Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day isn’t about the perfect mom. It’s not about Proverbs 31. It’s not a day to compare. It’s not a day to idolize.

Mother’s Day is a day to say ‘thanks’.

I have a wonderful mother-in-law that lives right next door, and for that I’m grateful. I’m thankful for her and her love for her kids and grandkids and even the in-laws!

I have a mother who is with Jesus and has been there longer than I knew her here. I miss her. But I’m so very thankful for her.  I know she’s in heaven and I can’t wait to see her again.

So, with that, I say to all the moms, “Happy Mother’s Day”. And here’s a little bonus from when we all lived in black and white, 9 of the 10:IMG_2203

25 Years Ago

 

 

There are not enough words to express my gratitude to the Father for allowing me to be be born into this family.  Mom and Dad served the Lord as missionaries in Mexico for many years. And they raised 10 kids.

My mother would be so proud of her kids, grandkids and great grandkids.

I still can’t believe my wife never knew my mom.  Someday. For now though, we remember and we give thanks.

Father’s Day

I know, I know, Father’s Day has come and gone. In Sunday’s sermon, I talked about the significance of dads that have been touched by God.

Here’s where my thought came from:

I was reading last week in 1 Kings. You remember how you keep seeing this pattern of how the next king in the line did what his father did, whether good or evil?  For instance, “He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin which he made Israel to sin.”  That is 15:26, but really there’s a whole slew of verses just like that. Point is, the sin of the father was easy to pass on to the next king, and guess what the consequence was?

Perhaps you’ve read or heard me say before how blessed I am by who my father was.  You see both my dad and my wife’s father were not raised in homes where they were taught the things of the Lord.  And actually it was a pretty dismal outlook when you consider the other details that I wont go into here. Looking on from the outside, you might assume that neither of them had a chance or would ever amount to much.

           

Then God touched them.  Without a dad, or anyone in the home to point the way, my dad was 12 when he trusted in Jesus for his salvation. Laurie’s dad was 15.  And guess what? Everything changed. Each would go on to marry amazing Christian women who were raised in wonderful, God honoring homes. Each would raise a large family of Christ followers. And each became missionaries.  I’ve never tried to do the math of the influence, I’ll let God keep that record, but I must believe it’s amazing.

You see dads, it matters. Yesterday at Grace as we were honoring our dads, we were also getting a quick report from our youth who just returned, (like seriously 6 hours earlier) from a week at Hume Lake, where 11 students trusted Jesus for their salvation.  Imagine the young person whose life changed this very week, and imagine the next generation who just may be impacted by each of those individuals.  Is there a Jim Smith in that group, a Larry Cardoza?  Maybe. Probably. How about most definitely?

Winter Vacation

Not sure I’ve done this before, but I’m writing from my iPad to see if I can blog my way through some vacation highlights. We’re in Long Beach anticipating our week on a big boat with a few hundred people, ok, probably a few thousand. Looking forward to some extended time with Laurie, some good food and great sights. It’ll be great to spend the week with the Johnson family as they break us into this lifestyle of life on the sea.

Yesterday was an amazing day @Grace. I devoted some extended time to cast the vision for our church family for this new year. It was a great way to start 2012! I’m pretty sure the recorded sermon and brief notes are available on our website allaboutgrace.com

This may be the last post for the week, or I may find time to stay updated. Either way, Happy New Year and have a great first week!

Remembering

Laurie had just completed her last treatment for breast cancer.  That was on Thursday. Our rejoicing was cut short, by making immediate plans to go to South Carolina to be with Mandy and her kids.  We didn’t expect Zac to be alive by the time we arrived.  As memory serves, it seems that from about Wednesday on, he was ready to go and seemed to be on his way to see Jesus.

We arrived Saturday night . . . me; my wife, Laurie; my sister, Barbara; and Zac’s sister, Stacey.  I remember arriving late and needing food.  I’d say it’s a Smith-thing, but really, we all gotta eat. The only thing, or at least the first thing we found, was a Waffle House. This would be a new experience.

Sunday morning, Stacey left our hotel and went right over to the house to say good-bye to her brother.  It wasn’t long after that we were invited to stop by as well.  I remember the mixed emotions of going to say goodbye to a young man that I loved dearly, my nephew, and a real good friend.  After a time, and some prayer, the family made their way to church while I stayed back with Mandy in case she needed any help.

After church, my brother, Jim, took the whole gang out to find some lunch while Mandy and Sharon remained close by.  After lunch as we were driving back, the cell phone rang.

Being there to say good-bye to Zac was a special moment.  Knowing Zac was much more rewarding.  I, along with those that knew him, had no doubts as to his faith in Jesus.  As sure as I’m sitting here right at this moment, I knew what happened to Zac one year ago on that Sunday afternoon.  Everyone that knew him loved him and would miss him greatly. And we still do.

In God’s sovereign care of Zac and Mandy, He moved them to Anderson, South Carolina where Mandy remains today and where Zac was given an amazing platform to share his story and where we all watched as God would use a couple of videos to tell countless numbers of his confidence in God’s goodness and His glory.

Tomorrow, is the one year anniversary of the day Zac went to be with Jesus.  It was the 16th, which this year falls on Monday.  Just a couple of nights ago, Laurie and I were reminded that she has been cancer-free for a year.

We remember and we rejoice. We rejoice in God’s grace, His kindness, His plans, His mercy, the life He gives us, the days that He has already numbered for each of us. We rejoice that He’s God and He’s got this.  He’s got us.

This weekend I’ll think of Zac a lot more. And I’ll think of his sweet wife and three pretty cool kids.  I’ll pray for them and for his mom and dad and his sister. And I’ll think of Zac’s message that is just as true a year later: God is still God, and God is still good. To God be the glory.


“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15

“Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 42:11

Mother

We called her Mother. Not mom. I don’t know why, nor do I know if it matters. It wasn’t about the title.

Mother was amazing.  She wasn’t perfect, she was a mom. I’ll bet $100 she never read a parenting book.  When would she have time?  A Parenting magazine, would have been too expensive.  It wasn’t about the technique.

She loving stayed by her husbands side until they were parted by death.  Her death.  She graciously brought up 10 children.  I wonder how many times she thought, “Never in my wildest dreams” or “did I leave anyone behind?”  I don’t remember what we ate. Isn’t that odd?. I love food.  I remember a few basic meals, like tamale pie, tacos on Saturday nights and waffles or pancakes on Sunday morning. Seems like we had a lot of hot cereal in the mornings.  It wasn’t about the food, or the amount of food!

My clearest memory of my mother from my childhood was me walking down what seemed like a really long hallway (which of course it’s not!) and seeing mother in those early hours of the morning sitting in a rocking chair by the front window reading from her Bible and her Daily Bread.  You see, what it was about was the relationship. Her relationship with Jesus is what made her mother. Not the bazillion kids, or the countless meals or all the laundry that could dwarf a mountain range.  It was WHO she was, not what she did or who she did it for. She was a real person. A human, numbered among the billions during her too-short a lifetime.  But she was God’s child, she was fully aware of who Jesus was and what He did for her. And she trained up her children to know Him and take Him seriously.  And so we do. That’s what it’s all about.

As Christ Loved the Church

This past Sunday was a remarkable experience for me.  I had the privilege of addressing the men of Grace like never before.  The text was not unfamiliar. Eph 5, Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church.

What does it mean to give your life for someone?  Jesus showed us.  And now we are completely different people because we are His.  He did something no husband will ever do, He paid for our sins and invited us to live the redeemed life with Him as our Provider and Protector, our Healer and our Savior.  He did this for us.

Then He commanded us to go out and love each other (John 13:34-35; Matt 22:39). In Eph 5, He puts and exclamation point on this love as He tells those that are married to give so much of themselves to that one other person.  If you listen to the sermon, you will notice there’s a section that wasn’t recorded as I spoke directly and passionately to the men of Grace to deal with the stuff that was holding them back from loving and leading like Jesus. One of Satan’s biggest ploys today is to make men believe that they can’t do what Jesus has designed and called them to do.

Thank you to the men of Grace who stood that morning. I’m still praying for you!  Whether you’re married or single, young or old, you as men have a role and a responsibility.  Let’s love others as Jesus so loved.

I realize I didn’t take the time to blog on this last week, but ladies you’ll be glad to know we covered Biblical Submission the week before from Eph 5.  Both of these sermons are game changers as we all submit to Christ to fulfill the role for which we’ve been designed.

The sermons from Grace are available on itunes and our website.

MC & HNY

Here’s the web-version of our Christmas Letter we sent out to our family.  After reading a few this season, we realized what a year this has been and it only seemed appropriate to share how God has led and blessed us this past year.

In January, Laurie was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankfully God allowed the doctors to find it early and she began immediate treatments after her February surgery. We were both very thankful her mom was able to come and help out the week of her surgery.  Her radiation treatments started in March.  Her last treatment was May 13th. She is cancer-free but will continue with regular follow up visits.

Just two days after Laurie’s last treatment we made the trip to say goodbye to my nephew Zac. We saw him briefly on Sunday morning, and that afternoon he was able to see Jesus face to face.  It was an added blessing to see several family members for his amazing memorial service at NewSpring Church. I miss him on a regular basis.  You can watch a part of his story here.

A huge highlight from our summer was a few days in Mammoth Lakes, CA.  It was our first time there and Laurie had it planned out very well where we simply enjoyed down time in a beautiful setting. At the end of our week, we did a quick drive through Yosemite and came out the western side so we could have an afternoon visit with Laurie’s Grandma Clarice.  We were both so glad we made that trip. Grandma died just a few months later.  Laurie was able to join her mom in Three Rivers for a brief visit for Grandma’s memorial service. An added blessing was reacquainting with family.

In October I learned the reason for some unexpected weight loss was a condition called Graves Disease, a form of hyperthyroidism. Though the name sounds morbid, it appears this is not terribly uncommon and it is very treatable.  My good doctor has me on a medication with regular blood work to monitor the progression. So far so good.

Thanksgiving gave us the opportunity to see several family members in Mesa, as Stacey hosted the main event.  We had a great Christmas Eve service with our largest crowd ever.  We were blessed to share the holiday with two of my sisters from Tucson, Janet and Sandra.

As we’ve exchanged gifts and shared precious family time together, we clearly think of our gift to God first and foremost.  What is it?  To give to God the praise and thanks He is due. We are so blessed.  And above all, we give Him thanks for Jesus, His Son. “For unto us is born this day in the City of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Mark and Laurie Smith

Not Just One Day – Thoughts on GivingThanks

Laurie and I enjoy getting out and hiking.  By the term hike, what I really mean is a nice walk in the forest. We save the strenuous stuff for prepping for a Grand Canyon hike or pushing ourselves a little up the Lost Burrito trail.  But mostly, it’s getting out and enjoying the forest and watching our dogs run like they were bred to do.

Because we don’t get out enough, almost every time we do, one of us will say, “we really should do this more often”.  We don’t say that because we feel guilty about our health. We don’t say it because someone is telling us we should. We certainly don’t say it because someone said that to be a good resident of Flagstaff, you have to hike, eat granola and vote liberal.  No, we say it because we thoroughly enjoy it. There are several things good about getting out and hiking. I won’t list them out, because that’s really not the point.

Here’s the all too obvious point; giving thanks for God’s activity in our life is not limited to Thanksgiving.

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1

Certainly throughout Israel’s year, there were days set aside for remembrance and worship.  So, we too get to worship each week on the first day. And we get to tell of His goodness and grace 24/7. Let’s give thanks today. And then again tomorrow, and the next day.  And not because we have to. We get to enjoy all of His blessings!

If you’re reading this, then you probably know me a little and I need to at least attempt a brief list of His wonderful deeds in my life:

  • Life eternal with God
  • My Laurie is cancer free and I love her more each day
  • That God allows me to serve Him by serving the wonderful family at Grace Community
  • Family and friends to share life with, sometimes randomly
  • That my house has been full the past few days with family
  • We get to eat. Every day.
  • That someone had the odd idea of a pie made of meat that is minced. That it sounds gross and few like it.  And for pumpkin pie as a chaser.
  • Good doctors who have helped us both this year
  • Grace that has saved me and kept me and allowed me to share that with people who God created to know Him.

October, rough month for blogging

Not sure how that happened, but I just noticed I wrote one time all of last month. I won’t try to catch up now, not all at once.
This Sunday at Grace we’re baptizing some amazing people who will share their story via video. I just LOVE our baptisms! People standing for Jesus!

We’re also at week three in our study in Ephesians. If you can, read the rest of Chapter one in prep for Sunday.

On a personal note:
Laurie’s grandma passed away last week in Three Rivers, CA. This past summer, we were able to stop in one afternoon for a sweet visit with this godly woman. I’m glad Laurie was able to go for the memorial service yesterday and spend some time with her mom and other relatives. She’ll be back tomorrow afternoon, for which I’m most anxious.