Friday, October 31, 2008

An offer on the house

We received an offer on the house this morning, countered this afternoon, and are waiting to hear back from Suzanne. May have to wait until Monday for an answer... not sure what to expect.

We are excited! Will keep you posted!

Just wanted to let you know real quick.

As always, thanks for praying...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Update : 102908

Nicol spoke with Suzanne (our realtor) this morning. The open house went well yesterday; there were 10 other local realtors there. BUT the good news is that the woman who looked at the house last week is scheduled to see it again this evening; Suzanne said she is very interested and believes she intends to make an offer. So we will see. Thank you Lord for this encouraging news!

Soul food...
[ Psalm 119:49-50 ]
Remember your word to your servant,
in which you have made me hope.
This is my comfort in my affliction,
that your promise gives me life.

I read these verses this morning. They are feeding my soul right now, even as I write.

This is my comfort in my afflication, that your promise gives me life.

What promises of God do YOU find life-giving today?

How 'bout we start a list of comments that answers that question?!

Remember the old hymn(?)...

Standing on the Promises of God

Standing on the promises of Christ my King
Through eternal ages let His praises ring
Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing
Standing on the promises of God

Standing on the promises that cannot fail
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail
By the living Word of God I shall prevail
Standing on the promises of God

Standing on the promises I now can see
Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me
Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free
Standing on the promises of God

Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord
Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord
Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword
Standing on the promises of God

Standing on the promises I cannot fall
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call
Resting in my Savior as my all in all
Standing on the promises of God

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Catching Up

Wow! It's been a while since I last posted. Let me first say thank you for your kind words of encouragement and faithful prayers. We continue to be amazed at how incredibly supportive you are! Your words so often literally breathe life into our day and give us the strength and courage to stare down one more dark moment of discouragement.

Your prayers... well, as James says, they are accomplishing great things. I just wrote to a friend and told him that we are so grateful that we don't have to know what it's like to walk thru this valley without constant prayer support from people like him... and for that matter, like you all. The book of Revelation paints a beautiful picture of prayer... it says that the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before [Jesus] the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song...

The worship scene before the throne of the God of heaven includes the prayers of the saints, kept in precious golden bowls. And those prayers are like incense, a sweet aroma to the God who, as the psalmist says, listens intently to our cries for help. What a picture! Our prayers don't go unnoticed. They don't fall on deaf ears. They don't just fade away. They aren't forgotten. They aren't discarded or recycled. No, they are preserved and brought by heaven's worshippers to Jesus.

Maybe we will actually see our prayers one day. Maybe it's all just symbolic. Whatever the case, know that your prayers are precious to God, precious to us, and eternal in significance. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

On another note...

We spent last Wednesday thru Sunday in Michigan with Nicol's family and we had a great time. It was kinda busy... ok, more like non-stop, or so it seemed. We were there for a benefit concert for
Laban Ministries International (Nicol's parents' ministry in Congo, Africa). Selah did a full concert and everyone in the family participated in some way. It was an incredible night! $38,000 was given to the ministry by those in attendance and another $60,000 was given by Selah to the ministry from money that they had been collecting during concerts over the past 2 years. Almost $100,000 in one evening! The money will go to normal, everyday operating expenses and, believe it or not, while it is a tremendous amount of money, it will not last all that long. Laban supports upwards of 400 people in Congo, has 3 Bible schools, a radio station, and a medical dispensary, does regular evangelism trips, and more... each of which requires a significant amount of money. There are also several new ventures on the front burner, which will of course require new sources of funding. If you're not familiar with the ministry, click on the link above and check it out!

One highlight of the weekend was going to the Michigan-Michigan St. football game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. It was my first time there and it was AWESOME. Todd, Nicol's brother, shares season tickets with a couple of friends of his and last weekend was his turn in the rotation. It was actually a total surprise for me. I thought he and Angie were going... actually, that WAS their plan. So on Saturday morning I made a run to Dunkin Donuts and when I got back to the Smith's house I was greeted at the door by Todd, who had a big smile on his face. I thought that was somewhat strange... not that he was smiling, but that he was smiling so widely and just because I walked thru the door. But whatever. So I had a cup of coffee for Angie and he told me to go give it to her, which I did. I walked into the living room and everyone started talking about some sort of problem with me watching football that afternoon... I had already made it clear earlier that morning that I was planning to stay at the house and watch games while everyone else went out and did their thing. Nicol's dad said there was a problem with the TV and there was all kinds of chatter going on and I was thinking, "No problem, I'll just head back to the hotel and watch games there." And that's when Angie said, "Hey Greg, wouldn't you rather just go the the Michigan game with Todd?" or something like that. Truth be told, I can't really remember what she said, all I can remember is watching her pull a ticket out of her pocket and hold it up in the air. Her grin and the shiny gold "M" at the top of the ticket was all I needed to know that she was serious and that I was going to my first Big Ten football game! It was a great time. Thanks Todd. Thanks Ang. And thanks Jack... you are too generous! (That's an inside joke for Nicol's younger brother!)

An update on the house...

There was a showing last week and our realtor is hosting an open house today for local realtors. So we continue to wait, and wait...

Blessings to you all. And thanks again for your thoughts and prayers! You are loved!

Friday, October 17, 2008


At the risk of sounding like a broken record...

Forgive me. I apologize, but today stinks. Actually, so did yesterday... and the day before that. I would prefer to use stronger language than 'stinks'. Stronger? Nah, just honest... I would prefer to use more honest language, words that would help you understand what is going on inside of me. But I'll spare you that.

I am tired. I am weary. I am heavy laden. I am in need of rest.

I reflect on Jesus' words come to Me. I have done that... over and over. I did it yesterday. I did it this morning. Yes, there's nowhere else to go... and I do mean nowhere, I think I've mentioned that before... so to Him I will continue to run... but this is so dreadfully difficult.

I read the Psalms, sometimes one after the other after the other after the other. Yes, it's food for me, it's a lamp that gives light to this darkness... and yet I sometimes feel like I'm starving and I sometimes want for just a flicker of light. I read of the God who is ever near, ever able to deliver, ever listening... and yet sometimes I don't feel those things or see the results I'm desperate for. I read of the God who is a stronghold, a refuge, a shield... and yet I feel tormented and beat up and cut down by my enemy. I read of a God whose way is perfect... and yet I struggle to understand what feels to me like an imperfect plan. I read of the God who gives wide places on which to walk so that my feet won't slip... and yet I feel like I'm easing my way across a sheet of ice. I read of the God to whom David cried out, why have You forsaken me?... and I ask Him the same question. I read of the God to whom David said, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel... and I have to remind myself that I will never understand why Luke had to die, that I believe and yet I wrestle constantly with my unbelief, that this God is good, and that this life is oh so difficult...

I am grieving because my wife is torn up. She continues to fight back feelings of guilt and remorse. She misses her boy.

I am grieving because Wednesday was National Remembrance Day, or something like that... a special day for parents who have suffered the unthinkable, a day to remember and honor the children they have lost. Nicol wanted to go to a candlelight service, but I just couldn't do it. Maybe next year. Afterall, we're not in that club, are we? Oh yeah, we are. No, no, no, seriously, there's no reason for us to go, right?. That's for other parents, not us. Oh yeah, it is for us. Ok, ok, let's go and maybe we can somehow comfort a family or two. Oh wait, we need to be comforted too. But I just couldn't go.

I am grieving because... the unthinkable has happened... my son has died and I want him back.

I am grieving because this world is broken and its brokenness is constantly displayed on a ginormous HD Jumbotron, complete with a state of the art sound system whose volume is maxed out... dimentia, Alzheimer's, congestive heart failure, breast cancer, infidelity, adultery, selfish husbands, selfish wives, failed marriages, abused women, abused children, thanklessness, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, Amber Alerts, pornography, sexual addictions, lust, corrupt politicians, suicide, murder, power-hungry leaders, hypocrisy, starvation, HIV/AIDS, anger, dissension, contentiousness, bitterness, greed... you name it.

I am grieving. I am broken. God, our redemption draws nigh, please get us thru this. Jesus, please give us rest.


Thank you so much to everyone who voted on Nicol's songs! Be watching for "Round 2" on her myspace player. I just (on Friday @ 3:00pm) re-posted How Deep the Father's Love for Us (so that you can FINALLY hear it!), and I also posted 3 other songs - Blessed Be Your Name, My Father the King, and Holy (Reprise). You may have to wait on the songs to show up, so just keep checking back. Please feel free to let us know what you think of them. They will be saved for a future recording, but I thought you might enjoy listening to them just the same.

Vote results...
[ There were 207 voters ]

1. Knowing You [ 125 votes / 60% ]
2. We Will Worship the Lamb of Glory [ 101 votes / 48% ]
3. Holy / How Great Is Our God [ 96 votes / 46% ]
4. My Help [ 78 votes / 37% ]
5. I Will Offer Up My Life [ 74 votes / 35% ]
6. How Deep the Father's Love for Us [ 71 votes / 34% ]

What's next...
Good question! As I told you last week, there will be 10-11 songs on the project and 8 are already "locks." That said, Nicol's favorite of the ones you voted on is My Help, so we're hoping it will be there. My guess at this point is that the final 1 or 2 songs will be between Knowing You, We Will Worship..., and Holy / How Great..., and I'm sure that How Deep the Father's Love for Us has an outside shot as well, so please let us know your thoughts once you listen to it. The final decision, though, will not be Nicol's. We will definitely keep you posted.

Thanks again for your help! Your feedback has been very encouraging!

Monday, October 13, 2008


[ Songs... ]
Here is a message from the myspace folks, posted on Friday, October 8 re: the music player: "Playcounts are mostly fixed for everyone now! I know some bands are uploading songs and they're not showing up right away. We're working on this delay. Also, in about 2 weeks you will once again be able to reorganize songs and randomize the order of song plays. Thanks!"

"How Deep the Father's Love for Us" stills shows that it is 'processing' and, unfortunately, I can't even delete it in order to try to upload it again. I really want you to hear it though, so I'll probably let the current poll play out as planned thru Friday and then try to get "How Deep..." up on the player. Will keep you posted.

[ House... ]
The person who was supposed to look at it last Friday didn't show... which was kind of a bummer, but it's ok. Thanks for your prayers on the house situation. Please pray that the Lord would speak peace and discernment into our hearts as to what He is up to. In the grand scheme of things, it hasn't been on the market that long, and we've had a good number of folks look at it (12-13 individuals and couples). And so we wait... (Psalm 130:5-6)

[ Life... ]
I made my (at least) weekly call to my friend/mentor, Clayton, last Friday. He was in the middle of studying for his message on Sunday (he's a pastor in Bangor, Maine). He said he was starting a new series in 1 Peter. Our conversation naturally wound its way to the struggling economy and Clayton made this statement, which really caught my attention: "The news from Wall Street this week sure puts Peter's comments on our incorruptible inheritance in perspective"... or something to that effect.

Here's the passage he was reflecting on...

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (for context, 1 Peter 1:3-9; specifically, v. 4)

Over the weekend I read that last week alone Wall Street had lost $2.4 trillion in value. Last evening, a friend who is very knowledgeable on this subject told me that in the past year the value of stocks had dropped by an estimated 5 or 6 trillion dollars. So I wasn't stunned when I read an Associate Press article that began like this: "Trillions in stock market value — gone. Trillions in retirement savings — gone. A huge chunk of the money you paid for your house, the money you're saving for college, the money your boss needs to make payroll — gone, gone, gone." But I was surprised to read the answer to the question, Where did all those trillions go? In that same AP article, an economist from Yale put it this way: "The notion that you lose a pile of money whenever the stock market tanks is a 'fallacy.' ...the price of a stock has never been the same thing as money — it's simply the 'best guess' of what the stock is worth."

I'm no economist, but I understand what he's saying. Nicol has a much better grasp on this stuff than me, but I do get this part. Case in point. The house we bought in February 2006 was "worth" X amount of dollars. Today? You guessed it. Based on the recommended selling price, our house has probably lost 10-15% of its "value"... which, if I'm understanding things correctly, is someone's "best guess." Great. What has been the best investment in this country for decades is, in the end, worth whatever someone "guesses" it's worth. Or whatever someone is willing to give us for it.


To be honest, I'm not real worried about it. I am saddened by it, though, because it seems like a lot of our economic woes maybe/possibly/conceivably/perhaps (...probably?) could have been avoided. But worried? Nah. Ask me later on down the road, if or when things really bottom out... like if it becomes difficult or impossible for our family to eat, or if gas is in such short supply that it's difficult or impossible to get around, or if income streams dry up, or if the U.S. banking system buckles, or if the global market totally crashes, or... you get the point. I've got to be honest, I probably would not be so quick to say that I'm not worried if faced with the kinds of desperate circumstances those events would create.

My preoccupations issues like these, the cares of this world, are much less in my face these days. Sure, it matters, no doubt. I'd either be in serious denial or flat out lying if I said that worry and anxiety aren't a problem for me. I would love to say that I am blissfully at peace and that daily I give all my cares to the Lord because He cares for me. No, I struggle with it. What if this? or what if that? What if we go thru another Great Depression? What if we can't sell our house? What if we do sell our house but we can't get a loan to buy another one because credit has dried up? What if my dad loses his retirement? What if my grandparents lose their savings and investments? What if it gets so bad that we don't have any food to eat? What if we aren't able to see our families because it's too expensive to travel? What if our country is taken over in some crazy one-world solution to fixing our problems? What if panic sets in? What if violence escalates?

What if? What if? What if?

Ok, so I do have worries. But since losing Luke it seems like Nicol and I have a greater sense of contentment... odd as that may sound. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that we are less concerned about things we used to be very concerned about. Paul's words sort of ring truer than ever: If we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. And, I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Jesus' words too: Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Also, Luke's words in Acts: They [the Christ followers] devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Those in the early church had a pretty good handle on things, even in the midst of tough times. They considered God's Word, meaningful time together, shared meals, the Lord's supper, and prayer to be the things they couldn't do without.

Contentment. The necessities of life. Things that don't really matter. I feel like we're learning a little bit about these things. I struggle with the road we are on while learning these lessons because I would rather not have had to go thru the devastating loss of our son. Candidly, I would take my son back in a heartbeat in favor of another way of doing this. But that's not option. I can say, though, that God has been incredibly kind to us over the past 4+ months. He's given us everything we've needed during THE most difficult days of our lives. He's been near to us. He's soothed our hearts. He's bandaged our wounds. He's brought so many kind people our way, people who have loved us and supported us in any way they can. He's given a share of our burden to a countless number of people who have carried us... and THAT is a mystery, truly a miracle. He has burdened people to pray for us. He has taught us about Himself. He has drawn us to His Word. He has drawn Nicol and I closer to one another. He has caused us to be thankful for what we do have. He has blessed us with a beautiful, healthy little girl. Most importantly, He has reminded us of the hope that is ours, of the inheritance that, because of Jesus Christ, is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, eternally secure and ready to be revealed when God says so.

So while Wall Street continues its schizophrenic ebb and flow, while stock values melt away like snow in August, while banks in America, Europe, Asia and all over the world grapple with timely solutions, while global economists try to figure out how to stop things from caving in, while the wealth of this world rots away, while the clothes on our backs are coming apart at the seams, while my golf clubs are tarnishing in the sun, while ESPN SportCenter airs yet another re-run, while college football teams kick off one more essentially meaningless week of practice... let us hold tightly to and stand firmly on the promise of an inheritance that is not subject to decay or corruption, that is pure and unstained, that is pristine and not short-lived in its beauty but rather never-fading and always shining brightly.

Thanks for the reminder, Clayton, that the things of this world come and go, but the things of eternity go on forever. God help me to be content with the necessities of life... food, water, shelter, clothing, meaningful relationships... oh Lord, and give us each day our daily bread. Amen.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Vote on Nicol's New Songs

[ Update... as of Saturday morning at 10:45am, 5 of the 6 songs have loaded on the myspace player... "How Deep the Father's Love for Us" still shows up as 'processing'... hopefully it will be up today sometime... will keep you posted... thanks for the feedback we've heard so far! ]

Ok... would you be up for helping us choose the final 2-3 songs that will be on Nicol's latest project?

Here's the short story... Nicol has been working on a worship project for the past couple of years. She has recorded 16 songs (!!!!!) but only 10-11 will be on the cd. So, she and her label [ Curb Records ] have selected 8 tracks that will definitely make the final cut. Of the songs that are left over, only 6 are being considered for this project, and only 2-3 of them will make the final cut. I have posted those 6 songs on Nicol's myspace page and we would be ecstatic if you would listen to those songs and then vote for your favorite three.

All you have to do is...

(1) go to
Nicol's myspace page and check out the songs, then
(2) go to the poll at the top of the right sidebar here on this blog and click on the box next to each of your favorite three songs

It's that easy!

We look forward to hearing from you... feel free to write back and let us know your thoughts... you don't have to just vote!

Hope you enjoy the music!

* * * * *
I'll plan to keep the songs on Nicol's myspace player
thru the end of the day next Friday, October 17

Pics : 101008

Update on the house...
Someone looked at it on Wednesday and is coming back this morning at 11:00am. This will be the first person to see it a second time. Very encouraging!

I have been missing him so much the past couple of days. What a precious little guy. This morning I remembered one of his sweet smiles. It happened the morning of May 27, his heaven date. I had just walked out of my office and past his swing. I was looking at him as I passed by the swing and talking to him and he looked up at me with the biggest grin. It brought me to my knees... literally. I knelt down and kissed him on the forehead and stroked his hair and stayed there with him for a few minutes. If I linger too long on this thought regret will begin to creep in and haunt me. I wished I had picked him up. Ironically, the last time I held him was just before putting him in his swing that evening as I was getting ready to put Summer to bed. Same thing... I set him down, turned on the swing and music, and kissed him of the cheek. I'm so glad I did that. But, oh how I wish I could do it again today.

Here are some pics of our 'Little Man'.


Thought you'd like to see some recent pics of Summer too. She definitely keeps us laughing and smiling!

Our little princess
The earrings, ring, and necklace broke before we got home... now that's quality!

A two-year-old shaving? She's just growing up too fast!

I'm ready to go shopping, Mom! My extra paci's are in my purse.
And how cool are these sunglasses?

I love Five Guys... I'm on my fourth burger! And this Sprite is awesome!

Summer and "Uncle Todd"
What do you call Todd the friendly cat, especially when the only other Todd you know is your Uncle Todd?
For Summer, that would be "Uncle Todd"... obviously!

Thanking God today that His mercy is renewed every morning...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Psalm 126

I woke up this morning feeling weighed down, heavy, sort of like something very large was sitting on top of my chest. I check for elephants and cannonballs. Could it be an H3? Negative. None of the above. Deep breath. Exhale. No relief. Another gulp of air. Ok, this time let it out slowly. Nothing. Pressure still there.

So I grab my iPhone. lay down on the couch, and begin to read in the Psalms, starting at around 120, I think. Then I get to 126. Wow. I read it again. And again. And again. I read it in 9 different translations and paraphrases! I can't stop! (No kidding... see

The heaviness begins to lift.

The Lord does restore! He does refresh! Sometimes to the point where it feels like a dream! Can this be real? You shout for joy! You laugh out loud! Other people notice that God's doing something!

At least that's what the psalmist experienced.

Now I have to be honest here, I didn't do any jigs this morning. No bursts of laughter. No shouts of joy. But I was deeply encouraged. Deeply. Hopeful too. Especially because of verses 5 and 6.

Sometimes we have to sow our tears because it's ALL WE CAN DO. We have to sow our grief. We have to sow our discouragement. We have to sow our depression. It's the work God has for us for RIGHT NOW. So sow it, because He PROMISES that when it's time for the harvest, those same folks who sowed in tears will reap with SHOUTS OF JOY.

The Bible says that we will reap what we sow. Not in this case. God turns this stuff upside-down. He can take our heaviness and pain and anguish and depression and sorrow and transform it into light-hearted freedom and soul-deep pleasure and contentment and joy and happiness. As Peter wrote, ...the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. True, we will see that promise fulfilled in the future, but He can do "in the moment" too.

He did it for me this morning!

Hey, friends. Listen up. All of you. Over here. Can you see me? Can you hear me? Are you listening? If you are tired and worn out and beaten down and flat out not up to the challenge of carrying your load, I'm here for you. Now come on over and see me. I have something I want to give you: REST. (Matthew 11:28, my paraphrase)

Thank you Jesus!

Psalm 126
A song of ascents.

[1] When the Lord restored the well-being of Jerusalem,
we thought we were dreaming.
[2] At that time we laughed loudly
and shouted for joy.
At that time the nations said,
“The Lord has accomplished great things for these people.”
[3] The Lord did indeed accomplish great things for us.
We were happy.
[4] O Lord, restore our well-being,
just as the streams in the arid south are replenished.
[5] Those who shed tears as they plant
will shout for joy when they reap the harvest.
The one who weeps as he walks along, carrying his bag of seed,
will certainly come in with a shout of joy, carrying his sheaves of grain.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Update : 10608

The open house...

Nicol spoke with our realtor, Suzanne, this morning. She [Suzanne] was pleased and encouraged by the turnout and responses yesterday. Six couples saw the house and three are interested! No offers at this point, but Suzanne is going to follow up with them this week. So we're pretty excited and thankful about that!

My prayer remains that we see fruit from the decisions we've made, in this case the sale of our house. We know that if God wants us to move He will provide a buyer... and that is the "fruit" I'm talking about... the confirmation of His blessing and His ordering of our steps.

I'm also praying for patience and that we will trust Him for what is best.

He won't be wrong and we believe that.


"Barney has a big, big butt. He needs to wear PULL-UPS." [ I wonder what size PULL-UP he would need? Summer wears size 4, so I'm guessing Barney would be about a 104... not sure if the Big & Tall department keeps those in stock or not. ]

[ Nicol and I were having a 'conversation' Saturday morning... ok, ok, we were 'talking' thru a 'disagreement' we had on Friday... ok, ok, so we were having an argument... and apparently Summer thought we needed to give each other a break because she said, and you might have already guessed it if you've been keeping up with her comments, ] "May grace and peace in abundance." [ Funny, but we got over the disagreement when we heard that! God has such a sense of humor! ]