Fathers and Forgiveness

I’m thinking about my Dad today.  He was a wonderful man, although I didn’t know that until I had children of my own. Growing up, we didn’t have a close relationship, mostly because he wasn’t very relational.

I’m wired for relationship and he was practical, analytical, loved routine, was linear, didn’t color outside the lines and ate the exact same thing every day for lunch.  He was an aeronautical engineer that had a pocket protector that held his pencils (you know the type). Rather than offer encouragement and support he was wired to look at something and figure out the how / what / when / where of what could go wrong or break down.  So we didn’t speak the same language and we weren’t close.

After I married and had kids, my son developed a love for “Papa” that was endearing.  “Mommy, Papa can fix anything!”  I learned to appreciate his practicality and the fact that although we didn’t speak the same language of love he still loved his family and cared for us by providing for us financially and with a nice home.  He wasn’t exactly knowledgeable on the emotional and spiritual aspects of supporting and raising children, but you do the best you can with what you’re equipped with.  And I think he had regrets about that, but being the practical guy that he was he didn’t dwell on it.

Could my Dad done better as a Father?  Sure he could have. Could I hold on to bitterness and un-forgiveness for things he wasn’t programmed to understand?  Absolutely…and I dabbled in that for a season.  Could I bash him after he was gone and blame him for being the reason for my own lack-luster ability to be more of a positive encourager? Oh, that would been the easy thing to do. But the bottoms line is forgiveness and grace.

Dang – there’s that grace word again.  Ugh.  Giving my Dad something that he didn’t deserve.  But what if I want to hold on to it for a little while longer until I’m feeling better and THEN I offer him grace when I’m good and ready?

The place that I’m at is this:….I certainly don’t deserve forgiveness from MY “heavenly Father”…and so today I will offer forgiveness to the man that cared for me in his own way – the only way he knew how and I will continue to allow God to heal any broken places in my heart.  I will say “Happy Father’s Day” to my Daddy and rest in the knowledge that my Heavenly Father offers me the best love and support my earthly father couldn’t.  So its a win / win.  Forgiveness is for me to offer, and when I have trouble walking through that all I have to do is ask God for help.  And forgiveness is for my sweet Dad.  Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Oh….and by the way….guess who now is just as linear as her dad (I seriously want to roll down my window and reprimand people whose bumper stickers aren’t placed evenly in the middle of their bumper) and eats almost the exact same thing for lunch every day?  Uh huh.  However, I DO draw the line at pocket protectors!  🙂


Wild flowers and rebels

I just came off of a wonderful weekend away with girl friends.  Not just any girl friends.  These ladies – some from my past but most in the-here-and-now are the ones who I surround myself with to keep me grounded.   I hold each of them near to my heart, as they are the ones who make me feel that I have value.  I am humbled that they walk this journey with me, and I am so thankful for the special part each of them play in my life.  When we get together, all our different personalities come to the surface and you can imagine the fun we have.  They kidnapped me unknowingly (or at least tried to) for a R&R  weekend in Tahoe, and before you could say “pass the M&M’s“,  Christ’s bond knit us together and the laughter began, the wine was opened,  the stories began to spill out, the chocolate began to be consumed and before you know it we began to make another special memory together.  These ladies take very good care of me, and this weekend was meant to honor me in a special way when I needed it most.  I am so grateful.

Shortly before the drive up the hill to Lake Tahoe (my favorite place on the planet) a new friend, Sara gave me an encouraging note to help lift the burden of a big project we are working on together.  It came with some wild flowers and hand delivered by her sweet children with a big hug, and a note that said “…let these wild flowers remind you that our God brings order to wild things and makes rebels into His children.”   On the front was one simple word.…”Holiness”.

Sara and I have had conversation about our former lives, and how by God’s grace we are changed women, so the part about making rebels into His children especially hit home with me.  Like those wild flowers, I was a bit of a rebel in my past – oh, probably tame by many standards but rebellious towards God nonetheless.  My mouth (no filter) and actions (most of which were geared towards attention towards self) sometimes were a reflection of my desire to hold on to some bit of control of my own life and not have to turn everything over to this cosmic killjoy in the sky.

As you can guess, I’m typically the kind of gal that you can warn, “You’d better not run into that brick wall…it’s going to hurt” and I’ll still end up running head-on into it because I somehow don’t believe you.  When I was young, I wasn’t exactly listening well to God.  Yet He has been so kind to me in that vein and He hasn’t  forced Himself upon me.  He’s allowed me to walk through life full of myself and often going my own way until I bash into a few walls and finally come running back to His side.  There, He enfolds me in His arms with nothing but unconditional love.   “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.  for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear him..” (Psalm 103:10-11)

So there we all sat, gathered on the deck of this beautiful cabin and one friend started sharing some old stories about some of my antics from years ago.  Admittedly, we have some pretty funny stories from our younger years – when I wasn’t exactly plugged in to the Holy Spirit.  As she spoke there were moments where I cringed.  Did I really say that?  Ugh.  I did what?  My main concern was that those in the group that might still be holding on to a thread of misconception that I might possibly have it somewhat together, surely they would be shocked to hear some of the less than holy things that I had done.  Again, trying to look better than I was.

But as we walked through the weekend together, and I was loved and encouraged by these precious sisters, it was a sweet reminder of the grace God has shown me.  Just like those wild flowers Sara brought me, He has brought order to this wild thing and taken a rebel and turned her into one of His children.  My hope is that someday I’ll end up resembling just a inkling of the flip side of the card ….something that I could never achieve on my own – just a tiny glimpse of holiness.

I am so grateful that these ladies water and nourish this wild flower.  Thanks girl friends!



The Penguin and the Melanyorkie

I just noticed that the last two posts of mine started out talking about my husband. Hmmmm….do you think I maybe like the guy? I didn’t always. Loved him….yes…..liked him….not so much. I’ve told you a little about myself – now its time to tell you a little about the man I’m married to. I’m going to call him “Salsa Guy” (and if you read my earlier post you’ll know why).

Say hello to Salsa Guy….

Salsa Guy

You know how people say opposites attract? I’m a big believer in that philosophy. I think its because we look at another person with different temperament traits and we see qualities in them that we lack, and we want what they have…so we’re drawn to those people. That’s how it was with Salsa Guy. He was handsome, sensitive, caring, gentle, attentive, loving, kind (right about now you’re remembering what I said about being attracted to the qualities we lack…which doesn’t make me look so good right now), and when we were dating and we talked on the phone he never wanted to say goodbye. We would say goodbye about 10 times and then start another conversation because we just couldn’t get enough of each other. Isn’t that just so cute?

It wasn’t long after we got married that all those wonderful things about my sweet husband started to drive me crazy! That sensitivity in him that I was attracted to…now it drives me crazy because he can be a little “oversensitive” and I can hurt his feelers and not even know it. And his attentiveness – still going strong. The funny thing, though, is that he also needs it from me. What is up with that? When I work, and I have laundry to do and kids to feed and clothes to fold and dinner to make and a house to clean and ….well, you get the idea. I wasn’t always so able to be attentive or accept his attentiveness because I was falling asleep mid-underwear fold which didn’t bode so well with him. As the kids grew up and moved out, Salsa Guy remains attentive….kind of like a freight train heading my way that I have to get out of the way. And the phone call thing – at one point I had to set a limit to how many times he could call me in a day because I couldn’t get anything done. Dad-blam it…the guy was enamored with me.

Now before I go any farther…I get it, girls – there’s many out there that would trade their lower back tatoo for a man like that. I am, truly blessed. I know this to be true, trust me. But we are polar opposites, which makes life fun at our house.

If you’ve ever done a study of the God-given temperaments (and may I say I think every person on the planet should be required to do so. It should be taught in our schools and in every marriage counseling session) you’ll know that there are all sorts of temperament descriptions. There’s the Meyers-Brigg (I can never remember all those letters) and the Teacher’s Personality Assessment (too academic) and then there’s the basic personality description using animal motifs. Now that’s something I can get behind…..except that I’m an otter and its says that I’m “playful and non-productive”. Oh brother.

The one that I keep going back to is the Personality Plus study of our God-given personalities. It’s sub-title is Understanding Yourself So That You Can Understand Others. Did you notice it didn’t say anything about “changing” others? I really hated that part.

About 25 years ago as I was perusing the Christian bookstore Marriage Self-help section, I came across a book entitled I Love You…But Why Are We So Different? by Tim LaHaye. BAM….I bought it on the spot! It’s sub-title is “Making the Most of Personality Differences in Your Marriage“. This book saved my marriage! OK, if you’re going to argue that God saved our marriage I’ll give you that…but He definitely used this book in the process.

So the four personalities that are described in the book are: the sanguine, the melancholy (opposites – one out-going/the other not so much), the choleric, and the phlegmatic (one also out-going/the other not). They’re based off of Hippocrates’s theory of temperaments, and they all have their own strengths and weaknesses, and no one is completely one without some of the others. Jesus was a perfect blend of all of the strengths of each. They can also change depending on your environment, age, and events that take place in your life.

You should check the book out to find a more detailed description of the strengths and weaknesses of each, but my two dominant temperaments are the sanguine (think Kelly Ripa, Robin Williams) and the choleric (think Oprah and Donald Trump). If you gave one word to best describe those two dominant temperaments they would be “Popular” and “Powerful”. But on the flip side there are a list of not-so great weaknesses that plague those two personality types. We can say things without thinking, hurt people’s feelings, bulldoze people, and boss people around without even knowing it. Thank goodness for people who showed me grace despite those flaws.

Salsa Guy hates labels and it took him a couple of years to warm up to the whole concept of personality types (he could never remember the name Sanguine, so he started calling me a Penquin), but he finally embraced it. His two dominant personalities are the melancholy (think Hemingway and Beethovan) and the phlegmatic (think Tim Duncan or Sandy Koufax). One word that best describes his two dominant personality types are “Perfect” and “Peaceful”. But also on his flip side his melancholy weaknesses sometimes (but not always) make living with his opposite (me!) a bit like throwing a match into a firecracker warehouse. KABOOM!

I explained where the word Penguin came from that Salsa Guy refers to me by when talking about temperaments, but I should explain where we came up with the word Melanyorkie. We have 3 dogs…all Yorkies. One of them (Bailey) is definitely a Melancholy personality. Yes, animals can have different personality types, and Bailey can go from high speed chasing and playing to sudden depression at the drop of a Frisbee. But, since he’s a YORKIE and not a Collie (get it!….meloncholy….collie!) we call him a Melanyorkie. Cheesy, I know. So, I call Salsa Guy a melonyorkie and he calls me a penguin.

So you see….this marriage thing was not always peaceful or fun. We had some bumpy moments and (whew baby!) we could tussle like the best of them, but we’ve also seen our temperaments change and soften through the years. Some of my melancholy and phlegmatic traits that were hidden below the surface are starting to show more, as are some of his sanguine and choleric. I guess that’s what happens when we start to put others first before ourselves.

The part that grace played into our marriage is that God blessed me so abundantly when he gave me the gift of relationship with my husband. I didn’t deserve him, and there were definitely moments throughout our marriage where I didn’t particularly want him…but I’m so thankful God knew better and now I thank Him for Salsa Guy every day. Except when he bosses me around in the kitchen. God knew exactly what I needed in personality type to fit together with my crazy quirks to make a beautiful mess. And in the midst of all the bumping up against our differences, our souls agreed on one thing – we were deeply in love and didn’t want to be with anyone else. And somehow, for 34 years, we’ve tangled our hearts and our souls together like a vine…which ultimately kept us tied together and never wanting for another. And isn’t it amazing what happens when you stick with it? It would have been easy to quit. But then I’d never have been able to see him with gray hair, or glasses, or have him stand beside me when I buried my parents. It was worth all the bumps and bruises.

So there you have it! Me and Salsa Guy. The Penquin and the Melanyorkie. Living life loving one another despite our personality differences.

Successful Salsa

My husband is a great cook. He can run circles around me in the kitchen. I lean more towards cooking out of boxes and cans…but he creates meals from scratch. I cook because I have to….for him, its therapy. One of his early successes was his salsa recipe (we have several variations) which got rave reviews from friends and family and people at church. So much so, that after a few years people were saying things like, “you really need to sell this salsa in stores.” Or, “when are you going to market this product – its amazing!”. Words every prideful person likes to hear.

So we did what any crazy person does…we researched our options, made phone calls, met with people, and eventually went to the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco in January of 2006. We met and signed a contract with a company that would manufacture our salsa and walk us through the process. Of course, we wanted God to bless our endeavors so we made sure to pray about it, asking God to bless our business, and that He would allow it to be highly successful. Then jars were bought, recipes were perfected, labels were designed, money was invested and we were on our way to becoming the millionaires we thought surely we would be.

Sierra Salsa Mild Salsa
Sierra Salsa Mild Salsa

Did God answer our prayers? You betcha He did. Just not in the way we thought. One of the lessons in grace that I’ve learned is that God’s story is rarely the same story as the one I write in my mind.

Our salsa was picked up by about 10 stores in Northern California, and for a period of time it was fun to be able to say we were in “such and such” store. Then we realized a few things: we weren’t good at marketing, our product cost more to make than most others (long story…but we used better jars than we should have, better ingredients, etc. which jacks the price up and lowers your profit margin), and if we were going to become the millionaires we imagined in our minds we were going to have to hire a marketing person. Again, more moola that we didn’t have and so after about 4 years we let our dream die. Along with our millions.

Part 2 of the story: I am involved in taking a team to New York each summer to work with inner city kids, working alongside a great ministry there called called Operation Exodus. I’ve been going for 5 years, and in order to go our team has to raise a lot of money, so we have fundraisers. God, in His sovereignty has allowed me to sell salsa out on the porch of our church each year for Super Bowl, Memorial Day BBQ’s, July 4th and Labor Day celebrations and guess where the money goes? Yep…it goes to that mission trip. So, everything we prayed for; that it would be highly successful and blessed has been given to us. Did it match my story? Not so much, but in God’s economy the outcome had a much better ending than ours would have ever been. That’s the blessing.

We all tend to think that God is the bad guy when our prayers aren’t answered the way we think they should be. I’m trying to think more along the lines of if the outcome brings glory to Him, then He’s answered my prayers.

Being Anchored

My husband and I hang out with a select group of friends that we like to call the “Youth Group”.  Select because we’ve chosen to be in community with them because we all like fun, fellowship, food, football (the four “f’s”), potato chips and onion dip, and we like to drink wine and various sundry beverages together.  But the common thread is that we’ve all decided that at our age, we just want to say NO to drama, and yes to grace. 

Youth Group because we all really think we’re ten years younger in our own minds and we want to hold on to just a thread of our youth.  But these people are our homies…our peeps….our go-to people who would run to our aid in a flash if there were a tragedy or a need in our lives.  We’ve prayed one another through huge life issues – from cancer, to bumpy marriages, to moving, to kid crisis’s, to weddings and to the birth of grand babies. 

Ya know how life in your 20’s and 30’s and (yes) even for some in our 40’s was riddled with people who brought drama into it? And truthfully, we probably brought a certain amount of drama into the lives of those around us as well. But something happens as we grow up. We have an “ah ha” moment and we realize that drama accounts for way too much stress in our lives and we really can make the choice to stop doing and being around drama. It’s a life-changing concept. One that I hope you come to way sooner than I did.

The purging process started for me about 10 years ago when I realized that I was going to have to limit time that I spent with “dramatic” people in my life.  Oh, not that I stopped having relationship altogether with those people…I just chose for my own sanity the when and where, but still trying to be available when needed.  That’s the tricky part. My vocation requires me to step in and out of people’s lives who sometimes are in need.  Great need.  And there are times when I need to extend love and care to them and minister to those needs.  In other words, step into their drama. 

Henri Nouwen wrote a great narrative in his book The Inner Voice of Love entitled “Remain Anchored in Your Community”.  The Youth Group is that for us. Our Community. 

He says, “It is important to remain as much in touch as possible with those who know you, love you, and protect your vocation.  If you visit people with great needs and deep struggles that you can easily recognize in your own heart, remain anchored in your home community….thus you can be very close to people in need of your healing without losing touch with those who protect your vocation.  Your community can pull you back when its members see that you are forgetting why you were sent out.  When you feel a burgeoning need for sympathy, support, affection, and care (“drama” – Kris insert) from those to whom you are being sent, remember that there is a place where you can receive those gifts in a safe and responsible way.  Do not let yourself be seduced by the dark powers that imprison those you want to set free.  Keep returning to those to whom you belong and who keep you in the light.  It is that light that you desire to bring into the darkness.  You do not need to fear anyone as long as you remain safely anchored in your community.  Then you can carry the light far and wide.” 


It’s my prayer that if you don’t have community that you seek it out. Whether in your neighborhood or your church or your bowling league or your book club or your Weight Watchers group – look for places to connect. People that can keep you in the light, and maybe even anchored.

So thanks to my community for keeping me protected. For keeping me in the light. For showing me grace by the bucketful. You know who you are. Youth Group. Anchored.

Ah Ha! Moments

I’m new at this….this blog thing. I’ve heard of Mommy bloggers, and Self-help bloggers but I’m not really sure where I fit into the whole blogging equation. So bear with me. I think I’m a Grace blogger…someone who has been discovering the meaning of grace and who has always been a “wanna be” writer. I’d love for what I write to be important to someone, even if it’s just for me to journal what I’m learning but I hope it makes a difference in the world to someone. Maybe that someone is me. Maybe my kids. Maybe my grandkids – whenever they come along.

I think what defines this blog is that its going to be filled with stories of flub ups, admissions of my flaws, my discoveries, my joys, my utter failures, my BGD moments (that’s BIG GIANT DUH), my learning experiences, the funny moments (trust me, there are many), the blessings and the on-going transformation that’s hopefully taking place in my life. I’m a recovering Pharisee and I want to be transformed to a follower of Christ. I’m still in process – it’s a journey.  And don’t you just love it that God is patient with people like me? Geez Louise….if He had dealt with me as I deserved…whew…we’d all be in a heap of trouble. And that’s what this blog is all about. Grace. The grace that He extends and that we spend a lifetime searching for.

In case you aren’t familiar with the concept of grace…here’s the Kris definition: “getting something (usually that is for our benefit) that we don’t deserve“.  The cousin of grace is mercy.  The Kris definition of mercy is: not getting something (usually bad) that we deserve“.  It’s kind of important to understand the difference between the two if you’re going to journey along with me on this adventure.

Just to clear a few things up….I’m not an academic theologian, although I am a theologian.  Anyone who follows Christ is a theologian.   And trust me – no one will remember me as someone who put words together well necessarily.  But I hope they’ll remember me as a truth teller – not the kind of truth telling that completely bulldozes people around you with the truth (“you DO know that outfit makes you look fat, don’t you”?) causing tons of collateral damage.  Nope, I hope people will remember me just as a gal that was honest about struggling to find a faith in the face of the prolific spiritual community that has often given God a bad name. I call it “real” Christianity. Real faith in the midst of a real world with real problems and real life.  There’s ____ that happens (fill in your own noun…mine started with a “c”) and I think those around me are more apt to be interested in conversation about how a sinner who happens to be saved muddles through life than that of a pious know-it-all who seems to have it all together.  I definitely don’t have it all together, but it might be fun to come along with me for this ride.

So, as I’ve journeyed, there were some definite “Ah HA” moments where I finally “got it”.  Where I started to “get” grace.  That’s the point of this blog.  And as I’ve begun to piece those moments together I thought I’d write them down in case someone else might benefit from my journey and save themselves some bumps and bruises. I dunno….we’ll see how it goes. It’s my hope that you catch a glimpse and fragrance of Christ and His grace as we hang out here together.