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Issue 12-2

Detail Ditziness

I missed an important appointment yesterday morning, which my sister had gone to great lengths to set up. In my appointment calendar, I wrote the note to remind me “11:00-12:00,” clipped her e-mail for reference to the Master Task List behind the February page in the Day Runner, e-mailed her several times and said to her on the phone, “See you next Monday.” I checked my notations several times the day before the appointment, and I left home in plenty of time (with the help of green lights all the way up Rt. 59 from my home in West Chicago), to meet my sister and her colleague at Panera Bread at the Arboretum Shopping Center in South Barrington.

At no time in this careful checking did I note that the e-mail notice stated the time was 9:00 in the morning. The “11:00-12:00” notation referred to the time my sister’s contact couldn’t meet.

Since this appointment involved potential work for the Global Bag Project women, and since my sister had labored so hard to connect us, I cannot describe how exasperated I was with myself. Unfortunately, detail-glitziness marks my life at too-frequent intervals.

To my husband’s dismay, I can forget meetings, get absorbed in tasks at hand mix up the days of the week. “Oh, Karen,” he will say to me. “Didn’t you write it down?” The tone of voice is always quietly puzzled—my husband has probably never missed an appointment in his life. Most of the time, I have written it down—something in my brain causes me to forget. I look over the week, notice the main events, and then the dates kind of blend into a fog.

What is most puzzling is that in many things I am extremely proficient. At these moments, suffused with the pride of competency, I have a tendency to forget my detail disabilities. My natural inclination is to be spontaneous, live in the moment, and be intuitive about life. It has been work becoming extremely proficient in the areas where finally I function like a machine humming happily.

Of course, when these wretched events occur—when I leave someone waiting for me (three cell phone calls from my sister, and a message left on the answering machine at home)—my natural inclination is self-flagellation and severe critique. However, through the years, I’ve realized this is a descending road to a dark place, so I attempt to avoid walking down it. I actually have some numbers-dyslexia, which I think translates to some of this detail-ditziness. I can only learn to exercise caution, not move so quickly through my days, take time to carefully read my communiqués, then re-read them, knowing that the pathways in my brain sometimes just don’t communicate to me what I need to know.

So I forgive myself, vow to do better, and have discovered through the years that the Lord uses my faulty brain in ways that help me or save me from unnecessary wasted time. How many times have I thought, for example, Oh, I am so better prepared for this meeting with a week behind me. Frequently, I have been aware of this gracious God covering for me, reminding me when I forget.

Just not at 11 o’clock on this Monday morning when I should have been at Panera Bread in the Arboretum Shopping Center in South Barrington at nine.

So I stopped, thanked the Lord for what He was going to bring that was good out of my limitations and used the time to buy some exercise straps for my husband’s bum knee, which has been giving him problems this last month (and for which I have not been able to find the time to run this particular errand). I called my sister and apologized profusely; she was gracious but basically said I should follow up with her contact myself—and rightly so.

This morning, however, I woke up raw. Two weeks down with an allergy that went systemic (a neglected allergy—one I’d chosen to sort of live with) has put me woefully behind on all my work responsibilities. My first feeling at 5:30 in the morning was a feeling of being overwhelmed: How could I do everything that needed to be done? I was sick at heart at missing this crucial appointment. Personal chastisement started to work itself into a major lament.

Stress pushed up from my belly. I leave for a board meeting in California this Thursday, take the red-eye home to Chicago on Friday night. David preaches on Sunday in church; the missional community comes to our home for dinner after church (we had 30 people last Sunday), then I turn around on Tuesday to fly to the Dominican Republic for a film shoot. I return home on the 26th of this month.

I did have time today for morning prayers; I know that things always go better in my day when I set that hour aside for quiet, for listening, for reorienting my thinking and for reading Scripture.

The Call to Prayer was:

    “I will call upon God, and the Lord will deliver me.
     In the evening, in the morning, and at the noonday, I will complain and
and he will hear my voice.
     He will bring me safely back  … God who is enthroned of old, will hear me.”
                        (Psalm 55:17)

I don’t think the psalmist was praying about detail-ditziness—but then, who knows? I certainly was complaining and lamenting my own frailties. I copied out the words into my prayer journal and inserted my own phrase after the first line, “…and the Lord will deliver me (from this overwhelming schedule).”

Talk about a direct word from the Lord to the self. The whole collection of readings for what I thought was Tuesday’s readings (but, unbeknownst to me, happened to be Wednesday’s) begin to work deeply into my chagrined heart (Tuesday’s readings were exultant and focused on praise). The office of (Wednesday’s) Morning Prayer ended with The Prayer Appointed for the Week.

“O God, the strength of all who put their trust in you: Mercifully accept my prayers; and because in my weakness I can do nothing good without you, give me the help of your grace, that in keeping your commandments I may please you in both will and deed…”

“Because in my weakness I can do nothing good without you, give me the help of your grace.” How utterly true.

The problem with busyness, the problem with being sick and having to cope with all those neglected responsibilities, the problem with my high-functioning-quite-frequently-proficient-personality is that I am prone to forget my dangerous detail frailty. It rises—forgetting numbers, getting distracted by interruptions, arriving for appointments at 11:00 that were scheduled for 9:00—when I least expect it, but it rises enough to remind me woefully of my inadequate humanity.

Today, I vowed that I would put my weakness in the hands of the One who is the strength of all who put their trust in Him. I am not going to worry about this overload, this crazy schedule, this travel and the fact that I have a load of work to do before I leave. He is the strength of all who put their trust in him. Because of my weakness, I can do nothing good without Him. I am convinced that I need the help of His grace.

This is an extraordinarily good place to be for a detail-ditzy woman.

Karen Mains


Hungry Souls Plans for 2014

A Hungry Souls team is designing a full-scale spiritual growth program for the year of 2014. Our goal is to publish schema for that year by the end of August. Look for the schedule then. We are eager to invite your participation.

Global Bag Project Report

Mary Ogalo, our Kenya GBP Manager, is making great plans. In the recent GBP e-newsletter reported, she reported:

“Our sewer-trainees are nearing completion of their one-day-a-week sewers training in addition to their Women Cycle of Life classes. This has gone on since March 2012 at the Global Bag Project workshop. Upon their graduation they will receive a micro-loan in the form of a sewing machine. They are now working to produce a business plan.

“New dreams for Global Bag Project—under the umbrella of GBP Kenya, we are launching a leadership and life skills development (dubbed County Girls Caucus) project for rural girls. Through this project we intend to reach out to girls age 13-23 through trainings aimed at helping them develop a strategic plan for their lives.

“This idea has been developed to help young women living in the rural counties to start planning their lives early and therefore avoid falling into pitfalls experienced later in life. Through this new initiative, we aim to reach and empower girls when they are young before they get derailed. As a way of gathering information on what the girls really need, we are asking vulnerable women in Nairobi what they wish they knew at teenage that could have prevented the circumstances they now contend with in life. Our goal is to deal with the primary causes of poverty at the grass-root level.

“I am so motivated to pursue this dream and minister to God’s people in this way. I need prayer as I work through mobilizing rural community members to support this venture. I also need prayers as I prepare curriculum and training materials for the project. We hope to have the first County Girls Caucus in April 2013 in Homabay county in the western part of Kenya where 38% of girls end up being pregnant at teenage or marry early.”


Mary Ogalo (with GBP bags)

This is Benta in a wraparound Kanga cloth.
She represents the youth of rural Kenya.

Karen's Blogs for This Week

Link is Blogs for this week are: 2/11 "Tres Rejos Magos"; 2/12, "Naciamentos All Around"; 2/13, "Barro Negro: Black Pottery"; 2/14, "Out of Debt"; and 2/15, "Tap Dancing During Worship."


The Soulish Food e-mails are being posted biweekly on the Hungry Souls Web site. Newcomers can look that over and decide if they want to register on the Web site to receive the biweekly newsletter. You might want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to

Karen Mains

Karen Mains

“Today, I vowed that I would put my weakness in the hands of the One who is the strength of all who put their trust in Him. I am not going to worry about this overload, this crazy schedule, this travel and the fact that I have a load of work to do before I leave. He is the strength of all who put their trust in him. Because of my weakness, I can do nothing good without Him. I am convinced that I need the help of His grace.”

The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime

The Divine Hours:
Prayers for Springtime
By Phyllis Tickle

Inside-Cover Copy:
The Divine Hours is the first major literary and liturgical reworking of the sixth-century Benedictine Rule of fixed-hour prayer. This beautifully conceived and thoroughly modern three-volume guide will appeal to the theological novice as well as to the ecclesiastical sophisticate. Making primary use of the Book of Common Prayer and the writings of the Church Fathers, The Divine Hours is also a companion to the New Jerusalem Bible, from which it draws its Scripture readings. The trilogy blends prayer and praise in a way that, while extraordinarily fresh, respects and builds upon the ancient wisdom of Christianity.

The third and final book in the set, Prayers for Springtime, provides prayers, psalms, and readings for this season associated with rebirth. Compact, with deluxe endpapers, it is perfect for those seeking greater spiritual depth. As a contemporary Book of Hours, The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime heralds a renewal of the tradition of disciplined daily prayer, and gives those already using the first two volumes the completion they are seeking. With this volume, the series culminates with three prayer manuals encompassing the liturgical and calendar year with the offices for every day.

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