Monday, October 24, 2011

Harnessing the Wind

“The wind blows wherever it pleases.
 You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.
 So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
 (John 3:8)

Driving through the California desert, the heat index rose with each mile away from LA. The landscape was stark and simple: brown and grey hills against a background of brilliant blue sky.

The sun was painfully blinding. I flipped down the shade and tried to hide behind it as I read my magazine.

“You’ve got to see this,” my husband nudged me.

Hesitantly, I peered out the window.

It was a strangely beautiful sight.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of sculpture-like stiletto structures lined the mountains and valleys, white sentinels in neat formation.

They resembled tall crosses at first glance, like the ones that stand in countless rows at the Veteran’s Cemetery in Westwood.

But then, I noticed movement.  They were whirling like pinwheels in the hot desert wind.

“What in the world are they?” I asked my husband.

He explained what wind turbines are.

I realized:
They are harnessing the power of the wind.

Although the “outside temperature” reading was 104, I felt a slight chill creep up my arm.

There is great power in the universe.

Whether you believe in the Big Bang theory, concede to creationism, or accept elements of both, it is evident that the world began with a burst of power.

The world remains charged with latent energy.

I ruminated on this idea as we continued through the dry, hot desert.

Later, I wondered about how those turbines actually turn wind into electricity.

Julie Brown writes, “…air is a fluid like any other except that its particles are in gas form instead of liquid. And when air moves quickly, in the form of wind, those particles are moving quickly. Motion means kinetic energy, which can be captured, just like the energy in moving water can be captured by the turbine in a hydroelectric dam. In the case of a wind-electric turbine, the turbine blades are designed to capture the kinetic energy in wind. The rest is nearly identical to a hydroelectric setup: When the turbine blades capture wind energy and start moving, they spin a shaft that leads from the hub of the rotor to a generator. The generator turns that rotational energy into electricity. At its essence, generating electricity from the wind is all about transferring energy from one medium to another.”

The spiritual symbolism of the image of accessing power from the wind is striking. In the Bible, wind represents the Holy Spirit.

This passage came immediately to mind:

“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they (Jesus’ disciples) were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit...” (Acts 2:1-4)

A move of the Spirit.


“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you…” (Acts 1:8)

One is indwelt by God’s spirit at the point of surrender.

We like to think that we’re in control. We’re capable of handling whatever comes our way. We’re masters of our own destiny. We’ve got it all together.

But most of us will feel powerless at some point in our lives. If you haven’t yet, I predict that you will one day.

We finally come to the realization that no matter how “able” we are, there are some things we cannot control.

(The word “power” comes from the Latin “to be able.”)

The best of my ability is not always good enough.

Thank God.

I am stupid and stubborn and no stranger to deserts. I’ve found myself walking circles in them more times than I care to remember, lost by my own initiative to be in charge.

I’ve taken a couple of vacations to desert lands quite recently, in fact.

A spiritual desert is a fearsome thing. Independence and self-will can land you in a lonely place.

But there, in my powerlessness, in my weakness, in my failure, I choose to surrender. 

To give up. To lay down my arms. To stop fighting in my own strength.

A sense of powerlessness grants me the humility to finally ask for help. To swallow my pride.

To surrender my sovereignty to a 'Higher Power.'

To give up my need to control, to fix, to manipulate.

And, finally, to access a latent power that's been there all along... just waiting to be tapped. Wanting to be tapped.

There is a life-giving energy flowing through the universe. Flowing into me.

Rather than trying to harness the wind for my own purposes, I can choose to harness myself… to yoke myself… to that source of true Power that already resides within.

The only Power in the universe that is powerful enough.


 “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead…” (Ephesians 1:18-20)

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)

 “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fall Treats

Back in LA, autumn seems months away.

It was 94 degrees when we landed at LAX on Thursday. Nevertheless, I am still in Fall Mode.

So we went to Trader Joe’s and loaded up on pumpkin paraphernalia.

James’ birthday is tomorrow, and he associates Pumpkin Time with that happy occasion. As I arranged some baby pumpkins on the front porch, James picked one up and held it in a hug. “Is this for me?” he asked incredulously.

Whatever makes you happy.

He had more fun playing with the box the wreath came in than he did with his toys yesterday.

The simple joys.

Speaking of which, did I mention that the food at my niece’s mountain wedding was amazing?

Let me just say that all healthy eating plans are quickly abandoned at times of great celebration.

We feasted. That’s what you’re supposed to do at a wedding.

Glen-Ella Springs Inn is known for it’s southern cuisine. More Paula Deen than “The Healthy Gourmet.”  

Case in point, the delicious desert we were served at the rehearsal dinner. I’m not a huge sweets person, and I don’t love pumpkin.

But this may have changed my mind.

Pumpkin Cobbler

1 15 oz can pumpkin
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 18.25 oz package butter-flavored yellow cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup butter, melted

(Whipping cream and nutmeg optional, but optimal!)

Stir together first 5 ingredients. 
Pour into lightly greased 13x9 baking dish. 
Sprinkle cake mix evenly over pumpkin mixture, sprinkle evenly with pecans.  Drizzle butter evenly over pecans. 
Bake at 350 for 1 hour.
Remove from oven, and let stand 10 minutes before serving. 

Serve warm or at room temp with whipped cream. Sprinkle
with nutmeg.

Whipped Cream

1 8 oz carton whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
dash of nutmeg                 

Beat cream at low speed with mixer until foamy.
Increase speed to medium high, gradually adding sugar and nutmeg until soft peaks form.

Bon Appetit!

Many thanks to Glen-Ella Springs Inn for sharing this yummy recipe, and to the groom’s mom Mary for passing it along.

May your weekend be full of fall fun, wherever you are.

(We’re headed to the Pumpkin Patch this afternoon.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Seasons Change

(James as the ring-bearer (ring-biter?) at a country wedding in the mountains.)

No matter what’s going on in our lives, one thing is certain:


Everything on earth is only temporary.

1547, from L. temporarius "of seasonal character, lasting a short time," from tempus (gen. temporis) "time, season."

All things on earth are only for a season.

This phrase occurs multiple times throughout scripture: “And it came to pass in process of time…”

The word “time” appears 888 times in the NIV version of the Bible.

Times and seasons are of great spiritual significance, from Alpha to Omega.

 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Times and seasons are in a constant state of flux, whether perceptible or not. Change is constantly occurring, even when it seems as if everything is static. The river of time continues to flow, even when it appears to trickle or go underground.

I have a love/hate relationship with Change.

Sometimes, Change is uncomfortable. Exhausting and emotional. Sometimes, it is absolutely wrenching.

Other times, change comes as a welcome relief.

When you are “hard-pressed, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down” on every front (II Corinthians 4:8-9), change is heavenly. When things are heating up to the boiling point, change is a balm for the burn.

Fall fell suddenly this year.

It was the hottest summer on record in Athens, GA.

Summer got a jump-start in May, and dawdled around until well into September. It stayed stupefyingly hot and muggy for weeks and weeks on end. I told anyone who’d listen that, in my opinion, the weather was absolutely Unacceptable. Intolerable. Disgusting.

But one morning, I woke up and went outside to see this in my driveway:

A front had blown in during the night, dropping the temperature 20 degrees by dawn. 

The thermometer has gone up and down since then, but I cherish that initial image. It has served as a reminder during recent challenges.

Hard times may seem to be never-ending.

But when you are at your wit’s end… when you just can’t take any more… a welcome wind of change can breeze in overnight.

Help arrives… just in the nick of time.


“At just the right time.” (Romans 5:6)

In God’s time.


Nature’s cyclical changes provide a visual representation of eternal truths. From death comes life. Over and over and over again. 

I rejoice particularly in the changes Autumn brings. I've always been a Fall Freak. As far back as I can remember, there's  been something particularly exciting to me about this time of year. The excitement is tinged with a little element of fear that only intensifies it. Although leaves are falling and dying, it feels like a time of new beginnings. A new school year. New colors. Football games. Fires. Sweaters. Family. Holidays. Change.

I wonder why it is that so many teenagers fall in love in the fall?

My childhood memories are laced with the smells of autumn in the North Georgia mountains. Although I grew up in a (relatively) cosmopolitan college town, my roots are in the mountains. My ancestors moved there from Virginia just after the Revolutionary War. Many descendents have never left. My grandmother grew up in Blairsville, near Brasstown Bald. Her father, a brilliant man, was a Baptist minister. He was a "circuit" preacher who rode around the mountains of North Georgia so that remote areas might still have the benefit of clergy. "Nenie" never tired of going back to where her heart belonged, so every fall we grandchildren were treated to extensive forays into the gentle, green mountains of Georgia. Somedays, we all just piled into some antique vehicle without seatbelts or a maximum capacity limit, and "went to ride." 

Although I'm grateful for the wonderful year-round weather of southern California, I do sometimes miss the change of seasons when I'm there. So I was thrilled that we were able to coordinate things so that Katherine, James, and I were all able to be a part of a family wedding in the North Georgia mountains last weekend. (We all need to appreciate our roots... even sophisticated little "Angelenos" like James.)

To see more of our family’s fall pictures, click here:

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

(The problem is, once it starts, you can't turn it off! Just click out of everything after you've seen it once. Or you'll go crazy. Best if viewed "fullscreen," then click 'esc')

Monday, October 3, 2011


I’ve started seven or eight posts in the past week or so.

I’ve finished none.

They range in topic from the intensely trivial to the extremely heavy.

All over the board.

A reflection of where my life is right now. Always: A tension between the surface and the interior.

Sometimes the juxtaposition seems more extreme than at other times.

Like now.

Huge things are happening. There are some really big stories to tell. But they are not mine alone to share. No man is an island. So I’ve become tongue-tied.

There’s a major block in this wannabe-writer’s path.

Last week, I flitted around being social (for a change)… having surface encounters with different people… and all the while, there are these huge things that I’m pondering in my heart.

It makes me feel a bit like a fraud.

I’ve tried to make honesty and transparency hallmarks of this blog. But right now, it’s difficult. Some things are obscure even to me. And must remain so for now.

I’m not even sure where I’m headed with these comments.


I guess what I’m asking for is some grace.

I know it’s frustrating for daily blog-checkers when I take inexplicable long absences. But the writing is always, always better when it’s not just me sounding off about something. When I wait for something to be revealed. And that doesn’t  happen on command.

So right now I’m waiting and listening. And praying.

I guess I would ask that, too, of my faithful blog readers. I especially ask it of those of you who have grown to care about our family, and have stuck with us and prayed us through some terrible storms.

I’m humbly asking you to pray for us again now.

To pray without even knowing why.

Without knowing all the juicy details.

I’ve learned that this is the most effective prayer of all, because our own human slant on things is absent then.

The Spirit Himself intercedes:

 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” (Romans 8:26, NLT)

In doing that for us, you become a part of the wonderful story that God is writing even now.

I hope I’ll be allowed to be His scribe one day.

Thank you for your role. It gives me chills to think of how mysteriously we are all knit together in this intricate tapestry of life.

Love, Kim


(In the meantime, maybe we can get some of those trivial pursuits up this week. Because life is all of it.)

Also, please check the prayer lady for the latest prayer requests and scroll down to the bottom. (I know it’s annoying… need to learn how to reverse comments.) The Francis family is experiencing a situation far worse than anything we’ve been through. Please intercede for them as well!