bringing ark to Jerusalem). This is where I've been for the last couple of weeks: devastated with God for taking away what should be such a good, happy, Godly thing--my child. And justifying my self-pity and anger because it wasn't something sinful, but something good that I lost/He took. Nothing can devastate us like God doing something WE don't think He should do. THE ENEMY IS COUNTING ON ME NEVER GETTING OVER IT!

Jesus himself, God in the flesh, even experienced devastation. He prayed in Matt 26: 39, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me." But He, unlike me, fully obeyed God (and did NOT sin) and gave His precious life to save all of humanity, even me. God's plan for our lives, our work, His blessing is on the other side of the devastation, which we can only find when we are FULLY OBEDIENT to Him, as Jesus was.

David looked back and realized (I Chron 15:12-14) that they had not carried the ark properly in the first place. In I Chron 15:15 he determines they will now do it the right way, on poles carried on the shoulders of the Levites. There's no "new way" to do things, to obey God and do His will. The poles we carry as His priesthood are the Word and prayer. That IS the "easy button". There's no substitute, no shortcut.

*Let me be clear, as Beth was, that I'm not saying all bad things are the result of specific sin (except in the sense that because sin is in the world, death is in the world) AND that losses mean grief. Grief is important and ongoing in my life, as it should be. It is a part of our human-ness that will not be gone until He calls us home (Rev 21:4). But this devastation where we forever hold onto our anger/hurt/fear toward God, demanding that He, the Creator--whose ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9)--explain everything to us, the created, and refusing to fully trust or obey Him again, is a sin of disobedience.

In II Samuel 7, AFTER the devastation, AFTER the return to obedience, AFTER God makes promises to him, David says in verse 28: "O Sovereign LORD, You are God! Your words are trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant." He IS trustworthy.

I'm not sure the last time I could say (if ever), "God gave me this verse", but as I reflected on this lesson, I felt so stunned as I came across this verse, which SO completely captures this weekend for me:

"You turned my wailing into dancing;
You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing to You and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give You thanks forever."
--Psalm 30:11-12

My grief is not gone. I will always be homesick for Ruby and for the rest God has promised. I will never completely understand how or why she could not live here with our family. That will never seem right. But since God has given me this day and it's blessings, I will NOT throw them back in His face because He won't tell me why. I will do my best to quit throwing this baby fit (even if it's just in a far-removed corner of my heart that I think maybe He won't notice!) and rejoice in whatever He has for me and my family. I will accept this peace--yes, even JOY!--He has lavished on me this weekend, even though I don't understand how it is possible.

"It is time to give You honor,
This is the day to give You all the praise that You deserve.
Yes, it's time to give You honor,
This is the day to give You all the praise that You deserve.
A holy King, of everything, inhabit the praises of Your people,
A holy King, of everything, inhabit the praises of Your people.
Have we waited far too long now to surrender?
Forgive us, O God, the years we failed to seek Your face.
O LORD, Your mercy turns us into grateful people.
We can't seem to find the words,
so take our lives that they might be enough
to tell You how grateful, Lord, we are grateful!"
"A Grateful People" --Watermark

I may fall on my face tomorrow, but that is my resolution for TODAY!

Hurricane Felix updates

This link is to Baxter Institute where my dad, Steve White, works and is right now (mom is in the States, which explains her picking up my kids this weekend!). They appreciate your prayers always, but especially as they minister to some who were affected by recent Hurricane Felix and related storms.


Update on baby Bennett

Here's the latest update I have from our church. Please continue to pray for him!

Bennett Mitchell Speck, son of Travis and Kelly, and grandson of Steve and Cilla, remains in critical condition at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC, however, is showing improvement. Continue to pray for complete healing for his lungs, heart, for his oxygen and Co2 levels and for protection from seizure activity.

(Updates at

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Life goes on...

Even though it seems as though my world has screeched to a halt this week, it's obvious all around me that life does go on. There's still homework to do, phonics readers to sign, flashcards to practice, a class of 18-24 month-olds who still want to "Pat the Bible", supper to fix (or at least warm up), a category 5 hurricane that, GRACIAS A DIOS, did NOT do damage at least to Tegucigalpa where my dad is right now, PTA fundraisers due tomorrow (which of course we have sold NONE), mission trips to plan, water bills to pay (barely on time), checking accounts to balance, random mission reports to translate...oh and dishwashers, washing machines and dryers that don't unload OR load themselves...

Does it sound like I'm complaining? Seriously, I'm not! (Okay, a little on the last one.) In some bizarre way, the normalcy of life is comforting at a time like this. For one thing, it all reminds me that there are other people in this world other than me. And, as hard as it is to believe, some have even worse problems than I. (Dad, I REALLY wanted to put "than me" but I couldn't--thanks!) I have 3 kids enjoying the random activities of childhood, a wonderful extended family doing wonderful things and enduring their own struggles all over the world, a precious church family, a home, good schools for my children, the means and abilities to be involved in mission work and people's lives, a husband with a job that pays bills...oh and a dishwasher, washing machine and dryer, which definitely make MY job easier!

As bizarre as it was one year ago today to sit at O.Charl.eys with my husband with my half a club and potato soup and his pecan chicken salad, me looking 6 months pregnant, both of us knowing our Ruby was was the picture of what our life would be from then on. Normal and bizarre entertwined. For the last year, it's been more bizarre and less normal. I hope that with each passing year, it begins to be a little more normal.