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Entries in Ken and Vicki (5)


Thirty-Six Years

Today we gathered at the church where my dad served as pastor for thirty-six years.  It was an emotional, wonderful, amazing day.  It was really something special.

Here is a poem I shared during the program for him and my mom (she certainly was a partner in his ministry!)...


One foot in front of the other, he walked along a path
That he was called to follow, his leader just ahead.
It wasn't always easy, yes, the path was sometimes hard
But the One he followed somehow carried while He led.

The follower kept on walking, for years he persevered,
And when he thought he could no more move forward on his own
Another's strength would rescue him reminding him of this:
There is no thing we do ourselves, we never walk alone.
Along the path were thorny bushes, others crying out, ensnared,
And as his leader taught him to, he helped them from their places-
His hands helped push the thorns aside, he helped to disentangle,
He helped apply a soothing balm, wiped tears from their faces.

The troubles he encountered are too many to be numbered-
Sufferings, injustices, sickness, loss and dying.
Sometimes it seemed an endless stream of things that made no sense;
Easy came the question,"Is is even worth the trying?"

The One he followed turned to him, firm and fierce was He,
"Nothing is in vain, my friend, you keep your eyes on Me."

He knew this was the only way to make it on this path,
So he trained his eyes upon the Man who went down this road first.
He watched as this One walked along, as He called to those He saw.
He watched Him touch, and heal, and teach, and feed, and quench their thirst.

While he himself had stumbled as he walked along that path,
His Leader never faltered, and He never didn't have
Just the thing that someone needed; He knew so perfectly
How to meet the ones who came with dignity and love.

The follower spent many years walking down the path
With his eyes upon the Leader, and this opened up his heart.
While he saw the thorny bushes, he could also see the rose-
The petals full of fragrance, with beauty to impart.

He saw it in the shining warmth of two who become one,
He saw it in the radiant face of the mother with her child,
He saw it in the infant's cheeks, new and pink and glowing,
He saw it in the trembling lips as the new daddy smiled,
He saw it in the feathers of the cardinal who sang,
He saw it in the red-cheeked laugh of a little girl's delight,
He saw it in the sun-kissed skin of the boy upon the beach,
He saw it in the lingering pinkish sunset light.
He saw it when he looked and saw the faces that he loved,
He saw it when he looked upon his wife and family,
He saw it when he looked around at friends from now and then,
He saw it when he looked to see his Leader take a seat.

The One he followed said to him, full of love was He,
"Nothing is in vain, my friend, you kept your eyes on Me."


As I said the other day, my parents are leaving a wonderful legacy behind.  What they are taking with them is a lifetime of memories.  It was an honor to be a part of today's celebration!  We heard stories, shared laughs, and shed some tears. 

It was a beautiful day.


We're Going on a Trip...

You know you're a mom when you can only sing that phrase Little Einsteins style.

The kids and I are headed to my parents' house for a visit.  We don't go often.  It's much cheaper for them to come here, and my parents usually don't throw fits on a plane, so the flight is more pleasant for them than for me with three kids. 

Actually, Christian and Michaela now do really well on flights.  They can keep busy and they understand that I cannot make the plane move any faster than it is already moving.  We've tried rocking back and forth, but that just irritated the people in front of us.  And it didn't speed things up.

I am hoping to take enough stuff to keep Eliana entertained, and enough food to keep her busy, for the duration of all legs of our trip.  While tomorrow will be a long day, there is a Chick-Fil-A at the end of the tunnel for them (Who am I kidding?  For me!) and of course, there is the great excitement of seeing Grandma and Grandpa.  I've already been informed of three separate bags full of goodies for the kids (and a box for momma loves me) so I'm assuming I need to take an extra, empty suitcase for the return trip home.

I have managed to get all of our clothes into one smallish suitcase, and I need to work on the airplane bags next.  The kids have been pretty good today, and I am hoping to leave the house in decent shape.  Perfect?  Probably not.  But, good enough?  I think I can do that.  My main goal is to get the laundry down to almost nothing, and to clean the main bathroom.

And also to remember everyone's undies. 

We have some exciting things planned for our time in Virginia.  First up, is my dad's retirement party.  Did you know my dad is retiring?  Actually, he is already retired!  He preached his final sermon on May 30th.  His 1,800th sermon, give or take a few.  He was the pastor at Oakwood Memorial Baptist Church for 36 years. 

My parents have been at that church since the year before I was born; I grew up there, my brother grew up there.  Dad has dedicated babies, married young couples, married old couples, married people he watched grow up.  He has seen children come into this world, witnessed them become young adults, and then watched them start families.  He walked me down the aisle, sang, and did the vows as well.   He has baptized children who came to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  He held my hand as I walked down the steps of the baptismal pool when I was nine years old.  He has had the honor of baptizing grown men and women who have been given the light of new life through Jesus Christ.  He has sat by the bedside of the dying.  He has held the hand of the suffering.  He has helped comfort those who have lost a loved one, or several.  He and my mom have visited hospital rooms, and homes of people who did not have the physical strength to make it to a service, but who still wanted to worship.  He has buried babies and cried along with their parents.  He has had to help families put young people in the grave long before they should have had to go.  He has sung at funerals for individuals who had become more than friends, but family.  He has celebrated military homecomings.  He has mourned with parents and spouses when heroes have died while serving.  He has prayed for, and witnessed miracles.  He has praised God for the cancer that is now gone.  He has seen cancer ravage bodies, but not spirits.  He has seen families struck down but not destroyed.  He has been the hands and feet of the Lord for countless people, even people he did not know well or at all.

I am not foolish enough to think my dad is perfect.  Only one man deserves to be called that.  Dad has flaws just like any human being.  But I count it a blessing that my parents are still married, that they have determined to work through the hard things that they have been through and seen, and that they can shut the door on this part of their history together knowing that they are leaving behind a legacy of love that will not soon be forgotten. 

This has been a difficult part of the journey for them.  For how do you say goodbye to your family?  Because the sweet people who have showed up on Sunday morning for the last thirty-six years are more than just a congregation; they are family. 

I am excited to go and celebrate his ministry, their ministry, and his retirement this weekend.  I am proud of my dad.  I love him so.  We have always loved his big bear's a good thing you don't have to retire from giving those.  I hope there are many more years left for bear-hugging...and other fun things, some of which we'll be doing just next week!  We'll be headed to D.C., and hopefully the beach.  I'm sure we'll go to parks, and visit with old friends (I'm going to see my first roommate from college, whom I haven't seen in about fifteen years, as well as other college friends, and some from when I was younger).  It'll be fun...stay tuned.  I bet we'll laugh a lot, and I bet we'll cry a lot, too.  I better pack some tissues...and Depends would probably be smart.


The Week After-It's Always Hard

Whenever my parents leave, we have to transition back to normal...whatever that means around here!  I'm a little sad, and the kids are a little weird, since we have all had constant companionship and entertainment. 

My parents are quite entertaining, you know.

I miss these moments so...

(If you can see the left side, it says,"Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Valentine's Day"...Michaela had high expectations for the week!)

Stealing smooches...from willing victims...

putting together new furniture...

doing laundry...wait!  How'd that get in here.  I don't miss that

Reading...(please...her toes...I can't stand it)

stealing smooches...from scared victims?

Making memories...saving memories...


There are so many things that I love about having my parents here.  And the way my kids love them is probably the number one thing.  The feeling seems to be mutual.

I miss you, Mom and Dad!  Come back soon!


The Time That Was Supposed to Be

(I'll be back-tracking a little here!  Sorry to anyone who likes chronological consistency!)

Since my mom and dad's accident, we all feel a little more the sense of how fragile life is, and how quickly things can change.  In the blink of an eye, and yet in a moment that seems to pass before you like a slow-motion movie, your whole life can change.  We have all had those experiences...where something incredible happens, either good or bad. 

We joked about how of course they would make it through the flight safely, since they had been spared in the car...why would they be saved if only to perish in a plane crash?!  But seriously, we were all so relieved and grateful to see them, and to hug them!  We had lunch together that first day shortly after they walked in the door...

Do you think they like her a little bit?

Do you think she likes it that they like her a little bit?

Just a little bit!

Christian favors both sides of our family...he can look so much like Mike did as a boy, and even Mike's brothers.  But there are also many, many times when his expressions are just like my dad's.  It cracks me up.  They are pretty close.  They're both big Star Wars fans, you know.

The rest of that day they rested, since they had to get up so early for their flight.  It was New Year's Eve, so we made an effort to stay up.  We made it to midnight, east coast time, and probably went to bed by midnight our time.

We saved our Christmas fun for the following day!

The anticipation was rising...Eliana could not wait to open her "fresents"!  She knew that once Grandma and Grandpa were here we could dig into the pile of wrapped gifts that was still hiding behind the tree.

The big kids received ipod speakers/chargers for beside their beds.  Michaela's is designed to look like a purse.  Isn't it cute?!  She really liked it.

And Christian's is pretty cool...very streamlined and masculine. He didn't know what it was at first, but when we explained it to him, he thought it was neat.  Now, of course, we have to find his ipod.  (Sigh.)

Eliana got a lot of fun things for her kitchen...baking tools and pots and pans.  She liked every single thing she opened.  Can you tell?

She was very busy cooking for Grandpa.  It's a good thing he has a hearty appetite!  And a sweet tooth-just about everything he got from her was "tookies wif choc-late!" 

Christian opened a dinosaur excavation kit.  He thought it was great!  He immediately got to work after reading the instructions with his dad. 

And he totally dug the safety goggles. 

I think the above photo may be one of my favorite pictures ever.  I would also like to say that later in the week, Mike was going to do something that he thought would require goggles and Christian ran and grabbed these for him.  Loved it.

Speaking of loving it...Eliana loves chocolate about as much as her mother.  Here we are playing tug-of-war with a bag of M&M's that I got in my goodie bag (kind of like a stocking!) from my mom.  But they were the kind with peanuts, and we all know what she thinks of the Peanut M&M', I win!

Soon, it was my mom and dad's turn to open their presents.  Eliana made it her personal responsibility to be in the middle of any and all gift-opening activity.

We gave them a new comforter cover; it has a pretty red, vinish (vine-ish?) design all over it. 

Now, you can't have a comforter cover without a comforter to cover, right?  This is what Dad thought about that...

"A what?"

As he was trying to fit all of their stuff in the suitcases the day before they left, he asked me,"What was that other thing you gave us besides the bedspread?"  I told him that it was a comforter, like a cover for the bed.  He said,"Is it fitted?"  He didn't quite get it.  I tried to explain that it was just like a bedspread, it went over the bed, and that it was a cover.  Then he asked again about the duvet.  I said,"It's a cover...for the other thing."  He had that same expression on his face.  Once he sees it all put together, I am sure it will make sense, but as of a few days ago...not so much.

I love looking back over these pictures...seeing the fun, and the joy on everyone's faces.  These are moments that are treasures to me.  There are more photos that I would like to share, but I will break it up, so that this post isn't too long.  Ha, it probably already is too long!  But, it was definitely a special time, and one that was given to us and was a blessing.  I know I've already said it, but we are grateful for that!!


The Shadow of His Wings

My parents just finished writing their Christmas letter, and they sent it out this morning; they included a picture that I took with the kids, while we were on Skype. 

When we're all together, then it's a family portrait...but this will have to do this year. 

In their letter (I heard it, even though I haven't seen it yet) they share about all the different things that happened this year, just like most Christmas letters.  They visited with us, helped us move, celebrated Eliana's birthday here; they also did some vacation traveling just the two of them.  They shared about my brother and what he's up to.  There is also the story of how they told the congregation (my dad is a pastor in Virginia) that Dad will retire in May; he's been at the church for 36 years (correct me on that if you need to, parents).  This year has held a lot for them...they've both seen changes in others' lives and experienced changes in their own.

Mike and I are both blessed to have our parents still in our lives.  I usually take that for granted, in the sense that I don't think about it too much.  I'm so grateful that they are, and even though we're far apart, we get to talk very often, we get to see them (my mom and dad) on the computer frequently, and we are able to visit with them several times a year. 

Back to the Christmas letter...when you send out your letter so that it gets to people before Christmas, there may be things that don't get included, since they haven't happened yet.  Like...when you have a car accident where someone runs into you, but you see it coming and as a reaction you try to veer out of the way.  But you're hit and your car swerves and flips two or three times, leaving you topsy-turvy and your car on its side in the ditch.

I got a phone call earlier today and I thank God that it was my mom telling me the story and not someone else.  She told me not to be upset, but she had something to tell me.  Well...that's always a good beginning!  She went on to say that they had been in a "pretty horrific car accident".  They were fine, the car was not, and the brunswick stew that they had been transporting to my aunt and uncle's house was now thrown all about Highway whatever-the-number-is.  The checkbook and an important recipe were recovered.

They both walked away from the car, although they had help getting out of it.  My mom impressed me by explaining how she managed to stick her foot up on the dashboard and somehow get out of her door, with help from a man that had stopped to give them aid.  Getting my dad out was a bit more difficult, as his door was the one that was facing down.  I can only imagine the whole scene.  She said it all happened so fast, yet it was like it was in slow motion.  Somehow that makes perfect sense.

Tonight I have been thinking about all of our visits this year and in years past.

I've been thinking of all of the joy they bring and how much they love the kids.  They love to send little packages with gifts for each one throughout the year.

My mom writes little notes and uses stickers; my dad sometimes adds a little note as well.  They sent a small Star Wars notebook to Christian around Halloween and the first page had a letter for him from my dad, since they had watched SO MUCH Star Wars the last time they visited. 

I have been thinking about how much I love these moments spent with them.  I cherish the time we have, especially because we are half a country away.

They have given their time, to pore through our mail, to sort through our boxes, and to move our furniture and wash the dishes and put away the laundry.

They have loved us.  And loved us.  And loved us.  (My mom made that little shift that Michaela is wearing...years ago, out of fabric that belonged to my grandmother.  Michaela has only just now stopped wearing it.)

And we love them.  I love them.  And I'm so very thankful that they are still around so that I can tell them so.

I love you, Dad.

I love you, Mom.

And God...thank you for sparing them.  I don't understand your ways...I know full well that things could have been very different.  Who can question the sovereign Lord of all creation?  I can only say thank you for your protection over my mom and dad.  Amen.

--an addition--

I just spoke with and saw my parents, via Skype; their computer managed to survive the accident...

Here is my dad's poor head...

He has no hair to protect it!  It's a good thing that the Lord who knows the number of hairs on our heads was watching over his.

And here they are, at the end of their long day...

My mom had just said how aware she now was of how quickly things can change, that they could have been gone.  They could have not been here.  But they are.  Thank you, gracious God.  She went on to say that all we can do is wake up each day, grateful to be alive.  And then to live that day the best we can...for Him.