trying to create something beautiful out of the broken pieces

U2- 360 Tour October 2, 2009

Filed under: Life,Uncategorized — kunderwood @ 11:23 pm

I fell in love with U2 back in high school, but even then didn’t realize the phenomenon that they were/are.  I simply thought “Joshua Tree” was an amazing album.  I promptly went off to Christian College and lived in a bubble for the next 4 years, so I missed out on “Zooropa” and “Pop” for the most part, but came back in when they released their “Best of 1980-1990” album.   I was hooked again!  We don’t see a lot of concerts, but Brent and I had decided by their last tour, “Vertigo,” that we would try our best to get to a concert.  There’s some things you just want to say you’ve done in life, and I had already missed out on seeing Michael Jordan play live. 🙂

After seeing “Vertigo,” we knew that we would try to see all of their tours from here on out.  Much to Trey’s dismay, we didn’t take him to that concert.  Or this one.  Guess we’re going to owe him big the next time around.  But 14 sounds like a better age for a concert than 6 or 10… of course, don’t tell him about the kid his age that Bono pulled up on stage, ran around the ring with, and then ended up giving his shades to at our concert.

So here are a few of the pictures from an amazing night.  Not even the drunk, racist idiots in the row in front of us could take away from the fun of the show… well, not entirely.  I would have definitely enjoyed it more without them!

U2 2009 014The stage has been described as everything from a crab, to a spaceship… all I can say is that it definitely takes you where U2 intends to take you… to a time and place where people love one another and stand up for each other when justice isn’t being done.  Plus, there’s just something really cool about the way the guys interact with each other.

U2 2009 086 Bono is all rock star.  He knows it.  He totally uses it, too, in the sense that he knows his voice is heard.  So he talks.  A lot.  About what is going on in the venue’s backyard, and around the world.  He doesn’t let you just sit there and listen to their music.  He makes you hear their message too.

U2 2009 093Then there’s The Edge.  One of my favorite things is to watch musicians who are truly enjoying playing their instruments.  He is one of those guys.  There’s just something about watching him play the guitar.  He has such joy.  U2 2009 136Larry is funny to me because I always think of him as the stoic one.  One of my friends saw them last night for the first time and said she thought he looked like he was in pain the whole time.  I just laughed.  I hope he wasn’t in pain and I was laughing, I just think he’s that kind of drummer.  He’s not all dramatic and all over the place.  He does his job.  And does it well.

U2 2009 104And then there’s Adam.  Adam mesmerizes me like nothing else.  Partly it’s because he can totally rock the bass… and he’s not young.  Mostly it’s because this dude isn’t drinking the Kool-Aid.  You know, the other three are definitely expressing their spiritual thoughts and ideas through their music, and he’s not.  What really grips me, though, is that I don’t think it’s because he’s a sellout, going for the U2 fame and money.  I think it’s because of what it says about him as a person… and maybe more importantly, what it says about the other three and the way they treat him.  There isn’t judgement there.  There is brotherhood.  There is love.  There is the living out of what they sing about night after night.

And maybe that’s one of the reasons I want to see them every chance I get.  Because besides really great music from some mediocre musicians (Bono’s words, not mine), you see the embodiement of the lyrics of their music every time they join together.  And that’s somewhere I’m willing to be transported.


Waiting… September 26, 2009

Filed under: Life — kunderwood @ 12:29 pm

is the hardest part.

A lot has been going on in our household over the last several months, and I’ve been too crazy, busy, stressed, etc. to even begin to blog about it.  We decided a few months ago to move to NY.  I can honestly say that I never thought I would say that, let alone be excited about it.  But I am!  The town I grew up in (for most of my life, at least) is a great place to live and raise kids.  Especially when two of my three sisters live there with their combined 9 children!  Brent and I feel very strongly about giving our kids the opportunity of growing up with their cousins.  Honestly, we haven’t always felt this way, but the older they get, and the wiser we get, the more we have realized the benefits from that.  It helps, needless to say, that there’s a job there for Brent.  We’ve thought this would be great for the last couple of years, but we just didn’t see any real possibilities around our families, plus we felt very strongly that we were where we were supposed to be anyway.  But this summer we made the decision to go help my sisters and their husbands with their church plant.

We are so excited on so many levels.  Oh my word, I get to live near my sisters!!!!  The kids are so excited to live near their cousins.  We are so excited to live somewhere where we can simplify our life.  Brent is excited about the job possibility there and all the potential he sees.

But first we have to sell our house.  Oh, I am so tired from this part!  We have worked (with so much unbelievable help from so many of our friends!) over the last several weeks to get our house on the market and finally last Saturday it became official!  Needless to say, we were really excited and completely poised and ready for quick clean ups and evacuations in the case of someone coming to look at it.  Nothing.  We have sat here for a week and not a single person has asked to look at our house.  Agghhhh!!!  Our realtor said that across the board, it’s really slow right now and people just aren’t looking.  We get that.  But, oh my word, it’s so hard to sit here and wait!

In the meantime, though, we at least wait with some really good friends that we will miss terribly once we move.  We have been able to really live in the moments and enjoy those around us knowing that it won’t last much longer- at least we don’t think!  We have been so blessed over the last 12 years we have lived in Virginia to have some really wonderful, meaningful relationships, and that’s what we’ll miss the most.

With the weather a close second. 🙂


Terrible Two’s… Here We Come! September 13, 2009

Filed under: Family,Life — kunderwood @ 2:12 pm

It is so hard to believe that my youngest celebrated her 2nd birthday yesterday!  This last year has flown by, but she has been busy.  Along with speaking a lot more and going from walking to running, here is a list of some of her accomplishments over the past year:

  • got a CAT scan after falling from a chair
  • taught herself to climb the ladders of her siblings’ bunkbeds
  • started drinking coffee.  black.  don’t even try to put creamer in it- you’ll see her temper.  just ask Brent.
  • removed the letter keys of the laptop one by one
  • scrubbed the bathtub while her sister was in it… with the toilet brush
  • learned to open the doors and leave the house all by herself… without bothering to tell anyone
  • pulled all of Trey’s birthday cupcakes off the counter onto the floor… and then helped herself
  • learned to defend her property from her siblings… by screaming bloody murder
  • dumped the dog’s water dish countless times… or poured the dog’s food into the water dish
  • bathed herself in an entire bottle of pure maple syrup

Yep, it’s been a busy year.  And it wasn’t even the “terrible two’s”…  she’s on the fasttrack! 🙂

But with all of her craziness, she’s the funniest, sweetest, most cuddly 2 year old I know!

August 2009 109

Tessa's 2nd Birthday 021


Wish He Could Hear It September 7, 2009

Filed under: Life,politcs... even though i shouldn't,quotes — kunderwood @ 3:09 pm

So, there’s been much discussion about President Obama’s speech to school age children lately.  Frankly, I wasn’t sure at first what all the hoopla was about.  Like a friend of mine said, “What is everyone worried about? Do we really think he’s going to say anything more than “work hard and dream big”? I highly doubt he’s going to be talking about abortion, Islam or socialized health care.”

I know one side is calling it propaganda… just like the other side called it propaganda in ’91 when President Bush did it… and in ’86 when President Reagan did it.  My personal thoughts were that, he’s the President of the United States.  Why can’t he talk to the children of this country?  Meanwhile however, I was curious to know what he has to say to students and a little of me wondered if I should be concerned.

Well, I got my wish today and was able to find a copy of his speech.  Here it is.  I will say that I don’t necessarily agree with the whole “for your country” part of it, but he is the President.  It makes sense why he would say that.  I do think that it overall it’s about as inspiring as you can get with a bunch of kids and it’s what they need to hear.  If we’re honest, a lot of kids aren’t being encouraged like this.  And if I’m honest, even though I’m saying the same kinds of things to my kids, I know they hear it from others waaaay better than they hear it from me.  That’s why I wish my son could hear it.  I think he would actually hear it.

Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.
I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.
Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”

So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.

Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.
I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.
I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.
I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.
Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.

So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.

But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.
That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.

Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.
I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.

And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.

Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.
Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.

I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work — that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.

But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.
That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.

It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.


Celebrating a Decade August 19, 2009

Filed under: Family,Life — kunderwood @ 11:46 am

A decade is a significant amount of time!  A lot happens in 10 years.  It is so hard to believe that 10 years ago right now I was laying in a hospital bed waiting to meet my firstborn, my son!  Brent and I were beside ourselves with excitement.  Well, technically, I think by this point in the day I may have been beside myself with some “happy drugs”… boy, did I like those!  But, I was very happy!  And very insistent that I wasn’t falling asleep… although Brent would beg to differ… since he was the undrugged, wide-awake one of us and all.

But then he came!  Trent Whittaker was born!!  We were so in love!  That hasn’t stopped in the last 10 years.  At times we have been frustrated, angry, confused, and bewildered by him and his antics… but way more than any of that we have been enamored, proud, awed, and pleased at the boy growing up before us… and in many cases, in spite of us.  We are excited to see what the next 10 years hold for this young man… because that is exactly what he is becoming!

Happy Birthday, my sweet boy!!  We love the kind, sensitive, loving son, brother and friend that you’ve always been!

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Seeing the Other Side of Things August 16, 2009

Filed under: faith,Friends,health,Life — kunderwood @ 12:40 pm

There have been a lot of heated discussions about health care in recent days.  Some in town hall meetings, some on news programs, some in people’s living rooms.

I would venture a guess that most (if not all) of the people that are pushing or buying into the fearmongering of the government getting involved in our health care have acceptable health insurance.  It’s easy to fear what we don’t know and natural to want to cover our own butts.  However, a huge part of what got our country into the financial disarray that we’re in now is our selfishness and sense of entitlement.  I know I certainly have been a part of that.

I’m not going to pretend to understand every side of this issue, but I would like to show another side that maybe not everyone sees.  I would also encourage you, if you are concerned about what is happening, to talk to someone who does not currently have health insurance and hear their side.  If you don’t know such a person, that may tell you something too.

Here is a recent quote from President Obama, and the response below it of one of my friends:

“In the end, this isn’t about politics. This is about people’s lives and livelihoods. This is about people’s businesses. This is about America’s future, and whether we will be able to look back years from now and say that this was the moment whe n we made the changes we needed, and gave our children a better life. I believe we can, and I believe we will.”

Let’s get past the politics of this and get the real information. The real deal is that because of a health condition I’ve lived with for years Anthem wants to charge me $1200 A MONTH for health insurance. Who is that good for? Instead we live off of meager coverage that Art’s school provides and hope nothing goes wrong…I’m ready for some new options…


Happy 5th Birthday, Avery! August 1, 2009

Filed under: Family,Life — kunderwood @ 8:57 am

It is so hard to believe that Avery is turning 5 already.   She has been so excited for this birthday to come, and I have to be honest, I have been too.  I think I sort of survive the toddler years, which I’m sure is a horrible thing to say.  They fly by and there is  fun in watching each child learn new things and become the little person that they are.  But it’s soooo hard!  I’ve always “joked” that I would have a ton of kids if I could have them from newborn to 1, then have someone else take them and then get them back again at 4.  Yeah, I know… CPS is on its way…!  (All I can say is that they can spend a morning with Tessa and they’ll agree… but it’s not her story today,so.)

Avery.  She has grown into such a sweet little girl!  She has grown up so much this past year with her emotional and social maturity.  She has learned that now she’s a big sister too, not just a little sister, and she cherishes the role and does it very well… most of the time.  She has learned how to write her name and her ABC’s.  Avery has learned how to be a good sharerer (her word) and how to talk when she doesn’t get her way- instead of constantly melting down.  She has learned that mom and dad really mean what they say.  She has learned to take responsibility for her things and herself and her actions.

I’m guessing that I’m not the only adult that is still working on a lot of these things.  It amazes me how I am constantly being humbled that I don’t get half of this right all the time.  Kids have an amazing way of teaching us that we are still learners too.  And they have a much nicer way of teaching it than I do.  Avery loves to remind me that I am her “favorite mommy EVER!” and that she loves me “every day, and every night, and every sight.”  Love this girl!!!