Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Stones


Prayers for all of you who are remembering today.


Some other thoughts on memorial stones:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In Courage

This opus is enough for about 5 blog posts. It turned out to be so long and unbridled that I have divided it into 3 parts.  I don't have the time am unwilling to take the time to edit. If you are masochistic enough to want to plow through it, please feel free to give yourself several days. Just pretend that I'm one of those diligent daily bloggers, and do one part per day...

Part 1

I’d set aside the day (yesterday) to read, pray, get my head together (as if), and write.

I did the first two, then dallied around and wasted some time. Then I dallied some more.

Finally, I sat down to write. I clicked onto the Margery icon on my desktop.

It looked different. At the top were the bottoms of four little pages that said something like “Lorem Ipsum.” I could see the bottom half of my email address, underneath which there was a space in which to type in my password. “What in the world?” I grumbled. “Why are they always changing things around? Old people don’t like change.”  Nevertheless, I obediently typed in my password, and

nothing happened.

I redid it multiple times. And nothing happened then, either.

I couldn’t open my own page. There was no way to get into “settings.” None of the usual stuff was at the top. Nothing but “Lorem Ipsum” x 4 and a blank space for my password that evidently wasn’t working.

I clicked on the last post’s comments to see what would happen. A new page came up inviting me to join Google and to set up a Blogger blog. “But I already have a Blogger blog. Three, actually.”

The stomach tightens. The pulse quickens. Has Blogger somehow forgotten me? Has some random glitch erased everything? Are those thousands... hundreds of thousands... of words still floating around in space? Has our story been eradicated? Did I forget to pay for something, renew something?

Panicking, I click on Katherine’s Mom’s Blog and In the Meantime to see if they’re still there. Yes, but no way to “sign in” on either of them, either.

Maybe something’s just wrong with my laptop. I grab the Ipad and click on Marg. The strange things aren’t at the top of the page. Sigh of relief.

Until I try to sign in.

I run to the antique family computer and try to access through Internet Explorer instead of Google. Still no luck.

I realize there’s no way I can get on my own blog to let you know that I can’t get on my own blog. I can’t even comment.

Willing myself to calm down, I go to Blogger Help and jump through every hoop they ask me to jump through for about an hour. I shut it down and start it back. I read the directions, and go from external Help site to site. ( But I don’t know about any of this stuff. They’re talking about Browsers and Cookies and this and that. To me, a Browser is a recreational shopper, and a Cookie is something you eat. I’m clicking on every link, emailing cries for help to Blogger. The answers are all useless.

I read the “Last Resort” section.  I start crying out-loud in frustration. I’ve already done those things, or don’t have a clue how to do them.

And then I really come to the last resort, and lay my hands on the keyboard and pray.

When I open my eyes, I notice a part I didn’t notice before (in my panic) about switching from Google to Google Chrome. I download it, go through more hoops, and finally, shakily, I find my way back to familiar territory.

My little space.

And I realize it feels like home.

Part 2

Never, in my wildest imagination, could I have guessed that I would come to feel this way about this vehicle of communication. Friends and long-term readers know about my life-long aversion to gadgetry of every kind. I don’t even like to talk on the phone.

I still don’t love this battered plastic rectangle with lettered keys; I love the community of invisible friends that it has created and enabled. The prospect of losing that fellowship made me realize how much I would miss it if it were gone.

I would miss you.

I had a fresh comprehension of what a privilege this whole blogging thing is… remembering that with privilege comes responsibility.

And, in this case, risk.

I am not completely naïve. It’s been a calculated risk. I’ve sent out an open invitation to one and all to come into my life and the life of my family and share our journey. Not to have the run of the house, though. I haven’t opened the door to every room. Some doors will remain closed for the duration. For every story I share, there are 100 I don’t. (Won’t or can’t.)

(For newcomers, here is how it all began:

A while back, a reader advised me to “put my big girl panties on” in dealing with negative comments. When you invite the whole world into your little corner of it, you’d better be ready for some carpet stains. But it has been astonishing how respectful my visitors have been. 99.9% of the comments have been encouraging, insightful, and enlightening. They have been a blessing and a great help.

Over time, we’ve come to know each other a little. Obviously, most of you know me better than I know most of you. Still, I have felt a beautiful sense of kinship and support here. We’ve built relationship. (I’ve even gotten to meet some of you in Real Life!) It has come to feel like a (relatively) safe place for me. Almost as if there were an invisible hedge of protection around the perimeters of this virtual space. (That’s been a prayer, by the way.)

I’ve never wanted this place to feel like an exclusive club. I have purposely encouraged a variety of readership. As I’ve told you before, I don’t like the concept of just “preachin’ to the choir.” Diversity of opinion should be a welcome challenge for all of us.

I do almost none of the things you’re supposed to do in order to grow blog readership. So when someone new ends up here, I’ve felt like maybe there’s a reason. There are “first time readers” every time I look at the numbers. The majority take a peek and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”  A few stay and become friends.

But there’s a little fear in the back of my head that sneaks out every once and a while. It whispers things like this: “There are people reading who don’t like you or anything you stand for. They are just reading so they can mock you. They are delighted every time you make a fool of yourself. You provide entertainment.”

It’s kind of creepy to think that there may be people like that looking at my family pictures. Makes me feel like somebody’s going through my underwear drawer. But it’s the reality of the world we live in.

I don’t allow myself to dwell on those thoughts, though. The positive things that have resulted in risking vulnerability for the sake of openness far outweigh the negative.

Because there have been relatively few, the negative comments on the “Wounds” post caught me off-guard.

Then, I made a mistake: I responded. I engaged myself with the negativity.

I know better. Defending yourself never does any good. (“Jesus did not defend himself…”)  I didn’t follow the example of my role model. It only caused a backlash.

By the third unkind comment, my phone was going crazy.

It wasn’t just about me putting my big girl pants on.

The negativity was hurting people I love. Friends were angry. Some members of my family were upset. They don’t want/need to be associated with that kind of junk. It’s not what this place is about; it’s definitely not what other family sites are about.

It’s not the message of our story.

So I took it all down.

It made me sad to do so, because I felt the message was an important one.* One that I was supposed to publish for some reason.

Someone needed to hear it?

The next day, a heavy weight of discouragement descended. I felt crushed… little… defeated. I couldn’t really laugh, even though I was with some loved ones from out of town who normally make me die laughing.

My husband was exceptionally sweet to me.

He knew I was wounded.

Obviously, this is about a lot more than a couple of unkind comments. (Eph. 6:12)

Truth be told, none of this is easy for me now. I feel terminally tired. Out of steam. I’ve got some health problems. Just found out about a new one. I have a feeling that I’m not going to be a poster child for the AARP. I have to fight to stay on my feet sometimes. When I get to lie down, the last thing I feel like doing is writing.

Not complaining, just explaining. It is what it is. How it is. Whatever.

Discouragement is not always easy to avoid.

For any of us.

Part 3

I went to church on Sunday feeling bruised and small.

The sermon was entitled “A Call To Encouragement.”

Every word out of the preacher’s mouth was from God to me.

He talked about the ways in which the world can be such a discouraging place. How rampant a critical spirit is… how we humans love to tear each other down in order to feel better about ourselves. He talked about how criticism and negativity give off a foul smell that permeates all it comes in contact with. (Poisoning the emotional environment and crippling spirits, I would add. Btw, this is a very liberal paraphrase.)

But he encouraged us to remember our mission and our calling.

Rather than wasting energy putting out fires of negativity and criticism, we need to expend our energy in the ministry of encouragement.


From the French cour… from the Latin cor: heart

In courage.

We are called to instill each other with courage.

Take heart!

I have you in my heart…

and I’ve got your back covered.

Be of good cheer… fear not… the world, with all of its systems of destructive power, has been overcome!

And that is exactly what so many of you have done for me over and over and over again… some of you from the first hallucinatory, agonizing days in ICU. Your words have been powerful.

Think about it: We possess such latent power.

You have it. I have it. The power to bless, the power to express love, the power to build up, the power to encourage each other along this challenging journey. (Coupled with the equally potent power to curse, to tear down, to discourage.)

The latest outpouring of encouragement was well worth a down day or two for me.

Thank you so much for the kind comments and emails. The calls and hugs. For the avalanche of love and support.

It has reminded me of why I’m still doing this thing:

My prayer is that this will be a place of encouragement.

I hope that my sloppy stories might encourage someone to keep going when they feel like giving up. I hope that somebody might think, “Well, if God hasn’t given up on a mess like Kim, there’s still hope for me.”

I pray that a little lost sheep, thinking she’s gone way too far to go back home, might read a word here that starts her on her journey back to her Father’s open arms.

I pray that a seeker, drawn here in spite of himself, might want to know more about whatever cocktail that crazy woman is having. Whatever drug she’s on.

And that is why this will continue as it is.

Let’s make a pact to encourage as many people as we can.

It could change the world.


“When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” Rom. 1:12

After debate, discussion, and prayer, I have made the decision to keep the comments turned on, and to put the Anonymous option back up again. The Dark will not transcend the Light here.

Here’s the caveat: If the comment is ugly or unkind, it will be deleted as soon as I see it.

Those are the rules for now. There may be more later.


To see how many times the Bible mentions the ministry of encouragement, click here.


*Today, many people (if they believe in God at all) view Him as a kill-joy. (Buzz-killer in current vernacular?) They’ve experienced Christianity as nothing more than a list of restrictive rules meant to keep them from doing what they want to do. The God of that religion doesn’t seem very loving or appealing.

It took me a long time to understand that the rules are not for our restriction, but for our protection. God’s not keeping something back from us. He’s given us our freedom, which is a glorious, but dangerous, thing. He is sad when we use it to harm ourselves. A parent (or grandparent) grieves when a child is hurt. I was not angry that James disobeyed my rule, I was just sorry that he hurt himself.

Since about day four of blogging, I have reiterated that I am not a perfect person. I make mistakes daily. I hope that my mistakes may be redeemed and used for good. In the incident in question, James and I both made mistakes. We both learned something. I was honest about the circumstances in the hope that someone else could learn something from them, too.

If you missed the post and would like to read it, email me at, and I’ll try to send it to you as soon as I find a spare minute.

Love, Kim

Friday, May 20, 2011

Regretfully, I have made the decision to delete the last post, along with all of the comments.

A few of the comments were painful and upsetting to people I care about. 

I cannot afford to allow negativity to impede the healing process. 

I apologize to those of you who have supported, encouraged, and loved my family through some extremely difficult times. I appreciate you (and your prayers) more than I can express.

I'll be re-evaluating things over the weekend. If you feel called to do so, I would appreciate intercession for wisdom, guidance, and protection.

God bless you all.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Good Morning!

Sorry I haven't been around much lately. Several works in progress, but no time. Lots of action on both coasts. 

Please bear with me.

I'll be back soon.


p.s. Please keep praying for the requests under "prayers." Friends Suzi and Susan, who are bravely battling cancer, need support.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Stage Mama

I was the kind of stage mother that got more nervous than the performer.

I still get butterflies in my stomach when I think about a 4th grade talent show. Katherine dressed up like Eliza Doolittle and sang (a capella) “I’m Getting Married in the Morning” in a cockney accent before a tough audience of her peers.

After a somewhat stunned silence, the crowd burst into supportive applause.

But it could have gone the other way.

Throughout the years, there were many, many opportunities for me to learn to trust God in similar situations with my three girls.

Dear God, please don’t let her be frozen with stage fright… forget her lines… trip on stage… mess up her speech… screw up the cheerleading jump… miss the basket… fall during the dance… break her neck in the flip… lose the game for the team…

In some ways, our children are extensions of ourselves, times 100. We get to relive our own fears and insecurities, with the added intensity of a parent’s heart that is wired to protect and defend.

How did I ever live through three female adolescences? (Four, counting my own.)

Only grace, only grace.

Of the three girls, I worried most about Katherine.  That was because: a.) she constantly put herself in more frightening situations; b.) she was the most accident-prone; and c.) she was the most sensitive.

We realize now that the “accident prone” issues most likely had to do with the lurking AVM in her cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance.  Also, stuff just happened to her. For instance, in the final state high school theatre competition, Katherine’s skirt fell off in the middle of a line. She’s standing there in her bloomers in front of hundreds of people. She calmly knelt down and and pulled it back up while continuing her monologue. I don’t know whether the judges thought it was part of the play or if they just admired her chutzpa, but she was awarded the Best Actress honor in spite of the mishap.

I prayed our way through plays and speeches and fashion shows and even a sermon or two.  Through Miss Alabama and auditions and acting gigs. 

But no matter how many times I sat in an audience watching my daughter, I never learned to fully relax.

Katherine had a strong voice. An electric presence. A passionate commitment to use her gifts for good purpose. During her college years, her focus changed from acting as an art form to public speaking as a force for change. She got involved in an inner-city ministry and worked with underprivileged adolescent girls. She changed her major to Speech Communication. She became deeply involved with the Christian Women’s Leadership Program at Samford.

Ultimately, the desire of her heart was to speak for God.

Being a citizen of Fantasy Land, I imagined her giving God the glory in her Academy Award acceptance speech.


It’s been many years since I’ve experienced those stage mama butterflies.

But this Wednesday, I felt a little flutter.

Katherine had been asked to speak to a group of moms at Bel Air Presbyterian preschool. It was a crazy day in a crazy week, so I didn’t ask much about it… just tried to get everybody where they needed to be when they needed to be there.

After dropping James off at his school, I drove like a Nascar driver through intense traffic on the 405 to get us there on time.

For some reason, I’d assumed she’d probably be speaking to a small group of Christian moms meeting in a classroom. As we pulled into the parking lot, she told me that the venue was to be a large outdoor tented area behind the school. The exact same place where their beloved Sunday School class, Young Marrieds, met for much of the time that she and Jay were leaders.

We rushed in (as much as we could rush) just in the nick of time to the designated area…

to find rows and rows of chairs set up, but no people.

Hmmm. What if you gave a party and nobody came?

Being in that space invited flashbacks of pre-AVM-Katherine at the microphone, leading the prayer or making announcements. We’d visited there many times in those good old days. I thought, “Well, at least we’re on anointed ground.”

We waited around awkwardly for a while until a few very chic young Bel Air moms drifted over, chatting and drinking coffee. They glanced at us curiously. I felt the first flutter.

Thankfully, our dear friend Syd, came in and made us feel at ease.

As she encouraged Katherine, I went to get coffee at the table set up outside the area. When I came back, that big tent was almost full of chic young moms. Andrea*, the preschool director who’d invited Katherine to speak, came to welcome us. She told us that almost 70% of the families whose children attended the preschool were unchurched or of different faiths.


How will these beautiful, young, healthy women respond to Katherine’s message? Will they be able to identify with an existence so very different from their own? Will it be a downer for them? An unwelcome reminder that life may not always be so picture-perfect?

I said a silent prayer as my little girl slowly made her way up the podium. As I have done every time she’s ever stepped on stage or grabbed a mike.

And her words came out in a voice not perfect… through a slightly twisted mouth… and touched the hearts of those young mothers.

The sound of soft crying was the background music of her story.

Even I cried, and I’ve lived the story with her.

Yet they were also tears of joy, because the reality pierced me:

Katherine’s prayers have been answered. Her dreams have come true.

The desire of her heart was to speak for God.

And no force in the universe could keep that purpose from being fulfilled.

Katherine, you made this stage mama very, very proud.

Happy Mother’s Day.

I am so glad that James has you.

Katherine's first Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful moms!


*Andrea and Katherine have a special bond. After hearing the story of Katherine's rupture, Andrea was led to get a brain scan because of some headaches.... and discovered that she, too, had an AVM. She underwent a successful 13-hour brain surgery at UCLA to remove it before it had a chance to rupture. Thankfully, she's doing great and expecting her second child now.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


 I’ve been absolutely obsessed with the Royal Wedding.

Not obsessed enough to get up at 1:00 a.m. Pacific Coast Time.  But, still. Pretty obsessed for someone my age living in my circumstances.

It occupied an inordinate amount of my attention over the weekend.

I flipped channels back and forth at every opportunity. I even found myself googling things like “Kate Middleton Style” and “Worst Hats of the Royal Wedding.” (Man. The latter one deserves a whole blog post of its own.)

At several points during the obsessive frenzy, I questioned myself.  (And my sanity.)

Why in the world do you care???

First of all, the concept of monarchy in the 21st century is ludicrous. The expense of the whole thing was ridiculous.

yada yada yada.

I realized that my interest was piqued simply because I felt in need of some serious fantasy.

The beautiful commoner marries the prince and lives a life of blissful forever-after.

The stuff of all our Disney fantasies from early childhood.

Fittingly, the first piece of music played at the royal wedding was actually Fantasia in G (Pièce d’orgue à 5) by Johann Sebastian Bach.

early 14c., "illusory appearance," from O.Fr. fantasie , from L. phantasia, from Gk. phantasia "appearance, image, perception, imagination," from phantazesthai "picture to oneself," from phantos  "visible," from phainesthai "appear," in late Gk. "to imagine, have visions," related to phaos, phos "light," phainein  "to show, to bring to light" (see phantasm). Sense of "whimsical notion, illusion" is pre-1400, followed by that of "imagination," which is first attested 1530s. Sense of "day-dream based on desires" is from 1926, as is fantasize.

Reality is hard to bear sometimes.

Fantasy provides an escape.

From infancy, I have self-comforted with fantasy. I was a hyperactive child that had a very hard time falling asleep. Just as my grandson cons us now, I’d con my parents in every possible way. (“I need some more water,” “My stomach hurts,” “Tickle my back.”) Finally, after threats were made, I’d have to resort to telling myself a story to pass the time until sleep finally snuck up on me. Better than sucking my thumb, I guess.

Some of those stories were pretty darn good, if I say so myself. Should have written them down.

To this day, I use fantasy as an escape mechanism.

It’s nothing perverse. I’m not talking about sexual fantasies or anything like that.

Just fairly harmless Walter Mitty-type stuff.

Dreaming during the day.

Sometimes, if I’m exhausted, stressed-out, or overly worried, I’ll take a little mini-vacay. I make a head sandwich (lying on one’s side with a pillow both under and on top of one’s head), and float away for a few minutes.

I rent a flat in Paris for the summer and walk around the Left Bank, conversing with natives in fluent French. I buy myself a beach house and redecorate it. I make up a whole scenario where I’ve written a best-seller and it’s picked up for a movie. I start a modest-yet-flattering swimsuit company…

Stuff like that.

It’s not as insane as it may sound. When I was a participant in Mayo-Rochester’s Chronic Pain Clinic, they discussed the use of visual imagery as a tool in stress reduction, which in turn leads to pain reduction.

I spent a lot of time in a hammock on the beach of a deserted island while I was at Mayo. Listening to ocean waves. Breathing slowly and deeply.

It helped.

Maybe we could all use a short little vacation from life every once and a while.

Anyone know what I mean?


Where I am now is not where I fantasized I would be at this stage of life.

This was supposed to be the part where the husband is close to retirement and we’re developing new hobbies together. Where we’re signing up for Smithsonian tours of Egypt and mission trips at church. Taking ballroom dancing and reconnecting with old friends who are also recent empty-nesters. Maybe down-sizing and buying a condo at the beach. Playing bridge. Or something.

I’d imagined that this would be the part where I’m having what my husband refers to as “lunchie-poo’s” and shopping expeditions with my girlfriends. Signing up for classes at the University. Going to see the latest movies as soon as they’re released.

My current reality could not be much further removed from those idealized fantasies of Senior Living.

I’m not going to wanh-wanh about it again.

But I’ve noticed something lately.

The fantasies aren’t really working anymore, anyway.

They have let me down.


At some points in life, fantasies have the possibility of fulfillment.

For instance, it is within the realm of the possible that a little girl’s fantasy of becoming a movie star could be realized one day. A little boy might actually grow up to be an astronaut or a rockstar.

A young mother’s daydreams for her children’s futures could come to pass. They might all grow up to be brilliant and beautiful and balanced. And talented and successful and fulfilled. All happily married, with a house on a hill with a picket fence. Brimming with blithe, beautiful, well-behaved children…

Unlikely. But possible.

However there eventually comes a point… an age…  when you realize that some long-held fantasies will (most likely) never become realities on planet earth.

And that can leave a void.

Unless it is filled by something better.

I’ve been thinking about that old “bitter or better” thing. I see people my age (and younger) becoming incredibly bitter about the hand they’ve been dealt. (Or have dealt themselves.) Things like financial crisis, divorce, chronic illness, loss of relationships, loss of loved ones… can all make a person bitter in a hurry. So can the realization that dreams don’t always come true. Prince Charming may not show up and save the day or the bank account after all.  A bitter spirit gives birth to a strong temptation to fantasize about the lives of others, imagining all the ways in which they must be easier or better than one’s own. Sadly, that only creates more bitterness and disillusionment.

And wishing on a star does no more good than staring into the black void of space.

But there is something better.
Something far better than the futile vanity of our favorite foolish fantasies.
St. Paul was harsh in his indictment of those whose imaginations distended into self-idolatry. King James states it this way:
“…they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…” (Romans 1:20b-22a, KJV)
Paul is not condemning fantasy. Imagination in itself is not evil. It is a gorgeous, rich gift that often opens the door to deep truths.
C.S. Lewis says something about our imaginations actually being too weak for our own good, not too strong.
Reality is sometimes harsh. Circumstances are not always of our choosing. Things are often not the way we imagined they would be. That’s life.
If I discover in myself a chronic need to escape from reality, it may be because my powers of imagination are not sufficiently expansive to begin to fathom the difference between perceived reality and ultimate reality.
To see beyond the veil to the Reality that exists beyond the confines of my senses.
Where “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (I Corinthians 2:9, NLT)

I am convinced that the most fantastical fantasy I can conjure up in the fertility (futility?) of my imagination can’t hold a candle to the brilliant reality of God’s perfect plan and providence for me.

May I live it out in tender gratitude.


“…Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…”  (Ephesians 3:20, NIV)


Was anyone else obsessed with The Wedding?
Feel like confessing silly fantasies? Make me feel better, please.