Gina G. Smith

Not just another 'mom' blog….okay, that's exactly what this is.

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8 Years, Fears, and Follow Through

October 27, 2014

Eight years ago, my husband necessarily left an extremely toxic job situation. We were comfortable (well, except for the horrible job part) and cared for. There were benefits and a reasonable salary, but at the time, even the uncertainty of an immediate future without those things seemed better than what he was enduring.

So the decision was made and he spent the next year working a low-stress job at a coffee shop, using his extra time at home to write stories. I admit it was scary for me. I didn’t always trust that our needs would be met. I didn’t enjoy the times when he was in our presence, but inaccessible because of the focus that writing took. But guess what? We ate well, stayed warm and healthy, and enjoyed simplicity.  Even though the future was foggy, we both had the overwhelming feeling that everything was going to be ok. We spent quiet evenings together as a young family and Sam spent lots of time pouring stories into our children, feeding their imaginations and introducing them to characters that would someday come to life in the pages of a book, although we didn’t know it yet.

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The last eight years have been full. We’ve added two more babies to our family, moved to a new home and watched loved ones suffer with cancer and other life altering injuries and illnesses. We experienced the death of grandparents, and saw families break apart right in front of us. We’ve grown up, little by little, becoming  increasingly aware of the sadness and heartbreak that exists in the world. But we’ve also seen beauty emerge from the midst of the darkness. A whole lot of good can come from just a little bit of light, pushing back against all that black.

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I know my husband has doubted his decisions along the way. I haven’t always been a picture of support or trust, either.  Often I voiced my fears and probably made him feel like he wasn’t enough. I struggle at times with guilt over this. But he is always the first to say something like, “I really think you should keep dwelling on all the ways you have failed. That’s probably the most helpful thing you can do right now.” (Always with the jokes, I tell ya!) But in all seriousness, he is one of the most gracious people I know, quick to see my strengths and my heart, even though I have a lot of fear mixed in.

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This past month we have seen the fruit from several years of dreaming and working towards the goal of publishing a book. We took on the task of sharing a wonderful story with the world. (I can say it’s wonderful, because I’ve read the story, and I’ve also seen how it was born.) We were continuously reminded of how many people are in our corner. For weeks now, we’ve seen the names of people we know and people we don’t, pledging to buy the book before it is even in print.

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We planned a party and scheduled it for the day after the Kickstarter campaign began. What was intended as a way to encourage our friends and family to spread the word about the book ended up as a celebration of already having met our initial goal. Unbelievable. (Also, there were cookies.)

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When I think back on the day that he walked away from that awful job and how discouraging that time was for us, it is such a great reminder to me of how faithful God has been and how He had the bigger picture in view the whole time. Uncertainty is difficult, but He constantly brings to mind all the ways our needs are met or exceeded along the way.  It’s beautiful, and something I won’t forget in this lifetime.

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As of today, there are only 7 days left in this campaign. Although you will be able to purchase the book after it is over, this is the last chance to jump on board to be among the first to get your hands on this gem. Come be a part of this experience with us! We’re so grateful for all the encouragement we’ve received so far.

 

(All the party pics and my featured image at the top were all taken by my awesome brother/sister-in-law, Josiah and Jessi)

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Weeks 35-40

September 29, 2014

The past six weeks have been all about maintaining. Call it what you will: towing the line, holding down the fort, keeping the home fires burning…or adding beauty. It hasn’t been all fun and games, but it has been, most definitely, fulfilling. Recognizing beauty in the craziness has taken a lot more effort. Simply having a clean kitchen for an hour or so in between meals has had to be enough at times.

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As a family, we’ve been working toward a certain goal for months. No, actually years. And here in the last stretch, there’s been no rest for the weary. I’ve had some bad parenting moments, followed by healing tears and hugs. My house has been messy. I’ve forgotten to do things, and been late for appointments. However, there have been a lot of sweet moments, too. And, bonus: no one has missed a meal and everyone has had clean clothes to wear and gotten all their schoolwork done and assignments turned in, and we’ve made it to nearly every soccer practice and game! Here are a few more highlights…

A cute little art project that took about 10 minutes.

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An easy meal enjoyed together with my mom, who was visiting for the day.

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A new, favorite, “European style” breakfast.

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A two year old who imitates life.

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20 minutes a day, several times a week, for a run and some quiet time to get my bearings.

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Some freshness to add to my freezer for some warmth during the colder weather.

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Sweet moments, and genuine gratefulness voiced to my children and hopefully burned into their memories.

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Nighttime clean-up.

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Cozy touches, added to our porch in preparation for a celebration.

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Afternoon games of Memory and cups of tea,

organizing my laundry room and covering ugly walls with pretty shower curtains,

more party decor.

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Week 34

August 25, 2014

My 5 year old son has been recovering from a bout with Strep  (in March!) and a subsequent kidney issue all summer long. He’s been poked and prodded and endured numerous blood tests to monitor his improvement. We had what was sure to be the last blood test this past week. (Alas, still more to come in a few months…boo.) Surely someone so brave deserved a special lunch and a visit to the fountain in the middle of town to toss in some pennies and make secret wishes.

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You can imagine how a mama’s heart tends to worry about issues like this when they arise. So when this print arrived, it was such a timely reminder about where I should let those worries rest. You should definitely check out the beautiful artwork over at Be Small Studios.

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And, in preparation for some video footage for a little project we are working on in the coming months, I’ve been doing a little sprucing in just a few rooms of the house. This book page poster was something I’d been wanting to do for a long time. We narrowed the passage down to a couple of poems by Emily Dickinson.

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XXVI

The props assist the house

Until the house is built,

And then the props withdraw–

And adequate, erect,

The house supports itself;

Ceasing to recollect

The auger and the carpenter.

Just such a retrospect

Hath the perfected life,

A past of plan and nail,

And slowness,–then the scaffolds drop–

Affirming it a soul.

 

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The gleam of an heroic act,

Such strange illumination–

The Possible’s slow fuse is lit

By the Imagination

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Summer Edition (Weeks 29-33)

August 18, 2014

Goodness, how summers can turn into a restless busy-ness, I just don’t know. You can go from week to week, feel as if you have not nearly enough time in the day, and still wonder, “What did we actually DO all week?” I’ve experienced a little of that over the last month or so, but am so glad this project continues on. Looking back over my pictures (And yours, too…thanks for participating, friends!) has served as a huge encouragement as I contemplate the coming school year and look back at our summer.

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It would be so easy to consider all the things I didn’t do…all the projects that I didn’t complete, (hello, stairway and orange goo), or activities with the kids that didn’t happen. How quickly a mother can look at all her menial tasks and accomplishments and label herself as inadequate to the task.

But there was a lot of beauty to be found in small victories, like cleaning out the school room and making forlorn corners of the house new and cozy again.

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There were stolen moments of tenderness with the kids that I will treasure for years to come…little games of Uno, quiet walks in the woods, splashy pool days, and messy treat baking.

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There is a lawn that stayed mowed all summer, and there are weeds that got pulled. There was a child baptized, who experienced the Lord’s Supper for the first time.

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Bikes that were ridden, trips that were taken, friendships that blossomed, and books that were read are all evidences of a full and happy summer.IMG_5747.JPG

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I challenge you to look back on your summer and consider it as well. If you’re feeling down about walls and doors that didn’t get painted, rooms that aren’t yet organized and beautified, veggies that didn’t get eaten and were replaced with corn dogs, exercise routines that didn’t get established, or shelves that haven’t been dusted, consider instead what actually happened in place of all those things. You might be surprised at how beautifully your valuable time was spent.

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Week 28

July 15, 2014

Try these Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats. You’ll never want to eat Rice Crispy Treats the same old way again.

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Take some happy selfies with a two year old. Fun.

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Fill up the kiddie pool and listen to your kids sing a little song entitled, “Mommy is the Best!” (but don’t yell at them for leaving the hose out of the pool and flooding the yard like I did.)

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If you do yell at them, be sure to apologize and then see what sweet redemption looks like.20140715-184317-67397137.jpg

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Week 27

July 8, 2014

Too many fun memories made this holiday week to even document. Family gatherings, so much food, loads of fun, fireworks both close up and in the distance made for a busy few days.

Fairy cakes with Twinkie filling…

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A simple, “fancy” lunch before all the busyness ensued…

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Week 26

July 3, 2014

How do you make three years of your own junk, plus about 20 years of someone else’s disappear from your old garage in a day? Magic!

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Or…you spend an entire Saturday, from dawn til dusk, clearing, cleaning, sweeping, hosing, and shooing birds out. After 2 trips to the dump (plus a little sweet talking to your garbage man on the next trash day), 1 trip to Salvation Army, numerous trips to your own attic, and a good, hot shower, you finally have enough room to walk, plus keep your mower, tools and six bikes. And, my husband adds, there is now room for a Ping Pong table.

All in keeping with the plan. #addingbeauty2014

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ project: Week 25

June 30, 2014

The last several months, we’ve been planning for an event that took place last weekend. It has consumed a lot of our free time and we put other plans and projects here at home on hold in order to give our full attention to this endeavor (as did many others, I might add). My husband and his co-horts over at Story Warren did most of the work. I honestly struggled to find my role in the whole thing, sometimes feeling like I should be doing more to ease the burdens, but not really sure how to do that on top of school, household management, and potty training, which is, incidentally, my least favorite part of parenting. (But that’s not relevant here. Just a fun fact for you.)

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I think the weekend was a success. I hope that those in attenedance enjoyed the expereince. As I drove away from the final concert early on Saturday evening, feeling sorry for myself and frustrated that my youngest two couldn’t hang in there for just a little bit longer, I wondered if it might have been better if I had just stayed home with them. I know…somebody call the waaaaaa-mbulance. (Anyone know that move reference?)

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Then it hit me. Maybe my role was to just keep doing my thing. Keep on potty traning. Keep on making sure the kids were clean and fed and well rested. Relieve babes who were melting down and give them some freedom to actually be children. I worried about how their behavior would look to others. “Oh, here come those bratty Smith kids…” (The truth is, we’re always way more aware of our own children and their quirky behavior than anyone else is. And surprise: it’s not about me. This is a message I have to deliver to myself over and over, again and again.) As I wimpered to my busy husband, “The baby keeps throwing tantrums and I don’t know what to do with her,”  he gently reminded me that babies do that from time to time.

Oh. Yeah. I guess they do.

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I guess I wanted to meet more people and finish conversations that I had started. I wanted to be more of a presence, but the truth was, the conference was in good hands, with all the wonderful volunteers and organizers. My presence was actually needed by the little ones I’m called to serve every day. That hasn’t changed. My role right now is a supporting one. And when my head is in the right place, I’m actually pretty good at it.

 As we drove away from all the fun for baths and bedtime Saturday night, I could almost hear an audible sigh of relief from those two little rascals. They were content for the rest of the evening and went happily to bed. They were finally free from all the pressure I had put on them to sit still and be quiet throughout the day and I realized I was exactly where I needed to be.  I don’t know if you ever struggle in the same ways, but if you do, ask God for gentle reminders that what you are doing matters. Even the things that aren’t particularly fun or glamorous are important. “Like a single cup of water,” it matters. It’s beautiful. And how pleasant those little sighs of relief are!

If you’re blessed like me, you’ll be able to look around and notice how other people are making things lovely too. Being welcomed, housed, fed and treated thoughtfully by  friends is certainly a beauty that I enjoyed. The hospitality was felt and appreciated greatly.

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Fresh flowers and welcome baskets full of goodies that we completely consumed…

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Even sweet daughters who take care of a baby for a couple of hours are a thing of beauty and a catalyst for gratitude.

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Coming home to a clean house and some quick and easy meals for the next day was just icing on the cake and gave us all more reasons to be thankful for such an incredible experience. God is so good.

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Week 24

June 16, 2014

Adding beauty to the world this week was all about friendship and love.  By stepping away from the daily grind and into the presence of friends and dearly loved ones, my spirit was renewed and encouraged. By saying yes to dancing in the rain, climbing trees, jumping on the trampoline, playing Uno and Quirkle, going to the pool and making some home run meals, I do believe our little world was made just a tiny bit more lovely.

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Time spent reflecting on blessings of the past and present is never wasted. I’m super thankful for both my Dad and my husband this week. (Yes, I got married the day before Father’s Day in 2000. So thoughtful. My poor dad! But I love him so.)

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I was also able to get started on a project I’ve been both dreading and also dying to tackle at the same time. The steps! There is carpet and gunk to be removed before I can start beautifying them. 1 down, 11 more to go…so, there’s still lots of time to plan for the Stairway to Upstairs.

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And what about this guy? Always ready to lend a helping hand with outdoor projects. He’s my “outside” boy.

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Weeks 22 & 23

May 30, 2014

Lots of time spent outside this week…adding beauty to our yard by eliminating one patch of grass at a time. Right in front of my porch went in two White Birch trees with lots of ground cover planted beneath. The area will need lots of TLC for the next couple of months, but I think it will be beautiful. Julie (Wife, Mother, Gardener) has been so generous to us in bringing her sweet family to WV and helping us carry out the vision of loveliness she has dreamed up for our place. (You should follow her on Pinterest!) I’m so grateful! She also showed me how to “cloud prune” my rhododendron and how to cook pizza and breadsticks on the grill. (I’m anxious to try Edie’s Honey Garlic Pizza!)

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I find that while summer is often a time for me to catch up on neglected house projects and forsaken chores, it’s also a time for me to be more intentional and creative with parenting. Lots of times, that translates into slowing down to enjoy moments of sweetness with the kids, like afternoons in the sprinkler, or Uno games, or bouquets of weeds from the yard. (My favorite! Not kidding.) I’ve also read four books in the last few weeks, finally making some more of my own contributions to our challenge. Hooray for having time to read!

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