Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: (Even Though It's Saturday)

The  wedding photos have arrived!   It’s time to rejoice exceedingly with exceeding greatness of joy and exceedingly joyous and great joy in an exceedingly joyous and great manner. (Or, um, something like that.)

I really don’t have any rhyme or reason in the order or selection of these photos since I’m just kind of picking and choosing whatever catches my attention.  But I figure you all don’t mind as long as there are pictures to enjoy.  (And there will be many more to come.)

So let’s get started, shall we?

Nate and his two dads, Rev. Steve Smith and Rev. Frank Hawley.   And as a wonderful bonus, the two dads have been close friends for years—even before their kids started dating.  They actually joke that the two of them signed a contract between them years ago that Nathan and Meagan would eventually get married.    See how well it worked?

Following the cake reception at the church . . .
wedding pro

. . . Nathan and Meagan prepared to run the rose petal gauntlet as they headed to the reception.

Here they are going from the ceremony to the rehearsal lunch.  Five out of the eight people in this picture lived full time in RV’s when they were younger—hence, the RV getaway vehicle.

The arrival at the reception of the attendants . . .
attend collage

. . . and the Royal Couple.  Can you tell that Meagan has just a bit of a dramatic streak running through her veins?  That’s one of the many things that make her so delightful.

I was so nervous about the Mother/Groom dance since I’ve never really danced much before. I said to Nathan as we danced, “I hope I’m doing this right.”  And he looked me in the eye and very sweetly said, “Mom, it’s not about the moves; it’s about the moment.”

How right he was.  And what a special moment it was to share that dance.
wedding pro1

He and Meagan had plenty of their own special moments to share; it brought me such happiness to see their quiet, sweet joy.
kiss collage

The bridal party had an extra fun time with their outdoor photos.

I especially love this series of photos; it really doesn’t need any words to tell you what is going on.

If Meagan didn’t realize it before, she does now—she married a guy with personality of a Golden Retriever puppy.

When Nathan wasn’t wrestling his favorite wife, he was posing with his favorite sister.

And lastly, here are two of my favorite pictures from all the ones that were taken.  Just minutes before the ceremony, the two families gathered together to pray one last time before the shape of their families shifted and changed. (The fifth person in the picture is Steve’s dad.)
Sarah prayed with our family first and then went to pray with the Hawleys as one of the bridesmaids and the new sister-in-law.

A marriage stitched together by prayer laughter and love . . . such a beautiful celebration of two made-for-each-other hearts.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Waiting Rooms and Supervisory Doggies

I’m writing from Greenville where Steve and I are holed up in a surgical waiting room with a church family.   I posted about a month ago about sitting with Cindy’s family through a mastectomy and today we are sitting with her family again as her adult daughter is having surgery to have a growth in her lung removed and biopsied.  (Her daughter also had breast cancer two years ago and a double mastectomy so us three ladies have quite a bit in common!)

Every time I walk into a hospital, it brings back memories of Sarah’s hospitalizations and surgeries and I feel such compassion for those who are currently walking this road. It’s a privilege for us to be able to join these friends on their journey.

I’m happy to report that Taylor’s uncle has been discharged from the hospital and is recovering fairly well.  Taylor and her sister were thrilled to be reunited with their parents yesterday after three days of being honorary Smiths.

I must say that they were absolutely no trouble to have around.  To illustrate: this was the scene in our living room about ten minutes after they all got home from school Wednesday.  With nary a word from me, they just plopped down and started working on their homework. (Part of Sarah’s homework consisted of looking up assignments on the school’s web page which is why she’s on her computer.)


Snowy was on site in a supervisory capacity. (In case you’re wondering.)


The first morning the girls were  here, Snow was up early to do his rounds and was beset with puzzlement when he came upon a larger than usual stash of girl stuff by the front door.  Can’t you see his beset-with-puzzlement expression?



However, he did not let his besetting puzzlement keep him from accompanying the Smith women (honorary and otherwise) on the morning school run.  And he was especially thrilled that he got to do drop offs at two schools instead of just one; in fact, the look on his face was blissfully proclaiming, “I have found my purpose and my destiny in this life and I am one happy doggie.”

Nothin’ quite as nice as a happy doggie.


Deb8able asked, “Question from older post...what kind of muffins did you and Sarah make when you were preparing for the hurricane? They look so delicious in that picture!”

Let me tell you, those muffins are wonderful and what’s even more great about them is that the recipe makes a big batch with batter keeps for up to 6 weeks.  You can scoop out enough for one muffin or 12 muffins which is a wonderful feature; in fact, I have these muffins on the Smith table often and I also like having them to accompany dinners that I drop off to various families in the church.

I highly recommend this recipe!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Beauty Blooming

In the dreary days following Hurricane Irene, this photo showed up in a number of news outlets.

stinson steps

(Edited to add: A comment just came in asking why someone didn't rescue these people instead of just taking a picture. I hadn't even thought about that perspective, but now that it was brought up, I can sure understand why the picture would elicit that sort of question! I neglected to make it clear that this photo was taken well after the storm had passed; the family had just waded to the steps through shallow water to sit together in a poignant moment of saying good bye to what had been there.)

This is what used to be connected to those steps. (Next three photos by Jimmy Williams.)



A view inside the house.


This is what the house looks like now. It was picked up and carried about 300 feet and then just dropped and splattered.


This is what was left behind.


Two weeks ago, I had never even heard of this house which as it turns out was sort of an iconic sight on the Outer Banks. There are pictures of it in the Norfolk airport and there is even a calendar completely devoted to pictures of the home. But I was about to be introduced to a lovely and sad Outer Banks landmark.

Shortly after the hurricane, Steve and I took dinner to Chris, a man who attends our church. He and his friends were working on cleaning up the mess that flooding had left behind in his home.

As we stood and chatted a few minutes, Chris explained to us why there was a pile of rubble just a few feet from his front door blocking his driveway—it was the house that used to sit on the water. When he walked Steve and I down to see the place where the house had sat, we happened to run into the home’s owner, Billy Stinson, who was outside doing some clean up.

Now here’s a guy who just three days before had lost a home that for many decades had been a place where his family had created thousands of sweet memories. (Our State magazine did an article on the house and the family which is fascinating to read.) Billy shook our hands with a smile and thanked us for our expressions of regret about the important part of his family history that had been swept away.

But then he added quietly and calmly, “I believe that God will bring something good out of this; my wife and I are very much at peace about the whole situation.”

Billy is not alone in this way of thinking. Over and over I have been inspired and challenged by the attitudes of these people around us who have lost so much. I really haven’t noticed a lot whining and complaining—only a calm attitude that they will deal with it and they will move on.

As Steve and I finished our conversation and got back into the van to leave, I noticed that just a few hundred feet away from the devastated area, there was still beauty blooming.








I’m so thankful today for beauty of all kinds, but mostly the beauty of a heart that unfailingly trusts in the fact that good can arise from the most difficult seasons of life.

And In Other News

Really and truly, wedding pictures are coming. Soon. Very, very soon.

And also? A blog entry written entirely by my fabulous husband is on its way.

Be sure to check back . . .

Finding Your Blogging Mojo: A Book Review

I was recently given the opportunity to review 31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo by Bryan Allain. I'm always looking for ways to improve my blog and my writing so I jumped at the chance to read and review this eBook.   If you are one of my blogging buddies or if you’re thinking about starting a blog, this review (and this book) is for you!



The basic concept of this book is that it can be spread out over the course of 31 days--hence the name.

But Bryan graciously gives his readers permission to read it really, really fast OR to read it really, really not-so-fast.  When I downloaded the book for a pre-release review, I found myself plopped right smack down in the middle of the readitfast club. As in I read it in one night. In one sitting.

Steve will tell you that I am not generally a laugh-out-loud kind of person but several times that night, I came perilously close to breaking my non-guffawing rule. The guy is funny!

But wrapped around the humor is stuff that helps even a 10-year blogger like myself rethink my writing, editing, focus, and goals. I found myself nodding my head in agreement and in recognition of helpful truths almost as often as I found myself chortling. I've read the whole book a second time already and engaged in even more cheery chortling and head nodding. The info didn't get old; it only became more relevant to where I am, and to where I am going as a blogger.

The eBook is divided into the following sections:
Part 1 (The 3 Core Elements)
Part 2 (The Reign of King Content)
Part 3 (Finding Visitors, Keeping Readers)

Order here or on Amazon.  This book is available as a PDF for just $4.99 or can be bought for Kindle.

I wouldn’t say that this book is life changing but I would definitely say it is blog changing.  The best blogging five bucks you could ever spend.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Smith/Walton Family. Nathan and Meagan. Steve’s Shorn Shorts

Today I became a (temporary) mom to a total of three daughters. Since I always wanted to have more than two children, it looks like this is my lucky week!

Sarah’s friend, Taylor, has an uncle who had a massive heart attack yesterday (he is only 45) and so Taylor’s parents left immediately for Charlotte to be with him. Of course, this is all happening just two weeks after they had to move out of their flood-damaged home so it’s been quite the stressful season for this sweet family. Anyway, Taylor’s mom called me to ask if I might be willing to keep both her daughters for a few days while they’re gone and of course I was happy to lend a hand.

So my week will be happily chock full of extra cooking, and being chauffeur to drama meetings, orthodontist appointments, and church events. I will also specialize in homework assistance, signing test papers, and getting three girls to and from two different school. I realize some of you with multiple children do this every day but humor me here--this is unfamiliar territory for this mother of one. (Well, one child still at home, that is.)

I just got to thinking that if I could round up a few more kids to stay with us this week I could legally call myself Mrs. Walton. I always loved The Waltons and always dreamed of having a large family; however, after two highly complicated (and dangerous) pregnancies the doctor told me I could absolutely not have any more babies. Which didn’t make me very happy, might I add.

But at any rate, that’s what’s goin’ in the Smith/Walton household this week.

Nathan and Meagan Pictures/News

Now let me address the increasingly pleading-esque comments I’ve been getting from my loyal readers about whether I will be posting more Nathan and Meagan wedding pictures. I am honored to know that so many of you would even remember that I said more pictures were coming. And yes, they really are coming! The photographers got swamped the month after Meganate’s wedding so have just recently finished all the edits and mailed the pictures out last week.

I have gotten word from the new Mrs. Smith that within the next day or two she will be posting some of the pictures on Facebook which I will be able to grab and post here. And then sometime during the next week, she’ll be sending me the CD of all the pictures and from that point on, I will be a Wild Wedding Picture Posting Woman.

But before you flee from this blog in terror at the thought of looking at endless wedding photos, I figure what I could do is post a few this week as soon as I get them and then for the next few weeks have Wedding Wednesdays where I’ll post additional pictures each week.

So take heart! The pictures they are a comin’! And I am so excited!

And to answer a few random questions that have come in recently about them:

1) Their honeymoon consisted of a cruise originally set for Mexico but because of a tropical storm, they went to the Bahamas instead. (And yes, Meagan is also going to send me a few honeymoon pictures.)

2) They are absolutely loving married life. I got a picture from them showing the first meal they cooked together as married folks which looked lovely and delicious. And when I talked to Meagan on the phone yesterday (she called me just to tell me what great in-laws we are—wasn’t that sweet?) she said that when Nathan got home from work yesterday afternoon, he was going to rotate the tires on her car. It’s great to see Nathan taking care of Meagan the way Steve has taken care of me.

3) Meagan was gone to a friend’s wedding last week and when she got home, she said Nathan had done a whole bunch of house cleaning. Of course that made my mama heart say, “Awwwww."

4) They recently sat down together and got over 75 wedding thank you notes written and sent. Hurray!

In short, they are a joyfully-joined young couple making an excellent start in their life together; we are so proud of them both.

Steve’s Shorn Shorts (And Scary Face)

Okay. For those of you who have always pictured Steve as a genteel, guitar-pickin’ Southern preacher, the following pictures will doubtless burst your bubble. (Or bust yer bubble, as we are wont to say in the South.)

Let’s examine these pictures carefully, shall we? First of all, please take note of the classy shorts that my husband has donned. (I wish his name were Don because then I could say the shorts that Don has donned but . . . oh well.)

The reason for these “interesting” shorts is that his nice pair of car-fixing shorts were in the laundry and so being a man of great flexibility and creativity, he rummaged through his collection of grubby work jeans, selected an appropriate pair, grabbed some scissors and just whacked ‘em off. Voila! Shorts! Car-fixing shorts! Shorn shorts! What could be finer? (Than to be in Carolina? In the morning?)

But I digress. Here is Picture #1. Please try not to run from your computer screen in fear and terror. I know this is a scary moment in your life.


The next question that may come to mind (now that we have explained the history of the classy shorn shorts) is why this genteel preacher fella is snarling at the camera holding a Mysterious Black Apparatus. What could this possibly mean?


And now? Now it looks as though he is getting ready to visit violence upon the head (and neck) of the Mysterious Black Apparatus. What on earth could the MBA have done to elicit such strong emotion in our favorite, easy going, well-mannered, highly civilized preacher/mechanic/guitar picker/shorts shearer?


Hmmm. Maybe I’ll tell you. And maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll let you guess. Maybe I’ll let you write your own story and create your own plot to explain this series of disturbing photos.

Yes, indeed. That’s what I’m going to do. Steve and I will read with fascination your very own take on this mysterious scenario.

But before I close, just so that you don’t have to carry these distressing images with you throughout the day, here are a few peaceful pictures that will serve to erase the image of Steve in those (really horrible) shorts committing (really distressing) acts of masculine mechanical mayhem in our driveway. (You can thank me later.)



Sunday, September 11, 2011

One Blessed Mama

Today when we got home from church Sarah said,  “Mom, are you in a picture taking mood?”

I was almost tempted to check her for fever since that is one of the most crazy questions she has ever asked me.  I mean, when I am I ever not in a picture taking mood?  (Never, that’s when.)

So before heading in for lunch,  my darling daughter and I went out to our front yard and got a few photos just for the fun of it.

Here are a few of my favorites.















Have I mentioned how much I love having a daughter? (And a son?  And a daughter-in-law?) 

I am one blessed mama.