Category Archives: Self Exam

Good Wife/Bad Wife? Part II

Clinton Kelly and Stacy London  look on the Cathedral Hoodie.

“Perfection of character is this: to live each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense.” Marcus Aurelius

Multiple Myeloma Bone Marrow 2

“. . . but a disgraceful woman is like a cancer in his [her husbands] bones.” Proverbs 12:4b New Living Translation

In the last post we saw that we wives can be a crown for our husbands. That was from the positive first half of this proverb. Now we get to the ugly second part. I definitely do not want to choose this option! Bone cancer is the negative side of what a wife is capable of causing in the life of her husband.

A few years ago I loved watching a show called “What Not To Wear”. This show was very different than “The Good Wife” discussed in Part I. It was not a fictitious drama but a sad altho interesting reality show on how some people choose to dress. Friends or relatives nominated someone for the show who they considered to dress in poor taste. The two hosts would surprise this individual and offer to take them shopping for $5000 worth of new clothes if they agreed to trash their entire current wardrobe. That was the general gist of the show. I loved watching each episode because I learned to avoid my own fashion faux pas by watching the mistakes of the featured guest.

In the same way we can identify and avoid our own “Bad Wife” behavior from watching others and learning What Not to Do. There are the obvious bad behaviors of wives who flirt openly or have sex and cheat on their husbands in private. That is aggressive multiple myeloma in the bones for sure! It can quickly destroy a man.

But what about the not so obvious behaviors? Ever witness a wife berating her husband in public? Makes me shudder. It’s painful to see and so humiliating for the husband. What does she do in private, I wonder? Or have you ever heard a friend complain about her husband to a group of her girlfriends over lunch? And then there’s  rolling the eyes or shooting looks of contempt toward your husband which can be deadly. These too are cancer causing behaviors altho less aggressive, the end result is  the same. They destroy your husbands spirit and should be avoided at all costs.

Crown or Cancer? Those are the choices. Which will you choose?

To attempt to remain indifferent is compromise with mediocrity. There is no riding the fence here. Mediocrity is choosing the “Bad Wife” business as usual mindset.

Loving your spouse is one of the ways we love the Lord and you know how He feels about indifference. . . check out Revelation 3:15 Barnes’ commentary notes.

 

“Among those who made no profession He had reason to expect nothing but coldness; among those who made a profession He had a right to expect the glow of warm affection; but He found nothing but indifference. . . anything is better than this condition, where love is professed, but where it does not exist; where vows have been assumed which are not fulfilled.”

 

Why not mix Love and Faith together for a Good Wife life? Be encouraged. If you choose to be a crown rather than a cancer in your husbands life, God will honor your efforts. Nothing gets passed His notice. He will help you by His Spirit so your marriage can FLURISH no matter how long since you said I DO.

 

“Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something; forgiveness, however, is for those who are substantial enough to move on.” Criss Jami, Salome’

Shine on. . .
karan k

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Wife/Bad Wife? Part I

“Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something; forgiveness, however, is for those who are substantial enough to move on.” Criss Jami, Salome’

 

I never watched the CBS hit tv series “The Good Wife” even though it ran for seven seasons and I often considered checking into it. Julianna Margulies stars in this political drama about her decision to reenter the workforce after 13 years to provide for her children because her state attorney husband is jailed for corruption and sex scandal. Is he guilty? That’s what we all want to know?

Not sure if it’s a GOOD show to watch (only you can be the judge of that) but Margulies character supports her husband in some form or other throughout the shows run.

That being said, I want to be a Good Wife. Not like the one on the TV show but like God created me to be. To reach my potential that He set out for me to glorify His name. I want my husband to know and feel that he has that kind of “Good Wife”. In this post let’s look at the first half of an intriguing proverb:

“A worthy wife is a crown for her husband. . . .” Proverbs 12:4a New Living Translation

The word “Crown” to the Jews meant more than kingly power but also joy and gladness.
Solomon the writer of this proverb knew what a crown of joy should be. His mother gave him a crown of joy on his wedding day. (See Song Of Solomon 3:11). So he knew the blessing of  receiving a crown from a woman.

I am striving to be a crown, a joy for my husband. Striving because it is a daily effort. A choice I make over and over. I’m endeavoring to discover what I can do that brings my husband gladness.

A key moment for us is when my husband walks through the door of our home after working all day. I look forward to this moment. I try to set the tone of peace and tranquility with low music, dimmed lights and the scent of supper cooking. That’s the easy part. The tough choices come when he drags in, growling under his breath not noticing the pleasant environment I’ve created just for him.

This is when I have to choose my attitude. Will I continue to care for him unconditionally by trying to understand his mood? By giving him space if he needs it? By not pushing my agenda for the evening? And by not whining about my own unmet needs? LORD help me! I can do it only by choosing His grace!

Love for a Lifetime—Husband and wife harmony

 

Being a crown for our husband also entails being helpers or a “help mete” according to scripture. Hebrew for Help Mete— Ezer Kenegdo, a difficult term to define. It means so much more than helper. A partner, a lifesaver comes close.

What does that look like? We can be a support second only to the Holy Spirit in our husband’s life if he’s a believer. We choose to be: A companion for him in loneliness. An enthusiastic cheerleader in his triumphs. A soft voice and a soothing touch in his struggles and wise words of encouragement in his defeats. A loving nurse in his physical weakness and an eager lover in his passion.

Which of these areas are hard for you to be supportive? God’s grace is available to help you improve. All you need to do is ask.

I have to choose to respond to my husbands needs and trust my own needs to be met by Jesus. It can be challenging and sometimes I fail at one or all those things but I am determined to be a crown so I keep working at it.

Are you choosing to be a Crown or something else?

 

Next time we’ll explore the brutal second half of Proverbs 12:4

Shine on. . .

karan k

 

 

Be Prepared

 

“Being prepared has taught me to look ahead, to anticipate the unexpected, and to carefully prepare myself.” An 83 year old former boy scout.

Woman pulls up to pay her $5.35 fare with a debit card. Her account is 90 cents shy of the total. She has no cash. So I ask for her license to do an insufficient funds procedure whereby she has 10 days to pay by mail or online with an added $2 processing fee.

Not prepared?

She begins looking for her license. Meanwhile, the traffic is backing up because my coworker is on his break. She tells me she doesn’t have her license so I inform her that I must call for a trooper to ID her. She tells me she has a job interview and she’ll be late if she has to wait for a trooper. This customer was in no way prepared.

I wondered if she sensed my frustration? These type moments make me beg Jesus for more grace. I mean really. Why would anyone drive on a toll road to a job interview without money or their drivers license and expect a positive outcome? She didn’t even offer any excuses. This appeared to be her habitual modus operandi.

 

I needed grace!

In the end I don’t know if she made it to her interview on time or if she got the job, but I do know she wasted time and paid extra fees for her lack of preparation.

Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts of America, devised the motto “Be Prepared” in 1907.

Baden-Powell’s idea of BE PREPARED was that “Scouts should prepare themselves to become productive citizens and strong leaders and to bring joy to other people. He wanted each Scout to be ready in mind and body to meet with a strong heart whatever challenges await him.” 13th latest edition of Boy Scout Handbook

Baden-Powell further expounded:

“Be Prepared in Mind–by having disciplined yourself to be obedient to every order, and also by having thought out beforehand any accident or situation that might occur, so that you know the right thing to do at the right moment, and are willing to do it.

Be Prepared in Body–by making yourself strong and active and able to do the right thing at the right moment, and do it.”

 

Sounds like a healthy and productive way to conduct ones life. I believe Scripture also encourages this way of living.

“But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7 English Standard Version

What preparations are in your knapsack?

So, how prepared are you?

For todays situations?

For your place in eternity?

Read Matthew 25:1-13 to gain important insights on being prepared.

Shine on. . .

karan k

 

 

Bland or Spicy?

 

 

tiny pepper plant

“Black and white is salt and pepper of colors, for life tastes bland without them.” Vikrmn

 

“Give and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” Luke 6:38 New Living Translation

Recently I wrote about the detriments of the routine in a post entitled “Spicy Life”.
The reason I wrote that post was because I know what it’s like to have a “Bland Life” as well as a “Spicy Life”. I wouldn’t wish blandness on anyone, but spiciness on everyone.

Many moons ago during my bland years life was routine and needless to say, boring. I slept in ’til 10am most days after getting to bed at 2am after my shift as a proofreader. Let me tell you that proofreading medical and scientific journals for eight hours a night has got to be one of the most tedious jobs known to man! Unless of course you’re a doctor or scientist and you can actually decipher the 12 syllable words and strange symbols into some sort of meaning.

Not an interesting place to be

Seven years I did this job every evening M-F. During the daylight hours I watched a lot of cable TV which was a new luxury for me. But the enchantment of catching up with shows I’d never seen before didn’t last long. I thought there had to be something more to existing on planet earth than proofreading and TV. My life tasted bland but it took me awhile to notice. Once I perceived my own dissatisfaction, I began making small changes with God’s help.

I decided I would enjoy getting more mail. So I began writing letters to friends who had moved away expressing my desire to keep in touch. I also began making my own homemade greeting cards for friends and family. Sending letters and cards to the sick and infirm also became a mission. The letters and cards were received well and in time I received personal mail regularly. My mailbox became a source of joy both going out and coming in.

 

Because I knew the pain of loneliness, I decided I didn’t want others to feel that pain if there was something I could do to alleviate it. Thus began adventures in visiting. I started regular visits with shut-ins who were stuck in stuffy nursing homes. Later I began to include hospital visits and then  planned get togethers with family and friends.

Suddenly one day I realized my life had gone from bland to spicy because I gave what I had and God blessed it. You see, the more I gave of myself the more came back to me. It’s a Biblical principle  you can count on to hold true. (See opening verse Luke 6:38)

We all have something to offer God to touch others. Time, money, skills, talents etc. It may be cooking, cleaning, singing, art. God uses anything because He’s ingenious and gave these gifts to you in the first place.

What has God given you? If you’re not sure, ask Him. Keep your heart and mind open for the answer and then take off with God on spicy adventures of your own. Leave the bland life behind. Choose to FLURISH in spice!

“To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks the LORD has planted for His own glory.” Isaiah 61:3 New Living Translation

Shine on. . .
karan k

Spicy Life

“It’s so much easier to pray for a Bore than to go and see one.”
C.S. Lewis “Letters to Malcolm”

Got any interesting routines in your life? Most of us have at least morning routines to help us get our day started. Alarm. A cup of coffee or tea. A Shower. Brush teeth. Get dressed. etc. I usually throw in a few stretches to start pumping the blood before I don my work uniform.

Routines can be extremely helpful when attempting to maintain a time schedule. But routines can also be a detriment. The problem with routines are they can become. . . routine. Yeah, they become so automatic that we may not even consider them routine but a part of who we are. That ‘part’ can becoming boring.

Do you think of yourself as boring? Do you feel bored?  Do others shy away from you at social gatherings? If so, you may have stumbled into the rut of the routine, operating mechanically, without passion or conscious thought. The longer you keep your routines, the more enslaved by them you become. You can morph into a boor. Is this what you want?

Consider God and His consistent love affair with variety. He spills unending assortments into our world through color, shapes, sounds, seasons, creatures, food, topography, emotions, plants, and so on constituting an entire universe exploding with diversity.

Flower fields of color—San Diego, CA

“Variety is the very spice of life” a familiar phrase written by English poet William Cowper in his work entitled “The Task’. Fifteenth century dramatist Aphra Behn stated the same thought this way, “Variety is the soul of pleasure.”

Maybe its time to change things up a bit? Explore a new interest or hobby? Visit someone you haven’t seen for a long time? Try new foods? Take the scenic route from time to time. Whatever you have to do to break the monotonous spell of the routine. Unless of course, you enjoy being bored and possibly boring?

If you sense you could be boring or a boor and you wish you were different, here are a few tips that may help:

Try photography
  1. Read more— magazines of various types, books, newspapers etc. The more interesting and diverse issues you can converse about the more interesting you will be perceived. You will no longer fear discussions when you have new information to share.
  2. Develop multiple hobbies. Start trying new things you may never have considered in the past. You might be surprised to find enjoyment from an unlikely source.
  3. Explore new places even if it starts close to home. Just follow your nose to unfamiliar areas and then widen your circumference of exploration as time and finances allow.
  4. Challenge yourself to do one spontaneous thing each week, even if it seems silly. Example; Buy an outfit that is totally unlike anything else you own whether in style or color. Or sign up for lessons of some sort like dance or cooking or ask a friend to teach you a skill they have.
Dance classes?

I hope you choose to FLURISH in variety rather than relegate yourself to routine!

Shine on. . .
karan k

Love the Alps! Have you seen them?

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 3:11-13 New International Version

Practical Columbo [people pleaser finale’]

“If you live for people’s acceptance you will die from their rejection.” Lecrae

Let that sink in.

 

Columbo always made me think

Now are there any Columbo fans out there? For those unfamiliar, “Columbo ” was a successful TV crime drama that ran from 1960 to 2003. Lt. Columbo, played mostly by actor Peter Falk was noted for the phrase “Just one more thing”. So I’m sharing one more time some thoughts from my own ongoing journey to overcome people pleasing:

Listen up People Pleasers: Learn your own limitations. Each of us have different energy levels. Too much people pleasing can deplete our energy affecting our health and close relationships leading to serious breakdowns in either or both. Remember the opening quote.

“If you live for people’s acceptance you’ll die from their rejection.”

How many nonessential activities can you handle each week and remain fresh and lively? If you feel sluggish or grumpy, perhaps you need to cut back? It’s not wrong to put yourself first now and then when the motivation is to rejuvenate and stave off resentment!

 

What do your life commitments look like to those who care about you? Ask them for their honest opinion. Listen with a mind willing to make adjustments.

Another Columbo catch phrase; “There’s something that bothers me” and that is, people pleasers need practical tips to reform. So here goes:

 

Realize you always have a choice: It may not be apparent to you right away, but look for options. Don’t let fear pressure you to take the road more comfortable. That choice could lead to deeper pain later down that same road.

Columbo’s Wheels

Set your priorities ahead of time: Know what you believe and why about yourself, your capabilities and your faith. This is an area to revisit often throughout your life as you grow and change.

 

Stall for time to pray about the request: This is key. Telling the person/persons making a request of you that you need time to pray and consider their request will help you make the best decision. It gives you time alone with God and away from the pressure of answering in a weak moment.

 

“For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.”
I Thessalonians 2:4 New Living Translation

“What did you pay for those shoes?” Another famous Columbo question. My answer? Doesn’t matter because I like them and they were worth the price.” Said with confidence and a wink.

Shine on. . .
karan k

“Oh, just one more thing:” Be advised that saying “No” to some people could cause unfavorable backlash. This is to be expected and all part of the process for becoming a reformed people pleaser.

 

 

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

 

Nuff Said

 

“Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.” Proverbs 10:19 New Living translation

During my growing up years I had a mouth problem. It ran constantly and caused me trouble. My mother called me a Babblemau, which was her version of “Babbling mouth”. My father had a rule about speaking at the supper table. He would slap my mouth if I spoke out of turn during a meal. You’d think that would have cured me after a few swift smacks but no. That need to babble, continued on when I got to school.

uh oh!

My teachers agreed on one thing about me that did not change from kindergarten through twelfth grade; I talked too much. I stood in corners, had to write on the board, “I talk too much” several hundred times and once got detention. All for my quantity of talking. For me, too much talk led to discipline. Hopefully by now I have learned to listen more than talk.

Instead of remaining a babbling brook I now find words fascinating. Their meaning, their sounds, how they can affect us. They are powerful. It’s a temptation to be verbose in my writing. More words do not equal quality. Brevity is a blessing. A skill I aspire to master. I attempt to use my words with wisdom whether in speech or in writing. I endeavor to think before I speak but am not always successful.

In our computer age, words we speak are often in written form. Texts, emails and social media have become our main form of communication. The written word becomes the words we speak. I see the need to carefully choose my words in light of Matthew 12:36;
“And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgement day for every idle word you speak.” New Living translation

What are idle words?
Idle word– This literally means a vain, empty, thoughtless, careless, useless word; a word that accomplishes no good.

“Here {in this particular verse} it means wicked, injurious, false, malicious, for such were the words which they had spoken.” Barnes’ Notes

So written or spoken, our words should be weighty with goodness, enlightenment, love and encouragement. How do your words stack up in this list?

Ever encounter a battle of opinions on the internet? Or conversations that seem to go on forever in a negative manner? Individuals arguing a point by beating it to death? Those words lose their power and will one day come under holy scrutiny.

Think before you type

Twice in the second chapter of II Timothy, verses 16 and 23, Paul instructs his young protege’ to avoid what he calls “foolish talk”. Repetition like that is means for paying attention.

As believers we need to be aware of our words and take responsibility for them. Follow James’s instruction to “. . . be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” (James 1:19b New Living translation)

Next time you notice rampant opinions flying all over the internet about any myriad of topics, think twice before you add your words to the conversation. Your two cents here may have a much higher cost in eternity.

 

“But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness.” II Timothy 2:16 English Standard version

Good conversation skills include lots of listening

Shine on. . .
karan k

Clogged Grace

“The very center of the whole Bible is the doctrine of the grace of God.” —-J. Gresham Machen

In August 1988 George H. W. Bush accepted his party’s nomination for president of the United States. During his speech that day he made this remark, “I want a kinder and gentler nation.”

Some of you may remember hearing his words live that day.  Or  heard one of many replays  of the remark, serious or sarcastic that followed in the news or tv shows such as Saturday Night Live. (Dana Carvey nailed it). Younger readers may not know or care about it but President Bush’s remark has become a catchphrase in the history of American politics.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE — Episode 5 — Aired 11/10/1990 — Pictured: Dana Carvey as George Bush — Photo by: Alan Singer/NBCU Photo Bank

A lot of jokes were made about the line at the time. But now almost 30 years later, in light of our escalating violence, wouldn’t it be comforting if we had a kinder and gentler nation in 2017? I’m not here to discuss politics today but to share some thoughts on the words spoken by our 41st president.

What does being  a kinder, gentler nation look like?  A place where people treat each other with dignity and respect no matter their differences? I’ll take that.

For a country to make a shift from division and dissension to kindness and gentility I believe  much grace is required.

Realistically, we know that not everyone in our country sees the Bible as the ultimate authority and so the idea of the grace of God is foreign to them.

But for those of us who have experienced the grace of God, we must put what we know into practice.

Ideally we should accept God’s ultimate grace to save us eternally first and then extend HIS grace through kindness and understanding to others during our everyday activities. Grace should flow freely at home with family members, at work with co-workers, out and about with store clerks, friends, neighbors etc.,

So why have we missed the mark if there are so many Christians in our country filled with His grace? Why haven’t we become a kinder, gentler nation? I think we need to start with our own conduit of grace making sure it’s not clogging the flow.

 

Remember the flight attendant spiel before every take-off?  You have to take care of your own oxygen before helping others.  We must intentionally treat ourselves with grace to maintain clear conduits. Do we tend to offer grace to others but not ourselves ? This can cause clogs in the system. . .

I get mad at myself. I get impatient with myself. I get frustrated with myself and disappointed at times with myself. And to avoid all of that, most times I push myself way too hard. Or I beat myself, and in effect my conduit, with the hammer of guilt too often. Does any of that sound familiar to you?

I submit to you that attempting to stream grace to others while our conduits are in such shape will lack power and purity.  We cannot flow His pure grace if we are not receiving it ourselves. We have clogged grace. So how do we offer grace to ourselves and unclog the conduit? Here are some ideas I use:

  1. I imagine someone I care about  coming to me for help. They explain their issues and how they handle them exactly as I have been doing. Would I tell them to lighten up on themselves or push themselves harder? Would I encourage them to give themselves permission to relax and dump their issues on Jesus?  Most times  YES! So relaxing, lightening and dumping are in order for myself.  (I Peter 5:7) GRACE!
  2.  When I feel I’ve failed, I remember the sovereignty of God and that He will use my failure for good somehow. (Romans 8:28) GRACE!
  3.  When I feel I’ve let someone down, I remember that I am not to be everything to everyone. Only God can do that.  (Hebrews 4:13) Helps me put things in proper perspective. GRACE!

I find that when I offer His grace to myself  first that I am in a freer position and mood to shower grace on others. Then I can truly FLURISH while flowing sincere grace wherever I go. Only then can I pay grace forward one person at a time and pray it becomes contagious. Enough of us do this and we become a kinder and gentler nation.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.” Ephesians 4:31 New Living translation
“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32 New Living translation

Shine on. . .
karan k

To learn more about grace, study the life of Jesus recorded in the Gospels.

Consider CONSIDERATION

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“Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.” Philippians 4:5 New Living translation

Something that irks me on an ongoing basis is the shallow nature of our conversation here in this part of the world. I hope it’s better wherever you are?

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Recently during a phone conversation with a close friend I noticed she apologized several times for beginning to interrupt me. We’ve been friends since childhood and had grown accustomed to chattering over top of each other in excitement while sharing our latest news. This was our mutual modus operandi.

But after her third apology I stopped the conversation and asked her “what’s the deal”? She explained that interrupting people is rude. A bad habit she wants to break. All of a sudden I became very aware of my own deficiency in this area. Not only with my friend but in other conversations and worst of all, with my husband who certainly did not appreciate my interruptions.

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I decided my friend’s plan of action was one I should also adopt. How can I truly communicate if I’m not listening? It’s an ongoing  intentional effort  for me but I am determined to improve.

Old habits are difficult to break. Having an accountability partner can help. Which reminds me of another friend who shared a bad habit with me. One that offended the ears of others and did not take anyone else into consideration.

It was summer in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania. My friend and I were 11 years old.  It was our first time at church camp  following the end of fifth grade. That school year we had both picked up the bad practice of using the word “damn” freely. We decided we needed to break this habit as soon as possible. We agreed to slap the face of the other whenever they used the word. Needless to say it didn’t take long for both of us to clean up our language. Red-faced by the end of the week we came home from camp with cleaner mouths.  Forty-three years later we remain good friends.:)

Then there’s the superficial greeting “Hi, how are you?” If you begin answering MOST people will tune out or not even stick around for your answer. Ever experience that? We give so little thought to the words we say. I prefer to stick with “Good Morning, Afternoon or Evening” as greetings unless I truly do care how a person is doing and have time to listen to their response.

ever see these signs?
ever see these signs?

But the absolute WORST IRK is when a friend or relative asks you a question. You begin answering, but they cut in and start talking about something completely different. One  recently even walked away just as I began answering! Okay so maybe I’m boring but c’mon. It’s as if what you have to say has no value whatsoever, and this from someone who’s supposed to be close to you? How hurtful is that? Why did they bother asking? This is not what Jesus would do.

Have you felt that type of pain? Are you aware that these things hurt people? I don’t know about you but I do not want to be responsible for hurting people because of my lack of consideration. My prayer is to grow more caring, more considerate in my listening skills. I never want to hurt anyone because of my own self absorption. So by His grace may I be  more intentional in my conversations helping others to FLURISH.

How about you? GIVE IT SOME CONSIDERATION.
“Don’t be concerned for your own good but the good of others.” I Corinthians 10:24 New Living translation

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Shine on. . .

karan k

The Beast Within

 

Unchain My 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

Today was a rough day. Things happened that were unexpected and hard to take. It was a day that will go down in my personal history book as a day of infamy. Yes, it was that bad. I reacted abominably, nothing at all like Jesus!

Today I saw the ugliness of my heart.

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It reminded me of a scene from “The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring”. The scene takes place early in the movie while in the Shire. Bilbo Baggins just said good-bye to all the shire folk at his birthday party. He disappears from the party. Then reappears in his home where he is confronted by Gandalf to give up his “precious” ring to Frodo. Bilbo gets angry and doesn’t want to give up the ring. It has become TOO precious to him. He turns sinister in an instant. I found that same selfish, ugly spirit in myself today, regrettably.

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Something I wanted was taken away from me.  Something I considered PRECIOUS. My heart reasoned to itself; I deserve this. After all, the seniority of my position should grant me this perk. All the recent added duties are enough to warrant this privilege and more.

Rather than be grateful for all that I did have, I got angry over the one thing I lost. I felt deprived. Ill used and unappreciated. Feeling unfairly treated, I exploded in anger. And that hurt others who were nearby when my rage erupted.

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This experience upset me. My anger seemed foreign and yet somewhere deep in my heart this ugliness thrived as a part of me; as a sense of entitlement. I never noticed it before. How long had this unhealthy attitude been lurking in the shadows?

By expecting what I felt was “owed me”, I had only fed my selfish pride which grew strong and beastlike. I forgot the entire goodness of God and His perfect provision. I lost all sense of gratitude somewhere in the midst of this dark and dirty corner of my heart.

All I could do now was to ask forgiveness and depend on His mercy, which I knew would faithfully cover me.

“If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” I John 1:8 & 9  New Living translation

I didn’t want to be like Bilbo who really never acknowledged the truth about himself.

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” For if you listen to the Word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.” James 1: 23 & 24  New Living translation

As a result, he had to face his “Beast Within” again in an even uglier encounter during his time in Rivendell. I, on the other hand, chose to face my beast the first time head on by the Grace of God.

So I needed to apologize to each of the wounded. This challenged me  further but it had to be done.  His amazing Grace helped me look at the beast within, slay it, and clean up the debris.

Thank You Lord for Your unending mercy and powerful grace! I need them more than I realize.

Only a truly pure heart could carry the ring with success
Only a  pure heart could carry the ring with success

Purify me so I can continue to FLURISH in my journey!

“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10  New Living translation

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

Spring Fling

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Ever notice how laundry and dish detergents often have a “Fresh Spring Scent” advertised? The season of Spring is known for freshness which is something all of us desire. No one wants to be stale. Or stinky. . . who invented that word anyway? I use it reluctantly. Excuse my digression.
I believe the April showers in this part of the world really do bring May flowers and lots of that lovely freshness we crave after a long winter. The warmth of Spring  beckons us to throw open windows and air out our houses. It seems natural after being cooped up for those cold months to  want to alleviate the mustiness and clean til the cows come home. But somehow life has gotten busy, hasn’t it? Too busy to clean and care for what we already have. The idea of Spring Cleaning seems foreign to our modern society. Where did this ancient idea originate?

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Spring cleaning has ties to both cultural and religious observances across the globe.

Culturally these thorough cleanings revolve around New Years celebrations. The Chinese sweep their homes with vigor to get rid of bad luck. Japan calls it the BIG CLEANING done just before New Years and Scotland does something similar called New Years Cleaning on December 31st. Iranians practice “Khooneh Tekouni” which literally means “Shaking the House” and clean from floor to ceiling just before the Persian New Year in late March.

The Jews clean in preparation for Passover, scouring their homes to remove any and all crumbs of yeast. The Catholics clean the church altar area on Maundy Thursday in preparation for Easter. Orthodox believers in Greece and other nations observe what they call Clean Week to cleanse their homes for the first week of Great Lent usually falling around April 1.

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And then there’s the pineal gland theory of ancient man desiring to clean in the Spring because he feels more energized due to more sunlight hours during that time of year.

 

Whatever the motivation, there seems to be an age old practice to thoroughly clean our living spaces once a year. I find it to be a dying practice in my corner of the world. Very rarely do I hear anyone mention Spring Cleaning anymore. As a kid everyone knew what it was.  It happened every year at our house and I always dreaded it. Moving all the furniture around. Scrubbing every nook and cranny that normally never saw the light of day. Lots of hard work went into Spring Cleaning. But afterwards, the house looked and smelled fresh and new. Rather delightful.

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I recently heard of a  high school assignment for Spring Break that included Spring Cleaning. Students would receive extra credit if they took before and after photos of  cleaning their bedrooms. They were instructed to section off the clutter into Keep, Throw-away and Give-away piles also to be documented on film. Personally I thought it was a great idea to teach the next generation how to clean and organize. We need to teach the young to take care of their belongings. To appreciate what they have and not take them for granted. To give generously out of their abundance to those in need.

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Spring time should  be refreshing for our souls as well as our homes. As Resurrection Sunday quickly approaches perhaps we should ask ourselves if we appreciate the gift of salvation we’ve been given?  Have too many needless things have piled up in our lives that need some flinging? Maybe we need to Spring Clean our schedules, our priorities, even some of our relationships to make room for more reflective time to ponder the wonder of the Resurrection? Cleaning the house is good but cleaning out distractions from our heart is better….

“Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He taught.” Luke 10:39 New living translation

Let’s ask the Lord what priorities He wants in each of our lives and throw out all the other junk. It will refresh our spirit like a Spring Fling for the soul making us free to FLURISH.

Shine on. . .

karan k

 

Crumby Toasters

“Catch the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming.” Song of Solomon 2:15 New Living translation

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One of my favorite things in my kitchen is a shiny red retro toaster. It sits nestled in the corner of the counter near the sink where the sunlight streams in through the window. I love this toaster even though I rarely use it. Adore bread but sugar issues limit my consumption of it so I just admire the pretty toaster AND I clean it.

My husband has toast or an english muffin everyday before work so any crumbs that collect in the pretty toaster are his doing. Now my husband is not one to shirk domestic duties. Don’t even get me started (unless you wanna hear it) about how well he helps around the house. At times, I have to strategically battle to do any of the housework before he goes ahead and does it. And does it well, I might add.

Looks clean from this view
Looks clean from this view

Fingerprints and smudges mar the beauty of my  appliance so I have caught him cleaning the exterior.  What about the inside Honey?     After all, the insides are what causes the toaster to function properly. The outside is just for show. I can only surmise the reason he doesn’t clean the inside is because  the crumbs are out of sight so he doesn’t realize they are STUCK in there.

So on my day off I decided to check the toaster. I looked down in the slots and saw a few crumbs. Nothing much to be concerned about. But when I turned it upside down, the debris that fell out was tremendous. Crumbs littered my entire sink area. I began to shake it and more crumbs tumbled out into the sink. Turning it right side up I heard hardened crumbs rattling inside the toaster, so I turned it upside down again and shook the thing with gusto. Over and over I repeated this process and the stream of crumbs seemed never ending. Where were all these crumbs hiding that were unseen upon a casual inspection?

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Some crumbs were small, some minuscule and some were huuuggee!! Also, some were white, brown or a charred black. Guess it all depended how long the crumbs were trapped in the heat.

Sometimes we tend to think the teeny crumbs of sin in our hearts aren’t a big deal. Like the little crumbs or the little foxes that spoil the grapes (see opening passage), our ‘seemingly’ small and possibly daily sins (such as judgmental attitudes, anger expressed in nasty speech, impatience, pride over how we look or what we have, envy over what someone else has etc., to name a few) are ignored or glossed over as if they are harmless. But they can destroy our souls and testimony just like the major crumbs of sin like lying, stealing, adultery, murder etc.,

To God, all crumbs of sin no matter the size are dangerous. They destroy our ability to FLURISH in Him and function the way He intended. If we don’t regularly clean out the crumbs from our hearts, our loving God will allow things to be shaken up in our lives so the crumbs fall out for us, and sometimes others, to see. Crumbs are not a pretty sight. But He allows shaking to motivate us to clean them up and confess our sins. This is the only way we can remain close to Him and FLURISH.

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We need to check our toasters and our hearts to evaluate the crumb factor. Crumbs hide in all our toasters and hearts. Give each a good shake regularly. Shake over the sink for our toasters and over prayers of confession for our hearts. Deal with these rogue crumbs promptly. If not, serious damage will occur to our relationship with God and others. “People who conceal their sins (or crumbs) will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 New Living translation
Crumb build up can ruin a toaster. Neglected sins can have deep consequences. God wants to spare His children as much pain as possible. He wants our daily existence to be full of life not dead dreams and suffering bodies because of poor choices. Because of the  unseen crumbs of sin festering in our hearts. “For sin is the sting that results in death. . . ” II Corinthians 15:56a New Living translation

So God will shake us like a toaster sometimes. This can be a painful experience. It can last longer than we may want because some crumbs stubbornly cling to the walls of the toaster. Some sins are stubborn too.  All  the shaking is to get our attention so we address these rogue crumbs that are destroying our insides causing us to malfunction.

Every model needs care and cleaning
Every model needs care and cleaning

When’s the last time you cleaned your toaster? When’s the last time you checked your heart for unconfessed sin? Confession is something we need to practice regularly, even daily or we can expect to get a good  supernatural shaking!

“If we claim, ‘We don’t have any sin,’ we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong.” I John 1: 8&9 Common English Bible

Confession Tip: Find a translation of Psalm 139:23 +24 that you like and attach a tune to it to help you memorize it. Sing it to God during your talks with Him as often as you remember and see if He reveals areas of hidden crumbs.

UN-Happy Part III: Eeyore No More

See any Eeeyores around you or in the mirror?
See any Eeeyores around you or in the mirror?

 

” Happy are people who are hopeless, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” Matthew 5:3 Common English Bible

Hey, wait a minute! That sounds like an oxymoron. How can hopeless people be happy? Hopelessness creates Eeyore type thinking, acting and even living in some cases. It’s hopelessness in a Hundred Acre Wood type existence, right?

Sticking with animation and the Winnie the Pooh analogy, let’s continue. Eeyore is the fictional epitome of sad sackiness. He’s pessimistic, gloomy, depressed and dare I say, apathetic about being so. Eeyore became comfortable with his gloomy outlook. He never tried to shed his pessimistic attitude. He accepted it as “who he was” and gave himself fully to it. He became comfortable in his wallowing. He is a symbol of what it means to be hopeless.

Now of course Eeyore is only a cartoon character like the ones we looked at last time, but do you see people around you with the same gloomy cloud hovering over their lives, their words and their countenance? Willing to accept the Eeyore mentality as their only reality? They believe life is hopeless. That their life will never be anything more. They seem far from happy. And many times they have grown so comfortable in this state that they have no desire for change, even positive change.

Why did Jesus say Happy are the Hopeless in the book of Matthew?
Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount begins with the above verse.. Jesus was not using the idea of hopelessness as in an Eeyore type mindset, in fact, just the contrary.

HE was using the idea of hopelessness in terms of being aware of one’s own insufficiency to produce LASTING happiness. Not just fleeting moments of joy due to circumstances but a joy of the heart that undergirds us through sorrow, pain and days of the mundane.

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In our humanness we cannot provide this for ourselves. The sooner we learn this and act on it, the happier we will be. People who are aware of their own inability to provide for the needs of their souls are the happy ones. They are no longer under the burden of caring for their own soul but see the reality of their lack. They recognize the truth that each human being created can never be completely whole without knowing their Creator. Happy ones admit their need. Happy ones take the next steps to figure out how to fulfill their need. They are proactive.

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They investigate the truths in the Bible.

They acknowledge Jesus’ work on the cross to completely provide above and beyond what their souls need in this life and the next.

They invite and allow Jesus to be their full provision as Savior, Lord and Friend.

They find a place to gather with other like-minded people who love and follow Jesus. They begin to live in community for a higher purpose.

They learn to love one another and grow in faith together. Their lives change from lonely Eeyores to vibrant individuals.

This is the FLURISHING life Christ came to provide. (John 10:10b)

Jesus loves every Eeyore too much to allow them to remain an Eeyore.
Jesus loves every Eeyore too much to allow them to remain an Eeyore.

If you think you are an Eeyore accept your own insufficiency. Chase after Jesus and be an Eeyore No More! Become the vibrant individual you were created to be!

Shine on. . .
karan k