The Kindness of Karen

Karen. Aunt Karen. She’s not even my aunt by blood, but I think of her as family. I’ve only known her for just over a year. She’s one of the nicest women I’ve ever met. Gentle, kind, a manifestation of the Holy Spirit for sure. She was my husband’s saving grace when he was a child.

My husband grew up in a strange home. Don’t we all.

He lost his parents when he was very young. His mother died when he was still an infant and his father died when he was a toddler, too young to even form a memory of his face. He was orphaned.

He was raised by his paternal grandparents. His Uncle Guy and Aunt Karen were there for those formative years as well, living just next door.

I’ve known Karen for years, without the benefit of meeting her in person, because my husband described her so vividly. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed angel of mercy in a chaotic world. A calming influence on an energetic boy. He would tell me about her rubbing his back for naptime. (He still likes to have his back rubbed. Who doesn’t?) He was certainly enamored with his Aunt Karen.

He talked about how Aunt Karen could show discipline, not humiliation, in behavior correction. His grandmother and uncle often resorted to yelling and intimidation. But Karen. She was different.

Karen was the mother he needed. Tender. Patient. Feminine. She was the female ideal. The compassion he required as an extremely sensitive child. A soft place to land.

I finally met Karen just over a year ago. She was so warm and welcoming. Immediate hugs and she accepted me totally from the first moment. She was every bit of the angel Guy recalled to me. Karen has a generous spirit. She always asks questions and she lavished our daughter with so much attention.

She lives in Colorado, so we don’t get to see her much, but we have Facebook (thank God) and she’s so supportive of my blog. Thank you, Karen!

Aunt Karen just made the first donation for my trip. An extremely generous one. Thank you for believing in me and this journey.

I truly appreciate your kindness, generosity and the immediate acceptance as a member of your family. I’m just sorry we hadn’t met until just over a year ago. You’re a beautiful person. Inside and out. You changed my husband’s life and offered him grace when he absolutely needed it. You saved him from a harsh life just by being kind and showing him nice people exist. Thank you for my husband. Thank you for the kindness you showed him. Thank you for being a mother to him, even if for a short time. It stayed with him all through the years. You ARE an angel. I know he thinks that, too. xoxo

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Good Intentions

Don’t mistake intent
With misunderstood purpose
Your will versus fate


Missing intention
While searching for your purpose
Is losing all grace

Grace

Utterly gutted
My brain is flooded
Drowning in blood and emotions
Liquid chemicals straining
Against solid flesh remaining
Doused in prayers and devotions

I won’t come to this again
Back from then to when and been
I am not my past
I am sufficiently stronger
Able to convincingly conjure
Armor to withstand this blast

Strength does not lie in hate
Patience does not lie in wait
Peace lies in the discipline of love
Resolve comes from compromise
Insight from understanding eyes
Grace feathers down like a dove

hold the door open for grace

i thought i shared this already. this is from 2015, originally.


i was being the door lady at Lilli’s school this morning and a car pulled up with two kids and one irate mom. i opened the door as the van pulled up to the curb. one child got out of the back and another opened the door to the passenger side front. she didn’t get out. her mother was mad. frustrated. high-pitched. irritated. annoyed. yelling.

u could tell she felt disrespected and very taken aback. did she have a right to feel that way? who knows? maybe. probably. maybe not. maybe she’s on her period, maybe she’s super demanding, maybe nothing anybody ever does pleases her and she’s just a high-riding bitch. maybe her daughter said something really nasty to her right before she opened the door and the mother had a legitimate beef with her evil, rotten spawn of a demon child.

maybe not.

i don’t really know either one of the people i’m describing. my limited experience with this family is that the daughter was gossiping and picking on my daughter at the beginning of the school year. in choir, the girl started a rumor that Lilli was a terrible singer and that she was single-handedly ruining the choir. i’m not exaggerating this rumor. that’s what was said. funny. because Lilli just made honor choir after auditioning for only a few moments. she thought she messed up and wanted to try again. the choir teacher said, “No need. You did just fine. I gave you a 5 out of 5.” not bragging, but i don’t think she’s ruining the choir.

so this is the girl who said bad things about my kid. she purposefully tried to hurt my daughter.

do i dislike her? no. she’s just a kid. and whatever behavior she learned is directly the responsibility of her parents. do i hold a grudge against this kid? no. she’s just a kid. i’m a xian and were supposed to forgive and forget. was i wary of this kid? yeah. i felt nervous for MY kid. mama bear has her claws out. at least.

today though. today. i had deep compassion for this kid. i am this kid. she’s tall, overweight, bully-ish and uncomfortable in most situations. she doesn’t feel like she fits in and so…lashes out. her parent is riding her and she has a bad attitude. she’s probably been pushed around by parents, other kids and other adults. i was this poor kid.

and i’m the mother. ready to be offended. i don’t yell at my kid, but i sure as shit harp on my husband. i don’t wanna be the crazy lady yelling in the car in front of everyone. but i do often feel disrespected. i wish to GOD i was not so easily offended/hurt/angered/tempted. i am an easy target for Satan when it comes to my pride. so i am the daughter. i am the mother. i am the embarrassing sideshow in front of the school. so what did i do?

i recognized my own failure in these actions. i identified with these people and i gave them grace in my heart. if not a verbal acknowledgement…a mental pass at their behavior. because so often i make constant judgments about people’s ridiculous behavior and i cut them down in my mind. kill someone in your mind with words, might as well kill them IRL. that’s what the bible says.

BUT! this morning. i made a change. i prayed for them! i prayed for them on the spot because i don’t want to be judged when i find myself in the same situation. i said, “Good morning!” with a smile to the girl who hurt my daughter. and i prayed all over her as she walked by. she doesn’t deserve it, but neither do i. and i prayed for the mom to wake up, get right, calm down and have a good day. praying that for myself too. amazing things to learn when holding the door for people and volunteering ur time at school. little lessons in the smallest examples of service. it’s humbling to have to hold the door for someone the world would tell you to hate. try washing their feet.

Blessed

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”


It doesn’t say blessed are the poor in finance. It says poor in spirit.

Poor in spirit means that we ALL are spiritually bankrupt and are in need of spiritual currency. Not only bankrupt, because that would mean even, but DEEP in debt.
How many dollars have your parents given you to save your bacon before you could stand on your own two feet? Can you ever repay them?
That’s God’s love for us.
In Christianity, the currency is Jesus.
We all require Christ to know heaven. That’s what we believe.
All Christ means? All Christ stood for?
LOVE. Grace. Grace and love are the same thing.
Blessed are those who require LOVE, deal in LOVE, freely give LOVE. For they shall see heaven.
To forgive and be forgiven.
To live in peace.
We require grace because we continually get it wrong. Because we are human. Fallible.
We give grace because we want it and get it.
The whole of the law is LOVE.
I wanna be rich!

Eye to Eye

Most of the time, on my medical courier route, I notice that many people avoid eye contact. When I walk into the hospital to deliver my labs, most of the doctors and nurses coming and going have their heads down and pointed at the ground, straight ahead, or usually, more often than not, pointed at a device.

They walk and talk, walk and swipe, or walk and text. I worry about some because they pay more attention to the screen than the pavement underneath them. Good thing they are very near a hospital.

I have started looking at my phone, too. Not as intently as most, but I’m still distracted. Plus, I enjoy not making eye contact. I have to force myself to look at people. And I typically find flaws when I really look at other people. Why don’t I look for the good? It’s just so easy to see the bad.

I struggle with trust. With past issues. With hating others. Always have. I look for the bad because I feel comfortable with that. I’ve seen so much bad, I’m kind of an expert on spotting f’d-up behavior. I’m not an emotional genius, more of a savant. I am intuitive, sensitive and have a keen sense of character. I’m a people watcher when they aren’t looking directly at me. I’m a watcher, not an engager. I became a student of behavior out of necessity, rather than innate talent. I mainly wanted to defend myself and understand my situation. For free. LOL

Today, I will smile. I have to reboot my thinking every once in a while. I will search out smiles and give them away for free. Willingly. Heartily. Sincerely. I will love others today. Even if they don’t return the favor. It’s a choice to see someone. Sometimes, a hard choice. And I will see the good.

unlovable

from 2014. i’m better now. almost.


so, okay. i have this terrible condition that rears its ugly head every so often. i start to feel bad. mentally, internally. then it sort of morphs into something worse. a terrifying feeling of not being loved. then i set about to let everyone in my tiny family know about it. i moan and shout from the next room, “No one loves me!” then my family rushes in and kisses me and reassures me. “We love you!” it’s a fun, silly game, but one that i need sometimes because while i make a joke, i still need that comfort and love to bolster my fragile mentality.

well last night, i finally realized, what i really feel is, “I’m unlovable.” i begin to feel as if no one in the world could possibly love me. that i’m too fat, ugly, annoying and selfish for anyone to love. so i said, from my bedroom last nite, “I’m unlovable!” then my family rushed in, Lilli who is so smart, “I love you! And God loves you!” I said, “No, you don’t. You can’t possibly.” and she made some silly joke to make me laugh about how i was being impossible. and then Guy rushed in, hugging me and kissing me, singing Voice of Truth.

…and the voice of truth tells me a different story,
and the voice of truth says do not be afraid…

which is his subtle-not subtle way of saying, “Shut up! Stop lying to yourself.”

and that’s what i am doing. i’m lying to myself. i’m listening to that tiny, crazy voice that tells me:
i’m worthless.
i’m scared.
i’m not loved.
and that’s not the voice of truth, that’s not the voice of God. that’s the voice of the enemy–my own thoughts OR the twisted up world OR the devil.

i am lovable. i am loved. if for no other reason than God loves me. i am thankful for my family. for my husband, who is the voice of reason. for scooping me up and sparing me from my own terrible thoughts, for giving me undivided attention even when i’m pretty obvious about it. i love you, Guy. thanks for the reminder.

yes, we can.

no one has to do it all
we can share the work
you don’t have to walk so tall
especially when it hurts

submit to being led
when everything comes to a crawl
let me be your feather bed
when you need a place to fall

it’s not possible to always be strong
one day you’ll skip and stumble
feeling weak is not wrong
just don’t forget to be humble

no one’s ever flawless
everyone makes mistakes
somewhere deep in this solace
is the place our heart awakes

give grace and be open to receive
simple premise that promises perfection
dare hope and we shall believe
let this be our invocation

Charity Begins at Home (and with Demi)

I asked a WordPress friend to speak about charity. Here are her thoughts and answers.


Demi, known as The Lupie Momma on WordPress, is turning 27 this year. She is not disappointed about getting older, she’s planning a huge 30th birthday celebration. (Get it, girl!) But she is a little sentimental about her daughter growing up so fast. Demi has a sweet, little girl who is almost 4. Demi is a wife and mother by day, working gal by night.

She’s dabbled at blogging for a few years on a few sites, but recently she decided to finish her novel. While struggling with Lupus (autoimmune disorder), she’s been working hard on this memoir. Demi is right and brave when she says “…life is too short not to go after everything.”
What do you do to volunteer or donate?
I’ve always given my clothes that are in good shape, that I’ve outgrown, to people I think can use them. Now that I have a fast growing toddler, I have started giving her old clothes and toys to other families. We have been fortunate enough to be able to afford these things, but we realize that some people aren’t as lucky.


Demi told me more about her personal giving.
They have a friend, Brandon (name changed for privacy). He’s a single dad of triplets. The mother is not involved on a regular basis. Brandon has to provide for 3 children. On his own. Demi knows how expensive one growing child can be. So. She started helping in any way she could. Brandon’s children are just 6 months younger than Demi’s girl. 2 of the triplets are girls. So Brandon is fixed for “hand-me-downs”. Brandon is truly grateful for the regular supply of girl’s clothing that Demi gives every change of the season.
Right before Christmas, Demi was preparing for the incoming onslaught of new toys for baby girl. They found an unused toddler bed and chair. She messaged Brandon right away. A few days later, Brandon posted about bills and presents; how hard it would be to provide this year. Demi had thought about buying a few small gifts, but after the post, Demi’s husband went full-on Santa. Gender-neutral toys that all the kids would enjoy. Delivered to Brandon’s house just in time for Christmas Eve. They didn’t say a word, leave a note or want any attention for doing so. They did unto others as they would want for themselves. Unfortunately, Amazon shipping included the husband’s email and Brandon figured it out. Needless to say, he was very thankful.


Why do you volunteer or donate?

We donate to help those in need because we would hope someone would help us if the shoe was on the other foot. Whether it’s to Brandon and his kids or hurricane relief somewhere else. (The state of Florida thanks you, Demi!!)
How do you feel when you give?
It’s a good feeling. Sometimes I feel guilty that I couldn’t do more, but my husband reminds me that its better I do a little than nothing at all. (I agree with your husband! If we all do some, we can do it all. <—Has someone already said that? If not, it’s so true!)

If we all do some, we can do it all!


Are you Christian or other religious affiliation? Do you give for a specific reason?

We’re Christians, but not the “we think we’re holier than others” type. We aren’t going to spit out scriptures at you or chaste you for not going to church.
No specific reason we do–except for the Lupus Foundation as that is a close charity that I personally benefit from.
I don’t know if I was necessarily taught to donate or volunteer, I just think my mother instilled in us from a young age to help others when we can. I remember being out to eat as a kid and my mom giving me a few dollars to give to the homeless man sitting a few tables away. Since then, I’ve just always kind of done it. Giving money to a random homeless man, or buying them a meal, giving my clothes to someone who could benefit from them. And now that I’m a mother myself, I want to instill that in my daughter. That not everyone is as fortunate as we are, and that it’s good to help others when you can.
How do your kids feel about your helping?
I’m not really sure she fully grasps the concept yet. She’s only three. Occasionally when we’re packing up stuff she hasn’t played with for months, we get the “That’s my toy!” but we explain that you know you haven’t played with it in a while, and there is someone else who would enjoy it. After a few pouts, she usually just drops the subject, goes and plays with something else. Explaining the Santa to Seniors, and why we were getting gifts for “old people who weren’t grandma or grandpa” was a bit tricky. But she picked out the names of the women we got, ‘all E’s because her name starts with E’ and picked out the bags to put their stuff in, she even threw in some hot chocolate packets for them. I hope that as she gets older, she’ll admire us for it. And continue to do it as she grows up.


While Demi regularly donates old clothes and toys, she was moved to go above and beyond this holiday season. She said, “…it felt nice buying gifts for other people that probably actually deserve the gifts.” Every year, people feel burdened in buying gifts for extended family members as an act of obligation. Holiday gift exchange can feel like a pressure cooker of negativity and resentment, boiling over by Christmas. And at the end of it all you may, like Demi, wish you had helped someone who actually needed (not wanted) something.
Demi left me with this thought from John Bunyan:

You have not lived today
until you have done something for someone
who can never repay you.


Let us know how the book is coming, Demi. I can post a link in an update. Thanks for sharing!

Please consider donating to the Lupus Foundation or to Demi’s personal fundraising goal.