My Hollyhock…


I love Hollyhocks! They remind me of growing up on the farm near Otisville, Michigan. They were one of two of my favorite flowers that bloomed near the old farmhouse. My other favorite flower was the Lily of the Valley.

The Hollyhock in the picture was a gift from Rose. It’s just one of many thoughtful things she has done for me, and this gift is one of my very favorites! From what I recall, I only mentioned to Rose in passing that I liked Hollyhocks. Within a couple of days, she gave me one in a small pot.

Rose’s spontaneous thoughtfulness reminds me of the importance of paying attention to the people we love and care about so we will recognize opportunities to please them with a special gift.

I’m not a good gift buyer. Shopping for a random gift makes me sweat—literally. I confess it’s something that makes me feel inept, and a little silly. How hard can it be to buy a gift? But the entire time I’m shopping, my wheels are spinning, and I’m trying to picture that special someone opening first one gift, then another, and trying to imagine the look on their face. That’s why I love giving gift cards and cash.

That is, unless I know of something I’m sure they would like. As much as I dislike random gift shopping, I love to buy gifts that I know will have special meaning to the special people in my life. I know Rose felt something very similar when she gifted me with the precious baby Hollyhock.

So…who do you know that might enjoy a special gift…today? What is their “Hollyhock?” May God help us to be aware of an opportunity to be a blessing to someone today.

Splashingly silly…


This past summer our family camped in Colorado at Vallecito Lake. It’s a place with a couple of features I miss from my home state of Michigan: water, and the color green. My wife Rose and I were hiking along the water’s edge with our son Ryan and his wife Melissa, and our grandkids, Landyn and Braylin. As we were walking along, Landyn, who was 3 years old, tripped and fell into the water. The scene that immediately followed would have gone viral on YouTube if someone had captured it with a camera.

Melissa spun 180 degrees – why, I do not know – and dove into the water backwards–arched back and all. She grabbed little Landyn and clung to him with all her might, determined to save him from drowning. Here’s the good part: We were standing in water that did not quite come up to my knees. As Melissa clung to Landyn, she was actually holding him under the water. I reached down and rescued him from his mother’s grip, and she stood up. She was frantically flailing in the water because she thought Landyn was in over his head.

The whole scene was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen. But then when I started thinking about the lesson I could learn from this experience, I realized I’ve done the same thing, only not in the water. How often do we flail around in our despair because of something we believe that is not true? In most instances, it’s our fear of circumstances, not the circumstances themselves, that take us under.

We all make decisions everyday about what we will choose to believe. The world around us is saturated with lies about what really matters in life. And lies about God, and lies that mock our need to surrender our way for his way. Unless we are standing on the firm foundation of God’s eternal promises, we will waste too much time flailing in the knee-deep water of our own silly imagination. Let this be a “stand up” day!

“In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” ~ 1 Peter 5:10

Life…at a wild speed…


Life is meant to be a fantastic heart pounding adventure. At least that’s the way it seemed to me one day when I was in my early teens. It was a picture-perfect morning in Michigan and I was riding Cheetah, my Quarter Horse, at a reckless gallop across a field of alfalfa. With the spring-fresh wind in my face the exhilaration of the moment filled my entire body with delight. It seemed natural to release my grip on the reins and lean back in the saddle, with my hands stretched high into the air. It was something I had seen in a movie and I was living it—the unrestrained freedom of such a breathtaking adventure. At that moment I determined to live my life at a wild speed with the wind in my face.

The next moment I was tumbling through the alfalfa like Raggedy Rod. I my fleeting thought it would have been better if I was holding onto something when the ring-necked pheasant flew up directly in front of Cheetah. I’m sure she was as surprised as I was when it happened. She veered to the left and I didn’t. I went straight. I think that’s called inertia—one of Newton’s laws of motion.

Cheetah circled back around to pick me up. As I was climbing back on the saddle I felt a little dejected. The reality of how fleeting these moments of elation are came crashing down on me—literally. As I rode back toward the barn with a firm grip on the reins I remember the distinct realization that the thrill of life could be easily tripped up; taken off course. The sensation of tumbling through the alfalfa has come to my mind several times throughout my wild, crazy ride through life.

But I’ve never given up on the idea we are created for something more profound than the lives we live. Knowing we are the brainchild of the One who spoke the magnificence of all creation into being, somewhere deep within me I believe we are created for something much greater than ordinary life. Possibly just knowing we were created for something more than the life we’re living today, even if our knowing is nothing more than a faint sense that something is missing, may be all we need to get on with allowing our original splendor—the splendor of God—to flow in our lives.

It happened on a hike in New Mexico…


It happened on a hike in the mountains of New Mexico, the very first time we met after connecting on loveandseek.com. Rose had invited me to come to Albuquerque for the 2004 International Balloon Fiesta. I lived in Michigan at the time -1613.3 miles away. A “safe” distance, we thought. No chance of anything “happening” other than meeting a new friend.

Rose took me hiking in the mountains, and it was on one of those hikes I encountered the grace of God in the form of woman. As we were descending the mountain, I told her my story of moral failure, and my eventual spiritual healing. I was totally unprepared for the response I got from her as she stopped on the trail, turned and embraced me, and told me she saw a man transformed by the grace of God.  She says that’s when she first fell in love with me…in the midst of my “mess confession!” Imagine that!

A few weeks after our first encounter I traveled to Kenya to deliver medical supplies to an orphanage. When I arrived back in Detroit, Rose met me at the airport, and we enjoyed our second “date.”  A few weeks later Rose and I were married in New Mexico—the 3rd time we met. We recently celebrated our 7th anniversary.

There’s something about the grace of our Lord that creates a bond that is beyond our ability to explain. For Rose and me, our personal stories are a living illustration of God’s amazing grace–and our love story is the Divine punch line!

A Fleeting Kind of Splendor…


Life is meant to be a fantastic heart pounding adventure. At least that’s the way it seemed to me one day when I was in my early teens. It was a picture-perfect morning in Michigan and I was riding Cheetah, my Quarter Horse, at a reckless gallop across a field of alfalfa. With the spring-fresh wind in my face the exhilaration of the moment filled my entire body with delight. It seemed natural to release my grip on the reins and lean back in the saddle, with my hands stretched high into the air. It was something I had seen in a movie and I was living it—the unrestrained freedom of such a breathtaking adventure. At that moment I determined to live my life at a wild speed with the wind in my face.

The next moment I was tumbling through the alfalfa like Raggedy Rod. I my fleeting thought it would have been better if I was holding onto something when the ring-necked pheasant flew up directly in front of Cheetah. I’m sure she was as surprised as I was when it happened. She veered to the left and I didn’t. I went straight. I think that’s called inertia—one of Newton’s laws of motion.

Cheetah circled back around to pick me up. As I was climbing back on the saddle I felt a little dejected. The reality of how fleeting these moments of elation are came crashing down on me—literally. As I rode back toward the barn with a firm grip on the reins I remember the distinct realization that the thrill of life could be easily tripped up; taken off course. The sensation of tumbling through the alfalfa has come to my mind several times throughout my wild, crazy ride through life.

But I’ve never given up on the idea we are created for something more profound than the lives we live. Knowing we are the brainchild of the One who spoke the magnificence of all creation into being, somewhere deep within me I believe we are created for something much greater than ordinary life. Possibly just knowing we were created for something more than the life we’re living today, even if our knowing is nothing more than a faint sense that something is missing, may be all we need to get on with allowing our original splendor—the splendor of God—to flow in our lives.

(Excerpt from Holy Libido by Rod Smith, 2012)

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