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

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!


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

Quick Update from Dr. Visit

On Laurie’s facebook page she wrote:

“We just returned from a great visit with Dr. Wesche (the excellent surgeon who did the recent biopsy/lumpectomy). The short version:

Two more DCIS were found in the lumpectomy tissue and some microinvasive cells with hormone receptors were found in the two sentinel nodes that were removed. (FYI: DCIS is a tumor that eventually turns into invasive cancer; microinvasive tumors are microscopic and ten years ago would not have been discovered at this stage.) The next step is to meet with the oncologists and form a plan of attack. At this point it looks like it will probably include radiation (localized) , as well as some chemo (systemic), but the details will be clarified after the oncologist appointments.

Thanks for your continued prayers. The Lord is obviously very near and meeting every need. We are trusting in Him, our Shield and Defender.”

Thanks to each of you for your prayers and encouragement. Laurie knows she’s loved and that so many dear friends are praying for her. Thanks.

Laurie’s Update

My wife had a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy today. She’s home now and we’re thankful for good docs. Because her previous surgery was less than a month ago, she’s a little tender and sore. Her mom joined us yesterday for the week. We’re so blessed and thankful for great family and a gracious church family. Thanks to all for support and prayers.
We expect to know sometime on Tuesday if any more cancer was found.
For now, we’re just thankful. Great to have her mom around. I’ll update as we learn more. Thanks.

Good News Bad News

Good news: The doctor said, “that’s about the smallest cancer I’ve ever seen”.

Bad news: That little piece of cancer is inside my wife.

Laurie and I had a visit with an oncologist this past Friday.  He is very optimistic based on the size and location of the cancer.  Laurie will have one more surgery to see if there has been any spreading.  Then she’ll probably proceed with a recommended radiation treatment.  We too are hopeful and confident based on information we’ve received and based on our trust in God and His great love for us. That great love does not translate into a trouble-free life or an instant on-the-spot healing. It’s based on God and His goodness. He is good.  Whether in life or death, health or sickness.  We’re on a new journey, and we’re as ready as we know to be.  We continue to thank God for allowing this to be seen so early.

Here’s Laurie’s take on it as she reflects on church yesterday:

Happy Birthday to my Laurie.

Yesterday was Laurie’s birthday. We’re both at that age where you start to think less and less of the birthday. Still love the birthday celebrations and making a fuss, but do we have to add a year to the age?

Because I was to do a wedding in Holbrook, we stayed Thursday night at La Posada in Winslow. I highly recommend this place. Especially the restaurant. I’d drive the 45 minutes just for the meal. After a great breakfast and leisurely morning, we headed to Sun Valley AZ for the wedding of Brian Fries and Jessica Pruitt. It was a great wedding with several sweet touches that made it unique.

Laurie and I then headed home to Flag where we enjoyed a nice meal and caught a movie. It was a great day that I thoroughly enjoyed sharing with my best gal ever.

Thanksgiving and Family

Laurie and I are enjoying a few days here in Oregon with her mom.  Today, we’ll drive over to the coast and meet up with more family for the feast day tomorrow.

This Thanksgiving I’m very aware and grateful for my family.  I spent a few days in South Carolina early this fall with my nephew Zac and his great family.  I’m blessed with great family all around.  I have a great mother-in-law.  She’s easy to be around and is very grateful for the little effort I can put in to do a little clean up here and there.  Laurie comes from good people.

I’m also thankful for my side of the family tree.  I have lots of them to be thankful for. We don’t get to be together very often. But when we do, it is a highlight.  I could spend Thanksgiving with any of my family members and be a happy camper.

I’m reminded of how this all came about.  You see, my dad, and Laurie’s dad, came from what we would today call a broken, somewhat dysfunctional home. Had they carried on what they grew up with, I can’t imagine where I’d be today.  But, the Lord graciously saved them.  They single-handedly changed the world for a whole slew of us kids.  15 kids grew up in 2 Christian, God-honoring homes.

I don’t dwell on that very often, but when I think of it, I’m blown away.  Two young men came to Jesus.  Maybe later I’ll write more about that. Today…I’m just thankful.

Pay it forward

Yesterday we looked at John 15:12-17 to gain an understanding of Jesus’ command to love each other.  In our Grace Group last night the discussion turned to ways we can love those near us that often get passed by in our busyness.  Laurie and I shared our recent experience of being so blessed by a couple of meals when we were both sick for a few days.

It is uncommon for us to both have the cruds at the same, but we did, and it wasn’t pretty.  Two different families of Grace offered to bring us meals, on the same day.  It was awesome!  As we retold the story last night, we realized how effective that jesture of love really was for us.  We actually began to feel much better physically after this show of love and support was so clearly demonstrated.  The food was amazing, homemade soups, desserts, the whole deal.  But what made such an impact on us was the generous love.  Laurie went on to tell how she almost immediately wanted to go and do the same thing for someone, simply because of what it did for her.  And so she did.

As we discuss our intentions to graciously and intentionally demonstrate God’s unconditional love to those nearest us, think of how you have been blessed.  How have you seen sacrificial love evidenced in your circle?  Whatever that is, it might be a good way to pass it on to someone in your life that is just longing for the same.  I’m pretty sure as God prompts you to bless someone, that person has a real need and is open to God’s message of love through you!  Remember from yesterday, love is a sacrifice, a willingness to pay the price.  I can’t wait to hear more stories of God’s people loving all over each other!  Remember, “by this will they know you are my disciples.”  That’s the point.  We’re His!  Let’s do this.

One more quick thought for this Monday. Tonight I’m starting our next class.  This one is “How to Study the Bible”.  This is a 4-week course on hermeneutics, how we interpret the Bible for clear, accurate understanding.  Remember, when God have us the Bible, it was to be understood.  It can happen.  Come and join me tonight at the Ministry Center at 6:30.  The $5 cost covers handouts for the 4 weeks.  DO NOT let a mere 5 bucks keep you from learning one of the most important things you’ll need as you follow Christ.  If you’re broke, come anyway, I’ll spot you the five.  I really want to see a bunch of you get this material!

Back at it!

It has been pretty quiet in my blog world for the past couple of weeks. I got hit with the bug pretty good. As of today, Laurie and I are both feeling much better. It’s been good to be at the office most of the day to start catching up.

I’ve really missed being around the people of Grace these past couple of Sundays. Both weeks, I came in and preached and ducked out so as not to contaminate any of you nice people. Well, that’s done with for now. I can’t wait to see you on Sunday and catch up some.

This week I’ll be speaking from John 15. Go ahead and read up a little, that’ll help.

It’s a gorgeous day here in Flag, and we’re expecting a quick visit with Leonard and Susie. Hopefully tomorrow we can drive up the mountain and see some of the colors of fall!

I hope you’re able to enjoy this colorful season as well. Can’t wait to see you at Grace on Sunday.

Dating Again

Last week in a wedding I performed, I challenged the couple to continue to get to know each other. To know each other’s ‘stuff’. What makes you happy, what are you thinking about, how are you doing? Dudes, we have to work at that. And we should. You’re not a sissy if you talk from your heart and to your wife’s heart. You’re more of a man than the guy that won’t.

Last night we got to go out for dinner. We don’t do it a lot. I’m glad we don’t. But I love it when we get to. Going out for dinner is still a treat for us. We don’t have to go out, we have food in the fridge. But, after a great productive day, how nice it is to clean up, put on a shirt that doesn’t have a sports team logo and go out. Try going to a place that uses silverware and cloth napkins. Go out, spend a few dollars and look at each other. Listen to each other’s heart. Treat her like you did when you were trying to win her heart.

I’m not about to write a book about marriage or dating, or heart stuff. But, I’m in the game. I love my wife and I love spending time with her. Whether it’s at home or out on the date. Make it real you guys. Live in the moment with the one God has blessed you with.