Sunday, September 28, 2008

a picture is worth a thousand words

fresh air. trees. quiet stream. a few hours away from suburban life....desperately needed.

enough said.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008


We sure are enjoying time with the family this week. My mom & dad spoiled the girls yesterday while I worked. Today I got to participate!! Tommorrow they're headed to an apple orchard; Aron will be going, but I have to work. Boo! I would have scheduled off, but I didn't know they would still be here (they had planned on spending the weekend fishing in Lake Erie...but weather is not permitting). So instead of fishing, they'll be picking apples and petting animals and eating donuts and cider. Good stuff.
My sister & I had little girls 10 weeks apart (you'd never believe Belle is the oldest!), and it is so fun to watch them enjoy each other and play together. Of course, we've had our rough patches this week. Belle tends to be bossy, and Chloe tends to push/hit. But a little encouragement, and a little time out, and our girls are learning to share.
We took our babies for a walk today. The girls were on top of the world.
Little Belle had important business to take care of on our leisurely stroll.
Chloe kept taking her baby 'off road'. At one point she pushed her baby into someone else's garage about a 1/2 mile from our house.
Its so amazing to watch them interact and talk to each other.

This picture cracks me up because Chloe looks exactly like my sister & my mom did at this age. I just keep looking at this picture and shaking my head.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Missing Me Some Brown County Fair Love

Had a good-hard cry Monday night. I was blindsided, really. I had no idea it was fair week until my niece, Grace, mentioned it when she called me Monday.
The fair is one of my most anticipated events of the whole year. I am an extreme sentimentalist...& the fair holds a special place in my heart. And there's a special place in my stomach for the pork tenderloin & ribeye sandwiches. This is the first year in a very long time that I haven't been. We even took Isabelle when she was 7 days old.
Infact, Aron first confessed his love for me at the Tractor pulls our Sophomore year of high school at the fair. I could barely hear him over the screeching of the engines (if you've ever been to a tractor pull, you know exactly what I mean).

So, after I got off the phone, I had a good therapeutic cry. I'm still feeling a bit sad in my spirit. Just knowing that everyone is there and we are not - that's hard. Yet another reminder of this on our friend, Mike's blog. But on a good note, my parents are up this week, and they brought our niece, Chloe. So that helps soothe the ache. All the schools in the county get fair week off; my mom - who is a school teacher - took her week off to come celebrate Belle' s birthday. Very cool. So while I'm missing me some Brown County Fair Love, I'm sure enjoying some Gardner family love.


Dream Big. Act Small.

I'm a dreamer--to a fault most of the time. I like to think about "big ideas" and the "big picture" so much that I never actually do anything. My wife recently said to me, "You're missing it. You think about the future and the 'Big Picture' so much that you're missing what's right in front of you." Those were hard words to hear, but she was right on.

We need to dream big, but we can't forget to act small. In the kingdom of God, the servant of all is the greatest among us. The smallest acts of servanthood are of great worth in God's sight and will mold a character capable of accomplishing the biggest dreams God puts in our hearts.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Happy 2nd Birthday, Isabelle Rose!

Why we're smitten with Fall - reason #2

It may only be mid-September...and we may be jumping ahead of ourselves here, but the air is beckoning the arrival of fall. When that wonderful chill fill your lungs and the scent of autumn fills your can you resist?
Homemade pumpkin pie is the best way I know to fully embrace all that is coming. (I have a really great crust recipe if anyone is so inspired & needs it). We're trying to resist this scrumptious delight tonight & save it for Belle's birthday tomorrow, but as you can see, Aron has already been breaking off pieces of the crust & munching.
I'm wondering what you love about this season?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

embracing this season

I was struck today with the awareness that the coolness in the air isn't the only sign that seasons are changing. Isabelle turns two this week. She is potty trained, and becoming quite the little "mama". I am now raising a toddler. Which may seem quite obvious, but its a new step for us, a new season. I miss the baby, but I am loving watching this little person emerge. Pray for us as we do our best to shape her - to call out her strengths and help her in her weakness. To know when & how to discipline in a way that teaches her. That we can somehow portray the very character of God to her in a way she not only grasps, but falls in love with as we have.
She's quite a hoot these days. Dressing herself and loving life. My little wonderwoman.

***an update regarding: make a date...tonight

We had a question as to whether or not the kids would need to be out of the house for viewing this message.

This is only the first message of the Visionary Love-Dream Sex series...and I would say it focuses much more on visionary love than anything else. The only thing I can remember that I wouldn't want my two year old repeating was reference to a certain pair of female body parts... other than that, you should be okay if the kids are playing in the house.

However, you may want to go ahead and wait till the kids are in bed (if applicable)...just so the two of you can fully soak in the ideas presented. Aron & I had some great conversation/evaluation of areas of our relationship afterwards that would have been impossible with Belle up.

And I just want to reiterate...there is probably more good stuff in this message for those who are single or dating than for those married. Our teens/twenty-somethings need some serious support in this area, so I would definately recommend them watching this.
happy viewing!

Make a date...tonight

Last night Aron & I grabbed our Birthday Bash ice cream (his fav) & parked ourselves in front of the computer to listen to what may have been the best instruction from the book of Song of Solomon that we have ever received.

Visionary Love - Dream Sex ... as preached by Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC.

Seriously, grab your spouse tonight, and sit back and listen together. It will be well worth your time. If you're single, listen. There's some awesome insight specifically for you in this season. If you're dating...then definitely LISTEN!! You may need the encouragement even more than the rest of us!

We get enough advise from entities who know nothing of the One who designed love & intimacy...its about time we hear from some truth.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

The golf course that God made

Mom & Dad Kirk visited all weekend, and though most of our plans were diverted due to the NON-STOP rain, the boys did make it out for a round of golf Friday morning.
Aron, Don Paul, Andy, & Joe headed to Shepherd's Hollow for a foggy morning of glory. According to my father-in-law & APK, this was by far the most beautiful course they'd ever played. That's saying a whole lot coming from DPK, who has played everywhere. Infact, he went as far as saying, "The course was so beautiful, it was as if God made every hole."

We also celebrated Isabelle's 2nd birthday, and we were so excited the grandparents were able to make it up to celebrate with us!
Unfortunately, Belle didn't feel great all weekend - I think she was just depleted from being sick/lack of sleep/fever/lack of nutrition that the Roseola so generously brought on. She turned on in the evenings as usual and had some great times with the fam, but through the day she was pretty grumpy. The rash finally subsided this morning, so hopefully we're on the road to recovery!
These weekends are always so bittersweet! You cannot get enough time with these people you love so much, but then you have to say goodbye again. Until the next time, we will just have to cherish the moments when we are blessed to share the same space.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

God is humble

Does it blow your mind that God is humble? I read this today in Matthew 11. Jesus said:
28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

It blows my mind that God is humble. The Christmas story is another great example. The God of the universe comes as a baby born in a stable. I think it's the same in our hearts. We accept Christ and follow him, and he comes humbly into our hearts giving rest to our souls.

This reminds me of a poem I wrote called "The Favor of God." I'm often tempted to think that God's favor in my life is in personal success. When I'm not successful, I must not be pleasing him. But I think the truth is he shows his favor in more humble ways:

Like a child's smile--like a moonbeam's light
Kind and mild, but oh so bright
Such is the way which you delight
Such is your love and favor's sign

Of a dream, of first light
Of trickling streams and fireflies
Of stars that dance spark fears take flight
Such is your love and favor's sign

Of sun warmed skin and lazy days
Closest of friends stroll twisty lanes
Of love held loosely and given away
Such is your favor--delight in the day

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

how about an update?

My friend, Denise, commented on my debbie downer post that His mercies are new every morning...I can bank on it....she told me.

She was right. At 5:19 am staffing called me and canceled me for the day. Normally, I'd be depressed because it sets us back on our debt free schedule, but today I was perfectly content.
I was seriously feeling ill at the thought of another day after my first one.

Not only this, but I think God - in His providence- knew my little Belle would be sick all day. Poor thing. She's currently laying on the floor (she's barely moved all day) with a fever of 104.3. No other symptoms to note, just that lousy fever. The Tylenol/Ibuprofen reduces the fever a bit...but not below 100 so far. I've given her two tepid baths already at the instruction of Ma Kirk (aka Jackie Kay), and she cried so pathetically.

She's wanted nothing to eat or drink, except ice cream. So daddy ran to meijer at 10:45 to pick some up. When I offered her some she said "Sprinkles?". Of course, sprinkles!!

In other news...I really, really, really think that Satan has been battling our family the last few days. It seems as God begins to move and call us to take steps of faith or growth, Satan slams hard, in an attempt to derail and distract. You read about MY bad day. Aron was gracious enough not to share his.

I'll just say Belle woke up very upset Sunday night, and Aron was up with her most of the night. The next day he was fighting feelings of exhaustion and melancholy all day. And then, while driving home from work, he literally fell asleep while sitting at the stop light. He awoke to a blaring horn behind him and the car in front of him already through the next set of lights 300 yards up. Not good.

So, we are hanging in there. God is hanging on to us. Greater is Him that lives within us than he that is in the world. Tonight we rest in him.
ps...thanks all for your prayers and hugs...they were very much embraced & enjoyed...even e-hugs give me warm fuzzies!

Monday, September 8, 2008

A song and a poem

Laying in bed tonight for about a half hour and unable to sleep, I realized how the simple act of closing your eyes can take your mind and spirit on a journey deep within (perhaps this is why it is natural to close your eyes when you pray). Anyway, it reminded me of a song and a poem I wrote, so I thought I'd post them. First, the song:
A red moon rises on an empty heart
And sits on the horizon of two worlds apart
That share a sea, whose depth is still a mystery

One world is all our flesh and bone, the other a spoken word
The sea is all that's in a man and everything he's worth
But it's too deep! So we sail the surface inbetween

Close your eyes, darling, sleep
Drift down into these mysteries
Confess all of the things you tried to keep
Let it out, darling, weep
Sing the saddest reverie
Your tears will be an offering of peace
As deep calls out to deep

And the poem (it's called "The Human and the Being"):

An Animal Rationalizing,
A Spirit Unseen;
Reside side-by-side:
The Human and the Being

Driving hormones on the hunt
For every survival need
And selfishly pursue what we think we want
In service of pleasure's creed

An animal rationalizing every thought--
Quiet that damned forsaken beast!
In the still of the deep in thought
Let the Unseen see what it may be

By closed eyes, we dive! We dive!
The shallowest thought is deep.
Yet rarely dare we stay still enough
To feel the peace we could receive

An Animal Rationalizing,
A Spirit Unseen;
Forget humanity--
Just be.

just call me debbie downer

Today...not my day.

I'll keep it brief.

1st patient became very angry with me as soon as I stepped into the room @ 7:45 am - wouldn't take her medication, fired me, and demanded to see my boss immediately.

2nd pt decided I was conspiring against her. At first she wouldn't take her medication because "I'm already dead. I don't need it anymore". Later in the day she had figured me out. "You just trying to take advantage of my black a**. You're nothing but a white bit**. Satan. You are Satan. Come any closer and I'll murder you. God help me for cursing." (screaming at the top of her lungs - the whole hall could hear her. & I was beginning to get a reputation on this unit).

At 3:00 pm sharp staffing tells me to go home, they don't need any help for the last 4 hrs of the shift. It took me until 4:45 to catch up on my charting (this particular hospital has went completely electronic this week & its a madhouse) at which time staffing calls me back wondering why I am not working upstairs on 7E. "Because you told me to go home," obviously. No, I was not supposed to go home, my patients upstairs have been waiting on me for 2 hrs.

I've had no break, no lunch, and on my way upstairs I call Aron to tell him to reschedule the babysitter we canceled cause I'm gonna be late. He tells me our dear Civy (97 honda civic with 239,000 miles on it) had an episode. At the stop light the engine kept revving, but he wasn't touching the gas. Then it started acting "funny" and the check engine light came on.

okay, maybe its not so brief. If you're still reading, bear with me.

I finally leave - late. I am at the furthest hospital this week (all 3 days), and so my commute is long...and its 8:00 & its already dark!! I'm parked a half mile from my car, and its pouring down rain. No jacket. No umbrella. Soaking wet, exhausted girl.

Aron has a late meeting. I go to Mary Christian's to pick up my daughter who I cannot wait to see. But all the lights are out in the house, except the tv. "Oh, she's already put the kids to bed," I thought. So I knocked softly. Then I rang the doorbell, knocked some more. No luck, so I called. She says to come on in. "I can't; its locked." She says oh you must be at the front. "No, I'm at the side by your van." Ohhhh...well I'll come unlock it. We hang up and I proceed to wiggle the door knob, peek in the glass of the door while I wait. My phone rings. must be at the wrong house cause I'm standing at the door and I can't see your car.

Nice. Add attempted breaking & entering to my list of charges today.

So if you made it through my melodrama, say a prayer for me the next two days. I'm feeling pretty exhausted and its only Monday.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


We LOVE the fall. And as it draws near, you'll probably see a series of posts as to what it just so spectacular about it.

One of those things is College Football Saturdays. Its killing us not being able to watch the games.

So much so, that we've been researching our satellite/cable options. When we first moved up here, we decided not to install it, because #1 it is so expensive, and #2 we knew if we had it, we would watch it...all the time.

But man...its even more expensive to go to BW3's (Buffalo Wild Wings) every Saturday just to see the games - so maybe its an investment! You think?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Someone in our house has been very inspired lately, and I'll give you one guess who that my be. The songs have been flowing, and I am loving them!

Seriously, Aron has been churning out about a song a night. Last night's song came to him while he was running. I find that astounding and hilarious, because when I am running all I can think is, "Must have more air...breathe in breathe out...Man my knee hurts...think about something my side hurts.." (It may not be quite that bad, but there is seriously no energy for creative processes, let alone an entire song).

Just a heads up to you in the "know" crowd. This may be classified info, but I'm gonna let it leak. They're going to be playing one of Aron's newest songs at the end of the service Sunday - it fits so perfectly with what's in store for that day! Its so powerful & moving & packed with truth...I can't wait to see how God uses this song he has entrusted to Aron.

I say that with confidence and anticipation because of a conversation that took place a little over a year ago between Aron & his Maker. Aron was feeling discouraged about not having a band to play with or an outlet for all of his ideas. One evening he finally asked God, "What is the point of all this. I write down all of these songs that you give me, and they just sit in a notebook on the shelf. I need other people to make them great. I need others to make them standout."

Then God said to Aron (Aron recounts that this is one of the clearest moments of God's voice in His know when you know that it is God speaking to you and not your head) "Aron, I will use your simple songs."

So...though Aron is soooo humble about his music, I tend to be soooooo proud. I am proud because he has completly surrendered what used to be his highest love &, to the one who made music. And now God is pouring more inspiration and melodies into him than he knows what to do with. And I get to watch from the best seat in the house!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

You blink and then

They are all grown up - or so it seems!
This child will not stay out of my dresser drawers!! She LOVES to dress up. My earrings are without matches and my necklaces are in a knotted mess, but I wouldn't have it any other way!
"We must teach our children to dream with their eyes open." Harry Edwards
"While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about." Angela Schwindt

Monday, September 1, 2008

Live for nothin' or die for something

Just finished watching "Rambo". I wasn't expecting much, but it was actually very good. It's very graphic (violence), but I heard Slyvester Stallone actually made it that way on purpose to heighten the public's awareness about genocidal violence in third world countries.

In the movie, when Rambo decides to help some American Christian missionaries who are taken hostage, he has to rally a group of mercenaries to help. His challenge to them is, "Live for nothin, or die for something." Very inspiring, but I think ole Rambo is just ripping off Jesus from Matthew 16:25.
Rambo was right on, though. I want to quit living for nothing (a.k.a. just pleasing myself and doing what I want to do) and start dying for something (sacrifice my own wants and needs for the will of God and for other people). I think I'm going to start wearing a red head band and carrying a combat knife to remind me to live for God. Who's with me? If you think I'm crazy, I'll just say this:

Live for nothin', or die for something.

A melody on the air tonight...

It is 12:36 and we all are awake - still.
I've got to get up in 4 1/2 hrs. I should be asleep hours ago, but I can't pull myself away from two of my favorite things in the world.

My daughter is playing in a make believe world, and I am in awe just listening in to her world. She is speaking of princesses and Doras and babies and The Caulley's dog, Toby. All mixed together in a wonderful world of fantasy. She is sitting a six inch doll on her potty chair at the moment telling her "Just let it out." Beautiful!

My husband is writing a song in the next room, and there is nothing more mystical to me than listening in as the Holy Spirit moves His spirit and they together craft a work of art. Here's a few of the lyrics floating around our home tonight:

There's a melody on the air tonight
And its one last song for the prodigals
And its one last look for the wanderers
And its one last reverie, so let us sing

(For you musicians out there...the music sounds very longing and melodic and almost dreamy...does that make sense?)
There is more...but I won't spoil it for Aron. I feel so unworthy and so blessed that God has allowed me to journey alongside these two amazing beings.

Quote of the Day

(posted with apk's permission, of course)

Aron: "It's just like the pea-chick, Hun. Its neither pea nor chick."

silence....(racking my brain...what in world is he talking about?!?)

Erica: "Do you mean chickpea????"

Aron: "Oh, well...yeah. Whatever!"