Ruined for Life-My Undeniable Demise

You know the moment.  The one where a person or incident crosses your path, turning you into toast.  You instantly discern that there is no going back.

Cliff and I are hooked on the series NCIS.  He loves the rapid action, and I am a student of the story and have fallen in love with the characters. How I wish I could scratch the acting itch I received in the womb as a guest on this show.  Even if they needed a cadaver in Ducky’s morgue, I would volunteer and passionately embrace the dead man’s role.

Picture this-I lay totally still on the steel table.  Ducky leans over me and with furrowed brow, says in his distinct accent, “Oh dear Kelly, you must reveal to me the mystery of your demise.”

He turns to his assistant.  “Mr. Palmer, I am bamboozled.  While there is no sign of entry, I suspect Miss Kelly is missing a major organ due to her waxy pallor.  You do the honor, my boy.”

Palmer’s hands shake as he does the grisly deed.  He reaches his hand into the my fake TV chest cavity.  His glasses fog over and gasps, “Dr. Mallard, her heart is missing! Gone!  An empty shell! How can this be?”

The veteran coroner pushes him aside and lunges his hand inside. 

“Oh, Mr. Palmer, you were too hasty.  Miss Kelly left us a clue.” He reveals a small slip, written on in crud crayon script.  He reads, “I captured my grandma’s heart at first sight. Hers truly, Bren Carter Burns.”

“Aha! This makes perfect sense,” the good doctor exclaims.  “Mr. Palmer, notice how the hands are curled to perfectly cradle an eight pound bottom.  And, that little pocket between her shoulder and neck, it was created precisely for a baby’s head to snuggle into.”  He pokes the neck with a pokey stick thing. “Her thorax shows signs of extensive humming of soft, soothing songs.  Don’t forget to examine her right bicep, firm from lugging around massive volumes of baby pictures.”

“So, you’ve encountered this before?”

“Oh, yes.  It’s actually extremely common.  And, sadly, quite fatal. Rarely, does the perp leave a note through. ”  He wiggles his hand back into the hole, retrieving a handful of other multicolored slips.

 “Strange. It looks like several others have left their calling cards as well.”

Break for a Colonial Penn Life commercial.  A little too late for my fake passing.

Yes, my warped imagination runs rampant again.  Honestly, I can take or leave my new grandson.

As in–take him home with me, smuggled in my suitcase!  And leave him only when they pry my fingers off of him!

It’s not the first time either. I’ve had my heart stolen on four other Johnson and Johnson baby smell occasions.  With each one, it was replaced with a bigger one, even if there were a few hap hazard sutures from parenting heart breaks.

But, before they were even thought about, a bigger brown eyed thief, in a Kansas City Royals batting helmet, snatched it.  Over 32 years, his grip has only strengthened—enough that he’s the lone reason I abandoned the grandmam rocking chair post three hours away.

How does a wife, mom and grandmam’s heart survive all mauling and grubby fingerprints of continually heart-nappings?

It’s the One that has taken up residence inside it. The One I trusted my heart with first. The One, who is constantly operating on it, renewing it, protecting  it, and strengthening its beat.  It’s his way of preparing it to continue being stolen until His love shines in my chest like Crayola colored confetti sparkler bomb.

Hopefully, it will be captivating enough that Dr. Mallard and Palmer will be compeled enough to investigate why. 

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.  1 Thessalonians 3:12



Mission USS Patience into Bugaboo Galaxy

Stardate: September 20, 2012. Time 6:45 a.m.

Mission: To successfully deploy the already fueled and packed F150 pick-up from the launch pad in Medicine Lodge, KS and arrive in under four hours in Topeka, KS for the arrival of most hallowed first grandchild.

Procedure: Robin, mother-in-waiting, would call when word came that she was being officially induced. It was possible, if every other baby in the area decided to emerge that day, she would be bumped.  Due to a little forgotten piece of info the night before, the doctor could tell she was well on her way naturally. No need to fire up the contraction jet fuel in the morning.  Had we known, we would have gone on to Emporia that night, giving us a quick skip of 45 minutes the hospital.

My foot tapped and my fingers drummed, while I listened on my side of our closed bathroom door.



Zing!  Ting! Crash!

I fumed as my husband’s favorite phone app, Angry Birds, flew through the air and crashed at this  life historic moment.  I almost broke my teeth off being patiently submissive.

Finally, we were strapped in and hit the road—straight to the town’s convenience store!

What???  The point of being ready to go, was we would be READY TO GO!!! 

This spot is the town’s social hub in the morning. “Hey, heard about your dad breaking his neck.  How’s he doing?’, and ‘So, where are you off to?’ 

Anyone who knows me understands that I love to turbo-boost into a conversation topics like this, but today was one of the few in my life’s history, where I wanted to scream and bulldoze over them.

But, I didn’t.

Finally, on the road, a discussion on which route to the room-a-zoom-zoom Turnpike would be best.  Straight to Wellington would laser Cliff’s eyes out with the rising sun.  But, wasn’t there construction to Haysvillle? Wichita meant lumbering through traffic.  We finally darted onto the 235 Bypass, we rarely use around Wichita, until…

….we got to a tricky forked exchange where you have to instantly choose which vein of traffic to join.  Captain Cliff chose wrong, and Spock had her mind flipping through her mental baby book under ‘water breaking’ since that was the lastest pressure filled text update. 

And, we were looping southeast instead of north!  Deep breathing helped to subside the panic, but every stinking semi in the galaxy pooped along in our lane.  Did they not have deadlines to meet?  For the love of asphalt, put the hammer down and go!

A text to Misty in Emporia warned that she had best be ready to execute a Duke’s of Hazard dive through the truck window as we drove by.  Her spine infused back was no excuse, and she’d need have a sack of Sonic greasy goodness in her grubby little hand.  She did. 

And of course, Emporia picks that day to do massive construction on the deadly roundabout which is like the Bermuda Triangle for semi-trucks.  Navigating it was as aggravating as a Rubiks cube, but we eventually broke some laws and jumped a curb or two onto the Turnpike.

Of course, we aren’t that familiar with Topeka.  Cliff’s GPS, still harboring a grudge that she wasn’t consulted on the bypass debacle, gave us the silent treatment, and I couldn’t read my hand-written Map Quest directions. 

In the parking garage, a disagreement had to pop up about which elevator to take.

But we made it!!!!  Whew!  Bring on the bambino!

  We visited with Robin and Karsten, learning that pidurals are truly God’s grace after the whole Eve incident.  When they came to check the process, a ‘pushing’ announcement was made.

We rejoiced down the hall to the waiting room, giddy with expectation. Watching people filter through……for 1 hour, 2 hours…..

A student nurse, that had attended Robin, cut through the waiting room to the elevator, her shift over.  She made eye contact, looked to the floor, and skittered to the steel doors. 

“Get her!  She has information!” I joked—kind of.   

She nervously smiled,  pondered the desperate looks on our faces, proudly looked up, and said, “Congratulations.”  Then, closed her little yap.  Firmly. 

Cliff said, “All we want to know is if everyone is healthy.”  She nodded and dashed through the open doors to be whisked away before the HIPA police tackled her. 

Whew!  The big question mark had been erased.  It shouldn’t be long.  Of course, it takes time to get everyone settled, cleaned up, and they were probably Skyping with the California set of grandparents, since they were so far away.

A review started on who made what baby predictions in our family pool.  Everyone was intent it was a boy, except me, who is always dead wrong.

Another hour ticked by.  Maybe something was wrong after all?  What did the nurse know? She was a only student.  Maybe we assumed her nod to mean, ‘yes they were fine’, when she might have just nodded out of nervousness.  Misty finally hopped up and sweetly interogated the nurses’ at the desk. 

Someone would be out soon.  Thank the Lord!

Karsten peeped around the swinging door, looking like an excited ghost, a proud daddy smile engraved on his face. 

“I can’t tell you what it is.  Robin wants to once they let you come back.  It shouldn’t be long.” 

Oh good night!  We have had enough of indefinite turbulence for a life time—starting nine months ago when we got the news that Bugaboo was on the way (Check out blogpost Bugaboo Hope) up to the last ten days, waiting to know if my dad would survive his bronc riding episode, or if he would be paralyzed for life. (A Lifetime of Bodily Discontent blogpost).  We are exhausted! No wonder Grandmas need naps.

Then, the big moment comes.  Bren Carter Burns gets officially introduced to the most impatient people in the universe—one branch of his zealous family tree.  Of course, he is an absolute miracle.  And so is his mama, who we learned God’s hand was on.  In fact, she had a scary time.  One we are glad the experts took as much time as possible to handle.  And it was also on the new daddy, whose first time holding his son, was torn between the hope in his arms and watching his wife’s dire circumstance unfold in a flurry of blue gowned activity.

So, when the uncle, who has to wait until after his game tonight, gets to put his 8lb nephew in a football hold, it will be all the sweeter.  And, when Grandma Lisa swoops in from California on Tuesday, she will have earned a sparkling patience jewel in her crown.  Then, in November, Uncle Kaj  will have his not-nearly long enough turn.  And at Christmas, there will be great celebration in Los Angeles, when a grandpa and two nieces will have sculpted the patience fruit into an intricate creation to share with Mr. Bren.  Finally!

(I’d put in a picture, but been having a time loading pictures on WordPress lately.  Also, I don’t have my favorite bible with me, so I can’t find the verse I was going to use.  Grrr…..wait….do you suppose He’s already having to mold and shape me on the patience thing?  AGAIN!)





A Lifetime of Bodily Discontent

True confession time.  What part of your body would you like to change?  Come on, be honest.  Is it the crumpled nose?  Or the thunder thighs?  Or what about that birthmark shaped like Brazil on your shoulder that looks like a purple Sharpie pen threw up? 

We all have that thing.  The thing that glares at us and makes us wish we’d been created differently

While I can pick apart my every little pore, wrinkle, and mole, I would love to change a genetic trait straight from a branch of the family tree.  The Parkin Neck. 

Picture a Russian wrestler with a beer keg connecting his head to his shoulders.  This thumbprint is courtesy of my Great Grandma Eva Parkin, passed on to my father, my brother, me and some of our offspring.

I’ve attempted slimming exercises, tugged,  and smushed it thin, but when bone and muscle structure dictate its size, you resolve to a future of photos resembling Jaba the Hut in the next layout of  Jedi Knight Monthly.   Oh, to swivel  around on C3PO’s skinny C1 vertebrae!  Perfection!

That was, until we got the call. 

You know the one. It started with the too calm words: “It’s your dad.”

 While I’ve gotten to be a veteran of these Dad calls—an artery ruptured from a swift horse kick, a tumble that made him crawl a half mile to the house, an explosion he walked out of, etc.-it still causes my heart’s flippy mitral valve to lock up, and my jaw to clench my grayish Tetracycline 1960’s antibiotic teeth as I try to process the  information.

A fire-breathing three year-old  had bucked my favorite larger-than-life cowboy into a heap, head first.  Immediately, all feeling and function in his 74 year old arms and legs disappeared.  Once help arrived, the sleeping sensations slowly started creeping back.  Whew!  After a life-flight to Wichita, the verdict was delivered on the doctor’s Iphone screen. 

My chicken legs barely held up my knobby knees when the neurosurgeon pointed out the “Christopher Reeves Fracture.”  Realization throbbed through my prominent veins only lab techs drool over. 

From the get-go, we understood he should have died, but to learn that what saved him from total paralysis and a lifelong relationship with a ventilator, was our Superman’s neck muscles of steel.  The protection,  God genetically predestined, saved him from slamming into the ground to securing his boney ondontoid process with a screw. 

A few days later at a college football game, I watched as freakishly gargantuan offensive linemen clashed with our barrel necked son, outweighing him by at least 80 pounds.  Oblivious, he was to the precious gift passed down to him. 

And me, well, as clutzy as I am, I’m sure it will probably save this scrawny, broad-shouldered, no butt, railroad spike build someday.

If it hasn’t already……

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it (the thorn) away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so Christ’s power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Miraculously, Dad could be back in the saddle roughly 6 weeks from now, and the horse, Avenger, secured a position, bucking out for a rodeo company. Also, it dawned on us, if he had not been temporarly paralyzed he would have tried to get up, securing the same fate of Christopher Reeves.

Choosing to Sport A Sunflower Tude


As my husband and I drive down dusty back roads, everything looks so drab and blah.  All the crops and grasses are now crisp, having been branded by not one, but two, hot summers where the rains have not given us more than a few quick glances and moved on.  We pray for plentiful showers and celebrate any spritz of marinade to lock in the moisture of life. 

Sadness stamps our conversation.  We native Kansans have not seen anything like this in our half century of experience. 


…waving furiously to distract our attention, a multitude of brilliant yellow sunbonnets stretch their vibrant green stalks from the wide bar ditches.   While all vegetation surrounding them curls into scorched, gnarled fists, these flowers stand proudly, their heads held high. 

“Don’t the sunflowers look bigger and brighter than usual?” I ask.  Cliff agrees. 

Why have they not succumbed to the dismal circumstances?  It makes no sense.  Sturdy trees are dying and our grass is memory, but they continue to flash dazzling smiles.

Then, long forgotten trivia shines radiance on the question.  Sunflowers heads always follow the sun.  As the fiery ball travels from the east horizon to the west, their joyful faces track the light. At night the petals fold to block out the darkness, preparing for the next ray to split the night and guide them through the next day of drought, blow dryer blasts of wind, or the harshness of a rain torrents.  (Yes, we still believe in those.)

Locking our gaze to follow the Son, may we choose not to let the circumstances not define us, and our faces radiate His glory.

Jesus spoke again tot he people.  He said, ” I am the light of the word. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.  John 8:12

PS-When I began to scratch this thought out last Saturday, little did I know how desperately I would need this lesson in my faith arsenal.  Once again, he is faithful to guide our paths through the scorching times. Keep an eye out for the next blogpost.  What a doozy of a week! 


When You Are Helpless to Stop the Train From Derailing

You can see it coming.  Foreseen situations accelerate in front of  you, promising an inevitable crash.  You can try to say something, but the words are powerless. Critical choices are being made by loved ones or even arm’s-length people, who have randomly waltzed across your path and crept into your heart.  How it will end has all the precursors of an epic disaster, strewn with carnage as grisly as your imagination can create. 

And you can do nothing, but watch.

A few months ago, my heart was deeply burdened over some very dramatic situations. It ached due to precious hearts breaking while intimate dramas charged off unimaginable cliffs.  Tragic outcomes were imminent.  

As I cried out to God, he put two things on my heart.

 1.)  Little Miss Fix-It (me) was to sit still. I could be a listener, but my job was to…

 2.) pray a specific scripture over these cases.  Since then, I have not only continued with the original subjects, but I pray it over others caught in the midst of impossible issues.

The passage is Colossians 1:9-14.  Go check it out. When praying it, insert the actual names for ‘you’.  Pray it directly to God, instead of referring to him in the way it is written.

Make it the cry of your heart.  Since, it is haunting you, you will have no problem. Don’t forget to  include a plea for salvation, if applicable.

Don’t get discouraged if things aren’t abracadabra fixed in an instant.  Patience and perseverance are key.  Knowing we were in for a haul with no known time frame, I wrote the verses on a fluorescent 3×5 card and laminated it. Every morning, it jolts my memory when I open my Bible.  Or why not stick it on the fridge, in the car, etc?   Just somewhere it can’t be miss it.

Ask God how involved he wants you.  So, how in the world do you know?  A natural bent is to jump in and save the day, but his desired role may be to be stay on the ol’ knees-the hardest job in the world when one’s itching jump into action. Ask him to be crystal clear and not allow you to muddle things up.  For instance, one weekend we would have been right smack dab in the middle of the fireworks—sure to douse gasoline on the blazing Roman candles— but since God could handle it just fine without us, he totally removed his from the area.  Whew!

Since then, time has marched on, with several circumstances seeming to get increasingly worse.  Honestly, the temptation to wring hands or to simply give up has knocked loudly. 

But, on one recent instance, He intervened in such an unconventional way, that we’re still trying to wrap our minds around how brilliant his workings are. Just like I’ve seen him faithfully pull off many times over. 

Things aren’t abracadabra fixed, but there is hope—hope of healings and new beginnings as the train chugs safely into the station.