Category Archives: Healing/Growth

Got Mask?

 

Masquerade party 2017
Everyday wear 2017

How many of you like masquerade parties or attending events requiring a costume? I love to dress in costume and pretend to be someone else for a day. It can be a fun challenge and definitely entertaining. What I don’t enjoy is wearing a mask. I find them confining, hot, stuffy and can cause dizziness. I’m sure some masks are better than others but I am steering clear of them.

Of course there are times when masks are absolutely necessary and not an option. Protection is a main purpose of masks in todays world. They’re an important part of certain outfits. Masks are regularly used in certain sports for protection such as hockey, baseball and skiing. Football requires helmets with face guards. Motorcyclists sometimes wear shielded helmets for protection and masks for warmth. Face masks protect us from germs. Oxygen masks can keep us alive.

But masks are usually not meant to be worn daily, are they? And yet if we look close we see masked people all around us everyday. People hiding true feelings or character, countless numbers afraid to reveal their true selves. Are you one of them?

If yes, can you identify what you’re hiding? Is it Insecurity, inadequacy, shame, regret or something else? Don’t ignore this if you suspect you are wearing a mask. Ask God to reveal the truth to you.

 

I once heard of a woman working in an office setting who frequently mentioned to her coworkers that she had a very strong work ethic. Turns out this was only a mask she wore to hide the truth: She often came in late to work, made many personal calls and surfed the internet on company time. She wanted to hide her laziness. But she was caught in a mask. Her co-workers were not fooled.

worst mask of all

Or the familiar story of a more insidious mask. A smiling facade that leads you to believe he or she is your friend. You begin to trust them and their smiling face. But the reality of backstabbing and exploitation leave you with painful scars and you are tempted to pick up your own mask to protect yourself from being hurt again.

But masks are fake. There is no real protection for the wearer. They only provide a false sense of security which will eventually backfire into deeper pain.

This is the cycle of entrapment that masks our genuine selves. God alone knows who we really are and HE created us to be completely free in our own identity. Masks bind us not free us.

“Wearing a mask wears you out. Faking it is fatiguing. The most exhausting activity is pretending to be what you know you’re not.” Rick Warren

 

Got mask? Jesus invites us to rip it off, cover ourselves in His righteousness, and depend on His Holy Spirit within us. HE will guide and protect us daily as we allow our real selves to emerge and ultimately FLURISH!

Free at last

“For the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” Proverbs 3:26 English Standard Version

Shine on. . .
karan k

Dysfunction Junction

Any body remember Schoolhouse Rock? The animated series teaching grammar was fun, melodic and ran from 1973 to 2009. One of my favorite episodes was “Conjunction Junction What’s Your Function”. Conjunctions are used to connect things.  ‘And’, ‘But’ and ‘Or’ are stars of the show.

In 1981 I had an unusual opportunity to connect/join a healthy situation. A close friend who lived in my town and attended the same church became acquainted with my home life. He described what he saw to his parents over a period of six months. They found the situation appalling and decided to do something.

In June after graduation my friend and his parents paid a visit to my home. The two sets of parents sat at the kitchen table discussing things for nearly an hour. I heard my friends parents state they wanted to take me with them on their upcoming move to Louisiana. There was no rebuttal from my parents. Somehow that saddened me even though I hated being in that home.

I resolved to move away with them for a  fresh start to an unknown place until my friend’s mother made this statement that probably was not meant for my ears. She said, “Karan has too many hang ups.”

The words struck my heart like a swift rusty javelin. My mind swelled with infectious questioning.

Hang-ups? What hang-ups? Were they obvious to everyone but me? I always suspected there was something wrong but hearing it out in the open seemed cruel.

My wet dab of self worth evaporated on the kitchen floor as the guests walked across it preparing to leave. I announced my decision not to go with them to Louisiana. Before they scrutinized my words or my reddening face I retreated to my bedroom and shut the door. Oh how I wished I could lock that door and hide. I could not face the truth that may be lurking in the words recurring in my mind; “Karan has too many hang ups”.

 

This episode of my life was a Dysfunction Junction. Years of toxicity connected me to a caring family who saw the reality of my situation and chose to reach out to me. The function was to help me heal and move forward. But I chose to remain steeped in my own unhealthy issues. I let fear prevent me from escaping my own pit. The pit I hated.

How many of you have done the same thing? You embrace fear because it’s familiar. Familiar because we have lived with it far too long. Fear creeps into our lives in many ways. When safety cannot be found whether emotional, mental or physical. When needs go unmet and unnoticed. Abuses in our family of origin are usually hidden from public view and so it can go on for years. No rescue in sight. When we are faced with the truth of what we’ve been through it can be terrifying.

 

Such enslaving fears cause compounded dysfunction in our lives. We need divine strength to move beyond these devastating pains and toward whatever junction God is providing to begin the healing process. The first step is recognition. Do you see any Dysfunction Junctions in your life? Don’t allow fear to keep you from looking into your own heart and life for abuses. If you don’t face it you will be forever enslaved by it.

Trust your heavenly Father who loves you. Our great God is ready and wanting to help us on the journey toward healing. Will you step out in faith, take His hand and let Him help you overcome your fears?

To join us to healing freedom!

 

“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children.” Romans 8:15 New Living Translation

Shine on. . .
karan k

 

Honoring Friendship

C-3PO and R2D2

 

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10 New International Version

 

What does loyalty look like in friendship?  How do we honor our friends?  Share your thoughts or a story in the comment section.

One on One time is extremely important

Yesterday filled my heart with warm fuzzes all day. I felt the privileged glow of spending time one on one with six of my precious friends. The day grew long but entirely satisfying.

I treasure all my friends. Each one is so distinctive and as such each friendship is unique. I attempt to encourage them, be understanding when they have issues and revel in their joyful moments. I make efforts to keep in touch, remember birthdays (by the grace of God), and spend time with them when I can. But I haven’t always valued my friends as deeply as I should.

In the past I had a group of older friends who also acted as mentors in my life. I met them during a floundering season of lowness. Their presence and support buoyed me back on my spiritual feet and helped me soar to new heights.

But as time passed I didn’t appreciate them properly. I loved them but my love was shallow. I grew bored and dissatisfied. I longed for younger friends. Friends who were more physically active and who I could relate to with ease. Simply put, I was an ingrate! I acted as an ungrateful person. Maybe not on the outside because these dear ladies may not have even been aware of my selfish discontent? But my heart swelled with it.

Can you relate? Ever have a good friend who you didn’t appreciate at the time? If they remain in your life consider reaching out to them and let them feel your love and gratitude for their friendship.

 

“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” Proverbs 17:17 New Living Translation

Shine on. . .
karan k

People Pleasers Anonymous

Ever feel like everybody wants or needs something from you? No matter what you do it’s never enough and more is desired and EXPECTED? Nobody remembers what you’ve done for them in the past, recent or long past. They just scream for more NOW. It’s frustrating to the point of insanity if you’re a people pleaser.

A few days ago I found myself feeling pressured because two people I care about both wanted more from me than I could give. My insides churned and I wasn’t sure how to handle it. I talked to God about it and realized He wanted me to shed a bit more of my people pleasing skin. The process can be lengthy and painful.

People pleasing sounds like you’re being nice and doing the right thing, especially as a Christian. You’re aiming to be God’s faithful servant to all who cross your path, right? Perhaps a super human could do this but not you or I.

Jesus who was God yet human when He walked the earth and now seated at the right hand of God, didn’t please everyone. A lot of His own people longed for Him to free them from oppressive Roman rule.  He actually had the power to do that. But He didn’t. He didn’t please them.

He also didn’t please those suffering from hunger or debilitating diseases. Again, He had the power to end world hunger and obliterate sickness and disease but He didn’t. He fed and healed a great many but not all. Jesus was not a people pleaser.

 

Who are you trying to please?

Jesus was on a mission from His Father and it did not include pleasing all the people all the time, did it? So why do some of us strive to accomplish that wearisome task?

 

What are your thoughts on people pleasing? Are you like me, caught in its trap? We can’t let this weight hinder us from FLURISHING.

This subject may need further probing? Stay tuned.

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 English Standard 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 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

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

Breaking the Chains of Loneliness part I

 

“I am lonely, like an owl living in the desert, like an owl living among old ruined buildings. I cannot sleep. I am like a lonely bird on the roof.” Psalm 102:6+7 Easy to Read Bible

Heart wrenching seasons of loneliness visit all of us. How do we FLURISH through these times?

As a child I spent a lot of time alone because my siblings were much older and my parents both worked. Every year I dreaded the summer months because it meant being alone for an extended period of time. I enjoyed the social aspect of school and wished it continued year round.

At an early age I recognized and invited Jesus as my Savior to come into my heart. Soon I began making up plays, dramas, dances and songs that I would perform in our backyard to an audience of one. I knew God was watching. I could feel His presence and pleasure. This greatly helped me through the lonely times. So Jesus and I went out to play together as often as possible.

But as I grew older I forgot these precious moments with my heavenly Father. I stopped spending creative times with Him. I even thought at one point in my life that it was just foolish child’s play.

As a young adult I spent 15 years living totally alone. It became agonizing at times. Then one day I remembered the loveliness of the moments spent as a child dancing and singing in His presence where I could be my complete self. Loved for exactly who I was. I realized what I did as a child was not foolish but something led by God. I needed to lay down my pride and begin to recognize His presence and respond to Him as I did when I was young.

I began believing what the Bible says; He is ALWAYS with us. (Matthew 28:20b) The Bible also says to “Never stop praying” in I Thessalonians 5:17. So if HE is always with us and we are to talk to Him all the time then we had better learn to practice His presence.

One of the first things I began doing to practice His presence was to pick out music that spoke to my heart. I’d crank the volume and dance around my apartment with a fair amount of abandon. Praising and jumping for Jesus’ sake. Sometimes I did cheering type moves or ballet. Probably only a God who is Love Himself could enjoy it? I do know it always released stress for me and gave me a supernatural joy. I could be a carefree kid in His presence. Of course this is easiest to do when you are alone because others might try to have you committed somewhere other than to Jesus, if you know what I mean?

Years later when I bought my first home I had an upstairs Rec room with laminate hardwood flooring. One day while having devotions, I felt a still small voice in my heart calling me to play. At first I dismissed it as my imagination. But it did not stop. So I got up from my sofa and put some funky praise music on my stereo system.

As the first notes hit my ears I felt like moving. In my pajamas and socks, I discovered I could slide across the laminate. Jesus was calling me to slide with Him. Laughing and zooming across the floor, we had a great time. Later, I rearranged the furniture so there would be maximum sliding room. I created a little track and slid around it with Jesus often.

When my young nieces and great niece visited, I taught them to slide with Jesus too. I didn’t care if they thought I was crazy. I was crazy about Jesus and He was the only one who filled the lonely void in my life. Being seen acting crazy about Jesus is nothing new. Consider King David:

“And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment. So David and all the people of Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and the blowing of rams’ horns. But as the Ark of the Lord entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she was filled with contempt for him.” II Samuel 6:14-16 New Living translation

Notice that David “leaped” and “danced” before the Lord. He simply delighted in the Lord and the return of the Ark to the City of David. David laid aside his royal garments to dance before his Lord. HE was willing to look foolish in the eyes of anyone for the Lord’s sake. That is a tight relationship. So powerful that it can destroy the chains of loneliness.

If you find yourself lonely take advantage of being alone, where no one can see you. Put on some music you love and surrender your pride as worship to your Lord. Dance, jump, sway just do whatever you can. Trust me, HE will love it and you may be surprised at the results on your end.

“God can’t give us happiness and peace apart from Himself because there is no such thing.” C.S. Lewis
Shine on. . .
karan k

Powerful Weakness

 

“Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ ” II Corinthians 12:9a New Living translation
Remember the Pop Quiz? Out of nowhere the teacher announced a test. Do you remember your reaction? Favorable or negative? No matter what age we are there remain tests for us to take. We cannot escape them.

The other day I faced a pop quiz from God:

As back drop, I must tell you that my body battles low blood sugar and anxiety regularly. I need lots of water, lots of rest and lots of food evenly distributed daily to function at any normal capacity. Otherwise, sugar shock and passing out can ensue. This is the physical weakness I live with in my body. Read on.

A coworker on the next shift after mine had some car trouble. She wasn’t sure she could make it in to work. Being low man on the pole, even after 28 years, meant working 12 or 16 hours straight for me. The shift had to be filled.
My first reaction was to pray for someone else to want or need the work. “No” was the answer to that prayer. Then I prayed someone would split the shift with me. 12 hours was certainly more acceptable than 16. Again the answer was “No”. So the test for me was 16 hours of busy work followed by little sleep to come in the next day for another busy shift.

God’s pop quiz tested my commitment to trust in His goodness, His provision and His grace. Temptation did not take the night off.

The first question on the test entered my mind as fear. Would I be able to physically handle working such long hours? I answered by recalling God’s faithful help in the past with forced lesser amounts of overtime. I decided this was the correct answer and steered my mind to trust in His help. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 New International version

Next question on the test. Will I complain to my husband, friends or coworkers? I felt the strong urge to complain to my husband. I wanted to seek his pity. But  he could not help me though he wished he could. I had to rely on the only One who truly could help. I remembered the many times God spared me from being forced to work double shifts in the past. Gratitude swept over my mind. “O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good: For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” I Chronicles 16:34 New American Standard Bible

Third question. Would I allow self pity to pool in my mind? Or resentment and anger to settle in my soul? By His grace I resisted the negative and reminded myself of God’s sovereignty in my life. He had allowed this to happen. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 New Living translation

So I began asking for more of His grace.

Grace is what I needed to make it through 8 more hours when my back and feet were already hurting. Grace is what I needed to maintain a kind attitude toward my customers as I grew more tired. So I asked for grace over and over throughout the night. The more I depended on receiving grace, the more it washed over me in waves.

I completed 16 full hours on a busy friday while maintaining a good frame of mind. For me this was a huge improvement from years past when I gave in to fear and fretting, whining and complaining, anger and resentment.

I went to bed that night trusting He would give me good rest on little time and He did! Saturday proved busier than friday but His grace continued to flow as long as I continued to ask for and depend upon it. I knew I had passed His test.

“So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” II Corinthians 12:9b New Living translation

 

An A plus is given to a student for great work being achieved.

May your next test be a perfect score!

Shine on. . .

karan k

Sucker Punch Betrayal

 

“It is not an enemy who taunts me—- I could bear that. It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me— I could have hidden from them. Instead, it is you–my equal, my companion and close friend. What good fellowship we once enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God.”Psalm 55:12-14 New Living translation

How many of you have felt the stab of betrayal? A Julius Caesar moment? Someone close to you, a friend or family member commits something injurious against you? How do you handle it or how have you handled it when it happened? Feel free to share in the comment section.

 

The closer the person is to us the deeper the pain because we’ve opened ourselves up to them. We let them into our  inner world.  We allowed our hearts to be vulnerable because we trusted them. How could they do this? WHY would they do this? Questions all of us have asked ourselves without receiving answers. It’s simply an ugly part of our humanity since the Fall.
Sneaky sucker punches coming out of nowhere have been my experiences with betrayal. Just moving through the daily grind, thinking all was well in my world and BAM! Someone  pops me in the face with a powerful punch of betrayal causing me to reel with emotional disbelief and damage. Some  of these sucker punches had small consequences and others were total life changers. In either case, the betrayal crippled or killed the relationship.

Slander. Lies. Adultery. At worst, Murder.These are painful acts of disloyalty. I wish none of us ever had to face this intimate injury but most likely each of us will face some form of betrayal at some point in our life.

Here are a few thoughts on betrayal from my husband:

Betrayal is something that is common to the human experience. Common as it may be however, it is an experience that one never becomes accustomed to, no matter how many times it’s perpetrated on us. While everyone’s story of betrayal is unique, the soul searing, heart wrenching emotions are basically the same.

My experience was in the context of infidelity in marriage. My spouse’s betrayal and the ensuing divorce was THEE pivotal event in my young life. I grew up in the idyllic environment of a small midwestern town, much like “Mayberry” minus sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife.  Cheating spouses and divorce was big city stuff read about in the tabloid newspapers in my Dad’s grocery store.  I was taught to trust people, to take folks at face value, especially one who vowed in front of God and family, for better or worse, to love till the end. The discovery of the infidelity and the following years of denial of it’s reality was a cold hard gut punch to my pollyanna world view. My children and I were now a statistic. We were now one of the 50% of Christian marriages that ended in divorce.

Lives ripped apart

Yes, we were professing Christians! The guilt from being a divorced Christian was paralyzing. So much so, I couldn’t go to church anymore. I felt like a complete and total fraud. The pronouncements from my church’s leadership, condemning me to “hell” certainly did nothing to reinforce Jesus’ message of grace for all and draw me back to the very place I needed to be. “How could I allow my marriage and family to disintegrate and still sit in church and worship God” I reasoned?

So I left, not because I was rejecting Christ, quite the contrary. I never stopped believing, I just felt completely unworthy of Him and His attention and love. I obviously knew nothing of grace. From all appearances, no one at my church did either.

This one single event of betrayal started a 15 year downward spiral in my life.  Unbeknownst to me I had more control than I realized over my life’s events but, as I often say, “you don’t know what you don’t know”. I know now, that we must not let any incident of betrayal and the ensuing anger, bitterness, resentment and thirst for revenge consume our lives. It hurts, it’s painful beyond description, and can be debilitating. Grieve the loss and pain…yes! But move  on in Christ’s healing. Run to Him, not away from Him. He has promised over and over and over to heal our wounds and comfort us in our trouble. Trust Him and know there is life after betrayal. I’m living proof.

 

Whether you are dealing with any leftover pain from betrayal in your past, or are currently suffering or have yet to face betrayal, you can benefit from David’s insights. I encourage you to take some time and read David’s story in II Samuel 15-19.  Then Psalm 55 where he shares his agony with his Lord over what happened.

 

Judas Kiss

Remember, our Lord suffered this same pain at the hand of two of His closest friends. Judas and Peter both betrayed Him in different ways.  So He can definitely feel and understand your pain. Tell Him your detailed hurts. It will be healing for your soul. You will begin to FLURISH inspite of betrayal.

Peter’s denial

“Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.”Psalm 55:22 New Living translation

Shine on. . .

karan k

Tales from the Booth: How’s Your Smile?

“A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.”
Proverbs 15:13 New American Standard Bible

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Do you have a healthy inviting smile? I’m not talking about nice white teeth or perfectly shaped lips. More about what your smile conveys to others.

At work one day an older gentleman pulls up to my booth and says, “My you have a beautiful smile! I’m a musician and your heart’s all over your face.” He circled his hand around his face as he said this.

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The guy seemed sincere  enough and not just blowin smoke, as they say. I don’t know much about music but I wonder if this musician could recognize a song in my heart from the smile on my face?

Recalling his words in that short exchange now reproduces a smile on my face and my heart because I know the smile I gave him that day was long in the making.

1973
1973

You see, you cannot give what you don’t have. I remember hope dashed every year when my school photos arrived. There I was in living color gritting my teeth or forcing out a smile. I hated the way I looked.  One year I decided to do something about it.

I appraised my smile whenever I had a mirror available. I wanted it to be beautiful. My family made fun of me but their insults only reinforced my determination.

1980
1980

I experimented with varying widths of smiles. Mouth open, mouth closed. How many teeth to show etc., In Junior high I had no idea the reality of the problem had nothing to do with my mouth. No matter what I tried the smiles all came out forced and gauche. Why?

It wasn’t due to my awkward adolescence. It stemmed from  a deeper issue of the pain and sadness occupying the space in my heart. At that time in my life no song played in my heart to filter through to my face. For years I thought I was smiling but my sad eyes revealed the truth of my private world to the public.

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Only after I began allowing Jesus to take over and heal my heart, replacing the sadness with His joy did my smiles flow without effort. A song rang out in my heart and spilled onto my face.

This is a recurring favorite in my heart by Luther B. Bridges,  1910

HE KEEPS ME SINGING
Verse 1
“There’s within my heart a melody
Jesus whispers sweet and low,
Fear not, I am with thee, peace be still,
In all of life’s ebb and flow.
Refrain
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Sweetest Name I know,
Fills my every longing,
Keeps me singing as I go.”
Ever hear of a Duchenne smile? French neurologist Guillaume Duchenne conducted research in the mid-19th century on the physiology of facial expressions, specifically on smiling . He identified two types of smiles.

A non-Duchenne smile utilizes only the muscles around the mouth. Whereas, a Duchenne smile engages the muscles around the mouth as well as the eyes and is sometimes referred to as “smizing”, or “smiling with the eyes”. A Duchenne smile is uniquely related to positive emotion which emanates from the heart.

2016
2016

In essence when your entire face engages in the smile, that is a Duchenne smile. What a wonderful thing to have named after you!

 

So my smile issue began to improve in direct proportion to my heart issue. As my heart healed, the smiles widened.

So I ask again, do you have a healthy inviting smile? Are you sharing a song with your smiles?
“He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what He has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:3 New Living translations

2017
2017

Shine on. . .

karan k

Beware the Accuser

 

Do you feel like a Bull's Eye?
Do you feel like a Bull’s Eye?

“One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the LORD, the Accuser, Satan, came with them.” Job 1:6 New Living translation
(Read the rest of chapter 1 and see also Revelation 12:10)

 

Destruction of stuff
Destruction of stuff

I often think of Job and how this faithful man of God was tested beyond what most of us ever experience and yet without sin. (See Job 1: 22, 2:10) Here he was living his life for God and doing a great job at it (Job 1:1&2). Then one day EVERYTHING changed all because the Accuser decided to afflict Job in an attempt to hurt God. Why? Because Job was targeted.

Neverending family strife
Neverending family strife

Ever feel like the world is closing in and crushing you in some way? Like you have a giant bull’s eye on your back? Do you have financial strains that have come out of nowhere while you were doing your best to be a good steward with your money? Perhaps your children are in conflict with you and/or each other and things just do not improve no matter how much you pray? Or illness after illness attacks your body and you can’t get a break? Maybe you’re experiencing all three? These are the same areas where Job was hit on devastating levels.

Experiencing chronic illness?
Chronic illness

Satan, the Accuser’s number one goal is to hurt God. He’s not powerful enough to hit God’s heart directly. So he targets those whom God loves. He accuses us in our minds to mentally torment and weaken us. He afflicts us physically and outwardly any way he can. The book of Job is an insightful example of this:

God loved Job. Satan accused Job of serving God ONLY because of His goodness toward him. God was sure of Job’s love so He told Satan he could test Job but only so far and no more. Satan had to comply because he is nowhere near as powerful as God, the Father. So Job was targeted simply because he loved God and glorified Him by the way he lived.

Perhaps the Accuser is targeting you? Endeavoring to tear you, your mind, your faith and your love for God to shreds. He is out to steal, kill and destroy, remember? (John 10:10a) He’s attempting to show God that you don’t really love Him. That you will turn your back on God at the first sign of adversity. He also wants you to believe God doesn’t care about you. He tries to turn us and our heavenly Father against each other. But he is a liar and the father of lies according to John 8:44.

As faithful believers we must learn to EXPECT trials so we are not discouraged when they hit. Expecting puts us on the offensive, ready for attacks. Prepared to respond and reduce chances of injury. God warns us:
“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if some strange thing were happening to you.” I Peter 4:12 New Living translation

Be encouraged. Job won the battle even though he was attacked on multiple sides. He learned through the trial things about God he hadn’t known before and his faith grew strong. We can have the same victory but it may take a fight.

It is a compliment to become a target. Your faith is effective if it’s disturbing the enemy. So he will attack you. But God is with you. If He allows your faith to be tested by an attack, don’t stop trusting Him. Leaning on His grace through the attack will purify and strengthen your faith. Keep your focus on Jesus and not the trial. Hang on. Remember, you are cherished by God and He will pour out grace as you need it.

When I’ve been worn down by the enemy targeting me, these practical fighting tactics helped me to endure:

Embrace the Fight
Embrace the Fight
  1. I call on my great God and His AMAZING grace! Even if it’s every other second for awhile. I keep asking for help. Satan is hoping I get lazy and stop asking. Don’t fall for that. Keep depending on His grace, it IS real! He promises to sustain! “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” Isaiah 40:29 New Living translation
  2. I sing praise songs. Nothing like pure worship to turn my perspective to the hugeness of our God! The psalms are great inspiration for singing. Sometimes I make up my own tune for a certain psalm which words fit whatever I am experiencing at the time.
  3. I remember and think about the fact that HE goes before me and knows all about whatever I’m facing. He has a solution and I partner with Him to find it.
  4. I immerse myself in His Word and talk to Him about what He wants to teach me through the current trial.         2454154249_b575f6608e_z
  5. I share my burden with a trusted friend and fellow believer who will pray with me. If you don’t have such a friend or mentor, begin praying for God to lead you to someone. Some battles call for reinforcements of strong prayer warriors and at times, fasting.
  6. I look for something within the trial for which I can be thankful. This can be a hard one but if I look hard enough I always see something good.
  7. And then I tell everyone how Jesus helped me overcome! “And they have defeated him (the Accuser) by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.” Revelation 12:11 New Living translation

The Accuser doesn’t want to hear praises to God in any form or fashion. So go ahead shout, sing, tell your stories of victory in Jesus because you can glorify God, pass the test and stop the trial all at the same time!

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine.” I Peter 1:6& 7a

Victory is ours!
Victory is ours!

Shine on. . .
karan k

 

House Cleaning the Heart

 

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Jeremiah 17:9 New Living translation

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Continuing with the theme used in the last post “Spring Fling” concerning Spring Cleaning; I remember my mother referring to it as “House Cleaning.” Items in the house that were not part of the weekly cleaning routine were definitely targets for the annual “House Cleaning.”

 

I just spoke to a friend who’s sitting at home this Saturday morning before Palm Sunday having a coffee clatch with Jesus. She’s unpacking her soul before her dearest friend, basking in His presence and sipping her favorite brew. She’s bravely opening her heart to some House Cleaning. I must tell you I am guilty of envy right now but also brimming with joy.

Envy, because early mornings of unlimited time spent with the Lord  have become a precious commodity to me. I look forward to beginning each of my days with Him but it’s usually on a time limit due to my work schedule. Days off are my only opportunity for a bottomless time frame to sit and visit with HIm.

Joy, because I know my friend also treasures these lovely moments. She is a seasoned Christian for at least 50 years now. And yet, after all that time she continues to treasure her getaways with Jesus. Her relationship with Him has grown sweeter with time. I am happy for her because I know what she’s doing.

I know she’s currently unpacking some personal and painful things only recently revealed to her heart. Instead of giving in to fear of facing some unpleasant and ugly things about herself, she’s boldly taking them to Jesus. She knows He’s aware of these heavy weights and she can trust Him with them.

She’s laying down her burdens that have slowed her progress to be more like her Master.  She’s examining her heart for any sin she may have justified and  glossed over in the past. She knows that even sinful thinking can form into a fortress that prevents her from moving forward.

Jesus had His own moment of Heart House Cleaning
Jesus had His own moment of Heart House Cleaning

“. . . let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. . . . ” Hebrews 12:b New Living translation

Weights and sins like these can become deeply ingrained in our thinking and emotions. When that happens the enemy of our soul fools us into thinking they are a part of “who we are” as a person. As a result, we don’t recognize their negative effect. We don’t see the urgency of dealing with them.

Weights are things we put on ourselves like unrealistic expectations, false guilt, people pleasing etc.,  Good things like hobbies, sports or fitness can also become a load when out of balance.

Sins such as impatience, judging, envy, pride, nosiness, jealousy, anger, resentment etc.,  can hide in our hearts without our knowledge because we have grown accustomed to their presence. We learn to accept them as a part of us. This acceptance erects a blind spot of familiarity that hinders us from seeing them for the sins they are.

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When we choose to let Jesus do some “House Cleaning” in our hearts as my friend has done, He may shine the flashlight of His Word into the corners. He may move some big things around that rarely get touched otherwise. He may want us to see what He knew all along, was crouching under the heavy sofa that never gets touched. But He won’t do all the work for us.

He wants us to work with Him. He won’t force us to clean out any ugly things He reveals in our hearts. He gives us the freedom to decide how we will handle each one. He wants to rid us of the sinful things that damage and destroy us.  He gently points them out so we can be aware NOT be ashamed. Then  graciously He offers us His supernatural cleansing and healing as we give Him free reign in our hearts.

 

I’m so grateful for my friend and her devoted example of what a long time follower of Christ looks like. For her heart that is transparent before her Lord. And for her desire to grow ever more like Him no matter what age she is or how long she’s followed Him. She lives with eternity in mind. Striving to grow and learn His way whatever life throws at her.

I’m looking forward to my next day off. I scheduled some time for House Cleaning.  I want  uncluttered, unfettered FLURISHING. What about you? How clean is your heart?

Purified Heart
Purified Heart

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 New Living translation

Shine on. . .

karan k

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 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