Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wisdom and Understanding

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:13-15
Blessed is the man who finds wisdom,
the man who gains understanding,
for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her...
As a high school senior I memorized Proverbs 3:5-6. It has come back to me time and again holding great meaning and encouragment. In the midst of unemployment depression I heard someone on the radio preaching - actually yelling and I am not sure why - that if we lean on our own understanding then we are not leaning on God. I remembering thinking that was such good wisdom - not searching for understanding but just acknowledging God and trusting him to set the path straight.
At this point in my life though - having come through and still in the midst of this journey - I find myself thinking more along the lines of Proverbs 3:13-15. It is foolish to seek wisdom and understanding - for that is so elusive. Jake tonight said what we all have said, "I just do not get it. I want it all to go away." Seeking understanding is not a bad thing - it is trusting that our understanding is truth which is bad.
Going farther back in the proverbs we find a huge emphasis on love and faithfulness as treasure. Allowing love and faith to cover us as we move toward wisdom and understanding complete turns upside down how and what we seek after. If those are my motivation then it is no longer really about me - for love and faithfulness hold the other in higher regard than self. No it really becomes about the other = that is the prize. Wisdom is not held quiet and guarded for what is wisdom that is not shared? Wisdom not shared is not wisdom. Yet wisdom, knowledge, understanding is well worth pursuing.
As Jake as the big questions why - as we all still ask it - I pray that God would reveal for himself the why, the understanding and the hope for tomorrow. There is such significant hope in the midst of this journey - and we are gaining small glimpses of the why. Today we got a letter from a friend who, because of Jake is back on track with her AA meetings and her plan to get clean and sober. "Oh Lord, continue to use, allow us to understand so that you might still be glorified."
Good Saturday with friends and a special birthday - God has given us such an amazing community and our family continues to grow.
In love, In hope, In peace
Tom Kirkendall

Friday, October 9, 2009

Thanks Greg and crew...

How in the world do begin to say what is on your heart to the man who saved the life of your son? How do you say thank you? What can you give back to show your gratitude?

Last night Captain Greg Hansen and his team, Scott Cullen, Ryan Peters and Jim Dias were honored by the board of directors of the Aptos/La Selva Fire District. We were able to be in attendance. I have been playing phone tag with Greg for the last few weeks trying to come up with a time where they could meet Jake. Last night was the first time that Jake and Greg met.

Driving home, honestly I wanted so much more recognition for them - for Greg especially who risked his own life to rescue Jacob - knowing what electricity can do - being trained in these circumstances he took his life in his own hands so save the life of another. I do not think there is an award, a shrine, a monument big enough.

The simple fact is that I who am just getting to know these men believe that seeing Jacob - meeting Jacob - talking to Jacob - was an incredible award. Honored by superiors - special recognition - awesome but to save a life is so much greater. Honestly our family has once again expanded.

Speaks a load about our response to God. Not a whole lot we can do for the sacrifice of his son - for our eternal life - simply our presence.

As for Jacob? He is sitting next to me right now - building a farm on Facebook or something. Every now and then his little netbook makes cow and horse sounds. Strange. His back seems to be better. Physical therapy gave him some exercises to strengthen his back - basically work on his posture. His body has been through a lot. But we of course are thankful that he is around to feel these aches and pains of rehab.

We are still waiting to hear from the doctor regarding Jake's thumb surgery. Jake will be done with his antibiotic on October 20th. We were just told this week at two weeks after that he will have a CT Scan to design the for skull replacement. Then they will need to make the piece and then schedule the surgery. So hopefully by the end of the year we will be through with the major surgeries. Okay so that is my sketchy plan but as we all know the roller coaster rarely listens to me. But fortunately God is in control of the roller coaster - even on the corkscrews.

Amazed by Grace - Amazed by God.

Tom (Jake's Dad)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

back pain

Jake has been experiencing some mid-back pain. I have had back issues since high school so we no what to do to help him get comfortable but it seems to be getting worse not better yet. Tomorrow we have a physical therapist appointment and we are also trying to get into the doctor. We want to make sure that there is nothing that we might be missing.

We have known the up and down of the roller coaster so we know full well that it is all smooth sailing from here but this is really frustrating for Jacob.

Thanks for praying - there is so much more to write about our evening but I do not have it in me tonight. I will write more tomorrow. Need to be present with Jake and Jensen and Debbie tonight and not on the computer.

In the grip of grace,

Tom (Dad)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Such a value

Pretty normal day for Jake. Exercises, school, trip down to Santa Cruz with mom. We are still waiting for word on when surgeries might be. Our pediatrician is working on getting us some kind of information or plan of attack. Jensen pulled me aside tonight and was so excited. He said, "Dad, Jacob is doing so much better. He is walking more without his cane and he looks so much better." Jensen was excited. I told him that he could tell Jake that because Jake does not always feel like he is getting better.

So thankful that he is getting stronger. So much to be thankful for.

After our house fire we had a big lesson in receiving. Having been unemployed for over a year others have blessed us and we have had big lessons in receiving. This lesson we thought we had learned: how to receive. Yet through this hardship on Jacob's Journey we have been blown away by such generosity - what we thought we had learned before God had deeper lessons still. Having been a part of the service at our former church in Watsonville last Sunday was such a blessing for us - we received such a warm embrace - honestly it was greater than necessary - borderline embarrassing to get the attention. We are so grateful. Tonight I drove Jensen down there so that he attend their Jr. High group. Ron Marsh and Mike Conly, pastors at the church, gave me a check from an offering they took for us after we left the service - overwhelmed with gratitude - another lesson in receiving. We did not expect that at all - so thankful for the loved poured out on us - on Jacob. There is no response that can express the gratitude. There are such amazing people in that congregation - what a blessing just to stand and worship with them. It brought back such amazing memories.

All we can say once again is "thank you, we love you."

Looking at what Christ did on the cross - the only response is gratitude: thank you, we love you, we surrender our lives to you. For God saw in us a value that is worth the sacrifice of his son. Value of including us in his kingdom so that we might be his child. Thank you.

Value – worthy of purchase
I have such little value, Lord
rejected by so many
no possessions of my own
owing more than I hold
failure seems to follow efforts

I want to say that you value me, Lord
yet I feel so foolish – so worthless
I have so little to offer
I don’t preach well, pray well, love well
there is nothing in me that is but stench

I have nothing of value to bring to you, Lord
humanity celebrates those who bring value
one who is eloquent with words, bends our ears
one who has beauty to behold, delights our eyes
smart, funny, pretty, talented – those we elevate

What is it that you value, Lord?
a heart that is contrite, repentant, pure
worship that is authentic, surrendered, sanctified
activity that brings restoration, healing, hope
peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, love, self-control

I have such great value, Lord
acceptance – chosen, set apart by the creator
presence – Father, Son, Spirit – indwelling my heart
salvation – my greatest debt paid on the cross
sanctification – being made holy, sacred, of great value

Value is determined by the price one is willing to pay
I cling to the cross – it shows my value
I remember your death – it purchase my life
I praise you and honor you – moment by moment
Teach me dear Lord to see value through you

Tom (Dad)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Sunday, March 6th 2006 I was packed and ready to leave Chicago and fly home. I got a phone call from Debbie. "We are fine." That means something happened. In this case a candle had burned too low during the night and caught our room on fire. Jensen our youngest had fortunately fallen asleep on our bed. He told the reporter later that "God had woken him up." He woke up mom and then his brothers and grabbing both dogs and mom grabbed a sleeping bag that was by the door escaped the flames to the other side of the street. The house we were renting was pretty badly burned - we lost pretty much all of the contents.

The fireman arriving on scene said that they were amazed to see the family sitting on the curb with a fire of this magnitude. Dear friends took us in - it was a long flight home to say the least. I will have to see if I can find my journal - because I remember writing the whole flight.

Jensen received a plaque from the Watsonville fire department for bravery. We all thanked God for not even a scratch of harm coming to our family. It is a moment that you loose everything but you loose nothing because what is most valuable has been rescued. I am having that same feeling - same thoughts right now. As we sit in recovery mode with Jake, he has lost so much: right hand function, 5 x 5 inch piece of skull, lat muscle, skin grafts on his heel, hind side, arm, underarm...and yet he has not lost so much: life, limbs, mental capacity, he is walking, talking, laughing.

In our home in Watsonville, Jacob had a daily word calendar. Effulgence was the word on the day of the fire. In the midst of ashes, God's radiant splendor shines through. This is not just in answered prayers. God's radiant splendor shines through in the midst of tragedy - gut-wrenching heartache.

The Bible recounts two occasions where Jesus performs miracles of feeding thousands of people with meager rations. The food multiplies so much that there are baskets of leftovers. So often I focus on the fact that God feeds those that are hungry and is the God of abundant blessing. The food is great and is blessing but there is a greater blessing. Christ, God's son was present there - guiding, teaching, modeling for the disciples. He was present there with the people and they did not want to leave - even though they were hungry they did not want to miss what God had for them - they did not want to miss His effulgence. The food was an added bonus - not the glory - pointed to the glory. Miracles point to the glory - point to the Christ - evidence of his power.

Healing, health, provision, material stuff is not THE blessing - it is bonus - God's presence is the blessing. In the midst of turmoil - it is so hard to get a handle on this - in the midst of loss, gut-wrenching heartache, it is hard to feel the touch of the savior. And yet his heart is for us, he even wants to give us some food - the bonus. I guess right now I feel like I am living in the bonus - and the blessing of God is surrounding that - he is present. Something else may happen tomorrow that is another hardship - yet I can still live in the blessing - the presence of God.

Heavy on my heart is Jessica Huse. She was brought into Valley Med while Jacob was still there - a car accident - she is still critical - still at Valley Med. I have a hard time reading too much for it hurts my heart - that is not where she should be (just as it is not where Jacob should be). And yet I know, God is still present - I am praying for his effulgence to shine bright in these moments - piercing darkness. But I am also praying for a bonus. The blessing of restoration. Heal her Lord - give her back to her parents. Lord we your servants humbly plea from the depths of our heart. We trust in your power, let your glory flow.

In prayer,

Tom (Dad)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Love, part 2

Last I heard Jacob was going in to have his MRI done. I know it sounds small... but just considering the emotions that must be going through his and my family's head, as well as my own, there is no such thing as a little issue anymore. Little things tug on my heart, because now I can relate to the depths of sorrow that people experience.
It is quite honestly a huge challenge for me to be "out of the loop" with my family... being down at school necessitates that I at some point break with life at home and pursue my life down here. It is a huge process of "release" for me... letting go of the sorrow, the frustration, the bitterness... not to say that I don't still feel these things. But I don't allow myself to get trapped in a self-defeating cycle of internal arrogance and bitterness.
This directly applies to where I have come from. The last 5-6 years of my life have been characterized by frustration and bitterness toward the modern Christian-church institutions in which I have been raised and am still a part of. I have always known that I have been frustrated... but it has not been until recently that I have realized that I am bitter, and have only recently begun to dig this out of myself and work through it.

As a complement to this blog that I am writing, read one of my dad's post from a few days ago titled "Love." In it he says, "Loves moves through the dirt and cleans it up so that there is freedom. If love does not get dirty, nothing is cleaned." (I encourage you to read the whole post).

Closely related to this is a word that has popped up in my thoughts recently, that carries a lot of meaning with it regarding what I have been writing about: catharsis. In greek, it comes from the words meaning "cleanse" and "pure", and means "release." It is associated with the process of cleansing, of purifying, of releasing.

Am I open with who I am? Or do i enclose myself in an ivory tower of "Robert Kirkendall Christendom," where I dominate all who fall short of my mental standard and subject them to my own internal criticism and frustration? Or am I vulnerable, not just with others, but to the CATHARSIS of God? Am I opening myself up to him, being willing to be changed and transformed? Brokenness is the key in this process of catharsis. We must understand this without reverting into saying "Brokeness is God punishing us to teach us a lesson." That is not a proper understanding of what love is. If God truly loves us, then he will purify us, help us through the painful process of catharsis, of coming out of darkness and into light. God is with us every step of the way. We are not being judged by God... God's judgment and wrath was poured out onto his Son for us, on a Roman crucifix. We now can take part in the Catharsis of God, in coming out of darkness.

Catharsis is so associated with the concept of love that my dad presented. It is not gushy and kind and smiling faces... love is a determined, resolute ability to reach out a hand to people who are wallowing in the muck, to even dive into the muck after them, risking yourself. Rarely, however, do we face these drastic forms of love where we must "take a bullet for someone." As my RD said, love is exhibited in the little choices. In how we deal with pain and conflict. We can chose to be arrogant and self-seeking, or we can open ourselves, become vulnerable, and thus work through things together.

Catharsis is not an individual process. It MUST be done in community... in openess, in vulnerability. The Holy Spirit is not some vague entity who acts on behalf of individuals... he is a continual expression of the spirit of Christ, as manifested in our communities, in our interactions with those around us.

Back to Catharsis and love... there is so much hope here. A hope that says you are loved, here and now in this moment, and together we are going to work through this painful catharsis into light, out of darkness. The problem with so many religious (and otherwise) institutions and individuals is an unwillingness to SUMBIT to this Catharsis. Because, growth only occurs in brokenness. Transformation only happens when the old is torn apart so that the new may shine through. Instead, we tend to enshrine ourselves in ivory towers of our own accomplishment and intellect. It is these very constructs that must fall apart for us to grow.

I think this is the general idea that I was referencing when I though of the phrase "Journey Through Fire" for the blog. That we must be "burned," must be broken, that we may journey on and experience the love of Catharsis - a love that would tear apart in us what is unneccesary, what is anti-love, that we may grow. In this, I find so much hope - in the purifying power of love.

In St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, in Chapters 12 and 13, it appears that he is digressing on church structures. On proper institution. After a discussion on distinguishing the parts of one Body in the different spiritual practices, he prefases his discussion on love by saying:

And I will show you still a more excellent way.

Without love, he says, all else is VAIN. In fact, he goes on to list the very spiritual practices that he just mentioned as being vain without love. Prophecy, knowledge, wisdom, FAITH, beneficence, martyrdom, sacrifice. They are all empty without a love that is: patient. kind. un-envious. un-boastful. non-arrogant. non-rude. sacrificial. peaceful. truthful. A love that "bears all thing, beleives all things, hopes all things, endures all things." A love that never ends.

Everything else will pass away. Love is the only thing that will transcend this moment. Not to say that the other things are not good... but only love will stay with us. And Paul transitions back into his previous discussion by telling the reader to actively pursue love, and to merely desire the other spiritual activities.

Am I loving? Am I being love? Not a love that is nice and kind. A love that speaks truth into peoples lives, a love that sees a person's need, and does not merely stop at fulfilling that need, but shows genunine interest in the person and the desires of that person. A love that takes up another's burden with them. A love that is Incarnational - in the same way that Jesus was God-incarnate, God-become-one-of-us, so we are to become like the people whom we claim to serve.

Are we loving the people in our immediate vicinites? Are we willing to sacrifice our own worlds to serve them in theirs? I don't think that I am yet willing. What a crazy-hard calling.

Please pray for Jacob. I can just picture his anxiety before the MRI, his depression about his thumb, the stress on my parents to be with him as he has this appointment. May Jacob submit himself to the Catharsis of God, that he can see this as his process of growth, that his brokeness would cause love to only abound all the more.

-Rob (Jake's brother)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

MRI tomorrow...peace, Lord

It was a true blessing to share a bit of Jacob's Story this morning at a church I served at for 5 years. It was a place that we went through our own journey as a church family. Facing challenges, moving through conflicts, making mistakes, growing in victories - all that community goes through - grows through. There is much that I miss there - the people. God will continue to bring lessons your way until you learn and grow and make the changes that he wants.

I have worn hearing aids since was about 20 - over half my life. I wonder sometimes what it would be like if my ears worked perfectly. What tones am I missing? How does volume change really sound without digital amplification and reduction? What am I missing? What am I hearing that is just wrong? I long to sit in a worship service and just hear how the sounds are really suppose to resonate.

We all have "selective" hearing and "impaired hearing" in listening to God. We have layers of conditioning and experiences over the years that filter His voice - assumptions, misunderstandings, errors, fears - things that alter the true message.

Ah to hear the pure, untainted sound of the Lord's voice.

John 10:25-30 (The Message)
Jesus answered, "I told you, but you don't believe. Everything I have done has been authorized by my Father, actions that speak louder than words. You don't believe because you're not my sheep. My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them real and eternal life. They are protected from the Destroyer for good. No one can steal them from out of my hand. The Father who put them under my care is so much greater than the Destroyer and Thief. No one could ever get them away from him. I and the Father are one heart and mind."

Tomorrow is an MRI for Jake. Really not a huge deal in light of all else that he has been through and the extent of his injuries - surgeries to come. Yet it is the unknown - fear of the unknown - fear of not being able to do it - fear of what might happen. And so we pray that we might hear the voice of God - that we would recognize the voice of the Lord in the midst of your fear and simply follow him - trust him - joining the heart and mind of the Father and the Son by the presence of the Holy Spirit who is with us - with Jake.

In His presence.

Tom (Dad)