To help financially during this time of great need, please forward your offering to Tom's sister:
Darla Wexttsen, 16738 N. Tolle Lane, Mount Vernon, IL 62864
checks may be made payable to "Grace Community Church"

There is also a deposit account set up at US Bank to help defray Deb's uncovered medical expenses.
Visit any US Bank branch office to make a deposit in cash or by check for "Deborah A. Smith Memorial Fund".
Please be sure to mention Charity Paddock or Nellie Haverkos to be sure the gift is properly deposited.

If you use this link to join, then go shopping there, as much as 26% of your purchases will help the family.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Glory to God in the Highest!

On this first Christmas since our sister Deb is home with the Lord, please continue, as always, to pray for Tom and Charity, Nellie, Jordan, and their families. Many have offered words of encouragement and blessing. Your kindness in remembering them in this season of Joy is quite a Gift.

The Prince of Peace!

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
and the rod of their taskmaster
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
For every boot that tramped in battle,
every cloak rolled in blood,
will be burned as fuel for flames.
For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast
and forever peaceful,
from David’s throne, and over his kingdom,
which he confirms and sustains
by judgment and justice,
both now and forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!
(Isaiah 9:1-6)

Be Not Afraid!

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment,
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth
to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and family of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
(Luke 2:1-14)


Cheri Russell Eresman said...

I know this first Christmas without Deb will be especially hard. I am still thinking of you and praying for your peace. May God's special peace surround you as you celebrate his incarnation as a baby all those years ago.

Cheri Russell Eresman

paula clare said...

Dear Deb,
Well, you have celebrated YOUR birthday in heaven, and now, today, Jesus' Birthday...what a party there must be! I am SO JEALOUS that you are in the Arms of Peace, while here on earth we still struggle with issues of war, violence, and greed.

This Christmas, dear friend, I shall think of you and light a candle for you as we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus!

Please say "hi" to the Birthday Boy for us!

Love you!

paula clare said...

Dear Smith Fam,
Please know that today...and throughout the entire holiday season your family will be in my heart and prayers.

Please grant yourselves the grace to deal with the grief in whatever way you find most beneficial.

I'm sure you've all heard this poem before, but I'll share it with you nonetheless:

Merry Christmas From Heaven:
~I still hear the songs
I still see the lights
I still feel your love on cold wintery nights
~I still share your hopes & all of your cares
I'll even remind you to please say your prayers
~I just want to tell you you still make me proud
You stand head & shoulders above all the crowd
~Keep trying each moment to stay in His grace
I came here before you to help set your place
~You don't have to be perfect all of the time
He forgives you the slip If you continue the climb
~To my family & friends please be thankful today
I'm still close beside you In a new special way
~I love you all dearly now don't shed a tear
Cause I'm spending my Christmas with Jesus this year"

Peace and All Good,

paula clare said...

Hi Deb,
I know it may seem ridiculous to some, but I find myself still checking in with the Loving Deb Smith blog because it "feels" like a "touch point" to me. Your grave is in Ohio, and so I have only limited places and spaces in which to "be with you."

In a few days it will be 3 months since you went home...I am sure the family joins me in disbelief that so much time has passed. In many ways it FEELS a much more recent others it feels like you've been gone forever.'s an odd concept. Only we here on earth seem to have need of such things. In heaven, I'm sure things are "run" very differently. No one is held to the tyranny of the taskmaster Brother Time. What freedom you must feel!By the way, I spoke to Jesus about you this morning...I had a sense that He's got some of your paintings hanging on His wall.

I will think of you tomorrow in worship...and oh, I wanted to tell you there may be a dear little gramma coming your way soon. Her name is Pat and she's my husband's mom. A dear godly lady. You'll like her. She has a quirky sense of humor I think you'll appreciate. For the moment she is still with's hard to see her suffer so. Maybe she'll be with you soon...

Anyway, just wanted to let you know that you are (STILL) very much thought of and very much loved. In the words of an Andrew Peterson's song, "Coral Castle", "I don't need her love to love her all I can..." Upon hearing those lyrics several years ago I realized for the first time that the one(s) whom I love do not NEED to be bodily present in order for me to "love them all I can." Love is eternal. I am so glad it is!

paula clare said...

Dear Deb,
Well it is Easter and almost 6 months since you went home via resurrection! I could not help but think of you yesterday as I sat in the Easter Service at always loved Easter. A "high holy day" in your thinking...the day the Lord burst forth from the tomb was definitely a moment of "high drama"...(and you may remember, I LOVE a dramatic story!)

On a slightly less spiritual note, I remember one year you wore baby blue linen...another year a salmon silk blouse with a divine scarf, and another, lime green...your Easter attire was always a thing of great anticipation for me...I'm sure nothing you wore here can compare to the glorious garment of perfection in Christ.I am certain you are absolutely DAZZLING as you worship before the throne...

I heard you singing, "Arise My Love" yesterday. I saw the look of spiritual wonder as you sang the words, "the grave no longer has a hold on more death's sting, no more suffering, Arise! Arise! My love!"

Because of the empty tomb, I have hope of seeing you again one day! Because of the empty tomb, I have hope that death is NOT the end!Because HE LIVES, we can know that we too will live eternally!

Blessed Easter to you, dear friend, as you gather at the table with the Resurrected One who brings Light, Hope and Healing to the world!

You are missed more than you'll ever know...

Paula Clare

paula clare said...

Dear Deb,
In two days it will be six months since you went home to be with Jesus. HOW can so much time have passed? It's all so very difficult...because you were my Spiritual Director I find myself needing/wishing we could have those deep, spiritual discussions. I remember your asking me, "What are your growing edges?" Such a good question...and such a stumper. I would have to say that my growing edges at the moment are allowing myself the TIME and allowing God the space in my life to speak without having to compete with distractions, noise, and the everyday busy ness that life brings. What are your days like, I wonder? Are you busy? Do you have times of solitude? I envision you conversing with the likes of Corrie Ten Boom and Mary, the mother of Jesus. I KNOW by now you've spoken to Mary always had a place in your heart for the "underdog." Always the "champion" of the marginalized. You were a great role model in that for me...

Anyway, just wanted to pop in and say how very much I miss your influence in my life. How I wish I could hear your laugh, and how I would LOVE to see you dance in worship. Someday, dear sister. Some day.

You are sorely missed dear one!
Paula Clare

PS Have you met my mother in law Pat yet? Before she died I told her if she wanted to see authentic worship,find Deb Smith.

paula clare said...

Hi Deb,
As I am thinking about Mother's day, it occurred to me that YOU will be spending the day with both MY mom, YOUR mom, and Bud's mom! Oh how I'd love to be a part of that party! Tomorrow I suspect will be a tough day...not just for me but for your family as well. They will be in my prayers of course...

You may remember my first mother's day without my mom...I did not fare too well. As always, you were an understanding and empathic shoulder for me to cry on. I know it was your prayers that helped me navigate the pain and grief that day. Thank you for that.

Since my mom died, Bud and I would spend mother's day with HIS that she is gone too, we will have no "mom" to spend the day with...and THIS mom, will be without her babies. If you happen to run into Pat (Bud's mom) or Mary Lou (my mom)(I somehow think you will know where she's at...she was never much one for being subdued!)...would you please tell them that we wish them a "Happy Mother's Day" and that we love them and miss them terribly?"

I'm sure these "earthly" holidays mean nothing to those of you in the radiant and eternal presence of God...but they still mean something to US.

I'm sure your kids and your grandbabies will be thinking of you, looking at photos and missing the way you made them always feel special. You were always a great mom and gramma...your kids told me so.

Tomorrow, I will plant a rosebush in your for my mom, and one for Bud's mom...and each time we smell the soft scent of roses waft through our windows,we will remember your example. We will remember your selfless love, and we will remember what it means to be loved unconditionally.

You are missed. You are thought of more often than you know. Happy Mother's Day, dear friend.

Paula Clare

Anonymous said...

Dearest Deb,
Over time, I've wrestled with coming here to write to you something that has been on my heart in one form or another for quite some time. As I sat in worship this morning I knew the time had come.

During revival two or so years ago was the first time I'd ever allowed you to pray with me in all my years at Grace. It was shortly after we'd had a lovely lunch here at my home and you so eloquently put words on the mystery of communion in a way my soul could hear. As you've gone home now, it's been a place of regret and guilt--that I hadn't allowed you to BE my pastor more-- this morning as David preached I was freed of that in an amazing way. God sent you that night for his divine purpose in my life.

The night we prayed, a visiting pastor had preached about "taking off your rags and walking out of the tomb." Be healed, be free, live abundantly. Shortly after a dear sister read a short story by Walter Wangerin called "The Ragman" and pushed me forward into what felt like shaky ground, but I knew during that series of events God was with me more than I'd ever allowed before. He didn't show up with noise and fanfare, he showed up lovingly, in the silence.

Quietly, with love and nurture, we rocked, we prayed and we cried together, you and I. The words you spoke in that moment I can recall as if they were yesterday. Looking back, I see that that night as you and I prayed and you allowed me to sit there in the floor with you and weep, God planted the seed that has begun to burst forth in my life. Note--had you, or anyone else spoken of this at the time it at the time I'd have run screaming from the house of God, shortly after I called you insane...HA! True healing for me began that night in so many ways that I cannot put words on.

All this time God and I tended to that seed, he's sent anointed people along to challenge me and help me tend that seed --teaching me proper care and nurture of the plant if you will. Six or so months ago, green began to poke above the ground and I was clear it was God, confirmed through the people in my life and things that were spoken into my life. It was the scariest yet most peaceful time in my life and God reminded me as I plodded forward of the examples of what it meant to be a woman of God. He brought to my mind with clarity how you were never afraid to be just who God had created you to be, even though it didn't fit some preform mold. Being a woman of God was messy, and beautiful :)

I remember how you used an art analogy to explain that to me--what one person calls art, another person calls garbage. You taught me in that moment how being different (whatever that meant or looked like) was part of God's design. You reminded me that I was fearfully and wonderfully made, and that who I am, who I was, and who I will be is art to my Father, to my maker--even if no one else ever calls it art.

Fast forward to the epiphany in service. David is talking about the moment when Jesus heals the blind man and he slathers his eyes with mud and says "go THERE and be healed. God confirmed in me that's why Grace is home--I had to go THERE to be healed. Thank you for being the example you were and speaking into my life at that appointed time. I understand now that I shouldn't regret not having allowed you in sooner or differently. God knew the day and the hour for you to be my pastor.

It must seem silly to put this in print because I'm sure you know all these things, but it was time to share.

All my love and gratitude friend. Look for a candle on June 21st, I'd not miss remembering you there.