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Can You Hear Me Now?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

God and Gravy

We all know about “gravy” it’s the good stuff that sits atop the good stuff…making it even better. It can also be used to conceal something less good and make it more appealing and tasty.

Gravy also flows and moves freely. It cannot be contained. If it is poured onto a plate it spreads to all perimeters. It is half liquid, half solid. It is smooth (if prepared carefully). Gravy is an ‘add-on’. You don’t have to have gravy to eat potatoes…it just makes them better. I’ve even heard stories from my mother about some chocolate gravy her mother used to make for pancakes! Yummy!

Why all this talk about gravy and what’s God got to do with it?

Let me elaborate…it’s a gift really!

You see I was sitting here at work this morning…listening to the ice pellets hit my window and beginning to get a bit unnerved and worried about my foolish commute in to work on such a weather-challenged day. Ice-snow-ice-snow…not my two favorite words in the dictionary!

So I’m stressed…what do I do…I pray! I pray and ask God for a safe commute and for an early release home and for the weather to improve and for all those things I W*A*N*T!

Then I thought of something I heard on “Bruce Almighty”. I may be praying for the snow to stop…and somewhere, someone is thanking God for the snow and ice (though I have NO idea why)…and asking for more of it. So if God says yes to me…then He’s saying “NO” to them.

Still no gravy….

I’m getting there…patience….

I was reminded that God doesn’t just want our prayer requests in NEED. He desires the ‘gravy’ too. He wants the good stuff. He wants to hear praise and prayers of thanksgiving amid the gravy. After all He provides everything for us…shouldn’t He be given the biggest bowl of gravy in the bunch…including but not limited to, Chocolate gravy?

God reminds me today to pray without ceasing. He reminds me to give thanks and to offer praise to Him every day, in everything! I’m working on it…now…when will this ice storm end?

Have a day of snowman building and safe driving!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


I’ve done a bit of a ‘clean-up’ in my blogroll out of necessity and ‘difference of truth’. It’s a good, healthy way for me to find freedom to write not only what I’m ‘chewing on’ but also what God asks me to write.

One in particular regularly had me walking on eggshells. I didn’t even realize I was doing it, until she dropped me from her blogroll and that freed me to do the same. It was as though a weight was lifted from my keyboard.

Please know that if I have found my way onto your blogroll and you no longer feel what you read here is ‘truth’ or even slightly entertaining I will not be hurt to be removed from your blogroll (not that you NEED my approval…). Trust me when I say…it feels good to clean up what sometimes feels overwhelming.

What’s ironic about the whole thing is the first time I jumped over to a site (one I still love and continue to read covertly) and found I had been ‘dumped’ from her blogroll…I was so hurt and incensed. I couldn’t imagine what I had done (said) to be banished! Can you say “EGO”? Yes my ego was bruised. That in turn had me questioning why I was writing what I was writing…am I just seeking approval or validation.

All it took was a reminder from God that I am not called to sit on a fence (and a few moments of a pity party for 1). Journaling is one of the ways I seek and find truth. Once the word is written…or typed…it becomes a part of my journey. The blogger that had dumped me continually stated hers is not a religious blog, or any type of ‘platform’ blog…it is entertainment and a ‘mommy-blog’. I think we were just on different planes. I still go there and read about the antics occasionally and it’s glaringly obvious that our roads split somewhere months ago.

I think as my own space has ‘evolved’ I have found room to share what’s spilling out of my heart…good, bad, ugly…and every once in awhile…true beauty. I can’t take the credit. If it’s good it’s from and FOR God. I write because He speaks and breaths and lives within me. And when it’s bad…it’s just my flesh breathing a bit too loudly. And you know what…that’s okay too!

Have a dust-free Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Missing Zoë

"God has delivered us, He has parted waters for us, He has made water gush forth from rocks and sent us our own manna from heaven. He has brought us into our own Promised Land. Will I miss the opportunity to tell the story to our children?"

Almost every week I look at these quotes with an uncertainty that I have anything to offer and if I do, I fear it will be a bit too raw for such a public journal. This week is no different. In fact, this week I was drawn only to the last sentence as the previous lines became blurred words.

If I were honest I would admit that it makes me angry to see so many missed opportunities parents have with their children. If I were honest I would tell you my heart breaks in two when I see a child ignored; either directly or indirectly.

My family sometimes reminds me that I am not allowed to have a voice about parenting children, because it’s a skill developed and I have yet to experience the joys and struggles of parenting. You may agree. I believe that learned skills are important, though I don’t think they’re the most vital part of parenting. I believe the things God placed in us are the most vital things…and these are the things I hope to share with my own children…or with yours.

If I were honest I would tell you I miss the child with which I could share any story. I miss the daughter I would name Zoë, or the son named Eric. I miss the laughter, the hugs, even the tears. I miss the stories at bedtime. How can my heart miss what I’ve never known?

Today I will wipe my eyes. I will lift my head and my heart. I will trust God’s plan for my life. I will hear his voice. I will remember the stories. I will share them when God asks me to. I will remember them for His children.

Monday, November 27, 2006

It's All About Meme!!!

Thanks to Morning Glory for this fun Memes! I’ve been Meme-free for several weeks and figured it was a perfect transition back into the ‘deep thoughts’ that are a bit lacking following a weekend of food, family and of course mega-shopping and Christmas explosion!

So without further adieu:

Holiday Time Meme

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Hot Chocolate of course!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?
He wraps them though sometimes he also hides them and forgets where he hid them until later in the year.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
Colored lights on the house, white on the tree (pre-lit to prevent frustration).

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No, it’s never been a part of my Christmas. I’m not opposed to kisses, just don’t need prompting to get them from the person I want them from!

5. When do you put up your decorations?
I put them up the weekend after Thanksgiving. I prefer to put them up on Thanksgiving evening/night, but this year they went up on Saturday as my husband was unavailable to do the ‘attic hunt’ until then. I have attic-phobia.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Probably broccoli casserole or ham. Because we have a large, traditional Thanksgiving dinner, several years ago we started a Christmas tradition of having ‘our favorites’. Everyone submits a favorite snack or food item to mom and either brings it to the Christmas gathering or she prepares it. We have sort of an Hors D’oeuvre meal that we snack on all day. We have ham roll-ups, meatballs, scalloped potatoes, chipped beef dip in hollowed out bread of choice… I much prefer this to a formal dinner. I would prefer to go out to dinner than see anyone stress over prep and clean up and that will be my own tradition one day.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child?
I think mine would be my brother and sister and I figuring out new and less conspicuous ways to ‘unwrap’ gifts and also trying to keep from ‘spilling’ about our crime until well after Christmas.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
Santa has, and always will be a huge part of Christmas. The truth I learned is that even when the gift from Santa is missing, the spirit is present. Jesus is the reason for Christmas…Santa is the spirit of Christmas giving.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
We used to open one gift (parental choice) on Christmas Eve. Invariably it was pajamas…which as a child were a bit disappointing…but as an adult we have opened all gifts on Christmas morning…early!

10. What kind of decorations are on your Christmas Tree?
I have a collection of annual ornaments my mother has given each of us since we were children. I also have sparkly, bright words and some randomly collected ornaments from travels. I typically buy an ornament on a trip as well as each place we have lived. We have a mix of many different types of ornaments. Perhaps I’ll post a Christmas tree picture when the tree is lit up at night.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Dread it with all my heart. The only redeeming thing about winter for me is Christmas. I am a SUMMER girl. I wouldn’t mind snow if it came just at Christmas and then left by the time I had to get back on the roads…or if I were retired and didn’t have to go anywhere on ice or snow-packed roads. As we all shout: “It’s not ME I’m worried about…it’s all those other drivers!”

12. Can you ice skate?
Spending a few years of my early childhood (ages 5,6,7) in Alaska EVERYONE learned to ice skate. Our backyard was a skating rink throughout the winter. Our playground at school was an ice rink throughout most of the year and everyone took their skates to school daily. Yes, I can ice skate. I haven’t been in several years, but after a few times around the rink, it all starts to come back to me.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
I think my favorite gift memory is probably the year I got my bright yellow bike with the yellow banana seat and handles with the fringe on them. I loved that bike! And it was SUCH a huge surprise.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Being with family and the incredible joy I find in my search for the perfect gift for loved ones. I also love ‘creating’ things with my hands and gifts that are created by others.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Layer Dessert; the crust, cream cheese, chocolate, whipped cream…and 2-3(?) other layers of delicious-ness.

16 What is your favorite holiday tradition?
My favorite recent tradition (for the past 4 years) is “Cookie Saturday” where my husband and I go out to a small town just north of here and make cookies with two of our dearest friends. We spend the day baking, frosting photographing, and tasting our creations. Each year we each bring a new cookie cutter…or more...(My friend bought 10 new ones this year...EGAD!) and deciding which cookies are worthy of ‘gifting’.

The first year the guys only got to frost the broken ones…but we’ve eased up a bit since then. Last year we did Eiffel towers, Fleur de lis, snowpeople, little people, snowflakes, little dresses and miscellaneous other cookies and…well here is a picture of some of them.

17. What tops your tree?
I actually bought a new tree topper this year. We used to have a white tree (does anyone remember the real ‘flocked’ trees), it had a fiber optic Santa atop (not so much my style) the whole tree began to yellow so last year my husband bought a new green tree and it needed a new topper. Now we have a simple, gold (albeit sparkly) star.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?
Giving…love, love, love giving! My favorite thing is to search and find the perfect gift for each person!

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
I think probably either “All I want for Christmas is you” (Vince Vance and the Valiants… or Mariah Carey), and “Santa Baby” (Eartha Kitt), and “I’ll be home for Christmas” (Bing of course)…and many, many others.

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yummy?
Yucky…unless used to flavor coffee, or in chocolate bark.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Today on my drive in to work I saw, for the first time, the many trees on my route. There are so many trees. There is at least one tree in every yard I passed, many yards have several trees. There are big trees, little trees, sparse trees (it is fall after all), full and lush trees (go figure?). There are evergreens of many species. There are dead and dying trees and hardy, healthy trees. There are baby trees popping up that were seeded naturally. There are maturing trees being planted in entrances to neighborhoods. There are just so many trees.

God began to review with me the many trees. I thought about the places I’d visited and lived in my life and the various trees you will find that represent that region. I thought of the beautifully ‘sad’ weeping willows of the Deep South (one of my favorite trees). I thought of the cottonwood trees with their annoying seeds (at least when they fall in your yard). I thought of the ‘mighty oak’ trees that live so long and represent strength. I thought about the aspens of Colorado that offer a colorful show each fall. There are just so many trees around us.

While I’m no tree-scientist though I did take botany in college and learned the importance of trees in our existence and not just for their beauty. I thought about how God used trees from the very beginning of creation.

It’s amazing how fast the mind can work. All these thoughts occurred within a 10 minute drive to work. Imagine if I were living in L.A. and the commute were much longer, though I imagine my thoughts would probably be less civil while sitting in that horrendous traffic.

“Where does all this tree-talk head?” You may wonder.

Aside from the reminder that this weekend my all-time favorite tree goes up with as many lights and adornments it can hold on it’s little branches…for me it was also a redirection from a thought process that was headed to an abyss. I am still healing from last week’s pain; and God, in His infinite wisdom and love, pulled my mind from the darkness it was headed and back to His creation, His hand, His love!

Thank God for the realization that I’m covered and protected…I’m surrounded by trees.

Remember to appreciate the natural beauties God offers us each day and have a day among treetops!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

His Ways Are NOT My Ways

"Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you
may not understand at the time."

~ Oswald Chambers~

When I think of deliberate confidence I begin to picture the overwhelming and overcoming spirit that dwells within me and drives me…when I’m at my very best. I also think of and remember how at odds my spirit and flesh seemed to be just a few short years ago.

It was 1995. I had been laid off of a job that had lost its appeal and the lay off was a golden opportunity for me. This was my opportunity to leave behind a city that had stolen a large chunk of my soul…A city that was literally killing me.

I didn’t even know where I was moving to, until about 3 weeks prior to the cross country journey. It was to be a launching pad for my future career…or so I thought. I moved to Albuquerque (before I could spell the name) with such certain anticipation for my future in Art Therapy.

It was February 17th, 1995, when I arrived in Albuquerque, and it was over 80 degrees. I was wearing a sweater as my friend and I had traveled from a much cooler climate in Baltimore.

I peeled off the layers and began to unpack in my little loft apartment. I spent the weekend with my travel friend…my best friend, until he had to return to Baltimore and his own life. I found a job fairly quickly and began the process of enrolling in a local college for some required coursework prior to my graduate courses.

I soon made the discovery that my coveted Art Therapy program was to be suspended at UNM and I was questioning why God would move me all this way for nothing.

The answer became apparent only weeks later when I met my future husband, the very love of my life and fullness of my heart. Mind you…marriage was the farthest thing from my mind. I didn’t have such a good track record in the ‘love’ department and had ‘given up’ on the whole prospect for my career focus.

We were married about 3 years later. I wouldn’t say it was ‘love at first sight’ but we were together almost every single day from that initial meeting till the day we said our marriage vows. It was a love that grew and grew until it became a synchronized heartbeat of three; him, me and God.

I have since never doubted, that the girl that left Baltimore, certain she was never to wed, even more certain she was destined to be a successful Art Therapist, was actually a girl, God was preparing to become a bride. To find that ‘soul completion’ He had created just for me, in my husband.

Every once in a while when I begin to doubt a path He has me on…I think of this period of my life. I think of the richness I dwell in, in marriage. I think of the richness God has already blessed me with and desires to bless me with even more. I have a DELIBERATE CONFIDENCE in the character of GOD and that is the very seed of my faith that is my life in Him.

Have a confident Tuesday!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Disenchanting Driscoll

I’m so disgusted with Mark Driscoll for his recent post and CLARIFICATION post. It just reminds me how incredibly easy it is to become pious in a position of authority and leadership over others. I was also reminded of the Pharisees and their obvious ‘personal agenda serving’ religiousness. You see, Driscoll actually states he had no idea what his readership consisted of and that his platform was intended to be his self-selected group of younger pastors that he mentors. He has also made it so you may not respond on his blog unless you are one of these selected MEN to which he speaks. That speaks volumes to me and I will leave his future books shelved in bookstores for the audience he prefers (and apparently writes for) as well.

The good that came of it, for me, is the continual reminder that I am to seek the source…in Scripture, prayer, and meditation to find the truth about a real LEADER…the only leader that matters. It reminds me how Jesus’ life was about servant hood and how all too often this seems lost among current religious leaders.

It’s one thing to hold a conviction about something; good or bad. It’s another thing, and frankly an art form, to be able to verbalize truth without personal agendas prevailing.

This past week has been one long lesson about forgiveness and while I’m ‘not there yet’, I am hopeful that my words would not mislead or discourage while I seek to understand truth.

Have a truth-revealing Monday!

Thursday, November 16, 2006



‘Hard days are hard. Even on the worst, if I really try, I can find some reason to feel grateful, some small miracle to help me make it through. Here is my growing list of the reasons. Feel free to add yours.’

From Lauren via DYM and to help once again refocus…I am ‘copying’.

Here are my REASONS to be grateful today:

Searching for the perfect Christmas gift. Hugs from children that always say “I love you to the moon and back”. Love of parents. A smile in traffic. A favorite song playing at work. A date night with my darling husband. An upcoming birthday to remind me that God created me just the way I am…for such a time as this. New wisdom gained through experience. Talents and abilities; known and unknown. Paul’s graduation only 3 ½ weeks away. Celebrating with friends and family this incredible accomplishment. Having my husband home in the evenings. Seeing my sister smile. The day after Thanksgiving sales and subsequent ‘tales’ of shopping victories. Ribbons, paper and all embellishments. Annual Christmas Cookie Saturday with friends and new homemade aprons. Sleeping in late on a cold winter’s day. Getting to chat with friends and family on the phone or in person. Walking the dogs in our neighborhood. The ‘artist’ reborn through 30-Faces challenge in November. The memories drawing faces evokes. Sensing I’m at the turning point of something very big…from God. Thought provoking questions; asked and answered. Weight lost and NOT re-found. Holiday peppermint coffee available again at the grocery store. A coupon for money off grocery staples...even coffee. A good box of hair dye. Puffs when you have a cold or need to cry. A job with freedom to write and breathe. A church with friends. A tenacious spirit. A heart full of Jesus.

Have a Thursday with many REASONS to be grateful!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

One Moment Please...

Lately I’ve been pondering the art of waiting. And it IS an art form. We are all waiting at one time or another. I’m waiting in line at a store. I’m waiting at a traffic light. I’m waiting for a report at work. I’m waiting for a phone call. I’m waiting for the weekend. I’m waiting for Paul’s graduation. I’m waiting for healing. I’m waiting to adopt a child. I’m waiting for an answer from God. I’m waiting for everything to make sense.

Oh, I guess this is where I should point out…waiting…not a strength for me. It does NOT come easy. I’m waiting for it to become easy. Yes, I’m joking.

What I’m BEGINNING to learn is that the actual waiting…the time between the starting point and the finish line, is called life, and that’s where I’m supposed to spend my time. The ‘mini’ waiting tests that occur along the way are really tools to teach me how to live life. My focus is once again skewed as I try to rush through the week without having actually lived my best in those days between Saturdays.

My life does not BEGIN when the waiting ends…that is when life is over. I think about the creation of the Universe. God took 6 days to create the Universe. He did it with a specific order. He WAITED to create man (and woman) until the rest of creation was complete. I believe He wanted it to be PERFECT for man (and woman). I believe God has order and a TIME for everything. Waiting is the meaning of creation after all.

Imagine a world where we didn’t have to wait. I thought about the many friends and people I know who are waiting the nine + months it takes to have a child. Now imagine the moment you THINK of a child…‘POOF’…a baby appears. As wonderful as that may sound to some certain 9 ½ month pregnant woman…it would be a living NIGHTMARE. You don’t have the room ready. There are no tiny clothes on tiny hangers. There are no diapers, for crying out loud! You have no food, no milk yet, you are NOT ready.

I began to see some merit and value in waiting. I thought about the waiting for a wedding. I thought also about the waiting for a divorce. I guess we must have learned at some point that a ‘waiting period’ is a good thing. It helps bring calm and peace and slows down the inertia that comes with emotion.

Today as I’m waiting…for something…I will try to recall this lesson and remember that life is found ON the journey…not at the destination.

On the Verge
By: kpjara





Tuesday, November 14, 2006

All For Him

"No gift unrecognized as coming from God is at its own best... when in all gifts we find Him, then in Him we shall find all things."~ George MacDonald~

At first I thought… “I can’t think of one applicable story reflecting this quote in my own life…”

God laughed out loud. I could actually hear the deep, resounding laughter from heaven as He pushed ‘rewind and play’ on the heavenly DVR/DVD. Before my entire history was replayed…I grabbed a hold of one that is fairly recent and absolutely speaks to this truth.

I was attending a ‘start-up’ church, my first of that genre (at that time). A start-up church presents an interesting dichotomy. There is enormous NEED for ministry and servants and enormous OPPORTUNITY to serve in different capacities. There is a desire and passion sparked by the newness…which ignites many servant to find their ‘niche’.

I was one of those ‘servants’.

I began to take on many different service opportunities, all in the good name of ‘gifting’ and service. I cleaned, painted, organized, administrated, encouraged, taught, worked the nursery, trained, etc. I was a ‘machine’! I did more and more and more and more. I wrote for the church newsletter. I was developing a social service referral book for congregants. Any new ministry that popped up…I was all about trying it on for size. After all I had tons of gifts.

It never occurred to me what I was doing was out of God’s will. I actually believed I was doing all this for the good of the church…therefore the good of God. I began getting hints from God that I was no longer in His will. I was acting on my own arrogance and pride. My gifts were only serving me.

The seed of bitterness began to take root and I began to resent all the “work” I was doing for this church.

“God, do something…make them see how much work I have done for YOU!” I cried to God.

God said nothing.

Friends began to tell me I was taking on too much. I was trying to do everything and that wasn’t helping anyone. I was acting out of compulsion and it was no longer pleasing to God.

When I realized how much I resented making coffee and folding the bulletins one week, it was as though a light went on. I stepped back…I dropped all of my service activities but the one that I felt passion about. I repented to God and asked that God would lead me each week in the artistic displays I continued to do. The weeks I prayed and asked for God’s hand at my gift were the weeks it came together without a hitch. The weeks I tried to do it ‘on my own’…were dismal failures. They were hard to prepare, to display, and rarely noticed.

God reminds me daily that my gifts must be rooted in Him or they are nothing but weeds strangling the vine that need to be pruned and cut away. The gifts from God must be nurtured and led by Him and then they become something wonderful FOR HIM! They bless God and I see the doors swing open for the blessings He brings back to me.

We recently began attending another start-up church and it is a weekly struggle not to take on ‘too much’ as I endeavor to meet a need, but stay in line with the gifts God wants me to use. I have had to drop things; sometimes for a season, other times permanently. I have to trust that God has already put into someone the very gift that we lack and until we pray and wait for this person…this gift, God cannot move.

My prayer is that I will seek to find Him daily in ALL THINGS and I will recognize God for every gift He chooses to place with me and also hear when He gifts another.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Healing Scars

I just want to thank all of you for your prayers and words of encouragement and much needed reminders of a ‘hopeful’ outcome rather than tragedy and its subsequent path.

I still have been unable to call my sister because I’m still struggling to release all the anger to God. Not ironically, at church as we continue in a deep and meaningful series of Jonah. We got to the part where God puts a tree for shade for Jonah and then creates the worm to destroy the same tree. Jonah is angry and wants to die! I stopped there and thought about the many Scriptures in the N.T. that remind me to endure through hardship, and to encourage my ‘sisters’ and help bring them into light, from darkness. The reminders to get my focus off ME and on HIM.

I also thought of my own marriage vows… “to love…in plenty and in want…” Clearly my sister is going through a time of want. Will I love her through it?

I spoke to my niece last night and as I suspected she’s struggling to process this living nightmare. She is an artist, and that comes with experienced pain and angst (even at 16 y.o.). She is a gifted poet and is so full of mercy is almost frightening.

I listened to her and asked a few questions and she shared. I thought better of any advice giving…just listening…that’s all that is required of me as I hear her heart. Then I offered a few words of encouragement, a reminder that a new day WILL dawn. A new tomorrow will hold hope and renewal. Her mom will be home this week and they will begin to repair the severing of trust that a child maintains in their parents.

I’m so proud of her and her ability to process her own emotions and encourage her brother to do the same. Her brother, who is far too young to really know what happened (thank GOD), only wants an assuredness that Mommy will return by tomorrow and his world will be on ‘forward’ again.

My sister’s husband continues to ‘pretend’ nothing is wrong. He has never been able to show or deal with emotions. I picture in my mind a pressure cooker that has been left unattended for far too long and it is preparing to BLOW…. He has displayed this same behavior through the entire marriage. I initially thought it brought some balance to the marriage, now I see it is absolute denial.

On the way to work this morning God spoke through a new song…for me. I had never heard it. It’s “I Know” by Seventh Day Slumber. How fitting are these lyrics…

Wonder what can be so bad
That it makes you want to die
I wonder what could be so tragic
Makes you want to take your life
You have your Savior on the cross
While you sit on the throne
Put yourself up on that cross
Put your Savior on the throne.

And I know it’s hard to take what’s happening
And I know life is tough sometimes
And I know it seems like there’s no hope for you
And I know your life is worth more than you can see

It’s hard to see beyond your pain
When you feel so dead inside
It’s hard to see what you’ve been given
It’s hard to find the hope in life

And I know it’s hard to take what’s happening
And I know life is tough sometimes
And I know it seems like there’s no hope for you
And I know your life is worth more than you can see

And I say look at Jesus’ hands
Those scars are there for you
You know He understands
What you’re going through

Remember the scars today and have a blemish free Monday!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Trying to Make Sense of It All...

I got a call last night on the way home from a friends…it was my mother…it was late. My mother doesn’t call late, so I knew something was ‘up’. Here is how it went…

“Kim, I wanted to let you know your sister tried to kill herself on Thursday evening.”

“She WHAT?” I asked, not really believing what I heard.

“She took an overdose of Zol%ft and tried to kill herself.” She repeated.

“Where is she? How did you find out? Is she okay? Where are the kids?” It all seemed to ramble from my numb mind.

My mom went on to give me the now meaningless details. I quickly explained to my husband, got into bed, told him I didn’t want to pray, and laid there thinking and just getting angrier and angrier.

My sister experienced a suicide of one of her best friends this past year, whose husband had died of an overdose not 3 months prior. They leave behind a son who is now in therapy and attending a ‘special school’ because he can’t cope with such loss…what person could, not to mention a 16-17 y.o. young person! She has seen what it has done to the remaining family and we have talked about the ‘survivors’ grief and subsequent tribulations.

Yet somehow this was the best ‘answer’ for her marital woes. I honestly don’t understand that. I don’t understand (and probably never will) how someone would risk the well being and health of their own children because they are having marital trouble. As much as I love my husband (and I love him FIERCELY), my life is not defined BY HIM. My life would continue if he broke our marital vows…either via forgiveness or dissolution of the marriage. And we don’t have children who look to us for support and love!

I just have a hard time imagining getting to a place of no return. A place where no other thought, except “I must die to escape” comes to mind.

Her 16 y.o. daughter has already pondered if it is her fault. I don’t know how her 10 y.o. son is coping. Her husband is acting as if nothing is wrong. I sit here this morning remember my sister telling me that she “would rather die than live without (enter husband’s name)”. I asked her, even then, about the kids…and she told me then (apparently without believing it) that she wouldn’t put her children through that. I wonder if I should have intervened then…if I don’t actually hold some blame here.

The truth is…who is to blame doesn't matter. It’s not about blame. My sister made her own choice under the influence of the enemy. God is a God of life. Christ DIED for us to live! This decision comes straight from the depths of hell. I am angriest at satan for his pitiful pleas to us daily to ‘come play paddycake’. For anyone who happens upon this and wonders…does satan really exist…I will affirm loudly YES!!!!!!!!!!!

The story is too long to process here…but I am so angry and my mom made it clear she doesn’t want me calling my sister until I can move to the next phase of this process. I promised I wouldn’t call until I could calm down. I have only this left to say.

There are 5 stages of grief, according to researcher Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. I am angry. This is my journal. This is my story. I am angry!

Please have a pray-full Sunday and thank you in advance for prayers for my sister and her family. And PLEASE...if you are considering suicide as a means to 'solve your problems' get help! Call a hotline, a friend, a pastor, go to a church, or even a hospital. And remember NOTHING is too big for God!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Labile Labels

I don’t ‘get it’. I don’t understand the many labels of Christianity. That’s not entirely true. I understand there ARE millions of labels for denomination, affiliation, worship, etc. What I don’t understand is the absolute loss of cohesion and unity in this effort to focus on the differences for names sake.

I was recently reading something about the ‘missional church’ and how new visitors are sometimes expecting a contemporary church and find something much different at a missional church. I got to thinking about what it all means. As of 1980, according to one researcher, there are over 20,000 different Christian denominations.

I read the “Bible for Dummies’ some time ago and it stated within 3 years of Jesus’ death and resurrection, there were already over 900 different ‘cults’ (the book used this word to identify separation from Jesus’ original message as taught by the disciples) solely because of misunderstanding what was taught.

I had a pastor preach about gifts once and I think it could actually have a more global application. His catchphrase was: “Same goal, different roles.” Maybe that’s it. Maybe we remain so inwardly focused on our role individually or our role as a church, that we lose the universal and Biblical GOAL as focus.

There are a few (and by a few I mean thousands) of words that could seem a bit more ‘role focus’ than ‘goal focus’ when it comes to sharing Christ with others. Some of these words are so misunderstood they shouldn’t be used. These include, but are most certainly not limited to:

Abba Abrahamic Absolution Advent Agape Amen Anagogy Animism Annunciation Anabaptist Antibaptist Antichrist Babel Baptism Beget Blasphemy Canon Catechism Celibrant Chalice CHRISTIAN Communion Decalog Deist Dogma Ecclesiology Emerging Church Evangelical Fundamentalist Gentile Gnosticism Gospel Illuminati Inclusivism Koinonia Liberal Christianity Liturgy Logos Mainstream Manicheanism Mennonites Naturalism Neo-orthodoxy New Covenant Theology Occult The 3-O’s Opus Dei (except from DaVinci Code) Pantheon Parousia Parthenogenesis Pentecost Pluralism Polemics Polytheist Post Modern Post Millennialism Quaker Rapture Rationalism Religion Rhema Sacraments Sanctification Secular Theist Transfiguration Unitarian Voluntarism Worship Yahweh Zealots… found here…

Trust me when I say; there are very few new Christians or non-Christians who would tolerate the use of these words without clear understanding. What’s the point of adopting a ‘theology’ without understanding what you’re adopting? I didn’t express an interest to learn more, until I understood what was being said.

Do you know the origin of your particular denomination? Do you know the theology of your church, or your pastor? Do they align? Do you know the beliefs of the person you sit by in church…or any of the people in your church? How much does it matter?

I sense a real need for unity and have for some time. For some reason, what I’ve read lately really has me wondering if it’s possible, and if I’ll see it in my lifetime. In the spirit of Thomas…I doubt it.

Just pondering…on this leg of my journey.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

CONSUMED: 'Welcome to Babel!'

*WARNING: This is my opinion and could be found to be somewhat offensive. Read at your own risk….you may want to close your left brain for a moment as Pandora's box is vented. Please comment appropriately.

I have read and reread some recent comments about my patronage to Wal-Mart and while I don’t feel any pressure to justify myself…I have done a deeper search of the claims against this giant; largely because the dissenters are people I respect and admire (from what I read and ‘see’ of them).

I understand the allegations of ethical compromise or complete lack of ethics, and I understand the ‘sweatshop’ allegations as well. I understand the sexual discrimination charges. I understand the support of homosexuals via advertising and market focus. I understand the questionable magazine covers and music sales. I understand the concern about some pharmaceuticals. I understand the boycott initiative and this. I even understand the extreme abuse of international and national employees all in the name of low-cost and the mighty dollar.

All I can think to say is: Welcome to AMERICA….welcome to RELIGIOUS America. I like to call her “Babel”!

In America the goal is to meet the demands of the public…at a cost. We are a society based on free-enterprise and capitalism. We will sacrifice our very mother’s name for the mighty, mighty dollar…let’s call him Buck, shall we?

Buck decides who goes where. Buck decides where we shop and how much we buy. Buck controls the vacation destination. Buck has been dieting…he may even be bulimic and he’s getting thinner every year. Buck is also highly coveted.

So what’s the problem? Well it seems Buck has been offending the church some; more specifically the AFA. I believe a part of Buck’s offensive behavior is his own elusive nature as he thins. The AFA would have me believe that Buck and Jesus are best friends and Jesus decides where Buck goes.

Here’s MY truth. My truth is the possibility that the allegations of sweatshop conditions and employee abuse could be more government related…than Wal-Mart related.

My truth is that sexual discrimination resulted in a class action lawsuit because Wal-Mart is HUGE…I have worked and am NOW working in an environment where this exists daily.

My truth is…I refuse to discriminate against homosexuality because it’s P.C. My (well-researched) truth is the Scripture used to defend the arguments against homosexuality is not translated correctly (and I’m sure that’s God’s doing).

My truth is these magazines, music, and movies are all a part of our country. WE (I) choose whether to pick them up and purchase them or look through them…Wal-Mart shouldn’t have to baby-sit me because I’m weak willed. My truth is I refuse to endorse censorship at the cost of my freedom.

My truth is…I would rather live in a world of questionable pharmaceuticals, than a world full of unwanted and extremely abused children. My truth is…I have chosen a country where I have more free-choices than almost anywhere else. Why would I now want to limit those choices through regulation and law that will inevitably hurt more than help?

My truth is if I boycott Wal-Mart…I will have to boycott every grocery store available in my region. Target has faced similar charges. Buy 4 Less is barely surviving amidst the scandals of the late 80’s and early 90’s. The smaller markets each have been bombarded with various allegations as well, about product safety and cost.

None of us should be surprised when a business grows and it results in the ‘exposure’ of some unsavory activity. It’s much like the search for an actor or actress or POLITICIAN who hasn’t compromised his/her own values and ethics in the name of entertainment and …and maintained success and appeal. Why do you think we have public polls of popularity? Trust me…you put anything or ANYONE under a microscope…you will find flaws!

Is that right? No! Does that change it? No! Does bringing down the fist of righteousness change it? Sorry…no. I have already been told I can’t possibly love Jesus because of my political affiliation…a label…a ‘loose’ label.

What’s a girl to do? I have to face my Creator one day. I won’t have an attorney present. I won’t have a hand to hold. I will stand before God and be held accountable for the things I have done…and not done in my life. If Wal-Mart and my ‘truths’ are my ultimate demise, so be it.

To God be the glory!

Have a reflective Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Big Brother

No not the television show...the real thing! Here he is a few years ago.

I have an older brother and a younger sister. If it weren’t for the ‘middle child syndrome’ I am sometimes ‘tripped’ by, I would say it’s just about perfect. I love my siblings…though I don’t tell them often enough. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually told my brother…if he knew…he might just use it against me, LOL!

My brother was in town all last week as I had shared. He was at my parents for several days alone, and Thursday his wife (my sister-in-law) came and joined him through Sunday.

I can’t think of much that makes my father happier than to spend time with his son…my brother. I know my father loves us all…but he can talk to my brother for hours on end…and my brother appears to sit and listen. It could be because he’s only here once or twice every few years. Whatever the case, it makes my dad’s year, to visit with my brother.

My brother is a ‘life of the party’, conversationalist, intellectual, spiritual, well-read, talented writer, gifted story-teller, sometimes annoying (as a sister), kind of guy. He has never met a stranger and finds himself surrounded by friends (old and new) regularly.

He used some of those gifts this week to remind me why he is a “good brother”. I don’t really need the reminder…I know he’s a good brother, but it was good to hear these ‘never told’ stories.

He shared about ‘beating’ the guy who date-rap*d me in high school and I had heard tales of this but never knew for sure. It made so much more sense why the guy never even looked at me again…because my brother not only beat him, but threatened him.

He also shared a story about our ‘youth group’ at a church I never felt a part of. We went together…because he was old enough to drive. It was a Halloween party and I had made ‘caramel apples’ which apparently looked HORRIBLE! The caramel was all melted around the bottom and stuck to the wax paper and no one was going to eat them. It’s clear my ‘baking/cooking’ skills were a work in progress!

Apparently my mother convinced me they were ‘fine’ and I took them. My brother said since no one was eating them, he ate every single one of them so I wouldn’t be hurt by it. I never knew that. I barely remember the party…and don’t remember the apple-failure humiliation. He remembers and shared that with me.

I’m not sure why he felt the need to remind me of these things, cause I think he’s pretty incredible and he’s always had the honorable ‘older brother’ status for me (but I’d NEVER say that out loud…his head would swell MORE)!

Suffice to say the time of reminiscing and sharing and spending time together was really incredible. I wish we lived closer and could talk more often. I know he has pearls of wisdom I could grow from and clearly I too, have much to offer him in the ways of humbleness and such!

It’s amazing to me this is the same guy I used to have to threaten I’d ‘tell mom’ almost hourly during our youth. It just goes to show…we really do mellow with age…and thank God for selective memory!

I also thank GOD for a brother who, even in the less-than-stellar seasons, was there for me and is one of my biggest champions. He is a confidante’, a counselor, and a friend… he is my brother.

May your Tuesday be full of future wonderful memories!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

And Then He Blessed Me...

Due to a VERY busy weekend, I won the role of grocery shopper at Wal-Mart. This is NOT one of my favorite things to a matter of rivals one of my least favorite...right up there with laundry. I go to Wal-Mart about 2 p.m. today and I pulled into an overflowing parking lot thinking... "Lord HELP ME!"

The Lord answered my prayer...He gave me the second parking place in a row near the garden entrance. Thank you Lord!

I entered and could immediately tell it would be a test. I stopped my cart and took a deep breath and prepared to enter the abyss from the safety of the garden center which is currently being transitioned into Christmas Corner. Thankfully most of the shoppers are too overwhelmed with Thanksgiving plans to give Christmas much more than a passing thought.

I pushed my cart along at a slower-than-usual pace and tried my best to smile when approaching others and tried my best not to peel the heel skin off the slower and strolling shoppers. "Lord please don't teach me patience TODAY!"

The Lord answered my prayer...He led me through less trafficked areas and I shopped and perused (as much as one can while shopping at the local Wal-Mart Supercenter).

I made it back into the actual grocery section and it always looks as though the end of the world is approaching on a Sunday afternoon. There is almost NO creamer left, only a few randomly placed cartons of water and the meats are being restocked during this peak shopping hour.

On aisle 3 I found myself stuck behind a shopper who had parked across the aisle and I moved over as far as I could as an elderly couple made their way through. I was about to make some snide remark to the woman taking up the aisle...but the elderly gentleman smiled at me and said: "thank you so much, young lady."

The Lord heard my prayer.

On aisle 5 I passed the elderly couple going the other way and I got behind a woman in a large electric shopping cart/chair with about 5 children under the age of 7 with her. There was NO getting around the cart and kids and they were buying up the remainder of the macaroni and cheese. I thanked GOD that I didn't have to survive on Mac and Cheese and for providing so fully for Paul and me.

The Lord heard my prayer.

As I turned the next aisle I got behind an older father or grandfather with his baby along for the ride...and he was selecting peanut butter or jelly...once again...movement was stalled with the traffic. I finally stopped closed my eyes and said to God (yes, out loud)... "Lord, remind me to be kind to others." and I heard the Lord say: "Kim, it's already within you to be have the very spirit of kindness within you...lean on that spirit, instead of your own flesh!"

Then something happened. heart did not grow to 3 size too large...but I sort of melted a bit inside...and I approached the coffee area (with no expectation for my favorite, albeit seasonal coffee) and lo' and behold, my favorite coffee in the whole world; "Holiday Peppermint" is OUT! I got my pound bag and thanked God for blessing me so much!

When I finally made it to the dreaded checkout lanes, my heart was less heavy and my attitude had improved, but this is typically the place where I go read books while Paul checks out...I knew today I had to do it...get through checkout. I looked for any 'red coats' (Wal-Mart clothing for team leaders and typically FASTER checkers, FYI), and found one with only 1 person ahead of me.

As I got to the front of the line with my purchases on the belt...the checkers switched and it appeared I was getting a young, 'non red-coated' male. I asked God to help me be patient and kind with this young man.

The Lord heard my prayer AND He blessed me again!

This 'boy' was the best checker I've ever had at Wal-Mart...and I told him so!

Then I wheeled my purchases out to the car in a light rain and thanked God for blessing me on this day!

I love how God can take the seemingly mundane and make it all about Him!

Have a wonderfully blessed evening!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Excuses, Excuses

I've been a bit 'absent' this week as I've celebrated both my Mother's and Father's birthdays this week and my brother and SIL are in town from NJ AND one of my girls got violently ill yesterday (she's better now)... so free time has been sparse...and my visiting down! It always amazes me how much I miss 'reading' everyone, til I'm away a day or two.

I received this email from my mom and it is HILARIOUS! I wanted to share it here...I don't know the origin, but if you haven't seen it...put the coffee down and prepare to laugh!


Mr. and Mrs. Fenton are retired. Mrs. Fenton insists that Mr. Fenton go with her to Walmart. He gets bored with all the shopping. He prefers to get in and get out, but Mrs. Fenton loves to browse.

Here's a letter sent to her from the store.

Dear Mrs. Fenton,
Over the past six months, your husband has been causing quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and may ban both of you from our stores. We have documented all incidents on our video surveillance equipment. All complaints against Mr. Fenton are listed below.
Things Mr. Bill Fenton has done while his spouse was shopping in Walmart:

1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people's carts when they weren't looking.

2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.

3. July 7: Made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the restrooms.

4. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official tone, 'Code 3' in housewares ... and watched what happened.

5. Aug 4: Went to the Service Desk and asked to put a bag of M&M's on layaway.

6. Sept 14: Moved a 'CAUTION - WET FLOOR' sign to a carpeted area.

7. Sept 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and told other shoppers he'd invite them in if they'll bring pillows from the bedding department.

8. Sept 23: When a clerk asks if they can help him, he begins to cry and asks, 'Why can't you people just leave me alone?'

9. Oct 4: Looked right into the security camera; used it as a mirror, and picked his nose.

10. Nov 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, he asked the clerk if he knows where to find the antidepressants.

11. Dec 3: Darted around the store suspiciously loudly humming the "Mission Impossible" theme.

12. Dec 6: In the auto department, practiced his Madonna look using different sized funnels.

13. Dec 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browse through, yelled "PICK ME!" "PICK ME!"

14. Dec 21: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he assumes the fetal position and screams "NO! NO! It's those voices again!!!!"

And last, but not least....

15. Dec 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door waited awhile, and then yelled very loudly, "There is no toilet paper in here!"

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Living From the Inside

I was watching a television program last Friday evening and there was some talk about how we live our lives…from the outside. It got me thinking.

I have seen in my own life and in the lives of others, an external focus. A focus on our outward man/woman…what I would consider largely a ‘learned’ behavior. I remember my mother teaching me from an early age how important it is to ‘look’ good; to ‘dress’ appropriately. Of course I had to learn what “good” and “appropriate” looked like and what the measure was. It’s obvious it could be interpreted 50 different ways by 50 different families.

For my family it meant, as a young woman, I was to wear makeup in public, have my hair brushed and styled, and wear clothes appropriate for the function and my age. Even in my own rebellion through various hair colors (from pink, red, white, black, even fuchsia); I felt a certain reliance on these lessons in my outward expression.

The inherent problem with this mindset, however; is the lack of originality and more importantly the lack of recognition to the inner-man/woman. I’m not suggesting we all pick and choose how we want to look/act/live at our own whimsy. I am suggesting we heed the inner man/woman when it comes to finding our significance, our purpose.

I think it’s fairly obvious the way fad and fashion change so often and randomly, that the outward focus is lacking. There are few staid and true fashions or hair styles or timeless pieces of jewelry or anything outward focused. Even a look in our homes sees the changes in colors, décor, furnishings…fairly often. I have changed the ‘look’ of my own home at least 5 times since I graduated college. Sometimes I seek expression through what is popular and I mix in a bit of what I love…and others times I seek cost-effective and reliability as the most important qualities. These constant changes are due to lack of full commitment or acceptance to what I’ve ‘expressed’.

As I shift my focus inward and seek to live my life this way, I begin to express outwardly the peace, joy, love…that dwell within me. I find the ‘content’ Jesus has placed in me as a part of my transformation. I find a certainty that as I look upward and inward, I will find my purpose, my life meaning and that will be expressed outwardly regardless to what I wear or how I appear.

The value in our lives is truly found in leaving this world a bit better than we found it upon arrival. It is not found in looking good for the ride!

Have a wonderful Tuesday and remember to live your life from the inside!

****30-faces challenge picture #1 will be added to my new blog (A Time To Draw) this evening as I cannot photograph or load my picture until I am home this evening.****