Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Famous One

Dennis left the AARP magazine open on the kitchen table to page 16.  There, staring at me this morning, was a sultry picture of Elizabeth Taylor in her younger years.  In a bathing suit.  One piece.  But with a good bit of top exposure for 1959, methinks.  

Underneath the photo was a little blurb referring to the book, How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood.  (Check out those chapter headings.)

What also struck me was the statement that Julia Roberts was "pulling down $20 million per film" in 2006.

We pay our stars a lot. 

We hold them up as idols and icons.  Often overlook their unrepentant sins and lifestyles.

Humans.  Like us.

Then I remembered something Mary DeMuth tweeted yesterday.  "It could be just me, but it seems Christians are extremely starstruck by other famous Christians."

It could be just me, but it seems we are often starstruck by someone or something other than the One who made the stars.

We so easily forget what the Great Celebrity has done.

Like the Israelites.  Their famous one had disappeared up a mountain.  They could not look past their earthly "star" to the One they had seen in the pillars of cloud and fire.  So they coerced Aaron to build them a golden calf to idolize.  Of course, that ended up being smashed to smithereens.

Do we need something tangible?  Someone touchable to look up to?

How many of us rush to church with the same enthusiasm and excitement that we rush to see a concert?

How many of us have stayed home from church to cheer for our favorite football team or player?

How is it that we fall over each other to hear a famous speaker and miss the message of the man or woman next door?

When we expect others to be what only Jesus is, when we place them on pedestals, we set them up for failure and ourselves for disappointment.

We are probably not as likely to find Jesus on a stage or in a stadium or on the big screen.  We will more likely find Him on His knees in the mud.  Next to the homeless, the friendless, the helpless.

Sheila Walsh says in Let Go, "It's hard to fall off a pedestal when you are washing someone's feet."

We need to look through those we are tempted to "worship," and behold Jesus.

We need to look for those who are on their knees.  Serving.  Get down with them.  Then look up.  The only one left standing is Jesus.

The Famous One.

Who are you starstruck with today?

"Oh Lord, our Lord, our majestic is your name in all the earth!" ~Psalm 8:9 (NIV)

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Seven Basic Steps to Successful Christian Writing

I stumbled today on one of my first articles accepted for publication.  It appeared in The Christian Writer back in 1982, and it's speaking to me even now as I venture back into this scary territory.  Even though the editor, T.A. Norton, wrote "I like its unique concept for success,"  I now find the original a bit corny.  So I've sliced, diced and updated it just a tad.

S  Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.  A Christian writer puts God first.

U  Understand God gives different gifts and ministries.  A Christian writer must use what He gives.

C  Consecrate your service to the Lord.  Today.  Every day.  To God.  Not money or fame.

C  Commit your way to the Lord.  Trust in Him, and He will do it.  A Christian writer gives control to God.

E  Endure hardship like a good soldier.  A writer's life involves dedication, discipline, and diligence.

S  Study to show yourself approved.  A Christian writer needs to learn the Word as well as the craft.

S  Speak the truth in love.  In season and out of season.  Fiction and nonfiction.  In all genres.

Question:  How do YOU spell SUCCESS?

Scriptures:  Matthew 6:33, I Corinthians 12:4-5, I Chronicles 29:5, Psalm 37:4-5, II Timothy 3:3, II Timothy 2:15, Ephesians 4:15

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Carrot, an Egg, or a Coffee Bean?

How do you respond when bad things happen?  Or tough and rough things?  Or even little disappointments?  Or simply unexpected changes?

Do you melt down and fall apart?  Go limp and give up?  Become hard and embittered?  Or do you release the fragrance that's within, become richer and enrich the lives around you?

Dennis emailed this to me on Friday.  It's not a new story, but I think it speaks to many of our situations and bears repeating.

Are You a Carrot, an Egg, or a Coffee Bean?

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her.  She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up.  She was tired of fighting and struggling.  It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.  Her mother took her to the kitchen.

She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire.

Soon the pots came to a boil.  In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last, she placed ground coffee beans.  

She let them sit and boil without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes, she turned off the burners.  She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl.  She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.  Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.  

Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see."

"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots.  She did and noted that they were soft.  The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it.  After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.  

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee.  The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.  

The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, Mother?"

The mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity:  boiling water.  Each reacted differently.  

The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting.  However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg had been fragile.  Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however.  After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her daughter.  "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond?  Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?" 

~Author Unknown

Which are you?  

Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart that becomes hard with the heat of a trial? 

Are you a carrot that seems strong but becomes weak in adversity? 

Are you a coffee bean that even when ground and subjected to trial releases flavor and fragrance?  That changes the very circumstance that brings pain?

Which are you?  A carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."  James 1:2-4

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Friday, October 23, 2009

Expect the Unexpected

My phone beep, beep, beeped in the middle of yesterday's quiet, well-planned, writing afternoon with a text message. 

"Mom, prepare yourself.  I'm going to call in a few minutes."

My heart skipped a beat.  My daughter struggles with various health issues.  I knew she had a doctor's appointment.  She has a 25-year-old friend with a bowel cancer recurrence.  I know of several young people who face serious and even life-threatening illness.  Was it her turn?

Prepare yourself.

Kind of late.  Always good to be prepared before you need to be prepared.

I went to my knees.  And waited.

What do you do when you get that unexpected call?  The call that suddenly changes everything?  The one that shoots a hole in your expectations and dreams and comfortable bubble?  Are you like a mighty oak with a deep and strong root system that can bend and sway with the wind?  Or are you a tree with shallow roots that topples in the slightest breeze?

Can you adapt?  Just one more time?

Can you grow stronger and push those roots a little deeper?  Just one more time?

Prepare yourself.

But I knew.  A gut feeling.  I'm a mom after all.  This wouldn't be good news.  Necessarily.

The call came.  One of very mixed emotions.  Excitement.  Fear.

Worry.  About disappointing us.  Especially her dad.  Even her brother.

Disappointment.  God's appointment.

My daughter, now 24, single mom to a 7-year-old little girl, is pregnant again.

New life.

New challenges in the face of the unmarried issue, the school issue, the no-job issue, the no-money issue, the health issue.  For starters.

But she is loved.  By the father.  By his mother.  By us.  By our Father.

Unexpected by us.  Not unexpected by God.

Now expecting the unexpected.

Another life to touch that might one day touch the world.

I'm going to be a grandma again.

And it's all good.  Because babies are good.  Because God is good.

Are you prepared for the unexpected?

"But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever.  I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good.  I will praise you in the presence of your saints."  Psalm 52:8-9 (NIV)

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Book Review - Let Go by Sheila Walsh

"I will deliver you." 

Sheila Walsh, Women of Faith speaker, opened her book with these words from God spoken in her spirit.  She felt "discouraged and bone weary."  Just like so many of us women at so many times in our lives.

She needed "more peace about the issue."  So she began a "quest to study and understand what it means to be delivered."

A sense of frustration dogged my reading in the beginning because I wanted Sheila to "bleed."  I wanted to know exactly what struggle, what issue required deliverance.

I continued to read in my usual manner with pencil in hand, marking statements that spoke to me or seemed to relate to the theme of letting go.

Stuff like...
  • Accepting what is enables us to embrace a different future.
  • What should have happened did.
  • When we are unable to forgive or refuse to forgive, we become hostages to the pain of the past.
  • Forgiveness unclenches our fists and allows us to let go.
  • The most difficult person to forgive can be the one we see in the mirror every morning.
  • Resting in the love of God means letting go of all the broken pieces we cling to and clinging instead to him.
  • It's hard to fall off a pedestal when you are washing someone's feet.
  • Guilt tells me I've done something wrong.  Shame tells me I am something wrong.
  • If I place my hope in anything or anyone other than Jesus, I will be disappointed.
And then she bled.  She shared the story.  And the intense spiritual struggle.  And wise words from a child.

And what seemed disjointed (which is often the way of healing) and all of my markings came together.  And carried more meaning.

Sometimes in order to hang on, we have to let go.

Thank you, Sheila, for being open and vulnerable.  For letting go of the need to protect yourself.  We've all been there in some form, and your overcoming gives us hope.

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Non-Noticer

Focus is good.  Staying on the path.  Not looking right or left.  Eyes on the goal.

Except when driving.  Owl eyes rule.  A broad perspective.  Watching out for others.

A good time to be a noticer.

So you don't run someone off the road or into oncoming traffic.  Like me.

She had her blinker on.  Slowing down to get on the highway.  South.  But then she veered off the entrance ramp.  Toward me.  Even though I was blinking.  Getting ready to turn north.  She changed her mind.  Took cuts.  Don't think she even heard my horn.

A mile gone by the time I turned behind her.

Ms. Cauliflower Ear.  Cell phone glued firmly to the left.

But she never took her eyes off the road.

The non-noticer.

Focus is good.  Staying on the path.  Not looking right or left.  Eyes on goal.

Following Jesus.

With His eyes.  A broad perspective.  Watching out for others.

So as not to run them off the road.

So as to pull them from the ditch.

So as to bind their wounds and carry them until they can move on their own.

Following Jesus.

A good time to be a noticer.

"Heart-shattered lives ready for love don't for a moment escape God's notice." Psalm 51:17 (MSG)

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, October 19, 2009


It's 5 a.m.  I hadn't planned to be at the computer this early.  In the morning dark. 

At 12:05, I had buried my face under the covers and cuddled next to a suitcase.  Dennis packing for Dallas.

At 3:50, I awoke to NPR music.  Loud.  Hadn't heard it for 20 minutes.

"Are you awake?" I groaned.

"No, but I'm getting up anyway."

At 4:15, Dennis woke me up again to kiss me goodbye.  After locating my face under the pillow.

At 4:20, I heard Gracee crying for her mom.  I stumbled downstairs to her room and found her buried under shreds of Kleenex.  She'd had a bad dream.  Probably about being attacked by a giant box of Kleenex.  She said shredding had helped her fall asleep.  I picked the Kleenex out of her hair, tucked her in, and restarted her music.  David Meece.

How she sleeps with music that peppy. 

At 4:30, I staggered back to bed and began to doze to the strains of "God's Promises are Rainbows in the Night" streaming through the monitor.

At 4:45, Gracee called again.  She was still scared.  Her stomach hurt.  She had to go to the bathroom.  And then Rose Dog had to go out.  I got everyone settled and fell back into bed.  Wide awake now.  Sort of.  With a slight headache.  I prayed a bit.

So now here I sit wrapped in my fluffy white bathrobe.  The one the tea baptized the other night when I dozed off on the sofa.  Smelling of bleach and Tranquil Mint lotion from Bath and Body Works. 

Listening to "Seventy Times Seven."

Listening to the dog snore.

Listening to the heater blowing on my feet.

Listening for Him.

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Friday, October 16, 2009

Grace. Amazing!

NOTE on 05/19/2010: I missed the One Word Carnival announcement this week. Forgot about it. But I remembered this. So I'm cheating. This is my contribution, then, to this week's Blog Carnival on GRACE. For more thoughts, visit the One Word at a Time.

Grace Elizabeth. 

Abby settled on this name just minutes before discharge.


A gift from God.  And in many ways my 17-year-old daughter's saving grace.

She has a new name this week.  She even made a name tag Sunday night so teachers and schoolmates would remember.

Jewelie Elizabeth Amazing Grace.

Because "Jewelie"  is "popleear."  And "I like jewels."

She shortened it by midweek.  Now simply Elizabeth Amazing Grace.  The name she uses to sign her school papers.

Not so simple.  Yet amazingly simple.  Powerful.

Another time.  Another place.  Another gift.  Another name.



Savior.  Wonderful Counselor.  Mighty God.  Eternal Father.  Prince of Peace.

Not so simple.




Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Head Hurts!

 My head hurts.

I. mean. seriously.

Thought pellets.  My brain must look like cheap siding after a hailstorm.  And I can't get half the ideas out my fingertips or mouth before they melt.

They pound at all times of day and night.  Wherever I am.  Whatever I'm doing.  Or not doing.

I thought quitting my job last year would bring a little more peace and tranquility.  Especially after I decluttered.

It did.

Sort of.

Not so much.

I think it just helped to clear out some overgrowth and tumble some walls.

Now I'm a lone tree in the field.  A prime target for repeated lightning strikes.

It was that Holy Discontent thing.  And Half Time.  Being a Popeye person.  Finding my passion.  My one thing.  Finishing well.  Going from success to significance.  My truest purpose.  Eternal perspective.  The "stuff that stirs my heart's holiest chambers." (Bob Buford)


Was it nursing?  I used to dream about being a missionary nurse.  Should I morph into parish nursing?  What about a joint MSN/M.Div?

Should I be a nun?  Another childhood dream.  Nah.  Too late for that.  Plus I'm not even Catholic.

Airline attendant?  Nope.  That was my mom's dream for me so she could travel free.  But travel would be nice.

Medical transcription?  Document health stories?  Important.  Fun.

Advocate for Compassion International?  I could really get into that.

Should I devote myself to leading inductive study through Precept Ministries International?  Now I'm talking!


Words.  Words.  Words.  The Word.  Words in.  Words out.  Turn a word.  Twist a phrase.

Makes my heart quiver.  Throb.

Set apart.  Healing words.  Compassionate caring.  Encouraging.  Laughing.  Crying.  Travelling through space and time.  Exciting others about the Word.

Encompasses all.

My head hurts.

Make. It.  Stop.

Don't stop...

What "stuff stirs your heart's holiest chambers?"

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Naomi's Story--Our Story - Part 2

I know.  Not a word.  But I needed to go with the B flow.

Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.  Spring.  Bread again in the house of bread.  Naomi had experienced winter in her heart and soul.  Little did she know that spring would soon break into her brokenness.  Little did she know what God was orchestrating for her and her Gentile daughter-in-law, and for us.  Little did she know that  beauty would blossom from her ashes.  That gladness would displace her mourning and a spirit of praise would triumph over her despair.  A new story in the works. 

Ruth "just happened" to glean in the field of a man named Boaz, who "just happened" to be from Elimelech's family--a close kinsman, one who could redeem Elimelech's land and carry on his name.

Questions:  Have you ever experienced any "just happenings?"  Do you believe God can bring spring out of your winter?

Boaz took Ruth as his wife, and she conceived and birthed a son.  Perhaps Naomi served as midwife.  The neighbor women blessed God and rejoiced with Naomi that she had been redeemed.  And that she held in her arms one who would restore her life, bring back her vitality, and help care for her in her old age.  They said, "A son has been born to Naomi," and they, the neighbor ladies, named him Obed, which meant, "serving."

I didn't quite get that.  Ruth experienced morning sickness.  Ruth's back ached.  Ruth went through labor.  Yet it was Naomi's baby?  Maybe there's more to it, but  remember that Ruth clung to Naomi (1:14).  The Hebrew for "clung" is the same word translated "cleave" in Genesis 2:24 where a man and woman become one flesh.  These women were stuck like glue.  One.  And Ruth made a covenant declaration.  What's mine is thine.

Naomi had suffered.  She had lost much.  But in the end she received redemption.  And a daughter-in-law better to her than seven sons, who loved her deeply.  And she cradled the child who would become the grandfather of King David.  Who held the seed of the one who would be the Redeemer, the Restorer of life--my life, your life.  Life itself.  She touched the life that touched the life that touched the life...that would one day touch the world.

Little did she know.

Question:  Have you been blessed in spite of, or in the midst of, despair?  Are you touching a life that might one day touch the world?

I wonder if Obed's other grandmother lived to see him.  I wonder if he knew her.  I wonder if the grandmothers talked and shared stories over a cup of tea.  If they caught their breath as they shared God sightings and God moments.

The Bible often leaves me breathless.  Like in Ruth 1:12.  Naomi said, "If I had hope..."  Naomi did not feel very hopeful about having either another husband or more sons.  She didn't feel very hopeful about her future at all.  The Hebrew word for hope here is "tiqvah," and it's the first time it's translated "hope."  The word "tiqvah" is first used in Joshua 2:18, but there it is translated "cord."  Boaz's mother, Obed's grandmother, Rahab, the Gentile harlot named in the genealogy of Jesus, tied a scarlet cord in the window, and she and her family were spared when the walls of Jericho fell. 

Hang on to that cord.  A cord of hope that connects us to HopeHope for redemption.  Hope for restoration.  Hope for renewal.  Hope for blessings and a new story in the midst of famine and pain and brokeness.  The thread, the cord, that runs throughout the pages of scripture.

Naomi's story--our story--HOPE!

Scriptures to read:  Ruth, Joshua 2, Deuteronomy 25:5-10
Look up "hope" in the Blue Letter Bible.  Be sure the version (range option) is KJV or NASB.

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Naomi's Story--Our Story - Part 1

Breadless in Bethlehem.  The house of bread battled famine.  Yet in the midst of hunger, Naomi felt full.  She had her loved ones.  Elimelech, whose name meant "my God is king," packed up his wife and two sickly sons.  They traveled 30 miles to a foreign land where greener pastures prevailed.  Away from family.  Away from friends.  Away from the land of promise.  In a sense, away from God.  To Moab.  Where idols ruled.  Not that far in terms of distance.  But a million miles in terms of heart.

Question:  Do you ever feel full while eating the wrong food?  Off the wrong plates?  In the wrong restaurants?  Instead of eating at the table of the Bread of Life?

Elimelech died shortly after the family arrived in Moab.  The sons married Moabite girls.  And then the boys died.  Naomi faced life as a widow alone.  Without her girlfriends back in Bethlehem.  Broke and heartbroken.  Empty in a fertile land.  Except for her daughters-in-law who had bonded with her and remained with her.  And then Naomi heard the famine was over.  She rose up, dusted herself off, and headed toward home.  She tried to send the girls back to their own mothers, in hopes they could find rest and new husbands.  The pull was too much for Orpah.  But Ruth determined to remain, and the two widows continued on.

Question:  Do you ever try to find rest in others when your security should be in God alone?

Circumstances plunged Naomi into a deep sea of grief.  She did not blame God or rebel against Him.  She recognized His control over everything, but pain and sadness still overwhelmed her.  The tragedy of the last 10 years showed on her face.  The women of Bethlehem could not believe their eyes.  Was this really Naomi?

"Don't call me Naomi,"  she said.  "Call me Mara."

Question:  In the midst of pain, do you still recognize that God is in control?  Do you rest and trust?  Or do you blame?

I'm grateful to Kay Arthur for teaching me the concept of making bitter waters sweet.  More pleasant.  Palatable.

After the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, they went out into the wilderness.  They wandered around for three days and couldn't find water.  Until they came to Marah.  But the water was bitter.  The people complained, and Moses cried out to God.  God showed Moses a tree, and Moses threw it into the water.  And the water became sweet.

There's another tree that stood on a hill.  A cross that reminds us that Jesus tasted bitterness for us.  He gave up everything so we could taste the sweetness of life in heaven.  But even more than that.  When we are wading through hard and bitter circumstances, we can apply that tree to those waters.  Painful times can become sweeter as we deny ourselves, take up our own crosses, and trust that He will work all things for our good.

To be continued...

Scriptures to read:  Ruth 1, Exodus 15 (especially verses 22-25)

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

T Minus One Hour and Counting

In the middle of writing a serious post today, my brain cells screamed for coffee.  As I slid back, my headset caught on my chair and clattered to the floor bringing several pieces of paper fluttering down with it.  As I headed across the room, I slipped on several sheets of paper and bounced off the door frame.  I tiptoed around 4 pairs of shoes lining the stairway and stepped over a pair of Gracee's socks in the living room.  I scowled at the tumbleweed of dog hair in the corner, the crayons and "art work" on the table, dishes and crumbs on the sink.

I rose to my full 5 feet 2 (and a half) inches and growled, "That's all I can stands.  I can't stands no more!"

I rustled in the cupboard for a can of spinach, but the only power food I could find was a few chocolate chips scattered on the shelf.

Commence Big Sweep!

A one-hour countdown to imaginary company.

Also known as Operation Double Booster Declutter (ODBD).

You, too, can institute this procedure at any time of day or night.  Here it is blow by blow, step by step.

More organized clean freaks (OCFs) will probably just want to stop here and move on to prepare some specialty tea in a fragile china cup and enjoy it with some of their homemade biscotti in a sparkling nook.  The one near the window framed by freshly washed curtains swaying in a soft breeze.

CAUTION:  Not necessarily green approved. 

1.  Strip as bare as you dare.  Prepare to sweat (ummm, glisten).

2.  Get a large garbage bag, a laundry basket, 2 bins, and a high-quality feather duster.

3.  Pour a pail of water and mix with your favorite cleaning solution.  Set it on a table so you don't kick it over.  Breathe deeply for energy.

4.  No music.  No TV.  Ignore the phone.  No distractions.  You must focus.  Prayer is okay, but only in grunts and groans.

5.  Set your timer for one hour.  GO!

6.  Grab your laundry basket and whisk up all dirty clothes strewn hither and yon.  It's okay to grab a few clean out-of-place items.

7.  Start a load of laundry.  No matter how small.  Scentsation is all important.

8.  Gather up all clean clothes (you know, the stuff that's been waiting around for a few days to be put away) and deposit them in the appropriate bedrooms.  Deposit only.  You may stack linens in the closet.

9.  Place your bins and garbage bag in a central area.  You will run back and forth and shed a few ounces in the process.

10.  Anything that belongs somewhere else goes in bin #1.

11.  Anything you are not sure of goes in bin #2.

12.  Trash goes in bag.  Duh.

13.  Do not think too hard.  Try to get more stuff in bin #2 and the trash bag.  We are not recycling today.  Well...okay.  Newspapers, magazines, cans and plastic in bin #1.

14.  Run through the house with the feather duster.  Concentrate on visible dust and cobwebs.  Check near the ceiling.

15.  Dance with the vacuum.  Fast.

16.  Put items from bin #1 away.  Hide bin #2.

17.  Transfer clothes to dryer.  Quickly wash any dishes.

18.  Dump some cleaning solution down all sinks and into toilets.  Swish, swish.  Wipe down counters with whatever is closest at hand.  Hang fresh hand towels.

19.  Close bedroom doors.  You'll deal with them tomorrow.  Toss garbage bag.

20.  Take a deep breath.  Look around.  Sigh. smile.  Resume regular programming.

Note to self:  At next power surge, immediately transfer anything still in bin #2 to trash bag or giveaway box.  If you can remember where bin #2 is.

Second note to self:  Vow not to let things get out of control.  Again.

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Don't Look Back - Part 2

I graduated from a diploma nursing school in 1969 and then worked off and on in various specialties.  Even went on to earn a bachelor's degree at Michigan State.  I haven't worked in the field for years, but I still complete the continuing education credits to maintain my license.  There's security in knowing I could get a job if I needed to.  Also, I still give a fantastic shot, which might come in handy in some crisis or some medical mission opportunity.

In more recent years, I worked in the medical transcription field because it was a health career I could practice from home.  I became certified.  I found meaning in helping to document health stories and in teaching others how to do it well.

Hidden stories.  Suffering locked in private pillars.

A sense of restlessness nibbled at my spirit.  And then, for a multitude of reasons, I reached a point of exhaustion.

I've been on "sabbatical" now for about a year.  As part of that rest, I undertook a major decluttering of my home, heart, and head.  Tossing earthly treasures.  Also, our church studied the book, Holy Discontent, by Bill Hybels, and my husband and I participated in a small group.  I realized that described my current state.

Not so much a "firestorm of frustration" but a smoldering sense of discontent that my life was not yet branded with eternal significance.  I explored my Popeye potential and listened intently for my inner music.

And I looked back.

I remembered that I've loved to write since I was a child.  Our mailman delivered my first rejection letter before I was a teenager.  I had written a Nancy Drew type mystery where I caught the bad guys down by our lake and sent it to the local newspaper like Little Women's Jo. 

(I burned that letter and the returned story, by the way.  Up in smoke.  A pile of ashes.)

I remembered weaving in and out of the writing world over the years with some pieces published.  Finding spin-around, dancing joy in studying and sharing what I learned as a speaker and teacher.  Watching others light up with understanding and excitement.

While I've been resting and decluttering, I've started studying again.  And teaching.  And writing.  I'm sleeping less.  And feeling more awake.  More energized.

And I'm sensing a season of change.  A calling out.  To where it's scary and insecure.  Where giants roam.  To write a new story.  Seeking to salt.

I don't know if I'll make any money.  I don't know if God wants me to.  Might have to eat manna instead of leeks and drink water instead of Starbucks.  Might have to sell my dulcimer and harp.  But I HAVE to do this.

So I'm moving forward.  Into the unknown.

Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.  Pressing on.  Unleashing potential.  Spreading salt.  Embracing risk.

To teach and to write.


And I won't look back.

Have you experienced a holy discontent?  Are you following it?  Are you moving forward?

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Friday, October 2, 2009

Don't Look Back - Part 1

Sodom stank worse than rotten eggs, and the angels told Lot to hightail it out of town ahead of the sulfur storm.  Lot dawdled, so the angels shoved him and his wife and his daughter out the city's gate and told them to run for their lives.

Don't stop.  Head for the hills. 

Don't look back.

Even though the town reeked with sin and gangs roamed the neighborhood and life wasn't all that secure, one knew what to expect and how to protect.  But now Lot's family fled their comfort zone and faced homelessness.  No time to pack up the jewelry and new clothes and gold coins and other earthly treasures destined for burning.  Mrs. Lot lagged behind.

And then she looked back.

She didn't just glance behind her.  She stopped and beheld the scene.  We don't know what she was thinking.  Was she mourning her old story?  Was she mesmerized by the unfolding drama?  At any rate, she stood still too long.

She turned into a statue.

Salt solidified.  Potential locked in a pillar.

Because she looked back.

The Israelites packed up their treasures and followed pillars of cloud and fire and crossed a sea on dry land after experiencing miraculous deliverence.  God protected and fed them.  He rained daily bread.  But they still engaged in wilderness whining.

And they looked back.

They forgot their suffering.  Their uncomfortable life in a comfort zone.  They forgot the salty tears that seasoned their fish.  They missed their cukes and melons and leeks and onions and garlic.  Yuck on the same old manna.  Maybe God could quell their cravings with an Oreo shower?

But they got a quail storm.  And a plague.  And a lot of them died.  They missed their potential in the promised land.

Because they looked back.

Orpah and Ruth packed up and headed from Moab to Bethlehem with Naomi.  Then Naomi stopped them for a family meeting.  Did the young women really want to leave their comfort zone?  Their friends, their family, their gods?  Moab held security and maybe new husbands.  Going forward meant risk and certain hardship.

Orpah looked back.

And Orpah went back.

God didn't tell us what happened to her.  But certainly she lost blessings.  Ruth embraced risk and found security in the one true God.  She entered into a new story.  She pressed forward and married a wonderful and wealthy man and became the great-grandmother of King David.  She became part of our story.  Potential plus.

Ruth didn't look back.

Is God calling you into new territory?  Are you lingering in your comfort zone?  Are you looking back?

Scriptures to read:  Genesis 19, Numbers 11, Ruth 1.

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King
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