Category Archives: Healing/Growth

Labor of Love: Part II

 

As we said in Part I, to FLURISH on a daily basis, we need to enjoy our work. God gave us the privilege of work because idleness is unhealthy for us. We need purpose to FLURISH and work is a substantial part of that.

Do you know your purpose and are you enjoying it? Huge CONGRATS if you can say yes to both!  Share some of your tips on self discovery and why you like your job. For the rest of us, read on:

If you are not in that blessed situation, where are you today as far as your job and purpose are concerned?

Are you unemployed and scared?

Or  perhaps seeking a job better suited for you and your purpose?

 

Do you view work as a gift from God ? That He gives you specific skills to use your gift? Our attitude is an important part of being successful in our purpose and our ability to enjoy  work. A good attitude frees us more than we may realize.

If you’re currently unemployed and scared I want to encourage you not to give up hope and realize God already sees you and your need. El Roi is the Hebrew phrase for the “God Who Sees Me”, it’s one of God’s names you can pray when asking Him to help you in your situation.  (Read the story of Hagar in Genesis 16) He will help you find a job that fulfills your purpose and bring fulfillment to your heart. However, you may have to do some things in preparation for that future position:

Some work requires skilled labor. Natural skill and learned skills alike. Do you know what your skills are? And don’t say you don’t have any skills, because God gives them to all of us. Some are easier to recognize than others, but God does provide skills naturally in us.

“. . . and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze. . . He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn. . .”
Exodus 35:31, 32, 35 New International Version

We need to proactively discover and develop whatever skills we find within us. Whether its crafting something, communicating people skills or a service type skill, each one is important and needed in God’s scheme of things. He created so many unique individuals each with their own set of distinctive abilities.

Skills, Knowledge, Abilities

Our heavenly Father eagerly desires to join us in taking the adventurous journey into uncovering what He’s creatively placed inside us. If you haven’t taken this trip yet begin talking to Him about it and wait for his direction. Then follow His lead!

Some jobs require furthering our education. Ask God for financial resources IF He leads you back to school. Or if you’re young and continuing to study in preparation to enter the work force, ask Him for guidance on what schools to attend, classes, every detail. Pray about everything!

Our God promises to supply all our needs including employment opportunities. As always MJT! Must Just Trust!

 

 

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:19 New Living Translation

 

Shine on. . .

karan k

Ain’t No Fairy Tale: Part VII

 

So now you’ve heard the many sides of our story. But what is your story? Are you a step-mom, dad or child? Are you considering becoming involved in a step-family relationship? Share your experiences in the comment section.

I must tell you as I wrap up this series that I was blessed to have a dear man and sweet girl to blend into my life. I remember early on when I first met Cortney that her heart held innocence and compassion and I didn’t want that spoiled. If ever there was a child I could nurture, she would be the one. It was an extraordinary honor to help parent her.

I thank God for the precious gifts of Cortney and Dwight. He used them to teach and mold me into more of the likeness of Jesus. It challenged, scared and frustrated me many times but oh now to look back, it was worth it all!

Unfortunately, this is far from the norm. Wicked step-children do exist. We know of one family where the daughter detested her step-mother so much that she put something caustic in the step-mother’s face cream. The results were disastrous both physically and emotionally.

Another incident involved a boy who wanted people to know he hated his step-father. He carved permanent vulgarities and hateful messages concerning his step-father into walls and doors of the home. So much pain in both cases and so many other stories out there remain hidden.

Likewise, wicked step-parents also exist and I wish I could say they do not. It’s difficult for some people to love children who are not their own flesh and blood. Anger and resentment are evils that run amuck and develop into all sorts of abuses if not covered by the grace, healing and mercy of Christ.

I felt like a wicked step-mother in my heart early on because I didn’t want to share my new husband with anyone, even his young daughter. I knew this was selfish and I tried to fight it. I prayed Cortney never noticed or felt the sting of my sin. The last thing I wanted was to hurt her or Dwight and risk a failed marriage.

 

The enemy used shame often to discourage me telling me I was an unloving mother, a selfish wife and a failure. But Jesus’ strength through the Holy Spirit was my rock so I wouldn’t give up. HE was my gentle guide, helping me overcome the discouragement and immaturity the enemy kept throwing in my face.

In time by the grace of God I learned to rejoice over special dates when Daddy and Daughter got together on their own. God replaced my selfish possessiveness and insecurity with wholeness and generosity so Dwight and Cortney could be free to love each other and me. I am so grateful the Lord was patient while I learned!

“HE won’t brush aside the bruised and hurt reed and HE won’t disregard the small and insignificant, but HE’LL steadily and firmly set things right.” Isaiah 42:3 The Message

 

A little over three years ago we gained a new member in our family. Someday maybe I’ll tell you more about this precious young man.

2015

In conclusion, if you are contemplating getting involved in a step-family relationship, please count the cost first. It’s a complicated and difficult endeavor.

“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?” Luke 14:28 New Living Translation

If you’re already in a step-family and desire to succeed:

Keep focussed on Christ and encourage family members to do the same: you can’t do it without Him.

Talk as a family often and in openness.

Pray together as a family.

Remember, you’re not alone even if you feel like it. You’re surrounded by a world filled with blended family members. Find some healthy ones and support each other.

At the least, I’m sure you have friends or family in step-family situations. Do me a favor and pray for them. Being a successful step or blended family is not easy, it’s hard work. It can be discouraging and at times, destructive. But when it works it can be a thing of beauty shining glory on our great God whose love conquers all!

 

Four Happy Clams 2018

Shine on. . .

karan k

Ain’t No Fairy Tale: Part VI

 

So, you’ve heard the step-mother and step-child’s perspective on the challenging experience that we will call family blending. There is however, another perspective that is missing in this story. Who could we possibly need to hear from yet, in this compelling step family saga? I’m glad you asked. . . that would be me, Bio dad, (a.k.a. daddy, Honey, and “that guy. . .”). Yes, I’m the biological parent in this series. Not only am I a biological parent, I’m a recovering a step-parent, and I’ve been a single parent as well. . .  I know, don’t ask.

While my perspective may be somewhat unique, I certainly don’t have all the answers. Any advice I share with you, will primarily come from my mistakes rather than my successes, unless otherwise noted. In other words, “this is what I did, and it didn’t work, SO DON’T DO THAT”! (Sorry, didn’t mean to yell.)

I mentioned I was a step-parent. In retrospect, my first foray into the role of step-parenting was more a rescue mission, although I didn’t realize it at the time. Twenty-six years ago, I “stepped” into this world rather naively, with visions of Mike and Carol Brady dancing in my head. This was my mission and I chose to accept it. (I know, I watched way too much TV as a kid). This child needs a father and by golly, I’m going to be THAT father.

My idyllic visions of how this was going to work soon hit the proverbial brick wall. There was fighting, manipulation, thinly veiled threats, and outright rebellion. And all this from a step-child under the age of six. How could this be I thought, I’m only trying to help. The bio father was gone and they needed me. Many times, I felt like the odd man out. It was me against them. Frequently, I was just the “guy my mom married”. Let me tell ya, there was nothing sit-com worthy going on in that home. Reality TV, maybe, but we’re talking early 90’s here, so that wasn’t even on the horizon yet.

dating three weeks at this point

So fast forward thirteen years, the marriage has ended. My youngest daughter and I are now alone, and to her chagrin, I meet someone. That someone is the author of this series, parts 1 – 4 and 7, and my daughter wrote part five. How about that?

the new woman, now wife

I’m now the bio parent bringing a new woman, a step-parent into my daughter’s life. I would love to say I gained volumes of wisdom from all the mistakes made from the first go around but alas, God had more for me to learn.

Read part 5 if you haven’t done so. (Actually, read the entire series). You will see my daughter initially struggled with the “other woman”, but I moved forward seemingly oblivious to the depth of her struggles. I did, however, notice she was more withdrawn and angry, but I reasoned that his was due to the divorce and her age. She was after all, a young pre-teen. I could at times, sense the tension between my daughter and my new wife. I mean, I’m not a complete blockhead. I just didn’t know what to do about it. I was pulled in two directions and I didn’t always handle it correctly. I had two women to keep happy. Think about that fellas!

As my daughter said, in her post, we should have all sat down together and had a rap session. [Rap: To talk or chat . . . and no not with Kanye or 50 Cent]. That’s an old 70’s term for sitting down and talking. I should have been more open with her. Explained to her what was going on and tried to reassure her that I still loved her and was not looking to replace her. In reality I wanted to enhance her life with a Godly female influence. I knew she needed that as she matured, and I couldn’t provide that for her, for obvious reasons.

On a positive note, at my wife’s insistence, we did go to a counselor as a family. My daughter initially resisted but, she has always been teachable and went along even though it was hard for her. It made us aware of what we were facing. Through that experience, we learned principles that helped us grow together. Family blending is something that should always be approached with eyes wide open.

So, what made the difference between the first and second step-family situation? There is a Biblical principle that tells us to count the cost before we do anything, found in the 14th chapter of Luke. James 1:5 says that if we lack wisdom, we should ask for it. Proverbs 3:5 & 6 tells us not to lean on our own understanding. . .These aren’t just do’s and don’ts God puts out there because He can. No, they are there because He can see things we can’t. He can see the heartache, the pain, and destruction that awaits by going down certain paths.

Before embarking on the second experience, we indeed counted the cost as much as possible by seeking wise Biblical counsel, together and separately. We were as open as we knew how to be with each other as to what our family values were and what we expected from the marriage and family experience.

Another strategy suggested to us by a dear friend and counselor was to extend our engagement for no less than one year. In doing this, we could all see how we would each function over an extended period, through holidays, change of seasons, extended family relationships etc. Seems trivial but, we have seen first-hand, this notion of “love at first sight”, and quick engagements and marriages, is nothing more than romantic fantasy, better left for Hollywood screenwriters, that generally never works long term.

 

All parts of this plan helped us present a united front to each other. Without that, the divide between all blended family members will deepen to the point it becomes irreparable. Thus, the sad marriage statistics listed in part 3 of this series.

At the time of my first ill-fated journey into family blending, I was living a very different kind of life. One completely devoid of any reliance on Jesus and His Word. Instead, I relied on my own flawed understanding and skewed thinking. I failed to implement any part of the plan listed in the subsequent paragraphs. As a result, all involved are now statistics and damaged goods on some level. Oh, that I had looked to the Lord to direct my paths.

Thankfully, God has promised, according to Joel 2:25 to restore the years the locusts have eaten. This is a promise we have stood on throughout the last 13 years. He has been faithful to us and has rewarded our faith in Him immeasurably. I’m also eternally grateful for my wife and my daughter’s unconditional love for and patience with me. What a long and fulfilling trip it’s been. (There’s kind of a song in there somewhere, isn’t there?).

Shine on. . .

dwight k

Ain’t No Fairy Tale: Part I

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9

One thing I NEVER EVER thought I would be was (cue drum roll), a Step Mother!
I grew up watching all the Disney animated features and the two that stuck in my brain the most were Cinderella and Snow White. These two stories each had a common villain robed in deceptive beauty, a Wicked Step-Mother.

So I kept my guard up whenever I spent time with a friend who had a step-mother. Although it was not prevalent in my childhood world of the 60s and 70s, today it’s all too common in families.

I made up my mind early in life that I could probably be open to adoption but not to step-parenting. I couldn’t bear the thought of sharing a husband’s affections with the memory of a former spouse or struggling for a spot in the heart of a child who already had a mother. Then there’s the difficult task of tiptoeing around a Daddy/Daughter relationship… LORD, help me! And HE did.

First of all I must say this became a FANTASTIC opportunity not only to grow as a person but also to nurture some spiritual fruit on my empty vine. Would I seize the opportunity or act like a spoiled child myself?

Have you ever been here? A place where you know the path will be difficult ahead but somehow good for you in the end? It’s so easy sometimes to run refusing to be stretched but I can tell you that a FLURISHING life needs times of intense stretching to become flexible like elastic. It’s much easier to maneuver through life like elastic than stiff unless you enjoy being broken over and over. Think about that until we continue the Step-Mother saga.

Don’t be afraid of stretching

 

“Enlarge the site of your tent, stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, do not hold back. Lengthen your ropes and drive your stakes deep.” Isaiah 54:2 Berean Study Bible

Shine on. . .

karan k

“You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will only love themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control.They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.”
II Timothy 3:1-5 New Living Translation

Since April is National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention month I thought we should take a look at this pervasive issue.

Current statistics show that every 10 seconds a child is abused in the United States. Five children per day die from child abuse in our country. This is out of control. As Christians what do we do? Pray of course for the children in our care but is there something more we can do?

I believe most abuse, whether physical, sexual, emotional or neglect, stems from perpetrators who were abused themselves. The saying HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE is sadly all too true.

Growing up in an abusive environment, even as a teen I feared having children of my own someday because I did not want to take out frustrations on my children. I felt I couldn’t trust myself. Praise God, as I got older I got some good biblical counseling to help me heal from my own abuse and by the time I had the privilege to become a step-Mom, I could love our daughter without any inappropriate behavior on my part. I thank God for the healing and that I was able to cultivate a healthy loving relationship with her.

Have you experienced neglect and/or emotional, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse? Have you ever told anyone?

Sometimes it becomes our normal and it’s hard for us to see it.

We need to be proactive and examine our own hearts and lives for anything abusive we have experienced ourselves. Without receiving healing, any damage incurred will eventually come out of us in unhealthy ways. Don’t wait for that to happen. Take action now to receive healing from God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. If it has happened, ask for forgiveness and then get your help and healing.

Also, when you have been abused and find healing only then are you able to recognize and step in to prevent abuses in others. You can spot controllers and boundary busters easily and with the Holy Spirits guidance call the offender out on his or her behavior. Some abusers will stop abusing if they are aware that others are watching.

Abusers need help to overcome their own damage. Ministering to abusers to get help can be very difficult but remember, they are also loved by our great God. Helping one abuser to heal and renew their mind can spare some child somewhere future abuse. It may even save a life.

Survivors of abuse never escape unscathed. There are various effects of abuse including; physical injury or illness. Conditions such as diabetes, gastrointestinal issues, arthritis, headaches, gynecological problems, hepatitis, stroke and heart disease are more likely to occur in victims of child abuse. The mental health of abuse victims is ravaged by personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, dissociative disorders, depression, anxiety disorders and psychosis. Suicide, dependance on drugs and/or alcohol is also an elevated risk for those who have been abused.

So strive to become as healthy as you can be and protect those around you who the Lord has placed in your care.

“The Lord is close to the broken hearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
Psalm 34:18 New Living Translation

 

 

Shine on. . .
karan k

A good place to begin your healing process

 

March Madness?

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” Ecllesiastes 3:1 New Living Translation

So I’m not an NCAA Men’s Basketball fan but I do get mad every March. It’s my least favorite month. In my neck of the world March equals strong winds and usually cold weather. That nasty  wind can make March more dreaded and miserable than January or February in my book, especially since I work a job exposed to the elements.

So the Lion of March is here but I am enjoying his roar just a little bit more this year. Here are my reasons:

First thing I did was create a  season of celebration. Twelve  years ago  when I knew I’d be getting married soon, I decided to transform March by getting married mid-month. This would  prevent my focus from crash and burning through the 31 days of March every year. Now I have an anniversary to celebrate every March and so far it’s successfully chased the madness into oblivion.

 

A Carribbean wedding  on the beach in St. Lucia totally made March rock in 2007. Yearly anniversary celebrations have included travel to warmer destinations such as California several times, Bahamas, Florida, Colorado, and Texas to name a few. But this year there won’t be any warm escapes from the blasts of March since we explored four Hawaiian islands at the end of last year.

Without travel, I needed some new March perceptions. The first one dealt with my wily nemesis, wind directly;

According to Agrometeorology, the direction of wind and its speed have significant influence on our crop growth. Wind velocity increases the turbulence in the atmosphere which increases the supply of carbon dioxide to plants resulting in greater photosynthesis rates. We need photosynthesis for  oxygen and Whole  Green Foods!

Aha! Did not know that. So now my attitude adjusts a wee bit about March. Knowing there is a positive reason for the pesky wind helps soften my temper. This softened temper opened some long forgotten memories from storage boxes in my mind about windy days in March. Thus the second new March perception, more indirect in nature;

In the early seventies the local park held a kite flying contest every year on a Saturday morning in March. I wanted to participate but I didn’t have a kite. My father was by no means easy to talk to or physically affectionate. In fact, he rarely spoke to me. However, my father was a creative person and offered to make me a kite.

Being very resourceful and frugal, my father used surplus materials he had from other projects to make my kite. He built the 3 foot frame with wood scraps and covered it in an old sheet which he painted completely in a light green color leftover from painting the trim on our house. Disappointed because it was not a pretty green I’m sure I wore a sulky attitude on my face but I knew better than to complain out loud.

I didn’t realize that my father was not finished. I found out he went to the old hardware store in a neighboring town and bought some new supplies. This surprised me and when I saw the finished product, I felt sure it would win a prize. A large kelly green shamrock outlined in shiny gold sequins adorned the drab green canvas kite. It looked gorgeous! I could hardly wait ’til the day of the contest.

When the day arrived, my father and I flew the kite together and it soared with all the other kites. It wasn’t the highest flying kite but it did win a ribbon for best homemade kite. For the next two years he made me a new kite for the March contest always winning best homemade kite.

Looking back I believe his kites were his way of saying “I love you” and for that I wish every month had been March.

What are your memories of March?

 

Shine on. . .
karan k

 

Amigo Experiment

“Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.”

I Corinthians 15:33 New International Version

My paraphrase is; “Choose your friends wisely. You become like those with whom you spend your time.”

As I approached the grand ole age of fifty, I decided to be proactive about my friendships. I have several precious long time friends but unfortunately some of them live out of state and time with them is limited. So I wanted to surround myself with good people who lived in my general vicinity. People who were solid in their faith. People I could rely on, seek counsel from, share burdens in prayer and spend quality time with on a regular basis. I talked it over with God.

 

With fifty years behind me I felt His lead to make my remaining time count. I wanted to be shaped by people I respected and had a solid hold on Jesus’ hand. I prayed and names began coming to mind. I discussed my ideas with my husband. With his approval we moved forward and came up with a plan.

Sojourners 2017
Dinner out— one sojourner missing from photo

We organized a dinner party for eight. I sent out invitations and was delighted when all three couples responded positively. I hired a chef and coerced our kids to be the wait staff, freeing up Dwight and I to focus on our prospective friends. I threw together a few games to get to know each other because some of the people never met before.

Silly times together alleviate stress

After our sumptuous meal, we retired to the living room and I explained my plan to form a close knit group of friends who I felt would encourage growth and Godliness in our lives. As that information sank in we played the games and later they shared how they felt about the ideas I laid out. No one objected to the ideas I put forth. Some said they were honored to be invited and some were quiet but all agreed to move forward. The Sojourners group was born five years ago.

Disney Fun

From the King James dictionary, a sojourner is: A temporary resident; a stranger or traveler who dwells in a place for a time. As in I Chronicles 29:15. So we are a group of travelers on earth passing through on our way toward home.

Coffee and prayer times

We regularly share prayer requests. We get together for meals out, or special themed dinners at home rotating at all four locations. Sometimes we see movies together. We uplift one another through difficult times such as illness, transitions and blessings. We share together, weep together and laugh together.

Fit and healthy fun

We’ve gotten to know each other on a deeper level. Sometimes common interests draw members off on their own. We have two writers, four campers, one photographer, four bicyclists, and an avid foodie. I’m sure we’ll learn more about each other and our great God as the next five years roll on.

Encouraging each other to use our gifts

We have each other’s back which is such a comfort and joy.  Each couple is involved in ministry of their own so we make the best use of our time together which isn’t as often as we like but the Lord multiplies it to replenish us to continue serving wherever we are called.

supportive when illness strikes

I encourage you if you do not belong to a small group of Godly friends at this point in your life, make the effort to join one or form your own as I did. The blessings are immeasurable. We need each other more and more as the Day of the Lord approaches!

Enjoying a magic show

 

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25 New Living Translation

Shine on. . .

karan k

 

 

Savoring Christmas Part II

 

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6:33 + 34 The Message Bible

2017 Christmas concert
Michael W. Smith and
Amy Grant

Last week I experienced the blessing of seeing Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith’s Christmas concert. I have followed their careers and walk of faith since 1983 and especially loved their Christmas music. So this was a big deal, a real splurge for me.

Their concert touched my heart. Even though at age 60 and 57, Michael and Amy’s voices, respectively aren’t as strong as they once were, the message of their music shines brighter than ever.

I found myself weeping during carols they recorded years ago and it surprised me. The raw emotions overwhelmed me as I realized their  music got me through a lot of painful Christmas seasons past. I praised God in my seat there at the Hershey Giant Center grateful that Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith answered the call to music ministry when they were young. For I have been truly blessed by their legacy.

 

2007

Christmas can be a very difficult time of year for some people. Expectations can exceed reasonable possibilities spiraling us into despair.  Can you relate?

I confess I did not always look forward to Christmas. It was a lonely season and disappointing even in childhood. As an adult I worked extra shifts on Christmas day because I had no children of my own. I heard repeatedly that “Christmas was just for children”.  I didn’t want to believe that as my truth. Inspite of that I worked the holiday so others with children could be home with their families and I could keep busy.

The dysfunction of my past and family of origin depressed me. No one wanted to do any real celebrating. Every year it was like pulling teeth just to get everyone together. Eat some cheapo food, open a gift or two and that was it. There was little meaning and no family traditions to share. It totally blew! And every year I was glad when it passed and I could begin a New Year.

And then in the mid 90s as the Christmas season neared, I  determined to find the joy I believed Jesus brought.  I tried various ways of looking for Him every December.

One year I made special gift packages for  all the residents in a local  nursing home. Sneaking in at midnight Christmas eve so each person would awaken to a surprise Christmas morning was exciting.

Several years I delivered gifts through Project Angel Tree to children with a parent in prison. The kids were so glad to be remembered. Later I began helping with an annual cookie bake with my nieces and some friends to give out cookies and treats to relatives and shut-ins. Christmas began to sparkle.

Little by little every year got better simply because I CHOSE to focus on giving. The past 20 or so Christmases have increasingly improved for me personally edging out loneliness and despair, maybe even some bitterness.

But about 10 years ago I caught hold of the secret to savoring Christmas. . .  I finally set time aside before December hit to just sit and focus on my Savior. Honoring Him with the first part of my Holiday season brightened up everything else I did. Doing this first before all the mayhem began made a huge difference for me!

Jesus first, it’s HIS Birthday after all. Shouldn’t HE receive the first gift? Doing this has taught me to savor  Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy all the details and festivities but if they aren’t done for HIS glory then they too, though good, are empty.

This year choose to celebrate HIM first and watch all the joys of the season fall into place. There’s still time!

Me and Dwight enjoying the concert

Never stop looking!! As the saying goes, “WISE MEN AND WOMEN STILL SEEK HIM!!!

Shine on. . .

karan k

 

Good Wife/Bad Wife? Part III

 

“The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God. Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!” Proverbs 31:30 & 31 The Message Bible

What an interesting word to describe how an admirable woman of God is to be praised. “Festoon” means to adorn with ribbons, garlands and other decorations. Which basically gives the idea of hanging out her praises in public for all to see. What a wonderful word picture.

Have you ever been “festooned in praises” by someone you love?

 

Let’s wrap up this series with some last thoughts to help us garner more festooning from our husbands if no one else.

“A worthy wife is a crown for her husband, but a disgraceful woman is like a cancer in his bones.” Proverbs 12:4 New Living translation

Draped in beautiful character

The word “worthy” here implies strength of character. The traditional seven virtues of wonder forming strength of character are as follows:

Prudence- the quality of being wise and cautious in practical affairs.
Are we gaining wisdom by spending time in God’s Word?
Are we cautious and frugal with spending money for the household?
Justice- the quality of being fair and reasonable.
Do we prayerfully consider all angles of a situation before making judgements? Do we aim to do what’s RIGHT (righteous) in every circumstance.
Temperance- quality of moderation or self-restraint.
Do we deny ourselves pleasures for the sake of the family and being an example of healthy balance? Do we have our temper tamed?
Courage- the ability to do something that frightens one.
Are we trusting God to help us overcome our insecurities? Are we moving forward inspite of fears?
Faith- complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
Are we holding back any parts of ourselves from the living God?
Are we depending on Him moment by moment to walk this life with us in the power of the Holy Spirirt?
Hope- a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
Are we positive in our words, thoughts and outlook, expecting His good in our lives?
Love- an intense feeling of deep affection.
Are we pouring out our love on God by doing what He says and worshipping Him?
Are we pouring out our love and affection on our husband emotionally (in ways he understands) as well as physically?

Look over the list and see where you are strong and where you are weak. I need help and grace in several areas. Life is brimming with seasons of change but we need to strive for constancy in our marriages for them to FLURISH!

Now this is some impressive festooning! The Taj Mahal is public praise in enormity. One of the seven wonders of our modern world was built  between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife— too bad she was no longer alive to enjoy it. May we receive praise while breath remains in our lungs! Start increasing your “worthiness” today!

Keep an eye out for a possible companion series on husbands written by my own husband.

Shine on. . .
karan k

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