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Issue 7-20

Blindsided, Sideswiped and Blown-out:
Real-Life Country Music

The two cars, crumpled on the side street, looked like the image of the proverbial accident—one corrugated hood, steam hissing, the engine shattered, and oil and water oozing onto the sidewalk against which the Saturn had come to rest. It had impacted the back passenger door and wheel of our white Ford Taurus station wagon, which now looked like an automotive parenthesis resting against the curb.

The words "I didn't see him coming" sounded hackneyed but true. I was happily tootling home one warm and sunny November mornings, traveling northbound on Center Street in West Chicago (I've said it so much—to the police officer, to my husband, to my kids and grandkids, to the staff, to insurance agents—that it's sounding a little like a country music song)—

One day as I was driving northbound down Center ...
I found myself whomp/crashed on my way home ...
And suddenly whirling, I sat in my car facing
180° southbound, the way I'd just come.

Oh, 180° and one millisecond,
the next thing you know it,
your whole life's turned around.
You're blindsided, sideswiped, and the back tire's a blowout.
The next thing you know it,
your whole life's turned around.
I never saw him coming, I never saw him coming.
The next thing you know it,
your whole life's turned around.

Hm-m-m-m-m. Needs a little work—let's see, what rhymes with Center? (Oh, face it: This is not going to win a CMA Award!)

David and I arrived home from the Hungry Souls 10-day pilgrimage to France on November 4 in time to watch election returns at 2 a.m. in the morning (10 a.m. Paris time.)

From that point on, the travel re-entry was admittedly a little rough. Every day after that there was some bad news. Troublesome e-mails. The finances down at the ministry. (That will teach you to write about throwing away your future to God while surviving financial hard-times! See Soulish Food 7-17 "Five Rules for Weathering Financial Blow-Outs.") The washing machine that had been repaired in September ($164) was broken in exactly the same way it had been broken before the Sears A & E repairman came. Our kids who had lived with us for three months before moving into their new home had come down with influenza and hadn't been able to leave our house in welcome-home-from-France order. Then David and I came down with influenza.

You get the idea. Actually, without much effort, life can be pretty much like a country-music song with moaning and wailing and lamenting. The next thing you know it, your whole life's turned around. You're blindsided, sideswiped, and the back tire's a blowout.

It was obvious to me, standing at the intersection of Fulton and Central that sunny November morning, that both cars were totaled. Ours was a 2001 Ford with 150,000 miles on the odometer; the other, a little black Saturn, circa 1999, now drooling transmission fluid and without a functioning engine, had both guzzled their last quarts of gas. (How sad, with prices finally sliding down to less than $2 a gallon.)

We two, drivers now with a common crash history, got out of our cars, checked the damage to the vehicles and one another. "You OK?" the young man called to me. "I was hurrying to get Nana to work." Well, Nana wasn't going to get to work on time, at least not that morning.

Now the temptation, of course, is to sing the country-music lament—

Ain't got no money for no new car;
life's always giving me the short end.
No matter how much I try,
I always end up facing back the way I've just come from.
Can't make no progress; can't get ahead.

It is at this point that the parameters of Christian living begin to insist on certain behaviors. The truth is: We humans now have a choice in circumstances as commonplace as car crashes. We can choose to sing the lament, or we can choose to sing a hymn of praise. The lyrics for a praise hymn might include some of these lines:

One second earlier and the impact would have hit the front passenger side.
Thank goodness, this wasn't a head-to-head, motor-to-motor collision.
How amazing, that both drivers walked away, ostensibly unharmed.
How grateful I was that no grandchild was strapped into a kid's car seat in the back passenger-side (which is one of the reasons David and I had a station wagon—for toting grandkids)!
It's probably a good thing, given our limited income, to be forced to be reconciled to becoming a one-car family.

Herein lies the choice: What lyrics will we write about life's awkward, unfortunate and distressful circumstances? Which melodies will we compose? Which song will we sing?

For instance, some of us (many of us) are going to have a really depleted, stripped-down, moneyless Christmas this year. The challenge for us in this is: Despite lack of funds, how can we make this the best Christmas ever? How can we make it the one where we all look back and ask ourselves, "Remember the Christmas when we didn't have any money? Remember when we all went sledding in the snow? When we volunteered at the shelter? When we wrote letters to each other instead of giving gifts? When we gave each other a bit of Christmas every day—a poem, a morning carol, music on the CD player? Wasn't that the best Christmas ever?"

Listen to Paul the Apostle's chain-gang chant—a few phrases lifted from the prison journals as recorded in Philippians, chapter one. "Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly."

Yup! Life can get pretty rough. In one way or another, we will get blindsided, sideswiped and blown-out. Circumstances beyond our control will imprison us, curtail us, and unfairly accuse us. But the genius of Christianity is that it teaches us how not to be overcome by the country music laments that surround us. "... And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice ..." Philippians 1:18b.

Which song are you choosing to sing?

Karen Mains

Praying for a Car That Hauls

David and I are doing OK with one car, but when it comes to hauling (which I do all the time), our compact Mazda Protégé, willing as it is, just can't carry a big load (like the van-load of "props" for the annual Advent Retreat of Silence). The Lord has pressed upon my heart to ask you to pray with me that one will be provided for the ministry. I'm not to ask you to provide a car, but to pray for a car. I would like to have The Global Bag Project logo imprinted on the sides so we're advertising this initiative as we drive around. All our family cars serve the Kingdom well, and we run them until they can't run any more. So, a used car that gets good in-town mileage with a roomy interior and collapsible seats would be ideal. The ministry can receipt the donor for the list-price value of the car. Thanks for your prayers about this matter.

Also, if you have never made a donation to Hungry Souls and yet benefit from the Soulish Food e-letters or from the ministries—retreats, spiritual growth events, personal mentoring—this year in particular we would greatly appreciate a loving donation. A check made out to Hungry Souls and mailed to Box 30, Wheaton, IL 60187 will be greatly appreciated.

A Meeting of Women’s Minds:
A Microenterprise Journey to Kenya in March 2009

The details and day matrix for the Kenyan Microenterprise Journey are complete! I am terribly excited about this trip. We will be meeting and dialoguing with many Kenyan women who are working to solve their own problems. The purpose of this journey will be to discover ways we can collaborate in these solving-problem ventures. United Nations and WHO (World Health Organization) studies have shown that the most successful grassroots projects in Africa, ones that are sustainable and effective, are organized and run by women.

We will be leaving the States on March 25 and returning April 6. Interested?
Follow this link for more details and costs. If you are interested, upon request at , we will happily send you a day matrix.


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Karen Mains

Karen Mains

"We humans now have a choice in circumstances as mundane as car crashes. We can choose to sing the lament, or we can choose to sing a hymn of praise."

Advent-Retreat Report

  • 53 women in private rooms—a full house!
  • A theme chosen in January 2008 that was God-appointed for December 2008: Fear Not!
  • A deep work of God in so many lives in such a short amount of time.
  • Next year, 2009, Hungry Souls will be running a back-to-back Advent Retreat of Silence from Wednesday/Thursday, Dec. 2-3, for middle-of the-weekers, and for the end-of-the-weekers, Friday/Saturday, Dec. 4-5.
  • This year, we were pretty much full by early November, so you may want to put these dates now in your new 2009 calendar.
  • One woman writes, "I went for a long walk in the snow—through the Stations of the Cross in the woods. It was absolutely stunning. At one point the snow-covered branches made a canopy above that I had to walk under tenderly. I was in awe of His Presence."
  • "Thank you for a wonderful gift of silence under the shelter of such gracious wonderful and wise matriarchs. What a blessing for my soul to share the time with you. I was challenged, inspired and 'beyond words'—blessed."

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