From Generation to Generation

momonphoneI’ve invited a guest blogger:  Dana Karr.  Like many moms, she wears many hats.  She is a teacher, business woman, wife, writer, carpool driver, sports fan, and friend. Dana serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of Vicinity at Karr’s Wharf.  Since the moment she heard her 4th grade class applaud her creative writing assignment about a little girl’s crazy adventures she’s loved writing. Since then, her writing has taken diverse forms including professional reports, government proposals, birthday poems, and blog posts about a grown woman’s crazy adventures.  I know you will enjoy this personal intimate reflection of the impact others have on our lives, some of which are the lives of people we will never know.

From Generation to Generation

The kitchen floor has remnants of yesterday’s breakfast cereal and a glob of mayo from my son’s turkey sandwich lunch.  It’s 3 pm and in an hour I’ll head out the door to transport kids to their afternoon sports. Instead of grabbing a broom and a mop to clean up the mess, I call my mom.

“Where are you?” she asks, knowing that I usually call between the kid’s sports practices or games.

“Home,” I answer “Getting ready to go out in a bit.”

We proceed to chat about what we’ve been doing, how the kids are doing, what my dad is doing, what’s for dinner, who she recently happened to see that I might know, and what’s on the horizon for the week and weekend. Pretty mundane, just every-day stuff. These are our typical conversations.

They feed my soul.

We live about an hour apart, not close enough for a quick drop in, but just right for a day trip there and back. Phone calls, along with an occasional email or text are how we connect.

There are usually needs sandwiched in between the chatter.  School changes being considered, a child’s cough, a friend’s cancer, my nephew’s search for a new career path, concerns in our communities, family communication issues, and prayer needs.

When my kids were still in the infant and preschool ages, I called mom daily during a child’s nap time or some other quiet moment stolen from the busy-ness.  Mom is now in her 70’s.  Her children are grown and launched. I’m middle-aged and entrenched with four school-aged, home-schooled kids who are much older so my days are filled with schooling and work.

Mom and I talk less frequently, but our talks remain similar. We typically talk unfiltered, and she’s a patient listener; whatever the topic she’s there to share stories, laments, joys, and the entanglements of our day-to-day.  Our mom-daughter relationship has always been strong, but during my adulthood it has blossomed. Mom is truly my friend and confidante; she is a wise mentor who humbly and gracefully instills love into her words. Inside each conversation she tucks pearls of wisdom and usually flanks each conversation with one of the following phrases: “Well, make it a matter of prayer,” or “I know you are praying about this.”  She has experienced the hand-wringing of a mother and knows that the secret to having peace when life gets crazy is to let go of our fears in prayerful surrender to God.

She reminds me of her prayers for us;’ prayers for me, for my sisters, and for her grandchildren. These prayers are her legacy for me, and the next generation.

When we start talking about the past and she reflect on certain choices in her life versus paths she chose not to take, she’ll say, “I know that the blessings in my life are, in part, because I had parents and grandparents praying for me.”  This compels her to pray for us and to encourage me to pray for future generations as well.  Her parents and grandparents passed on a deep abiding faith in God; not faith in cultural religious customs, but a true acknowledgement of and surrender to The One, True Living God.  Mom reminds me of the fervent prayers of the generations before us and encourages me in praying not only for my children and their future spouses, but for their children and their children’s children.

And so I do.

At times I look at the knowledge and opportunities my children’s generation has and I’m hopeful. When I consider the state of the world and wonder what it will be like when they reach my age I wonder what good and bad things are they inheriting from us, the generations before them? What pearls of wisdom can be passed on to them just as my parents have done for me? Will they be teachable and receptive?

I hope so. I pray so.

I continue to do what my ancestors have done before me, to “make it a matter of prayer”; that they will know the blessings of His Peace and Joy and Truth.


Shaken But Not Stirred


Agent James Bond  (007) always ordered his Martinis “shaken but not stirred”.  Shaking the Vermouth and the Vodka or Gin together with ice chips in a shaker produces a much different cocktail than if one stirs those same ingredients together. Shaking produces a less potent, weaker cocktail as the ice melts faster and waters down the alcohol.  Drinking a weaker cocktail ensured 007 was never foggy minded and always able to perform his mission.

I think most would agree that God is always nudging (stirring) us to hear Him, to experience Him, to adore Him.  During circumstances that produce joy we tend to respond appropriately in awe and gratirude.  We tend to have the opposite response when the circumstances are reversed.

Does God shake us by providing circumstances that are vastly different from what we expect in an attempt to elicit the same response He receives when there are moments of joy? 

Perhaps we should be expectant and welcome being “shaken but not stirred”.

Nonprofit: Beggar or Avocate?

I’m often asked to provide council to nonprofits on how to raise funds or write grants.  Sometimes I wonder, would a nonprofit be more profitable if it adopted an attitude of advocacy instead of an attitude of need?



I’d like to try an experiment!  Here’s the concept and what will be needed:

(a)  Host:  A Host volunteers to provide a venue and invite others to participate as Presenters. The Host may or may not choose to be one of the  Presenters and may choose to provide a tour of the facility/venue as part of his/her service as a Host.
(b)  Presenters:  Various individuals are invited to an event which is not a fundraiser but an opportunity where they are one of several who have been invited to share their gifts, passion, and creative ideas regarding how one might impact one or more social issues  (see “Want to Make a Difference” tab on this blog).  Each Presenter is allocated the same amount of time for his/her presentation. 
(c)  Guests:  Guests are invited by the Host based on lists of invitees that are provided by each Presenter.  Invitations stress that this event is not a fundraiser!  Due to the capacity of the venue the number of guests that can be invited will be determined by the Host; each Presenter will provide an equal number of potential Guests to be invited.  If the Host chooses to also be a Presenter than he/she may also be included in the creation of the Guest invitation list and may invite an equal number of Guests.  Once the initial invitation has gone out from the Host, each Presenter can follow up with his/her potential guest.
(d)  Misc.  Refreshments and coffee etc. are provided as a joint responsibility of the Host and Presenters with each donating funds and/or refreshments. 

Post Event: 
1.  Guest list:  The Host provides each Presenter with a list containing the contact information of each guest that attended; not those invited, just those that attended.  This listing will include each Guest that attended regardless of who initially provided the individual’s contact information.
2.  Funds:  Funds should not be obtained as a part of the event.  Each Presenter hopefully would have explained the proper procedure by which he/she might obtain funding and/or support as part of his/her presentation. The Host can (should?) reemphasize this as part of his/her welcoming/closing remarks.
3.  What’s Next:  The Host can (should?) as part of his/her welcoming/closing remarks encourage both the Presenters and Guests to host another such event.  The Host might send a “thank you/what’s next” email or note to each Presenter and Guest emphasizing the possibility/potential of hosting a similar event.

We’ll that’s my experiment. Thoughts? If someone in the DC metro area can provide me with a venue I’ll gladly become the first Host! Shucks, if you are not in the DC metro area but want me to come to your location to help you Host such an event, let me know…we’ll work it out.

Would a nonprofit be more profitable  if it adopted an attitude of advocacy instead of an attitude of need?



My favorite aunt turned 95 years old today.  Wow, when I think of all she’s experienced, all the battles she’s fought, and all the lives she’s touched it is such a wonder.  She’s watched so many that she loved pass away.  She still has her wits about her, knows how to use the internet (but seldom does), and goes for walks with her dog.  She will quickly tell you being old isn’t as wonderful as most think it is.  She wonders why God keeps her around.

I’m so grateful God has kept her around!  What a blessing she has been (and continues to be) to me and my family.  I get tears in my eyes knowing that each day could be her last, yet they are tears of immense love and an eerie sense of peace…probably because I know that through her life God has really outdone Himself in showing me how He cares and blesses those who are faithful at being a peacemaker.  She has been a Deuteronomy 5:33 woman.  She exemplifies 1 Kings 3:14 and Proverbs 16:31.  She always sees the silver lining and always encourages.

She’ll never see this but who cares:  Love you Nogi!  (Whispering):  Thanks God!

A New Phase of Life

I’ve reached that stage in life where friends and relatives are slipping away; some simply go in their sleep, but the majority submit to some disease and a necessity to make a choice for either quality or quantity time.

I’m grateful for my good health.  It enables me to experience the immense privilege of standing close by when one says goodbye and hugs a friend, son, daughter, grandchild, or spouse for the last time – and yes, after all have left the room to receive that final hug; to know that your role is simply to lovingly be present  and that somehow gives one just a little more courage in a heart wrenching moment.

During these Kodak moments I see God’s grace, mercy, and love up close.  I’m blessed to have such opportunities; I pray the one who walks with me at the end senses the same presence of peace and gratitude!

Pondering Thankfulness

Thanksgiving.  Many will spend the day pondering the blessings God has bestowed on their lives.  I’m no different.  As I reflect on God’s abundance and faithfulness I marvel at one particular friendship that has been slowly cultivated through many trying moments. This friendship has influenced my world view in ways few get to experience; I’ve met many who live in the shadow of poverty, despair, and hopelessness.  These experiences have taught me that generosity has more to do with receiving grace than what one has to offer.  Like the rich blessings of family, health, etc. (none of which should be overlooked or trivialized) this one friendship provides me with crystal clarity that God’s provision is perfect.  I’m truly blessed!

Surprise Me

People often ask God to “surprise me”.  One dear friend recently shared with me that she had spent months praying/asking God to surprise her as she sought His will concerning a new job.  Mark Batterson in his best seller “The Circle Maker” also mentions this prayer strategy.  I’ve learned to ponder the pros/cons of any new concept/strategy until I can comfortably either discard or accept it as bogus or truth.  For me (emphasis on “for me” not everyone else), this “surprise me” prayer concept is bogus.

A surprise by definition is when a brief emotional state is experienced  as the result of an unexpected event.  In essence, surprises are the result of predictions that fail.

The basis of my desire to follow Jesus is faith/belief.  Belief that the promises Jesus has made are true.  Jesus tells us to “steep your life in God-reality, God-initative, God-provisions instead of worrying about missing out and you’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met” (Matt 6:33 MSG).  It just seems that when I ask God to “surprise me” I’m preoccupied with getting instead of giving.  Asking God to “surprise me” complicates matters … I feel as though I’m fussing over something I believe I need when reality is God has provided all I need.  Asking God to “surprise me” takes my focus from what God is doing in my life now to what I hope God might do for me in the future.  There is a difference between being surprised and being in awe and wonder.  I just want to be in awe!