Friday Tidings

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Posted 1/20/13 at 9:54 AM | Karen Farris

Sanctity of Human Life Sunday

On Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, I used to visit churches on behalf of our pregnancy resource center. But I changed my presentation after a woman shared her story with me.

The phone call woke me from my sleep and as I looked at the clock it took me a few minutes to separate my sleep-time thoughts from the reality of the ringing phone. The words were direct and implicit. Come. Now. Emergency Room.

 Pulling back the curtain partitioning the small cubicles, I saw my little girl, now an older teen, on a gurney. Her eyes were red and puffy from crying. Her lips were blackened from the activated charcoal they’d given her to counteract the entire bottle of anti-depressants she’d taken. The doctor had told me before I’d gotten to see her that a mental evaluation would happen later, but she’d live. The doctor’s clipped tone told me he had more pressing emergencies to attend to than a suicidal teen. FULL POST

Posted 1/18/13 at 10:01 AM | Karen Farris

Controlling Guns or Evil?

Congress and the president can implement all sorts of new regulations for weapons, but no government can fully protect us from evil. As a Portland, Oregon policeman, my grandpa knew there was no law that could make an evil person good. As we think about gun control, that’s an important consideration.

Grandpa dealt with plenty of inner city crime. After being struck down by a car, instead of going on disability, Grandpa went back to school. He studied forensics, crime analysis, and took intensive courses on sociopathic behavior. Before long he became the chief detective and handled Oregon murder investigations. His job was to find the bad guys and get enough evidence to jail them for good.

As a pioneer in fingerprint analysis, he was asked by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to do some “behind the scenes” work in post-war Germany. That was when my grandpa really began to see how evil worked. He was fairly tight-lipped over what he had learned about Hitler, Stalin and the communist thugs who carried out much of the gruesome torture and murder. After his time in Germany, Grandpa never put too much trust in the government and he staunchly believed in citizen’s rights. FULL POST

Posted 1/14/13 at 12:07 PM | Karen Farris

The High Cost of Cheap Sex

While life isn’t easy, sometimes our choices make it a whole lot harder. As a pregnancy resource center volunteer I’d visit schools and talk to teens about their choices. I told them the choice to work hard in school would cost them some time now, but it’d pay off with better opportunities later. I also told them that their sexual choices would come with a cost too. A student I met many years ago recently sent me a long note. She gave me permission to share her thoughts:

My friends and I talked about you after you came to our class. It wasn’t as if you were telling us anything we didn’t already know about sex. The scary things about STDs didn’t really make a difference either. I’d been having sex since the year before and I didn’t really care about the future.

You made it seem like getting through school was easy compared to getting a job and living on our own. You said we should get married before we had sex because we’d be older and ready for it. No one I know is getting married and no one really cares who you’ve had sex with. FULL POST

Posted 1/7/13 at 10:39 AM | Karen Farris

Mixed Marriage

I struggle with my Type A tendencies. Curious what Type A looks like? Look no further, here I am. I’m the consummate list maker and task taker. I come complete with pit bull tenacity, Labrador loyalty, and hound dog determination. It also comes with a focused fixation that borders on insensitivity —including people sometimes. Not a redeeming quality. I started pondering my personality and realized some of it is how I’m hardwired. But I admit some of it is just plain stubborn resolve to be the way I am.

I began to fantasize about being a Type B. I don’t have to imagine too hard. I’m married to one. He can stay up late and sleep in….two things I’m incapable of. He can multitask, but it doesn’t flip his switches like it does me. Then there’s his pesky tendency to “roll with the punches” and “let things roll of his back.” Oh, please, teach me how. FULL POST

Posted 1/4/13 at 9:14 AM | Karen Farris

The Fence

It’s interesting how I remember the punishment but not the crime. When I look at a certain section of our fence there’s a snapshot in my mind of my daughter holding a paintbrush while kneeling down carefully applying stain to the boards. There had been some family infraction and our fence was serving as justice.

The fence is much older now. In fact, no stain has been applied since that punishment long ago. My daughter could probably fill in the gaps that my mind has chosen to file away. But I vividly recall walking out to the garden and quietly watching her paint. I wondered what was inside her heart and mind as she worked silently by herself.

I grabbed a brush and painted beside her for a while. Somehow looking at the fence and having something to do with our hands allowed us to talk about life unlike we could do across a table from one another. I also noticed my hearing was better when I painted. Why couldn’t I hear her words when I looked into her eyes? I knew why. When I sat across the table I became the prosecutor and my daughter was on the defense. When had I let our lives become a courtroom? FULL POST

Posted 1/1/13 at 9:00 AM | Karen Farris

2013-The Year of the Tree-Deepening our Roots

I grew up around evergreen trees. I loved their size, texture, smell—even the sticky pitch was fun. As a kid, I’d walk to the nearby forest and spend hours building forts out of fallen limbs. Low branches were used as a boost to climb as high as I dared.

During storms, the winds would whip the treetops and I’d watch them sway back and forth. The rains would pelt them relentlessly too. In the heaviest snow, sometimes a limb would break after being bowed to the limit, but most often the snow would just tumble down in shimmering clusters. What I couldn’t see were the tree roots. Reaching far beneath the topsoil, they were anchored securely deep down.

None of us knows what the New Year will bring—so we need to be like trees. Deeper roots will keep us grounded when the storms arise. Those roots will give us sustenance to remain strong for the year ahead. I hope to deepen my family roots, my friend roots, and my faith roots.

We can expect some problems in 2013. Yet we don’t have to face them alone. Let’s be there for one another. There's Someone else we'll need too. But God will never force his way into our lives. He waits for an invitation to come in. Once inside, He helps us get rooted. And when Jesus anchors our roots we know they'll hold tight through anything life brings our way. FULL POST

Posted 12/28/12 at 8:09 AM | Karen Farris

American Idol Worship

I began worshiping idols before I could even read. The graven images of toys in the Sears Christmas catalog held me captive. Those toys promised such joy. Gradually toys gave way to a mirror.

During my teens I worshipped two idols simultaneously. And make no mistake; those two idols demanded great sacrifices.

The Appearance Idol held up a warped mirror reflecting a false image of myself. I’d look away feeling awkward and unworthy. The sacrifice of food was offered, sometimes in combination with copious exercise. Of course I made the required sacrifice of money for what I hoped were stylish enough clothes. The promise of happiness awaited me with just the right look.

Needing encouragement, I bowed down to the Approval Idol. I was given a long list of demands and was forced to compare myself to others. The promise of acceptance seemed just out of my grip. FULL POST

Posted 12/25/12 at 10:29 AM | Karen Farris

A Child's World

The entry door is your first clue. The doorknob is so high you need a step stool. Once inside, everything you see is huge. The couch requires pulling and climbing to get on top of the plush cushions.

The floor lamp looks like a small tree. Across the room, a massive desk has pencils the size of celery stalks. Everything is supersized. You’ve just entered a child’s world.

Perhaps that’s why they can so easily talk about what they want to be when they “grow-up”. Maybe it’s why they can live in a world of make-believe and imagine accomplishing greater-than-possible feats.This special room “educates” us on how challenging it is for the youngest among us to live in a grown-up world. From climbing steps, to reaching for a light switch, children live in a land built for giants.

Too soon this land of giants becomes manageable—stairs aren’t so steep, nor furniture so huge. But as children grow they also can lose the magic of hope, and the sparkle of possibility.

In its place are harder realities. We know all about it. Bills to be paid and daily work that doesn’t resemble those childhood expectations. FULL POST

Posted 12/24/12 at 11:07 AM | Karen Farris

Missing Christmas

There were times when worshipping a Savior seemed unnecessary with so many other fascinating things out there to discover—places to go and people to meet. I didn’t want God making rules for me. I was like King Herod who considered Jesus a threat to his rule in his little kingdom—and like Herod, I totally missed out on Christmas.

Of course I didn’t actually “miss” Christmas all those times I enjoyed it in conjunction with lots of other celebrations. Christmas meant gifts for me, time to relax, have fun, while looking ahead to New Year’s Eve—the biggest party of the year. It was like my very own Roman Empire—with lots of gods to worship—and some of those gods really liked to party.

Then there were those years when I missed Christmas as I busily decorated the house, made special meals, bought perfect gifts, and made daily To-Do lists that left me tired and cranky. I was like the Bethlehem innkeeper who had a full house and no extra time or interest to help some poor out-of-town guests. FULL POST

Posted 12/22/12 at 8:55 AM | Karen Farris

Making the Hole Whole

The pilot took a wide circle far above the Grand Canyon. I marveled at the jagged layers of rock. Even from thousands of feet above, the canyon was incredibly deep and I could see the ribbon of the Colorado River.

Dad had wanted to take us there as children, but we never did. Now decades later, I was seeing it on the way to Tucson to make his funeral arrangements.

Traveling alone allowed my thoughts free reign. Having a window seat made it even easier. The jet made another large circle—this time above the airport. Despite the noontime sun, I felt like I was descending into a dark hole. Worse yet, the dark hole was inside me. I wondered why God allowed dark holes. Wasn’t He supposed to help prevent those? I inwardly complained that if my faith was worth anything, now was the time it needed to kick in.

I grabbed my bag from the overhead bin and asked God to give me whatever I needed since I didn’t seem to have a clue what that might be. I just wanted to stay on the plane and keep circling above all of this. FULL POST

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