Holy Week

Holy weekThis week is considered Holy Week, or Passion Week. It is the week leading up to the death and resurrection of Christ. While I’m not one to do anything for lent, I do think this week and the events it leads to is worth a pause and consideration. I do believe that Christ came, lived a perfect life, and died as the final blood sacrifice for the redemption of all people. He did not hang on the cross looking down and choosing people out of the crowd so as to say, “I’m dying for you, but not your neighbor.”

The parable of the lost sheep tells us that even if His sacrifice was needed for one lost soul, God would have still sent Him. But we all needed His death, and more importantly, His resurrection.

Christ was dead, wrapped in burial cloths, closed into a tomb, and guarded. Daytime went dark, and the earth shook with distress. He who was the purest of truth, love, and peace, was dead.

While there is speculation about what happened to his soul during those three days, perhaps he did descend into hell to do time for those he had died for. Those who would accept Him as their Savior, by-passing the hell they deserve. I don’t really know. The bigger point is that three days later, He walked out of His grave. He beat the one thing man can’t do on his own-a final death.

This Holy Week, may we live expectantly. May we live a celebration over our own final death, and the joy that we will someday walk with our Savior in paradise.

All the best,

KK

#holyweek #passionweek #resurrectionsunday

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Dear middle school parent

Your baby isn’t really a baby anymore. He’s a little stinkier, moodier, and you’re not as middle schoolcool as you once were. How did we lose our coolness? Now your son or daughter “all of a sudden” cares if you are within 20 feet of them in public. You give them their first phone, and you wrestle with having to have “the talk.” Please let this message encourage and inspire you. You and your child will both survive the three years of middle school that include changing academics and changing physiology. Below are a few morsels of wisdom that may or may not help you through.

Much like the early years of walking, your middle schooler wants their freedom. They don’t want to hold your hand. They “can do it themselves.” Okay, this is when parents begin to let go. Let them try and do it themselves. But don’t go too far, they will wobble or even fall and will look for you. There is an art to staying close, but not too close. We have to let them go in order for them to begin to understand independence and being responsible for themselves, and their schoolwork.

middle school socialSchool gets a little harder and social becomes a little more important. Changing classes, keeping up with multiple teachers and assignments teaches time management, organization, and an understanding of being accountable. Independence is wonderful but with freedom comes responsibility.

On the social front their friends “understand more than parents.” They are convinced parents never experienced peer pressure, girl/boy trouble or fitting in. That’s ok. Let them have their friends, but know who their friends are. Meet the parents of their friends. If someone is having a party, call the parent and ask if you can send snacks. That question will open the way to finding out other important things like making sure the parents are going to be home, or even know about the party.

Keep communicating. No, your middle schooler may not confide in you like they once did, but keep talking. Ask open-ended questions, ask their opinion. Listen to them more than offer advice.  Don’t be afraid to just let them be. Over time, you’ll learn enough about what they are thinking and going through. And whether or not they show it, they will know that you are there for them when they need you. These exchanges will lead you toward what will one day be an adult relationship.

One other thought, as we begin to give them freedom, remember you as the parent are middle school girlstill in charge. You are giving them some freedom, which means if it’s abused or there are signs they can’t handle it, you can take it away. This will cause all kinds of attitude and drama to show up, but be strong. It’s as important to be consistent with discipline with adolescents as it is with toddlers. But give your child the opportunity to re-earn your trust so that you can start to let go again. The dance of giving and revoking freedoms will continue through high school to the point of both you and your child being ready to launch into college and adulthood. A whole other level of parent/child relationship change.

KK

#parenting

#middleschool

 

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

 

 

 

Organize not minimize

Recently I heard author Joshua Becker(@joshua_becker) interviewed on the radio. He made this statement, “organizing isn’t minimizing.” He’s the author of several books, two of which book coverare The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own; and Clutter-free with Kids: Change your thinking. Discover new habits. Free your home.

Becker discusses the benefits a family can experience if they reduce the amount of “stuff” they have and simplify their lives. He addresses parents, explaining how they can set the standard for how much stuff their kids have, and the expectation with family members about gift giving.

This #minimalist mindset is said to be a trend among the gen x’ers. Research shows they prefer to spend their money on experiences like traveling, rather than big homes and fancy cars. This generation doesn’t want a lot of stuff handed down to them. It makes you wonder about all of the short-term storage units being built. Really, we have so much stuff that the next generation doesn’t want, that we store it — just in case.

Becker’s statement that organizing isn’t minimizing makes complete sense. You can rearrange a dozen boxes in an attic, or stack them neatly out of the way in the garage, but there are still a dozen boxes.

To minimize you must eliminate. Go ahead, if you haven’t worn something in two cycles of seasons, you aren’t going to! Let it go. You’d be surprised what else you might find in your closet to wear. If you don’t love those books on your shelf, sell them! My book problem is that many of my favorites are by authors I know, or have been autographed.

My mother never understood why I didn’t want a lot of trinket things sitting around on my tables and mantel. Well, those statuettes serve no function and they collect dust. The few I have were gifts and have meaning beyond the aesthetics. But that’s the difference between her generation and mine. She was raised to be a housewife. Homes were “decorated” not “staged.” The home design for the times was pictures hung in great collages on the wall and nick nacks on all flat surfaces.

Having a simplistic space can temper the noise of life. Order in our space can minimize the chaos that whirls through our minds.

Yep, it’s Christmas time and I’m talking about not having too much stuff. It is the time of year when retail marketing is at its extreme. It is the “political ad season” for retail. You must have, you can’t live without, wouldn’t your life be better if, time of year. Believe me, I’m not downing gift giving. Even in choosing a gift, there is an art to not just choosing anything. But that’s a topic for another blog.

For now, as you are making space for all the new stuff, consider what you need, and what needs to be passed along.

KK

Thankfulness

Happy Thanksgiving. This morning was pretty melancholy as I cried through the first hour of the Macy’s Day Parade. I love that parade and always have. Today it reminded me of two very special people we lost this year, my mother-in-law, Annette Richardson, and my dad, Cliff Hensley.

annetteEarly in my marriage, Annette (who grew up dancing), and I went to see the Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes. She liked to tell the story of a friend of hers who auditioned and danced with them. Dad always watched the parade and there dad fishingwere many phone calls through the years while it was on talking about this performer, or that band.

Today I’m also thinking about Melissa Webb’s boys who said farewell to their mom a few days ago, and Jackie Snyder’s family who is coming up on the one year mark of her passing. Jackie would be glad to know that by the time my family comes to dinner my home will be “first floor ready.” I loved her gift of hospitality.

Yes, this year has been full of loss. There is a battle in my spirit waiting for the other shoe to drop, and my current reality that I do have SO much to be thankful for. The tears are just part of getting through the cycle of grief.

I am thankful for a loving husband who loves us like Christ loved the Church and who works hard for us. And my son who has a kind heart and has worked hard in his first semester of college(#wku2022). I am thankful for my job at NCFL, and the opportunity to tell the story of many individuals who have overcome great obstacles for themselves and their families. But my over-arching point of thankfulness is for my faith without which I wouldn’t have the hope to hang in there through the storm, the capacity to love, and the drive to work.

I started a new breakfast tradition this morning making a homemade giant cinnamon yum 3and apple roll. As you can see, it was a success. Football is on and I’m hydrating for the salt-fest that is a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with my family.

Thank you for sharing in my tearful moments this year. Please join me in moving forward focused on the blessings we all share.

KK

 

Farewell dad: July 20, 1925 – June 30, 2018

I had no idea what to expect. For once in my life, I had slowed down enough to really hear what was being said. “You need to come; sooner, rather than later.” It wasn’t convenient. I had just returned from a work trip, I didn’t want to leave again. But the words stuck, “you need to come now.” Within 48 hours of returning from Minnesota, I was on a plane headed for Florida. She had only said that he had been sleeping a lot more lately, and not eating much.

Dad was 92 years old. To be honest, over the last few years, I noticed him slowing down; the walker, the hearing loss. At the end of each of our last few visits (over a couple of years), I would wonder if it was the last visit. Truly hearing her words were a blessing, “You need to come now.” So, I went.

I had three days with him. Not knowing much about how this end of life stuff worked, I didn’t realize that these were three of his last seven days. He did sleep a lot. But when he was awake, we shared some extraordinary moments. We had conversations about spiritual matters, about my work and my son moving to college. There were times in our conversation when he, like many other times, was strong in his opinion. It was good to see the spark still come from a weakened 90-pound man. He was still in there. Months ago, his distinctive voice, that I pray never leaves my memory, diminished. His deep but friendly voice carried the spirit of what he believed in his heart.

Dad was kind-hearted and believed in helping where and when he could. He believed in getting a good education and being productive. He shared often that everyone has something to contribute. He had a big spirit, but a humble heart. I remember him telling me once, “if you have something you don’t need, but someone else does, you should give it to him. That thing isn’t doing you a bit of good but could make a difference to the next guy.” Dad was full of what he called his little “sermons.” While probably too many times in my life I didn’t listen, sometimes I did and would decide for myself if that was a belief I would adopt.

Sitting with him at his home in Florida, I saw a very big personality, active every day, taking interest in many things, fading. He had spent his years getting up every day and doing something. They would go visit friends, play golf, fish, play cards, rock hunt, yard sale, find something to do. In the course of that activity, there was always somebody to meet, or an adventure to be had. This, of course, led to dad having more stories to tell. “We met this fella…”

Dad always had a notebook of paper and a pen. He would be doodling or designing. His mind was moving, even when he was sitting. He left the writing to me, although during the years he lived in Saudi Arabia, he wrote some of the most wonderful letters.

During our recent visit, when he was quiet, I imagine his mind was still moving. He knew he wasn’t long for this world. His health had failed to the point of having hands too swollen to hold a pencil. His eyes could no longer see to peruse books or magazines. He shared that he no longer had a purpose.

Like so many other times in his life, dad didn’t realize that even in those last seven days, he had a purpose. Three of those days at least, his purpose was to slow his “middle daughter down” in order to connect one last time, to appreciate not in some naive way, her dad. For all of his imperfection, he was my dad, he brought me into this world. He loved me. Like many other parent/child relationships, we had seasons of distance. But those seasons have faded over the last 30 years, to come to the blessing of an adult relationship. One that allowed me to appreciate and love dad for who he was and what he brought to our relationship.

Sitting in his recliner that weighed twice what he did, his eyes were crystal blue. I sat close to save his voice from straining, and to ensure I could hear him. He recalled stories of years past with such detail that I didn’t even remember. Other times, he would just look straight into my eyes. We connected without words. He was my father. And he was fading from this world into the next. He was being called home. His effervescent spirit was calm, he had peace.

The morning I left, he really wanted to go to the airport. Selfishly, I didn’t think I could handle my good-bye to be at the Delta (#deltaairlines) curb. But if he wanted to, I would get over it and enjoy the ride to the airport. After getting dressed and a small breakfast, he decided to stay home. I have to wonder if he had the same thought I did about where our farewell would take place. We held hands and I looked into his eyes unable to say goodbye, I told him I would see him again. Our conversation of spiritual matters and the Bible assured me of that. The last two words dad said to me were whispered, “Love you.”

Thank you, dad, for your spirited example of living. May our lives honor that through continuing to be life-long learners, kind-hearted people, and productive citizens.

KK

#heaven

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.