Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Itsy Bitsy

This video is from 3 weeks ago and is too cute not to share. The Itsy Bitsy Spider is Maryn's very most favorite song right now and she asks us to sing it over and over every day!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Last thanksgiving was hard for us.  It was our first time to not be with our families for the holiday.  We tried to make the best of it, but between a grumpy baby, yucky weather, not so great restaurant food, and homesickness, it just wasn't all that we had hoped for, although at the time we put on our happy faces and called it good.  We realized that no matter how we felt, we had so much to be thankful for, and we were just glad the three of us could be together.  

This year, however, was way better.  The best remedy for being unable to travel home for Thanksgiving is to have dear friends close by who also can't travel home.  Their pain = our gain.  Ha!  Seriously, we had a wonderful day with the Esteps, along with a few other graduate students who were unable to be with their families.  We celebrated at the Estep's home, and we cooked a full Thanksgiving meal with "all the fixins".  It was such a blessing to spend the day with friends with whom we are growing closer each day.  It was almost as good as being home.

Kevin cooked and carved the turkey - we were very impressed
Graduate student talk
Maryn with Daddy
Me and my little turkey
Maryn and BFF Elliott
For some reason they really like sitting on the step together
Me, Erica, and the girls (and baby boy Estep)

We are thankful to have such good friends!  How did you spend your Thanksgiving?  Anyone else have to be away from family?

Sunday, November 27, 2011


I am often (though not often enough) surprised to realize how a lack of gratitude in my heart robs me of peace and joy.  This season of thanksgiving is a good reminder.  I lack thanks because I am discontent, I think I am entitled to more, I have unrealistic expectations of others, I compare myself to others, I forget the goodness and grace of God toward me.

I have been reading a book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss called Choosing Gratitude.  It is serving as a good reminder from the Lord of all for which I have to be thankful, and of all the wasted time I live in unthankfulness.

I am thankful for my beautiful family - a faithful husband who loves me and serves me selflessly, who makes daily living fun; an adorable little girl who showers me with kisses and is healthy and growing.  I am thankful to be a wife and a mother to these particular people.  I am thankful for a father, mother, brother, and sister who love me unconditionally. I am thankful for a church family and for dear friends near and far.  I am thankful for jobs that we love, good food to eat, cars to drive, clothes to wear, and a home in which to live.  I am thankful for God's provision of a new place for us to live for the rest of our time here in South Bend (more on that later).  I am thankful for health in body and mind. I am thankful for good books, music, coffee, and the internet.  Most of all I am thankful for my salvation - God saved me from my sin once and for all through the death and resurrection of Christ - he also saves me daily through the work of the Holy Spirit, and I have the assurance and hope that he will save me for an eternity with him.

I am thankful for the trials and the painful circumstances Billy and I have walked through in the last 3 years.  I am thankful that they have drawn us closer to God and to each other. I am thankful for the trust we can have in a loving Father, that one day we will see redemption and beauty from these difficulties.  I am thankful that in comparison to the suffering of others and the perspective of eternity, they are but light and momentary afflictions.  I am thankful that our daily lives are filled with goodness and laughter.

I am thankful.
O give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples. - Psalm 50:14
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. - 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thanks goes to Kevin Estep for kindly taking our fall family pictures.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall Festivities

The leaves and the temperatures are dropping, the air is crisp and smells like burning wood, and we have been enjoying lots of hot lattes and mochas!  Welcome Autumn, my favorite season!
So heavy!
We recently went to a pumpkin patch and corn maze with some friends from church.  We had lots of fun wandering through the maze - we did eventually find our way out!  It was huge.  There were fun little checkpoints with trivia questions which the older kiddos and the grown-ups enjoyed.  Maryn just liked opening the ears of corn along the way.  Afterward, we enjoyed warm soup and fellowship.  We had a great time.
Family pic!  Please ignore Billy's hat hair :)
Yay Fall!
Maryn with Olivia and Emma - she loves watching the big girls!
The next Monday was Halloween.  I'm not too crazy about Halloween, but I just can't resist dressing Maryn up in an adorable costume.  Last year she was a surgeon.  This year she was a very friendly, buzzing bumble bee.  She said "hi" to everyone she saw and I also taught her how to say "bzzz".  So cute!  The funny thing about her costume was that it pretty much took away her peripheral vision, so every time she turned her head she would lose her balance and fall over.  Made me laugh!  Her BFF Elliott was going to dress up as a ladybug, so they would be bugs together, but sadly, poor Elliott was sick with croup.  Maybe we can still dress them up together for fun sometime.  :)
Trick or treat!
Since Maryn can't eat candy yet, we actually gave candy away from her little trick or treat bucket.  Of course we had to stop by Brette and Adam's house and Maryn loved giving them lots of candy!  She thought it was a very fun game.  We did however, let her have chocolate Cheerios, which she thought were the best thing she had ever tasted!
Giving Miss Brette some love!
Me and my Honey Bee
Happy Fall, everyone!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Maryn's Got Wheels

Thanks Grandad and Gran!

Monday, October 24, 2011

15 Months

Well, it's time for a Maryn update.  Can't believe she's already 15 months old!  I feel like I just wrote her 12 month update!  One thing is becoming clear, Maryn is a very verbal girl.  She likes to talk.  Loudly.  All the time.  To any one who will listen.  Her vocabulary is rapidly growing (book, ball, bye-bye, night-night, banana, apple, water, shoe, sock, keys, up, snack, baby, one, outside, diaper, Elmo, George, Momma, Dadda, Graycie, Elliott); of course, most of these words aren't perfectly enunciated or anything - she requires an interpreter still, but we know what she's saying.  Her favorite is still "Hi!" which she says constantly at home and anywhere we go - it's her first word in the morning.  Now she also says, "Hi, babe!" or Hi, Bay-bay!"  I guess because we say "Hi babe" or "Hi, baby" to her all the time.  It's so funny.

She also LOVES for us to read books to her (her current favorite is Pat the Bunny).  She probably drags a book over to one of us and says, "Boo?" about a million times a day.  And she throws an outrageous fit if you say no.  Speaking of which, fits are another new development; these include screaming, crying, hitting, stomping, and momentary despair.  Yeah...we're working on it.  She is getting better at following simple commands, which is nice ("Sit on your bottom", "Bring me your shoe", "Put it in the trash", "Get your milk" etc).  But this means she is also getting good at disobeying commands, like, "Bring that to me" followed by a crazy, giggling, maniacal run as fast as she can away from me.  I can't help but laugh most of the time.

Of course she's walking (nearly running) and getting into everything.  She has learned to get down from furniture like the couch, but she can't climb up yet, so that's frustrating to her.  Curious George is still the most loved toy.  If she can't find him she goes from room to room calling for him ("George? George! Geeeooorrrggge?!").  She loves her ride and push car, her grocery sack, her baby doll, her blocks, her Noah's ark animals, and of course, our cell phones.  She also likes to go outside and see the trees, leaves, grass, acorns and possibly a dog or a cat ("Woof! Meow!").  Currently, she is also obsessed with socks and shoes - we find both ours and hers all over the place because she is always dragging them out.  Another favorite thing is several times a day, she puts a bag over her shoulder and says "Bye!" and walks toward the front door or down the hall; then she comes back as if she was gone a long time and says, "Hi!".  So cute.  She also loves to talk to herself in the mirror on the back of the bathroom door while I get ready in the mornings.

She's still a pretty picky eater.  She does have a new found love for fish sticks which is pretty funny.  But thankfully she's gaining weight; at the pediatrician's a couple of weeks ago she weighed 18.8 lbs!  Which is up to the 4th percentile - yay, back on the chart!  The day before she turned 15 months old, she completely weaned herself - at that time we were only nursing once a day.  So that's been sad and very freeing at the same time for me.  She still has a little bit of iron-deficient anemia, so we're giving her an iron supplement; she's slowly increasing her meat intake, too, so hopefully we'll be able to get off the supplement in a couple of months.

I swear she gets cuter every day.  She's just growing up too fast.  She's learning so much and changing so quickly that it's getting really difficult to adequately write these updates; I could never include it all! Here are some highlights of the last 3 months:

13 Months
14 Months
15 Months
She loved her pool this summer
She always sleeps on George now...so sweet
Sesame Street videos are our source of sanity
She loves saying that she's one
George and Pat the Bunny
Loves her car
Fall pics

Wearing Daddy's shoes
Fish sticks!

Thursday, October 20, 2011


So, as I mentioned recently, I have yet to write a post on our church.  Which just seems so ridiculous to me for so many reasons, but I think it's because I just have too much to say.  When we were planning on moving, we knew that the most important thing we needed to do was find a church, a body of believers that would be our family.  We found Fulkerson Baptist Church in Niles, Michigan on the Nine Marks website, and began reading everything from the church website, following the pastor's blog, and listening to sermons.  From what we could tell, it seemed like everything we prayed to find.  Of course, you never know until you actually visit a place, and meet the people.  After 2 or 3 visits, we knew we were home.  Here is a picture of us on the Sunday we joined, along with several other families; we are on the very far left, with Maryn:

We absolutely love our church.  It's on the smaller side, which means there are plenty of opportunities to serve.  There are lots of young families like us, but younger and older generations are also well represented, and worship alongside one another.  The preaching/teaching is seriously amazing - we can't get enough.  We love the pastor, the other elders, the music, the rest of the leadership; we love the people.  We love the theology, the mission, the vision, the passion of this church.  

In the last couple of months, we have begun to transition from getting to know people and enjoying being blessed by the service of others, to beginning to get more involved and serve in various areas, which has been such a joy.  We have had opportunities to help on the worship team and in the nursery.  Billy recently became a deacon, and is very excited to be a servant within the church's ministry to the widows, orphans, and the poor.  I recently formed a new communications team to figure out ways to better inform the body about church events and announcements - I love the people I get to work with on this!  We also have recently joined a newly formed small group (our first small group was getting too big) and are really enjoying getting to know the people in our group.  Maybe our small group deserves its own blog post!  :)  

I recently read the book Radical by David Platt.  In it he says: "We need community in order to follow Christ radically.  I am convinced that one reason many of us have not taken radical steps in our giving, for example, may not be so much because we love our possessions as it is because we fear isolation.  If the radical, simple living we see Jesus talking about were more common in the church, it would be much easier for us to live simply as well.  But we look around, and everyone else has nice cars, nice homes, and lifestyles characterized by luxuries, so we accept that this must be the norm for Christians.  We may get convicted about our way of living when we look at the Bible, but then when we look at one another, we assume it must be okay because everyone else lives this way.  If we are going to live in radical obedience to Christ, we will need the church to do it.  We will need to show one another how to give liberally, go urgently, and live dangerously....In the process we will learn to depend on one another according to God's design."

We are very blessed, because Fulkerson Park does not fall into the category described above.  It is full of individuals and families who are living radically for the gospel of Christ.  People who give their time and money abundantly, who adopt orphans, who fight for the weak and the unborn, who selflessly love their neighbors, who work hard and sell possessions so they can go overseas to a dangerous place to reach the lost, who use their intellect to write books and go to school and teach for the glory of God, who use their trade skills to serve others and show God's love, who live very simply on small budgets so they can dedicate their lives to ministry, who drive beat up mini vans because they love kids more than luxury and status, who give up Sunday afternoons to care for those in nursing homes, who sacrifice and give when someone in the body or someone they know is in need, who pay for books for seminary students in Africa, who regularly and hospitably open up their homes to others, who spend hours planning and organizing ways for children to have gospel-hearing opportunites as well as their care so parents can have those opportunities also, who give up the American dream for the sake of a better Kingdom.  I could go on.  We are not worthy to be named among them.  In this environment, Billy and I are doing lots of growing, we are challenged, and we feel loved.  Isn't it amazing the way God works through local faith families?  We didn't even know these people existed just over a year ago, and now we feel one with them.

Curious to hear our pastor, Brian Hedges?  Here he is answering a question on Christianity.com.  

And here's our church website: www.fulkersonpark.com

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Birthday

I turned 27 just over a week ago, and I realized that birthdays are different once you become a parent.  The highlights of my birthday were 1) getting to go back to bed to sleep longer (until 9:00!) after I fed Maryn; 2) taking Maryn to see Curious George at the library; and 3) going on a date not even caring where we were going because I was just so happy to be alone with Billy.  I. Am. Old.  But loving it.  :)

Seriously, I had a great day.  Here are the highlights:

Beautiful flowers from my husby
Curious George: she was scared at first...

But ended up loving it.  She kept wanting to go back to say hi.

Vera Bradley bag!

Billy thought I was crazy when I requested lemon bars.
But being the sweetheart that he is he made them anyway.
And then a few days later came....the SURPRISE date!!!  Billy arranged for a babysitter (love you, Brette!) and had me come home from work early.  We ate at a cute little Italian restaurant downtown and then he took me to see Brian Regan live at the Morris Performing Arts Theater (where we saw James Taylor)!  It was such an awesome surprise.  We love Brian Regan (seriously, you should watch anything you can find of his - hilarious).  And I've never seen a live comedian before.  It was so fun to do something different on a date.  

So thankful to the Lord for my family, and the gift of another year!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Life Update

It's time for a Smith update.  I keep planning on doing lots of smaller blog posts but now I think it will be easier to have one big update post.  Because I'm kind of a lazy blogger.

School is back in full swing for Billy.  This is his last year of course work, which he is really excited about, but for now classes are just as stressful as ever.  He has also started his teaching assistant responsibilities; he is teaching two discussion sections (one all freshmen, one all upper classmen) and seems to be enjoying it.

We recently went to Notre Dame to walk around campus while the weather is nice.

My work schedule recently changed.  In order to get benefits, I needed to increase my hours to 24 a week.  So I work full days on Thursday and Friday, and on Tuesday and Wednesday I work from 4pm to 7:30pm.   Thankfully I really like my job and my coworkers.  But it is hard to be away from Maryn so much.  It has also become more difficult to coordinate our schedules, and getting things done around the house, grocery shopping and errands, and spending time with other people has become more of a challenge.  Our new schedules also caused transportation issues for our one car family.  Which leads to my next update.

We bought a car!  We found a 1998 Subaru Forester in Indianapolis that is just perfect for us.  Obviously it's not new, but it's a great car and it will be nice to have all wheel drive in the snow.  It was the first time Billy and I have ever bought a car and it was definitely the biggest purchase we have ever made so it was exciting.  And it feels really good to know that we saved up our money for something we can afford to pay cash for and not have a car payment.  We've never had a car payment and would like to keep it that way for as long as possible!  Here is a picture.  This isn't actually our car because I am too lazy to go take a picture of it, but it pretty much looks just like this.

In other news, we had our first family member visit from Oklahoma!  My Gramps and Grammy were vacationing in Chicago and came to see us.  It was so nice to see them.  We went to a restaurant on campus called Legends, which is basically a shrine to all Notre Dame sports.  Gramps had us cracking up while accosting the waitress about how much he hates Notre Dame because they beat OU back in 1957.  Somehow he ended up getting a free ice cream out of it.  Of course, Maryn charmed Gramps and Grammy with her cuteness.

Speaking of Maryn, she has officially entered toddlerhood.  She is walking everywhere and getting into every thing.  Which can be exhausting but lots of fun.  She's also learning lots of new words.  And Curious George is her ever-present best friend.

Also of note, we recently switched to cloth diapering.  We're kind of late since we're starting with a one year old, but better late than never, and we can use them for any future kiddos too.  We really love them. I'm sure lots of my friends would say, "I told you so."  :)  Maryn seems to like them too.

One other development that has been fun for us is a new monthly date night tradition we have started with our friends Kevin and Erica (parents of Maryn's BFF Elliott).  They watch Maryn while we go on a date and we watch Elliott likewise.  Last Saturday Billy and I got to eat at a fun Irish pub downtown called Fiddler's Hearth.  I had yummy authentic Irish stew.  Then we walked around downtown and got dessert and coffee at the South Bend Chocolate Company.  It was so nice to have some alone time together, and we are definitely grateful for and looking forward to more of these monthly dates!!!

Wall of local family coat of arms.   

Another huge part of our lives is our church, and I have lots to write about that so I'm going to dedicate an entire post to it.  Would you believe we have been there a year now and I still haven't done a single post about it?!  That travesty will soon be remedied.  :)