Are You Safe?

 

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This morning a car came roaring down my lane and screeched to a halt at my booth. The woman driving began apologizing profusely.

“I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!” I wondered what she was sorry about? She continued.
“I just came flying into your lane way too fast. I know there are people who cross these lanes. I’m so sorry.”

I marveled that she admitted she wasn’t paying attention and genuinely regretted it. She seemed to care about my safety enough to apologize. Hopefully, she’ll be more aware of her surroundings next time she drives where people are working. Today God’s grace protected both of us from something horrible.

Later a tractor trailer pulled up to my booth. The driver handed me his ticket. With a wide grin he said, “Hey, you got my vest on. Give it back!” He pointed to his fluorescent safety vest and laughed.

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“Yours is a bit fancier than mine,” I answered forming a sly smile. “Do people ask you why you’re wearing a safety vest inside your truck? ‘Cause people ask me that question fairly often.” He chuckled a bit but more out of not knowing what to say than actually finding my question humorous.

I continued, “I could tell people it’s part of the uniform. You and I know what others have not considered. We don’t stay in the booth or truck all day.” He chuckled again. “We have to be prepared in a moment’s notice to exit our booth or truck directly into traffic. If we get hurt without wearing the vest, no insurance coverage .”The driver looked me in the eye and exclaimed, “You got that right!”

We laughed together about living in our vests 24-7 to avoid any chance of “non-coverage” and then he left.

As usual, I pondered our casual chit chat afterward. I thought about my vest being a vital part of my uniform as a toll collector. It’s similar to a firefighter’s flame retardant suit or a Police officer’s bullet proof vest. These articles of clothing are available and required for protection purposes in the line of duty.

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Perhaps you wear a uniform that requires safety accessories such as special glasses, latex gloves or slip proof shoes for example? What happens if you neglect to wear these protective parts of your uniform? You’re exposed to some sort of danger and you’re also in trouble with your employer. You know this upfront so most of us don’t take chances. We diligently protect ourselves by wearing whatever is provided or required, right? Who wants to get hurt AND have to pay for it?

Let’s apply this in a spiritual sense. . .

“Jesus said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is great, but the WORKERS are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more WORKERS
into His fields.’ ” Matthew 9:37 & 38 New Living translation

Do we realize and embrace the mindset that our ultimate employer is God? When we realized our need for God and invited Him into our hearts, we became not only part of His family but also His workforce.

Laboring for His harvest in whatever way we are gifted requires safety gear. Fortunately our loving Employer has supplied each of us with special protective clothing and equipment to use while we work and live for Him. Whether we are called to be farmers, soldiers, athletes or something else, His safety gear works in every field of service.

The all important headgear
The all important headgear

Most of us are familiar with the passage in Ephesians 6 concerning the supernatural reinforced clothing and equipment supplied to us. Some can even recite the verses from memory.

“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.” Ephesians 6:13 New Living translation

Now let’s ask ourselves some questions:

When was the last time you actually thought about your spiritual uniform? If it’s been awhile then you’re probably walking around unprotected like a firefighter running into a blazing building wearing regular clothes thinking he will emerge unharmed. We’re fooling ourselves if we think we don’t need God’s armor to survive in this world.

Take some time today to read over the passage in Ephesians 6:10-18 and remember the clothes our divine Employer expects us to be wearing. Each piece is vital. Verse 11 and again verse 13 says to put ALL of it on, EVERY piece;

The belt of truth: We need truth first of all which is Christ Himself. The  belt of His truth holds everything else in place. It gives Him the final say in our lives and  is directly related to the breastplate of righteousness, they are inseparable.

The breastplate of righteousness: We need it to guard our hearts with practical holy living in obedience to God.

The shoes of the Gospel of Peace:  We need to be ready to share the Good News of being at peace with God through Salvation anywhere we go.

The shield of faith: We need it to snuff out the various fiery darts of temptation thrown constantly at us by our enemy questioning what we believe and urging us to do things against our divine Employer.

The helmet of salvation: We need it to cover our minds with the assurance of our own salvation and with the blood of Christ against any other foul thinking the enemy tries to plant in our minds. Fears, doubts, deception, worry etc.,

slay the dragon
slay the dragon

The sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God:  O ur only offensive weapon against our enemy. We need to know the Word to use the sword.

Do we believe there is danger around us? Here’s what the Apostle Peter says as a warning:

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” I Peter 5:8 New International version

Don’t know about you but I don’t want to be eaten alive by the enemy!

Like my lady customer, most days I’m not always paying enough attention to where I’m going. I’m moving way too fast but I truly don’t want to hurt anyone or myself. Do I regret it enough to intentionally don my spiritual armor each day before I plunge forward? I don’t want to get myself in a jam and have “Non-Coverage” because I was not in my safety gear.

We can’t FLURISH when we are wounded and bleeding simply because we neglected to use the safety equipment God has provided. It takes some time and effort to dress each day in our safety gear but it is well worth it. Let’s remember to let our loving Employer outfit us for each new day. Otherwise when we run out into the traffic of the world we’re gonna get hurt.

Shine on. . .
karan k

Lord of the Rings:Part XII

Paradise this side of Heaven
Paradise this side of Heaven

 

March 2017 holds two milestone anniversaries for me personally. Ten years of marriage to Dwight and the first anniversary of this blog site. Both I consider wonders of grace provided exclusively by my heavenly Father. I am so grateful for His faithful love inspite of all my frailties and flaws.

This particular series “Lord of the Rings” is a declaration of His loving care and guidance. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” New Living translation

I have experienced the glorious truth of these words and I pray you have as well. If not, keep giving more of yourself consistently to God. His promises do not fail. You can trust Him and His care for you.

Dwight wanted to get married barefoot on a beach and I said fine if I get to pick the beach. I didn’t want a lot of fuss over the ceremony and details. I knew I needed to focus more on preparing for a “marriage” rather than plan a “wedding”. So we chose an all inclusive resort on a beach that provided wedding ceremonies in the package price.

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I knew that two people from two different backgrounds successfully learning to live and love out the rest of their days together would take mutual commitment and intentional effort. So we carved time out of our schedules for marriage prep work.

Dwight and I signed up for an all day seminar for engaged couples. It proved to be a fun experience learning just how much we didn’t know about each other. We attended premarital Christ centered counseling regularly as a couple and took personality and temperament tests. We learned to pray together. We asked God to help smooth off each of our rough edges to make us ready for a tighter fitting bond.

Closer to the wedding date we sought out a special therapist to begin family counseling with Cortney. All three of us needed assistance in the upcoming transition. Any tools concerning marriage preparation we tried. We were committed to giving this union the best foundation possible (Matthew 7:24) which definitely included worshipping together.

During working hours, however, I daydreamed constantly about less important things. I was obsessed with a certain suite at the resort we booked. It had two large rooms and a bath with a private plunge pool and patio connected to the bedroom. The suite sat high  the on bluffs overlooking the Carribbean sea. The view was phenomenal.

Unfortunately, the cost was phenomenal as well. An extreme luxury that we couldn’t afford. There was no way I could justify starting our marriage out in debt. The suite  had to  remain only a dream. Dwight and I were splitting the cost of the wedding/honeymoon package and our big splurge was to stay for 14 days. So we booked a regular room in the main building with a balcony area attached. This would be where our marriage began.

Seven months after our engagement, we got on a plane and flew to St. Lucia. We were like two teenagers brimming with excitement and hormones. I knew now why we traveled in packs as singles. Just so much easier to behave ourselves.

zipping through the rainforest
zipping through the rainforest

Dwight and I were committed to doing things God’s way. The first challenge was the two day legal requirement being in St. Lucia together before we could be married. Funds at this point were tight. Perhaps we should spring for two separate rooms? We decided since our room had an attached balcony area that Dwight would sleep out there until we were married. I appreciated His willingness and it saved us a bundle. Maybe not the wisest decision but by the grace of God this arrangement worked for us.

4-wheeling on a private beach
4-wheeling on a private beach

During the two days prior we kept busy with our friends who were honeymooning at the resort and agreed to be witnesses to our wedding. We ventured  to the local market area and bought souvenirs and explored the vast grounds of the resort. We set up some couples spa treatments and other excursions for later in the trip. We had meetings with the onsite wedding coordinator and told them our ideas for the ceremony. And then the  big day arrived.

Looking out for my cue to walk the aisle
Looking out for our cue to walk the aisle

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My dear friend Sue curled and styled my long hair in the bedroom of their beachfront bungalow. Hyperactive butterflies beat their wings inside my chest as I thought about what would transpire in the next few hours. Part of me remained steadfast knowing I had done my best to prepare for this day. But another part from my past cowered in the shadows attempting to overwhelm me with fear. I realized at this moment, as Sue gently added the sparkly barrett to my hair, that I was grateful we travelled so far to get married. Being here away from all that was familiar forced me to lean on Jesus for the unknown like never before. Marrying Dwight in a few moments would be just another step of faith with Jesus holding my hand.

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The ceremony in the garden gazebo floated along with my steps to Karen Carpenter singing “We’ve Only Just Begun” and looking more like my mother than I wanted. Dwight looked incredibly sweet in the gauze shirt we picked out together and his favorite ripped jeans. The sun shone brilliantly through the purple and pink bougainvillea climbing the trestles of the gazebo. We read our heartfelt vows that were open, honest and realistic. Dwight sang “You’ll Always Be Beautiful in My Eyes” and when he got choked up, we finished the song together swaying with the tune and Joshua Kadison.

Then we travelled down to the beach for the second part of the ceremony. Dwight stopped on the steps to sweetly help remove my white sandals so we could walk barefoot together across the warm sand.

The ceremony on the beach exceeded all my expectations. I was living in my own fairy tale that had “only just begun”.

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After the wedding we were asked to see the resort manager before heading out to a special celebration dinner. Turned out due to an error by the manager we were  being upgraded for the duration of our stay.  Where do you think we spent the next 12 glorious nights? You got it, the very suite I dreamed about!  God is so good to His children. In my heart I felt it was God’s special blessing on our marriage. A divine wedding gift.  I knew then  He would take care of us  the rest of our lives if we kept our marriage focussed on Him.

Heading into the waves after becoming man and wife
Heading into the waves after becoming man and wife

We just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary and  our love and marriage have bloomed  more colorful every year as we remain rooted in Christ.  He continues to care for  and provide for us through the good and bad that find their way into all our lives. Even the rough patches haven’t seemed too bad because of His amazing grace. May each of you also FLURISH  because of His  blessing in your lives and never stop seeking to know Him more!

“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 New Living translation

 

My tall drink of water relaxing by our private pool
My tall drink of water relaxing by our private pool

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Let the Good Times Roll. . .

Shine on!

karan k

Lord of the Rings: Part XI

 

“. . . I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Jeremiah 29:11 The Message

Car voy lead car to PaJamaRama
Car voy lead car to PaJamaRama

Now it was time for the rubber to meet the road. Could I successfully hold up my end in a healthy relationship? Doubts continually attacked my thinking, but I pressed on in faith. I accepted the ruby ring and began walking into a relationship with a man I hardly knew. In the beginning I found everything deliciously exciting.

Dance lessons---we were terrible!
Dance lessons—we were terrible but had boatloads of fun!

Dwight and I planned many events together for Christian singles. Hikes, dinner theatre, pool parties, etc. Two of my favorite events were a Pajamarama Cereal Social where everyone brought their favorite breakfast foods. We wore pjs, while watching movies and eating cereal into the wee hours. Dwight decided to design a logo and made T-shirts for those who attended. He even ironed everyone’s logo on their shirts during the gathering. He had such a servant’s heart.

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The other event I called a Decade party where everyone dressed up in clothes from a certain decade. Dwight chose the 60s and I chose the 90s. We played decade music trivia, staged our version of the Dating Game and attempted the game of Twister. The costumes were a hoot.

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Dwight as Slim, the dating game emcee
Dwight as Slim, the dating game emcee

Dwight took me on many day trips in the months that followed. Sometimes with the singles group and sometimes alone. Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, Washington, D.C., South street in Philadelphia, Ocean City, N.J. were a few stops. I traveled more in those few months than in my last 20 years. He loved to drive and I loved seeing new places.

Hershey Park
Hershey Park

Every other weekend we had Cortney with us. Being a Tweenager at the time, her moods were anything but stable. We attempted to include her in our adventures, but she had a love/hate relationship with this new arrangement. She truly struggled giving up first place in her father’s life. Looking back, I wish I could have been more mature myself and assured her that I was not trying to take her father from her. Of course in reality, I did not want second place in Dwight’s heart. Unless it was to Jesus. So Cortney and I danced through power struggles for Dwight’s attention that first year. It became a season of growth for all three of us as we slowly merged toward becoming a family.

Hawaiian night out
Hawaiian night out

In September of 2006, I drove to Dwight’s place after work on a Sunday afternoon. When I arrived I noticed he seemed exceptionally giddy. Laughing about almost everything I said. I spotted a fresh gash in one of his fingers so I inquired. He downplayed it and chuckled to himself. Tempted to become suspicious, I told him I was hungry and he said “patience is a virtue”. That did not go over well. Frustration began to form. I told him I needed food asap. He invited me to get in the car.

We headed toward the next town but then began driving around in circles. My agitation increased. “Why aren’t we stopping to get some food,” I demanded.

“Wait. Wait.” Was the response.

Finally he pulled into WaWa and parked. “Just a minute,” He said as he jumped out of the car. I rolled my eyes in exasperation. I heard him bumping around in the trunk.

What is he doing back there, I wondered?

Momentarily he appeared at his open car door with a glowing white candle and a leather satchel. He carefully placed the glass ensconced candle in between our seats and opened the satchel revealing two champagne flutes and a bottle of sparkling grape juice. He pulled a wrapped package from the roof of the car and handed it to me grinning all the while.

I began opening the package to find a journal inside. I thought it was for me to use to write so I didn’t open it. Dwight prodded me to open it and perhaps I should let the photos tell the rest of this story. . .

The journal
The journal
opening pages
opening pages

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Proposal in German
Proposal in German
Proposal in Italian
Proposal in Italian
Proposal in French
Proposal in French

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The gash in Dwight’s finger occurred while he made this book earlier in the day. The ring inserted in the last page is the same one I wore for the murder mystery almost a year before. Dwight contacted the owner and made arrangements to purchase the one of a kind ring I loved.

The Lord not only provided this gorgeous ring to be available, He also provided Dwight with the money to buy the ring. HE is our loving provider and LORD of the Rings! So of course I accepted the ring!

“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, He had His eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone.” Ephesians 1:11&12 The Message Bible

Conclusion coming in two days!!! Also subscribe to be eligible to win a free T-shirt from FLURISH.

Shine on,

karan k

Lord of the Rings: Part X

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“Hello, is this Karan?”

“Yes, is this Cortney,” I answered?

“Yes, my Dad told me to tell you he will call you soon. We had an accident on the way home.”

“Are you both alright,” I questioned while my heart skipped a beat.

 

Cortney went on to explain in her mature little girl way that she was fine but her Dad and the bike were hurt. But nothing too bad. She assured me again that her Dad would call me within minutes. We hung up and I felt so helpless. Those minutes seemed like an eternity.

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Finally the phone rang. Usually soft and mellow, Dwight’s voice sounded shaken. He explained that just before they got home he took a curve too fast and laid the bike over on the side of a back road. Fortunately there was no other traffic. Cortney had fallen asleep laying against him on the bike before it happened. She never felt anything. She simply woke up in the grass.

I listened as he explained that he wanted so badly to be home for my call that his judgement was impaired. His open vulnerability melted away any clinging fears I had. I wanted to rush right over to make sure he was ok and hug him. In fact, I boldly offered to take him to the hospital and watch Cortney. But he explained Cortney went to her Mom’s and he would take himself to the hospital after our call.

Two and a half hours later, the call ended and Dwight finally went to the hospital. I floated up the stairs to my bedroom totally smitten. Turns out he had a stretched tendon in his finger, a chunk gouged out of his knee and a few other scrapes on himself and the bike but nothing major. I felt the Lord protected Cortney. He just lifted her off the seat and set her down gently in the grass. Not a scratch on her. Dwight, however, received a little divine spanking.

The T shirt he gave me after the accident
The T shirt he gave me after the accident

The next day he drove through my lane with a single long stem red rose. He stole my heart again with his big smile and mirrored aviators. He asked if I was free for a date the following Sunday after small group? What could I say? He looked so attractive. “That can certainly be arranged,” I said. He grinned and tore outta my lane.

It wasn’t the type of romantic date you’d expect. Very few shops or businesses were open in January on a Sunday evening in the buckle of the Bible belt. Which was cause for improvisation.

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Sunday small group ended and Dwight escorted me to his car. A Cherry Dr. Pepper rested on my seat when Dwight opened the car door for me to enter. One of my favorite treats at the time, he opened the soda for me and proceeded to zoom all over creation’s local roads while I giggled and chugged my Dr. Pepper.

Acting like two teenagers, we stopped at a red-light and did a Chinese fire drill laughing as we ran around the car. He pulled into a nearby WaWa for chicken salad sandwiches and we did the Monkees interlocking leg walk through the store. Onlookers probably thought we were drunk. Just zany silliness but I loved it.

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We brought our food out to the car and ate together while making trivial chitchat. At one point he asked me if I liked seafood. I began to answer about the various fishy foods I liked when he opened his mouth like a middle schooler and showed me his food. He just laughed and laughed as I sat there not knowing quite what to think. He still has the heart of a 12 year old but most of the time I find it endearing.

He showed me his business office and explained what type of work he did. Then he got real serious and explained how he felt about me and how hard it was when he got the note from me about the “Male Sabbatical.” He thought his chance had crashed and burned. He got a bit misty eyed and then took me back to my house.

We ended our evening parked in his car listening to “We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters at least 20 times in succession. Dwight kept hitting repeat and then he would grin and kiss me. Let me tell you there is nothing like a man smiling with delight as he moves in to kiss you!

Real ruby on left---Walmart ring on right
Real ruby on left—Walmart ring on right

After that night, we found ways to see each other every day. A month later on Valentine’s Day he presented me with a ring and a commitment. As you can see here, the ring he offered was a replica of the one the teenager I met in Canada gave me at the beginning of this series. I was to wear it til the man I married replaced it. Only this one was not from Walmart. It was a real ruby with diamonds on either side of it. Astonished at the sight of it, I think I was in shock. You see Dwight never saw the Walmart ring. I already stopped wearing it before I met him.

I believe these two rings were God’s unique way of communicating to me that Dwight was the man He had for me. I had to trust Him big time because I did not feel ready for a relationship let alone a commitment!

(For more details on Dwight’s ring presentation check out “My Love Story” post from 2/14/17 in the archives.

Shine on. . .
karan k

Lord of the Rings: Part IX

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During the next ten days I did some serious soul searching. I poured out my heart to God. I shared my fears, my joys and concerns. The trivial as well as the serious. I believed He cared about all of it. I wanted to move forward in HIS plan not stumble around mindlessly following my nose.

I kept hearing words repeated in my head from a christian leader during a singles conference I attended a few weeks prior. I spoke to him intentionally during a break about my desire to date only Christian bachelors. His response shocked me. “You will greatly narrow your pool of choices. Sometimes bachelors already in their forties are single for a reason.” Was I being foolish setting my standard for bachelor’s only? This particular man of God thought so. What do YOU think God, I wondered?

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The following week Becky and I attended evening church like normal. The service was about to begin and the place packed with excited worshippers. Becky noticed Dwight and his daughter Cortney getting seats several rows behind us. She waved. I turned and smiled. The service began. I admit I had a hard time focussing on the message that night. I kept wondering if Dwight got my note? Did he understand it? Would he talk to me at all now? Lord, forgive my distracted mind.

After the service, Becky and I exited the main auditorium which spilled into a large gathering area next to a snack cafe’. The singles hung out here in packs before and after services like clockwork. I loved these informal group fellowship times.

Like bees on honey flower
Like bees on honey flower

Tonight, however, was a bit different because there was a full table already buzzing with energy before we arrived. Seven women gathered around a very tanned Dwight who was showing photos from his recent trip to California.

I pushed my way in and his eyes met mine. His lips curved into a smile but he said nothing. The women were peppering him with questions about desert nights in southern California. His photos showed beautiful sunsets and scenes of Palm Springs. I stretched to see each photo and our eyes kept meeting as if we were talking telepathically but neither of us spoke to each other. The women droned on but we were in a world of our own.

At that moment Cortney approached carrying two half helmets. One woman who I didn’t particularly care for exclaimed the obvious.

“You rode tonight?”

 

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Dwight smiled and that opened up a can of motorcycle worms! The women wanted to know what type of bike he had and when he would take them for rides on it. Something inside me snapped to attention as I felt my blood begin to boil. I didn’t know what was happening but I knew I didn’t want any woman riding on his bike with him.

What was the matter with me? Why did I care? Was it because I did care? Because I somehow knew he was part of God’s plan for my life but had been denying it out of fear?

Dwight got up and took his helmet from Cortney and began telling everyone he had to get Cortney home. After all, it was January and when the sun set the cold would increase.

I had to act fast. I was not going to lose my chance to some motorcycle babe. I moved through the crowd to hug Dwight. He hugged me back and I whispered in his ear that I would call him when I got home. He grinned and he and Cortney made a hasty exit.

Immediately the group broke up and Becky and I left for home. I dropped her off, headed home anxious to make my call. I shed my heavy coat and dialed the number from our small group list assigned to Dwight.

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The phone rang four times before it was answered and the voice on the line was not what I anticipated.

Shine on. . .

karan k

Lord of the Rings: Part VIII

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 6:23 New Living translation

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I had off the day before the NYC trip and busied myself prepping the outfit I planned to wear. The phone rang in the kitchen so I scampered downstairs to get it. It was Dwight asking if he could drop by in an hour to give me something to take along to New York the next day. Completely flabbergasted, I nervously agreed. When I hung up, I panicked and called my second Mom for advice. She prayed with me over the phone for courage, wisdom and protection. I told her I’d come over to see her after he left.

I ran back up to my bedroom and dressed myself in casual attire. I prayed some more and tried to keep busy until Dwight arrived. I had no clue what he intended to give me. He mentioned going ice skating at Rockefeller Center several times so I thought maybe he had ice skates? But how would he know my size? Truly a mystery.

Turns out Dwight received an unexpected bonus at work. He felt he should share his good fortune with others. So with some of the money he bought me a Coolpix digital camera with charger and rechargeable batteries. I was speechless. Never had I received such an extravagant gift.

First shot together on Coolpix 1/2006
First shot together on Coolpix 1/2006

I told him I couldn’t accept it but he insisted. Said he didn’t feel right keeping all the money for himself.  He wanted me to record my birthday in the big apple through photographs. The first photo taken on that camera you see here. Also the first photo taken of us together. I felt funny about the whole thing but my second Mom told me to accept it with grace.

The trip to NYC exceeded my expectations although we never did ice skate. We decided early on to forego the chance of any injury ruining the day for everyone. Settling for watching seasoned skaters at Rockefeller center and at Bryant Park, I attempted to avoid hanging with Dwight. I mingled with my other guests but I needed his help a lot with the camera. Somehow I think that was part of his plan.

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Walking in the city, seeing the famous naked cowboy, riding the horse drawn carriages through Central Park, touring  Madame Tussauds wax museum,  and an NBC tour were a few of the highlights. The day ended at Mars 2012 for an out of this world meal served by aliens.

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All fourteen of us were seated together at a long table in the underground restaurant. Some opted to arrive by spaceship to experience the full effect. I sat next to my niece but was surrounded on all other sides by male friends. The crazy ambience made for some interesting dinner chat.

At the end of the meal a green extraterrestrial delivered to me a warm chocolate lava cake glowing with a candle on top. I thought maybe Kelly, my neighbor had ordered it for me but when I asked her she said she hadn’t. One by one all 13 guests including the driver denied ordering it. Dwight finally fessed up. Was this guy for real?

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That next week my mind and heart were in turmoil. I went to my Monday night ladies Bible study and asked for prayer for direction. A day or so later I decided to put myself on a “Male Sabbatical”. I could think clearer and listen more closely to God without the interference of any guys around. This was truly a first for me since I seemed to need a man’s approval to breathe.

 

Now the painful part. I had to inform the handful of men who had thrown their hats in the ring, so to speak, of my intentions.  The  toughest task had to be handing my  “Male Sabbatical” note to Dwight. I hated disappointing anyone let alone someone who had been so kind. So chicken me slid it into his Bible while he talked with some other group members. Later that week I knew he would be flying to the West coast on business. I wondered if he had found the note?

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Shine on. . .

karan k

Happy Anniversary

 

Lord of the Rings: Part VII

A gift of Love
A gift of Love

“I planned to drop this by your booth on Christmas day but UPS was late. It only arrived today. I felt bad you had to work on Christmas,” Dwight said smiling and blushing at the same time. He handed me a flat box tied with a beautiful red bow. Cortney huddled close under his other arm.

I stood there rather dumbfounded a moment. I didn’t know what to say. Such a kind gesture but I didn’t want to lead him on. Overcome by awkwardness, I asked them to come in but he explained they had his other daughter, Theresa, in the car and had to get her back home. Theresa needed special care because of multiple disabilities. So I thanked him and smiled at Cortney. She looked away and tugged  on his coat. In a flash they were gone.

I closed the door, looked down at the package and sighed as I slowly pulled the ribbon to open it. Inside the box I found a leather bound copy of “A Tale of Two Cities.” My heart wrenched. This man paid attention to me when I spoke. Somehow he remembered this was my favorite story from a casual meeting over six weeks ago. Wasn’t sure how I felt about that?

Love confusion
Love confusion

2006 began on a bright sunny Sunday morning. I determined to get myself to church even though I had been out late ringing in the New Year with the singles group. Applebee’s, bowling, movies and midnight munchies could not deter me from what I really craved, God’s direction.

Dwight may have  had the same idea? I saw him from across the gathering area. I knew he wanted to sit with me so I motioned  him to join me.

I enjoyed any time shared with Dwight whether it was small group Bible study, or fun stuff. So I didn’t mind him sitting with me for worship. I told him afterwards that I planned to rent a 15 passenger van to take to New York city on a day trip to celebrate my birthday in 2 weeks. I’m sure he wondered who I intended to invite and if it included him.

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Since I am not one to play head games I asked him if he was available for the trip. He was sure he was and appeared quite eager for the opportunity. I rattled off the names of a few of the other people I wanted to invite. He listened with eyes riveted on my face and a big smile on his. His smile was hard to ignore.

A few nights later after returning from visiting my mother, I found a detailed map of New York City on my porch. Hmm, that’s odd, I thought. I wondered if Dwight put it there?

 

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The night before my birthday loneliness hit me hard. I caved to my emotions. I said ‘yes’ when Mike asked  to take me out for supper to celebrate. He treated me to an inexpensive hamburger joint because we both like cheeseburgers. Unfortunately, we had a huge fight afterward. We truly cared for one another but were on such different pages in life. I struggled to accept this. I wanted us to be a couple but it never worked. I cried for hours that night and felt awful the entire next day, my birthday. The day’s steady rain mirrored the dreariness of my emotions.

When I got home from work and pulled in the driveway there were balloons tied on my garage door with a small package. I jumped out of the car and ran over to it, hoping Mike had placed it there.

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A large Lindt swiss chocolate candy bar hung attached to the balloons with this beautiful custom made card. I suppose you can only guess who it was from? My heart sank. Why couldn’t Mike be like this guy, I moaned to myself.

Mike did call later that night to smooth things over. That gave me peace for I truly valued Mike as a person as well as an old friend. But God was finally getting through to my damaged heart.  When Mike suggested going out for a nicer birthday dinner I said “No” and that I would be going out with my friend Becky. It felt great.  It felt freeing to finally follow God’s leading and stop putting myself in painful situations.

I called Becky right away and arranged to meet her at the local smorgasbord. We talked and laughed through the evening. My soul as well as my stomach was satisfied on my 43rd birthday.

First card
First card

I returned home later to many birthday messages on my answering machine. A very sweet one from Dwight and I knew I had to return his call and thank him for the Birthday surprise. I prayed for wisdom. I needed to be careful. I didn’t want to give him false hope because I simply did not want to involve myself romantically with a divorced man raising a young daughter and having several older children to boot. The poor guy had no clue how terrified I was of him.

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Shine on. . .

karan k

Lord of the Rings Part VI

 

Good or Bad Experience?
Good or Bad Experience?

The next few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas held tons of excitement. Becky and I attended a Christian singles group for awhile but felt uncomfortable. It reminded us of a meat market rather than a safe place to meet and connect with other people of like faith. So I decided to plan special group events for Christian singles  myself and pooled people from the various churches whom I met over the past few months.

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Movie theme nights, bowling parties, midnight munch sessions, indoor rock climbing, and pick-up volleyball games kept me busy. I was meeting so many new friends. It was an exciting time for me, so different than the last 22 years.

The downside soon reared its ugly head. Men began asking me out on dates. I didn’t feel ready or comfortable outside of a group setting. And saying “NO” to unwanted dates stressed me in many ways. I did not want to hurt anyone. My boundaries needed to be built and strengthened fast.

I continued to struggle to let go of every last drop of feeling for Mike. Until that happened, I refused to go out except in group dates. It was a safe way to get to know people. By this time, I met about 35 or so new people. And then I had an idea.

Party over or just begun???
Party over or just begun???

There were several popular reality tv shows at the time where a person needed help figuring out who to date.  Parents or friends would meet the prospective dates, grill or test them and then give their advisements. So I devised my own  evaluation arena through a special party.  A ‘Day after Christmas’ party when most people who are alone can become blue. I employed family members to come as servants and rate all the guests both male and female.

My oldest brother acted as the butler receiving all the guests and their wraps. He observed the personal hygiene and apparel choices of each guest. His wife served as maid keeping the food and drink filled. All the while she carefully observed each of the guests eating habits and the food they chose to bring to share. My cousins were in charge of games which I devised to discover each guests level of playfulness. My oldest niece was an undercover mole planted among the guests for close observation of conversations between them. Lastly, my second Mom portrayed a Mrs. Claus type character named Mrs. Jingle. She questioned guests throughout the evening concerning their ideas about Christmas and what it meant to them personally. She recorded their answers to provide insight into their hearts concerning Christ’s coming.

Every party needs ice breakers
Every party needs ice breakers

Oh what a night of fun to see this whole scheme unravel without a hitch. 26 single guests arrived at 6pm, 13 men and 13 women. Most left at midnight but some remained until I had to literally chase them out in the wee hours of the morning. Definitely a night to remember!

Red and Green jello eating contest---no hands allowed.
Red and Green jello eating contest—no hands allowed.

And the result was much more intriguing than speed dating. I discovered which people were fun, which were stuffed shirts and which were absolutely delightful. Some of the answers Mrs. Jingle acquired revealed character traits that amazed me in both positive and negative ways.

My family weighed in on all their own observations.  There was a difference of opinion over the best food presentation. One guy totally impressed my brother, the butler, by bringing deviled eggs in a pampered chef self chilling egg tray. My sister in-law, the maid, was leaning toward another guys more artistic presentation.  It consisted of sweet baloney cream cheese wraps and tri-colored cheese slices on a bed of green garnish surrounded by cherry tomatoes. And, it was not store bought.  Certainly had some impressive dishes from the men. Who knew?

Everyone agreed on the winners of the best dressed category. My neighbor Kelly took the prize for the women and Dwight won for the men. I must admit he was not hard on the eyes in his white textured button down shirt and  well fitting carpenter jeans.

My family weighed in on each guest and gave marvelous recommendations. I had a lot to think about and consider prayerfully heading into the New Year. What did the Lord have in store for me in 2006? Would I like it?

The next evening my doorbell rang about 6:30pm. Who was stopping by on a Tuesday night right after Christmas, I wondered? I peeked out through the powder room blinds to see Dwight and his young daughter Cortney standing on my porch.

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“You’re my cave to hide in, my cliff to climb. Be my safe leader, be my true mountain guide. Free me from hidden traps: I want to hide in You. I’ve put my life in Your hands. You won’t drop me, You’ll never let me down.” Psalm 31:3-5 The Message Bible

Shine on. . .

karan k

Lord of the Rings Part V

Let us break bread or eat cheesecake
Let us break bread and eat cheesecake

“Aquila, Priscilla, and the church that meets in their house say hello.” I Corinthians 16:19b The Message Bible

A week or so after the Murder Mystery my small group had a celebration dinner just before Thanksgiving. Each of us brought a covered dish. My new friend Becky and I carpooled. We arrived early and met Dan in the kitchen. He had some photos he wanted to share with me from the Murder Mystery. So Becky and our fearless group leader, also named Becki set up the incoming foods in the kitchen and dining area while Dan and I checked out the photos on his disc in the computer room.

After perusing the photos, Dan and I came back to the dining area where the rest of the group had now gathered. A new guy stood in the entry way holding a cherry cheesecake. Becki introduced him as Dwight. He smiled and Becki led us in a prayer before everyone scrambled for seats. Nine of us crammed around a tiny table for four.

I noticed everyone making connections with Dwight, especially the women. He was a likable sort. A few people discussed the recent baptism service and Dwight shared his feelings of being deeply moved by the testimonies. The women were amazed at his sensitive openness. I found the progressing dinner conversation amusing and decided to join in.

“You didn’t make that cheesecake did you, ” I questioned Dwight?

“Honestly, I did,” he answered.

“I don’t believe you. It looks too perfect,” I teased.

“What can I say, I’m a perfectionist to a fault,” he grinned.

I still didn’t believe him but I was more interested in the Dove chocolates on the table than further chit chat. Conversation buzzed round the table and I could tell everyone liked the new guy.

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After dinner we played some games in the living room. I sat between Becky and Dan. Becki the leader posed a question for each of us to answer: What is your favorite book? One person said “The Bible,” and Becki named a few favorites since she was an avid reader and had trouble choosing only one.

That’s a snap, I thought. “A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens,” I said during my turn. A few others responded with war novels and romantic book series. When we got to Dwight, he laughed and blushed before saying, “I read Super Chevy magazine.” We all got a good chuckle which we shared with him and not at him. He seemed a good sport and a good fit for our group.

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Becky and I left early because I overloaded on chocolate and my sugars were dipping dangerously low. Even so it was a diamond evening for me because my circle of friends was growing. I went home fat and happy in a chocolate haze.

A few days later I decided to send Dwight a welcome card from everyone in the group,  hoping he would continue to join our meetings. I forged everyones signature but my own so it wouldn’t look like I was interested for myself. I actually thought he completed our group in some way.

Thanksgiving eve I came home from seeing my mother and my answering machine was blinking. On it I heard a long message from Dwight expressing his gratitude for the group and our friendliness toward him. He wanted us to know he looks forward to seeing everyone again but that he would be gone on a road trip over the holiday and miss our next gathering.

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Immediately I called Becky to tell her about Dwight’s message. She shared my excitement on his plans to continue with our group. Like most of the other members, Dwight knew the pain of divorce and the difficulty of single parenting. In those respects, he could relate much better than I could to other members of the group. Attractive,  kind and open, I figured he’d be married again before too long. Lots of women at our huge church were already interested in him. However, I was not one of them. My stubborn “bachelor’s only need apply” mentality disqualified him.

Perfect but disqualified
Perfect but disqualified

Shine on. . .

karan k

Lord of the Rings: Part IV

“A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.” Proverbs 25:28 New Living translation

Who Dunnit?
Who Dunnit?

I crept across thin spiritual ice asking Mike to accompany me to the Murder Mystery. I wanted to go so badly. I regret to say my feelings for him were far from dead. The screaming emotion of excitement drowned out the sweet whisper of God’s warning. I squelched the voice of God by focussing on my outward appearance for the event. I allowed my superficial vanity to consume me.

The day arrived with my dress pressed and laid out with all my accessories. Nerves stood at attention because I found out Mike was on a day trip. He assured me he would return in plenty of time for  our 5:30 date.

By noon my nagging nerves put no sturdy stock in Mike’s words. I sat in the stylist’s chair and felt ashamed asking God to bring Mike back in time. My stomach twisted in knots as the stylist twisted long golden strands of my hair around the barrel of the curling iron. I found it difficult to sit still. Two hours passed and still no word from Mike.

I came home, soaked in the tub and slowly got myself dressed. At 5 o’clock I could wait no longer. As I headed for the door, the phone rang. It was Mike. He and his friends had gotten caught up in the day and were only now preparing to leave. They had an hours drive. I choked back tears over the phone because Mike didn’t like emotional women. I told him to meet me at the address as soon as he was able.

I wanted to bawl the whole drive to the dinner but mascara tracks weren’t in vogue that year. I simply could not ruin my entrance as Mrs. Lavinia Nordstrom. By the grace of God I held it together and arrived fashionably; a minute late. Lavinia busied herself making excuses for her absent husband as well as carry his informational part in the overall charade.

During dinner a shot rang out as the butler passed the soup tureen over my shoulder. Precisely at this moment I deduced that I was NOT to be the murder victim. We heard a shrill scream as the cook ran in from the kitchen.  In a high pitch she announced that the Portuguese maid had been shot and lay in a pool of blood next to the laundry.

Murder Mystery cast minus the pool boy
Murder Mystery cast minus the pool boy

Throughout the remainder of the evening each character revealed information that pointed to motives for murder. I, however, just wanted my stinkin date to show up. In quiet desperation, I excused myself to the powder room and called my friend Dan to come over and rescue my honor.

Dan arrived shortly thereafter dressed as the Nordstrom’s  “pool boy” and the ladies loved him. He worked the crowd like a natural. Dan’s presence helped me feel more at ease and I began to relax.

Just before the event ended, Mike made an appearance. I glanced toward the foyer to catch a glimpse of jeans and a  t-shirt. He strolled in not even attempting to resemble wealthy attorney Maddox Nordstrom. Dan, who was watching from across the room,   shook his head in unbelief and continued entertaining.

I felt like an idiot and I had no one to blame but myself. Mike knew well how to role play.  I suppose our date obviously failed to find importance in his mind?  When would I learn to trust God’s ways and not my damaged emotions?

My mighty miffed demeanor and facial expression greeted Mike as he sidled up to me. He told me I looked gorgeous and that he hadn’t realized this was such a big deal. I shot him an icy glare. He said he was sorry he got there so late.

“Too late,” I thought to myself. I finally noticed all the red flags God had been waving in front of my face for only HE knew how long.

I introduced the very late Mr. Nordstrom to a few cast members and said goodnight to the other guests. I thanked Dan for coming to my rescue and attempted to hide my embarrassment by turning quickly to leave.

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Mike hurried after me and offered to follow me home. My, he could be attentive when he chose to be. Sadly I recognized the glow in his eyes and the drool on his chin for what it was, lust rather than love. I needed to stop compromising and start paying closer attention to God and His cues for my life before I got myself in a real jam. My mind waged battle against my body but in the end, I obeyed the Spirit of God within me. I sent Mike home.

I asked God to forgive my impulsiveness for inviting Mike in the first place. I should have trusted Jesus to be my date and help me have fun. My desire  to be loved was not wrong, but the desire needed to be met His way. Unbeknownst to me God had a plan up His sleeve, but I had been too busy mooning over Mike to see it.

“Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:6 New Living Translation

NOTE: I did enjoy playing dress up and wearing that gorgeous ring. I met some new people, stretched myself socially and made an interesting memory. And by the way; the butler did it! He used a gun with a silencer before serving soup. The cook was an accomplice firing a blank in the kitchen while the butler served guests in dining hall.

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Shine on. . .

karan k