Hair Today

 

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“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes.” I Peter 3:3 New Living translation

An acquaintance just messaged me about finding out what hair dresser I use because “my hair always looks awesome,” according to her.  Frequently, I’m asked the same question by my customers on the Turnpike and from strangers I pass in the grocery store, the mall and generally round about town.

I have to laugh to myself each time this happens. Everyday is a mysterious hair day for me as in I never know what I’ll be getting when I wake up and brush my hair. I must give credit where it is due and that goes to the cut my hair stylist gives my golden locks. Somehow she has tamed the savage strands in a way I never thought possible. If only these  complimenting people knew the life long battle I have had with my hair.

The first time I realized that my hair was seen by some as subpar happened to be in my Sunday school class. One of the girls I grew up with and who I saw as gorgeous told me one Sunday that my hair always looks like straw. Now that didn’t sound very complimentary even to a 10 year old. Straw is usually dry, choppy looking and encrusted with dung. So what exactly was she trying to say?

yucky yesterday
yucky yesterday

 

The following year I mistakenly thought it would help to allow my mother’s hairdresser to give me a perm. You know, add some curls and waves so it wouldn’t be so stick straight. Wouldn’t you know my hair absorbed the perm solution like nobody’s business and I came out from under the hairdryer with a puff of curls standing almost 3 inches high all over my scalp. This incited guys to call me Bozo at football games because my hair was in their field of vision.

These are just two examples of why I laugh when people compliment my hair. I am grateful for the Lord’s unconditional love for His little straw head when no one else saw any value in me. He taught me not to depend on outer appearance to make my way in this hard ole world. Sometimes it hurt but in the end it developed the true beauty that lay deep inside me which is priceless.

Do you ever feel intimidated to shine  because you believe things others said to you or about you that were less than stellar? People can be harsh, unthinking and uncaring at times. But you have a “true, loving friend who is reliable and sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24 Amplified Bible

presently pretty
presently pretty

I pray that you will allow Him to help you find and use your inner beauty as well whenever and wherever you can.

“You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” I Peter 3:4 New Living translation

Shine on. . .
karan k

Packages

 

What is your very first Christmas memory? Colored lights? Scent of pine? Cheesy Christmas music? A cherished new toy? Think about it. Let it stir around in the stew of your mind for awhile.

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For me it was seeing my mother stuffing brightly colored packages into her bedroom closet. That closet was off limits to everyone in the house including my father. But somehow I just could not seem to forget those packages.

While mother worked on laundry in the basement I wandered into her room. I stretched up on my tippy toes to reach the closet doorknob and slowly opened it. The sunlight from the room fell on the colored paper packages generating magical sparkles. I stood there mesmerized.

I began to reach toward the packages when Mother’s voice stopped me cold.

“What are you doing?” she snapped.

I froze and all the magic melted into nothingness.

“Good little girls wait for Santa. Go back to your room,” she  said as she slammed the closet door shut.

Somehow I toddled across the hall to my room and wondered who Santa was and if he or she was hiding in Mother’s closet? In the years that followed I never believed much about Santa but I did remain intrigued with mother’s closet, hoping to see more packages.

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Perhaps your Christmas memories are not visions of sugar plums dancing in your head either? But I can tell you that by age seven I discovered the TRUTH of Christmas and HE has made all the difference in my life. Jesus is the TOTAL package!

“So the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”  John 1:14 New Living translation

Have you found the TOTAL package? Today is the perfect time. One click away; http://www.ransomedheart.com

Perhaps you have accepted the gift, the TOTAL package, but you keep Him under the tree of your heart and peek at Him every Christmas and maybe again at Easter?

Trust me, this is the one gift you need more than you can imagine. He left His riches in heaven and  came into our world so He could take our place of pain, punishment and sorrow in this life, sparing us from an eternity of anguish IF we take Him and unwrap Him in our lives daily.

Each year at Christmastime I attempt to focus more on Jesus and His Birthday than the last year. Sometimes I’m successful and sometimes I totally blow it. But I know HIM well enough by now that I’m assured HE understands me and fills every flaw with HIS amazing grace.  HE encourages me to keep seeking to draw closer throughout the coming new year. Nothing I have found in this life compares to the joy of knowing JESUS.

I encourage you to reopen the gift of Jesus. Explore as a child full of wonder at the King of Kings, the Almighty God and the best friend you’ll ever have… play with Him everyday.

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Merry Merry!

“And so if you meet me and forget me, you’ve lost nothing but if you meet Jesus and forget Him, you’ve lost everything.”

 

 

Shine on. . .
karan k

Devilish Detonation: The Conclusion

Karan age 4
Karan age 4

“I have known these tribulations since my youth; but never expected that they would so increase.” Martin Luther
For those of you who have read this entire series and may be wondering why a half attractive girl would marry an inmate, let alone one with a Life sentence, I’ll tell you it’s complicated.

I could drag the explanation and the rest of the story on forever and if you wanna read it, look for my book “Happy Girl”. It’s in process at the moment but will give you more answers and maybe some laughs along the way. For now stay tuned to FLURISH for bits and pieces of the whole story.

Christmas 1995
Christmas 1995

In the opening quote Martin Luther is describing an acute crisis he experienced during the years of 1527/28. (Cited by Protestant Luther historian Heiko A. Oberman.) This was a reference to his lifelong battle with depression.

In I Kings 19:14 Elijah suffered from depression and begged God to let him die. Christians are not exempt from depression and anxiety. To the contrary, I believe our enemy uses these two weapons against us strategically and pervasively.

As Christians we must be wary of this insidious bomb of depression and its fallout that can lead to our destruction slowly or quickly. The enemy doesn’t care as long as he immobilizes and destroys our desire to reach our purpose, and realize our destiny. After all, following your destiny is a main ingredient to FLURISHING.

Depression plays no favorites
Depression plays no favorites

 

This same fiend with two faces chased me throughout my life. One face being anxiety, the other depression. Today it’s prevalence is greatly felt in our society but doctors’ offices in the ’60s and ’70s had few dealings with it. Which is one reason for my non-treatment. It was pretty much unheard of at the time.

Without tangling our minds into a mess of medical and technical jargon, let me say just a few words about the importance of seeking professional help IF you suspect any type of ongoing anxiety/depression in your life or have a family history of it.

Clinical depression is a serious and pervasive mood disorder. It’s caused by a disruption of brain chemicals most notably serotonin. People suffer from depression because their brains do not make enough serotonin or can not utilize the amount available. It can become a severe illness if untreated. (Note: Feeling blue or down is experienced by all of us at times, but is NOT the same as Clinical Depression).

Anxiety takes many forms
Anxiety takes many forms

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental disturbances characterized by constant feelings of worry about future events and fear which is a reaction to current events. Common physical symptoms include rapid heart rate and shakiness. Often people have multiple anxiety disorders which can be overwhelming and disabling. (Note: A certain amount of anxiety in life is healthy when real danger is involved and that is NOT a disorder).

The danger of neglecting or non-treatment of anxiety, depression or a combination of both including bi-polar disorders as well as seasonal affective disorder–SAD, dysthymia and the new pseudobulbar affect —PBA {Gotta love Danny Glover}, is dangerous both physically and mentally.

For me, the anxiety showed up first as if it had accompanied me at birth. I never knew a quiet restful mind was possible. Consequently, I suffered with depression privately in a family where other members were oblivious or depressed themselves. Furthermore, non-treatment affected every other aspect of my life in significantly negative respects: relational, emotional, social and vocational.

I wish I had known at a young age there was help for me. That I could actually be normal and enjoy life. Many years I endured mental and emotional torture but when I got the right medication it was as if I had a new mind. I could enjoy life like never before. It was a long journey for me, trusting Jesus each step of the way. But better late than never, right?

Please don’t put off seeking help if you suspect ANY of these issues lurk in your life. The journey can’t begin until you take the first step. Take a look at yourself honestly and ask a trusted friend or family member if they see any signs of depression and/or anxiety.

For everyone else be aware this holiday season of this devilish detonation debris and damage in people all around you. Be kind and encouraging. It’s the hardest time of year for those struggling. Since 1970 the teen/youth suicide rate has tripled. The teen years should be one of the greatest times for all of us and yet the stats show otherwise. The highest rate of suicide for any age occurs during the Christmas season.

May all of us experience peace and a sound mind this Christmas and beyond. Romans 12:2

Shine on. . .
karan k

Devilish Detonation Party IX: Destiny?

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” Ecclesiastes 4:9 New Living translation

Love ? Infatuation? Destiny?
Love ? Infatuation? Destiny?

Unfortunately, feelings have pretty much nothing to do with faith and the decision I made based on them affected the rest of my life. I decided it was my God-given destiny to marry Joe. I didn’t like the assignment but I FELT peace. Absolutely convinced this was what GOD was asking me to do, I gave in to this misidentified compulsion.

Next little issue needing attention? Tell Joe. Poor guy never saw the freight train Karan steaming toward him. I wanted to please GOD so bad I could taste it. Least that’s what my motives seemed to be at the time in my 20 year old mind.

It was November of 1983 and a Rod Stewart song expressed the wild FEELINGS chasing around in my heart. So I asked Joe in my letter that day if he heard the song? Once Joe heard it, he would know exactly how I FELT. The title you ask? “What Am I Gonna Do? (I’m So Inlove With You)”.

Can I tell you what you mean to me
You’re as central as the air I breathe
Almost impossible to believe that you’re mine
You’re like weekends all year long under a hot Jamaican sun
You are a winner at a hundred to one
yes you are

{BRIDGE}
Something you’ve got is something I need right now
You don’t have to prove it no more
I’m down on my bended knees

What am I gonna do I’m so in love with you
What am I gonna say if ever you go away

One in a million oh so rare
a nightengale in Berkley Square
and baby I ain’t goin’ nowhere without you
You are the goal that wins the game
the very last bus home in the rain
You’re like rock and roll and champagne
all in one

{BRIDGE}
Let’s not mess around anymore

What am I gonna do I’m so in love with you
What am I gonna say if ever you go away
(repeat)

I’ll be a sleek one of a kind
and so difficult to define
I could drink a case of you any time

The Sistene Chapel and the Eiffel Tower
a national anthem an April shower
tomorrow’s fashion and now I’ve found you
I’m complete

{BRIDGE}. . .

Rod Stewart

How would he respond? I had to wait three days for him to receive the letter and then hear the song and then write back. Could be a week or more. My anxiety levels were now through the roof. What happened to my peace? A question I never asked myself at the time. Hindsight is fabulous isn’t it?

A week passed when my much anticipated answer arrived. Joe wrote the longest letter he had sent to date; seven handwritten sheets on both sides of legal size tablet paper. Nothing unusual until the last full page. He writes;

“I had to be sure, but we’ve been on the same wavelength for awhile now. . . I, Joe Raymond, a one time evil sinner, fornicator and murderer, have by a miracle of grace and power of Almighty God through His Son, Jesus Christ met and fallen in love with thee Karan Marie the way Christ wants a man to love a woman.”

Can you say smitten? Destiny Game face totally on! This powered the Karan freighter full steam ahead. To make a very long story short, Joey (which is what I called him after getting to know him better) and I were married 13 months later.

Married behind prison walls
Married behind prison walls

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 was the scripture we asked the Pastor to read during the ceremony.  Ours was an Ordained Love with a three-fold cord, Jesus being the third strand.  The day sparkled with innocent love swirling in crystal pools of seriousness. The only dark spot occurred when the groom could not leave with the bride for the honeymoon.

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Shine on. . .
karan k

Be sure to read all nine posts in order. Catch up by checking for the other posts in archives. Stay tuned for the conclusion coming soon.

Devilish Detonation Part VIII: Conditional Compulsion

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow: though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18

Thoughts of Joey ceased to exit my mind in the following weeks. My faith in the Jesus I met in childhood swelled in my heart. Vince informed us on the long ride home that he planned to take us to see Joey when he gets transferred no matter how far away the location.

 

Joey October of 1983
Joey October of 1983

Emkay organized a card shower for Joey’s upcoming Birthday and this time she didn’t have to ask for my participation. I constructed a large HAPPY BIRTHDAY poster which I stood beside while Emkay took a polaroid photo. It was a joy to be a part of the celebration.

Joey and I continued writing and began doing Bible studies together by mail. Through a generous gift from the church in his hometown, he enrolled in Moody Bible Institute. He shared his lessons with me. I grew in biblical knowledge but more importantly I discovered I could have a daily closeness with Jesus who I thought I already knew. Imagine learning all this from a convicted axe murderer.

“God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” I Corinthians 1:28 & 29 New Living translation. (For some interesting insights read this same chapter in The Message version of the Bible)

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It was about 6 weeks from our first visit until Vince could take everyone to western Pennsylvania in Huntingdon county to Joey’s new residence. In that time something else churned in my mind and soul. Something I didn’t understand and to be honest, something I puzzle over even now from time to time.

Remember in the beginning of this series I told you about my struggles with anxiety, depression, dysfunction and abuse? Somehow all these negatives remained in remission in my subconscious and twisted some of my thinking abilities.

 

Karan 1983
Karan 1983

It’s easy to understand how a needy girl like me could begin to fall for Joey. He was everything I was looking for: Godly, intelligent, handsome, charming, witty, and oh yeah, incarcerated. Definitely a major snag. I hated being alone. So being in a relationship with him outside of friendship was absolutely out of the question or was it?

All I can tell you is my soul, the seat of my feelings, spun in turmoil like an emotional tornado. Inner peace eluded me. I couldn’t stand this state of mind. I prayed desperately and asked God for help. I felt like a Jonah, running from what I FELT was God’s call on my life. I had to obey it. I FELT compelled. I wanted to do the right thing. I wrestled with it for those six weeks before surrendering and telling God I would do what I FELT He was requiring of me. And then I FELT blessed peace!

Naturally I assumed I was on track with His will. After all, peace was a sign we Christians use for uncovering His plan for our lives, right? So I moved forward.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” II Corinthians 5:7 English Standard version

Shine on. . .
karan k

Devilish Detonation Part VII: First Sight

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“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light.” Matthew 6:22 New Living translation

Joey was larger than I expected, which intimidated me a bit. He stood six foot one and bulged with muscles. Now I cowered behind Vince as I watched Joey give his Grammy a huge bear hug. Nothing unusual about that. But then he gave Emkay the same bear hug and my mind spazzed. Is this guy gonna hug me too? I watched with nerves on end as Vince extended his hand for a friendly shake but Joey pulled it and hugged him as well! Oh my gosh, I was next and before I knew it this man who I bared my soul to in many missives the past few months scooped me up in his powerful arms and gave me a crushing hug. I am not fragile by any means but this was the strongest hug I ever had.

After catching my breath, I looked into his eyes for the first time. I saw  only peace. No hint of hatred or anger could be seen. I knew some of the horrific deeds this man committed and some of the motivations but I saw nothing of evil in his eyes.

The large room we entered bustled with visitors and bristled with armed guards. There were no available seats so Joey quickly grabbed some nearby folding chairs and he and Vince set them in a small circle for us. Joey maneuvered himself to sit between me and his grandmother.

Heinous to Holy?
Heinous to Holy?

At this point I if you have read many of my posts and are not already aware of my “talkative nature” I must tell you someone turned off my flow that day during the visit. I hardly made a peep. I sat and soaked up the conversation swirling inside our little circle.

Joey shared his own story of meeting Jesus and how he speaks to the other inmates about his Lord and uses prison slang so they can understand. Emkay peppered him with questions about daily life for the inmates. Fascinated by the stories he told, I absorbed every tidbit like a dry sponge.

That day I witnessed something extraordinary. A  life genuinely transformed by the power of God alone. Growing up attending various denominations of Protestant churches I saw one thing in common. Each taught about the transforming power of Christ. Most everyone I knew grew up in church so they did not appear to be “transformed” in my eyes. Joey was different.

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The hours flew by and Vince sadly announced we had to leave because he didn’t want the Pastor to wait for us more than 5 hours. One by one we said our goodbyes and received our special Joey hugs. He cried when he hugged his Grammy. My eyes welled up. I thought it truly would be goodbye because Joey was being transferred upstate to a prison far away.

However, Vince had other plans.

“The eyes are a window to the soul.” Old American saying based on above verse.

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If this is your first time on FLURISH, check out Parts I-VI of Devilish Detonation in the archives section to get caught up in the story.

Shine on. . .

karan k

Devilish Detonation Part VI: Actions Speak

 

Captive Hearts
Captive Hearts

“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13 New International version

Emkay (my second Mom) announced that she thought it was time to meet “Joey” in person. She and another member of the Bible study planned to provide transportation for Joey’s grandparents as well as anyone else desiring to visit. Naturally Emkay asked if I was interested.

Getting up at 5am after crawling into bed at 2am following my shift at work was a no brainer. I politely declined as did Joey’s own grandfather due to a nervous condition. I found out later his “condition” was in a tumult because being with us church people made him nervous. However, this did not seem curious to me at the time.

Life rolled on normally until one autumn morning in the early hours, the phone rang. Instead of turning over in bed I felt a strange urge to get up and answer the phone. Emkay beat me to it. Somehow my heart knew or perhaps hoped it was Joey. My heart was not disappointed but became anxious waiting to hear what he had to say.

The conversation ended and Emkay hung up the phone. She told me it was Joey but I already knew that. She relayed his excitement at the prospect of our visit the following month. Especially to meet me, someone from his own age group. My heart hovered slightly above Me level. One flash from her sparkling hazel eyes sent a wave of guilt like a tsunami crashing in over my soul. My agenda suddenly seemed selfish and I reluctantly told Emkay I would go on the visit after all even though she just told him I wouldn’t be coming. So it would be a surprise for him to meet me.

The alarm rocked my ear drums the morning of the visit. I felt like a dish towel and slumped in the front seat the entire 90 min trip to the prison. I suffered regularly from motion sickness and this was not a good scenario for me. By the grace of God I held it together.

I remember my initial sighting of Graterford State prison. It looked gray and dingy and not at all like a fortress. More like a ramshackle multi lean to of buildings. It was built in 1929, what did I expect? It was a tough joint though. One where the guards were token and the inmates ruled.

 

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Since Joey’s grandfather did not go on the visit, Emkay’s Pastor decided to join us. However, in our ignorance, the Pastor’s paperwork for visitation had not gotten approved and so he was refused entry. Our group consisting of Emkay, Grammy (Joey’s Grandmother), myself and a man named Vince sat in the registry room feeling bad over this dilemma. Nothing could be done. Rules were rules. And then we were called for our visit.

We had to empty pockets, take off shoes and belts, and go through a metal detector one at a time before proceeding through the first locked gate. Everything was old and cold. I wondered why I had come? I knew why. Paramount in my belief system is that Jesus truly saves anyone who asks, “vilest of sinners” included. I wanted Joey to know people cared.

Let me say at this juncture of the story that if you ever get an opportunity to visit a correctional facility, take it. It can be eye opening and mind bending but one of the most significant things you can do with your time.

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Advancing down the ramp into a dungeon like cement walled room, we followed Grammy single file. I hung to the back. Thoughts were shooting through my mind like bullits out of a machine gun; “why had I told this guy so much about myself? He’s gonna think I’m stupid. Wait! Is that him?!

“When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You? The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me’.” Matthew 25:39+40 New International version

Shine on. . .
karan k