The art of conversation

We have so many platforms for our conversations – email, text, instant messaging, and posting on social media sites. As if the #English language wasn’t hard enough, now we’ve included hieroglyphics. For those of you who missed ancient Egypt class, #hieroglyphics was how stories were told and history was shared from one generation to the next.

In grade school, we learned how to write a letter. You know paper, pens, envelopes, and stamps. Letters have very specific parts, a salutation, the body, the closing, the signature. All of these have a purpose. They tell us the start, the purpose and message, and a close. It was a complete thought from one person to another. We mailed them (we call it snail-mail today). The recipient reads the entire message, thinks about it, and writes a response. The conversation can take days, weeks, or months, and is done completely with words.

Enter the tech approach. Our written conversations now involve quick phrases, not even sentences, and sometimes, I honestly don’t know when the message is complete. After the back and forth of messaging, someone adds the thumbs up or some other cutesy face indicating a message received and understood, I guess that’s the conclusion. The last word is now a cartoon face or hand sign.

Recently, I was given a #texting lesson from my college-age son. Evidently, I was using too much punctuation and not always the right emoji. I learned that the message is different if I text “Ok.” versus “Ok” with no period. But it’s a statement, it needs the period! According to our household expert who is in his final year of college, the period at the end indicates a curtness, frustration, or even anger. All that from the proper punctuation. What would my high school English, or my college Grammar 310 professor think?

This applies to the professional setting too. With the incorporation of Microsoft Teams and other tools for instant messaging, while we’re all working from home, quick messages are the standard. It’s replaced the “office drop-in” or hallway conversations we used to have. And the use of emojis is just as prevalent. It’s now considered appropriate to send the boss a smiley face when he complements your work. A word of warning though, be sure you know your emojis and what they mean. By the way, this is not chocolate ice cream…

Let me know how it goes for you.

All the best,

KK

#Mary did you know?

Christmas Eve, 1999, I was about five months pregnant with my first (and only) child. Like most first-time mothers, I had been through morning sickness, and the reality of my changing form was the reality of a child growing and coming soon. What an amazing thing! What a scary thing! What an awesome responsibility! The church service was finishing when a man came out and began to sing Mary Did You Know, a song written by Mark Lowry.

The lyrics to the song asked the question of this young mother if she realized the impact her child would make in this world.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water? Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters? Did you know that your baby boy Has come to make you new; This Child that you delivered Will soon deliver you?

While listening and relating to all the questions #Mary may have had, I was struck with the potential I carried within my own belly. PLEASE don’t misunderstand, I had no misgivings of my child being perfect like Mary’s.  But I couldn’t help praying and asking the question, “what will my child bring to this world?”

Mary, did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man? Mary, did you know that your baby boy would calm a storm with His hand? Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod, and when you kiss your little baby, you’ve kissed the face of God? Mary, did you know?

As the song concluded, I was left with a profound feeling of wonder. Who was the child that I would deliver? What would he bring to this world? He would carry into this world his own God-given purpose. I just needed to not screw it up. My job was to love, care, and encourage what God had planned.

Babies are little #miracles wrapped in potential. The Christ-child changed the course of history for the believer and the non-believer. He did amazing things while here and set in motion our plan for eternity. How can our children make an impact? Perhaps you’re reading this and are #pregnant or waiting for that phone call from the #adoption agency. Consider how you will pour into a child’s life to raise them to look outside themselves for ways they will make a difference. Pray for their purpose to be made clear. We all have one.

One final note, yes, adults need to encourage the potential out of our children, but as long as we have days ahead of us, we have potential. What better example for our children then to continue our quest until our last breath?

Please take five minutes, close your eyes and listen to these words written with a young, scared mother in mind.

All the best,

KK

Fire hose or Water hose

Recently, I was hosing the leaves and dead blooms from the back porch hanging baskets. It was the end of the day, and I was hustling to get it done. I set the hose nozzle to “jet” to get the hardest, fastest blast of water to move the debris. The powerful gush of water scattered the debris around but it didn’t move it quickly in the direction I needed it to go.

So I tried a different setting. Instead of “jet” the dial was turned to “shower.” The strong but gentle stream of water pooled around the debris to move it off the porch in a more efficient manner.

Sometimes we go in with a fire hose, when a water hose is all we really need to accomplish our goal. Both are great tools that use the same fuel.

Think about it. Has there been a time when you went marching in on your high horse, blasting the jet of orders and demands? While you may get what you want, you did so at the expense of everyone around you, leaving a trail of people scratching their heads. It’s not pretty, and usually anything gained is short lived. There is a time for taking out the #firehose, to turn on the “jet” setting, but it should be rare.

Consider this. Click the #waterhose setting from “jet” to “shower,” allowing your message; your goal to wash over those in your way or on your team. Lifting them and carrying them along with you across the goal line. You’ve accomplished what you set out to do, and you’ve brought your team along. Together, you cross the goal line with a sense of impact and accomplishment. The shower of success, will leave your team feeling appreciated, satisfied, and ready to move forward with you again.

Think about it, and let me know your thoughts.

All the best,

KK


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Change — be ready

When God created the world, He created change. Most notably of which, and one we all experience is the seasons – spring, summer, autumn, winter. We know about when they will begin and about when they will end, but we have no control over them. They #change every few months, and all we can do is adapt.

Any lack of adaptability on our part really only makes us miserable. Complaining about the weather or the seasons does nothing to change it. It is what it is. The same goes for weather in general. Someone very dear to me (my big brother) recently said, “You are never closer to God than when you are experiencing weather.” We were standing in a gentle rain at that moment. It was true, we couldn’t turn off the rain, we could choose to enjoy it, or we could grumble at the fact we were getting wet. We just experienced it.

Changing and adapting to our environment promotes learning and growth as an individual. While I do believe some things in this world are black and white; some things are right and some things are wrong. Adaptability is necessary to navigate our journey and find peace — to grow — to survive.

Consider the era my grandparents lived in. My grandmother(mamaw) was born in 1896 – in-door plumbing and cars were how fancy people lived. My grandfather was a foreman on the railroad, THE way to transport goods. Mamaw passed away in 1980 when cable tv was a big deal. What would she think today with wifi in our homes, cell phones, Google Home turning on and off lights, and a doorbell that had a video camera?

These advances can be considered tools of change. Ways to grow in commerce, as a society and as individuals. We saw that during the pandemic when families did work and school from home. For this we had about a week to pivot from decades of doing work and school completely differently.

My encouragement for you, is to consider what #change is coming your way. What will it’s impact be if you deny, resist, or embrace it? If you embrace it, will you compromise what you believe in, or will you #grow as an individual?

All the best,

KK

It’s Groundhog Day again, Phil

Phil’s alarm went off before dawn. He distinctly remembers not setting it. Momma groundhog strikes again. He buries his head under his pillow. The alarm shouts again as his little brother, Joe, comes bursting around the corner into Phil’s nook of their hollowed underground home.

“Today’s your day!” The smaller rodent pounces on his brother.

“Go away!”

“Come on Phil, isn’t it a blast to have the whole country waiting to see what you’re going to do?” Crawling closer to Phil’s ear he whispered, “What are you going to do? Will you see your shadow, or not?”

Phil moans and pushes his little brother away. Just as he’s about to dose back to sleep, instead of the alarm the shrill song of his mother jolted him awake. “Philly! It’s Groundhog Day.” His mother showed up with his bow tie.

“Seriously mom? A tie?”

“Philly, this is our family’s legacy. We come from a long line of #Punxsutawney groundhogs. Your cousins over in Harrisburg think they’re big stuff because they were around for the big war. Ha! It’s our line that has always held the honor of predicting spring’s arrival. People like that and get so excited. Every year. Your father, grandfather, great grand…”

“I get it, the men in our family had nothing to do on February 2nd but humor the humans up top. So, they joined the winter festival and became the star of the show.” Phil rolled out of bed, scratching behind his ear. “How did I get so lucky?”

“If Phil doesn’t want to do it, I’ll go, I can look for my shadow.” Phil’s brother bounced around with the bow tie.”

“No, no, it’s always the eldest son.” Mama said. “Come with me Joe to finish Phil’s breakfast, we want him to be bright and sunny today!”

His brother and mom scurried away. Phil sat on the side of his bed and scratched again. He stood and strapped the tie around his neck. What will I do this morning? It’s been a pretty long winter, maybe it is time for a little hope that spring is coming.

Phil finished his breakfast and licked his snout. “Oh Philly, you look so handsome. Every year you do our family proud.” She sniffed back a mother groundhog tear, “your father would be so proud to see you carrying on the family tradition.”

Phil’s shoulders softened as he leaned into his mother’s warm coat. He did miss his father. And it really didn’t take long to go out, hear the cheers and the declaration read from the man in the tall hat.

“Thanks for reminding me mom. I’ll do the family proud.” His mother opened the thatch door and scooted Phil out. Drawing back inside, she heard the muffled cheer of the #Punxsutawney people.

In a week

This time next week #Christmas will be done. The historical day that changed the lives of generations. For my larger family, the celebration together is being deferred to this summer, when hopefully we can all get together for some fun without masks and the worry of disease. For my husband, son, and I, it will be a quiet holiday together. In the little house we’ve been renting since July that has no room for a big tree. That’s ok our little #tree will shine brightly. We’ll be together, have our favorite snacks, a few of our traditional cookies, and presents, all the while anticipating our own big event. One we’ve been #praying about and working towards all year. The move to our new home.

Amid masked meetings with our builder, a house blessing event that had us socially distancing, God has guided conversations and frustrations. Around us, the world has been stifled by a #pandemic. We’ve had our share of pandemic stress but have carefully navigated through it always remembering that God is in charge and it’s our role to lean into Him and show His grace to others who have had a much rougher time this year.

All this anticipation makes me wonder about Mary’s anticipation, curiosity, and maybe a little fear, of what life will be like raising the Son of God. A young girl herself, did she feel inadequate? The Bible doesn’t tell of any additional visits from reassuring angels, but I wonder if the Holy Spirit didn’t guide a few conversations with Mary and her mother or other older women in the community. No doubt, Mary would have helped with younger#considerthis siblings. But it’s not the same when it’s your child; your responsibility.

I’m rambling a bit, but in that stable with stinky animals, on a quiet night, after a long journey (emotional and physical) and the crowded little town of Bethlehem, when a young girl gave birth with only her husband and the grace of God to guide, did she anticipate all the things that come with normal parenting? And then did she worry about how she would ensure God’s plan would go the way He wanted it to?

Be encouraged to take some time over the next week to be still. To put aside the crazy, unanticipated year we’ve had and consider the first Christmas. The fear and anticipation of Mary and Joseph. The impact this event has had on you, on the world. Was it worth the stress and fear that Mary and Joseph went through? Mary watched as this same child grew to heal, love, and show grace to those the world cast out. While watching Him die on the cross, did she fear that it had all been for nothing? Or did she remember that her Son was not made for this world, but to save it? And God is faithful to use every tear for a greater purpose.

And as we finish out this 2020 year of fear and anticipation, remember the hope that Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection brings. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all,” 2 Corinthians 4:17.

This week anticipate the coming celebration of the birth of a child, who changed both the course of history and the journey into our future.

All the best,
KK


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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

Tasty Truth

It’s all perspective. She loved her chicken nuggets! How many times as a parent have you been in a spot like this?

Storyshucker

My daughter is an intelligent, funny, beautiful young lady. Only in her twenties, she already has a husband and a two year old son. On a recent phone call, as we discussed her fast-paced sales job, I was reminded that I wasn’t talking to my little girl anymore. Where did the tiny kid go I used to carry in my arms? I stopped mid-sentence and made a wistful comment about her being so grown up.

“Will you always think of me as a five year old?” she sighed. I could almost hear her rolling her eyes.

“Yes Baby Doll.” I answered, calling her the name I’ve called her since the days I carried her in my arms.

Even as a five year old, she was outgoing and curious. She sometimes asked questions that forced me, I felt, to come up with the tiniest of white lies. I wanted to shield…

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Empty your mailbox

Make your bed. Empty the dishwasher. Put away your clean laundry. Clean out your inbox. These tasks each take about five minutes. The completed tasks provide a sense of accomplishment while creating an order to life. These tasks are not unlike when a child is told to pick up their toys when playtime is over. It creates order and demonstrates completion.

Of these examples, the email inbox is probably the most difficult to keep clean. Unlike having dishes stack in the sink, your inbox doesn’t stink. It gets cluttered and hard to find emails, but it doesn’t stink. So it’s easy to ignore. My biggest inbox challenge is that I’m afraid of losing a key email I’ll need later. Discovering the email folder system and the ability to search gave me the tools I needed to sort, organize, and file emails in such a manner to keep the inbox clear.

Admittedly the first time I approached this plan my #mailbox had hundreds of emails. So I began with the oldest emails. Created a folder nomenclature that matched my needs and within an hour there were less than 25 emails in the inbox. Now as I finish my workday or week, I take a few minutes to plan the next day, and I tidy up my inbox.

Making your bed creates a calm environment. Empty the dishwasher ensures you have what is needed for eating. Putting your laundry away allows you to dress for success. And cleaning out your inbox makes your #workday go more smoothly.

Give it a try and let me know.

KK


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#Workingfromhome t-shirt fashion statement

We’ve talked about the financial advantage of #workingfromhome. Saving on gas, parking, and meals out. The other buzz I’m hearing is about not having to dress for work. Many folks proudly admit they are living in their pajamas. I get that. True confession, I’ve done video meetings fully outfitted from the waist up including hair and make-up.

We do save time and clothing not having to dress and leave our homes. While I haven’t been living in my pajamas, I recently noticed that I wasn’t wearing anything from a hanger. In other words, my daily attire comprised of a pair of shorts (btw I currently only own 3 pairs of shorts) and a graphic t-shirt. It was a healthy rotation of my college, a cute writer quote, Phantom Regiment, and a 502 shirt (our area code). Since I don’t go anywhere, it’s not uncommon for me to wear the same one more than once in a week before it goes into the laundry.

My life really isn’t as pathetic as this is sounding. Yes, I only have three pairs of shorts right now. By the time the weather was warm enough to wear shorts, we were all staying #healthyathome, no need to buy new ones (Sorry Macy’s, I miss you too). I have others (my non-zipper shorts) but they are primarily for workouts or working in the yard. It’s just with #COVID, and working from home, I’m not out and about very much. My dog and husband don’t seem to care, they love me no matter what I wear. And I bathe every day so there’s not a stink-factor.

Anyway, all of this occurred to me a couple of weeks ago when I opened my lonely closet to see about something to wear to church (our church recently regathered in person). So last week I decided to challenge myself to not wear t-shirts with logos, quotes, or mascots. Each day I thought a little more carefully about what to wear and I pressed into action shirts I hadn’t worn in months. One day, I even added a little mascara to my look.

Admittedly, refreshing my look gave me a little lift. I felt a sense of normalcy. By Sunday it didn’t feel completely odd to wear a skirt and dress shoes to church. Now if I can get rid of my #COVID pounds from the work-break strolls to the kitchen, I might be a new woman when all of this is over.

Take care,

KK


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