Category Archives: Family

100 Hopes for our Daughter

Since I’m around teenage girls all day, I see the struggles they face and am already worried about our daughter’s teen years.  Will she have loyal friends?  Will she have confidence?  Will she have acne?  Will she love God?  Will she trust me?

She’s 6 months in the womb and already I’m concerned that she’ll never get asked to a dance and girls will be mean to her.  Instead of focusing on the multitude of fears that can be quite daunting at times, I’m choosing to focus on my hopes for our daughter.  I started with 10 and it grew to 100.  Sorry.  Turns out I’m overflowing with hope for her.

100 Hopes

1) I hope she loves Jesus and tacos and Anne of Green Gables.

2) I hope she goes on wild adventures.

3) I hope she gets her dad’s blue eyes but not his broad shoulders.

4) I hope she laughs so hard she sometimes pees her pants… like her mom.

5) I hope she grows into a confident, joyful girl who never doubts that she is loved.

6) I hope she finds friends to laugh with about boogers and poop and make-up and boys.

7) I hope these friends love Jesus too- that they are there on her wedding day and praying for her on her hard days.  And when she is pregnant for the first time, I hope these friends tell her all the gory details of childbirth as my own friends have done.  (I’m assuming I’ll have blocked all that nastiness from my memory.  Mucus plug?!? Are you kidding me?!?)

8) I hope she is kind and offers comfort to those hurting around her.

9) I hope she is brave and stands up to the bullies of this world.

10) I hope she loves to read.

11) I hope she can laugh at herself and make others laugh, but never at the expense of someone else.

12) I hope she gets her dad’s creativity and singing abilities.

13) I hope she dances and sings in the car…even if she gets my singing abilities.

14) I hope she makes strangers smile.

15) I hope she learns to cast her cares at Jesus’ feet, to go to him when she is weary and burdened and there find rest for her soul.

16) I hope she can cross her eyes and make a mean double-chin.

17) I hope she loves waking up Sunday mornings to Rich Mullins…and I hope that like me and her aunt Heidi, she thinks she’s “rapping” when she sings Awesome God. 

18) I hope she is humble but takes pride in her work.

19) I hope she has siblings and is a compassionate, only SEMI-bossy big sister.

20) I hope she keeps a diary… so I can secretly read it.

21) I hope she learns to care more about God’s opinion of her than the opinions of other teens. Because teenagers can be mean… and sometimes stupid.  And God is neither.

22) I hope that like her dad, she loves to learn for the sake of learning, not just for A’s.

23) I hope that like me, she loves airports and Narnia and reality tv.

24) I  hope she takes my “peer pressure” song to heart and doesn’t give in.  (Because really, “peer pressure, peer pressure- what does it do?  It squeezes the Jesus right out of you!”)

25) I hope she never feels entitled to an easy life.

26) I hope she realizes every good thing in her life is a gift from her God.

27) I hope she daily catches glimpses of His glory and marvels at the nearness of His Spirit.

28) I hope she’s not allergic to dogs.

29) I hope she finds true contentment in who God has made her to be….zits and all.  (Because let’s face it, with my skin issues she is destined to have acne or warts or eczema or maybe all three.  Sorry, sweetie!)

30) I hope she has thick skin and doesn’t let the mean words said to her or about her touch her heart.

31) I hope she is careful with her words and her wit, spreading words of encouragement not slander.

32) I hope she finds her identity in being a daughter of the king, not in her looks or grades or abilities or popularity.

33) I hope her friends are quirky and appreciate all the junk food in our pantry.

34) I hope she is continually awed by the ocean and sunsets and mountain peaks.

35) I hope she doesn’t like tuna in her mac n’ cheese…because that’s how Paul wants to make it for our children and I am firmly against it.

36) I hope she is full of questions… and isn’t afraid to ask us the hard ones.

37) I hope she isn’t obsessed with her looks and doesn’t take a gazillion selfies.

38) I hope she is quick to apologize and quick to forgive.

39) I hope she is salt and light in this cruel, dark world.

40) I hope she loves to camp and isn’t a wuss about peeing in the woods.

41) I hope she is proud to be an American.

42) I hope she travels the world and discovers a planet much grander than just the good ol’ US of A.

43) I hope she thinks beer is as gross as I do.

44) I hope she appreciates Disney movies from the 90’s.

45) I hope she notices the wallflowers of the this world and makes them feel seen.

46) I hope boys don’t notice her until she’s 31.  Worked out well for me.

47) I hope her future husband loves Jesus and is kind and humble and brilliant and goofy- just like her dad.

48) I hope the B-I-B-L-E really is the book for her.

49) I hope she gets the Hardeman toes as well as our love of basketball and missions.  When she sees her great-grandparents trotting around the globe, sharing Christ’s love, I hope she is inspired to join in.

50) I hope she gets the Van Dyk work ethic and when she sees her great-grandparents painting and hiking and even pushing a massive rototiller around the yard, I hope she’s inspired to work a little harder on her math homework.

51) I hope she realizes her large and sometimes, okay OFTEN,  embarrassing family is a gift.

52) I hope this glorious family rubs off on her in all the right ways.

53) I hope she is laid-back like her Bumpa and learns from him how to never take life too seriously and always make God her first priority.

54) I hope she is generous like her Grandma Hardeman and disciplined like her in reading her Bible every morning….preferably not with coffee until she’s at least in college.

55) I hope she has an unshakable faith like her Aunt Heidi, that she prays as hard and gets a tiny bit of her fashion sense.  (But not too much or else we’ll go broke.)

56) I hope she is thoughtful and has a servant’s heart like her Uncle Dan.

57) I hope she is sensitive to the needs of others like her cousin Vander.

58) I hope she is studly but unselfish on the basketball court, just like her cousin Hudson.

59) I hope she lights up a room with her joy like her cousin Logan.

60) I hope she is curious and cuddly like her cousin Lincoln.

61) I hope she loves dogs as much as her Uncle Trav and laughs as easily and often as he.

62) I hope she has a heart for Africa like her Aunt Emma and shares her compassion for the broken and hurting people in our world.

63) I hope her cousin Cami teaches her how to be the best big sister.

64) I hope her cousin Corbin shows her the joy of shooting hoops and copying her dad.

65) I hope she’s as adorable as her cousin Denver- one of the few babies who didn’t look like an alien.

66) I hope she’s competitive and bold like her Uncle Trent…but never punches a teammate.

67) I hope she’s hardcore yet girly like her Aunt Teri and can open coke cans with her toes.

68) I hope she wears a constant smile like her Grandma Van Dyk and inherits her love of art and snorkeling and finding adventures on mundane days.

69) I hope she gets her tech skills from her Grandpa Van Dyk and learns to pay attention to detail like he does.

70) I hope she learns to speak Spanish like her Aunt Alyssa and studies as hard as she did in school.  Who knows, her brother may end up marrying her high school teacher one day…

71) I hope she loves board games as much as her Uncle Ryan and is a faithful sibling like him, always there to help her family.

72) I hope family is important to her and even when she’d rather hang out with friends, she chooses us.

73) I hope she joins me in the anti-pickle club….Paul is already plotting how to win her over to his pickle-loving ways.

74) I hope she trusts God, even when life is hard and doesn’t make sense at all.

75) I hope she trusts her parents, even when we say “No” and she wants to strangle us.

76) I hope she is honest…. but when she lies, I hope she is confesses quickly.

77) I hope she experiences great success… but when she fails, I hope she learns and grows from her failure.

78) I hope she is patient with the annoying people in her life.

79) I hope she doesn’t think I’m annoying.

80) I hope she is a loyal friend and refuses to gossip.

81) I hope she’ll sunbathe with me but always wear sunblock.

82) I hope she is filled with the peace that surpasses human understanding.

83) I hope she’s a better driver than I was at 16.

84) I hope she’s faster at doing chores than her dad.

85) I hope she gets stronger teeth than both her parents. (Can that even happen?)

86) I hope she is wise.

87) I hope she’s not quick to judge those who are different from her.

88) Instead, I hope she appreciates different perspectives and is willing to learn from people who don’t look or live or think like her.

89) I hope she loves ice cream as much as her parents do.

90) I hope she can whistle like her dad and do cartoon voices like her mom.

91) I hope she has a resting nice face.

92) I hope she never sees war but is ready to fight the daily spiritual battle.

93) When she’s lonely or sad, when her grief is heavy and hard, I hope she always runs to  Jesus… and then to me.

94) I hope she can see through the liars and schemers who may try to take advantage of her.

95) I hope she appreciates hummingbirds and mangoes and a good hammock.

96) I hope she wrestles with God about Hell and suffering and why He seems silent at times.

97) I hope she learns to trust that God is loving and just…even when His ways are mysterious.

98) I hope she gets a scholarship to college…because it is DANG expensive.

99) I hope she loves dancing in the kitchen to “oldies” tunes.

And finally,

100) I hope she too is overflowing with hope… and that this hope in Christ anchors her and enables her to smile and sing even in the darkest of storms.

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My Booger-spitting Brother

Somehow this Thanksgiving I ended up at the kid’s table.  It wasn’t intentional but it was pretty fitting.  While other adults around the county talked about football and Obamacare, I had a riveting discussion about how good ham is.  We all agreed.  It’s delicious.

After the meal everyone gathered inside for the candy corn tradition our aunt Deb started years ago.  Everyone pretends to hate this but I think we all kind of love it.  I know I do.  I’m sure tons of families have a similar or maybe even identical tradition where you pass a bowl of candy corn and can’t eat one until you share one thing you were thankful for that year.  You can’t just say “family” because we’re all family.  You have to say why.  And the “saying why” part is my favorite part of Thanksgiving.

This year we passed MnM’s because my cousin conveniently “forgot” to bring the candy corn.  As the bowl passed, gratitude came spilling forth from relatives at all different stages of life.

The young ones, thankful for school;

the engaged cousin thankful she said yes;

the sister-in-law thankful for her job;

the cousin thankful for his life-long friends;

the uncle thankful for his sons;

the grandma thankful for her grandkids, etc.

I probably won’t remember what most people said this Thanksgiving, but I don’t think I’ll soon forget what my brother said.  After several relatives talked about how blessed they have been by their kids, Trent began his turn by saying, “I’m thankful that I don’t have kids.”

We laughed because he sounded like such a kid-hater, but then he explained that he and his wife do want kids one day.  But for now, for today, he is thankful for this time with just her; thankful for this stage of life where they aren’t sleep deprived, they don’t need a babysitter to go to the movies, and a quick trip to Target can actually be quick.  He is thankful for the season God has him in right now.

This wisdom from the guy who still spits his boogers at me and tells people to pull his finger…

My brother’s candy corn thanks seemed to echo the words of Paul.  “For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Phil 4:11-12).

No matter the circumstance, no matter the stage of life, true contentment can always be found in Christ.

Whether you’re a single gal frequenting the movie theaters by yourself…

whether you’re newly engaged and planning a wedding…

whether you’re married without kids or with babies and young kids or with acne-ridden teenagers or with grown kids who have their own kids…

no matter the stage, there is thanks to be found in that season.  We simply need to look.

The danger comes when we start comparing seasons.  When I look at my soon-to-be cousin with a shiny new ring on her finger, it would be easy to think, “Gosh, I wish that was me saying I’m thankful for expensive jewelry.”  But instead, I’ll choose to rejoice with her and be grateful that I have so much time to pour into my niece and nephews and can eat pizza 5 nights in a row if I want to and watch Nashville and Scandal without ever having to watch SportsCenter.

When I look at my cousins so thankful for their adorable kids and my siblings who have such gratitude for their hilarious children, it would be easy to envy their season of life.  But instead, I’ll choose to play with those adorable children and then hand them back when they are less-than-adorable and need a butt spanked or a butt wiped.  I’ll choose to be grateful that right now my stage of life doesn’t require me to discipline toddlers or deal with human poop.

Each season brings its highs and its lows, its joys and its trials.  The key is to focus on the joys rather than the trials and to revel is the highs of the current season rather than long for the highs of a different season.

As one who all-too often forgets and longs for the highs of a different season, I am so thankful that my booger-spitting little brother reminded me to be thankful for today’s joys.

The truth behind vacation pictures

I don’t know about yours, but my Instagram feed this summer has been kind of ridiculous.  I have been constantly seeing pictures from around the world- Stonehenge, Mona Lisa, Machu Picchu, Filipino rain forests, Hawaiian waterfalls, Costa Rican sunsets- you get the idea.  I’ve sat in the dentist office scrolling through pictures of sailing trips, surfing trips, and Portland trips with Voodoo donuts (that look life-changing by the way).  Apart from all the “throw back Thursdays”, and baby pics, my feed has mostly been comprised of beautiful beaches, majestic mountain peaks, and peaceful pools.  Well, there was this pool too:

While pictures from concerts and vacations are certainly interesting and I “like” them, I really do, I also find myself battling with my old friend Lady Envy.  Have you ever met her?  She’s horrible.

I know that it’s silly to envy other’s trips- especially since I’ve been blessed with a fun and full summer of my own.  But I still can’t help but look at other people’s Costa Rica pictures and think, “Wow, I wish I had seen that waterfall.”  Ridiculous, I know.

However, I’ve also been learning that pictures do not tell the whole story.  We post what we want people to see and don’t always mention the story behind the picture, but it seems there is ALWAYS a story behind the picture.

My friend Lesley reminded me of this truth when she posted THIS MOVING STORY about the picture of her husband and daughter taken shortly after he was diagnosed with cancer.  My friend Christy reminded me of this truth when I asked about her trip to Austria that looked absolutely amazing.  She laughed and admitted that it was beautiful but she failed to post any pictures of the kids crying in the car for five hours.

So do pictures lie or do they tell the truth?

I think they do both.

Pictures give a glimpse of one real moment and tell one small piece of a story.  But it’s a small piece of a large story.

The stories behind the picture are sometimes sad, sometimes surprising, and sometimes downright funny.  So in honor of telling the whole story, allow me to share a few of my summer pictures and tell you the whole story behind them, the REAL story if you will.

Let’s start in Alaska…

I felt a bit like a phony when I posted this on Facebook:

Because while I did indeed encounter this bear while in Alaska, the moment was not nearly as cool as it appears.

If you could see this picture from the bear’s point of view, you would laugh.  Not only was there an electric fence between us, there were about 30 of us tourists, squeezed shoulder to shoulder oooooohing and ahhhhhing as the bear came near.

So while I made it look as if I was alone in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness, armed only with my courage and my iPhone, the real story is that I was holding Jenny’s boy Asher and laughing with the German next to me about how we hoped the fence was turned on.  Jenny was nowhere to be seen because she was racing to the toilet with her daughter Lola, who was still mastering the control of her bladder.

Which leads me to my next picture…

I posted this on Instagram and let everyone believe I was on a beautiful, peaceful road trip with one of my best friends in the world.  That part of the story is true.  It was beautiful and it was peaceful and Jenny is the type of friend who will lend me her toothbrush and her underwear.

But the rest of the story?

The part that I only shared with our close friends?

Well,that part is not quite as picturesque: 

This is the reality of what road trips with potty-training toddlers actually looks like.

Next, some pictures from Costa Rica.  Sorry if you’re sick of these by now.

First picture: It appears that we are on a beautiful, relaxing ride through the rain forest and down to the beach…

But shortly after this picture was snapped, the three of our horses took off trotting and left the group.  They knew they had a bunch of suckers on their backs so they turned onto the beach and broke into a gallop.  This was fun, albeit slightly terrifying since there were low-hanging branches and decapitation seemed like a very real possibility.

Kylee was not okay with this and could not get her horse to stop, so she proceeded to swing her leg over and then JUMPED, TUCKED, AND ROLLED onto the beach as her horse sped down the coast.  We certainly weren’t laughing right away because it was freaking scary.  But after about 5 minutes I couldn’t hold it in any longer and burst into a fit of the giggles that continues every time I replay that jump in my mind.

Our next adventure was a boat ride out to an island in order to snorkle:

Katie snapped this picture moments before we met Heather.  Oh Heather, that wonderful woman walking towards us in the oversized red t-shirt.  I saw her coming and jokingly broke into a rendition of “Lady in Red”, not realizing that said lady in red was about to be joining our snorkel adventure.

Imagine a person who knows everything about just about everything and has zero social awareness.  That, my friends, was Heather.  She certainly made for a memorable afternoon adventure.  I mean, come on:

How could she not?

This next picture is pretty deceptive and really only tells a very small piece of the story:

I know, I know.  I look like a cougar laughing it up with a college kid.

For the record, I was laughing because I felt my friends laughing at me as I talked with Mike about the mystery meat we were about to eat.  Mike rode in our van to the river where we rafted and it never even crossed my mind as being strange that he never removed his sunglasses.  Until he did…

Guys, there were audible gasps from our group.  Poor Mikey had developed some kind of terrible tropical infection and his left eye had swollen to an ungodly size.  It still makes me cringe just thinking about it.

Finally, I like to think I’m fairly brave so I really must explain the story behind this picture:

What you are witnessing here is a snapshot of me giving in to peer pressure.  Our guide was a little crazy and made us do some crazy things.  (ie- wear war paint under our eyes and leaves in our helmets and go down rapids with our eyes closed or while standing up).  Mauricio also thought it would be fun to make us each sit on the front edge of the boat while going down rapids.

This was great fun when everyone else was going.  But when it was my turn, I screamed louder than I think I ever have.  Right after this picture was taken, a giant wave sent me flipping backwards with so much water up my nose that I think it came out my ears.  I glared at Mauricio who said, “Whoops, I didn’t think the drop was going to be that big.”  How comforting.

My last trip this summer was to Bass Lake.  It was full of fantastic memories like this one with my sisters:

But what this picture doesn’t show is that I was still a bit irritated with my brothers which is why I was eager to hang out with my sisters instead.

Earlier that morning Trent threw a pancake at my face so hard that it made me cry.  It was awkward for everyone involved- even for Travis who was secretly video-taping the whole thing.  Sure, I had thrown egg at Trent’s face earlier, but that did not warrant a hard slap in the face with a dense pancake.

The last picture is one I forgot to post on Instagram. 

I relaxed in the front of the boat while my uncle Tom took us for a ride around the lake and my cousin Brady entertained us:

However, if we had gone before 1 PM and taken pictures, you wouldn’t have been able to see the mountain or much of the water.  What my clear pictures fail to show is how each morning the air was so thick with nasty smoke from a nearby fire that it was hard to see and breathe.

Clearly, pictures only tell a small part of a large story.  I hope I can remember this as I see more vacation pictures and as I go through each day.  Because each day, even if it seems boring or mundane, truly is just a small part of a much larger story.

Looking Awesome #jumpingfails

Have you ever thought about the pictures that never make it onto Facebook or Instagram?  You know, the pictures that never get taken or are so horribly ugly that they would NEVER be posted.  It seems we use the Internet only to broadcast our cool or funny or beautiful moments.  But the awkward, the disappointing and the embarrassing- those moments are rarely captured on film and if they are, they are usually quickly deleted.

But what if they weren’t?

What if we took pictures of our failures and let the whole world see how pathetic we can be at times? Continue reading

December Wows

Each month I keep a running list of wow moments on my phone.  This month I checked my list to start writing “December Wows” and the list began with “peed my pants.”  Here was my thought process after reading that bullet point:

Peed my pants?  What the heck?  I didn’t pee my pants this month.

Or did I…?

No, surely I would remember that.

Maybe somebody else peed.

Then why would you write “my pants”?

Good point.  Maybe it wasn’t a bad pee.  Maybe it was more of a squirt and less of a “fill-your-socks” kind of pee.

But when would that have happened?

Come on, Katie.  Think!  Did something super funny happen this month?

Not that I can recall.  Nothing that would make me lose control of my bladder.

Are you sure?

No.  I’m really not.  And now I’m really getting mad at the aging process because not only do I pee myself, I can’t even remember doing it!

A few days later I remembered what had happened.  It’s a long story and it’s not that interesting, but yes, I did pee.  And no, it did not fill my socks.

My friend Lesley introduced me to two wow-wonderful treats this month:

I hate to brag, but I ate over 2,000 calories worth of those chocolates in one sitting.  And I love ordering a “winter dream chai latte” from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf because it is amazing and it makes me sound like an adult!  – said the girl who only drank hot chocolate until this December.

Thanks for those holiday pounds, Les!  They were well earned!

I took the three rascals to “Christmas Blvd” at my church and it was incredible.  Living in southern California, we miss out on the cold weather, but we know how to pretend.

At church we were able to hang out in a fake forest with real Christmas trees:

sled down a fake mountain with real snow:

(isn’t his face awesome?)

and even walk through a fake snow storm with real wonder:

There were several moments during the night when I was reminded yet again why it’s a good thing I’m not yet a mother.  For starters, we got kicked off the playground which apparently was closed.  (I played dumb with the security officer but had known it was closed since it was pitch black.)

Later, I pacified a cranky Logan with this:

which ended up all over his clothes and in my hair.  Wonderful.

Then when we were making s’mores, I let Logan eat the marshmallow straight off the pointed skewer which had been in the fire.  A cute little old man ran over to stop him because he thought I hadn’t noticed.  I had.  I’m just not exactly “Miss Safety Aware.”

Case in point: one December day my projector in my class wasn’t working so I yanked out the cord and part of the plug got stuck in the outlet.  I told the tech lady (oxymoron?) so she could fix it, and after she fixed it she asked, “How did you get the broken part of the plug out of the outlet?”

Me: Oh I just pulled it out.

Her: With what?

Me: My hand.

Her: Katie?!?

Me: What?  I seriously didn’t know what the big deal was.

Her: You could have easily been electrocuted!

Me: Seriously?

Her: Yes!  People die that way!

Me: Whooops!  (I chose not to tell her that I actually had tried a second time to fix the plug and thus had to pull it out two times. Somehow I missed the “don’t put metal into outlets” lecture as a child.)

During spirit week this Christmas season, I wowed my fashion-conscious students by wearing the same green pants four days in a row:

My original goal was to wear them all five days of the week (because I like to set my goals high), but the butt got too saggy and I was too lazy to wash them.  And no one appreciates a saggy, green butt.

My family wowed everyone in Kimmi’s restaurant when we surprised our mom with a graduation party.  We do tend to make a bit of a scene when all 14 of us go out to eat.  One man asked me if we were mormons.

My mom had finished her BS in nursing (even though she’s been a nurse for 34 years), so we celebrated her with omelets and these signs:

Other signs read:

Our mom is too legit to quit. (She didn’t get the reference.)

“Just did it.”  – Nike (their dog)

Our mom’s da bomb.

and my personal favorite:

Our mom is greater.  Our mom is stronger. Mom, you are smarter than any other. (I’m banking on God having a good sense of humor.)

Speaking of humor in church, check out THIS BLOG POST from “Stuff Christians Like.”  It has a bulletin used by a Catholic church that is pretty awesome.

I was introduced to two new blogs this month which I highly recommend.  For all the single ladies, CHECK OUT THIS BLOG written by single women for single women.   Super encouraging.  Thanks for introducing me to it, Karin!

And for all the married moms, you can thank my friend Christy for introducing me to THIS HILARIOUS BLOG.  It’s one of the few mom blogs that enjoy because she is so stinking funny.

Christmas break has held several wow moments.  I didn’t go anywhere special but I had lots of family time and watched some GREAT tv.  I confess that a major highlight this break was watching the moment between Mary and Matthew at the end of Downton Abbey season two.  It was downright magical.

My brother introduced me to the show Go On, so one day I watched 6 straight episodes and didn’t get out of my pjs until two.

My dad’s brother and his family of six from the Philippines stayed with my parents for the break, making for some wonderful wowness.  We played lots of Dutch Blitz and Up and Down the River, but my favorite moments came while playing Celebrity.  It was hilarious watching the older folks try to describe “Bon Iver” and “One Direction.”  Likewise, we struggled to describe “Mark Spitz” and “Carl Lewis.”  I thought he was “C.S. Lewis.”

When I wasn’t reading blogs or watching TV or playing cards, I was probably running.  My highlight this month was when I turned the corner from my house and stumbled upon this:

It was basically the Indian rose parade!

Yes, there were small children dressed as peacocks and yes I was the only white person around.  Naturally I loved this moment.  If you want to see some wonderfully bizarre dancing in the streets of Little India (aka my neighborhood), WATCH THIS VIDEO.

The only other video I took this month was at Hudson’s Christmas Pageant where he was the “head angel” and had a speaking part.

 Heidi had no clue if he would get stage fright, but turns out that he rather enjoys the spotlight since he YELLED his lines into the microphone.  If you’re curious, HERE HE IS, but if you’re not family, you’ll probably think it’s boring.

This month I received several wow-inducing e-mails and text messages.  Here’s a snippet from my favorite e-mail from a friend who shall remain anonymous:

Anonymous friend, you’re the best.

This text came from my sister-in-law and made me laugh at the absurdity of it:

Someone had accidentally tagged me in a post on Facebook, and the thought of me dancing away at a nightclub in San Diego was quite comical- especially since I had actually been doing homework in my sweats all day.  I didn’t remove the tag so people might think I’m cooler than I am.

This next wow text arrived in the middle of the night:

Three pushes and Walker joined the world.

I love having friends like Megan who send me texts like that one and gifts like this one:

I know what you must be thinking.  But believe it or not, I actually don’t pee my pants on a regular basis.  This was pure coincidence.  Thanks again, Megan!

The final wow text was a heavy one.  Actually, it was the scariest text I have ever received.  It came from my sister, the person closest to me in the world, and arrived the day after the Sandy Hook shooting.

Two days in a row I hit my knees and cried out in desperation.

Thankfully, this time no one was hurt.  A homeless man had shot off 50 rounds into the air in the mall parking lot.  He probably had never even heard of Sandy Hook, and no idea the pandemonium he created in the mall.  Heidi was later able to laugh about the incident and recount how an Asian woman decked out in Coach attire screamed, “Tsunami!!!” as she raced out the door.

Sandy Hook obviously weighed heavy on everyone’s hearts during December.  My pastor was preaching on Luke 2 the next Sunday and did an incredible job explaining why the Christmas story is so important- especially after events like the one that had happened Friday.  Here were some of the lines I found powerful concerning his last main point that the good news brought JOY to the world, right when everything was falling apart:

* One of the juxtapositions of the Christian life is that even in the face of what happened Friday, we still sing “Joy to the World.”

* A baby in a manger changes everything. It’s good news of great joy EVEN in the midst of darkness.

* Our Jesus came in the midst of human tragedy and we can see His fingerprints in the midst of our tragedy.

* Joy is based on the knowledge of the presence of God-with-us at all times from the very beginning.

* The only condition for joy is the presence of God.

* In some crazy way, joy and suffering fit together.

* Sorrow hollows us out so we can be filled.

* The Christmas story means that human history is going somewhere.  So we grieve but not as those who have no hope.  Because we are waiting for Jesus to come and put the world back together.

Yes, I was scribbling like a madwoman during the sermon and had 5 pages of notes by the end.  I’m weird like that.

He ended the sermon with a personal story of a time he dealt with depression.  A friend came over and told him at least 30 times, “It’s not always going to be like this.”  Those words rang out over and over again in the sanctuary:

“It’s not ALWAYS going to be like this.”

“It’s NOT always going to be like this.”

“It’s not always going to be like THIS.”

That truth brought such comfort after Sandy Hook, and for anyone stuck in a situation they long to be out of.  The sermon is called JOY IN THE MIDST OF DESPAIR and can be found by clicking the link and then going to the 12/16 sermon.  He begins by explaining who the shepherds actually were (fascinating stuff that I had never heard!), but if you want to skip to the part where he talks about joy in the midst of despair, that starts at minute 25.

Rather than end on a heavy thought, I’ve saved the Christmas day wow moments for the end.

My thoughtful Aunt Robin had APU basketball uniforms made for the boys:

And Hudson insisted on wearing his super short shorts the entire day:

There was the usual chaos/awesomeness of gift-opening:

Then the girls stood outside and watched:

(missed you, Em!)

as the boys played with their new toys:

He’s a bike cop now!  (kidding)

Heidi and I tried to work off all the candy in our stockings by going for a run:

And in the afternoon, my dad, uncle, 2 cousins, sister-in-law and I went to the park and played full court 3-on-3.  I had to guard my 16 year old cousin TJ.  He was way too fast for me so I tried to slow him down by kicking him in the shins and blowing snot rockets on him.  Still didn’t work.

Vander wowed us with one of this favorite presents, fake teeth:

And Teri wowed us with her ability to fall asleep anywhere and any time:

But she learned her lesson.  If you fall asleep at the Hardeman’s, you WILL be on Instagram and you MIGHT have this happen:

 Who wouldn’t want a 112 pound dog to sit on their face?

Hope your December was full of lots of wows (of the good variety).

Here’s to 2013 being a year full of wows (of the great variety)!

November Wows

November started off with a big ol’ “What in tarnations just happened?” kind of wow moment.  On the first of the month, I went for a run in the park and luckily I’m pretty unobservant.  As I ran past a man standing by his mini-van, I thought, “I’m not 100% sure that man is wearing any clothes.”  Once that thought registered, the curiously got to me, so I glanced back and yep, sure enough- 300 pound man standing stark naked in the parking lot.  Thankfully he wasn’t facing me, but I was still a bit traumatized by those flabby buns.

I really should probably pay more attention to my surroundings when I run, since yesterday I screamed really loudly when I nearly stepped on a dead pigeon. Continue reading

October wows

Each month I record the moments in life that made me pause and say/think/feel “Wow.”  These are those moments.

Quite fitting for October, I encountered these boys in the grocery store:

I’m the type of person who talks to kids I don’t know and freaks them out, so naturally I asked about his boney friend.  The boy didn’t answer me.  Instead he looked at me like I was the freak carrying a skeleton and walked quickly to his mom. Continue reading

A Letter to Lincoln

Hey Bud,

Yesterday on our way to the hospital to meet you, your 3 older brothers had an interesting conversation.  First, Vander informed Hudson that after Vander dies, Huddy will die two years later.  And then two years after that, Logan will die.  And two years later?  You, Lincoln.  You will be next, according to Vander’s logic.  So yes, on your day of birth, we were already talking about your death.  Morbid, I know.  If it makes you feel any better they decided I would be in heaven long before that.  And for the record, it’s my job to reserve a giant field in heaven so we have space for a huge game of tag.

The boys also talked about what they plan on teaching you.  They’ve already sorted out who will teach you to snap, swim under water, play freeze tag, and do bottom droppers on the trampoline.  All the essentials. Continue reading

Bass Lake 2012

I lied to you.  I said I’d post last week and then I didn’t, and I’m sorry.  I truly thought I would have time to write while I was at the lake, but it turns out that when you share a house with these folks:

the only moment you have to yourself is in the bathroom.  And even then there’d be at least two little ones pounding on the door, demanding that you come out and play go-go hide n seek or Old Maid.

I’d love to make it up to you and write a bunch of posts in August, but in a few hours I’m flying to Alaska where my friend Jenny and I will be road-tripping it in a motor home with some of her family.  Somehow I don’t envision lots of writing time.  And from there I’ll fly to Colorado to see some old friends where there is certain to be no shortage of excitement.  (Don’t worry, my friend promised to keep a fire extinguisher with us at all times.)  Needless to say, I will be out of commission for the next few weeks.  Please accept my humble apology and some highlights from the lake. Continue reading