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