The Melting Pot?

“When I turn my attention to you, I’ll refine your dross as in a furnace. I’ll remove all your alloy.” Isaiah 1:25 New International version

What does the term ‘melting pot’ conjure up in your mind? What ideals do you consider “American”?

Merriam-Webster defines ‘melting pot’ as “A pot in which metals or other materials are melted and mixed.’ AND “A place where a variety of races, cultures, or individuals assimilate into a cohesive whole.”

London Graffitti

The US of A has long been called the world’s melting pot. This melting-together metaphor came into use as far back as the late 1700s. But the term became widely popular in the States after a play entitled “The Melting Pot” opened in Washington D.C. in 1908. The play later moved on to New York City and exploded on Broadway.

In Israel Zangwill’s play “The Melting Pot”,  he modernizes the story of Romeo and Juliette for the 20th century swapping out feuding Italian families for Russian Jewish and Russian Cossack families. Zangwill boldly uses the play to claim that America is a new country free of all the old animosity and predispositions of the old country. America becomes a beautiful escape for immigrants. A place where the immigrants were welcomed but not their former belongings of hatred and prejudice.

According to PBS, “God, Zangwill claimed, was using America as a ‘crucible’ to melt the ‘fifty’ barbaric tribes of Europe into a metal from which He can cast Americans.”

Mr. Zangwill dedicated his play to the US President at the time:
To Theodore Roosevelt
“In respectful recognition of his strenuous struggle against the forces that threaten to shipwreck the great republic which carries mankind and its fortunes, this play is, by his kind permission, cordially dedicated.”

What are your thoughts on that statement now in the year 2017?

Do you think we and any immigrant should melt down our individual heritage and mix together to conform to “American” ideals?

Grandpa and Grandma Klassen

The Klassens did. In 1924 my husband’s grandparents migrated to America from Russia where they faced cruel and unthinkable oppression. They willingly laid aside their European homes and loyalties to sail across the Atlantic to start a new, free life.. They allowed their Russian and German selves to be melted and mixed into patriotic Americans who gladly waited years to gain their coveted U.S. citizenship.

If you happen to live in this Melting Pot of the United States, may you find yourself praising God for the privilege.

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He chose for His inheritance.” Psalm 33:12 New International version

Shine on. . .

karan k

Proper Support

“For I hold you by your right hand—I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid, I am here to help you.’ “Isaiah 41:13 New International version

Have you seen this new sculpture crafted by Lorenzo Quinn, son of actor Anthony Quinn? The giant 5000 pound set of hands appear to support the 14th century Ca’Sagredo Hotel in Venice. It will remain in place until November of 2017 in case you are in Italy.

The key word here is “appear”. The hands are only props of fake support revealing artistic expression. Real support would be much stronger and substantial. Nothing fake about it.

Sculpture  entitled “Support”  in the Grand Canal of Venice on display until November 2017

A piece of art named “Support” I find incredibly interesting. We all have art of some sort in our homes representative of things we love. Finely crafted furniture is also art.

One of my favorite pieces of furniture in our home is a 9 foot mirror which rests against the wall just inside our bedroom door. It’s always my last stop before I go sailing off into the unknown. Just a quick once over to avoid any public embarrassments and I’m out the door.

When we first bought the pricey mirror, we planned to hang it as an ornamental piece on the framed out stairway landing wall. We hired someone to hang it but the mirror was too heavy for the wall to support it. It dawned on us at this juncture that we were attempting to HANG a piece of furniture that was created to LEAN.

What’s your favorite piece of art in your home?

 

In our humanness we often attempt to HANG onto our ways, our intellect, our strength, and our experience to progress through life. None of these things can realistically support the weight of our journey. We were created to LEAN.

But sometimes we LEAN on unhealthy things and fake supports just like the sculpture in the opening. We are fooled into thinking we need this or that to get through the day, the week, the year etc.  We can lean on food (which is a struggle for me),  prescription drugs, alcohol and in some cases adulterous affairs.  Christians are not immune to these deceptions. Beware the age old warning about reaping what you sow (Galatians 6:7). LEAN on the truth that stands the test of time.

Lean even one handed as a first baby step

Life’s curves and twists, tests and trials are all specifically designed to be encountered with support, never alone. It’s the shared experiences that build relationship. A lifelong deepening relationship with us is what our loving Lord desires. Like a leaner mirror without a load bearing wall, we cannot expect to stand and succeed without leaning on Jesus.

Don’t fight against your design by believing that you can support yourself. The result will not be a pleasant one for you. Rather embrace the truth and learn to lean on the God who created and cares for you. (I Peter 5:7)

Lean on the ROCK

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and LEAN NOT on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5+6 New International version

Shine on. . .

karan k

 

ELVIS Encounter

 


“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25 New International version

ELVIS. Most people either love him or hate him.

Seven summers ago when our daughter was a young teenager my neutrality concerning Elvis was challenged. My husband and I decided to take a family fun trip. We boarded a plane and headed for Tennessee—destination— Graceland, home and final resting place of Elvis Aaron Presley. At the time I wanted to take a trip that would bless our daughter. She and her father loved Elvis so I planned to explore Graceland with them.

Headsets on ready to enter the mansion at Graceland 2010

Graceland is all things Elvis. It could have been nauseating after several hours of exposure to his music nonstop and seeing his face and image everywhere conceivable. But somehow I found it energizing. The three of us had an amazing time deepening family bonds.

Inside the home were the famous rooms you may have caught on tv or movies: The music room adjoining the gorgeous living room with stain glass peacocks in the doorway. The bizarre billiard room covered floor to ceiling in matching fabric.
The jungle room which Elvis called “the den” with built in waterfall. And the TV room with three tvs mounted side by side so the ‘King’ could watch football on all three major networks at once. The home truly is an unusual feast for the senses.

But behind all the glitz and kitsch, the thing that moved me was displayed in the museum area of the house. Wall after wall covered with cancelled checks written by Elvis for charity. St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Muscular Dystrophy Association, American Heart and Cancer Research Associations, American Red Cross to name just a few. He gave extravagant gifts such as mink coats, jewelry, and cars to friends and family as well as skads of strangers. He helped schools and causes wherever he went from the time he started making money until his death. One of his favorite gifts to give was Cadillacs. He gave away 100+ Cadillacs in his short lifetime.

“. . .The INTENT of Elvis’ charitable endeavors were simply. . . the purity of his heart and his desire to help his fellow man.” Jeff Schrembs The Elvis expert

I pray I learn to FLURISH in generosity from the abundance I’ve been given.

If you’re an Elvis fan, what is your favorite Elvis song? Mine is “Burnin Love”.

Shine on. . .
karan k

Note: Earlier in 2017 Graceland added an extra attraction. In addition to the Presley home there is now “Elvis Presley’s Memphis”, a 200,000 foot complex to display the best of the 1.5 million item collection including cars, jets, costumes, records etc.

 

 

Successful Failure: Part II

What is success for you?

“. . . This is what the LORD says: ‘When people fall down, don’t they get up again? When someone turns away, do they not return?’ ”

Jeremiah 8:4 New Living translation

How do you view success? Do you see it differently for others than you see it for yourself? Can you recall a time when you failed? How did you respond? Can you recall a time when you felt you succeeded?

In 1987 my father died suddenly. I was 24. My mother needed support financially and emotionally. I decided I should take care of her. We tried to sell her house and move where she could walk to work since she didn’t drive. It was a disaster and two years later I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed to move out. I failed in my plan to take care of my mother. I certainly didn’t FEEL like a success.

As I explained in Part I, I feared failure and any sort of risk. I lacked the knowledge and experience of independent living apart from renting a room when I moved away from home at 19. As with any new venture, alot of unknowns accompanied having my own place. But I was desperate to be independent and I chalked up the failure with my mom to lack of planning. I was not gonna let that happen again.

So I carefully counted the cost of moving out on my own. (Luke 14:28) After doing my homework and seeing my budget on paper I felt a degree of confidence. I prayed and moved forward finding a snug 2 bedroom apartment the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

Scheduled to move at the end of January made it difficult to find volunteers to help me. I didn’t have much money but I remembered I had an insurance policy I received when my father died. He had taken it out when I was born. I figured my first apartment was cause for cashing it in to help with the move.

The Prudential building intimidated me with its vastness. The insurance agent who handled my policy seemed kind and trustworthy. When he found out why I was cashing in my policy, he asked if I had help to move. I told him “No” and he immediately made some calls. He told me he and a few friends from church would help. Yes, I was naive to trust a stranger but I had no one else and so I trusted God’s provision.

The night of my move two big flat bed trucks arrived right on time. Two men and the insurance guy made short work of loading all my belongings onto the trucks. My middle brother also lived at my Mom’s and he sat on the sofa and watched while these men carried my possessions passed him time and again. He never lifted a finger to help and as I carried a box out, he said, “You’ll never make it.”

He said it with such a sneer that the pain shot deep in my heart. I could never forget his words and lack of confidence in my ability. Inspite of what he said, the Lord helped me to live successfully for 12 years in that apartment and then go on to buy my own house.

That failure with my mother became a bundle of lessons learned to help me move forward to succeed on my own. I worked hard through the lean times. I sacrificed when necessary. And no bills were ever late or unpaid. I felt good about what I had accomplished, just me and Jesus.

We can turn every failure into success with perseverance and the Lord’s help. Or put another way; “Whenever you fall, do it forward and get up again as soon as possible.”

So what is your definition of success? Please feel free to share it in the comment section. Here’s my favorite definition of success;

“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Shine on. . .
karan k

Successful Failure: Part I

 

 

“The LORD’S loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:22 New American Standard Bible

HE’S THE ONLY ONE WHO NEVER FAILS!

Anyone remember the old show “Wide World of Sports” and Jim McKay’s famous catchphrase? “The thrill of victory . . . and the agony of defeat?” No one wanted to be that poor skier shown in the footage representing the “agony of defeat”. As bad as it looked, Vinko Bogataj, the Slovenian ski jumper in the clip, walked away with a concussion and a broken ankle. You can watch it on YouTube if you’re too young to remember Wide World of Sports.

His failure made him famous and admired by athletes the world over. Muhammed Ali asked for his autograph in 1981 at the 20th anniversary celebration for Wide World of Sports. Vinko continued skiing competitively and then became a ski instructor coaching the 1991 World Champion Franci Petek. He went on to lead a full life with his wife and family and later discovered his talent for painting.

Think about failure in your own life. Have you had a lot?

 

I recently read an interview with a young high school graduate. She was asked, “What’s the worst thing about being 18?” In answer to this question, she said:
“Everything you do after you turn 18 counts, so there is no room or time for error.”

Think about that for a moment. This is an 18 year old ‘determined goal chaser’ as she calls herself in another section of the article. I admire her raw ambition and desire to make the most of her time to make a difference in our world.

I was blessed to meet this young woman named Danielle and she has quite an impressive outlook on life. However, I do want to caution her and others not to fear failure. Because for those of us who know Christ, failure is just a different tool in the hand of God to chisel us to perfection.

Each of us will come face to face with failure more than once in our lifetime, but we can benefit from it IF we look to our all knowing God. We can learn lessons from failure that may not otherwise be possible. If we determine to be teachable we can learn and grow from the experience of failure. We should expect it and not fear it.

 

Don’t know about you but I was taught that if I fail at something then I AM a failure. I believed this lie for most of my life. For years I did all I could to avoid failure. Unfortunately unlike Danielle, my motivation avoidance was not commendable. Self preservation motivated me rather than striving to be my best for the sake of others. I did not want to look stupid at any cost. Too often in my past people were cruel and made fun of me and my ideas so I began to hide my ideas inside and not take risks.

 

As an adult if I was not fairly sure I could succeed at something I would not even try it. How many opportunities have I missed because of fear? What about you? Have you missed opportunities because of fear?

God in His mercy has scooped me up many times when I felt I could not go on. Then He’d take me at the moment of my failure and teach me useful things so I could move forward into other areas of life I never dreamed possible.

In weak moments fear sneaks in and attempts to rule me again but now I know the truth. That even failures I encounter may be part of God’s divine plan for me. So I turn my back on fear and lean hard into my faith in Christ. Because with His leading and help I can do anything and so can you!

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 New Living translation

Take time to enjoy the journey and FLURISH through any failures. And Danielle, as you head off to college remember, He’s got your back!

Shine on. . .
karan k

How do YOU Pray?

“When you call Me and come and pray to Me, I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:12 Common English Bible

Just some thoughts about prayer. . .

Each of us deepens and develops our relationship with the great God of the universe by prayer. How do we view prayer? According to dictionary.com prayer is “a devout petition to God or an object of worship; a spiritual communion with God or an object of worship, as in supplication, thanksgiving, adoration or confession.”

Do we come before Him in an attitude of worship? Do we speak to Him in reverence and love? I admit that I forget at times just who it is I’m addressing. The depth of who He is is fathomless to my finite mind.

I am a huge believer in being very real with God and talking to Him about everything. He knows all about me anyway so no use holding back.  I believe He delights in my active inclusion of Him in the details of my day.

However, I do not want to forget His holy, righteous and awesome nature. There is a fine line to balance between casual communication and worshipful wonder. It’s a balance I believe we must hold tight to guard ourselves from presuming upon His divine personage.

I know some do not agree with praying about things seen as trivial. (see last post HEAT FLASH)  Out of reverence for God they may be more conservative with what matters they bring before Him.

What do you pray about? What type of things do you feel are worthy of time in prayer?

How do you address God? Dear heavenly Father? Dear Lord Jesus? Abba Father { Daddy Father}?  Or something else? Jesus said, “Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may Your name be kept holy.” Matthew 6:9 New Living translation

When do you pray? How often do you pray? Got any prayer tips to share so all of us can benefit?

If I wake up earlier than my alarm with a bit of coherence I tend to pray for people who have ongoing issues. Or perhaps pray about concerns specific for that day. Later, when I get up for devotions, I pray over the things listed in my prayer journal. Yes, I do keep a journal so I can see answers to prayer. I highlight each prayer when it’s answered and then I  pray thanksgiving and praise for the answer.

Without the journal I find that I forget to either keep praying in ongoing situations or forget to thank God for His answers. A journal is a wonderful way to build faith when looking back over answers from the past. They prove God’s faithfulness when the temptation to doubt arises.

During my work day, I have short conversations with God. I make lots of requests for grace to deal with difficult situations or customers as the case may be. Sometimes I go on prayer walks during my break time and pray about more urgent needs of the day and for global leaders. I find walking while I pray diffuses the physical proneness to fall asleep during prayer. But then again, what better way to go to sleep than in the arms of Jesus?

 

Please share your ideas and practices concerning prayer.

 

Shine on. . .
karan k

“And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do . So you must live in reverent fear of Him during your time as ‘foreigners in the land’.” I Peter 1:17 New Living translation

Hot Flash

“The LORD is your guardian; the LORD is your shade at your right side.” Psalm 121:5 International Standard version

Twenty-five years ago I had  my introduction to God as my “shade” in reference to the opening verse. It was an awesome experience in my booth.

On a tremendously hot and humid summer day my boss scheduled  me to work the temporary booth which had no AC. The dread  spread through my mind like wildfire The burning anxiety attempted to overwhelm me.

How could I survive with such heat and humidity baking me in this flimsy tin can of a booth I questioned? I felt ill. I fought the desire to call off work and just hide in my air conditioned apartment.

 

When I arrived at work and entered the booth, the heat was already unbearable. A friend of mine had told me recently to ask God for grace whenever I felt in trouble. I began begging God for grace because I knew I was prone to fainting spells when exposed to intense heat.

A few minutes later the sky darkened and then a heavy downpour. Within twenty minutes the temperature dropped from 95 degrees to 75 degrees. A customer pulled up and asked, “Did you know it’s only raining around your interchange?” I KNEW at that moment the truth of Psalm 121:5. The LORD was my shade! He cared for me enough to send a personal storm cloud! I worked the rest of that day  praising God in fresh cool breezes after the storm passed. It was heavenly.

“. . . The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16b New Living translation

The key to answered prayer is having faith in God’s love for us and His goodness. Believe when you pray or don’t bother.

Ponder Mark 11:22-24 and Hebrews 11:6

Fast forward to July 2017 when heat and humidity hit hard. The HVAC technician arrived for our seasonal maintenance and after an hour of checking he came to me with the news. Not good. We had a leak and were losing coolant like a geyser. I authorized him to locate the leak. More bad news. The leak was in the coil which translated into needing a new AC system. My heart sank.

Worse news came later after we ordered  a new system. We were told it could be two weeks or more before installation due to seasonal demand. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I’m a girl who grew up with air conditioning. I’m spoiled and do not like heat when coupled with humidity. And now I’m menopausal!

Hot Flash!

My  husband Dwight and I were not quite on the same page concerning how we would pay for the new AC system. I wanted to drain our savings and pay it outright avoiding finance interest charges, then trust God to help us build back our savings. Dwight, however, preferred to use financing, not wishing to deplete our savings.

We were bumping heads since of course we each thought our way was best. I did not like being at odds with my husband. My heart was not at peace.

So I started praying. I prayed we could somehow afford the AC without causing a rift between us. I also prayed for a speedy installation. Some may feel these issues are too small to ask the God of the universe to remedy. But I disagree. If He cares about the hairs on our heads to continually keep track of how many fall out and grow in daily, (Matthew 10:30) surely He cares about helping me and my husband in the heat.

The first answer to prayer came when the salesman offered us an AC system with 5 year financing for 0% interest. As long as we paid it off in five years there would be no interest tacked onto our fee. An affordable option satisfying both Dwight and I. Praise God! Thank You, Jesus!

Second answer came the next day when the HVAC company called to say they could install our system in one week rather than two or three as they originally thought. Hallelujah!

 

Midsummer hot week began nipping at my mind as the temperatures rose. I asked for grace, grace and more grace to get through the week without whiney complaining.

Beginning of the week the weather turned less humid and cooler at night so we slept well. We only had to endure heat for about 6 hours each day. Then midweek the heat and humidity climbed. I again asked  for grace and He faithfully helped me get through the sweaty hot days and muggy nights. Again I am amazed how He cares about each of us more than we can imagine!

What causes you to become unglued?  Wigged out?  Panicked? Ask Him for His grace to help you overcome. Believe and expect His help. FLURISHING will follow.

“. . .My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” II Corinthians 12:9b  New Living translation

For those who may view this entire post as silly, remember simple faith is a state of mind ; ASKING, BELIEVING, RECEIVING lived out in daily life.

Shine on. . .

karan k

Life Time

 

“The indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future.” Wikipedia

Recognize this definition? Chances are you never looked at this definition because we are all so familiar with the concept. But I found it intriguing to reflect upon the thought that we are a tiny segment on the continuing, changing line of TIME. Equally mind bending is the fact that TIME is irreversible. Think about that. Each moment that passes is gone forever, never to return.

A young woman pulls up to the booth on a frigid day in January sporting a gray beanie with large letters in fluorescent green. The letters glowing across her forehead read YOLO. You know the phrase, it was popular a few years ago: YOLO — You Only Live Once.

 

I wondered to myself what that term meant to her in her personal life? Was she a thrill seeker trying to squeeze as much adventure as possible out of each day? Was she an ambitious entrepreneur seeking to break into some exciting new business and working daily toward that goal and not about to waste time. Or was she simply determined to try everything under the sun whether it was good for her or not? I guess I’ll never know, but as always it made me think.

I remember in Christian circles there were two added lines to YOLO;
“You only live once, this life is soon past
Only what you do for Christ will last”

So what does YOLO mean for you? What or on whom are you spending your lifetime? When we’re young it seems we have so much life ahead to do whatever we want. And then we find out as we grow older time seems to slip through our grasp faster and faster.

Time is mysterious

Science has not yet explained the mysteries of time and how it seems to speed as we age but one theory by William James made sense to me. He hypothesized that we gauge time by memorable events in our life. When we are young there are so many new things to experience. First day of school. First friend. First bicycle. First kiss. Prom. Graduation. Etc., All these events outweigh the average daily life of a working person where one day seems no different than the next. So time is altered or so it seems.

If Mr. James’ theory is true then we need to chase after new things. New experiences, new friendships, new challenges, new leaps of faith to keep life fuller and time slower.

Last year Dwight and I took surfing lessons. It was on his bucket list and I sorta got roped into it. This year, Lord willing, we are working toward experiencing the “Hang Loose” island life in Hawaii together. That is on my list.

Is there something on your bucket list you want to do but keep shoving that thought to the back of your mind thinking you’ll get to it later? Time is probably moving faster than we realize. So make or revisit your bucket list. Revel in past checked off experiences and start adding new ones to the list. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. We can garner ideas from each other. Share your bucket list plans as we FLURISH together and have the Time of our Lives!

“How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” James 4:14 New Living translation

Enjoy Yourself. It’s Later Than You Think. . .
CHINESE PROVERB

Shine on. . .
karan k