Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Vision is Whack

They have eyes, but they do not see. 
Psalm 135:16b 

My vision is whack.

I've worn glasses ever since I can remember. Grade school I think. Some of those old pictures aren't fit for human eyes.

But here's one anyway.

One thing I do know: that though I was blind, now I see. 
John 9:25b  

I wear contacts now. I got them when I was a senior in high school. I had no problem breaking them in. I wanted them.

I really wanted them.


More than anything. 

Give me your heart, my son, and let your eyes delight in my ways. 
Proverbs 23:26

I sometimes even forget and fall asleep with them in.

I still wear the old kind. Hard. Gas permeable. My doctor tried to convert me to the soft ones a few years back. I tried. Sort of. I hate touching my eye. (Though I don't mind manipulating or digging "lost" contacts out of the corner of my eyeball.)

I like the old ones. I like the old ways better. 

See, I am doing a new thing! 
Isaiah 43:19a  

Today I wear monovision contacts. Doctor told me I had them mixed up one day. But he said that was a good thing, too, because it meant I tolerated them so well. I guess not everyone does. Now I try to remember that "read is right." I close my left eye to see if I can read with my right eye. If not, I switch.

I always get in trouble for wearing them too long. Sometimes I fudge when he asks.

Or is that lying?

For he who lacks these qualities (knowledge, self control, perserverence, godliness, brotherly kindness, love) is blind or short sighted. 
2 Peter 1:9a

I do have "backup" glasses.

I hate them.

I had a plank in my eye once. Felt like it anyway. Turned out to be a metal sliver. Don't know where it came from.  Doc removed it (didn't hurt a bit), and I had to wear glasses until it healed.

Dust and pollen feel like boulders. And make me cry. And make my mascara run. And it's worth it.

I have two pairs of glasses.

One is a pair of bifocals. Yes. Sigh.

The optometric assistant talked me into the frames.

I hate them. (The glasses. The frames are okay. Dennis hates those.)

But now they're "too strong."

The other pair is for computer work. I wear them the most. I can see well enough around the house with them. Not well enough to drive.

I hate them, too.

And now I have to take them off to read.

Glasses smear and  fog up. And Gary (the too-old-for-me neighbor boy) used to love to lick two fingers and smudge the lenses. I didn't care, though. At least he was paying attention to me.

For now we see through a mirror dimly, but then face to face. 
1 Corinthians 13:12   

I can't see with them. I can't see without them.

I need to fill a new contact prescription, too. And then get prescription sunglasses. Because contacts and beaches don't go well together.

Which reminds me. There's a contact somewhere in Lake Michigan sand.

If they ever tell me I can no longer wear contacts, I'll ride a banana peel to the nearest LASIK center.

Because my vision is whack.

How is your vision today?

I pray the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of his calling. 
Ephesians 1:18

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pondering Palms

The [uncompromisingly) righteous shall flourish like the palm tree [be long lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful." 
Psalm 92:12a (Amplified)


Many Hebrew parents named their girls "date palm," a name that symbolized elegance, grace, and beauty.

These trees once flourished in the Holy Land. The ancients called Jericho "the city of palms," and some believe the date palm could be the oldest fruit-bearing tree in the world.

Date palms stretch toward heaven, growing a foot a year. They can reach heights of 80-100 feet, especially if suckers are pruned. Each leaf on its "crown" can grow 10-20 feet in length, sheltering clusters of fruit. Each cluster can weigh as much as 20-40 pounds and bear 600-1700 dates. The palms can produce fruit for over 60 years.

An Arab saying states that a palm should have its "head in the fire and its roots in the water." They are "children of the desert," and their presence in the burning sand signifies a place of rest and refreshment, life-giving water and nourishment for the body. An oasis in a harsh world.

The stem of the date palm sways back and forth in a storm, flexible and unyielding. Its length bears scars showing where leaves have fallen off.

Ancients celebrated its more than 360 uses from beauty to food to medicine to building. The tree could satisfy almost every temporal need.

Amazing trees.

Symbols of strength, prosperity, joy, and victory.

People often waved branches in the air or carpeted the road to honor winning athletes, conquering heroes, and arriving kings.

Like Jesus.

"So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him. And as they went, they kept shouting, Hosanna! Blessed is He and praise to Him Who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!"
John 12:13 (Amplified)

"Save us. Save us now!"

The people expected an earthly kingdom. Salvation from Rome. They organized an impromptu TEA party. They paved the road with their garments and palm fronds. Expecting freedom. Not prepared for disappointment. They didn't realize that Jesus had come to Jerusalem to die. For them. For us. That His eyes were on eternity.

They didn't know then that the palms that had blessed and healed and gently cupped a face would soon quiver with the excruciating pain of crucifixion nails.

Many years ago, I remember lying on my back on my living room floor, arms outstretched, begging God to let me feel what Jesus felt. And I heard Him speak to my heart. "It's over. Finished. It's not your pain to bear."

"See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands."
Isaiah 49:16 (NIV)

I want to flourish like a palm tree. Pruning life suckers. Stretching upward, yet bowing with fruitfulness. Diving deep into living water. Sustained through hot times and an oasis for others on desert journeys.

I envision my tattooed picture on and my name carved into His palm.

I want to live with my own palms wide open to surrender those temporal things I want to cling to. 

With palms down to release worry and stress.

With palms up to receive His love and peace and strength.

What is your palm position today?

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I Will Sing

I couldn't sing on Sunday. 

I had laryngitis.

So frustrating for one who loves to sing.

As a child, I stood on a salt lick stage in the woods and serenaded whatever critters would listen. I pretended to be Patti Page.

I stood outside under the stars and sang "Johnny Angel" as loud as I could. Only I changed "Johnny" to "Gary," a neighbor who was too old for me.

When I sang "Where the Boys Are," my sister declared I sounded just like Connie Francis. She has a much better ear now.

Yeah, I'm that old.

And truth? Still, when I'm all alone, I turn up the music and sing like a real singer.

Shhh. That's our secret.

Oh, I've had some singing "gigs" over the years. I sang a medley from Sound of Music when I ran for National Cherry Queen. I've sung in church choirs. Even sang solos and duets. Sometimes well. Sometimes disastrously.

People used to say they liked to watch me sing because I was so "animated." I still remember how I glowed for days for "really sticking that high A."

But I'm no Susan Boyle or Sandi Patty.

Not even close.

I wonder if David had a good voice.

I've thought about taking lessons. But these days I'm finding it easier to fade into the background. And at this point, it's not a dream I feel led to follow hard after.

So how come God gave me this great desire but not the great talent?

Maybe because He wants me to sing for an audience of One?

On whatever stage and in whatever stage I find myself?

With or without a voice?

I can do that.

I will sing!

"I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I sing praise to my God while I have my being." Psalm 104:33 (NIV)

Can you sing--even if you "can't?" In whatever stage you find yourself?

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Faithful to the End

It happened at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, on April 20, 1999.

"Do you believe in God?"

"Yes, I believe in God."


But before Cassie could answer, he shot her. Dead.

Faithful to the end.

They shot Rachel Scott, too. Twice in the legs and once in the torso.

The shooters left but soon returned.

One yanked Rachel's head up by her hair.

"Do you believe in God?"

"You know I do."

"Then go be with Him." And he shot her in the head. Dead.

Faithful to the end.

The book Jesus Freaks shares story after story after story of Christians threatened, imprisoned, tortured, and killed over the years for the sake of Jesus. Very tough reading.

Faithful to the end. 

For the One who is faithful to the end.

I don't know if I could do it. I don't know if I could be faithful to the end with a nozzle at my nose.

I don't  know if I could take a bullet for my child or spouse.

I don't know if I could stand for Jesus if not doing it meant no suffering for me or my family.

I'd like to think I could. But honestly, I don't know if I could.

I don't know if I could be faithful to the end.

And it saddens me. And scares me.

I'm even a little afraid to write this post.

I've been consumed with these thoughts because this morning I taught on the last Beatitude.

"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil toward you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." 
Matthew 5:10-12

I'm okay with the happy dances in the preceding verses. Here, though, not so much.

But the reality is that if I accept my spiritual poverty and mourn and hunger and thirst and all that other stuff, "they" will come after me. Because the more I pant for Him, the more I become like Him.

And I can't expect different results. If I bring comfort, I'll make others uncomfortable. If I make peace, I'll stir up trouble.

And I'll suffer in some form.


He said so.

"If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you." (John 15:20)

And that's not all.

"Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2 Timothy 3:12)

"For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake." (Philippians 1:29)


Truth is--suffering proves I belong to the kingdom. That should make me happy. Enough to rejoice. Enough to be exceedingly glad.

I might escape death, but I can't escape abuse. If I'm not suffering in some form, even subtly, I need to reassess my life.

None of the disciples escaped persecution or death. All except John were killed in the end--beheaded, crucified, stoned, clubbed, or stabbed. John may have miraculously survived a pot of boiling oil.

All stood faithful to the end--though in the beginning they possessed little faith and a lot of fear.

Like me.

God knew what they needed when they needed it.

He knows what I need when I need it.

And because He is faithful, He provides--will provide.

Early Christians paid a price for faith. From lion food to torches. From racking to roasting

Christians today endure hacking and burning. They endure torture and rape. They watch homes burn, families torn apart, jobs lost.

God saves some. But not others. I don't know why. He's different.

And He calls me to be different. Different enough to risk some harassment. Different enough to risk possible death.

Faithful to the end.

When John the Baptist sat in prison (what Max Lucado calls his "dungeon of doubt" in The Applause of Heaven), he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask Him if He really was the Expected One. And Jesus sent word back of those who now saw and heard. Of those cleansed and those who lived. Of good news preached to the poor (in spirit.)

Of the unacceptable now accepted. Of the rejected now received. Of the devalued now valued.

Our kingdom. His kingdom. Come.

Jesus had His eyes on the eternal.

My eyes linger on the temporary.

"Lord stamp eternity on my eyes!" (Jonathan Edwards)

In Acts 1:8 Jesus said, " . . . you shall be My witnesses . . . to the remotest part of the earth."

The Greek word for "witness" is "martys." A spectator of something in a historical or a legal sense. But it also means "those who after his example have proved the strength and genuineness of their faith in Christ by undergoing a violent death."


Faithful to the end.

Jesus Freaks gives these definitions of a martyr:

1. One who chooses to suffer death rather than to deny Jesus Christ or His work.
2. One who bears testimony to the truth of what he has seen or heard or knows, as in a witness in a court of justice.
3. One who sacrifices something very important to further the kingdom of God.
4. One who endures severe or constant suffering for their Christian witness.
5. A Jesus Freak.

There's a cost to following Jesus. There's a cost to living for Him. There's a cost to living like Him.

While I might not be called to martyr my life, I must martyr my comfortable way of life. I have to count the cost. To be His disciple. To be His witness--His martys.

And like Cassie, I need to say, "Yes," every day.

Faithful to the end.

For the One who is faithful to the end.

Have you suffered persecution in any form? What in your life will you martyr today?

Links to check out:
Jesus Freaks
Open Doors
Voice of the Martyrs

NOTE: This post is part of the Blog Carnival on FAITHFULNESS. For more thoughts, visit One Word at a Time.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring Awakening

Spring yawns

Slips from its disintegrating blanket

And pushes up from its wintry grave.

 Pregnant lilacs in the greening air.

Death consumed by life.


"I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live even if he dies." John 11:25

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Would You Risk a Pinch for a Vision?

St. Patrick's Day.

All things green. Shamrocks. Corned beef and cabbage. Beer.

And pinches if you don't celebrate "properly."

But maybe we should instead celebrate vision. Perception. A way of looking at life. A way of reaching up and out. A willingness to risk a pinch.

When he was about 16, Irish raiders kidnapped Patrick from his family's farm in Britain, took him back to Ireland, and forced him into slavery. He worked as a shepherd and grew deep in faith during those years alone. About five years later, he apparently received a vision to run for the coast where he would find a way to escape. He returned home only to have another vision--a call back to the land of his imprisonment. A call to set his captors free. A call to spread the gospel in a foreign land. A vision worth a pinch.

"Be Thou My Vision," the beautiful Irish hymn, has its roots in an ancient Irish poem possibly written by Dallan Forgaill, a 6th century martyr. Mary E. Byrne translated the old Irish in 1905, and Eleanor Hull set it in verses in 1912. The medieval folksong, Slane, named after the Hill of Slane, carries the lyrics. Now we connect this hymn to St. Patrick's vision and to a flame that once burned, possibly on this hill.

Side Note: I find it interesting that Slane (Baile Shlaine) means "homestead of fullness."

Tradition says that in 433 A.D., Patrick risked a pinch when he lit a paschal fire on the Hill of Shane. In doing so, he openly defied a decree that outlawed any fires in the vicinity of the great festival fire lit at nearby Tara to honor the spring equinox. This infuriated the king who could have killed Patrick, but the king was apparently so struck by Patrick's courage and commitment, and perhaps eloquent preaching, he allowed him to continue his missionary work.

Patrick had a vision, an inner flame that allowed him to rise from adversity, to use the flames of adversity to light a flame for the Light.

Do you have a vision? Would you "risk a pinch for it"?

" . . . I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted with the train of His robe filling the temple." Isaiah 6:1 (NASB)

"Where there is no vision, the people perish . . ." Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)

Sweet melody. Sweet voices.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, March 15, 2010

I am Here--This is Now

Dennis and I got these T-shirts at our first Celebrate Your Marriage conference. I don't remember how Jay and Laura explained the original meaning, but my takeaway was this:

I am here. This is now.

Not the past. Not the future.

Now. The present.

Celebrate now.


Not fretting about yesterday's mistakes, failures, hurts, or disappointments.

Gone. Can't do anything about them now.

Not fretting about tomorrow's mistakes, failures, hurts, or disappointments.

Might never happen. Can't do anything about them now.

Not living with regret. Not living with fear.

Not dwelling in the past. Not living in the future.

Not consumed with "what ifs."

Present in the present. To His presence.


I am here. This is now.

And I will celebrate now.

Where are you right now?

"Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

"When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul." Psalm 94:19

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Blessed Beggars

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3

I traveled to Kenya during the past week. Not in body, but in spirit. Images described and photos posted by the Compassion Bloggers seared my heart. I sloshed through mud and garbage with them. I pinched my nose against the stench of hopelessness. I winced at eating food prepared in and by the unknown.

I heard the soul sobs. I wept.

Poverty. Abject poverty.

Dirt poor.



We have to grasp the tentacles of that kind of physical poverty before we can comprehend what Jesus meant about spiritual poverty.

"Poor" comes from a Greek word that means "to crouch." Those who are poor recognize they are destitute, suffocating with no spirit breath. Helpless. Dying. Hearts as dirty and cluttered as a slum.


Until they give up and give over. They creep through the dirt to touch the hem of compassion, beg for a crumb, cringe out of fear. And Compassion Himself reaches down and gives them the kingdom. Someone said the door is low, and only those who crawl can enter. They leave self on the outside. They crouch and receive a crown.

No longer hopeless. Now hope filled. The poor become rich.

Blessed. Happy. Dancing

Like these children in a Compassion International project in the midst of Mathare, the most dangerous slum in Kenya.

Kenyan Song in Mathare from Ryan Detzel on Vimeo.

John Bunyan wrote, "Christ makes princes of beggars."

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

Have you recognized your poverty? Then sing!

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Goodness in a Gideon

And God saw that it was good, very good.

How could it be otherwise? Because He is good.

He IS good. Good IS God. His essence is goodness.

Godness is goodness.

God puts the "oo" in goodness.

Indescribable. Uncontainable. Ooooo!

From the creation of the universe to the structure of our bodies to every event allowed in our lives. Meant for good.

Fitting. Suitable.

Even when from our perspective it seems terrible. Horrible. No good. Very bad.

Good. Because God equals good.

I found this note tucked between the pages of a Gideon Bible at the Ritz Carlton in Detroit.

"Do not remove," the other side read. So I left it.

I shared it on Facebook. And my friend, Lea, commented:

"How cute is that? You know, what a great idea that is. If every person of faith wrote a quick testimonial to the goodness of God and stuck it in the back of a hotel Gideon Bible, nonbelievers could be personally witnessed to by finding it. I believe God's Word is illuminated best by the earnest stories of believers about the real power of God to change lives. You've prompted me to start a movement, Snady."

A testimonial to the goodness of God, sometimes recognized only in hindsight, because He does what is fitting or suitable in season--even though it doesn't exactly feel good at the time.

Because God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good!

He is indescribable and uncontainable! Ooooo!

"Your marvelous doings are headline news; I could write a book full of the details of your greatness. The fame of your goodness spreads across the country; your righteousness is on everyone's lips." Psalm 145:6-7

Will you help spread the fame of His goodness? Will you join Lea's Gideon Goodness Movement?

NOTE: This post is part of the Blog Carnival on GOODNESS. For more thoughts, visit One Word at a Time.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Friday, March 5, 2010

Go Here. I Dare You!

Compassion Bloggers: Kenya 2010

If you don't want to be uncomfortable, don't go here.

If you don't want to weep, don't go here.

If you want to see some beautiful pictures, go here.

If you want to read about an organization and a group of bloggers who are being changed, go here.

If you want to feel like you're there with them, go here

If you want to behold God and see how you can make a difference, go here.

If you want to see how others can sing and dance in spite of their circumstances, go here.

If you want to gain a new perspective on your own circumstances, go here.

Because here you'll find links to posts by some who are experiencing poverty up close and personal for the next week. They're sharing sights and sounds and smells and tears and joys. They're sharing their hearts.

Because they are beholding God in Kenya. They are beholding God in poverty. They are beholding God in the faces of children.

They are beholding God through Compassion.

I'm especially interested in this trip because we sponsor a child, a girl, here. I wish I was a part of it. But I am going vicariously.

You can, too.

Travel here.

Every day.

All week.

And experience discomfort. Let yourself weep and your heart break. Enjoy the photos. Behold God at work in the midst. And be challenged to join Him.

Here. Now.

I dare you.

Did you go here? How were you touched? How will you respond?

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves . . . Defend the rights of the poor and needy." Proverbs 31:8-9

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Be Happy!

Would you like to be happy?

I would!

I still remember the pageant question I drew from the bowl. "What does happiness mean to you?"

Ummmm . . .

I blathered some kind of nonsense, and my mom said afterward that I could have said something like, "Happiness would be not having to answer a question that asked what happiness means to me."

Or I could have just said, "World peace."

Or better yet, "Inner peace."

Bliss. Serenity. Joy.



What Jesus said. Nine times in nine verses.

I want that!

You bet I want that.

But wait.

Something is wrong.

Something is messed up.

I thought I would get to do my own thing. Be blessed with money, friends, stuff, travels, popularity, good times.

I thought it was about me, me, me.

What's this stuff about poverty and purity and meekness and mercy and starving and persecution?

I have to be miserable to be happy? That's backwards! That's confusing. And it doesn't sound like much fun!

What's that?

I'm not going to find true happiness any other way? The tree of happiness doesn't grow in cursed soil? I'm not going to fill my emptiness with externals? My kind of happiness will make me miserable?

You want to replace my thermometer with a thermostat? No fluctuations? Steady happiness no matter what's swirling around me?

You want to give me dancing, spin-around, Snoopy joy?

Well, okay. I'm trusting. I'm listening.

"Blessed are . . ." Matthew 5:3-11

Are you a thermometer or a thermostat?

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, March 1, 2010

Of Close Calls and Frazzled Angels

 Abby does not have a guardian angel.

She has several. And they work in shifts. And with limited assignments. Guarding her creates too much stress. Even for an angel.

They worked overtime Friday night.

I wonder if heaven houses a golden spa. A place where a frazzled angel goes for feathicures, herbal halo wraps, purifying mud masks, or milk and honey massages.

If so, the place was busy Saturday morning.

My heart usually skips a beat when I see Abby's name on my caller I.D. She doesn't often call just to ask how I am or tell me she's thinking about me. It's usually to make a request or share a piece of drama.

Like Friday night.

I didn't have to decipher the tone of voice. It was frantic.

"Mom! We've been in an accident!"

Moms hate those kinds of calls.

And after reassurance that she was not hurt, I did what any good mom would do. I dumped on my Facebook and Twitter angels and called on them for prayer.

And they came through for Abby, for the others involved in the wreck, for Gracee and me as we waited because going to the scene was not a good option.

Here is what happened.

Abby was driving north on the highway in her Saturn Ion on an nasty road, going about 45. A semi passed her. A Jeep entered from the ramp. The Jeep must have accelerated too quickly on ice as it pulled in front of Abby. The driver lost control, swerved into the left lane where the semi clipped the front end. The semi lost control, hit the bridge, and the trailer overturned. The Jeep spun out, and Abby hit it. The highway there, just a couple miles from home, was closed for hours. The EMTs took the Jeep occupants to the ER with, hopefully, minor injuries.

The officer at the scene did not believe Abby's car sustained damage, but light proved otherwise.

Yet we are grateful that she, baby in the oven, and father-to-be escaped injury.

After everyone's nerves calmed, we contemplated the "what ifs."

What if Abby and Lee had chosen to stay in and watch satellite movies?

What if Abby and Lee had chosen to enjoy a dinner locally instead of heading toward Lansing?

What if Lee hadn't taken extra time to shovel some extra heavy snow?

What if they hadn't left Abby's house at the time they had or if she hadn't driven the speed she did?

Would the Jeep still have entered the highway at the same time?

Would the semi have been traveling the same speed--but only in the right lane?

Would the semi have broadsided the Jeep with fatal consequences?

Did Abby serve as a buffer to tragedy?

We'll never know.

But one thing I know for certain.

God is in control.

And one thing I wonder.

Were frazzled angels crowding into the Golden Spa on Saturday morning?

"He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways." ~Psalm 91:11

Have you ever had any close calls? Have you been able to see God's protection in retrospect?

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King
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