A new pair of socks

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If you are anything like me, you gladly skip the pre-wash on the new package of socks and immediately throw on a pair.  In fact, I enjoy getting new socks for Christmas because who wouldn’t want to walk around in new socks on Christmas Day?  I even have a friend who wants to be financially secure enough in life to one day never have to wear the same sock twice!  I won’t rat you out here, but you know who you are…

New socks are great, and I am hoping that this new job I start Monday morning sharp, will be as enjoyable.  For those of you who have not heard, I did finally land a job.  Thank you for your prayers.  God has provided a great opportunity for me in the insulation business.  You are reading the words of the newest sales rep for Clean Crawls.  These guys are the best insulation removal and re-installers in the Northwest.  They have been in the business longer than any other company around and take pride in their service, product, and quality.  And now for the shameless plug – If you need any work done in your attic, crawlspace, or added insulation in your walls (or know someone who does) AND you live anywhere up and down the I-5 corridor in WA, give me a call.  Now is a great time to make your home energy efficient.  Getting in crawlspaces and attics is now my full time job, so I can come by and give you an estimate.  I am about to get friendly with all the lovelies that live under our houses!  So far, I have heard stories of sales reps encountering rats, mice, cats, raccoons, and even an otter.  Needless to say, a large maglite will be standard issue!  

I am looking forward to this new season of life.  I just concluded 10 years of ministry at Northshore Baptist Church in Bothell, and am very grateful for the experience.  Karissa and I got married there, dedicated our babies there, and spent ten years loving and serving the families there.  I learned so much about God, myself, marriage, fatherhood, ministry, and the list goes on.  For all of that, I am grateful.  However, I am totally ready for the next ten!  I am praying that in the next ten I will continue to learn more about all of the aforementioned things, and then some.  Oh, and just so you know, pastoral ministry is not going to stop with me no longer being employed by Northshore…but more on this later.  This next season of life is upon us and it starts in about 10.5 hours.  Here’s to tomorrow feeling like a new pair of socks!

More than a meal

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Karissa has worked with Step by Step, on organization that brings hope and health to mothers, babies, and families for many years originally as a Behavior Health Specialist and now as a volunteer. This last Friday night, Karissa and I had the privilege to volunteer at the annual Step by Step Christmas Party. What a treat this was for us. Karissa was able to reconnect with many of her past clients, hold their babies, and share stories about life. These mothers and their families came for a wonderful dinner which was served to them at their table. Along with dinner, came gift basket style door prizes, activities for the kids (face painting, balloon art, a cupcake walk, advent rings, cookie decorations, and even pictures with santa. For all of these families, this was an evening to be rememembered. Perhaps the best part of the night was the Toy Shoppe. Here each mother was given the opportunity to pick out one toy for each child in their family. These toys were donated by many different people and all were brand new. Not only did they get a toy for each kid (and they were some really good toys) but then there was a team of gift wrappers. Paper, scissors, and tape was flying furious, but you could not believe the relief and joy in so many mom’s eyes. I couldn’t stay out of this room, because you could tell that this was a room that brought so much hope to people who did not think they were going to get anything but dollar store items for their kids this year. There were many tears shed that night, as stories of desperation were shared by moms who for at least one night this Christmas season had much to be hopeful about.

Karissa and I love the organization Step by Step and if you were looking for a place to donate extra this year, maybe this is the organization you could give your time or your money towards.

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-Chris

Bittersweet

I keep hearing the pat phrases, “Change is hard, but so good”, “When a door closes another one always opens”, “Things have to get better!”, etc. I know those things are true and I see great things in the midst of these past few months but at the same time, words don’t really help make it better in the moment sometimes. Change is plain old hard. A closed door (despite others opening) is still closed. Things getting better means they’ve been pretty tough.

Like today. Helping Christopher pack up his office at church came at me out of no where. Was it really time? Was this really happening? Were we really moving on?

Tears now. We are moving on. For real. But this church home, this community of people holds so much of my life story in it. At the ripe age of 11, I first stepped foot at Northshore as a sassy, rather out of control pre-teen. One mom even dared to ask my parents if I could possibly be on drugs. I set out to go out with as many youth group boys as I could. I met a friend whose heart would be knit to mine to this day, in a way I could never have imagined. Many people loved me unconditionally there and shared the story of Jesus with me in the most tangible, meaningful way. My life was changed there, my heart was changed in the midst of a group of people that modeled Love for me.

In high school years, I turned away, dated a cute boy who didn’t go to church out of my rebellious heart, fell in love with him and he followed me back to church and we both found Jesus in a new way in the process. We came there dressed in our prom clothes the day after prom, our senior year of high school, having made it through prom night with not so much as a kiss.

A few years later, I put on my wedding dress in the basement and made a slow walk up the church stairs to come down the aisle and wed my best friend. 450 people shared that day with us. Lots of youth group kids and their parents. It was the perfect day.

I watched Christopher come alive there as he led the Junior High group for 7 years. We poured our lives out, had kids in our home often and gave everything we had to the students God placed in our path. We loved it, we loved them.

With great delight we shared with everyone that we were expecting our first baby and with great fear we asked for prayer when she was born early and was very sick. For six solid weeks, nearly every night someone from church brought us dinner in the hospital. The NICU nurses could not believe that we were so well cared for. It was amazing, such a sense of family, we felt so blessed.

We happily brought baby after baby Sunday mornings and often to daddy’s office during the week to be doted on and loved and held and kissed year after year.

The past three years so much has changed. Looking back it’s easy to see that our direction would change though it still was such a surprise when it did in September. What isn’t easy is walking out the door that is closing. Trying not to look back with tears. Knowing the people we are used to running in to and being around won’t be in our path in the same way anymore. There is something sweet and rich about being somewhere for 20 years. Being known, being remembered and being loved in the same place.

We know that the best is yet to come and that we are in for a great adventure. It is exciting to dream about what we want to do, to have the freedom to try new things and to trust that our future doesn’t rest in our own hands.

Thankful to feel deeply, to be turning the page to a new chapter, to have a Hope that never changes and to be doing it all with the same cute boy I fell in love with 15 years ago.

-Karissa

Confessions

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On my late night run to the fabric store for a few things I forgot that were still on sale today, I killed a bunny rabbit. I couldn’t stop in time and ran right over it. Rylee was with me. She kept saying surely it got to the side, it wouldn’t go under my car, asking why I was so sad. It was too much, I was sad. Two minutes of quiet and I felt better, nothing I could have done I know. If only my list had been more organized and I could have gotten everything this morning I wouldn’t have gone back tonight, thus not running over the grey bunny.

Just 45 minutes later on my short excursion, I was done dropping off library books and movies to Blockbuster and was headed home. Talking to Christopher on my cell phone (no hands free device mind you), I was tootling (if that’s a word) down the road home. He was funny, I needed to pee, I was laughing and driving and talking on my phone. Too much. Flashing lights caught my attention in the rear view mirror.

30 years. That’s how long I’ve gone never even being pulled over by a police officer. Until today.

Flashing lights…me thinking, those lights must not be for me, they never are, I’ll just get out of his way and get off my phone……yeah, not so much.

“I clocked you going 48 in a 35 there. Are you in a hurry m’am?”

I was talking on my cell phone and my husband is so funny and-“No, yes, I mean I need to go to the bathroom.” Did I really just say that?

Okay. Well can I have your license and proof of insurance?”

Christopher is going to have my head, he always tells me I drive too fast. And I always remind him I’ve never been pulled over. “Um, yes here is my license (mumbling about my tabs, are they current? like he needs another reason to give me a ticket) and some expired proof of insurance. Does it need to be current?”

“Yes m’am, otherwise it wouldn’t be proof of insurance.” Of course, I am a complete moron…who has been awake since 4:00 this morning…

“Oh, yes, okay. I’ll look for it. I’m so sorry I’m so flustered, I’ve never been pulled over before and I am just so flustered and …” You look like you’re 23, are you sure you’re old enough to even give me a ticket?

It’s okay. Just relax. Let me know when you find the proof of insurance.”

I finally find it, give it to him, he runs my license while I wait and try to explain to Rylee, oh yes, I still had her with me, why I just broke the law and drove too fast. That there are always consequences to bad choices and my consequence is getting pulled over. You know the line.

He comes back “I’m just going to give you a warning tonight, can you please slow down?”

No way, am I seriously not getting a ticket for this? If this were Christopher he would have been busted for using his cell phone, not using his turn signal and for going barely over the speed limit. He will not believe this just happened. I don’t believe it.

Now I get to explain to Rylee about second chances instead of punishment, how much more fun is that?

Operation Christmas Child

We have talked a great deal this fall about how to build tradition and memories into our Christmas season that are our own. One way we thought would be fun and help focus outward was to compile shoeboxes with gifts for children around the world living in poverty who would likely not receive anything for Christmas. Children who hope to have enough to eat. Not children whose Christmas list includes an iPod, designer clothes and expensive toys. Samaritan’s Purse has been facilitating this idea for years. So after discovering it last week online, I sent out a last minute Evite then immediately after that Audrey was admitted to the hospital.

Thanks to my sister Danielle for hosting on short notice and my friend Kristin who is always up for something new, we still managed to throw six boxes together today and will plan ahead more next year. The 8 kids watched a little DVD of kids across the globe opening their boxes, it made me cry. They were so happy with so little. Then we went to work decorating boxes, writing notes to the kids who would open them, placing all the gifts into the boxes then we prayed for the kids who would receive our boxes. It was a little chaotic and crazy but it was a great start! As we work to reject the materialism and consumer-driven aspects of our culture and seek simplicity and gratefulness, it is baby steps for sure. But baby steps are better than no steps…

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Even the kitchen sink

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“Mr Scrooge!” said Bob; “I’ll give you Mr Scrooge, the Founder of the Feast!”

“The Founder of the Feast indeed!” cried Mrs Cratchit, reddening. “I wish I had him here. I’d give him a piece of my mind to feast upon, and I hope he’d have a good appetite for it.”

“My dear,” said Bob, “the children; Christmas Day.”

“It should be Christmas Day, I am sure,” said she, “on which one drinks the health of such an odious, stingy, hard, unfeeling man as Mr Scrooge. You know he is, Robert! Nobody knows it better than you do, poor fellow!”

“My dear,” was Bob’s mild answer, “Christmas Day.”

“I’ll drink his health for your sake and the Day’s,”said Mrs Cratchit, “not for his. Long life to him. A merry Christmas and a happy new year! He’ll be very merry and very happy, I have no doubt!”

This was the scene from A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens while Scrooge was looking upon the Cratchit family just after their meager Christmas dinner unseen with the Ghost of Christmas Present. What a picture of gratitude on the behalf of Bob Cratchit, even in the midst of not an ideal situation.

I find myself being filled with gratitude this morning as well. It has been a long week, a longer two months, and with Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I do not want to miss the opportunity to share the bountiful blessings in our life. God has promised His children that He will lavish upon them with His love. Our family feels this love in so many ways, even in the midst of difficulty.

  • Friends who bring meals, watch our kids, pray, and constantly ask “Is there anything we can do?”
  • A house that is warm, has enough beds for our family, and big enough to bless others with
  • A friend who wants to donate a day of labor
  • Family will do anything for us
  • Access to medical care to keep our little babies healthy
  • A church family who loves us
  • Divine connections made with people
  • A deeping passion for a new church
  • The beautiful fall weather we have been having and the eyes to enjoy it
  • A most beautiful wife who loves affectionately, cares exceptionally, and gives of herself sacrificially every day for her family without fail
  • A young girl who is now reading and about to lose two teeth who loves to care for people
  • A big boy with his gorgeous locks of tusseled hair and and an adventurous spirit
  • A little boy who is coming into his own with a courageous and rock steady heart
  • A little girl who is as cute as a button with a smile that could melt any heart
  • A fence that expands our yard for our children to play safely in
  • A dog who brings a smile to Audrey’s face every time she walks by
  • Coffee in the morning
  • A God who promises to provide regardless of the source
  • Answered prayers
  • Ballet slippers for Rylee
  • Encouraging books
  • Hugs from each of our kiddos
  • Even a kitchen sink with a working garbage disposal

I could go on with even more blessings. I desire to have an attitude of Bob Crachit, even when faced with such life difficulties to find it in my heart to bless all people, even those who have not always had our best interest in mind. It is amazing to me to experience the difference between walking with a grateful heart and walking without one.

As we get closer to cutting that turkey open and about to ingest pounds of food, what are you thankful for? I am always encouraged by hearing what other people are thankful for. I would love to be encouraged by your list, so let’s all participate – you faithful commenters, readers, and even lurkers…I would love to hear what you are all grateful for today.

-Chris

Naked trees and hummus

Here is the scoop on the last few days here:

Rylee read her first book by herself-so exciting! Here she is sounding out a BOB first reader book.

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Rylee and Audrey took their first bath together

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We did patterns today with foam shapes, I love that with the instructions “see what kind of pattern you can make with your shapes” they both did totally different things….and Caleb’s more turned out to be a collage

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I am attempting a dairy free day, we made hummus together for lunch it was so fun. The kids never will eat store bought hummus. So imagine my shock when they devoured it at the park today when we drove to meet Daddy for a walk. We ran out of crackers to dip in it, Caleb suggested a spoon, if only we’d had one.

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A sweet nose kiss from my second born…who informed us that though the trees were nearly naked “they aren’t quite naked, that one has on a hat and underwear”

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Rylee enjoying her favorite thing in the world-Audrey (who is, by the way, wearing a size 6 diaper because I forgot the diaper bag, had to use an old washcloth in the car for a baby wipe and could only scrounge up a Kyler-sized diaper in the parking lot while everyone waited for us)

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Christmas card photo? Maybe, if I hadn’t changed the exposure level on the camera earlier today for indoor photos and forgot to change it, leaving this one a tad overexposed, bummer.

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Daddy Daughter Dance

Northshore’s annual Daddy Daughter Dance is upon us once again. Each year they use the opportunity to have Dads bring their daughter’s on a date for dancing and dessert to raise money for two great causes. This year’s causes are a Safe Haven in Cambodia to combat the human trafficking of children and the Havilah School in Nicaragua. Rylee is so excited to go she has had her dress picked out for about a week.  It has been hanging that long on the side of Audrey’s crib.  The other day she told me she had even picked out the tights. She said the only thing she needs to do is have mama straighten her hair.  Tomorrow is the big day and I can’t wait to take my little girl (who is just about to lose her first tooth) on a dancing date.

-Chris