The Memory of a Day

Sweet Megan, it seems like just yesterday….

There you were, all dressed up in princess costumes and high-heeled plastic shoes; licking the hottest salsa off of tortilla chips and singing, “So Long, Farewell,” from The Sound of Music every night with your sister before bedtime.

Who knew that your dad and I would blink and there we were, watching you get all dressed up again—this time in the most beautiful white dress with bedazzled Nike tennis shoes on your feet and salsa on the menu for all to enjoy later, as we got ready for our own version of, “So Long, Farewell.”

As kids grow up, there are all sorts of milestones that are reached and celebrated. From sleeping through the night for the first time, to starting school, to getting braces and a driver’s license, and then those big accomplishments such as graduations and first jobs—each milestone is both a first…and a last. And when your baby girl walks down the aisle to marry the man of her dreams, you can’t help but think about all of her firsts, her lasts, and every little moment in between.

This day—your wedding day—is something that we have been praying for since your very first day of life. Every day we prayed for your future, which included a young man we did not know yet, who would someday ask you to be his forever. And as you walked down that aisle, arm-in-arm with your dad, I watched the eyes of the man we had been praying for the last 23 years—and I thanked God for his faithfulness and goodness.

I believe God gives us little winks to remind us that in the midst of our big moments, he is ever present and ever good. While dad waited in the winery to see you for the first time in your wedding dress, he looked out the window and was filled with emotion. In the distant sky, circling the treetops just above the cross where you would commit to begin a life together with Lynx, an eagle soared. Your ancestors would tell you that an eagle is a symbol of blessing—for it’s the bird that flies the closest to heaven.

What a privilege it was for us to gather in that same spot and pray a blessing over you and Lynx and launch you into your greatest adventure yet. It was a moment of firsts, of lasts, and a little bit of, “So Long, Farewell.” But more than anything, it was a demonstration of joy and love; a testament to God’s faithfulness, and one heck of a celebration!

It’s been just over a week, and dad and I daily reflect on the awesome memories of your special day. So here’s to Lynx and Megan Hawthorne—may your love grow bigger and better with each new day and may you be ever mindful of the winks God gives you along the way. Love you both so much! ❤

—Mom

The 100th Day

February has a plethora of special days that kids celebrate in school. But there’s one day in particular that falls on different days depending on the school–it’s the 100th Day Celebration. For most, this day falls somewhere in mid-February and is a day that is anticipated from the very start of the school year. A countdown begins and students prepare for a day that applauds 100 days of learning. On the 100th Day, students take time away from the regular routine to engage in activities centered around the number 100; from math to reading, science to PE, kids focus on celebrating The 100th Day.

So it’s appropriate that this year, mid-February offers for our family, a 100 Day Celebration for two incredible people. Today marks the 100 Day Countdown for our youngest daughter, Megan, and her fiance, Lynx. In 100 days, they will wake up to a day filled with anticipation and promise. And by the end of that day, they will celebrate the beginning of a lifetime of love and adventure as husband and wife.

Just as students in school, these 100 days will be filled with anticipation and learning for Megan and Lynx. There may be days when details feel overwhelming or too many people try to steer the ship to the final destination. Other days will be filled with overflowing excitement and the feeling that the celebrated day can’t get here soon enough. In those 100 days, they’ll be tested–there will be feelings of great accomplishment as well as failure. But in each of those 100 days, the anticipation grows, the celebration builds, and lessons are collected to help build a foundation for a lifetime together. And I know for each of them, those 100 days can’t go by fast enough!

As a mom, I pray that these precious days of planning, anticipating, and celebrating strengthen their relationship. I pray that whatever the world tries to throw their way they will tackle together–because together they are better. And I pray that they will always know that the One who created them, the One who loves them relentlessly, will also be the One who will help them build a foundation of faith, love, and adventure as husband and wife.

So in step with the “100 Day” theme, Psalm 100 is divinely appropriate to mark this once-in-a-lifetime day for Megan and Lynx–it is because of Him that we can graciously praise the love He give us so we can love in return:

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to his name and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.“–Psalm 100:1-5

Here’s to 100 Days–let the countdown begin!!! –CK

lynxmegan-27-of-28

Legends Live Forever

Earlier this month I checked something off of my bucket list–a trip to the NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony for one of my all-time favorite legends–Brett Favre. The weekend was a fan’s dream–but the Enshrinement Ceremony on Saturday night stands out for reasons beyond the game of football.

Eight men who’ve made an impact in the NFL were notably honored on stage that evening. Their bronze busts were unveiled as each NFL hero was introduced with video tributes that highlighted their careers. The enshrinees who were present at the ceremony, then took the stage to speak to a stadium-packed audience. As I listened to each man speak, I was captivated by their hearts and how they communicated what really matters to them about being inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. Their video reels highlighted their accomplishments on the field and in the business, yet as each man spoke, there wasn’t a lot of focus on football–instead they brought attention, admiration, and affection to what lasts after the cleats are retired and the clipboards are put away–relationships with people. Here is my takeaway on what matters to the NFL greats:

  • Influences: Listening to each inductee pay tribute to individuals who impacted them not just as professionals, but as individuals, was inspiring. No one mentioned how someone taught them how to tackle or throw the ball, however. Each player paid tribute to high school and college coaches who spoke into their lives on being men of character and perseverance. Tony Dungy thanked coaches who guided him in his faith both on and off the field. Marvin Harrison, who played for Tony Dungy, expressed admiration not only for Dungy as a coach, but as a man who taught him what it meant to be a father. These NFL legends attributed their success to individuals who not only influenced them in the game of football, but in life.
  • Family: Kevin Greene expressed how growing up in a military family continues to be a strong influence on who he is today and honored the men and women who protect our country. Eddie DeBartolo spoke admirably about his daughter who graciously gives back to her community. Orlando Pace gave credit to his single mother and grandmother for providing him with opportunities–even when it wasn’t easy. And Brett Favre brought a stadium to tears when he reminded fans of his wife’s bravery, when he got choked up about his mother-in-law’s unwavering support, and his late father’s no-nonsense parenting that pushed him to be the best. At the end of the day, no matter what your family looks like, they’re one of your strongest influences, supports, and admirers.
  • Team: These NFL greats have a firsthand appreciation that no man (or woman) is an island. They understand that their NFL success is attributed to individuals who have helped them succeed on the field. Each inductee was visibly grateful and appreciative of their teammates who sweat, sacrificed, and succeeded with them on game day, in practice, and in life. These men see their team as family, and even embrace players from rival teams as comrades who shared in a common goal. When Favre asked those in the audience who have played the game with him to stand, it was moving to see over 200 men–those who played with him in high school, college, and professionally–rise to be thanked and recognized. Legends of the game understand that their success rides not just on their own merits, but more so on the partnership of their brotherhood on the field.

My weekend at the NFL Hall of Fame was the perfect way to kick-off my favorite time of the year (football season!). I hope this post is a reminder that on or off the field–coaches, teammates, family–you’re an influential staple in the lives of others. You are the true legends.–CK

Legends

The Anatomy of a Great Trip

Summertime is often when many of us hit the roads and fly the friendly skies to explore and experience new places and make memories. Many of our travels bring us to new places and some lead us to familiar ground, but each destination imprints something new in our collection of memories. Most trips have their fair share of bumps, detours, and minor disasters–not unlike the roads we travel along daily.

One week ago we had a nearly 20-hour excursion on both water and land that led us back home after another amazing week at Lake Powell. It is never easy to transition back into the daily grind when you experience a week of fully relaxing–which is one of the best things about Lake Powell. However, this year the “re-entry” process seemed to be a bit more difficult–and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Was it too much sun? A bit of “back-to-the-real-world” depression? An extra long journey back home? Or maybe it’s just that every year I want to hang on, for as long as possible, to what I would describe as a “great trip.”

Every summer for the past ten years we have set aside one week to enjoy this majestic lake. Each year the lake looks a bit different, but it never fails to capture our hearts. Some of our houseboat guests are regular attenders while others come on board for the first time. The week is full of good food, better drink, outrageous laughter, exquisite beauty, and the best conversation. But it has also had it’s share of mishaps over the years: burnt feet, sun rash, broken water toys, food disasters, and even a broken ankle that resulted in a helicopter ride back to civilization.

As our kids get older, it makes it tougher for them to share in this trip each year. In recent years we have new friends and families who bless us with their presence and invite us into experiencing the lake once again through the eyes of someone who is seeing it for the first time. It is a reminder that despite some of the things that might be challenging or don’t go according to plan, a trip is really about what you experience–the things you feel, the adventures that delight, and the memories that you make.

We were privileged to have the family that lives next door join us on our latest trip. Their oldest daughter (Kyra), who will be a high school senior this fall, said something during the week that was wise beyond her years. Near the end of the week, her friend looked down at Kyra’s legs with concern and said, “Oh my gosh! Look at your legs–you are so banged up!” As Kyra looked down to evaluate the many cuts and bruises  she had acquired over the week, she smiled and calmly said, “That just means it’s been a good trip.”

On vacation or in life–it’s the cuts and bruises, the brokenness and hurt, that can graciously lead us to the indescribable beauty, contagious joy, and the incredible adventure of a remarkable journey–or in Kyra’s words–a really good trip.
—CK

Trip Blog

Kudos to Snow Days

No one ever believes the forecast in Colorado–because as the phrase goes, “Blink, and the weather will change.” And the past 24 hours proved that phrase true.

Yesterday afternoon, we sat out on the dock, enjoying the warm sunshine and a glass of wine. A welcomed moment of relaxation after a busy, busy day. The Weather Channel warned that a wintery front was approaching–but we were soaking in the start of spring; what cruel joke would cloak a beautiful day with a blanket of white?

As we crawled into bed last night, I could hear the rain pounding the roof. The sound lulled me to sleep. And then the alarm sounded to start another busy day. As I began to make my way to the edge of the bed to start the morning routine, a text alert lured me back to my phone with the glorious words, “Snow Day.” A peak out the window affirmed the unexpected day off. Snow, wind, and cold–not what I would have anticipated as I sat on the dock the night before.

Sometimes the unexpected is exactly what we need. Our lives get so busy–we grind through the routine of the work week, stress about things that are out of our control, and forget to appreciate the little things. Today, I was able to relax with a cup of coffee as I dug into my morning devotions, not the norm on a Wednesday. How appropriate that today I was reading about contentment. These words pulsated off the page, “We find contentment once we learn to see everything as a gift or opportunity. Perspective is everything. Happiness is a choice.”

Contentment isn’t something that comes to us naturally, it’s an acquired taste. Lately, my taste hasn’t been so evolved. I find myself focusing more on the worries of the day, rather than on the treasures of the moment. And then, when I don’t even realize it, my heart becomes cold to the blessings that surround me. In the midst of a winter storm, God has led me to a day of rest. A gentle reminder to change my perspective and find contentment in the every day.

So kudos to a snow day–a  day when I am content to curl up under a blanket and ponder on all of the gifts and opportunities that I am daily grateful for–not the things that I have been denied. I need to remember that when my perspective is set on the storm, all I need to do is blink.  snow day (2)

What I Discovered in D.C.

A week ago today I was on a flight to Washington D.C. with thirteen high schoolers to experience our nation’s capitol and attend a leadership conference. I’m always amazed and humbled when I get to spend quality time with young people. Working in a high school, there are days when I hear a lot more grumbling about teenagers than I do praise. I often wonder if more adults would intentionally spend quality time with young people, would they see the value and potential in this future generation?

Over the weekend–which was packed with nonstop activity–I made some pretty cool observations about the group of young people that I was privileged to hang out with for a few days:

  • Patriotic: Walking the National Mall wasn’t just exercise, it was a meaningful trip into our nation’s history, leaders, and heroes. Our students were excited about where our nation has been, and engaged in the process of where it is going in the future.
  • Empathetic: The Holocaust Museum was a deeply moving experience for our students. While I watched some student groups go through the museum at lightning speed, our group was extremely different. They read and listened about the history. They used their eyes to focus on the pictures and their sense of smell imprinted the spirit of those who lost their lives in concentration camps. They became teary and somber as Holocaust stories left a permanent scar on their hearts.
  • Kind: When you’re in a city that is bustling and busy, a quick smile or “hello” on the streets is virtually non-existent. What a ray of sunshine a small group of students from Loveland, Colorado were to a city that appeared a bit hardened. From strangers on the Metro, to tourists on the National Mall, to the cute, elderly concierge at the hotel; to hear others–strangers–tell our students how kind and friendly they are made my heart smile.
  • Philanthropic: When downloading what our students learned at the conference, one theme was obvious–our students have a heart for serving others. Whether it be their peers, the school staff, the Loveland community, or the world, our students first and foremost want to make a difference in the lives of others.
  • Spirited: On so many scales, our students are wise and mature beyond their years. Their creativity, drive, resiliency, and openness is inspiring and motivating. But…they are still “kids.” Thank, God!
    They are comfortable being silly, they laugh until it hurts. They still slide down banisters, run up escalators that are going down, start snowball fights, play with cheap toys, and have dance parties at 35,000 feet.
    This….
    This is why I love what I do. Why I love young people. And why I’m not worried about our future. I’m excited to see how young people like this, are gonna change the world. –C

White House

Believe in the Good

A kid will never feel significant until you give them something significant to do.”–Reggie Joiner

I am incredibly fortunate to work with young people. It’s where my heart is and I’m so blessed that I get to wake up and do what I love every day. Some days, though, are just a bit sweeter than others. Those are the days that I just sit back and watch with a bit of awestruck wonder at what young lives are capable of.

Last spring I met with the incoming leadership team for student council. Their excitement for a new year of dance themes, spirit days, and service to others was contagious. We touched on service projects for the upcoming year and when I mentioned thinking outside of our local community, their eyes lit up. The conversation turned toward making a global difference and before we knew it a project was born–our students committed to raising money to build a fresh water well in Uganda. A big endeavor for a small group of teens–but the very idea of doing something good for people on the other side of the world ignited them with enthusiasm and purpose.

Adults can learn so much from young people. These students charge forth, full-speed ahead, with confidence that they can reach their financial goal. They are learning about the struggles that people in impoverished countries face and are dedicated to changing the landscape for them. They believe they can make a difference–even when others (often adults) tell them they can’t. They work hard, play hard, and they don’t hesitate to sacrifice for the good of others. Yes, these are people that I want to watch–I want to capture their energy, enthusiasm, optimism, and heart. They are embarking on something significant and it is my hope that it is a value and characteristic that continues to grow in and through them in the future.

Too often we only hear about the negative when it comes to this upcoming generation. We read about how they are lazy, we assume they only think about themselves based on the “selfies” they take, and we conclude that they lack drive because society portrays them as an entitled generation.

I see something different. I see a generation who wants to make a difference–a generation who will and can do significant things. We just need to give them a chance. An opportunity, And the faith that they can do it.

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Kids collecting dirty water in the village of Aputon-Koreng in Uganda. Soon they will have clean water to drink thanks to the vision and hard work of students @ Thompson Valley High School

Believe Impossible Things

Over the past two weeks I’ve been privileged to celebrate milestones with my daughter, her friends, and with our local high school students. Our youngest graduated from college last weekend. While we were busy packing up her life for the past four years, I was able to see all she has accomplished in college: photos with new and forever friends filled frames and bulletin boards; stacks of science books and binders filled with notes were testament to the many hours of studying in the library and classroom; old and new uniforms merged together to represent her love for cheer that will now take on a new chapter after college. And while a little sadness tugged at my heart knowing those boxes filled with her things would move to Houston and not back to her hometown, my emotions quickly evolved to excitement and pride–my little girl was launching once again to pursue her goals and dreams. As a parent, it is what I have been preparing her for since the day she was born. And there we were–watching, celebrating, preparing, and encouraging her as she was leaving one milestone to pursue the next one.

Baylor

This weekend, I had the honor of presenting high school diplomas to three outstanding young women and watching countless others walk across the stage to receive theirs. We party-hopped all weekend to graduation parties where moms and dads proudly displayed photos and awards of academic and athletic achievements along with acceptance letters and t-shirts representing the future school their son or daughter will make their life at, cheer for, and represent next fall. As I watch these students and families celebrate, I am grateful that I’ve been privileged to share a piece of their journey with them. Many of these students I’ve known before they graced the halls of our high school, and I look ahead with parent-like eyes as I am filled with enthusiasm and excitement for their futures and all they hope to and will accomplish.

Seniors

And today, Memorial Day, we celebrate and honor the past. How fitting: after all, the academic achievements and milestones we celebrate in graduation ceremonies are, in part, because of the freedom we have to pursue an education in this country–thanks to those who fight and sacrifice daily for those freedoms we often take for granted. As I got ready this morning, this song ran on my playlist and prompted me to write today. Many have sacrificed and given all for the freedoms we enjoy–what better way to honor them than to continue to pursue the dream they fight for every day. To all of us–graduates and parents alike–may you continue to be the explorers and adventurers in this great life. Pursue impossible things–for we are promised that nothing is impossible.

Believe. Touch the stars. Dare. Because there’s nothing that you can’t do.–CK

Attitude is a Choice

The past couple of weeks have me on flashback to the old Saturday Night Live skits that feature the character of “Debbie Downer.” This character, played by Rachel Dratch, brought bad news and negative comments or feelings to social gatherings with a comedic twist to get viewers laughing but also relating–because we all have those people in our lives who personify negativity, bad attitudes, or are just plain perpetually cranky. And frankly, this type of person can be hurtful, difficult, and just plain exhausting.

As a young adult, I can recall encounters with people who were difficult. I remember how their words could cut to my very core with a single swipe of a pen. Other times, I would find myself walking the other way to avoid being dragged down by their doom and gloom. After my first speaking engagement at a conference, one negative evaluation out of hundreds of positive ones would leave me completely focusing on that one individual who “didn’t like me.” The lead pastor for the conference wisely told me that I can’t allow one person to bring me down when I was doing so much good for others. While his advice was true, it was much easier said than done. Because deep down we all want to be appreciated, accepted, loved.

Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work that way. Kids learn at a young age that friends can be fickle. They grow older and realize people can be unreasonable and unforgiving. The face of selfish nature can reveal a side of people that we’d rather not see. As parents of adult children, we sit and watch on the sidelines as our beloved young adults have that first taste of a “Debbie Downer” who can quickly shut them down, make them feel small, or question their own character. Our parental instinct is to rush in with sword in hand to slay the negativity dragon. But wisdom tells us to be patient; to guide them so they learn to be a light in a dark world and to guard their hearts from people who try to suck them in–because we all know that misery loves company.

If asked, “What is one thing your mom taught you?”, my kids would most likely say, “Your attitude is your choice.” Because I told them this truth–often; I still do, maybe even more than when they were young. I believe there are always people who are going to try to bring you down. Others will try to suck you into the fallacy that the “grass is greener on the other side” so you miss the joy found in today. Every day you’ll encounter a “Debbie Downer” or a “Negative Ned” who will attempt to contaminate you with their attitude. It is up to us to choose an attitude that is positive. We need to encourage our kids to not allow people or difficult circumstances to drag us down. Rather, we need to empower them to speak up for what is right, to model integrity and a positive attitude, and to “live love” out loud.

In my research for writing some scripts this week, I came across a song that reminds me that in every circumstance, love always prevails. Listen to Brandon Heath’s song below. Whether it’s an encounter with a difficult person, a strained relationship, or an individual who is hurting, we can know that if we model the love that Christ modeled for us, it will sustain, it will heal, and it will never, ever fail.–CK

Renovations

After six years of steady persuasion, my husband finally agreed to begin the process of finishing our basement. The exposed wood frame and orange insulation now has possibilities to become a finished living space for us to enjoy. We recently had a contractor come to our home so he could give us an estimate on the project. As we engaged in small talk about our families, he shared that he had three young children, and then looked and my husband and I with envy and said, “It must be awesome to have kids who are all grown up and on their own–you don’t have to worry about them anymore.”

My husband and I immediately looked at each other with the same look in our eyes–the one that silently said, “This guy has no clue.”

I’m sure when we were younger, we also lived in that delusional state that one day we would experience parental freedom. But we now know all too well that worrying about your kids doesn’t terminate when they turn 18. In fact, I would argue that it is quite the opposite. When they’re five, a kiss and a Batman Band-Aid can stop the tears. A 12-year-old heartbreak could be quickly mended with a trip to the pet store to cuddle with cute puppies. But as adults, our children’s hurts and disappointments aren’t as easily repaired. Some leave a scar on their heart rather than on their knee. Others bear consequences that are lasting. Parental worry and concern never ends–it merely goes through renovation–just like our basement.

As parents of young adults, we can no longer step in to fix what breaks or send them to their room when they don’t listen. Instead, we need to be there for them–no matter what. They need to know that we believe in them, even when they might not believe in themselves. We need to remember that they, like us, are going through renovations of their own; they’re learning how to navigate life with their own rudder and not their parents’.

Being the parent of adult children has given me a better perspective of the love God has for us; how he wants so desperately to fix it for us, to tell us exactly what we need to do to make things right, to steer us in the right direction. But then it wouldn’t be our choice–it would be one made for us. We all need to make those discoveries on our own–then we can look back and see that God was right there with us through it all–cheering for us, crying with us, and loving us like crazy.

So as we get ready to renovate our basement, we are also in the thick of renovating our life as parents. It’ll take time, it will surely be messy at times, but the end result will undoubtedly be beautiful and worth it.–CKbuilding_wallpaper1924