Kimly's · Kimly's Trade

I’m Back! I think.

I don’t know entirely what the hell happened between me and blogging, but after a long break-up, we’re talking about getting back together. In many ways, this is the conversation; I’m having it with the keyboard and I’m having it with you.

Honestly, this is all pouring out of me so quickly, maybe I’ll give you a little background.

Earlier this week, my publisher contacted me about rewriting my already published novel, Where the Water Rages, so that they could sell the rights to a larger book distributor, where it could be marketed it to a wider audience. The larger distributor had read the novel and emailed a review, which included changes that needed to be made so that the story would appeal to more people. Some of the changes made me laugh, and I was able to distance myself from work that I did so many years ago. During which time my library grew, and I had the opportunity to have many talented professors and academic peers speak into my writing. So, when I heard that they thought Kimly was unbelievable—too impulsive, it made me smile a defeated grin. Kimly was penned, nine years ago, by a woman who herself was impulsive and made reckless decisions, often getting in over her head. Broken pieces of me pierce through that manuscript and some of them are fraught with inconsistencies. To put it more bluntly, I was a hot mess, trying to work out my shit. This, of course, is not a reason to disregard the editorial recommendation. Maybe Kimly does need a face lift. The top two comments about Kimly are one: that people find her annoying, and two: she reminds them of me. Hmmm…how odd. Hearing now that the woman with whom I can relate, doesn’t seem like a real person sends my little Enneagram 4 heart onto a rollercoaster of introspection.

So, yes, I would be willing to work with editors and make Kimly more likable. If there is an opportunity for me to grow as a writer and to learn how to be more relatable to people, sign me up!

But, wait, there’s more.

And this is where I get agitated.

I start to remember why I felt pressure to be creating something. Making something, churning something out. Churn. Churn. Churn churn church churn church. Churn Church…work for it, work for it…earn it…deserve it.

The change that the bigger book distributor recommended ((SPOILERS)) was that the romance between Kimly and Dak be made more intense, and possibly that their relationship lands differently at the end of the book. In other words, Kimly needs to fuck Dak and leave her cheating husband. Hmm. Do I want to write that story? I didn’t then, Praise God.

The next non-negotiable idea they suggested to increase sales was to have Kimly do something significant by the end of the story. As they put it, quoting my publisher reading their email, “readers feel cheated watching Kimly go through all of these experiences, but at the end, she doesn’t even write a ground-breaking editorial piece. She only saves one child.”


For a long time, I felt so much pressure to do something significant. The feeling runs deep and goes back far, and I’ve done a lot of work to break it down and understand it. But as for writing, as I remember it, I was feeling pressure to stand apart, to be excellent at something and it emerged with the digital age. This need grew inside of me. A need to have a lot of followers, a bigger team, a best seller. To do something big within this new digital world. The idea of just being a kind human living a simple life was out there, but I didn’t know how to make it what I wanted. I wanted to want it.

And then I did.

And so did Kimly. She just did it before me.

So when the bigger book distributor suggests I write a Hollywood ending, my answer is a firm, maybe.

I mean…I am writing again, and if a woman emerges who gets the guy, cracks the case, and sells a truckload of books, then, by all means, she is welcome to the story! But as for Kimly, no.

Kimly went on a search for significance, where she met a man that made her question what she had within her marriage, she saw the love she could have for a child, and she discovered how deeply God loved her and the places he would go to save her. Kimly realized that the most significant thing she could do was to be involved in her marriage to make it work, to become a more attentive mother, and to care for the person directly in front of her. She didn’t write the big editorial piece because that is not what this particular fable is about.

Anyway, all of this to ask, does anyone read blogs anymore? Just wondering if it’s worth my time.

Education · Freedom · Uncategorized

It’s because of Starbucks, it’s because of you!

I am a 53-year-old Grandmother and I wear an Arizona State University pin on my green Starbucks apron. The pin often invites conversation from customers and each time, the exchange leads to the subject of my late-in-life pursuit of a Bachelor’s degree. I am always pleased to share with customers that I am only able to attend college now because Starbucks is paying my tuition. Becoming an ASU student through the Starbucks Achievement Plan, or SCAP, has not only enabled me to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in English, but it has also provided me with the opportunity to say thank you to those who are making it possible—each time I go to work.
My husband and I have been married for thirty-one years, during which time we raised three children to adulthood. He works as a 7th grade Science teacher and I’ve had various hourly jobs, either as an assistant in an office or classroom or in the customer service industry. We live modestly, but we’ve always had enough. We paid for our daughter’s wedding, we helped pay for our son’s semester studying abroad at Oxford University and helped another son through an internship on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. To not recognize my blessings would be criminal, but as my children grew older, an inner aching developed: I desired to play a more substantial role in my community. We live in a small desert town that is in desperate need of teachers, and remembering how influential my own High School English teacher was during my formidable teenage years, I’ve often thought I could be effective in that role. But I couldn’t play that part in anyone’s life because I wasn’t qualified. By not respecting the importance of academia as a young adult, I was looking at living out the second half of my life being disqualified for jobs because of my lack of education. I didn’t like the math of the equation, but there wasn’t extra money for me to go to college. And who takes out student loans in their late 40s or early 50s, when they are so close to retirement?
Thanks to Starbucks, all of that is changing. It seems like yesterday that I was over two years away, one year away, six months away, 9 weeks away from graduation. Now, the nearness of the ceremony produces butterflies. Time, and again, I share my story with customers, and inevitably men and women, my age or older, lock eyes with me and nod encouragingly, offering sentiments of “Good for you!” or “It’s never too late!” And always, “Congratulations!” And time, and again, I respond, “It’s because of Starbucks, it’s because of you!”
Perhaps I would have found a different way to pay for college, but SCAP gave me something more than tuition. SCAP allowed me to live in a place where gratitude was at the forefront of my mind for an extended amount of time. For nearly three years, I’ve experienced what it feels like to say, “Thank you for choosing Starbucks!” and truly mean it. For it is the customers, from the first-timers to the every-day regulars, who are helping me change my life. I am always aware that the job I am doing at Starbucks is part of my education. Accurately steaming the milk for a Blonde Flat White and making the customer connection is just as important as studying for my Spanish final.
I have been inspired by the unselfishness of a company that is willing to pay partners’ tuitions, which will ultimately enable them to leave their jobs. At first, it appears to be illogical, but it is this backward thinking that changes our future. Howard Schultz once said in an interview, “we can’t build a great company and we can’t build a great enduring country if we’re constantly leaving people behind.”
I once felt left behind, but now my dreams are beginning to materialize. I have been hired in three local school districts to work as a Substitute Teacher while I pursue my Teaching Credential and Master’s Degree in Education. I cannot wait for the days when I will hopefully inspire the love of learning onto a group of students. It truly is never too late to become who you were supposed to be.
Jacquelyn Sill
ASU Graduate, Class of 2019
spiritual growth

For Everything, A Season

When we were five, we were five until our next birthday when we magically became six, and this journey continued until we hit puberty. We didn’t understand Life’s Seasons, for us the seasons of life were Summer and Christmas. That was the way of youth, we simply existed in our current phase unaware that we’d eventually grow and change.

For myself, even as a teenager, I missed signs of forthcoming life changes because I was preoccupied with other pressing matters, such as “How long will Luke and Laura be able to evade Robert Scorpion?” (For those of you under 50, google it) or “Who is this chick singing about a taking a Holiday, and where can I get my own lace, fingerless gloves?” (you know this one, right?) As I aged and started “adulting” I began to have a minor understanding to the ever-changing nature of the seasons of life.  I came to understand that whatever I was going through was simply a season, and eventually that season would pass. Productivity, inactivity—both were going to sway in and out of my adult life. Extreme happiness, overwhelming grief—both were seasons that would not last. When consulting friends or mentors for advice, I was consistently reminded of the sage wisdom found in Ecclesiastes 3:1.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

As a young mother, I had a love/hate relationship with the idea of life’s constant changes. I wanted the next season, and I didn’t. For me, it was all about the beautiful flowers blooming in my garden—or more aptly, falling out of my womb: I gave birth to four babies in five years. (My husband would sneeze and I would get pregnant. Two of our babies were born 10 and ½ months apart. I mean, come on…) The truth is, the most chaotic things happening in my life were also the most spectacular. This season was incredibly hard, but even in the midst of it I was fully aware that these little blossoms were going to one day float away with the wind. So, while I longed for the season to be less intense, and prayed for my eldest to stay in bed through the night, I also knew that when this season ended I would long for one more day in it.

Eventually the season shifted. Spring gave way to Summer, so to speak. Now, kids may love Summer, but I could write a book, give lectures, and do a stand-up comedy act about the myriad of ways I attempted to avoid dealing with the harsh heat of this season. Not only was I no longer the smartest person in my home, I didn’t even come in third place! My wardrobe was suddenly all wrong, my advice rarely landed on willing ears, and someone had replaced my face with my Mother’s. I was losing sight of who I was.

But I could write. For reasons I still don’t understand, I could express myself and make an ordinary event sound adventurous. The first essay I ever wrote was about my daughter who had died suddenly in 1995. I printed it out and shared it with a couple of close friends, and while I knew it was therapeutic for me, I never saw it as more than that. If it was a gift, it was a gift from God to me: a way for me to work out my emotions and think like Him.

Over time, writing became more and more important to me. Several years ago, when my life went topsy-turvy, writing became my truest confidant, loyally helping me express what I didn’t even fully understand and in turn, helping me understand. God used it in ways I never dreamed or imagined. But through it all, it never occurred to me that writing might be a season.

Over the last year, it has become remarkably difficult for me to find my voice, and it has become nearly impossible to find the hours to explore. Perhaps it comes from being a full-time student with a part-time job. Or, maybe it’s having a husband who likes to spend time with me. Possibly, it’s living with my daughter, whose Love Language is Quality Time. Or maybe it’s the result of sharing a home with my two small grandchildren—the blossoms of the blossom. At first, I tried to make it work, but everything sounded stale and redundant. Eventually, I gave up trying. Every so often someone will ask, “Are you writing?” and I feel my head slink forward and down, ashamed.

And with that slinking feeling, for the first time in my life, I became curious about TREES.

15 months ago, we bought a house with 12 trees, 7 of which are fruit trees. Last March we were stunned by the blossoms. Each tree was flawless, making it quite possibly the prettiest backyard we’d ever had. And the fruit! Last year we had apples, apricots, peaches, plums, pomegranates, and 10 cherries. (Yeah, I know, the cherry tree didn’t really pull her weight). It was inspiring to watch these trees, barren at the close of escrow, bursting with beauty and life. And, I felt like I was doing such a great job as an orchard farmer! Other than the ongoing battle with the birds about fruit ownership—it was a great harvest.

But then it ended. The last apple fell and the unpicked pomegranates split open and spilled their seeds. The leaves withered and died. The birds moved on. And I wondered about my trees. Did they try to hold onto their Autumn leaves? Were they concerned about their appearance without them? Did they question this Winter season and their usefulness within it? Did they feel less significant during the holiday season? Did they spy the Douglas Fir we brought into our home during December? Were they jealous of her lavish treatment, envious of her rich, colorful adornment—and then shocked at the way she was tossed to the curb come January 1st?

I guess, what I wondered most of all was this: when a tree loses her fruit, when her leaves change color and blow away in the wind, does she know it isn’t forever? Does she understand that this is just a season, or does she pine for the fruitfulness she once had?

I stare out my window at her thin outstretched limbs, willing her to come to life and answer a thousand questions—or maybe two—but I realize, it’s impossible to win the attention of a tree in Winter, because even though she doesn’t appear to be doing anything in this season, she’s engrossed. From dawn till dusk she’s absorbing the sunlight, drinking it in like warm English tea. Without the distraction of pesky birds, without the burden of leaves, she’s enjoying the feel of the afternoon breeze on her bark. While the rest of the world celebrates the turning of a calendar, she is winding her roots deeper, and deeper still, into dark places. DIRT, it equals nutrients and stability…what we avoid is what makes her strong. And on the coldest, cloudless night, she’s gazing up at the full moon. She doesn’t know the value of these things; she’s a tree and her understanding of the ways of God are limited to only what she senses on this day—in this moment. But, even without knowing if God will ever use the things He is doing in her, she stands, she waits, and she trusts that this season will eventually pass.

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” –Hal Borland

Freedom · Grief · spiritual growth

On Choosing Abortion and Choosing Life

I’ve been on both sides of the abortion issue. Meaning, one time when I was pregnant I chose abortion and one time when I was pregnant, and advised to choose abortion, I chose life. This doesn’t make me more knowledgeable than others on the issue of abortion, it just makes me an expert on abortion as it affected my life.

Traveling backward in time thirty-four years ago, I was a was a High School senior who was struggling with poor self-esteem and had a hard time talking to boys. Words failed me (something that’s now hard to believe) and it was a relief to avoid conversation and “make-out” instead. I felt safe and I felt wanted when I was being held. Eventually, I ended up pregnant.

Scared as I was, I legitimately thought abortion was what my father would have wanted me to do. And I was more scared of disappointing him than anything else. I chose to have an abortion. Weeks later, my father found out what I had done and he told me frankly, “I think abortion is wrong.” I have often wondered what my life might look like if my father and I had had that conversation prior to me making that choice.

The reason the wondering attached itself to me is because there were so many years spent recovering from the hole that my abortion created. While my self-esteem may have been low prior to the pregnancy, after the abortion it plummeted. I have memories of cutting out images of little boys and taping them to my wall and naming them Christopher. I remember fastening the seatbelt in my car as if I had a passenger. Through the years, time and again, I did the math to determine the age of the never-born child.  It was confusing.

I hadn’t shown love to my baby, and I was heartbroken.

Eventually, I married and my husband and I began to build a family. That didn’t stop the wound from oozing every now and again. During my second pregnancy with my husband, I learned I was having a boy. We already had a girl, so this was supposed to be good news, but I was struggling with the idea that I couldn’t love a boy-child. Somehow, I had concocted a fantasy that the aborted child was a boy. I was trying to remove the pain of what I had done to him and determined my love for my living child was only possible because she was a girl. I distanced myself from the child I had aborted with a belief that I wouldn’t have loved him as much as I loved my daughter.

God worked in my life in many ways to show me that despite making a bad decision, I was still loved. Perhaps the most significant way He worked came through my third pregnancy (in my marriage).

In April 1993, precisely ten years after I had chosen to abort my first child, I was lying on a doctor’s examination table being advised to have an abortion. The baby had a rare, sporadic brain malformation called, Dandy Walker Malformation. In layman’s terms, the baby was missing her cerebellum, which is the back portion of the brain. The cerebellum controls fine and gross motor skills. Without the cerebellum, there was no way to know if the child would walk, have the ability to use her hands, or even breathe without assistance. It is also the passageway for cerebral fluid as it exits the skull and, eventually, the body. Without that passageway, the child would develop hydrocephalus.

I do not tell this to villainize the doctor for what she suggested.  Based on her values, her desire to see young couples have healthy babies, and what she understood about Dandy-Walker malformation and the risks associated with hydrocephalus, the doctor’s suggestion for abortion as an alternative was not meant to harm us. In her opinion, abortion was a viable option. If anything I have always been grateful that she suggested it, and here’s why.

It was no coincidence that I was in that place again. It was part of the plan of God, who knits together the most intricate stories to draw attention to His goodness.  I was being allowed to choose again. Free will is at its finest when we choose the ways of God. In that moment that I chose life for my little girl, my heart was being healed in ways that I wouldn’t understand for another decade.

Some may be offended by this, but I have always been grateful that I had a choice. I am thankful that abortion was an option that I could deny. I am thankful that I chose life for her. My choice may have looked like a gift to her, but it was really a gift to me.

And as the late Paul Harvey would say, “And now for the rest of the story…”

1931170_48882471969_8413_nThe baby girl was born and she wasn’t the monster that we had been warned about, not in any way. She had one surgery when she was five weeks old, and then her disability was almost non-evident. She was just one of our children. She crawled about the house wreaking havoc like any toddler and she had preferences in toys, books, and foods.

Then one January morning, my daughter, that I chose life for, passed away. In a breath of a moment, she was gone. Cerebral fluid had coagulated, forming a non-malignant cyst which settled on her brain stem while she was sleeping. Everything was fine, and then she was gone. She was nineteen months and five days old at the time.

I loved my daughter and I was heartbroken.

I am not going to compare the grief of losing a nineteen-month-old child to abortion, however, I do want to say that in both instances I have experienced disappointment and heartbreak. Because of that, I want to say this: there is a difference in suffering when it is accompanied by regret than when it is not.

Again, I am not an expert on the abortion issue, I just know how it affected my life. I have experienced regret for choosing abortion and lived with the effects of that for over half my life. Choosing abortion left a hole in my heart and the dagger that was tearing into me was regret.

I have also experienced satisfaction in being able to choose life, but I have felt the pain of the loss of that child for over twenty years. Choosing life for a child, who would die less than two years later, left a hole in my heart–but I have never experienced a day of regret for the choice that was made.


Where the Water Rages – An excerpt

Bhubing Palace grounds

In honor of this Sunday’s upcoming book signing, it seemed like a good time to post an excerpt from Where the Water Rages. If you’ve been on the fence about reading it, here’s your chance to check out a portion of the book and see if it piques your interest. The following excerpt from Chapter 10 takes place at the Bhuping Palace in Chiang Mai, where Kimly Denim, an American journalist is meeting with SuSuk, the head of a prostitution ring, a man with ties throughout the Southeast continent.

Her surroundings were mesmerizing. The ferns were enormous and the trees had thick vines falling to the ground. Some of the vines had fallen, landing onto another tree, and the two had grafted together. The walkway narrowed in places and the ferns brushed softly against her arm.

After climbing about thirty steps, Kimly saw a man waiting for her. Kimly opened her mouth to speak, but nothing emerged. His neck. The tattoos. It was him, the man from the bathroom at Walking Street.

Just as she turned to rush back down the steps, she heard the deep voice of the man from the restroom issue a command,“Stop.”

She didn’t have to obey, did she? She stopped. As she gazed straight ahead, the most brilliant bush of purple asters caught her attention. The sharp pointed petals pierced the green fern it neighbored. The fern submitted to the radiant beauty of the aster. She looked back at the man with the tattoos, pulled her chin up and held his gaze.

Tattoo Man nodded his head up towards the stairs, clearly indicating she should continue climbing the steps. Is he going to follow me? She turned and moved upward, the sound of her heart pounding growing louder with each step. She had taken about seven steps when she turned and glanced over her shoulder. Tattoo Man hadn’t moved to follow her. So, you’re not him? She continued her climb.

Reality snapped into focus. She knew there would be many people, many men, involved in this underground business. She reminded herself that to these men–this was just a business. Just like any large corporation, there are underlings and there is a CEO. Am I meeting the CEO, or is this SuSuk below someone else? 

A small opening in the trees appeared, and in the alcove there sat a stone bench overlooking the palace grounds. Sitting on the bench, with his back to Kimly, was a man smoking a cigarette. Kimly approached, practicing her lines in her head, when the man spoke, “Come, have a seat.”

Taking a deep breath, Kimly moved forward to the edge of the bench. The man was wearing a gray suit and a black and gray striped tie. The suit jacket was unbuttoned, and his shirt had a reflective luster. He sat, one leg crossed over the other, and dangled his foot. When he pulled his cigarette up to his lips, she noticed the gold cufflinks attached to his pale pink shirt. He wore rimless glasses with a gold bridge. His oily complexion was smooth, and his thin eyebrows pointed down towards his eyelids. He had almost nailed the appearance of the wealthy and successful Asian businessman, one who would be holding a meeting with clients in a Bangkok sky rise. Everything was almost perfect. Almost. His black dress shoes were unpolished and slightly scuffed, and they didn’t blend with the image he was trying to portray.

She wasn’t sure how she should greet him. Her heart was pounding. If this man was to believe she was just another client she couldn’t act fearful, she needed to appear desensitized to their arrangement. As she got closer, she cleared her throat to speak.

“Come and sit. We have to discuss a few things,” he motioned her to the edge of the stone bench.

Kimly drew in a deep breath and moved closer to the bench.

“Go ahead. How does this work,” being near him was repulsive, so she decided whatever he said at this point, she would simply agree. If he asked for more money, she would agree and then leave with her life.

“How did you find me?” he took a drag from his cigarette.

“Your men were waiting when we came up the path.”

“No,” he did not turn to look at her. “How did you find me?” He gazed across the grounds of the palace.

“You told us to come here. Early this morning, on the bridge,” she squinted her eyes.

“No. How did you find me?”

Kimly turned her head away and looked out across the palace grounds. In the distance, she saw an expansive building resembling a ski lodge. The white building sported a twenty-foot orange tile roof which shot at an 80degree angle toward the sky. There were several pillars across the front of the building protecting the ample porch. Was that the palace? She expected it to look more “palace-y.” Perhaps her notions of royalty were completely off. Did corrupt underworld figures have access to influence in the Royal Family?

“I bought a box from a vendor on Walking Street. It contained the name of the bridge,” Kimly tried again to answer the business man’s question.

The strangely dignified man, who Kimly determined was, in fact, SuSuk, inhaled long on his cigarette. He still hadn’t turned to look at her. He exhaled. She waited. She had moved her boat into his port, given him the answers he sought; it was up to him to navigate the waters.

“I once tried to own a dog,” SuSuk looked at his cigarette, but still not once at Kimly, “I find him outside my house, so I decide I will feed him.” He took a long drag from his cigarette and then flicked it forward. It flew over the ridge and disappeared in the greenery. A ring on his hand sparkled in the sun, which was just above eye level.

“I feed him every day for many days. Then one day, I went out into my yard to have a picnic. This is what you Americans like to do…to have a picnic. I was in my yard eating the leg of chicken. I was sitting under my tree, eating my leg of chicken and when I turn my head, the dog grabbed my chicken from my hand. He took what was mine. I had fed him, and I had planned to keep feeding him. But, he took what was mine.”

Kimly swallowed hard and then breathed deeply.

“I could have killed him, but what would he learn?” He didn’t continue. He sat staring straight ahead. Is he waiting for me to answer? Kimly’s mind swam.

“Nothing. He would have learned nothing if I killed him. So, I cut off his front leg. A leg for a leg, right?” Kimly’s eyes were going to betray her. She could feel the lump building in her chest. His voice dropped to a near-whisper, “You’re not looking for a housekeeper, are you?”

“No…I mean, yes, I am. Whatever you think I am…No, I’m not. I just want a housekeeper who won’t cheat me and won’t steal—”

“Stop,” he interrupted her performance. “Answer my question. How did you find me? How did you know to buy the box? Who told you to go to Walking Street?”

Kimly’s mind was spinning. How could I have been so stupid? Answers were a million miles away. This should have been a simple answer, and she couldn’t conjure up anything in response.

“You know what I think? I think you are looking for more than you should be looking for. I think you are trying to steal something from me. I don’t like it when someone steals from me. What’s mine is mine,” and with that said, SuSuk turned and looked for the first time into Kimly’s brown eyes.

She looked away, “I don’t know what you are talking about. I was told by a friend you could assist me in getting the help I needed. But, if this is not what you do, that’s fine.”

Kimly stood, and SuSuk grabbed her wrist. “I’m not finished.” He stood and began to lead her back toward the path. Dak couldn’t help her from the bottom of the steps. If he came running up the steps he would meet the tattooed underling half way up…then what? The thought of Dak getting hurt kept her from reaching into her pocket for her phone. She needed to get away.

When SuSuk reached the path, he pulled her along the steps down a different route. She looked around wildly for a clue as to what she could do. She grabbed a vine, holding it tightly; she attempted to stop them both. “Stop, please,” she insisted. “Where are you taking me?”

SuSuk’s strength was greater than hers. Kimly held tight to the hanging vine and it dug into her palm until she released it and continued stumbling through the mock jungle with him. He pulled her around the corner of a small white cinder block building and pushed her against the wall. With his right hand, he tightened his grip on her wrist. She pulled away from him trying to maneuver her body and gain control, but he used the forearm from his left arm to push her neck against the blocks. His gold cufflink cut into her jaw line.

Moving his face close to hers, he stood in front of her and Kimly could smell the burnt tobacco on his breath. “You will not steal from me. You will not make a fool of me. Do you think you are worth more than a dog that I fed?”


She heard it. She had heard this voice before, and she had not recognized it, but this time she knew. It was God. It was the God with a plan, Dak’s God. When Dak had prayed in the Jeep it was more than just hopeful words, God had heard Dak’s prayers and He had come with them to the palace grounds.

She closed her eyes and tried to think of the words to plead with the God with a plan to help her. “Open your eyes, you stupid woman. Look at me.” Kimly didn’t raise her eyes to his. She was afraid the evil would overcome any bit of confidence she might muster. She continued to search for the words a person might use to plead with God for protection. She didn’t know how to pray, so she simply began a silent uttering of phrases she remembered Dak praying in the Jeep. Forgive me for doubting. Surround me. Change the hearts. Please move…please. She could only remember pieces of what she had heard Dak pray, so she just kept repeating them.

Interested in reading more? Find Where the Water Rages on Amazon! Available in Paperback or on Kindle – CLICK HERE to Order your copy today!

Meet Jackie this Sunday Evening (01/22/17 from 4PM-6PM) at Wahfles Cafe – 1502 Foothill Blvd., La Verne, California

Community · Freedom · spiritual growth

Being Holiday Sad

sad-holiday-dogIt’s back! You feel it in the crisp autumn air, you hear it in the haunting voice of Karen Carpenter, and if you’re highly observant, you see it in the eyes of the folks directing you to insert your debit card into the chip reader. (Sidenote: do NOT EVER pull that card out early…you do not want to see what happens.)

What you are sensing is not only nostalgia from listening to the same songs you’ve listened to your entire life. It is not that the entire nation collectively agreeing to eat (basically) the same entree on the exact same Thursday is giving you an eery “Walking Dead” feeling. No, what you are sensing is more than that, what you are sensing is heightened holiday emotions.

This is wonderful if you are a three-year-old and the emotion is sheer joy over the fact that not only do you finally get to meet Santa Clause face-to-face but eventually he is riding Rudolf to your house and bringing you Paw Patrol toys! However, if you are reading this, you are not three. And the heightened emotions you are experiencing may not feel like a stroll through Winter Wonderland.

For some of us non-three-year-olds the emotions are hard. Damn hard.

There’s such a natural shift to reflectiveness during this winter season. We look back. We remember the past year. Or the year before that. Or the times when our children were small, and we were too _____ (busy, tired, overworked, obligated) and didn’t fully enjoy them. Or we did fully enjoy them…but they grew up anyway.

We rejoice at the profits from our wise investments of time and resources. We are thankful for the healing that God brought to someone we love. We don’t need a gift this season because watching that person celebrate the birth of the Savior means more than any trinket or gift  card. We praise God for the fortitude He gave us to endure that terrible time at school or work. We remember when we didn’t think that time was ever going to pass. 

And then there are the the memories that seem less victorious. We remember people we lost, people we hurt, times we were disappointed. Looking back is a rainbow of celebration and regret.

If we are blessed, we remember the year fondly. And if we are blessed, we may not remember it so fondly. That’s the thing about being blessed–we all are, but some of us still struggle.

clean-up-grocery-cart-rules-healthier-shopping-ftrAnd then there’s the shame that comes with the struggle. Feeling anything but bountifully happy as we shop for our holiday bird can heap extra weight into an already hard to steer shopping cart. I mean, you know what it’s like, right? You grab a cart as you are walking into the store and you realize that the wheel is a little rickety. You stop and look at it for a second, but then you decide, “Naw, I’m good. I’m just grabbing a few things.” Well, as you wander up and down the aisles, dodging the temporary displays of Stouffer’s Stuffing Mix, your cart gets heavier and less manageable. As you turn the corner into the frozen food section, you see that the turkeys have been reduced to .76 a pound. Well, since this is a great deal, you grab one for Thanksgiving dinner with the family and one for the church food drive. Meanwhile, the wheel on the cart is still rickety. The broken wheel didn’t get better just because you got generous.

The same is true for those of us who are blessed beyond measure, but sometimes unexplainably sad. We are wandering through this heartwarming season with a wound that won’t go away. Maybe it’s regret, maybe it’s remorse, maybe it’s something else altogether–but it’s real and even on an ordinary day, our cart has a rickety wheel. When the music, the lights, the trees, and the beauty of the season is added, our cart doesn’t stop being rickety.

And the shame associated with being sad when we’ve much to be thankful for is unmentionable. We are suddenly ungrateful–but we’re not! We are so grateful and thankful for the bounty of blessings, which just increases our shame for being simultaneously sad.

So, what do we do?

Maybe we start by admitting that we need help? Maybe we forsake the social media image of having it all together in order to forge authentic community. I mean, if the cart is truly damaged, why wouldn’t we get help when the burden is greater?

Maybe, just maybe, we simply say, “I feel sad” and we stop judging ourselves. Maybe we stop behaving as if being sad is synonymous with being in sin. Once we stop heaping guilt on ourselves for moments of melancholy we can move through the down times and get to the other side without having isolated ourselves from the people who, on most days, bring us insurmountable joy. Because, after all, it is the most wonderful time of the year.


Trying to Breathe

Someone tell me this is normal.

We are days away from closing escrow on a home that may be, to me, one of the most charming homes imaginable. At the same time, I am days away from everyone I know having the opportunity of reading my book and deciding for themselves if I can or cannot actually write. I am hours away from my first real day as a Barista in a coffeehouse. A job I used to pine for, years ago before my world went haywire.

These are all good things, and yet, I feel like I cannot breathe. My hands are shaking and I am filled with anxiety.

But I know this is not who I am. God called me to this day, for these things. He created me and has given me all I need to make it through today. He did not line these things up in October for the events to overpower me, and my fears will not push me to the place of behaving badly.

God cannot breathe for me, but He breathes through me, and I am strong enough and brave enough in Him.

Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:23


Freedom · spiritual growth


A few nights ago I sent a message to a friend telling her how much I longed to hear from God.

Having just relocated from another state, I have to find a new job. It’s time to start over, but because of the multitude of times we’ve already started over, my resume is a mismatched mosaic. An elementary school, two pediatricians’ offices, a year with an orthopedic surgeon, a couple of restaurants, and a church. Who was I going to become this time?

Was this going to be a matter of reinventing myself again? Because honestly, I was just beginning to know myself over the last couple years. To reinvent myself again would feel a little false, and if there is one thing I desire it is to live in total authenticity with who am, the things I do, and how I love and serve others.

I told her I was wishing God would provide a red neon sign with the words: APPLY HERE

The next morning, I sat with my journal and I repeated my plea.

“You are the only one who knows me, and You are the only one I trust. I need you to speak to me in ways that I will hear and understand. Show me your will. Show me where you want me to invest my time.”

Later that day, I drove over to introduce myself to a potential employer. Walking up to the building I saw a couple laughing and enjoying the fall weather, I nearly bumped into an Instagram friend at the door–we spoke for a moment, and as people passed us by, I saw the hint of what could be my new normal. But I didn’t see a sign that read: APPLY HERE

Once inside, I didn’t see the sign either, rather, I saw the face of a woman who offered her hand and a smile. We chatted, and she decided to give me an interview on the spot.

During the interview we talked about books, writing, travel, being a diligent worker and what it means to be happy to serve someone else. At one point, she posed a question that no one has asked me in…well, forever. Looking up from her clipboard she inquired, “What are your personal goals for the next five years?”

In that moment, and without hesitation, the words fell not only from my mouth but from my heart, “I want to create a home that is safe and welcoming for my family and the people I love.”

The interviewer tilted her head to the right and made the slightest raise of an eyebrow. I read her expression: Confused, curious. I knew what was happening. It wasn’t the answer she had expected to hear from a woman who has three adult children. It wasn’t the answer she expected to hear from someone my age.

I smiled and continued, “I want to build a place where my adult children can gather. My children lost that for a while. Actually, we all did, and that’s what I want. I want to us to have a place we can call home, a place where my husband and I can thrive. Oh, and I want to write another book.”

Later, as I was driving home, I realized how incredibly thankful I was for that unexpected question. I surprised myself.

The thing I want most was the thing that came to my mind first. I don’t know how long it has been since my number one desire was to build that kind of a nest for my family. It’s been at least a decade. I remember many years when it did not matter to me. Proverbs 14 says, “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish woman tears it down.” That verse replayed in this foolish woman’s head ten-thousand times after I watched my household come tumbling down. Losing a place where my children could gather was one of the hardest things to feel guilty about. It took a lot of prayer to give that back to the Lord. Yes, they are grown, but I don’t think children stop needing a nest simply because they fly around on their own. Knowing their parents’ nest is strong gives strength to their flight.


This is a thrilling discovery for someone my age. That mosaic resume, along with my soon-to-be-released book has taught me something about perseverance and the art of applying oneself. With the Lord, I have it in me to persevere until He transforms my weaknesses into His masterpieces. If I apply myself to building a home that is safe for my family and honoring to Him, then it will be done.

I have been frightened, consumed, and almost depressed at the thought of where I was supposed to apply, and through an unanticipated question God sent me an APPLY HERE sign that I could understand. He showed me exactly where He wants me to apply my gifts, and where He will give the greatest return.

(By the way, the interviewer…she really like me. I probably got the job. We’ll know on Monday.)

Community · Freedom · Kimly's Trade

What I found left me breathless

Dreams come true. Sometimes it feels like a nightmare when it happens, but sometimes it evolves into a better reality than the original dream. In many ways, the latter is what happened with my novel, Where the Water Rages.

When I began knocking on the proverbial publishing door, I had little direction. I used search engines and Twitter to locate the names of publishers and literary agents and I made daily inquiries. All the while, I had a dilemma to overcome. As I searched, I learned that many mainstream publishers weren’t interested in a book with Christian themes, and many Christian publishers wouldn’t touch a book that dealt with themes present in my manuscript.

One day, after receiving umpteen rejections, a publisher began to show interest in the manuscript. Of course, I was shocked by their interest, and as we began the ebb-and-flow of building a deal, I looked for any information on the company. I was unable to believe that a publisher would really be drawn to the project and certain that this was a scam.

I’ll tell you what I learned about my publisher, and then I will tell you why YOU should care.

Kharis Publishing is an up and coming publishing house located in Northwest Arkansas, it’s an imprint of Kharis Media LLC, the leading mass media corporation in Africa. The team at Kharis Publishing is “committed to social empowerment through publishing and literacy initiatives.” The publishing company operates with a two-fold goal.

First, because they recognize how difficult it is for minority and first-time authors to get published, without relying on self-publishing, their goal is to give a voice to such authors. Second, is their unique business plan. This is the part that affects you as a potential reader of Where the Water Rages, and it’s the part that left me breathless:

“The second goal is to empower orphans to take charge of their lives, by building resource centers or mini-libraries within their orphanages so those kids can learn, dream, and grow. For every book sold, we donate $1 towards establishing such resource centers.”

Yep, that’s right. For every single book sold, Kharis Publishing donates $1 to an orphanage.

Why do they do this? Well, it all comes back to Francis Umesiri. Born in rural Nigeria, Francis Umesiri spent each day walking 3 miles to retrieve water for his family, and then he spent the evenings reading borrowed books by the light of a kerosene lantern. The two men who loaned him books challenged him to read as much as possible and to write reports on what he had read.

Today Dr. Francis Umesiri is a Biology professor at John Brown University in Northern Arkansas and the founder of Kharis Publishing. He credits his success in academia with his love for reading and the individuals who took an interest in his life by loaning him books.

As you can imagine, when I learned this, there was no other publisher I wanted to be in contract with. The story I wrote about a little girl who is sold into the slave trade is fiction, but the frustrating reality is that this isn’t fiction for too many children. The innocents who are victimized most often come from living situations where poverty is rampant, and an orphan child living on the streets is an easy target. To a child in a third world country, an orphanage is representative of hope, as often their extended families do not have the resources to care for them. Orphanages give them a chance that they might not otherwise have, but children need more than just food and shelter. To distance themselves from a disadvantaged life, they need knowledge; they need books, computers, and learning materials.

The idea that my fictional manuscript could play a part in empowering a child, in bringing resources for learning to an orphanage left me breathless.

Now, the manuscript is bigger than me, as good is integrated into the sale of each book.

Water ragesAnd this is why you should care. When you purchase Where the Water Rages you aren’t just keeping the wheels of big business spinning, as is often the case with larger publishing houses. No, you are supporting a publishing company who has made it their goal to be the difference in the lives of orphans. You are helping to build a library of books in an orphanage in Uganda, a place where it is difficult for children to acquire the books that are readily available in the United States.

One book, one dollar, every time.

Would you consider visiting Kharis Publishing today and purchasing a copy of Where the Water Rages?

Share this article on Facebook: be a part of my dream and help bring literacy to the life of a child.

Community · marriage

Back to Our Future, aka: We’re Moving!

It was 1988, I had been a Christian for less than 2 years, David was one month out of Bible college, and we were three weeks into our marriage, when we left California and drove across the country to Danville, Illinois, where my husband had taken a job as a Youth Pastor. During the transition, people called us “fearless.” Honestly, we weren’t fearless. Clueless, perhaps–but fearless? Not even close.

We learned pretty early on that our lifestyle was different than our peers, as their date nights and toddler’s schedules didn’t revolve around other people’s teenagers. Investing in someone else’s teenager is much like a welcoming a virus into your home, as the joys and trials overtake your thoughts, conversations, and family activities.

In the two decades that followed, we were both blessed and exasperated by the hundreds of young people we encountered living and ministering in the midwest and Southern California. We witnessed teenage friendships evolve into dating relationships that sometimes resulted in marriages, and then we experienced the joy of watching most of those marriages thrive and the grief when some of the marriages ended in divorce. My husband stood beside a young man when the frightened seventeen-year-old told his parents that his girlfriend was pregnant, and thanks to social media, we’ve watched that unplanned child be loved as she grew into a beautiful young woman. To say the least, our lives were positively altered by the teenagers who allowed us to be a part of their lives.

Over the course of the last decade, David’s ministry role within the church shifted. He was subtly ushered into jobs that were highly administrative and less relational. It would take several blog posts to explain how the transition began, how we each responded to and resisted these new roles and the way the undesired change affected his self-esteem, self-confidence, and ultimately our marriage. Mentioning the shift is irrelevant anyway, except in that it eventually frustrated us both to the point of asking questions in regards to what we wanted out of life, and the ways in which we each desired to serve the Lord and the community.

We began asking each other the romanticized question, “If money were no object, what would you do?” My answer was easy and obvious (#amwriting). David’s took months of contemplation to be realized.

After much prayer, consideration, and conversation, David is leaving his career as a Pastor to become a High School teacher.

Days after David made this decision, I woke up with random thoughts of Ruth Bell Graham, wife of Billy Graham. My heart sank as I compared myself to the upstanding woman. I thought, perhaps, if David had married a woman like Ruth, his life might have turned out so differently. Those in church leadership might value all he has to offer.  I blamed myself, the selfishness of my infidelity, for David’s life taking such a dramatic change. I felt as if I robbed him of a great life.

Once I was able to conjugate my shame into words, I shared my brokenness with my husband.

“If you had married someone like Ruth Graham, you wouldn’t be leaving the ministry,” I whispered through restrained tears.

“Who says I’m leaving the ministry?” he responded, “I’ll never stop doing ministry…and besides, if this is what comes of everything that happened, then GOOD! I couldn’t be more pleased,” and in his gentleness, he pulled me out of myself and into his belief.

And, he’s right. I can see how he will love these students and how they will bless his life. This man was created to be involved in the lives of students; he is a natural shepherd, a breathing example of God’s love as it is available through Christ. So, we leave the life we have always known for the life we once knew.

But, where?

95ccea7ce7a76aa1011145a2d49a9c43Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “the third time is a charm”, but do you know it’s folk history? The saying evolved from a British law, which said any person who survived three hanging attempts would be set free. The law came about in 1885 when a West Country sailor was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by hanging. After three failed attempts, the sailor was imprisoned and later released. He died a free man in the 1940’s.

Likewise, after two attempts at living in the Antelope Valley we are returning for the third time to live in the high desert of California. Beginning August 8th, David will be teaching at a public High School, and we will be investing in the community that has twice before been our home.  We are eager for whatever God has planned as we return to living in the wide open spaces, amid the wild poppies and Joshua Trees. Our hope is that the third time will be a charm, and this will be our final relocation. We have felt for a while that ‘the best is yet to come’, and we see that in going back we are moving forward.