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.

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.”

Simple Joys

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This past week, we were blessed to have my 2 ½ year old grand-daughter staying at our house. We visited parks, played at the pool, colored pictures and discovered that life is filled with countless simple pleasures. As adults, we often allow our worries, cares, hurts and disappointments to muddy the waters, and we easily lose sight of the fact that there are many reasons to smile. So let’s revisit some of our childhood cheerfulness and take a few cues from these little ones.

Life lessons from a two year old:

  • Take time to see (and I mean really see) God’s creation – the magnificence of a flower, the wonder of a bug, the fun designs in fluffy clouds.
  • Smile often. Smile big. Allow yourself to be happy. Bring joy to others, by giving them the gift of your smile.
  • Cry when you are sad. We all need to release our tears and grieve at times.
  • Do a happy dance now and then.
  • Forgive quickly and completely and move on.
  • Make new friends where ever you go.
  • Be truly happy to see others and hug them like you mean it.
  • Use your imagination. Allow yourself to be creative. Dream big dreams. Keep hope alive in your heart.
  • Play. Find something you enjoy (a sport, a hobby, an activity) and do it with gusto.
  • Remember, the best activities are the simple ones. Collecting leaves on a walk, making pretend pancakes at the park, reading Green Eggs and Ham (again), playing “House” under the kitchen table, making a fort out of a large box, all remind us that we don’t need a lot of elaborate or expensive things to experience joy in life.
  • Love well and laugh often – the best lesson of all!

When Plans Change

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This past Saturday I returned from a week in Deer Valley, Utah with my husband. Let’s just say that the trip held some unplanned adventures. One of the highlights of the trip was being at the Utah Symphony performance under the stars along with some wonderful friends. With an overflowing picnic basket and beautiful mountains surrounding us, it was a spectacular memory in the making. Unfortunately, the next day, we made a hiking memory that was slightly less than spectacular.

Knowing we had to check out of our hotel room at noon on Saturday, my husband and I set out for a morning hike on the Ontario Trail – a not-too-difficult, hour-long hike up the mountain and then down the ski lift back to our hotel. No worries…..except if you take the wrong path. When we got to the top of the mountain trail, we somehow missed a sign and started on a path that took us down a road less traveled.

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As we finally realized our error, we were too far down the trail and knew we had to push forward toward a large lake at the base on the opposite side of the mountain from our hotel and civilization. Along the way, we saw disconcerting evidence that a mountain lion was in the vicinity. Needless to say, we picked up some big sticks, as our one-hour hike turned into an almost three-hour tract through the wilderness. Along the way, I had an unfavorable encounter with a hornet’s nest which left me with several throbbing stings on my hand and arm. Did I mention we also saw fresh bear tracks?

We breathed (or should I say huffed and puffed) a sigh of relief when we made it to the base of the mountain and onto a small gravel road. Sadly, we were at least 11 miles from our hotel.  As we plodded down the road, thinking we still had miles until we reached a distinguishable Uber location, we heard a car approaching! Two young men who had camped in the area, became a much-welcomed relief to our tired and sore feet. They picked us up and drove us all the way back to our hotel, where we “more than slightly” over-extended our check-out time.

We never know when we will face challenges that stretch and strengthen us, but when we do, it is always good to consider what we learn from the experience. Here’s my take-away when plans change or life takes unintended twists and turns:

  • Pray for guidance and protection.
  • Stay calm and consider your options.
  • Be alert to the dangers or challenges. In our case, it was mountain lions, bears and hornets, but in life you may face difficult people, financial challenges or other unforeseen obstacles.
  • Equip yourself with necessary provisions. We needed big sticks, extra water and snacks. Consider what you will need for the possibilities ahead of you.
  • Enjoy the view along the way.
  • Accept help when needed.

Finally, always remember to thank God for His provisions. Curt and I recognize that God’s hand was with us all along the way. This was truly a wilderness opportunity to trust God for the outcome, plus we saw tremendous mountain top views that the typical tourist-hiker never has a chance to see. No matter what your wilderness experience is, allow these principles to help you through the unexpected paths in life.

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Hiking sign Photo by Callistus on Unsplash

Mountain Lion  Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash