Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Medusa In Their Midst

Wow! I just have to say that I have a bunch of wonderful readers who lead interestingly varied lives.

I read every word that you wrote and was wishing for more! If you haven't yet signed in to tell your Smithellaneous Family what you did yesterday, it's not too late. And be sure to read what everyone else wrote, too; believe me, it's good stuff.

I promised a few more words and pictures about our day yesterday so let's get started.

There was only one minor crisis throughout the day and that is what I need to talk about first. I'm still processing the experience and working through the painful ramifications of the trauma. I'm not quite sure if I'm really ready to share it publicly but I guess I can't put it off any longer.

Are you ready for this? Well, here it is.

The United States Air Force made me take off my cap. (Moment of silence, please.)

Okay, here's the story. When I got up yesterday and realized that I didn't have time to wash my hair I thought, "Well, no problem. I'll just smush it down on top, tuck it behind my ears, and stick on a ball cap. I'll look all sporty and youthful and no one will be the wiser."

Yeah, right.

To my great horror, when we got to the flight line the announcement was made by some big wig that since there was a bit of a wind, all caps had to be removed from all heads, since flying caps are a danger to flying planes. (They don't want anything to get caught in the jet engines.)

What I wanted to ask Mr. Big Wig was this, "Which is more important? MY lovely appearance or a multi-million dollar jet? Huh?"

However, since I didn't feel like being hauled to the brig (I bet there's no free high speed Internet available there) I reluctantly removed the cap. The entire bus load of Make-A-Wish people gasped in unison and recoiled in consternation at the sight of the Medusa in their midst. In the greater interest of national security, I stoically put up with the public humiliation of being seen looking so incredibly awful. Fortunately, after we left the flight line, the hat was restored and my fellow passengers were able to settle themselves back down and enjoy the rest of their day.

Okay, now that I've bared my soul and shared my pain, I will share some pictures.

I had a great time observing this guy talk to Steve as we stood right near the flight line and watched the fighter jets take off. Although I couldn't hear a word he was saying, I just knew some amazing flying stories were being communicated to my airplane loving husband. The picture in the middle is one I especially love because it shows this fighter pilot spontaneously throwing his hands up to cheer on his fellow pilot as he takes off.

As we were waiting our turn for the flight simulator, we sat outside in the sunshine for a few minutes. My wacky husband immediately spotted this container and its message.

Of course, he felt compelled to oblige and obey the military directive.

You dress him up and you can't take him out.

And moving on to a more demure Smith, here is Sarah sitting in the simulator

Sarah also became an honorary member of the squadron we were visiting. We were all taken into a briefing room and after hearing about some of the fighter jets we'd been viewing, the base commander came in with some words of welcome. He then called every MAW child in the room forward and personally presented a personalized certificate to each one. It was very touching to see our nation's heroes honoring our pediatric heroes.

And the best picture of the day? The one that displays why our military does what it does.

God bless America!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Since I don't want to make any of you go into spasms of trauma trying to guess what just what we were doing all day, I'll give you a quick description now and fill in with more pictures and details later.

Today, Steve, Sarah and I spent the day at Seymour Johnson Airforce Base in Goldsboro, NC. Make A Wish sponsored the outing and about fifteen MAW kids and their families showed up. We got to sit in a jet cockpit, watch jets take off, go to the flight line, and sit in a flight simulator.

Although Steve was 8.7 times (that's an actual mathematical calculation) more excited about the event that Sarah and me, we still had a fun time. I've always been fascinated by the military and to be escorted back into areas where most civilians don't get to go was really cool. I took a lot of pictures and will be posting them soon.

So that was our day!

Now do you know what would be cool? It would be cool if you would sign the guest book and tell me what YOUR day consisted of. Babysitting? Going to a college class? Painting your toe nails? Building a deck? Making a quiche? Working on your classic Chevy? Eating malted milk balls?

I tell you about my days; tell me about yours! Really! I want to know! And then everyone can read what everyone else writes and then it will be kind of like we can all find out what everyone else did and then it'll be sort of fun! And cool! And community-esque!

I'm so ready to read your stuff because it's endlessly fascinating to me to know what people are doing in their very own personal corner of the world.

It's your turn . . .

Texans and Graham Crackers

Last night, we had some special visitors from Texas, Fran and Ken. Although we'd never met them, the "introductions" had been made via Fran reading Sarah's website for several years. Fran and I had emailed back and forth a little and then the next thing we knew, they were in the area on business (Ken works as a consultant in the petroleum industry) and they asked if they could take us out to dinner.

Since Nathan had to work all day, we opted to go to Chick-Fil-A so that Fran and Ken could meet him, too. As soon as we got in Nathan's line to be waited on, I started giving him a hard time, demanding to speak to the manager, telling Nathan I wanted eight ice cubes in my cup, not nine, and telling him to please stop being so slow and get my order done already. He put up with my motherisms very patiently.

After eating, we brought Ken and Fran back to the house for coffee, dessert and more conversation. It was such a treat to meet more web friends.

Today, Sarah, Steve and I have an exciting outing planned which you can read about by checking back in later. (I know, I know. Mean ol' me.) I had so wanted Nathan to be able to go with us, but he wasn't able to get off work so it'll just be Steve and his lovely ladies.

Before I forget, there were a couple guest book questions/comments to address. A couple of you said the title that I put with Snowy and Sarah's picture scared you. Oops. Sorry! Didn't mean to do that!

Also, Melissa asked if our old church has a new pastor yet. No, they don't, but they are in the process of bringing in candidates.

I'd better go get ready for our outing and make sure my supply of malted milk balls is replenished. (smile) Oh yeah, speaking of yummy things, about a week ago I was in a convenience store a couple hundred miles from Smithfield and found a new bar made out of Golden Grahams cereal, marshmallows and chocolate. If you've read my writing for any length of time, you know that I am a huge fan of anything graham cracker-ish. I bought the bar and LOVED it. Since then, I have looked in several other stores and haven't seen it. It's only available in ONE store in the entire world? And that store is four hours away? Horrors!

Has anyone else seen that bar in your town? I'm hoping it's on its way to becoming nationally distributed because it was love at first sight.

Oh yeah. And "love at first sight" reminded me of something else. (This is like in Steve's sermons when he says, "And as I continue to close . . ." )

Sarah and I were at Goodwill this week and I saw a t-shirt that said, "Do you believe in love at first sight or do I need to walk by again?" Perfect shirt for some cute, college coed.

And then I saw another t-shirt that said, "Money talks but chocolate sings."

I love t-shirts. And Goodwill. And graham cracker bars.

I'm done.

(Plea for help: If you're good with Blogger, I need some advice. I was going to try to replace the picture at the top with another one that was cropped differently; however, I don't know how to delete a picture! And the steps given in Blogger didn't work. Help!!!)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Forever Friends

I'll update later; just wanted to post a picture of two of my favorite "people." (Snowy's hair looks a lot like mine when I get up in the morning--only his looks better.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Strange and Changing Seasons

First of all, I want to reassure you all that yesterday's excruciating number of postings is not going to become a daily habit. (And everyone breathed a collective sigh of collected relief.) I just happened to have a little extra time on my hands, plus I was still caught up in the thrill of having a new blog and well, what can I say? I just couldn't stop myself!

However, most of the time, I'll just be updating once every day or two. (Or three.) Rarely will I update more than once a day. So please don't worry that keeping up with this blog is going to turn into your new full time job!

I also wanted to share that the poll I took revealed that about 400 of the Smithellaneous readers/poll takers are from CaringBridge and just two of the readers/poll-takers are not. I guess that pretty much answers that question!

For the one or two new readers out there--I'm very glad you're here! I hope you feel at home and realize that if you drop by more than once, you are automatically an adopted member of the Smith Family. (A very scary thought, I realize.)

Well, I guess it might be helpful if I explained the title of this particular post. Or then again, maybe I should just ignore the explanation and let you fill in the blanks yourself! I mean for crying out loud, do you expect me to do all the work around here? The writing? The thinking? The picture taking? The malted milk ball eating?

Did I hear you say, "Yes?" Well, alrighty then! I'd better get to work.

Here's the deal.

Tomorrow marks five months since Steve resigned from First Assembly; five months since we've both been unemployed. Five months! With nothing on the horizon! No churches! No jobs! No home buyers! No money!

Are we having fun yet?

It's really strange to go from living life at 100 m.p.h. to living life like this. Pastors and their families (just like many families) tend to be in a perpetual state of motion and usually find themselves coming and going at all hours of the day. Now all of a sudden, we have lots of time with each other. We have only each other! We are each other's entertainment and social network and community of friends. We've heard each other's jokes and listened to each other's stories and now we're sort of looking around saying, "Uh. Hello, out there? God? Do you have anything else for us?"

Not that we don't enjoy hanging out as a family. We do. And not that we don't stay busy. We do.

For instance, I am taking an online magazine writing course, writing and submitting articles to magazines, taking an Excel class, and trying to apply myself to learning a whole bunch of technical/computer stuff. So that's all been fine. Not to mention dandy.

We're just ready to get on with the next chapter of life, we're ready to be pastors again and find a church and people to love and to serve and to minister to. Five months ago at this time, Steve was perilously near burnout and I wasn't too far behind him. This time of rest and reflection has been good for us but we're about ready for the next phase! We're ready for this strange season to be over. We're ready for the next season to kick in.

However, we made the discovery long ago that we are not in charge of the seasons. We are not in charge of what the seasons contain. We are not even in charge of our next breath! (And as someone who has COPD, that sentence packs a real wallop.)

All we're really in charge of is learning how to trust the One who is in charge. And frankly, I'm glad He's calling the shots and not me. The world would have fallen off its axis a long time ago if I were Boss of the Universe.

I have no doubt that God has the exact place in mind where we'll be going, He knows exactly who is going to buy this house, and He knows what house we will be buying. He knows what school Sarah will be attending and which doctors and medical centers we will find for her ongoing care and treatment.

Sometimes all the details of these strange and changing seasons get to be a bit much and I feel tempted to cower underneath towering clouds of uncertainty and anxiety.

But let me say it once again. I'm not in charge And I'm so very happy about that! The Bible says that God has a future and a hope for us. For me. For you. For everyone who trusts that He is in charge of our strange and changing seasons.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Sarah and Snowy Video

Thanks for watching my non Speilberg-esque efforts as I figure out the mysteries of video. Even though the video is about a whole lot of nothin,' I had great fun doing it.

Which Techonology Is On Its Way Out?

Traci from PA pointed out in the guest book that Fox News just ran a story about about the top ten technology items that are on their way out. Since that ties in so well with what we've been talking about today, I'm posting an abbreviated version of it.

1. Landline phones: Walk into any college dorm room and ask to use a landline. You'll be met with blank stares. With cell-phone technology continually evolving, it seems that these days only a handful of people are still moving into a new house and having the landline turned on.

2. Floppy disks: Storing something on an external device? Considering the state of computer technology at the end of the 1970s, it's no wonder people were astounded by the usefulness of the 5 1/4-inch wide, 360-KB floppy disk.

A decade later, the disks had shrunk to 3 1/2 inches and their capacity multiplied to a whopping 1.44 MB — enough for a minute and a half of an MP3-file song. If you still have a few lying around, they make great coasters.

3. Wristwatches: Throwing on a fancy watch may make you look professional, but let's be honest. Cell phones and iPods tell you the time when you're out and about, and virtually every appliance in your home has a clock. No one wears a wristwatch anymore, unless he or she grew up with one.

4. VHS tape and VCRs: They met a sad death in 2006 when retailers decided there was no room left on their shelves for the big, bulky cassettes. Many people still keep VCRs around for when grandparents ask to see that old tape of little Bobby — who's now 22 and fresh out of college — shoving cake into his mouth on his first birthday.

5. Beepers: Annoying devices designed to beep any and every time anyone felt like reaching you.

6. Film cameras: When Polaroid announced in 2008 that it would stop selling its famous instant-developing film, people ran out to buy up the remaining stock in order to preserve this unique form of photography.

7. Typewriters: Once one of the most powerful means of mass communication, the typewriter claimed a spot near the top of the technological food chain for more than 100 years.

8. The Walkman, Discman and MiniDisc player: The multitasker's dream, the Sony Walkman portable cassette player changed the way the world listened to music in 1979, quickly becoming the hottest accessory of the early 1980s.

9. Dial-up Internet access: It's hard to see why anyone would use a phone line
to connect to the Internet when there are so many feasible alternatives.

10. DVDs: What's that, you say? How can DVDs be obsolete? Facts don't lie — DVD sales fell off the proverbial cliff in the first three months of 2009. The fact is that with broadband Internet, you don't need a disc to watch a movie any more. Netflix and Blockbuster have recognized that by rapidly ramping up their online-download services.

So there you have it, folks. The times they are a'changing! The item on the list I couldn't believe was the watch because I'm just not sure I could make it without my wrist watch. If that makes me an old fuddy duddy, then so be it.

Any other comments on this subject? I've enjoyed reading all the guest book entries today. I do have one question though. What is a ditto machine? That one sorta threw me.

Writing Our Memories

It's been interesting to read your entries in the guest book about today's earlier post.

Sue reminded us that these will be the good ol' days in 10-20 years. She also bemoaned the fact that she doesn't have wonderful penmanship anymore. I can certainly relate to that; in fact, the only time I write in cursive these days is when I'm autographing a Chicken Soup book. And even when I do that, I realize I've forgotten how to make most of the letters. Scary!

Pam mentioned 8-track tapes. Do you remember those? You'd be right in the middle of your very favorite song when all of a sudden the music would fade, you'd hear a clunk or two and then there'd be silence for a while until the music eventually resumed. I must say, it didn't do a whole lot to enhance the listening experience.

But hey, we didn't know any better. It was just so cool to think that we were actually listening to music out in our cars. We were no longer stuck inside the house with the record player. (Which is of course, another musical antique.)

Pam also mentioned carbon paper. Good ol' carbon paper. Once again, it seemed like such a fabulous invention at the time but I don't even want to think about the nasty challenges involved in getting all the paper and carbons lined up perfectly; I don't think I ever did get it done just right.

And Wyatt wrote that e-mail and blogs are already becoming "dated" technology. Yikes! My favorite technology is now dated! What does that say about me? (Don't answer that.) But then he summed it up well when he added that we should, "Use the tool that works best for our life element." Good advice.

I don't care if I AM a bit old-fashioned; I just can't bring myself to Twitter about my life because I can't imagine Twittering about anything that would be remotely interesting to anyone. So it looks like it's dated technology for me! In fact you can call me The Dated Technology Chick, if you'd like. I don't mind.

How about you? Any memories you'd like to share with the rest of us about first computers, cell phones, or CD players? Or stories about using something that is no longer in use? For some of you readers with a few more years behind you, you can probably even tell stories about remembering when you first got electricity!

I just love reading people's memories and I think that regardless of what new technology comes along, writing our memories will always be in style.

Pull Out A Smile

When our family traveled full time for fifteen years, getting our mail was always an interesting challenge.

I mean, think about it. When you are in hundreds of towns every year, how does your mail catch up with you? Do you retain your own personal mailman to gather up your letters and personally deliver them? Do you hire a flock of carrier pigeons? Do you reinstate the Pony Express? Do you just live your life without mail and have a lovely time ignoring all those pesky bills?

Don't I wish.

When we were on the road, we came up with the solution of using Steve's parent's address. Once a week, they would bundle up all our mail in a big Priority Mail envelope and send it to the town where we were headed next. And then if all went well, when we arrived there, our mail would be waiting.

Now remember. The majority of our traveling was done in the olden days, before there was widespread use of the Internet or even (gasp!) e-mail! That meant that opening the mail was the high point of our week because we hadn't been in constant e-mail contact with friends and family around the country.

In fact, we didn't even have (gasp, again!) a cell phone! If we wanted to make a call, we had to go into the church we were singing at and ask to use the church phone. (Putting the charges on our own phone card, of course.) I remember so many times just wishing for a bit of privacy to make a call, as the church secretary sat five feet from me while I talked to my parents or a friend. I was always tempted to say to the secretary, "Wouldn't you like to leave now?" but, alas, I never did.

We thought we were really in high cotton when we finally got a pager. We'd be going down the road and Steve's pager would go off and we would all be so excited by that cutting edge advancement in communication. Unfortunately, we were driving a rig that was over 50 feet long and so just pulling off at a pay phone was not always the easiest maneuver. We'd have to wait until we finally got to a truck stop or a rest area big enough to handle the size of our home on the road and then (sometimes an hour or two later) finally return the page.

I'm sure some of you younger folks reading this can hardly believe the quaint antiquity of those long ago days.

But anyway, back to the weekly mail pouch. One of the things I always looked forward to was the multi-page, handwritten letters I would frequently receive from my childhood friend, Lorrie. She was such a faithful correspondent and it always made life on the road seem a little less lonely when I saw my name in her familiar handwriting.

For the first few years, I wrote her back by hand until the wonderful day came when we got a typewriter. Not a word processor or a computer mind you, but a typewriter. A manual typewriter. A machine with a returning carriage that made a "ding" sound. A machine that had no Internet connection. A machine that didn't even have to be plugged in! How quaint is that?

I was so excited when that newfangled, high tech machine appeared in our lives. Finally, my horrendous penmanship could be shelved. Finally, I could write as fast as my mind could think. Finally, my friends and family members wouldn't have to hire hieroglyphic experts in order to read my missives. It was a huge step forward for womankind!

Since we lived in an RV, there was not a lot of extra space to sit and write and so I came up with a grand idea. I took the typewriter into the bathroom, put the lid down on the toilet and sat in there with the typewriter balanced on my knees. (Sort of a precursor to the lap top!)

I was perfectly happy and contented in there--that is, until someone had to actually visit the bathroom for its originally intended use. Sigh. Didn't they know I was doing important work in there?

Okay, by this time you're no doubt wondering, "What is the purpose of this post? Is Becky getting to the age where trips down memory lane are all she has? Have all those malted milk balls she's consumed since Easter morning somehow clouded her thinking and messed with her mind? Just what is going on here?"

Okay, I'll tell you. What set off this rambling, reminiscent post is a letter I got in the mail two days ago. From Lorrie. Several pages long. Handwritten.

She and I e-mail back and forth a lot, but every once in a while she will give me the gift of her time, and stationery, and penmanship and send me a real, old fashioned letter, the kind of letter that is quickly falling by the wayside in this era of instant messaging and speedy e-mails. And seeing her handwriting, unchanged in the thirty-five years I've known her, just brought back all those memories of the road, and the Priority envelope, and the old typewriter, and the simpler lives we lived before the Internet took over.

It occured to me that getting a handwritten letter in the mail these days is a rare luxury; in fact, it's so rare that I really think that we need to have a handwritten letter revival. Just think about how you feel when you open the mailbox and amidst all the bills and advertising circulars from Pizza Hut, you see an envelope with your name penned on it? Isn't that so much more meaningful than skimming through letters in your inbox?

Pen and paper were here long before the Internet ever made its appearance; they are our "old friends" of letter writing. You can't bundle e-mails in a ribbon and store them in a special container; you can't hear the rustle of pages a decade old when you're surfing the Internet. There's just something so special about the feel of an envelope between your fingers that makes communication between friends so real and so precious.

As much as I adore computers and technology, I get a little lonely for the days of more personal communication. And so I wonder if you'd like to join me on a journey back to the lovely, old fashioned world of letter writing. Would you like to break out your pen and the box of floral stationery you haven't look at in two years and jot a note to someone special in your life?

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all decided to occasionally hand write a letter, simply because we know that whoever is on the receiving end will look into their mailbox, reach in, and pull out a smile?

That's a good enough reason for me.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Five Itty Bitty Seconds

Many of you already know that I've written another blog at for the past five years. (And I will be continuing that blog which makes me a Two Blog Woman!)

It would really help me in my writing at this location to find out how many of you are here from Sarah's site and how many of you found Smithellaneous some other way. If you could spare just five itty bitty seconds and complete the simple poll in the right column it would be great.

That way I'll know how much background I need to provide in certain posts in order to get our (wonderful) new readers up to date!

Thanks a bunch! And a million! And a whole lot!

Goal Reached!

Yesterday I mentioned that it would be great to get at least 100 guest book entries in the first weekend of the blog's existence. Today when I got up, there was a total of 127! How fun is that?

Thanks to everyone who signed in.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Sneezing Angel

You all have been marvelously and wonderfully gracious to post in the guest book and sign up to become official Smithellaneous Followers. As this blog finishes out its first weekend of existence, I want to thank you all for the lovely welcome to Blogger-ville!

NOTE: I'm within ten guest book postings of getting to my goal of 100 postings for the first weekend of the blog. Are there ten of you out there who might be willing to sign in? It would make me ever so happy and I would even send each of the ten signers a thousand dollars. (Or not.)

Steve has spent the past four days performing in a Passion Play at Whitley Church , the church we're attending. (Whitley's pastor, Ferrell Hardison, is a wonderful guy who we've been friends with for over twenty years.) The performances were packed and the church staff estimates the play was seen by around 3200 people in four performances.

At the beginning of the play, Steve had an off stage speaking part as the angel who stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac. At just the right moment, when Abraham was drawing his knife, Steve commanded authoritatively into the microphone, "Abraham! Abraham! Do not harm the child in any way!"

Well, yesterday, Steve had the worst attack of allergies ever and spent the whole day blowing his nose and sneezing like a rhinoceros . (Actually, I'm not sure if rhinoceroses do a lot of sneezing but it's just a greatly intriguing mental picture. I'm intrigued by some very strange things, I realize.)

At any rate, I was not having good feelings about all the sneezing stuff because I just didn't think that a sneezing angel would benefit the drama in any positive way. Can you imagine an angel proclaiming ponderously, "Abraham! Abra-ACHOO?"

Not good.

So Steve went trundling out to the store and got some heavy duty allergy meds which certainly slowed down the sneezing but also made him very laid-back. I guess in the end he turned out to be The Non-Sneezing But Extremely Mellow Angel which is no doubt better than being the Non- Mellow But Extremely Sneezing Angel! (Or whatever.)

In the last scene of the play, he did a great job of playing a cocky, contemptuous judge. I got a few pictures of him in that role and am now going to attempt--for the very first time in my very own personal history of the world--to post them here on Blogger. Wish me luck!

Today after the performance he morphed from cocky judge into the guy who comes home to carve the ham for Easter lunch! (Wait a minute. Do you carve ham or just turkey? Hmmm. I'm not sure.) Let's just say that he cut the ham up into slices. I certainly can't go wrong with that description!

Our family had a lovely Easter meal in the dining room (instead of the kitchen) using our nicer plates and silverware. Before eating, we joined hands to pray and Steve expressed his love for each of us in a very special and dear way. It was such a great blessing, on this beautiful Easter day, to be a part of a family that has created such a joyful circle of love.