Category Archives: Tales from the Booth

Hot Flash

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hot Flash!

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Shine on. . .

karan k

Life Time

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Time is mysterious

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shine on. . .
karan k

Tales from the Booth: How’s Your Smile?

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

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

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

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

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

1973
1973

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

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

1980
1980

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

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

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

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

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

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

2016
2016

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

 

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

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

2017
2017

Shine on. . .

karan k

Multi-Tasking Mania? A Tale from the Booth

 

Come into my world...
Come into my world…

“Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:6 English Standard version

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A few days ago a woman approached my booth. I could see her face through my front window.  I hurried to catch up on paperwork before she actually arrived to pay her toll. I finished filling out my report from a previous customer and I turned toward her. Astounded by what I beheld, I attempted to keep my shock to myself while taking her ticket to process it.

In all my years on the Turnpike, this was a first. The woman appeared to be in her late twenties. She drove 53 miles from the Ft. Washington exchange on the Turnpike wearing dual breast pumps that were actively engaged.

I wondered if I should mention the “Elephant in her car” or remain quiet? I couldn’t help myself.
“So, I guess you’re really busy, huh?”

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“Yeah, and this works great on the road. Saves me lots of time,” she answered with enthusiasm.

I smiled as I handed her 75 cents in change and off she went pumping down the road. Just had to chuckle to myself and shake my head.

I wanted so badly to say STAY CALM AND PUMP ON! Gotta love my job, you just never know what you’ll see. This young woman sets the Ultimate Multi-Tasking record in my book.

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Now you may not be a busy young mother but are you a multi-tasker? In some scenarios this is a great advantage. I know several women of various ages who pride themselves in their ability to multi-task. There are men who also multi-task but primarily it’s a skill naturally occurring in women.

Me, I can do a couple things at once but are they done well? Probably not. The closest I can get to the young mom’s record is to eat my breakfast while the washing machine is running.:)

I believe women excel at multi-tasking in preparation for the demands of motherhood. I think of it as a God-given ability necessary for a specific time in a woman’s life. Not something to gloat about. At this point I’m passed the child bearing and rearing age and I can tell my abilities to multi-task are fading. This decline is natural but can be so totally unexpected when it starts. Especially if you are a person who relies heavily on this proficiency.

At first sight of losing my multi-tasking ability, frustration overwhelmed me. I had gotten used to my full speed ahead with multiple projects mindset. Inside I felt angry that I could no longer keep all the balls in the air. I felt inferior to my former self and I didn’t like it.

Elisabeth Elliot on the right
Elisabeth Elliot on the right

And then I remembered words I memorized years ago from a no nonsense woman of God who has since gone home to Jesus, Elisabeth Elliott**: She used to quote a poem called “In Acceptance Lieth Peace” on her daily radio program.

It was time for me to test that bit of wisdom for myself. To give up the idea that multi-tasking makes a life more productive, more valuable. That somehow I was less because I could no longer juggle 12 things at once. I needed to accept my limitations as a natural part of the aging process.

This is what I told myself and  now I believe it to be the truth. For every time I accept what I can do  well  as enough in any given day my mind, my soul and my body are at peace. FLURISHING is free to flow, no longer blocked by frustration and pressuring expectations. That is priceless.

May you find the same peace at whatever stage and capability of life in which you find yourself. Accept what you can do with whatever He gives you, whether a lot or a little. Read the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30.

Beware of multiplying your own expectations to multi-task. Remember, God won’t expect more from you than He empowers you to do.

” Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God Himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to Him forever and ever! Amen.”  I Peter 4:11 New Living translation

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Shine on. . .

karan k

**Christian author and speaker (1926-2015). Elisabeth Elliott’s writings will challenge your faith. Check her out.

Are You Safe?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The all important headgear
The all important headgear

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

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

Now let’s ask ourselves some questions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

slay the dragon
slay the dragon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shine on. . .
karan k

Valentine Revival

 

Prep your heart
Prep your heart

“Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits.” Colossians 3:21 The Message Bible

A beat up sedan lumbers down the lane toward my booth. Loud cursing escapes as the window rolls down. A woman in her 60s sporting disheveled gray hair is yelling over her shoulder to the children in the back seat. “Sit the ‘F—‘ down!” I see two small heads disappear behind the seat. The woman turns forward to look at me with a sheepish smile as she hands me her ticket. In a rather soft tone she says “Here Mam,” and hands me her money.

As I dig in my cash drawer for her change, my heart aches for all the occupants of this car. The anger I first felt toward the woman who is most likely a grandmother, has shifted into sadness. Sadness for whatever it is in her life causing her to treat these children with such disdain. She little realizes she is injuring their young hearts possibly for a lifetime by her foul words and spirit.

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As I handed her the change, she responded in the same soft tone, “Thank you, Mam.” I tried to smile but I am sure the sadness seeped out onto my face when I looked at her. I tried to wave enthusiastically to the children who were about 4 and 8 years old, (definitely old enough to understand expletives) and they returned the same sheepish smile of the woman. I breathed a prayer of protection for the children and mercy for the grandma as they exited the lane.

I am certainly no expert on child rearing but this was so blatantly wrong, it made my heart sick. The saying comes to mind, “Hurt people hurt people.” It can be a vicious cycle in family circles.

Yelling helps no one
Yelling helps no one

As Christ followers desiring to FLURISH we need to be aware of our own words and tone of voice we use with  and around those closest to us.  We may never swear at our loved ones but we can cause pain verbally in other ways. Sarcasm, curtness, insults, and yelling all have something in common; they hurt.

It can be so easy to treat outsiders with kindness and respect while allowing familiarity to breed seeds of contempt toward those we claim to love the most. If we can hold our tongues with others then we certainly can do it with those we love. It just takes some mind renewal (see Romans 12:2) and intentional appreciation for the gift of family.

In the case of children it’s especially crucial to act with kindness and love so that they will learn to show others that same kindness and love. Of course there are times we may slip up and speak harshly before we realize it, but in Christ there is forgiveness and second chances. Jesus wants us to come to Him with our failures as we explored in CRUMBY TOASTERS: “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 1:9 Common English Bible

Jesus can even protect the children from being affected negatively by our slip ups. Trust Him to help you.

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“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 Amplified Bible

We must diligently guard and protect the love relationships within our family structure whether it’s our spouse, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews  or grandparents etc. If we can’t treat these people who we CLAIM to love lovingly, how are we going to love those fighting for survival in a cold world?  As Christians we alone have the light and warmth to shine into their hurting lives.

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you develop a truly loving heart first toward your spouse if you have one, then to your immediate family members, then to other believers and then to the world at large.

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Learning to let Christ love others through you takes time.  It’s a  lifelong endeavor but the results can be phenomenal in your spirit and in the lives of others!

As Valentine’s day approaches, make your start to love as HE loves; unconditionally. Don’t just use symbols for Love and talk about Love. Instead, sincerely learn how to love one another.  What better way to truly celebrate this holiday that many see as superficial?

WILL THIS WORLD KNOW YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN BY YOUR LOVE?

“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:10 New Living translation

Shine on. . .

karan k