THE tale as old as time

 For years my uncle, Eugene Brock (namesake for our 4th child) rounded up writers to share op-ed for our home-town newspaper (Wichita Falls Times & Record News) during Holy Week. Very sadly, my uncle Brock went home to the Lord earlier this year, so my cousin Alan Brock took over the helm. What an honor and privilege to have been included in both their line-ups. Here’s what was on my mind this year. I hope you have a very blessed Easter. Thank you for blessing my life as we walk the road together. :)

In a land far, far away in a time long, long ago, a Prince and Princess lived in peace and in the absolute completeness of love and joy. Every day brought with it wonder and happiness that surpassed the fullness of the day before. The good King lavished the young royals with all he had. But mostly he loved them, unconditionally.

Then one day, Dark Knight slipped in alongside the Prince and Princess as they walked through the Royal Gardens. He despised the good King. Filled with hate and jealousy, Dark Knight set out to crush the good King by destroying the unsuspecting pair whom the King adored.

Dressed in his most dazzling attire, Dark Knight lured the Prince and Princess to a most beautiful feast. “Have you never tasted the lovely Tieto?” he asked. “It is the most desired among all food in this vast kingdom for it has the power to open your mind and your eyes to know and to see all.”

The delicacy looked and smelled so delicious. They had heard about it, had been warned of its deadly nature, but were entranced by its beauty. The sound of Dark Knight’s voice woke within them hunger and feelings they had never experienced. For the first time in their lives flickers of craving and doubt and anger and resentment began to burn within them as Dark Knight flooded their thoughts with lies about the good King. “He withholds and controls. He wants to keep the best things set aside for himself. He does not love you.”

They listened.

They gave into desire and indulged.

Suddenly the ground opened and swallowed them whole. Air, once filled with oxygen’s essence, now suffocated. Momentary relief came only when the pair caught glimpses of the good King looking down with love now clouded by pain.

Dark Knight laughed and mocked the good King. “They’re mine now,” he cackled. “I will never give them rest. They will endlessly search for meaning. They will never have enough. They will forever battle insecurity. They will hide in shame and never experience satisfaction. They will always be ALONE, even when together.”

The Princess’s beauty and Prince’s handsome good looks were replaced by the crustiness of a soul sold out to worldly ways. Their outward appearance became that of hideous creatures, the worst of their inside-selves – Beasts.

Would they be doomed to the curse forever?

Ahhh – but THE tale as old as time can’t end there.

The light of a Savior flickers in the background. For Dark Knight knows that all can be restored and redeemed if Love enters the story. But the Prince and Princess, assuming love’s nature to be like their own, can’t imagine Love’s power being willing to see beyond their now gruesome exterior.

But the thing about Love, it sees beyond.

Always.

The good King, called upon the One who IS love. “Will you go?” the King asked his beloved Son. “Yes, Father, “they’re salvation is worth everything to us.”

So on his white horse, the Son, whose name is Faithful and True, set out to meet Dark Knight in battle. The war raged, the battle ensued, the sword extended, blood spilled.

The Son’s blood.

Wailing could be heard from furthest reaches of the kingdom and galaxies as if Creation itself felt the blow. Dark Knight had killed the One whose name is Love – at least as far as anyone knew. For the Dark Knight had assumed death was final.

He never understood the power of Love.

As the Prince and Princess held the Son’s lifeless body in their arms, eternally moved by the gift of the good King who sent their deliverer, tears rolled down their cheeks and into his wounds.

Suddenly out of the darkness, Light – like a bright Morning Star – broke through the Son’s pierced side where Dark Knight’s sword had struck its deadly blow. And in that moment Love overwhelmed. Love defeated death. Love engulfed the pair, from the inside out – in that moment, and forever more.

Love overcame. Peace restored. Happily ever after.

But unlike our beloved fairy tales, this story is true.

We call it Easter.

originally published in the Times & Record News, April 10th

Spring-Signals that Inform Life

Recently we sat in the car at a red light waiting for green. I was going on hour 2 of carpool – not because we were traveling outside of a 3-mile radius of our house, but because staggered school-end-times plus drama practice plus track practice result in lots of wait.

I looked out my window and saw this tree:

“Boy, that tree looks sad doesn’t,” I said to my shotgun rider.

“It looks dead,” she replied.

But right next it stood an almost exact replica – same height, same shape and same type of tree – but very different:

Spring has sprung on the second tree (not so much for the sad-tree.) Life hidden behind an outside that looked dead has made it’s way to the surface. That’s what happens with spring. New life. Whether seen with the human eye or hidden from sight, the life that springs forth from within is certain.

I love the way the Lord often reminds us through nature of so many of his eternal Truths. Shotgun-rider and I talked about

  • Faith – being sure of what you hope for, certain of what isn’t seen. Faith informing situations where what we can see isn’t the whole picture. There’s more to the story of those leafless trees – as there is in life. And neither of us would have to travel far to think about something in our own lives that feels like it’s toast (For me: a yearbook ad that was due last week for our graduating senior – which seems trite, especially when compared to another situation that involves deep, deep almost untouchable heartache with a couple of friends as well as someone super close to me, but is center stage as appearing slightly hopeless. For her: a friendship gone south and a class that feels always up hill,…)
  • We talked about timing – some things, people, situations might sprout and bloom before another, but that doesn’t define the tree’s worth, or ours;
  • We talked about suffering & grief that really can leave us feeling dead or damaged or worthless with nothing beautiful to show – but that like the tree, we can rest assured that there’s more than meets the eye when we remember the life that comes from within (whether seen or unseen), from the roots planted in rich soil (which is so important), especially when planted by “streams of living water.” (Psalm 1)
  • And then Easter – the greatest story of what looked dead actually conquering death to never die again. Enter Hope stage left. Well, Hope and Peace and Joy and … LIFE.

It’s hard to go much further in the car when lights turn green – well, that and it’s so easy to over-talk and turn a possibly thoughtful conversation into weird.

But those trees have lingered in my mind.

Then – slightly out of the blue, I got an email from Steven Curtis Chapman’s super nice PR folks. I had seen a copy of his new book Between Heaven and the Real World and really hoped he would be up for a chat on our little SaySomething Show (check it out sometime – some super nice, incredibly informative, folks have stopped by or joined carpool for a chat.) My expectations being low, I was surprised by Stacie’s kind response (even after I misspelled SCC’s name – not everyone is aware of my tight friendship with Typo :) “Hi Kay – I may be able to get some time of Steven’s either next Thursday or Friday, just prior to the Dallas show. is that doable or too late?”

Ummm – ANYTIME is good with us!!! my instant response.

And I was reminded of Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, “Spring is Coming” – written after the tragic death of their 5 year-old daughter Maria when we looked at those trees. I hope you will take the time to hear what he has to say. He talks about his tour, the book, about grief and hope.

We are all on a journey carrying grief, sadness and longing and ache in our heart for what isn’t as it should be, for what is unfixable on this side of heaven. And yet the hope that keeps us breathing and keeps us taking the next step is that the story is not over yet – what it looks like, they way it appears right now, is not the end of the story – the Gospel, the hope that we have right now.

AND he shares the Steven Curtis Chapman 5 tips on a purposeful, joy-filled life (my new favorite questions.) So here you go:

As always, thanks for walking the road with me.

-Kay

A Facts-of-Life Chat

“Oh – should I roll up the window?” my shotgun passenger sarcastically asks. We were about to get on Central Expressway.

I respond with an eye roll.

“I’m not going to let you forget,” she laughingly nods. “What else have you told me that isn’t true. Hmmm… I wonder.”

Several years ago, when the kids were much younger, likely at the end of a long day, probably when a kid in the far-back seat was bothered/crying because the wind from an open window was blowing him (or her) – I might have told my car-riding brood that “It’s illegal to have the windows down when driving on the highway.”

Well, it’s not. And since there was never an opportunity to circle back with the truth (I mean no one really ever rolled the window down on the highway again) I’ve never known that anyone heard or remembered. I sure didn’t remember.

Until recently. When my current shotgun rider yell-gasped, “DON’T DO THAT!” to her friend sitting next. “Don’t do what,” her friend responded. “DON’T ROLL YOUR WINDOW DOWN! We’re on the HIGHWAY!” “What??” her friend inquired. “It’s ILLEGAL to roll you window down on the highway!” And then the truth presented itself. The friend looked at shotgun rider, shook her head and said, “What are you talking about?! It’s not illegal.

Apparently, my kid had been living with the stress of someone rolling down the window while on the highway for years. She bit her lip, squinted one eye and shook her head in disbelief as she looked at me in disbelief with a what-else-isn’t-true stare.

Oops.

Honestly, I’m sure I said it in a Calgon-moment when I just couldn’t take the window-noise or the whining anymore. It wasn’t said with malice or even memory of doing it. I will never live it down.

So today, we get on Central Expressway laughing about it, I ask, “What else have I said where I might have manipulated the truth to maintain peace?”

“I don’t know what you’ve said, but I know what you haven’t told me about!” She’s slightly joking, but she’s a little right. There are some topics that are a challenge to navigate and never seem completely discussed – for so many reasons. Because no matter how much is said, it seems more is needed because it’s complicated and can be shrouded in things like secret, shame, curiosity, unknowns, hurt, and sometimes uncomfortable embarrassment.

But the facts of life shouldn’t be embarrassing and they need to be discussed.

Just in Dallas alone, we have terrific resources familiar to themoatblog readers who can help. If you’re not familiar with Mary Flo Ridley, she does an excellent job to help parents out with little kids – bringing to the front burner topics that need to be aired at earlier and earlier ages. Our friend Kathleen Fischer has very frank material on the subject, coming at it from an educator/nurse/life-coach/health-care professional angle. And a new guest, Tracy Levinson, who is an author, teacher, speaker, mom and new-show host on The Blaze is hitting it home with teens and young adults.

And how timely that Tracy just happened to stop by my house last week for a Say Something Show Kitchen-Chat with my friends Courtney DeFeo and Brenda Teele. We chat about shame, purity, purity rings (why’s and why not’s), teens, girls, boys and even how older women can come to grips with their own history that might still hold them hostage. It’s a bold, frank, authentic & fun conversation about a topic that can often goes unspoken – especially in communities of faith.

Tracy’s “hope is to help as many women and girls as possible by empowering them to choose wisdom, love and peace, as opposed to making decisions from fear, shame or condemnation.” She also shares about her new book, unashamed — candid conversations about dating, love, nakedness and faith.

With all this in the arsenal – hopefully continued conversations with my kids will be a little more realistic and meaningful than my quick fix no-windows-down-on-the-highway approach. One can hope :)

Thanks for walking the road with me.

-Kay

There’s more on SaySomething. Did you miss Dr. Tony Evans “5 Tips to a Productive & Joy-Filled Life”? It’s less than 7 minutes of greatness. Here you go:

Be sure to visit saysomethingshow.com for more or our YouTube channel and subscribe :)

A Giving Lent

God has been a part of my life for almost as long as I can remember. But Lent wasn’t a significant part of worship in the churches we attended. So, I was intrigued and curious when I would see my Catholic or more liturgical friends show up on Ash Wednesday with a cross on their forehead.

So, with the season of Lent at hand, chatter about what it means and why it’s observed bantered around our carpool drop-off this morning.

“What is Lent,” floated the youngest.

“It’s when you fast from something,” said one. “You know, give it up.”

“Why would you do that?” the youngest really wanted to know.

So I shared from my limited knowledge (something I”m accustomed to doing :). “I’m pretty sure Lent began as a way for Catholics to remind themselves about the value of repentance. People tend to choose something in their life, usually something they really like, to give up as a remembrance of what Christ did for them – at least that’s how I understand it.”

The church where I was raised never discouraged or encouraged observing Lent. But I’m all for a season of focus and surrender before the Lord – especially in light of the Cross.

“I think give is really the operative word,” I added. “It’s kind of fun to focus on giving. I was thinking the other day that I’d like to focus on give – through giving, giving up, and giving in.”

On the giving front, I was recently inspired by Janet Denison and her  blog post God is Kind. She had been moved by a gentleman who did the simple act of holding a door open for her at the Post Office. An act that might seem insignificant, especially in the South, but made all the more sweet since two other people had walked past her trying to manage a large package, gather her mail, hold her purse, find the keys and get through a door all at the same time.

It was a simple gesture of kindness on that man’s part, but it meant a lot to me. As I drove home I found myself wondering why. Simple kindness should be the norm, but that day at the post office, it was an exception. I am typically quick to hold a door, but there have been times when I was in a hurry and didn’t pay attention. Sometimes I hold the door, but I don’t meet the person’s eye and smile. I often hold the door without saying anything at all. This man held the door, smiled, and spoke to me. He was kind.

So, I think I am going to focus my Lenten season on giving kindness instead of giving up something. I know that kindness shouldn’t be just for a season, but maybe if I place that focus on my life for a season it will form a godly habit in this hurried life I lead.

I LOVE her inspiration to GIVE in addition to or instead of giving-up for Lent.

I’m in.

Still, I feel like I could use a little giving up, especially in the food category. I don’t like how easy it is to grab and eat whatever, whenever. So, I’m thinking of punting refined sugar. Which around this house is a small feat since one of its inhabitants has been on a baking rampage. My word, the girl can bake. Everything she makes is beyond yummy, almost always at hand and by far and away my favorite things to eat. She’s okay with my short reprieve – not taking it personally – but will certainly rub in any hiatus from her treats.

Then giving-in, something that has been on my mind a lot. By that, I mean a conscious giving-in to the complete and total salvation that came with the Christ’s death on the cross – the power of which is at hand today. I’m a bit tired of the world’s winning ways so often driven by fear/pressures/expectations/etc. and usually centered on performance. What if we really let eternity inform today and saw things through the lens of salvific-perfection?

We know that we are saved by faith through grace, but we tend to shelve a portion of salvation to be realized upon our entrance into heaven – like we’ve been thrown a life-line that keeps us from drowning, but we’re still in the water. It’s easy to look longingly toward heaven, but what if we could realize the abundance of complete and total salvation – TODAY.

I recently watched Tangled with the kids (I love it as much as they do.) And I thought about Rapunzel being a daughter of the king – saved from the tower that had held her prisoner for so many years, pretty much her whole life. What if when she discovers the truth that she is the daughter of the King, accepts the birthright but never enters the castle and all the flourishing abundance of her salvation? What if she she just stays in a boat, on the water outside of the city, waiting for the day/someday instead of experiencing flourishing abundance TODAY.

Hmmm….

Well, I know when entering a period of fasting or such, it’s best to not talk about it. So, just sharing my thoughts.

The kid exiting our car this morning loved the concept of Lent and giving.

“Great! I like that you’re going to give,” he said as he hopped out. “After school, can you give me some money?”

Always keeping it real around here.

Thanks for walking the road with me,

Kay