Devilish Detonation Part V: Transparency

“Dear Children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” I John 3:18 New International version

without conditions
without conditions

 

 
I received a reply within two weeks of my initial invitation for a friendly correspondence;

“Joey” wrote in a surprisingly open manner. He told me that he wanted me to know all about his crime before I decided if I wanted to continue corresponding. I have always admired his desire to remain forthright and protect my well being. I found out later that his openness and transparency about his actual crime happened to be an unusual occurrence for inmates. In the community of the incarcerated it is considered taboo.

He told me of his early days growing up in the city and being abandoned by his father at an early age. How his introduction to drugs filled a void in his heart which lured him willingly into full blown drug addiction. Rumblings of bitterness and pain roiled under the surface of his soul far too long. The blockade of inhibition finally snapped.

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On an inauspicious day in May of 1982, Joey partied heavily like most other days. LSD and marijuana during the day coupled with kegfuls of beer at a party late in the day led to a lifetime of horror.

Without too many graphics detailing what happened before the day ended, suffice it to say, Joey hacked a dear friend to death. A girl the same age as myself. He didn’t remember the ugly technicalities due to the drugs. What was reality, what was hallucination he could not tell. He did tell me in that first letter that he believed himself to be guilty, even though his family did not.

Hallucination? Reality?
Hallucination? Reality?

No time for entertaining any thoughts of hesitation, I scribbled down a missive in response. My heart trembled, excited indeed to continue on the road to forming a writing relationship. Simply by chance a month later I heard Joey’s sentencing on the radio. He received Life which in Pennsylvania literally means until death and no parole. I remember thinking to myself when I heard it, “What a shame.”

The following weeks in the autumn of 1983, Joey and I wrote regularly and began sharing Bible studies via the US postal system. I went out a time or two with Rob, the best man from my girlfriends wedding. Nothing substantial occurred in my heart. Sort of flat which I always felt bad about because Rob treated me with kindness and respect.

And then my second Mom who I lived with had a bright idea that opened a pandora’s box of emotion for me. Stay tuned for Part VI.

Shine on. . .
karan k

Devilish Detonation Part IV: The Letter

” For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of the glory of God…” Romans 3:23 New Living translation

(Be sure to read Parts 1-3 to catch up on this series)

During a hot July weekend in 1983, I donned a beautiful chiffon gown to participate as Maid of Honor in one of my closest friend’s wedding. My ex-boyfriend chose to attend regardless of how I felt. The entire event squeezed my heart in a bittersweet fashion. I enjoyed the celebration, joining in my friend’s happiness. But the sore spot on my insides ached a little as I came home early even though the best man, Rob asked me out. I told him maybe the next week as I wanted some time to myself. He kindly did not press me.

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I settled in to relax with the Saturday evening line-up on tv; Love Boat and my favorite, Fantasy Island. At this time in my life I rented a room from a woman who became a second mother to me. That night she told me about a project she thought I would want to participate in with members of her home Bible study group.

She asked me to compose a letter of encouragement for a young man who recently became a Christian. His current situation was rather complicated and his grandmother requested prayer support for him.

Any blues I felt earlier quickly disintegrated as I realized the potential of what she was asking. A chance to serve in a ministry that even most Christians avoid. I felt honored and privileged for the unique opportunity. Little did I realize what I was about to embark on would throw me into a pitiful freak category in the minds of family, friends and peers.

My spirit soared beyond what I had ever known as far as joyful excitement was concerned. Any negative depressive issues or feelings I regularly struggled to control seemed to vanish. I decided not only to write a letter of encouragement but to include a small homemade card as well. The words came easily to me and I had to hold myself back from writing too much. I kept it simple, brief and to the point.

I wrote the basics. Who I was, my age and how I came to know about him. Most importantly I wanted to convey unconditional love to someone I knew many would write off as scum of the earth.

I wanted “Joe” to know he was loved and accepted just as he was. That there were Christians who believed with all their hearts in the saving AND redeeming power of Jesus’ blood. Our group of believers did not dabble in lip service only Christianity.

With the glue dried on the card and the ink dried on the paper, I scampered out across the apartment building parking lot with my paper treasure. Breathing a prayer as I opened the mail box, I sent off an invitation of friendship to a soon to be convicted axe murderer.

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“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:11 New International version.

Stay tuned and Shine on. . .
karan k0017-version-2

Devilish Detonation Part III: Mercy Trumps Messes

Graduation and growth
Graduation and growth

 

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:22 & 23 New Living translation

Can you look back on your life and see the merciful hand of God? As I continue this peek into a part of my life, I am grateful for the fresh mercy HE extends everyday. So much that our finite minds cannot comprehend but when I do see it, I want to be grateful. If you haven’t been following this series, go back to the Welcome page and click on Parts I & II to get yourself on track. Read on. . .

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Through a sudden act of divine intervention, God severed my physical ties with the object of my love addiction and moved him out of state. This forced me to make a decision. Would I look to God for strength or would I self destruct alone in a corner somewhere? What I was incapable of doing on my own, HE made possible with time and distance. He removed the distraction, greatly reducing any connection (pre-cell phone era) and I leaned on Him like never before. YOUR faithful love and mercy rescued me, O Lord.

The next 8 months I began, at times, an involuntary detox program led by the Holy Spirit Himself. I worked second shift on my job and spent my days cloistered with Him reading my Bible and feeding my mind on good things as it says in Philippians 4:8. “Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” New Living translation

This helped in cutting myself loose from any reminders and lures of my poisonous addiction. I stopped listening to secular music because the power it had to rule my emotions remained a stronghold in my mind. Each song could take me right back to places I desperately wanted flee and never revisit. A daily battle, I stumbled here and there and took many out-of-state collect calls. Even so, I refused to give up and continued pursuing the God of my youth.

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This was the decade of the 80s and I believe my relationship with Jesus no matter how wobbly on my end kept me from self imploding each day. I tried bingeing and purging but would become incapacitated by low blood sugar. I felt God used the experience of hypoglycemia to motivate me to eat better so I could feel good physically. HE knew I could not deal with nausea and wooziness very long. I found my first doctor on my own and received a special diet which I continue to use for balanced health.

As the months passed I gradually learned to use my time constructively. I began making homemade cards and sending them to shut-ins, the lonely and infirm. I eagerly sought opportunities to serve others and I slowly began to communicate again with family members. Finally, the first buds of healing were sprouting.

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In the spring of 1983, anxiety and fear awoke within me. Prayers for peace and strength were on my tongue most of the time but my mind swirled in distress. It was time to test the fortitude of my faith. The ex-boyfriend returned.

Apparently, he had been doing some soul searching of his own during this 8 month separation. His quest led him to give me a backhanded proposal. My insides shuddered when he broached the subject, but not with excitement. For the first time, I could see clearly through all my tangled mess of emotions and I shut him down. I told him I could no longer be in any type of relationship with him, especially marriage. Amazed by the words coming out of my mouth, I felt free. However, his response was laughter and disbelief.

For the next few months he hounded me with calls and showed up at my work late at night in the parking lot when my shift ended. Holding my boundaries was challenging to say the least. I had to remind myself of that FREE feeling and keep myself focussed on the truths of the Bible.
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” II Corinthians 6:14 from the King James version came to mind many times during this season of trial. Some battles were won and some were lost but I regrouped after losses and continued forward.

After several months of Cat and Mouse, a surprising development occurred, which I will detail in the Part IV.

GOTCHA!
GOTCHA!

Try looking over your own life for the mercies of God covering your messes. Something to praise Him for as always better late than never!

Shine on. . .
karan k

Devilish Detonation Part II: Black Rain Fall Out

Black Rain Fall Out Deepens
Black Rain Fall Out Deepens

 

“You saw me before I was born. Everyday of my life was recorded in Your book.” Psalm 139 New Living translation

Mother and her children; I am in the womb at this point
Mother and her children; I am in the womb at this point

Even in my blackest Fall Out, YOU saw me and cared. Part I of this series showed you the beginning of my battle with depression and anxiety. I wanted you to know you are not alone if you are also struggling in these areas. The following is a chronological continuation of my personal experiences. Read on. . .

DYING

Lifeless as a string
Hanging from an unknown ceiling,
Dangling in space
Without memory or feeling.

Windy problems move me
Up, and then back and forth
Settling to an uncanny stillness
Stable and unmoving.

My brain is slowly
Laying itself to rest,
Shutting down all systems–
Something is crying deep within my chest.

My existence is almost over,
The problems will soon subside.
Nothing more ever to worry for
Solving it all with suicide. . .

I wrote this poem as a preteen. The next few years following my attempted suicide, (see Part 1) were filled with similar dark writing through poems and short stories. Perhaps it was a way to deal with the pain in a more constructive manner?

Dark and brooding at 13
Dark and brooding at 13

As time progressed my unnoticed (by parents) and untreated issues, manifested into skewed thinking and erratic emotional patterns. Throw in some family dysfunction and legalistic parenting laced with hypocrisy and I became a Christian drama queen. Yes Virginia, they do exist and they are not nearly as entertaining offscreen in real life.

I simply did not know how to handle my emotions and thoughts in healthy ways. I wasn’t certain what healthy behavior looked like. Slipping into spells of catatonic states and finding myself trapped in bouts of prolonged crying became more and more frequent. Some episodes stemmed seemingly from perceived rejections or insults and others just swooped in and took my emotions hostage for no reason.

And in the years that followed, guilt came into play. Suicidal thoughts surfaced cyclicly to deal with the self loathing from all the personal failures to control myself. It was an agonizing and lonely time.

At 17 I entered into a relationship with a guy new to the area. Things between us mushroomed quickly. After two years of barely holding onto my virginity, he threatened to leave. I caved and gave in. Soon afterward he left anyway. My desperate needs to consume his time and attention compounded now with my new real guilt were too much for him. Devastation was an understatement.

Guilt explosions and crying games now released a watershed of self loathing and reprimanding. I blamed myself for the pain I felt because I was now a ‘bad” girl. The guilt that ensued nearly drove me completely out of my mind. All the while I believed I could hear the laughter of satan in my soul for the dirty deeds I committed. Round and round the toxins of guilt, shame, regret, and self hatred coursed through my mental and emotional veins.

swollen sadness
swollen sadness

Can you believe at this point I had yet to realize I needed some outside help? Inside I would wonder to myself, “what is wrong with me?” Relentlessly I brooded for a reason explaining my unacceptable and unhealthy behavior while ensnared in a multi-strand web of emotions.

Only the protective grace of my dear Lord ensured my survival. I am so grateful for His stubborn LOVE that chased after me even though I continued to cling to a guy who tossed me aside and then used and abused me. During this time Jesus never gave up on me even though I paid Him little attention.

Lost in complacency
Lost in complacency

His rescue is only a breath away, remember that whenever you feel desperate.

“Have mercy upon me, O God, because of Your unfailing love. Because of Your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.” Psalm 51:1 New Living translation
Stay tuned for Part III, FLURISHING is coming!

Shine on. . .
karan k

SoCal Dreamin

California Dreamer
California Dreamer

“Seize life! Eat bread with gusto, Drink wine with a robust heart. Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure! Dress festively every morning. Don’t skimp on colors and scarves. Relish life with the spouse you love each and every day of your precarious life. Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange for the hard work of staying alive. Make the most of each one. Whatever turns up, grab it and do it heartily!”

Ecclesiastes 9:7-9 The Message Bible

Of all the days to enjoy life, vacation days should be at the top of our list. Unfortunately for many, vacation time can be stressful, tiring and anything but enjoyable. The following are some thoughts I wrote while on our last vacation.

Paddle with gusto? Didn't want to fall in!
Paddle with gusto? Didn’t want to fall in!

It has been a vacation bursting with diamond days here in southern California for both my husband and myself:
We explored surfing history in Huntington Beach. Hiked to the famous Hollywood sign through the tumbling chaparral of the Santa Monica mountains. (Never do this on a hot day) Discovered renovated places like Peterson’s Automotive museum and luxuriated in Chinese massage houses in LA. We savored American cuisine at various retro diners like Norm’s and Pann’s that have sustained business since the 1950s.

I sat amazed by the magnitude of the shipping industry in Long Beach as my husband drove across the Gerald Desmond bridge. It gave him a chance to expound on the import/export trade knowledge he had of this particular port. (Gerald Desmond bridge is highlighted in the Monkee’s feature film Head several times throughout the movie—excuse me, I happen to be a long time Monkees fan)

I meditated at Wayfarers Chapel while Dwight photographed breathtaking vistas. We were entertained by street performers in Santa Monica, not to mention a bit of shopping at the Promenade and feasting at a personable Greek cafe’. Oh for the love of spanakopita!

Throughout the week both of us captured on film glorious sunsets at various beaches. We especially delighted in the swelling surf at the Wedge in Newport Beach, CA. Quite a spectacle. Reminded me of a mini tsunami.

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Dwight attended the Costa Mesa car show while I inadvertently met some new friends at a Jack in the Box fast food joint. Conversation flowed as if we had known each other for years. Dwight joined us and we made plans to see them for a local street fair and open mike night of Blues.

 

Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach is a favorite spot but being fair skinned finding shade here is a challenge. I am currently sitting in a gazebo on Laguna Cliffs Drive in Heisler Park, California. I’m sharing the shade with a clan of hungry Japanese who have laid out a banquet on the floor. I think they plan to stay for the day and I wonder if they are annoyed by my presence? It’s a public park and one of the benefits of living in a free country. Which is an unbelievably beautiful thing that I often take for granted.

Worshipped at Saddleback church in Lake Forest and then relaxed with family in Ladera Ranch. Catching up on all the news and lots of hugs and laughter.

Crossed off some bucket list items such as learning to surf (See SURFS UP? post) and paddle boarding. Both required core strength and balance. In the process we met another set of new friends, what a surprise blessing. The entire trip smacked of HIS divine presence and joy! It was all almost too good to be true. Made me think of a quote from a famous Olympic champion;

Eric Liddell 1924 Olympics
Eric Liddell 1924 Olympics

“I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast! And when I run I feel HIS pleasure.”
Eric Liddell 1924 Olympic Gold   400 meter run

Chariots of Fire 1981 movie — Watch it if you can.

All of us were created for His purposes and His pleasure. When we fulfill His dreams for us, we enjoy life on a level far above what the world alone can offer and HIS pleasure surrounds us. . .  it’s not enough to simply do  the right stuff but to fully enjoy ourselves while doing them—-this is the height of FLURISHING, to feel HIS pleasure! My California Dreamer and I felt it during this vacation. It’s both satisfying and intoxicating. Blessings on your next vacation!

Shine on. . .
karan k

Personal Note: Look for Part II of Devilish Detonation soon!

Black Rain Fallout Comimg SOON!
Black Rain Fallout Comimg SOON!

Devilish Detonation Part 1

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“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

One of the main reasons I write this blog is because I want all of you to experience the fantastic freedom of FLURISHING.

I look around and everywhere I see so many of us dragging through life, questioning our own existence. No matter our background or current status, Christian or non-christian it touches everyone. Why? What is causing  this more than mundane malaise?

Black Rain Fallout
Black Rain Fallout

I believe a bomb of hellacious consequence has been detonated eons ago and we continue to suffer from the fall out. Fall out that erodes our insides, scrambles our souls, the very seat of our emotions, and prevents us from reaching our individual potential.  It’s here, hovering over us like a dismal cloud. It’s fall out from an insidious weapon of mass destruction called depression.

Depression affects most of us  for short seasons at some point in our lives  but some of us live in it daily. Perhaps you are one of them? I am mainly addressing those trapped in the perpetual fall out.  By sharing some of the experiences and struggles I’ve had with depression, I hope to encourage you for a brighter future. Bear with me. I find that when my emotions are strong it is extremely hard to capture them in words. I want to be as transparent as possible with you as I share where I have been.

My first recollection of depression occurred at age 4 and appeared more like anxiety. Constant self competitive games raced in my mind, pushing me to outdo some personal high bar in my young brain. Problem was it could never be satisfied. A constant flow of new challenges drove me moment by moment. For instance, upon waking I felt driven to get dressed and beat the inner clock in my mind. Three seconds to put on a shirt, button it up quickly and jump into a pair of pants as my mind counted to 4. Two years later tying shoes became a constant source of frustration for me to perform correctly as fast as possible.

Decisions on the other hand were a slow process. Choosing seemed a stressful chore laden with guilt and anxiety. Second guessing and constant self reprimands plagued my little girl mind.

As I grew older I wondered if this was every person’s experience? Was something wrong with me? It was the late 60s early 70s at this time and nobody spoke of depression.

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The first realization that something wasn’t quite right came when I experienced extreme hopelessness at age 11. I took a handful of pills to escape the emotional and mental madness. Fortunately the pills were not strong enough to do much damage and I survived another day. This was the first and last time I attempted suicide. Although I felt the desire again many times since.

I knew “Thou shalt not kill” was one of the ten commandments. I learned shortly after that initial attempt I did not have the authority to take my own life. That belonged to God. (“. . . There is no God but Me! I am the one who kills and gives life;. . .” Deuteronomy 32:39b)
I gave my heart to HIM four years earlier. My deepest desire even then was to please Him and so I decided no matter how awful I felt, I would not damage myself.

Keep fighting
Keep fighting

I proposed to stay and fight this monstrous storm cloud in my life. Many rounds have led me here and I remain on my feet fighting and FLURISHING. Join me again next time to continue our discussion.

My prayer  until then for those joining me on this journey toward FLURISHING is that you will see the hope in the midst of any battle with Depression and/or Anxiety. No matter how large or small it looms before you. May His glorious hope shine through to your mind and ultimately your heart. May you find your FLURISHING life beyond depression. MJT (Must Just Trust)

Shine on. . .
karan k

The Ladder

GLAD YOU ARE ON THE LADDER
GLAD YOU ARE ON THE LADDER

Have you ever doubted your salvation? Perhaps you accepted Christ as a child and as you grew older you questioned the validity of that experience? Or you feel you’ve failed at living the Christian life so you think you couldn’t possibly be saved anymore? Or perhaps you fear you have committed the dreaded “unpardonable sin” and lost your salvation? Maybe you just can’t remember when you chose Jesus to be your Savior?
Concerning salvation, no matter if you’re forgetful, fearful or doubtful, I have GOOD NEWS for you! Our great God wants ALL of us (“The Lord isn’t slow to keep His promise, as some think of slowness, but He is patient toward you, not wanting anyone to perish but ALL to change their hearts and lives.” II Peter 3:9 Common English Bible), to be SAVED (If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is LORD and believe in your heart that GOD raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and confessing with your mouth that you are saved.” Romans 10:9+10 New Living translation) and rest in knowing once we are given eternal life in Christ no one can take it from us. (“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from Me.” John 10:28 New Living translation) Only if we ourselves choose to ignore, give back or slander His gift of salvation through the Holy Spirit do we commit the unpardonable sin.

NOTE: “For no one who has fixedly refused the work of the Holy Spirit would be worried that he or she might have offended the Holy Spirit. The very fact that a person would be concerned about his or her relationship with Jesus is evidence that he or she is not hardened against the Holy Spirit!” Christian Research Institute

In other words if you are concerned about committing the unpardonable sin, you didn’t commit it.

Don't look down. . .
Don’t look down. . .

Recently, I heard a message at my home church that held a simple truth I couldn’t forget. The gist of the message is that as genuine Believers/Followers of Christ, each of us is on an imaginary ladder leading to Heaven. IF you’re on the ladder you ARE saved from eternal separation from God! (fire, brimstone, gnashing of teeth, darkness, pain, suffering all included)
The important question to ask ourselves is not are we still saved but which way are we moving on the ladder? There is no standing still. You are either moving upward toward God or backward away from Him.

King David was a “man after God’s own heart” and yet he committed adultery and murder. So why did God say this in the Old Testament book of I Samuel and again in Acts 13:22? Since our great God is all knowing, HE knew before He created the world that David would commit these horrific sins. His omniscience also revealed to Him that throughout David’s life, the good the bad, and the murderous, David was always facing Him on the ladder. No matter what David did as a shepherd boy, warrior, fugitive or king, he always had his face and heart set on God. David desired foremost to please God and when he sinned he repented and began moving up the ladder again toward His loving and forgiving God.

If you are not on the ladder yet, what are you waiting for? Go back and read Romans 10:9+10.  Receive His salvation in Christ while there is time, for none of us know when our opportunity will cease. He is calling your heart. Get on His ladder today for tomorrow  may be too late. “. . . Today is the day of salvation.” II Corinthians 6:2c
For the rest of us, let’s keep our eyes on Jesus and move up the ladder moment by moment suspended in His love and grace! We will FLURISH together!

Keep your eyes on Jesus
Keep your eyes on Jesus

 
Shine on. . .
karan k