Friday, July 30, 2010

Things I Love

Katherine’s precious friend Catherine (comment #5 on previous post) has very wisely suggested that we counter yesterday’s little exercise with this one.

It is similar to playing The Glad Game, but more frivolous.

So, in random order, a partial list…

-Reading in bed
-Cecelia’s lemon cake
-Being on a boat
-Friends who love unconditionally
-Sleeping late
-Peanuts (My sister-in-law referred to me as a “Peanaholic” in college. Don’t take it the  wrong way.)
-My grandson’s kiss
-Movies that make me blubber
-When God is overt
-Night swimming in a murky lake
-A sense of timelessness
-Reconnecting with an old friend
-The ocean
-When my husband makes me laugh in spite of myself
-Seeing my kids happy
-New clothes
-Massage therapy
-When the right words come
-No schedule
-Key lime pie
-Writing an uninterrupted blog post
-Wasting time
-When there’s nothing left to want
-Good dreams
-James in a swimming pool
-The right music

-When the Holy Spirit lights.

Hmmmm…. Is there a theme here?

I sound kind of like Jimmy Buffet.

Maybe I just need to move to a desert island where they grow peanuts.

Now, you tell me what you love.


 P.S. Yesterday I forgot:

-Pumping my own gas.
-Gigantic cold grocery stores.

If anyone else would like to vent, the polls are still open at “Debbie Downer.” Sometimes it’s healthy to let it all out…whether humorously or seriously. Obviously, people did both. I appreciated everyone’s honesty.

But it would be a great idea to follow it up with a list on this post so that you don’t stay down.

P.S.S. In the “God Being Overt” category: Minutes after typing this, a friend called to say that she had been trying to do something for us for weeks, but one thing after another had gotten in the way. She wanted to drop something by, as she was leaving town today.

It was the Cecelia Lemon Cake, the second item on the list.

God is so good.

(So is the lemon cake… and my friend.)

P.S.S.S. Please pray for traveling mercies as we switch coasts this weekend. And continue to share your prayer needs with us by clicking on the praying lady on the right.


Learning to swim.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Debbie Downer

I know that I’ve been a bit of a downer lately.

Some times are just like that. I’ll work my way back up to the surface again. In the meantime, I thought I could save time by spewing a whole bunch of negativity out into the blogosphere.

…so, here’s an incomplete list of


1.    1. Georgia in July.
2.   2. Little plastic shopping bags into which the checkout girl puts one item.
3.   3. Red lights that last for 5 minutes.
4.   4. T.V.’s you can’t turn on without a degree from M.I.T.
5.   5.  Reality shows, particularly the Kardashians and Tori and Dean.
6.   6. Highway patrolmen on the bypass.
7.   7. Politicians who leave long recordings on my answering machine.
8.   8.  Stinky diapers. (No, we’re not potty trained yet.)
9.   9. Carseats.
10  10. Brain injuries.

Now ya’ll make me feel better. Give me a list of things you don’t love.

It’ll be fun.

(Plus…misery does love company.)


“…But joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)

 “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:14)


(p.s.  11. When Blogger messes up your numbered list for no apparent reason. And your font size.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Empathy of Identification

“Though being God,
the Father’s Word took on our human being,
To mingle it with God, and be little amongst earthlings.”
(St. Gregory of Nazianzus, c. 320-390 A.D.)

Under the circumstances, I suppose it’s not strange that people frequently ask me ‘how I’m doing.’

“How are you?” an acquaintance inquires.

“How are you?” someone a bit closer might ask.

“How are you?” a friend probes, trying to peak beneath the mask.

I never know quite how to answer that question.

I usually manage something completely inane like, “Oh, I’m hanging in there. How are you? The kids good?” Deflection is always a wonderful diversionary technique.

How can I possibly say how I’m doing? I don’t even know the answer to that question.

It varies moment to moment, anyway.  I’m all over the board.

Besides, there’s a world of difference between how I am (“seated in the heavenlies…”) and how I feel.

In actuality, I think the question refers mostly to the latter.

I was mulling this over the other day, after an unusually rash number of inquiries into my (mental?) state.

How can I possibly explain how I feel, where I am, how I’m “doing?”

This is what I felt like saying:

“How would you dofeelbe…  if it were your precious first-born child, child of your heart, your pride and joy? What if this had happened to ________? *” (*Insert name of your own first-born. If you don’t have one, insert name of your most precious loved one.)

Really. Try it.

Close your eyes.


Say the name.

________?  in the wheelchair…  ________? struggling with a walker…  her unable to get out of a bathtub by herself, pick up her own child… him unable to drive, go on a walk with the family, take care of himself… her with a paralyzed face, a distorted voice, an injured eye… him sitting there alone in a quiet room.

How would you feel if every foray into public were accompanied by stares of shock and morbid curiosity instead of looks of admiration or approval?

Having created this little mental exercise for the benefit of others, I immediately employed it myself:

Kim, how would you feel if you were Cheri?  What if it were Amie, your second child, the laughter of your family… who sat immobilized in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the neck down?

Or what if Amie had been born with Down’s syndrome, like Marianne’s second child? What would your life be like? How would you feel?

What if Grace, your precious little caboose, had been born with a brain abnormality, like the third-born of Katherine’s sweet friend Hillary

What if your firstborn Katherine, because of human error, had never received the gift of speech… like Abby’s daughter? What if she had never been able to take care of herself, and short of a miracle, never would? How would you feel if you were Abby?

Can you even begin to imagine how those mothers are “doing” on a daily basis? How would you be doing in their situations?

(I won’t go to the place of contemplating the state of the mothers who have lost their children today… that deserves a separate rumination.)

This exercise has been helpful for me in several ways.

I have prayed to become more truly compassionate. To develop greater empathy for those who are hurting.

Empathy is much more intense… more real… when it is personalized.

Closer to home.

…when there is identification.  Not just generic sympathy for a sad story, but an intimate compassion. When our hearts break for each other. When we enter into each other’s pain and share it… help bear it.

I realize that no matter how sincere the effort, no human being can ever completely understand what it feels like to be in another’s skin. To get behind the obscuring opacity of eyes. To penetrate the wall of unarticulated inner fears and pain and longing.

We cannot get inside each other. We cannot become each other.

Ultimately, we must bear our intrinsic aloneness and alienation from others as a cross until the day when we will know as we are known.

But in spite of the limits imposed by human nature, I’ve found that exercising this spiritual discipline of identification is a valuable tool in developing the kind of empathy that leads to more productive, vital prayer.

Because it is a very pale shadow of the reality of what Christ has done for us.


“He became as we were, to the end that we might become as he is now. He became one with us in death, that we might become one with him in life…”
E. W. Kenyon

“Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power… of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying…
 Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God... Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.” (Hebrews 2, nlt)

“…For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” (Hebrew 4:15, niv)

“And this is the secret: Christ lives in you.” (Colossians 1:27b, nlt)

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” (John 15:4)


Please… don’t anyone take this the wrong way. Everyone who has asked “how I’m doing” has done it out of love, concern, or caring. I receive it that way.

This piece is more about the inadequacy of human beings in truly being able to express what is inside of us, and to understand what is in the hearts of others. And the realization that if no one else on earth can possibly understand how we feel, there is One who can and does. And his compassion is greater than anything we can imagine.

What are your thoughts on this?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Learning to Float, Part 2

Click here for Learning to Float, Part 1.

Sometimes you have to learn things all over again.

And again.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thanks to my friend Cheri for sharing this:


("All I Can Say," David Crowder)

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Holy Little Moment

I was feeling….

 well, frankly,

depressed on Saturday morning.

It is hitting me much harder having Katherine home this time.

It’s summertime…people aren’t around to help…Jay’s not here…

the heat is so oppressive, it’s hard to get out and do anything…

I haven’t felt up to par since our travels…

my back’s out…

and, on top of everything else, I lost my cell phone.

(I cried about that one.)

Everything seems hard.

But I guess the main thing is seeing Katherine in her childhood home… unable to do much but sit. When Jay’s here, we don’t notice that as much. He somehow manages to keep her busy.

Going up the many stairs in our house is a dangerous, precarious, and lengthy process for her. Like climbing a mountain. Going down them is even worse, with the prospect of a face-first avalanche fall.

Sometimes I can’t help juxtaposing these slow expeditions with an image of Katherine tearing down (or up) those same stairs three at a time, chatting excitedly into her cell phone about her plans.

There aren’t many plans now.

It’s been a challenging time on multiple levels. I'm completely out of steam.

I’ve been waking up early, yet exhausted. 

Saturday morning, I got up, drank some coffee, started some chores. But then I got back in bed. Tried to return some emails, but mostly just stared into space.

James had been running around getting into things, but he came and scrambled his way up into my high, old bed. He didn’t say anything, just lay at the foot of the bed and looked at me.

That’s pretty unusual.

He picked up my foot. He examined the bottom, where I have the leftovers of a blister.

“Mimi has a booboo,” he solemnly stated. “I gone kiss it, make it better.”

He did.

He kissed my dirty foot about 10 times, slowly and gently. Then he said, “I gone get some med'cine make it better.” But he stayed there and kissed it some more.

I pretended not too be too interested, afraid he might stop. He continued to lie at my feet, looking intently at my face as I typed.

And he kissed my weary foot once more.

It was a holy moment.


 “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love…

…he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him…

"Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” " (from John 13)

“When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.” (Luke 37-38)


Have you experienced any holy little moments like that... when someone or something has ministered to you in a humbling and unexpected way? I think such moments are all around us; we just don't always recognize them for what they are.

Friday, July 16, 2010


  “Double, double, toil and trouble…”
William Shakespeare, Macbeth

I find myself in a strange place again, still mulling over my impressions of Europe, while trying to get back into a routine. (Which will promptly and happily be interrupted this afternoon, when I drive halfway to Montgomery to pick up precious cargo. Katherine is coming home. With James. It will be the first time they’ve been here without Jay since the AVM rupture. Please pray about the stairs…and other safety issues.)

Jet lag has made the re-establishment of a morning Quiet Time much easier than usual: 4:00 a.m., and I’m wide awake. Perfect time for prayer and study. I’ve felt a vague, creeping sense of unease…almost dread…without it.

First, I checked the prayer requests on Margery. I am grateful that people have been open to sharing their needs…and that others have been willing to intercede for them. We are building community.

People have poured out their troubles, and those of people they care about: heart-breaking infertility issues…life-threatening and life-destroying illnesses…traumatic brain injuries…various life challenges and changes. I spent some time praying for each one. The growing list is a wonderful aid for me in terms of consistency and persistence in prayer. I hope that it will become a tool in developing spiritual discipline for some of you as well. Personally, I need all the help I can get. (“The spirit is willing, but the flesh (and aging brain) are weak.”)

As I prayed, I tried not to enter into what Oswald Chambers refers to as “the agony of intercession,” but it is difficult for me to avoid. As I mentioned in “The Weight of Tears,” it is sometimes a struggle for me to relinquish the heaviness. Although my head knowledge tells me to lift up the intercessory prayer, and leave it there, I have a tendency to bring part of that weight back down to earth with me.

After I prayed, I stayed still for a while, thinking about how many troubles and heartaches there are in this world. So many things that seem unfair. Happy, productive lives interrupted by injury or devastating illness. Loving couples who desperately desire a child, but are unable to conceive…while unwed, unfit teenagers churn out baby after baby. Young people cut down just when they should be blossoming.

Why, God? Why?

I picked up my Bible, left behind for 10 days, like a long-lost friend. Turned to where I’d left off. This is what I read:

 “Finally, when we could stand it no longer…we sent Timothy to visit you. He is our brother and God’s co-worker in proclaiming the Good News of Christ. We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles. Even while we were with you, we warned you that troubles would soon come—and they did, as you well know. That is why, when I could bear it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out whether your faith was still strong. I was afraid that the tempter had gotten the best of you and that our work had been useless.
But now Timothy has just returned, bringing us good news about your faith and love… So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord.
 How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy as we enter God’s presence. Night and day we pray earnestly for you…”

(1 Thessalonians 3: 1-10, nlt)
We are destined for trouble???
Are you kidding me?
I go to one of my favorite online resources,, and hit the Keyword Search for “trouble.”  There are 179 separate entries…and it is not even a complete concordance.
This one hits me: “Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7)
When you are young and happy, you don’t want to hear stuff like that.
I remember going to hear a Christian speaker with some of my friends early on in our faith experiences. We were young mothers with adorable toddlers and babies. The speaker told her story. She quoted the scripture “…in this world you will have trouble…” She spoke of the inevitability of trials coming: not if, but when. I don’t remember it all, but the climax was that her son was killed. I think he must have been hit by a car or in a bad wreck. At the end, she held up his sneaker, found on the side of the road. My friends and I sobbed.
Her story was one of triumph from tragedy. She told of how God had sustained and comforted her and her family in their time of grief. But I remember how my friends and I looked at each other, wide-eyed and horrified. I think I said something like, “I don’t care how strong my faith was, I could never, ever survive something like that. You’d have to just throw me in the coffin, too.”
I simply could not imagine surviving a trouble like that.
But life has since shown me that we can survive many unsurvivable things with the help of God’s spirit. Troubles we could not, in our wildest imaginations, envision surviving. We are given the grace we need when we need it, not before. This has been tested and proved in my own life.
I don’t fear and dread the future as much as I did when I was younger. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I will experience much more suffering in this life. It is the inevitable result of living in an imperfect world where separation, pain, and death exist. But I also believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that I will be given the strength to endure. And not only endure, but to continue to experience some joy along the rocky way.
The majority of this post was written on Tuesday morning; many divine interruptions have occurred since then. When I had to stop writing, I quickly checked my email. Someone had written this to me: “I hope this is a good day for you (meaning the presence of God's strength rather than the absence of trials.)”
I pray that for you as well.
 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (Corinthians 4:16-18)


Remember... to post your prayer needs, just click on the praying lady on the right and hit “comment.” Is there any techie out there who knows how to reverse it so that the most recent requests will appear at the top? Thanks! Kim


Among the many divine interruptions this week: Alphabet Soup.


Monday, July 12, 2010


“Not all who wander are lost…”  
J.R.R. Tolkien

It was impractical in every way.

Ridiculous in terms of time, energy, schedule, workload, and finance.

(Especially finance. Really, really dumb.)

But we did it anyway.

Because now, more than ever, we know that there are occasions when you have to be absolutely impractical. 

It is practically the most important thing you can do.

There’s an unsung hero in our family’s story. Someone who’s been braver and stronger than most her age.  Someone who had to finish growing up in a hurry. Who has made sacrifices and taken risks. Who has forced herself way, way out of her comfort zone. Who has risen to the occasion.

Our family’s baby is not a baby any more.

For these and many other reasons, we wanted to honor her. To spend some one-on-one quality time with her. To have some little adventures. To laugh and be as we were before The Earthquake…if only for a brief time.

So we tabled everything else, bit the bullet, and got on a plane to meet ‘Formerly-Known-As-The-Baby’ Grace in Switzerland the day after she finished exams. (She had been taking classes at Pepperdine’s branch in Lausanne for the previous two months.)

I am so glad that we did.

It was not an earth-shattering trip. We did not force ourselves into every Museum, see every historic site, dance every dance. On some days, we just wandered, walked, and watched.

And laughed: church laughs…gut-busting laughs…full-out hyena laughs. You see (and do) funny things in foreign countries.

And we ate. Oh, my goodness, did we ever eat. We ate good. We ate well. Nous avons mange’ beaucoup.

Worth every calorie. Every ripple of cellulite. Impractical from a diet standpoint, but so worth it.

We ate octopus and escargot and pate’ and lamb and rabbit and several fish I’d never seen or heard of… some with heads and eyes intact. We ate drippingly luscious fruits and savory cheeses and marvelous macaroons and heavenly ice cream. We drank cold soups and spooned hot soups and tasted tempting terrines. We drank exotic strange-colored liquids and local wines and oceans of designer water. (Non-gaseuse, s’il vous plait.) Even gagged down an occasional “Coca Cola Light”… NOT the same as Diet Coke, whatever claims may be made.

I’m getting carried away again.

We also drank in the smells and sounds and sights of Otherness.

Which, I think, is a very good thing. The world is so much more than our own little corners of it. It is important that we remind ourselves of that.

This impractical, unnecessary little trip of ours made me think about so many things I haven’t thought about lately. It gave me a new perspective on the world, my country’s place in it, and the issues…huge issues…that are inevitably going to affect all of us. We cannot continue to remain oblivious and isolated.

The encounters we had with a kaleidoscope of raw humanity brought the issue of faith to the forefront of my mind. I hope that I will be able to share some of these thoughts with you before they fade away, obscured by the tyranny of the everyday.

I wish I had more time to reflect and ponder.

But life moves so very fast here on our side of The Pond. I’ll probably be off and running on to the next thing before the suitcase is even unpacked.

I will tell you one thing, though. There’s something very, very right about countries in which the shops close for two hours everyday…

for lunch.

Life is short. We need to live well.

And, sometimes, impractically.


I’m not trying to inflict boring family travel pix on any unwilling victims, but if you’re interested, click here:

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I am so grateful for all those who have shared their prayer needs, and for those who have responded faithfully. Know that I am praying for each of you. Our little prayer lady is a good reminder. Please continue to feel free to add your concerns.