Friday, June 12, 2015

The End of An Era!

Recently, our eldest son, Andrew, graduated high school, bringing an end to an era began so many years ago.   It's odd because as the saying goes the beginning truly feels like yesterday. I cherish all our memories together, and I will most assuredly remain in my front row seat as he presses on to the race set before him.

Sharing a few pictures from our event:

(As always, click on picture to enlarge.)

          "Then"                                                                          "Now"

Before the graduation ceremony

Brian and I had the great honor
of bestowing Andrew's diploma to him.

Part of the end (surprise) slideshow. 

After the ceremony!
The Graduate!

Celebratory supper

Shortly, we will be sending Andrew off on yet another adventure.  He's heading north to D.C. to explore Strategic Intelligence as his next stepping stone.  

Happy trails, my faithful, strong, intelligent son!  

As your father and I told you at graduation,  
"It is our witness that God's favor surrounds you.
You are in a league most high, God's league.
You know it well. You walk it well.
 Press on! We love you beyond measure! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Two Months...Really?

Two months since I have updated here. Computer dates don't lie, but that fact, while true, feels impossible.

We are on the downhill sprint towards my eldest son's graduation.... a mere two months away.  And can I say, with as quickly as the last two months blew by, his graduation will come and go just as quick.  Reminds me of the lyrics in Casting Crowns' song, "Who Am I":

I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow.
A wave tossed in the ocean.
A vapor in the wind.
Still You hear me when I'm calling.

(Don't stop reading..... this is not a "downer" post!)

Don't you just LOVE that last line?  Oh, how He alone defines Life itself.  He alone makes sense of it.

Just this morning I was having coffee with my nearly seventeen year old daughter. 

Without fail, every morning, she joins me in the early hours for "our cup" of coffee.  It is PURE joy.... our time together... mother and daughter.  If I dare... (and I do)... I call it sacred.... for it is.  

This morning I found myself teaching her a concept I live. She's witnessed me living the concept for years, but until this morning, I do not believe I have "defined" it for her. I was musing out loud about what I was going to do today to make this day "marked."..... marked as intentionally lived.

I developed this awareness years ago when I realized life was simply passing by without any punctuation mark whatsoever at the end of each day.

So each day, no matter how fast paced it may be, I have some moment or moments during the day for pause, laughter, celebration, or simply a deep exhale... but in that moment.... I wholly take in the day.  I smell it, see it, taste it, touch it.... celebrate it... joys and challenges alike.

Yesterday was fast paced.  They usually are. But upon arriving at home and placing the take out pizza on the kitchen counter, I slipped the lead on my beloved Angel-girl (our Shih Tzu) and took an intentionally slow paced stroll.  This began my "mark" of the day.  Upon arriving home some ten or fifteen minutes later, I found my youngest son waiting by the front door. Evidently he had heard my departure and came looking for me. I asked him if he wanted to go for a little stroll together... and he did.  (I continued to "mark" the day.) I thanked the Lord out loud for the day and all that it contained. My son and I laughed and talked as we walked. My evening ended with a good foot soak and fuzzy socks. 

While every day is different, I live life with intentionality.  That's how  I defined it this morning with my daughter.  And it is just that.  Intentional.

Life does pass so quickly, and while there is no slowing it down, the days can be lived deliberately.  Deliberately mixing and marking the responsibilities, the challenges, and the delights each day holds.  

I trust you know just how significant YOU are ....fleeting days and all.

Leaving you today, I encourage you to learn the practice of  "marking" your days before our Creator, so at the end of life on this planet, you can see more than a blur!  Your days are worth the giving of punctuation.... the periods, the question marks, and the exclamation marks....  for He holds them all!

Intentionality....  it's a grand thing indeed!

Enjoy this oldie, but goodie! 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

"Because You are more than enough...."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, "Whenever Christ calls us, his call leads us to death."   

There are two types of death.

A submissive death and a resistant death.  

It was stated by a man who witnessed Bonhoeffer's execution, "In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God."

You see, the Nazi regime executed Bonhoeffer, but they didn't just execute him, they stripped him of all his clothing, led him to the execution yard, and hung him.

Think about that a moment in slow motion. 

I'd say Bonhoeffer knew intimately the validity of his words.

Perhaps that's why they are not so easily forgotten.  His life did not just echo an understanding of Christ and our call to die to self, but he lived it neon.

The Romans stripped Jesus, too. Nailed him naked to the cross.   No loincloth, as is often depicted in pictures, was present.


This side of the Fall in the Garden of Eden the word invokes an uncomfortableness within the soul, does it not?
A longing within for a covering.

But prior to the Fall in the Garden of Eden, it was a depiction of transparency, symbolic of nothing hidden.

In light of this, I pause, and I give thanks.  Thank you, Lord, that though man meant for Your nakedness to be a point of humiliation, it is Your voice that resounds within me: "Dearest daughter, I have nothing to hide.  It's for you.  I lay all of Me down quietly...willingly... for you."   No greater love is there than that.

I wonder, as Bonhoeffer knelt to pray, naked before the gallows, was it a moment to return such thoughts to the Creator, to the Beloved?  "Dearest Lord, I have nothing to hide. It's for You.  I lay all of me down quietly... willingly... for You."    Discipleship, perhaps at its highest.

Certainly, its reflection begs us to feel its weight.

I have posted below the song "Completely," by Among the Thirsty.   I charge you to find a quiet intimate place and listen to it before the Creator, the Beloved.

May the goal of each of us be: "I have nothing to hide. It's for You. I lay all of me down quietly.... willingly... for You."

A submissive death.......because He is more than enough.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year!

The other day I saw a comment on someone's Facebook post that read, "The older we get the shorter our Christmas list becomes because what we want, can't be bought."  Friendships are certainly in this category.

As I sorted through our 2014 pictures yesterday, waves of nostalgia washed over me. After close to a half-century of living, I joyfully can say that I am still in close contact with my childhood best friend, I still share the same stomping ground with a number of my college mates, and I have rich relationships with sisters-in-the-Lord who talk shop on everything from raising children to work woes to marital challenges to their ultimate desire - a genuine walk with God.  I am indeed a wealthy woman not for the possessions in my life, but for the relationships in my life.

Today, my husband and I woke up with bull's eye purpose upon our hearts: to convey in a special way to some couples we have long-history with, but don't get to see that often, that regardless of time restraints and distance, we cherish them..... we truly do, along with the memories and the years we have shared.  

So down the highway we flew! What better way to spend New Year's Day?!

A few of the gifts our vehicle carried!

As expected, a few of our intendeds were not home,
so we left our greeting by their door.  
Won't those precious souls be surprised?!
Fun times!

It truly was so much fun to spread a little cheer, love, and laughter New Year's Day to some precious souls who have walked with us twenty plus years and counting!

I recently read some sad statistics.  People really are not holding fast to relationships any more.  They are disposing of them at a record rate, particularly when the relationship no longer meets their needs, or bumps along the road are encountered.

Interestingly though as I sat with the Lord pondering the dismal article, He firmly reminded me there will be those, particularly in His Family....our Family,  who attempt to walk away from sibling relationships in Christ, BUT because His blood is the connector between us, such efforts are futile.  Walls may be built and space put in between, but He'll faithfully bring to us thoughts, references, and reminders of those we either try to leave or those who try to leave us. He's just like that, don't you know!  His being is for unity. He didn't die and spill His blood so we could cop attitudes with one another and diss our fellow siblings-in-Christ. 

Such behavior is without excuse, but certainly in my lifetime, I have been on both the receiving and the giving end of such nonsensical behavior. As I have grown older, God has certainly tweaked ...often painfully at times... my actions to better reflect His character. When people have walked out of my life, while I understand I have no control over their actions, I do have complete control over mine, and as such, I have made it very clear to them that MY door will always remain open to them.  It has. It will remain so.  

Let's face it; people do peculiar things, especially hurting people, but during moments of being inflicted with what I call rash action - I have tangibly felt God's heart towards them. He has shown me the root to their actions and permitted me to feel, in some measure, their pain.  I'm telling you, THAT changes things. And when that transpires, THAT makes laying down my instinctive, slice-you-back, natural-man nature down.

Since this blog's formation, in the right margin of this blog,  I have three quotes listed.  At the top of the list - and for good reason -- is a quote by Corrie Ten Boom:

"Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me,
I saw the sin of them.
Jesus Christ had died for this man;
was I going to ask for more?

I came upon the quote years ago now, and as I read it then, I heard the Lord say, "So shall your heart become."   And so it has. I do not respond now as I used to respond.  My past is riddled with behavior easily classified as ninja-like speedy reactions of blade and spite.... an "eye for an eye," so to speak.  No, God's grace has slowed me in recent years to pause before Him when an offense is felt and to examine beyond the natural action. 

You see, we all have it in us; the power to self-protect, to strike back, to run away, but there is no redemption in those behaviors to either the giver or the receiver.  No, Jesus set the bar high for us, and it must be our determination to hit that high bar.

In a word, it's agape; that God-love that says, "If you slap this cheek, I'll willingly present the other to you." Why?  Because God's love states emphatically,  "You can't run Me off. There's nothing you can do to Me that will remove My love." 

I believe Jesus died such a gruesome death to demonstrate the length, breath, and width He would and DID go to for you and for me. Two of the most profound words in His Word to me are "God demonstrates." 

Let those two words sink in for more than a skinny second. 

God. Demonstrates.

Those two words take my breath away.

HE found it to be insufficient to "merely" state His love and His dedication to you and to me.  Think about that a moment.  The same spoken Word that brought organized matter out of chaos, that brought the sun, moon, and stars into being.... and yet, HE  -- God of the universe -- CHOSE to demonstrate so great a love as His....unto death. 

Does that not render you undone?

Those who have walked out of my life still hear from me from time to time. I can't help it.  In truth, they never leave my remembrance. I don't do so under any sense of obligation. I do so because I genuinely want them to know they did, they do, and they always will matter to me.  Why?  Because isn't that God's nature?  Are we not always on His mind?  Do His thoughts towards us not out number the grains of sand? And does He not still to this day... to this very hour ....demonstrate His love towards us....actively interceding on our behalf before the Father? Is His nature not to pursue us even as we self-protect, run, hide, and bolt down the hatches? And is not one of our primary objectives to "become more Christ-like"?  What does that look like to you?

See.... we can say we care about people, but until our actions line up with His.... we are simply blowing hot, meaningless air into the universe.

To reach out; is that not the genuine function of the Church? Depicting to a hurting, trust-challenged population that WE CARE.....we genuinely person slap in the a time.

People are treasures simply because they are. 

Loving you and wishing you a very, very  Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Eve 2014

Really?  The end of the year has come at last!  What a year this has been in the Kirby household, but before a "year in review" - let's chat about today, shall we?

I awoke at my normal early hour and wasted no time in planning tonight's special dinner. Thereafter, I scampered to the food market. 

After securing the evening meal's ingredients, I arrived home, had a wonderful breakfast, said goodbye to two of our kiddos as they headed off to work for the day, and then settled down to my laptop.

On tap for today: a day of organizing our 2014 digital pictures and sending them off to the printers.  All 1400 + of them!  Yes, you read that correctly.  It has been a very, very active year in the Kirby household.  If not for the pictures, it would all seem a blur!

To keep me company, I chose to watch my cherished copy of the "Anne of Green Gables" trilogy.  I have seen it so often I can practically quote it, but I love it so. It is the perfect company!

Speaking of company, my husband has been vacationing with us since Christmas Eve.  It has been a rich blessing to have him with us day and night. Thank the Lord for time off, eh?

In the midst of all the blessings, there come changes aplenty this upcoming year.  Our eldest is now mere months from graduation, heading to college in the fall!  Our beloved daughter, having completed all her high school requirements, will simultaneously clock both her senior year of high school as well as her freshman year of college, beginning fall of 2015 as well.  And our youngest, well, he officially enters high school!

Well, this post was began this morning.... and ended now....  11:53pm.

Our family dinner was just as expected .... yuber yummy! And topped off with cannolis, thank you very much!  Have mercy!

Well -- I'm signing off!  Time to bring in the New Year with my family!  Oh, the JOY!  May your 2015 be full of growth and memorable experiences!

As for our "year in review" - here's a few snaps out of the 1400+  (grin) ...

(Click on the pictures to enlarge if preferred.)

January 2014

February 2014

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014
Prom - Sister and Brother

May 2014
BELOVED daughter's 16th birthday celebration!

May 2014

May 2014

June 2014: Father's Day
Celebrating a GREAT husband and father
July 2015
"Wake me when we get there."

August 2014: Panther's game in honor of V's 13th b'day!

September 2014: Brothers who share the same birthday
Then and now
Celebrating 13 and 18 years!

September 2014
Andrew's first skydiving jump in celebration of his 18th b'day!

October 2014
November 2014

November 2014

November 2014
21 years and counting!

December 2014
Christmas morning

December 2014
Christmas morning