VACATION/STAYCATION INVITATION

Ahhhhh. . .
Ahhhhh. . .

Here on the east coast summer is upon us and brings the season for  fun and R & R (rest and relaxation for all you Millennials). Most of us work throughout the year and look forward to a week or two of cherished vacation time. I am doing that even as I write.
Traveling is one of my favorite leisure activities. Whether I travel far across the ocean to Europe, a little jaunt to the beach, visit friends or family in another state or simply travel across the house to the deck for time off there is something I always do.
I make it a point wherever I go to answer a special invitation: “LET’S GO OFF BY OURSELVES AND REST AWHILE.” Mark 6:31a New Living translation. Jesus and His disciples were so busy ministering to others that at times they didn’t even get a chance to eat! Our lives are busy and tiring too which is why we all need vacation time.
So on every vacation or staycation, I bring my Bible and some devotionals. I find a special place at each location where HE and I can have our own private rendezvous. We talk about HIS unique features at whatever locale I am exploring and I  relay to Him all my concerns, knowing HE will gladly take care of them. HE delights in lightening our loads.
I have been doing this for years and each place holds the most beautiful memories because we shared it together. On my honeymoon in 2007, I got up before my darling groom awoke and found a place outside our bungalow to relax and share all my new wonders with my LORD. I can still see the precious spot in my minds eye; lush greenery surrounding a small rock wall where I sat and had sweet communion with the Lover of my Soul.
There’s a special olive tree in Salo, a tiny seaside town in Italy that holds another  treasured spot in my heart. HE and I sat for part of an afternoon gazing across the sparkling Garda lake there. His creativity amazed my soul and senses.

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But it was in 1999 when I realized HE truly wanted to explore with me WHEREVER I chose to go. I found myself alone for an entire day at Disney World, which was not what I wanted. What would I do? Mope and feel sorry for myself? It was kind of tempting but I decided to be brave and go alone on the transit system to the Animal Kingdom. Even tho I didn’t consider myself a huge animal lover, it was the one park I had yet to see. What an unexpected delight to see all the creatures with which HE was so well acquainted. Gorgeous white tigers sun bathing on rocks, giant Komodo dragons hiding in the brush, and frightening Fox bats flying in an overhead cage (grateful for cages!) all fascinated me. Exotic butterflies in exuberant hues floated  and flitted by as I walked the trails. I felt like Alice in some sort of wonderland. So blessed and not feeling alone at all! As a side; Jesus and I absolutely loved “It’s a Bugs Life”!!
I could recount for you memory after memory of traveling with Jesus but for now this will suffice. If you want to FLURISH through hectic or anxious vacation/staycation times, answer HIS invitation! HE will enhance every experience more than you can imagine!
Travel safe and never travel alone again!
Shine on. . .
karan k

Tales from the Booth

Come into my world...
Come into my world…

How many have heard “THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT”?
In my line of work it comes up everyday. If any of you work in the service field, you can relate.

I’ve been a toll collector for over 27 years and believe me, we see it all. And sometimes, you wonder if some of these customers are right, in the head.
Like the business people wearing outfits to kill. Armani suits, silk ties  and a stuffed animal strapped to their waist. What’s up with that!?! Or just the other day I had a young guy wearing a black bra with a hot pink mesh crop top. He said he wanted to scare me.:) Well, he sorta did.
Once I had a person pull up brushing their teeth, not just with water. Oh no, there was definite foam action. And I wondered, “Where are they planning to spit that?”
But the one I see the most,  and its usually older people, is people who drive with their pants open.  Zippers down. Do they not know I can see that? Maybe they don’t care? Maybe they need bigger pants?
Definitely an interesting job for a people lover like me; so much variety. And insanity. But we all know working with people is challenging whether it’s at work, at church, on a team or with friends or family.
So how do we as Christ followers handle difficult people?
On my job if a customer pulls up to the booth without a ticket or EZ Pass to pay their fare, we have to charge them the full rate of the Turnpike which is between $30 and $50. You can imagine this customer may not be too happy. Recently this happened to a male toll collector and when he explained the full fare policy, the customer became irate spewing all manner of verbage, threw some money at the collector and shouted, ‘I’ll call the central office and make your life a living hell!’ to which he shouted back as she drove off, “Sorry I’m not looking for a relationship right now.”

I think we’d all like to have a good comeback when we get treated badly if we’re honest.  Something with a bit of sticking power? I know I do at times. But if the ‘customer is always right ‘ and I want to shine for Jesus,  I follow what I call THE SERVANT’S GOLDEN RULE.
First, I make up my mind that I want to do what’s right in God’s eyes not just what’s right in my own.

Second, I breathe a quick prayer for grace.

Third, I accept the idea that even this customer (who may be ornery)  is right, or at least deserves to be treated right by the grace of GOD in me.
And last, I just follow the Golden Rule from Matthew 7:12. We all know it.  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. . .” New Living translation.

Just BE nice and you’ll FLURISH! Because the alternative of being nasty, will in time, take it’s TOLL on you!

Shine On…

karan k

Tunnel Vision

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Tunnel Vision
Imagine looking through binoculars. Ever try them? I never liked using them except for brief moments to zero in on something in the distance. But I hated the limited view. Absolutely no peripheral vision unless I kept moving my head with the binoculars. What a dizzying frustration!
Recently my youngest niece had a severe bout with tunnel vision. Her inability to see the whole and clear reality in front of her caused several problems. Her equilibrium suffered from constant shifting of her head to capture more field of vision. Progressive panic and fear seized her mind as the sudden loss of sight did not return. Fortunately the episode passed for her in time, but the thoughts of a tunnel vision perspective lingered for me. . .

Here’s a word I’m just gonna throw out there; “SONDER”. It’s a new word to me and it has quite the definition; a noun—- “the realization that each passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.” Coined by John Koenig in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. Koenig’s fascinating definition continues;” —populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness– an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might only appear once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.’
Needless to say, I wish that I had written that! It’s a concept I have often pondered; How life is exploding all around us and we miss it because we as humans tend to self focus. Guilty as charged here!!! It is a natural tendency in all of us that we must fight if we are to FLURISH. Proactively peel your eyes open, tune in your ears and expect to experience more around you. I have found that my schedule will not fall apart because I adjust more sensitively to my surroundings. Thinking less of my agenda frees me up to be aware of the needs occurring close at hand:
A person crying at the gas pump next to me who just went through some sort of pain. Do I take the time to offer a word of encouragement, a hug or at least a sympathetic smile?
Or an elderly person that is confused at the grocery store and needs help locating canned corned beef? Or someone too short to reach the sale items on the top shelf?
How about if someone falls or trips in front of me? Am I too busy to lend a helping hand because I am too involved with my own timetable? Or do I think what I am doing is more important than someone in need at the moment?
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others , too.” Philippians 2:3 & 4 New Living translation
These are thoughts for us to ponder if we desire not to fall prey to spiritual tunnel vision. I have always found letting go of my “to do” list for HIS sake always provided me ample time to get things accomplished much more effectively than I ever could have done in tunnel vision mode. See Matthew 6:33. As an added benefit, you just enjoy life a little more when you expand your field of vision. Try it and FLURISH!

Shine On…
karan k

KARMA MISKONCEPTION

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Karma MisKonception
“Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of GOD. What a person plants, he will harvest.” Galatians 6:7 The Message Bible
To all those who think karma is kool, I have a bit of a different perspective. It’s possible you might be misusing the term?  Ergo the purpose of this post, Karma MisKonception! Unless you also believe in reincarnation, you can’t seriously believe in karma because the two are inseparable. Carelessly using it for fun may not be a great idea. Read on. . .
Karma has two main definitions, one formal and one informal;
First the formal definition according to the religions of Hinduism and Buddhism is the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence viewed as deciding their fate in future existences. Thus reincarnation is paramount to basic karma. Reincarnation basically rewards us according to deeds from our past life. You could possibly graduate from a flea to a mouse in this system, read with a tinge of sarcasm please.

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The informal definition is destiny or fate which is the development of events beyond a person’s control, regarded as determined by a supernatural power. Simply put, a supernatural power beyond ourselves decides our future and I would have to agree with that only to a point.
There is a definite law governing our universe concerning our actions. Some choose to call this karma but karma gives the impression that the individual has no control whatsoever in life.  I prefer to give credit to God’s principle of reaping and sowing from the opening verse in Galatians. Because if it is simply karma, fate or destiny controlling us,  we can absolve ourselves from any accountability. Many in the modern world gladly choose this belief system as an excuse for poor decisions or laziness to make no decision which in essence is a decision!
The truth is there are two things we can control; our attitudes and our choices. Our great GOD of the Bible did not create robots. HE gave us a free will to use the magnificent minds HE created in us to make our own choices. HE did not choose to control our destinies although HE could have. HE preferred to give us freedom of choice even though HE knew some of our choices may turn out to be painful for us. Ultimately, painful for HIM as well because of HIS deep love for us. In Joshua 24:15a HE speaks to HIS people Israel through Joshua, “If you decide that it’s a bad thing to worship GOD, then choose a god you’d rather serve—– and do it today.” The Message Bible
HE doesn’t want forced love or worship. HE just invites us to get to know HIM as HE reveals Himself in the Bible and HE desires that we choose Him but the actual choice remains ours. HE risks losing our love and worship to lesser things because HE loves us so much HE wanted us to have that freedom to choose.
Also, Our great GOD offers rewards so much better than reincarnation! Plus because of grace there will be no punishment for His children, only rewards. Read I Corinthians 3:12-15 for example.
We won’t be coming back to another life as a detestable rat or any mere animal, but reigning princes and princesses in HIS kingdom. Romans 8:16&17a Because we are HIS children we are joint heirs with Jesus. WE will reign with our Lord according to our faithfulness to HIM in our earthly lives. We will live in HIS presence and be given various crowns of glory. (II Timothy 4:8, Revelation 2:10 etc.)

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I Peter 5:4 “And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.” New Living translation

According to the Urban Dictionary, karma is the Buddhist belief that whatever you do comes back to you, e.g., if you do something good, something good will happen to you and vice versa. This is taking God’s principle of reaping/harvesting what you sow/plant from Galatians 6:7 and renaming it as karma. Buddhists and Hindus may do this if they choose but I don’t want to give any of GOD’s glory away so I personally refuse to use the term karma except in this post.:) Just seems dishonorable to my Lord. Read over this passage from Galatians 6:8-10 several times in different versions and let me know what you think concerning karma, which by the way doesn’t leave any room for grace!

May we FLURISH in our attitudes about doing good things for others because HE has done so much for us. May we also FLURISH because we make good choices that result in rewards here because of the law of reaping and sowing and in heaven because He promises eternal rewards.
“Remember this—-a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give.”

II Corinthians 9:6-7a New Living translation

Revelation 22:12 “LOOK, I AM coming soon bringing My reward with Me to repay all people according to their deeds.”

FLURISH in doing good for His glory and your future!

Shine On!

karan k

Desirable Part II

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Desirable Part II
Continuing with the thought of becoming DESIRABLE, perhaps I should clarify the definition I am using. Desirable as in attractive. In Part I the focus was on physical desirability and hey, I was only 13 so “LOOKIN GOOD” was paramount in my teenage mind. Nothing wrong with wanting to be attractive or desirable in a physical way. In fact it’s a good thing to want to be clean, neat and modest, altho it took me awhile to perfect those three items. However, physical attractiveness is not the ONLY thing where desirability is concerned. And it is NOT the most important thing.
This truth occurred to me when I turned twenty (7 years into my quest and not coincidentally God’s number of completeness). I wanted to be desired but not just for how I looked, altho I wanted to maintain that as well. Physical beauty is somewhat shallow. . . “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.” Proverbs 31:30 New Living translation
I wanted to be more attractive on the inside because looks alone do not a relationship make and I unfortunately discovered that truth by the popular trial and error method. I had grown weary of the games and the pain that accompany immature “love” . I wanted deep, lasting relationships. So I did some soul searching with a trusted friend who I knew loved me and had my best interest at heart.
During my search I saw something rather ugly clinging to the walls of my heart. It was so dark that I could barely see it hiding in the shadows. My friend identified it as self righteousness and it certainly wasn’t attractive or desirable. It was mean spirited and judgmental. And it had to go!
How could this ugly thing grow and live in my heart so comfortably all these years? I didn’t think twice about looking down on girls who “got in trouble” and had to quit school or have a thrown together wedding. I figured they must have been easy, sleazy or both. And what about my peers who were strung out on drugs and alcohol? They were simply low-lifes I supposed.
You see, attending church all my life, I was taught there were certain things I shouldn’t do if I wanted God’s love and my parent’s approval. Things that only ‘bad’ kids did. So I promised GOD I would not partake in these things and I kept my promise. Maybe you can relate?
When my friend told me I was SELF-RIGHTEOUS, I was offended. It sounded so heinous and indeed it was. I had to take a good long look at my motives. Why did I look down on these people? Was it because I wanted to believe I was better than they were? Did I think I was closer to GOD? Yes, I was guilty of both. Guilty of judging people. Even if I never voiced this out loud, it was an attitude of my heart. And it was extremely ugly and extremely wrong. A huge blot hiding any attractiveness I may have had now forcing me to make a decision.
Would I pretend I didn’t see the ugliness or would I deal with it? Easy just to turn a blind eye. Easy just to let it lurk once again in the shadows of my heart. But I was exposed as a self righteous believer in Christ and I had to take action for HIS sake and to be able to fully love others.
I agreed with HIS truth. Nothing I did made me more loved, saved or better. It was all HIS grace, which is free to anyone who receives it ; Ephesians 2:8 & 9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, it is the gift of God—- not by works, so that no one can boast.” New International version
I asked HIS forgiveness.
I asked for His help to truly love as HE loves.
And then I began LISTENING with my ears and my heart to the stories of people I once judged. Seeing into their lives HE began to help me understand people, and the reasons for some of their dilemmas. His compassion began to flow through my heart to genuinely care for them. And so I became more desirable. . . and I FLURISHED. By HIS grace, and so can you! Seek to become more desirable inside and out. . . it’s a lifelong process but the results are GORGEOUS!

I Peter 3:3 & 4 “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” New International version

Shine On!

karan k

Desirable Part I

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When I was 13 we moved from a small three bedroom house about 1300 square feet total into a home where the kitchen/dining area alone was 500 square feet. It was a wonderful blessing for the family to escape our former cramped quarters. All six of us now had plenty of space due to my grandfather’s passing and my mother inheriting his home. He was always so kind to us and I adored him. My grandfather touched my life while he lived and continues to influence me.
One day, after we moved in, I rummaged through a box of Grandfather’s books. I came across a small red book that had white hearts on the cover. You cannot imagine the title of the book. To this day it remains a mystery to me because it seemed so out of place among his popular mechanics magazines, medical journals and fitness books. My eyes slid slowly over the letters; “HOW TO CATCH A HUSBAND”.
It didn’t even make sense that he should have such a book. But I was thoroughly intrigued and read the book from cover to cover that very day. Granted, at the hoary old age of thirteen I was not yet thinking about a husband. Most girls plan out their dream weddings but not  much planning about the type of man they will live with for life.  But I did think about boys ALOT and wanted to secure a good one to share my life with someday. I figured any tips I could glean from Grandfather’s book might be helpful. And that was an understatement.
The main point I attained and retained from the book is this: If you want to find a good mate, you first have to be a good mate. That simple truth shaped my thinking for future friendships as well as romantic relationships. It became my mission to be the best person I could be. I decided to pay attention to any advice or criticism I got, constructive or not. I determined to face my flaws even if they were painful. This took some courage. I started on the outside with my hair and clothes. I learned how to wash and dry my hair to keep it from looking like “dry straw” (someone once called it that) and studied fabric colors to see what clothes looked best with my skin tone. I joined marching band in high school and began working out at home after I graduated so I could stay in shape physically. My physical appearance improved and I never lacked boyfriends.
The surface or outer improvements were easy after I accepted the need to make them and results showed up rather quickly. I continued with this approach toward self improvement in every area of life as each one reared its ugly neglected head, in some cases. I refused to be frightened by my own flaws and pressed forward.

I Timothy 4:8 says “Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in GOD is far more so, making you fit both today and forever..” The Message Bible
Somehow I knew there were deeper improvements to be made. . . . the tough ones that were hidden from the natural eye. “What matters is not your outer appearance—
the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes— but your inner disposition.” I Peter 3:3 The Message Bible
I will share more about this in Part II.
For now, think about what areas in your life could use some attention. Be honest with yourself. Make a list if that helps and then begin to research ways you can become the best you possible. The internet is a great resource if you have access to a computer. YouTube has lots of instructional videos to teach you things and you can successfully Google almost anything. i.e.:
Bushy eyebrows bothering you? Watch a video on how to shape them yourself. If money is not a problem try scheduling an eyebrow wax with your next haircut.
If you have a trusted friend, ask them for honest opinions on your overall look. Don’t let hurt feelings hold you back from making improvements. People who love us can see what we can’t, things that may be holding us back just because we refused to see past our own perceptions.

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Trust GOD in this whole process. HE definitely wants you to reach the potential HE created for you! HE desires that you FLURISH! “For we are GOD’s masterpiece. HE has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 New Living translation
Shine on. . .
karan k

Who’s your Daddy?

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“But Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to ME. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.'” Matthew 19:14 New Living translation

Are you childlike or childish? Only a few different letters but the meanings in the eyes of God are worlds apart. Let’s take a look and compare because Jesus’ words here are key for us to FLURISH!

Childishness refers to the negative side of being a child. When we are young, we behave differently than we do now, HOPEFULLY! As children we had not yet been taught the right way to behave. It was expected that we would be selfish, self-centered, irresponsible etc., At some point, if our parents did their job, we would be instructed to share, to be polite and kind, to be considerate and not to hit or hurt others. We would grow and learn more complex inter-relational etiquette as our ability to comprehend increased.
We all know that there are no perfect parents. Parents are defective just like us. . . kind of comforting when you think about it and great to remember when you become a parent, but I digress. A thousand pardons.
Needless to say there are always blind spots and flawed areas in each of our forming characters. Once we reach adulthood, however, it is our responsibility to learn and grow in the areas that are weak. Not every individual is motivated in this endeavor and as a result it is entirely possible to see childish behavior in someone say 50 or even 70 years of age. One of my favorite truths I share often: Maturity does not come with age. It comes with responsibility.
I Corinthians 13:11 says “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” New Living translation, this verse is contained in the love chapter of the Bible. Childish people are incapable of true love according to God’s definition. Only when they decide to “put away” their own childishness can they begin to learn to love sacrificially and unconditionally as God does.

Now let’s look at Childlikeness, the positive side of being a child. Children are inquisitive, curious to explore the world around them. Ideally they are also worry free, unless there is extreme dysfunction in the home. (which unfortunately is rapidly becoming the new normal). Curiosity and freedom from worry are two priceless commodities of children. But the most important, positive aspect of childlikeness is dependence. Children are TOTALLY dependent on their parents when they come into this world. They rely on their parents to care for them and supply all their needs. This is the attitude Christ was referring to in Matthew 18:3+4 and Matthew 19:14 above.
The key to FLURISHING in this instance is to allow yourself to become DEPENDENT on your Heavenly parent. Realize and accept that HE alone knows what is best for you. Learn to trust HIM on the level of a child with a faithful, loving Father. If you adopt this attitude you will be free to enjoy life and be completely fulfilled. It will take time, but oh so worth it!

First, as always, make up your mind that you want to trust HIM completely.
Second, study the attributes/characteristics of God the Father. In other words get to know what HE says about Himself in the Bible. Look up in your Bible’s concordance the word Father and the verses where Father is capitalized so you are sure the verse is speaking about God and not an earthly father. You can also do a Google search on God the Father in the Bible.
Third, ask God to renew your mind as you study Him and His ways.
(see Romans 12:2)
Fourth, practice trusting Him with little things. Pray about something and just believe HE will take care of it because He loves you.  Wait in expectation and experience His loving provision.
Lastly, revel in your childlikeness and never be accused of being a stuffed shirt! Have fun, relax and FLURISH basking in your Father’s love for you!
SHINE ON !
karan k

THE BRINK

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FLURISH: THE BRINK

Back in 2005 I had the awesome privilege of chaperoning a group of teenagers across the U.S. border into the Ten Thousand Islands region of Canada.The old yellow lodge by the lake housed about 25 of us. It was a week long retreat and team building mission with teens across PA. The entire experience holds many fond memories for me such as water skiing and tubing for the first time and midnight boat rides across the lake with the moon as our only light.
I was at a crossroad in my personal journey. I needed to make some hard decisions requiring major changes in my life. I was standing on the brink, afraid to look over the edge.
So this Canadian odyssey provided a sweet and challenging distraction. A time of much needed soul reflection between kitchen duty and day trips with the rambunctious teens. I enjoyed every minute except one.
Toward the end of the week our convoy of vans and SUVs barreled along pitted roads and into the deep coniferous forest. Higher and higher our four wheel drive climbed, as well as my anxiety levels, to our destination, a mountain top high ropes course.
The kids were ecstatic and I was in a panic. I decided I would simply observe, encourage and be there for moral support. The team leader was having none of that. He expected me to fully participate and be an example to the kids. Reluctantly, I donned my helmet and rope gear and waited nervously in line for my first challenge. I watched these kids fearlessly tackle each element 30 feet above me without nets.

A beautiful 16 year old next to me in line noticed my extreme apprehension. She asked me what I was afraid of most? Falling was my answer. She pointed out to me the person holding the rope below for the person on the element as a belayer. The belayer’s job was to secure the person above on the course from the ground through ropes and watch the person closely, letting out slack as needed. She told me falling was really the fun part because the belayer below will hold you up with the rope system so there was no need to fear. I felt she knew what she was talking about from her confident attitude and somehow I gained the courage to climb the tree and stand on the spike next to the skinny rope. I stepped out on the rope and gingerly began moving forward. I inched slowly to the middle of the element when it happened. I lost my balance and began plummeting down 30 feet. My faithful belayer was on his toes and caught me before I fell more than 10 feet. I bobbed in the air as I realized the 16 year old knew the truth, it was fun to fall and I began to laugh. I went on to confidently finish two more elements perfectly that day, but the highlight for me was falling and being safely caught by the belayer. I felt great about my accomplishment.

The same truth applied to my fears concerning my future and the decisions I was facing. I needed to move forward in faith and if I fell I knew my divine belayer would always be there to catch me and even make it fun.
How about you? Are you facing something scary in your path? I find myself these days on another brink that looks frightening. I have to remind myself of the lesson I learned on the high ropes course: MOVE FORWARD THROUGH THE FEAR KNOWING FALLING WILL NOT HURT ME AS LONG AS I AM TRUSTING MY DIVINE BELAYER. It might even be fun.

Practical tip: Keep a perpetual journal of how God has helped you through the scary things in life. It will build your faith when you read over your entries realizing HE has never allowed you to fall into harm but faithfully held you up each time like a watchful belayer. “The eternal GOD is your refuge, and HIS everlasting arms are under you.” Deuteronomy 33:27 New Living translation

WaHooooo!
WaHooooo!

I never regretted pushing through the fear and taking the risks. Each time my ability to FLURISH increased. I pray you will trust the divine belayer whenever you find yourself on the brink!

Shine on!

karan k