12.25.2010

An Extroverts DREAM 31st Bday

Wake up to a house full of streamers and balloons, leave for my workout, have a blast at boot camp, return home to Jeff, Caleb, and Samaria overjoyed to see me and wish me a happy bday. Jeff tells me you have 40 min to be showered, dressed and ready...ready for what? I don't know...

I am told my first set of instructions will come once I am in the car and driving...at this point I am driving in circles in our cul-de-sac waiting for a text message w/ what I am supposed to do next.

Rise and shine, it's birthday time
Order bacon and eggs, instead of wine.
Meet your buddy at Busick's Court
It's a day of celebration - what great sport!

Laura is one of my first Salem friends, not only b/c she is my husbands boss, (we met back when Jeff, Caleb and I were visiting up here in Salem for Jeff to canidate) not just a running buddy, but truly a kindred spirit who deeply invests in me and my family!

Go have a java
with a pregnant mama
Her love will fill you up
at the Governor's Cup.

Erica is another first Salem friend, our husbands worked together, she helped us unpack our u-haul into a place I had never seen before, saw me at my worst and still wanted to be my friend, we have walked through a lot together in my almost 3 years here...I love her.

It's time for a visit
to this wise mom of five
Her warm home awaits you,
in her company you will thrive.

Jamie is a wealth of wisdom...we met back when Jeff was an intern at SAC, and over the last year have gotten to know each other on a much deeper level. She is a woman I truly admire and respect!

Here's to a lunch date,
with your old housemate.
Wild Pear for two,
her wisdom to take.

Jen Roth...where to begin...she not only provided a home for my family to live for the first 7 months we lived here in Salem, but she encouraged me through one of the toughest seasons of my life, rocked my son to sleep, helped me do laundry, and fed my soul.

It's time to use your "phone a friend,"
Tutu is waiting on the other end.
Call her from the coffeehouse,
built by the church that employs your spouse.

My mom...see recent post...pretty much sums her up!

Some R&R for those boot camp feet,
Your fellow soldier joins you for this treat.
Go to Great Harvest and there you will meet.

Shannon is a fellow boot camp buddy...and b/c of our early morning times of doing cruel and unusual things to our bodies...on purpose...we have grown in our friendship...she is an amazing woman w/ a heart for worship and her family!

A date with "NeeNee," but no racing this time
please forgive this lack of rhyme.
Go to where Boone keeps his money
Your friend will fill your heart and your tummy.

Annie...oh Annie...she is on staff at SAC w/ Jeff, known as NeeNee to my kids, they LOVE her, and she adores them, Annie's daughter "Nutmeg" is an adopted big sister to Caleb and Sam, Annie is my "mentor" and b/c of her...I have found a love for running...even in the rain!

It's time for a play date, but leave the kiddos behind
good coffee and company, adults only this time.
Return to that place where you phoned your friend
Enjoy this date, we're nearing the end.

Jen Henderson...one of the first people to reach out to me at Hearts at Home...she called me by name (without a nametag) she had me at, "hello Kara Brown!" We chatted on facebook one night, and the rest is history...our kids love each other, our hubbys are both Jeff's, and she makes me laugh!

Now that your full of love and food
let's get some endorphins to keep the mood.
Next you head to Gallagher's Fitness
The meet one whose encouragement is a witness.

Reebs...an amazing woman of God, who has found a brotherhood with Jeff, a sisterhood with me, and I am loving getting to know her, learn from her, and be blessed by her!

The end is coming near, but no need to shed a tear.
Time to make one more stop, where the pizza's good and hot.
Those crazy newlyweds and your amazing hubby too
They are dying to sing a final Happy Birthday to you!

Mandee Spotts...Wilmot now, she grew up and got married to an awesome guy named Ryan. Jeff and I did their pre-marital couseling, I coordinated their wedding, Jeff married them and DJ'd...all this started 10 years ago when a 7th grade girl went to a basketball camp where I was coaching...our lives were forever intertwined! Mandee is basically me...just taller and better at basketball...and Ryan is basically Jeff...so we all understand each other REALLY WELL!!!


Steve and Sandie Spotts drove 45 min down here to Salem to watch Caleb and Sam while we double dated w/ Mandee and Ryan. The kids had a great time...and we all had cake and ice cream to celebrate my 31 years!

Husband...thank you! You gave the best gift possible to an extrovert...time w/ people I love and who love me! This b-day is one I will NEVER forget! The time, effort, and love you put into this mean the world to me! I LOVE YOU!!!

Mandee and Ryan...thanks for helping Jeff, driving down here, dinner, dessert and sharing life w/ us!!!

Steve and Sandie...thanks for driving down here to love on my kids...and me!

All my friends that shared this day w/ me (and to Trina and Kathy for being willing to join, just not enough hours in the day!) THANK YOU for the gift of your friendship!!! I LOVE YOU!!!

12.09.2010

O Christmas Tree

Well, it's that time of year again...I can't believe Christmas is just around the corner. I am LOVING seeing this season through the eyes of my children, it takes me back to the magic, wonder and anticipation I experienced as a child.

Growing up in a home FULL of traditions...I would have to say decorating the tree is at the top of my list. I have a Dec birthday, so does my mom (hers is actually Christmas day!) and due to the fact that her day got overlooked often b/c of Christmas craziness, she and my Dad made a huge effort to segregate the two for me. So we NEVER decorated our tree until after the 10th of Dec. When I got old enough to vote it was quickly switched to the day after Thanksgiving...who wants to wait til the 11th of Dec to decorate a tree...not me!

We lived up in central Washington and would often go and cut down our tree. I loved hiking up into the snow, playing, searching for "the one," finding it and then dragging it back to our monster of a van! Only to fall asleep on the way home, wake up and bust out the lights and ornaments! We would listen to Christmas music and eat Chinese Food...can't remember exactly when or why...but Chinese food became a must for decorating!

Every year we get a new ornament to put on the tree. So when I had my first "grown up" tree w/ Jeff I had an entire box of special ornaments that evoked precious memories of that particular year. Most of them are basketball ornaments and others significant and special based on events or locations. Now Jeff and I have ornaments together...you know...the cute love bird kind, once in awhile a Miami Hurricane football player or "U" helmet make their way too.

This year, we got to be in Redding for the weekend following Thanksgiving. We took advantage of the 10 bucks for a tree permit and Papa and Ga staying w/ the kids while they napped, we traveled up to the mountains w/ Jeff's brother Joey and sister-in-law Krista to get our trees.

Our tree from 2007, the last time we were able to cut our own. I sure do miss those tall ceilings we had in our Redding house!

Snow Angels anyone?

Brownsound's "the one" for Christmas 2010

We found ours early into the search, and may have had to pee while we were there, so we may have "marked" our spot. We also made snow angels, threw some snowballs, and got pulled over by the Sheriff to receive a $420.oo ticket for being one permit short, (it was at Juli's house down the Mountain) only to have it voided, after Officer Troy found out Joey was a teacher...WHAT? Yeah...that really happened!


Joey and Krista w/ their tree (notice the bright yellow tree permit?)

We put up our tree on the 1st this month...Jeff does the trimming and lights and all of us decorate. We did Thai food this year, (Sam kept eating the spicy yellow curry even though her eyes watered like crazy!) Caleb requested the "Chick-munk" (Christmas Don't be late) song...over and over...and over again...they were ecstatic to hang ornaments, especially their Tinkerbell and McQueen from last year! Only one of my ornaments got broken, I didn't even cry, Jeff glued it back together and all was well!

Caleb w "coach" his nickname for Jeff's "U" player

Samaria and her "Tinkobwell"

I have always admired the "pretty trees"...you know the ones that have a color scheme and matchy ornaments; looking like they were decorated by Martha Stewart herself. I will have one of those in a front room or something....I would love to have several trees in a big house someday! They are so fun and festive...for this season, in this house, we have one mismatchy ornament tree that tells a story w/ each ornament hung.


The Brownies saying "O Christmas Tree"

12.01.2010

Priceless gift from Tutu

A while back my husband did a post about his parents (whom I love and am so grateful for); so today I am going to do a post about my mom.

She is an amazing woman, (was) a single mom,(married to a great guy who adores her) full time working, always giving, never asking, truly selfless, hospitable beyond words, a family for those w/o, always including, cooking and loving people w/ food, her door is never closed, her table is always open, her heart constantly bursting w/ love and joy, and she reflects Jesus in all she says and does! She is my best friend! There are not words to express my admiration for the woman that she is and constantly becoming as she looks to Jesus to guide and direct her.


A couple of weeks ago she and her husband Rali offered to take Caleb and Samaria for a week...just because she wanted time w/ them, and she knew it would bless Jeff and I to have a "stay-cation". WOW...we were blessed! I kept sending her text messages thanking her...all the while she was sending me thank you messages for the chance to love on them and spend all the time she could w/ them. They played, cooked, watched movies, went for walks, went to the park, she even took both of them shopping w/ her for the day...crazy...I know...


While at home I was struggling w/ the fact that I had no kids for the week (not like I was lacking things to do, or enjoying that my hubby and I could do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted ;) my questions were more like: Was I a bad mom for enjoying it? Was I a bad mom for even allowing it? Was I neglecting my kids...all lies from the devil, but still very real... until my friend Jennie Pino stopped me by Jeff's office one day and said, "thanks for giving us permission to do something like that...what an example you guys are." I thought...God you really know what I need to hear when I need to hear it!

Let's be clear...Jeff and I are not perfect parents, we are on this journey of balancing our relationship as husband and wife w/ being parents and it is a constant tug-of-war! For this week that Tutu (Hawaiian for grandma) took the kiddos, I was blessed by giving Jeff my BEST every single day! I was not tired and worn out, I was not vying for his attention at the end of the day when he gets swarmed at the door by all three of us needing his attention and affection, I was lavishing him w/ love, kindness, touch, uninterrupted conversation, the energy to serve him, a clear and sound mind, completed thoughts and sentences, meals on the table when he walked in the door, date nights w/ just us and no time restrictions due to childcare, and we got to share in quiet times together in the Upper Room. Our cups...overflowing...


Thanks Mom! Thanks for living in front of me how to be a selfless mom, I am the mom that I am b/c of you! Thanks for sharing in the joys and hardships of parenting Caleb and Samaria for a week...thanks for loving and grand-parenting them w/ the same passion that you do w/ me and Jean! Thanks for putting my kids at the top of your love list...b/c that is the best way you can love me! Thanks for the gift of freeing me up to love my husband the way I was born to! Your gift of a kid free week...priceless!


Caleb and Samaria, when you are older and read this please know...I love you w/ my whole heart and soul, each of you brings something so crucial and meaningful to this family, without which we would not be complete! Remember, before you were here in our lives, and long after you move out and start your own families, your Daddy has and always will be the love of my life! I pray that each one of you finds a spouse that challenges you and points you to Jesus the way your Dad does for me!

10.31.2010

I've heard an Angel...

Back in my college days...

I lean over to my friend at chapel and ask, "who is that guy leading worship?" She replies, "oh that's Brownie." "Is that his real name?" I ask in total disbelief... She says, "no, his name is Jeff Brown but everybody calls him Brownie." Whew...his parents don't hate him after all. :)

I asked Angela about him b/c he was my favorite worship leader, but I didn't know who he was. I loved the way that he lead worship by worshiping God. It's almost like he wasn't even there, he ushered us into the throne room and then left us there to be with our Maker. Not to mention he had a great voice...now let's keep in mind I only had 1/2 my hearing at this time, but I was pretty much amazed by his pipes...I knew I wanted to keep my eye on him!

Now let's fast forward to the part where I have FINALLY won him over and we have been dating all of 3 weeks. He is heading up to Salem, OR for a year long internship and writes me a song before he goes...titled I've Seen An Angel, (side note, my favorite line from this song - "this must have been what Adam felt the first time he saw Eve." yeah, he is that good) He sings it to me out on a porch under the stars...but that means it is dark, so I can't read his lips. Once he realizes I am missing 1/2 the words he turns on the porch light and plays it again for me so that I can hear ALL the words. Thanks Brownie, but my inability to hear the first time took away from the moment and the mood...mid song w/ blazing porch lights on...ugh!

Fast forward to our wedding day! He writes me another song...knowing that b/c I can't hear lyrics he has to record the song ahead of time and lip sync the words to me. Otherwise, I would miss the words in which he writes about, "flowers fading and the dress being put away, but the Maker of you, the Maker of me, will always stay"...yup...that good again! (The man does not disappoint ladies and gentlemen!) I was so grateful for how intentional and well thought out he was. In all honesty, I wanted to just look at him and hear it all w/o him having to lip the words to me.

And now...I have these AMAZING hearing aides...I get them on a Friday night, and by the grace of God Jeff "happens" to be leading worship that weekend. I go to church Saturday night, the band starts to play...I hear all these wonderful sounds I've never heard before...and then Jeff steps up to the mic and starts to sing...
I am speechless...
tears stream incessantly down my face during the entire set...
Jeff gets done, comes to sit down beside me and takes my hand in his...
I lean over and say to him, "I knew you were good, I just never knew you were THIS good."
Let's just say that I went to 4 out of 5 services that weekend b/c no longer does my hearing disability keep me from sharing in one of my husbands greatest passions!!!

I've HEARD an angel...

9.27.2010

I will carry you...

Today I got my first tattoo.

Rewind to college. I wanted a tattoo, one that meant something. I didn't want one just for the sake of having one. I wanted a reminder of something God taught me or something God did in my life.

Fast forward to our first year in Salem. The hardest year of my life! The short version...moving to Salem meant...I lost family, friends, support system, identity, history, and...it felt like I would never be me again.

One night (during the "crazy" Kara phase) Jeff and I were laying in bed...I was doing the ugly cry...I felt like I couldn't be 7 months prego, with a 1 year old, hardly any friends, no family around, living in a tiny apartment with my belongings in 3 different locations, no social life, and no ministry connections anymore. I was exhausted and didn't have anything left.

I remember looking at Jeff through my water filled eyes saying, "If this is God's best for me...I don't want it! I can't do this anymore!" Jeff responds, (with more passion than I knew was in him) "I didn't move our family up here for you to give up...I will carry you!" Not much was said after that, he just held me while I cried.

Fast Forward 1 year later. I was recounting to a friend all that God taught me during our first year here in Salem. I shared w/ her the story of Jeff and I on ugly cry night. Rejoicing in Jeff's response being a reminder of how the Lord felt about me...He would carry me...and HE did!

She blurts out, "ahava!" I had no idea what she was saying or what that word meant. She explains it is a Hebrew word for love. There are several different kinds of love in the Hebrew language...this particular word can be the carrying type of love...example; no matter how heavy or hard it gets I love you so much that I will carry you!

Jeff did the design for my tattoo...making the "h" resemble a shoulder...a reminder of how the shepherd puts his sheep on his shoulders, to carry them after they have strayed away, to be close the them, because HE loves them!

Today...I celebrate and remember God's love for me...the "I will carry you no matter what" kind...

9.25.2010

Oh the Wonderful Sounds Mrs. Brown Can Hear...

I have had my new ears for one week! WOW!!! I can't even remember what it was like without them...well, to be honest, I can. Because I have to take them out every couple of hours to give myself a break. It is really overwhelming and I have had a constant headache for a week.

I have been avoiding this entry because I have put a lot of pressure on myself to communicate what it was like to go from hearing the world with half of my hearing to ALL of my hearing...and then some!

So I made a list of things as the days unfolded...some big...some not so big...here goes...

  • seatbelt makes a click sound
  • raindrops on the windshield
  • melody/harmony...never heard it, BEAUTIFUL!
  • water splashing on the sink
  • ice machine...crushed...yummy
  • my kids in the back seat, talking, singing, arguing, all of it!
  • my oven timer, even from another ROOM!
  • the prelude to the Chuck series has a bunch of background sounds that I never knew were there
  • birds chirping
  • the sound of the steamer when my dirty chai is being made
  • the sound of paper ripping and scrunching
  • had to turn down the ringer on my cell phone
  • at the park w/ the kids and heard all these adorable little voices w/ wind and falling leaves
  • the carousel was annoying loud :)
  • music played from the ipod or in the car does not have to be full blast
  • people whispering...both ears and from all kinds of distances
  • my friends and families voices as they really are...tears...lots of tears...
  • the sound of Ally's id tag clinking against her collar (Ally is our chocolate lab...first born)
  • annoying talking/noise toys that our family buys for our children! thx grandparents!
  • the sound of someone eating a banana...loudly
  • my feet hitting the ground as I run...and all the feet around me too, so I don't do that anymore!
  • knuckles cracking
  • cymbals...you know...like w/ the drums...never heard those before
  • zits popping...love that sound :)
  • discovered "background" music levels
  • cereal hitting the bowl
  • hearing people WITHOUT reading their lips and seeing their faces
  • egg shaker - thought those were for the people who could not sing but wanted to be on stage ;)
  • tv shows w/o captions...and I can hear everything!
  • egg shells cracking
  • finger nails being clipped...cool sound that goes w/ that gross job
  • i never understood why there was keyboard AND piano at the same time, turns out, they are different, layering i think is the fancy/music word
  • church/worship/teaching was AMAZING!!!
  • hearing my hubby sing, fully and completely, I was a mess, it was/is beautiful! more to come on hearing my man talk and sing...its gonna be a tear jerker...stay tuned!

oh the wonderful sounds...

PS...I have also realized that I AM REALLY LOUD...so I would like to publicly apologize to all of you for my loudness! I AM SO SORRY! WOW...I had no idea! Bad news is...I passed it onto my kids...ugh!!!

9.20.2010

I Can Hear Them Breathe...

If you haven't read the previous post, you might want to do that first before you read on...

Friday...Friday the 17th of September, 2010...a day I will NEVER forget!!! Jeff and I finished up a double date with Steve and Trina Fowler and headed over to the Oregon School for the Deaf. We get there and Scott (test/ear mold guy) gives us hugs and a huge welcome. Apparently he had been waiting for us all afternoon! I guess he was excited to see the follow up from my ugly cry when I realized I was getting 2 new hearing aids...for FREE!

Jeff and I w/ Scott

All of a sudden a woman hands me a little plastic bag w/ 2 new hearing aids, "Kara Brown, right?" She tells me to wait to put them in, so that Dr. Bill Austin can do it. There they are...in my hand. I just sit and look at them, I don't know what will happen when he puts them in...I mean, I know I will hear better, but it couldn't really change my life...could it? could they? 2 little hearing aids?

They even matched the outside to my hair color!

While we are waiting for my turn, our friend from church, Robyn Brown came up. She was so excited for me and asked if she could stay and watch Dr. B put them in. (Robyn had been with the deaf students in Minnesota all week, and had been signing/interpreting and helping with all aspects of the Extreme Home Makeover stuff, she is also the pastor for the deaf at our church - awesome lady!) We were blessed to share this experience with her!

Then it's my turn...he comes over and puts them in my ears...a guy from Starkey has the camera and lights rolling...I feel very much watched and the center of attention, which normally I don't mind, but today I felt really uneasy about it...b/c I didn't know what my response was going to be. I was actually in disbelief at first...I just kind of sat there with tears streaming down my face while he talked to me. I could hear him loud and clear. I could hear and UNDERSTAND him w/o looking at his face! Jeff is just standing there watching w/ tears in his eyes as I am hearing the world for the first time the way he hears it. Then my hubby stands behind me on my right side and says softly, "raise your right hand." So I did, and he claps his hands and says..."That is amazing!"

Jeff, Dr. B, and I...I know, great self portrait...I am short...ok?!?

Dr. B is still talking to me, explaining all the neat stuff about the hearing aids, making sure they fit, and then...Jeff comes up behind me, on my right side, and whispers into my ear. I immediately go into the ugly cry. Dr. B says to the camera guy, "You missed it, he just kissed her on the cheek. Get back over here." I respond to Dr. B and say, "No, he didn't kiss me, he whispered that he loved me...and I HEARD it!" He says, "Wow, I didn't even hear it." To which I responded, "I know a great guy who can hook you up with some amazing hearing aids."

video
This is right after Jeff whispered I love you...

Then...in a matter of minutes all the sounds I have been missing out on for 30 years come crashing into my world...its amazing and overwhelming all at the same time. Little things like when we got into the car I went to buckle up...and I heard the click it makes, so I did it again, and again, and again...Jeff is just laughing at me...I heard the raindrops falling onto the windshield while we drove to pick up our kids.

We get to Logan and Erica Martins house, who have been watching the kids for us, I rush in the door and up the stairs...Caleb says, "Mommy" and I drop down to my knees and cry while I hug him. Hearing his little voice in all it's fullness for the first time...such a flood of emotions. Then I hear Samaria, "are you ok, Mommy?" I sweep her up and cry even harder as I say, "Yes, Mommy has never been better." My children have the most amazing little voices and hearing them completely was one of the most precious moments in my life!

Then after we watched an episode of Chuck on Jeff's laptop...WITHOUT captions...and I heard it all! I went in to brush my teeth and wash my face...I heard the water hit the sink and splash, I heard the toothbrush against my teeth, this was so much fun, I wanted to hear more things. So I went into the kitchen and started opening and closing things, jingled the keys, clinked silverware together, and then I got an idea...I wanted to hear my kids breathe...so I crept into their rooms...and listened...it was perfect!

9.15.2010

Hearing...

So...if you have read our blog before...you know that I don't! Jeff does it...he is the blogger in our family. He is funny, he is great with words, he can make you cry, he can cheer you up, challenge you, and gosh darn it...people like him! Now that we have established that this is a RARE occasion for me, Kara Lee Santos Brown to be blogging...here goes...my first time...
I was born w/ a hearing disability...it was not discovered until I was 4 years old. High Frequency loss amounting to 90 % in my right ear and 10% in my left ear. I was given a hearing aid...undercover word for, make fun of me! I was taken out of class once a week for speech therapy and the best part was they taught me how to read lips. (let me tell you...that has come in handy on numerous occasions!)

The bottom line was that I HATED having a hearing aid, I hated being different, and I hated being told I HAD to do/or wear something. I fought, and I mean fought HARD to get rid of that thing! To the point where I would walk out of the house wearing it to appease my parents and then as SOON as I got to the bus stop I would take it out and put it in my backpack. The bad news - the kids in my class and my teachers did not have a hearing disability and could hear it beeping b/c I would often forget to turn it off in a rush to get it out of my ear and in the backpack as soon as possible. So then I would get busted at home AND at school.

Didn't matter...still fought the hearing aid battle...determination is one of my most endearing qualities. :) just ask my parents! So needless to say I eventually wore them down...6th grade, Jr. High, the mother of all transitions up to that point in my life...they said if my grades did not suffer I did not have to wear my hearing aid to school! Praise the Lord! He does hear and answer prayers! No more speech therapy, no more hearing aid, no more being made fun of, no more being different!

It never affected my grades! It affected other things in my life though...music is hard for me to follow b/c I can't make out the lyrics. That is one of the reasons I love worship music so much, I know the words b/c they are on a screen every week at church. Movies in the theater...fun for most, for me very frustrating b/c if the screen is not showing the person who is talking I can't read their lips and I miss what they are saying. Whisper to me...hahaha Not a chance I can hear that. Missing out on things said...my friends always having to repeat themselves. Never being able to put the phone on my right ear. And the list goes on...

Now lets fast forward, graduated from college, got married to the man of my dreams, we got pregnant with our first baby...I didn't want to miss my little one cry, coo, or say uv u (love you) for the first time! So with some money saved up and a loan from Jeff's parents (Thanks Mom and Dad Brown) we went and purchased a hearing aid for Mama Kara. It was sufficient, enough to help, but nothing to write home about...we had a budget to stick with and a baby on the way, not to mention insurance does not cover them!

And then we had our little bundle of joy, Caleb...and that same bundle of joy (a year and a half later) stepped on my purse, which happened to have the hearing aid in it...yup...he smashed it to smithereens! My bad for taking it out and putting it in my purse...but those things itch after they are in your ear all day long! Needless to say, insurance still doesn't cover them, we have 2 babies and bills to pay...Mama Kara is back to reading lips and "what did you say again?"

In the meantime being blessed w/ friends and family who repeat themselves a million times, watch tv shows and movies w/ captions on, running buddies who always run on my left side so when they are talking and breathing hard I can hear them, tilting the rear view mirror down when I am in the backseat so I can read their lips and not be left out, and so much more!!!

Fast Forward to September 13, 2010...I get a text from my running buddy Erik, and I quote, "what is ur deafness called?" I laughed so hard I had tears running down my face. Turns out he is talking to Dr. Bill Austin, who is at the Extreme Home Makeover site, which happens to be the Oregon School for the Deaf - here in Salem! Erik says, "get over here, they will give you a hearing test"...in my mind I am thinking...Erik, I already know I am deaf! And Jeff and I are supposed to have a date night, and I don't want to go get tested again, we don't have money for another one, blah, blah, blah. Jeff says, lets just go...so we do...pack up the kids and head out. They give me a test...yup...still deaf!

Scott (test/ear mold guy) starts asking me questions about my hearing loss...what is hard? What do you wish you could hear? What is the hardest thing for you about your hearing loss? This is when tears start...I realize how much I truly miss out on...I have just always adapted...but in truth...I miss a lot of what my kids say. I miss out on one of my husbands gifts and passions in music. I miss out on getting sweet little whispers in my ears from my kiddos...b/c I can't hear them...so they don't do it! I miss the cute things they say and sing in the back of the car b/c I can't always tilt the rear view mirror to see their lips.

What I don't realize...until they are making molds for BOTH of my ears (I have only had 1 in my right ear before) is that...they are making molds for in ear hearing aids...this means they think I am getting TWO hearing aids!?! I stopped Scott and let him know, we don't have the money for this, and I have never had 2 before, only 1...he looks at me confused and says, "how did you hear about this?" I fill him in on Erik and the free test. Scott looks at me w/ tears in his eyes and says, "this is a $3,000.00 hearing test Kara. You are getting not 1 but 2 FREE hearing aids today." This is when the ugly cry starts...I can't believe it...and these are not just hearing aids...these are the Best of the Best! (I know...I sound like an old lady...off to a nursing home!) Jeff comes over, I explain, we both burst into tears...Scott is tearing up w/ us...and says to Jeff, "date night will never be the same, you can go to the movies now!"

Wow...I am in awe of how God chose to heal me! I have been praying for my ears to be made new for as long as I can remember! I want to hear what my husband plays...completely! I want to hear my kids...even when I am not looking at their faces! I am sure all my family and friends want me to stop asking, "what did you say again?" Thank you for always repeating yourselves! Thank you Erik for being that friend...like the friends in Mark 2:4! Thank you Dr. Bill Austin for your generosity! Thank you Jeff for pushing me to go for the "free hearing test" when I just wanted a date night w/ you...life will never be the same husband! Thank you Extreme Home Makeover for coming to Salem! Thank You God...for hearing me...healing me...loving me...and saving me!!!

8.15.2010

Egypt Update 02

Today is our last full day in Taba.
Tomorrow, we pack up and head back to Aqaba, Jordan.

Kara and I have both tried to think of a word that could communicate to you what we've seen, heard, and experienced here. But none of them really do justice to it.

So allow me to blabber blog.

On Thursday morning, we started our first corporate worship time together. I was so nervous. Not because I thought I might play the wrong chord, but because I didn't know if I'd be able to handle the outpouring of voices crying out to God in a way that they haven't done in 365 days.

I was right. I couldn't handle it.

The sound of worshippers was such that I've never heard passion like that before. I've heard voices, yes. But the pure desire and affection for God that filled that room will never leave my memory. Tears. Broken voices. Arms outstretched not only to reach for Almighty God, but also to welcome the worship time like a prodigal son returning home.

One of the things Kara and I have debriefed about is that we will never sing some of these songs the same way again. We have forever been ruined.

Ruined by the bridge of "Mighty to Save":
Shine your light and let the whole world see
We're singing for the glory of the risen King Jesus

...and the verse
Everyone needs forgiveness
the kindness of a Savior
THE HOPE OF NATIONS

Ruined by the verse of "Hosanna":
Hear the sound of hearts returning to you
We turn to You

Ruined by "Jesus Messiah". The Israel Lands workers especially contributed to the new meaning of this song for me. These people are spreading the news of the Messiah to people who are still waiting for him to come.

We have not just been impacted by our times of worship together. Conversations around the table reveal people who have taken their commitment to Matthew 28:19-20 seriously. These people are amazing. They have chosen to follow God's leading into places where (as one couple told us) they've been told that they will be killed if they step foot again into a certain village. Can you imagine?

We've met workers that have come from their home in Holland to tell the Middle East about Christ. They speak Dutch, have added English, and are tackling the most difficult language to learn - Arabic. Another couple is from China. Another from Chile. It's not just Americans.

That blew my mind! God is at work everywhere...he's sending out missionaries...from everywhere. We realized that our vision and perspective of God's work around the world was EXTREMELY small.

We came to serve.
But we have been served.

We came to be a part of changing lives.
Our lives are the ones changed.

Highlights
1. On the first day during a prayer meeting, security came and asked us to leave the room we were in so they could check for bombs. I was told it was "standard procedure". I'm gonna disagree with that.
2. We took communion together today and had a healing prayer time.
3. Kara found great joy in training for the Hood to Coast relay by running along the shore of the Red Sea (yeah, the same one that was parted down the middle for the Israelites...oh yeah baby).
4. Snorkeling near the corral reef on the Egyptian side of the Red Sea.
5. The speaker, Sunder Krishnan, has been speaking on spiritual formation all week and he...is...good. Look up his sermons.

We'll talk to ya soon.

8.11.2010

Egypt Update 01

Kara looked at me yesterday and said “I can’t believe we’re in Egypt!”


All those stories and flannel graphs in Sunday School that told us about the Israelites

being freed from slavery and crossing the Red Sea on dry ground…

those “stories” have become quite real to us.

We took a boat across that same sea.


We’ve touched the sand where a million people

walked out of bondage and into freedom.

We stood on top of Mt. Nebo where Moses was shown the Promised Land.

We looked from the plains of Moab and saw what the spies saw

as they were sent to scout out the land God was giving them.

We bent down and scooped up water from the Jordan River…

at the alleged site where Jesus was baptized.

We put our hands in the Dead Sea.

Imagine reading Deuteronomy 34 out loud and as you read the names of places,

you look up and actually see these places in front of you.

The Bible has come to life.


We made it to Amman safely.

Almost didn’t find one of our suitcases until I saw it in a pile of luggage

that was being carted off by someone else.

Immediately we realized that we weren’t in Kansas anymore.

You immediately sense a change of pace in this culture.

Cars don’t stop for pedestrians.

There are no lines on the road. It’s eat or be eaten…

and once you’ve eaten the other driver – don’t make eye contact with them.

“Sounds like driving in New York City.”

I’ve driven in New York City and this makes NY look like the Disneyland car track.


I could go on and on about Jordanian culture.

And that was just about the driving conditions.


I am so proud of our overseas workers in the CMA.

Especially the ones who work in places like Jordan where the spiritual darkness

and oppression is IN YOUR FACE every day.

Would you stop right now, before you continue reading, and offer up a prayer for them?

Thanks.


We don’t have free internet connection here

so there won’t be updates as frequent as we would like…

but we will tell you that we are so excited to worship with these people.

They are hungry. They are thirsty.

“Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened…and I will give you rest”.

God is going to meet these people in a very special way.

And we get to see it up close and personal.

The sessions start tomorrow.

Pray for REST for our workers.

Pray for OPEN EARS as we worship.

Pray for an OUTPOURING of the SPIRIT as we seek Him.


Talk to you in a couple days.

5.24.2010

7 years ago...

I, Jeff, took you, Kara
to be my lawfully wedded wife;
to have and to hold;
to have beautiful children with;
to go through a home foreclosure with;
to move away from both our families with;
to celebrate in my office when God opened the door to move to Salem;
to hold our breath in the E.R. when the nurse took forever to find Sam's heartbeat;
to drag you away from your love of youth ministry to an unknown role as worship leader's wife;
to carry you when you felt like giving up;
to be carried by you when I felt the same.

Yep I did.
And I still do.

I wrote a song for you on our wedding day.
Remember it?
If not...

video

Wedding rings and lighted candles
Spoken vows and good intentions
never seemed so beautiful to me
Faith hope and love overflow
Throwing away the status quo
to forever enjoy your company

Memories and recollections
Some made and some not yet begun
fill the room
The beauty of this day abounds
My feet have yet to touch the ground
There's something deeper to this hour

And this flower will fade
this flower will fade away
But the Maker of you
the Maker of me will always stay

Faith will keep us on our toes
Hope will push us down the road
And love keeps us strong
Every step we take from here
Will not surprise the God who's near
We're notes in his beautiful song

And this flower will fade
this flower will fade away
But the Maker of you
the Maker of me will always stay

When tomorrow morning comes
and the day is just another one
When the dress is put away
and the colors start to fade
I've got you, you've got me
We've got the One who never leaves.

And this flower will fade
this flower will fade away
But the Maker of you
the Maker of me will always stay

5.12.2010

to blog or not?

So as you can see it's been a while since I've visited my own blog.
Not really sure why.
Just kinda happened that way.

Kinda like when you realize you haven't talked to a good friend and it's 3 months down the road and you have no idea how time went by so fast, but you feel really bad and you'd rather avoid the situation than call.

Yeah, it's like that.
So...
How ya been?
We've been good.

Here's the reader's digest version of the past month or two.

Spent my mom's birthday in Redding with the Brown fam.
Had a pillow fight with Caleb and sent him face first into the shoe rack.
I won.
Ok, the shoe rack won.
Paid off our kids medical bills with our tax refund.
THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, we are free at last.
Bought bikes for Kara, Caleb, & I with some of the tax refund.
Caleb calls it his "big boy bike". I call mine the same.
Sam doesn't say "thank you".
She sings it.
We began planting our garden.
Or as the kids call it, "the sandbox".
Kara's mom and sister came up for Mother's Day and gave Kara and I a night away at the Edgefield Hotel.
We celebrated Mother's Day and our 7 year anniversary (May 24).
My oldest sister gave birth to her fourth child...her FIRST GIRL!

You all caught up?
Good.

3.26.2010

always wanted to see the pyramids PART TWO

So I neglected to mention the dates of our trip to Egypt.

My wife always says that I have a hard time multitasking...but I don't know if that applies with this.

These dates are not exact, but they are close.

August 8-18.

kids in motion






3.24.2010

you know your kid is a P.K. when (episode #1)

I'm a pastor.
I have kids.
They are pastor's kids (P.K.).

Here's proof.

Kara was driving to the church to drop off my laptop that I had forgotten. As she drove up to the entrance to wait for me, Caleb looks out the van window and says,

"We're home! We're home!"

3.19.2010

always wanted to see the pyramids

When Kara and I packed up and moved our family to Oregon 2 years ago we had no clue about the journey that God had in store for us.

I guess that’s why they call it a journey.

The most recent step in our life is one that will take us far, far away…7, 124 miles to be exact. We’re going to Taba, Egypt.

We have been asked to lead worship for the field forum in August for our denomination. All workers from the Arab lands and Israel will gather together in Taba for encouragement, rest and enrichment before they head back out into the field. For many of these people, this is the only break they will have all year so we feel very privileged to serve them in this way.

Needless to say, a trip like this is expensive. So we are asking you to pray and see if God is calling you to partner with us. We need to raise around $6,000…which sounds like a lot. Actually, it is a lot. But we serve a God who does the impossible.

If you are not able to partner financially with us, we would love for you to keep us in your prayers.
Pray for safety as we travel.
Pray that we will be people of encouragement for the workers.
Pray that the workers will be refreshed during their time in Taba.
Pray that God would provide the finances we need.
Pray for our kids as they will be watched by grandparents while Mom and Dad are away.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEND A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE CONTRIBUTION
make checks payable to SALEM ALLIANCE CHURCH
and write “Jeff & Kara Field Forum” in the memo line.

SEND ALL CONTRIBUTIONS TO
Jeff Brown c/o Salem Alliance Church
555 Gaines St NE
Salem, OR 97301

3.02.2010

Catching Up...

I realized at the beginning of February that keeping a blog up-to-date is difficult.

Especially when life throws you curve balls. Especially when you are personally going through times of self-examination. Especially when you realize that you are still, after all these years, wrestling with deep-seeded issues and false ideas about who you are and who God is (which are closely related, by the way).

Someday, when you are older, I will tell you what I've personally gone through in the past 2 months.

Today, here's what's new in the Brown clan.

Caleb and Sam eat! A lot! They eat more than our youth group ever did on pizza night. I think Caleb's record of 5 bowls of cereal was crushed by his younger sister when she downed 6. I'm not kidding. Our food budget has had to expand because of these 2.

Kara is heavily involved in the high school at Salem Alliance Church. In February, she offered for her and I to speak three weeks in a row on the subject of relationships and love. We had a blast! Last week, she was asked to speak at the Hearts at Home group that meets on Thursday mornings. Having received a degree in ministry and serving in full-time ministry for many years, she has been aching to get back into her "sweet spot". After she spoke, ladies were ranting about how they were challenged and I got to be the proud husband.

I'm starting my ordination process this week. Ordination = Three years, three mentors, 16 books, 5 papers, and an intense interview process. Here I go!

Thanks for caring about the Brown family.

We're serious about having fun.

2.05.2010

from the mouths of babes

I was told a funny story that happened on a weekend I was leading worship at our church.

When the worship band took the stage and began playing our first song, a young boy energetically pulled on his mom's sleeve.
"What?"
The little boy points at me.
"I know that guy."
"Yeah?"
"Yeah, I saw him in the bathroom."
This is where I wish the story ended. But they never do.

The Mom smiles and continues to sing along.
Another tug on the sleeve.
"Mom, guess what?"
"What?"
"He didn't wash his hands!"

1.24.2010

thoughts from mr. mom

Kara had the opportunity to spend the weekend with Estrogen (women's retreat).

So I took the role of Michael Keaton and braved life without the one who knows what they are doing.

Don't worry. The kids are alive. They're fed. Diapers are clean...enough.

But I thought I'd process a bit and give you some of my thoughts post OPERATION DON'T LOSE THE KIDS.

1. My wife is a rock star. She does this 7 days a week. Sometimes with no break. And I rarely hear her complain about it. She just does it. Not only that, but she maintains her hotness along the way.

2. Props to all you single parents out there. I will never be so bold as to say "I understand how you feel now". But I've taste-tested your lives for 2 1/2 days. And you are heroes.

3. Don't buy your kids toys, buy them tupperware. Sam has toys. She really does. But even as I type, she is in the kitchen swimming through our tupperware collection like Scrooge McDuck in his vault of money. Meanwhile I'm updating our blog as I sip imaginary tea from her pink tea set. I hate tea.

4. Please read thought #1 again.

5. They should include dad training in Le Mas classes.
Just a thought. Let's prepare Dads a bit more for weekends without mom. Viva la revolucion!

6. I'm going to design a binkie with gps tracking. I had 4 when we started this party. Now, we're down to one. Good thing Mom's coming home today.

7. I love my kids. They are becoming persons more and more every day. The way Sam cuddles just to cuddle. The way Caleb laughs at the funny parts of Charlotte's Web. They're growing up. Though sometimes that is a negative in the eyes of parents, today I cheer "grow on little ones!".