So even though I once aspired to win one, I don’t watch the Oscars or most of those awards type shows. I used to feel a little left out in conversation the day after when talk turned to who won what and even more to who WORE what, but with the advent of the internet, I can take a peek after the fact. It’s a win/win for me since I find myself more and more disengaged with what happens in Hollywood.
I do love to see the pretty dresses though and as usual, found myself shocked and amazed at how really rich and beautiful people can have really bad taste when it comes to fashion as well as how truly lovely off screen so many of them are. You could re-watch the Red Carpet the day afer the Oscars in almost a play by play of 2013 Oscar history–the internet was full of lists–best vs worst dresses, dresses showing the most uncovered body parts (see why I avoid watching?) etc.
But I was most amazed to see the venom with which Jennifer Anniston was being attacked for her hair. For wearing it down and natural. For not being more “out there” in her hairstyle choice.
I kept looking at the picture. Trying to see what was wrong with it. Such a beautiful woman. Sparkling. Happy. Talking about how she felt like a Princess in her dress. Showing off her engagement ring. Excited to be there as a presenter. And yet, the media, the fashion police spewing ugliness about her hair. (Now, I saw a reality show star pic who’d designed her own dress with nothing left to the imagination–a wardrobe malfunction in the making and found it ironic that this person with little fashion sense was at the Oscars to be launched as a fashion commentator! That tells me a little of the qualifications for that “job” lol)
And we wonder why we struggle with our appearance as women.
Why girls and women are looking for love in all the wrong places.
Why diseases like anorexia are rampant in our culture.
It reminded of a Scripture I need to be reminded of regularly. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” Ephesians 4:29
I have a sarcastic sense of humor. I love to zing a one-liner and go for the laugh. I used to think it was a gift but the Bible says the power of life and death is in the tongue.(Proverbs 18:21) Sometimes I need to follow my Mama’s instructions and if I can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!
Want to be convicted? Read the treatise in James 3 about taming the tongue! “With our tongue we praise our Lord and Father and curse human beings who were made in his image.” James 3:9 OUCH!
Now I have no idea if any of the fashionista’s are believers. I can’t expect them to uphold God’s standard if they don’t know Him. But for those of us watching, listening, looking and then commenting either for or against, I had to ask myself, is it pleasing to God? Would I look Jennifer Anniston in the face and tell her she’d blown the hair contest? I’d hope not, but when I look on others who God created and speak with a critical spirit, I am failing the mandate to edify others.
The Word says they will know we are Christ Followers by our love of each other. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13: 34-35
That includes my words.
“This is my body, broken for you.”
Today I am reprinting with permission a guest post from my daughter, Lauren. She wrote this in early December and I was blown away by the transparency of her heart as well as the beauty of her words. I wanted to share them with you as we counted down the days to celebrate the birth of Christ, Emmanuel, God with us, but in some His-ways-are-not-our-ways timing glitch, it never posted so I am sharing it now on New Year’s Day. I believe His timing is perfect, so we must need these words more today than we did in December!
At Christmas, we celebrate the Holy Babe who came to earth, but our Jesus didn’t stay in the manger. He grew up to turn the world upside down. He was crucified, dead and buried but death did not defeat Him. He rose again. And left us with the command to be His hands and feet–His Holy Body here on the earth. As we begin a New Year, with thoughts and resolutions to “be better” to “do more,” let us not forget that often times it is the small things that truly transforms our lives–especially if they are done in the love of the Christ who died to save us.
Here are my daughter’s thoughts on what that means to each of us.
“God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good.
This is one of the phrases that my parents used to send me out the door with each morning when I lived at home. It was like a daily ritual I could always count on, like saying “Loveyaseeyabye” at the end of a phone conversation. I could count on it like I can count on a clock to chime. However, there is a small problem with neatly packaged platitudes said on a regular basis; they become meaningless in our ears, like cotton placed there that we barely notice. Though I said this phrase nearly every day for eighteen years of my life, somewhere it lost its meaning.
Now, if you asked me, “Is God good?” I’d say “Yeah, I think God’s good. He blesses us with more than we need.” and I might leave the conversation there. Just an acknowledgment, nothing more, nothing less. That should be good enough for God, right? I mean, I thanked him and everything. Lets not parse words and move on with our day! I didn’t realize this had become my attitude, because I’d let myself be blessed into complacency. I had food, I had a community of friends, and I went to a school where the term “servant leadership” was thrown around like a pop culture reference. Though God was blessing me, I’m not sure I was turning around and passing the blessing on the way I should have been. Regardless, I began to see God being good as a simple, patent truth, not the miraculous awesome thing that it is.
Until I moved to Osage.
Now, I don’t want to be over dramatic here, but let’s get some things straight. My husband calls me pup. As in, puppy. Yeah, it’s a little sickening, but at least its not muffin or pancake or some other breakfast food. If you know me, you can probably guess why. At my heart, I am pretty much a lovable, loyal dog. I get excited when he comes home, even if he’s been gone for five minutes. I want to play most of the time. But, the thing that earned me this nickname? I. Need. People. NEED THEM. Leave me alone for more than 24-48 hours and I begin to get lonely and to an extent, fussy. Could I survive? Yeah. Do I like it? Not really.
So, with that being said, let me tell you of my conundrum. I don’t know anyone here. I don’t work because I am trying to finish school, so there goes the possibility of “work friends”. There isn’t a college here, so chances of meeting people my own age just went down significantly. No coffee shop, just a diner where the farmers go to shoot the breeze about where the markets closed the day before and what should be done about the algae crisis. The only person I have is my husband, who though is my best friend, is still just one human, and can’t possibly provide and meet every need, and nor can I for him.
This being said, it’s been a hard few months for me. I went from a setting where I was able to pour out and be poured in to, had many close friends to confide in, and had professors who genuinely wanted to see me succeed, to a place where I knew no one, couldn’t find a church, and found all those I’d been close to at least three and as many as seven hours away down the interstate. It was like my ship went aground, and though there were parts of my life I loved, there were parts of my life that I mourned and pined for that seemed to disappear in the wind.
The last month in particular I’ve noticed changes in myself. I felt like all my defining lines were becoming fuzzy. I started to loose motivation for school and the most basic of tasks. I began sleeping a lot. I started to realize I didn’t know who I was, what I wanted, or where God was in all of this. I’d been asking him theological questions for months, zeroing in on (somewhat) minute aspects of His character trying to ask “Is this who You are? We’ve made You out to be so many things, each with our own version of right and wrong based on the readings of different translations. Its like we’ve made a designer God of You, but I just want to know WHO YOU ARE.” I began to focus on these questions, and though I think wrestling is wise, I began eating questions instead of something that would fill me up. I turned from the fruit of fellowship to try to gnaw on the bones of questions that don’t have very many answers. I was inadvertently starving myself.
Last week, tired of walking through a desert, and tired of not finding answers I cried out. I was angry. Why had He brought us here? Why hadn’t He provided a job closer to Sterling, or nearby friends? Why were we out in this wilderness where nothing was mine and I was forced to be dependent on someone else for (quiet literally) everything? I just wanted to connect with people again. I just wanted to be motivated to finish school. Why couldn’t He give me those things? I went to sleep feeling better to have finally said my peace, but not very optimistic that anything could change.
And then God was everywhere. He gave an answer to every single one of my concerns. While I could lay out like… six examples, I want to leave you with the most poignant.
As I mentioned earlier, I have always been drawn to, and to a large extent, needed community in order to see God at work. In spring of 2011, I got the chance to be immersed in community life with a group of eight beautiful people where we shared each others burdens, prayed for one another, and tried to be intentional followers of Christ together. I saw God at work in so many ways, and I dearly miss those times and those people.
Last night, this was particularly on my mind as I sat and sipped my tea. As I thought about this, my mind turned to the church we’d recently attended. The people had been nice and many had made a point to come and introduce themselves, and try to get to know us. After we left, we both talked about how we enjoyed this service and the people most out of the other churches we’d been to. They insisted on giving us a visitors packet, and we even received a handwritten letter from the pastor a few days later. As I got lost in my tea, with these thoughts on my mind, a knock came on the door. Since we have few friends, I was startled but went to open the door. There on the porch was a lady from the church, holding something in her hands. We invited her in and she told us she had been happy to see us at church, and had baked us a loaf of bread as a welcome. Tears sprung into my eyes. We’ve gone to three other churches, and while people have been welcoming, no one has been receptive. We’ve been here six months, and no one has gone out of their way to welcome us. I was so touched by this woman’s kind heart and knew “This church gets it.” And how apt for her to bring us bread, the symbol of the Body of Christ, as she herself acted as His body.
I don’t know if that woman will ever know how much her kindness meant to us. If she will ever know that a loaf of bread changed something in my heart forever. She reminded me that more than doctrines or denominations, the love of Christ should show through in all your actions.
Welcome the stranger. You might never know how alone they feel.
God is Good. All the Time. All the Time. God is Good.” ~Lauren Lusk
Amen, Lauren. Amen. You warm your Mama’s heart.
As we enter 2013, may we take her words to heart and not get so busy in the striving that we forget that we are called to to make a difference in the place and with the people He has given us to serve.
Happy New Year.
The election is over. May we all give thanks!
If you know me at all, you know that it did not turn out the way I hoped for, the outcome I prayed for nor the way I voted, but can we all get an AMEN that the mailboxes are no longer filled with political flyers, Facebook is a kinder, gentler place, and I can watch television without getting mad? (I started to say that my phone had stopped ringing off the wall, but that isn’t true. Believe it or not, we are receiving calls gearing up for the NEXT election!)
Enough to make me say, “Bah! Humbug!” except this is the season of Giving Thanks.
You may have noticed that many are counting their blessings this season. Face book has been filled with the daily counting of blessings by my friends. I, too, have been keeping a blessing journal of sorts after reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts two years ago.
I stutter. I start. I write. I forget. But I also know that I find myself more grateful today than two years ago. It is TRUTH. The more grateful I am, the more grateful I become.
Have you ever met a curmudgeon? Someone that can out grouse you no matter how bad things are in your world? Their glass is for sure half empty and if you listen to them, they’ve never gotten a break at a half full glass.
The next thing you know, your attitude takes a dive, even if it is because the curmudgeon spoiled your good mood!
I have a friend who calls them people who “poison our wells.” Another friend calls them Mr. or Mrs. Draino. If your well isn’t poisoned they have certainly drained all joy from the day.
But joy is even more contagious. Thelma Wells opines that the world didn’t give us our joy, so we can’t let the world take it away!
If you are like me and are worried about Washington or burdened by the economy, it doesn’t have to steal your joy. You may be thinking, “But Kim, you don’t know what I’m going through.” and I don’t. But I know a God who does and He says to count it all joy when we face trials of many kinds. James 1:2-3
Not easy to do. But as the saying goes, nothing good comes easy and neither is cultivating an attitude of gratitude and yet, He asks us to.
For me, this is one of those where-the-rubber-meets-the-road parts of Christianity. We can spout lots of platitudes. We can say that if our salvation was the only thing He ever did for me, it is enough and I am grateful. And it is. And I am.
But am I when my kids drive me crazy or there is more month than money or the check out girl is snippy when I remind her of the sale price? Am I when I am sick and tired and my feet hurt and someone calls to say they forgot on their cupcake order that the frosting just has to be blue? And I stand looking at 4 dozen white frosted cupcakes already boxed and then the clock saying 8 pm? Am I when life is just not working the way I think it should?
The answer is not always. But I am trying. And I have found two things.
1) He is faithful. And no matter what happens, He is faithful and the things that come as a monkey wrench in my day are no surprise to Him. He is teaching me to trust Him. And trust this. And rest in it daily. That the small things that drive me crazy are all things that He uses to work together for good. And for that I can be grateful.
2) Gratitude grows gratitude. You just have to begin because He asks it of us. Actually commands it. “Count it all joy!” He says through James. “Rejoice in the Lord always! Again, I say, rejoice” Philippians 4:4 So we must.
I am working to start each day before my feet hit the floor by thanking Him that I am awake, I have another day, I am warm in my house, I have meaningful work to do when I get up, and I have people to love who love me.
That’s a great beginning! I find the more I praise, the more I find to praise Him for. Small graces (hot buttered toast, a warm bath, a cup of good coffee, a car that starts in the cold, that I have breath in my lungs and a heart that beats). Large graces (His love and forgiveness even though I fail every day, the beautiful, bountiful love of my dear husband who is truly my dream come true, that He has given me more than I could ask or imagine in my family, my beautiful kids, my life).
And so it goes. Would you join with me and begin to have an attitude of gratitude? One of the most disheartening things about the election was the sense of entitlement that we have created by no one ever being wrong, no one ever losing and no connection between hard work and success. The rhetoric was ugly on both sides. Gratefulness can change that. As the old song goes, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”
So let us begin.
1) I am grateful that you have read this.
The Real-Deal Rodeo Cowboy
Grief sneaks up on me unexpectedly. A snippet of a Hank Williams song. A day that would be sweeter shared. The sight of a cowboy who sits a horse like he was born on it. A beat up flat bed pickup turning into a pasture where the cattle eagerly await their feed.
The tears come then, welling up over the inevitable that I never wanted. People say a parent should never have to bury a child and my brain totally identifies that as TRUTH, but the implication is that we expect a child to bury their father or mother. That whole Circle of Life thing we can talk about so flippantly until we are the one standing at the open grave not at all ready to let them go.
My life was right side up until May 31st when my cell phone rang during the lunch rush at our coffee shop. I almost let voice mail pick it up since my hands were full of salad fixings, but I didn’t. I answered the phone to a flood of unexpected words.
“Daddy’s been in an accident!” She blurted words out between sobs so hard as to make them unintelligible. She cried out words that were familiar to me for a stranger in our ER and my job as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist but did not make sense as related to my dad.
Life flight. Wichita. Head injury.
In less than 20 minutes I was on the road. Driving and praying hard.
On that long drive, I prayed like crazy. For a miracle. For medicine to do what it could do. For Daddy to hang on. For him to live. To heal. To recover.
You see, my daddy was the real-deal, rodeo cowboy. Tough as a boot. He’d been kicked and stepped on. Bucked off and run over. He’d had his share of health problems. Back surgery. Heart surgery. Shoulder surgery. He built fence in 110 degree heat and wondered why he felt dizzy.
Cowboys don’t like being laid up. I knew that Daddy would hate worse than anything, not being able to do the things he loved to do.
And so I prayed the hard prayer. “God, I know he needs a miracle and I believe You are a God Who heals. But if that is not your will, if I have to let him go, please make it clear to me.”
The day of the accident he’d slowed down to turn off the highway onto the dirt road where he’d grown up. Just heading to the farm to check his cattle. Another big pickup truck rear-ended him. No skid marks. Never slowed down. And life as I knew it turned upside down.
There had been times I’d expected the phone call. Heart attack. Heat stroke. Broken something from getting bucked off again. But I hadn’t expected to walk into an ICU to see him fighting for his life after a senseless accident.
That might seem crazy. Does it matter what happened? Maybe not in the whole scheme of things but I’ve struggled with losing him that way.
I’ve taken trauma call for 30 years and yet, I was not prepared for how broken he was. My oh, so strong Daddy so terribly broken. Unrecognizable, but as I leaned around tubes and wires to kiss his forehead, I breathed in his scent still present beyond the antiseptic smell of the ICU.
An upside down world, but God answers prayers.
Daddy had been sedated to be put on the ventilator. When we saw him, the doctors were allowing the sedation to wear off to assess his head injury. We had a window of time he could hear us. I had time to say everything I wanted to say to him. So did my sisters. So did my daughter Lauren.
No regrets. Nothing left unsaid.
Daddy loved to hear Lauren sing, so through that long hard night, she sang to him and held his hand. She shared all the plans for her wedding a few weeks away. He’d been so excited about her engagement.
“Grandpa, I just want you to know, I’m so happy!” And he squeezed her hand.
By morning, the doctor said the words I’d known were coming. “He’ll never leave the hospital. He is just too injured to survive given his age.”
And so I grieve. And rejoice. And grieve some more.
Daddy going Home
And then I rejoice that this isn’t it. The story isn’t over! Because Christ defeated the grave, I’ll see Daddy again.
The last words I said to him was that I’d see him again.
“Daddy, I think in heaven you get a really good roping horse. And you never miss a calf. I think that’s how it works up there, Daddy. So I’ll see you again in heaven.” I whispered the words in his ear as I left the hospital knowing I’d never see him again on this earth. I know he heard me and over and over God has confirmed those words to me.
The day after the funeral, a friend posted a link to a song I’d never heard. Her pastor had preached on heaven. The lyrics so remind me of all the things that Daddy loved. ( Heaven Song lyrics by Phil Wickham)
I want to run on greener pastures
I want to dance on higher hills
I want to drink from sweeter waters
In the misty morning chill
And my soul is getting restless
For the place where I belong
I can’t wait to join the angels and sing my heaven song.
And so he does. I kind of like to think that he and Hank Williams might have already sung a duet or two. And I’m sure his beloved Marjorie met him at the Eastern gate and they’ve two-stepped all over heaven by now. That’s all right.
One of my favorite memories is of Daddy teaching me to dance by counting in my ear. One. One-two-one. One-two-one.
I’ll be there one day to sing with you and Hank, Daddy.
And save a dance for me.
“But we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve like other people who have no hope.” 1 Thess. 4:13
This week I’m featured on Lena Nelson Dooley’s blog (http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com/2011/12/ashes-to-beauty-kim-zweygardt-free-book.html) and in the interview she asked about the quirkiest thing I’ve ever done. Fortunately, (or maybe unfortunately, I’m not so sure) I had many experiences to choose from. But since it is Christmas and since sometimes I’m way too serious on this blog, I thought I would share the funny story here that I shared with her readers.
Every family probably has them–stories that live in family infamy. The stories that you know will be told around the campfire, at the Thanksgiving table, at the drop of a hat. We have more than our share–we’re kind of a funny family–and often, they are about me! I’ve often said, I’m just fodder for the family sense of humor! So here it is. One of our family favorites….The Night Mom Killed Mary.
When the kids were small, we would go look at Christmas lights. We’d load up in the van with a thermos of hot chocolate and drive around the different areas of town and ooh and ahh at the gorgeous displays. We were in a very nice subdivision and drove by a house that had many beautiful lights including a lighted nativity scene, but something had gone terribly awry! Mary had fallen over and was lying on her side in the grass. (It gets windy in Kansas!) I yelled “Stop!” to Kary and hopped out to sneak across the grass to help Mary out of her distress. The first problem was that the house had a post and rail fence across the front which I hadn’t noticed. The only way into the front yard was from the front porch. Not to be deterred, I tiptoed up the driveway, across the porch and into the yard. I really did have second thoughts at this point since the people were obviously home, but I was on a mission of mercy! And my kids and husband were watching my good deed. I’d almost gotten to Mary when I tripped over an extension cord in the grass and every Christmas light on the house and in the yard went dark, including poor Mary! I turned and ran! I jumped the fence and grabbed the van door (which was already rolling) and climbed in yelling, “Go! Go!” (I really think they were going to leave me!) Kary had tears rolling down his face from laughing and the kids were sunk down in their seats trying to be invisible. It has been known forever since as the night Mom killed Mary!
There you have it. True story and even I have to admit it is funny! But I do want to add this….Kary has always said he is sure that we were touring Christmas lights on the night of judging for the best Christmas lights contest and that the poor family thought they were going to win that night, but instead their house stood dark for some unknown reason.
Now you know. If that’s you, please accept my sincerest apologies for your loss.
Have a wonderful Christmas, everyone. Remember Immanuel–God With Us. The Miracle of Christmas is not lost among the lights and glitter. His light shines the brightest in dark times and in the hearts of those who are looking for Him this Christmas. (And if your “good deed” doesn’t turn out the way you meant it to, remember that He looks on our hearts and loves us anyway!)
Jesus came and turned the world topsy-turvy, preaching an upside-down Kingdom where the last are first and the meek inherit the Earth. Even during the time that Jesus’ sandals scuffed the sands of Samaria, it was counter-cultural. It may be even more so today.
We live in a me-first world.
Go for the gusto! Make it count! Get ahead! [...]
With the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I’ve been thinking a lot about fear vs faith. How do we move from one to the other? I’ve also been remembering the courage shown by so many that horrible day in 2001. What is it that makes someone run toward a disaster to help instead of run away? [...]
American flag flies after the Greensburg, KS tornado
Well, no, nothing bad has happened to me, but isn’t that a question that the world wants answered?
Earthquakes, floods, tornados, drought, fire. All have taken a toll on our faith this long hot summer.
I go to a church www.sfccfamily.com where we share joys and concerns during a time [...]
Happy Fourth of July, Friends! I hope you have a day of fun and celebration planned. I am watching the 4th of July Kid’s Parade in the park across the street from my house. I love living in a small town! Kids, bicycles with red, white, and blue streamers, lots of flags, sirens, patriotic music, [...]
I’m sure by now you’ve heard the news. A large Christian ministry predicted that the world would end.
At 6 pm.
Beginning with mayhem in New Zealand and sweeping across the world as each time zone hits 6 PM.
I live in the Central Time Zone so the end hasn’t gotten here, but no reports of the End [...]