Category Archives: PERCEPTION

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

 

HOLY SPIRIT, Where Art THOU?

“Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 New Living Translation

Our daughter finished high school in 2012. For her graduation gift we sent her to Germany for six weeks to visit her foreign exchange family she met the year before in Bavaria. The plan was for us to follow after the first 3 weeks and stay nearby in a local pension or what we would call a bed and breakfast.

The first thing we noticed is that Bavaria is a place that truly looks like it was ripped from the pages of a fairytale. Quaint little villages with tiny houses and shops in varied bright colors nestled here and there along cobblestone streets. Baskets hanging from lamp posts lined the streets and window boxes on the cottages all brimming over with beautiful blooms of pink, white and purples. It felt surreal.

The bed and breakfast where we stayed oozed adorability. Everything smaller in size than what we were used to  but clean and tidy with fresh flowers daily. The doors and walls were heavy, old and wooden but kept in tiptop shape.

Heavy Bavarian breakfast

The food the inn keeper served delighted our eyes as well as our stomachs. Eggs with the deepest orange yolks I ever saw, fresh sausages, pancake crepe creations, fresh milk, various bacons and a score of pastries laid out neatly on our table every morning. (Across the street was the town bakery and the Bavarian people pick up fresh baked delicacies every morning.) Talk about Foodie Heaven, this was it! Everything naturally organic because they didn’t use preservatives in Germany.

Bavarian bread basket

We visited many of the famous sights as well as some out of the way places with the German family who were very gracious to show us around for three full weeks. So many wonderful memories and countless cross-cultural experiences. It far exceeded any expectations I had of what I perceived of Germany.

Only one thing dampened the joy of this Bavarian Odyssey. Everywhere we went the people seemed tragically indifferent toward God. The towering ornate cathedrals reeked of deadness. Each one we visited felt cold, just a lifeless shell of an architectural marvel. My heart ached for the German people at this point. The beauty of God’s creation surrounded them and yet they did not have eyes to see. The majesty of the Alps alone sent thrills throughout my entire being evoking praise and gratitude to my Creator God. Not so of the people I encountered. They did not give God much thought let alone credit.

While touring one cathedral our German guide pointed out the beautifully carved and painted ceiling. I noticed a dove sculpted into the eaves and asked about it. He explained the dove represented the Holy Spirit.

“You know that you are God’s sanctuary and that God’s Spirit lives in you, don’t you?” I Corinthians 3:16 International Standard Version

Happy to hear this I asked how the Holy Spirit interacts with him. He said the Holy Spirit is carved into the high ceiling to symbolize how far away He is and that man cannot reach Him. I explained I have a very different view about the Holy Spirit based on biblical passages and my own experience with Him. The guide listened intently but could not grasp the idea of the Holy Spirit living in a human heart as I told him I believe.

I wonder if this idea about the Holy Spirit being far away is a commonly held belief by Germans? Without  knowing what the scriptures teach and experiencing the presence of God through His Holy Spirit in the world and in my heart, I suppose I would be indifferent and apathetic about God too. But knowing the truth certainly does set one free to experience the glory and majesty of our Great God!

“And because we are His children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, ‘Abba, Father.'” Galatians 4:6 New Living translation

Please pray for revival to spread throughout Germany that they may have a desire to read the Bible for themselves and see what they are missing. That they may receive the truth and discover that they too can know God personally, that He is not faraway but desires to live in their hearts through His precious Holy Spirit!

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

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

State of Darkness

Today at work after setting up my booth for a day of collecting fares, suddenly out went all the lights. There we were before sunrise in complete darkness. Motorists could not differentiate between lanes of EZPass or cash because the lights and signs were not illuminated. Talk about dangerous. This state of darkness continued for a half hour.

Working in darkness smacked of eeriness and having no heat added its own effect. As a chilling mist mixed in the shadows and crept across my skin, I had to feel rather than see to do most everything. I easily could have made mistakes when customers made their way to my booth. I couldn’t see where to put the ticket into the machine. My money drawer being black did not help matters. I had to feel each coin and hope I pulled out the correct bills when making change.

At any rate it made for an interesting start to my morning. I looked forward to the sun coming up so I could see what I was doing AND be seen by oncoming traffic. Thankfully, no one was hurt during this dilemma.

What do we do when the lights suddenly go out in our lives? Darkness falls in the form of uncertainty or calamity. What do we do? Grope around in the dark or wait for the light to shine again confident that it will return?

Those of us who know Jesus, the Light of the world are assured of His presence to guide us through dark times but what about people around us who don’t yet know Him?

Their entire existence has been spent in the dark. All they know how to do is inch forward clumsily with no direction, feeling their way from point A to B because they have no light. Desperately they try to avoid pits and traps they can’t see. For them each day can be a scary struggle of its own.

Allow the Light of the world to shine out of you to those who may be seeking to find their way. Light makes all the difference in the darkness.

“But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them?” Romans 10:14 New Living Translation

Speak with friends, family, whoever will hear

Perhaps you know some who have become accustomed to the dark? Their inner eyeballs have adjusted and grown comfy in its murkiness. They exist doing as they please whether they hurt themselves and/or others. Taking such pain in stride they continue willingly in the blackness. They don’t believe they need the Light.

Shine His light and love on them anyway. God knows their heart and how to draw them out of the darkness but He may want to use you to do it. Work with Him. Don’t be afraid of the dark, you hold the light inside your heart.

 

Let His light shine daily because there is coming a deeper darkness than we have ever experienced.  [read about it in Matthew 24]  When it arrives how will we react? We  light-bearers need to be ready practicing how to reflect His light in this present darkness so that we may be glowing  beacons for those stumbling even now in the gathering shadows.

Shine on. . .
karan k

“. . . the people who sat in darkness have seen a great Light. And for those who lived in a land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined. From then on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the kingdom of heaven is near.’ ” Matthew 4:16 + 17 New Living Translation

Boomerangs

 

“Don’t be quick to fly off the handle. Anger boomerangs. You can spot a fool by the lumps on his head.” Ecclesiastes 7:9 The Message Bible

What’s your favorite amusement park ride? Ferris Wheel? Bumper cars? Tilt-A-Whirl?  By and large most people favor the speed and excitement of the roller coaster. Consider specifically boomerang coasters. There are currently 55 in operation around the globe. There are two boomerang roller coasters in Pennsylvania; one at Dorney park and one at Hershey park.

Dutch by design and manufacturing, the Boomerang roller coaster hit the scene for purchase in 1984. The coaster plunges forward into inverted thrills and then  returns backwards giving  it the Boomerang name.

Did you have a boomerang as a kid? My older brother got one as a birthday gift and my six year old mind watched in amazement as it returned to him each time he threw it. Seemed like magic.

According to the Boomerang Association of Australia, “If it doesn’t come back, it’s not a boomerang.”

The Bible also has a Boomerang or two of its own. The first Boomerang effect God says is about His Word, whether spoken or written, His message will return to Him.

“So will My message be that goes out of My mouth— it won’t return to Me empty. Instead it will accomplish what I desire, and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11 International Standard version

The second biblical boomerang is a principle for us to learn about our own motives and actions returning to us.

 

Sowers must be good throwers

Like a boomerang, whatever we throw out in life will be returned to us. If we throw out kindness, kindness will come back. If we throw out rage, rage will return to us in some manner at some point. In life it’s not always an instant return but it’s a principle you can depend on experiencing. So be careful only to throw out good stuff because like a boomerang, it will come back to you.

As sowers, we must also be good throwers, because in the end it matters how you throw what you sow.

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return.” Galatians 6:7 Berean Study Bible

Shine on. . .

karan k

Proper Support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Lean even one handed as a first baby step

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

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

Lean on the ROCK

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

Shine on. . .

karan k

 

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

Breaking the Chains of Loneliness part III: Dating God?

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 New American Standard version

Dating God. . . let that sink in. Have you ever thought of Him this way? He desires us to know Him, to pursue Him, to spend time with Him. Isn’t that what we do when we date someone? We want to know all about them. Their past and childhood. What they value. What goals they have, etcetera.

To discover the answers and who this person is requires time and effort. It’s the same to get to know God. For someone who is lonely, the time and effort aspect can be difficult because you struggle to see beyond your own pain. This is the “chain” of loneliness. It’s a bondage the enemy uses to weight and drown us into the sea of despair. The chain must be broken by faith. By trusting God and doing things His way, all the way.

Read Psalm 34:18 again (opening verse above). Focus on the truth of this verse. The Lord IS near to the brokenhearted. If you are suffering from loneliness, you definitely qualify as brokenhearted. So the Lord IS near you. That’s the reality the enemy wants to hide from you. Break the chain by refusing to believe anything but the truth that God IS NEAR YOU!!! Then in faith act on that truth.

Begin by dating God. Sounds a bit strange but it helped me through some very lonely days. Basically, I would pick a place and off we’d go.

 

A park date consisted of packing a picnic lunch, a blanket and my Bible. I drove or walked to a park and found a nice welcoming spot. (Of course this date needed some good weather to succeed.) I’d spread the blanket across the grass, lay out the food and open my Bible. I usually brought a notebook as well to record anything God chose to tell me on our special date. Things He would whisper in my spirit as I sat with Him.

A mall date is good for when the weather is contrary. Pick a comfy seat and people watch with God. Talk about whatever comes to mind. You may want to converse silently in your head while in public places although passersby may assume you’re on a bluetooth.:) Again, take a notebook to record any words He speaks into your heart. You will treasure them later. God may even direct you to a hidden bargain while you’re there.

A similar date can also be done at a bookstore or library. Read books together with God. Ask Him what He thinks about new ideas you discover in the text or just enjoy a novel together KNOWING He is right by your side. Remember Psalm 34:18.

One of my favorite dates was going to Disney’s Animal Kingdom with Him. Sharing the wonders of His living creation with Him was one of the most fantastic experiences of my life. Being fully aware of His presence enhanced every ride we took and every show we saw. Similarly, you can do a zoo date or go to a botanical garden with Him.

Remember to talk to Him to and from the date as well because He IS still near you and through His Holy Spirit lives in your heart so you are truly never ever out of His presence. You just have to intentionally be aware of Him.

Tree of Life—Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Florida

These are just some ideas to get you started. If you do this consistently, in time His presence will naturally, or I  should say, supernaturally be a conscious part of every waking moment.

When you’re ready for a deeper understanding and connection find a book on or google THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD to learn more about His character.

Over time your mindset will change but that’s not all. Join FLURISH for part IV of this series to find out more. Until then, start dating and share your ideas so all of us can learn and benefit.

“So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” James 4:7 & 8 New Living translation

Shine on. . .
karan k

Divinely Appointed

NYPD

“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” Romans 13:1 New Living translation

French military July 14th National holiday parade
Us military

 

In 1989 when I began work on the PA Turnpike, the uniform of the toll collector included a metal badge similar to a policeman’s badge. We wore it on our shirts in summer and our coats in winter. It was an important part of our uniform. It was a symbol of authority and the customers recognized and respected it.

Sometime in the next decade the badges were removed as part of the uniform. The effect produced more paperwork for the state police because customers no longer saw collectors as any type of authority. When a dispute arose, a State trooper was called.

Often I have customers who refuse to pay their fare. Some will demand to see a State trooper or some other authority figure. If my boss is unavailable, I tell them I can call a State trooper for them but I am careful to add that the State trooper will simply make them pay the fare. This is an attempt to spare the customer wasted time. Most customers listen to reason, decide not to involve the law and pay their fare.

However, there have been customers who insist on seeing a police officer. The officer arrives, listens to the customer plead their case, and then explains that they must pay the fare. After all, it is a toll road.

Occasionally I have witnessed customers arguing with the police officers after they’ve been told by the officer they must pay the fare. It seemed so ridiculous to me at the time. It happened only a few times in the last 28 years but I sense a wave of change coming.

I wrote all this to say our world is changing rapidly. Things have been going on recently that are so ridiculous they seem surreal. As followers of Christ we are commanded to submit to governing authorities as stated in the opening verse. The word submit means to accept or yield to a superior force or the authority or will of another person.

US President Donald Trump
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
German Premiere Minister Angela Merkel

Whether referring to a police officer or the head of our country we need to take the Word of God to heart. He chooses who He puts in power whether in lower positions or the highest in the land. It is ultimately His call.  He has reasons we cannot imagine because He knows eternity past, present and future. Our job is to recognize, respect and obey the position of authority, even if we personally dislike the individual holding the office.

As we have seen recently, the unrest is escalating. Ugly hatreds increasing. Attitudes of bold rebellion are cropping up at alarming rates together with violence. We must stand for what is true and honorable according to His word and be examples to our world. We must be aware of what the Last Days will be like. Read II Timothy 3:1-8 New Living translation

 

Verse 3 especially stuck out.

“They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good.”

Let’s make the upcoming fourth of July celebration here in the United States a marker, a reminder to begin to meditate and pray on our attitudes toward authority figures. If you live elsewhere choose a significant date for your country and begin the process to pray and appreciate the position. Let’s ask God for new ways we can be extra supportive and respectful of our governing powers upholding the law, i.e., members of the military, law enforcement officials, the President, his cabinet and our local statesmen and women. We need to set a standard for the world to see and pray they follow our lead.

Remember, these governing  individuals have our heavenly Father’s backing and they should have ours. They could be the only thing standing between us and a world where chaos is king. Support our governing leaders and obey the command of God.

“Never make light of the king, even in your thoughts.” Ecclesiastes 10:20a

Shine on. . .

karan k

Mysteries of King and Country

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”  II Peter 3:9  New American Standard Bible

What is your idea of Jesus? I mean how do you envision Him? Think about it a moment.

 

While traveling abroad in Europe, I met an older woman who loved to explore foreign countries. She showed me photo album after photo album of exotic places she’s visited. She and her husband trekked through many countries across the globe, except for one; the United States.

I found that intriguing so I asked “why”?

“Doesn’t attract me”, she said. So I probed further with another “Why.”

“There is no mystery there” was the answer I got.

Seems she was terribly fascinated with Asia, their culture and all the “mysteries” they held. In her mind the United States bore absolutely no comparison. She had zero interest in seeing my beautiful country because we were not “mysterious.” It saddened me.
What she called mysteries I saw as mere superstitions. Before we became the United States, the American Indians held much mystery in this great land. But along with the mysteries and superstitions came barbarism. Not something I want to embrace and explore on a daily basis. I’m grateful changes came to our country even if it may seem boring to some.

New York city

So I could somewhat agree that the USA of the twentieth century is not mysterious as a whole based on her definition. The founding fathers built this country on the principles of the Bible which taught love for humanity and civility practiced authentically. A lot of mysterious questions were answered for them in the scripture and a system of governing was set up in accordance with what they learned.

 

Yosemite, CA

In time the USA became a powerful and productive nation. We had freedoms and a way of life envied throughout the world. “Why?” Do you believe it’s because we accepted a divine truth and geared our way of life in submission to it?

Why? Or why not?

The attitude of our country is changing quickly with the dissolution of moral absolute thought. No one is sure of anything, let alone what the TRUTH really is. Chaos is beginning to roil and rumble in the undercurrents of our nation. No longer is our nation united as we once were.

Do you agree or disagree?

The woman I spoke with travelled to places like Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and China many times. During her travels she became especially enamored with Buddha and the philosophies he taught.

I asked her what she thought about Jesus.

Same answer. She had no interest in Jesus. My heart sank to a deeper low than over her apathy over the U.S.  So I asked her “Why”?

She said look at my Buddha and pointed to a small figurine in her living room.

“See how happy he is? How he smiles?”

Then she pointed to a crucifix adorning the wall, also in her living room. “Look at Him up there, He’s not happy.”

I tried to explain to her that Jesus was no longer on the cross. That He rose from the dead and is happier than we can imagine in this life. That He is ALIVE and seated with the Father in heaven, not hung on a cross on a wall or on a piece of jewelry.

“He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was REVEALED in these last times for your sakes.” I Peter 1:20 New International version

Mystery Revealed! That one day those who accept His sacrifice on the cross on their behalf will live with Him forever in paradise. Can’t get any happier than that.

It seemed to be a foreign concept to her. Probably thought we made it up in the United States.;(  She appeared more comfortable with her mysteries and superstitions. I pray for her from time to time that she will seek the Truth of the seed I planted in her mind years ago.

May she find the living Lord before she draws her last breath and it’s too late.

Perhaps there is someone you know who needs prayer to accept Christ’s Truth?

TRUTH

“. . . Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and He is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.”

Romans 8:34 New Living translation

 

Shine on. . .
karan k

As always, comments are welcome whether you agree or disagree.

UN-Happy Part II: Be Aware

 

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“For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” Proverbs 23:7a New American Standard Bible

Okay, so we have the right to pursue happiness, at least here in the United States. I realize there are readers from all over the world and so far some have registered from Israel, Brazil, Brunei, Italy, and China. The type of happiness we will be investigating on FLURISH can benefit anyone anywhere anytime.

So let me ask you a few questions:
Where does your mind spend most of its energy? What issues crop up continually in your mental centrifuge? Think about it? Do you focus on work? Leisure? Goals? Family? Survival? Yourself? Politics? Finances?Possessions? God?

Are the thoughts you focus on primarily positive or negative?

To pursue happiness, we must fill our minds with positive thoughts and positive things. This will look different for each of us.
The Bible says, “. . .Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 New Living translation

What we think about shapes our attitudes, values, and actions no matter where we call home. It’s extremely important to fill our minds with good stuff if we wish to FLURISH in happiness. Here in the U.S. we are surrounded by a culture that likes to shock, scare and depress us. Not the best avenue to promote healthy psyches in any society.

Negativity has many faces and forms. Over-exposure to it will eventually bend us in its direction and subtly twist our thinking without our own awareness that any change has taken place.

For example, let’s look at something most Americans see as harmless entertainment; cartoons. Our history shows a seeming preoccupation with characters who are down on their luck, grumpy, whiney. depressed or outright self proclaimed losers.

During the second World War a character called Sad Sack came to life in issues of Yank, the Army Weekly. Sad Sack became so popular that Simon & Shuster published two hard cover collections before moving him into newspaper syndication, which lasted until 1957.

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The forties also brought the Droopy Dog cartoon to MGM. Each decade has added some new negative personas to the mix such as;

Peanuts lead character Charlie Brown arrived in the fifties. Hardy Har Har the Hyena sidekick to Lippy the Lion appeared in the early ’60s. Schleprock from the Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm show surfaced in the ’70s. Care Bear’s Grumpy Bear hit the scene in the ’80s. Squidward Tentacles from Sponge Bob, and for any rebels out there, Bill Dauterive, the clinically depressed neighbor on King of the Hill, both dominated the ’90s television in primetime. Strong Sad a major character on the hit internet series Homestar Runner launched in 2000. And now Lamington, have you seen or heard of him? He’s a sensitive Boston Terrier cartoon, the saddest puppy in the world. Lamington has been seen on greeting cards since 2015 and hopes to expand to additional media outlets. Nothing of a positive nature among these ranks.

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Only unhappy people are obsessed with negative icons. Lots of unhappy people are paying good money to sport their favorite negative hero or heroine. For example, while meandering through a local gift shop I spied a sweatshirt featuring a fairly new icon which was not a cartoon.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Grumpy cat? Her real name is Tartar Sauce. She went viral as a kitten in 2012 when her owner’s brother posted a photo of her on a social news website.

As I looked around in the store I could not believe how many items bear her image. She has her own line of calendars, cards, plush toys, bean bags, socks (men’s and women’s I might add), posters, hoodies, post cards, gift bags, pillows, children’s books, stickers, stamps, guitar straps, mugs, balloons, magnets, slippers, craft sets (of a miserable sort of course), books, candies, pens, napkins, earphones, paper dolls, laptop sleeves, coasters, dinner plates, coloring books, mouse pads, bookmarks, infants clothing (let’s start’em young), playing cards, masks and the variety of T-shirts and tank tops seem infinite. Each item bearing the furry feline’s miserable mug.

Stuffed Grumpy Cat
Stuffed Grumpy Cat

These characters are fun and all of us can relate AT TIMES to being a sad sack, grumpy bear or cat, but it should not be our daily Modus Operandi. We should not celebrate it or we will become like it because we focus too much attention on something negative. Being flawed creatures it’s naturally easy for us to flow in the groove of least resistance. Easy is not always better. Happy is harder but so worth the effort.

If we’re struggling in misery may I suggest that unless we have Clinical Depression of some sort, we have a choice in the matter of being happy or unhappy? You can choose to disagree with my suggestion and remain miserable, that’s also your choice.

And if anyone is thinking I’m a Pollyanna type, think again. I’ve battled negativity, depression and anxiety throughout my life. I can tell you without a doubt it is indeed a choice and not a mandate to live unhappily ever after. I made a choice to believe there IS happiness in this life. Jesus said we can be happy. (John 10:10b) The forefathers of the United States believed happiness was attainable (see Part I). Who do you believe?

First step toward Happiness is being aware that you are not. BE AWARE of the state of your mind and heart. Accept that you have a choice.

I hope you choose to fight negativity and focus on the good stuff God has provided. Next time we’ll discuss where you go from here on your journey toward happiness.

Shine on. . .

karan k

 

Un-Happy: Part I

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”  Proverbs 17:22 New Living translation

Edible joy
Edible joy

Recently on a trip to the midwest, I happened upon an UNcommon bookstore in a university town that sold UNusual things. I treasure these type of fascinating places and I will go out of my way to patronize them if possible.

I found the coolest embroidered patch of a round canary yellow icon (Baby Boomers can you guess what it is?!?). But rather than my expected Smiley face staring back at me which is what I hoped to purchase, it was a Frownie face, an UN-Happy Face. So I marched it up to the cashier and asked if there were any smiling versions of the patch.

“No, this particular artist only does the frown faces. His vibe is on the dark side. He doesn’t do happy,” the merchant answered. To which I responded.

“Because happy is harder.” The merchant looked at me quizzically as I thanked him, laid down the patch and exited the store.

Edible sadness
Edible sadness

My husband remarked afterward about the profundity of that short statement. (BECAUSE HAPPY IS HARDER) It was one of those delicious moments when I didn’t say too much or too little. I said just the right thing and then I walked out of the store. Sort of like Fanny Brice in a scene from Funny Girl where Barbra Streisand says to Omar Shariff ; “No law against waiting, people do it all the time.” If you are a movie buff, check it out.

 Train scene Funny Girl 1968
Train scene
Funny Girl 1968

As I thought more about what just happened, I realized the deep truth again myself, maybe for the millionth time. Creating anything happy or joyful must spring from a heart or life that has experienced it as truth.

How many truly happy people do you know? Look around. Our world was never a perfectly happy place but something has changed in the US of A in recent years. Something is lost. A general belief that there is no chance for happiness has replaced the expectant hope for a joyous tomorrow. Negativity is now celebrated and even trendy. UN-Happy is in. Happy is out. Have you noticed the change? The loss? This college bookstore experience was a stark reminder to me of this new accepted mindset.

Happy IS harder because you have to chase after it. Our country’s preamble to the Declaration of Independence states;

‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Notice the last three words, “pursuit of Happiness”. Happiness doesn’t just happen. You can’t be lazy or apathetic about it. You can’t sit and stew in your own pain or misfortune. You have to intentionally act. You have to chase it down, catch it and never let it escape. It takes perpetual determination, or we end up as sad sacks.

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Our aim is to FLURISH not frown through life. How do we do this? Excellent question! One we will explore further in part II. Until then ponder your own thoughts concerning happiness.

Shine on. . .
karan k

The Ladder

GLAD YOU ARE ON THE LADDER
GLAD YOU ARE ON THE LADDER

Have you ever doubted your salvation? Perhaps you accepted Christ as a child and as you grew older you questioned the validity of that experience? Or you feel you’ve failed at living the Christian life so you think you couldn’t possibly be saved anymore? Or perhaps you fear you have committed the dreaded “unpardonable sin” and lost your salvation? Maybe you just can’t remember when you chose Jesus to be your Savior?
Concerning salvation, no matter if you’re forgetful, fearful or doubtful, I have GOOD NEWS for you! Our great God wants ALL of us (“The Lord isn’t slow to keep His promise, as some think of slowness, but He is patient toward you, not wanting anyone to perish but ALL to change their hearts and lives.” II Peter 3:9 Common English Bible), to be SAVED (If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is LORD and believe in your heart that GOD raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and confessing with your mouth that you are saved.” Romans 10:9+10 New Living translation) and rest in knowing once we are given eternal life in Christ no one can take it from us. (“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from Me.” John 10:28 New Living translation) Only if we ourselves choose to ignore, give back or slander His gift of salvation through the Holy Spirit do we commit the unpardonable sin.

NOTE: “For no one who has fixedly refused the work of the Holy Spirit would be worried that he or she might have offended the Holy Spirit. The very fact that a person would be concerned about his or her relationship with Jesus is evidence that he or she is not hardened against the Holy Spirit!” Christian Research Institute

In other words if you are concerned about committing the unpardonable sin, you didn’t commit it.

Don't look down. . .
Don’t look down. . .

Recently, I heard a message at my home church that held a simple truth I couldn’t forget. The gist of the message is that as genuine Believers/Followers of Christ, each of us is on an imaginary ladder leading to Heaven. IF you’re on the ladder you ARE saved from eternal separation from God! (fire, brimstone, gnashing of teeth, darkness, pain, suffering all included)
The important question to ask ourselves is not are we still saved but which way are we moving on the ladder? There is no standing still. You are either moving upward toward God or backward away from Him.

King David was a “man after God’s own heart” and yet he committed adultery and murder. So why did God say this in the Old Testament book of I Samuel and again in Acts 13:22? Since our great God is all knowing, HE knew before He created the world that David would commit these horrific sins. His omniscience also revealed to Him that throughout David’s life, the good the bad, and the murderous, David was always facing Him on the ladder. No matter what David did as a shepherd boy, warrior, fugitive or king, he always had his face and heart set on God. David desired foremost to please God and when he sinned he repented and began moving up the ladder again toward His loving and forgiving God.

If you are not on the ladder yet, what are you waiting for? Go back and read Romans 10:9+10.  Receive His salvation in Christ while there is time, for none of us know when our opportunity will cease. He is calling your heart. Get on His ladder today for tomorrow  may be too late. “. . . Today is the day of salvation.” II Corinthians 6:2c
For the rest of us, let’s keep our eyes on Jesus and move up the ladder moment by moment suspended in His love and grace! We will FLURISH together!

Keep your eyes on Jesus
Keep your eyes on Jesus

 
Shine on. . .
karan k

Change in Motion

 

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1 New Living translation —-Including CHANGE.

Earlier this week I found myself in rapid motion in a small space. Being barefoot you can guess it did not end well. For the first time I experienced the pain of a broken bone. Even though it’s a very tiny bone, it has created an unexpected shuffle of events. And life as I knew it changed.

Imagine this is your world
Imagine this is your world

I like this photo because it is a freeze frame of motion. Everything is in motion around the surface. It’s an intriguing word picture to me.

Imagine this water is a single freeze frame of your life, your world. The water is suspended from its natural path of change. Right now in this moment do some personal pondering. What is your status? Your emotions? Your thoughts? Who is close to you? How is your health? What are your responsibilities? What are your challenges?

Lift the freeze frame for a split second and each of those aspects of your life will change. The orange will plummet in relationship to the splashing water.  The  glass bowl will wobble and possibly move a teeny bit and the water will completely have changed in location and shape. This is life in a minute scenario but represents all of life when you get down to it.

Motion is constant and so change occurs on so many levels repeatedly, rapidly and relentlessly that our conscious mind is incapable of keeping up. This is the natural cycle of life.
Some changes we can detect through our senses. We can taste the change in milk when it becomes sour. We can hear the change in an instrument in need of tuning. We can feel the changes of temperature.

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Life is a constant cycle of change. Seasons change in most places in our world. Daytime changes into night. Seeds change into plants, flowers, vegetables or trees. Caterpillars change into gorgeous butterflies. Growth and change are all around us. It should be expected as a familiar friend but somehow in our personal lives, change can scare us.

A new opportunity arises for learning. What is our first response? Excitement, fear or something else? I encourage you to welcome the change. Our knowledge can increase by embracing the change.  Our interests can change with the newly acquired information which can change how we spend time and with whom.  Change can be a flurry of FLURISHING, if we do not give in to fear.
The loss of someone dear changes everything. Suddenly there is a gaping hole in the fabric of our soul and an emptiness in our heart. Our thoughts change—Things we rarely thought about now become so precious: The sound of their footsteps crossing the floor. The smiles and sense of humor that could so easily annoy us. The scent of their signature perfume, cologne or body scent lingering on their clothes. The simple sense of their presence in our lives is missed. But EVEN this our God can use for our good. Good changes. It’s one of the hardest changes in life to master and entrust to God. But as all other change we cannot escape it, nor control it. MJT! Must Just Trust!

Our great God is always with us, even to the end of this age! (See Matthew 28:20b). He implores you to trust Him and His perfect love that casts out all fear. “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love.” I John 4:18 New Living translation

The point here is that fear (and anxiety being generalized fear) is one of the greatest enemies and obstacles to a FLURISHING life. I have fought against various fears most of my life and I see the insidious nature of it and why our LORD tells us NOT TO BE AFRAID but to trust HIM instead, repeatedly in the Bible. (Over 500 times throughout the Old and New Testaments in various ways, but who’s counting?)

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever!!!”

King James Bible

In light of the above truth, ask God to help you defeat fear and/or anxiety of change. OUR GOD IS THEE ONLY UNCHANGEABLE FACT IN OUR EXISTENCE. Ask Him to help you trust Him with whatever changes you face now in this moment and beyond. He can turn your fear into FLURISHING!!! I know firsthand and it is AMAZING!!!

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Shine on. . .

karan k