Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dan got MARRIED!

This past weekend we celebrated the marriage of a long time college friend. Back in college Dave met Dan his very first day at freshman orientation. They pretty much became inseparable from that moment on. They were known as the infamous "Dan and Dave." No one hardly ever said one name without the other. As we all know... time goes on and we grow up; college ends and real life begins.

To the left is a picture of Dan and Dave back in college, and to the right is a picture of them on Dan's wedding day. :)

We never thought Dan would tie the knot, until he meet Sara. They truly are the perfect match and we are so happy for them! The wedding was in Ft. Myers at the Yacht Club on the water. It was simply beautiful ... white chairs lining the luscious green grass, an aisle way painted with rose petals, an archway of flowers in front of the flowing bay water, crisp warm air, and the sun warming your skin. Just imagine yourself there. The reception was inside the yacht club with great food and lots of dancing. We had such a good time.Dan and Sara are hitched!

Dan, Sara, me, & Dave

In my eyes though, the highlight of the night was Dave's best man speech. Dan was the best man at our wedding and Dave wanted to make sure that he topped his speech - always so competitive. :) Dave worked on and practiced this speech for months - literally, but it paid off. It turned out perfectly and he even got a standing ovation when it was all said and done. It wasn't your typical best man speech, it was a song. I went to the bathroom shortly after the speech was over and overheard some women talking ... "Did you hear that best man speech?" one woman said. "Oh, no, that wasn't a speech," said the other, "that was the best musical endeavor I have ever heard!" ... I was cracking up laughing in the stall. You can hear the speech on the videographers website. I hope you will check it out . If you know Dan and Dave, you'll laugh so hard you'll cry - the message is so true. Dave's best man song

Monday, April 13, 2009

My husband, the author

If you read the blog a few weeks ago you would have read about Dave displaying 20 photos from Nicaragua in the Founder's Gallery at Shands. He was interviewed by a few local magazines and even asked to write an article for the Insider, which is a magazine specifically for the College of Medicine at UF. It is such an honor to be published in this magazine. Click on the picture below to go straight to the article.

One Way

Well, yesterday was Easter, probably the most significant holiday in the christian faith. Without this holiday we wouldn't be the same; we wouldn't have had a savior to pay the ultimate price for us and give us the freedom we have today. In church Pastor Max was talking about how alot of people just don't think they need a savior because they already have a good life - what more could they need? We seem to overrate our abilities in this life. We think that if we live a good life that will be enough to get us to heaven. The sad reality, is that it won't be good enough. But, the true reality, is that when we admit that we aren't enough - when we admit that without Jesus we aren't enough and we believe that with our whole heart, that will be enough to get us to heaven. A beliver once told me that if he's wrong in his beliefs in Christ, he has nothing to lose. He lived for a greater purpose and strived to be Christ like. But, if a non-believer is wrong, he has EVERYTHING to lose. So, why not believe?

Pastor Max then went on to tell a story about a man he met on an airplane. A rich man, who like I talked about above, lived a good life and that was enough for him. Pastor Max drew a ladder on a napkin with "God" at the top of the ladder. He asked the man to put an "X" on the ladder where he thought he fell in his "goodness", God being perfect, and the worst of the worst on the bottom (Hitler, Bin Laden, etc.). The man thought for a while and Pastor Max interrupted his thoughts and said, "You probaly need a benchmark to measure your goodness, let me help." So Max wrote the name of the Apostle Paul somewhere beneath the middle of the ladder and said that even Paul who was a disciple of Jesus said he was the worst of all sinners. Underneath Paul he wrote Mother Teresa, under Mother Teresa he wrote Billy Graham, and underneath Billy he wrote his name, Pastor Max. By this time Max is pretty much at the bottom of the ladder. He hands the pen back to this man on the airplane and once again asks him to put an "X" where he thinks he falls. The man places his "X" beneath Pastor Max and just above the very bottom step. ... When we think about how "good" our life really is and how "good" others have lived their lives, we don't feel so "good" do we? Romans 3:23 says, "for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." All of us - the Apostle Paul and Mother Teresa too. None of us could ever be good enough to spend eternity with God, that is why we had to have a Savior. That's the very reason Jesus came. He is the ONLY one who can save us from ourselves. God is not going to be okay with a "pretty darn good" life. God wants us realize the only way to him, which is through his son Jesus. We all (me included) have to stop worrying about what other people think, and worry about what God thinks!

They played a video at church that truly touched my heart. I know it doesn't take much, but I couldn't contain my tears. God has made a us a promise and he will follow through. He is making all things new again. It's a song sung by Brad Paisley and Sara Evens. The video was taken from various clips of the movie, The Passion. I hope you will check it out. New Again

I hope you will stop to reflect on your walk with God. Is it all you want it to be? Have you realized what Christ did for you? He put himself on a cross and paid the price for me and you. Three days later he was risen from the dead and to this day is seated on the throne next to the Father. What a peaceful thought. ... Jesus has overcome and the grave is overwhelmed. The victory is won. He is risen from the dead. - I will rise, by Chris Tomlin.

Happy Easter!
Much Love,
Dani and Dave :)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Hello Love

Last Friday Dave and I went to the Chris Tomlin concert in Tampa. It was AMAZING! It was seriously like a worship session for 2 hours straight! God is so good.

I wanted to post about this concert because of the amazing ways God works in peoples lives - all over the world. Chris Tomlin is an incredible christian artist. Over the past year or so he has been working on a new CD. He wrote a song called Love, which soon became the title of the CD, but the story behind it is amazing. After some talk with his producers about the song Love, they thought it would be great if they had an African children's choir singing in the background. But, they live in Nashville and never imagined that it could ever actually happen. Well, a few days later Chris got a text letting him know that the Watoto Children's Choir from Uganda was in town and had a day off on Thursday, the VERY day they were scheduled to record the song Love. Wow - God is good! So, his producers got on the phone and invited the Watoto Children's Choir to come on Thursday and help record this new song. Sure enough, they came dressed in their sweet African attire to record the amazing song that it is. When God wants something done, he gets it done!
Love - by Chris Tomlin and the Watoto Children's Choir

These children are the strings that pull on my heart as I listen to this song. The entire Watoto Children's Choir are children who live in an AIDS orphanage in Uganda. Many of them left behind after their entire family has been taken by the disease. Many of them with no hope, no future, and no one to love them. That is where the orphanage comes in. This orphanage was created specifically to shelter children with this disease - to give them a sense of peace, hope, love, and a future. It was also designed to show them that they have a God who loves them unconditionally; who loves us all unconditionally. Just the thought of that brings peace to my soul. In a world where there is so much suffering taking place - suffering that we don't think about because we are blessed enough to live in a country where we are educated and free - it is comforting to know that we have a God who is taking care of us, all of us. He will never let us go without being loved. I love the bridge in this song .. "Love is the answer. Love will find a way. When we love one another, it's a brighter day." God gives us a promise of something so much greater than we could ever imagine. He gives us the promise of eternal life with him, where suffering will cease to exist. These children have a glorious future to look forward to, as do we all. How awesome is it that these children got to sing in a song that expresses this kind of love? I know God was ministering directly to their hearts. When our life on this earth comes to a close, we get to be in the arms of our loving Savior who promised never to forsake us. What more could we ask for? When life is cold, there is a promise - we will never go without LOVE.

Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE.
1 Corinthians 13:13

For more information on the Watoto children check out their website at www.watoto.com/index.php and to make a difference in the lives of other Uganda children check out www.onemillioncan.com

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Smith House Poetry Day

A few weeks ago I started teaching my amazing 1st graders about poetry. I told them that poetry can be about anything and can be written in any way, even if it doesn't make sense. It is a way to express themselves. At first they were a bit timid to write in such a way that had no real format, but it didn't take long for them to see the freedom poetry provided. After we had been writing for about 3 weeks they decided that their parents should hear what wonderful poets they had become and we came up with the idea of having a poetry day in our classroom. We decided on a name, "Stuffed Animal Poetry Day at the Smith Coffee House." What else would you expect coming from 6 year-olds? :) We also decided that we would provide the same thing a coffee house would provide - coffee, doughnuts, and hot chocolate for people under the age of 10 (I guess a 10 year-old is allowed to have coffee according to a first grader! :) They also decided that they wanted to dress up for this special occasion - so cute! So, we made invitations and invited all our parents in for coffee, doughnuts, and great poetry this past Friday. We re-arranged our room to look like a cafe' and set up a directors chair and a microphone for poetry readings. They became such sweet authors as they read their poetry to the guests that came. Every parent smiled a proud smile as their child came up to read and everyone laughed at the things 6 year-olds say. It was such a special moment.

To the left is a picture of Hannah and I. Her poem went like this...
I have a loose tooth
Loose, Wiggly, Bleeding.
I have a loose tooth
Loose, Wiggly, Bleeding.

And to the right, is a picture of Ana. Her poem went like this...
I like Angelina.
She is my friend.
But when she cries, it makes me sad.
I still like her!

After our poetry day was over and we were cleaning up the classroom, I stopped, looked around, and watched them - in awe. I am in awe of what little people they have become. These children have such a special place in my heart. I have had most of them since the first day of kindergarten and now they are big first graders - almost second graders! They don't need me to read things for them anymore - they can do it themselves. They don't need me to tie their shoe anymore - they can do it themselves. They don't need me to help them go potty, line up at the door, remind them when to say sorry and when to forgive; they don't need me to help them write their name, put things away, use their manners, or remind them how to be a good friend - they can do all of it themselves. I was thinking this must be what it feels like when you become a mommy and your child doesn't need you for all the small things anymore because they are now big people and can do it on their own. I am so proud of my sweet little children. Even in the moments when they drive me crazy, I love them like I would my own child. After all, most of them call me mommy anyway. :) I just can't believe how independent they have become. The transformation is amazing. First grade rocks! :)