Thursday, July 31, 2014

Snakes, snails & puppy dogs' tails

Introducing: our little man, Lawson Michael Kirby!

Eeek! If I had any reservations about finding out the sex of the baby beforehand (hint: I didn't), they would have disappeared if I had known how much more REAL it all feels now! (Seriously... a BABY!)

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. Trevor got a new job and went back to school (woot!), we found out our little "it" is a "he", and we're looking to move soon (fingers crossed!). In the midst of it all, I've done what any girl would do... spend my days pinteresting.

Knowing we're having a little baby boy makes it easier to start making nursery decisions, which is very exciting (although it is a little sad to not have an excuse to pin cute little girl things!). Here are some things I'm loving right now:

Pegboard? Both cute & functional!

Wall of books!

I WISH we could do this! Not quite so sure it's renter-friendly...

Something like this with our wedding bunting would be fun! Not sure it's mobile-y enough though.

I realize this is more girlish, but I LOVE that rug!

Baskets on the wall = genius.

If I could just copy and paste this whole room, I would. I'd do it.

Or this one! Gahhh.
Does anyone else feel like Pinterest has this way of making you ITCH to paint something, like, now?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


That's right, folks, I'm pregnant! *Squeeeeeal*

Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), we are thrilled and terrified and just about every emotion in between. I mean, there is a baby growing in me right now! Whaaa?!

Let's go ahead and address the FAQs right up front:

  • When/how did you find out? I took a pregnancy test first thing in the morning on April 19th (the day before Easter). Trevor was in the loop, but I still stayed in the bathroom for the full three minutes (plus thirty more seconds of staring at the stick) before taking it back in the room to show Trev. Wide-eyed hugs and loads of giddy/shaky laughter ensued.
  • Was this planned? Yep! 
  • When's the due date? This is actually a tricky question. Using the "normal" method of calculation, the due date should be December 18th. However, at my last doctor's appointment at 11 weeks, we learned that the baby's measurements more accurately lined up with a 9-week-old fetus. That makes the new due date December 31st. We'll see if anything has changed at the next appointment. (Personally, I think the further from Christmas baby can come, the better!)
  • Are you going to find out the gender? Um, YES, as soon as humanly possible! I cannot for the LIFE of me understand not wanting (or more like NEEDING) to know. Maybe that's just me.
  • Are you hoping for a girl or boy? Because it's our first, I don't have a strong preference. Trevor, on the other hand, is dyyyyying for a boy. If we have a girl, my poor husband will be scared out of his mind. This leads him to insist that he KNOWS it is a boy... which sort of leads me to hope it's a girl.
  • Do you have names picked out? Not really. Trev and I have a hard time agreeing on names, so the list we do have is quite short, but nothing is definite.
In a nutshell, pregnancy is proving to be gloriously awkward. I find myself walking with my hands on my stomach, obsessively reading every book/article/website I see, and constantly praying God, protect my baby protect my baby protect my baby. Sometimes it feels completely unreal (surreal?), occasionally it feels like I've been pregnant forever, and other moments contain panicky is-this-real-life freak outs. So far I've experienced nausea, fatigue, serious hunger, loss of appetite, complete joy, and paralyzing fear. Bring on the second trimester energy!

Now let's talk about Trevor, because seriously, the man is a total catch. He makes ginger ale runs like nobody's business, and he actually put up with eating Taco Bell on a daily basis for weeks on end with no complaint (back when bean burritos were the only thing I could stomach--thank goodness that seems to be over!). Above all, though, I'm just so grateful to have a partner through all of this. It's been invaluable already (I tend to be paranoid and a bit of an over-analyzer, you know), and I can't imagine how I'd get through these next few months (and then years!) without him. This is especially true because I'm never sure where to draw the line when it comes to sharing (do you actually care that I could only eat bean burritos for weeks?), and I can count on Trevor to listen. Or, you know, pretend to listen, which is all I ask.

Speaking of sharing (and paranoia), I'm slightly terrified to post this. I have this fear before every appointment that we'll learn we lost the baby, or something will go horribly wrong. I'm also very concerned about being insensitive to those who have suffered that loss personally or are struggling with infertility. I do not want to add to that pain, and for that reason, I've debated including any pregnancy updates on the blog at all.

In the end, though, I decided to go ahead and write this post for a few reasons:
  1. I can't (and don't want to) pretend this isn't happening! This blog is the closest thing I have to a diary, and if I can't write about the pregnancy and baby here, I might as well delete the blog, right?
  2. If the unthinkable happens and we do lose the baby, I think I will want to write about it--eventually. I tend to process by writing, in case you haven't gathered that.
  3. Perhaps most importantly, those who will read this blog are likely people that are interested in my life, and therefore people that are interested in Baby Kirby. (If you're reading this and I don't know you, well, hi! Welcome to the rambling thoughts in my head.)
So there you have it! This post is full of tangents, which I will chalk up to pregnancy brain, and we can ignore the fact that all the previous posts are also full of tangents. Deal?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Just over three weeks ago, my grandpa Ivan Kounter passed away (on April Fool's Day, no less--we KNOW he planned that!). I contemplated giving a tribute at the memorial service, but eventually I decided I'd be blubbering so much that no one would be able to understand me anyway. Instead, I'll post it here, where no one can see my ugly crying face.

All my life, I've been told I have an amazing heritage. I have an incredible family, with four godly, inspirational grandparents, the best parents and brothers, and loads of aunts and uncles and cousins, so accepting that I have this amazing heritage has never been challenging for me. However, I've been proud of my heritage the way I think many of us say we're proud to be American: we mean it, we know it to be true, but we don't put a lot of thought into why that is or what it means as often as we should (which, by the way, my grandpa would have considered sacrilege). Lately I've been thinking a lot about this idea of heritage and what exactly it people mean when they say my grandpa left it for me and my family.

My grandma, Lorraine, and my grandpa
Many of you knew my grandpa as a pastor. He pastored all over the nation--in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Banning, Spring Valley and here at Olive Knolls in Bakersfield. But you may not know that it wasn't his plan to become a pastor. (Disclaimer: I'm about to tell a story my grandpa used to relate to me, which means two things. One, you've probably all heard it many times, and two, it may not be very factual.) When my grandpa was in college at Bethany--now Southern Naz--he attended a service where they talked about surrendering your life to God. My grandpa leaned to the friend sitting next to him and whispered, "I really think I'm being called into the ministry." He had been struggling with this call for a while, and his friend was aware that my grandpa did not want to enter the ministry. So his friend said, "You know, sometimes God just wants to know we're willing to obey." To which my grandpa thought, "Oh, well, if that's all this is, sure, I can be 'willing'." And he went down to the altar, and his life--and all our lives--were changed, because as it turned out, God did not just want willingness from him. God had big plans for Ivan Kounter.

Me & grandpa, post Christmas caroling in 2013
Now, I think it's important to note that my grandpa was not perfect. He had his fair share of flaws. For instance, you could not yawn around him. I could ask any number of you to recite the joke he told each and every time he caught someone yawning. "You're making me homesick! ....I used to live in a cave!"

He was also a man of great convictions, which sometimes translated to mean he was a man of great stubbornness. I remember one day we had been out doing errands and I was driving us home, and the whole way he insisted I was going the wrong way. When we pulled up to his house, he said, "It's okay, kid, you got us here eventually."

My grandpa was also super competitive--though to be fair, I think that's less of a fault and more of a Kounter gene. (My mom can attest to that.) One summer we played Chinese checkers nearly every day, and without fail, I lost. Aaaand he laughed in my face. Until eventually, I got good enough to beat him fairly consistently, at which point he got "bored" with Chinese checkers.

But, as insurmountable as these flaws may seem, my grandpa was more than his cheesy jokes, his stubbornness and his competitive nature. He was a man who started each day with prayer. He greeted, every Sunday, like the church's future depended on how big his smile could be and how many hands he could shake. He would have given his arms away if you told him you had need of them. He was radiant with the love of the Holy Spirit that lived in him and worked through him.

My cousins & brothers: Adam, Jake, Brad, Nathan, Jake & Kyle
Presenting the flag to my aunt Marilyn
I'm learning that these things are my heritage. The fact that Olive Knolls could barely hold the amount of people that showed up to his memorial service is a testimony to his heritage. The food offers we received in the days following his death, the texts and calls and hundreds of Facebook comments from people I've never met, all saying "Ivan Kounter blessed my life"--that's the heritage he left. I can only hope to leave that kind of legacy.

We love you, grandpa.

The Kounter family, each wearing a tie from my grandpa's massive collection

Friday, March 21, 2014


I am one of those people that will stare at a blank page for minutes on end until I can think of the exact word I need. This is one of the (many) reasons I am not a phone person: I need time to carefully construct my thoughts and arrange them the way I want them to be expressed. I am a proofreader and a word re-organizer. This means I can't speak my mind easily or eloquently. I can't improvise--and I don't want to. There's something seriously almost magical about turning an incomplete thought into a perfectly-expressed sentence. (NOT that I am very good at this myself--but I appreciate it when I find it!)

Because of that, I'm also a big fan of picking out a random word that I think I understand pretty well and trying to reexamine its meaning in a new light. In this day and time, we take words for granted in a sense. We (okay, I) tend to use words carelessly and thoughtlessly. (Did you know that the Bible says no one and nothing is "good" outside of God, because it implies purity and wholeness? And yet so far this morning I've declared coffee, green light streaks and lengthy hot showers to be very good.) There's no getting around it sometimes, but I do believe it's worth pondering from time to time.

Lately, the word "glorify" has been on my mind. I typically use the word interchangeably with words like "praise", or even "worship", but it's more than that. It runs deeper. It carries far more weight. To glorify God doesn't just mean we lift our hands while we sing a worship song, and it doesn't just mean we start our prayers with some perfunctory thank-yous. Glorifying God requires action. It means that in everything that we do, we represent him-- and do it well. Even beyond that--glorifying and exalting the Lord is our ENTIRE PURPOSE.

I am so in love with this quote a friend shared recently from C.S. Lewis. (Sidenote: this friend's name is Elise, and her blog is chock-full of lovely things.) Let me share it with you:

“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses
but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.
It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are;
the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.
It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is;
to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley
of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because
the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch;
to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with. . . .
The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’
But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify.
In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.

Um, WOW. These words resonate with me and excite me. Haven't we all experienced the absolute NEED to praise? Don't we all know what it's like to have this incredible thing to share with someone (anyone!) and the frustration that follows if no one else can get excited by it?

How cool is our God? When he told us to love him, serve him and glorify him, he knew what he was doing! Our Lord is not an egotistical, power-hungry maniac who forces us to exalt him (although he totally could choose to be if he wanted, and what right would we have to complain? He's GOD!). Instead, he asks us to glorify him (by living for him) knowing full well that in doing so, we will find fulfillment. He created us to love him, and the reverse of that is in loving him well, we will find satisfaction and enjoyment--much like you and I feel that incredible sense of accomplishment when we realize we have a natural talent for something and bring it to fruition. It's a powerful moment, and it's completely God-ordained. Amazing.

"Glorify the Lord with me;

let us exalt his name together." 

-Psalm 34:3

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Psalm 130

Psalm 130: A song of ascents

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let Your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with You, there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve You.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in His word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord,
more than the watchmen wait for the morning,
more than the watchmen wait for the morning.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with Him is full redemption.
He Himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.

When I was little, I used to skim through the Psalms because they often seemed so similar. You have a first-person narrative, some desperation and ultimately a lot of hope. I recognized the truth in it, but it never seemed relevant to my cushy, first-world life as a young girl whose most insurmountable problems were in the realm of time-consuming homework and facial blemishes.

Fast-forward a few years and many bigger problems, and suddenly (or not-so-suddenly) I understand the vast despair that can lead to the penning of the phrase "out of the depths" and the yearning implied in "my whole being waits". I have a new appreciation for the idea of waiting for the Lord as watchmen wait for the morning. I am overwhelmed by the reminder that God--the vast, incomprehensible Creator of ALL--takes a personal interest in my life. WOW.

I love that this psalm (among others) is called "A song of ascents". Most of us are aware that to ascend means to rise or travel up. I love the imagery the author gives us with that: we are in the depths of our sinful natures, hopeless and useless, and our Jesus personally raises us up with Him. But did you also know the other meaning of the word ascent? Take a look at number five:

 Ascent Definition

A movement or return toward a source or beginning. We are not simply being lifted out of our sin to higher ground (though that alone has the power to stop my breath!). We are being moved to our Savior and our Redeemer. By crying out to God and by accepting Jesus's hand, we are returning to our Creator and Father. And all we have to do is ask!

The challenge embedded in this psalm is simple, and is an echo of the gospel of a whole:
   Recognize (not once, but each day!) that we are stuck in our sin.
   Cry out to our God for his unfailing mercy (not because we can earn it, but because He's waiting to pour it on us).
   Accept His forgiveness and grace with humility and gratefulness.
   And THEN, with reverence, serve Him, however we can and in everything we do--not just because it's our duty (although it definitely is), but because He chooses to work through us, and because that is our God-appointed purpose.

P.S. Thanks to #SheReadsTruth for the challenge! If you're looking for daily devotionals, reading plans and/or a community of women digging into the word, please check them out!


Monday, February 17, 2014

Oh, hello, 2014

This year has so far been a whirlwind of straight-up crazy. In the last 6 weeks:
  • I accepted a job at the Bakersfield branch of PLNU (okay, so that was in December, but still)
  • Trevor began the job hunt
  • I left my job (amidst many tears)
  • Trevor left his job (amidst screams of mirth and joyful dancing)
  • We said goodbye to the incredible people and place of San Diego, including our beloved little apartment
  • We picked up and moved to Bakersfield, CA... More specifically, we moved in with my parents and the only brother still at home, Timmy Wimmy (he loves that)
  • I started said job at PLNU Bakersfield
  • Trev & I celebrated NINE YEARS together on the 9th (golden anniversary, woot!) with a weekend trip back to SD (just couldn't stay away) and Disneyland
  • We started a brand new small group (YAY!)
  • Trevor continued continues the job hunt (and a hunt it is, my friends)
I have experienced every emotion under the sun. Yet in the midst of it all, I am so at peace. (Isn't it funny how that works?) It's clear to both of us that this is where we are supposed to be. Don't misunderstand, we love San Diego with a massive chunk of our hearts (Trevor will cry if you ask him about it), but God is at work in our hearts and in our Bakersfield church and we are thrilled to be here.

Cue the photo roll....
New Year's Eve with the gang
We learned that Ender plays tug-a-war... viciously.
My dad played in a tennis tournament in SD... complete with a headband mullet. So proud.
We saw our beautiful alumni brick on Caf Lane!
My kindergarten picture added to the wall at work! See me?
Trev broke a million on Astro Blasters... AGAIN... stud.
Celebrating 9 years at Disneyland
One thing I'm learning over and over is that God is in control. He has a plan, and it's better than ours. Being in this strange limbo is not my favorite. I'm very much a "create a plan, create 5 back up plans, and cry when something goes wrong" kind of gal... so I'm a little out of my element here. I'm learning that trust is an active part of faith. Much like love, and commitment, and positivity, putting my trust in the Lord is a choice I have to make each minute of each day. It sounds hard to me, and it definitely is challenging to let go, but considering that the only other alternative is figuring things out on my own... why wouldn't I entrust my future into the hands of the One who knows what's ahead? Why wouldn't I give my life to the One who loves me more deeply than I can understand?