Beef With The Body Count

I have tried to write this collective of thoughts from my broken heart, several times this year. Every time I start, I am met with a new set of circumstances to confirm my thoughts and break my heart again.  

I will not recount the excessively abundant supply of violent acts that have taken lives, so unnecessarily, this year, this decade, even in this last centennial. But, I will address the particular scenarios that have played out, ad nauseum, in our most recently history:

*Gang violence and murder against people in the individual community (black on black, white on white, etc.,  crime)

*Acts of violence and murder against people of other communities (the perpetuation of racial/cultural wars)

*Law enforcement officers’ violence and murder against black civilians, whether innocent or guilty

*Civilian violence and murder against law enforcement officers

*Local and foreign terrorist acts of violence and murder against Civilian citizens and law enforcement officers

*Acts of violence and murder against the unborn and aged, borne of convenience and, “compassion.”

*Acts of anger, aggression, hatred and protest for ALL the acts of violence, murder, terrorism, as well as for the enthusiasm and disinterest of the aforementioned acts.


The rise in the occurrence of events such as these seems to have us all in shock, dismay and in a desperate need of someone to blame.  

I had a very dear friend in such a state of disheartened despair, that he questioned the purpose of his existence in such a horrid day and age. As he queried to the world at large, about what the solution could be, he found much support for his saddened disposition on social media.  

Desperate to instill a sense of hope into the climate, I responded to his post: LOOK UP AND REJOICE!

I continued, “God was very clear in His word that ‘perilous times would come,’ and that we should look up and LIVE, not only as this climate is an indication that our redemption is close, but also because, as God’s children, not only are we equipped to extend that hope to others, we have an assurance that, living or dead, WE WIN!!”

I got no response. I guess I wasn’t political enough.

I am concerned for Christians in this climate of worry, fear, heightened emotions and mass hysteria. Many get so caught up in the emotion of it, that they miss what God is really doing.  This is a slippery slope of flesh.  It’s important to mourn with those who mourn.  We are not made of wood.  The pain that is in this world right now is REAL! There are times when I don’t want to turn on a television, social media or even pick up my phone. This is all just TOO MUCH.  And, we must be careful with our hearts…they can become numb.

The only way to guard our hearts is to FOCUS ON THE HOPE WE HAVE.  

MAKE NO MISTAKE…this is a very emotionally charged season we’re in.  The reality is, EVERYTHING IS GOING ACCORDING TO THE PROGRAM.  Nobody wants to look in the Book and see that GOD IS ON SCHEDULE…HIS SCHEDULE.

This is actually a good thing.

We forget…the world is full of darkness. And that is as it should be…much more so, as we are nearer to His returning. How else will the light be so bright that people are actually drawn to it. But WE are responsible to lift up the LIGHT!!  The only way to do that is to REFLECT the Light within us!  We cannot do that if we fall into the mire of political postures and angry, vindictive rhetoric. Even in the days of Israel being slaves to Egypt. When darkness fell, and the people were all paralyzed with fear because, “they saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: BUT ALL THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL HAD LIGHT IN THEIR DWELLINGS.” (Exodus 10:23)

We cannot give in to the darkness if we intend to help lead the way to the light.

I have friends and family of color whose children are afraid anytime the police are called.  Not that they’ve done anything wrong.  They may even need to call for their own sake.  But they will not, for fear of being mistakenly killed in the melee.  I have friends and family of color in law enforcement.  Good cops and good military personnel who fear responding to the call to duty.

I have friends and family of EVERY color who are either too afraid to speak their disgust or despair for fear of recrimination from their peers and counterparts,  or too angry and frustrated NOT to speak out for fear that the next time they speak will be at the funeral of another victim of circumstance.

In times as desperate as these appear to be, people with hurting hearts will try anything to make their point. I understand that. I do not seek to recriminate. I have compassion on anyone attempting to bring attention to the problem. I think it is more important to identify the problem and distinguish it from the SYMPTOMS of the problem. What everyone is taking a stance on are the SYMPTOMS, while the problem remains unidentified and untreated. THE PROBLEM IS SIN. What we are all up in arms about are the symptoms of SIN SICKNESS. The solution has been the same, since the beginning. For the collective of humanity, it just feels like too much sacrifice and work for everyone to agree that the treatment must be the real answer and would really affect the change we all desire to see.

But, THE CHURCH should know better…

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14

The world at large is covered in the darkness of sin.  They cannot even SEE one another, much less themselves.  It is THE CHURCH’S RESPONSIBILITY to REFLECT LIGHT in this dark age!! The promise of hope lives within us! We must not fall prey to the effects of the rampant darkness! How, then, can we produce light? WE, the CHURCH, must REPENT and TURN from OUR WICKEDNESS…our apathy, our disinterest, our lazy warfare and greasy grace!!

Judgement and remedy both begin in the house of God. We must stop politicizing the symptoms and get to the heart of the Gospel, if we are to affect change. But, responding like ‘everybody else’ is not the way to do it.  

So, yeah…I got beef with the body count. My beef is that MY HANDS are covered in BLOOD, when I neglect to communicate the HOPE within ME.  

But, guess what?  So are yours, Kaleidoscope Family.  We either rise, or we fall…we are all bound or delivered TOGETHER.

HOW SHALL WE ESCAPE, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? (Hebrews 2:3-4)

So…what are YOU gonna do about it? Shall we continue to commiserate? Or shall we call on the name of the Lord and expect to see the miracles, signs and wonders that God promised?

It’s your choice…

Roll With It, Baby!

Some days I am amazed at myself! No hubris intended. I look at my life and wonder to myself, “Exactly…how did I get here? Really?”

Here I am, in the last couple of months that I will share residing with my now, totally grown, independent children, with whom I communicate very little, if at all. The whole of my existence is encapsulated in the smallest room of a house 30 minutes or more away from everything I do most often (work and church, and the friends from either). I spend so much on gas and car maintenance, quick and somewhat healthy foods, that I don’t have much of anything for luxuries like…thrift store shopping. I spend so much time going between the two places I frequent most, that my energy to be sociable is worn to a frazzle. And my house is really not my home.

And, then…there’s him.

I am in a relationship with a man I am certain will be my last husband. We both have ADHD that manifests in two different and distinctive ways. Our tastes in art and music are as similar as they are different. Our backgrounds are dangerously similar, and what God took 35 years to work out in me, I have had the privilege (and terror) to watch God work out in him in the span of the year we’ve known each other. It seems to be a really combustible combination. The wonder of it all is, we ignite without exploding and we have SO MUCH FUN together, even when we disagree. Part of the reason my grown children and I communicate so little…they don’t exactly approve of my choice. But, I had to remind them, I was grown when they got here. As such, I answer to God about these things, since He made me and they didn’t.

Nothing in my life is the way I’d hoped it’d be. It is not easy and certainly not glamourous. It has been a series of forward failings…I keep getting knocked down and kicked over, but as long as I pay attention to the direction in which I fall, I keep getting up heading in the right direction. As a desert baby, I have simply learned to roll with it.

It had to be almost 30 years ago, when I heard T.D. Jakes preach about desert babies. He was referring to the Israelites as they proceeded to make that 40 year journey. Their situation was such that they had to be ready to move at a moment’s notice. It required the ability to travel light, take only whatever sustenance was available for the day and, even in making plans, be prepared to drop everything to move when God said move.

As I have come to learn in the years since, the bottom line is, if we call ourselves followers of the Cloud (the Spirit of Christ that dwells within us), we cannot afford to take the departures of others from our lives personally. Unlike the days of that infamous mountain trail, we all have to follow the cloud, individually, even more than as a collective. Not everyone who shares our path at any given time is meant to take the whole journey with us. God leads us all on our own personal path. Not everyone can go where we are headed.

It is not wise to expect others to understand the path we are on. After all, the God who speaks to one, speaks to all. And, while His word is very specific about the general details of our collective destination, we each have a path to travel that is ours alone. We have to give an account for how successfully we’ve followed the Cloud for ourselves.

There is no kinship so vital as the ones who have been called to share your journey with you. Often, blood has nothing to do with, “the tie that binds,” when it comes to the path upon which we have been called walk. If it were the natural DNA that bound us to a common cause, Jesus would never have needed to say, “A prophet is not without honor, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” It’s usually the ones that are naturally closest to us that cannot see us from God’s perspective.

The only DNA that binds us to one another is evident in that we are obedient to the Word of God. Again, Jesus was quick to emphasize this when he was being summoned by His earthly mother and brothers. In Luke Chapter 8 is a small snippet situated between Jesus sharing deep thoughts and performing miracles. Jesus took only enough time to explain that, “My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it,” before He moved between the two.

Please understand: in no way should we disrespect or dishonor those to whom we have familial ties. It is the genetic pool from which God has drawn to equip us with basic traits so that we can understand and bind the generational curses, as well as activate and employ the generational blessings for our journey’s sake. Beyond that, we need to know that the only family that matters are the family that follows the cloud.

So, here I sit. In awe of how far God has brought me these 47 years on the planet. Resigned to the comings and goings of those who share temporary space with me, grateful to God for the time I’ve had to love and grow with all the desert babies passing in and out of my life. Excited to see how the changes in season will bring about greater victories in Christ, and greater opportunities to share my adventures with our Heavenly Father, with more and more people.

Thanks for rolling with me, Kaleidoscope Family.

When Nobody Is Watching…Pt. 3

I brag on my children all the time. I gave birth to only two, but the number of children I ‘claim’ could easily amount to dozens!! And, to me, each one of them is PERFECT. They are the recipients of the same love I have tried to show to everyone: the unconditional love of one who sees who you are and loves you, faults and all.

I have three sons that actually live under my roof, none of whom do everything exactly as I would wish.  And yet, I insist that they are perfect.  They are (for the most part) transparent and completely disclosed to me.  In their own timing, the tell me just about everything that is going on in their lives.

NOTE: did you see all the ‘out clauses’ I provide them? That is simply because my name is NOT Holy Ghost, Jr.  I don’t NEED to know everything about them.  I need only know how to pray and how to be available to receive them in whatever disclosure they and the Holy Ghost provide me.

The two sons that I bore are relatively guileless.  We three sleep with our doors unlocked and walk in on one another whenever the need arises.  We laugh out loud and talk ‘smack’ with one another in ways that some people looking in from the outside may deem inappropriate. All of this has taken some adjusting to for the son I claim.We have accepted how foreign a concept that kind of disclosure is for him. But, they all know there is never a question that they cannot ask without expectation of the whole truth.  They know if I say, “Because I said so,” it’s because the answer is beyond words and (most times) they trust my gut.  Even when they defy my order of, “Because I said so,” they know that they can come to me and receive correction without condemnation and some prayerful deliberation about how to handle the fallout.

When the sons I bore were small and our lives took on many different versions of ‘a living hell,’ they watched their father and me very closely. The degree of how closely they watched us did not reveal itself until they were both considered, ‘adult.’ I think the most fascinating thing about that is how accurately they assessed those situations, even as children.  Part of that, I imagine is because, while they knew they could always come to me. They also knew they could not come to their father and expect that same amount of candor and disclosure.

They watched how we walked out our ‘faith’ and how we demonstrated our relationships with God.  And, while things have not always gone obviously in my favor, they have seen God sustain me and provide for us in ways that have defied imagination. They have understood my childhood abuse, my divorce, our homeless and unemployed seasons, and viewed them through the lens of the Grace of God. They have taken the lessons they learned and used them to extend that grace to others so that I would never question that they have their own personal relationships with God.

This is not a result of my telling my children what to do, mind you.  It is, more to the point, a result of me telling them WHY I made certain choices when I made them. They saw that I was not living my life as a victim, although many people may have perceived it as such. They saw that I was living my life as a VESSEL for God to work through. I can only say that because they have said as much in some fashion or another.

Some of what has been revealed to me as they have gotten older were the details about things neither I nor their father realized that they had observed as children.  Things they observed only in part as children, that they have inquired after in their maturity, have produced the fruit they supposed it would. These things have confirmed for all of us that, when you walk in integrity, it is alright to be exactly who you are, exactly in the moment that you find yourself, without apology or defense before the God who made you.  Things that have confirmed that the consistency of your integrity will ALWAYS win out, especially in the times that you believe nobody is watching. They have discovered that doing the right thing, the right way, for the right reasons will bring reward in SOME WAY, as much as doing the wrong thing the wrong way for the wrong reasons will bring destruction.

Your best move will always be to forgive quickly, love people anyway and do the right thing, the right way, for the right reason, whether or not you believe nobody is watching. God is ALWAYS watching. And He ALWAYS repays.vlcsnap-2014-10-01-00h50m01s21116c0ee6e9afa31cc4255743146ef4b9a47cb076e05d6246be438505ec2b5945c

When Nobody Is Watching…Pt. 2

Learning to love as God loves, requires that you see yourself as God sees you, flaws and all.  It also affords you the perspective of seeing  others through God’s eyes, to some degree. It gives you an appreciation for the faulty construct of those around you and see them with love, compassion and acceptance.  Very much like the God who made us all, there is an ease in how we can take people as they are and love them unconditionally just that way.  But, in the quest for a deeper relationship with them, just like the God who made us all, we love them too much to let them stay that way.

Knowing full well that we are not the source of change, it is our desire to, at the very least, be that catalyst for the desire to change.

The ‘appearance-minded’ person doesn’t always take this well.  It is upsetting to them that they have been, ‘found out.’  At times, it will cause them to retreat from their relationship with an ‘unconditional lover’. It can cause them to reject the ‘unconditional lover’ for the safety of other ‘appearance minded’ people that won’t challenge them on the deeper things.

This puts the ‘unconditional lover’ in the untenable position of experiencing something, they have most certainly prayed for without completely understanding its depth and danger.

I have prayed, like many unconditional lovers, for God to, “Break my heart with the things that break Your heart.”  When it first comes out of your heart and mouth to pray that kind of prayer, it almost sounds romantic. It is full of passion to feel God’s heart for the lost and the dying and the displaced.  Your heart is to help anyone that God would send into your path, with a meal or a word of encouragement. You expect to build a house, work in a soup kitchen or serve in a shelter somewhere.

But what happens when you realize the things that really break God’s heart are closer to you than any of those things?

Three times I have loved and lost.  Not because I made mistakes, nor that I even lived so “perfectly.”  But because I saw my loves and loved them, flaws and all, unconditionally.  Because I saw their flaws and forgave them, even though often, they could not forgive me of my flaws or themselves of their own. Because my seeing them for their flaws without judging or condemning them defied their expectation of love. For me to not only acknowledge their mistakes and how much it hurt me but to still choose to be in relationship with them, was completely contrary to what they themselves would have done, had the tables been turned. In a couple of instances, the tables WERE turned and I was summarily condemned, over and over.

The choice to accept the forgiveness and make attempts to be restored gets rejected. Instead of taking their ‘unforgivable’ acts to the Lord together, in a willingness to make more beneficial choices that would glorify the God that made us all, they resorted to maintaining the appearance of rightness. Which meant that they resolved to surround themselves with people who would not ask the hard questions and shine a light on the darkened places.  They chose a life in the virtual shadows. They rejected that unconditional love.

Each time, in the devastation of my broken heart, I cried out to God to ask why I, who by most accounts am a pretty good woman, would be forced to endure such rejection. And, each time, in the softest, kindest, most gentle, loving voice, I heard my Father say, “Because you asked me to.”

It truly shakes one’s foundation when we realize that one of the things that breaks the heart of God like nothing else, is when His forgiveness of our sins and His offer to make us “Again Another” is rejected only for us to be satisfied in our mess and surrounded by people who are willing to keep our secret sins secret, in exchange for not being ‘found out’ themselves.

Oh, how it breaks the heart of God, that we believe it’s better to live the life we think we can get away with, because we think nobody is watching!


When Nobody Is Watching…Pt. 1

No one is ever as good as their best day, nor are they as bad as their worst. We mostly live somewhere in the middle, on a quest to tip the scale in the positive.

There are moments in every day that add to either account and they are moments that everyone has, but nobody (that counts) really sees.

I have loved (and lost) a total of three times in my life.  While I readily admit that I was not a perfect mate, I did my best to be integral.  In the end, that’s what cost me. Each relationship ended with a few prefacing conversations. Revisions on the phrase, “It’s not you…it’s me.” When, in fact, it would have been closer to the truth to say that it was me…every single time.

I learned to love from Love Himself.  God, being Love, also being gracious (as Grace is an attribute of Love), took considerable time to teach me how He loves us.  This is a very painful and challenging thing to experience, even more master.  It compels one to be transparent; without hidden agenda, without excuse, without retreat. It demands that you take an unflinching look at yourself in order to see others clearly.

The real challenge is in seeing yourself as God sees you.  Everyone I have ever had a ‘surface’ conversation about this concept almost always assumes that means that he sees you as you will be in your glorified body; perfect, loving, kind…bearing the fruit of the spirit.  When in fact, it means that He sees you as DIRT: a filthy, plain, unholy mess with all the issues and isms that have been bred into you through the however many generations of curses that have been heaped upon you. BUT, he also sees all of the purpose and potential that all the generations of blessings have lain dormant within you. He sees all of the attempts to overcome along with all the slips and slides of your journey. AND YET, He loves ALL of you…COMPLETELY and WITHOUT CONDITION.  He loves you without reservation, just as you are, in the middle of whatever struggle you may be encountering right now.

Usually, that poses a challenge because most folk work really hard not to see their own mess. It’s really difficult to deal with the broken places and still appear to be the best dressed version of themselves.  Far too often, in my experience, it’s the people that work really hard to put their ‘best face forward,’ are the ones that are likely to judge others for their faults to deflect from the faults they believe everyone sees in them.  This is an unfortunately common occurrence in the world today.

It’s rather difficult to be friends with somebody in that particular predicament when you have spent the better part of your life digging through your own pile to sort and dispose of your own mess.  It becomes a part of your nature to identify issues and behaviors that would prove a hindrance to the future of your relationship with that friend. But, the truth is, it’s not in the nature of ‘appearance-minded’ people to appreciate when you as an ‘unconditional lover’ make note of any challenge that goes deeper than, say, spinach in their teeth, or a fly-away collar.  They might take offense.

This is where things get complicated.

If you have spent a considerable amount of time in the presence of an all knowing, all loving, all forgiving God, Who is capable of taking even the worst, most tattered fabric and making it beautiful and whole, as if it were brand new, you see yourself and everyone around you from the perspective of being the perfect candidate to be made over.  You are eager to know and understand everything about the people you wish to befriend.  You wouldn’t care about how messy or murky their deepest, darkest secrets are. As a matter of fact, after spending that quality time in God’s presence, you are able to identify certain flaws and snags in other people with some degree of ease.  Not to place blame or condemn, mind you. You recognize the shortcomings only as opportunities to see the hand of God at work in their lives.

But, remember…they are only concerned about the ‘appearance’ of perfection, not in being made perfect. It is disconcerting, to this kind of person, that you even ‘see’ the flaws they have been working so hard to mask. It is even considered tacky that you would bother to bring it up!! And, God forbid you actually offer to go through the recovery process with them and be their support system as God does for them what He’s doing for you! They will, quite often, hear nothing of it.

Which brings me back to those lost loves…
vlcsnap-2014-10-01-00h50m01s211Perfect people quote

Turn Around to Say Goodbye…

Have you ever loved someone who’s stuck in a rut?

From the outside looking in, you can see what’s going on.  You may have even told them as much.  You have prayed and cried and encouraged and listened…yet there they go, just like the Israelites. Only steps away from the promised land, but NO…one more trip around the same, dumb mountain.

Or maybe it’s YOU?  You can’t seem to figure out why you are repeating the same patterns.  You remove people from your life to avoid making the same mistakes.  But, you end up surrounded with different people tripping over the same old log.

I’ve been the friend of that one.  But, I’ve been that one, too…at least, until I began to recognize the origin of the problem.

It all goes back to an original set of choices.  Perhaps, stemming from a misplaced hope. Sometimes, the root is an internal promise that has been long suppressed. Anyway you slice it, it comes down to taking a look into your past and correcting your course to the future.

Now, this comes at a premium cost…It’s the cost of looking back.

I have heard too many (including myself) declare defiantly, “Why do you always have to go and bring up the past? I don’t even think about things from back then!”

The more ‘religious’ turn of phrase would be, “It’s under the Blood of Jesus.  I don’t see why we need to discuss it anymore.”

Yes, it’s a dead issue and yes, it’s under the blood…but just as if you’ve entered the Zombie Apocalypse, unless you take it’s head clean off, it will just keep getting up on it’s own, attempting to devour you whole.

No, your past mistakes don’t have to dictate your future…but they will do just that, if you do not take the desperately important step to turn around, face them, see them for what they are and CHANGE THE BEHAVIOR that brought you to that point. ONLY THEN will you be able to face your future and walk away from what was, into what should be.

It is vitally important to see your past to leave it. Not just see it…take a little time to pick it apart.  Find that root of unforgiveness.  Search out that original fracture in your heart that you constantly try to protect, by keeping your guard up, instead of exposing it to the healing light of the Holy Spirit.

I’ve spoken many times about my upbringing.  I’ve talked about how I continued to bring drama into my life time and time again, no matter where in the world I was.  It’s not about external geography.  This is about navigating the geography of your heartbreaks…Bridging the divides of your soul. That’s what helps you to get beyond your past into your promised land.

I had to go all the way back into the choices that were made for me that created a sense of abandonment in me.  They kept me from letting people leave my life on a good note.  And they kept me clinging to people that I knew would not leave me, even though the only reason they stayed was because I was a willing host to their parasitic behavior. They were destroying my soul and keeping me from real love, lasting peace and healthy relationships.

Once I confronted the heartbreak, I was able to make a stand against my own foul behavior.  I was able to repent to God for the messes I kept making again and again.  I apologized, when I was able, to those whom I could find.  And, I forgave myself for the time it took to get to this place of peace. (We are usually hardest on ourselves once we begin to see clearly.)

It was only then that I was able to lay all of it at the foot of the Cross of Christ, to be covered by the Blood of Jesus once and for all. And only then was I able to remove the predators and parasites from my life for good, to make room for people who could truly celebrate and encourage me and allow me to return the favor.

Now, I have to be completely honest.  This liberty is a mixed bag. I rejoice in my own freedom. But, when I see people I love that find themselves in the same predicament, it’s frustrating and painful.  It makes me really sad, because I know the cost they are about to pay.  And I can’t pay it for them.  I have to pray and stay out of the way.  When they’re ready, I can help.  Sometimes, I have to wait on the Lord to send someone who is not so close, to provide a different sense of perspective for them.  But once they’ve taken the time to say those last goodbyes, I’ll still be there when they’re finally ready to face their future and move forward.  That’s all a real friend can do.


Scars and Souvenirs

“Here’s to the twilight
here’s to the memories
these are my souvenirs
my mental pictures of everything
Here’s to the late nights
here’s to the firelight
these are my souvenirs
my souvenirs.

“I close my eyes and go back in time
I can see you’re smiling, you’re so alive
we were so young, we had no fear
we were so young, we had no idea
that life was just happening
life was just happening…

“We were so young, we had no fear
We were so young, we had no idea
That nothing lasts forever
That nothing lasts forever

“Nothing lasts, nothing lasts
You and me together
Were always now or never…”     ~  Jon Foreman, Switchfoot, “Souvenirs”

I cannot count the times I’ve heard it asked, “If you could go back in time to your best day as a child/teenager/young adult, would you?”

I have heard people say on many occasions that they would love to relive being eight, or twelve, or seventeen. They recount these lovely stories or tragic tales of a lost loved one that they wish they’d had more time with, or recount the perfect day.

“If only I could have that day/moment/season/year back.”

I think to myself, is there any measure of time I genuinely wish I could retrieve? And the answer is, inevitably, a resounding no.

My childhood essentially sucked. For every one of the wonderful, awe-inspiring and magical moments that were sprinkled throughout my youth (and I must add…there were MANY), there were whole landscapes of crud and mold and yuck that consumed my everyday, inhabited with slimy, creeping, crawling critters of the two-legged variety, far more often than the four, six, or eight-legged ones.

The memories of positive and negative experiences share the same space in my mind.  They are all very valuable to me…now.  It’s kind of like comparing scars and souvenirs.

By virtue of the length of their definitions, scars seem to carry a more significant weight, but souvenirs imply a greater sense of value. A souvenir is something that serves as a reminder; a thing that would cause to one to recall or bring to mind, usually referring to something good or worthy of recollection. While scars do the same thing – serve as a reminder – they evoke a more negative response. Scars tend to be the things we would rather forget.

A scar is indicative of something lost, removed, worn or injured.  It implies violence, aggression and, often times, some form of violation against that which has been scarred. Scars serve as a reminder of pain…until they don’t.

“Nothing lasts forever…” Even the worst days of your life eventually end.

Too often, we spend too much time with the scars.  We pick at them prematurely and cause them to aggravate us. We do that…to ourselves. We expose ourselves to the people and things that inflicted the injury before there has been ample time for healing. We let people and things that have no business interacting with those wounded places poke, prod and pick at the wounds that have not completely scarred over, creating unnecessary irritation and infection, adding time and additional pain and suffering to the recovery process.

But, when the wounds heal and the scars don’t hurt anymore…

It means that the injury has has time to be infused with strength…more strength than it had to begin with. It means that the sensitivity has lessened, so much so that we no longer feel the need to be overly protective of exposing the once-injured place. It means that we have learned how to be proactively preventative to avoid experiencing another injury like that one.  We can now, not only relate to others with similar injuries, we can help others avoid being injured in a similar way.

…Not only are we better for that injury, others around us now benefit from the experience of it.

I think about Joseph.  His childhood dreams nearly cost him his life, several times.  For a season, they cost him his freedom. He found himself in one precarious situation after another. But, when you look at it from the end of the adventure of his life, had he not paid the cost, he may have never seen his dreams fulfilled. “We were so young…we had no idea that life was just happening…”

Joseph told his brothers that what they meant for evil, God meant to do good.  God’s good prevailed, not in spite of the evil, but because of it.

In the end, even the experiences that nearly killed us; the ones we thought we would never get through; the pain we thought we could never endure became something for which we could be grateful.  And in that, our scars became souvenirs.

“Can you hear me?
Can you hear me?
…I wouldn’t trade it for anything…my souvenirs.”

EGR: Extra Grace Required

I think I’m a pretty cool person.  I am smart and kind.  I am comical, but I’m not very funny, even though I laugh a lot with my friends. I’m actually quite literal…I don’t get sarcasm quickly, so smart remarks and deadpan jokes get lost on me. I don’t consider myself a classic beauty, but I am not an ugly woman, by any means. I am a faithful friend…loyal to a fault. It takes an awful lot for me to decide I’ve had enough of someone. I have been very busy these last few years, but when I am being a homebody, I love to cook.  I am an excellent cook; mac and cheese, roast beef and potatoes, turkey tacos, spaghetti, sour cream pound cake, pistachio delight, chocolate chip cookies…and my favorite cake to make is vanilla wafer cake.  And, I cook with love in every bite.

You might say I am the total package.

But what kind of package would I be if I weren’t at least vaguely acquainted with my flaws?

(Aha…betcha didn’t see THAT coming?)

There is tremendous liberty in knowing one’s own boundaries and limitations.  It is of utmost importance if you expect to witness your own greatest success. It is vital to know, not only what you are capable of, but what tendencies you possess that could trip you up or slow you down if you don’t keep them in check.

For example, I hate to disappoint people when I know they are counting on me.  As a consequence, I tend to try too hard.  I try to know what I’m supposed to know and probably everybody else is supposed to know.  I suppose it’s  in an effort to be indispensable.

And, I chase squirrels.

I cannot recall any conversation I’ve ever had, any assignment I’ve ever completed (any blog I’ve ever posted) that did not take longer than it should have for all the detours I’ve taken.

These are only some of my own frailties that I am aware of.  I have more that I know about. There are scads that about which I have no clue, I’m sure. But the nice thing about knowing what your flaws are is, it doesn’t bother you so much when people are bothered by you.  You can understand, even appreciate their irritation, frustration and angst that you produce.  You can even empathize with the emotion you provoke.

It makes it easier to apologize, too.  Which makes it easier for others to forgive you, even if you cannot completely provide for them a remedy.

But, the BEST THING about knowing the best and the worst things about myself is that I am comforted by the fact that I am JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE.

**JUST FOR CLARITY* Everyone is UNIQUE with a particular set of gifts and talents whose sole purpose is to build up the body of Christ, to glorify God. WITH THAT BEING SAID…**

I am just like everybody else in that I am blessed with assets and liabilities built into my personality.  Knowing that makes it easier when other people exhibit areas where extra grace is required.

The fact is this: Everybody has occasion to get on everybody else’s nerves.  This is the great flaw in humans being.  It is not at all that difficult for us to annoy each other.  We enjoy our individuality …sometimes too much.

That is what makes it so difficult when folks don’t do things the way they think it should be done.  somewhere in our selfish hearts, we complain and turn up our noses, thinking, “That isn’t the way I would have done it.”


And while you were pulling a ‘Frank Sinatra,’ doing it, “Your way,” you’re keeping someone else from discovering a gift that would make them a greater contribution to the common purpose of building up the Body for God’s glory.

But, you got the job done.

Okay, so…maybe NEXT time, before you decide that if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself, how about you give someone the space to find their place; to recognize an ounce of their potential and see, first hand, what a little extra grace given can do to remove a spot or wrinkle in the fabric of the Body?

Let’s never forget to give a little extra grace, to see others reach their potential.  We will never know when a little extra grace will be required for us.

It’s Only Well Water…

You’ve heard it said that you never miss your water until the well runs dry.

People say that all the time.  Usually, that phrase is associated with the loss of a good relationship.  And that is true.  Some people don’t seem to appreciate what they HAD until they see how much someone ELSE is enjoying it AFTER they’ve thrown it away.

But what about gifts and talents?  Everyone is given abilities and skills that just seem to come naturally to them.  They are given to us with specific design and purpose for God’s glory.  They also require honing through consistency, diligence and obedience to God’s instruction.


When God calls us to do a thing, sometimes He graciously gives us the big picture.  Then, He instructs us to start on a particular spot.  From that particular position, we can only see our spot…the big picture is no longer anything but a vague recollection. So we begin a good work.

Somewhere in the tedium of the honing process, many of us get distracted by the monotony of the never changing scenery. We begin to complain.  I mean, what does this have to do with accomplishing the big picture?

We work…but we become impatient.  We don’t work as well as we used to with the others on assignment in our little corner of the world. They begin to get irritated with us and we begin to  resent them for it. We get salty.  And then we fester.  And that festering becomes acidic. We begin a subconscious sabotage of the work you had once begun in earnest.  Then, one of two things happen: the others, still working in earnest, ask us to leave that work or we decide that “it’s time to move on,” without being asked.

We figure that there is better work out there…somewhere else.  There is still this sense of purpose in our hearts, but it’s been convoluted.  It’s been tainted and tampered with by our desire to do the will of God “our way.”

Some might say that looks like a prodigal child.  Perhaps…but, if it’s  prodigal behavior, then it’s a prodigal who has not yet “come to himself.”  The problem with that is the pigpen is visible, the way out is not. This is a very critical time of decision making. This is where a heart either becomes opened or hardened.

But, what happens when the heart gets hardened?  We make really faulty decisions.  That’s when we decide to walk away from ministry or try to branch out on our own, apart from the expressed will of God to accomplish that thing that we only have a faint recollection of the “Big Picture.”

That’s when we think God is taking too long and take matters into our own hands, like Sarah using her handmaid to produce a child.. Or, we think our plan is better, like Absalom trying to steal an entire kingdom one person at a time.  Or we just like doing things the way they’ve always done and the new way is just too foreign, like Moses when God told him to speak to a rock. Or, the servant with the one talent who hid it for the ‘greater good.’

Each one of those examples were disastrous. And each negative result could have been avoided.

“But it’s only well water.  Surely there is something better to work with.  Surely God has other resources for me to utilize! I’m sure He would reward me for doing it another way, as long as the job gets done.”

So, off you go to do it ‘another way.’  In the meantime, God has given someone else the assignment that you were meant to fulfill.  And they are FLOURISHING.  And you are getting DRY, searching for another source of water.

My pastor, Dan Willis, has said something very often over the almost 20 years that I’ve known him: “God will NEVER allow His Kingdom or the work of the Kingdom to suffer for your lack of obedience.  And the person He uses to fill in the void you left will take that position higher than anyone could have imagined.”

God honors diligence. God honors consistency. God honors WILLING OBEDIENCE. Don’t be discouraged because things don’t move at a pace that pleases YOU. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ…”

God has a plan for your life, your gifts, your abilities, that will exceed even YOUR imagination. Stay at that well, my friend, and take pleasure in your assignment.  God may use you and that little well to water nations.

Meanwhile, Down In Pleasantville…

I love the Body of Christ!  I love the children of God in all of their many forms, fashions and facets!  I love the quiet worshipers and silent prayers. I love the loud, boisterous and demonstrative saints. I love the serious, thinking, diligent servants. I love the inconsistent, inattentive, forgetful children, who haven’t quite yet figured out where they fit in, so they hop from ministry to ministry.  I love the artisans: the painters and actors; the dancers and singers, whether they serve in secular venues or serve the church proper. I love how we are all so different and yet it is the same Love of God that saves us all and enables us to love each other and the dying world we were sent to serve.

Yet, there are whole groups of Christians who seem to have no identity of their own.  They are going through the motions of their faith, doing as they were instructed, not living up to the call of God on their lives and living in quiet desperation.  These are the sleepwalkers in the body.

You have some in almost every church.  They received salvation and want to do what pleases God, but they don’t really know what it is.  Oh, they know to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God. They just don’t know what that looks like for their individual life. So, they walk out their faith like the next person…after all, it’s working for them.  But, what is working for one is not suitable for another, it just lulls you into a false sense of righteousness and basically sings you to sleep.

The problem with that is we will all be judged on whether or not we have fulfilled the call on our own lives as individuals.  We will not be rewarded for how well we fulfilled their assignment…God’s going to check us on what we did with what HE assigned us to do. For some of us, that will be a pretty scary prospect. What do you do, when you have lived your entire life for Jesus, but you felt personally unfulfilled and never took the opportunity to do the things that God placed on YOUR heart to do? Do you keep living life according to the status quo?  Maybe…if you want to get to heaven and, instead of hearing, “Well Done, good and faithful servant,”  you just end up hearing, “Well…?”

Some churches are comprised almost entirely of this kind of Christian. It’s pretty sad, really.  People going through the motions of ministry..sleepwalking for Jesus.  Greeting you at the door.  Reading the scripture. Singing the hymns. Raising the offering.  All, sound asleep. And when someone who is walking in the liberty of their assignment walks into a church like that, it takes a move of God AND Congress to keep you awake!

Makes me think of the movie, Pleasantville.  This modern-day brother and sister get sucked into the rerun marathon of a television show that was filmed in black and white, based in the 1950’s. They have to blend in and hide out until they can figure out how to get back home.  Problem is, the sister is a wild child and refuses to play along and she throws a monkey-wrench into the storyline by letting the boyfriend of one of the main characters take her to “make out point.”  That’s where the story goes totally lop-sided.  This wild child turns this boy out (we are allowed to draw our own conclusions about the fine details), and when she is finished, the boy is in color while the rest of the scenes and people remain in black and white.  You can see the snowball effect of that.  Now, some people go about doing things that deviate from the script and find themselves in color, too!  But for some reason, the modern-day siblings don’t come into color, until they become and behave like their authentic selves instead of following the storyline.

You can imagine the resistance that takes place in the movie from the people who want things to stay the same.  They want the world that is familiar.  They like the routine; they;re used to it. Why would anyone not want their lives to remain “pleasant’?

I am saddened by people, groups, churches, denominations that get stuck in a script.  They do what they know and what they are told, without finding out exactly who God meant for them to be. It’s a scary thing to question why we can only sing hymns. Or to feel the strong urge to waive your hands and say, “HALLELUJAH,” at the top of your lungs, knowing that if you do you will be frowned upon or asked to leave.  Or to want to express your worship by painting some abstract art, knowing that everyone around you will reject your worship, but feeling in your SOUL that God is pleading for you to show Him how much you love Him through the gifts that He’s given you.

WHERE THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS, THERE IS LIBERTY.  Isn’t it amazing how many people miss that scripture? Wouldn’t that be the best criteria to determine where you want to worship, when given the opportunity? Shouldn’t this be the standard to which everyone in the body of Christ strive to measure up?  Am I in a place where I am free to be the person God designed me to be?  Are there others around me who are, in the spirit of their authentic selves, encouraging me to discover who God is calling me to be?

There is a FEAR OF LIBERTY that has permeated the church.  So many people equate liberty with rebellion.  It does not necessarily follow that, if you give the people the freedom to be themselves, they will all be drawn away by lust, or become inconsistent, or leave the church high and dry so that the work of the Lord cannot move forward. ON THE CONTRARY…each person that serves the Kingdom in the spirit of liberty in Christ is more passionate about the services they perform in the church and more joyful about their relationship with God and with His people, which makes them a more convincing witness.  If the joy of the Lord is your strength, and walking in liberty brings you joy, then it stands to reason that those who walk in that liberty are stronger Christians whose light shines brighter and draws more attention from the world, “that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven,” on a much greater level.

What is God calling you to do?  What demonstration of your love for Him have you suppressed for fear of another’s response? Have you been given some talent that other people say should not be expressed, because it is too secular?

What are you going to do…hide your light under a bushel so that you don’t attract any attention? Or are you going to walk in the Liberty of the Holy Spirit and express your gifts and talents like a drink offering, poured out before the Lord?

Maya Angelou recently passed away.  She was not the least bit diminished in her mental or spiritual health.  To her very last, she was tweeting and speaking to people and giving of herself.  Her son posted on her Facebook page that the family was, “…extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension.” I am convinced that this is a direct result of her living her life in living color, full of the Liberty of the Spirit of the Lord.  This woman poured everything out…she was finally light enough to ascend from her last earthly Glory into the fullness of the Glory of the Lord, to hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant: Enter now into the joy of the Lord.”

Isn’t that what we all want to hear? Then I recommend you run the risk of feeling foolish and dance, sing, act, paint, speak, pray, love, dream and do ALL that God has placed in your heart to do. Be faithful over those few things…those gifts and talents He has trusted you with. Cause them to grow and multiply.

Meanwhile, down in Pleasantville…another one has come into full and living color. How about you?


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