Category Archives: Opinion

Don’t Be Shy or Scared by Carolyn Tucker

Keys to the Kingdom By Carolyn Tucker

When I know loved ones are coming to my home, I will often leave the front door ajar. This lets them know I’m expecting them and they can just walk right in. It’s important to me that they feel welcome, loved, valuable, and comfortable. I want our time together to be a warm-and-fuzzy memory the next day. If anyone needs something, it pleases me when they’re comfortable enough to either ask for it or simply get it themselves. My loved ones know they have open access to the snack cabinet and refrigerator. I encourage everyone to have an unreserved approach in my home.

 

Scriptures prove that God feels the same way about His children. Although God is to be revered, I deeply appreciate that He lovingly welcomes us into His throne room. He wants us to be unrestricted in our worship and prayers. “Because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear)” (Ephesians 3:12 AMP). God is ready, willing, and able to act on our behalf if we will only ask Him in confidence and faith.

 

I was reminded of the stressful fear Queen Esther surely experienced as she approached her husband/king on his throne. Prior to her entrance, she sent this message to her Cousin Mordecai: “All the king’s officials and even the people in the provinces know that anyone who appears before the king in his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter” (Esther 4:11 NLT). Even though Esther was the Jewish Queen of the Persian Empire, she did not have free access to her own husband. This strict law was actually frightening for king’s wives because there was absolutely no exception to this law. The wife could not enter the inner court whenever she pleased without first being invited by the king.

 

Esther sent another message to Mordecai: “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die” (Esther 4:16 NLT). At the risk of dying, Esther approached the king’s throne shrouded in fear from head to toe. For this was the same King Xerxes who furiously deposed his first wife Queen Vashti when she refused the royal summons to appear before the king, rulers, and nobles at a royal feast. (In a few days, we see that united prayer and fasting brought favor, not death, for Queen Esther because the king held out his scepter.)

 

God made a perfect way for us to come to Him through Jesus. “And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting Him“ (Hebrews 10:19,22 NLT). We are welcome to come right into the very presence of a Holy God without fear. “I have courage in God’s presence, because I am sure that He hears me if I ask Him for anything that is according to His will” (1 John 5:14 GNT).

 

God loves us and He doesn’t want us to be scared to approach Him in Jesus’ name. “I fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that I may receive mercy [for my failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when I need it]” (Hebrews 4:16 AMP).

The Key: Fearlessly, we can walk right in, sit right down, and take a load off.

Lost Your Temper? Good! by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche. 2023.
Author: A Little Faith Lift…Finding Joy Beyond Rejection
www.alittlefaithlift.com
AWSA (Advanced Writers & Speakers Assoc.)

“Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one.” Benjamin Franklin

When my friend’s daughter, Erin, was three years old, she threw a temper tantrum in a California mall.  While the embarrassed mother begged her to stop, a well-dressed woman walked up to my friend and whispered, “Play along.”  She approached the toddler and said, “Little girl, you come home with me.  Tell your Mommy good-bye.  Let’s go.”  You can guess what happened next.  Erin stopped crying, jumped up and ran into her mother’s arms.

Since the beginning of time, tempers have flared.  From Genesis to Revelation, there are stories of those who could not contain their anger. Let me rephrase that.  They “could” have; they “chose” not to. This behavior plays out in every arena, from wars to sporting events to political debates to the workplace to freeways to abusive homes to churches.  At the root of it?  Selfishness.  My way or my way.  Choose anything else, and you will pay.

On Instagram last week, I posted something I read on line: “Losing your temper is no way of getting rid of it.”  My daughter-in-law, Jenn, and her husband, Adam, recently celebrated their 22nd wedding anniversary.  She told me that Adam never had raised his voice at her. Dave and I tried to recall a time when Adam had lost his temper.  We couldn’t. (Like mother, like son.)   I wish!                                                                                                                                     Ephesians 4:31 brings us Paul’s writing about how to deal with anger:  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  No exceptions.  No matter how much your therapist advises you to “get it all out.”  No matter the injustice done to you.  No matter how much better you feel afterwards.  We are to “put away” those temptations, not in a drawer where we can pull them out whenever something provokes us or reminds us of how we were treated, but locked up and buried.

When our son Andy was nine years old and was catching in a Little League game in Texas, the batter hit a home run.  As he crossed the plate, Andy stuck out his foot and tripped the runner. He face-planted in the dirt.  Had Andy’s coach not gotten to my son first, I was prepared to jump the fence and do the disciplinary deed.  Coach took him by the back of his neck and marched him over to the opposing team’s dugout and made him apologize.

Where did that behavior come from?  Neither Dave nor I had instilled in our kids the “win at all cost” attitude. In F.B. Meyer’s sermon “Tempers, and What to Do with Them,” he addresses five kinds of tempers: “The hot temper, which flashes out with the least provocation. The sullen temper, which is a great deal worse to deal with, because it takes so long to come round. The jealous temper, which, in trying to keep all for itself, loses all. The suspicious temper, which is always imputing the worst motives. The malicious temper, which loves to instill the drop of poison, or make the almost imperceptible stab with its stiletto.”  Do any of those describe you?

The good news is that we Christians can muffle our anger. If we immediately recognize it as sin and rely on the Holy Spirit to help us control it, we have at our disposal help from the Prince of Peace who offers us victory over our sin.

All we have to do is ask.

 

Be Kind, Rewind by Carolyn Tucker

Keys to the Kingdom By Carolyn Tucker

 

 

Years ago, it was considered a common courtesy to rewind the rented VHS movies before  returning them. And to remind us of this act of kindness, a label was placed on the cassette that read, “Be Kind, Rewind.“ It’s pretty much the same principle as returning the shopping cart to the proper spot. I was with my mother-in-law once when she returned her cart to the outdoor stall in the parking lot. Not only did she return the cart, she straightened out several others that were in disarray inside the stall. Her act of kindness made an impression on me. I will occasionally straighten them out too and I think of her.

 

My sister-in-law gave me a decorative sign that reads: Do the kindest things in the kindest way. It hangs close to another sign: “Do small things with great love.” Kindness is a priceless attribute that’s often ignored. There’s a New Testament scripture that always reminds me of my sweet mother: “Make yourselves beautiful on the inside, in your hearts, with the enduring quality of a gentle, peaceful spirit. This type of beauty is very precious in God’s eyes” (1 Peter 3:4 CEB.) Mom had dark sparkling eyes, an exuberant laugh, and a kind spirit that was a blessing to those who knew her.

 

Living like Jesus is living as kind people. Believers are to practice kindness every day. “Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ” (Ephesians 4:32 CEB.) Part of being kind is not holding a grudge by being quick to forgive. When we practice forgiving, we‘re practicing kindness and the beneficial result is personal peace.

 

“Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12 NLT.) Christ followers should have a desire to treat people with a sense of importance and respect. Encouraging one another with words of affirmation should be a daily goal for us. When we put others before ourselves we show them they are acknowledged, loved,  and valued. Giving kindness is like water to a plant, catnip to a kitten, or a bone to a dog.

 

The ability to listen is nearly nonexistent in today’s culture. However, really listening is an excellent example of kindness. A kind person doesn’t butt in to make themselves the topic of the conversation. Plus they’ll ask comfortable questions and turn their attention to the other individual. When we’re engaged in listening, sometimes the individual isn’t seeking a solution, but rather a kind person with whom to share their concerns. Wherever there are people, there are opportunities for kindness.

 

Here’s a great scripture if ever there was one: “…You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry” (James 1:19 NLT.) My favorite movie star, John Wayne, must have read his Bible because he’s been quoted as saying: “Talk low, talk slow, and don’t say too much.” It’s been said that because we were created with two ears and one mouth, we should listen twice as much as we talk.

 

When someone has a heartache, we’re being kind and wise when we empathize. “When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness” (Proverbs 31:26 NLT.)  Let’s be like Jesus and show more kindness to all who cross our path.

 

The Key: The positive effects of kindness are eternal.

Should We Be Alarmed? by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche. 2023.
Author: A Little Faith Lift…Finding Joy Beyond Rejection
www.alittlefaithlift.com
AWSA (Advanced Writers & Speakers Assoc.)

Dave and I have two new houseguests.  In the beginning, I enjoyed their company, but recently I’ve become annoyed with them. Hubby finds them kind and cooperative.  Probably because his wish is their command. He makes a request, and they speedily comply. He’s loving it and appears overly grateful and mannerly when these womenfolk respond.

“Siri, please set my alarm for 6:30”

“Okay.  Your alarm is set.”

“Thank you.”  (Dave seriously thanks her.  He thanks a robot, and it responds with “You’re welcome” or “My pleasure.”)

The other night, when he asked her to set his alarm, he altered his request.

“Thank you, Sweetie,” he said, thinking himself funny.

She did not answer.  Dave waited, staring at his cellphone.

“Dave,” I said, “You ticked her off when you called her ‘Sweetie.’  You crossed a line.”

“I did not.  She appreciated me being nice to her.”

This scenario was repeated the following night.  Still no “Thank you” from Siri.

“Told you,” I said.

When Hubby tried it with Alexa, she, too, failed to appreciate his term of endearment.

“You haven’t earned the right to call her “Sweetie,” and you don’t live in the South where everyone calls everyone “Sugar,” “Honey,” or “Sweetie.”

When I realized I was lecturing him on how to talk to a robot, I knew that we both were in mid-stages of brain decline.

Dave decided to trick Alexa to determine if she really was listening to our conversations, whispering to me ahead of time what he was doing before saying loudly, “Patty, I think we should buy a new vacuum,” pointing his face towards our new friend. Within minutes, Dave’s iPad lit up with ads for vacuums.

Personally, I found that alarming.

We are entering a world where AI (Artificial Intelligence) is causing us to question where we are headed.  We appreciate that it directs our driving routes, screens job applicants and has tremendous potential in medicine and science, but we must ask where it all ends.

Today, I asked Alexa if we humans are special among other living things.  She said that we were because we can think and be creative. I was glad she didn’t lump us in with vegetables and animals.

In Linda Kinstler’s article “Can Silicon Valley Find God,” she wrote about Rob Barrett, a researcher at IBM in the ’90s.

One day, he was outlining the default privacy settings for an early web browser feature. His boss, he said, gave him only one instruction: “Do the right thing.” It was up to Mr. Barrett to decide what the “right thing” was. That was when it dawned on him: “I don’t know enough theology to be a good engineer,” he told his boss. He requested a leave of absence so he could study the Old Testament, and eventually he left the industry.

Recently, I read that AI writes sermons and that there is an AI Jesus app where the app speaks to you as if it’s Jesus talking to you.  “What is going to be created will effectively be a god,” engineer Andrew Levandowski forewarned and continued, “It’s not a god in the sense that it makes lightning or causes hurricanes. But if there is something a billion times smarter than the smartest human, what else are you going to call it?”

Certainly, not God, Mr. Levandowski.

My God is eternal, omnipresent and omniscient.  He created the person who programs the AI system, and He not only offers us eternity, He delivered it by sending His son, Jesus Christ, to die for us, something AI can only imagine doing.

He is the only god I will call “God.”  I am concerned for those who do otherwise.

Letter to The Editor: Cory Bryars

As a resident of Bourbon County and highly engaged in several goings-on in Fort Scott, I strongly advocate for a City staff position to represent the best interests of Fort Scott in Economic Development efforts in our City, County, and region. I am asking fellow residents to vocally support this via phone calls, emails, Facebook or however you make your opinion known
Nothing against any of the third-party agencies that are involved in trying to bring business, housing, training, workforce, whatever, to Fort Scott, but each has its own agenda and its own leadership. They each do what they do well, but what they inherently can NOT do is put the City of Fort Scott first and foremost in ALL of their efforts. And that is what ONLY the City of Fort Scott CAN do, and needs to do.
In the best of times, economic development is a vital part of City operations. In times like these with pending closures of major employers, it is paramount that we take swift and decisive action to assess what other economic issues might be coming our way, head off any that we can, and actively preserve as well as grow our existing business and housing base.
And this action is long overdue. The City Manager stated clearly in the Feb 6 City Commission meeting that existing local businesses need to be contacted regularly, and it is known that to-date they have not been. Why not?
A letter from REDI to the community stated that Timken and Valu leadership/corporate were contacted immediately upon the closure announcements. This is REACTIVE—not a recipe for success. Why were relevant city and county officials and their contracted economic development entities not in regular PROACTIVE contact with local and corporate leadership—asking what’s working, what’s not, what threats are there to your staying in Fort Scott? What do you need to never leave Fort Scott, and to grow your operations in Fort Scott. Why? Because perhaps WE DON’T HAVE A PERSON WHOSE JOB THAT IS?? WHY NOT???
Some have said Brad Matkin can do that. Some have said REDI can do that. Some might think that is the role of a Chamber of Commerce, or a group of civic-minded private citizens who are good at getting things done.
And maybe you know the old story of Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. Well—if you do, it’s worth hearing again relative to this situation, and if not—here ya go…
There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.
The moral of the story? NOBODY DID IT. Is that the Fort Scott way? Every day I see people of ACTION, changing old things, making new things, whatever it takes to GET IT DONE. We have the people, and we have the spirit, but for the last several years apparently, we HAVEN’T HAD THE JOB ASSIGNED.
I had a discussion with a party relevant to one of the closures as to whether they would have entertained work-study or apprenticeship programs from the high school or FSCC. Their answer was “absolutely, but no one ever even asked if they were interested, let alone proposed an actionable plan.” Sure—the phone rings both ways, but if we want to control our destiny, we don’t wait for that call—WE DIAL THAT PHONE A THOUSAND TIMES EVEN IF THEY DON’T CALL BACK ONCE!
We’ve been hearing that there are work-force problems—from skill set to just a willingness to show up on time, if at all. That problem wasn’t resolved with significant pay increases—that it is a sign of a deeper problem than any one company or city or county can solve. These are cultural issues, so we’ve got to get the schools involved, and community programs well beyond chasing net new business.
Sure, there are several agencies that I’m aware of that are working on their perceived portion of this, and I’m sure the cliché of “Together, we can start to make change” is true in this case, but WHO IS TYING IT TOGETHER? WHO IS ADDRESSING IT FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE OVERALL WELL-BEING OF OUR CITY, which drives the well-being of our County and surrounding areas.
$40,000 to REDI might as well be washed away in river foam 😉 UNLESS we have a systemic way to specify how it SHOULD be used, How it WAS used, and what the RESULTS were.
Instead of starting with how little can we spend and hope to get better results from an entity over which we have little or no control and whose results are not where everyone “planned” them to be, how about we say—
∙ What are our desired end results? (how many dwellings, incremental tax dollars, FTEs, whatever other measurable results)
∙ How do we achieve those results?
∙ And once we have an action plan, How Much Will It Cost?
∙ And if we can afford—we do it. If not, we cycle back and prioritize until we have $$$ and actions aligned. And if we say we can’t afford it, are we willing to accept the results? If not—find a way to afford it—we have the money, and there are ways.
This is not an indictment of REDI. Far from it. And it is not a recommendation that more money at REDI is the solution. And it is not an endorsement of HBCAT, although I do support them strongly, as well as supporting REDI and any other entity helping our citizens.
This is ONE THING—a call for action by our City Commission to hire a City employee to look out for the best interests of our city. That is the solution. Not a solution. THE SOLUTION.
Cory Bryars…913-269-3122 text or call

Heart-Shaped Box by Carolyn Tucker

Keys to the Kingdom

By Carolyn Tucker

 

 

Dad and Mom have been gone for quite some time now; 11 years and 8 years respectively. I still miss my parents, but I’ve gotten used to them not being around. I’m often reminded of their biblical love for one another. I distinctly remember Mom telling me that Dad had given her a heart-shaped box of chocolates for every Valentine’s Day. Their hearts had intertwined so deeply that it was heartbreaking for them to be separated when Mom transferred to a healthcare facility. They were solidly married for 69 years.

 

There are at least three descriptive levels of love: words, actions, giving. There’s probably something wrong in our mindset if one of these three ways to express love is missing. Love is not saying, “I love you,“ when our attitude denies those words. Love is not doing the right thing with the wrong motive. And, by itself, love is not giving a box of chocolates, dazzling jewelry, or a dozen roses. Love is a steady intense affection that demonstrates genuine feelings of love with kindness and unselfishness.

 

I don’t want to live a small life that’s full of myself. I want to live with an enlarged heart full of love for others. God is the supreme example of what real love is because He is love; He invented it. Even in this pro-self society, brotherly love is still supposed to show up and reach out every day in every believer’s life. No love is more convincing than the God-kind of love flowing out from our own heart. The best motivating explanation of love is found in the New Testament:

 

“If I were to be so generous as to give away everything I owned to feed the poor, and to offer my body to be burned as a martyr, without the pure motive of love, I would gain nothing of value. Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. Love never stops loving” (1 Corinthians 13:3-8 TPT).

 

Christ followers are commanded to love, so it’s not a mere suggestion. In the above letter, Apostle Paul is teaching that love covers everything, like a roof covers the home. Genuine love doesn’t focus on what’s wrong but will patiently endure the shortcomings of others. Like a roof that protects, love doesn’t spring a leak. It’s a safe place that offers shelter, not exposure. Love doesn’t tell everything it knows, even if it’s true.  Love doesn’t throw anyone under the bus. Love takes a licking and still keeps ticking. In the end, love wins every time.

 

The Key: Love never goes out of style and neither will a heart-shaped box of chocolates.

God’s Timing: Always On Time by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche. 2023.. Submitted photo.
Author: A Little Faith Lift…Finding Joy Beyond Rejection
www.alittlefaithlift.com
AWSA (Advanced Writers & Speakers Assoc.)

How long do we trustfully wait on God to answer our prayers? A few days?  Months?  Years?   God told Abram that he would be the father of many nations, yet there he was, over 99 years old, and he and his wife, Sarai, had no kiddos.  What was Abram thinking?

“Maybe God confused me with someone else.”

“Maybe I misunderstood.  Maybe He said ‘kids.’  Yea, that’s it.  He’s giving me a herd of goats.”

“Maybe I need to help God and make this happen myself.  Yep, that’s what I’ll do.  After all, God is busy.  He probably forgot His promise.”

God had told Abram that his offspring would be numerous.  Ten years later, Abram remained childless. When God came to Abram in a vision and promised to be Abram’s shield and great reward, Abram wasn’t too hepped about receiving that promise. “LORD God, what good will your gifts be if I continue to be childless?”

I get it.  The only one in the picture to inherit Abram’s vast estate was Eliezer, his servant.  God reassured him that he would have his own son and that his offspring would be more than the “dust of the earth” (Gen. 13:16) and later, the “stars of the sky” (Gen. 15:5).

But doubts began to creep in, so Abram took matters into his own, wrinkly hands.  After all, what harm could it do?  He finally, by golly, would have a “legitimate” heir.  He impregnated his wife’s servant Hagar who birthed Ishmael, never realizing that, to this day, this royal mess-up would cause unending problems between the Israelis and the Arabs.

Abram impatiently moved forward to help God’s will come to pass.  Surely we can’t blame him, right?  Wrong.  God lives in a timeless zone.  What seems to us late, for God is on time. Perfect time.

Haven’t we all been there?  We take our requests to God.  And wait.  And wait.  And wait.  Do we patiently endure, knowing that God will answer in His time? Do we continue to exude peace?  Sure we do.

NOT!  If you’ve read any of my columns, you know that I do not wait in peace. I “do” the first part of Matthew 7:7 well. Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”  It’s the very next verse that causes me issues: “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”  I love the part that tells me I’m going to get what I want.  I don’t love the part that fails to tell me how long it will be before I “receive” what I’m seeking. (Not proud to admit that.)

We read that God did for Abram what He said He would do.  Sarai (meaning “my princess”), in her old age, birthed Isaac, and her name was changed to Sarah (“mother of nations”), while her husband’s name was changed to Abraham (“father of a multitude”).  I love that God did that miracle in their old age.  That way, they could give God all the credit.             Scripture makes it clear that God will answer our prayers.  He will.  Sometimes He wants us to figure things out on our own.  Other times, He wants us to grow our faith and trust in Him and His timing. (Sooooo hard, don’t you think?)  And let’s not forget that little “motive” thing.  Am I asking for something out of selfish ambition?

Mark 12:30 tells us that our relationship with God should have priority over any earthly matter.  Do we keep that in mind when we make our requests?  The way we answer that question likely determines the timing God uses to answer us.

 

 

 

 

Letter to the Editor

A CASA’s story:
I’ve been a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for three years now. I received my first case assignment the same week I was sworn in. For the last 1,095 days, I have thought about this moment.

The moment when my CASA kiddo would find their forever
home.

Kym has been through a lot in her short life. She’s been in and out of foster care for the last six years or so. It began when she was removed from her mother’s home due to abuse, ultimately ending up with her father, and then being removed from his home due
to neglect. The last time she entered the system was three years ago.

That’s when I entered the picture.

We met at a temporary placement home. This bright, well-spoken girl who, at the age of 10, had seen and experienced things that no child should.

If I’m being honest, I was a little nervous. We both were, I think. But she understood why she was there, and even understood why I was there.

We talked about her family (she really missed her father) and school (she LOVES school and is a straight-A student!) She loves Art. As evidenced by something she drew for me that day. Like the
artwork my son made for me when he was little, this is something I’ll always cherish.

But there was a limit on the amount of time she could stay in the temporary foster home.

And thus began a period in her life that sadly, too many children in Kansas experience.

She packed her belongings into garbage bags more times than any child should have to count. Twelve different times she moved from Foster Home to Foster Home. Back to her father. Then back to another Foster Home. And then with a friend. And on and on and
on.

Twelve times.

They (whoever “they” are) say that kids are resilient. And I saw that to be true with Kym. Time and time again.

But … I also noticed that with every move, it took a little more time
for her resiliency to make its way forward. Each move, more difficult than the last.

Without much choice, she would adjust. To a new “family”, a new school, new house rules, new doctors, new friends, new therapists.
There was individual therapy. And family therapy. And each time she moved, and had to change therapists, she had to start over. Revisiting those demons from her past. Rehashing all the things she’d seen and been through, throughout her short lifespan.
She just wanted to move on, you know?

As you might imagine, life “in the system” isn’t all fun and games. Wondering if you’ll ever be able to go home. Questioning whether your father will show up for your scheduled visit. Asking yourself, “is it something I did?” Speculating if you’ll ever find a
family of your own, one that will love you and keep you safe.

And still … during our visits, I would get a smile. And a hug. There was laughter. But there were also tears.

Of course, we talked about the things that we needed to talk about (“Do you need anything?”, “How’s school?”, “How are things here, at home?”). But we also talked about boys. Because pre-teens. And her friends. Yes, pre-teens. And boys. And her siblings. And her parents. And boys. And her foster-siblings. And boys.
This young girl. Bright enough to recognize when a “friend” really wasn’t a “friend” and when a boy wasn’t the right one either.

And always. Always. We talked about how she just wanted a family. Whether it be with her biological father or an adoptive family.

We’ve shared meals together, Kym and I.

We agree lemonade is awesome. As are chips and salsa. And we both love Dairy Queen ice cream. And their chicken fingers. With cream gravy. We’ve debated whether m&ms belong in your popcorn at the movies (for the record, they DO!) We both agree that popcorn should ALWAYS have butter on it!

I told her I had recently seen the movie, “Instant Family”, and how I had sat in the theater, and cried complete buckets. Just thinking of the day that she would find her forever home. She dutifully rolled her eyes and reminded me just how truly weird I was.

She’s a pre-teen. That’s what they do.

Kym wanted siblings. And pets. Preferably a home full of sisters. Somewhere in Kansas. She didn’t care if they were rich or poor. She just wanted someone to love. And to love her.

She was placed on the Adopt Kansas Kids website – the state’s website which highlights children looking for their forever home. It didn’t take long for families to see what a gem she is, what an amazing addition to their family she would be. Several
families thought she’d be the perfect fit for them.

A family was selected for a trial visit. After a weekend with Kym, the family was all in.

And she was too. I grabbed my box of Kleenex, because I thought, “this is it!”

But after a few short months, we started to see a change in Kym. Things that were, in my opinion, very un-Kym like. She and I sat in her bedroom and she cried. And cried. And cried some more. I could do little more than offer her a hug. And a promise to talk
things over with her caseworker and my supervisor.
And it became painfully obvious this wasn’t the home for Kym after all.

She was placed with a different family for a weekend. It’s called “respite”. When one foster family gives another foster family a little bit of a break.

And this family fell in love with Kym. She was, they said, their missing puzzle piece.
I won’t soon forget the phone call I received from Kym that Friday night. Angry and tearful, as she was removed from the home and transported to a safe space. A family friend who agreed to take her in for a short while. Until her new family was ready for
her.

Disappointed, but not deterred. Kym was relieved to be out of that situation and anxious to begin, yet again. That resiliency thing. Remember?

She packed her belongings (some in garbage bags, some in boxes) for the last time a few months ago.

As we drove through two counties to her new Foster-to-Adopt Home, she asked if we could stay in touch if she did end up getting adopted. I was overwhelmed. And I fought back tears. She rolled her eyes. And called me weird.

From the moment I met the family, I just knew. I knew that Kym would be loved. That she would be safe. That she’d have just the right amount of structure and discipline. But also an abundance of laughter and joy. She’d have sisters – just like she wanted. And
there were pets. And a Mom and Dad who acknowledged all that she had been through in her short little life and were determined to show her that her future was indeed, bright.

Kym and her new Mom and Dad were anxious to proceed with the adoption.

In the weeks leading up to the adoption, the excitement was palpable. Her parents are planning to have a huge party. And her Mom reminded me that I’m part of their family now too. And it made me so happy. And I envisioned myself sitting at Kym’s high school
graduation. Maybe even her wedding. Of course, I haven’t mentioned this to her yet.
Lest I reach a new level of ‘weird’ in her book.

Kym’s adoption was finalized last week.
“Surely”, I thought, “I can hold it together. This is a happy event. Oh, how wrong I was.

Like I had done so many times over the last three years, I reported to the Court that I agreed completely with this adoption. That Kym should be adopted by this family. That they would provide her love, and safety and stability. That she loved them. And they loved her. And then. My heart swelled. All the feels gathering in my chest. And bubbling out of me uncontrollably. My emotions overcoming any amount of resilience I had left to hold them back. The tears came. In buckets.

A short time after the hearing, after she had called all of her new family members, her Meme and Papoo, her Omi and PawPaw and Grammy, and all of her aunts and uncles and cousins, we got to see each other and chat.

To say it was an emotional day, is quite an understatement.
We talked about the happy tears. That she cried. That her Mom and Dad cried. That her caseworker, her attorney, my supervisor and I had cried.
And she didn’t even roll her eyes at me. Not once.
She sat on her back porch. Wrapped up lovingly in her Mom’s arms. The three of us smiling through our tears. And I knew.
She is HOME.
Bourbon County CASA is seeking additional volunteers to be a voice for children like Kym.

Email [email protected] to find out how you can become an advocate for abused and neglected children.

Run of the Mill by Carolyn Tucker

Keys to the Kingdom By Carolyn Tucker

Excellence in quality used to be a big deal. I remember when houseware items were made from strong metals that would last. In 1980, I purchased a steam iron that still works today. Nowadays, there’s a lot of plastic breakable parts in the merchandise we buy. Things aren’t built to last and certainly aren’t manufactured with excellence in mind. Anything that’s run-of-the-mill is not outstanding in quality and is considered ordinary, average, and not special. I’m not fond, and certainly not impressed, with the attitude and design that screams “it doesn’t matter.” Excellence absolutely matters in all areas of life.

 

The Lord told Moses to send twelve spies into the land of Canaan which He was giving to the Israelites. At God’s command, Moses commissioned them to find out what kind of country it was, the number of people, how strong they were, etc. They returned after their 40-day reconnaissance mission and reported that the land was rich and fertile. Caleb said, “We should attack now and take the land; we are strong enough to conquer it” (Numbers 13:30 TEV). But the other ten spies disagreed, “No, we are not strong enough to attack them; the people there are more powerful than we are” (Numbers 13:31 TEV).

 

Not only were the ten negative spies disagreeing with Caleb and Joshua, they were ignorantly disagreeing with God because God had said that He was giving it to them. It was a done deal, but the Israelites had to display obedience, courage, and faith in order for God to give them the victory. In Numbers 14:36, the ten spies who incited rebellion against the Lord with their bad report were immediately struck dead with a plague. If they  had stuck to their assignment, things would have turned out differently for them. They were to simply scout out the land, not give their opinion.

 

After this serious meeting, Moses and God had a heart-to-heart conversation about the Israelites’ stubbornness and lack of trust in the Great I AM. God said to Moses, “They have tried My patience over and over again and have refused to obey Me. They will never enter the land which I promised to their ancestors. None of those who have rejected Me will ever enter it” (Numbers 14:22-23 TEV.) God also had something important to say about Caleb: “But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows Me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it” (Numbers 14:24 NIV.)

 

Caleb’s integrity stood out from the other run-of-the-mill spies. He chose to believe that God would do what He said. God promised to give His chosen people a good and large land flowing with milk and honey. However, it wouldn’t be handed to them on a silver platter; they had to do their part to believe God and fight. Caleb was not a half-hearted individual; he gave his whole heart to following and obeying God. And God noticed and rewarded him for being different from the others.

 

Caleb was a leader of the Tribe of Judah and was a faithful servant of God, known for his courage, strength, and determination. He had guts and grit and was as tenacious as a Bulldog after a bone. He wasn’t wishy-washy in half-believing and half-doubting God’s promises. Caleb’s character should inspire all of us to strive for a spirit of excellence in everything we do, including following Jesus with all our heart.

 

The Key: Let’s live exemplary lives of faith and obedience. And a bushel basket of dogged determination wouldn‘t hurt either.

A Flowers Kind of Lesson by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche. 2023.
Author: A Little Faith Lift…Finding Joy Beyond Rejection
www.alittlefaithlift.com
AWSA (Advanced Writers & Speakers Assoc.)

I love the K.C. Chiefs!  I have the jerseys to prove it, and Hubby, bless his heart, remembers my fondness for their memorabilia every Christmas and birthday. This makes me happy. This past game, however, in the AFC championship game, I found myself unhappy–a nervous wreck, to be honest–when the score got close.  “What’s wrong with Reid?”  “Pacheco keeps running into a brick wall; why don’t they throw a pass to the sideline for a change?”  My questions prompted Hubby to remind me that Coach Reid just “might” know a little more than I do.

Hmph…                                                                                                                                  So, late in the game, when the Raven’s rookie receiver Zay Flowers ran 54 yards before being tackled by L’Jarius Sneed, one of our players, he stood and straddled Sneed while twirling the football on the ground. (Not good for someone who had been a first-round draft pick and who led the Ravens in catches and receiving yards all season.) I was ultra-impressed with how our Chief did nothing. He let the referee do his job.  Flowers was called for taunting, a 15-yard penalty.            Soon after, with the Ravens down 17-7, Flowers fumbled on the one-yard line when Sneed knocked the ball out of his hands.  And the rest is history.  My phone lit up from girlfriends across the country, celebrating and thrilled that Flowers “got what he deserved.”

Why is it we love payback?  You act cocky; you learn humility.  You punch first; you’re punched harder.  Justice is served.  Amen and Amen.

Matt. 5:38-48 (MSG) disagrees with that attitude when Jesus opposes the “eye for an eye” philosophy: “…Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the supple moves of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

You know, how Sneed acted. Not how Flowers or I acted.

Granted, most of us won’t have our injustices played out on national television.  Still, we are hurt by comments people make or how we are overlooked for a promotion or how a teacher is treating our child unfairly or how our spouse just shaved his head, knowing how much his wife disapproves.  (Pick which of these you think applies to me.)  And there’s no one to call “Taunting” and penalize our offender.  So, we sulk silently, carrying our offense like a tattered backpack.  We don’t allow God to do His work, to teach both us and our offenders the lessons needed to be learned.

Maybe it’s time we learn a Sneed style of doing nothing when we are wronged.

Actually, I think Hubby would prefer that.

                       

Refuse the Cues by Carolyn Tucker

Keys to the Kingdom

By Carolyn Tucker

 

 

Through the years, I’ve always appreciated the cue for when to stop playing the prelude for funeral services. After seating the family and the minister, the funeral director would walk past the piano and quietly say, “Finish this verse and we’ll be ready,” or “Play the chorus again and we‘ll start.“ His cue to me was very important for ensuring a smooth start of the service. Since I was unable to see what was happening out front, I relied on his cue. Cues are important, but we need to be careful who we take our cues from. Not just anybody will do.

 

The Passion Translation has the chapter heading, “Characteristics of the Last Days.” Apostle Paul is writing to young Pastor Timothy and boldly lays it on the line: “But you need to be aware that in the final days the culture of society will become extremely fierce. People will be self-centered lovers of themselves and obsessed with money. They will boast of great things as they strut around in their arrogant pride and mock all that is right. They will ignore their own families. They will be ungrateful and ungodly. They will become addicted to hateful and malicious slander. Slaves to their desires, they will be ferocious, belligerent haters of what is good and right” (2 Timothy 3:1-3 TPT). I could be wrong, but it appears these scriptures have become a reality in today’s culture.

 

I refuse to take my cues from today’s culture because it usually stands in the opposite direction of  God‘s Spirit. Believers are called to be God lovers, people lovers, humbly gracious, reverent to God, and forgiving of others. I believe our American culture is actively practicing what Jesus talked about in Matthew 12:25 TEV: “Any country that divides itself into groups which fight each other will not last very long. And any town or family that divides itself into groups which fight each other will fall apart.”

 

Apostle Paul later admonishes the Romans on how to live as Christ followers in a pagan culture: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NLT). Believers need to be brazen enough to wisely decide for ourselves by allowing God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to lead us. Let’s leave the crowd behind and stop allowing society to influence us to do stupid stuff. I recently heard a message about how important it is for a shepherd to keep all the sheep safely together. Because if one wanders away from the flock, others will follow it and fall off the cliff just like the first one. Surely humans are smarter than sheep and won‘t do something silly or ungodly just because someone of influence does it.

 

As believers, let’s not become so well-adjusted to our culture that we fit into it without even thinking. Let’s continue to fix our focus on God and what He wants. If we’re asleep at the wheel, today’s influencers can drag us down to their level of disrespect for God. Many in our culture are faithless, twisted in their thinking, and defy general truth and the truth of God’s Word. They’re far from being trustworthy influencers from whom we should take our cues. I could be wrong, but it appears that some of them have lost their minds.

 

The Key: Let’s continue to conform to God’s standards and not today’s culture.

Letter To The Editor: Pete Allen

I read on another post, a description of events in Lindsborg, Ks. and the following is my reply: Their are a lot of differences between Lindsborg and Fort Scott.

Lindsborg is pushing and highlighting what they have, building on their history and entertaining 30,000 people at their 2-day festival. Quite obviously they like what they have and are proud of their heritage. It is a place geared to tourism, and it sounds like they have learned to live within their means.

Quite the opposite for our town. We are being naive about our history and what the future of our town is. Our past leaders have quite simply ignored what makes a town a place where people want to come to visit, play, shop, and stay. Who wants to come to FS with our overflowing sewers, pollution of our waterways, suspect water in our water supply, sewers backing up into homeowners basements, kitchens and bathrooms, restrooms in our parks that takes 2 years to get a water line fixed to a toilet, streets one can barely navigate and a community college in danger of closing, due to lack of funding.

The character of our town, and what brought me back to town, is defined by the old fort, and more importantly, the character of the people who live here. Our citizens are our most important asset, and yet our leaders are more interested in the glitzy, pie-in-the-sky projects that mean nothing to the citizens now, and never will.

Our town is crumbling, and we need to fix it, not build some $300M project south of town that is completely out of character with our heritage.

Where in our comprehensive plan does it suggest such a plan?

FS needs to stop the nonsense perpetrated by BB Co. REDI. and get our town back to the basics of fixing what we have and making it a great place to live.

Overland Park is 90 miles north, we don’t need another one south of FS! I like it like it is, or like it used to be.

My vision of FS is a clean, well maintained, friendly, formerly frontier city, with clean water to drink, sewers that do not pollute, and streets we are proud to own. We need neighborhoods cleaned up and kept that way and available jobs with pay that will sustain a family and make them want to stay in FS.

We have come a long way toward this vision in the past four years and we have a marvelous base, let’s be like Lindsborg and build on it! Our roots are not in commercialization!