23 October 2011


Quiet as I have kept it, my Keurig has been on the blink for about a month.  (For those of you who don't know, Keurig is a coffee maker that brews single cups of coffee, tea and cocoas to perfection - one cup at a time).  As an avid Starbucks aficionado (and shareholder), the Keurig is a great "substitute" for going to my local Starbucks and ordering my "tall toffee nut latte in a grande cup with whipped cream to the top".  [I didn't have a picture of my machine, so this coffee cup picture will have to do]

When, all of a sudden the Keurig stopped brewing, I was traumatized...to the point of inertia.  I tried everything.  I emptied the reservoir and tried to restart the mechanism.  It would appear to go through the cycle, even say it was brewing and produce ... NOTHING.  I unplugged and replugged the machine endlessly. .  Finally, I emptied the water from the machine and just left it there.  Sitting on the counter.  Staring at me.  Mocking me with its inability to perform the function it was made to fulfill.  I probably let it sit for a week before I tried again...without success.  At no time during this process did I think , "get the manual, maybe there is an easy fix" or "Call Keurig, surely they can tell you what is wrong."  (Or if I thought it, I took no action in that direction)  I just stared at it as if the power of my desire for it to work would be enough.

Eventually, my mother (who didn't even initially LIKE the Keurig) said to me, "Uh, when are you going to get the Keurig fixed, I miss it."  (She uses it to make her evening cup of Sleepytime tea).  Even my brother, visiting my house, commented on my inaction regarding the repair of the machine that brought me such joy.  Finally, frustrated with my stymied response to the situation, HE looked up the number for Keurig and texted it to me with an implied message of "if you don't get off your duff and do something..."

I could not find the manual.  It has misappeared and is nowhere to be found, so I broke down and finally called Keurig's toll free customer service number.  I talked to a very nice customer service rep who made me go through a couple of troubleshooting maneuvers before she said the following magic words:  "Well, since none of that resolved your issue, let me get your mailing information so we can send you a FREE REPLACEMENT machine!"  WHAT?!  All this time I was in torment and I coulda had a FREE machine all along!!!  I coulda kicked myself in the butt.  My mom just shook her head at me when I told her and walked away.  My brother, yeah he just laughed.

Short digression, but I promise, I'm going to pull this all together.  I have a friend who bought a house that had the most beautiful, lovely, huge marble jacuzzi tub in the master bedroom.  When she was house hunting, and I accompanied her on one of her final walk-throughs, the tub was what sealed the deal for me.  In fact, after she bought the house. several times when she would travel, I would volunteer to housesit (she lived only 1.8 miles away) just so I could use her tub!  (Yeah, it was THAT nice!)  She lived in the house for over 5 years and recently confessed to me that, in all that time, she probably took a bath in it less than a dozen times.  She said it was too big, took too long to fill up and was difficult to keep clean.  I told her, incredulously, "Girl!  You wasted the blessing of that tub!"

Both of these situations make me wonder what God thinks about His children.  He has blessings untold in store for us and yet, whether through inertia or lack of appreciation, we block or fail to receive the blessings He willingly wants to give us.  And in further evidence of His goodness to us, He doesn't stop blessing us just because we are knuckleheads who are unappreciative.  He still sends the sunrises and sunsets that are beautiful to behold, even when we don't take the time to stop and look up and see them.  He still allows flowers, plants and trees to bloom and blossom even when we just walk on by as if they were not there.  He still wakes us up every morning, breathing, limbs in working order, minds functioning normally, even when we will not take two seconds to stop and say, "Thank you Lord for Your protective care during the night."  He is a good good God. We (starting with me) really need to serve Him better, don't you think?

Open your arms wide to receive the blessings God has for you.  Whether it's the free Keurig coffeemaker sitting in the warehouse ready to be shipped to you or the marble Jacuzzi tub. that may require a little bit of cleaning and patience as it fills  He has them for you because He loves you and there is nothing better than that.

Be blessed.

05 October 2011


I was blessed, beyond measure, to have two phenomenal women as my grandmothers.  On Friday, October 7, 2011, it will be 33 years since my maternal grandmother (pictured on the left) was laid to rest, and on the very next day, it will be one year since my paternal grandmother (on the right above) went to sleep in the Lord.  I was in 9th grade when my "Grandmommy" was taken from me, and at the ripe ole age of 45 when "Miss T" died. 

THELMA BEATRICE BROWN MOUZON.  My maternal grandmother was a powerhouse in a lot of ways and quite literally, was "larger than life".  The quintessential "preacher's wife", she was known throughout the South Atlantic Conference of Seventh-day Adventists as "Mom Mouzon".  Even three decades after her death, if someone finds out that I am a "Mouzon", I am regaled with stories of her warm smile, sunny disposition and wonderful cooking.  As a child born to military parents, I spent a lot of my childhood away from my grandparents, but every time we would head "home" to visit them, I knew my grandmother would wrap me in her loving arms and bury me in a monster hug, face planted smack in her very ample bosom.  My memories of my maternal grandmother are firmly entrenched in the sights, smells and sounds of her kitchen.  I remember going to visit her in Atlanta (on Wisteria Lane) or in Savannah in the big ole house with the wraparound porch that would become my home for a few months during 1978 and walking into the house and knowing that love would be shown through some sweet potato pie, a bowl of potato salad, a big pot of grits, or a mess of greens.  When my parents divorced, my maternal grandmother was the one who was instrumental in making sure that my brother and I remained in contact with my paternal grandparents.  I will forever to be grateful for the counsel she gave my hurting and grieving mother because it allowed me to have the rich and full experience of knowing my "other" grandparents for myself -and not through stories told by others.  When my mother remarried in 1978, my brother and I were displaced for six months as she moved to New York to prepare a place for us.  My maternal grandparents took us into their home in Savannah, GA.  I am sure my grandmother was not prepared for the rambunctious tomboy that I was at the time, but she took it all in stride - even when I came home from school with a black eye due to an accident with a steel pole on the school playground.  I think she thought I was going to be a demure "girly-girl" like my mom - boy, was she wrong!  Even though my grandparents were vegetarians, I remember her "allowing" Kevin and I to go to the KFC down the street for chicken when Rediburgers were no longer enough - and I remember her prayers for me as I struggled to adhere to the "rules" of being a young person growing up in the Adventist faith.  I graduated from 8th grade while in Savannah and I don't know who was prouder of my academic accomplishments - my mom or my grandmother.  I never saw my grandmother again after I left her house in Savannah.  Shortly after we moved to NYC, my grandmother succumbed to cancer.  My grandmother taught me love of family, compassion for others and an appreciation for Jesus Christ (although, I was too young at the time to know that is what she was teaching me.)  I have been alive twice as long without her physical presence than I was with her presence.  Recently, I was told, "you know, you look just like your grandmother."  At first, I was taken aback, but it makes sense.  My mom looks like her mom and we all know I look like mine, so I guess I do look like my grandmother.  That is not a bad thing - she was a beautiful woman, inside and out.  I look forward to meeting her again when Jesus returns.  I hope she will be proud of the woman I have become.

THOMASINA CYNTHIA PURCELL SMITH (aka "Miss T").  It is unbelievable to me (in some ways) that it has been a year since my paternal grandmother died.  And yet, in others, it is hard to believe that it has ONLY been a year.  Where my "Grandmommy" was sugar and sweetness, Miss T was definitely a "Hard Rock Charlie" who didn't suffer fools lightly - especially if the fool in question was her first born and only grand-daughter.  Anyone who knows me knows that from the time I left home at age 17 until just a few weeks before her death, every Sunday morning at 7:00 a.m., my grandmother and I had a weekly telephone call.  EVERY SUNDAY!  It didn't matter where I was in the world - even if I told her that I probably would not speak to her on Sunday - somehow, we always managed to connect on Sunday mornings.  From the outside, my grandmother seemed tough as nails, but I learned from all our conversations, that her standoffishness was really smoke and mirrors, and in a lot of ways, more about protecting herself than  about preventing others from getting too close.  When I was a little girl and getting on my mother's nerves with my precociousness and smart-alecky attitude, her "insult" to me was the admonishment that I was "just like [my] grandmother."  That would usually stop me dead in my tracks and I would straighten up and fly right - at least for an hour or so.  Miss T also was an amazing cook and probably more than anyone else, taught me how to cook and spawned my love for good food and the preparation thereof.  Many times, especially after my grandfather passed in 2001, I'd get a phone call on Thursday night with the question, "What are you cooking for Sabbath dinner?"  After I would tell her what I had in mind, she'd say, "That sounds good, I think I'm going to cook that too."  Another prayer warrior in my life, I grew up in the knowledge that my grandparents were praying for me, calling me by name, three times a day.  I miss having that in my life now, but the knowledge of all her prayers in the past will help sustain me in the years ahead.  I still wake up every Sunday morning at 7:00 a.m., and there have been a few occasions when I have reached for the phone before I remember that calling that old Florida number will not have the same result.  Every time I walk into the DeKalb Farmers Market, I remember the absolute joy she had in exploring the market during her visits to my home in Atlanta.  And I cannot eat SuperLinks (a vegetarian hot dog) without thinking of her. 

This weekend is going to be rough - remembering both of them.  So, I have packed it FULL of activities to keep my mind busy and occupied.  But even as I journey through the weekend ahead, I will remember and focus on the fact that I was blessed with two amazing Christian grandmothers who showed their love for me in vastly different ways - but each in the best (and only) way she knew how.  I am a better woman because of what they sowed into my life for 13 and 45 years respectively.  I trust that they are both asleep, awaiting the promised resurrection of the saints at the return of Jesus Christ.  I know that they would both be disappointed beyond measure if I was not "one of the number" that meets Jesus in the clouds at His return.  I, therefore, must strive (every day) to live my life in such a way that I don't disappoint them.
Be blessed.

09 July 2011


I got the text message about a month ago: “Kris, I’m going to be flying through Atlanta and wondered if we could meet for breakfast?” My immediate response: Of course! I am all about reunions and hanging out with friends and I had not seen this particular friend since we graduated from high school, a looooong time ago. (We’re talking EARLY 1980’s!). I got the date, thought I put it on my calendar and then promptly forgot about it…until this past Thursday, when I got another text: “I’ll be there on Saturday. Are we still on for breakfast?” Imagine my chagrin when I had to reply, “Is that THIS weekend?” Luckily for me, I hadn’t booked up my Sabbath and was able to further respond, “I am still available, cannot wait to see you.”

Last night, the night before the reunion, just like a little kid anticipating a trip to Walt Disney or the beach, I couldn’t sleep and set my alarm, just to make sure I wouldn’t oversleep, was up checking the clock through the night – and of course, fell into deep sleep right before it went off. At 6:00 a.m., when it did go off, I was reaching for the snooze button going, “Are you kidding me?! The sun ain’t even up yet – is this person really worth it? I need my sleep.” And then, I got another text: “Boarding my plane in Savannah, I should land around 7:30 a.m.” My verbose response was “Okey dokey”, before I groaned, threw myself out of bed and into the shower. And because I was not prepared, I was faced with the traumatic decision of “what do you wear to a 29 year reunion with the boy you had a crush on in 9th grade”? I mean, the outfit has to be “perfect”, right? Yeah, maybe in another life. I went for comfortable and hoped that would be enough.

Got in the car, yawning and stretching, and watching the clock, hoping that when I got the anticipated text, “I’m at baggage claim, where the heck are you?”, I would at least be able to say, “I’m parking the car”. God, in infinite His love and mercy for me, delayed the arrival time enough that I was able to get there, park the car, and be waiting in the arrival lounge when the call came saying, “I’m boarding the train [yeah, the Atlanta airport is THAT big!], and I’ll see you shortly.”

What happened next was a great reunion between me and my friend, Alex, who (as I said before), I haven’t seen since we graduated from high school. Since then, he has served 20 years (and 2 days) in the Army, gone to medical school, married the lovely Terry, had 3 kids, and like me, lives with his mother in a multi-generational home. We had a LOT to talk about, and a very limited time in which to do it. In a way, it was like we picked up right where we left off. There was none of that “I haven’t seen you in decades” awkwardness – just two old friends reuniting. It was great and I sincerely hope that it is not another 29 years before we see each other again.

As I was driving home, I thought about another reunion that is soon to take place. I imagine my Heavenly Father preparing for His return to the earth. He’s sending us “text messages”, letting us know that His arrival is imminent. And I am sure that we are responding, “oh yeah Lord, I cannot wait to see you. I’m putting you on my calendar” – and then walking away to do our own thing, forgetting to even “pencil Him in”. So, He sends another message and again, we’re like, “Yep, cannot wait to see you”, but living our lives in ways that tell Him we really ain’t ready.

I wonder if Jesus is in heaven unable to sleep because He knows that His reunion with His children is soon at hand. I wonder if He is wondering which robe of glory is the one He should put on for the trip back to Earth. I wonder if He has a nervous stomach in anticipation of the reception He will receive when He returns. Does He wonder if we will recognize Him immediately or be scanning the crowds going, “I think that’s Him…wait, I don’t know.”? Will His children be ready to greet Him, or will some of us be out in the parking deck of our lives, parking our cars and praying for His “flight” to be a little delayed?

I don’t know. What I do know is this: Jesus is preparing for His return. He is sending messages to us every day – through His Word, the Bible – and through nature – that He is coming back and we need to be ready. (Notice, I said “be”, not “get”). We, (and I truly mean “I”), need to stop playing games and recognize that missing out on this reunion is NOT an option. I want to be ready, sitting in the arrivals lounge, anxious and ready to return home with Him when He comes, don’t you?

Be blessed.

© 2011 Kristina E. Smith
Sabbath, July 9, 2011

26 April 2011


I dreamed I reached heaven
And I asked about you
And I started to search heaven,
But I didn’t – I didn’t see you.

When I was a little girl, I used to have mixed feelings about this song sung by the incomparable Wright sisters (aka The Blendwrights). I mean, isn’t the promise of heaven that we would be reunited with our loved ones who have gone to sleep in the Lord before us? The song goes on to tell how the singer finds her mother and her father, and how they all search for this missing friend/loved one to no avail. Very sad to a young child who listened to this album (yes, actual vinyl on a turntable ALBUM) every Sabbath morning.

This past weekend, I journeyed with my family back to Oakwood COLLEGE where I matriculated as a freshman student almost 30 years ago. My trip was two fold. My uncle was being honored as Alumnus of the Year, and my freshman class was celebrating the 25th anniversary of their college graduation in 1986. Although I only attended Oakwood for one year, the planning committee very graciously extended the invitation to attend the reunion to all students who attended from 1982-1986, whether they graduated from Oakwood or not. It was a great idea, but for a long time I was resistant to attending because my feeling was this: most of the people from my freshman class that I wanted to be in contact with, I already was in contact with them. Either through Facebook or other means, I was already in touch with whoever I wanted to be in touch with - there was no need to travel to Huntsville, AL to see them. Even when it was announced that my uncle was being honored and I knew I would be in Huntsville for that, I still waffled about attending the reunion festivities.

So, what changed my mind? A BARRAGE, and I do mean, barrage, of invitations from the planning committee to attend. In one week, it seems like I got a hundred (ok, slight exaggeration) emails, Facebook posts, phone calls, smoke signal messages from the planning committee members inviting me to come. When I explained my resistance for coming (mainly, I only attended for one year and wasn’t really a part of the class), I was pooh-poohed, shot down and in one case, I think even threatened that I “betta” come or there would be consequences for not showing up. (ok, another slight exaggeration). It was still with mixed feelings that I planned to attend. In fact, two days before my scheduled departure to Huntsville, I was still waffling about whether I would attend.

And then, on Friday evening, I walked into Oakwood University Church and started seeing my classmates – some of whom I had not seen since I left the Oaks in May 1983, including my (one of) roommates from freshman year. And they remembered me – and I remembered them – and we laughed and hugged and mugged for the cameras. And what a reunion it was! What joy to reconnect with people who shared a mutual experience and survived it to become the strong, beautiful (or handsome), successful Christian men and women God envisioned us becoming 30 years ago. It gave me hope and a glimpse of what heaven will be like – and what our reunion there will be.

But unfortunately, like the song lyrics above, there were some classmates that were not there. Whether because of their lack of desire to be there, other obligations, financial inability, or even sadly, because of death – there were some classmates that no matter who you asked or how many times you asked, they just were not there. And that made me sad as well.

But the song (and this blog) ends on a bright note:

But then, I saw Jesus and I asked about you
And He took me by my hand and He led me through that land
And then I saw you there and I thanked Him, I thanked Him
I found you.

There is a reunion coming that will eclipse the joy, love and fellowship I experienced with my classmates this past weekend. A time is coming when we will see our loved ones who are asleep in the Lord. We will be reunited with people that we have “forgotten” that we want to be reunited with – those ministers that fed into our lives, those neighbors who were more than people who lived in the neighborhood, those friends that we saw every Sabbath in church. We will meet our guardian angels and thank them for their watch care over us (or in my case, apologize for the hazardous assignment!). But most of all, we will see Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer – the One Who died on the cross for us and rose on the first Easter Sunday ever. I pray that we will all make plans now to be at that “Alumni Weekend” and that there will be no ambivalent feelings about it. See you there!

Be blessed.

© 2011 Kristina E. Smith
Tuesday, April 26, 2011

01 March 2011


I have said this before, and it bears repeating: I don’t get the whole idea of loving someone or something so much that you would give your life for that person, thing, or object. Maybe there is a fundamental defect in my character. Maybe, as some have suggested, it’s because I don’t have a child of my own – apparently, parenthood triggers that response in most normal people. But even when people tell me that, I just shake my head and think, “yeah, I don’t think so.”

All of this is on my mind because, while I pride myself on liking a wide and varied array of music, I never heard Bruno Mars’ hit single, GRENADE, until a few days ago. (In reality, I'd never heard of Bruno Mars. Sorry.) While visiting a friend, the song came on and we started discussing the lyrics:

I’d catch a grenade for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Throw my hand on a blade for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
I’d jump in front of a train for ya (yeah, yeah , yeah)
You know I'd do anything for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Oh, oh
I would go through all this pain,
Take a bullet straight through my brain,
Yes, I would die for ya baby;
But you won't do the same…

When the song reached that last phrase, “but you won’t do the same”, I busted out laughing and said, “you got THAT right!” Of course, my friend just shook his head and we continued our discussion about the song and my response to it. Basically, I don’t want ANYONE to love me THAT much, ‘cause I know (deep down, in the crevices of my heart) I won’t reciprocate. And, talk about pressure! I mean, does it really take physical harm and pain in order to prove your love for someone? If so, count me out.

But then I thought – you know, that is EXACTLY what Christ did on Calvary for me. He gave up EVERYTHING, including His life, for miserable wretches like you and me who don’t even appreciate it – and, in reality, probably wouldn’t do the same. If you read (and believe) the Bible, there may come a time when you (and I) will be called upon to die for our beliefs. Can you imagine being called upon to die for the right to worship on the day that you personally believe to be the right day of worship? Don’t get it twisted: some of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world are already facing these challenges to their religious liberties and rights. There may come a day when my job and employment could be at issue because of my position as a Sabbath keeping Christian. What will I do? Will I then be able to sing Bruno Mars’ song about sacrificing it all for love - the love of Jesus Christ? I pray so, I hope so – because if anyone is worth loving in such a manner that I would be willing to lay down my life – it is definitely Jesus Christ. Just something to think about.

Be blessed.

© 2011 Kristina E. Smith
Tuesday, 1 March 2011

28 February 2011


Decades ago, when I was a freshman in college, I had the privilege of singing in a choral group called Blessed Peace, under the direction of Mervyn Warren and Mark Kibble, now famous for being founding members of the gospel phenomenon known as Take 6. Kibble and I developed a special relationship and years later, when their first album was released, even dated for a while. Kibble taught me almost everything I truly know about music – how to listen to it – eyes closed under headphones, listening for every nuance of the music; introduced me to artists I would otherwise be unfamiliar with (and some, even in person) ; and encouraged me to find (and use) my voice when I was quite content to be just another second soprano/first alto in a group of other voices. I think his biggest disappointment in me was when I stopped singing in venues other than my shower, bedroom and car.

On the flip side, because we spent a lot of our time in the realm of the musical world, I am very tuned in to his musicality and voice. Even after we were no longer dating, and he became the Grammy award winning vocalist, producer, and arranger that he is today – if I bought an album, CD, whatever – not knowing that he had anything to do with it – as I played it and a song came on that he’d touched in any way, I’d go to the liner notes, read them, and upon seeing his name in the credits, smile and say, “I knew I knew that voice (or style)”. And depending on where I was or knew he was, I’d call him and say, “Hey, I just heard your work on the Stephanie Mills/Donnie McClurkin/CeCe Winans project” and then give him my critique. (As if, I was an expert music critic – hahaha) He always listened patiently and sometimes, would even call me and ask my opinion about something he’d done. And I was always honest in my opinions…much to his chagrin. But that kind of knowledge and honesty only comes with relationships that are nurtured and cared for over time. They don’t happen overnight. Today, Mark and I live very different lives and sometimes we go months without speaking with each other. However, if I call him or he calls me, even without caller ID, the recognition of the other’s voice is instantaneous.

There is another voice that I pray I know just as intimately – and that is the voice of my Heavenly Father. The Bible tells us, in the 10th chapter of John, that God’s sheep (or followers) know His voice and follow Him. It has been my experience that God talks to me in various ways – sometimes it is the clear “Kristina, get off your duff and do this”; sometimes it’s the fleeting thought that maybe I should take another route in traffic – or the constant urging to reach out to a long-lost friend. Sometimes, the voice is loud and distinct – other times, a little soft and muffled. But I am learning to listen, learning to act when I hear it. Getting to KNOW that voice. The greatest thing that voice will ever say to me will be: Well done, my good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joys of Thy Lord. Don’t you want to hear him say that to you?

Be blessed.

© 2011 Kristina E. Smith
Sunday, February 27, 2011

26 February 2011


Do you have a friend who has a “signature accessory”? You know, that one piece of “umph” that they ALWAYS have to spice up an outfit. One of my girlfriends is known for her shoe collection (ok, I have a LOT of friends who fit into this category); another for her big, blingy jewelry; another for her hats; another who doesn’t step out of her house (not even to go to the gym or grocery store) unless her face is perfectly made up – fake long eyelashes and all. And don’t get it twisted, guys can have signature accessories as well. I had a male friend who was known for his braces (not to be confused with suspenders – I’ll never forget the lecture I received when I once commented “Nice suspenders” – oy vey!) – and several who are now known for their bowties every Sabbath. My brother, for years, did not leave the house without his “Gilligan” cap – you know, Gilligan from Gilligan’s Island…this may be before some of my younger friends’ time, but Gilligan’s Island used to be the show! And my mother, won’t leave the house unless her watch is a match – either in color scheme or whatever else suits her fancy. Brooches, tie pins, hats, watches, wigs – all ways we express ourselves creatively in our dress.

For a while, my “signature” was my locs. Six years of people commenting on my locs – whether they liked them, loved them or hated them – they ALWAYS got comments. Then, for a while, it was my vast shoe collection. Since messing up my knee last October, my shoes have languished in their plastic shoe boxes until such time that I can fully enjoy them again.

Now, it seems, my signature accessories are scarves. I have them in every color, texture, weight, size, length – you pull out an outfit, I probably have a scarf that will complement it. Today, my love of scarves tends to be in the “outerwear” arena – something I can throw on, but just as easily take off. (As opposed to a scarf that is truly a part of an outfit and cannot be removed without changing the whole look and effect of what you are wearing). My love for scarves began years ago because of my admiration of an elder in my church who ALWAYS had a perfectly knotted and tied scarf to accent her suit or dress. There were several Sabbaths when I would show up to church, scarf in hand, and she would hook a sista up! And she never complained about it – just looked at me, looked at the scarf and tied it in an elaborate, beautiful bow that would get me complimented for the rest of the day. Thanks, Elder Ruff!

But there is a much more important accessory that we should strive to carry everywhere we go, and that is the character of Christ. Wouldn’t you like to be known as the person who is ALWAYS magnifying the Lord through words and actions and deeds? That when people came into your presence they would KNOW the love of God through their interaction with you? I searched the Bible for a text that spoke to what I am trying to say EXACTLY without success, but Isaiah 61:10 comes close: I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. If that is what being clothed by the Father can do, what need do we have of any other accessory?

As you get dressed each day and prepare to meet the world, whether you slap on a Gilligan hat, or tie a scarf around your neck, or make sure that brooch sets off the colors in your clothing…make sure you put on the character of Christ as you face the world. Let THAT be your signature accessory. What do you say?

Be blessed.

© 2011 Kristina E. Smith
Sabbath, 26 February 2011

10 February 2011


I have a confession to make – well, maybe “confession” is not the right word, but here goes: I am a single woman who does not utilize the full length, width and breadth of her queen-sized bed. There, I said it. I am a right side of the bed only type of girl. The other side is usually covered up with books, my e-Reader, papers, magazines and a plethora of other stuff that I fall asleep with. I come by this foolish habit honestly. My mother also only utilizes one side of the bed. And while I accept this “flaw” in myself – every time I see her sleeping on the edge of the bed, it drives me BONKERS! Many a discussion with her about this habit has started with me exclaiming, “Why are you sleeping on the edge of the bed? One wrong turn in the middle of the night and you are gonna hit the floor!” And she always looks at me, scoots over half an inch and goes right on doing whatever she was doing – including sleeping.

What a waste of the rest of the bed! All that room to wiggle around in. I mean, isn’t that one of the inherent blessings of NOT sharing your bed with another human? (And for all you married people reading this blog – THIS AIN’T ABOUT YOU! Without going too much into my personal past history about sharing a bed, I “get” the joys of sharing a bed – but that ain’t where this blog is headed - So, step off!) My point is: there is a blessing I could be taking advantage of EVERY NIGHT if I would just clear the debris off the other side of the bed, position myself in the middle, and hunker down into a good night’s sleep.

But…I don’t do it because (1) I’m comfortable on the right side of my bed. The mattress is contoured perfectly to my body. The pillows sit just right for snuggling down each night; (2) who has time, before going to bed, to go through all the paperwork that is piled up during the day – it can wait until the morning; and (3) the book I’m reading to put me to sleep needs a place to rest as well – might as well be the left side of the bed. Ok, ok – I get that these are all just excuses, but they work for me.

How often to we make the same excuses when it comes to the blessings that the Lord has in store for us? Sometimes by stepping outside our box (or moving to the other side of the bed), we find that there are more blessings waiting for us. By exploring the possibilities of unknown waters, we might find out things about ourselves, and the people around us, that will help us to grow and achieve the things that we say we want to achieve. Maybe by moving to the middle (or even the other side) of the bed, I can find a different kind of sleeping experience that might just be better. One neva knows until one tries – right? Right.

So, I’m going try sleeping in the middle of the bed for a while – let’s see what wonderful things will unfold from the experience.

Be blessed.

© 2011 Kristina E. Smith
Thursday, February 10, 2011

02 February 2011


One of my many hobbies is photography. Now, let me back up and emphatically state: I don’t call myself a “photographer”, although I never leave home without my trusty, dusty, I really need a new one, digital camera and a memory card of at least 2GB. (you neva know who (or what) you might see when you are out and about.) I keep my camera with me in order to capture the memories. As I get older, it becomes easier and easier to forget – who I was with, where I’ve been, what I ate – so, if I take a picture, I have something tangible in my hands to look at, hold onto and go “oh yeah, I remember that!”

But, as I have taken more and more pictures, as I “hone my craft” by participating in online contests or just by posting them to my Facebook page or website: I have found myself comparing myself to other “real” photographers. I have several friends who take such wonderfully amazing pictures that I often feel like, “why am I even trying? – I thought I had a good eye, but obviously, I don’t – I should just pack my camera away and never shoot another thing again – EVER!” I expressed this to one of those amazing photographers recently and she responded with the following quote from an ebook she was reading called "Photo NUTS and shots", written by Neil Creek:

"One serious mistake I see many new photographers making is to compare themselves and their photos to other, more experienced photographers, and feel inadequate. Every great photographer was once a beginner, who fumbled with their first camera and made exactly the same mistakes all new photographers make. Do not forget that photography isn’t just about taking jaw-dropping photos, it’s also about capturing memories and emotions. It’s about sharing your experiences with others and your future self."

She then followed this quote with words of encouragement to “keep shooting and keep sharing, Kristina.” Since our conversation, I have taken more pictures and captured more memories and snapshots of my life and for that, I will forever be grateful.

But it got me to thinking, how often do we compare ourselves to others in our Christian walk? How often do we look at a saint in the church and think, “Man, if I had a relationship with Christ like Sister So-and-So does, I’d be straight” – or – “Bro. Man really has his act together. I wish my walk with the Lord was as strong as his.” I know I have been guilty of this. Looking at people when I should have been focusing on Christ. He is the only One Who ever truly had it all together with the Father. The rest of us have just been stumbling along trying to find our way. Behind her leading of the praise team or telling the Children’s Story each week, Sis. So-and-So may be dealing with an abusive husband or with unruly children. And Bro. Man may be struggling with the demons of alcoholism or drug abuse or promiscuous behavior. Don’t let the good suit (or dress) fool ya. Stop comparing yourself to other sinners and look to Jesus Christ, the one and only Example worth comparing yourself (myself) against in your Christian walk.

To wrap this all up, I looked for a Bible text talking about the uniqueness of each child of God. I couldn’t find one that I thought fit “perfectly”, so I offer this passage to you as an encouragement: Matthew 10:29-31, NIV: Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

In other words, God KNOWS you – warts and all – and loves you (in spite of them – or even better, He loves you because of them). He is not expecting you to be anyone other than who you are. And He doesn’t expect you to be anywhere other than where you are right now in your walk with Him. Now, that does not mean that you (I) STAY where you are (I am) right now – we MUST grow in Him – in our relationship with Him, but at the pace He sets for us. And we cannot master that growth if we keep looking around to see what other people are doing. Keep your eyes on Jesus – He is the only One worth comparing yourself to.

Be blessed.

© 2011 Kristina E. Smith
Wednesday, February 02, 2011

20 January 2011


Atlanta, the city I call home, was held in the grips of an ice storm last week. I learned a lot of lessons while stuck at home during the storm. One is, my Northern-based friends have little or no compassion when us Southerners get hit with “winter weather”. No matter how many times I tried to explain that ICE ain’t the same as SNOW, they kept telling me to “suck it up” and to “stop being a wuss”. I’ll remember to show just as much compassion to them when they get buried under 4 feet of snow AGAIN this winter. Humph. (hahaha)

Second, I learned that people react differently in times of imposed solitude. Some people relished the time off and used the time to complete projects that had been sitting on the back burners of their lives. Some used the time to watch the news reports (over and over and over again). Some people got up and out and played in the foolishness – yeah, that was NOT me. And some people kept it moving as if nothing unusual and untoward were going on.

Third, I learned that the recovery from the storm took different levels of time. If you look closely at the picture attached, this hill has ice towards the top and grass peeking through at the bottom. Both parts of the hill were covered with snow and ice at some point, but the bottom of the hill recovered more quickly. Why? Location, location, location. What am I talking about? In my neighborhood, I discovered that the houses that received direct sunlight recovered more quickly from the ice storm than those that were shadowed by trees or other things that blocked the sun. I am blessed to live on the side of the street where the sun shone brightly and directly on my house. So, snow and ice came on Sunday – on Tuesday, I was able to drive out of my driveway and around the neighborhood. [Thank God for living on the “sunny side of the street.”] Some of my neighbors were locked in their garages until Friday because of the ice encased on the roads and their driveways.

As I drove around the city in the days following, during the “meltdown” period, the effect of the sunshine was always evident. Roads that got direct sunlight were a breeze to drive on – the ice was slushy and easily scraped away by the plows (when they came through). The roads that were shaded or otherwise obstructed from the sun by buildings or bridges – let’s just say, “white knuckles” were common when driving through those areas. They were … passable … but the journey was not as smooth or comfortable.

There is a spiritual lesson here as well. When the “SON” shines on our “ICY” hearts, He can melt away a lot of things that make our lives hard, isolated, encased in solitude. The melting process doesn’t happen overnight – it is a gradual process. And this is a good thing because change is difficult. If all the ice melted in one day, where would the water go – into the streets and since the temps didn’t get above freezing for a while, it would have just frozen over again. Through the gradual melting of the ice, the ground was (our hearts are) able to absorb the moisture and the “healing” (the melting) could continue – even in the midst of the same (freezing temperature) conditions.

So, what I ultimately learned from the ice storm of January 2011 is, if I allow the Son to shine on the icy situations in my life (family, work, friendships, whatever), in HIS TIME, He will melt away the ice and bring healing. I just have to go through the process, patiently waiting on Him. He has the power to make it all right.

Be blessed.

© 2011 Kristina E. Smith
Thursday, January 20, 2011

11 January 2011


Atlanta, the city I call home, is currently in the throes of a winter storm. Snow, sleet, freezing rain, ice – in the last 48 hours, we have received it all. And even though winter storms are becoming more of the norm as opposed to the abnormal, the city still ain’t prepared. Cars abandoned on the interstates, grocery stores running out of essential foods, streets covered with a layer of ice-snow-ice – it’s an absolute mess out there. Over and over, the news broadcasters have been advising people to stay home and off the roads. But people are hard-headed and the newscasts have been full of accidents and mishaps and mayhem.

From Sunday evening until Tuesday afternoon, I was obedient. I stayed my happy behind at home, in the warmth and comfort of my home. I advocated the staying at home to all my friends and family. “It ain’t worth risking your life to drive anywhere in this mess.” But as the temp moved slowly towards (and above) 32ยบ, and I could hear the snow melting and dripping off the eaves of my house, cabin fever hit and I had to get out! Armed with a movie rental that needed to be returned, I bundled up and headed out.

As I drove out of my driveway, down the street and around the corner, I noticed that some of my neighbors had ventured out before me – gouging deep tire ruts into the slushy mixture on the roads. I also noticed that as I drove in the ruts left behind by those drivers who went before me, I had more traction and grip and didn’t slide as much as I navigated the roads. Seeing some of my neighbors pull into their driveway, I rolled down my window and asked, “how are the roads?” “Once you get to Covington Highway, the roads are clear. Just stay in the ruts until then and you will be fine.” It was good advice. I followed it and had no problems making it to the grocery store, where I returned my RedBox movie rental and picked up a few “necessities” for the next 24 hours trapped in my house.

Too often we think of “ruts” as bad things – things to be avoided. How many times have you admonished yourself (or a friend) that you/they need to “get out of the rut”? Try something new. Do something exciting. All that is good and I don’t mean to imply that we should not do that. But sometimes, when you are navigating tricky terrain, you need to walk in the footsteps of those who have gone before. That is why I feel there is value in having friends who are older than you. (And I mean, decades older – not just a few months). Our elders have traveled the roads we are now traveling and have a wealth of wisdom to offer – whether it is career advice or parenting skills or even how to have a full, rich prayer life. Sit at their feet and listen – you will be amazed at what you can learn.

There is a time and place to “forge your own path” – to “make your own way”. But there are other times when “driving in the ruts” is the safest and best course of action.

Be blessed.

© 2011 Kristina E. Smith
Tuesday, January 11, 2011


But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. 2 Thessalonians 3:13

It’s the beginning of a New Year. We are eleven days in and I have a question: how many have fallen short on a resolution already? I feel you hanging your heads in shame – I feel you. I’m right there with you. You start off the New Year – full of good intentions – determined that THIS year is gonna be different, gonna be better. You will be more loving, more kind, more devoted. You have set a goal (whether it is a new one or an old one that has been pulled out the drawer, dusted off and polished for this year) – and here you are, 11 days later and already, you’ve dropped the ball, fallen off the wagon, reverted to your old patterns. Well, I’m here to offer encouragement (I hope) that you can start again. Your momentary lapse doesn’t have to be the end game for the year.

In December 2010, NBC had a reality show called THE SING OFF. In its second season, the only reason this show caught my attention was because some friends of mine were contestants for the show. This group of young men, COMMITTED, captured the hearts of America and seemed destined to win the grand prize. Even the judges seemed to be on their side – complimenting them over and over on their style, grace, “bell tones”, and even their name (but more on that later). The weekend of the vote, Facebook was abuzz with reminders to “vote for Committed”. Fresh off of Brandy’s unfair loss on Dancing with the Stars, the friends/family/fans of Committed were determined that the “right” group would win this contest, this time. And their perseverance, multiple votes, and commitment to the cause paid off. On December 20, 2010, Committed was crowned second season winners of the Sing-Off, changing their lives forever. Overnight, fame, fortune, money and a record contract was theirs for the taking.

About a week later, I woke up convinced and convicted that our work as supporters of these young men was not over. That just as we voted for them to win the contest, we needed to continue to support them with our prayers. So, I started a fan page on Facebook called COMMITTED TO PRAYING FOR COMMITTED where fans/friends/family could join in a year-long campaign to pray for the members of this group individually and for the group as a whole. Each day of the week is dedicated to an individual member of the group and then on Sabbaths, we pray for the group as a whole. In less than 2 weeks, there were over 2,000 people who liked the page and committed to this cause.

Spearheading this effort will take a 365 day commitment on my part – and let me tell you, there have already been days when I am not as on top of it as I would like to be. People mean well. They say they will do something for a year – and then, 11 days later, find themselves dropping the ball. No condemnation in that statement – it’s just human nature. But, I hope people will help hold my feet to the fire on this commitment. Because I firmly believe it is important. These young men are Committed – not only because that is the name of their group, but they are committed in their belief and convictions about their relationship with God and how He has placed them where He has placed them. I am told that when NBC wanted them to rehearse and do production stuff on the Sabbath, they stood firm to their beliefs and said “No.” As a result, the NBC production schedule was changed to accommodate them. Now, THAT is powerful stuff – but God honors those who honor Him. I believe these young men will go far in their musical careers as long as they hold on to their beliefs, relationships and commitments to the Lord.

I invite you to join the campaign. Even if you don’t pray every day, whenever they cross your mind – whether it is an individual in the group (DJ, Tommy, Robbie, Therry, Maurice or Geston) or the group as a whole – prayer is a powerful thing. Send one up for them and watch the two-fold blessings unfold.

Be blessed.

© 2011 Kristina E. Smith
Tuesday, January 11, 2011

05 January 2011


I am often intrigued by the vanity plates that people put on their cars (and pay extra money to do so). Some messages are easy to figure out (LKY DWG or CA LAKER or GD BLSD) while some have meaning only to their owners. But I saw a license tag earlier this week that stuck in my brain and is the stimulus for this blog.

I first noticed the car because it was SHARP – silver grey convertible Mustang – gleaming in the sun as it zoomed past me on the highway. I noticed it because I love love love convertibles and I love love love Mustangs. And then I noticed the license plate: IOWENO1. “I owe no one”. At first, I thought, “well, that’s great – his car is paid for and he doesn’t owe anything on it.” Having never had a car note in my life, I understand the joy and pride in being able to make such a claim. There is a joy in ownership that makes you want to just puff out your chest and scream, “yep, yep – this is mine, I own it, no one can take it from me – not the bank, not the insurance company – it’s mine, it’s paid for, I own it. Be jealous.” I get that, and ain’t necessarily mad about it.

But the more I followed this car, I started thinking about a different, more insidious message he could be conveying. “I owe nobody nothing – I GOT this on my own, look what I did.” This is a deeper, more foreboding kind of pride in my book. It is my belief that, as we go through life, at some point in the journey, we all owe somebody something. We owe our parents love and respect because they brought us into the world and hopefully, gave us the tools we need to survive and be contributing members to society. We owe our families, friends and support networks for the love and care they feed into our lives. We owe our teachers who, along the way, encouraged us to expand our minds and reach for seemingly impossible dreams in order to better ourselves and the world around us. In other words, none of us walk through this life alone. And therefore, because of this, at some point and somewhere along the way, we do owe someone something. There is a debt to be repaid.

But even if you don’t agree with me about the earthly debts we might owe, there definitely is a spiritual debt that we owe to our Heavenly Father. Without Him, we could not live, breathe, have our being or even open our eyes in the morning. [Now, I have a friend who upon reading this blog will read me the riot act and tell me that the opening of our eyes each morning is a natural function that happens automatically and that God has nothing to do with it. Yeah, we disagree 100% on that, but I let him flap his lips about it, shake my head and walk away praying for him.]

I just wonder sometimes, if that is how the enemy of our souls started down the dark path that would eventually lead him away from God. Did he wake up one morning thinking that he’d done it under his own power? Did he think he didn’t “owe” anyone anything either? Did he look in the mirror and decide he could do it bigger and better than the Creator Himself? I don’t know, but it makes me sad because MAYBE if he hadn’t given in to the thought of his own self-importance and feeling of “I got this and I don’t need or owe anyone anything”, we wouldn’t be caught up in this spiritual tug-of-war between good and evil now.

IOWENO1…nice concept for a license plate, but I think you do “owe” somebody anonymous Georgia driver…I think you do.

Be blessed.

© 2011 Kristina E. Smith
Wednesday, January 05, 2011

02 January 2011


For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:10

Yes, today is Sunday. Yes, most people are at home watching football – at least, that’s all they are talking about on Facebook today. And where am I? I’m at work. Does that sound like a complaint? If so, let me retract and start again.

Today is Sunday and it is a pretty, beautiful, sunny day in Atlanta. And I am at work. Yaaay. (Is that better?) Yeah, I didn’t think so. Ok, one more try.

Wow! What a blessing to be at work on the first Sunday of the New Year – the second day of January! I mean, there is a blessing in having a job (especially in this economy) and a double blessing to have a job that you sincerely, truly, (most days) LOVE. (I can honestly say that would be my claim about my job about 85% of the time…very rarely am I at the “I cannot stand that place and wish I never had to go back there”. (Been there, done that at other jobs – haven’t had that feeling here yet – and I have been here for 10½ years.) The work is not difficult. And while some days, the people are challenging, I am sure that there are many days that my co-workers wonder what did they ever do to get saddled with me as a co-worker. (I have been told I have a “strong” personality – y’think?) But as my daddy once told me (and as the Bible verse states above), “if you don’t work, you don’t eat.”

But even more than that, there are some other blessings that are inherent in having a job:
• the ability to pay the mortgage so that my mother and I have a safe, secure place to call home.
• the ability to buy groceries so that I can indulge my “foodie” tendencies and cook the food I enjoy eating that is nourishing to my body and soul
• having the wherewithal to share random acts of kindness with the friends and family who love and support me
• working a schedule that allows me to make memories with friends and family members during the day and on weekends
• having money to save so I can take the vacations I love
• having a schedule that, with the right amount of organization and planning, gives me more time to do the things that are important to me: spend time with my mother; spend time with God; write; exercise (ok, I’m still working on THAT one); cook healthy, nutritious meal; minister – to myself and others.

All of these things are great and wonderful. But there’s another blessing that I have found out recently about work and having a job. Over the last few years, unfortunately, I have had several friends who have been negatively impacted by the “economic downtick” – friends who have lost their jobs, and somehow with that loss, have lost their sense of self-worth and self-identity. As one friend told me recently, “I didn’t realize how much of my self-worth I had tied into what I did for a living, until I didn’t have a living for it to be tied to.” She confessed that, while she was unemployed, she didn’t feel “worthy” – worthy of dating a man who was interested in dating her; worthy of the gifts that friends tried to give her to help her over the financial hump she was facing – just not worthy of anything good at all. Thank God she has found work and she loves her new position – even though she had to take a huge cut in salary when she found it. She has found her feet again and for that, I am glad. (as is her new “honey” that she finally agreed to go out on a date with.)

So, it may have sounded like I was complaining when I started this. That was only for effect. I am happy to have a job, and glad to be at work – even on a sunny Sunday when there are plenty of other distractions calling for my attention. I am happy to be here because I have learned that there is value – more than just the overtime money that will be in the next paycheck – in doing an honest day’s labor.

Be blessed.

© 2011 Kristina E. Smith
Sunday, January 02, 2011