Saturday, March 31, 2007

For a Totally Great, Fun Time, Check out this Author's Website!

I've been laughing ever since I found this!

Here's a sample very close to my heart (as a fellow reclusive, shy writer)!

Thank you for reprint permission, Saralee!

Party, Pluck and Pins to Prop Me Up

By: Saralee Perel

All I wanted to do was write articles for a new local magazine. I didn't want to actually meet anybody. But one day, it came in the mail. An invitation to their publication party. "How do I get out of this?" I internally screamed, already in full panic mode.

I had nothing to wear. I don't get out much. The straps on the one bra I own are so stretched out that family members compare me to Grandma - whose bosoms ended up around her waist. My belly serves as a sturdy shelf for mine.

I flailed through my closet. Half the things were Woodstock-fringed and beaded. "What's in style?" I asked my husband, Bob.

He picked up a tie-dyed tunic with the words "Peace, Love And Rock and Roll" on it. "Not this," he said.

I went to Kmart for a new bra. I tried several on, over my tee shirt before someone said, "They've invented dressing rooms." Miracle bras, wonder bras, sports, strapless, push-ups. Too many choices. I scrapped my quest. Instead, I safety-pinned the straps on my old bra so I'd be up where I'm supposed to be when I'm out in public.

The night of the party, Bob pushed me out of the car, in front of the fancy restaurant. I opened the restaurant door, changed my mind and headed back. He made - scoot, go on now - motions with his hands. I went in. He had been invited too but had to go to the bank first.

I was an anxious wreck. The magazine is very elegant. The editors are mature and sophisticated, yet somehow they let me write for them.

The publisher greeted me graciously, then asked, "Where's Bob?"


"Your husband."

"Yes, of course. That's right. He is."

She looked baffled. "Isn't he coming?"

"He's at the bank. We have money in there. And . . . we need money . . . where they have it . . . there."

I darted out to the phone and put in a dime. Nothing happened. Finally, I put enough money in to make it work. Again, I don't get out much.

"What's wrong?" Bob asked from his cell.

"Nothing. Could you hurry?"

I hadn't worn earrings in ages. It hurt to poke my gold studs through closed-up holes. My lobes became awfully swollen and itchy.

"I'm Saralee." I forced myself to say to another writer.

"I'm Debi." She was warm and friendly.

"I'm Saralee," I said, scratching my ear. It was bleeding.

"I love your columns," another writer said.

"People read them."

She said, "Excuse me," and went to talk to a sane person.

Everybody loves Bob. I write about him a lot. When he came in, women surrounded him. He stood by me. I hid behind him. He took my hand. It was bloody.

That's when one safety pin broke, and my right side plummeted. I grabbed someone's full drink glass, snugged my fallen flesh into the crook of my arm, and held myself up, level with my left side.

The woman politely motioned for her drink. I shook my head "No!" and backed away, clutching her glass. Bob whispered, "You're acting like a lunatic."

When I handed her drink back, my right side plopped. I looked down, then up, and explained, "Don't you just hate it when your safety pin breaks and your ear's bleeding?"

She put the glass down and quickly walked away, while glancing back warily.

And so, here is what I learned:

1. The three writers I admire the most were just as insecure as I was.

2. Self-consciousness is normal. I had a great time in spite of it.

3. I had a better time when I stopped thinking about myself and started asking others about themselves.

4. It truly doesn't matter if you repeat yourself out of nervousness, or your hand trembles when you're shaking someone else's.

5. And, well-known writers sometimes talk with a piece of green pepper in their teeth.

BIO Saralee Perel is an award-winning columnist, chosen in the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' annual competition. She's a Family Circle magazine contributor, a Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor and an 11 year nationally syndicated columnist. Her novel, "Raw Nerves" received the BookSense honor. Saralee's favorite activity is binge-eating pasta, which she reluctantly shares with her husband, Bob.

E-mail: sperel@saraleeperel.com

Response from Alison (Senorita Invierno) To My Immediate Past Blog...

Just read your blog and thought this would be best as an email...

My Drama tutor gave this quote as a handout to the whole class on the first day of term (many years ago when I was a silly young thing. Now I'm just silly). He was a lovely man. It's credited as Nelson Mandela's inauguration speech in 1994 but there's some controversy over the source and it's supposedly Marianne Williamson. However, it's beautiful in my opinion and what you wrote made me think of it. Shine on you crazy diamond. Remember I'm a fan too. There must be a reason!

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Now, as before, I depend on you to send this to me at some point in the future because if we are to be struggling artists/soul mates/thick as thieves, then we can support each other!

I'm keeping a log of some of the things I'm doing here in Spain by the way, including visiting some very Holy places which I think you'd love. This country is so spiritual. And it's Semana Santa (Holy Week/Easter) so I'll save some things for you. Been very busy this week and my sister was rushed into hospital with a suspected burst appendix a couple of days ago, but everything's OK now and apparently it's just a virus. Phew!!!

Have a good weekend. It's raining apocalyptically today so I should get some writing done instead of standing wistfully on a mountain.


Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday Blessings...

Whee! I was happily surprised and mighty tickled this morning when an On-Hold Concepts client called me at work to ask if I would be willing to help her write copy for her business website! It kinda blew me away, actually, because she was so complimentary that her comments made me blush!

Yes, I'm still surprised -- probably always will be -- when people tell me they consider me an excellent writer. This must have something to do with nearly every one's inner concept of how well they "measure up" against the "competition" (even when one couldn't care less about competing!).

Some people hide their sense of inadequacy better than others -- all too often with off-putting false bravado -- but I have discovered that what most of us are trying to figure out is simply, "Am I 'good enough' just as I am -- or do I disappoint you as much as I disappoint myself at times?"

That's a special ruse of Satan's. "Make 'em feel less adequate and beloved than they are and they will shrink up and do less with the gifts God gave them."

Anyway, upon receiving this lovely request to help with web content, I emailed my boss (the owner of On-Hold Concepts) and asked if this type of thing was off-limits; if it would be viewed as any kind of conflict of interest if I "adopted" one of On-Hold's clients and helped her out. He quickly reassured me that I can write for any of On-Hold's clients as long as I refrain from writing on-hold phone messages for them "outside of our business agreement with them" or for any other company in competition with ours for the same type of products and services. That, of course, was a given as far as I was concerned.

So over the course of this weekend I will be applying myself to creating "additional verbiage designed to enhance the on-line experience of visitors" to this lady's website. They have offered to pay in cash or services. It has to be cash. (This kid needs to recover from three years of serious under-employment as quickly as she can!)

For some reason, this feels wonderful! Since De and his next door neighbor Don passed away (in 1999 and 2005), I haven't had my customary quota of expressed delight and amazement over my writing abilities... De and Don were easily my biggest "fans" in this regard. As Mark Twain once said, "I can live for a week on a compliment." Compliments also make me want to go out and do "more of same" (write great stuff) so I can get "my fix" of a compliment again!

I don't think any of us compliment others enough. I am going to start making a habit of it. If I enjoy it this much, it's no small stretch of the imagination to believe that other people would love to hear how great I think they are at what they do -- as grandparents, workers, bosses, moms, dads, friends, intercessors... the whole gamut of human activity that we are all involved with on an hour-to-hour basis.

Compliments and kudos are probably a significant part of every one's love language. We all enjoy a compliment -- if we can just stop blushing, and back-pedaling, and blocking them as much as we do! While "in the moment" they can be unutterably uncomfortable, ever after they are unutterably wonderful!

We need to remember that God doesn't make junk and that each of us is a treasure to someone else -- generally several or many more someone else's!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

In Memoriam -- Richard Hendrickson

A lot of people – myself included -- lost a very good friend yesterday morning at about 5:30. Rick Hendrickson was a staunch friend and a fellow animal welfare advocate. I met Rick and his equally-wonderful and devoted wife Barbara while I served as Field Services Director at the Animal Protection Institute of America (API) back in the early and mid-80’s.

My first view of Rick was a bit of a shock. My first impression – from a few feet away -- was “hippie.” My immediate second impression was, “NOT!” This was the least laid-back, go-with-the-flow “hippie” (NOT!) I had ever met, or ever will.

It didn’t take long to figure out that Rick was a capeless crusader in a county in California that didn’t want to be evangelized where animal welfare was concerned. Rick's county back in the 80’s was the seat of well-organized undercover pitbull and cock-fighting. Rick wanted at ‘em (the perpetrators) so badly he could taste it.

He came to me – I was concurrently Executive Director of Humane Educator’s Council (HEC), the law enforcement branch of API – and posed a well-considered “sting” operation that was brilliant – and potentially deadly, FOR HIM. Did he care? Not much! He said, “No one will suspect me. I look just like ‘em – I talk just like ‘em – I grew up with people like ‘em. I can do this!”

As chief executive of HEC, I had to make the decision. And I said no, even though it was a cause close to all of our hearts.

I told him that although we carried badges and were well-trained in Arrest, Search and Seizure measures, our aim at HEC was to educate and inform, not to bust heads or risk an officer’s life.
I well knew that pitbull and cock-fighters are also frequently involved in drugs, firearms, prostitution and other illegal activities and, since we didn’t have a policeman’s back-up systems (comrades, instant, computer-generated rap sheets on suspects, etc.) it would be utterly foolhardy to send him in there. People involved in multiple-pronged illegal activities wouldn’t hesitant an instant -- they'd take him to a gully or to a rice field and execute him gangland style, should his ruse be uncovered.

I told him, “I think you’re too well known as an animal guy in your county, Rick – you’ve been giving animal control folks grief about the way they house and care for runaways and strays for years, for God’s sake! It’s just too big a risk to you. You’re more valuable to our cause alive than you are dead.”

I'm sure my refusal didn't sit well with him; he probably hated me for at least six months because I denied his request to play interference for thousands of outrageously misused animals that year and for the years that followed.

When the terrible floods hit northern California back in the early 90's and fields became flooded lakes, Rick and Barb went out in a boat and began to pull cattle and coyotes, badgers and bullsnakes out of trees and into (or next to) the boat so they could shepherd them to higher ground. Their efforts went on for more than a week, day and night with only brief periods of rest. Rick marveled later, "None of the animals objected. Not even the wild ones tried to bite us. They knew, somehow, that we were trying to help them."

(There is something about benevolent "animal people" that telegraphs their safety to wild animals, just as there is something about hunters and hunting season that telegraphs to deer and elk, "It's time to make ourselves scarce." Tippi Hedren's animals at Shambala always know when hunters show up to take the tour: the lions, tigers, leopards and other cats act differently. Tippi takes pleasure in reporting to these visitors, "You're a hunter, aren't you?" When they recover from the boldness of her assertion, look at her in surprise and finally admit, "Yes -- but how did you know?" she smiles and says, "I didn't know -- the cats told me" [with their body language].

After I left Sacramento and moved back to Washington State in 1985, I only saw Rick and Barb two more times, both of those times at Sacramento STAR TREK conventions. We were a decade older each time. We were greying (I was hiding mine) and Rick was having some problems with his sinuses as a result of chemical exposure during many years of working at an Air Force base. He had to be careful around perfumes, aromatic sprays -- around anything that wasn't pure, unadulterated air, in fact. He never smoked to my knowledge.

A few years ago Rick and Barb told me Rick had a spot on his lung... over time and despite efforts to eliminate it with chemotherapy and radiation, the spot enlarged inexorably. I emailed my prayer team and we all began to intercede for him in prayer last year. Barb tells me they were so appreciative of those prayers; they gave them hope and comfort in times when things were very, very dark.

The last time I saw Rick and Barb was at Creation Entertainment's 40th anniversary STAR TREK convention in Sacramento -- September 9th and 10th, 2006. In fact, if it weren't for Rick's and Barb's desire to see me again, I would not have been able to make it to Sacramento from Seattle to appear for Adam Malin and Gary Berman that weekend. Rick and Barb sent me a check to pay for my flight; Nancy Graf invited me to stay at her place, and so I accepted the invitation I had originally declined (owing to lack of funds) and I flew to Sacramento! Those of you who met or saw me in Sacramento have Rick and Barb to thank for my being there.

I think we all knew it would be the last time Rick would be with our wee group of comrades: Barb, Nancy Graf, Reggie Holloway, Paula Dent...

Rick picked up the lunch tab -- wouldn't have it any other way.

We sat around a dining room table in the convention hotel and laughed, and laughed, and laughed... but in everyone's eyes I saw a slight, sad acknowledgment. I saw it in Rick's eyes.

We were all being brave and strong. That's what you become (only by God's grace) around critically ill people, when you can bring yourself to be around them at all. (Only very good friends seem to be able to extend the enormous blessing of affectionate proximity to the terminally ill and their families, and sometimes not even they can manage it. Illness and death often scare loved ones into the next county.)

We spent my last morning in Sacramento in Nancy's back yard. Reggie came by; Rick and Barb came by. Barb mentioned that the chemo had fried some of the connections in Rick's brain and that he often substituted similar-sounding words for the ones he was really after, or he would be unable to come up with the one he was after and get upset.

Still, Rick was 110% there. He was smiling, joking, and loaded with plans for the future (if future there be, he said); he was positive and yet somehow he seemed prepared.

At one point during a subsequent phone call he told me, "If it were up to me, I think I'm ready to go, but I don't know what it will do to my grandkids and I know what it will do to Barbara. I don't want that."

When Barb called last night to tell me the news of Rick's passing, she shared that the past couple of months he kept telling her, "You're doing too much for me... I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

She told him, "Don't be sorry. You haven't done anything to be sorry for."

I think he was saying more than "I'm sorry you're wearing yourself out for me." I think he was sorry that he couldn't get better, despite throwing everything at the cancer that modern medicine and alternative native medicinals and prayer could throw at it. People generally have much less trouble dying than they have thinking about what their absence will mean to the loved ones they leave behind, who so depend upon them -- not only for their physical or financial well-being, but for their sense of who they are and why it matters that they exist in the world. Rick and Barb were best friends, parents, grandparents, lovers, fellow animal crusaders. Their vision was always about where "they" would go, what "they" would do, who "they" might help...

Rick's wife, kids and grandkids are the ones who will miss him most because he was such an integral part of their daily lives. But the rest of us who knew him less well or only in fits and starts as I did will remember and treasure to the end of our days the last time we saw or spoke to him.. and all the times before that when he was vigorous, focused, trying to change the world for the animals in his county.

He did it, too!

Steve Irwin had nothing on Rick Hendrickson. I wish all of you could have known him, even if for just a few minutes.

I hope after reading this, you do know him in the way he would wish to be known.

He was a really great guy.

Godspeed, Richard.

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Addendum: Will those of you with a religious faith of any stripe -- or just a good heart that cares -- please keep Barbara Hendrickson and her children and grandhildren in your prayers and thoughts? Pray for strength, comfort and peace (and lots of good-quality rest) for Barbara as she goes through the next several months of adjustment and grief.

If you would like to send Barbara a card, please email me at KRISTINEMSMITH@MSN.COM and I will give you her mailing or email address; your choice. THANK YOU!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Last night I searched high and low until I found my copy of LEARN THE BIBLE IN 24 HOURS. I'm glad I did.

I hope none of you who ordered it think it will be an easy read. It's easy in one way -- if you are at all conversant with the Bible already, it will be a real eye-opener! If you have rarely or never cracked open a Bible, it will take you a bit of time (I think, unless you're a quick study) to grasp all of the amazing information in it. I just want to give you a heads up on this. It's easier to read than CS Lewis, not as easy to read as this blog. It's somewhere pretty much in the middle. It will be worth the effort -- that's what I can say for sure!

Today I came home with two On-Hold Concepts logo shirts! On-Hold Concepts is where I work as a copy writer. (Here's the URL -- please visit it today and let others know about it: My 3-month anniversary is Monday. The boss told me to see Gayle about choosing some logo shirts to wear out and about, and Gayle tells me I'll be getting some business cards with my name on them soon, too. Ooh-whee! I am so excited!

As you have read in previous blogs, I love my job beyond any ability to express it. The people are wonderful. We all work hard and each of us feels like a team member; we have each other's backs. I mean, even the owners of the place are sterling people. So for me to get some logo shirts tickles me to pieces -- I am one who wants to shout my company's praises from the rooftops!

So... Again, if any of you have a business or know of a business that can benefit from an on-hold program for their phones (or music only/mostly music, or Direct TV programs)please take a look at what we have to offer! If you will request me as your copywriter, you will probably get me! If you're more comfortable with a guy copywriter, On-Hold Concepts has those, too -- and they are great! So whoever you get as your copywriter, you will enjoy the interaction and you will be well-served. I firmly believe we're the best on-hold company on the planet -- our longevity makes this case!

You will get what you pay for: utmost professionalism and efficient, friendly, dedicated service every time you call -- every time! You may be able to find another company offering on-hold productions for less, but most of those who do eventually find their way to us (or back to us, if they decided they could get the same quality product for less and set out to do just that and became utterly disappointed by the copycats who are out there) when the other guys don't respond or fail to measure up to us in the quality department. We INSIST on quality, service and responsiveness. It's in our job description and in our hearts.

End of soapbox, end of spiel. Just know that I believe in my company and wouldn't stay there if I wasn't fully convinced that it's the best place to point people to who need what we offer. One great perk is that I call probably 60-100 people every day during morning and early afternoon hours, which results in a great deal of being put "on-hold" while the person I seek is tracked down -- AND I LOVE IT!!!! To hear the enormous variety of messages, the quality of voice talent, and the melding of ASCAP-provided background music to create an on-hold "experience" for callers gives me smiles. I listen and I know... This company, On-Hold Concepts, ROCKS!

I really must shut up now before the powers that be make me a salesperson rather than a copywriter! (No way! I finally landed a job where I write for a living! Yeee-haw!)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Senorita Invierno (Alison Winter) Weighs In...

Introducing Senorita Invierno (Miss Winter): Alison Winter can probably more properly introduce herself if you will visit her website:

In a nutshell, Alison Winter is an Englishwoman presently working in Spain teaching English as a second language, which means (ta daaa!) she is fluently bilingual or she'd have a heckuva time doing what she's doing! Many Europeans know four or five different languages (I'll just bet Alison does too) so this isn't a surprise to me. The fact that I know one as well as I do (English) and a second one well enough to muddle through (Spanish) is an accomplishment I treasure.

Anyway, Alison is an actress (when she's not in Spain teaching) so she's a starving artist, and as such a soulmate! She came to me as a De fan and we're thick as thieves now. I value her fun and friendship and her views (as I value all views). I believe Alison classifies herself as a Taoist... so isn't it cool that we have Christians, Buddhists, Taoists, agnostics, atheists, and God only knows who else signing in to have a respectful look at the Christian religion to the degree that I can explain it or share it? (I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed so I hope what I share will lead you on to explore some of the GREAT minds in the faith, many of whom have been named in earlier blogs.)

Alison wrote me such a long email last night or this morning, and it was so insightful and interesting, I am publishing it here (with her kind permission):

OK. Main land Europe is drastically different to England, and England is quite different to other parts of the UK. I'm living in Spain which is very religious - both in spirit and in every day living. That's Europe, so that doesn't make sense.

I feel personally that England and America are too concerned with the pursuit of money and this is one of the reasons I moved away – to be somewhere where the life focus is different. It is very true that in Spain they have a better life with less money. That just suits me better. But you have to wonder how much of the mood and even faith in Spain can be attributed to external factors such a climate. Climate dramatically affects mood (highest suicide rate - Sweden, no light, do the math). I think England rushes around (the Midlands, the South East and London mainly) a good deal of the time because there’s not a lot else to do. It is the land of distraction, and away from many things. I cannot speak of America because I’m just not qualified but my impression is that it suffers from similar distractions which take people away from their core – their heart, and therefore their relationship with -- God, the Tao, the cosmos, however many ways to say this – I suppose "with themselves" is the plainest way to say it.

It is this distraction I seek to get away from. Certain places have become greedy and spoilt, in my opinion. So daily life has moved away from religious influence (I refer here to English Christianity, as England’s most religious are now most likely Muslim) but again this is separate to faith. Which is everywhere. If you listen to it.

In England we say that the Church is the richest institution in the land – meaning literally it has the most money. However, if you were going to build a place of worship you put everything you understood as valuable into it? These cathedrals and churches were built hundreds of years ago and I’m always so moved by the obvious passion that has gone into them. I personally prefer stone to metal, wood to gold, but hundreds of years ago precious stones and stained glass were considered beautiful and however apparently ‘ostentatious,’ I suppose it’s the thought that counts. People poured everything they could into these places of worship.

There is corruption in humanity, and therefore everywhere, including the Church, but we’re a way off from a global appreciation of modest means, if we should ever get there. All of these expressions of faith are from ourselves, however, and therefore limited to our understanding. Faith is like air and water and will go around it, over it and pour into everything however we choose to express it, so I would say ‘religion’ has its own destiny, will and life most definitely, because as Kris says we are the Church – it is within us.

When I was teaching a Catholic Major in the Spanish military, he said (of his peace mission to The Lebanon) that he wanted to help the people because their lives must be so empty without God. He wasn’t going as a missionary and had an admirable respect for diversity. However, I pointed out that when people lose material things, or people they love, they become aware of loss, and what you need or don’t need. I told him I thought their faith may be stronger than he expected, because they are living in ‘truth’, in as much as they are confronted by harsh reality and are coping on a day to day basis, surviving on their wits and God-given abilities. They are therefore (and obviously not all of them but this is my generalisation and theory) more in touch. They do not have the latest flashing gadget or drug (literal or metaphorical). Though to be fair they do have some drugs! But as the Major said, there are only good and bad people (though how he would define good and bad I’m not sure) and this is irrespective of religion.

A concern I have with saying that any problems are Satan’s fault, however, is that people won’t take responsibility for making the world a better place. That makes everything sound a bit futile. Kris, if Satan holds sway, does that mean we’re powerless or is it written that we can alter things? Excuse my ignorance but I’m having a book flow problem! This is one of the main blocks I have with Christianity. The concept of Satan - forgive my casualness but he sounds like a comic book villain and I’m sure I’m not the only person who has this impression. Again with the ignorance though – I have no sources for my concept except stupid films, which renders me seriously unqualified to take a stance and I feel a bit sheepish now….

Yours in need of education…

Senorita Invierno

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Satan is far, far from a comic book character but the fact that he is the prince of this world should not worry us too much. Nor does it take the onus off us who acknowledge his influence and seek to live a valuable life in service to God (masquerading perhaps as service to "goodness"). Like any other prince, Satan has influence, but he is not the chief executive (I don't usually even capitalize his "name" but am, here, so you don't think I'm ignorant of the rules of punctuation): the King is. We can agree to go his way -- we can even innocently enough walk in his footsteps without knowing it because he is so clever and attractive in many of his guises. The cathedrals were built by good religious folk and by bogus religious folk, as are most institutions, so Satan laid a few of those bricks and stones! That's possibly why God chose human beings as as His temple since the Incarnation, those of us who have laid claim to His claim on us.

Satan and his minions are very real. They do not frighten me much, though (except to the degree that they can and do influence and impact loved ones who don't have the same strong sense of belonging to God that I do), because my King has control of MY life and fate. I gave my life into his hands. Nothing that happens to me, good or bad, will be attributable to Satan. Satan can only be in one place at one time, so the chance that he's after any of us individually (I'm speaking of those of us reading, responding to and/or considering the evidence and arguments in this blog) is slim to nil. He's after the power brokers of the planet -- one at a time, if he's personally involved. He was after Jesus big-time, but Jesus triumphed -- even on the cross, the last place you would ever expect a soul to triumph! Of course Satan has confederates who can also influence people, but they are weaker and less adept.

Read THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS by CS Lewis and you will see Satan's strategy plain as day -- you will also enjoy it immensely! (Talk about a book to relish and recommend to others!) But the good news is that the Good News of Jesus' acts on earth and on the cross have given Satan a deadline. He's raising hell right now (here on earth in so many ways) because he knows this is his last crack at having any kind of say at all. He can't rule in hell if he can't get anyone to go along - so he's recruiting hourly... and people are enlisting because what he tells them is so freaking attractive (all lies, of course. He is the Father of Lies)!

Here's the deal: If you ask people who the opposite of Satan is, 98% will invariably respond, "God." Wrong answer! The opposite of Satan is someone like the Archangel Gabriel. God is supreme above all created things, including angels in his service and angels in the service of the devil.

All of this probably comes across sounding like one woman's studied (or cracked) opinion. That's why I hope everyone who hopes to share on a level playing field will read LEARN THE BIBLE IN 24 HOURS by Chuck Missler. I think he proves the God-breathed nature of the Holy Bible (both Old and New Testaments) not only beyond a reasonable doubt, but beyond a shadow of a doubt.

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The Inquisitor sent me a lovely email today, too:

I sense frustration, as Counselor Troi might say! (Aye, Captain!) Don't be. God made me to question, right? I'm not judging him so much as questioning the evolution of religion.

Again, you reached a very personal level, but without the historical thrust of religion, you may not have been exposed to it as you are now. That is why I look at it in a historical context.
(Response: My coming to Christ had very little to do with historical context except in the context that without evangelists through the past two millennia we would not even know about what Jesus did. I personally came to Christ as the result of a Personal Invitation by the Holy Spirit before I had any training in Who He Is! Since then I have learned Who it Is that invited me!)

But I have to call up one or two things first. You related a story earlier of how two missionaries in the 1940's stumbled upon a tribesman in Africa who spoke the King's English. This is a perfect instance of where Picard would say, "You should read more history, Number One." The fact that someone in the African bush spoke perfect English is not a surprise. The British Empire once covered about 2/3 of the globe. That is why English, to this day, is the most common language throughout the world. Quote:"What are the odds that an African bushman would know the King's English? He must have been an angel. The missionaries are convinced he was."

The odds are actually pretty good! So, I think the "angel" aspect of this story was maybe that the bushman appeared out of nowhere in a time of need, not that he spoke English! Just a matter of emphasis, that's all. (Point well taken. Same end result, however, as you noted.)

The other thing you said was that the planet "belongs to Satan right now." I'm not sure I could believe this even if I were a believer, simply because that would imply that God is losing, that evil is triumphant over good. (Not at all. See explanation above.) I may be cynical, but not that much!!

I believe there is evil around, sure. But I also think that evil is a term thrown around by many, understood by few. To many, evil is everyone not like them. (Not me!) And, sadly, what is evil to some is a religious martyr to someone in the middle east. That is truly a tragedy, but not what we are discussing here, I know.

Here comes Mr. Logic again: So, when God created the world, did he factor in evil as a component to his world, or was it a surprise to him when man became self aware in the garden of Eden? (I'm sure this question is discussed in one of the books you recommended!) (Yes, it is.)

I think I see my attitude towards God, or my idea of God, in the same way I would family or marital counseling: I would have to talk it out -- all aspects -- before I could ever begin to move on towards anything resembling a proper relationship. (But if skeptics reject counseling, as so many do -- in this regard I refer not only to marriage or family counselors but to Counselor God -- where does that get them? Sitting in a corner looking at the situation the way they always have. You can't experience a paradigm shift unless you are willing to commit to an experience of uneasiness as far as where your own personal paradigm stands at present.)

Will I ever seek that relationship? Honestly, I don't know. (Huh?! Then why does ANY of this "idea of God" intrigue you so, for so many years running? Your response utterly blows me away!) Who knows what the future holds for me, for this world? (I don't know what the future holds you or for me or for anyone, but I am well aware of Who holds the future -- and that's why I have such joy day in and day out! I've read the Book all the way to the end and God wins and takes a whole bunch of folks with Him!) What I do know is that missionaries spread the word, and they have been a function of the church almost from the beginning. So, there again, it's good to know not only what ails a single soul, but maybe even a nation or a continent.

Always good to talk...As ever,

CS Lewis wrote "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."(Mere Christianity)

Those who have tried everything the world has to offer and have always come up feeling somehow "shorted" or at least slightly "swindled" will recognize their own dilemma in Lewis' comment, looking heavenward as the only "logical solution" to their quandary...

This is simply not a wish fulfillment exercise -- it is a Promise from our Most High God.

Monday, March 26, 2007

More Questions, No Answers...

Our TREK Inquisitor (self-named) sent me the following and I am utterly stymied by it:

Thanks Kris. I just hope that God isn't on Fox News!

Here's a question for further research. I haven't really looked into this, but it intrigues me why Europe, the seat of modern religion, is moving away from the church and a belief in God. Education isn't a problem in these countries, as most probably rank ahead of the U.S. on that front. Or is that the correlation?

From my experience living in England for nearly 13 years, I found it ironic that there isn't the same separation of church and state, yet the country is not that religious on the whole. I use the UK as an example, that ceremonies like weddings can be traditional, but overall, religion just isn't a part of everyday life. I'm not saying this is good or bad or responsible for any social problems, just that it is what it is.

I have spent many hours in the great cathedrals and churches of Europe. And, I have to admit, I was always conflicted by the beauty. At what human price were these structures built? Mostly Catholic or Anglican, these churches spoke of wealth, when Jesus was teaching about poverty. Does God really need so much stained glass?

I know you say it's about your own personal relationship with God, but historically, this is an example that has been set. I think that teaching about the message of God, and a personal relationship with the deity is what counts, but I also think that these previous examples of ostentatiousness have sent the wrong message down the ages.

Wealth in America is a religion of sorts. Even though many, especially on the so-called "religious right," justify unfettered wealth, I just can't think of an example in the bible where the accumulation of such is the ultimate goal.

What I'm getting at here is, has religion been damaged by the inherent messages down the ages, or does it have its own life, its own will and its own destiny? I know he is supposed to speak to us personally, especially if we ask, but is simple capitalism the best way to spread the religious wealth?

For if "God bless America" is to be truly sought, is it about money, or equality? (By the way, why would some ask for God to bless America? Should the request not be for the entire world? Are we special here? If so, why?)

Signed, The Inquisitor

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I don't have a clue why Europe is stepping away from religion, but it has no correlation that I can discern with education or wisdom; or why cathedrals were built except in an effort to glorify God, often at the expense of the people who built them. And I'm not interested in trying to find out. Questions like these just divert us from the proper focus: The grace of God, who reclaimed and forgives us for all these lapses and so many more. This is the focus of a born-again believer.

I wonder why questions like these even come to mind when seeking God. God is not found in questions like these -- Satan's footprints are in evidence, but not God's. This planet belongs to Satan right now -- that's why it's in the mess it's in. I can't explain or justify the way Satan twists religion to make it appear to be something no one in their right mind should want. It certainly seems to be working! My pastor calls our church "a sheep shed." WE are the church. The church is not a structure you walk into .

I don't want religion, and I don't want you to want religion. I want you to want a relationship with God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit)! Notice all God has done that you love -- your next and subsequent breaths, the beating of your heart, your home, family, job, the environment, the planets and stars and universe -- anything you love that's good, pure, of good repute, God designed it, and you to appreciate it -- not to look at all the places where Satan holds sway at the moment..

"God Bless America" is something I say but I also know that God blesses other nations as well. I pray for other countries. I don't run around saying, "God bless Russia" or "God bless Romania" as a matter of course, but that's just because I don't live in those lands. We tend to think from near to far when seeking blessings -- another part of man's fallen nature, but at least we're acknowledging the Creator whenever do we think to do it.

I sense great disillusionment in The Inquisitor. There is much to be disillusioned about, but not our Creator. Just because he doesn't always act like the giant vending machine in the sky is no reason to consider him lame. He gives only good gifts; even the challenges he allows are good gifts because they refine us and give us wisdom and make us stronger.

And as for money... if you consider it the root of all evil, I'll be happy to take yours off your hands with an eye to investing much of it in the Kingdom of God. Remember Joseph and his coat of many colors -- how he was shanghaied by his brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt? Over time, he corralled all the money, cattle and wealth of neighboring countries and then turned around and blessed them with sustenance during a famine. A godly man or woman blesses with their wealth.

Gaining wealth is wise -- (sure wish I had done so!! I now understand how important it is, because I will have to work till I'm 75 or 80 to be able to afford a retirement!) --and there are over 2,300 references to wealth-building in the Bible. There is a misquote of the Bible that we've heard all too often: "Money is the root of all evil." The love of money is the root of all evil. Money is a method of exchange and is only as "filthy" as the person exchanging it for whatever they are exchanging it for...

Money is amoral. Moral people spend it one way; immoral, another.

To be utterly candid, I think the focus of this entire inquiry (tonight) is off-base. But that's okay... God used it to drag us back to the essence of human religion vs a relationship with God.

My beloved, the fallen nature of our world, once again, is not God's fault unless you ascribe to the belief that His giving us free will (to choose whether or not to be his image-bearer) was wrong-headed.

Frankly, I feel honored that He chose to trust us that much, knowing all that he already knows about us, from start to finish, over the course of human evolution! He loves us that much!

And I for one would make a lousy android. God doesn't want a "programmed" relationship.

Don't get a religion. Get a relationship. The paradign shift, once you have one, will turn you into a joyful person. The questions can wait; there's too much to celebrate right now!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

God, Angel Visits

Every Sunday before worship service begins I pop in an hour early to benefit from Pastor Wes Braaten's wonderful "Life of Christ" Bible study. This morning we were studying Luke Chapter 24:13-32 about the two disciples (unknown to us to this point in the Bible) on the way to Emmaus after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. This is the part in the New Testament where the resurrected Jesus joins them on the road but is not recognized by the two men until later when he breaks bread at their home a few hours later.

Jesus joined them on the road to Emmaus and asked them why they were so downcast. They were flabbergasted that this "stranger" on the road with them did not know that Jesus, the man so many had considered the Messiah, had been crucified three days earlier. But then they explained to him that a bunch of confusing information had come to them just that morning: that women known to them as Jesus' disciples had seen Jesus alive at his tomb and when they ran and told the male disciples, most had scoffed but two of them had visited the tomb and had found it empty just as the women said -- but with Jesus nowhere to be found...

Jesus, more than a little exasperated, thought they were even more thick-headed than he had earlier wanted to believe regarding his disciples (which was plenty thick-headed enough). He asked them, "Why can't you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don't you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?" Then he started at the five books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) and pointed out to his still-clueless disciples exactly where in each book and in subsequent books of the Old Testament this sequence of events (arrest, torture, crucifixion, resurrection) in the life of the Messiah and God's people had been foretold.

The two disciples -- one of whom is Cleopas, as we learn during this exposition -- are captivated by their knowledgable companion and the two or more hour trip to Emmaus from Jerusalem goes by quickly as they walk.

When they reach Emmaus, Jesus acts as if he is about to walk on, leaving them at their abode, but they don't want to part company with him and invite him in. It is when he breaks bread with them at dinnertime that they suddenly realize who he is, and then he vanishes into thin air.

Students of the Bible often ask, "Why didn't these men recognize Jesus, if they were his disciples?" No one really knows the answer to this, but speculation abounds. Perhaps it was because his beard had been torn from his face (which is documented) during his torture three days previously. Remember, in the Garden Mary didn't recognize him either until he spoke her name.

Pastor Braaten said it's also possible that Jesus "disguised" himself in some way (either spiritually or in actuality) to find out what his disciples were thinking and doing now with what had happened to him and with what they should have known about it. He had TOLD them what was to come; it hadn't been a secret...

But then Pastor Braaten said to us, pretty much convicting us on the spot: "How many times has Jesus walked with you and you didn't realize it until later -- if at all?"

Pastor Braaten thinks the Holy Spirit made sure these passages made it into the Bible to tell us exactly that -- Jesus is with us all the time and we, in our ignorance, fail to recognize Him.

Then he asked the class of about 35 people if anyone had any kind of experience in their lives when Jesus or an angel or the Holy Spirit had visited them. Several of the students raised their hands and he asked them to tell their stories. Then he told one of his own.

Dee Spooner recounted a time when she was about 40 miles outside of Seattle with her two young children when her blood suger went so low that her optic nerve failed to fire and she was blind. She told her young daughter she couldn't see, and in her panic to get somewhere for help, she got onto the freeway and drove all the way to Seattle -- blind as a bat -- without harming anyone or dinging a fender or driving off the road.

When they got there, she asked her daughter where they were and she reported, "Seattle." Dee said, "No, we're supposed to be in Tacoma. We can't be in Seattle." Then her vision cleared just a little bit and she recognized the King Dome, so she knew her daughter was right.

She didn't know where the access ramp to I-5 was, and suddenly spotted a fellow standing beside her car. She asked him for directions to the southbound on-ramp toward Tacoma and he told her, but her blood sugar level was so low that she couldn't make heads or tails out of his instructions, so he began to run alongside the car, directing her left, then right.. and suddenly she found herself in a McDonald's parking lot, where she was able to get something to eat and drink that elevated her blood sugar levels enough for her to recover. The fellow who had gotten her that far vanished.

Now, I know Dee Spooner. She is not given to telling tall tales. When she finished, Pastor Braaten said, "I don't know how you got through all that in one piece." She said, "I didn't, on my own. There's no way I could have. God and his angel got us through it."

Pastor Braaten then told of a time when he and his wife were traveling in Nebraska on a cold, icy ten degree day when they spotted a middle-aged man in shirtsleeves walking alongside the highway in the direction they were heading. Fearing for his exposure in such severe weather, they stopped and offered him a ride. He seemed perfectly sane when they got to know him better. He said he was headed to Denver.

They took him to their place, gave him a dinner and a warm bed for the night. In the morning after breakfast, Pastor Braaten gave the man a small satchel, warmer clothes and an overcoat, then took him to the bus station and paid for a ticket to get him to Denver. They never saw him again, but Pastor Braaten now wonders if they entertained an angel unaware, as described in the Bible.

Then he recounted the story of two British missionaries in Africa in the mid 40's who became lost in the middle of nowhere -- got turned around somehow on their journey to a village and got lost -- and out of "nowhere" stepped an African who spoke perfect, unbroken King's English, asking them if they needed some help! Flabbergasted, they told him they were quite thoroughly lost. He set them off heading in the right direction again and then vanished as quickly as he had appeared. Pastor Braaten laughed and said, "What are the odds that an African bushman would know the King's English? He must have been an angel. The missionaries are convinced he was."

I have read and heard of angel encounters for a lot of years, but when people sitting in the room with you can tell stories like that -- and you know them and know of their reliability and their earnestness in explaining what they experienced -- it's hard to discount them!

Pastor Braaten told us (via Hattie Hammond, a first generation Pentecostal) of a Presbyterian minister back in the 40's who came to one of the Pentocostal meetings hoping to be imbued with the Holy Spirit. As Hattie Hammond got behind him and placed her hands on his shoulders and began to pray for the result he wanted, he slipped out from under her hands and went prostrate on the floor, face down, and for the next couple of hours began to pray in different languages he did not know for the continents of Africa (in an African language), Asia (in an Oriental language), and Europe (in several European languages). When he was finally released from the power of the Holy Spirit, he stood up and told them he was transported in the spirit and had hovered above those countries as he interceeded for them in prayer.

When Pastor Braaten heard this remarkable account he asked Hammond, "What did the experience do to him?" (meaning "How did it affect him afterward?") and she asked Braaten, "How would it affect you?"

Then Pastor Braaten said, "That was a very telling question. How would it affect each of us if it had happened to us? Some of us would get big heads and feel powerful and full of ourselves. Others would turn the experience into something powerful for the Kingdom of God. Perhaps the reason more of us don't have these kinds of experiences is that God can't trust us with this kind of power. He knows our hearts. Some of us cannot be trusted with his power. We would abuse it or misuse it."

That made all kinds of sense to me.

God wouldn't give a handgun or a razor blade to an infant or toddler. Which of us can He trust with His immense power?

Those of us He can, He does!

Not me!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

"Surprised by Joy" -- A Review and a Revelation

I was up half the night with C.S. Lewis (author of MERE CHRISTIANITY, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, THE PROBLEM OF PAIN, THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS, THE GREAT DIVORCE, THE FOUR LOVES, and more). I finished "Surprised By Joy" this morning at about 3:30 and fell into bed.

C.S. Lewis takes some getting used to. He is erudite and makes his way around a sentence differently than most of the rest of us do. All the same, before too long you know you have to stay with him because where he is taking you is worth the trouble it takes to get there. Many people call him one of the greatest writers of the past century, and I won't dispute that; certainly he's one of the greatest thinkers of that century or any other. But his ways are not my ways when it comes to expressing ideas. (His ways are likely superior to my ways -- I just prefer to cut to the chase and bypass the scenic route -- not in life, but in literature.)

Not everyone is aware that C.S. Lewis battled like crazy to become and remain an agnostic or an atheist after he got away from home and the environment there. He was introduced to christianity as a child (with a small "c"; I want to say bogus Christianity because so many of the people teaching it to him were christians by self-proclamation only) and spent a great deal of the rest of his life trying to divest himself of it and its ramifications for his life. As we all know, he became one of the greatest Christian apologists in later life. SURPRISED BY JOY is his recounting of his early years as a "pagan."

Surprised by Joy, the title, refers to one incident in his early life that delighted and baffled him all at the same time. He was not given to emotion -- his early life was traumatic and traumatized children generally learn to "hide" their emotions because their emotions so upset the facade that adults are trying to carry as a result of their experience of the same trauma. They build walls -- often of fantasy, as Lewis did -- to survive in a world that seems hostile to their spirits and survival.

Lewis's mother died when he was very young and he and his brother were sent to boarding schools and other places his father considered "higher learning." What they found there was equally traumatic -- people and teachers so self-involved as to be detrimental both to the boys' learning and to their spirits. "Learning" consisted largely of becoming victims of the whims of other, more aggressive students, and being subjected to diatribes and madnesses of various teachers. Of course there were a few good lessons learned, but for the most part, it took the greater part of Lewis's life to unlearn what he was taught and to return (or to re-parent himself) to a place where peace, tranquility and meditation reigned supreme. In his earlier years, it seemed, he could hardly hear himself think.

All of that resonates with me, as a fellow sufferer during my upbringing. It always seemed to me that the world was forever trying to take away my peace of mind -- and even my mind! I never fit in and felt there must be something "wrong" with that. Why wasn't I gregarious, ambitious in the ways of the world (driven up the ladder at any cost and by any means, willing to step on people to get there) as so many others were? There was a gentleness about Lewis and about me that was never quite "beaten" out of us by our societies.

It came as a shock and a wonder one day in Lewis's early life when his brother brought home from a forest a "forest box" he had put together. Its lid was covered by forest trinkets -- perhaps moss, acorns, twigs and other things readily at hand to a young boy walking in the woods. Looking at it, Lewis was "transported" by joy for the first time ever. His spirit was so immensely elevated that he took note of it -- and as soon as he took note of it, it fled!

Well, once he had felt joy, he wanted more of it, and undertook to find it. He wanted to be able to reproduce the feeling, to luxuriate in what seemed to be the height of physical sensation.

He assures us in the book that "joy" is not pleasure (pleasure can be found in sex, good food, a good friend, a great conversation). Joy is an experience almost beyond our range when it comes to sensation - which is why it seems so fleeting when we do experience it. It's exhilarating -- almost beyond earthbound sensation itself!

It took Lewis years to feel it again, well into adulthood. He did not feel it all the years he was an agnostic, although he experienced great pleasure as an agnostic and perceived "master of his own ship." He experienced mastery of his mind -- an ability to wrap his brain around a variety of concepts and perspectives that might boggle the mind of a lesser seeker. But alas, there was no "joy" anywhere to be found.

Then one day, it was back and the lust to follow it, to capture it, to domesticate it was underway. He would find it, he would corral it, and he would be able to pull it out of his pocket upon command and experience it. He was sure it was attainable with the proper attitude and nurture.

But it wasn't. It remained elusive, like a chimera, something like magic. He only knew he would feel it when he wasn't expecting it. When he was totally focused on something else is when it would happen.

So joy couldn't be a goal -- it was not attainable as a goal. Joy was the result of a focus on something else...

An undamaged child has it. He or she doesn't have to look for it. Joy belongs to a child the way the color of their eyes belong to them. They aren't aware of it, but it's theirs. Their entire world is joy as long as they are fed and their diapers are dry and loving people dote on them.

So Lewis thought, "If joy is a byproduct, there must be something or Someone who is the ultimate object or expression of joy."

In my experience, joy is love to the nth degree. It's an abandonment of all fear, trouble, and turmoil. It is exquisite, peaceful and dynamic. It's a mind in love with Love.

Lewis goes on in the last thirty pages of the book to explain how the search for joy led him into the loving arms of a loving God. I will leave it up to you to get the book and to encounter his journey yourself.

This brings me to a passage in the Bible: "It was for the joy set before Him that Jesus endured the cross."

Isn't that verse utterly unfathomable?! How do we wrap our mind around a phrase that sounds like the ultimate oxymoron?

Joy = enduring the cross ?!?!?!?

How could a man feel joy about that and still be sane?!

Here it is:

Jesus felt joy (remember what joy is, now, and begin to feel it, if you can, in your heart!) because he would be able to do something no one else could do for the people (and for the Father) for whom He did it. While the situation itself -- flogging, utter disrespect and taunting, crucifixion -- would be any man's (and he was a man) worst nightmare, Jesus set his mind on the "joy" of delivering us back to the Father, unblemished and freed from all damage and sin (our "missing of the target"). In joy alone was such enormous power that he was able to endure all that he went through -- even separation from His Father for three days as he visited hell and did what he had to do there.

If you can wrap your mind around what kind of joy that must have been to Him (the extent of the joy), to be able to do what he did for us and for His Father, I think you will be getting closer to the Mind of God, the Mind of the Universe, whatever you choose to call It.

Our joy is but a clouded reflection in His Immense joy. That's why it's so hard to "en-joy" (be one with joy) as often as we might like.

But when we love as He does, it's there. When we "see" (experience) His creation as He does, we experience joy.

Friday, March 23, 2007

A Wonderful YouTube Song and Prayer...

A wonderful friend sent me this link. I think you will be blessed by it, as I was:

More God Questions...

From our TREK friend:

Hi Kris,

This is hell week for us. My wife produces a musical every year at the school she teaches and the performance is tonight.

I will look for that book you recommend, Learn the Bible in 24 Hours. I'm curious to see how it all fits together. You did mention how it could only be divinely inspired, so I'm curious to see the author's reconciliation of all the wildly inconsistent threads spread throughout the good book.

As you say, God created time itself and is the one who can see the whole parade. Which is interesting, because he was obviously in no hurry whatsoever to put humans into the celestial mix, considering what a blip we are in the overall picture of the cosmos. He created the Earth, then waited billions of years before it was ready to be populated by man. Which is fine. What I'm curious to know is, was man always part of God's plan? Was the universe created and made virtually infinite for man's benefit, or just to confuse him and cause him to question why a being so powerful created a universe so large that we, as humans, could never fathom it? There are virtually billions of galaxies, each one spans a distant so vast, we cannot comprehend it. So, that makes me wonder why the universe seems to have a mind of its own.

Which brings me to another point, one where I would feel comfortable in "defining" God. I think, over the years what has made the most sense to me is the Einsteinian logic, where he basically defines God as the laws of the universe, the laws of physics. Although many Christians will try to paint Einstein as a believer, if you read his quotes it's pretty clear that he stands in awe of the complexity of the universe, and that is his definition of God. Not necessarily a being.

So I finished the Dawkins book, which is good if a bit off course at times. I don't think he is a bad or misguided person, but he is obviously frustrated by the thinking, or lack of, that is behind most religious groups.

Kris, to your credit, you define your beliefs well and are obviously not in the category of those who use their faith as a means to dismiss others, more as a spiritual quest that you follow and would like others to find for themselves. I see your message as being that one must find a harmonic convergence, of sorts, in order to get on the -- God's -- wavelength.

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My response:

Blessings and thanks to your wife, for what she does and all she goes through to give students and their parents and relatives an entertaining reason to go out at night! I used to be involved in plays, too, so I know what a madhouse it can be, but out of it all comes something sublime: a creation!

To answer your questions and comment on your comments...

Yes, man was always a part of God' plan (He knows the whole parade, remember? and exactly where we would louse up and what it would take to redeem the whole situation of which we are so much a part -- being capable, as we are with free will, of great love and great destruction). So far, we seem to be the only beings that can discern Him (although, in our arrogance, that might NOT be the true situation -- Jesus said if His people remained silent the very rocks would cry out, and the Bible says that all creation groans for our return to the Garden (communion with God) so things can be set right again.

I think the more out of whack man is (God's specified "image-bearer" -- and he gave us influence to match the title), the more out of whack everything we touch or influence is -- and if you are in the loop with physics you know that our very thoughts influence the movement of atoms and the growth of plants...

Yes, I believe God created it all and that he wants us to share in it -- maybe not to reach it everywhere He has touched, but just to realize that he has touched it everywhere. You can call God what Einstein calls God -- I'm okay with that -- but the entire message of the Bible is to call God what YOU call God after you have met him and have a relationship with Him, not what others have called Him as they are able to understand him.

I wonder if you're afraid to simply ASK Him to tell you about Himself? Even if it sounds corny, since you don't believe there's anyone out there, you might give it a try and then wait and watch for belief and proof to be revealed to you. It's all around you. I do know that -- because it's all around me, around all of us, just like ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX and etc. -- we just have to tune in the the wavelength He's on in order to receive Him.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Gads, it's Thursday night already. Where does the week go?

I'm looking forward to diving into SURPRISED BY JOY by C.S. Lewis. I found out about this book from Billie Rae Walker, and it arrived in the mail today.

I purchased a slightly used copy at and have already read a few pages but realized that unless I quit reading it right away it would consume the entire evening until bed-time and you wouldn't get a blog entry. I'm not sure that would ruin your night, but hey... in the interest of accountability, here I am again, back like a bad penny!

The task will be coming up with something worth reading about...

I met a man at the Sacramento STAR TREK convention in Sacramento last September named Donald C Szymanski. (I hope I spelled his last name right but God only knows how long it took him to learn to spell it as a kid! I'm so glad my name is Kris Smith!). He lives in Laurence Harbor, New Jersey but I don't think he's ever there!

I get a letter from him every couple of months, usually along with magnificent photos he takes during numerous trips he enjoys every year. In May he's taking a bus trip that will carry him to Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, the south rim of the Grand Canyon, Sedona Arizona, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. And OK, I'm jealous! I'd better get a bunch of photos of that trip, Donald! Talk about a marvelous trip! I'm green with envy! And very happy for him.

I haven't been catching many of the remastered STAR TREKs. It has been so long since Original Trek has appeared in general distribution that I keep forgetting to tune in when it's on here in the Pacific Northwest (6pm on Channel 11 every Saturday)! But the few remastered episodes I have seen are really something else, and as a result of them, teenagers are just now "discovering" De and McCoy (in droves) for the first time, and I'm getting some emails from them or from their parents who went on the Internet to try to track De down. They are disappointed to discover that De has passed on, but that doesn't cool their ardor in the least. They still have lots of questions: Was he as wonderful as he seemed? (YES!) I think my book about De and Terry's biography of De should do a lot better, now that public television has "resurrected him" again.

It feels kind of odd to to be a Kelley "expert" to so many people. De was my friend, and I started out as a fan, but this new "mini-celebrity" thing has me feeling a bit side-swiped! It's beyond weird to me to be asked to appear at conventions, just for starters! It's great fun, I have discovered -- as soon as I get beyond the weeks or months of nervous anticipation and actually step onto the stage and see all of De's smiling fans waiting to hear what I know so I can confirm every wonderful thing they ever heard or thought about him.

I wasn't sure it would be "great fun" the first time I did it, or the second time... I'm not what is generally considered a "stage persona" and I wondered if I would disappoint anyone.

But before long I settle down and am possibly more myself than I am at any other time, because De's fans are so great, so appreciative and friendly... It's possible they meet the "me" that De and Carolyn saw when I'm on stage -- at first a little "star struck" (nervous) but slowly, slowly coming around to being myself as the nerves wear off and I realize I'm among truly good people and have nothing to fear!

One thing that does worry me is that some people may see me as a celebrity. I am so NOT a celebrity! I'd be mortified if anyone felt around me the way they would feel around a gen-u-ine, bona fide celebrity. I'd hate to have to try to live up to the expectations people have of celebrities. De measured up, but he was just one of very few that do. In fact, he more than measured up: his press wasn't GOOD ENOUGH! But that's 'cause he was humble, and a Christian, and didn't go around flaunting his status as an international treasure; he was too busy feeling blessed to realize what a blessing he was!

That's how I feel. Blessed. And if I can bless De's fans in his stead, that's beyond wonderful!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

OOH-WHEEE!!! A 30-Post Milestone!

Wow! It's official! I have developed a habit! They say if you do something for 21 days running you have established a habit. This is my 30th blog in a row, and it does feel like a habit by now. A good one, I hope you'll agree...

Because this is Post #30, I think I will tell you about some very worthwhile organizations that could use your help -- and you can write in and mention more, if you like. Modest Needs ( gives everyone with a few extra bucks a chance to be a real hero.

Here's an email I received today from its founder (who also happens to be a big DeForest Kelley fan):

Good afternoon, everyone!

It's been nearly a month since I've sent out a news update, and that's because - in the interest of not cluttering your inbox - I've been waiting to send several really wonderful news updates your way. But first things first: today, 21 March 2007, marks the fifth anniversary of Modest Needs' launch! To celebrate, I'm writing to share several landmark announcements that I've been saving for an equally exciting occasion - and what could be more exciting than five years of working together to change lives?

First of all, I'm very proud to share with you today news that has been nearly eight months in the making. Tomorrow, Jonathan Tisch and Loews Hotels will formally announce that, after an exhaustive search, they have selected Modest Needs as their national 'Good Neighbor' partner.

Beginning in May and continuing throughout 2007, Loews Hotels will be sponsoring a number of events to benefit Modest Needs and our applicants. This additional support will not only mean a great deal to our applicants - it should so vastly increase national awareness of this work that by year's end, on a regular basis, we're able to fund nearly twice the individuals and families that we're currently able to reach.

Though the announcement of this first-of-its-kind partnership with Modest Needs will officially come tomorrow, I'd encourage you to visit the Loews Hotels home page, at, where you will see the announcement officially posted. This is truly a great honor and a tribute to the work all of us have done over the past five years, and I hope you're as excited as I am by this wonderful opportunity!

Secondly, I'm proud to announce that in honor of our anniversary, we are issuing a ground-breaking round of grant funding today. On Monday of this week, we funded 23 applications for assistance. Today, thanks to your extraordinary generosity, we're funding 14 more families who've asked for our help. And when this round of funding is complete, together, over the past five years, we will have made exactly 3,150 grants with a value of - are you ready - just over one million dollars!

In just moments, as soon as this update is posted, those of you who support Modest Needs will be working fourteen more of the miracles at which you've always excelled: you will stop foreclosure or eviction on nine home and apartments, prevent the sale of a paid-for home over a past-due property tax bill, restore utility service to two families, repair the car that keeps a single mom working, and prevent a family from having half of its disposable income garnished over an unexpected bill that they simply couldn't pay.

That we've been able to raise a million dollars in five years (mostly in small increments) is something of a miracle in and of itself. But when you consider that we've now stopped the cycle of poverty for 3,150 hard working individuals and families for an average of $317.00 each - well, I think that brings new meaning to our motto: 'Small Change: A World of Difference.'

Again, I hope that all of you are extremely proud of this achievement. Reaching the million-dollar milestone is generally a sign that a charitable endeavor has passed an important threshold, and it's my hope that the next few years, will see us able to more good together than any of us had ever dreamed would be possible five years ago.

Finally, I have just posted a brand-new installment of 'Profiles in Courageous Generosity' - Modest Needs' most popular column. Most of you have noticed that 'Profiles in Courageous Generosity' has been MIA for a several months now as we've worked on projects like our website update and our Loews Hotels partnership. But I'm bringing today for our anniversary, and I think you'll find this column to have been especially worth the wait.

This 'Profile in Courageous Generosity,' which I'm calling 'The Giving Ladder,' is available for you now at I hope you'll take just a few minutes out of your day to read this remarkable testament to the power of human kindness to restore hope, and to share that piece with the people who matter to you most.

For all that you've done, and for all that you continue to do at Modest Needs, the words 'thank you' simply don't seem adequate. All the same, both personally and on behalf of the persons whose lives you've changed, I'd like to thank you for a remarkable first five years of Modest Needs. Please let me hear from you soon, and have a wonderful day!

All best,

Dr. Keith P. Taylor
President / Executive Director
Modest Needs Foundation
'Small Change: A World of Difference'
(212) 463-7042, x14


If you believe in the power of human kindness to change lives, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to Modest Needs. And don't forget that in 2007, your pledge of any size to Modest Needs is DOUBLED through a matching grant all year long.

You can make an instant, secure gift or pledge of ANY size in 60 seconds or less by visiting

Remember, the work we do at Modest Needs is funded exclusively by the generosity of persons just like you. Without your support, this work would not be possible.


To apply for temporary financial assistance, please visit to request assistance from Modest Needs. We'll do everything in our power to help you in your time of crisis.


All contents (C) Modest Needs Foundation.
"Small Change: A World of Difference"
All Rights Reserved

Go ahead. Be a hero. Or apply for help, if you need help... and then pay it back so someone else can benefit when you get back on your feet again. What goes around comes around. I think this is one of the most worthy organizations I have encountered in a lifetime of supporting worthy causes. And it's pretty painless. $5 to you may be chump change, but combine enough of those bills and Dr Taylor can save someone's home!

Another great cause (and I can vouch for this one personally because I used to volunteer there) is the Roar Foundation, Tippi Hedren's Shambala Preserve ( Tippi has dedicated almost her entire adult life to the well-being of captive wildlife. Her book, The Cats of Shambala, is rare and out of print, but there are 22 of them at Amazon for sale and that will probably be the end of them, so get there fast if you want to read about how Tippi came to be the godmother of a wildlife preserve! My serval Deaken was boarded at Shambala for 15 months while I was landing a job in Hollywood and then looking for a landlord who would let me have a "wild animal" in the back yard! So I owe Tippi, big-time! If you will support her cause, she will send you quarterly newsletters keeping you updated on the goings on at Shambala. She has two of Michael Jackson's tigers. She also has an elephant that was rescued from a circus and a lot of -- don't giggle now -- birds!!! Doesn't that figure? (See Alfred Hitchcock's movie The Birds if you don't get the connection...)

Of course there are many, many other worthwhile organizations. If you have a favorite, please leave a comment and a link to it so others can read about it and consider supporting it.)

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

And here's one more idea. Please logon to my workplace ( and take a look and a listen to what we have to offer you or a business person you know. Think of places where you are on-hold interminably and bored (there are plenty of them out there) and suggest that they logon to On-Hold Concepts and have us produce them a program that will keep callers entertained, informed and motivated to remain on the line until the receptionist or the person sought by the caller can return to the line. I won't get a finder's fee for any business you send our way, but it would certainly put a feather in my cap if you would mention (or have your referral mention) that it was Kris Smith who made you aware of the service. Thanks much!

Guess that's all for this time. I will now get some pudding and celebrate this milestone blog!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

More Meanderings...

My TREK friend was very busy over the weekend so he wasn't able to email me until today, and then he asked a couple questions that were from the Catholic realm, and rather than bluff my way through them, I told him, truthfully, that I don't have answers to them. I have guesses, and opinions, but nothing to base them on except what I have learned as a Protestant, so I won't answer them in this blog tonight. He attended a memorial service over the weekend and the monsignor contradicted himself a couple of times. I said he'd have to ask the man himself to clarify what he believes. I'm sure there's an explanation; I just don't know what it might be.

I hope he gets LEARN THE BIBLE IN 24 HOURS by Chuck Missler and finds answers in it to so many of his questions so that we can be on a level playing field. As long as anyone doubts the veracity of the Bible, I don't see how we can come to any kind of mutual starting point... and if we can't do that, we may as well drop the topic and begin something else because we will be spinning our wheels and getting absolutely nowhere.

I believe to the core of my being that the Bible was given by God to people who were tuned in to him (after studying it for eight years, reading how impossible it would be for it to have been dreamed up by 40 different authors and been accurate and tie together the way it does when the authors didn't know each other, etc.). Only a Someone who knows past, present and future could have "dictated" it to His devotees -- Someone who can look across the entire span of "time" and see it all laid out. God isn't bound by time and limited vision.

Imagine a parade. From a perspective down on the ground you might see one, two or three floats at a time. From the top of a building, you would be able to see perhaps 10 or 12 at a time. From a helicopter, you might be able to see the whole parade and know where it begins and ends -- past, present and future all at the same time (from the perspective of a street-based person who's NOT in the copter with you.) Same parade -- different perspectives and ability to "experience/understand" it all.

God is in a position to see HISTORY from such a vantage point, because He exists "outside" time. He created it. He can watch His plan from start to finish. That's why He was able to tell his prophets what was coming. That's how we are able to discern "false prophets": if they say something will happen and it doesn't, it wasn't told to them by God.

I wish I could find my copy of LEARN THE BIBLE IN 24 HOURS, but then I would give away too much of the farm and you wouldn't go get it and read it. That would not be a good thing!
But I highlighted so much of it -- there was so much great stuff in it that answered the questions I had - it must be 3/4 yellow. I know I went through two highlighters while reading it. "Oh, this is good! Oh, man! I didn't connect this to that! Holy Smokes! This is amazing!"

And when you get to the chapter about the gazillions of odds against one man in history (Jesus) fulfilling the dozens of prophecies about the Messiah in the Bible, it will convince the most unconvinced skeptics on the planet, I think! I'm not a mathematician, so I wasn't able to follow it every step of the way, but those of you with left-brain dominance will be able to, and YOU are the folks most likely to be skeptics, I think. (Right brain/intuitive people find God more believable because they have personally discerned Him more often. I think that may be why the majority of church goers are female. The "fair" sex has to be right-brained or dual-sided in order to multitask and interact as much and as well as we do over the spectrum of activities we so often ride herd on.) (By the way, this isn't a sexist remark. Men are "hunters." They fixate and pursue goals: a deer, a job, sex, a wife, shelter (not generally in that order!). Women are scatter-brained (in a nice way!) : they can gather eggs while holding an infant on one hip and watching out for the safety an older child; or answer the phone while faxing and writing a note to a colleague...

The older I get, the less well I am able to be "scatterbrained." In the past, I worked well as a pinball in a pinball machine: I could head in one direction, be knocked into another direction, careem off yet another, and remember to get back on track to the first goal I had in mind. These days, I can still "scatter" but getting back on track is harder: I may forget where the hell the track began or where I was headed before someone diverted my attention away from it! Don't get me wrong -- I'm still better at it than most men will EVER be, but the ability to do it is faultier the older I get. Some days I just have to sit down and concentrate (depending on what it is I need to do) and let the rest of the " to do" list wait until my brain can wrap itself around the next task...

And that's okay. It can grate on a person to find oneself less able do things that used to come so easily, but it's all part of the process of learning to let go and resign as General Manager of the Universe. Someone else has the reins, anyway!