A Life Well Lived

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This past Saturday we celebrated my sister’s home-going after her valiant battle with colon cancer. She was a true warrior and a godly woman. One of the many amazing things about Karen is that she never felt sorry for herself or bemoaned the fact that she had cancer. She simply trusted God’s plan and did her best to live each day with joy, thankfulness and adventure. I’d like to pay tribute to her by sharing a few positive principles we can all learn from her life.

  • Glorify God in everything you do.
  • Live each day to the fullest.
  • Stop feeling sorry for yourself.
  • Look for the good in every situation.
  • Focus on faith, not fear.
  • Keep hope alive in your heart.
  • No news before the Good News (Read God’s word before you read anything else each day).
  • Be generous with your time and talents.
  • Never waste time complaining.
  • Trust God’s plan and provision.
  • Savor gourmet popsicles.
  • Be diligent and intentional in Scripture memory.
  • Invest your time in the next generation.
  • Be consistent, dependable and disciplined.
  • Greet everyone joyfully.

Thank you for your love, care and prayers. We have all felt the blessing of your support and encouragement as well as the comfort of God’s love during this time.

For those who weren’t able to make it on Saturday, here’s what was printed in the program for the service.

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Karen Kinder Smith was ushered into the arms of her Savior on the morning of October 25, 2018. While here on earth, she lived every day to the fullest continually bringing joy to others. Born in Bloomington, Illinois on June 20, 1959 to Garry and Barbara Kinder, she and her sister Karol lived their early years in Illinois and Ohio. After moving to Dallas, Karen became involved at First Baptist Church Dallas, where she sang in the chapel choir. She graduated from Richardson High School and went on to Baylor University where she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and achieved a degree in accounting.

Upon graduation from Baylor she worked for Fox Accounting and later for Kinder Brothers International. She married David Smith of Wichita Falls on December 30, 1989, and they have three beautiful daughters, Lauren, Emily and Andrea. The Smiths have lived in Allen, Texas for over 25 years and have been actively involved at First Baptist Allen. Karen joyfully served in her church through MOPS, VBS and Sunday morning Bible studies. She also served on the board of Engage Positive Parenting Initiative.

The hallmark of Karen’s life is faithfulness. She was faithful as a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother.  She was faithful in her service at church and in her work at Kinder Brothers. Most importantly, she was faithful to the Lord and was a beautiful example of Christ’s love in action.

Karen joins her mother Barbara Kinder in Heaven and is survived by her husband David Smith and three daughters: Lauren Smith, Emily Smith and Andrea Smith Larimore along with Garry and Janet Kinder, Karol and Curt Ladd and many other loving family members.

Hope Actualized

My daughter Grace is our guest blogger this week. As you read her words, reflect on the hope that Christ brings into our lives. Check out the link to Grace’s blog at the end of this article.

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Every wedding is like a Burning Man for florists. You spend days of hard work and energy making something beautiful, all to tear it down a few hours later. It’s a reminder of what a breath this life is. One moment we are here, the next we are gone.

Tearing down the chuppah flowers with my husband at the most recent wedding I did, was both a joy and sorrow. He spent the first part of the day building it and I spent the second half making it beautiful with Garden Roses, Dahlias and Smilax. I laughed as we hacked at the wood, ripping it apart, tearing down the greenery to have it all out of the venue by midnight. I can fully appreciate why this process is maddening to most people and in many ways it should be. Humans are not wired to destroy the things they create.

 

The destruction of things will always be reason to grieve whether it’s a mutilated artwork, broken relationship or death itself. If eternity did not exist somewhere deep within us than perhaps we would just accept death as nature’s course. But that is not the human way. When a loved one dies, we mourn that death as the harsh reality that it is. Death feels like it should never happen despite the inevitable fate of us all.

 

As I write this I think of my aunt Karen who is slowly departing from us. Unlike me, she is not afraid of her finite time coming to an end. She knows more than any feeling of certainty, that the bliss of eternity awaits her. The hope she has in heaven and in the God who has shown great kindness to her during her life, makes cancer a lesser enemy.

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Even amidst the beauty of a heaven to come, the image of my elderly grandfather leaning over his frail daughter confound me as I try to sleep. Why does death have to end in pain? I remember the pain I felt as I was laboring with my first child, convinced that such pain had to end in my end. Giving birth might be the closest experience I’ve had to death. I was convinced as the baby moved through my body that these were my final moments. Then I pushed, transcending time and space, finding new life in my arms. The parallels between birth and death go beyond the mere pains of it. Both are expressed in the last few moments of Hector Berlioz’ Requiem, Grande Messe Des Morts, Op. 5 Offertorium: Domine Jesu Christe, where a choir ascends to a culminating sound of joy, peace and elation after an anxious six minutes of somber orchestration. If you are familiar with this song then you know exactly what I’m talking about.  I can only imagine death as rebirth into a life that feels even more like home than the one I try to make for my child. I like to imagine for my aunt like I did at the birth of my son, that all which follows our finite lives is just hope actualized.

 

No amount of hope can ever diminish the great weight of death, however when hope is satisfied than death is absolutely redeemed. Heaven seems so mythical but at least part of me feels like if I could do something as magical as having a baby or growing a plant out of the ground, couldn’t something like heaven be real? If I can re-purpose materials to make something new, can I be re-made?

 

When we were done taking down the greenery, my husband and I took it back to my brother and sister-in-law’s row house in Philadelphia. Rather than throwing it in the garbage or compost, I decided to re-install it as a hanging archway on their porch. It became a new creation and though these greens will one day fade back into dirt, the mystery of re-birth manifested itself in an eternal way.

 

 

*Link to Grace’s Blog: Click Here

What’s Your Life Mission?

 

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How would you describe your purpose in life? Have you ever taken the time to consider your life mission? As you look at your life –  your values, your passions and your abilities – it is wise to consider where you are going and what you want to accomplish.

It’s easy to allow distractions and opportunities to pull us away from what’s truly important to us in life.

Not too long ago, I had a conversation with my dad about goals and priorities in life. As I visited with him, he got up from his chair, walked over to his desk drawer and pulled out a stack of old 11” by 14” cardboard pages. These cards were originally shirt boards that the cleaners placed in between his folded and pressed shirts. Dad used the cards to write out his mission statements and goals, but the incredible thing to me was to see that he wrote these out every single month. Handwritten!

Yes, he revisited his life mission and goals every single month. And he didn’t just read them and review them every month, he wrote them and updated them when necessary. This was incredibly inspirational to me. I must admit, I simply glanced my goals occasionally throughout the year and had never written out my mission statement.

I began to realize the power and impact of not only revisiting my life mission and goals, but writing them out and reviewing them on a regular basis.

When we utilize the lost art of hand-writing (not simply reading or typing) to reflect on our mission, we increase our capacity to remember and internalize what is important to us. It helps to keep us on track for where we want to go, what we want to be and how we are going to get there.

So what does a broad life mission statement look like? How do you determine what your overall purpose in life is, and how do you put it into a concise statement? First, consider your unique gifts and talents and how you hope to use them in this world. I like to ask questions such as:

“What were you created to do on this earth?”

“What is unique about you that can be a blessing in this world?”

Think big, think bold and think confidently.

Choose one verb that would describe how you use your gifts. For my dad, it is “to help.”

Here’s what my dad wrote as his life mission statement:

To help literally hundreds of millions of people to better lives: more secure financially, more satisfying spiritually and more fulfilling emotionally!!!

Just so you know, at 85 years old we can confidently say that he has fulfilled his life mission statement and continues to do so every day. Recently, when he sent out his retirement announcement (yes, at 85), he received hundreds of emails and notes in gratitude for all he had done to invest in the lives of business associates and sales people. It was clearly evident that he has fulfilled his life mission statement. Here’s a few quotes from the many notes he received:

It is hard to estimate how may people you have impacted over the years, but I know the ripple effects have reached and impacted countless individuals and families…You have impacted my sales and now management career in this great industry.

You had a huge impact in my professional and personal life.

I salute Gary Kinder as an awesome example of how sales people and sales executives should operate. Thank you Garry…thank you sir. You changed my life and made it fulfilling.

The impact you’ve have had not only nationally, but internationally is quite a legacy that will live on!

Take some time this week to create your own Life Mission Statement.

 And just in case you are interested, here’s mine:

To encourage men and women around the world to live out their God-given responsibilities in a positive and productive way.

Who do you believe?

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What a confusing and sad week it was last week. Our nation is butting heads on the basis of conflicting stories and bringing us all to the question, “Who do we really believe?” This scenario is nothing new in life. Parents find themselves trying to piece together the truth when their two darling children tell two very different tales. Spouses dispute over, “He said; she said.” A co-worker makes a claim about another co-worker, leaving doubts in everyone’s mind.

How do we discern the truth? Is it possible to know which story to believe? As I look at what is happening in Washington, I want to draw a few principles we can apply to our lives in general, as well as the situation at hand.

  • Make decisions based on the facts, not feelings or what we want the outcome to be.
  • Listen carefully to both sides. We must learn to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
  • Pray for discernment and wisdom. Pray for the truth to come to light. Pray for conviction in the hearts of those who are telling lies.
  • Don’t be afraid of the truth.
  • Don’t scream and shout, especially when you don’t know the whole truth.
  • Don’t ignore a person’s pain. Listen, comfort and help.
  • Never ruin another person’s honor or reputation based on gossip, hearsay or half-truths.
  • If you are a victim, seek help and talk to someone. Walk through the grief with the help of another. You are never alone. God sees your pain and heartache, and there are people who can help you heal.
  • Be careful to never falsely accuse another person. Fabricated accusations not only damage the accused, but harm those people who are true victims. Crying wolf with deceitful allegations does a disservice to women in general, as people will tend to distrust future sexual assault victims.

Finally, trust God’s justice. Even if we think truth did not win out – God knows the truth. His justice is better than man’s faulty decisions. Don’t let anger take over your attitude. Listen to David’s words in Psalm 37 and allow them to calm our heart no matter what life brings.

Don’t worry about the wicked
or envy those who do wrong.
For like grass, they soon fade away.
Like spring flowers, they soon wither.

Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.
 He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

 Be still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.

 Stop being angry!
Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper—
it only leads to harm.
For the wicked will be destroyed,
but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.

Photo from Unsplash

How to Wait Well

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No one enjoys waiting. Whether its at a doctors office, a check-out line or a drive thru, we typically want to get done and move on to the next item on our agenda. Sometimes in life we have to wait on bigger and more life-changing situations such as a diagnosis or a job interview or even a future spouse.  If you find yourself in the seat of waiting, here are a few thoughts to help you live with patience and victory.

Turn your Focus.  It’s easy to get frustrated and impatient when all you think about is How long is this going to take?!  Yet, if you turn your thoughts in a different direction then time can seem to slip by unnoticed. How do you turn your thoughts in a new direction? Certainly there are short term fixes (checking emails or reading a magazine), but if the wait is lengthy, consider exploring a new passion or interest.  You can research places to volunteer or classes to take to move in a positive direction while waiting.

Be Creative. Waiting doesn’t have to be boring. Replace the dullness of waiting with the joy and fun of fresh ideas. If you are in the line at the drive-thru, sing happy songs with your kids. If you are waiting in the check out line at Walmart, play I Spy. If you are waiting for that perfect job to open up, consider taking on a new hobby or sport that makes you smile. Tap into your creative resources and fill your waiting with laughter, rather than complaining.

Think about Others. No matter what you are waiting for, you are not alone. There are other customers, clients and patients that have similar situations. Why not pray for them? Perhaps you can start a conversation or reach out to help someone in need or kindly let someone go ahead of you. When you get your eyes off your own circumstances, you free yourself to see the needs and hurts around you. Thinking of the needs of others develops an inner peace and joy in your own heart.

Ask for God’s help. One of the fruits of God’s Spirit is patience. The Bible reminds us that, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Look to Him, and ask for His help when it comes to waiting. He can give you strength to endure as well as creative ideas on what to do while you wait. Draw close to Him during your time of waiting and you will discover enduring hope in the process.

These are simply a few principles to help us wait well. May we continually apply these thoughts to both short term delays as well as long term anticipation. Let’s also consider how we can respond well to the impatient people around us. Remember the words of the apostle Paul,  “Love is patient, love is kind.”