Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat

Trick or Treat 2009 from Aron Kirk on Vimeo.

The Princess & The Frog

Such adorable Trick or Treaters...I think Belle was a little frightened of the Ninja & Ironman

It was sooooo cold, but the kids were troopers.

Poor Belle will probably have nightmares about some of the scary adult costumes. Any time she saw something frightening, she'd tell Aron, "Don't look, Daddy. Don't look!" All the while she couldn't take her eyes off of them.
Enjoying their spoils...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

May I introduce you to Snow White

An excited little Snow White before her Halloween Party at Dance Class
just lovely...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Powerful "Compassion" moment...

Erica and I started sponsoring a Compassion child several months ago. It is only $32 per month, and you can literally change someones life. Check out their website to learn more.

A few of my colleagues went to a Christian leadership conference in Atlanta a few weeks ago called "Catalyst", and they had a young man named Jimmy there whose life was completely changed through Compassion's ministry. Check out the following video where Jimmy shares his story (starts at 3:45 in), and then meets his sponsor for the first time at the conference. A lot of the people who go to Catalyst year after year are saying it was one of the most powerful things they've ever seen at the conference, and I'd have to agree. Enjoy.

Catalyst 2009 Compassion Moment from Catalyst on Vimeo.


Monday, October 26, 2009

we are on the mend

I am optimistically saying our 7 day 'bout with the flu (or some other viral illness that causes high fevers and upper respiratory symptoms) is coming to a close. Belle's fever is only low grade at this point. Despite feeling puny, she still has the energy to don her princess attire, but with her own flair these days. She likes to wear blue jeans..."just like daddy's" under her royal garb. And the purple shoes "are just like tap shoes from dance class".

So far Judah remains healthy despite sister's 'in your face' lovin'.

A random photo...I just love naked babies. Their skin is so soft and kissable. I don't even care if I do get pee'd on.

This is Belle just before bed last night. She informed me that she was wearing her family on her jammies that grandma bought for her. 
According to her, here we are from left to right:

"Mommy, Belle, baby Judah, and Daddy," she pointed. Pretty observant and true to scale.
My smart little girl!

Speaking of smart little girl...
Sunday Belle ran outside to help daddy grill dinner. They began to cook, but ran out of propane. She accompanied him to the grocery to pick up a new makes her feel special to be daddy's helper. As they were walking from the parking lot inside, Belle pointed at the sign and spelled, "M-E-I-J-E-R!!!"
"Great job, Belle!" Aron replied.
"I did it! I did it, Daddy. I spelled 'store'."

And finally, some more kiddo moments....

Untitled from Aron Kirk on Vimeo.


"Love is... kind" in action!!!

In honor of our "Love Is..." series, I saw this on TV the other day and had to post it. It aired on Oprah this past Friday, and it is the story of a woman who was robbed at gunpoint recently. She spoke the Truth in Love to the man who was robbing her, and the "robbery" ended with the man falling to his knees, crying, and asking the woman to pray for him. Watch it and be amazing at the power of love in action, even in the midst of such a traumatic circumstance! This woman showed this man the kindness of God, and it led him to repentance even while he was trying to cause her harm! God's grace and mercy are powerful!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

#3 Love is... kind.

" is kind." 1 Corinthians 13:4

This sounds like common sense, and easy to implement. But if that's true, then why is it that I'm kindest to those I know the least, while those I love the most see the worst I have to offer? The truth is that it is easy to be kind to someone when they haven't let you down; when you don't know their shortcomings and failures; and when they don't know yours. But that isn't really love, that's just exchanging naive pleasantries. Kindness is much harder when you know how much someone doesn't deserve it and there is no reciprocal affection.

Erica and I are intimately aware of each other's faults and failures. Such knowledge can become ammo in disagreements to the detriment of our relationship. When this occurs on a regular basis, you can almost start to believe that the other person doesn't deserve kindness. But kindness is the warmth radiating from love's flame. And when the other person can't feel the warmth of our love, they'll start to believe that the flame doesn't exist. And suddenly the people we love the most are convinced that we don't love them at all. 

Loving kindness involves going out of your way to show kindness to someone who doesn't deserve it. Romans 2:4 says "God's kindness leads you toward repentance." Not his punishment. Not his wrath. Not his judgement. His kindness. Romans goes on to say in chapter 5:8-10:
"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

God went out of his way to show us kindness when we least deserved it by sending Jesus to die for us. He was intimately aware of our faults and failures, and we didn't do anything to become better or more deserving before he revealed his kindness in Christ. This kindness is a warm breeze emanating from God's consuming fire of love for us so that we can know without a doubt that we are loved. 

Following the example of our Father, we must be willing to go out of our way to show kindness to those we love when they least deserve it. Anyone can exchange naive pleasantries with those they do not know, but in order to live by love we need to let those we are closest with feel the warmth of our affection, because love is kind.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

#2 Love is... patient.

"Love is patient," -- 1 Corinthians 13:4

We've all seen movies with the epic scene where, in the midst of their imminent separation, one lover passionately proclaims to the other, "I will wait for you!", and the rest of the movie is their struggle finding their way back together. Some of these stories are tragedies, where time proves to be too much for the estranged lovers. But some of these stories, the best ones, end with the lovers reunited because they were willing to patiently endure. 

Webster defines patience as "bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint" and "steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity." I think there is a reason that God puts this quality first in his definition of love. It is perhaps the most difficult attribute of love to master, because it involves waiting--and not merely waiting, but waiting bravely, with a good attitude, in hope and trust. 

When entering our sophomore year of college, Erica and I were separated by 220 miles when I decided to stay in Ohio while she went back to Indiana Wesleyan University for her second year. I was heading down a path of selfishness, alcohol, and apathy while Erica was trying to seek God's will for her life. 

She was a Resident Assistant in her dorm that year, and I.W.U. encourages authentic relational mentorship among their leadership. Week after week, as Erica shared her anxiety over her boyfriend's poor attitudes and bad decisions, she was encouraged to break up with me (which was good advice from their point of view). But Erica saw something within me that they did not have the perspective to see. She saw how God was pursuing my heart. And so, she patiently endured, all the while praying for me and encouraging me to give up my selfish life for the life God intended for me. 

In late October of that year, God himself broke through my walls of self-preservation and fear, and I made a decision to quit living in sin and start living for Him. That January, Erica and I were reunited as I rejoined her at Indiana Wesleyan University.

Patience is trusting God will come through in our lives. We read Bible stories about the great men and women of faith, but we fail to realize the epic struggles their faith endured. After God promised Abraham he and Sarah would be parents, it was 15 YEARS before they actually had Isaac. Moses was with the Israelites for 40 years before he finally got to see the "promised land". After David was anointed as king of Israel, it was at least another 13 years before he actually became king (and that of only Judah. It would be another 7 years before he became king of all Israel). 

Without patience, our "love" is cheap and shallow, and we give up on others before the true potential of their worth can be realized. Love without patience is not really love, but rather a vain lust for something temporary that brings us fleeting pleasure. In this form of "love", divorce is the answer to irreconcilable differences and sheer force is how we get what we want. We move from relationship to relationship or from rash decision to rash decision, only to end up empty and void. 

Shakespeare  wrote, "How poor are they who have not patience. What wound did ever heal but by degrees." We must be willing to put off the instant gratifications that will never satisfy in order to wait for an enduring love, because love is patient.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A few 'Bellisms"

I walked out of the room briefly and left my too lovely children together on the couch. I returned only minutes later to find them both covered in stickers from head to toe. I asked Belle, "Honey, What's going on? Why did you put stickers all over you & brother?"

Full of innocence and sweet as honey pie, she looked up at me and replied, "Mom, I decorated him for halloween."
Later in the day she informed me that she didn't want to go to dance class today. I inquired as to why because she loves everything dance. "I just want to sit and sip my coffee," she replied. 

Yesterday I told her, "Belle, I love you so much." 
Most days she will say, "I love you too, momma."
Not this time. This time she was strangely silent. So I asked, "Do you love me, baby?"
Again, full of innocence she replied, "No, I just love my dad. He's the best. I love him sooooo much, more than the whole world."
I'm so glad she thinks the world of her daddy. And I'm still the one she wants when she's hurt or we're both content with our place in her little world.

Monday, October 19, 2009

#1 Love is... essential.

"1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." -- 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

This passionate, crescendoing declaration sounds like it could have come straight from "The Moulin Rogue" itself, and this is how God (via the apostle Paul) preps his definition of love. Like Natalie Cole, the Beatles, and Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge, God wants to remove all doubt and reassure us that truly, "All you need is love!" In fact, he says that if you have everything or anything else in life, and if you can do the greatest things, but do not have love, you have nothing and you have gained nothing!

God is saying that, above all, love is essential. We're not talking like deodorant or toothpaste is essiential; we're talking like breathing is essential. Like your heart beating is essiential. Love should be our motivation, our implementation, and our destination. If love is not what motivates us, eventually we will burn out and quit trying. If love is not how we implement our actions, eventually we will burn bridges and destroy relationships. And if love is not the destination we have in mind, then we are ultimately heading toward a selfish, fearful, and lonely end.

A few years back I read a magazine article about Muhammad Ali. The reporter who wrote the article told about how the now frail, Parkinson's afflicted Ali escorted him to a barn that Ali used to use as a gym. On the floor, leaning against the walls were mementos of Ali in his prime. There were photos and portraits of the champ punching and dancing. Sculpted body, fist punching the air, championship belt raised in victory.

But like the aged champ, the photos on the walls were not in the best condition. The pictures were covered with white streaks - bird droppings. Ali looked into the rafters of the barn at the pigeons who now made their home in his gym. Then Ali did something significant. Perhaps it was a gesture of closure, or just maybe a statement of despair. Ali went over to a row of pictures and turned each photo, one by one, towards the wall. He walked to the door, looked out over the countryside and mumbled, "I had the world," he said, "and it wasn't nothin'. Look now."

Muhammad Ali accomplished great things through incredible physical training and skill. He was truly "The Greatest" boxer in the world. And yet, because his accomplishments were not motivated, implemented, or ending in love, their glory and consequence lasted a very short time, so that even Ali himself declared their hollow significance.

On the other hand, when love is our motivation, implementation, and destination, even our smallest actions can have immense significance that endures through the ages. As Mother Teresa once said, "Small things, done in great love, bring joy and peace. We can do no great things on this earth, only small things with great love." She would know. She did things ANY of us could do. Feed someone who's hungry. Listen to someone who's troubled. Hold someone who's hurting. And because these were motivated, implemented, and ending in love, their significance will echo into eternity.

Without love we are nothing. Love is essential.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

weekend roundup

Froze our tails off at the harvest celebration at MCC, but had a blast none the less. Unfortunately, we left the camera sitting by the door, so this is the only picture I have thanks to the lovely Becky Jo.

sweet babyJ once we returned home

I have to giggle at this pict because judah looks more like budah in this 'newborn' sized outfit...he's busting out of it.
and my little belle...still tiny in stature but growing so mature!

my boys...they are quite a handsome pair.
judah watches aron so intensely. i cannot think of a better one for him to watch as he learns what it means to be a man...
And here's a little collection of judah's songs of late & big sis interacting with him for the fam. Please ignore my voice...saying the same things over & over. I need to figure out new coo's; I'm sure judah is tired of them as well!

judah from Aron Kirk on Vimeo.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Love is...

Ah, to love and be loved, this is the essence of life. As Natalie Cole sang, "The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is to love and be loved in return." The Beatles sang "All you need is love." These profound melodies became the mantra of Ewan McGregor's character in the film Moulin Rouge, as he quipped, "Love is a many splendid thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love!" And then he sets about in a grandiose duet with a cynical Nicole Kidman, trying to convince her of the purity, purpose, and power of love.

Our hearts are lifted when we experience these pop-culture moments, because there is so much Truth echoing in this artistry. We want so badly to Believe, and yet, like Nicole Kidman's character, we become cynical as "real life" teaches us that these are just whimsical yearnings of a naive idealist's soul. 

But what if these yearnings were NOT whimsical? What if we were NOT naive or hopelessly idealistic to Believe such things. What if these cliches of pop-culture really did resound of eternal Truth?

In order to know the answers to these questions, we have to know what love is. If we could comprehend what love is, then perhaps we could know if it truly is 'all we need'. Over the next several days/posts, Erica and I are going to explore what love is, and we'll give personal insights and examples of how we've seen it lived out. 

Fortunately for us all, we're not going to be basing our definition what we think love is, but on how God himself defines it in 1 Corinthinans 13:1-8. So get ready for the most exciting blog series to hit Kirk Haven yet.

"And now I will show you the most excellent way." 1 Corithians 12:31


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

what's in your hand?

It was bedtime last evening, and I informed Aron that I'd found a new book for Belle if he'd like to surprise her with it. He was so excited to give her the 'Arthur' book as she has grown a love for the hit PBS show.

Aron walked into her room and informed Isabelle he had a very special gift for her, and she needed to close her eyes and hold out her hands. Belle had already picked a book from her shelf and was patiently waiting for daddy to read it. She desperately wanted the surprise, but hestitated when her daddy asked her to hand him the book in her hand so she could recieve a book he knew she would love so much more. 

"Belle, I promise you will love what daddy has for you, but I need you to trust me and hand me the book in your hands."

You could see the turmoil on her face. She feared letting go of the book she'd chosen for herself, but wanted so badly to obtain the promised gift from her father.

Aron continued to encourage her to trust him and let go. Belle struggled. It seemed the commonplace book in hand was hard to give up even though she knows her daddy does not disappoint.

The spiritual parallels are striking. I am asking myself, "What's in my hand? What am I refusing to trust God with? What am I clinging to that is keeping me from receiving the good gifts God wants to give me?" Am I trusting God that his choices for my life are far better than what I can chose for myself with my limited perspective.

I know my Father's character, therefore I can trust his intentions toward me are good. Even if at first glance a blessing is packaged in a trial, I can trust that God will bring about good for me in His time. I must trust the work he is doing.

So now I ask you? What are you clinging to that God may be asking you to lay down and trust him with? Free up your hands so you can receive all he has for you. He knows your heart's desires and your greatest needs. 
much love 

Saturday, October 10, 2009

An apple a day...

We had an absolute blast at the Apple Orchard on Saturday. Last year when all of the native Michiganders were raving about fall & fresh donuts & cider and picking apples, we didn't know what all the excitement was about. Then we took a trip to the orchards and fell in love ourselves. We decided to go back to the same one we visited last year as we had such a great experience there.

Ummmm, I have never tasted donuts like these. They were still warm & oh so delicious.
It was also gameday...OSU played at 3:30, and Aron was so excited to wear his new hat his dad gave him in prep for the big game. We now have an HD receiver...the best $30 we've spent in awhile. We get about 10 channels in HD for free...which means we get to watch football again!!
And sweet Judah...he slept through the whole experience.
Belle LOVED the wagon ride out to the middle of the orchard. 

After she took a taste of an apple, she said "Um, um, um. Tasty and so juicy."
And she insisted on wear this outfit to pick apples.  I couldn't convince her otherwise.

Love this picture...for some reason it reminds me of the days when aron would take me to his grandparents farm.
The Jonathon Golds were by far our favorite.

Isabelle wanted to ride the ponies, but as usual, neither Aron or I had any cash on us. But then...Aron remembered he had tucked away the birthday money Great Grandma Howard had sent for Belle. Grandma saved the day!
Belle riding trigger.
Her expression says it all.
One more reason we LOVE, love fall!