Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Blank Page

I stare at the blank page. It glares back from my computer screen, as blindingly white as the lingering snow in the yard.

A clean slate.

A fresh start.

A new year.

I gave up resolutions years ago, when I discovered that they acted upon me in the same way in which the Law does: to point out my shortcomings and to instigate rebellion. (Romans 7:7-8)

Resolutions only served to highlight the fact that I was incapable of keeping them, heaping further self-condemnation on top of my pointy little head. It seems that my resolve is weak; self-discipline not one of my strong points.

So this year, I’m doing something different.

As soon as those new-year thought patterns start racing through my head…

Gotta lose 10 pounds, give up Diet Coke, workout 5 times a week, have a longer Quiet Time, drink less Pinot Grigio, stop on-line shopping, take more vitamins…

I am going to stifle them.

Instead, I am going to start praying for something new.

I am going to admit that it is impossible to change myself.

And I’m going to ask God to change my desires.

In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis writes, There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’”

Oh, Lord, let it be yours, not mine. Please don’t let me have my own way. My desires only lead to frustration and dissatisfaction. Selfishness and smallness. Captivity and woundedness.

Ultimately, chaos and destruction.

This is the crux of all things:

My will, or His will.

My way, or His way.

I want to want what He wants more than I want what I want.

I long to be a blank page on which God writes a love letter.

This year, instead of resolving to change, I am praying for the gift of a new heart.


Does anyone else struggle with the concept of New Year’s resolutions? Do you think they are helpful or harmful?


I don’t normally love The Message, but this gives a new slant to an age-old problem. If it helps, use it; if not, forget it. (Or skip it… it’s long.)

When Christ died he took that entire rule-dominated way of life down with him and left it in the tomb... For as long as we lived that old way of life, doing whatever we felt we could get away with, sin was calling most of the shots as the old law code hemmed us in. And this made us all the more rebellious... But now that we're no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, we're free to live a new life in the freedom of God.
 But I can hear you say, "If the law code was as bad as all that, it's no better than sin itself." That's certainly not true. The law code had a perfectly legitimate function. Without its clear guidelines for right and wrong, moral behavior would be mostly guesswork. Apart from the succinct, surgical command, "You shall not covet," I could have dressed covetousness up to look like a virtue and ruined my life with it.
Don't you remember how it was? I do, perfectly well. The law code started out as an excellent piece of work. What happened, though, was that sin found a way to pervert the command into a temptation, making a piece of "forbidden fruit" out of it. The law code, instead of being used to guide me, was used to seduce me. Without all the paraphernalia of the law code, sin looked pretty dull and lifeless, and I went along without paying much attention to it. But once sin got its hands on the law code and decked itself out in all that finery, I was fooled, and fell for it. The very command that was supposed to guide me into life was cleverly used to trip me up, throwing me headlong. So sin was plenty alive, and I was stone dead. But the law code itself is God's good and common sense, each command sane and holy counsel.
But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn't deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.

 The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn't deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

(Romans 7:5- Romans 8:4, The Message)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dreams of a White Christmas


The Grinch got with the program and rallied, more or less.

She did those things that were joyful. She let go of a lot that was not. She floated through some Stuff.

She ended up doing three (four, if you count the baby one) trees.

She cooked a little. Wrapped a lot.

But only dragged out (drug out?) half the stuff.

It all turned out in the end, as it usually does.

Okay. Enough of the third person.

If you’re normal, you should be a little tired today. If you’re like me, you’re exhausted.

So I did what I do after every major holiday or coast change:

Stayed in bed for a good portion of the day.

Absolutely delightful.

The wrap is still on the family room floor. The kitchen will be a 3-day clean-up.

So what?

I don’t have a problem with it. I’m just darn glad that Santa showed up and sanity showed up… for the most part.

And there really, really was lots of joy sprinkled in, as cliché as it sounds.


Though bittersweet.

It was joyful for me to watch my grandson experience snow for the first time. He was kind of like Bambi.

But it was heartbreaking for me to see how devastated his mother was that she couldn’t play in it with him.

The ill-concealed tears.

I was stealing my precious first baby’s candy again.



Actually, there are no words. The only ones I can think of are not nice.

There are some things that are just unspeakably bad.

But there were also some extraordinary, unexpected blessings.

I am reflecting on them from my perch in our embarrassingly squeaky, very, very old bed. (Circa 1780’s. Virginia Tobacco Leaf design. Husband hates it.)

I got a text from one of my best friends while ensconced there early this morning:

She wrote:

“What a wonderful gift from above… a white Christmas… my all-time favorite childhood wish!”

Every Southern child’s secret wish.*  (But something Santa never could seem to deliver.)

*I don’t know why. I only know that it was something fervently prayed for over the years, with no realistic chance of fulfillment.

It just doesn’t snow very much in the South.

It is something that is greatly idealized here. We all want a Dickens’ Christmas, don’t we? Where everything turns out all right in the end? Where Man’s Better Nature rises to the surface, and there is finally Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Man? (Spiked) punch and a yule log? Perhaps even a jig or two.

It always snows in a Dickens’ Christmas.

Never in a Georgia one.

At least not in the past 118 years.

But it did last night.

It was magical.

I don’t care how hardened and callous you are.

It was gorgeous. Inexplicable. Unexpected.

(The Weather Man has NEVER been right about this before now. So many broken promises.)


They were some truly holy moments.

When All was Still.

And all was quiet.


And there were no words.


While I was lying around in bed today, I did a nerdy family holiday slide show.

If you are bored... and kind... feel free to watch.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

(p.s. Any 'artistic' photos might have been taken by my son-in-law Jay. :))

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Mystery of the Miraculous

“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.”
C.S. Lewis

 My sister called to tell me to read the comments on about Katherine’s interview with Sanjay Gupta.


Some lovely, encouraging words.

And some unusual reactions.

Evidently, someone wrote an offensive comment that elicited strong responses. By the time I looked at it, the comment had been deleted. But the responses to the comment remained.

Debates broke out.

Everyone has told me that you simply cannot take anonymous comments seriously. Evidently, there are bored people who sit around all day expressing their opinions over the internet with no accountability.

Still, the debates that raged seemed to me to be a microcosm of the world in which we live.

The age-old conflict: Faith vs. Reason.

I will tell you one thing. No one I know was ever argued into faith.* 

They were loved into it.

To those who seriously seek, who knock and keep on knocking…

To those who lay down their arms and their need to be ‘right’…

To those who unbar the door, and bravely open it just a tiny crack…

Love comes flooding in, carried on a piercing flame of Light.

And that white-hot Light-borne Love melts the self-protecting shards of ice around a hardened heart.

The heavenly intersects with the worldly. The miraculous invades the mundane. The Light pierces the Darkness.

It still does.

The Light still shines in the Darkness. Even here. Even now. Today.

As it did on April 21, 2008.

For those who don’t know the whole story, my daughter Katherine should have died that night… according to the laws of nature.

She had a gargantuan AVM rupture. Massive bleeding in the worst possible part of the brain. Multiple aneurysms. Her cerebellum had actually begun herniating down into her spinal column by the time she got to the hospital.

They don’t usually operate when someone’s that far gone. Ask any neurosurgeon. About the best you can hope for in a case like that is that the patient will live the rest of his or her life out in a “persistent vegetative state.”

For some strange reason, one doctor made an unorthodox decision. Something compelled him to operate. To try to save a young mother’s life against all conceivable odds.

Someone told me recently that she died six times on the operating table. I’m glad I didn’t know that before. But I’m glad I know it now. It gives me an even deeper appreciation of what actually happened that night in Los Angeles, California. The City of Angels.

Love came down. Powerful love came pouring down as an energizing, healing force through the hands of skilled surgeons.

The primary neurosurgeon wept when he saw his patient the next day, and she squeezed his hand. Because, more than anyone else, he knew just how impossible that was.

Some of the assisting physicians came when they were off-duty just to look at her. To try to wrap their scientific minds around something they had never seen before.

The ICU nurses told us that no case had ever affected the doctors and staff at UCLA as Katherine’s case did. “They are really scientifically oriented,” one nurse confided, “so this is totally unusual.” New dialogues were begun. Searches started.

Because something impossible happened there.

A miracle.

C. S. Lewis defines miracle as "an interference with Nature by supernatural power."

It is from the Latin miraculum, meaning “object of wonder.”

In his seminal work, Miracles, he writes,

…miracles, if they occur, must, like all events, be revelations of that total harmony of all that exists. Nothing arbitrary, nothing simply "stuck on" and left unreconciled with the texture of total reality, can be admitted. By definition, miracles must of course interrupt the usual course of Nature; but if they are real they must, in the very act of so doing, assert all the more the unity and self-consistency of total reality at some deeper level… In calling them miracles we do not mean that they are contradictions or outrages; we mean that, left to her [Nature] own resources, she could never produce them."

I was thinking about these things this morning when I picked up my Bible and started reading where I’d left off yesterday:

“The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”” (Luke 1:35-37)

The mystery of miracles is decoded in the Ultimate Miracle, the incarnation.

God with us. God in us. Above us, below us, beside us.

The Creator of the laws of nature may bend or shape them as he will for his good purposes and plans.

He makes the impossible possible.

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and to all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

Christina Georgina Rosetti


 “The supernatural is not remote and abstruse: it is a matter of daily and hourly experience, as intimate as breathing. Denial of it depends on a certain absent-mindedness. But this absent-mindedness is in no way surprising. You do not need -- indeed you do not wish -- to be always thinking about windows when you are looking at gardens or always thinking about eyes when you are reading.” CSL, Miracles


(* except for scientists who start out to prove that God doesn’t exist, and logically and systematically argue themselves into belief. If you want to know examples of this, let me know and I’ll tell you a few stories.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dear Friends,

 So sorry for the let-down. Evidently, Katherine's story was bumped by breaking news. Such is the nature of live TV.

The piece has already been posted on and hopefully will air at other times this week. A friend of my sister's who works at CNN thinks it may be on at 10 EST this morning.

The piece emphasized the hard work involved in recovery from a brain bleed of this type. 

Since I'm usually pretty honest here, I must confess some disappointment that the faith aspect was mostly edited out.

Oh well. Katherine's story cannot be understood outside of that context. I pray that her message of hope and faith will shine through anyway.

We appreciate your faithfulness more than we can express.

Monday, December 20, 2010

CNN Update

Thanks to all who have asked, called, or emailed about Katherine's interview with Sanjay Gupta on CNN. I'm sorry I haven't been able to post definitive times until now. 

It will air on both CNN and Headline News at various times throughout Christmas week, beginning tomorrow morning. 

We've been told that  it will air around 8:50 a.m., EST, tomorrow, December 21. I believe it will be aired as a segment on American Morning. 

The segment will also appear at some point during these other program times:

On CNN: Tuesday: 8 – 9a  Friday: 11a -12p, 3p – 4p;  Saturday: 7:30a – 8a,
5-6p;  Sunday: 7:30a – 8a

On HLN: Tuesday: 10:30a – 11a, 1p -1:30p; Friday: 10:30a – 11a, 1p -1:30p;
4:30p – 5p; Saturday & Sunday: 7a – 7:30a, 10a-10:30a

*All these times are Eastern, which is the same as Pacific. Central will be an hour earlier for everything.

Thank you for your continued interest and support. Please pray that the interview will be edited under God's supervision. You never know what will be left in or out.

Katherine thinks it is especially meaningful that her story of life, hope, and healing will be shown during this holy week. We pray that the piece will transmit that hope to someone who desperately needs it. 

That would be a wonderful Christmas gift for all of us. 

And a reminder that God does not waste our suffering.

Please pass on these times to anyone you know who might be interested.

Love, Kim

(Katherine cracking a joke, as usual.)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

More Life and Stuff...

I've been too busy living to finish writing anything lately.

Plus, my mind has been turned to mush by multiple onslaughts of Boy Noise. Why does every Boy Toy have such a high decibel attached to it? Even the educational ones.

If I can manage to concentrate over the clamor of Percy Takes The Plunge and the highly annoying sounds of the Vi-Tech Baby Laptop, I'll try to post a few pictures of what we've been up to.

Hope your holidays are full of peace, love, and joy.

I'm trying to be optimistic.



So we've been monkeying around...

Chillin' with friends...

Chatting with Santa...

Being interviewed by CNN...

Entertaining friends from South Africa...

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. More later...


Dr. Sanjay Gupta's interview with Katherine will air on Tuesday morning around 8:00 a.m., and then other times throughout Christmas week. As soon as we know anything definite, Katherine will post on Dr. Gupta's show is called The Human Factor. It was an honor to work with him and the excellent film crew from CNN. They even stayed for lunch!

p.s.  Someone noticed that Stephanie's cute red-haired daughter is wearing a "Katherine Lived" t-shirt in nienie's post on Dec. 17. Can you spot it? 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Life and Stuff


What happens when you’re busy making other plans.

John Lennon

I’m multitasking again.

Lying in bed with a little buddy, drinking coffee, typing, and watching The Cat In The Hat on PBS… over the din of Talking Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and a Rudolf who sings his own song.

 Trying to make some sense of the past week.

(I may need earplugs in order to be able to think.)

On Monday, I had a reunion with college friends I haven’t seen in many years.

It was as if we had just seen each other yesterday.

We haven’t always been the best about keeping in touch over the years. Lives got complicated with jobs and moves and families and… LIFE. But sitting around the table laughing, remembering, and catching up, I saw the girls we were 25 years ago. We’ve changed, but we’re the same. We had crazy wild college times together, but we also shared some significant moments. They were there when I fell in love with my soulmate. They were a part of it.  As we left, we made a commitment to see each other more often. To make the effort.

I really hope that we will.

On Tuesday, I dialed 911.

My mother had called that night to make sure we were home “in case she needed us.” She had been feeling funny. I thought that sounded ominous, so I made my husband go get her to spend the night at our house. We watched a movie, and then started up the stairs to bed. She collapsed on top of me. My husband held her like a baby. We lowered her down gently. She opened her eyes and said, “I’m okay,” just before going completely still. Her face turned ashen. My husband couldn’t find a pulse. I heard a terrible rasping gasp as I ran for the phone. Talking to the operator, I watched from the bedroom as he gave her mouth-to-mouth.

New definition of LOVE: Administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to your mother-in-law.

He’s my hero.

I rode in the ambulance. We didn’t get a room until 3:00 a.m. Surreal.

But the next day, it felt familiar. Our family has been known to spend some time at the hospital during the holidays. My kids remember with fondness the Christmas Eve dinner they ate together at On The Border Mexican Restaurant, while their parents were in the ER with a family member. The New Year’s Eve in the ER with a broken body part… the Thanksgiving…

never mind.

I told you we were the Griswolds. Maybe that’s the real reason I’m a Grinch.

A Happy Hospital Holiday

 On Thursday, Katherine, Jay, and James arrived.

On Friday, we sprung mother out of the hospital. (spring, sprang, sprung?) Guess it should be sprang. But that sounds like Deliverance.

In the interim, I missed two Christmas parties for which I’d actually bought new clothes. Story of my life. Closet filled with Special Occasion clothes for which there ended up being no special occasion for Kim.

Because Life Happens.

And here I am today, writing on my last baby’s 21st birthday.  We are now officially the parents of three adult women. Another major milestone. Another transition.

In the middle of all of this, a miracle is taking place. One I can’t share at this time, because it is not my story to tell. But it is a major miracle, one that has been long-prayed for. Long, long prayed for. And almost despaired of.

(My apologies to any English teachers for ending with prepositions. I just can’t redo with Rudolph singing in my ear.)


I am trying to process the week's events and discover their lessons.

I am thinking of milestones and miracles. Of temporality and timelessness.

I am thinking about how thin is the veil between two worlds.

How fragile and fleeting life is.

And how important it is to take the time to connect with the people you care about while you’re here… even though plans are often circumvented.

I'm thinking about how miracles happen even when our plans don't.

Life is a raging river whose torrents carry us along more rapidly than we realize. Sometimes it’s all we can do to hang on to the raft. Other times, we barely notice that we’re moving.

But we are.

Every day.

Today, on my baby’s 21st birthday, I am remembering the day she was born. And thinking how strange it is that it feels like just yesterday.

And I’m wondering where the tumultuous River of Life will take me next.

Buzz Lightyear just interrupted the reverie with an answer:

“To Infinity… and beyond!”

I think he may be right.


(My plan was to publish this yesterday. Obviously, that plan didn't work out. Baby's birthday was the 11th... just for the record.  And, btw, Buzz really did say that just when I typed those words. No kidding.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Golden Golf Ball of Stupidity

This is in the “Oh no, she’s done it again” category.

As I’ve mentioned before, there’s not a lot of time for ‘self-care’ when I’m West Coast.

I let a few months slide by without a hair appointment. As soon as I got home, I tried to set one up, but couldn’t get in until after Thanksgiving.

My husband made the costly mistake of teasing me about my roots.

Men, sometimes you just need to keep your big mouths shut. 

No offense.

So, two days before Thanksgiving, I decided to play Home Beauty Parlor. We do that a lot at our house. I’d recently highlighted a daughter’s hair with presentable results, so I felt emboldened to tackle my own. Even though I should have been making the pumpkin pie instead.

Can you tell where this is headed?

I used something called a Laguna Cap. I pulled a few strands through, no prob, and slathered on the toxic chemicals.

Then I started multi-tasking while it fried. Got absorbed. Kind of forgot about it.

It looked great after I washed it out and detangled. I was even thinking about tackling a little bangs trim.

Until I got a second mirror and checked out the back.

Where there was a large orange golf ball-sized booboo at the crown of the head.

aka, a bleach bleed.

My husband tried to console me. “No one will see it unless they’re taller than you,” he foolishly grinned.

I’m 5’3”.  He’s 6’6”.

Not funny.

I got through the weekend with creative comb-overs and hair clasps.

My hairdresser just shook his head when I finally slunk in for my appointment the next week.

He helped it a little, but it’s still there. It will serve as a humbling reminder of my stupidity for months to come. A miniature golden dunce cap.

There are so many lessons that could be learned from this parable.

Like don’t play with matches, run with scissors, or toy with toxic chemicals.

We could talk about vanity or frivolousness or inner beauty vs. outer.

But the message I’m getting loud and clear is this:

Oh, Kim. How many times are you going to take matters into your own hands? When will you learn to be patient and wait? Don’t you see how often you make things worse than they have to be? Yet you impulsively rushed ahead and tried to fix things yourself.

Even though you already had an appointment. With someone who knows what he’s doing. A professional.

I wonder how many times I’ve done this on a spiritual level. Gotten tired of waiting for God to show up in a situation, and decided to try to fix things myself. And ended up with a blotched, tangled mess.

Never realizing that there was a Divine Appointment already set up for the next day... with a Professional who knows what He's doing.


“...But they soon forgot what he had done 
and did not wait for his plan to unfold.” (Psalm 106:13)


Does anyone else struggle with jumping ahead of the gun? Or have any embarrassing Home Beauty Parlor stories to share?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Christmas Longing

I loved, loved, loved all the comments on the previous post. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and tips. So much wise advise. Plus, it’s wonderful to know we Grinches aren’t alone at this Most Wonderful Time of The Year. I was blessed by hearing your stories, and related to so many of them. I identity with the feelings of stress and loss, the agitation of perfectionistic inclinations, and the yearnings for “something more” than the surface glitter. I laughed out loud at Susan’s story of the Furby craze, remembering the time I made my husband wait outside of Target in the freezing cold, dark, morning hours in order to snag some Cabbage Patch dolls. My children’s lives depended on it.

There’s a theme here.

There is a deep longing.

Underneath the corporate insanity, the meaningless busyness, the nauseating materialism, and the enslavement to the obligations of tradition… there is a yearning for something real. Something deep and mysterious and ravishingly beautiful. There is an unarticulated desperation for the miraculous.

For most of us who did not have to endure tragic childhoods, Christmas was the time of infinite promise. A day when all our wants would be supplied. When our needs would be met. When all of our impossible dreams would come true.

All we had to do was make a list and give it to the jolly fat genie in the red suit.

There was the magic of Christmas morning, with it’s rushing down the hall or stairs to seek what we most coveted, the flinging open of the door into the room wondrously transformed. There were the lights… the exotic aromas… the music. Most of all, there was the exuberant joy of seeing our heart’s desire under the tree.

But eventually the tree died, the toy broke, and bleak January came.

I think what we are really longing for is a Christmas that lasts.

An unending, perfect Christ Mass.

Perhaps the version we experience on December 25 is a pale paradigm of the authentic one. Those elusive things we seek in our secular celebrations are faint reflections of things that are real and true . To experience the essence of Christmas, it is necessary to look behind the veil of the corporeality of our senses to the essential reality of the spirit.

Humans have an innate desire for community, for celebration, for joy… even revelry. We have an ache for a place where our needs are met, our desires fulfilled, our partial selves completed.

A place where there is nothing more to want.

C.S. Lewis calls it a better country.

Home at last.

The thrill of a childhood Christmas morning must be a very weak foreshadowing of the future ecstasy of the true Christ’s Mass.

Where there will be healing and peace and restoration. The joyful communion of kinship. Consummation of every secret longing.

And we will share the feast,

and drink the wine,

and dance with abandon on streets of gold.

מרנא תא



A day late, but inspired by this community...