Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I just tripped over the baby gate. I'm such a klutz. I could trip on air. And isn't it just like that when you're trying to be all quiet so that others in the house can sleep? I got the first leg over, but the second didn't quite make it, so my foot caught, which made me sort of fall over the top. I got my leg over just in time to catch me from falling on my face, but, of course, it made a huge thump, and then I couldn't catch my balance quickly enough, so into the wall I went, another thump. I started to giggle, so I ran down the hall really quick so my laughter wouldn't trail into the bedroom and wake Scott (as if the two thumps weren't enough). Ahhh. This is the way to start off a day.

I love lox. I just had two mini-bagels with lite cream cheese and lox for beefist. (That's "breakfast" to the layperson.) Along with my Emergen-C and prenatal. All is good. (Chill out. I've been taking prenatals for 2 years. No, I'm not preggers... I don't think.)

It's raining. Again. Shocker. I miss the sunshine in Colorado.

I am so freakin' swamped at work right now. I don't know what I was thinking taking almost 2 weeks off this time of year.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. This holiday has been weird the last few years. It used to be a big deal for me. It was always a huge celebration with family and friends - long tables with people all around, and gigantic buffets with all the traditional fixin's. Basically since living in Salem, it's become this tiny, pathetic afterthought. We are usually gone the week before to celebrate our anniversary, so by the time we get back, it's too late to invite a bunch of people over (because most people already have plans). I just found out yesterday that my sister is cooking a nice meal and my mom is headed over to her place... She said we could "stop by" if we wanted to. I'd by lying if I said I wasn't a little bummed about the fact that they didn't invite us over from the get go. I'm sure it doesn't mean anything, because I know we're welcome any time. My sinister and I are pretty close, and she adores my little guy. Scott and John (my sis's hubby) are pretty close, too. My mom, on the other hand, well... you know where we stand on that one from previous posts.

At any rate... Thanksgiving is kind of boring lately. I miss the big gatherings of friends and family with the massive spread of good eats. Scott's mom typically works on Thanksgiving (better pay). Two years ago, she came over for a late dinner (which we prepared - big spread - which is also where we shared the news that we were having a baby - Habeebee). Last year, we just cooked at her house - just the four of us - with a mini-spread waiting for her when she got home from work. This year, we're doing the same, only we're completely deviating from the American traditional to a traditional German - having literally nothing to do with Thanksgiving. Cuz, see, they don't have Thanksgiving in Germany; at least not the same holiday we have here. This should be interesting. Sour meat, sour potatoes, German salad.... I'm just hoping for a delicious German beer. Scott even bought cow tongue the other day. Apparently, Germans eat that. Gross. I pulled this gigantic tongue from the shopping bag and just thought, "Um... whatcha plan on doing with this?" I don't eat anything that can taste me in return. I just got the shiver-me-timbers.

Whine whine....

However, in the spirit of Thanksgiving - that is, in all things, giving thanks to our Creator, the one and only God - I have much to be grateful for. A few months ago, as you may remember, we were planning on putting our home up for sale. We're certainly ready for more space. However... together and separately when we prayed about it, we got this overwhelming sense that God wasn't leading us to sell. He wants us to stay put. Since we discussed it, we've discovered not only the potential in this tiny little home, but the warmth and joy that resides here. God has blessed us tremendously with a roof over our heads, gorgeous sunrises that we have the honor of witnessing every day (there is nothing but farm land behind us - facing east...), a huge kitchen where we can entertain comfortably... We're grateful for our health this year. (If you remember, last year, we were all terribly sick for over a month with flus, ear infections, colds, you name it. We didn't even get our Christmas tree up until Christmas Eve.) Jeffrey got his flu shot yesterday and handled it like the champ he is. We're so very, very happy as a family.

And, even while I whine about the lack of community (simply in comparison to what we're accustomed to), we really do have some wonderful friends here in Salem. I think about our old Bible Study (B.S.) where it all began - our dear friends Bob and Tiff (and little Josiah), Becky, and Lindsey and Ryan (with their three lovelies: Josephine, Georgia and Bjorn). We have such fond memories of our weekly potlucks, the uproarious laughter, the seriousness, and even a few tears that we all shared together as we all watched our lives unfold and families grow. We're grateful for our new friends, Dale & Susan. We can't express our gratitude for who they are, and the roles they play in our lives. They are kindred spirits and we love them deeply. We're grateful for Jeff & Kara, little Caleb (Jeffrey's BFF) and Sam (the newest Brown) - they're such kind people. We hit it off with them from day one! We're grateful for Annie & Bruce - for their friendship and humor. (Annie is seriously one of the most generous people I know. She is SO giving of her time and resources. She is like super-volunteer. I remember last year when Jeffrey was so, so ill, and I was trying to find Scott at work so we could take him to the doc, but we couldn't find him. Of course, as a new mom, I was freaking out, bawling my eyes out. Annie literally dropped everything she was doing and said, "Let's go." She went with me to the doc's office and basically held my hand through the whole ordeal. That's a good friend.) Then there are our other co-workers and friends - so many - that we just adore: Jennie, Steve, Rebecca, Bex, Laura, Logan, Greg, Kathy, Lynn, Michelle, Cindy, Lori, Paula, Susan, Jim, Barb, Robb, Tammy, Tim, Jon, Melissa, Diane and on and on and on.... We maybe don't have those super-deep friendships that we long for with everyone, but we have a handful. God has been so faithful to us. He has put people in our lives when we prayed for those friendships. God answered my prayer for an accountability partner (just a couple of weeks ago), and over time, we're building life-long friendships. Maybe they aren't coming as easily as we'd like, but we have them just the same. Perhaps Salem only sucks a little bit. :-)

I've mentioned nothing of all the friends from all over the US, far too many to list, but you all know who you are. The ones that come to the front of my mind today are my friend Sara, who makes me giggle uncontrollably and who is such a pillar of strength and tenderness (even though she tries to hide it!), my dear friend Kim, who is expecting her first baby in a couple of months, our old pastor Jim Andrews at Lake Bible (he plays an incredibly important role in Scott's life - I'm so very grateful for that), my old accountability partner in Montana, Melodie (and all her funny stories), my BF from Montana, Melissa (matron of honor at my wedding), and my BF from childhood, Heather (bridesmaid at my wedding - we've known each other for 34 years!!!), and of course all the friends from Chicago and Talbot - Brad, Dave & Christine (and Bennett), Kyle, Tim & Jamie (who are also expecting their first), Brian and IChing (also expecting their first), Shawn & Gretchen (Ransom, and expecting their first baby girl).... And Michelle from high school who is not only a trusted prayer warrior, but the queen of all things social! She has managed to gather all of us from Chaminade, and continues to be on the search for those who are perpetually MIA. She's amazing.

I'm grateful for those times that God wakes me in the middle of the night to remind me to pray for people - for expectant mommies, for jobs, for our dear pastor who is still at OHSU. Speaking of which, remember to read the updates at PRAISE that John is doing so much better, but please, I implore you, continue to pray for a diagnosis, for rest for both John and his dedicated wife Joanna (and their three kids), for the medical team, and for the God of Peace and Healing to do His miraculous work.

Today, I'm counting my blessings. I'm grateful for the friendships here and around the world. So many of you are serving across the world; thousands of miles apart, but so very very close to our hearts. I'm grateful for the family we have - for my mother-in-law (who truly is a mother to me, an incredible grandma to my darling boy, and who has us in stitches from all the funny crap she says and does).

Life is pretty darn good.

Except for the cats. They gotta go. Fidget barfed in our bedroom at 5:30 this morning. Lovely.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fall Family Portraits

Hey friends & family!

Hard to believe we're only a couple of days away from Thanksgiving. Funny how the holidays always sneak up on us every year. I think it's cuz we head off for a week (or more) of vacation for our anniversary every year, and return just in time to think about big meals, shopping, decorating and gaining another 5 pounds.

We had our fall pictures taken at the end of October with our beautiful and talented photographer. (You can visit her website at Once you click the link below, just enter the password: matkovich1118. You will then see the slideshow page. Simply click to play. You will have to wait for the slideshow to load, but that shouldn't take long. It depends on the speed of your internet connection. The slideshow will stay online for only 2 days so you'll need to visit it quick! Be sure to turn up your speakers and enjoy the show! Click here to view Slideshow

As mentioned, we just returned from our annual anniversary vacation. This year, we spent a week and a half in Colorado Springs. Scott and a couple of his coworkers were going for a class/convention thing put on by the national C&MA (headquartered there). So... since he was going anyway, I thought I'd tag along, and then just stay another week for vacation.

First, let me mention that traveling with a wildly independent toddler isn't as much fun as you might think! For the 4 days Scott was doing work stuff, I was chasing Jeffrey up and down the stairs at the resort. Up and down... up and down... There was this huge statue of a bear standing on his hind legs. Jeffrey liked to point on him, say "uh-oh" and give him a high five. Apparently, he's in good with the bears. Awesome.

He was also teething (again) during our stay. His eye teeth finally broke through. So now he has even more chompers all spread out across his slobbery mouth. I love his gappy little teeth!

Colorado Springs is insanely sunny. All the time. Literally. It's the perfect weather for us folks who like to be outside. We've determined that 8 months of rain isn't our favorite. So, we took full advantage of the sunny days in CO. Played tennis, took the little guy to a few parks, fed the geese (Jeffrey squealed when they plucked bread out of his hand), drove around to a few sites (which were not only a bit over-rated, but way overpriced for admission. $24 bucks PER PERSON to just go across the Royal Gorge Bridge. $19 per person to drive up to Pikes Peak. $9 per person to visit Seven Falls... Like any of those things are more spectacular than Multnomah Falls, Silver Falls or Mt. Hood, all of which you can visit for free in Oregon. Hmmm....) Probably the most active we've been on vacation in quite some time. (And probaby the first time we came home with less weight than we left with! We need to be in CO more often!)

Anyway, good times.

Two major dampers on the vacation, though. One, we learned that Jeffrey cannot be trusted in restaurants at this age. No more eating out as a family for a while. Two, as you know, our pastor's health went to the pooper for a few days. I'm happy to report that John is doing much much better, and while he certainly isn't in perfect health, we're so very grateful that he's alert and alive! Much to praise!

We returned home on Saturday evening, and were grateful to be back with our church family Sunday morning. It's hard to be away when trajedies happen at home.

All is well with us, however! We're still plugging along, grateful for dependable jobs, for our cozey little home, and for all of you.

Hopefully, we'll enjoy good health this holiday season and will be able to share a more joyous seasons this year! (Jeffrey is getting his flu shot tomorrow morning.)

Love to all of you! Hope you enjoy the fall pics!

Kyra, Scott and Jeffrey

Sunday, November 23, 2008

He gives and takes away

Back from "vacation".... It's a bit of a stretch to call it vacation since traveling with a toddler really adds a whole new dimension to the experience. Needless to say, not so relaxing....

What's more, however, is that in our absence, our senior pastor, whose health has been more down than up the two weeks prior to our departure, took a turn for the worse a few days into our trip. He was sent back to the hospital (trip #2), but thankfully they sent him up to OHSU where he would be in the hands of the specialists.... (You can read about his progress on our church website at I won't go into his condition, but what I do want to say is that it was very difficult to be away during that time. We received phone calls from our co-workers and friends, literally in tears.... It's awful when your loved ones are hurting and you can't be there to help ease the burden. There wasn't anything we could do, aside from praying (and praying and praying), but the longing to just be there, to be present, with our church family was overwhelming. We were so blessed to have people give us the minute-by-minute details; information we coveted while we were so far away. It was difficult to enjoy our time when everyone we know is suffering so greatly.

We prayed. We prayed. We prayed. We continue to pray.

Scary times. Just a breath away from life or death.

But... I remember my dear friend, Todd Anderson, who lost his battle with melanoma a few years back. Just 36 years old, with a young wife and 6 month old baby who will never know her daddy, he was a pillar. Isn't it just like us silly Christians that, as his decrepit body lay, skin bulging from the numerous tumors that were eating him from the inside out, his family stood over him singing praises to God as he took his last breath. That's insane. That's a testimony to the hope that we have in Jesus! Who else welcomes a fleshly death? And not only welcomes it, but sings praises, worshiping the Creator! It's a delicate balance between mourning (because we won't see a smiling face every day) and rejoicing because he is now with his King.

When I pray for John, I can't help but plead with God for a miracle - for a complete, supernatural healing to take place and return him to us with a new zest and understanding of who God is that his ministry expands exponentially! But... I must also pray for God's will... I don't know what that is. How do you pray for God's will to be done, but in the very next breath that God's will is for life in the here and now? Which would glorify God more? I can't answer that.

We worshipped this morning with our church family:

Blessed be your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where the streams of abundance flow
Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

Every blessing you pour out,
I turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say…
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your glorious name

Blessed be your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s all as it should be
Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be your name

Every blessing you pour out,
I turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say…
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, Blessed be your name
It's tough to sing "you give and take away..." What if He takes away? I choose not to think of that right now - maybe refuse is a better word. I just have an overwhelming sense that when I pray, God's response is "I'm not through with him yet..."
I pray that through this intense suffering, the Spirit of God moves. And that even in the midst of an unconscious state John will feel the presence of the Lord in profound ways. I pray for precious moments of clarity while his wife looks after him so tenderly and selflessly.
And I pray that people realize what a blessing it is that we have John among us. It's such BS that it takes a tragedy for that realization to settle in.
All this to say, I'm grateful to be home with our church family. I gave a lot of hugs today... I received a lot of hugs today. The Body of Christ is an amazing thing. I pray that I never take that for granted.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Accountability and Unconditional Love

So here goes another one of those middle-of-the-night-why-can't-I-sleep-mind-is-racing-cat-is-staring-at-me posts. These are my favorite. Not because I can't sleep, cuz that part pretty much sucks. But I like the random thought process. While it seems muddled, it's actually nights like these that I have more clarity of thought, and I'm amused at what I actually think about in the stillness of the night. It isn't nearly as profound as you might think. Although sometimes I'm quite amazed at my brilliance. Don't lie. You are, too.

I enjoyed a long lunch with a friend today. God is funny. Sometimes He's funny in a belly-laugh-wipe-the-tears-from-your-eyes sort of way. Other times He's funny in a what my husband refers to as "sad-clown" sort of way... In other words, peculiar. (Great... see? My 20 pound cat just HAS to be where I am. His butt is right in my line of sight to my screen. That's awesome. Why do I have cats? Please remind me.) I digress. For months now I've been contemplating why on earth God led us to Salem, Oregon, of all places. What this pit has in store for us seriously escapes me. Friendships are few and relatively shallow. (You've heard my rants on that one, but I won't get into that again for now.) My accountability partner and I sort of parted ways after a series of life events on both of our parts. There is still friendship there, but more on her side than mine, life just got in the way. (She actually is now feeling the tug of God again to draw her back to a more formal, disciplined engagement with Him. I don't really see that as a calling back to our relationship the way it was. Kind of sad, but I also know that God had (has) me on my own journey, which is the next thing I'll mention.) Since we parted company as accountability partners, I've prayed like mad that God would put someone in my life who could be that trusted truth-speaker. As the weeks turned into months, it was slightly discouraging, but I felt like sometimes a season of silence is good and it just reminds me of the sovereignty of God. Sure enough, I had the opportunity to hang out one Saturday with two friends (a couple) who we (Scott and I) admire and love so much. Scott was working that day... So it was just me and my little guy. You know how conversations just evolve from the not-so-serious to the serious, and back again? We were having one of those conversations. I just felt like, in the moment, with the topic we were on, that it was ok to share a few inner thoughts. It was kind of like sticking my toe in the water - not to see if they could be trusted because I already knew that. I talked about how I missed being accountable to someone (or someones) for a variety of reasons, but mostly because having a trusted Godly someone speak truth is one of the most spiritually fulfilling relationships I have. The growth is incredible. There are some tough things to talk through, and I don't always love what I hear, but it stretches me in fantastic ways. I've learned that it is incredibly vital to be a teachable person, and I love to learn what God would have me learn through the discerning eyes and ears of another person.

So, back to lunch, my friend approached me about entering into an accountability relationship with her. While we aren't in the same life situation (her kids are now grown and married with kids of their own), she felt that I would have wisdom to impart on her in other areas (outside of the family, for example professionally). That was flattering, first of all, to hear that someone 10+ years older than me would think that I might have wisdom to share about any life situation. I guess I always felt like my elders (meaning, pretty much anyone older than me) were the wise ones whose job is to lead us younguns along, and that our job, in turn, is to lead the younger younguns along. I let her know that I didn't necessarily expect a two-way street. I've heard of accountability being one-way (meaning that while one person is accountable in that relationship, the other person may have a different person that they are accountable to, and, thus, in this situation they act more as a mentor). She basically said that, no, she'd like a two-way accountability relationship. Ever since that Saturday, that same idea had popped into my head on more than one occasion. So it's neat that God would have spoken the same thing to my friend. I accepted her invitation, and we got to talking about when we'd meet, and when we'd start, etc. Prayer answered. Yea for me! Boy, right in the nick of time, too, because she jumped straight into speaking a little truth on a particular situation. Haha. She was (is) right about that, too. See how God uses people?

So today (yipes, it's 2:11 am) we're starting our 11 day vacation. We don't actually leave until tomorrow (Weds), but we're staying the night in Portland because it's just easier to grab a shuttle to the airport from a hotel in the morning than trying to rise and shine at the crack of dawn with a toddler in tow all while trying to lock up the house, pack the car, drive, contend with the crappy Oregon drivers, park in long-term parking at the airport, and hoof it with 300 pounds of luggage to check-in. I hate airports. Love to travel. Hate the getting there. Anyway, I'm looking forward to getting away from work for a while. I need time to contemplate. I can't contemplate when I'm constantly interrupted by emails, phone calls and drop-ins. I love my job, but it certainly doesn't lend itself to creative strategizing very often. I have so many balls in the air right now, any one of them could drop at a moment's notice. So... I need some re-energizing to keep them balls in motion.

Man, stocks bite right now. We have lost about 65-70% of our portfolio. Bummer. It's interesting to watch people respond to the economy. If that doesn't show where people store their treasures, I don't know what does. It just so doesn't matter to me. I mean, yes, it sucks that we've taken a huge hit. BUT that is so not where I find my hope. My hope is in Jesus. Not the economy, or the next president, or whether or not Measure 64 passed... Market trends are always up, so sooner or later it'll turn. Might we lose everything? I suppose it's a possibility. But, what have we really lost? It's just money. It's just a home. It's just a car. It's not our eternity. That's just junk we can't take with us anyway. I just don't get excited about these things. The market it was it is. It's awful that so many people are going through lean times right now - unemployment, lack of healthcare, credit card debt, foreclosures, stress about where the next meal might come. I pray that it turns for their sake soon. But if it gets worse before it gets better, I rest in the knowledge that God is moving. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes times like these to remind people of God's provision. (Of course, there are always those who blame God.) I'm so grateful for Jesus. Who or what else is steadfast?

My little boy is beautiful. I don't mean just his good looks (although, objectively, he is a lady-killer). I'm talking about his tender soul. The other evening we were wrestling around, and I was chasing him all over the house (a nightly ritual). I was sitting on the floor kind of watching him run around the couch when out of the blue, he ran over to me with his arms out just falling into my lap. He took my face in his hands and held my face to his, looking deeply into my eyes. Then, just so tenderly, he wrapped his arms around my neck and laid his head on my shoulder. I was dumbfounded. It was so sweet. And, that quickly, he was up again, running around the couch and giggling to his heart's content. He just stole a little moment out of his simple world to tell me in his own way that he loves and trusts me. It literally brought tears to my eyes. He's made in God's image. All that love, hope, joy and compassion all wrapped up in a tiny little package.

Jeffrey inspires me in a way that I've never experienced. I just don't care about chaos, drama and complexity anymore. I used to thrive on noise. I loved drama. I loved a good messy situation. I reject it all now. Having Jeffrey just wiped it all away - almost that quickly. I've experienced a childlike, raw need for simplicity and wonder. Do you still wonder?

As soon as Jeffrey was born, laying so tiny and quietly in my arms, I finally realized what God meant by unconditional love. We all throw the notion around pretty loosely and I wonder if people really know what it means. I thought I did, too. We walk down the aisle and we take the hands of our life-mate and vow to love unconditionally, in sickness and in health. But... do we really love unconditionally? Think about it. I'll bet the answer is a resounding no. Sure, you want to say yes. And your first reaction is to say yes. But... now... think about your expectations and your disappointments. Think about all the stupid fights you've had with your spouse - about how things weren't the way you wanted them. All those fights are over selfishness, you know. That's not unconditional. We have to choose every day, with every moment, to love to our spouse. Sometimes it's easy. Sometimes it's not. I've found after 5 years of marriage (7 years together, and another 2+ years as pretty darn good friends) that it gets easier. Scott and I share an incredible marriage. But I know that we have to work really hard at it. It takes dedication to love unconditionally, and many times we fail. Yep, we dust ourselves off and try, try again, but it's still work. Contrast that with the love we feel towards Jeffrey. He's done nothing to deserve our love. He pisses us off every day. He pleases and he disappoints, and yet we absolutely love him unconditionally. Truly unconditionally. It's easy to love him that way. It literally requires no effort on our part. We just love him. This is the way that Jesus love us. We're his children. His creation. I "knew" that cognitively. And what a great feeling it is to know that God loves that way. But... I never "knew" it experientially. That's a completely different way to know something. And now I know. It has completely transformed my relationship with Christ - the way I pray, the way I listen, the way I respond.

And speaking of love, can I just say that I am absolutely head over heels for my man? He is such an extraordinary person. I love the way his crazy mind works - the depth of thought and the utmost desire and passion to seek after and understand the Kingdom of God. He has a ferocious wit. He can make just about anyone belly laugh and say, "Hmmm" at the same time. He's actually quite complex, and so very very tender. He's affectionate and loyal, wise and clever, considerate and generous. He's strong - mentally, emotionally and spiritually. He's trustworthy and reliable. He's incredibly courageous. He's protective and determined. He's attentive and patient. He's a phenomenal cook. He's an amazing father and husband. He is passionate for Jesus and is one of the most Godly men I have ever had the privilege to know. He's a gift. He's my beloved, my best friend, my mate, my lover, my cheerleader, my supporter, my better half. I'm so grateful for every moment that I have with him.
I think I'll go give him a snuggle.