I finished two major projects:

1. The blankets for the soldiers. Whew. So glad to be done, so glad to be a part of it. I felt so humbled as I prayed while sewing for those who sacrifice so much.

Abbie kept asking if I was done with the blankets for the knights. So sweet. I kept telling her that they were soldiers, not knights. She finally announced "Well, they are knights to me, mom." Amen, sweetie. Amen.

2. The Thanksgiving countdown! I did actually finish it in time for us to do it a few times before Thanksgiving. It will certainly have more use in the future.

Between these two projects, I am now an official applique master. Seriously.

Now for the rest of my projects ... :)

Flu Care Package

With so many people out with the flu I came up with a fun little care package to drop with friends who have little ones!

The basket that this went to had three kids so I went into the dollar bin at Target and made each of the kids "peace pails" with a few novelty toys.

There were a few "Smith-flix" for the family to borrow and shake things up a bit. 3 for the kids, 2 for mom.

Another fun idea is to sew button holes into wash cloths and pair it with some of those hooks that won't damage the wall. It's great for kids to use as hand towels after they wash their hands - keeps the germs at bay (or at least a little more isolated!).

The water bottles and soap were part of a fun game for the kids.
1. Drink water.
2. Cut bottles off at bottom half
3. Cut washcloth in thirds, and attach to the bottles with rubber bands.
4. In tupperware bowl, put a few tablespoons of dish soap with water. Dip bottles into soap and then let the kids blow bubbles through the mouth of the bottle.

I put everything together in a big laundry plastic bin, with tags on each small gift bag.

Add a prayer, a hug, and a note of encouragement and it's set to go!


Blankets for the 134th

My friend is serving with the "Red Bull" infantry division and is currently in Germany working at the hospital. She emailed me asking for blankets and hats for the soldiers there, and I was thrilled to have such a great project to work on.

I am so excited about the help I've received. Quilters Haven in Rosemount offered to promote the project if I'd supply the materials. The customers there have agreed to do almost ALL of the blankets! WOW! Abbie and I are taking this awesome group of women some cookies this morning in an effort to say thanks. The shop also found someone who is willing to embroider some hats with the red bull logo. What a beautiful community.

I'm hoping that this makes for some happy soldiers this Christmas.


T@rget Stories

Every mom I know has a Trgt story. You know, one where things went so wrong you thought you might have to switch to a Target down the road? Well, here's one of my worst.

I was trying to use a gift card to purchase something that we couldn't afford if it wasn't for that card. It was right after we had returned from Tokyo and I had Abbie in the baby bjorn (2mos), Clara (14mos) in the front of the cart, and Stephen (almost 3) in the back.

I had bought Clara and Stephen popcorn with the idea that if their mouths were full they wouldn't make those new screeching noises they had just learned at the church nursery. I got the popcorn, gave them each a bag, and then raced like a maniac through the store trying to get everything on my list that I possibly could before the bags were empty.

Also, Abbie was taking one of her rare naps while dealing with reflux. So you understand that my clock was ticking urgently. Mt. Vesuvius would wait for no one.

I made it through the store with two "3 year old fistsfulls" of popcorn to spare. We pulled into our check out lane, me sweating and close to swearing, fighting post-partum unawares. Stephen, with a gleeful screech, THREW the contents of his popcorn bag. I had felt like success was SO close, only to be thrown in little kernels down the aisle. As I leaned down to begin picking up the pieces while the checkout girl chewed her gum and watched, I felt the Stephen's paper bag come flying on my head - with another gleeful screech.

If I hadn't been at my absolute bottom, I probably would have laughed at the absurdity. As it was, I was praying that the popcorn smell and the up and down motions wouldn't wake Abbie and make her barf down my shirt.

The checkout girl rang up my order, and I handed her my precious gift card. Now, this card was from a return I made at the beginning of my shopping trip. It had about $30 on it and I had counted every bit of it using sales and specials. I knew Brian would be proud of my frugality. The girl swiped the card - and only $6 came off my total.


I took a deep breath. And another. Smacking gum girl looked at me a little warily.

I slowly, deliberately explained that there was a mistake and began to frantically look for the receipt that would give me some credibility. Stephen and Clara (popcorn gone) began attempting to harmonize their screeches.

Gum girl slowly reach her right hand out and flip on the "help me please, crazy woman here" light. A manager appeared shortly. A manager who obviously had no children, no sympathy, and no charm. She used small words to explain to me that I was only going to get $6 from my card.

That was it. The dam burst. I began crying. Then sobbing. Then some little giggles came out with the tears.

Gum girl and Mean manager each took a step back. Seriously. They stepped back away from me and continued to hold their ground regarding the $24. Stephen and Clara briefly stopped their screeching, only to begin again in a valiant attempt to sing a lullaby to me.

I swiped my debit card, silently praying that God would make the $24 appear in my account. It cleared, I packed up my things through my tears, and walked out of there completely defeated.

A friend, Jen was so wonderful to me during that time. I can remember showing up at a Bible Study she was leading - and bursting into tears every time someone would ask me how I was.

My parents had moved out of town and I felt completely alone. Who can you be that vulnerable with and ask for help that you can't even fathom returning? Betsy, Emily, and Teresa to the rescue (along with Jen). They started alternating days to take my kids and give me breaks. It was truly a time where I sucked the church family dry for everything I could.

It got better.

I got better.

And sweet Jesus began to show me how much He wanted me to be in a real 2 -way relationship with Him.

Looking back it was a wonderful time of growth and pruning. But I sure felt naked for awhile. Nasty Trgt runs included.


Give Thanks

This is such a great idea. I think that Abbie and I will try and pull it off today and start a new family tradition!

Another project ... Stephen made a book all about holidays. I suggested that he and I make one about the feasts of Israel. We'll see if we get it all done ... So many projects, so little time. :)


Hello Kitty Costume

October is costume time - and this year Clara asked to be Hello Kitty.

Just in case you aren't up on Kindergarten costume selection ... this costume doesn't exist. Well, it does. It's just not exactly what we were hoping for. And it's sold out.

Enter: Mom and a sewing machine.

There were a few guidelines that Clara requested. First, it needed to look like the Hello Kitty doll she got from Build-a-Bear with her Noni. Second, the costume needed to have a pink dress with white polka-dots.


I started with white fleece. Using a super easy Simplicity Pattern, I made her a pair of white pants and a white long-sleeved T-shirt. Not too tough. And outside in MN friendly.

Then I found another easy (read: cheap) pattern for a jumper, and
I happened to have some left over pink silky material. I made the little jumper with some extra room to fit over the fleece top and bottom. On the bottom hem of the jumper, I put a band of 2 inches wide stabilizer to give it that cartoony feel. Then I added some white dots using the leftover white fleece and some fusible webbing.

A Mason Jar lid served well for the big circles and the small circles (inside and outside of lid). I should have stitched the circles on after fusing them on the dress - but I was out of time and not feeling too hot.

After the outfit was complete I covered a headband with white fleece.

For the ears, I made little 4 inch squares, cut on the
diagonal to make triangles, then rounded them off, sewed them together, and placed them between two strips of fleece. Sounds more complicated than it is. Maybe I'll try a tutorial of this. :) Maybe. Anyway, finished covering the headband using a glue gun and maybe a few burned fingertips.

The Build-a-Bear Kitty that Clara has actually has a velcro attached bow. Amen. Amen. Amen. I just sewed a piece of velcro backing to the headband and it was done!

We used the bow from her kitty on her headband - adding to the validity of the costume for Clara.

To finish the ensemble, we got some Hello Kitty slippers at Target and she's set! I think it turned out pretty fun. The only thing we'll have to add is some yellow face paint on her nose.

Voila! She's SO cute. :) Here she is at her school costume parade and fall party.

Up next: Abbie as Maid Miriam.

Bronchitis Boredom

Since being diagnosed with bronchitis on Friday I've been on a sort of bed rest. Moving and talking (hollering) to the kids seems to make my cough worse, which means my breathing becomes labored, and then it's all down hill. So sweet hubby has taken on the role of mom and dad hoping I'll be ready to slowly start back into life on Monday.

He even scrubbed the bathrooms and the floors.

Settle down ladies - he's taken. :)

Anyway, while in bed it's driving me crazy just sitting here. I've totally caught up on episodes of "The Closer" and "The Office," read a Ted Dekker book, and am halfway through Jeannette Walls new book (which is fabulous, by the way), "Half Broke Horses." So what's a girl to do?

Back to the sewing roots I went. Basic embroidery. I got the idea from this post a while ago and wanted to try it but didn't have the time. Now I have the time.

I had an iron on transfer pencil and found various designs I like online. I found that stamps have great outlines and some of the pics were easy to outline and transfer, then to stitch.

This one turned out pretty cute.

I think I'll put a few of these as little pockets
on totes. Cute little gifts for teachers and friends.

Speaking of teachers, I made two for Abbie's mom's day out teachers. Her class is called blue whales. You can probably guess what I made. :)

I did find that with designs this simple, you can just cut it out stencil style and use a marking pen (that washes out with water) to trace it, then stitch.

Now I have until Christmas to make the bags ... :)

ps - the pic at the top is of a piece of wheat I stitched to a notebook cover for a friend.


An Autobiography

In church our preacher asked us to text in a two or three word title for an autobiography. The only rule - couldn't be "Jesus-y." :) Awesome.

My title was: Honestly Trying.

And I am. I combined a strong value of mine with my struggle. For a second I almost put "honestly disobedient."

Because that's true too.

But it seemed a little too harsh.

Because I do obey sometimes.

I struggle with following those little nudges that the Holy Spirit gives me. And it's an interesting struggle because it is always about me and wanting to do it my way. About my selfish desires taking precedent over a work God wants to do. As Paul says, I do what I don't want to do and I don't do what I do want to do (Romans 7:19).

Best example: The nudge pushing me to talk to a neighbor across the street. To just introduce myself. To give a smile. My response was to smile politely and go inside. Good enough, right God?

I found out several months later that the neighbors daughter had been raped in my house. That my neighbor's hurt was so raw and so fresh that she couldn't even look at my house.

I realized that Jesus wanted me to be a very small part of her healing and I had chosen to ignore that - as if my desire to get on with my day was more important.

And that's why I almost wrote "honestly disobedient." Because I still ignore those pulls and whispers. And even sometimes when I respond in obedience my heart is irritated.

And do you want to know the true paradox? I'm terrified to my core that some day those nudges will go away. That God will move on to find someone who is more obedient. I'll still be His - but I'll have stamped a big "no, I won't do it" on my forehead.

So then I make effort to be more obedient. To listen better. And the challenges come. And the frustration. And then - the thing I most desire happens.

I change.

A little bitty part of me gets cleaner. Clearer. I let Him wash it and allow His holiness into the dirtiest parts of me. And I thought I was doing something for Him. Turns out the blessing runs both ways.

Honestly Trying.

I think it fits.


Classic Moment

I'm getting to the point in my life where my house can be cluttered when company comes. Even a little dirty.

Today while we had a neighbor and her baby over, I looked over into my den and saw the way the beautiful fall light was flowing into the room. The baby was laying on the floor and sweetly cooing to the light and making shadows with her hands. I was feeling peaceful. Even content. My neighbor and I chatted over homemade pumpkin rolls and coffee.


Until Abbie noticed the beautiful light. And the way it fell on the coffee table. More specifically on the dust on the coffee table. The dust was so appealing that while I was watching the beautiful baby play, my artistic daughter walked to the table and began making drawing out of the dust. The rather thick dust.

Nice. I guess I'm not as far along as I hoped I was. :)



Sometimes it's amazing the way a 7 year old can move from one emotion to the next. And he's even a boy. Perhaps that is where my biggest surprise is from. I expected this from the estrogen soaked girls, but my even keeled son? Never in a million.

The same kid who can do third grade math will only give detailed descriptions of 3 specific things at school. 1. Recess, 2. Lunch, 3. Gym.

His concept of grace is better than most adults I know ("egraced" is how he says erased), but when asked if I could pray for him this morning, his response was gratitude that "tomorrow is Saturday and we don't have Bible stories EVERY morning."

The child who gleefully (and ignorantly) steps off the bus waving his middle finger at me also told a vulnerable kid who had been intentionally hurt that he knew his mom could take care of everything.

The calculator on an iphone absolutely entrances this guy, but he would trade all his money in his piggy bank for one day that was completely fair.

And this dear boy who slammed two doors at me this afternoon burst into tears at a video of himself as an infant.

We were all gathered around the TV watching the movie I had put together of Stephen when he was not yet 6 months old. The girls were cooing and giggling; Brian and I were misty eyed. Suddenly Stephen got up and left the room - crying.

"What is it buddy? Don't you like it?" I asked.

"No. Mom - I just like it too much," he sobbed.

"Oh. You feel special?"


Whoa. I mean - whoa.

And suddenly I wondered if that's why there will be some tears in heaven (Rev. 21:4). That we'll like it too much. That the way God loves us overwhelmingly, intentionally, undeservedly will feel SO good. That the place He went to prepare for us will be so sweet and perfect. When the skin of this earth is peeled back and we see all that He is.

Yeah. I think I'll like it too much.

Stephen Jonah wk 1-4 from Rachel Smith on Vimeo.


Projects ...

I've been sewing up a storm - especially since Brian let me purchase some things to organize my sewing room for Mother's Day.  I LOVE making new stuff.  Here are some of the things I've been working on/modifying:
A purse for myself.
The pleats on both sides were a fun challenge.  I made it one long strap across the shoulders rather than the two short ones that the patter called for.  I also added a C-clip for my keys, a magnetic fastner for my safety conscious husband, a few pockets for sunglasses and my phone, and a zippered pocket.

A Car Organizer

This is from a craftapple pattern (highly recommend her, btw - great patterns and instructions).  I has a divider, 2 D rings to hold a trash bag, pockets for pens, cell phones, stuff.  I splurged on some Amy Butler fabric and was SO in love with it (Nigella Collection).  Beautiful and funky.

A Purse/Tote
 I made this for one of Stephen's teachers.  I added the webbing and snap across the top on a whim and ended up loving it.  I'm planning on making a few more.

Little Artist Case
Made for a little boy who was a new big brother.  I used a shoe-string for the closure, hoping it looked a little like a rope.  :) I made my nephew Evan one just like it.  

Re-usable Sandwich Bags
A new experiment.  It's a special fabric on the inside called PUL - what they make re-usable diapers out of.  It can be wiped clean or washed and dried on hot.  It's sealed with velcro.  I gave a few to a friend and am anxious to try some out this summer with fun fabrics on the outside.  
Thanks for looking and following!  I'm having a lot of fun - to the detriment of my cleaning and laundry.  :)  Brian's encouraging me to try and sell some things on etsy.  Anyone have any experience with that?  Makes me a bit nervous.  



Abbie is our little artist.  If you want to make her happy, give her a legal notebook (not sure why they are her favorites), a pen or pencil, and give her lots of praise.  

We've noticed that she's starting to work on things a little more abstractly.  Once she drew a picture of a red square on top of a blue rectangle.  I asked her what it was - she said "red and blue" and looked at me as if I might be less than intelligent.  

Here is her most recent drawing:
I asked her about what she drew, and she said "I drew sharing."  No people, no objects.  I looked at her a little confused - and once again, she pointed out that there were different colors.  

Hmmm.  I wonder if our nanny while we were in Tokyo, Melissa (a fantastic abstract artist), had anything to do with this.  :)  


Last Day of School

So - after a LONG absence from the blogging world - I hope to be back. I've had several entries running through my brain and just lacked the time to put them down. Ready or not, here I come!

Most recent first:
Yesterday was the last day of school for my kindergardener. Seriously. 

We've become good friends with our neighbors who have two girls just Stephen and Clara's ages.  Kristin and I talked and decided to have a "happy summer break" party with the kids. The idea was inspired by my creative cousin Mary. The kids had a blast. Check out the results!

The work paid off. After Stephen got off the bus and was walking home, I noticed that his head was hanging a little low. I put my arm around him and he started crying. "Mom, I just loved kindergarden. I'm so sad." 

We kept walking and made it to the back yard where the 'party' was waiting. He lit up with a big smile. That night when I asked what his favorite part of the day was (thinking his favorite part of the school day), he said "Oh, definitely the party, mom!" Score one for mom.


He is Risen!

Happy Easter! I hope you enjoy this video I put together. It's to Phil Wickham's song, "True Love" on his "Cannons" album.

True Love from Rachel Smith on Vimeo.


Reload of Revelation 7

So here's the video I made ... the last one uploaded goofy and I just realized it now! Sorry!

Revelation Chapter 7 from Rachel Smith on Vimeo.


Stephen - Crazy hair day at school

Ask, Knock, Seek

Speak from Rachel Smith on Vimeo.
At the mom's conference I went to last fall Cheri Keaggy was the worship leader. Now, I'm not really a fan of hers and I'm a little picky with my worship music, but ... Can I just say that the woman knocked my socks off! She was SO sweet and SO authentic.

One song she sang was called "Speak (the listening song)."
Women at my church have been meeting to pray every other Tuesday evening - after the Precepts class I teach. It has been the most amazing time.

There are no prayer requests. No sharing time. We just sit and pray together.

And I've come to realize what's happening.

When a group of women who love Him gather and together begin to knock at His door, when they persistently ask, seek... -

He opens the door! He SPEAKS! He is SO faithful to us!

You can feel His pleasure that His children are in agreement seeking to be with Him. It's unlike any other experience I have ever had.

Our little group of women will be increasing our meeting times to every week. We're hoping that our numbers will increase as well - because this opportunity HAS to be shared.


Fish Lessons

A few months ago I was given a large reality check.  Or should I call it a humility check?  I wrote a blog after a fairly long, tiring day (ok, half day.  I wrote it at like noon).  It was a way to vent ... to be a little creative ... well, ok, I was complaining to an audience I considered fairly small (thanks for reading, mom).  

In this blog I compared myself to a witch.  Umm Hmm.  I did.

In said blog I also mentioned that I had been to a recent mom's conference.  And here's where the humiliation came in.  The woman (author, notable speaker, pastors wife ...) who founded the conference READ THE ENTRY.  AND COMMENTED.  Ahhhhhh!!!!  I could just envision her copying the link and sending it out to the prayer partners ... "here's a gal who really needs some prayer.  ASAP."  Oh my gosh.  I've never been so embarrassed.  *sigh*

I decided some serious prayer was needed.  If God was graciously putting me in my place in such a public manner, maybe I had some serious pride issues going on.  This girl got on her knees and begged Jesus to reveal weeds of hidden pride (it's always hidden, right? When's the last time you thought, "oh, I'm just so stinkin' proud!"?)

And He said to me:
Loaves and Fish, Rachel.  What you have, anything you have, is the same as everyone else.  You can come to me with your loaves and fish, and I will do miracles.  I will multiply your gifts, talents, blessings in amazing, exciting ways.  But remember - I will.  Keep the focus on the miracle worker who gave you the loaves and fish in the first place.  
Whoa.  That's been ringing in my ears for 2 or 3 months now.  He's the One.  He's the giver of all things.  I had developed a few small weeds and sweet Jesus gave me a weed puller.  

Now here's part two.

This last week, an unexpected whisper came in my ear.  Ready for it?

What are you doing with all your fish?
What are you doing with all your fish?
Uh.  Whoops.  

I got the weed out of my garden, but now I am sitting with a pile of 5,000 fish and bread - and if I don't use it the way it is intended, I'm pretty sure they will start to stink.  And me with them.

Oh Lord forgive me.  Is anyone else this slow to learn?  Seriously!  Does it take everyone else this long to learn lessons from Him?  I am in a constant cycle - frustration at my slowness, then gratitude with His patience.  

Now that He has shown me these lessons, I'm waiting for the application.  (One other lesson I learned the hard way over a long period ... wait for His timing.)  He's usually setting me up so that when I see the opportunity for obedience I won't miss is.  So I'll keep praying, and waiting.  And bringing Him every fish and loaf of bread He provides.

I'm hoping that you'll all tell me when I start to smell a little fishy.