Saturday, November 29, 2008

We are back...

and we have much to be thankful for.
What a blessed week it was. And little did I know how true the previous post indeed would be as the Lord truly went before us and created beautiful moments that we will cherish.

I wish I had taken more pictures to share with you all, but I was living in the moment and the thought to capture it totally escaped me (this is rare!).

But alas we return, and we are restored. We are both anticipating what God has in store for tomorrow - the worship set is going to be powerful.
the kirks 3

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

rest and more

We have been going from 6 am till midnight every day since Friday...and Aron & I are simply depleted.

Tommorrow we leave at 5 am to travel home for Thanksgiving.

I, for one, will be very grateful for rest, quietness...sharing the same space with my hubby & daughter - and all of our family we haven't seen in months.

I am excited to see how God is going before us to create moments of healing, of remembering, of thanksgiving. What a God who cares and shares so intimately in the details of our lives.

Friday, November 21, 2008

if you never washed your hands will now!

I can distinctly remember the lectures in nursing school about worms - and not the kind you fish with. I'm talking microscopic sized creepy little guys passed inconspicuously through poor hygiene or undercooked pork into the body of unknowing humans. Though small enough, the naked eye cannot detect them...they can grow to be multiple feet long - a parasite literally sucking the life out of you as they steal your nutrition. I HATE worms...tape worms, any kind really....GROSS!Which brings me to this picture. You are looking at a worm growing inside an Arizona woman's brain. After weeks of cancer like symptoms, the docs went into this brain expecting to remove a tumor - what they found was much different! A live, growing worm!!! Is your skin crawling yet? Mine is! EEwwwwh!

So I'm thinking how similar this little parasite is to things I've observed in my own life.

Ever so subtly, the little worm of deception or fear slips in - without me even realizing it.
As I go about my life, this microscopic harmless thought, wound, or worry begins to implant, embedding itself among all that is giving me life. Slowing it begins to feed on what is meant for my nourishment and growth, and the fear/wound/worry begins to thrive.

Before I am even aware to defend myself, the parasite has now gone beyond thriving to actually starving me - taking all the goodness that God is pouring into me & thieving it for its own purposeless existence. It simply exists to rob me - expertly placed my the one Jesus says comes only to "steal, kill, and destroy".

Once fully grown, I need an expert to carefully detangle this foul creature that has so enwrapped itself among the complexities of my inner spirit. I need to go to the Great Healer, Jesus, to free me, to release the grip of the fear/pain/wound/worry.

So the moral of this story? Wash your hands really, really well - you never know what your ingesting....
And be just as diligent about the subtle messages you allow to filter into your life. (Above all else, guard you is the wellspring of life *Proverbs 4* or to paraphrase Paul, take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ). Or if Satan so expertly attacks your wounds (he knows them very well, and he knows how to make them bleed) submit them to Christ for healing. Do not let the lies that break your heart begin to settle in and entangle themselves in your spirit. They will feed on all that is intended for your joy and steal the LIFE Christ intends to breathe into you.
(this is so speaking to myself above all else. This is just a truth God revealed to me tonight that is so relevant to some things I'm dealing with. I just thought I'd share with you as I'm trying to learn.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

a bit of random goodness

I've been sick since Tuesday with a yucky flu-like bug - and I had to work with this virus 12 hrs. on Wednesday. Which leads to my first moment of random goodness. I awoke Thursday to all of the dishes DONE & put away...all of the laundry DONE & put away. My wonderful husband stayed up late after I crashed Wednesday night to take care of some chores so I could rest on Thursday. What a man!Aron worked long hours today, so Belle and I spent the whole day alone at home. But Random Moment of Goodness #'s 2-4 include phone conversations with three very special people in our lives: My precious cousin, Kim.My wise & jovial daddyand my gentle-spirited, nurturing mommy-in-loveRandom Moment of Goodness #5: A Cinderella DVD for our little princess arrived in the mail from our fun & lovely college friends who are now preparing to marry, Kim & Dave.Belle was ecstatic, and so was I. We've been singing Cinderelly, Cinderelly all day.Random Moment of Goodness #6: I went grocery shopping in 28 degree weather, and my feet stayed warm the entire time because of 1 pair of Bearpaw boots.
My sweet friend, Hannah, recommended these boots to me. She said I'd never want to take my feet out...she was right. I used to snub my nose (hypothetically, of course) at this type of shoe because I tend to choose a more dainty style that has much less comfort and much more heel. But this winter, I refuse to have numb toes from shoes with hard soles and no insulation against the mounds of Michigan snow. So here's a plug...these are the BEST! They're lined with this awesome sheepskin/wool that feels like heaven. Get some!Random Moment of Goodness #7: When daddy finally did arrive home, we had a good 30 min of play time. Belle was hiding under the pillows on our bed, and Aron & I were "sneaking" around the bed on our hands and knees & jumping up and tickling her. At one point, we both crouched down and were silent. I suppose the anticipation was too great, so our 2 year old decided to call our bluff. She burst out from under the pillows, stood up & shouted, "I go pee, I go pee". Of course Aron & I jumped right out shouting, "No, no, not on our bed." Belle started belly laughing and dove under the pillows. She did not have to potty at all, that little stinker!

And to know that our Father delights in our moments and squeals as I have delighted in all of these today! I guess that makes Random Moment of Goodness #8.

And as a bonus because I'm behind on posting, here are 2 video's of Belle joining Aron in his workouts. Its pretty cute until she realizes she's being recorded...then she pops up to see.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

the Plank In the Eye Principle

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Matthew 7:3-5

My last two posts have been about how living with dysfunction is displeasing to God and calls for action on our part to seek healing and correction. So, I wanted to offer some practical advice on how to seek healing and restitution. It's what I call the Plank in the Eye Principle.

In Matthew 7 Jesus teaches the first thing we must do is examine ourselves. Almost always, we have been at fault. We must remove the plank from our own eye. Removing planks has to do with confession, humility, and resolving to act in obedience with God's word. Do not "whitewash flimsy walls"; do not let comfort be your security. Break yourself before God breaks you. Once we have removed our plank, we can see clearly to remove the plank in our brother's eye.

When it comes to removing someone else's speck (i.e. rebuking a sinful behavior; pointing out a fault; holding them accountable; calling for a positive change in their life; etc.) approach your criticism of someone else from a point of self-criticism. This is congruent with the first step of self examination. When you're vulnerable with someone else about your own faults, they are less likely to justify their own actions, which is a great place for them to be in order to receive constructive critisism.

In other words, think about this metaphor quite literally. If you had a giant piece of wood impaling your eye, and then you removed it, think about what is left. At first, a large gaping wound. Even years later, a noticeable scar would remain. So when you go to remove a speck from someone else's eye, how do you think you would approach that conversation given your past history? You've got a great ice-breaker and the conversation might go something like this:

"Hey, check out this large gaping wound where my eye used to be."

"Whoa, that's nasty."

"I know, I used drink alcohol a lot and it caused me to be extremely selfish. Then, through a lot of prayer and desiring to live God's way, He helped me remove that nasty plank-of-alcoholism/self-centeredness that was impaling my eye."


"I know, God is awesome. He longs to help us like that. Well, anyway, the reason I bring it up is that I noticed you've got a little speck-of-selfishness in your own eye. I tend to notice it in others since I had such a traumatic experience. I sure would hate to see your speck become a nasty plank like mine. Would you mind if I get that for you?"

"I don't know. Can you see alright with that large gaping wound where your eye used to be?"

"Oh, I can see great! You'd be surprised how much removing an impaled object from your eye can improve your vision."

"Oh. Well, okay."

You get the point. When you are willing to examine yourself first it puts you in the right frame of mind to assess others, a frame of love in grace and truth. Sharing your weaknesses and faults with others in order to help them is what speaking the Truth in love is all about. As the apostle Paul said, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst," while at the same exhorting believers to live a life worthy of the calling they have received. Let's follow Paul's example and practice the Plank In The Eye Principle.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Walls, dysfunction, and humility, oh my!

Yesterday we looked at the danger of "whitewashing flimsy walls." Check out this verse I came across this morning from Proverbs 18:11:
"The wealth of the rich is their fortified city;
they imagine it an unscalable wall."

Being comfortable in life is no excuse for living with dysfunction either. In fact, comfort can be a powerful delusion keeping us from God's truth; just check out the church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) whose trust in riches actually deprived them and kept them from 'true riches'.

If we imagine our comfort as an unscalable wall, that's lying. The sad part is that we're lying to ourselves. And as the Word says:
"Because you have rejected this message,
relied on oppression
and depended on deceit,
this sin will become for you
like a high wall, cracked and bulging,
that collapses suddenly, in an instant.
It will break in pieces like pottery,
shattered so mercilessly,
that among its pieces not a fragment will be found
for taking coals from a hearth
or scooping water out of a cistern." Isaiah 30:12-14

That sounds a lot like God sending a hailstorm to knock down our "whitewashed flimsy walls" (see living with dysfunction). God hates it when we live with dysfunction. It is the sin of deceit. Let's be honest with ourselves and those we interact with. A lot of times being honest feels like we're tearing down the only defenses to our heart, and in a lot of ways we are, but check out the verses before and after the first verse I shared from Proverbs 18:
"The name of the Lord is a strong tower,
the righteous run into it and they are safe.

Before his downfall a man's heart is proud
but humility comes before honor." verses 10;12

We can build walls of deceit, or we be defenseless and run into the strong tower that is our Lord. Let's not depend on deceit so that God brings a hailstorm to make us depend on him. As the old hymn says, let's "humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift us up."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Living With Dysfunction

I came across this verse today in a study on peace:
"Because they lead my people astray, saying, "Peace," when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, 11 therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth." Ezekiel 13:10-11

Looks like the leaders of Israel in Ezekiel's day were content living with dysfunction. This obviously does not please God. If you're trying to live a life to please God, you are called to fix problems in your life.

This sounds simplistic, but I know so many "Christians" who have become complacent in various broken relationships in their lives because they are simply unwilling to do the messy of work of trying to fix the problem via humbling conversation and confession. They hate their jobs but won't do anything about it. They hate the way their kids act but they don't have the tough conversations and live the example of love those kids desperately need. That's like whitewashing a flimsy wall. God says if you live this way, not only will your "flimsy wall" not get better, but he'll actually send hail to knock it over! Have you been praying God will fix a problem in your life and it gets worse? God wants to help you fix it, but if you just whitewash it he'll send a storm.

God hates it when we are content living with a dysfunction. He wants us to live and love in spirit and in truth, but that means dealing with dysfunction. Where are you dysfunctional? Boldly confront your "flimsy walls" in the humility and love of God.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

(except when you have to drive to work at 6!)

It snowed big fluffy a heavy fall. The kind that makes you want to break out in caroles and sip hot cocoa. Needless to say, we got a little anxious for Christmas with all the nostalgia floating around. We danced to Christmas music and watched my favorite Christmas movie - ELF! (We feel a tiny bit guilty for starting so soon...but we're not used to this much snow in November. It doesn't feel like fall at all...poor Thanksgiving. This is not what you look like where we're from - so we've kinda skipped you in our mind!)

Anyways...I just checked the five day forecast: Snow everyday Sunday through Friday.

I exclaimed this to Aron, to which he replied,
"Welcome to Michy, baby!"

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday with Belle

Aron asked me to post some moments he & Belle had today. And for all of you creative mom's out there, I thought this was the most adorable craft for Thanksgiving. Belle made this cute little Turkey with Ms. Bernadette this week out of a pine cone, leaves, and pipe cleaners.
Isn't our little gobbler so cute?
And Aron captured the above video...mostly for the grandparents and such who read only for the Belle updates (I kid!!). The last clip was from a few weeks ago. And for baby Samuel: don't feel left out. Belle loves you too, I just couldn't get it out of her before she yanked the camera out of my hands to "SEE, SEE!".

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

a small wonder right in the middle our living room

I just witnessed the most precious thing.

As I was doing dishes the kitchen, Belle is watching a "kid-worship" DVD. I could hear her little sweet voice singing along, which is adorable in itself.

I happened to look up during "God of Wonders", and I see my two year old with arms extended straight up in the air singing every word of this song: "God of wonders beyond our galaxy, you are holy, holy. The universe declares your majesty, you are holy, holy."

I couldn't help but weep. From the lips of children and infants HE has ordained praise - or as the Message paraphrases it:

Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you; toddlers shout the songs that drown out enemy talk, and silence atheist babble. Psalm 8:2 (The Message)


he's right

in honor of my husband's previous post (he's very gifted at conciseness, I am not!)...I present today's post:

cold & dreary out
lots of work to be done
headache all day
wondering why my mood is so effected by hormones and weather

but God is so good
trying to live in his presence
seeking His will
following his lead.
kitchen is finally clean - it was really bad.

Monday, November 10, 2008

the beauty of being concise

"The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?" Ecclesiastes 6:11

Perhaps this is why there is so much truth in poetry and song. Meter and rhyme limit the arbitrary symbols we can utilize, focing us to read between the lines into the space of our very soul--and that is where we are guided into all Truth--for, "the kingdom of God is within you."

Saturday, November 8, 2008

let your heart be light

the kirk household is filled with nostalgia tonight... ejk

Friday, November 7, 2008

Oh yes we did!

Okay...we can't scream that we're debt free yet...
today marks the 2nd of 3 milestones in our journey to freedom!

We just paid off student loan #2. For a grand total of $32,000.00 paid off this year!
One more to go & we cannot wait.

Live like no one one day, you can live like no one else!
Our friend Kim Kirk emailed us this poem the today:

Sylvan's Request
"Will you color with me?" asked Sylvan.
"Not right now, I'm going to do go do... something important."
I went to do something I needed to do, didn't I? Oh no.
What a glorious invitation I passed on today.
I could have colored!I never color anymore.
I saw I wasn't good at coloring, so I stopped.
Growing up is dangerous like that.
It's so easy to forget that playing isn't competing,
So easy to confuse the serious with the important or the skillful with the valuable.
Sylvan wanted to color while Leo played in a cardboard box
And Violette carefully balanced a pillow on her head.
How silly they are.
How wonderfully, worshipfully, beautifully silly!
But me?Well, I had to do something important.
--Nathan Bubna

There's a lot of Truth in this poem, and it's not just the squishy, nostalgic, feel-good cause I played with my kid "truth". God has been impressing this particular Truth on my heart lately.

You see, I often forsake "coloring" for "something important" as the author suggests, and not just in regard to my child. My "something important" is usually writing a song, reading a book on theology, or playing music. The crazy thing is that I hold these things "important" for their spiritual value. This poem helps remind me that the most spiritual acts in our lives are often some of the most mundane.

According to the Bible, God is love. Think about that: God = Love. So the most spiritual endeavor I can pursue is not a song, music, or reading about spirituality. Rather, it is an act of love. The most pure act of love is one of service for another person, especially an act that causes me to limit myself for the sake of that person (i.e. coloring with a child is so below my skill level, and yet in doing so I limit own abilities for the sake of the child. Sometimes, I even color outside the lines to make them feel better about coloring outside the lines!).

Jesus said "the greatest among you shall be the servant of all." How much more did Jesus limit himself to take on flesh, serve mankind, and then unjustly die for the sake of his love for us!

What is your "something important"? Who do you need to "color" with? Let us forsake ourselves and our own agendas for the sake of love.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

this showed up on a friend's "Facebook" wall...enjoy

Man, those loin clothes come back to haunt a guy!
(This is the band Aron traveled with in college. They were playing worship at a retreat one snowy day in 2006.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Kirk Haven: M-I-A

Sorry we've been blog slackers the last few days...

Aron has been quite preoccupied planning a worship retreat for this weekend & getting the wheels rolling on the big Christmas Eve service... on top of his week to week responsibilities.

I've been working a lot as usual. And we have had the privilege of having company the last two weekends.

After working all day & getting off late (it never fails...the emergencies always happen at 6:55!) I don't have much left in me to give. But I did get a kick out of several "compliments" (if you can call them that) that I got today! I just found it hilarious how a statement that started as a compliment turned suddenly sour!

From a patient: "You are just the most amazing thing. You're so calm & sweet. Nothing phases you. I can tell that's just how you are. You don't take medication to make you that way.
You are just gorgeous. You know, just because you're not gorgeous on the outside doesn't mean your not beautiful. You may not be much to look at, but your inside beauty just makes you gorgeous."
(a very true statement about the importance of inner beauty, but funny to hear an old man talk himself into a hole!)

From a conversation with 2 nurses & myself:
Nurse 1: "I'm planning to breastfeed for like 2 years after this baby is born so I can lose a whole bunch of weight."
Nurse 2: "Really? You think that will work?"
Erica: "Oh, yeah. When I went back to work, I started pumping and making a lot more milk, and I lost like 10 lbs in 2 weeks. I ate whatever I wanted and still lost weight. I weighed less than I did my freshmen year of high school. But now I'm back to my baseline since I stopped breastfeeding."
Nurse 2: "Yeah, you do look emaciated...."
Erica: "I do?! Emaciated? I look sickly?"
Nurse 2: "Well, yeah, kinda."

* emaciated is a medical term describing one who is extremely malnourished...think concentration camp photos ...sunken cheeks, dark circles around bony eyes, clavicles sticking out very prominently.
**this is not a subliminal beckoning for affirmation of my physical appearance. I am completely validated in my inner/outer beauty. I just found this to be comical. On a different day a little later in the month, I maybe wouldn't be able to brush it off. But today, I'm too tired to care!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Someday she'll hate me for this...

but I just have to share these "silly Belle" moments.

Our little love is more like a teenager than a 2 year old in the morning. She'll sleep in as late as we'll let her. And if you wake her up, she'll grab the blankets, throw them over her face, and go back to sleep. When we say, "Belle, its time to get up!" Muffled, she shouts back, "Nooooo".

This morning, I stripped her to dress for church. I covered her with a blanket so she wouldn't get cold while I grabbed a wash cloth to freshen her up. When I came back, this is what I found.

She did not want me invading her warm little cave.
She thinks this "play baby bed" is for her.

And she also thinks mommies undergarments are for her. Maybe she'll be an American Gladiator someday?!My mom always wished that I would have a girl as prissy as I was to punish me for torturing her with my girly ways. I think she got her wish. Here is evidene that my daughter often crosses her legs while going #1 & #2.
And these last few are just to show how big she is getting. Look at those long, skinny arms & legs. They don't look like baby limbs anymore. She transforming into a little girl right in front of our eyes!