Category Archives: PERCEPTION

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

 

Danger Zones

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16 New Living translation
My day began with one of those unusual occurrences that taxed my brain cells in such a way that it just checked out early for lunch. Anyone over 40 knows what I mean by “brain cramp” or a more popular term which I will not mention. 🙁  Summoning intelligent information from all quadrants of my mind produced nothing. I had nuthin. Forced to make a decision on the fly did not end well. Somehow my brain NOW eagerly began self chastisement. Where were you when I needed you, traitor brain?! Self doubt and fear swooped in threatening that I will pay a high price for this temporary mental lapse.
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As the cerebral combat continued, another challenging incident crossed my path. Without conscious command on my part, my thoughts rushed like a tidal wave toward the notion that this was a “bad day.” Responsibility sat with me to accept this as my truth or reject it. I felt overwhelmed. Can you say false guilt? Can you say Alzheimer’s? Ok so I am not Mr. Rogers but it is important to recognize the realities of how our minds deceive us.

 
Such days visit all of us. You know the kind of day where multiple things go wrong one after another. Your feelings, your attitudes pull like a mental magnet toward Danger Zones. Zones of frustration building to angst, fear or worry. Or zones of anger which can escalate, creating unclear thinking and decisions that further complicate the situation. Or the zone of despair leading to defeat and depression. Once you realize you are in one of these zones, you need to take action, immediately. Do Not Park there! The longer you stay in a Danger Zone the harder it is to get out. It’s like falling into an abyss.

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So how do we handle such days when they show up without warning?

BE AWARE:

First, we must be aware of these subtle mind games. Do you see yourself ever stuck in any of these Danger Zones which can totally ruin your day? If you do, realize the enemy of your soul WANTS you PARKED in these destructive zones. A bad day can turn into a bad week, month, year or God forbid, a life. All because you were unaware of this enemy tactic.

ASK TO RECOGNIZE:

If in doubt, ask God to open your eyes to recognize this process. Remember the theme of FLURISH from John 10:10: There is an enemy out to destroy each of our lives, but our Savior is here to protect us and provide good lives. We choose daily moment by moment when these situations arise, who we will believe.

ASK FOR GRACE:

Next, as soon as you recognize your mind moving toward a Danger Zone, ask for grace. Even if you are already parked in the danger zone, ask for grace. Do Not remain parked in that danger zone. Grace is unmerited favor or help from our Lord. We don’t deserve it but our loving Lord pours it out on us more than we will ever know in this life. Asking for grace is asking for His help and He delights in helping us defeat the enemy. This is our responsibility to ask. Don’t let pride, another insidious weapon, hold you back.
“. . . God opposes the proud but gives grace or favor to the humble. So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come close to God and He will come close to you. . .” James 4: 6b-8a New Living translation

EXPECT:

Expect your feelings and attitudes to change in a positive way even if your day doesn’t. Trust Him to work on your behalf because He loves you.

THANK:

Thank Him for His help to FLURISH in your mind and soul no matter how your day progresses. Sometimes He fixes the issues, sometimes He adjusts our attitudes and feelings to rise above the issues. He will do whatever is best for each of us as individuals in answer to our call for grace.

REFLECT:

This whole process can take just seconds out of our day silently as we talk to Him or out loud if the circumstances allow it. He knows we live in a busy world. Ask for grace as a mindset of dependance and our days will be golden more often. My day I told you about improved profoundly when I recognized my need for His grace. Asking for grace can become a mindset to produce good days out of any day.

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Shine on. . .
karan k

Happy Father’s Day: Better Late than Never

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Exodus 20:12
“Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us. . . ” Hebrews 12:9a New Living translation
What is or was your father like? Do you look forward to this day or dread it?
I regret to say I had no respect for my father. Hatred and resentment maybe but not respect. He was an uneducated man, who had no time for me. He rarely spoke to me. Any verbal usage on his part took the form of yelling because I didn’t meet his unspoken expectations. Nothing I did ever seemed right for him. As a result my father and I were not close. He always said I was contrary. Perhaps we just misunderstood one another? Things certainly were not ideal between us. Inspite of that I sought his approval for many years, thirsting for a drop of affirmation on my existence. The thirst remained unquenched.
Time passed and I moved out on my own as a young adult. After three years, my parents asked if I would move back home to help out with running the house. For the first time they needed me and I held the reins of control. What would I do?
Open father wounds still throbbing, I decided by the grace of God to move back and help. It proved a providential decision on at least two fronts.
The first front took me totally by surprise; father began to soften. He initiated some conversation with me. Awkward chit chat about food I cooked, but I was grateful for his attempt. Eventually chit chat evolved into brief exchanges of feelings. My heart soared each time we connected even for transient moments. We were actually building a relationship. And then it all came to a halt.
My father died suddenly of a heart attack and there would be no more talking or anything. I was 24 and he was 59 when we had our last conversation in the city hospital.
I left work in mid-shift to see him when I heard of the heart attack. He told me he felt like he could finally rest and that I should go back to work and not worry. He looked stable and peaceful so I obeyed. He died just a few hours later. HIs death was the second front that also took me by surprise.
Only our heavenly Father knew what was around the corner when my parents asked me to move in just two years prior. Had I said “No” to their request I would have missed precious opportunities to connect with my Dad. I am forever grateful that I forgave instead of clutching onto spite. Being at home again, I filled the round-the-clock emotional support role for my mother to manage the loss. My gracious Father knew all about it and it was a growing time for Mom and I. I didn’t worry about Dad because I knew he had given his heart to the Lord so he was in Heaven and no longer suffering.
My personal healing continued after his death. I endeavored to understand the man he was and why he acted as he did while I was young:
He came from a family of 13 children and was born a few years before The Great Depression. Hired out to work on a farm by age 12, caused his lack of education. He needed to earn money to help out at home prior to WW II. Being in a large family and away from home working  he didn’t receive much love and attention. So he couldn’t give me what he didn’t have. He did the best he could. In understanding his background came healing for me. These realizations unlocked my ability to FLURISH. The wall of resentment fell apart and I began to focus on the positive attributes of his fatherhood rather than the negatives:

Dad was a Korean Conflict veteran
Dad was a Korean Conflict veteran

He was a hard worker: an example of diligence.
He consistently provided for our family: an example of self sacrifice.
He budgeted successfully: an example of prudence.
He never came home drunk: an example of self-control.
He never cheated on my my mother: an example of faithfulness.
And, after he invited Jesus into his heart he attended church regularly. Someday I know I will see him again in Heaven to pick up where we left off. I look forward to it and have no regrets.

One of the last photos ever taken of us
One of the last photos ever taken of us

My prayer is that you have wonderful memories of your father and are able to enjoy them or him in person if he is still living. If not, allow the Lord to help you see his positive traits and/or influence on your life. Time is precious, honor him while you can and FLURISH.
“Regard (treat with honor, due obedience, and courtesy) your father and mother that your days may be long in the land the Lord your God gives you.” Exodus 20:12 Amplified Bible
Happy Father’s Day. . .
Shine on!
karan k

The Great Race

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“And don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Teach believers with your life; by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity.” I Timothy 4:12
The Message Bible
Young in age? Young in faith? Young in attitude? Young in maturity? At least one should fit all of us. Perhaps more than one? Read on. . .
Imagine this scenario: You’re walking into a conference or seminar auditorium in your most sophisticated suit. You feel you look your best. Neat, tailored and seeking an adventure in learning. You seat yourself somewhere in the mid-section since you are eager to learn but you do not want to draw attention to yourself. The room begins to fill and suddenly you are surrounded by other believers with a similar desire to learn. You smile and make some limited but uncomfortable contact here and there hoping the speaker begins asap!
Whew! The lecture begins and it’s marvelous. You take some notes and fully enjoy yourself. Then an announcement echoes across the PA system. You are instructed to split up into smaller groups to do a series of discussion sessions. A lump forms in your throat but you decide to shrug off your anxiety and smile confidently for your peers.
Assigned to a group of four others, you already feel like the odd man out. You fumble with your stuff as everyone situates into a small circle. Discussion time begins and someone takes the lead with authority and assertiveness. The two other individuals fall in line with the lead person and you just sit there, immobilized. Their knowledge and use of scripture is on point at every turn. Are they each in full time ministry, you wonder? Their spoken exchange is incredibly insightful and you are either mesmerized by their conversation or you have absolutely no idea what they are talking about.
One thing is certain. You FEEL out of your league, intimidated and/or defeated. What just happened? Can you relate?
I have experienced skads of situations just like the one I described. At first my spirit and conjured poise shrank like a slug doused with salt. All that I previously believed about my life with Jesus, now seemed inferior, inadequate, less than. In HIS loving way the precious Spirit of GOD Himself spoke swiftly into my heart. . .
No Karan my child, you are NOT inferior in the least. You are running in the Great Race. Each of My children through the ages are in this same great race and I AM waiting at the finish line. But this race is not a sprint, nor is it a marathon but a relay. As in a relay, each of you begins at a different point and then hand off the baton to someone else when your leg of the race is completed.
The stretch you are running today is merely one the others you met today have not yet encountered. Things you have already learned in your relationship with Me, they have yet to learn and vice versa. Each of you have your own custom course that I have designed specifically for you and only you. There is no room for envy, jealousy, comparison or self- deprecation among My children. You are a team working together throughout the ages to shine among the nations as you cross the finish line in glory. Look to ME and just run where I have placed you, my precious child.
“This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting—- God’s applause!” The Apostle Paul’s words in a letter to Timothy in II Timothy 4:7&8 The Message Bible
Every now and then I am tempted to struggle with that same inferior feeling or unconsciously compare myself with fellow teammates. When I come to my senses by His gentle reminders I recall my Father’s precious words spoken directly into my heart. I CHOOSE to believe HIM instead of my wavering feelings. HIS divine truth echoes in my mind; ” . . . let us strip off every weight (like entertaining deceptive feelings of inferiority) that slows us down, especially the sin (like my fear and/or pride) that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race GOD has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus. . . ” Hebrews 12:1b-2a New Living translation Bible
So I prepare myself mentally to take my place, physically adjust my speed and spiritually depend on HIM to empower my running. FLURISHING as I spring forward for the TEAM and so can you!!!
Shine On!
karan k

Tunnel Vision

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Tunnel Vision
Imagine looking through binoculars. Ever try them? I never liked using them except for brief moments to zero in on something in the distance. But I hated the limited view. Absolutely no peripheral vision unless I kept moving my head with the binoculars. What a dizzying frustration!
Recently my youngest niece had a severe bout with tunnel vision. Her inability to see the whole and clear reality in front of her caused several problems. Her equilibrium suffered from constant shifting of her head to capture more field of vision. Progressive panic and fear seized her mind as the sudden loss of sight did not return. Fortunately the episode passed for her in time, but the thoughts of a tunnel vision perspective lingered for me. . .

Here’s a word I’m just gonna throw out there; “SONDER”. It’s a new word to me and it has quite the definition; a noun—- “the realization that each passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.” Coined by John Koenig in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. Koenig’s fascinating definition continues;” —populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness– an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might only appear once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.’
Needless to say, I wish that I had written that! It’s a concept I have often pondered; How life is exploding all around us and we miss it because we as humans tend to self focus. Guilty as charged here!!! It is a natural tendency in all of us that we must fight if we are to FLURISH. Proactively peel your eyes open, tune in your ears and expect to experience more around you. I have found that my schedule will not fall apart because I adjust more sensitively to my surroundings. Thinking less of my agenda frees me up to be aware of the needs occurring close at hand:
A person crying at the gas pump next to me who just went through some sort of pain. Do I take the time to offer a word of encouragement, a hug or at least a sympathetic smile?
Or an elderly person that is confused at the grocery store and needs help locating canned corned beef? Or someone too short to reach the sale items on the top shelf?
How about if someone falls or trips in front of me? Am I too busy to lend a helping hand because I am too involved with my own timetable? Or do I think what I am doing is more important than someone in need at the moment?
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others , too.” Philippians 2:3 & 4 New Living translation
These are thoughts for us to ponder if we desire not to fall prey to spiritual tunnel vision. I have always found letting go of my “to do” list for HIS sake always provided me ample time to get things accomplished much more effectively than I ever could have done in tunnel vision mode. See Matthew 6:33. As an added benefit, you just enjoy life a little more when you expand your field of vision. Try it and FLURISH!

Shine On…
karan k