<![CDATA[Kim Carter Lee - Thinking out loud]]>Thu, 21 Jan 2016 02:45:40 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Take the road less traveled... my short list *]]>Thu, 21 Jan 2016 04:41:36 GMThttp://www.kimcarterlee.com/thinking-out-loud/take-the-road-less-traveled-my-short-listPicture
The first week of the New Year is always exciting; replete with eager anticipation for the proverbial clean slate. The opportunity to start fresh appeals to many, resulting in profound resolutions for change. Then, inevitably, before the chill of January has passed, enthusiasm wanes, old habits persist, and many enter the month of February mentally and physically defeated.

Back to where they started… or rather ended, in the prior year. 

Same shiz, different year.

Admittedly, as a younger adult, I too found myself compelled to start fresh, to fill my proverbial clean slate with a thinner, more organized, and well-read version of me. But now I’m a little older and wiser… and quite frankly I’m tired of disappointing myself.

So for the past several years (OK  ... decades), I have resolved not to make a New Year’s resolution. They are a waste of verbiage, and (for me at least) serve only as a tool for self-deprecation.

This year was no different, I was resolved to not to get sucked into the hype… Then, on 12.31.15, via USA Today on my twitter feed I read this:

#theshortlist

I was immediately smitten. The idea that I could cleverly pen a 5 word phrase (or in my case paraphrase a famous poem) that would serve to emulate my desire for personal growth and improvement throughout 2016 drew me in.

After much consideration, I chose this catchy little number:  “Take the road less traveled”   

Bamm!   I loved it! 

I know, Robert Frost said it first and said it well, but for me it was perfect; straight forward - yet it compelled thought and was applicable in every aspect by which I could hope to improve.

Clearly others loved it as well… my twitter feed soon lit up with (wait for it…) one “like”!!  I didn’t explore my “like-er’s” (I realize that’s not a real word by the way) twitter account, but!   based solely on the 1/8 inch square profile pic, I think she’s a porn star chumming for traffic to her twitter account… none-the-less!  I appreciate her “like” and the Pollyanna in me has high hopes she too is encouraged to make a change in 2016.

But I digress....

This would be my “mission statement” for 2016 – When I can choose, I will choose to take the road less traveled…..

For example:
  • In a world that values the accumulation of wealth and stuff, I will choose to let go and lean in towards simplicity and less debt.
  • In a culture that is enamored with body size and fitness, I will base my diet and exercise plan on simply moving more and consuming food that honors my body and equates to a healthier me.
  • At a time when serial monogamy is the norm, I will guard my heart and mind against the people and pressures that threaten to harm the holy gift of my marriage and family.           And finally –
  • At a time when “spirituality” has been generalized to “self-awareness” and individual “experiences” – I choose to focus on the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the most high God and the redemptive and completed work of Jesus the Christ.
Simply stated, Paul summarizes it best in Philippians 3:13 -16 (niv)

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus…. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”

Did you catch that last verse… “live up to what we have already attained” …  by striving to live “up” to what has already been attained/accomplished (salvation) I believe we will naturally improve. I find that when I stop and consider what is already mine (what Christ attained for me), I am thankful and compelled
to do better. Ultimately I’m driven to make better choices, to take the road less traveled in all it's various aspects, so that one day I might be found worthy of His gracious sacrifice.

Many viewed the New Year as an opportunity for change and set unrealistic goals (we are after all the same person on 1.1.16 as we were moments before on 12.31.15). By conscientiously taking the road less traveled, I will strive to live up-wards; live a life worthy of my redemption and the unfailing love of a holy God and His unrelenting gift of salvation that always finds me, despite my failures and my propensity towards weak resolve.

*disclaimer… first draft of this blog was penned in a dimly lit room at 3 am shortly after January one. Since I’m a work in progress and still “me” after all, on this January 20th I will confess: I’ve found (yet again) that the road less traveled can be pretty darn narrow … but I am indeed pressing on. 

When we know better, we can do better.... Blessings my friends…



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<![CDATA[Say something nice.]]>Wed, 09 Dec 2015 21:44:33 GMThttp://www.kimcarterlee.com/thinking-out-loud/say-something-nice
This blog entry is a long time coming. Since my last entry, I’ve struggled to be inspired (and patient) enough to sit at my computer and type something out… struggled to gather my thoughts to regale anything worth writing and reading. Each time I would ponder possible topics, I would settle on silence, because honestly - I had nothing nice to say.

(I recalled watching Bambi as a child and I was following Thumper’s lead, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all”).

So I said nothing.

The “politicking” ad nauseam surrounding the presidential primaries (both ridiculous sides), the recent terrorist events and the gun control rhetoric that resurfaced in the wake of yet another “mass shooting” had left me doddering between fearful and furious, so I stayed silent.

(Apparently we’re up past 300 now?!  It’s like we’re living in Norway or something. Or not, depending on how one defines “mass” shooting per capita.  http://www.ijreview.com/2015/12/348197-paris-attack-claim-mass-shootings/ )

While silent, I determined to spend more time seeking God and peace … His peace … that is inevitably found in His presence. One evening while reading in Isaiah, I came to this verse;

“Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord.”  Isaiah 37:14

At this point, Hezekiah had already received reassurance from the prophet Isaiah that the Lord would deliver them; “Do not be afraid of what you have heard – those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me…” but now he receives a message from Sennacherib, the king of Assyria himself. It was a terrible message, one that had real potential to again rattle his faith through fear... “will you be delivered??”  (vs. 11)… why would God deliver and save you when my forefathers were allowed to destroy “completely” other countries (vs. 12)… where are those kings now? You are as good as dead (vs. 13)
In other words, hey Jerusalem, just like the other 10 fallen tribes of Israel, you’re screwed. God himself is against you and we Assyrians* are the tool He will again use to exact righteous judgment.

I LOVE his response… Without hesitation, his faith resolute, Hezekiah again goes immediately to God and spreads this whole mess out before Him, the King of kings; “Now, O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone,  O Lord, are God” (Isaiah 37:20). God quickly responds through Isaiah, “I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant” (37:35). And so it was that God retained a remnant for His divine purpose.

In retrospect, I suppose that is what I have done (though I’ll admit, not as effortlessly… I’m a slow learner) –these past several weeks, I have turned my prayers to the Creator, to the Most High God, to my Deliverer… and have rested within the peace of His presence.

It seems that we are surrounded by a constant barrage of calamitous messages. These messages threaten our not only our peace of mind, but seemingly our very lives. The President reassures us that although the “threat from terrorism is real … we will overcome it” – respectfully Mr. President, your words provide little assurance. Besides our weakened military presence internationally, here at home we see the anti-gun lobbyist are gathering support to impose yet more restrictions that will (if we follow the paths of other countries) make it unlawful to protect ourselves from all “radicalized” individuals that wish to do us harm. Until we as a nation acknowledge the true source of the radicalization that produces and spews pure hatred in all its divisive forms of race/ethnicity & religions, none will ever truly be safe.

Ruminating on these facts can be overwhelming. In an effort to "not be afraid of what you [I] have heard" this is what I have resolved to do…. When I feel fearful, (besides turning off the TV, radio or twitter feed) I will consistently take my concerns and troubles to God, I will strive to immediately spread this whole mess out before Him, the King of kings.

He alone can deliver us, He alone can bring peace, with Him we need not live in fear (Ps 27:1-3, Isaiah 41:10, Ps 118:6-9).

Dearest Lord, Hope – I need hope. Peace – I need peace. Fill me with your presence and graciously allow me to be a conduit so that others may be filled with that same hope & peace.  Amen.

God’s blessing’s in this Holy Christmas Season.




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<![CDATA[The truth about expectations... they are usually wrong.]]>Thu, 19 Nov 2015 01:24:23 GMThttp://www.kimcarterlee.com/thinking-out-loud/the-truth-about-expectations-they-are-usually-wrongI don’t know about you, but on a daily basis before, during and after various social interactions, my self-talk goes something like this:

While getting ready to meet a friend for lunch… “She’s going to think this outfit is ugly and notice the weight I’ve gained.”

Discussing politics with an acquaintance… “Surely she will change her mind once she hears this!”

After applying for a job and getting called for an interview… “Hiring pool must be shallow; they called me out of desperation”

Driving home after a long day at work… “I’m sure the kids will have the dishwasher emptied and the kitchen clean so I can start dinner.”

On and on and on it goes, mistaken expectations and the disappointment that inevitably follows has the power to tear me down emotionally, damage or even sever relationships, and even stunt my growth as a child of God.

What’s a girl to do?

A few weeks ago, I was blessed to be able to attend a Christian Women’s Conference. It was organized locally, and having attended larger conferences in the past, and in my usual self-talk script, I wasn’t “expecting” much. In fact, I almost didn’t go.
Shame on me (I know, I know, I’m a “mature Christian” and I have the moxie to waltz into a “Christian” conference with a chip on my shoulder, expecting this to be an epic waste of time).

Was I ever wrong! In fact, I was wrong in the most ironic sense – proof to me yet again that God has a sense of humor.

The theme verse for the conference was,
Psalm 62:5, “My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.” 

The focus taken from the verse is that often (ok – pretty much always) we allow our expectations (high and/or low) towards individuals or experiences to take precedence in our thoughts. These failed expectations then negatively affect our attitudes, our outlook on life in general, our relationship with friends and family, and ultimately mar our witness and even muck up and stunt our relationship with God. 

The solution is straight forward; replace all my expectations with God’s (and His “yoke is easy” and His “burden is light” Matthew 11:30).

This concept is so simple but it blows my mind when I think about how it can alter the outcome of every interaction and each relationship we often struggle to control. When we surrender our expectations to Him, and allow all expectations to be filtered through Him, we will be free from the burden of worry, doubts and fear. 

It’s not our job to affect change in others; God will take care of that in His way and in His time. We just get to love em’ up, be His hands, His feet, extending His grace and mercy… even if our pants do are a bit too tight from that extra 10 pounds. ]]>
<![CDATA[#PrayforParis (scratch that?) #PrayforSfar (maybe not?) ]]>Tue, 17 Nov 2015 04:38:34 GMThttp://www.kimcarterlee.com/thinking-out-loud/prayforparis-scratch-that-prayforsfar-maybe-notWhen Paris was attacked by terrorists on November 13, 2015, besides identifying as one who stands with Paris via the color overlay on Facebook, there was little else I could do; just watch the story unfold and pray. Others responded similarly and the Twitter and Facebook feeds soon erupted with #prayforParis hashtags.

Then I came across a story regarding Joann Sfar's thanks but no thanks cartoon on Instagram.

"Thank you for #prayforParis, but we don't need more religion! Our faith goes to music! Kissing! Life ! Champagne and joy! #Parisisaboutlife"

Ethnocentric airs aside, until I paused to think about where he was coming from, I was offended by his request that we refrain from praying for Paris.  It was after all a fanatical "religion" that just laid siege to his city – from Charlie Hebdo to now - so enough is enough.

You view our prayers and the religion associated with them as superfluous, and based on the article in Salon.com by Mary Elizabeth Williams, perhaps my prayers might even offend you. (Although I’m not exactly certain what about my prayers should offend …. After all, if one rejects the idea of religion/God… theoretically my prayers are going nowhere so the threat is null... At best they are simply positive thoughts).

However, as a sociologist I realize that when it comes to grief and trauma, coping mechanisms vary by culture and religion (or absence of religion... whatever the case may be).  

I get it - I do - Apparently the thought of prayers lifted up specifically for Paris is bothersome to many.

But if you don't mind, since ethnocentricity flows all ways (at least it should in all fairness), I for one would like to continue to cope as I do best, via prayer, I dare say even prayers for you.  Feel free to curse me and shake your fists into the vast expanse of nothingness and post #stoptheprayers on your twitter … its really ok (actually, it would probably serve as fuel for more prayers).

But I, and no doubt many other like-minded individuals, still prefer to muddle through this life through our faith in God and our prayers.

Ecclesiastes is a book from the bible that even some atheists appreciate; (hermeneutically however - a Christian and an atheist would obviously view it differently) Solomon implores the reader on several occasions to “eat your bread with pleasure, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart...”  The Christian too enjoys kisses, champagne and the many joys present in life, but with a heaven bound perspective, we recognize that seeking fulfillment through worldly pursuits will leave you empty.  

Fleeting pleasures in this world are just that ... Fleeting.  

C.S. Lewis in his book the Problem of Pain summarizes it as such, “we must remember that the soul is but a hollow which God fills”  Without God, I recognize that I am empty and so are my pursuits.

The act of praying is so often viewed as the “least” one could do… if nothing else, we can pray.  Really, its the most we can do, lifting up our heart-pressed sorrow filled requests to a holy and loving God.  

It’s amazing to me that He listens, that He cares, that He attends to us at all.

I think there is some common ground we can all stand (or kneel) on; “Religion” in the sense alluded to in the cartoon is in fact over-rated and often results in closed-mind, dogmatic, judgmental tirades at best, mass murder at its worst.

Personally, I’m not about religion; I’m about a relationship with Christ. Increasingly I am compelled to love like He loved, serve as He served, and to weep with those that weep…..

So Paris, and Joann Sfar… I’m weeping with you, and despite your request to stop, I’m going to keep praying for you too.  #Godisaboutlife!

Sincerely written by a fellow broken, peace and joy seeking, champagne loving, human soul.


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<![CDATA[Refined by fire, it's an ongoing process.]]>Sun, 15 Nov 2015 03:29:54 GMThttp://www.kimcarterlee.com/thinking-out-loud/refined-by-fire-its-an-ongoing-processIt’s been an emotionally draining week. Although none of the tragedies that made it draining occurred in my personal bubble, the ripples of sorrow have rolled out and toward me none the less.

Attending the funeral of a young girl is life altering. It forces one to attend to our collective human mortality and the void that remains when someone we love dearly is taken.

That could have been my daughter – how does one endure that loss?  It makes no sense.

Continual prayers for the family… Please God let them find peace amidst the sorrow.

Then I remember this verse, a promise that provides hope to a speechless heart.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” Romans 8:26

When we don’t know what to pray, how to ask, where to begin, when circumstances are simply too overwhelming – we need only lift up our hearts, our sorrows.

The Spirit will intercede for us… that promise is powerful.

He hears the inward groaning of our hearts and souls and then deciphers … and then He responds, He mediates for our sake, to bring us hope and understanding, much needed peace among the chaos.

Speaking of chaos...

Most recently,  the attacks in Paris which left 129 dead, nearly 350 seriously wounded, and numerous others left terrorized to pick up the pieces.

The behavior seems senseless to us, but make no mistake – the attack was calculated by individuals gathering to “justifiably” destroy, world-wide, all who oppose their ideals – it makes perfect sense to them.

The terror their actions evoke can seem boundless… even hopeless.

So thankful I have a God that loves us more than the hatred they employ, whose mercy and grace is more boundless.

I am reminded of this verse –

“The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies… The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation” (Psalm 118: 6-7, 14)

I know, despite the chaos and unanswerable questions, God’s got this. The threats abound, many are against us… yet we can rest in His presence, trusting in His faithfulness, knowing that He will keep his promises.

So tonight, I’m choosing to love my neighbors as myself, (revenge is mine says the Lord, so I need not busy myself with concern about that), hug my husband & kids a little tighter, and thank God for all the many blessings still to be found, even in the midst of the sorrows. 
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<![CDATA[For some, every day is Veteran's day. ]]>Wed, 11 Nov 2015 22:09:05 GMThttp://www.kimcarterlee.com/thinking-out-loud/for-some-every-day-is-veterans-day​To complete my MA in Sociology, I was required to write a thesis. For me (and my family), it was a massive undertaking consuming hours of research and reading. To lessen the weight of the load, I was wisely advised to select a topic which I was already acquainted with. Therefore, my thesis research focused on the invisible wounds (PTSD, traumatic brain injuries and psychological trauma for example) of US combat veterans, specifically from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraq Freedom, and how their collective injuries were framed in the literature.  
 
(Sociologically speaking, how injuries/illnesses are framed or “presented” has a direct affect on how we as a society react to the injured and the course of action we as a nation take to address the needs stemming from said injuries/illnesses).
 
I had previously completed a review on the history of war injuries, so I was familiar with the topic. By the time I had whittled down the number of articles used in my paper to a mere 67, I had researched, read and at the very least perused nearly 2000 articles. Honestly, for my empathetic soul, it was an emotionally draining undertaking.  To read, again and again, firsthand accounts of the scenarios where countless injuries and deaths occurred… well let’s just say it was and is depressing.
 
It was about that time that the “Hurt Locker” was released; my professor suggested I watch it, citing that many veterans she spoke to on campus found this Hollywood account to be highly accurate. I’m sure it is a fantastic film, and I know it’s a story that absolutely needed to be told and heard;

lest we forget… freedom is not free.

But I adamantly avoided that movie (and several others since); as Jack Nicholson shouted in the movie “A few good men”

– “you can’t handle the truth!” 
 
Nailed it…
 
I have always had a tender heart towards our armed service men and women.  Several relatives have served honorably and I will forever offer up tear-filled thanks.
 
Before writing my thesis, I had watched “war” movies: “Saving Private Ryan”, “Platoon” and “We were soldiers”, even then they tore me up.  I realize that the story lines have been scripted for Hollywood, but the reality of war stories gets to me. It’s too real – what Soldiers and their families must endure for our sake, both during and after service, is heartbreaking.  

The divorce and suicide rates among our veterans is still far too high, the common practice of simply medicating the invisible wounds is a cop-out – they deserve better – they deserve the best care, not the easiest.
 
So on this good day, when I see on my twitter feed that the “exam every medical student and new physician must take to get a license will include questions about military medicine. That, in turn will force medical schools to teach it.” absolutely thrills me- it’s a step in the right direction. 

The most recent articles I included in my research told of the emerging treatment centers that would be trained and equipped to treat the polytraumas commonly found in our most recent wars. At that time there were only a handful of such centers, there are still too few, but there are increasingly more.  
 
If you are a veteran or someone who knows and loves one, there is help available, there is hope.  If it seems that your country has forgotten you, please know that many have not forgotten – and we offer you our heartfelt thanks. Please seek help, the world needs… America needs you … your family needs you … we need our hero’s to press on. 
 
In Jeremiah 29:11, God declares “For I know the plans I have for you…. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  My prayer for veterans and their families; a year filled with renewed hope and a restored lives. Thank you for your sacrificial service…
 
 
 
 
 
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/new-medical-exam-will-require-students-learn-veterans-medical-issue/
 
In no particular order – several resources for you to consider.

http://www.polytrauma.va.gov/system-of-care/care-facilities/   
 
http://www.veteransforchrist.net/
 
http://www.operationwearehere.com/ForChurches.html
 
http://www.greenlightavet.com/
 
http://www.benefits.gov/benefits/benefit-details/106
 
http://www.veteransinc.org/services/supportive-services-for-veteran-families/
 
http://www.usacares.org/
 
http://veteransfamiliesunited.org/2011/06/06/financial-assistance/
 

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<![CDATA[Be salty. Be bright.]]>Mon, 09 Nov 2015 00:11:09 GMThttp://www.kimcarterlee.com/thinking-out-loud/november-08th-2015Christians have been so busy trying to convict people of sins we forgot our true purpose.

We were saved to save. Blessed to be a blessing.

Our job is to love, not judge the unsaved & share the good news of gospel. When we are doing our job in representing our Savior while compelled by love, the results in the hearts, minds, and souls of those we interact with is up to them and Him.

According to a recent study,  the results of our judgmental attitude rubs off onto our children. As a sociologist I know that data can be viewed in a variety of ways, so I would like to review the details of the study and interpret the results on my own ... But I don't doubt that elements of the authors interpretation are true. That is a shame because it absolutely doesn't reflect the heart of Christ.

Rise and shine Christians, be salty be bright. 


"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house." 
Matthew 5:13-16]]>
<![CDATA[Season of grief... until you see her again.]]>Thu, 05 Nov 2015 05:48:51 GMThttp://www.kimcarterlee.com/thinking-out-loud/season-of-grief-until-you-see-her-againPicture





















“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4


The topic I had in mind for my entry for today shifted unexpectedly this afternoon when my husband sent me a series of text messages.

“Gomez lost his daughter today”

“Give the girls a hug for me when you pick them up”

Gomez and my husband have worked together on and off for many years, but the family is only an acquaintance of mine; polite visits at company parties.

Although I don’t know the family well, my heart shatters for them none the less.

I have not suffered the torment of losing a child, but empathy tells me that the weight of that reality is unbearable; a person’s tank is NEVER full enough to handle that on their own.

If I knew her mama and daddy well, I would put my arms around them and tell them this….

Your beautiful child was such a blessing from God. She was far too young to graduate from this earth, leaving your arms and heart empty. I am profoundly sorry that you must endure this road, this new reality without her here. But I want you to know that you are not alone in your grief.

Others that know you well, and even those that know you little, are lifting you up in prayer right now, imploring that God would send a fleet of angels to attend to your soul-wounds and collect your tears (Psalm 56:8).

Weeks from now, when it seems surreal that life has continued without your consent, without her presence, I want you to know that you and she are not forgotten.  When grief once again assaults you and steals your breath, know that at the same moment, God’s Spirit is moving in the heart and mind of someone who knows you and someone who cares… weeks and months from now, they will pause in their day, pray and lift you up again.

When you feel the grief threatens to consume you, prayers to carry you will continue and the love and peace of a Holy and ever present God will relentlessly pursue... 

Slowly…

almost imperceptibly…

He will begin to mend your heart and soul. 

Isaiah 43:2 promises that “when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you”

God will not allow the grief to destroy you, but you must lean in… please lean in to Him.

As you move forward in this season of grief ...  until you see her again, know that God loves you, that God loves your sweet daughter exponentially more than our earthly minds can imagine, that she is at peace resting in His presence and that you and your beautiful souls are never alone. 



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<![CDATA[Diagnose this / The cure for what ails you. ]]>Wed, 04 Nov 2015 04:54:16 GMThttp://www.kimcarterlee.com/thinking-out-loud/diagnose-this-the-cure-for-what-ails-youI went to the doctor recently, first time in “almost 3 years” they exclaimed and then quickly acknowledged that moms don't usually come in to doctor’s office for themselves. I agree (besides the fact that I still hate the trauma of the public weigh-in), women/moms tend to take a back seat when it comes to self care.

Unless you’re my mom… or me for that matter (I do tend to my needs, especially the ridiculous ones)… she was once at the doctor for one of us and while there, she asked the doctor if he could diagnose why her hands were so blue. He examined her hands, pondered for a moment and then informed her it was likely due to the new jeans she was wearing.  Personally, I have gone to the doctor with complaints surrounding a napping accident (TRUTH! – I fell asleep in a recliner and my entire R leg fell asleep so when I sprang from the chair and stepped forward, my leg gave out and I rolled my ankle) and my most recent appointment was to inquire why my hands and feet keep contorting into spastic positions.

I guess I only seek medical interventions for the funny stuff, and the comic relief it provides as I explain my malady to the doctor…. There is no doubt a diagnosis for that behavioral tendency in the DSM-V, but I prefer to think that laughter reduces worry instead of masking fear.

I digress….. (Of course, I could delete that entire section above… but somehow I feel it’s relevant and I will be able to tie in at the end).

 So.

In similar regard, women/moms often take a back seat when it comes to spiritual health as well.  It is easy to neglect ourselves when the needs of loved ones are so prevalent and pressing; meanwhile our spiritual tank runs dry. While females are definitely not the only parents providing care, Care-giving of our children is one of our traditional roles. Additionally, the well-being of said children (physically, mentally, emotionally) is often viewed as a direct reflection of our success or failure as a parent.

That's a LOT of pressure!

Personally I recall one such an occasion when I was ready to call it quits. I found myself face down on my bedroom floor, sobbing and praying to God for wisdom and strength… all because I had inadvertently washed an entire set of poke-man cards that my daughter had left in her jeans (I feel strongly that people are responsible for their own stinkin pockets when placing items in to be laundered… that debate is worthy of an entire post, so I’ll leave it right there).

In retrospect though, I think if my proverbial “tanks” would have been fuller at that moment in time, the card-washing event wouldn’t have been such a trial for me (or maybe I have a mental health diagnosis… whatever).

I mean seriously. We’re all just doing our best. And whether I have a mental health diagnosis or not…. Filling up our spiritual tanks is always a good thing. Because when your spiritual tank is topped off it trickles down and fills your emotional tank as well; only then can we find ourselves fully equipped to do his work.

So here are a few verses that fill my tank. I’m sure there are many others that speak to each individual soul out there.

In fact, I do realize there are many other avenues by which people fill their tanks these days.  

I’m not here to be preachy… but I can only speak of that which I know,

and what works for me...

unequivocally …

every time.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power… to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19
(It’s insane... He strengthens us through His Spirit; the SAME Spirit that spoke the universe into existence.  When we are “rooted” in Him we have access to that power, and His love is relentless – regardless of how crappy of a job we feel/know we're doing…He will fill us up by His grace with a measure enough to carry us through… I’m amazed)

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  Psalms 23:5
(His love, His goodness will follow me… always. Catch that? Even when I’ve strayed off course, His goodness and mercy is there…   it’s crazy His love for us).

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” Romans 8:1
(Man that’s a relief, because even after years as His kid, my mistakes persist and I’ve still got so much more to learn… that my friend is a gracious love).

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
(Yeah! “All” things, even the seemingly mundane "all" like housework, laundry and grocery shopping – the thankless repetitive tasks… some days it’s all I can do. But “All” also includes the really tough stuff, like bone tumor in your daughter wrist, other child diagnosed with some weird auto immune diseases typically only found in Asian countries – some days will stretch into weeks that  are relentless and there is no – way – in – hell – I can make it without His strength)

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all that we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…”  Ephesians 3:20
(This I LOVE…. He will do more than we would dare ask or even imagine?! Basically, He just wants to bless your freaking socks off! Take that in people, and claim it.. daily if you must).

So those are a few of my personal pep-talk verses and the self talk that accompanies them in my heart and head. Hopefully, you've found in this post a measure of humor and hope. Prayerfully you will see that your tank is worthy of filling and begin seeking out verses that speak to your heart. You are worthy, He would have died just for you.... you are worthy.

By the way, it turns out, there is no way really to tie that 2nd paragraph in here at the end, but... it sort of adds something to the blog. Oh well - I don’t care, I'm leaving it.  There’s a quirky little window into how I tic. See how relevant God’s grace and love is for me?

Richest Blessings on your day - Kim


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<![CDATA[Rebels, every one. ]]>Mon, 02 Nov 2015 05:20:38 GMThttp://www.kimcarterlee.com/thinking-out-loud/rebels-every-oneIt was a warm summer morning as I walked around the perimeter of the church property, eight rambunctious preteens following behind.  I was excited about the lesson that day; we were to learn about the Israelite's 40 year wandering through the wilderness; what could be more effective as an object lesson than doing some wandering of our own? Plus! today was a great day to get out of the classroom and enjoy the fresh air. I just knew the kids would love it.

After only fifteen short minutes, my enthusiasm soon waned. I had clearly over estimated my ability to hold the attention and engage the minds of busy tweens. This object lesson was an epic fail. As the arduous trek progressed I tried to share the bible lesson.  I interjected every few steps, regaling about the grumbling of the Israelite's. I spoke of their persistent complaints regarding daily provisions, the pining in their hearts and minds to return to the enslavement of Egypt because at least there physical needs were met, and finally how their continuous grumbling revealed their faithless hearts – their shared disbelief in the God who saves.

Several times I had patiently tried to pull back their collective attention by calling on specific ring-leaders, cracking jokes and asking reflective questions; the response – crickets, blank stares, and back to ignoring me.

In complete and utter frustration (with them… with myself), I turned and walked away. Glancing back as I retreated, I noticed that they were stunned to silence… finally they had shut their yaps. I was furious. Heart pounding I entered the church and then into the empty Sunday school classroom.

I stood, staring out the window, praying as I calmed down.  I sucked at this gig.

I could see the kids standing, exactly where I had abandoned them. They had looks of concern on their faces as they huddled together, hands gesturing and mouths flapping; no doubt discussing how they would explain the “mental break  down” of Mrs. Lee to their parents. Meanwhile, I was considering my options in explaining to the same parents why I had bailed on their children (brats).

After about 5 minutes I returned to my students and together we silently walked back into the church. I encouraged them to grab a snack from the kitchen and we sat “lesson-less” in the classroom until the time for lessons was officially over and I could release them to the care of their parents.

“For forty years – one year for each of the forty days you explored the land – you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.” Numbers 14:34

By the time the Lord spoke those words to Moses, He and the Israelites' had gone several rounds. They had been bickering and complaining to God on and off since before the Exodus began, a clamoring that persisted even after He rescued them directly from the grasp of Pharaoh at the Red sea. Over and over their interactions went something like this; the Lord saves, they are thankful and offer prayers and praise of thanksgiving, they forget, they sin against the Lord; He forgives and then saves them again.

Finally, they had reached the border of the “promise land” and God graciously allowed Moses to send in spies to explore the land and then report back to the people*.  After 40 days the spies returned. They all had observed the same land, people and produce, but their reports revealed that their individual faiths were very different. Only Joshua and Caleb encouraged the crowd, they trusted God and knew that they could take the land with God’s blessings going before them (Numbers 14:9). But the other men were fearful and so deliberately discouraged them saying; “we can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are” we are as “grasshoppers” to their giant stature and strength, we will be destroyed (emphasis mine).  I have to say, the naysayers had one point exactly correct; when they said “we” are unable to defeat them to take the land. Their faith was weakened as they were depending on their own strength. (Sounds familiar) The Lord’s anger again burned against them. They would have been destroyed if Moses and Aaron had not prayerfully intervened and begged God’s mercy (“Mercy” in that He allowed them to wander 40 years in the desert instead of annihilating the entire group).
 
I’m a freaking slow learner - It’s been over 15 years since that failed lesson (not 40… I know what you’re thinking… but in this instance at least, I’m not that slow). Just the other day it finally dawned on me how awesome it would have been for me to tie up all those nasty loose ends of anger and frustration in a more experientially accurate object lesson. I could have shared with them how we are no different than the Israelites', we complain and bicker, we fail to live in faith. How God gets frustrated with us like He was frustrated with them. How we also fail to see how He consistently saves, loves and provides for our wretched and wholly undeserving hides.

I have often ignorantly thought, "man they were stupid!". I mean who personally witnesses God in action (parting of the Red sea, manna from heaven, water from a rock, battles won over insurmountable odds) and then forgets/denies His strength and power to save?!  And then I recall how I have (and still do) falter in my faith and follow the same path, wander aimlessly you might say. I forget that He goes before me and can be relied upon to save me from the "giants" in my life. 

Isaiah 54:17 promises us that "no weapon that is forged against you shall prevail" - people listen... When you feel like you're facing insurmountable odds, God's got this. Like the song goes, He's got the whole world in His hands... He can handle our giants of broken marriage, the pile of debt, the abuse endured, the addictions, the lost job, the fears of your (and mine) uncertain futures. We just have to move forward in faith, persistently seeking His guidance while ignoring the naysayers. 

 
 
* He allowed the mission of spies to appease their weak faith… He had given the land to them, it was theirs, and they simply had to take possession. But they were fearful.]]>