Category Archives: Daily Grind

Choose Your Toll Wisely

“A cheerful heart is good medicine. . . “ Proverbs 17:22a New International Version

Busy Saturday morning and a car load of twenty somethings pulls up and I could tell by the drivers face they had a problem. Two of them started to tell me what was already obvious to me. Since I was busy I cut to the chase and asked my two standard questions;

Do you have EZ PASS? No.

Do you have a ticket? No. 

Then your toll will be $37.70. 

But we have a really good story why we have no ticket.

Doesn’t matter, I need $37.70.

“Laughter is the best medicine, which is fortunate, since that’s all our health plan now offers.”

I had to finish their transaction to move traffic, so my patience ran low at that point. A guy in the back seat gave me 2 twenties and I quickly made change and gave them the appropriate receipt and form for a possible reimbursement from the Turnpike. It’s the only recourse I am authorized to perform for those having to pay the exorbitant Lost Ticket fare.

Instead of taking their receipt and exiting the lane, several of them spoke at once insisting I listen to their Lost Ticket story because they claimed it would top anyone else’s. Their laughter was contagious.

My curiosity was peaked so I made an allowance as the car behind them waited.

The guy in the back seat could not wait to tell the story. Seems the driver took the ticket when they entered the Turnpike like normal. She handed it back to this guy but he wasn’t sure why? I said because you have the money. They all laughed again.

 

He continued to say that he began playing with the ticket. Maybe he was a fidgety sort? At any rate, he rolled the ticket tightly into a tube as they sped across Pennsylvania. The guy in the passenger seat upfront was snoozing and Mr. Ticket Master in the back was having none of that. He took the rolled up ticket and stuck it in the guys ear. 

The guy snoozing didn’t flinch. Unsatisfied, Mr. Ticket Master pulled the ticket out from the unaware snoozers ear and discovered something nasty had attached itself on the other end! Finding it totally vile, he freaked out and threw the ticket out the window.

The twenty somethings were right. That’s the best Lost Ticket story I’ve heard but I bet there are others out there just as bizarre that have never been told.

This one is unique because this car load viewed their own foolish mistake as something funny. Rather than beating each other up about the exorbitant fare they had to pay they chose to share the story and enjoy it. I’m sure they will laugh about it for years to come.

How about you? Are you able to laugh at your own mistakes and find some fun in them? It’s so much better than anger, blaming and bitterness. Let’s lighten up on ourselves and learn to enjoy our personal faux pas.

It will take less of a toll on your body as you ride through life!

“Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is slow death to be gloomy all the time.” Proverbs 17:22 Good News Translation

 

Shine On. . . 

karan k

P.S. If you twenty somethings read this I sincerely hope you got your reimbursement!

Some Thoughts about MLK Day

“Intelligence plus character——that is the goal of true education.”

                                       Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Recently here in the USA we observed Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Always the third Monday in January close to the actual date of his birth on January 15th. With much embarrassment I admit that for most of my adult life this day was just a paid holiday at the beginning of every year. 

 I was born in 1963 so I don’t remember a lot about Dr. King. Everything I know about him was learned after he was already in the arms of Jesus.

Being part of a middle-class white family in the Pennsylvania countryside, the details of MLK’s fight for Civil Rights did not find its way onto my radar very often. However, I did understand firsthand the ugly root of perceived inequality and the need for Civil Rights ——prejudiced thinking and warped attitudes. I hated both of these.

Illustration of three blue birds and a red bird sitting on a wire. The blue birds are mocking the red bird for being different. Concept for xenophobia, racism, prejudice and intolerance.

 

In my local area, rabid name calling and condescending attitudes billowed into a thick ugly smog that poisoned the air we breathed. The anger seemed contagious. I never understood how you could look down on and hate someone you didn’t even know personally. 

I do know one rock from which this nasty prejudice problem crawled out from under and slithered into my local world: lack of education.

The Great Depression necessitated many children to enter the labor force as young as eight years old or face starvation. This was the unfortunate lot of countless children born in the 1920s and 30s in Pennsylvania. Especially young boys were sent to work on farms to help support their large families. Scores of men who became fathers and local leaders during my upbringing experienced this lack of education  in their past and never fully realized the truth of our big, beautiful world and its multi-faceted cultures.

Coal boys in PA
Farm boys

As my dear husband often says, “they didn’t know what they didn’t know.” And so without education and lack of character molding on a stable home front, they  learned to become hard workers with little understanding for anyone who seemed, thought, or appeared different.

In John 8:32 Jesus said “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Now in this passage HE was teaching about the truth of salvation being in Himself alone. Without being taught about salvation they could not experience it.

There is freedom in truth.  This principle laid out by Jesus hits so many areas of life including combatting prejudice. KNOWING the truth that our world was created intentionally with many varied, wonderful people groups with unique cultures, individual personalities, and differing opinions sets us free to respect and love each other.

Growing up in an environment where many  leaders were infected with the pestilence of hatred, my odds of contracting the disease ran high. God only knows how I escaped the enslavement of a heart fettered by prejudice. I praise Him as I am reminded by this 2019 Martin Luther King Day that freedom from such an enslaving mindset needs to be guarded. If I fail to guard it I risk slowly compromising it and losing it without my realization. I must protect how I view the virtue of each individual lest I too become poisoned and chained by prejudice.

May it never be so and may we who are free from prejudice teach by  our daily conduct those around us how to respect, appreciate and love all men by the grace of Almighty God!

“We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools.”

                                                                   Dr. Martin Luther King , Jr.

What are your thoughts on MLK Day?  Share so we can learn from one another.

Shine on. . .

karan k

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Who is Christopher Robin? I just spent four glorious days in Southern California with my dear husband, Dwight on aqtn extended holiday. My life is so incredibly blessed sometimes I can hardly stand it. It’s FLURISHING only because of Jesus. Of course it isn’t always this way but somehow HE makes even the hard times easier. Right now we’re flying over the Pacific to meet our precious “Juniors” (that’s what we call our daughter and son-in law), in Hawaii. We wanted to share a bit of our blessing with these two twenty-five year olds we adore. So the anticipated blessings continue in the present and on into the future. Hawaiian Air offers onboard movies which I usually partake of only when complimentary since I am frugal beyond words most of the time. How else could we travel so often? But today I decided to splurge and rationalized that the movie was cheaper on the plane than in the theatre. So I used my credit card to watch the movie “Christopher Robin”. Being an avid film fan I was particularly impressed by the opening scenes incorporating the book, the stuffed toys and real life rolling along together scene after scene in such a delightful whimsy. A friend had recently told me how good the movie was so I wanted to see for myself. Never ever did I expect what happened next; While watching the grown up Christopher Robin struggle with the everyday rat race called life I was introduced to his old stuffed friend Pooh Bear. When they met again on a park bench after 30 years, something struck my heart. Pooh seemed all too familiar to me. His voice, his mannerisms and his love of food, particularly honey. My mind bounced back and forth like a pinball machine against memories in search of who Pooh reminded me of in my life that seemed so close, so real and yet just beyond my mental grasp. Scene after scene when Pooh takes in the world at face value played out before me and I just couldn’t place my finger on this uncanny familiarity. It wasn’t until Pooh received a scolding after bungling and complicating Christopher Robin’s life that the answer became crystal clear. Automatic tears streamed hot and uncontrollably over my cheeks. I completely soaked a large napkin that was supposed to be for food. My crying became so audible that Dwight glanced over at me in disbelief and confusion. He looked at the screen I was watching totally mystified that scenes of a stuffed animal and a grown man riding in a train car together should provoke such a reaction. I had to wave his concern away so I could continue watching and so he wouldn’t worry. For in Pooh’s tiny innocent eyes and in his simple observations of life my heart could distinctly see and hear my mother, who I lost a year and 12 days ago. I thought my grieving was rather short last year and over months ago but the reprimands and frustration of Christopher Robin toward Pooh in this film revealed to me that I had unfinished business to attend to right now. I cried because I missed my Mom who could be very childlike at times. I cried because she and I had a special bond but not such a healthy one. I had to always be the grown up and she the Pooh Bear even when I was a child. Of course I learned as I grew up that Bipolar disorder and eventually Dementia had caused my mothers “Pooh-like” existence but I never quite recognized the hidden resentment and codependency that resulted—- year after year, complication after complication, embarrassment after embarrassment that my mother’s lack brought into my world. So I cried through the rest of the 104 minute movie. I so needed this cry. I needed to see my own harshness at times with my mother and take responsibility for it, laying it at Jesus’ feet for forgiveness and healing. Mom always said ‘Tears were healing’ and she was right. But I also laughed aloud several times at Pooh’s simple yet sometimes profound statements that echoed words of my mother. Pooh’s face could be so expressive of innocent oblivion just like my Mom’s. It was incredibly healing for me and so unexpected and random as I fly toward Hawaiian paradise. But then again NOTHING is random with our God! HE knew I needed this! To shed the weights that were burdening my heart in secret, so I could be just a little bit freer to enjoy HIS island creations and experience HIS miraculous surgery and recovery of the soul! “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” New Living Translation HE wanted me to go to Hawaii and do nothing because sometimes nothing leads to the very best something! Who is Christopher Robin? Today I am and I am grateful God uses things I love like movies to speak to and work in my heart… if you love innocent and imaginative films then take the time to watch this one. It may have no emotional affect on you but it is something simply sweet in a world that needs a little more of just that. Shine on. . . karan k Heartwarming film

Unbreakable Christmas Presents

 

What is your favorite Christmas present?

Our Pastor asked us yesterday what was our favorite Christmas present of all time? I sat and thought on it as he told a wonderful story from his childhood. He wanted a special match box car in the ’70s complete with sound.

Growing up with three older brothers most of my “Favorite Gifts” did not last long.

I received a pink and blue musical carousel that I absolutely loved the Christmas I turned four. You turned the knob on top and the horses began swirling in circles to a tinkling tune. It was so precious and gave me great joy, until that following Spring.

I took it outside with me and one of my brothers (not mentioning any names), submerged it in a bucket filled with water. Needless to say the horses never moved in circles and the music never played again. I remember crying a long time over that one.

Very similar to what I had in 1967

A few years later, I asked for yet another wind up toy for Christmas.
A ‘Spudsie’ hot potato. You know the game where you wind him up and everyone throws him back and forth, (because he’s a HOT potato), until his alarm goes off and then that person is out of the game?

Ultra excited when I opened him on Christmas day. I couldn’t wait to wind him up and try him out. I coaxed my brothers to play ‘Spudsie’ with me but within five minutes one of them (again not mentioning any names), threw ‘Spudsie’ against the wall instead of to one of us. ‘Spudsie’ died quickly and lay in pieces on the floor. Hot tears streamed out of my eyes for my long awaited Hot Potato.

Both times there was no reprimand for the guilty brother or replacing of the broken toy by my parents. I learned the hard life lesson of loss and disappointment early.

But I survived and forgave my dear brother years ago. However, knowing of the story, my husband Dwight bought me a new “Spudsie” a few years ago. It made me laugh and cry and in a silly way provided some healing for the little Karan inside me.

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of Your presence and the pleasures of living with You forever.” Psalm 16:11 New living Translation

 

So now my greatest Christmas present that never breaks or disappoints is what I ask for all of my friends and family to have and experience every day of this next New Year and beyond. . . The gift of the PRESENCE of God through His Holy Spirit on a daily basis! HE really is our All in All. He’s so much better than any other gift or  even all the gifts of the world combined!

Praying for each of you to experience Him more and more!!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

 

“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5 New Living Translation

The Ultimate Gift

Shine On. . .
karan k

 

Comforting Christmas Stories

“I have always thought of Christmastime as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely.”

From the book, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

This year while so many are watching the 25 Days of Hallmark Christmas movies, (I have no cable so no Hallmark for me), I am reading a Christmas book borrowed from a friend. She wanted to share a lovely Christmas story with me. Its a gift that she gave which is delighting my soul in the good things of the season. It’s a simple thing, an act of love from one friend to another.

This particular book is called The Christmas Bus, and at this point I’m only on page 45. If you’ve read it, don’t tell me the ending!:)

I am grateful I have learned to treasure such a pure gift of the heart. Don’t get me wrong, I relish Christmas movies and I’ll  definitely watch some of those too, but there’s something special and relaxing in a different way when settling in to read a book or a story.

It has taken me years to slow down enough to enjoy such a simple pleasure but this calming pace has enriched my enjoyment of the rest of the Christmas season beyond compare.

The opening quote is from my very favorite Christmas book. The quote embodies the true spirit of Christmas. If at no other time of the year, we should open our hearts to one another in love because Christmas celebrates the One who is the embodiment of good. He is the kindest, most loving, all-forgiving, most joyful and pleasant person we can ever meet.

JESUS! Do we know Him intimately? Is HE a part of our life story on a daily basis? Unless HE is, your heart will remain “Shut-Up” in some way or other. I challenge you to slow down your festive frenzied season. Take time to sit and READ about Jesus. Meditate over a cup of coffee or cocoa on His story and how He intersects it with yours.

This can pry open a scared, anxiety riddled heart and fill it with His gifts of Love, Joy and Peace. And really, isn’t that what we all want deep down inside? Love? Joy? Peace? When we can receive these beautiful gifts we are finally free to share them with others.  Because we cannot give what we do not possess.

So give it a go, open your heart to Him. What have you got to lose but some frustration and frazzlement. HE can make all the difference in your Christmas season and the rest of your life! And maybe, just maybe, your own story will become more exciting than any Hallmark movie. You’ll be FLURISHING through Christmas!

Shine on. . .
karan k

Loneliness and The Dating Game Part IV: Body Language

Bill Bixby’s fourth attempt

Dating Game Who’s Who: In 1968 Bill Bixby appeared as a contestant for the fourth time. He lost each time! After that no more Mr. Nice Guy as Tom Corbett. Bixby magically turned into an angry Hulk. . . triple trivia for those who care.

 

We are now turning our attention to body shape and type. Even though this can be a touchy issue, we can’t fight city hall and we can’t fight our body type. So put your effort into accepting and embracing the body God gave you no matter which type and shape you have. Keep reading for some general info to point you in the right direction. Remember: Learn to work with what you got.

So which body type are you?

An Apple? Broader shoulders than hips— typically your body type will be a Mesomorph: muscular, well-built with high metabolism.

A Pear? Hip measurements greater than bust— Typically your body type will be an Endomorph: Bigger with higher body fat.

A Banana or Rectangle? Typically has waist measurements that are less than 9 inches smaller than hips or bust— Usually your body type is an Ectomorph: lean and long with difficulty building muscle.

Hourglass?  Hip and bust measurements nearly equal with narrow waist—-and we all secretly envy you.

Inverted Triangle? Narrower hips than shoulders.

 

I am somewhat of a banana or rectangle shape. My waist is not small.  I can’t build tons of muscle so I do weight work with light weights for toning purposes and bone strength. I do more cardio work to keep fat at bay.

 

Dressing for your shape enhances your overall look. Does your closet need an overhaul to include items for your specific shape?  Here are a few fashion suggestions for each body type. Take an inventory of your closet to see if you have any of the articles listed for your shape. A few new pieces and pairing things in a different way could give your look a positive boost.

 

For the guys who are more visual: A few types are as follows:

 

Whatever your body type, work with it not against it. If your type struggles to build muscle, don’t waste your time body building. Google your body type and see what exercises are best for you. Reach your maximum body potential with a little research and some effort in new directions.

 

Of course each body type benefits from a healthy diet and regular exercise. No one wants to hear that who isn’t already doing it, but its true. So make some adjustments toward being the best you possible.

Begin with small changes but be consistent. Add one vegetable a day to your diet. Take a 20 minute walk three times a week are two good  starters. Such  changes done regularly will add up to a healthier you.

 

“Thank YOU for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–how well I know it.” Psalm 139:14 New Living Translation

Shine on. . .

karan k

Sign Me Up!

 

“. . . that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Philippians 2:15 English Standard Version

Female customer pulls up  to my booth and exclaims,
“HAPPY DAY!”
“You’re the first person ever to wish me a Happy day,” I said.
“That’s a shame.” she looked truly shocked and disappointed.

I wondered after she left what kind of actuality constructed her everyday existence? A world where people naturally treat each other with respect and kindness. A reality where you expect good and glorious things to be happening for yourself as well as for everyone you meet. I don’t know about your world but mine is not nearly as positive as this woman’s seemed to be. If there is such a place, sign me up please!

I learned in the sixth grade that no such place existed in our present world. We were assigned some short stories to read that year and among them was a story based on a utopian society. Everything seemed perfect in this fictitious short story world until the author allowed you to see the motivations of the characters. Not exactly pure or lovely. Needless to say it did not have a happy ending.

So I felt a tad bit of envy for my customer’s attitude that day even if I secretly suspected her to be delusional. Then the thought occurred to me that if my surroundings are negative, dark or even somewhat dystopic, this may be my big opportunity to SHINE! What better way to make Christ known to those around me who are slogging through the grind of everyday?

Isn’t that what He wants us to do? To experience Him and be so transformed by His Holy Spirit that we instinctively rise above the ugliness that has invaded our world to the point where we are not affected by the negative? We see it and are saddened by it but we can prevent it from attaching to our mindset. His grace gives us the power to do this if we ask for it. This rising above is what sets us apart.

 

We are to be caring for and loving those in our sphere of influence. In this way we shine for Him and because of Him daily. I am committed to endeavor to let my light shine to a dark and dreary heart that may be passing by me. Sign me up! How about you?

“And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:3 English Standard Version

Shine on. . .
karan k

Labor of Love: Part III

Do you trust God to provide a good job for you?

Read the passage in Matthew 6:25-34

Thirty years ago I found myself in an unwelcome predicament. I quit a good job because my eyesight was declining rapidly from the strain of proofreading work. I had a new job lined up that I was excited to start, but during my training period on the new job I discovered I would have no guarantee of full-time hours after my two week training ended. At my interview I was told I would have a permanent position in a few weeks.  That was not the truth. I accepted the job on false information. I felt betrayed.

Devastated by the news that I may only have 8 hours of work per week due to the nature of the job, I panicked. All I could do was cry. My father had died recently and my mother depended on me for care. We moved but hadn’t yet sold our former family home so my financial responsibilities included two households. What would I do? Frantic and frazzled, I cried more. I was a complete basket case.

I considered crawling back to my former employer even though he told me “not to let the door hit me on the way out”.  Humiliation and my eyesight would have to take a back seat to survival for the moment, I thought. But before I made any firm decisions, my kind trainer, who knew my situation and rising fear, did something quite unusual.

On company time she took me out to breakfast at a nearby restaurant. My face still beet red from crying all morning over my situation, my trainer had a heart to heart talk with me. She explained    the benefits of sticking it out at the new job. She was ready to retire and told me the retirement benefits alone were worth the uncertainty and inconveniences of the job especially if you were a one income household. She paid for my breakfast and I returned to work after I gained some composure and reflected on all she had said.

Later that day, fear invaded my mind and body like never before. I called several friends and my Pastor who each prayed for me over the phone. I had to make a decision soon. Bills were pouring in and my Mom was riddled with her own set of bizarre behaviors due to fear.

One particular friend came to the house to see me specifically to sit and read scripture to me. It was the second act of kindness and mercy during this time of adversity. As she read, my spirit settled a bit. With renewed faith in the provision of God, I decided to stay at the new job.

1989

My training period ended and I had one eight hour shift assignment for the following week.  Panic began rising again but I reported for duty that day inspire of it by the grace of God.  I discovered that someone who had just become full-time had suddenly quit. I would now be able to slide into their position immediately.  I couldn’t believe it… it was something akin to a miracle for me!

Everyone at the new company was surprised by this news, for it was unheard of to quit this type of job that was so difficult to acquire. I found out later that my full-time position became available because another young woman ran off with one of her customers. I heard he was a traveling salesman. I don’t know if that was true or a bad rumor but I gratefully accepted the position she vacated.

2000

Currently I’ve been with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission now for almost 30 years with a good retirement ahead of me. I have had some other lean times but God has always faithfully taken care of me and my needs.

Don’t doubt HIS provision for you. Trust Him. If HE took care of me, HE will take care of you.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33 New Living Translation

Shine on. . .

2018

karan k

Labor of Love: Part II

 

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

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

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

Are you unemployed and scared?

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Skills, Knowledge, Abilities

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

Shine on. . .

karan k

Labor of Love: Part I

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Genesis 2:15 New International Version

I recently spoke to a woman who’s struggling in her current employment. She asked for prayer. She enjoyed her former job immensely. Said she felt coworkers were more like a family than staff. But the company folded without warning and now she found herself in this new employment position simply so she could survive financially.

Job loss, bills keep pouring in…

 

I also have a precious family member who’s been down this same traumatizing road of surprise job loss multiple times over the course of the last 15 years. The struggle is real and intense for many.

Perhaps you can relate or you know someone who can?

American workers normally spend 40 plus hours a week working at the same job. In the United Kingdom workers are considered full time after as little as 30 hours in some cases. German workers have 6 hour work days! The UK also has a ‘working time directive’ law limiting how many hours one can work in a certain time frame. Not a bad idea.

Africans can work up to 45 hours a week by law but not more. Australians typically have a 38 hour work week. In China, the hours for businessmen and women parallel the US and the UK, but the Chinese factory workers are less fortunate. It’s not unusual for them to work 16 or 17 hours each day 6 days a week!

In 2014 U.S. News reported German workers worked the least and Mexican workers labored the most during that calendar year. The U.S. fell somewhere in the middle. But as of this writing most countries are falling in line with the 40 hour work week standard with any hours beyond that considered overtime.

Work and the time spent traveling to and from make up the largest percentage of our waking hours for the longest chunk of our lives. It’s estimated that over 90,000 hours comprise the average workers time spent on the job during a lifetime. Add in travel time and roughly a third of our lives is devoted to work.

Let that sink in. Work is one third of our life!

Do we see the need to enjoy our work? God gave us the privilege of work because idleness is unhealthy for us. We need purpose to FLURISH and work is a part of that. We cannot FLURISH if we never enjoy our work.

Happy businessman sitting on chair in green field

Note Genesis 2:15, here God gives the care taking work of the garden to Adam. It is PRIOR to the Fall of Man. Work was NOT part of the curse. Work was designed to help fulfill us and enrich us. Work is actually a gift God gave us.

Does your work strike you as a gift?

Are you between jobs?

Or are you like the woman in the introduction who is now struggling to survive in a job she hates?

We will explore these questions and more next time. Until then ponder what your work means to you.

Shine on. . .
karan k

Ain’t No Fairy Tale: Part VII

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

2015

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

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

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

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

Talk as a family often and in openness.

Pray together as a family.

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

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

 

Four Happy Clams 2018

Shine on. . .

karan k

Ain’t No Fairy Tale: Part VI

 

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

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

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

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

dating three weeks at this point

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

the new woman, now wife

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Shine on. . .

dwight k

Commercial Break

 

Just a teeny commercial break in our current series “Ain’t No Fairy Tale”. I decided to promote FLURISH after reading the devotional below. It was written by Sarah Young who is a missionary as well as a writer. Some think her writings are controversial, some love her writings. All I can tell you is I have found the following passage to be absolutely true! It is the heart of FLURISH, just expressed in a different, concise way.

Check it out.

“Live first and foremost in My Presence. Gradually you will become more aware of Me than of people and places around you. This awareness will not detract from your relationships with others. Instead, it will increase your ability to give love and encouragement to them. My Peace will permeate your words and demeanor. You will be active in the world, yet one step removed from it. You will not be easily shaken because My enveloping Presence buffers the blow of problems.
This is the path I have set before you. As you follow it wholeheartedly, you experience abundant Life and Peace.”
Sarah Young—- JESUS CALLING

Psalm 89:15-16; Psalm 16:8; II Peter 1:2

So what are your thoughts? Share in the COMMENT section.

Shine on. . .

karan k

Cell Slave

Marine Eagle, Globe, Anchor Medallion
seven Superbowl IV KC Chiefs

What would you consider to be your most treasured possession?
I took a poll recently to discover how some of you would answer that question. The following is a brief list of answers:

1990 Hydro Sport Vector CC Boat

Paper Cash
Dan Wesson Pointman 9 Pistol
Kansas City Chiefs Autographs from 1971
Marine Medallion
Stuffed Black Lamb
Cards and Creations from Daughters
Guitar
Hydrosport Boat
Baseball Cards
College Diploma
Photograph Collection
Rare Trade Dollar Coin

1878 Dolaar Trade Coin

All of these cherished items are fine in their proper place in our lives and minds.

The last three people gave the same answer—- Cell Phone.  Consider with me that out of fifteen people three said their phone was the possession they prized the most. That’s a fifth of those questioned. Assuming for a moment this same poll was done on a much larger scale, do you think the results would differ? I’d venture to guess they would remain the same or increase in percentage for cell phones as the highest ranking answer.

Recently I lost my own cell phone somewhere in our house. My husband and I searched for it, calling it from his phone but we heard nothing. I used the Find My Phone app but it was too late, my phone battery was already dead and could not respond.

Where oh where is my cell phone?

After a few days of searching, I concluded that God may have a lesson and possibly a blog post (tada!) in mind for this lost cell situation so I stopped searching.

I trusted HE knew exactly where my phone lay in hiding. I asked HIM to help me find it. I searched  but to no avail.  I concluded it was not yet time for the phone to be found.

Could you live for a month without your phone? A fifth of you may say “No Way.”

Cell phones like computers have become a staple in most of our lives. They perform innumerable functions so their value is great. They’re a portable tool for modern humanity that connects us globally beyond what our forefathers ever could have imagined. And yet we sometimes allow them to control us rather than using them responsibly.

“Do not put your trust in idols or make metal images of gods for yourselves. I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 19:4

New Living Translation

Crisp Cash

 

How many times have you heard someone complain about how much time they wasted on Face Book, Instagram or some other Internet forum? It can be intoxicating and without our notice,  addicting. We can become obsessive about having the phone with us at all times.

I found my phone at a very unlikely place 27 days after it went MIA. It was a forced technology fast but it was rather refreshing.

Have you ever considered a technology fast? I know people who do this regularly. If you find it easy for your phone to consume your time and energy in a negative way fasting a few days from phone/computer use can give you a right perspective on things. It can prevent your phone from becoming a coveted possession.

God wants our undivided attention and HE doesn’t want to share it with any type of idol  even metallic technology. So be aware and take care not to be a cell slave.

Blacky, one of the only treasures  this person has from childhood

 

“Before you knew God, you were slaves of gods that are not real. But now you know God, or better still, God knows you. How can you turn back and become the slaves of those weak and pitiful powers?” Galatians 4:8 + 9 Contemporary English Version

Shine on. . .

karan k

Well Known/Well Used?

How many of you honestly enjoy your daily life? Are you truly FLURISHING? We all have ups and downs, difficulties and challenges but underlying it all, do you feel good, do you sense the peace of God that passes ALL understanding? Do you have a private joy in the depths of your soul?

I have just come through a long depression that lasted about 5 months. It most likely was triggered by the death of my mother back on New Year’s Day. Could have been the grieving process? I may never know but it has been a difficult year. I leaned on familiar passages of scripture and continued trusting in the loving kindness of my heavenly Father. There were good days, blah days, tired days, unmotivated days and horrible days within my soul. Yet, as I kept looking to Him HE WAS EVER FAITHFUL!!!

I am here today to encourage you not to give up seeking the face of God amidst whatever you may be experiencing. This is the purpose of my blog, to remind you that HE is ever faithful and wants to be close to you and experience all of your “stuff” with you. HE wants the best life possible for you, the abundant FLURISHING life HE knows is possible for each of HIS children.

So, all that being said if you know these verses listed below, don’t just pass them by. USE them and BELIEVE them for your current situation. They may be well known but if they are not well used they will not help you.

And, if the verses are new to you, read them over and over allowing them to sink into your heart and memory so you can use them when needed. His Word is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword. He is alive in these Words so USE it, that’s why HE gave it to us.

If you are FLURISHING currently, don’t forget to praise God for the blessing. Thank Him for His goodness in your life.

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His Name.” Psalm 100:4 New Living Translation

 

 

If things are rough going at the moment, cry out to Him for help.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” II Corinthians 1:3 + 4 New International Version

 

 

If you are tired, burned out from exhaustion, come to Him for strength and let Him help you with your load.

“Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29 New Living Translation

 

 

If you feel blah and lack motivation call on His name to renew your zeal and revive your spirit.

“But those who trust the LORD will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired.” Isaiah 40:31 Contemporary English Version

 

 

If you are overcome by sin and guilt, talk to Him, confess your sin and depend upon His mercy which endures forever.

“But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” I John 1:9 New Living Translation

 

Read about His mercy in Psalm 136

REMEMBER:

“For the Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews 4:12 New Living Translation

Shine on. . .

karan k

“Never, Never, Never Give up on God! If HE helps me, He will help you.” A combined  quote from Winston Churchill + me