Thursday, December 29, 2011

Levi Laughing!


Tory can verify, I anxiously awaited the day I could make Levi Laugh. I finally cracked his stern baby exterior about 2 week ago! I have not stopped trying to make him laugh since!
Below if a video taken right before bath time!
I have watched it at least a dozen times. It is amazing how much we love this little man.

video

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lewis Christmas Update

          
2011 came rushing in with a January announcement that Tory was pregnant and has not stopped moving here in December as we prepare to take our 11-week-old son Levi on his first Christmas tour of Arkansas. Wow, what a year!
It is true…our lives have changed forever. Changed for the good!  We have only had our precious son for 11 weeks, but already it is hard to remember what we did before he was born.  Levi has been a great baby and an absolute joy to our lives.  The first few months have definitely not all been easy sailing though.  Levi was diagnosed with pyloric stenosis (a tummy issue) that required surgery at Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.  With a lot of prayer and some help from family, Levi did great and recovered like a champ!  He now enjoys hammering bottles down, filling up diapers, and sleeping it off wrapped in a fuzzy blanket. Ohh the life!

Tory has started a third year of clerking, but with a new judge! Tory now works for the Honorable Judge Lavenski Smith of United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Her current clerkship with Judge Smith will expire at the end of August and Tory will make her law debut into private practice as she joins the Friday Firm in Little Rock. Apart from being a law savvy lady, Tory is enjoying being a mother! Probably more than anyone anticipated!  No matter your stage of life, Tory will try to convince you that you need a baby!  It has been a joy watching her walk into this role as she has done so with such grace and a heart full of love.
Mark is still peddling pork and pork accessories for a living! His family is convinced that it is impossible to purchase a package of sausage without a free coupon.  Mark enjoys his many hobbies from cycling to ham smoking and is always willing to tell a story or a bad joke. He is also enjoying being a dad and was relieved when he could finally make Levi laugh. Mark also made a second trip into the Amazon Jungle with an evangelism team from church. Thankfully this year his leg did not almost fall off and he remained relatively healthy upon his return.

Juno is the big loser this year. It is hard adjusting to a younger brother. She still lives inside and despite many fears is actually really good with Levi! But, she definitely believes that she is not getting the attention she deserves. Juno also managed to get sprayed by a skunk this year.
In reflecting over 2011, it is obvious that God has been faithful to our family once again. He continues to provide more blessings than we deserve. It is our prayer that we would be faithful with the resources and blessings he has given us to bring glory to His name.
Merry Christmas from the Lewis Family!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Welcome Levi Elliott Lewis

Levi Elliott Lewis
Oct 3, 2011
7 lbs 8 oz.
20 inches long

Tory and I are thrilled to death about this little boy!










Love it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Baby is coming and he is coming soon! Our life has been a complete whirlwind for the past 2 months.  Baby showers, business travel, birth classes, new jobs…you name it we have done it in the past 2 months. However, I feel like we are over the hump. The Nursery is set, his clothes are washed, our bags are packed, and now we wait.  It is a weird feeling knowing that at any moment you could be a dad. Feeling unprepared? Ohh yeah.  Not to mention, an official name has not been picked out.  We have it officially down to two.  
People have a way of wigging you out about being a parent.  If I had a dime for every time someone told me “Your life is over” I would be a millionaire.  I feel as though there is some big secret that no one tells you until you have a child and then you are magically apart of this strange pain and suffering club, sworn not to tell any young couple the truth about what lie ahead.  Who knows.  In the words of my wise granddaddy “it will seek its level”.  What I do know is I am excited. I do know my life is about to change drastically, but not in a bad way.   I do know that I will have to grow up even more!  I do know I will have to lean on the Lord for wisdom, guidance and SLEEP.  I do know I have a wonderful wife, who will be an excellent mom, to walk through this experience with.  I also know that my son will have an excellent support group in grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends.
More to come very soon!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Memphis, The Beach, and a Baby

Lewis clan continues to not slow down. I have no idea why we cannot seem to put on the brakes, but it seems for the time being that out life will continue to move at warp speed.
This past weekend we spent time in different locations. Tory headed west to the Beach in North Carolina for some rest and relaxation with some old law school girlfriends and I headed to Memphis to aid Justin Hill in a house sitting job and visit my grandparent. 
Memphis was a good trip! I enjoyed a restful morning with my granddaddy and grandmother in West Memphis, AR. They treated me to a delicious BLT with a home grown tomato from the next door neighbor and showed me around the additions to the little house. My favorite moment came when my grandfather of 80 years old made a comment about wishing he felt like walking more. My grandmother said “Well Marvin, where do you want to walk to?”. Granddaddy simply replied “well…I might want to walk down the street or walk around wal-mart.” Grandmother quickly replied with a comment suggesting he could use one of the electric motorized carts to get around in Wal-mart, to which he simply replied “I am not sure if I could bring myself to that level!”  I laughed out loud!
I love my grandparents (both sets). I love the role they have played in my life and I am thankful my son will have two sets of active grandparents in his life. 
Saturday night Justin took a group of guys to his favorite BBQ place in Memphis called the Cozy Corner. I had the wing and rib combo. I have never had BBQ that I did not like! After dinner we headed to the Mississippi River for a sunset canoe ride. It was awesome! I wish we would have gone farther. But it was a nice little ride (3-4 miles) under the bridge and around Mud Island. It was interesting watching the barges pass and being in the swift current. Fortunately, I was teamed up with Brad and he managed to snap some good shots which I know he is going to send me!
Tory headed out on her 2nd vacation of the year to the beaches of North Carolina! I am not bitter. She managed to catch a little sunburn in between resting and relaxing.  We have spent most of the week putting aloe and coco butter on her back and legs.  I specifically told her not to get her belly burned because I did not want my little man getting cooked any faster.
We have officially started the nesting phase of pregnancy and it is wearing me out. I have been all over Little Rock getting whatever I am told to get. Unfortunately, I have not been the best sport. I had to get talked to about my attitude.  It is better now!
It is hard to believe how fast this time is flying. He will be here in 2 months! I have trouble wrapping my head around that I will meet my son in 2 months! Thankfully we still have several baby classes before we get him! Tory is praying I pass. Me too.
We have our big shower this weekend too! Special thanks to Dianne, Margret, Casey, Sarah, Mom, and Olivia for putting this on for Tory. We are both appreciative for all the work and hosting.
Still no name.  I think we are close…but still no name.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Jungle, 4th, and Baby Update

I wanted to update the blog when I had time to upload jungle pictures and give you a brief narrative about my trip. Well, I am still not their yet.
God did some amazing things in our 11 days. We were able to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and his salvation to several villages during our stay.
In one particular village, we began preaching when this man came walking through the group gathered to listen and everyone moved quickly to get out of his way.
He appeared to be in a trance like state and you could see the fear in everyone’s eyes. I was quickly told he was the local “shaman” or witch doctor. He headed out of sight and I thought no more of it.
Concluding the sermon, we began to visit several houses of those gathered and began praying for them and their families. During this process we sat to talk with a woman who requested we come to her house and she expressed her desire to follow Christ.  We walked her through what that meant and what was required for her do that. (This culture believes there are spirits in everything and adding another person to worship is not a big deal to them, but when you explain to them they have to let the others go, you run into some issues.) Amazingly, she agreed to turn from sacrificing and worshiping the other spirits and follow Christ!  Not wanting to coach her in her profession of faith we asked her to pray to God what she felt she needed to ask Him.  What came out of her mouth was the most sweet profession of faith I have ever heard. I could not have scripted it any better. I was in tears listening to this woman pray to her new found hope.
Upon returning to the boats to head home we noticed several things had changed. There was a table set up with beer and food on it, white marking on the ground, a white flag raised and new leaves hanging over the entrance to the village.
We were informed from a local villager that the Shaman had put a protective “hex” on the village to keep us and our God out! The good news was…No Hex can keep my God out!
My friend took this picture of me standing on what they called the “demon cross”. You can see the items described above behind me in the picture.
I love this picture! God wants to use us for His glory and to accomplish His task! And NOTHING can stop us!

I have plenty more stories to tell!
I appreciate your prayers over the trip.

Tory and I spent the 4th of July relaxing in the Ouachita Mts. At the Law cabin. We literally ate, slept, and planned the next meal! It was wonderful.  People keep telling us that we need to be soaking this time up before little runt get here, so I am glad to know we are taking advantage of it.
I also got my hams smoked over the weekend. Dad literally did all the work. But he did a great job! They look a delicious golden brown.  Upon arrival at the cabin we did notice some damage that the smokehouse had incurred. Upon investigation we found claw marks and bear hair in the smokehouse. Not a good sign! As bummed as I would be to lose 260 lbs of cured country ham, losing them to a wild bear would be a pretty good story.
Baby Lewis is growing like a weed and kicking like a mule. We are the 27 week mark! That means only 13 weeks to go! We are completely registered and even have our birthing class this Saturday.  All day birthing class! I am really excited about it (insert sarcastic tone).  The next major task to tackle is naming the little boy.  We have it narrowed down to 4 names, but we have yet to officially select one.  We are currently on a naming hold. Although Tory continues to call him by the name she prefers. We also call him Jickey John as a family inside joke.  Tory continues to have a wonderful pregnancy. She is running 3-4 times a week averaging 3 miles! She looks funny running with the big belly!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Boy Ohh Boy!

I’m having a little boy! How exciting! What man doesn’t dream of having a little boy? I find myself day dreaming what we will do together, traditions we will have, projects we will work on, going to his games, etc… it is overwhelming! It was amazing sitting in that room and waiting on the nurse to tell us it was a boy. I think it was more exciting than finding out we were pregnant. It is no longer an “it” or a baby, it is a boy in there!
Now Tory and I have entered into the battle for names! Fortunately, Tory and I have about 5 that we agree on and would be completely happy with. Therefore, our problem is narrowing it down to our favorite one!  We do know that his last name will be Lewis; meaning he will be the first Lewis of his generation!  Carrying on the Lewis name is a very cool thing.  I am excited to pass it on.  It has served me well for the past 27 years and I hope it will do the same for my son.
My Little Man!

On other baby fronts, we are behind. We have not registered for anything. We don’t have child care lined up. We don’t have a clue about the nursery. No worries, Tor will put a task list together and we will probably complete it in a 2 day period. She is fierce like that!

Last weekend we had graduation fun in NWA for Tory’s cousin Ashley and Caleb. It was great hanging with that part of the family! After a 2 hour ceremony and a plate full of AQ chicken I was ready for a nap. Ashley and Caleb both have great scholarships and are headed to two great colleges! Congrats to both of them!
Ashley and Tory

Proud Parents

Caleb and Ashley

Happy Mother and Son

Congrats for 2011

I totally talked Ashley into standing next to the AQ Chicken!

Memorial Day weekend was also a great time! Spent at the cabin with Family! Juno ran so much she could barely walk when we got home. It was the perfect mix of fun, work, and relaxation. If I could manage a 3 day weekend every week, life would be pretty sweet.
The barn my Grandfather built

Big Landon!

Juno loves swimming!

Have a great week!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tory and I have not been home a single weekend since the middle of April! But, we have had quite the adventure. Two weeks ago we spent time in Alpena working cattle with the John. It was a slower than normal process due to one of our best cattle hands, Tory, was severely limited due to whole pregnancy issue. However, she still looked good despite being able to button her cow working jeans!
Tory and I aided John in rebuilding the lot area where we work cattle in Dec and this was the first full go around on the new equipment!  I love it!  More gates, safer, and a new head chute! Most will find this difficult to relate to and get excited about, but compare it to driving an old truck for years only to discover they make a newer model with airbags, power windows, and cruise control.
I love messing with the cows. It is nice being outside, getting your hands dirty (poopy), and enjoying a hard day of work.  My favorite part is rounding the cows up or taking them back.  I like watching them walk and seeing the excitement of a new patch of grass.  It is a great part time gig!

Lacing up the work boots!

Newly designed lot.

Slacker of the bunch.

Typical View for the weekend.

We had enough!

Juno and Blue did not get to participate.

video

Tory in action!

We also went to Houston this past weekend to spend time with our good friends Matt and Chanie. It was a short visit, but a good one! They took us to an Astros game where we all managed to get sunburned.  They also treated us to some delicious food hot spots, I am still full from the weekend.  The pancakes were my favorite though!
Early Sat morning Tory decided she needed to enjoy the cool Houston air and decided to out on the back patio.  Completely ignoring the lecture given by Chanie the previous night about opening any window or door until the alarm had been turned off, Tory innocently went outside. As you can imagine, the next 4 minutes can only be described as pure chaos.  Tory simply stood in front of the device frantically waving her arms hoping this would disarm it.  It did not. Thankfully, Chanie appeared to save the day. Lesson for the Henderson’s…don’t plan on sleeping in with the Lewis’ around.
The Wolfe’s were also hanging around in Houston and were kind enough to grace us with their presence for the game and lunch as well.  Kimberly was the unsung hero of the trip. She scoured the ball park and bought the last 5 packets of sunscreen at the game.  If it had not been for Kimberly, I might be in the ICU with 5th degree burns to my large forehead and nose.  Watching us spread the ketchup style packet over our bodies was quite a sight. You could have not squeezed a molecule more of sunscreen out of the packet Thomas was using. It was amazing.  Thank you Kimberly!

Finally, next week is a big week! Monday at 8:30 we find out what baby Lewis is! I have about decided I think it is a girl.  Strangely, I am excited about that though.  I think I would love a little girl!  Tory is horrified by the thought of me having a girl, knowing my push over tendencies. But of course, what father to be would not want a little boy to carry on his name, play baseball and wrestle with!  Basically, I am trilled either way! Bring it on!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Eyes

Last weekend on Good Friday my father and I went turkey hunting at the cabin. Upon our arrival the area had received close to 5 inches of rain in the previous 24 hours and all the creeks, branches and streams were way above normal levels.  Knowing this my wise father recommended we get up extra early to check everything out in case we would have to walk into the woods using an alternative route.
At 5:10 am Dad and I headed to the woods only to be stopped be a raging creek.  At first glance, although the water was moving swift it did not appear to be impassable.  We headed across the roaring water only to come up short the last 3 feet.  The far shore had been eroded away by the water and left about a 3 feet hole, of which we slammed into.  The truck came to a complete halt and I was certain we had broken something! Trying not to panic, Dad without his glasses was trying to put the truck in 4 wheel drive, but could only manage to turn the heat up. Fortunately, his Lasik surgery graduate son was able to locate the 4 wheel drive knob.  With a little gas and some rock flinging we made it out without a scratch.
Now what do we do?  Dad knew of an alternative route we could take that would require a little more walking and would mean we would not have to cross the creek.  Problem solved. Well, like many John Lewis plans there were some important details left out. The most important detail was that even though we did not have to cross the creek we had to pass this “dry branch” that was also gushing with water. So at 5:20 am in the pitch black dark, with nothing by a small head lamp light I sat down and began taking my shoes and socks off to walk across the water. With gun and boots and hand I delicately walked across the branch and trotted to a flat spot to put my socks and boots back on.  Right before I sat down, my head lamp caught a set of eyes about 20 yards in front of me.  My first thought was it is a deer or coyote.  But upon second glance, I notice the eyes were about waist high; so I naturally assumed it must be a deer.  I decided to talk at it to make it move away. Upon saying the traditional “Hey, get out of here!” method I noticed a sincere lack of response from the set of eyes.  No worries, I am standing next to loud water, I am sure it did not hear me…”Hey…Hey….get out of here!” this time the set of eyes slowly turned its head to the left and slowly turned its eyes back to me. OK…I have officially discovered that whatever this is, it is not scared of me.  I began to panic.  Keep in mind, it is pitch black dark…I am barefoot…and dad is in the middle of the creek.  I immediately dropped my boots and pointed my gun at the eyes and continued to ask it to leave.  I took a step forward to see if my light would pick up a silhouette of the animal.  It did! It was a bear!!!! My panic increased. Thankfully Mr. Bear decided he had something better to do and decided to mosey on down the road.  Huge sigh of relief.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Showers and Turkeys

I have not stopped moving for 3 weeks now! We spent the weekend at NWA visiting old work buddies, college roommates, and friends.  We had a great time and the weather was awesome too!

We were fortunate enough to attend the Fryar baby shower on Sat. In case you were wondering, yes...Matt and I were the only males there.  But, the food was awesome.  Specifically the iced coffee bunch Jen made.
I cannot say the same for the sausage balls.  You see...they were made with Jimmy Dean sausage. After pulling the knife out of my back, I politely asked Jen why she made poop balls for a baby shower?  The shower in general was a great education tool for me. As was spending the night with the Fryars and playing with their daughter Katie. I feel like I am getting a peak at the play book for what is coming in my near future. I was designated the picture guy for the shower so below are some of the shots I snapped.









This past weekend I went Turkey hunting with Jonnathan Davis and Marc Yount.  Had a great time at my in laws but was highly ineffective at killing a turkey.  We saw literally every turkey on their property, but could not convince one to get close enough.  I do believe we have created a new turkey hunter out of Jonnathan though, so the weekend was not a total loss.  If you are familiar with the Alpena landscape, you know about the hills in the this part of Arkansas.  My legs are a still sore from climbing hills chasing a gobbling bird! But, it was worth it!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Revival? Awakening? Something's Going on in Little Rock....

[Hi Guys-- It's Tory here.  I know, I never write on the blog.  Seriously, this is the first time.  But I thought I'd use the blog just this one time to share an email that I sent to several people today about what God is doing in Little Rock.]

I think the subject line says it best:  something great is going on in Little Rock, Arkansas.  God is working!  In ways I've never seen him at work before.  Dare I call it revival?  I don't know.  What I do know is the Spirit has stirred something here, and I feel very convicted to share it with each of you. 
 
I have read about the great revivals throughout history.  I've heard pastors speak about revival longingly.  I've prayed for it myself, sometimes eagerly, sometimes fearfully.  But this past week I've seen something I've never seen before:  a mercy drop.  A tiny glimpse of what it looks like, feels like, when the Holy Spirit mercifully reveals himself to a body of believers. 
 
It all started last Sunday-- well, at least, I became aware of it last Sunday--when our pastor, Bill Elliff, gave his final message in a sermon series about the Holy Spirit.  The verse was 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22:  "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not treat prophecies with contempt, but test them all.  Hold on to what is good; reject every kind of evil."  I don't think I was the only one who began to feel convicted about how quick we are to quench the Spirit-- when he tells us to pray, and we don't; when he convicts us of sin, and we don't immediately confess and repent; when we are given opportunities to share the Gospel, we ignore them.  Bill referenced a message from the Welsh Revival that we had heard a couple times before:  Four steps to loosing the Holy Spirit, by Evan Roberts:  (1) confess all known sin; (2) abstain from any doubtful habits; (3) obey the Spirit promptly; and (4) proclaim Christ openly.  
 
Bill couldn't finish his sermon-- about halfway through, he stopped.  As he was closing, someone in the congregation stood up and said, "let's take time to obey the Spirit now-- we can't afford to wait!"  in just a few minutes, people were moving around the room, talking to counselors or other members of the congregation to whom they needed to confess.  The microphone at the front of the room became an open forum for people to share, confess sin, praise God, ask for support, etc.  The Spirit was moving!  Our 11am church service, which usually lasts a little over an hour, did not let out until 3pm that day.  In that time, people flooded the alter for 2 hours, 5 people spontaneously got baptized (jumped into the baptistry with clothes and all!), and a deacon who is currently unemployed gave his unemployment check (which prompted much more giving and a reverse offering where over $5,000 was given and $3500 taken out),
 
On Monday night, over 200 people came back and stayed for three hours praying and confessing and praising God.  On Tuesday, over 300 people came for another 3-hour prayer meeting.  Children laid hands on their parents and prayed for them.  More spontaneous baptisms took place.  (in the last 8 days, our church has seen 38 baptisms.)  Prayer meetings took place at The Summit Church every night last week, lasting 3-4 hours each night.  On Friday night, after the meeting ended at 11pm, college students moved the meeting downtown and prayer walked around downtown Little Rock.  At 4am, they went home, made 100 sandwiches and bought bottled water, and at 10am Saturday morning were back in downtown feeding the homeless and telling them about Jesus. 
 
At the risk of this sounding like a "Summit Church thing," we've also heard about the Spirit moving at other churches in the area.  At Oasis Church last Sunday, 18 people were baptized.  At Mosaic Church on Wednesday, they held a spontaneous prayer meeting.  At Fellowship Bible Church, high school students met on Friday night at 9pm for prayer; when the church had to lock up for the night, the prayer meeting moved to the parking lot.  Things are happening in Little Rock-- it has nothing to do with our church, and everything to do with God's mercy!
 
Which is why I felt compelled to share this with you.  If all that results from what we've seen at The Summit are a few extra baptisms and one week of prayer, then it's not enough.  Sure, the purification of the saints is an important step-- but it's not the end goal.  The end goal is that God is glorified around the world.  I can already see with what has happened this past week how God is preparing us for the next step:  we are being cleansed, confessing sin, and being filled to overflowing.  The next step is that we do overflow-- that we minister to the lost with the kind of tenacity today's church has yet to see, and that the Spirit of God moves freely from one church to the next, and from one city to the next.  We have interceded in prayer this week for churches throughout Arkansas and across the country.  I am praying for your churches, and that the Spirit would give you an even bigger mercy drop than what he has given us this past week.  I pray believing, and cannot wait to hear how God moves in your churches over the coming days and weeks. 
 
If you'd like to know more about what's been going on at The Summit, there are a couple videos, as well as a blog on the church website:  http://thesummitchurch.org/blogs/summit 
 
God bless!
 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

BABY!!!!

I have been bursting at the seams for too long!  WE ARE HAVING A BABY!
This is the reason I have not been able to post in a while.  I have been afraid I would blab accidentally in my writing.  Tory and I are very excited! We openly admit to having no clue what we are in for, but that has yet to diminish our excitement.
Tory is just almost 13 weeks along and is just over the first trimester and has been steadily gaining energy back! Tory was fortunately never really sick and to my knowledge never even got close to throwing up! She has been a trooper so far and has made me proud; she will be great mom!
The great thing about having your first baby is everything is new and exciting. The bad part is, not knowing what is coming. As a result, you feel like you are constantly behind the eight ball. We don’t have anything picked out; we don’t even know what to buy!  We just found out yesterday we should be on waiting list for daycare! I begin asking people around the office about daycares and the entire process and one gentleman told me he would send us the spreadsheet his wife put together. I was intrigued. A spreadsheet? About daycares? Well when I opened it, I was amazed at what this woman had put together!  There were over 35 daycares listed with information all the way out to column “T”.  There were miles from home, miles from work, avg price, owner name, years established, what bottles they had approved, and the list went on and on! We have not even had a child yet and I already feel like a bad parent after looking at this sheet! The good news is we have wonderful family and friends who can help us through the process!
We will go back to the Dr. in about 7 weeks for an ultrasound where we found out if it is a boy or a girl! We are planning on finding out!  We are way too big of planners to let this opportunity go by.  We openly refer to the baby as a “he” and are probably both secretly hoping for a boy, but will be excited about either!
Oct 6th is the due date! Until then we would covet all prayers for our baby and Tory.

MUCH MORE TO COME IN THE WEEKS AHEAD!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I felt like an Idiot!

There is nothing I enjoy more than telling a story about a funny or embarrassing situation that I got into.  Fortunate for me, this happens frequently.  Two weeks ago I was asked by my boss to attend a seminar in Chicago on C-stores.  This is a big initiative for the company and I was excited to go.  Shortly after the request my boss sent me all the information I would need to register for the event.  I eagerly hopped on line registered and called the travel agency to book my flights. Pretty simple stuff, right?
Friday morning came early and I drove the Little Rock National airport to catch my 7:15 am flight.  As I sat in the airport eating my Little Rock Sunrise (bacon, egg, and cheese bagel) I was feeling rather smug about myself and excited about the day of travel that laid ahead.  I took the 90 minute flight and landed in Chicago at 9:00 am.  The meeting started at 11:00, so I decided to catch a cab and head down town to walk around and explore while I waited.  The meeting was held at the Willis Tower (old Sears Tower) and this added to my excitement about the trip. In fact, I took a picture with my phone and sent it to a number of family and co-workers.
In order to go to a meeting in the Willis Tower you have to have your name registered with their security and you need a ticket to go up the elevator. Upon arrival, I went as the instructions indicated to the front desk and told them my name and the purpose of my visit.  The lady politely checked her system and found my name and function to be missing from her list.  I thought this was odd, but easily overlooked it.  She proceeded to call 3-4 people asking questions about the event I was to attend.  No one had a clue.  She granted me passage to the 66th floor where I could further discuss my issue with the Metropolitan Club (the location of the meeting). I went through security and up the elevator to the 66th floor. I found the Metropolitan desk and began pleading my case and purpose with the young receptionist.  I pulled out a reservation sheet I had for the course to prove my belonging and rightful passage.  Upon review she could only utter one phrase “Sir, this meeting is next Friday.”
In an instant, my stomach went into my throat and I turned razorback red.  Did I really just travel via plane to Chicago, taxi to down town, elevator ride to the 66th floor for a meeting that was not going to happen for 7 more days?!?  Well…that is exactly what I did! I felt like and idiot!
How does an adult with a college degree, reasonable intelligence, and is marginally responsible make a mistake like that? I have no idea.  Fortunately, I have a wonderful boss; who once he stopped laughing assured me that I could come back to work on Monday! The only thing worse than calling your boss after a mistake like that is calling your wife.  She graciously told me that I indeed was an idiot and that I would never be allowed to book a family vacation.
So what happened next? I got a cab back to the airport, caught the next flight back to Little Rock and was home by 3:30.

This was the image I sent to everyone about 20 minutes before I discovered my mistake.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Come on Spring

We have been slowly starting to enjoy the warmer weather and it is getting me excited about spring and summer.  I love those days when you can wear shorts and a long sleeve t-shirt. Apart from allergies, I love seeing things green up and start to bud in an array of colors.  Bring it on!  Longer days also come with Spring and Summer!  You can actually do something outside when you get home from work!  One of the biggest reasons I can tell Spring is getting close is because my yard is starting to green up. Meaning, weeds are starting to grow.

Last week when I was on google earth I noticed they had updated the picture of our house to one from over the summer.  If you look at our neighbors yards they are plush, green, healthy and full of life. Ours, was dead except for the small section of green weeds by the mailbox! I am afraid I am going to have to bite the bullet and pay for some professional help.  I tried to manage it on my own last year and lost.  I do not have a green thumb.

Since our last post we have been relatively dull people.  Most nights are spent between cleaning, laundry, cooking and other house projects. We have finally become a boring married couple.  It really isn't all that bad!

Hams are continuing to come along.  I hung them to dry last weekend and they will remain there till June when we smoke them.  Arkansas has also released a new law that will enable "further processed" goods to be sold at the local farmers markets, like jams, jellies, baked goods, etc...  Also falling into that category is cured meats!  I have also checked out with my USDA buddies the requirements that I would need to meet to be a participant in the local market.  It appears, given the size of my operation and the potential income to make off my hams that I would qualify for a retail exempt classification and would not have to be inspected! Meaning I could sell at will if my sales stay under 46k/year!  No problem! I will start the application process with the Arkansas Farmer's Market Association soon and then go from there.  This makes me really excited!

Two weeks ago I managed to gather John Schellehase, Matt Henderson, and Grant Rollins for a mini reunion! John has been out of the country for two years with the peace corp and has finally returned.  The four of us exchanged stories and memories that only we could appreciate.  It has been a while since I laughed that hard. There are few men who are blessed to have friends like I do.  I am grateful for their friendship and look forward to sharing life with them.

Mark

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Truck!

After much debate, dealing, shopping, negotiating, pondering and getting asked to leave a dealership...We got a new rig! We (I) are the proud new owners of a 2010 F150!  It is awesome! Way nicer than anything I originally imagined.  Thankfully, year end deals and rebates helped us out a lot. 



Life continues to be hectic. Tory and I have yet to have a free night in the last 7 days! We love it, but it starting to take its toll.  I could use a spring break is the thought I had yesterday.  That we be awesome.


We got hammered with snow last week, and yet this week we have seen high's in the 70's. Welcome to Arkansas. This is good news for the ham business!  Warm temperatures will aid in salt absorption and that means I can go hang my hams this weekend. They should be 100% cured at this point. They have been sitting in the salt since Jan 9th. This weekend I will wash them and hang them up to start the drying process.

Tonight we are having "George of the Jungle" over to the house along with the group I went to Suriname with. George is the Suirmaccan missionary to the tribes along the Suriname River.  he is about 5 feet tall and is the biggest ball of energy you have ever seen.  He is passionate about his ministry and loves God.  He is an absolute joy to be around.

V-Day was sort of a bust at the Lewis house. We basically decided to get each other a truck for V-day! How romantic?  Tory told me she bought my card on the way home! Love was defiantly in the air!  None the less, I love my wife with all my heart and I hope I am able to show it even on non-Valentine occasions!

Hopefully some more exciting news next week!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Snowing Again!

Winter has hit Arkansas in force this year!  This is our 3rd snow this winter and it is a dandy! Fortunately, we are home, we have electricity, and have no where we need to be! Being an "adult" it is hard to admit that I still fight the urge to run out and go sledding.  I can picture me now standing at the top of a big hill waiting my turn in a line of 10 kids that are 1/2 my size and 1/3 of my age! It would be awesome!

Being young with snow on the ground are some of the best childhood memories!  I would stay outside with Tate Finkbeiner until we could not fill our hands or face.  When we reached our breaking point, you simply went home got some hot chocolate, loaded up on junk food, got your clothes out of the dryer and headed back out.  I bet on a snow day I walked 15 miles up and down hills. We inevitably wanted to build a ramp of some kind that usually was more hard work than the ramp was worth.

I was one of the fortunate ones who had a sled that you could steer.  I am still not really sure where mom and dad got it because you never see them for sale in AR, but it was an good one. Especially on ice! I could fly down a hill on ice!  I wonder if my parents still have the sled?

On another note, this week was Narcisse's Birthday!  So...we celebrated in style!  Lasagna and birthday cake!  Hard to beat.  My parents, the Smiths, Dina, and Theophile were all able to make it! Narcisse of course was excited and appreciative. He even told Theophile "not to be jealous" of all the attention and activities! It was a great time!

I am heading back to the Jungle in June.  I am really excited about the opportunity and adventure.  Plus I am co-leading with my buddy Lee.  This trip is unique and I have never been on a trip like this.  It is a relationship building mission.  Our church is the only church that is active along the Suriname River!  We have been going in for the past 8 years simply with medical teams to do a little evangelism and medical services, but this past Sept we built a permanet structure in the jungle for a missionary family to live in from our Church. They have been there for 2-3 months now and are really starting our ministry there.  This is where the trip comes in!  Our goal is to go and interact with the tribes along the river learning about their culture, history, and practices. We will also be planning future church trips and identifying needs and opportunities.  It is exciting being on the front line of a jungle church plant.  You really are on the front line of a spiritual war and it is an amazing place to be because God always shows up!  More to come on Suriname in the near future!

P90X update: I have already lost 10 lbs! in only 3 weeks!  I am in a rest and recovery week thankfully!  only 8 more  weeks to go!


 Birthday Boy!  The Big 21!


Landon Michael Smith decided to join the party!


Wonderful cook and host!


This picture just makes me laugh.

Narcisse wanted to wear everything he got!

Tory and I bought Landon this outfit! Love the frog!

Home Office! Look at the snow in the background!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

P90X

 P90X, my new best friend that I love to hate!  I started this program 9 days ago, so I am officially 1/10th of the way through the program.  So far, every muscle in my body has ached, been sore, and given out. But, I believe I am over the first big hill.  I enjoy working out and being active and I like having a routine and set guidelines...so...I think this will be a good fit for me!

Life, work, church, family all seem to be busy. Although we have no house guest we have still remained extremely active.  Last week we had our entire street over for coffee and dessert!  No one RSVP'd, but everyone showed up. It was funny...this was the first thing like this Tory and I have done, but we hope to make it more frequent.  The interesting thing was how excited everyone was about the event.  Everyone seemed relieved.  Like they had been wanting to meet their neighbors, but did not feel comfortable.  The really funny thing, the oldest couple on the block (82 and 78) stayed the longest!  They finally went home at 10:00!  It is amazing what a little coffee, good eats, and an open house will do.

I am in San Diego on business this week. So far, this place is amazing!  The weather is unbelievable, the views are unbelievable, and I am anxious to look around. As I flew in last night the sun was setting on the Pacific Ocean and it was gorgeous from the plane.  I kicked myself when I realized I left my camera at the house.  Every time I come to a place like this on business I always wish Tory could be here.  We would have a blast exploring this town and I would love to see her excitement.

Caney Creek smoked it's first bacon bellies this past weekend and they turned out really good!  Great flavor, but a little salty. I also applied the second round of salt to the hams we are curing.  It was a cold weekend spent in solitude, but worth it in the end!  I also got to see a lot of wild life.  The ducks are moving through really good right now and multiple times a day I could sneak over to the pond and see as many as 60 mallards. Again, I left my camera at home for some reason.  Juno also had a great time.  She never stops moving when we are up there. You fire up the 4 wheeler and she is ready to go!

Have a great rest of the week!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Empty House

Tory and I are officially empty nesters.  Dina, our Cameroonian roommate, officially moved out yesterday and headed back to the dorm at UALR!  As a result, our house is now extremely quiet!  It is quite nice! We wish her the best, and I am sure that we will continue to get our weekly dose of Dina in some format.

Upon embarking on this last adventure, we were extremely hesitant. We were mainly being selfish and not wanting to relent our house to God's work. Thankfully we were obedient and listened to Gods calling.  I am not sure that we have seen the complete blessing of our obedience or the complete work that God is going to do in Dina through us, but we are excited to be on that journey.  He has taught us many things! Unfortunately, He showed us a lot that we can work on!  We continue to pray that God will use us, our house, our resources, and time to bless others. As long as we pray this prayer, He will give us opportunities!

Tory spent the weekend in Houston visiting our good friends the Henderson's.  I was jealous I didn't get to go, but I am glad that she got to spend some good quality time with Chanie. Their time together is few and far between, but I know it energizes my wife.

Today is a start of a new Mark!  One that is hungry and sore!  I am starting P90X today. It is a fitness program and diet plan designed to get old soft bellies like me back in prime condition. I am looking forward to it and the challenge that lies ahead! I am glad I have a few buddies to share in the pain with me (Ryan, Grant, and Art)! I am sure you will hear updates in future blogging about my successes and failures!

Went duck hunting with a church buddy this weekend and had a great time.  Did not grow up doing much Duck hunting, because my dad never really did any. But, I believe I could get addicted pretty easy.  It is hard to describe the excitement and beauty of ducks landing in front of you on the water. Unfortunately, in AR it can be an extremely expensive hobby and its all about who you know.

Tory and I are hosting our first "Block Party" tomorrow night. We were challenged by our church to share a meal with our neighbors, so Tory and I decided to invited the entire street (11 houses) over for coffee and dessert.  It should be interesting.  The 11 houses could not be more diverse! We have no agenda set, other than to socialize! Fill free to come over!

Saw my nephew over the weekend.  He continues to drink milk about as fast as Tory's Jeep Liberty drinks gas! He really likes sitting up, but his neck muscles are not quite 100%. Therefore, I refer to him as Bobble-Head Landon.  He is a good baby unless he is hungry, wet, or has gas!  Fix those problems and he is back to being a great baby.

Have a great week!

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's 2011? Seriously?

I am a little behind on the blog, but we have had a lot going on!  We are down to two house guest and are about to be empty nesters.  Narcisse and Dina will both be moving back to the dorm this week as they prepare for the start of the semester.  Tory and I have been dreaming of this day!  What will we do? Give it time...We will figure it out.  We will miss them all! It may take a while, but we will miss them!

Tory and I celebrated New Years in separate locations, Tory kissed a dog and I tried not to fall asleep. 2011 brings a lot of opportunity to Tory and I and we we are anxious to see how it unfolds. It is our prayer that during this year we would be gracious givers, bless as many people as possible, share Christ love, and be obedient to His commands.

Below is a quick summary of the past couple of weeks!



Caney Creek Smoked Sausage


I finally put up Dad's Cool sign that I got him for Christmas 2 years ago.


This is Dina on Christmas Morning.  She wanted Christmas brought to her!


I love the fact that Narcisse decided to use his stocking as a bib.


I go the the boys wind suits!


These are my fancy new boots! Nice Job Honey!


Narcisse with "Coco"


Shelly rescuing Narcissse from Coco!


When Coco get scared, he get a Mohawk


The wonderful family I married into.


Tory and little Tory tickling the ivory.


Nothing goes with leather jackets quite like camo overalls!
Victoria definitely won the cutest kid award for Christmas.


One of the Bald Eagles we saw on Long Creek.