Mackenzie Adeline Brown

 

Three days ago our good friends Travis and Rachael had their baby girl. She was a month premature, and was born at 4 lbs 4 oz, and only 18 inches long but she is doing great! Yesterday Melissa and I went to visit them at the hospital. Here are her first glamour shots…

 

 

 

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Signs of Spring

 

Last Summer was miserably hot. I remember the weather guy saying Kansas City had 20 or more days with 100+ degree heat. It was also bone dry. No rain to give the parched earth any relief of the blazing sun.

 

Then, this past winter, three massive snow storms (in March) pounded the midwest, shutting the city down for days on end. Winter was bitter cold and simply refused to leave. Only until this past week did we see and feel the first signs of Spring. And oh how sweet it is!

Redbud and Bradford Pear trees, which I thought might have actually died from the harsh Summer have begun to bud leaves, unfurling from their tiny housing to soak in the Spring sun.

Even Melissa’s small herb garden, planted in a large pot on the deck, showed signs of life. We peeled off a top layer of dead leaves and sticks to reveal green sprouts of lemon thyme, rosemary, mint, basil, and oregano. Even in their infancy, the little shoots and tiny leaves smelled wonderfully of their distinct scents.

 

 

Snow-mageddon 2013: Pictures of a Frozen World

It will snow a few of times a year in Kansas City, but nothing like this. Last Thursday it snowed 12 inches. We couldn’t even make it out of the house for nearly two days.

Then, only four days later, another storm system moved in and dumped another foot. During this 2nd round, the heavy snow stuck to every tree limb and powerline, rendering them weak and useless. Our power went out, so we have set up camp at Mom and Dad’s a few miles down the road to stay warm. As hard as it is to shovel countless driveways and attempt to take the Jeep out to concur the cold frozen tundra, the snow-covered neighborhoods lend to us a fascinating beauty.

You step outside and the world is dampened and muted, a soft silence where the hustle and bustle has been forced to a screeching halt. As you walk out of the house and peer up through the white-covered trees, time and space seem suspended. As inconvenient and annoying as the snow storm is, I can’t help but smile. It is a rather breathtaking scene.

The pictures below are from our journeys over the last 5 days.

Our HOA, aka ‘Senior Citizens Gone Wild!’

A couple of months ago my next-door neighbor called me up. “Will, I have been doing some thinking, and realized last night you would be the perfect person to have on the Board of our HOA… young, smart, full of life… A refreshing new face. Whatdya say?”

“Sure, why not?”

Biggest mistake of my life.

Fast forward two weeks- I show up to my first annual meeting for all members held in the stinky basement of an old Baptist Church across the street. After all, we moved into the neighborhood only a year ago. I should participate, especially if I’m now on the board!

I should also point out my next door neighbor is the HOA President. He, alongside a thin frail older woman, sat behind a plastic table at the front of the room. I took a seat on the far left, unaware of the ridiculousness set to ensue. It was like sitting on the set of an episode of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ mixed with ‘Golden Girls’.

Strap in folks. This room is about to explode.

7:01 PM- meeting starts. I think it’s important you understand the group of human beings I’m trapped in this basement with: there are about 30 people in the room-  two thirds are over the age of 65 (with several well over the age of 70, possibly 80- no joke). A handful of middle-aged men, a woman in her 30’s, and myself. Sitting in the corner.

My neighbor attempts to lead a civil discussion about dues and the such, but the members are having none of it. They are there for vengeance! For blood. To wage a war that would turn neighbors aggressively against each other.

For nearly TWO HOURS these people yelled and bickered.

Frank, an extremely old man up front with a shaking fist and wooden cane, would randomly mumble loud and inappropriate (completely off-topic) comments while other people were talking. He was bitter the board only took bids from 2 repair men instead of 3 during the grueling decision on who to use to repair a tiny statue near a street entrance in 2009. Frank’s life has never been the same since that fateful day, and after 4 years he remembered he was mad about it.

Frank would not shut up… the guy was seriously out of control. (WebMD “Dementia”)

Frank was not the only person with opinions. Oh not at all. Other members were outraged that fuel sur-charges had been increased by our trash service. Just who the hell do these guys think they are to increase the bill .19 cents a month?! One member of the HOA actually took it upon himself to make a large timeline graph mapping fuel costs in the US since 2000. Not sure how that changes anything but thanks for wasting 20 minutes of my life with THAT little gem.

And finally, our dear friends Sandra and Kathy- both of whom could not believe the horrifying decision made last year to provide new trash bins to the members. You see, they don’t believe in accumulating house-hold trash. They would rather the bins not exist because they take up too much room in the garage where their two cats Josie and Felix could otherwise play 0n custom-build scratch posts.

The entire experience was horrifying. My phone continued to buzz with text messages from my wife: “where ARE you?”

My neighbor began yelling for people to stop the madness. Things finally settled down.

8:55 PM- meeting closed.

I ran out of the basement, fled to my car, and drove home.

angry old ladyFor the next several weeks, neighbors began emailing spiteful and hate-filled messages to the other members. Old people against even older people. Delirious against demented. My thoughts every time I read a new email were always the same… who CARES!!!

Can’t we all just live on the same street and happily wave hello while walking the dog? Why is this so hard?

It truly makes zero sense.

The icing on the cake came last week when my next-door neighbor resigned as President of our HOA. After recruiting me into leadership, he would pass down the glorious opportunity to tame and rationalize the throng of senior-citizens that non-stop debated about meaningless crap. The classic Bait and Switch.

Well played sir, well played.

Trust Him

I am leading you along the high road, but there are descents as well as ascents. In the distance you see snow-covered peaks glistening in brilliant sunlight. Your longing to reach those peaks is good, but you must not take shortcuts. Your assignment is to follow Me, allowing Me to direct your path. Let the heights beckon you onward, but stay close to Me.

Learn to trust Me when things go “wrong.” Disruptions to your routine highlight your dependence on Me. Trusting acceptance of trials brings blessings that far outweigh them all. Walk hand in hand with Me through this day. I have lovingly planned every inch of the way. Trust does not falter when the path becomes rocky and steep. Breathe deep draughts of My Presence, and hold tightly to My hand.

-Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

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Bonnie and myself in Denver atop “the ridge” path.

Life In Kansas Blog’s 2012 stats in review

I thought this was fun so I thought I would share it with everyone. Have a happy New Year!

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

One Lovely Blog Award

One Lovely Blog AwardI was nominated for the “One Lovely Blog Award”, a big thanks to Mary K. Doyle for passing along the honor!

This ‘Life in Kansas Blog’ has been a great source of creativity for me- something I desperately need to keep my life balanced.

It has also been a humble privilege to share bits and pieces of my story with friends, family, and often complete strangers; many of whom have formed with me a community of thinkers, artists, writers, and jokesters that each uniquely frame a different way to think about the world.

That’s what blogs do; perhaps most importantly, is widen our perspectives that are so narrowly focused only on what we know.

Thank you for reading my posts.

Here are my 15 nominees:

  1. adoptingjames
  2. Morning Story and Dilbert
  3. tomsnareandsuch
  4. Leanne Cole PHOTOGRAPHY
  5. Bucket List Publications
  6. the harvester’s wife
  7. Paula’s Patch: A Minnesota Garden
  8. The Accidental Kansan
  9. mybeautifulthings
  10. Real Food Road
  11. Photo Nature Blog
  12. leaf and twig
  13. The Jenny Mac Book Blog
  14. Cristian Mihai
  15. Charming Trinity

What’s the Purpose of Our Life?

I have questions about my life that I don’t know how to answer.

Sometimes I get to thinking. Thinking about the ways to understand the mystery that surrounds my existence that cannot always be characterized by something or somebody. Things that aren’t tangible or easily defined.

I think all of us, at some point or another, can’t help but try to grasp the purpose behind our lives. Most things can fall into neat little categories: our self, our relationships, our work, our beliefs, our finances. Some things, though, do not. And today there was a message about the things that fall outside of what we know and understand.

It’s that message that I want to share with you because it moved me.

This message came from Adam Hamilton, pastor at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. (http://www.cor.org)

My life has been a spiritual journey with its ups and downs, and all the while I have tried desperately to understand, to feel, and to fall into a faith that tries to teach us meaning.

And this morning, when Adam began to wrestle with the all-powerful questions that surround the purpose and meaning of our lives, I listened closely, hoping for answers.

The answer, it turns out, is surprisingly simple.

First, to be loved by and to love God. Second, to love and to serve others.

That’s it.

Adam shared a story about his own family that would form within me a deep understanding of God’s reason for our existence. More importantly, it allowed me to relate to my relationship with Him.

Adam’s daughters, when they were very young (age 4 or 5), were infatuated with their Daddy- following him everywhere, clinging to his legs as he walked in the door from a long day at work. They gave kisses, bear hugs, and snuggled right before bedtime.  But, as they grew older to age 12 or 13, the girls no longer wanted to hold hands to cross the street. They no longer gave those bear hugs when Adam returned from work. In-fact, it was almost as if they were embarrassed of their Dad. When they were at the mall, they walked ten feet in front of him. It seemed that the years when they bonded so closely as a family were suddenly erased. Adam would reach out, but they would turn away.

The only time they would call him Daddy anymore was to ask for money or for a ride to the movies. When they needed something…

The teen years came and went for Adam’s little girls.

… And finally, when they were 20 or so, they came back to Adam. Back to their Daddy. Back to the bear hugs, back to their close relationship, appreciation, and love that had been gone for years.

Does that sound like your relationship with God? It did for me.

If it’s more convenient to live selfishly, then it’s natural to slowly turn away from our Father. This happened to me during many of my teenage years and into my 20’s. My life style contradicted my faith, and I thought I could handle the world on my own because I had things figured out.

Just like Adam’s little girls, I turned away from my Father. And this never meant more to me than it has lately. Like any loving father, God simply wants a relationship with us. He wants us to come running into his arms. If we have turned away, He understands. But simply, He just wants us back.

He is our Father. And like any parent, I think Adam’s story about his own daughters allows us to relate…

Think about the reasons why you want(ed) to be a parent. You want to have a baby because you have love in your heart to give; and it’s that same love that you want to receive back from your son or daughter. Well, God is no different.

God, in creating our universe, wanted also to create a being that He could love unconditionally. A creature so amazing that they could consciously recognize God’s love and give it back in return. A loving parent’s relationship with their child, in many ways, is the same as our God’s relationship with us. Love, forgiveness, and grace.

I remember, during an Easter church service a few years ago, making the decision to run back into God’s arms. Melissa and I declared our love for Him- because we realized we could not handle the weight of this world and this life by ourselves. We came to him, we returned to him.

The pure joy and fulfillment that came from that decision and that moment has transcended and changed my life in so many ways. It has been a gigantic ripple throughout.

So when I’m reminded and explained about our purpose in life, I’m humbled.

Be loved by and to love God.

Leap of Faith

It’s okay to be afraid of change and to fear the unknown. Just don’t sell yourself short. Don’t over-think things. Trust your heart. Most importantly, belive in the possibilities that come from taking action. Identify your strengths and rely on your character. Act on ambition and accept the challenge, for those that risk what they know gain strength and wisdom.

Sometimes (maybe a lot of the time) it’s hard to understand where you ought to be in your life. But, to get where you want, where you deserve… where God intend for you to be… requires a leap of faith.

So take it.

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