Welcome! I'm Lindsey Smallwood, a book-loving, song-writing former teacher and campus minster currently making my home in Michigan. I am married to Chris, a guitar-playing, pesto-making physicist who is aces at the bathtime routine and at giving good gifts, lucky me! Our three sons are loud, messy adorable boys that only slow down when they're asleep.
From the Psych Ward to Stanford
You guys - life does not turn out how you expect! As an undergrad at the University of Texas at Austin, I was killing it academically. But in my heart, I was a mess. I had to drop out for a semester to get treatment for an eating disorder. It was during my time in the psych ward (no joke) that God graciously began to show me my need for Him. Reading Romans in my wheelchair, I began to realize that even though I fell far short of the life God intended for me, He loved me and offered me a new way of living through Jesus.
When I got back to UT (Hook 'Em!), I became involved in campus ministry where I made friends and met mentors who challenged me to use my life to reflect the glory God designed me for. Flash forward through graduation and a couple years of interning and I found myself working as a campus pastor at Stanford University. Best. Job. Ever. I met incredible students from around the world and got to preach, teach, and mentor them every day. Plus there were robots and Nobel Prize Winners and palm trees.
A Very Special Education
As I was finishing my term at Stanford, I felt drawn toward classroom teaching. After applying to some training programs in the area, I was accepted into The Oakland Teaching Fellows, which was pretty handy because I'd recently started dating Chris, who happened to be working on his PhD in Berkeley, just a few minutes away. The program welcomed people who did not have a background in education but were interested in a career change to teaching. As a college English major, I assumed I would teach high school English or humanities. But to my surprise I was offered a placement as a teacher for elementary school students with significant disabilities.
Following a rocky start (a runaway kindergardener, a homicidal fifth grader, parents with lawyers - oh my!) I came to love my work with students and their families. I spent two years as an autism inclusion specialist, before moving on to what became my favorite professional place of all - teaching in my own 4th & 5th grade classroom to students with autism, down syndrome, and other cognitive issues. Just a few years earlier, I'd been preaching to some of the smartest people I'd ever encountered in real life, living among the wealthy in Silicon Valley. Suddenly I found myself modifying basic math so that my students with extreme challenges to their mental capacities could make progress on their goals at our school in the West Oakland projects.
Did I mention that life does not seem to turn out how you'd expect?
Love, Marriage & a Double-Wide Baby Carriage
During my years teaching in Oakland I also managed to get engaged, plan a wedding, earn my Masters degree in Special Education, marry Chris, take a job training new teachers, get pregnant, have a miscarriage, travel to the other side of the globe, get pregnant again and have a baby - which was so great I had another one 14 months later.
2 babies in a year is crazy and exhausting and possibly the most fun I've ever had, except maybe for the time I didn't see Celine Dion with my friend Kelli. Or the time my parents and I drove from Colorado to Alaska and my dad nearly didn't make it past border patrol. Or that week Char and I preached at a girl's camp in the Sierras. Yeah, so there have been some fun times before this but motherhood is my jam and I am loving it - even though the third sweet baby we added to the mix last year doesn't sleep much and I'm drinking coffee all the live long day. At least the coffee helps me not eat chocolate and say snarky mean things, the other activities that seem weirdly desirable when I'm tired.
Songbird & a Nerd
My mom and I used to belt out this wonderful hymn in our super echo-y kitchen:
Why should I feel discouraged?
Why do the shadows still come?
Why does my heart feel lonely and long for heaven and home?
If Jesus is my portion,
a constant friend is He.
His eye is on the sparrow
and I know He watches me.
I sing because I'm happy
I sing because I'm free
His eye is on the sparrow
and I know He watches me.
Yes! Jesus knows me, He keeps me safe amid life's storms and shadows. He watches me even in my sinfulness and He loves me anyway. With such incredible love, I'm free to try, free to sing, free to fail and try again.
Which brings me here, a place to capture some of the crazy wonderfulness of this season of life. A forum to give glory to the God who put His glory in me. A spot to memorialize these days loving on my babies and building a life together with Chris - they are passing far too quickly. A way to share the joy and struggle of the journey through stories, songs, recipes, poems and pictures - and to possibly help me avoid over-consumption of chocolate and snark-spouting. No one needs that.