Sunday, June 24, 2012

a hiatus

i will be taking a couple of weeks off from the blog because we are taking a two week vacation to one of our favorites places in the world. we are so excited to see our family and our friends!

 upon on return, i will be able to fill you in on the fun stories and numerous adventures these next two weeks will hold.

i hope that you have a fantastic couple of weeks!!



Thursday, June 21, 2012

light and grace...

our lucy kharis turns FIVE YEARS old tomorrow *tear*.

lucy's name means light and grace. i am unsure if any other child fulfills their name more than lu-lu.
she is light.
she is grace.

her dimples can melt the hardest heart. her laugh is totally contagious. she has this unaware, unaffected air about her that can drive you crazy.. or drive you to her.

i have said it before, i'll say it again. we are still figuring lucy out. she is a puzzle for us. this past year more than ever she if reflecting more of katie's "i've got a preference about everything" side. but then she can pull the julia, "i am so competitive you better watch your self" side.
i have no desire to put her in a "katie" box or a "julia" box. she is her own little, pocket size, spit-fire of fun box.

this past year many people have asked if lucy and anderson are twins. that cracks me up but i can clearly see the confusion.

per one of the latest updates, lucy has grown a significant amount of hair this year. this is also the first year in lucy's whole life that mark is unable to reach around her waist..fingers touching. she might be petite, but her light and her grace are dwarfed by no one.

lucy, thanks for keeping it light/lite around here. thanks for it keeping silly, and fun, and sweet. thanks for keeping us on our toes as we continue to unwrap the great gift God has given us in YOU! we love you SO MUCH, lucy goosey!

~Mama and Daddy!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Living In The Storm: A father who loves...

if you don't know already i am abundantly blessed by so many amazing men in my life! first and foremost,  my dad, who undoubtedly was the first and only man in my life for SO many years! and he, he loved me first. second, my brothers who thru word and deed encouraged me to believe my true value and not allow myself to settle for a life time of heart ache. they never would allow my ego to grow too big, and they never allowed my self loathing to last too long. third, a gracious, kind, and very gentle father-in-law who raised, guided, and befriended the wonderful man who now i claim as my own beloved! these men deserve to be celebrated each and every day all year long!

but this year i can't get my daddy off my mind. i can't help but feeling totally overwhelmed when i think of the deep, deep, well of appreciation, admiration, respect, and the unmoving-undivided love that as his daughter, will live on into eternity.

for as far back as i can remember i have been drawn to my dad. there has never been a time in my life that i didn't want to be with him. there was this really special season when all the other kids had grown up and moved on, and mom and dad had nothing better to do than follow me around from sports event to sports event, from school event to school event. :) endless hours i spent with him singing funny songs from 98.1 KUDL, talking sports, discussing theology, arguing worship styles, practicing sermon illustrations, divulging youth group woes and best of all.... drinking in gallons of love. he was, and is a CONSTANT source of life giving love!

even with the fierce temptation of our culture to have an adulterous love affair with the church in the name of "full time ministry", dad drew his line in the sand and repeatedly told us through his actions and in his words, "i choose YOU! i choose this family!"  he was a child of God first, husband second, a father third, and a shepherd of the church last.

i first fell in love with my Savior by seeing Him lived out in the daily life of my daddy!

there is no exaggerating the influence my dad has had on my heart, my life, my marriage, and most importantly on my personal walk with Jesus!

even in the most painful storm of his life my daddy, without hesitation, exudes the type of love that most people will never experience on this earth. an out of this world kind of love!

i guess that's why i just can't get him off my mind.

happy father's day daddy!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

the post man made me cry...

ok, so really it wasn't the post man pr-say. it was the us post office sending me an official notice stating that on july 19th their one year guarantee of forwarding our mail from our VA address to our KS address would be fulfilled. that's the part that got me. the ONE YEAR part.

the ache began in my tummy and inched its way up into the corners of my eyes where the tears spilled over. one year! really? how is that possible? one year ago we let go of a lot of somethings and a lot of someones that we desperately love and miss. all in all, we said goodbye to a life that had become so much a part of who we were, who our family had become.  missing our former life is no indication that we aren't totally thrilled with the life we now live in kansas. comparing the two is impossible. they were never meant to be opposing factors. we have NO regrets about moving to KS! every time i look at my mom and dad, hug my nieces, have living room chats with my siblings, or soak up every moment with our dear, dear, friends i don't flinch about our decision to move here.

it's just sometimes the all too familiar longing for what was comes sneaking up on me and it hurts. really hurts. so much of what was still lingers in our hearts. no doubt the verse from esther rings truer than ever, "for such a time as this!" but as we fondly think back on our time in VA we now say, "for such a time as what once was!"

and what an incredibly, unforgettable time it was!

VA, we miss you. some kind of bad!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Life Is A Riverboat...

for the last few days i have caught myself stopping and grabbing the life being lived out in front of me and tucking it away in the my heart. i told my sweet Mama-in-law just the other day what a fantastic and FUN season of life this is right now with our kids. everyone seems, *sigh* so old. i stand at the kitchen sink and listen to the four of them chatter away over lunch. from my lazy, lounging, life guard chair i can peer over my juicy novel and watch them splash themselves silly in the pool for hours. and every night without fail i can walk into their rooms while they are passed out from the summer sun and gently kiss all over their super grown up faces. i am not sure what has me super reflective and emotional these days, (no zach i am NOT pregnant!) i guess more than ever i realize how quickly these days, months, and years are slipping through my fingers.

i desperately desire, and am full out determined to ENJOY my kids. not just in a long suffering, sticking it out kind of way (although, those days DO happen) but i want to look back at this season without regret knowing i have poured my very being into my kids.

at the top of my "what i want for my kids" list is..
i want them to appreciate words. whether it's reading them, writing them, expressing themselves verbally with them, or a super great ability to listen to someone else's words and value them. this year in particular i have seen katie's love for words take flight to a whole other level. the girl reads like mad... but recently she has been writing, and obviously coming from a heart that LOVES to write i just eat up everything the girl produces. this week i found this wonderfully, original quote with an added picture, by none other than katie.

for those who can't read it, it says, "life is a riverboat, don't tip it because you don't get another riverboat."

first of all, what i just adore about this quote is the fact that at 8 years old katie knows that life is a gift. we are guaranteed nothing! the promise of another day here on earth is not a luxury we own. we appreciate that b/c from the beginning of our parenthood journey mark and i knew we had no desire to down play the suffering and realities of this life. we talk openly and honestly about illnesses, death, miscarriages, abortion, murder, cancer, alzheimer's, kidnapping, divorce,  etc..etc.. some might think that's cruel and unkind, but we think it's just another step in preparing our kids for real life, with real broken people, with real hurt, real circumstances that should cause us to respond with real love.

second of all, i love that katie understands personal responsibility and the seriousness and finality of the decisions we make and the consequences we receive. not because we are victims, or we've been overlooked, or our luck ran out, simply she understands, "to every action there is always an equal and
opposite reaction" (newton's third law of motion...*snort, snort, an engineers wife*).

we live in a generation of people who are tipping their riverboats and blaming everyone but themselves. we live in a generation of people covering up the holes in their boats that are full of hurt, heart ache, depression, and hopelessness, and plugging it with anything and everything they think will stop the drainage of sadness. we live in a generation of people who don't even realize they are on a riverboat! ;)

people you have bee given ONE riverboat... stop tipping it and get to paddling!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

a bubble bath on steroids...

on a lighter note.
a little less serious.
a little less controversial.
just pure summer and sunshine.

we took a carriage ride on the plaza thursday night. it was in honor of my darling niece, megan's, 6th birthday (and katie's super delayed 8th birthday celebration) WAY FUN!

a  miracle occurred when lucy was able to put her hair in pig tails after 5 years of anticipation. for those who have journeyed with us along the hair growing process you KNOW this was H.U.G.E. for her. look at that

we are enjoying our ginormous bath tub before we part ways. last night the kids had a bubble bath on steroids.

tomorrow will mark 13 years since this incredible man took me on our first date and stole my heart forever... i mean is he totally sexy or what?

we hope you have a fantastic week!

Friday, June 8, 2012

the post in which i talk about the nude statue...

if you live in kansas city you have probably already heard about the controversy regarding the statue at the overland park arboretum. surprise, surprise, i have something to say about this issue :)

here is my beef with the outrage.

if we are going to use our energy to try and have the statue removed because it's inappropriate, pornographic, outrageous, harmful, distasteful, etc..etc.. then may i suggest a few other petitions we get all pumped up about also? why aren't we picketing over at the oak park mall where half dressed women plague you at every turn. if we think simply b/c their private areas are covered with smaller pieces of clothe then a kleenex, makes it "ok" ...we are sorely mistaken.  why not a petition to remove those photos, why no outrage there?

moving on. why aren't we standing outside of every gas station that has pornographic magazines all over their shelves? why no outrage regarding these issues?

why aren't we all writing our television providers and asking them to remove movie trailers with demeaning and degrading scenes of women scattered every where we look. if we are that passionate about inappropriate things we would all do well to never watch another NFL football game again. where women are used over and over again to tickle the eyes of men through cheerleaders and commercials.

why aren't we at every pool demanding that women of all ages cover up their flirtatious buns and busting breasts?

you see, my beef is the inconsistency. the AFA or some other "christian" organization picks ONE thing to get all jazzed about. we spend hours spreading the word... for what? to prove our "point". that we are a annoying and inconsistent force to reckoned with?

don't hear what i am not saying, i DO think the statue is inappropriate, but i also think LOTS of things in this city, in this state, in this nation, and in this world are inappropriate. and forgive me if i don't sign petitions that come my way regarding these things. i will not throw pearls to pigs. why in the world would we be shocked that people who don't think like we do or agree with what we believe, would think twice about placing this statue? seems to me like a bad case of false expectations.

is it our job as christians to right every wrong? to rid our world of every inappropriate thing? GOOD LUCK, if it is. i don't think that is what our calling is. rather, i am determined to spend my precious time in this life purposely and directly teaching my children how to combat these things. insisting they learn how to respond to a culture full of men and women who are obsessed and oppressed by pornography. where EVERYTHING is overly sexual. is removing the naked statue at the arboretum going to ensure my children never see another naked thing.... NO WAY! so, why not spend the time preparing them for battle. filling their minds with scripture and prayer. why aren't our churches using this outrage to demand that their leaders and teachers aggressively and unashamedly address these areas that have been taboo for so long?  we are foolish to think we are going to some how convince a sick and needy world that they need Jesus by signing petitions and removing a nude statue.

my fear is the statue is removed and the conversation ends. somehow we think we have "won" one for the kingdom. we have won nothing until fathers persistently and persuasively teach their sons to protect their eyes and hearts from lust that lurks around EVERY corner. instead of a one stop shop when it comes to these intimate issues, it's a life long conversation. when mothers and daughters openly and consistently talk about guarding our bodies, our hearts, and our minds. together standing up as an army of men and women and realizing that our battle ground is not the overland park arboretum. the battle ground is the hearts and minds of each and every person on this planet who claims to love Jesus. our battle plan shouldn't be petitions. our battle plan should be a full out ground war on protecting our thought life, our heart life, the words we say, the materials we read, the shows we watch, the music we listen to, the conversation we participate in. then and only then will we be able to claim any type of victory. 

if you are upset about the statue, i get it. but don't stop there. get passionate about things inappropriate all across the boards. get pumped up and jazzed about talking to and arming your kids, your spouse, your friends, your family about struggles they will encounter until the day the die.

nude statue or no nude statue... the war will still go on!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

ask, sneak, and knock...

i have always believed the best way for kids to memorize anything is through song. i want so badly for my kids to hide the word of their God in their hearts. His word is life and i want them to be full of unending life. sometimes i panic and think, "my kids have not memorized enough scripture" (while, i know there is ALWAYS more room to memorize scripture in ALL of our lives) i forget that SO much of the scripture they know is through song.

my little tag along these days, (anderson) loves to just talk to me, talk to himself, and SING. the boy has loved music since the womb. i remember he would dance like crazy on sunday mornings, (even to the funeral dirges from the trinity hymnal *wink-wink*) and he was my only child that was soothed by music. any who, the other day while helping me get ready for the day he was singing one of the verses he had memorized. at first, i didn't hear the discrepancy. i listened a little closer and busted out in laughter as he was singing, "ask, SNEAK, and knock..knock, knock, knock" the correct verse was matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." the song said, "ask, seek, and knock....knock, knock, knock...."

the longer i thought about it the clearer it became that sometimes i approach my very own prayer life like anderson's little hiccup. i ask, plead, and beg God to intervene into different circumstances in my life. maybe it's as "big" as dealing with the grief over my mom, or as "small" as helping us be faithful with our finances.  (i put big and small in parenthesizes because God does not categorize our prayers... we often do. ALL of our concerns and requests are vitally important to Him.)

after i ASK i SNEAK. i try and manipulate the situation to get the outcome i want. i try and convince myself that i am self-sufficient and can carry the burdens of this world alone. i try and give God a little help, or lend Him a helping hand. it makes me chuckle thinking about aiding the God of the universe. how foolish i am to think that He in any way needs me? needs any of us.   these attempts often times are not blatant or overly apparent. they are sneaky in nature. often times i don't even realize my ways until the Holy Spirit reveals it to me.

when i was battling to overcome fears grip on my life i just begged God to take away my paralyzing fear. at one point i clearly remember the Lord speaking to my heart and saying, "if i just take away your fear like a genie in a bottle i have done you a disservice. can i take away your fears? YES!  but you will have learned nothing until you learn to combat and conquer these fears through the strength and determination i offer you." after that i remember my prayer life changed and instead of asking God to remove my fear i asked Him to teach me how to conquer my fear and to help my unbelief! God will not be belittled to a "genie in a bottle." often times we are falsely taught how to "rub Him the right way" in order to get what we want. how jipped and empty our lives are until we begin to comprehend WHO He is and the amazing riches He has for us when we seek Him and ONLY Him. then we can look at Him as far more meaningful and important then a genie, but as Savior, Lord, Master, Beloved, Redeemer, Abba, Emmanuel, Tabernacle... my ALL in ALL!

here is to seeking Him, not sneaking around Him,

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

punch buggy poacher

i spotted it from a distance, i knew that no one else in the van could see it as well as me...this punch buggy would be mine. my quickness would not be outdone by the four munchkins in the back seat nor by their father. as the words "punch buggy" were crawling up my throat i was considering who i would punch to claim my final victory lap. it was as the words were coming out of my mouth at a pretty loud volume that i realized.... i was all alone in the mini van. my "punch buggy" was meaningless.

i have a small competitive side in me.. ok, well, sometimes it's not so small especially when it comes to games. sports games, board games, etc... mark has a wee bit of competition in his blood also (don't ever dis him in a game of liverpool rummy, you'll live to regret it). therefore, combined we have produced a few competitive children.

anderson has a distinct disadvantage, he is the baby. i feel for him. i lost numerous games of wolf, around the world, kick the can, etc.. because of my birth order. especially, with an overly competitive older brother (i will protect his identity, he resides in the northeast). ahem. so i had to get faster, smarter, and more creative. often times i reverted to jelly shoes. they were magical. sometimes i threatened my brothers in order to claim victory. wanting to some day have children of their own, they would concede and i would claim victory. it was ugly. but it was a victory!

back to anderson. anderson has picked up on the fact that if he wants to win he has to get creative. his latest strategy in the "punch buggy" realm is hysterical. most of the time he is NOT the first to spot a punch buggy. when someone else sees a punch buggy and claims it anderson simply shouts at the top of his lungs, "punch buggy blue, i got it" then he punches someone. he acts as if no one else ever said a word. he doesn't even acknowledge the person whom first spotted it. his confidence that he in fact spotted the punch buggy first is fascinating. even though 5 other people in the car clearly heard the other person claim it first he does not go down without a fight. he claims victory until he cries. at first the girls and their parents, fought him on it saying things like, "no buddy, so and so got it first". but after MULTIPLE attempts at trying this and failing, everyone has conceded to this tactic. even yesterday, when julia clearly spotted the green punch buggy first and even punched AJ, he immediately claimed it for his own and julia and the rest of us congratulated him on his victory.

consequently, anderson has been named the punch buggy poacher. i am very proud of his creative means to claim a V.I.C.T.O.R.Y.  i am also a little bit concerned regarding his overly abundant confidence.

here is to spotting that punch buggy first and slugging someone, even if you poach it!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Living In The Storm: The Dreaded Question...

I am going to tread very, very gently in this post.  I am not writing while I feel emotionally drained or unsteady. I am writing while I feel secure, at peace, and thinking clearly, (a nice change for us all ;)

There is something I need to tell you. Well, really there is something our whole family needs to tell you.  And while at first you might be offended, turned off, or frustrated... please, please, don't hear what I am NOT SAYING, here my heart. Hear OUR hearts.

"How is your Mom?" is probably one of the most painfully hard questions for us to hear right now. It's also impossible to answer. There is a tight group of people in our lives that actually get an honest answer when this particular question is asked. Close friends and family who are in a daily, intimate, walk with us know who they are, and actually rarely have to ask this question. Everyone else receives a rehearsed and numb answer. What we really want to say to you when you ask this question is, "Well, Mom has a terminal illness. Every day she is less and less of the person we know, and more and more like a stranger. This is one of the most excruciating things we have ever walked through individually and as a family. We would not wish this on our worst enemy. And really, it just SUCKS! Our mother is dying before our eyes."  None of us would EVER say such a forward and unnerving statement, we are our mother's children :) But trust me, at some point we have all come close to vomiting this answer on you...

Now, I am sure this is not the answer you are looking for when you ask this question. AND we KNOW that this question comes from a place in your heart that is desperately trying to help our family.  We are SO grateful that you stop and acknowledge what we are going through. But can I suggest maybe a different way of approaching this subject? And really it's something you can use whenever you are approaching someone who is grieving a loss, or an illness, or some type of  painful circumstance.

Saying things like, "We are thinking about you and your mom and/or loved one. If there is anything we can do, please let us know." Or, "I had this great memory of your Mom and wanted to share it with you!" Or, "Yesterday, I prayed that your family would be filled with courage and grace". Or, "What practical things can we do to support your family this week?" etc..etc..

Those questions are so much more gentle and trigger a lot less of an emotional response. If we feel comfortable or safe divulging more intimate details about our situation, we will... but at the same time if you've caught us on an off day, we can simply say thank you and move on without having a total melt down! :)

In the same way, you should approach Mom. Asking her how she is, is not only an impossible question for her to answer BUT it makes her very uncomfortable and insecure.  Avoid asking direct questions. Again, offer just sweet statements of encouragement, "I thought about you yesterday when I saw some flowers on the road and remembered how much you love gardening. Val, I read this verse and wanted to share it with you." If she begins to track the conversation you might be able to ask a question or two, but be aware that she might not be able to answer it. If so, quickly distract her and let the question fall.

I know we are ALL learning together. And like anything else, communication is vital as we wind down unchartered territory.

Your support is a life line to us!

Thank you for not giving up on us at this time!