Thanksgiving morning, quiet

This morning came early for me. I awoke to the buzz of a text message. Nothing important. It was dark and quiet. Peaceful. It felt good to not have to jump out of bed and into the day, so I snuggled a little closer to my husband in hopes that sleep would find me again. I dozed in and out, but as the sun came up (I use that term loosely because it got lighter, but no sun), the black of our room became gray and our dog, Eli, decided he wanted in on the cuddle time. Needless to say, our bed got cozier and I remembered that Eli and I hadn’t been for a w-a-l-k. You have to be careful with that word, if you say it, you’ve committed to it, and I’m not convinced he can’t spell. About 30 minutes into our very cozy time together, I decided to say the word, and Eli was off of the bed ready to go.

Stepping out the front door the cool, but not tool cold, air was refreshing. With a yank of his leash, Eli reminded me that it had been too many days since our last adventure. The morning was still. Little traffic and while some squirrels seem to be busily foraging for food, others danced and chased each other up and down the trees. After the first few showed themselves Eli was over the non-successful attempt to pull me into the chase.

This #Thanksgiving is going to be quite different. Many in our country are just being still, cutting back and doing things a lot simpler. I love that we aren’t rushing about. About halfway through our walk some distant church bells sang a hymn. I love church bells, but this morning I wanted to say “sssshhh, please give me a few more minutes of stillness. Don’t wake everyone else just yet.”

We are 35 days from 2020 ending. Whether in our hearts, minds or lives, it has been chaotic to say the least. As much as folks want to hurry to the end, more than likely some of this experience will leak into 2021. That’s ok, we’re learning and adapting to things we have little or no control over. We are settling down.

Our family has seen some challenges this year, but we have so much more to be thankful for. We have each other and all of our needs met. And while today we won’t be all together, around my sisters beautifully laid out table, and there will be no turkey competition between my younger sister and our brother-in-law, oh and no orange dip (secret family recipe, you have those), we are all on this side of heaven, and a phone call away. For that I am grateful.

It’s about time for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade (#macysthanksgivingdayparade) – 2020 style. It may not be the parade we are used to, but it is the parade we need. So, I’ll grasp at the morsel of normal for my Thanksgiving morning and embrace the quiet difference this year is bringing.

God bless you and your family. For those who have too many empty seats, may you feel the peace, love, and hope of God, knowing that while this world will bring challenges, we have an Eternal Hope that takes all of them away.

Karen

31 Days left

Welcome to December. This is what I believe to be the fastest month. It’s the hardest month to manage your schedule because there are so many great options for how to spend your time while you still maintain 40 hours of work a week. It’s also the last month of the calendar year, so all those wonderfully optimistic goals set 11 months ago, and forgotten 10 months ago, more than likely won’t be achieved. Here’s to those of you who did stick with your goals and you are about to celebrate that victory. But for many of us, too many other things, important and not important, got in the way of goals.

Okay, so there is a lot to do in addition to our obligations this month. This is the time of year for holiday parties and shopping-which leads to eating out a little more. It’s also a time when we are feeling festive and want to get together with others. So we plan a few more evenings out. All of it fun. But is it meaningful? When you think about your “holiday season” are you intentionally doing things to make this season meaningful to you and your family. Or do you just say “yes” to everything and race to January 1st. Let me suggest two things:

Pace yourself. Take a deep breath and embrace the remaining days of the year that lead to one of the most significant holiday and the close of calendar year 2019.

Before today is over decide on the one, two, or three things or activities that will truly make your holidays and wrapping up another year meaningful. Maybe review those goals, you may be closer than you think (I’m not, unless there’s a literary agent reading this, wink, wink, still waiting for your response).

For example, you’ll hear people say, “I’d love to go see The Nutcracker Ballet, but there isn’t time. We’ll do it next year.” Next year could be this year, are you doing it? Maybe for you it’s finding a holiday concert or candlelight service on Christmas Eve to attend. Don’t wait, find one and make it a priority to attend.

I’ve began this mindset with our Thanksgiving plans. Instead of cramming two full-blown family Thanksgivings during the four-day weekend, we did one the weekend before. This, allowed us to relax at each gathering and enjoy the time with family-the laughter, children’s squeals, and a little family drama. And I could sleep in a little and not feel like I was living in hyper-speed.

What can you do, plan, or decide today that will make the next 31 days the most meaningful to you?

Let me know.

KK


Click to tweet: Welcome to December. This is what I believe to be the fastest month. It’s the hardest month to manage your schedule because there are so many great options for how to spend your time while you still maintain 40 hours of work a week. Pace yourself. Take a deep breath and embrace the remaining days of the year that lead to one of the most significant holiday and the close of calendar year 2019.

Farewell 2018

Happy New Year (#newyears)! And good-bye 2018! The storms began in October of 2017 and continued to roll; leaving me with the question, “when is the other shoe going to drop?” never far from my mind. Even in sharing this, I know others suffered much more.

While there were storms, there were also blessings in 2018. For these, I am very thankful; God’s provision, our health, friends always encouraging, family members who have done well and seen blessings.

What will 2019 bring? I have absolutely no idea. There is something wonderful about the clean slate of a new year. In as much as goal-setting helps us move toward an abundant, productive life, they should be set. The year could be seen as nothing but opportunity. Take a few minutes to explore the “what ifs” of the year. Where will those thoughts take you in the new year?

My hope and prayer for 2019 is that the storms of 2018 left me more compassionate, wiser and deeper in faith. There is an ebb and flow to life that takes us through cycles of challenge and ease.

Blessings,

KK

 

 

 

Lessons From the Flag

The 4th of July usually gets our big bang of patriotism. So today, in my effort to reignite KK’s Candor, we celebrate Old Glory (#flagday) with this shared article from Harvey Mackay. Enjoy and stay tuned for some Karen originals to follow.

By Harvey Mackay

June 14 is Flag Day, celebrating the 13 stripes and the 50 stars that symbolize our humble beginnings and our growth into one unified nation.

On June 14, 1777, in Philadelphia, the Second Continental Congress adopted a resolution that read the following: “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.”

The resolution didn’t mention the significance behind the choice of red, white and blue — because the three colors did not have any official meaning when the flag was adopted in 1777.

But have you ever stopped to think about the meaning of the flag’s colors? There’s plenty of symbolism there too. Red implies hardiness and valor. White stands for purity and innocence. Blue signifies vigilance, perseverance, and justice. These qualities that our country was founded on should carry through in our lives and businesses today.

In an article on Time.com, Mike Buss, a flag expert with the American Legion, says that the most obvious reason for the flag’s colors is that they were simply taken from our mother country’s flag — the Union Jack of England. “Our heritage does come from Great Britain, and that was some of the thought processes that went about in coming up with our flag,” Buss says in the article.

I think it’s also important to connect how these colors relate to our working lives.

RED: Hardiness and valor stand for the ability to endure difficult conditions; determination in facing great danger, courage, and bravery.

Determination keeps people hammering away. Determined people possess the stamina and courage to pursue their ambitions despite criticism, ridicule or unfavorable circumstances. In fact, discouragement usually spurs them on to greater things. When they get discouraged, they recognize that to change their results, some change is in order.

Courage is regarded as one of the major human virtues. Courage is bravery, valor, standing up to danger, guts and nerve all rolled into one. It’s easy to be ordinary. Courage is what sets us apart from the crowd.

WHITE: Purity and innocence are synonymous. They stand for freedom from moral wrong and simplicity. Those are tall orders in our complicated world, but worth striving for. Way back in 1872, Sen. Carl Schurz of Missouri paraphrased Naval hero Stephen Decatur with these patriotic words: “Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right.” That sentiment is purity at its best.

Sen. Schurz would settle for nothing less than the best for his country. Similarly, we should demand the best from our businesses. Doing things right should be a way of life.

BLUE: Vigilance, perseverance, and justice are self-explanatory. Justice translates to fair play, honesty, and integrity.

Perseverance separates the winners from the losers. Success in life depends on your willingness to never give up, even when the reward is delayed.

Honesty, ethics, integrity — in my estimation, you can interchange them, because they all convey the single attribute that determines whether a person or an organization can be trusted. Honesty is always the best policy. You must be able to trust the people with whom you work. Doing the right thing is never the wrong thing to do.

Integrity: either you have it or you don’t. It’s not something that you can have one day and not have the next. Integrity begins at the top. As leaders, we must set the example — that alone inspires employees to do right. Enduring leaders know that the numbers will be better if integrity is not optional.

Our national values are well represented in the colors of our flag. Fly it proudly.

Extraordinary Moments

Many look to the Christmas season for memory-making. We get together with family and friends, share time and some fun. The best memories from these times aren’t the ones that are made to happen. The extraordinary memories are those moments that happen organically. They are extraordinary moments that fate brings together and that leave an impact on our hearts.

Recognize an extraordinary moment by being in the moment. Go through this holiday season and all of your activities, both new and the every-year traditions, focused on the place, the people and the activity. Be mindful to not let outside distractions rob you of a memory-making moment. Enjoy the events and times you will have in the coming weeks.

One of my favorite passages in the Christmas story is Luke 2:19, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Mary wasn’t distracted by the stink of the barn, or the sounds of the animals, or possibly the disappointment of having her Mary-Film-The-Holy-Familyfirstborn far from home and away from family. It wasn’t her perfect plan, it was God’s, and she rolled with it. She took it all in.

While Mary’s extraordinary moment changed the course of history, ours probably won’t. But if we are paying attention and taking in the times that have potential, they may change the course of a relationship or even our lives.

Merry Christmas (#merrychristmas) season,

KK

 

 

 

Even If

Please take a few minutes before you continue to read to listen to this song by Mercy Me.

We would all like to believe that when things in life get tough that our convictions will stand strong. Well, things are tough right now. I’m waiting for the locust and frogs to show up (a little comic relief). At this point, there is so much out of my control, things I can’t just fix, that all I have to lean on is my faith. My husband and I hold on to each other and our belief in a God who is bigger than all our worries or concerns.

Are we perfect in remaining constant in our faith during the storm? No. On any given day or hour, there is an internal struggle between ego, self, and selflessness. This time in our lives is just as much about how we walk the journey in faith, and what we learn in the process, as it is about just getting to the other side.

We believe that every season, good or bad, is the opportunity to learn a little more about ourselves, grow personally and spiritually, and eventually be ready to encourage someone else in their journey.

On one level, going into the Thanksgiving holiday we have much we could wallow and moan about. But on more important levels we have much more to be thankful for. We have what we need, and those we care about are healthy and safe. Those are the things we will focus on tomorrow and each day after.

Be encouraged today, and reminded for tomorrow as you are enjoying time with family and friends (or being driven crazy by them), that there is always far more to be thankful for than to complain about. Stand firm in your beliefs even if things are not going as you planned.

Happy Thanksgiving. (#happythanksgiving)

KK

 

 

 

Everyone has a 4th of July, Americans have Independence Day

Every country in the world has a 4th of July, but in America, we celebrate it as Independence Day. The day our founding fathers drew a line in the sand and said, no more! We will make our future as our own nation, our own country providing freedoms no country has offered their people in the history of the world. Men went to war so we could have that freedom. Centuries later and many wars later, we still want to protect those freedoms provided for us some 240 years ago. It’s getting harder. Wars are just as ugly. The definitions of freedom are getting skewed.

This weekend like many churches, ours held a special music program. It was all the songs that celebrate our free country. I stood in a sanctuary with 6,000 others singing about being a proud American. I am proud. We are a blessed nation. And I’m thankful for the millions of soldiers who chose to fight and continue today to defend our boarders and freedoms.

I heard the story of one veteran who was watching someone burn an American flag in protest. He said that everything in him wanted to stop the flag burning, but he was reminded that whether or not he agreed with burning a flag, he fought for that other person to have that freedom. The veteran didn’t understand why the protester did it, but he agreed in the freedom.

Being a proud American isn’t a political decision. It is a decision of citizenship. To live within our boarders, by our laws and participate in a community of people. You raise a family here, work and contribute to the greater good. Within this framework there are hundreds of choices we get to make — preferences on the kind of work, relationships and life we want as individuals.

So while you are grilling out, or playing yard games, look over at your neighbor doing the same thing. They may likely not share your faith, your lifestyle, or your skin tone. Give him a smile and a wave or a little head nod. In that moment you are both just Americans, celebrating freedom.

Happy Independence Day.

KK

Spring Will Come Early!

Dateline: February 2, 2016

ground-hog-day

Just as the sun beam was creeping in the hole of Phil’s family home there came an obnoxious thumping. Phil’s mother ran through the tunnels of their fourth generation sub terrain home screaming for Phil to get up and find his scarf. “Today is the day!”

Every year it was the same for Phil, whose given name was Ralph after a big family fallout, but that’s a different story. Phil was the fourth generation groundhog who the handlers of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania came calling on to tell them his vision for the end of winter. Phil heard his mother, but rolled over. “Really mom, can those humans not look at a calendar?”

Pulling the covers back and nudging him up, his mother wrapped the scarf around his thick neck. “That’s not the point Phillip. This is our family legacy, like your father, your grandfather and your…” Rubbing his eyes and shaking himself awake Phil waddled toward the thumping sound. “Yea, I know and my great grandfather who came over on some big ship, half-starved when he arrived to a better life in America.”

“Phillip, stop that. Be proud of our family and go out there and tell these humans what you see.” With a smirk. “Or don’t see.”

As Phil poked his head out of the entry, a large gloved hand reached down and swooped him high for the thousands to see. The man was wearing a funny hat. Maybe I’ll get me one of those for next year.

The crowd grew silent as they watched the rodent sniff the platform. Would he stay a while and declare a short winter? Or would he see his shadow and scurry back into his hole? Phil gave the people a few minutes of suspense and strongly considered zipping back into his warm, safe cavern. But then something caught his eye. Something no one else would have noticed.

Across the park just outside the gathering of fans, who didn’t realize cheering his name would sway him, were three of the cutest female groundhogs Phil had ever laid eyes on. They were chippering amongst themselves. True motivation to stay out for a while and enjoy the scenery. Knowing the three lady friends were watching, Phil stood up on his hind legs and sent them a view of his abs of steel that only female groundhogs could appreciate.

The crowd went crazy the man with the tall hat grabbed the microphone and announced his interpretation of Phil’s prediction that spring would in fact come early this year! The band played and the people hugged. Phil took advantage of the distraction and scurried off the platform and hid.

Will Phil stay close and meet his three fans? Will his mother ever quit rehashing the groundhog story? Will spring really come early or arrive on March 20th as always? My friend, these are questions I will leave you to ponder.

KK

Give It Up For Advent

Every year folks talk about how busy the Christmas season is. They declare that THIS will be the year they slow down and enjoy the true meaning of the season. Good intentions. I’m guilty of it too. Every year I begin December longing to truly feel that silent night, holy night. And while there will be moments late at night, or in church on Christmas Eve, I don’t feel like I experience what I long to have during the holiday. I’m not looking for movie-like Christmas miracles, just a little deeper peace; an expectancy throughout the season seeking the coming King.

Part of the problem is the noise and clutter in everyday life. What if we made intentional decisions every day to remove the noise we can control? What if each day until December 25th we live expectantly? starUnlike the shepherds and wise men, we have a date on the calendar. We know that we are going to celebrate the birth of Jesus. For believers, it is the birth of our King. The man who changed the course of history.

I don’t sacrifice for Lent. But this year, I’ve decided to sacrifice for Advent. I’m clearing some clutter and making way for the birth of the Savior. I’m giving up talk radio for Advent. No Dave Ramsey or Sean Hannity or NPR. My time with the radio on will be with music declaring the coming King.

The other decision I’ve made is to not get caught in the hurriedness. We will make choices about the most important activities and be in the moment; not worrying about rushing to the next thing.

How will you make this season special? Will you join me in living expectantly each day, choosing to prepare your heart and mind for the birth of the King?

Merry Christmas,

KK

 

Noel — Take 4 minutes

This is absolutely amazing. Please take 4 minutes to sit quietly, eyes closed and let the message pour over you.