Our Newlywed Experience

Within the Body of Christ

Daily receiving life and grace from His constant hand:

"I said to the Lord, 'Thou art my Lord;

I have no good besides Thee.'" Ps 16:2

Friday, December 31, 2010

Study study and more study- with a lil life in between ;)

As I begin to process- I really don’t have a CLUE who my audience for this is!!!

Well, maybe a little bit of a clue. Friends, family, people from my hometown will stop me, text me, Facebook me about how “this post… that verse… this story…” meant so much to them. And that is beautiful. Because that is what this blog is for. Because Christ is ALIVE. And ACTIVE daily in my life. And I want-you-to-encounter-Him. His peace. His life.

At the same time- I realize my audience is also- myself! As another girlfriend shared with me about her own blogging experience, she talked about how precious it would be to look back on all this, years down the road. I capture these memories and lessons for myself.

Even this morning, as I looked back on my first blog post after school started, I was touched by [and learned again from!] what I had experienced back then:

“God is saturated in this in ways I’ll never realize on this side of eternity.”

Folks, it tickles me to death to be sitting here- first semester under my belt! Tickles-me-to-death. Some of you may be like “Um, Miss Katie, you have two years left…” Yes, I do. Two years.

Hear me now though- that semester, those first four months, are the hardest in the program.

When I would talk with people outside the program about how first semester was going they would say things like “Oh yeah, they gotta weed people out, huh?” Noooooo. This was not ‘weed out.’ This was REFINEMENT. Grueling, trial-by-fire refinement. ‘Weed out’ was through the application/ interview process when they chose 34 of over five-hundred applicants.

And as I blogged earlier about the amazing faculty at Methodist- each one of them busts their tail to make sure each one of those 34 make it through the entire way.

My darling hubby was so sweet and supportive throughout the ENTIRE semester. I felt like we made it through as a team. Here is one of the MANY ways he cheered me on- with roses!!! :D

My absolute favorite color roses. Yellow base with coral tips.

I tell you, our class is some group of people. People would check in on me to see how I was doing, how the class was doing. Every time it happened, I would think about our class as a whole and come to the same conclusion time and again- there is not a lazy one among us. Every last one disciplined and competent.

December 2012. Brace yourself for a new, seasoned generation of excellent Physician Assistants!

Tiffany and Staci- Oh how I adore these girls!! From Day 1 I knew sweet Tiffany would be the one always cracking me up, making me giggle, and keeping me sane- and she did :) It was wonderful meeting Staci and seeing how the Lord has absolutely brandished Uganda on both our hearts- anticipating the opportunity of doing a rotation in Africa with this lady :)

Miss Laura, the belly dancer. Swords are often involved. Mad skills, people. Watch out ;)

Charlie, Ashley, Me, and Karolyn in what ended up being quite a HILARIOUS photo shoot. This was the most calm, normal photo I had

It all went downhill from there…
I’m 99% sure this was uncontrollable laughter at something Charlie said/did… You know, as usual.

My lovely Kristen Neitski [‘night ski’ haha!] She’s a Chapel Hill grad, but I don’t hold it against her. How can you not adore her? :D

He’s pretty much a big deal.

My hubby is crazy. But crazy wonderful. And God saw it perfect to make me his wife. To nurture me. To love me. To make me pots of coffee, and give bear hugs, and peel me away from textbooks when they try to eat me alive. To keep me sane. To help me through PA school. To make me LAUGH. And for that I praise GOD!

It really was a beautiful thing of confirmation, something I reflected quietly about OFTEN during the semester, to watch Grayson throughout all of this. For Him to call and equip my spouse- to be husband to a Physician Assistant student. It was a beautiful thing. And I simply played worshipful spectator in all of that.

"The steps of a man are established by the Lord; and He delights in his way." Psalm 37:23

On top of my desk hutch, a constant reminder…

Grayson started playing in the worship band at the church we’ve been attending- Snyder Memorial Baptist Church. Such an incredible body of believers there! :D

Stay tuned!!

First Semester- CHECK!!

Ughhh, I love blogging. I’ve missed blogging. It’s my crack, basically.
Which is why I seriously would’ve thought there would be at least twenty posts in the past two weeks. Twenty, yes twenty. Hmm, high goals. Overachieving perfectionist-in-RECOVERY here, people.
I told one of my professors about the ‘perfectionist in recovery’ thing a few weeks ago and I thought she was going to suffocate from laughing- ‘what recovery?!?’ Sheesh.

Anyways, back to the stream of consciousness…  Where do I even START? Most chronologically recent events and work to where I left off? Or begin where I left off and work to most recent???
Ooo, I got one for ya. I call it Katie’s “Are You Ready for First Semester PA School???” Quiz.
Here’s how it goes:
            1. Find the closest Merry-Go-Round.
            2. Grab an edition of War and Peace.
            3. Hop on, spin the Merry-Go-Round as fast as it will possibly go, and crack open that mother of a book.
            4. You have thirty seconds.
            5. And a 247 question test afterward.
And go!
Did you enjoy it?!? Did you do WELL?!?!? If yes, then you are READY my darling friend! :D
Haha, but in all seriousness it DID feel like that. One of the most challenging semesters of my entire life. But so wonderful. It’s the oddest thing to sit here and realize I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I flash back to a month or two ago. I’m in my special nook of the PA building studying. Its dark [so either really late or really early] and I’m on the cell phone with Daddy. His words are as clear as crystal, as if he was speaking them this moment:
“Katie. If I could go back and tell myself ONE thing while I was in Medical School- I would tell myself to calm down. Enjoy your spouse. Your friends. Just calm down.”
Cause the Lord leads you through. Again. And again. And again.
Right now it is incredibly late. Instead of worrying about waking up the ‘sleeping hubby’, I’m cautious about waking up the sleeping puppies- two fuzzy black Yorkshires bundled up together in their lil crib in our study.  Clicking away while making a blueberry toaster strudel disappear. Yeah, will definitely be sweating away at some Pilates tomorrow morning.
Fading fast. Grayson and I are tackling a major nasty cold that hit us simultaneously. Bleh. Fighting it with lots of homemade soup. Calling it quits before tonight before my head hits the monitor. More to come tomorrow- got my blog muscles warmed up…  ;D

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Now that I have seen

I cannot even believe what just happened. Cannot even believe. It still doesn’t seem real.

But it is real, very real. So I must steal a precious minute or two to tell you.

Background story- In December of 2008, what seems like an eternity ago, I was blessed to be able to go to Uganda. One of the most life-changing experiences on that trip was to visit a refugee settlement on the borders of Uganda, Sudan and Congo.

The last morning we shared with the local church. I remember telling my story, and how I was going into medicine. I was approached by a young man- Jonas- who told me that he, too, wanted to go into medicine...

I smiled. “Would it happen, Lord? Is that type of education possible, this young man and this place?”

As with every other second on the refugee trip, that moment was brandished on my heart...

Present night- I’m leaving a chic lil Starbucks downtown- hop in my Benz, weave through the bright city lights and paved streets, and buzz on back to our little townhome. I’ve been studying a subject that has been getting on my nerves a bit, and I feel behind. I’m tired. I’m achy. Overwhelmed. “Boy is life rough.”

I flip open my laptop and pull open my email. An email in my inbox is titled “Greeting.” I open it.


I would like to thank for the great work you are doing- my GOD bless you.This is JONAS from the Africa Kyangwal Refugee settlement, but am in Hoima studing Bwikya ss S3. I still remember you the time you came to vist Kyangwali. We met at the Baptist church and I am one of the worship leaders. Everyone is missing you and pastor GAKURU JOHN.

And I am studying hard for my community, because everyone in my community is suffering due to lack of food and etc.

Many youth in my community have no education because they have no school fees and mostly very young girls and young boys.

I would wish always to share with you.


Oh dear goodness. Oh dear goodness

The images of the camp, the intense pain and severe poverty, came flooding back to me.

The Ugandan refugee camp.

Where 89% lack food and water.

Where 77% lack housing or shelter.

Where 75% have seen murder of family or close friend.

Where 64% had seen another person murdered.

Where 56% have themselves been beaten and tortured.

And here one of their OWN was working SO hard, because HIS people...

Were sick. And dying. From malaria. And AIDS. And starvation, and rape, and torture.

All these images came flooding so painfully back to me- in the midst of my own “pain” and “anguish”- pain and anguish these people would give their lives just to experience for one day.

The irony of it all STUNG. Tears and sobs flowed over. What a gracious and timely reality check.

And it hurt so good.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Head above the water...Eyes on Him

Man oh man… the past two weeks has been
so wonderful

in so many DIFFERENT ways.

Ways I didn’t expect, ways I didn’t plan. And I really attribute this sense of ‘peace’ ‘assurance’ and ‘wellness’ [in spite of my whole new understanding of the word- ‘pressure’] to the Lord’s comforting confirmation that:

Yes, this is where I belong.

Yes,this is what He has ‘just plain built me from scratch for’- planned for me to do, planning that began way earlier than I realize.

Yes, this is EXCRUCIATINGLY difficult.

But yes yes YES total understanding and present, complete awareness that nevertheless my Christ is CONTINUALLY, CONSTANTLY before me clinging to my right hand as I cling to His counsel.

I also attribute this precious sense of the Lord’s nearness and confirmation to all those dear, dear saints that have been lifting me up in prayer before our Lord- prayers the Lord is CHERISHING and RESPONDING to! So as deeply and sincerely as this little heart is capable of- I thank you.

Orientation was Monday and Tuesday- and HOLY COW was it an absolute BLURRR!! Let me sit here and wrack my brain so I can actually remember ‘what on earth in tha world’ happened so I can relay it back to you…

Umm, well for starters, I picked out a cute ‘business professional’ outfit for first day of orientation.

Yeah, this is like seriously about ALL
I can remember from that day

And started getting to know the FABULOUS people with whom I will be entrenched in a foxhole with for the next 27 months. I already adore them. Here is a glimpse of some of them [DEF not all of them pictured here, more pics to come :D ]

Sooo grateful for Annie! What an amazing woman :D

ADORE these girls! Ya'll have no idea :)

Haha- so uh, yeah! That’s the majority of what I remember about orientation: cute clothes and new friends! And lots of info info info info info info about what the next 27 months will be like.

Oh goodness, I remember something I began to experience and realize during orientation and throughout the week:

Methodist University Physician Assistant Program Faculty and Staff


In ways that have shattered and gone above and beyond any hope or expectation of mine.

In ultimate brief: every last one of them I could approach as ‘Mentor’

They are wise. They are sincere. They are crazy legit professionals. And they CARE. About us. About our wellness. Even if we don’t see it the way they do. They are going to be my pushers, encouragers, correctors. Sources of both inspiration and concern. At times amazingly pleasant, and at times incredibly NOT pleasant. But whatever happens- they have my trust. I know they’re looking out for me.

So one bright Wednesday morning, after a hug and kiss from hubby, I headed off to my first PA class- ready as I’d never be.

Had to have a 'first day of class' outfit  too :D

How on earth to convey the first day to you, well…

You know that old fashioned, hard core way they used to teach kids to swim back then?

When they would take an innocent, unbroken little 3 year old and splosh them off the deep end and just wait for that little infantile head to come bobbing above the water again, choking gasping screaming and crying?

Yeah… It’s like that…

Cept in this story my ‘deep end of the pool’ is a man named Dr. Bruce Steffes [its pronounced “stef – us”], MUPAP Surgeon in Residence. He is one of those ‘old school surgeons’ that made it through school back in tha day when it was ‘trial by fire.’ No mercy. That is one man whose reputation precedes FAR ahead of him. The man who has had women leave his interviews in tears. The man whose ‘first years’ are known to often be hospitalized with stress ulcers and nervous breakdowns [true story]. Steffes. I was pre-determined he would end up liking me, one way or another. And yet at the same time…pretty-dang-intimidated.

So. 8 o’clock. Physiology. Steffes. He owns us for the next 4 hours [and next 3 months]. Owns. He walks in…

And blows my mind. The man is… funny! Has a hilarious sense of humor. Talks to us about the next semester- and you can just HEAR how much he cares, wants us to succeed. Yes, he did have that aura of ‘surgeon sternness’ to him. But he shared bits of his heart. Talked about his testimony, his family, the LORD! My heart was doing backflips to find out he knew [and walked with] Christ!

Really starting to like this ‘man named Steffes’, seeing new parts of the ‘legend’ that all the stories didn’t tell. This is the surgeon who picks up and leaves the country with his family for 6 months at a time to work on the Mercy Ship- a large floating hospital that travels down the African coast, meeting the healthcare needs of those who have not.

He could be gruff and intimidating to me all he wanted to. This man had a heart of gold. I trusted him- that his attitude and intimidation and OVERLOAD of information he was piling on us- he did because he thought that was what we needed.

Sushi Night w da GIRLS :D

Class Picnic- ADORE them!!
Um, yeah...They're pretty much awesome...be jealous ;D

Two weeks. Two weeks. That can’t be right, can’t be. Just can’t. It LITERALLY feels like two months.

Gettin ready for Cadaver Lab- beauty AND brains :D

It’s more difficult and more wonderful than I ever imagined. Not sure how it’s both those things at once, but it really is. So many people ask me so often- how are you? How are you? How are you? And you know what, when they do, I take a nano-reflection. And no matter how intense the pressure, how much I’ve done and how much is left- I can’t help but answer “You know, I’m well. I’m really doing well.”

It’s exhausting. I’m creating and using time I didn’t know existed, drawing from energy that comes from who-knows-where [or perhaps more accurately Who-knows-where]. The times I get to spend with the Lord and with Grayson are becoming patches here and there throughout the day. But, my glory- are they precious. And how they get me through.

My surprise when I got home after one LONG day- I adore that boy

It’s weird to sit here. Still. To process. So weird. Squeezing in time as it is to blog. A ludicrous to-do list beckons. But in this teeny moment this is more important.

In very short- this is very painful, and it is well. This is right. God is saturated in this in ways I’ll never realize on this side of eternity.

“Nevertheless I am continually with Thee; Thou hast taken hold of my right hand. With Thy counsel Thou wilt guide me, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion


Psalm 73:23-26

Monday, August 30, 2010

Every new beginning...Another beginning's end

Sleeping hubby-check. Past my bedtime- check. Thoughts galore-check. You know what that means- blog time!!!

What an absolute whirlwind the past 2 weeks have been! But an awesome whirlwind :)

It would be impossible, to sit here now, and recap all the fun final adventures we’ve been having and all the lessons and experiences the Lord has been impressing on me along the way.

So I’ll keep it brief and try to hit part one of the last highlights of the summer :)

Home is finally, finally feeling settled- really feeling like ‘home’ Just enjoying the last of our lazy summer days together- family and friends, grilling out, exploring the town.

King o' da Grill!!

Just helpin out...
Notice I have my finger over the lid-
knew if I didnt there'd of course be the chance that we may have some SERIOUS issues on our hands...

Hmm, super excited ab the food?  Or that its not burnt?
Maybe both :D

As all the faculty, staff, and students have continually made known- PA school is PACKED and TOUGH. At least this FIRST semester is anyways… all kinda downhill from there :)

SO you BET this summer, and these last two weeks, have consisted of cramming in and cherishing LOTS of fun times with loved ones! Met up with some old college friends that live here in NC- Jake Goetze and Lauren Faison- at the Smithfield outlets to hang out a while.

The Newly Engaged Couple!!!
Soon to be Mr. & Mrs. Jacob Goetze!! :D

I dont know why he's doing this face.
Maybe he'd been bad and couldnt get any icecream.

Da old married couple :D

This is a super cute pic- but all I can think when I look at this is...
'Jake is realllllly tallllll'

Man oh MAN! A big chunk of my med school equipment came a few weeks ago- INCLUDING- my Littmann Master Cardiology III Stethoscope!! That thing is LEGIT!! Had been using a Littmann Classic II Pediatric Edition as a medical assistant- but this Cardiology one is crazy intense!

Its finally here!!!
Everything is starting to become so real!!!

Katie Freel Smith, Physician Assistant

So moments after getting my stethoscope- I also got my first patient. My lil upstate hubby had never heard of ‘Redbugs’. So after a Saturday of helping Daddy on his hunting property and getting a massive amount of terribly itchy bites over his legs, Grayson diagnosed them as ‘mosquito or ant bites’

PA Katie to the rescue!  Silly 'upstate' hubby did not believe his 'lowcountry' wifey:

K- “They’re redbugs!!”

G- “What?? Whats a redbug?!”

Nor did he believe how to treat them- clear nailpolish!! He was actually quite mortified to find out that the mean ol redbuggie was still in there, and that the nailpolish worked by suffocating it.

Since my patient behaved so well, and since I accurately diagnosed and treated him, we treated ourselves to Caymanian Rum Cake and Ice Cream! [Lol, did I mention the poor hubby had ‘Pink Eye’ the same time he had the redbuggies??? Bless…]

Mmmm, hot rum cake and vanilla ice cream- tastes like Cayman :D
Tonight I called one of my most precious little friends. She’d just been through a significantly tough challenge this afternoon, and I was calling to see how she was- knowing she may need comfort and encouragement from me.

The challenge was indeed very tough and the comfort was indeed very much needed- but that sweet lil baby…was calm! Upset, yes. Pain, yes. But peaceful!! It was so neat for us both to look at her tonight, and look over her life a year ago and see what MATURITY the Lord had developed in her as she sought everyday for Him.

I sat there on the bed and just listened to her words. Just listened. Because at that moment, that evening in Katie’s world- Physician Assistant orientation was starting the next morning. And for all my dazed surreal calmness and peacefulness…perhaps a storm was on the horizon? I just sat there and listened to that sweet little one’s words:

“You know Katie, the situation today does hurt and I don’t understand, but I’m at peace. It’s ok because Katie I really just don’t know where life will be in two years. I mean- look where I was two years ago! Had NO idea I’d be here today. And there’s no telling where the Lord will place me in two more years, let alone next week or even tomorrow!”

And it was absolutely one of those moments that the Lord was whispering [gracious] reminders in my heart:

“I expect today’s obedience. Now’s obedience. Don’t live in tomorrow. Tomorrow isn’t reality yet, doesn’t exist. It would be futile to focus on -well- what ‘isn’t’ yet. Rest in the responsibility of today.”

The ‘storm brewing’ wasn’t even the actual ‘battles’ I most likely am about to fight. The storm brewing was me subtly, suddenly beginning to fight non-existent battles.

I am incredibly PREPARED, more than I realize.

I am intellectually, emotionally, physically, relationally, academically, spiritually EQUIPPED.

This path been ORDAINED, with power, planning, and providence that has infinitely outweighed ANY competencies of my own.

And I will continue to follow His voice, cling to His right hand, and keep my eyes on this path- until that same voice says ‘Stop. No further.’

As for today, He says, “This is the way. Walk in it.”

And that I will.

Monday, August 23, 2010

sun-snorkeling-STARFISH :D

His back usually looks like this because he WONT be still and let me rub it in...
this time he did- BUT the sunscreen gel was all funky :/  sowwy Gray...
Mmmm, claimed sanctuary underneath these clear waters like ALL morning :)
If Katie Freel Smith's face needs SPF 70- you KNOW its hott out!!
Hubby and Mommy- love this pic, love them :D

Pool/View behind the villa
Haha, John trying to clean up the beach and Mango puppy keeping things 'interesting'
Vitamine came in for a while
Sweet Kitty
Pets in the villa was at first hilarious, but it def makes it home-y :D
another intense game of uno
Grayson was probably cheating
Yeah, he was def cheating
Laughing because he is such a good cheater

...love this pic :D
But then I got him back for cheating...not so tough now huh???
Mmm- lunch was some amazing pizza left over from dinner at the Ritz
Tee Hee- ready to do some more SNORKELING!!
Quiet new beach we discovered on Cayman Kai at North Sound
GiRLiE HuG!!! sucka!

Getting ready to swim with the STARFISH!!
There were DOZENS!!! :D
pimp nasty
Sunset over Cayman Kai
Baby Holdie drivin!! Had to document!
Hmm, little blurry, sign says: 'East End' and 'George Town, Bodden Town'
One of the shells we'd gotten had a kwabbie still in it... he didnt make it :(
You kno... still gotta get dat weave..even on vay-cay
Walk down Bodden Town
View from Main Street

Purdy Sunset...
Hilarious story about this boat later- basically some guys took it out and almost capsized-
Daddy got pics of them tryin to bail water out
another day in paradise