August 31, 2010

Oh, Summer! How I Love Thee. Let Me Count The Ways...

Buntings and Flags to celebrate all those patriotic holidays.

August 30, 2010

See Ya Later, Big Guy

Last Monday, our Pastor and good friend of twelve years, Louis Albert Purks, went home to be with the Lord.  His name meant "Shining Warrior" and he truly gave his life to shedding light to the world by fighting to bring souls to the Lord.  In the last week, this family has marveled at how many lives he influenced... and that is only in our limited knowledge.  He personally invested in the lives of everyone he encountered.   He and his wife, Gayle, founded the church we have called home since 1998.  He was active in discipleship and community outreach.  And he took an active role in home schooling his own children.

But Pastor didn't stop there.  He took an active role in the lives of every child in our church.  I remember once talking with his daughter Julie about how much our kids adored her dad and how if anything ever happened to us he'd have to adopt them because we don't have any family able to raise such a brood in the ways of the Lord.  Julie laughed and said, "Kathleen, if there should ever be an accident on a church trip, my parents will end up with a hundred kids."  That's how he was.

Most of society is under the impression that children are a nuisance until they reach a useful age.  But not Pastor Purks.  He believed quite the opposite.  Reach a child when he is young.  Love him.  Teach him.  Nurture him.  Share the things of the Lord with him.  And one day he will be useful.  I have had the honour of sitting on the sidelines and watching him reach out to the youth one child at a time and mold their lives for the better.  You would be hard pressed to find one child that spent any time at Victory Baptist Church who didn't have fond memories of Pastor Louis A. Purks.

In the fall of 1998, we were at church camp with the two girls we had at the time.  The dorm type cabins were separated two for the men and boys and two for the ladies and girls.  Pastor and Allen being the only two without young boys were bunk mates.  I guess Pastor felt sorry for him because as we were packing up to leave on Sunday afternoon, Pastor said, "Allen, you need a son to bring up here."

You know my Allen.  He had to make a joke out of it.  He pointed to me and said, "Tell that to her."  Then he went on to explain how we had been struggling with infertility and three doctors told us in no uncertain terms that we would never have anymore children and we should consider ourselves lucky that we had two... blah, blah, blah.

Pastor told him that he was going to pray for us to have a son.  The following weekend a couple that we were friends with went out of town leaving their 5 kids, including infant twins, with us for the weekend.  We had a great time with them.  Seven, kids.  Can you imagine that?  Well, when Pastor walked up to the pulpit that Sunday and saw us sitting there with a row full of children he joked about how quick that prayer was answered.

But seriously, when we found out two months later, to the shock of my doctor, we were expecting, he decided it surely must be a boy.  His logic was that if he got the baby prayer answered than God wasn't going to stop at a girl.  In fact, Pastor has this tradition.  Every new baby received a miniature New Testament and Psalms in which he would inscribe a special blessing.  It was always presented to the parents with a prayer for the newborn and the exhortation that we don't dedicate babies, but rather we dedicate parents to raise those babies in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  We call them the baby Bibles.  Pink for the girls and blue for the boys.  Pastor never bought the Bible until the baby was born.  But this time he bought the blue Bible and had it ready to go.

Well, that baby turned out to be Emma Rose, whom he called his little Almond Joy.  But he didn't give up hope that one day we'd get a son.  You can see why when our first son was born, Nathaniel Louis was named after this faithful friend.  These two have had a special relationship since the start.  They even nicknamed each other Big Louie and Little Louie. 

When we received the shocking news of his unexpected passing, our family sat for a long time talking of the many ways he has touched our lives.  It seems we could never run out of things to say.  Allen knew I would have to write a tribute to him and we decided it would be a family affair as the main point of this blog is about recording our family history and his legacy is too big to be kept to ourselves.

It is funny how the Lord works.  A disaster in our basement led us to sorting through a life time of our family photographs this week.  We came across many wonderful memories of our years under the leadership and guidance of this shepherd and the time that we were privileged to call him friend.

Pastor Purks retired to Texas earlier this year, leaving behind his son Pastor Jonathan Purks, whom he has discipled and groomed for this position.  Pastor Jonathan asked us to share brief statements or memories of his father.  Our family sat together collecting our memories into an email reply which I had to entitle, "As You Requested, but it is not brief."  Come on.  Have you ever known me to be brief?  We didn't even scratch the surface in our lengthy response.

I am including it here so that those that did not have the amazing honour of knowing him, but get a glimpse of what a man sold out for Christ can do with just 59 years on this earth.  May we all learn from his example of selfless love for lost souls and endless devotion to the things of the Lord.

Wow!  I have so many fond memories of Pastor and he influenced our family in so many ways… it is hard to know where to start. 

Allen said:  The three things that jump out at me about Pastor Purks are the first time I heard him preach in the cafeteria of my old high school, during a fifth Sunday service, before I got saved.  He was so loud my eardrums were vibrating.  It wasn’t until later that I realized it had nothing to do with how loud he was or my eardrums.

The time he came over on Christmas day through the snow to bring presents… we talked about Nathaniel’s illness and he said in the Bible when someone was sick they anointed them with olive oil.  So we got the olive oil, Pastor prayed over him and Nathaniel got better.

When he came to do our four week Bible study and I got saved on the couch in our little house. 

One of the first things that comes to my mind is how he held our newborns, often before their grandparents... and he didn’t care if they screamed the whole time or not... like when Emma had colic.

Once, when the rest of the family had gone to Texas for Thanksgiving, Pastor came to have Thanksgiving dinner at our town house.  The image of him standing on my front porch with flowers in one hand and a dish of celery stuffed with cheese whiz (is that even spelled right?) will forever be emblazoned on my mind.

His commitment to standing beside us, when our own families didn’t, through a long and painful court battle and then standing in the courtroom with us when the Lord turned the events completely around to bring it to a conclusion none of us ever expected… priceless memory…

His endless efforts to share the Gospel with my extended family… how can you forget that?

The baby Bibles… my kids have always cherished those… I always read from them first thing each morning to my newborns… not only were they their first Bibles it was the source of their first hearing of the New Testament in its entirety.
The holidays we spent together… without our own families around Pastor and his family became the family we longed for.

There was the Christmas that Pastor came to visit and we went out to the field across the highway and shot off Aedan’s new rocket together… and lost it.. forever.

And then, of course, there are the fun times… coming from a Catholic background… it was so refreshing to see Pastor’s lighter side.  Yes, the baby carrots in his nose was gross but  it was human, the lamp shade on his head, singing goofy songs, doing his amazing finger trick for the kids, telling jokes, teasing Frank… and yet, teaching the kids the difference between humor and silliness. 

A lesson that even my youngest son learned well.  When an unknowing person tells Samuel that his joke was silly he gets very serious and says, “Oh, that’s the bad one.” 

Did anyone mention his true and deep love for his family, church members, any child and even the strangers he met along the way?  He was a true example of how to reach everyone by building a relationship with them and sharing the gospel. 

I remember him sitting in our living room and praying with us when we lost our Abbey. 

And the way he said, “WEEEELLLL”  don’t know how you write that but you know what I mean!

Kaitlin said, “What I will always remember about Pastor is that he was always there to back me up, when our lost family would not. He was the one that was there in the courthouse with us.”

Brianna said: One of the (many) things I remember most about Pastor was the time(s) he would come over to dinner and do those finger and napkin games while we set the table. But there were also the times like when he was sitting on the bench while a bunch of us were on the swings and he talked to me about deeper things…he had such a passion for sharing Christ; and made everything very real. And –sorry Pastor Jonathan- but he will always be “Pastor”

Samuel says, “He is wise.”

Aedan said, “That even though he is in Heaven I will still remember him as “Pastor”

Emma remembers being his little almond joy and even though I wasn’t the boy he prayed for, he still loved me.

Nathaniel remembers celebrating his birthdays with Pastor, who never forgot one year.  Every now and then he wrote me letters.  There was the Louis club.  Little Louie and Big Louie.  All were preachers or were going to be preachers… when Judah Louis was born they decided to bring him into the fold, too. 

His vision for Heaven.  

His sense of humor.

His humility.  He was so wise and yet was the first to admit his mistakes and learn from them... and try to teach others from his errors.

Monday morning we will set off for the viewing, funeral service and burial of Pastor Louis Purks.  I don't know what the day will have in store.  But in the example of this shining warrior, I pray for opportunities to use these events as a way for our family to share the message of the Gospel.  That we can follow our Lord's command and do our part to fulfill the vision of our friend that no man shall leave this earth without the opportunity to believe.

I leave you today in the words of our Pastor Louis A. Purks, "Weeeeeellll, Darcy Gayle, we need to mosey along."         

August 27, 2010

Oh, Summer! How I Love Thee. Let Me Count The Ways...

Lush flowerbeds poolside.

It's Time!

The official wipe board Countdown to graduation
The youngers took turns
making their graduation
in the days
preceding the big event
until at last no one could believe it was finally here!
Kaitlin even less so than the rest of us as we dragged her out of bed at six am with the promise of a delicious pool side breakfast, featuring Emma's berry torte, to start the festivities. 
Which was only half true. 
Also awaiting her...

were six pajama clad siblings

and five buckets full of water balloons to get things started Wachter style.
 No we don't play fair!
But we do know
how to make up.
Brianna and Emma saved all their Monday night babysitting money from last year and pooled it together with their birthday money to give Kaitlin a Dell net book.  They were so excited to present it to her, they couldn't wait one more minute.  I think KK was excited, too!
Even though, the forecast was to be over a hundred with storms on the horizon, at this hour it was still cool with blue skies, perfect for a joyful breakfast together before the hectic day got underway. 
After bagels, fruit, juice, yogurt and milk we got down to the real business of the day.  Pulling out the official class of 2010 pen
and having the official signing

and unofficial presentation
of Kaitlin's diploma
(The thing is, I have no idea why it keeps flipping that picture side ways.  Blogger did it with the pen above, too.  I have had it do that to other pictures when I tried to upload them before, also.  No clue how to fix it.  I tried tricking it out and flipping it side ways and it still uploaded it this way.  So you will just have to read sideways... or tell me how to fix it☺)

In preparation for the day, where forecasts were in the hundreds, we made about 25 gallons of sweet tea, punch and lemonade

The ladies
 painted our nails Wachter Wagon Red
No, we didn't forget our piggies.
Brianna hunted down matching suits and ties
dresses and skirts

and even hair bling for the entire family in our school colors, navy blue and red.
After a few snap shots (and I do mean a few!  I have never taken so few pictures of such a momentous occasion in my entire life) to mark the occasion, it was time at last!

August 26, 2010

In Session

Forever In Blue Jeans

 The Back to School Edition

I am joining Carin at Forever in Blue Jeans for her weekly challenge to get mom in the picture.  If you've not been in the picture this week, it's not too late!  Here's my four step plan to recovery.  1-Grab the camera 2- grab a kid 3- take a shot 4-post it!  You can't ask for easier than that.  I can't wait to see you in the picture.

We always take our family vacation in the fall after everyone else has returned to school for the semester.  No crowds and cooler temps are definitely a benefits to home school.  When September rolls around, here minds turn to sewing and baking and building and other fun stuff to get ready for various competitions at our county fair.  Yes, we still live in a small enough town that the fair is a BIG deal.  Businesses shut down and school even closes for the GREAT FREDERICK FAIR.  I am not making that up.  That's the official name. 

Anyway, with that big interruption and then leaving for vacation in the middle of September, it has never made sense to start school until we return home in October.  This year has been a year for doing things different, though.  We all needed a change of direction and with bad weather on the horizon for this week, it seemed the perfect prescription for what ails us all. 

Therefore, in an unprecedented move we announced Sunday that school would begin bright and early Monday morning.  We rose at 6 am and gathered the line up for the official kick off of the Wachter Wagon Academy 2010-2011 school year.
Okay... so they weren't really awake, just present and accounted for.  All those summer days of sleeping in must have caught up with them. 
Oh, now that is better.  Except, now that I think of it, they aren't all accounted for.  The princess does not rise before 8 and we all find it is better that way.
We always kick off the school year by marking the kids' heights on the school room door and taking pictures of our students.
Samuel is 5 and entering his first official year of Kindergarten.  Although, he has been schooling since he could sit up on his own. 
Aedan is 7 and entering second grade.  Although, he and Nathaniel do almost every thing together so he is doing mostly third grade and some fourth grade work.
Nathaniel is 8 and starting second grade officially but unofficially is in third grade.
At ten, soon to be 11, Emma Rose is in fifth grade.  Except that I keep thinking she is in the fourth.  Poor girl... worked so hard and still can't get ahead despite her 4.0 average.
Brianna, of course, just turned 15 and is a sophomore this year.  But don't call her a teenager... she considers that the insult of all time.  
Yes, Kaitlin has graduated and she has not grown in a number of years.  We still had to mark her on the door. 
I am really excited that Allen has hired Kaitlin on as my teaching assistant this year.  
He had to have a picture of his teaching staff before we could head off to the basement.  That's where the school room has been "temporarily" relocated.
Let that brain
power commence!
When Elisabeth woke up we had to head back upstairs to measure her.
She was a little confused as to what was happening and why no one was feeding her breakfast until the whole gang started clapping and cheering.  She was still confused but figured she wasn't in trouble anyway.
Yes, we had to have one more picture with the whole crew.
Everyone was happy to be hard at work again.  
No, it's not her assignment... she was making a printing chart for Samuel.  As I was saying.  Everyone is thrilled to be hard at work again.  And Elisabeth is delighted that the weekday all you can eat breakfast buffet has returned.
The Wachter youngins aren't the only ones to return to school this week.  Allen, Kaitlin and I started the new semester of our FBI classes.   
And we couldn't be more excited.  Three hours every week to hold hands under the table with the fellow who carries my books to class.  No, I didn't take time to fuss with my hair when I took my shower before class.  I decided to use the ten minutes to sit down with the kids while they ate their dinner instead.
Oh, and check this out.  My man really knows the way to my heart.  Not flowers.  Not candy.  No bling.  Although, I woudln't turn any of those down.  No, the thing that I get really excited about?  New school supplies.  Look what I found in my bag when we got to class.
My very own brand new back of Sharpie highlighters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  What you didn't know I was a little demented? Come on, you must be kidding.  Well, anyway, look at the note that was taped to them.
How darling is that?  Oh, the Dilbert paper, you say?  He is an engineer, you know.  Who happens to work with sales guys day in and day out.  For a major corporation.  He can't help himself.  ☺

Until next week,