Tales from the Booth: PAY Attention, Not just Tolls

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

A week or so ago we had an interesting occurrence at the Reading Interchange of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. An oversize or what the Turnpike refers to as a  Class 9 vehicle,  was attempting to enter the Turnpike through one of our regular lanes designated for EZ-Pass only traffic. A special Turnpike permit is required for overweight and over-dimensional vehicles to gain access and such vehicles must enter and exit through larger designated lanes. For example, the transport of cement barriers is a common Class 9 occurrence at our Interchange. We use wide lanes without scales to put on and take off  such vehicles. If the entire vehicle length including barrier exceeds 85 feet it is identified as a “Class 9”. Likewise, overweight vehicles (in excess of 125,000 pounds), overheight vehicles (in excess of 13 feet 6 inches) and overwidth  vehicles (in excess of 10 feet wide) also require Turnpike Class 9 permits to gain  legal entry and must use the specified lanes..

Now that you have an idea what the term Class 9 is, I will continue recounting this Toll Booth Tale:

That morning the mist rolled in thicker than usual for this time of year. It crept eerily across the lanes as I sipped on some steaming java from my thermos. My morning somnolence ended when a shrill back-up beeper startled me. I turned to see an over-size vehicle backing out of an EZ Pass entry lane. An adrenaline surge pumped my blood into overdrive sending me across the lanes to halt this extremely dangerous and foolish maneuver.

Yelling and waving my arms like a crazed orangutan are not included in my job description but every now and then that skill set pays off. Fortunately it was effective  in this instance and the driver stopped in the middle of our dedicated EZ Pass lane.

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To cut to the chase, the over-width vehicle was stuck in our lane and impeding oncoming EZ Pass traffic entry to the Turnpike. I called for back-up and explained to the driver the predicament he caused and that he must wait for Turnpike personnel to help him out of the lane.

Within minutes the First Responder/Safety Patrol arrived and shortly thereafter a State Trooper. The dilemma: Should the truck move forward or backward to exit the lane? The driver was in jeopardy of causing Turnpike property damage as well as damage to his truck. The truck was wedged in so tight that the trooper and safety patrol together took over an hour to figure out how to safely remove the truck from the lane. They moved it a few feet forward. Then they tried a few feet backward. Cooperation, time and effort got the truck safely unwedged and on its way in the right direction.

Now I must say, the driver experienced all this trouble because he simply did not pay attention. His company issued specific directions to him for the routes he was to follow. The directions to his final destination did not include the Turnpike. So why didn’t he pay attention to his instructions? Why did he try to enter the Turnpike illegally? Was he stubborn, lazy, prideful? Only he can say.

The truck driver needed help to move in the right direction. On his own he could easily have moved the wrong way and caused himself and others a lot of costly damage. But to move successfully in the right direction he needed several things. Things we need when we are stuck. When we fail to follow instructions:

  • Determination- to choose the right direction; defeating the sin of stubbornness. ( See Jeremiah 7:24)
  • Humility- to receive help and support; defeating the sin of pride. (See Proverbs 16:5)
  • Effort- to work at putting the determined plan into action; defeating the sin of laziness. (See Proverbs 6:6)
  • Time- to give to the endeavor; defeating the sin of procrastination. (See Ecclesiastes 11:4)

Do we see any parallels between ourselves and the trucker? We can get into trouble quite easily without any assistance. But we need fellow believers to help us get out of jams or slumps or sin that we, even as devoted Christ followers, experience. No one wants to admit it when we do stupid things that easily could have been avoided had we followed the directions. If we deny that we get ourselves into these negative predicaments we are not facing the truth.  As I John 1:8 states “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.” New Living translation

Our owners manual
Our owners manual

We need to pay attention to our motives and follow the instructions given to us in the Bible if we want to FLURISH at all in this life. Let that sink in. Don’t wait until you are stuck in a precarious situation. Pay attention now.

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Shine on. . .
karan k

 

 

Change in Motion

 

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1 New Living translation —-Including CHANGE.

Earlier this week I found myself in rapid motion in a small space. Being barefoot you can guess it did not end well. For the first time I experienced the pain of a broken bone. Even though it’s a very tiny bone, it has created an unexpected shuffle of events. And life as I knew it changed.

Imagine this is your world
Imagine this is your world

I like this photo because it is a freeze frame of motion. Everything is in motion around the surface. It’s an intriguing word picture to me.

Imagine this water is a single freeze frame of your life, your world. The water is suspended from its natural path of change. Right now in this moment do some personal pondering. What is your status? Your emotions? Your thoughts? Who is close to you? How is your health? What are your responsibilities? What are your challenges?

Lift the freeze frame for a split second and each of those aspects of your life will change. The orange will plummet in relationship to the splashing water.  The  glass bowl will wobble and possibly move a teeny bit and the water will completely have changed in location and shape. This is life in a minute scenario but represents all of life when you get down to it.

Motion is constant and so change occurs on so many levels repeatedly, rapidly and relentlessly that our conscious mind is incapable of keeping up. This is the natural cycle of life.
Some changes we can detect through our senses. We can taste the change in milk when it becomes sour. We can hear the change in an instrument in need of tuning. We can feel the changes of temperature.

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Life is a constant cycle of change. Seasons change in most places in our world. Daytime changes into night. Seeds change into plants, flowers, vegetables or trees. Caterpillars change into gorgeous butterflies. Growth and change are all around us. It should be expected as a familiar friend but somehow in our personal lives, change can scare us.

A new opportunity arises for learning. What is our first response? Excitement, fear or something else? I encourage you to welcome the change. Our knowledge can increase by embracing the change.  Our interests can change with the newly acquired information which can change how we spend time and with whom.  Change can be a flurry of FLURISHING, if we do not give in to fear.
The loss of someone dear changes everything. Suddenly there is a gaping hole in the fabric of our soul and an emptiness in our heart. Our thoughts change—Things we rarely thought about now become so precious: The sound of their footsteps crossing the floor. The smiles and sense of humor that could so easily annoy us. The scent of their signature perfume, cologne or body scent lingering on their clothes. The simple sense of their presence in our lives is missed. But EVEN this our God can use for our good. Good changes. It’s one of the hardest changes in life to master and entrust to God. But as all other change we cannot escape it, nor control it. MJT! Must Just Trust!

Our great God is always with us, even to the end of this age! (See Matthew 28:20b). He implores you to trust Him and His perfect love that casts out all fear. “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love.” I John 4:18 New Living translation

The point here is that fear (and anxiety being generalized fear) is one of the greatest enemies and obstacles to a FLURISHING life. I have fought against various fears most of my life and I see the insidious nature of it and why our LORD tells us NOT TO BE AFRAID but to trust HIM instead, repeatedly in the Bible. (Over 500 times throughout the Old and New Testaments in various ways, but who’s counting?)

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever!!!”

King James Bible

In light of the above truth, ask God to help you defeat fear and/or anxiety of change. OUR GOD IS THEE ONLY UNCHANGEABLE FACT IN OUR EXISTENCE. Ask Him to help you trust Him with whatever changes you face now in this moment and beyond. He can turn your fear into FLURISHING!!! I know firsthand and it is AMAZING!!!

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Shine on. . .

karan k

 

GOD’s Favorite BELOW THE SURFACE Part III

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“Come close to God, and He will come close to you. Clean up your lives, you sinners, and clear your minds, you doubters.”
James 4:8 GOD’S WORD translation

During my senior year of High School I participated in the All School Show entitled “God’s Favorite”. This play is a parody of the book of Job from the Old Testament. The premise revolves around Joe Benjamin, a God-fearing wealthy tycoon claiming to be God’s favorite because of his extreme good fortune. Comedic situations in his family occur quickly when his devotion to God is put to the ultimate test.

My character with twin brother
My character with twin brother

Chosen to play one of Joe’s twin children, Sarah Benjamin, my character oozed with naive excitement at the knowledge of a known rapist prowling around the house. It was a peculiar and entertaining role that stretched my acting abilities. I must confess the laughter and applause during my scenes generated an exhilarating satisfaction in my heart.

Neil Simon wrote the play “God’s Favorite” which was produced on Broadway in 1974. Born in the Bronx to Jewish parents, Neil Simon has written skads of material such as:

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THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG 1979 (which was the very first show I saw on Broadway), BILOXI BLUES 1985, LOST IN YONKERS 1991, THE GOODBYE GIRL 1993,  and perhaps his most famous work, THE ODD COUPLE 1968 among many other broadway plays, tv and screenwriting.

Unfortunately, “God’s Favorite” never became a big hit like many of his other works. Neil may have lacked faith in this particular project?

A lack of true faith is alive and well for Mr. Simon. Currently listed on celebatheists.com under the “Ambiguous List” he claims neither atheism or agnosticism as his conclusion on faith. He is apparently skeptical of theism and/or religion. So I found it somewhat surprising that he wrote this play based on a Bible story. Job—the story of UNWAVERING faith.

Perhaps Mr. Simon could relate all too well to Job’s plight?
“I cannot keep from speaking. I must express my anguish. My bitter soul must complain.” Job 7:11 New Living translation.

Did Job scream or yell? We know he vented! (See Sneak Peek BELOW THE SURFACE Part II)

And so he wrote a play expressing the cry of his soul.
Neil Simon has said “‘God’s Favorite’ was written as a reaction to his wife’s untimely death from cancer.” Quite the curious correlation, wouldn’t you agree?

The trouble is, so far Mr. Simon is not showing the same result from his allowed testing as Job did. He wrote Job’s story, GOD’S FAVORITE as a comedy. Truly there is NOTHING funny about what happened to Job i.e., loss of oxen, donkeys, sheep, camels, all servants and his children in a single day. See Job 1:13-16
And that was only the beginning. His friends brow beat him off and on in the next 18 or so chapters. Instead of sitting quietly with Job as comfort, they tried to wheedle him into admitting unconfessed sin and his alleged abandonment of God; which they were certain caused his calamity but none of their accusations were true. Sincere but wrong, they were terrible friends.

So was Neil Simon crying out against God for his loss when he wrote GOD’S Favorite? It is a very real possibility. Only God and Mr. Simon know for sure.

Now what about us? How do we handle tragedy that finds its way into our lives? Do we believe God sent it or caused it? Read the first chapter of Job. Read S-L-O-W-L-Y.
Here we have an extraordinary view into heavenly happenings. Imagine the scene while you read it.

In a nutshell, God believes Job is a man of integrity—pure in his heart toward God. Satan basically challenges that truth by daring God to ALLOW Job to be tested attempting to prove what God believes about Job is false. And so God allows it knowing Job will remain faithful. God is FULLY in charge but it is satan who wants to harm Job, not God.

After 41 chapters of various grueling trials, God and Job emerge with a deeper relationship. Job’s understanding of his God has increased as well as his love and devotion to Him. Once again, satan is proved wrong and is not found hanging around at the end of the book of Job for God’s victory dance. No, he was probably already afoot elsewhere (See I Peter 5:8 and claim verse 9 to FLURISH for life).

Learn from Job.

A Personal Note to Mr. Neil Simon: I’ve been an unknowing fan of your writing since “Murder By Death”  hit theaters in 1976. The movie was one of very few memorable moments spent with my father.  So I care about you Mr. Simon, please learn from Job and live fully restored in your heavenly Father now before you take your last breath! It’s not too late for you to FLURISH!

 I will restore to you. . . Joel 2:25+26
I will restore to you. . .
Joel 2:25+26

Don’t be caught in a “Room filled with empty people.” Sidney Wang —Murder By Death. Translation: Don’t Be Caught Dead Without JESUS, Neil!

Shine on. . .

karan k

Sneak Peek BELOW THE SURFACE Part II

 

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“I cannot keep from speaking. I must express my anguish. My bitter soul must complain.” Job 7:11 New Living translation.

I have a friend who recently had some cosmetic surgery because she hated a certain part of her body. She hoped for beautiful results similar to those of a coworker. After 4 weeks of complete immobilization, the surgery failed. She now needs to undergo a more invasive procedure, which of course is more painful. This caused my friend to be extremely “Pee-Ohed”!! She’s convinced that things never go well for her. She stopped talking to God concerning her trials in life a long time ago. (Of course I keep yakkin at her not to abandon His ear;) )

I have another close friend who has suffered one third of her life, plagued by serious illness and  multiple diseases. Lately, the struggle has been overwhelming her. She’s tired of being sick. She’s angry. She wants to break things. Is she angry with God?

Do these two people have anything in common? If you said “disappointment and hurt” you’d be right. This dangerous duo leads to resentment and bitterness which given time will destroy mind and body.

Open your heart
Open your heart

Have you experienced anything that hurt you, made you angry or disappointed you? Sure, we all have. What did you do with those emotions?

“I believed in You, so I said, ‘I am deeply troubled, Lord’.” Psalm 116:10 New Living translation

When I found myself with humongous resentment slowly evolving into bitterness, I ended up yelling at God. I had refused to deal with it the first time someone attempted to point out my souring attitude. When I opened my eyes to the truth about myself, I was horrified to see what had grown BELOW THE SURFACE. Hence, the screaming at God. I blamed Him for my pain and disappointment because I thought He should or could have eliminated it from my life.

That screaming session with Jesus was a milestone in my journey of faith. He allowed me to vent like no human could. The peace and feelings of well-being afterward that rushed through my soul are indescribable. I decided never again to delay going to my faithful friend with ANY issues I have.

 

LET IT GOOOOO!!!
LET IT GOOOOO!!!

If you find yourself in a similar mindset/struggle as one of my friends or myself, go straight to God! Don’t be deceived by thinking HE won’t understand or He will punish you for feeling this way. HE knows your heart thoughts already, remember?
“…for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything.” I John 3:20 English Standard version

And His mercy endures forever—-see Psalm 136.

Only by coming before Him in honesty and humility can we find healing and deliverance. Otherwise, the ugliness will continue to fester and grow destroying any hope for FLURISHING in this life!

Find a private VENTING ROOM now!!

Shine on. . .
karan k

Below the Surface

 

Check Below Your Surface
Check Below Your Surface

“Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple.”
Job 5:2 New International version

My sister recently had an unusual experience when she went for a massage. A co-worker referred her to a woman she felt comfortable with and who had exceptional skills. At some point during the massage, the masseuse told my sister that she has a lot of resentment. Naturally my sister was baffled because not only did she not feel resentful toward anyone, she certainly wondered how this lady rubbing her skin could make such a statement!?

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The masseuse’s words stayed with my sister and she asked me about it and what I thought. I considered it odd but intriguing. The only thing I was told once during a massage was that I held all my stress in my derriere and that I would never have arthritis in my hands. Otherwise, I hadn’t a clue but wanted my sister to be aware she had touched on a rather ethereal and troubled topic that I did not want to touch with a twenty foot pole. However, she asked me to write a post on resentment, so here goes. This is for you, Sis! Mwah!

Tragedy, pain and even disappointments touch everyone in life. How many of us allow these negative events to sour into resentment and even bitterness? These two closely related deadly dangers may seep into our hearts without our awareness.

Resentment MOST OFTEN grows after some sort of disappointment. It can build and morph into deep levels over time becoming more difficult and laborious to remove. It creates a soothing sense of distance for the individual infected by it but not for those nearby. Resentment creates barriers to insure distance. It functions as a multi-layer protection system from disappointment to barricade oneself from the ultimate enemy of. . . PAIN.

 

We want to protect ourselves at all costs from pain. But this is a vicious cycle that diffuses short term pain of one type for long term pain of another. STOP THE MADNESS! Get off the RESENTMENT Train!
Bitterness ALWAYS stems from hurt, always. If the hurt is not healed promptly and properly, it will ferment in our hearts until it’s a toxic cancer spreading and destroying our minds and bodies. This is why the Bible warns frequently against bitterness. Ephesians 4:31 says, “Get rid of all BITTERNESS, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.” New Living translation

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Bitterness is listed first I believe because it affects and can intensify everything else on that list. All of which are considered “evil behaviors.” If we do not take action against bitterness and remain in victim mode, the cost is steep. It can:

  • Prolong mental and/or emotional pain
  • Lead to long-lasting anxiety and/or depression
  • Precipitate vengeful thoughts and acts
  • Prevent you from experiencing the potential joys of living fully in the present —vs. dwelling self-righteously on the past wrongs inflicted on you
  • Create or deepen an attitude of distrust and cynicism
  • Rob you of vital energy
  • Interfere with cultivating healthy, satisfying relationships
  • Undermine your physical health by inducing such problems as insomnia, high blood pressure, back pain, headaches, abdominal conditions etc..,

This is by no means a comprehensive list but you get the idea. Bitterness is not your friend! Get rid of it as quickly as you can!

Begin by scouring your memory for disappointments and pains inflicted on you by others. Write them out in a journal. Pray over them an ask Jesus through His Holy Spirit to renew your mind concerning these events. Ask Him to heal your body where resentment and bitterness have caused damage.

Wait and watch God work to bring about peace and freedom in your heart. Begin to FLURISH one moment at a time, while He melts away your resentment and bitterness.

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Shine on. . .
karan k

Surfs Up?

“If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people.” Romans 12:18 Common English Bible

Akaw!!
Akaw!!

First of all, surfing did not find its way onto my bucket list and certainly not in the freezing waters of the Pacific in California. However, it did top my husband’s list. Endeavoring to be an “all in, fully attentive wife” I agreed to conquer the Surfing Bug by his side, much to his unbridled glee.

Aside from surfing, the people we met casually on this trip were pure delights and several have become friends. But one individual in particular proved especially challenging. He was our surfing instructor, Bill. A native Hawaiian he did not possess the typical hang loose attitude but employed a rather martinette teaching style. He and I butted heads from the gitgo.

The first part of our surf lesson entailed positions on the board and advancing through the steps to surf standing up. The instructor drilled us to repeat the moves and quizzed us on basic board knowledge. During this time Bill told the guy next to me that he failed to stand on his beached board because he needs to get into better shape. However, Bill’s phraseology was not quite as diplomatic as mine. OUCH! The guy kept apologizing for his protruding belly. I felt bad for him.

The guys followed Bill out to chest deep water for part two of the lesson while I frantically looked for drinking water—Dehydration anxiety set in due to 90 degree weather in a black wet suit. This did not please Bill, thus he abandoned me on the sand. A Good Samaritan came to my rescue with ice cold water, enough to refresh my body and get me out into the waves. She even bought more water for each of the other surfers. I am forever grateful.

Gathering my courage and MJT (Must Just Trust) attitude, I waded out toward my husband and Jansen (Mr. Lose weight or else). Both men struggled fiercely to follow their laid-back leader. Visibly frustrated, Bill barked out phrases such as, “you two are suckin! Listen to me! Do what I tell you!” On and on his encouraging mantras rang out over the waves. And then it was my turn.

“Get on your board, Karan!”

Ok. I’m in half decent shape for fast approaching senior hood but put me in chest high waves and ask me to mount my surf board for the first time was not an easy task. I gave it my best but my arms were weak and I was terrified to grab the “rails” for any reason since Bill had given profuse warnings against that earlier.

“Listen! Get! On! Your! Board!” I tried again and He finally hoisted me up and somehow I landed on the board and slid back quickly before he yelled at me about my “position”.:(  Normally I’d be embarrassed but my exasperation levels were mounting faster than I could fret over looking stupid. My angst even trumped my fear as I shouted over the  crashing waves…

“I’m more afraid of you than surfing!”

Bill half laughed but I think he knew I was just as frustrated with his meanness as he was with my inability to follow his orders.

Whipped and wiped out
Whipped and wiped out

 

Ever encounter people like Bill? Type A personalities who seem to have no people skills let alone compassion? Usually they excel in a given area and they expect you to know what they know. When you don’t, you’re treated with harsh impatience and possibly contempt.
I learned a heckuva lot from Bill that day but very little about surfing. Here are just a few lessons:

I learned my “unconditional love” skills needed honing.
I learned how understanding and patience are deep virtues needed to teach in any area of life in order for your students to learn in a positive way.
I learned how important it is to speak up for what is right even in angry tones, especially to protect the innocent. . . true righteous indignation.

So how did it all turn out? My husband Dwight mastered the board enough to stand and ride several waves all the way into the shoreline. Me, well I DID stand up on my board but my accomplishment was short lived as I tumbled into the waves each of my 9 attempts.:).

Bill invited us with his surf gang for lunch after the lesson and we had some quality one on one talks with him. We made an unspoken peace.
Jansen and his Good Samaritan girlfriend invited us to their boat and we now have two new friends on the West coast. Great people. Jansen continues surf lessons with Bill.

Hopefully Bill will realize his demeanor at times causes extra fear in his students which  hinders his goal to teach surfing with safe results. And degrading his hired help behind their backs is just plain mean and needs to cease. I continue to pray for Bill.:)
“Hotheads stir up conflict, but patient people calm down strife.” Proverbs 15:18 Common English Bible

Surfing Harmony
Surfing Harmony

Hang Ten if you dare and shine on. . .
karan k