Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lessons From Basketball Camp

Gracee's kind of a wimp.

Well, she used to be anyway. The littlest scratch required a magnifying glass and a box of tissues to absorb all the tears.

Drama queen.

So we were all thrilled, as well as more than a little apprehensive, when she agreed to play soccer last fall. And then she actually asked to go to basketball camp last week.

Run over to to hear the story. 

When you're done reading, take a look around the site. And take your tissues because you'll find posts that will make you cry and make you laugh until you cry. Kathy Richards, who writes some pretty good stuff herself, is the writer's encouragement queen. I've started to call her "barnkat," in honor of the biblical Barnabas, "the son of encouragment."

I'm excited to be able to guest post for her.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Swallowed by His Strength

Miles of trials
and sorrow smiles
sink deep the feet
in silence speak
of eagle wing and sing
with fear-sliced heart
and trace the scar
of sacrifice
and blood-stained sheet
where hidden knife
carves hurting flesh
kneel trembling
to weep for her
and rise again
to face what may
its breadth and length
with weakness swallowed
by His strength.

"Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation." Isaiah 12:2 (NIV)

"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)

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

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, June 28, 2010

Simplicity in a Shell

This shell dish houses shells (mixed with Claire Burke potpourri) gathered from past trips to the sea. It sits on my dresser and reminds me of times I've shed the shell of everyday to seek solitude and simplicity. To stroll a stretch of beach in the early morning and gather treasures in my spirit as well as my sack. To float in a salt spa and let the waves massage my tired back. To bake clean in an oven of sand. To contemplate my smallness at sunset. To let the water wash my feet.

I have a need to go back to the sea, but it won't happen this year. And so I touch my shells and starfish and pieces of coral, these and others, and try to slip my shell for a moment. For a short season. To find an island of solitude in a sea of distractions, simplicity in an ocean of multiplicity. To touch a singleness of focus, a soul center. Serenity.

I've been re-reading Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. As she contemplates a channelled whelk, she's struck by the fact that it is simple, bare, and beautiful. And that the frame of her life--and my life--does not foster simplicity.

Its hard to remain whole when fragmented by distractions. Even those things and objects meant to simplify life, like dishwashers and vacuums and microwaves and cars and computers, often make life more complicated.

"One learns first of all in beach living the art of shedding; how little one can get along with, not how much."

One doesn't need many clothes at the beach--swimsuit, sandals, sweatshirt. And as far as shelter, we've stayed in a tent, a tiny trailer, and a simple beach cottage that required very little upkeep. We ate simply.

In beach living, she says, one sheds vanity and pride and Martha-like anxiety and hypocrisy and finds spiritual freedom and peace.

"Simplification of outward life is not enough. It is merely the outside." 

But it's a place to start.

"One is free, like the hermit crab, to change one's shell."

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

What have you learned from the beach?

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Friday, June 25, 2010

Break the Fast

Strawberry preserves
pool in muffin crypts
trickle down chin
and cracked shells
drip sunshine
scrambled joy
browned and peppered
just right with
a side of java
watch the corn grow
taste the honeyed breeze
break the fast.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I Love Zinnias

I did a dumb thing.

Okay I've done several dumb things, but today it's one dumb thing.

I didn't do it today, but now I'm suffering the consequences.

I planted a few herbs, a few flowers.

And a lot of zinnia seeds.

I love zinnias.

The box says, "Easy to grow, just apply and water, germinate in 10 days, height 18-24 inches."

It says, "Distribute evenly over the planting area using the convenient pour spout."

I love zinnias.

So I distributed. All over the planting area.

I envisioned an ocean of multicolored mops at the back door waving a friendly greeting in the early morning.

I love zinnias.


I forgot I had to pull weeds. How do you pull weeds when you don't know where the zinnias are sprouting? How do you pull weeds without pulling zinnias or stomping on them when you didn't have a planting plan?

No boundaries. No walkway.

Randomly shaking seeds among soon-to-grow weeds.

Lots of them.


And now the zinnias are sprouting.

Lots of them.

But so are the weeds.

Dandelions and grass and wild geranium and some other stuff I don't know the names of.

I decided to let them grow together for awhile until I was sure which was which and in hopes the baby zinnias would grow strong enough to withstand a bunion bump.

But now the weeds tower over the sprouts. They are winning the race skyward.

I can wait no longer.

And I'm pretty sure zinnias are coming out with the weeds.

"The farmhands asked, 'Should we weed out the thistles?' 
He said, 'No. If you weed the thistles, you'll pull up the wheat, too. Let them grow together until harvest time. Then I'll instruct the harvesters to pull up the thistles and tie them in bundles for the fire, then gather the wheat and put it in the barn." Matthew 13:28b-30 (Message)

Have you ever made any gardening mistakes?

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Framed Memories - Part 3: The End

The storm struck. The barn collapsed.

In one sense, relief reigned.

Nobody hurt.

No more worries about who or what hid in the shadows.

No more energy burned in worry about the future. Like what to do with an old barn that faced inevitable demise in some form since restoration was not a viable option.

Nothing left to do but capture frames of memory.

Nothing left to do but to make a memory as we celebrated memories.

The wake lasted three days.

Captured here in a handful from dozens of frames.

The barn is dust.

The landscape forever changed.

And we treasure the memories.

As we look toward the future.

Letting go.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)

Where is your treasure? What do you cling to?

Note: This post is in response to Claire Burge's PhotoPlay prompt "Frame It" at The High Calling Blogs.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Framed Memories--Part 2

It appeared in Michigan's Heritage Barns

A symbol of Michigan history.

A symbol of family history.

Withstood many storms.

Witnessed many stories.

My husband played basketball on the drive floor.

He fed calves and bedded many a Bozo (his dad's pet name for each replacement bull.)

He climbed the ladder to feed the barn cats in the dark and once came nose-to-nose with a raccoon when he pushed it out of the way to reach the light.

He kept his horses in this pasture, and out back is where I met my Wendy that his parents bought for me shortly after our wedding.

His mother warned me to watch out for the bull. She managed to scare me well. Once when Dennis and I were in the pasture, Bozo took a step toward me, and I threw myself under the electric fence. I think Bozo laughed as hard as Dennis.

Dennis tells how his dad used a shipping crate to hold grain--about 8 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 3 feet tall. A crate that once held the casket of a soldier, home from the war. He thinks the remains might still be in the brush and promises to help me look for it.

Frames of family memories.

We could not maintain the barn. The huge metal doors at the top of the barn bridge had fallen off. The stone foundation was crumbling. We looked into restoration, but it was so expensive.

And so finally, the Great Hailstorm of 2008 took it down. 

The frame faltered. The foundation collapsed.

And I wept.

 And we stood on the rubble of history 

framed by our memories.

"But the Master, God, has something to say to this: Watch closely. I'm laying a foundation in Zion, a solid granite foundation, squared and true. And this is the meaning of the stone: a trusting life won't topple. I'll make justice the measuring stick and righteousness the plumb line for the building. A hailstorm will knock down the shantytown of lies, and a flash flood will wash out the rubble." ~Isaiah 28:16-17 (Message)

Is your foundation squared and true? Are you standing on rubble? Or buried underneath?

Note: This post is in response to Claire Burge's PhotoPlay prompt "Frame It" at The High Calling Blogs.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, June 21, 2010

Framed Memories - Part 1

Tossed by the storm.
Embraced through the storm.
Saved from the storm.
Framed by the storm.

This was the scene in our backyard following the "Great Hailstorm" of 2008 (July 2.) Two giant pines crushed our above-ground pool, 48 feet round, 6 feet deep in the middle. A place of laughter and cannonballs and music and solitude and starlit floats. Even an occasional skinny dip.

Memories dismantled.
Memories buried.
Memories framed in my mind.

" . . . and you were so glad when the storm died down . . . Psalm 107:30a (Message)

Note: This post is in response to Claire Burge's PhotoPlay prompt "Frame It" at High Calling Blogs.

What is your most memorable storm story? 
How have you been framed by the storms of life?

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Saturday, June 19, 2010

For the Fathered and the Fatherless

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Friday, June 18, 2010

To My Sissy On Her Birthday

White spots on a nose and baby feet.
Shadows in the little house
You not old enough to fear.

Wispy memories.

Separated by the miles
Wrapped myself in shawl of self
Duel pain unshared.

Silent years.

Late night laughter
Stores and restaurants and icy parking lots
Pancakes and pavilions.

Treasured times.

My sister.
My best friend.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Startled by beauty
Within my wall
Deceptively sweet

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Isaiah 5:20 (NIV)

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It's Crazy!

They call him Crazy Wheels.

I don't know his real name.

Shame on me.

He tools all over town in his motorized wheelchair. He gives kids rides. And once my son saw him in the interstate median. With the police. He was probably speeding from exit A to exit B.

I saw him once at the pool. Must have been for some kind of water therapy since a lifeguard was preparing a sling.

I could not help but stare at his legs. Withered. Skin over bone.

No substance.

No depth.


I remember what my own leg looked like in comparison to my other after I fell. After I broke my foot.

Casted, splinted, crutched, caned.

Unable to bear weight.







Like unexercised faith that depends on someone else's strength.

It's crazy.

"Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4 (Amplified)

Has your faith been tested? Have you stepped out in faith? 
Is your faith stronger because of it? 
Are you clinging (or have you clung) to someone else's faith? 
Was (is) your faith weaker because of it?

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Heart For Achile

"Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you, too." ~ Frederick Buechner

Jesus felt compassion for the hungry. And so He fed them.

Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out his hands and healed the blind and the deaf and the sick.

With a heart of compassion, He gave His all.

Because compassion involves action.

His name is Achile.

He's eight years old.

He lives in one of the poorest countries in the world. Burkina Faso in western Africa.

He's a Compassion child but can't take full advantage of his sponsorship or regularly attend school.

Because he's been in pain for five years.

Because he has a congenital heart defect known as tetralogy of Fallot.

Compassion International has provided medical care for the last two years at the National Teaching Hospital Yalgado Ouedraogo, but now he needs urgent heart surgery to save his life.

At a specialized hospital in India. Cost estimated at $20,449.

One child. With a name. With a face. With a critical need.

And an opportunity to show compassion. To share the heart of Jesus.

To give Achile a future and a hope.

By giving from the heart here.

Or by praying.

Or both.

Because compassion involves action.

Read about how Compassion helps other children with serious heart conditions, like Alex, here.

"It's criminal to ignore a neighbor in need, but compassion for the poor--what a blessing!" 
Proverbs 14:21 (Message)

We sponsor Nduta (Lucy) from Kenya through Compassion.  Do you sponsor any children?
Have you ever known anyone with tetralogy of Fallot?

NOTE: This post is part of the Bridget Chumbley's Blog Carnival on COMPASSION. For other thoughts, visit One Word at a Time.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sizzling Hot Abs

So this is my new toy.

Because at my age, things--well, kind of rock and roll. Especially roll. And other things, like neck and back, get kind of stiff.

You've seen the ads. Just sit back and rocket (rock it.) Support head and neck.

Get sizzling hot abs.

Um, right.

I tried the beginner's workout. I can rock that baby down. Easy as eating chocolate cake.

Rocking back up again? Well, that's another story.

The video trainer--that woman with the sizzling abs--the one in the tight pants that dip below her perfect navel--stretches her arms out in front of her or crosses them over her chest and just rockets up.

Up and down. Up and down. All the way up. All the way down.

I grab the handles, grunt, and just turn blue. Blend right into the background.

If I suck in my navel and remember to breathe out when I come up, I can rocket up, oh maybe an inch. Or less.

I'm such a weakling.

Chris Tomlinson (Crave, reviewed here) said, "I would like to think my spirit is ridiculously ripped."

I've thought about that a lot over the last months. A healthy spirit requires proper feeding and regular exercise. Without it, I suspect it's weak and flabby.

Like me.

I want a strong spirit.

Anyway, I'll continue to work it, and maybe I'll find a tighter tummy. Maybe even before I get discouraged. Or plain just tired of it.

Maybe I'll even find some sizzling hot abs.

Probably not.

It's in the fine print.

Results not typical.

But I can at least be more healthy. Maybe a little firm. And I'll try not to compare myself to the navel lady.

I'd rather have a spirit that sizzles anyway.

But sizzling hot abs would be nice.

"A healthy spirit conquers adversity, but what can you do when the spirit is crushed?" 
Proverbs 18:14 (Message)

What kind of exercise equipment have you bought? Did you use it? Did you see results?
Are you feeding and exercising your spirit? How's that going?

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Going Batty

I'm not a fan of bats. The flying kind. They creep me out.

I know they fly around doing good. Gobbling up a bazillion mosquitoes. Pollinating plants and spreading seeds.

But they creep me out.

I shudder to think how many visitors we knocked down in this old farmhouse and then released before having them sealed out. Before I worked for the health department.

Because now I know the risk.

And bats really creep me out.

A local lady saved herself this week by capturing a bat that bit her. She actually had puncture marks. Testing proved it had rabies.

Reminded me again of one of our many bat experiences.


"Mom! Dad! There's a mouse in my trash can!"

Not the way I want to be startled from a deep sleep. Dennis continues to snore.

"Mmmmm. What color is it?"

I don't know why I asked that.

"Brown. Hurry!"

Brown? Mice aren't brown, are they? In her tall Michigan State trash can? Oh no!

Dennis sleeps on. I bound up the stairs. And there in her trash can--is a bat!

Bat. Bedroom. Sleeping person.

Must. Catch. Bat.

Book over can. Bushel basket with vinyl liner. More books to hold in place. Close closets. Close door. Stuff towels under door. Call . . . who? At 7 in the morning?

Margaret! Our communicable disease nurse!


Why am I freaked? We've had confirmed cases of bat rabies in the area. A bat in the area of a sleeping person means assumed exposure.

Lose bat. Get shots.

I check Abby over for bites, knowing marks could be invisible and that there is no way to tell saliva exposure. Calm her down. Calm me down. Send her off to school.

I call Animal Control who sends two officers armed with long heavy gloves--a man and a woman.

We go upstairs, and the man begins to dismantle my "trap."

He removes the books. He removes the  basket. The three of us peer warily into the can.

No bat!

Uh oh!

He explores the basket. Removes the liner.

No bat!

He removes the paper from the bottom of the can, piece by piece, and we stare at the bottom of an empty can.

No bat!

I see shots in our future. But--are those droppings on that sheet of crumpled paper? I reach down to pick it up.

And the bat falls on my bare foot!

My heart stops. I nearly fall out the window. The lady officer screams. The man swoops down on it with his gloves.

And. We. Wait.

Days later. The news. The bat is (was) clean.



I was and am informed now. But I wonder. How many other bats have we dodged?

While we slumbered.

Or like the one Abby woke up to see settled on her canopy one night?

Or like others seen, chased, and lost?

Not that the risk is humongous. But it's there. And I could drive myself batty with worry.

And I wonder. Am I aware of spiritual risks? Have I sealed the entries? Do I remember to don my armor? How many dangers has He protected me from? Dangers unaware?

I'm so glad that He stands guard even in the night watches.

And I'm not creeped out at all.

He won't let you stumble,
Your Guardian God won't fall asleep.
Not on your life! Israel's
Guardian will never doze or sleep.

God's your Guardian, right at your side to protect you--
Shielding you from sunstroke,
sheltering you from moonstroke.

God guards you from every evil
He guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
He guards you now, He guards you always.
Psalm 121:3-8 (Message)

Have you had any close encounters of the bat kind?

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, June 10, 2010

An Early Morning Drama

It happened about 4 this morning. I don't know if I was already awake or if it woke me up.

Not the squeal of tires. More like the sound of air brakes. And then a boom.

A big BOOM!

I lay there a minute trying to figure it out. No sirens. But definitely something not right.

I scrambled out of bed, wandered around the dark house, and peered out the windows. Had to be an accident. But I saw nothing, so I started back to bed. And then I heard something else.

Thunder? An explosion?

And then my phone rang. Abby.

"Mom! An accident on the highway. Fire!"

And then finally sirens. Lots of sirens.

I ran out back through the wet grass to watch the flames shoot toward the sky about a quarter mile away.

And when the flames died, we heard saws.

Details still unclear. Two semis involved? Original reports indicated a tanker. Apparently not so.  One passing another? One left the scene? One driver injured?

Someone said, "It was an Old Dominion truck pulling twin 28 ft van trailers. The passenger side fuel tank on the Old Dominion truck hit the landing legs of the other truck and started the fire."

Whatever that means.

The truth is they are still trying to piece it all together

And it's a mess out there. Steady stream of traffic rerouted off highway, across the road, and back on. Workmen and trucks and officers still on the job 8 hours later. Still a faint scent of burnt rubber. Lives disrupted. People hurt.

From our perspective, it seemed impossible for anyone to survive.

That's the problem with human perspective. It's limited. Things are not always what they seem. We don't know the whole story. Speculation masks truth. Rumors spread. Lives are disrupted. People are hurt.

The tongue is a fire.

"It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell." (James 3:5-6 - Message)

This we know for sure at this moment:

1. There was an accident.
2. There was a big fire.
3. A semi burned.
4. There were many responders.
5. There was sawing.
6. A short stretch of highway was closed.

I deleted all my early posts from Twitter and Facebook about this early morning drama.

Waiting for the whole story.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


 Kirthmon F. Dozier / Detroit Free Press/MCT

I listened to the end of the game on the way home from the hospital last Wednesday.

Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians.

I could feel the excitement through the radio. The noise was deafening. Ninth inning. Twenty-six Cleveland batters out. Tiger pitcher Armando Galarrago one out away from a "perfect game." Cleveland batter Jason Donald hit a ground ball. Routine play. The first baseman, Miguel Cabrera, snagged the ball and tossed it to Galarrago, who touched the bag ahead of the runner.

Done deal. Out! Positively, absolutely, undeniably, and reliably OUT!

But then disbelief.


First base umpire, Jim Joyce, called Donald safe.


Chaos. Confusion. Confrontation.

But not from Galarrago.

He smiled, said nothing, and went back to the mound to get the next batter out.

Later he said, "Nobody's perfect."

And later Joyce apologized. He and Galarrago shook hands.

And hugged.

Joyce could have taken the next day off. But he didn't. He took his place behind home plate.

He cried.

I cried.

What life lessons of integrity, humility, honor, forgiveness, grace, courage, self-control, understanding, sportsmanship!

Lessons that would have been lost if Donald had been "out."

If official records showed a "perfect" game.

Instead we have perfect lessons from a "less than perfect" game.

I can't imagine any better outcome.

A perfect game that wasn't.

Yet was.

The Tigers will donate the first base bag, Galarraga's spikes, and a ball from the game to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The story will be told.

And lessons will be learned.

In baseball and in life.

Because no matter what "bad calls" come our way, it's all good, because we are safe.

Safe in our Father's arms.

And He turns the "bad" into good.

And I can't imagine any better outcome.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I Beheld God

I beheld God

In the strength of a mother
     Who labored long and hard
          And in the end released control.

In the love of two parents.

In the tenderness of a father
     Who was a tower of strength
          And exuded calmness in the face of concern.

In the joy of a sister.

In the beauty of a newborn baby, fearfully and wonderfully made.

Lillee Azhinae
Born: 06/02/2010 at 5:28 a.m.
8 pounds 9 ounces
21 inches long

Photo by Jeannine Cooper, my amazing photography friend, whose first lily of the season just happened to bloom in front of this sign.

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well." Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Random Empty Thoughts

Running on empty?

     Slow down.

          Dump excess fuel.

               Toss excess weight.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 (NIV) 


          Eat to live.

                Live to eat.

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." John 6:51 (NIV)

Filled to be emptied.

Emptied to be filled.

"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant . . . " Philippians 2:5-7a (NASB)

Anxious and worried?



". . . so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11 (NIV)

Enslaved by stuff? Chasing the wind?

          Let it go!

"For you know that it was not with perishable such as silver and gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." I Peter 1:18-19

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

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King
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