Ohana Family

 Conner drew this picture in 2014!  And I still LOVE it.  First of all, I love Lilo and Stitch.  It really is one of my favorite Disney movies!  (And I love The Little Mermaid too!!!)  But this picture reminds me of what God has done in my family over the last few years.   Early in our family, we were inseparable.  I remember taking Conner to soccer practice one morning and my friend said I have never seen you without the other half of your family!  And the truth was, we rarely did things apart!  Two parents, two kids, wonderful life!  Perfect….by no means!  But happy and content despite Conner having an immune deficiency and Chloe have muscular dystrophy.

Now…we’ve added a third child!  Unexpected blessing for sure!  And we’ve added a whole lot of heart ache!  The happy and content has definitely disappeared at times.  We are totally different people than we were a few years ago.  We are totally different people than we were one month ago!  Life has a way of changing us as we go through trials!  But there is something that has not changed…we are family!  And we have continued to stick together!

We have raised our children much differently than some.  We’ve been honest with each other and very open with each other over the struggles and the joys.  We’ve not protected our kids from heartache.  We’ve encouraged them to share their emotions.  Our relationships with each other are safe places to share tender moments.  And indeed, that has happened over the past month!  Chloe has comforted Krisann a lot!  Why…because she’s been taught to do that and has allowed herself to be comforted.  Krisann just last night asked Conner to pray for her.  Why was that comfortable…because that is how we’ve lived our lives.   Conner has showed compassion for me over the past month.  But also quick to call me or Zine out on lies that we are believing.  Why?  Because he’s experienced that from us!

One of the greatest heartaches and one of the greatest blessings is being a family and sticking together!  Just this week I reminded Zine that as much as he loved his children and as much as he loved me, he was loved that much in return.  Blessing and heartache!  Just this week, I had the blessing and the heartache to listen to Chloe wrestle with her faith.  I just allowed her to be honest and encouraged her to be honest with herself.  I’ve wrestled over the last year with the same things she’s wrestling with now.    Just yesterday, I held Krisann while she had a little angry meltdown over a small thing. My entire family gets this idea…when your anxiety and emotional cup is so full that the least little thing spills it over in anger or frustration or tears upon tears.  But through all these things, family remains!

And over the last few months, we’ve learned that we have some friends that are indeed family!  Michael and Heather Walker have been family!  They have walked with us through some very dark times.  They have encouraged us in our faith and they have wept and prayed with and for us.  They have showed us the hard truth at times.  They have loved us when we were definitely unloveable!  They can hug us until our walls fall down and our emotions are released for a bit in their arms!  They have inconvenienced themselves for us at times.  One night in my emotional breakdown, Michael even recognized there was nothing he could do to reach my heart…it was a God size task and I’m sure it was one hard thing to walk away and leave me sobbing.  I truly do not think we have ever been cared for more deeply by anyone.  We continue to learn more about how God loves us through those two!  I hope that one day Zine and I and our children will be those friends that know how to move beyond friends to family in our love for others!

Doug and Nan Taylor have crossed over that friend zone to family zone! Doug literally brought me dinner almost every night we were in rehab.  Nan has this ability to walk in my home and make herself at home.  She can do my laundry, clean my house, and I have learned to be totally comfortable with her doing that.  I could sit on my sofa and watch Nan do those things without reservations.  They have loved our children through the past months as well!  They are not afraid to ask hard questions.  Zine likes to own conversations because then he has control over it!  But Doug can very gently override Zine and ask him personal questions to check in on him emotionally.  And Zine responds openly!

Becci and Noel DeFrank have crossed over from friends to family quite a while ago.  Those two have such huge servant hearts!  Noel and Becci have been the ones we have relied on physically.  They have kept Krisann.  Poor Noel even took Krisann shopping.  We won’t talk about whether the outfit matched or not!  🙂  They have fixed things in my home.  They have organized care for us.  They have provided insight into situations that no one else even knew about.  They have researched many things for us!  They have given us wisdom on more than one occasion!  I’ve watched Chloe even open up to them at times and I’ve watched Noel love my big girl well!  They’ve let us be real with them.  They are not afraid of our tears.  They have not been intimidated by our hospital rooms.  They have not been offended when we haven’t been very nice!  Or at least I don’t think they have!!!  🙂  They have loved us like brothers and sisters and they are family!

I am always hesitant to mention people by name.  I am always afraid I will hurt someone else’s feelings.  The truth is I know I have some friends that keep me girded in prayer.  The truth is I know we have aunts and uncles and brothers and parents who love us dearly and have loved us well.  The truth is I know there are many people I can call and they would come and help and assist.  The truth is, especially for my big kids, they have individuals loving and pouring into them.  The truth is many people have loved us well.  Many people have done many things.  And I’m sure I don’t even know all that has been done because since January I have walked around in a fog.  But there’s a difference between friends and family!  I’m so glad God has sent us family that know exactly what we need and are not afraid to move beyond convenient and comfortable to be our family.  We do not feel like we are their projects!  So often we feel that we are simply a mission project for others!  But these have had a way to allow us to be real, to care for our needs and for our emotions at the same time.  They have always been available!   They’ve not been there for one season and gone for another. And we’ve had lots of seasons lately!   And they have allowed us to share in their heartache while we are going through our own struggles.  I often wonder if that’s what made us family!  They haven’t said…I know your family is going through so much that I shouldn’t even mention my problems.  They haven’t distanced themselves from us or allowed us to distance ourselves from them.  Instead, they’ve shared openly with us in the middle of our own turmoil and chaos and they have not allowed us to deny our shut down with them!

Ohana means family!  And I’m so grateful not only for my immediate family but for the family that God has given us over the past few months!  And I’m watching how God is orchestrating and changing even more friends to family!  One of which, I would consider a long time friend shared lunch with me the other day and for the first time in a long time, she talked to me like a sister.   We talked about a struggle she had.  We talked about how her desire was to fix my problems.  And how she was trying to learn to remove herself from the situations and be more in tune with what God desired.  I was so grateful for that lunch. It gave me hope of a friendship becoming family!   Even this past week, God has even been interweaving our lives with another couple and we are feeling like they take on sort of a parenting love for us.  No doubt, that God is going to grow this family of ours!  Why am I certain?  Because we are learning to share our hearts and lives openly, and we are learning to receive love freely from others!  As Heather says, Karen just think, you loved people well before all this but just think how much more you’re going to be able to love people when you learn to receive freely!  This is indeed a journey to learn to accept love!  But we love adding to our family!  Ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten!


Wife of 20+ years. Mom to 3 children. Love sharing my life with weary hearts so that we can know the One who is Good, who is in Control, and Whose strength is made perfect in our weaknesses.