By MK and friends

Selections written or enjoyed by Martha Kate Downey       
[Meanderings of the mind...]     [Jerry's Sandbox Diary]     [Random thoughts]     [And when the day is done]     [Selections from TAP DANCING in the night]     [Lacey's Poem]     [The Night the Moon Was Lonely]

Meanderings of the mind...

Meandering of the mind…about compassion

While at a recent family gathering, my younger Californian brother Jim asked me why a state as rich as California has so many people in need. I asked him why a state as rich as Texas has so many people in need.
A few hours later, my father asked Jim where he is attending church these days. Jim replied, "The prison". It's true. Each week, my brother drives a couple of hours to a prison where he spends several hours with a young man who has cancer and may or may not live long enough to finish his sentence. This brother gets so angry about seeing the insular lives many live. His plea, his mantra almost, has become "If everyone would just take care of one other person…"

We discussed reasons why people in his area (Sonoma, San Francisco) live such insulated lives. He tires of seeing the enormous amount of money spent on unnecessary things (extravagant cars, extravagant vacations, extravagant parties…) "Why can't they spend some part of their excess money and time to simply care for another person?"

I don't really know why…
Maybe certain areas just draw a particular type of person with a particular mind set.
Maybe some people don't "get out" enough to know anyone who needs care (although I find that unlikely since even the affluent have needs)…

My mind continues to meander…meditating, if you will, about reasons we don't take care of one another…
Why should we? That's why we pay taxes.
The church will do it.
They shouldn't have gotten themselves in that situation. It's their own fault.

When Christ tells us He loves us, He simply does it.
When on the cross, He didn't deliver sermons about how we didn't deserve the sacrifice He was paying. He just paid the ticket, didn't haggle over the high price.
When we call for His help, He doesn't respond, "Well, why did you get in this mess?!" He simply joins us in our struggle.
Why did He care for more than just one other person?

Why are there Mother Teresas in this world?
Why are there brother Jims?
What calls another brother, Jack to practice medicine, to take his part in healing the sick?
What accounts for the reasons we do, or we don't care for others?

Perhaps we care because we have been given care ourselves…
Perhaps Mother Teresa had an extraordinarily loving mother, setting an example for her…
or perhaps she had lived in a gutter,
and truly understood the needs of those in desperation.

Are those who don't care for others to be condemned because of their lack of experiences which would lead them to see the need and follow the commandment to love one another?
Is this a clear example of the sheep and the goats being sent in different directions on Judgment Day?
Or is it judgmental of us to assume we would be the sheep who join the Good Shepherd and the rich in California and Texas the goats, who are sent to damnation?
I don't have answers for why "God so loved the world that He gave His own begotten Son." I just know He did. And I guess that's the bottom line. God loves us. Jesus followed God's plan….and demonstrated that Love. How can we do less?

Maybe we choose to love because we know that true satisfaction with life comes in caring for another, in loving our brothers, by serving our Father…
and not in driving big cars, or eating the richest food.

God, the Creator, knew we Needed to love one another,
perhaps even more than we needed to receive the love ourselves…

Maybe we cannot truly accept love until we have shared it…
Or maybe we have to receive it to share it…

perhaps there are some who are trying to "buy" self worth. Perhaps they do not feel worthy enough to accept love…

Love, caring, compassion. I'm not really sure exactly how they work… I'm just so grateful to have a Father who understands them and sent a Son to show us how they are expressed on this earth, in this time.

Perhaps Lenten season is the best time of the year to take on the mission to "Take care of just one other person…"v
May God's children truly see one another through His eyes and know their needs and join His ministry.

Martha Kate, who thanks God for both of her compassionate brothers

Meandering of the mind…real war, real wounds, real God

Just meandering thoughts this day after historic elections in Iraq.

As a child in the 1950's I grew up in a neighborhood full of boys. Most of them, if not all of them, were older than I was. The popular neighborhood game of that era was playing "war". Each kid wanted to be the highest starred general, the one to issue the orders. The game always began with; "I'm a one star general." Which was always met with the response, "I'm a 3 star general!" To be followed with "I'm a ten star general," "No you're not, there's no such thing as a 10 star general…" Then the fighting began.

Well, being the youngest was not an issue when we played, but being a girl was. I wanted to be a general (or even a private for that matter), but was always told disdainfully, "No you have to be the nurse. " In my mind that was as bad as having to be Dale Evans instead of the glorious Roy Rogers. PS: the nurse never had anything to do but sit around and try to talk one of the "soldiers" into getting hurt.

Our next door neighbors had a couple of boys. One of them, Jerry, is a year older than I am and a year younger than my elder brother, so sometimes the three of us could play relatively peacefully because Jerry was the link. Jerry is a good guy, the only one that would ever admit to being "shot" so I had something to do as "the nurse". 'Course he always popped back up quickly, ready to go fight the enemy. No lingering in bed for Jerry.

Jerry is now in "beautiful downtown Baghdad" engaged in another game of war, but one with real consequences not to mention real bullets. We exchanged some posts late last Saturday night (our time) as the Iraqis were beginning to have their first chance to vote. During one of his post, he remarked about a sound, "probably another suicide bombing mission" then resumed his post. Just like he did when we played, he took the hit in stride, then efficiently hopped back up to get on his task. But this time, it was no pretend death, but a real one in a serious game of war.

I told Jerry that night how ashamed I was of myself for the times I whine about having to go vote…I eventually go cast my ballot, but I fuss first that I don't have time, that it's too cold to get out, I'm not sure who to support, etc. …my whines are endless. I take my right to vote for granted just as I take my privilege of having a loving caring redeeming Father for granted. And perhaps that's the difference in our country and some other countries.

Most in this society are of a Christian belief. Our faith teaches that our God is a God of Love and compassion. We know we are not the ones in charge, God is. We know He was with us yesterday and will be tomorrow, not because of something we did or didn't do, but just because we are His children and He cares for us. Whether we disappoint Him, fail to follow His teachings or fail to take advantage of His power in our lives, He will always be with us. He is a consistent and very powerful God.

For those who live in these less secure societies I suspect that many worship an idea of a god that is angry and requires that they die and kill to prove their allegiance. By embracing such a negative picture of the ultimate power, their god, it fosters a society such as that. A society that embraces anger, death and destruction of all sorts.

I vote, because it is the system in this culture to maintain the type of government we chose. I know if I don't go vote, however, that my life will go on just about the same way because others will be voting. But those Iraqis who voted on Sunday celebrated a very important time in their lives. They rejoiced because they could vote! They did not have the knowledge that others in their country would be voting, so they exercised their new freedom of choosing a new form of government for their country. That new experience will hopefully pave the way for other new experiences, other positive ideas, perhaps it will even encourage them to explore new religious philosophies. How I pray they will find a faith in a God that celebrates goodness of life and has the comforting assurance of a Redeemer.

My God is a sure thing, so is my feeling of liberty in my country. While I support a person's right to choose the manner they will worship and I honor their freedom of religion, it's still a shame that many only know a god that is not a god of Love. We've been witnessing these past several years how a society will mimic the religion it practices. In a piece he wrote, Jerry mentioned the prayers of the soldiers at mealtime. It is reassuring that their faith accompanied them on their mission. I pray they have had the opportunity to share their faith, for it is the best hope for the birth of a peace-loving nation.

Yes, bad things happen all over the world, but how reassuring to know that we can choose to live a fruitful, compassionate life because we have a God that supports and promotes our goodness.

Sunday, the day of the elections, I heard a news commentator remark, "It is a very 1776 mood here in Baghdad today." This week those in Iraq are experiencing a rebirth of a country. Let us pray that this new life will foster a belief in a loving God, a God all about rebirth. A God of security, of blessed assurance.

Martha Kate-who is prayerfully celebrating her freedom of religion today!

To read some selections from Jerry's Sandbox Diary you may go to this website:
Jerry Wayne Kendrick is an extraordinary writer.

Meanderings of my mind at Easter Time as I work in my garden...

My life is like my garden.... They both need an editor.

Not just any editor...A strict editor who insists that I maintain my focus, reminds me that less is more, that saying something well the first time is better than repeating the information over and over in less effective words.

I have a tendency to let things happen where they will. To see my garden is to see my life. I begin a flower bed with the desire to have an orderly manicured setting. One which would include a few specially chosen selections. But when a new plant comes into my life, I feel compelled to include it. Unfortunately, it is rarely part of the original plan, so I just "stick it somewhere". Somewhere I think it will get its needs best met. A spot with the right water and sunlight. Never mind if it was part of the planned garden scheme (as if there WERE a plan!) The plant's needs seem to overshadow the planting rather than the need for orderliness.

At times, I look out my kitchen window at the side yard and see the fish pond and its setting. I despair at all the conglomeration of yard objects, rocks, bricks, plants (inside and outside the pond). I try to get myself to put more structure to the area, shrubs that will provide a nice backdrop for bedding plants, that might keep the yard from appearing so bare in the winter time, but then I remember the plants that are lying in wait in the blank spaces. I wonder...Where will I put all those wonderful day lilies?...that though they only bloom for a short time are so worth the anticipation and yes, the garden space. They are so wonderful! And those objet d'art that I come across. How can I get rid of the hand print my children made out of concrete?

so I'm back to total inclusion....the very reason I welcome so many exceptional people into my life, yet the very thing that creates chaos of my life.
Do I desire the serenity of order? Yes
Could I actually stand to live with it?
Nope, probably not.

My life,
my garden

Maybe I need more than one kind of garden. I desire to see an orderly, well-maintained garden, but my soul seems to demand a cutting garden. One where I may be constantly surprised at the beauty it provides, the lessons it teaches. I like a garden that is not so rigid that the sharing of a plant leaves an obvious hole in the design, but instead allows the left'behind plants timulated, freer to grow and flourish. I enjoy the variety of colors and appreciate the changes in the season.

perhaps maybe just one small area could be neat and orderly....
until a bird drops a seed.....

Welcome to my garden....its full of surprises, a weed or two, a shovel leaned against the fence for easy access when sharing with a neighbor...even the fish look relaxed.

I have a feeling God's garden has order and variety...but without the chaos.
someday I'll fully enjoy His.

Until then....

Blessings to you all this Easter Season.

Martha Kate

Meandering of the mind… risky requests

There are two prayer requests I've found to be quiet chancy.

The first very risky plea is one for patience. My experience has been when I prayed for patience, God made sure I had the opportunity to practice it. I rarely pray for patience anymore…

The second, is the prayer sometimes attributed to St. Francis. It begins "Make me a channel of your peace". For years, I thought the prayer was just suggesting that we help others feel peaceful. I would picture a peaceful person, or a person acting as a channel for peace, as one who is sitting quietly in a sanctuary, hands folded, head bowed allowing God's goodness to flow into her and praying that others experience that same peacefulness. Recent events in my life are shedding new light and I'm beginning to change my conception of the person who is a channel for God's peace.

This new awareness began soon after I made a new friend. The friend shared with me a phrase, the "gift of sorrow". I had not heard that phrase and did not understand it. I certainly had never thought of sorrow as a gift of any sort nor did I want that gift! But as I continued to think about that term I began to understand it a bit better. The gift of sorrow seems to imply that the person with the gift may share the sorrow with the person in pain. It is more than sympathy, but becomes empathy, that actual experiencing the same turmoil. By experiencing the pain we receive the gift. The gift is the blessing of actually sharing in the graciousness of God's blessing as He heals our wounds, our sorrows.

I heard a twist one time on an old phrase. The original phrase, "Misery loves company" is sometimes true, but the altering of the phrase seems to be even more accurate. "Misery loves only miserable company." Praying for another is certainly a Godly act, but being willing to share the pain is what we are asking to do when we become a channel for peace. And I just don't know how much or often I choose to be in pain. Isn't it normal to avoid situations that create pain and heartache? I really thought that praying to be a channel for peace, meant that I would experience peace… It seems I was mistaken, at least some of the time.

This summer I spoke at a 4-day conference where those families attending had seriously ill children. In the audience were parents with children and their nurses. The rhythm of heart pumps could be heard as I spoke. It was exhausting and so sad. At conferences such as that one, a person who presents is not only working while they speak but working continuously, throughout meals, before and after events. As a speaker, I feel responsible to be available to those attending the conference. Upon returning home, I told Dennis I just wasn't sure if I could ever do that conference again. This was the third conference I had done for the group and each time I return completely drained. I decided that self-preservation had to come into the picture at some point. I didn't tell the president of the group that I wouldn't be coming again because I have come to learn that a person should never say "never" if they intend to be open to God's will, but I certainly hoped God felt I had given those families all that was required. And so upon returning, I vowed to quietly close that door and move onto less stressful ventures.

Not a month went by before another group, also with medically fragile children contacted me. Would I do the seminar for them that I had done a couple of weeks before? You probably heard my groan from your own homes. I wrote back with a lame excuse. They solved that excuse. I offered another, that was no problem for them either. All the while I keep thinking about my friend who certainly does have the gift of sorrow. I began to understand that perhaps God is trying to "bless me" with that gift, too and I would really like to decline to accept it, but as a child of God, (raised to be a "Southern lady" by her mother) my training reminds me that we are to accept gifts gratefully and graciously. Arrggggg!!!!

So now, after spending years praying for peace for myself and others, I'm finding that I must sometimes leave the quiet sanctuary, open my hands, look about and join those I pray for in their turmoil of life. That means I can't always keep my hands clean to be a servant of God, but instead will have to join others in their messiness of life. In their sadness, confusion, anger. Their turmoil will become mine.

I'm becoming as wary of praying for peace as I am when I pray for patience.

I am afraid that the pain and fearfulness of life's chaos will overwhelm me. But perhaps that is the very reason God has offered me the gift of sorrow or peace. He wants to share His greatness with me, His power over great difficulty, not just small irritants. He wants me to experience His goodness first hand, rather than simply praying that others see it or feel it. Perhaps perfect peace comes through knowing God is also in the trench, guiding us surely through the sludge and anger and exhaustion to be with Him, now and here after.

So, do I want to rest quietly and pray that God will work in someone else's life, or do I want to experience God's presence myself? Do I want to have the gift that God gives by letting me be His channel?
To be quite honest, I'm not yet sure…

But guess I'll pray about it.

May God's blessings be with us all.

Martha Kate


Meandering of the mind… Back at 1:00

You know how you feel when you get to a place of business, or have an appointment and you see the sign "Back at 2:30" or "Closed 12-1:00" but you need the service they offer NOW?

Frustrated, let down, maybe even panicked.

Thank goodness Our Father is always available because my life crises never seem to happen in a scheduled structure.

God somehow manages to stay with my schedule. He is only on vacation or out to lunch or asleep when I am in that state, too. He is quite literally, "With me"! We're all blessed that while He rests with us, He also commiserates with us, celebrates with us, laughs with us and cries with us. We never get a busy signal, never get an answering machine, never even get that awful message, "The number you have called is no longer in service. If you feel …."

My goodness, I do take Him for granted.

You know what else?

He never says, things like, "Well, DUH!" Indicating I should have already figured that out. Or tells me my problem is too trivial or confusing or irritating, or boring, or even that He's already heard me mention it before. He's there, waiting for me to listen to His still quiet voice.

Why is it then, that I far too often forget to get His opinion, before I panic?!

Ah, the humanity of women and men. We habitually allow our worlds to close in on us, before we remember to let them expand and encompass God and His wisdom. He's always there ahead of us, just waiting for us to remember He's not just our friend, He's also the Creator!"
Good thing! I seem to have problems that need a pretty creative approach!

Thank Goodness for God !

PS You know the very best thing about God? … I can always find Him!
unlike my reading glasses… ;-)

Martha Kate


Meandering of the mind… about the feasibility of a rich man or a camel entering into heaven.

Said the camel: "So does God actually think that a camel could pass through the eye of a needle? Perhaps the rich man needs encouragement or an example to enter into the heavenly kingdom.

Sounds like the challenge of a lifetime!
How to begin such a feat?

Perhaps if I chance to lose a little pride by expelling some of the boastful air in my breast…
And what about the stiffness and inflexibility of my body and mind? If I could relent some control and let myself become less rigid I might take on a slender form.

You know it also might help if I focus on the goal to be gained by passing through the eye of the needle rather than on my own body...

And what about my excess baggage? Maybe if I only carry those things that I need at this exact minute (just enough water for this hour, not enough for 8 days!)

Problem is, after I do all of those things, I won't know for certain if giving up all my habits and possessions will actually work to get me through the tiny hole…
but I'll never know unless I give it a try. Let's see, He did say all it requires is the faith of a mustard seed…

Martha Kate


Much meandering of the mind… and they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love

Did you know if you walk into an Anne Klein store wearing generic jeans, it's nearly impossible to get someone to wait on you? Why? Because you don't look like you are a serious buyer.

So, are we to carry bibles in our hands, wear crosses on our necks, to proclaim who we are? Would that prove to the world that we are "serious" Christians? Do we have to look like serious Christians to be taken as serious Christians?

There are a few ways I can spot folks in public who seem to be making an effort to follow Christ's lead:

Serious Christians listen closely when someone else speaks of pain. Doesn't offer quick answers, just prayerfully listens.

Serious Christians hold the door for a person whose arms are full (literally and figuratively). He doesn't wait to be asked, does it instinctively, because he knows he is a servant of God and therefore a servant to God's people.

Serious Christians aren't "preachy". They know their primary responsibility is not to beat other folks over the head with a bible but rather to live a life that shows resources greater than mere man can have.

Serious Christians recognize other Christians. And thank them for their encouragement.

Serious Christians allow for the eccentricities and also for the weaknesses of man as he works to be a Christian. The serious Christian knows that a Christian is a person making a concerted effort to follow Christ but he is always aware that man will never become perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. As a follower of Christ, he makes an effort to draw near to God on a conscious and continued effort.

A true Christian is honest with his feelings and with himself. He is willing to trust in God's forgiveness, even when he gets angry and decides to turn his back on God for not making his life as he thought he deserved. The serious Christian is willing to admit to his need for a higher being and turn once again to face the Father. He knows that his life is more focused and his mind more peaceful when he takes a leap of faith and once again acknowledges his being as God's child.

Look around. Who do you know for sure is a Christian? What about the person selling you tomatoes at the fruit stand? How about the man at 7-11 standing in line beside you to purchase bread and gas, or the woman at the library helping you find a book? Is it necessary that they have a cross around their neck or mention the name of our God or His Son for you to recognize them? And what is the purpose of recognizing other Christians? Is it so we feel less alone? Or is it because we need constant examples of the goodnesses in our lives found within the deeds done by other Christians, showing God's empowerment for us to give love to one another?

Are we sorry when a neighbor pays us for a kindness done? Does it make us feel as though they did not recognize the act was done because we choose to do unto others? Do we feel a need to payback a kindness when we know it was done out of Christian love? Or can we just gratefully accept it as God's love through His people? Is our payback to pass the kindness on?

Are we uncomfortable with Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormon's because we are uncomfortable saying who and what we are in a powerful enough way to let them know we are firm in our belief. Or are we uncomfortable because we have a nervous feeling that we should be professing our faith in a more visible way…or should we? Should I go up and down the street and invite all my neighbors to come to my church? What would be the long-term ramifications of that action? Would they be less comfortable inviting me to a block party because I might make the other guests uncomfortable? When they have a death in the family, would they more likely come to my door and ask for prayers of comfort? In a time of crisis would they seek my help and support? Do we more instinctively trust a Mormon in a business relationship because we know of his faith?

Do we witness to other Christians differently than we do to those whom we are unsure about their beliefs? I can go into a favorite dress shop of mine in my jeans because they know me and I know them. They know that when I am speaking or teaching my persona must look differently, but they honor me whether I am in my jeans or in a suit. I've told them about myself, they know me. I didn't bother to do that at Anne Klein's establishment. I wanted them to treat me as a serious customer even though I had not dressed in that manner. Perhaps to those whom we know we don't have to define ourselves by our appearance, but to those whom do not know us, we must more carefully proclaim our intentions and beliefs to be treated accordingly.

Should I wear a cross? Should I carry a bible? Perhaps I should not be afraid to carry my bible in public and make greater effort to behave with others in a way that is Christ-like. Perhaps I should listen more carefully when another person speaks, or treat everyone kindly even when they do not treat me kindly. Maybe I can wait in line a bit more patiently, take an extra step or two out of my way to hold a door, spend an extra few minutes listening to an elderly person (or maybe not even elderly at all!) as they tell a story I've heard many times before. I suspect that until a person knows us "on the inside" that what we show on the outside is an important clue as to who we are.

Maybe if I'd worn something other than tennis shoes into Anne Klein's store…

And they'll know we are Christians by our love?

Martha Kate--who does not profess to have answers, just more questions


Meandering of the mind as I wonder What's for Supper?

As a disciple and guest at Christ's table I wonder if I sometimes carry my freedom to make personal choices a bit too far.

Picture this: It's suppertime. Jesus carefully prepares and generously offers each of us a piece of bread.

I reply, "Oh, no thank you. I'm watching my carbs."

He shrugs, "How about some wine?"

"I'll pass. We're very religious. We don't imbibe."

Jesus doesn't force us to change our minds and only offers us gifts that He knows would be good for us. He looks sad when I decline. He so wants to give me His blessings that He looks once again at the fare for the meal. The remaining dish He has to offer me this evening is fresh asparagus. "Care for some asparagus?" he offers hopefully.

"Sorry, that never has appealed to me." I answer.

Jesus sighs.

The moral of course: "If you don't eat your supper, don't be surprised when you go to bed hungry!"

How many times do we choose not to take advantage of God's gifts or become so distracted that we don't even hear His offer? We complain that we don't have the strength to face the difficulties in our lives, but we refuse the source that provides sustenance. We whine that our lives are boring, but we let our fear of new challenges turn away the very gifts that could inspire us, and help us grow.

God provides everything we need, but we have to accept His gifts. I don't think He is into force-feeding. Perhaps if I'd learn to gratefully accept what He offers, my needs and desires would be met before I could even identify them. He knows my past and my future. He is the most informed about my abilities and dreams. By acknowledging His greater knowledge I could be led to try new adventures with courage and anticipation. Less discouraged, less afraid to tackle the challenges I have daily.

"On second thought, would you please pass the bread?" I sheepishly request.

"With pleasure." Jesus replies with a grin, happy to see me willingly accept His gifts.

I thank God for His continual offerings of rich and abundant blessings.

Martha Kate
Just more meanderings of my mind… I welcome yours!


Meandering of the mind as I struggle to remain a faithful servant…

You know the biggest problem with sharing random thoughts with your friends? You expose your shortcomings for the world to see. Those of you who know me well, know that while I may write about an attitude or action that God would like for me to follow, in reality, I do not always act in the very way I profess. As church members we are often criticized as being hypocritical. Well, in this case, I am guilty as charged. I don't always do those things I know I ought.

Dennis has a theory about marriage. He says you make the decision to be married every day. While he made lifelong promises to me and to God on our wedding day, he says those promises were valueless unless he consistently and consciously acts in ways that demonstrate his devotion and commitment. According to Dennis, not a day goes by that doesn't give him the opportunity to break his vows, but being the engineer that he is, he makes his decision based on empirical data (again). By doing the math it becomes very clear to him what his decisions and actions should be. The heavy losses versus the short-term gain of a Godless act simply do not make it a wise decision.

I often think of his theory during my day. Everyday I have opportunities to break promises to God to others and to myself. If I am to live the life God intended me to live than I must renew my commitment to God daily as Dennis does to our marriage. I will make mistakes and while Redemption is the very thing in which I place my faith, unless I make a conscious effort to perform those lessons He taught, my confessions of regret are hollow and meaningless. I ask myself each day
And when the day is done

Will He rejoice with my choices
Or weep with great pain?
Will the hour have passed
That I cannot regain?

Will my reasons for acting
Be honest and clean?
Will a legacy linger
That God's Love I had seen?

Will the work that I do
Tell the world of God's grace,
That He trusted my spirit
To look in His face?

This day and each day
Make me prayerfully led
To accomplish those tasks
That I do in His stead.

And make me remember
The faith that He placed
In my spirit to act
In a world that He graced.

Dear God, as I come
To your side everyday,
Make me conscious and grateful
To serve You this day.

There is a very personal reason I find it important for me to come together in community with other believers. I need a place to practice what He asks me to do within a supportive, encouraging and forgiving community. It's easier to stay on the God's pathway in a crowd that is walking the same pathway, than it is when your are walking among many other individuals whose paths may cross yours but who are not seeking to reach the same destination. It is so easy to be literally "side-tracked". Your examples of devotion help me remember to practice my own devotion. Your kindness in not pointing out my acts of hypocrisy are truly appreciated, but your kindness does not stop with your overlooking my sins. You constructively encourage my walk by providing structure and support as I struggle to once again get back on the chosen pathway.

It is a blessing to share my meandering thoughts with you, my friends. It is a way that I may speak where I want my mind and heart (and actions!) to follow.

God has richly blessed me.

Martha Kate


Meanderings of my mind about Poor Doubting Thomas...

Easter Sunday morning, Dennis and I were thoroughly churched. We went with our adult daughter, Kate, to her service at Woodland Heights Baptist Church and then went again to the 10 o'clock service at United Memorial Christian Church. Poor "Doubting" Thomas. He was discussed at both churches in the sermons given.

By vocation, Thomas was a builder. After Jesus' death, the disciples were sent to all the world to preach the message. Thomas was sent to India (reportedly he went with some hesitation - probably because he'd never seen nor experienced the country for himself ) While in India, he witnessed through his building of seven churches and his devotion to the poor.

In both services, the ministers brought up the fact that Thomas was not there when Jesus first appeared to the disciples. Neither minister nor the Bible tell why he wasn't there or where he was, but since I live with a "Thomas" I can pretty well guess what he was up to.

He was off fixing some widow's plumbing, servicing the church lawn mowers or installing new software for an athlete on a Special Olympics team. Hanging around waiting for meetings just isn't something Thomases do. He was busy and didn't get the message that they were to be together at the time, or he saw what he thought was a task that God would like for him to do and did it.

Thomases are important in our lives. Jesus knew that. He knew there would be many like Thomas who would be struggling to understand Christ's sacrifice and resurrection. He knew many of his followers needed someone to ask their questions, seek visible, touchable truths. I think Thomas was exactly where he was supposed to be. God knew that someone needed to ask to see the wounds and touch them. We needed to have the question posed in the Bible. Thomas was our spokesman. But just to make it clear, these engineering types are NOT calling someone a liar when they ask for verification. They just need to have an understanding. Thomas was not saying he didn't believe in Christ's death and having risen, He believed his God, but he didn't understand the cross. He needed to touch the cross. That's hard for us all to understand. The idea that we are so loved and that we have a way to be with him again. Its just hard to get your mind and heart around…I think for all of us.

I personally thank God for the analytical, builders such as Thomas. They think in physical terms, need to do physical things. Thomas enabled us all get a clearer view of blueprint of Christ and the cross. They help us see and touch God's message.

When the scripture ended by expressing the thought that those who do not see but still believe are blessed, it does not say that Thomas was not blessed, but perhaps some of us have to struggle before we feel the blessing.

Just a few of my thoughts about Thomas…. Not necessarily indisputable ;-)

Jerry's Sandbox Diary

These selections are part of an open letter to family and friends of Jerry Kendrick while he was deployed to Iraq.


Fortunately, I haven’t had to spend much time around foxholes (around here they tend to fill up with camel spiders, and that takes all the fun out of it)…and I doubt that I’ve spent much time around atheists, either.

No matter how much it disappoints the ACLU (bless they pointy little heads), I get the impression that a sizeable portion of the Army is Christian, and proud of it. The last time you went to a restaurant – how many people did you see saying grace before their meal? I’ve been watching the GI’s at the mess hall for sometime now (not much else to do!), and I would guess a good 40% of them bow their heads for a quick prayer before they start eating. Now, granted, part of that may be just asking for divine protection from the quality of food they’re about to partake, but I think it goes beyond that. Don’t get me wrong; you’re average Joe is not particularly interested in going to church, and not overtly religious. We are, after all, talking young men in their early 20’s for the most part, and the flesh may well be weak, but still I get the sense that they do have some kind of core spiritual belief. Not, of course, that they would ever admit it publicly.

Maybe an appreciation for the spiritual comes with maturity, and a lot of these young men have had to mature in a hurry here. And too many of them never got the chance to mature further, come to think of it. But when your buddy takes an overdose of shrapnel right next to you, and you walk away with just scratches, it’s bound to make you wonder about exactly what’s going on. Any war carries with it the seeds of the worst in man, and the best. Negotiating your way between those two poles sure makes you think about some kind of an anchor to hang on to.

Ran across an article in Stars & Stripes last week (extracted from The Wichita Eagle) that talked about theodicy (yeah, I had to look it up, too – means the justice of God in the face of evil; in other words – why do bad things happen to good people?), and it posed this paradox: “If God is God, He is not good; if God is good, He is not God”. In other words, if God is God (all powerful & omnipresent), he permits evil, which is not good. On the other hand, if God is good, but can not deter evil, he can not be all powerful and omnipresent. Well, it didn’t take long to figure out that I was hopelessly out of my theological depth, so I summoned a convocation of the other Agents in the office and posed the question to them.

Oh, Lordy, what was I thinking, starting a theological discussion with a bunch of cops?! The discussion generated a lot of heat, but precious little light, I’m afraid. We were fortunate to have an interpreter with us at the time who is Muslim, so we had the advantage of a little different perspective. A diligent search failed to turn up any soldiers of the Jewish or Hindu faith, so we weren’t able to get any direction from those religions. If there were any around, they probably heard the argument and decided it was a good time to evacuate the area…all in all, commendable good judgment on their part.

I wish I could report back to you that 8 cynical cops were able to untie the Gordian know that has bound theologians since the dawn of time, but we didn’t arrive at an answer that anyone thought was entirely satisfactory. I guess the closest we got to some kind of consensus was that it all boiled down to faith, whether you were Muslim or Christian. I can not intellectually reconcile how God can be omnipotent and good at the same time in the face of so much unwarranted suffering – but I don’t have to. I just know that He is at once God, and good. I like what Charles Spurgeon, a 19th –century preacher had to say about it: When we cannot trace God’s hand, we must simply trust His heart.

For those of you scratching your heads and wondering where in the world this blog came from, don’t despair. I’ll be back to talking about Zebras and firepower in upcoming pages. Why, just the other day I saw a Lithuanian armored personnel carrier go by with a….well never mind, I’ll cover that later!


Call him Hassan, and her Yasim, for I don’t know their names, and more’s the pity for me. They ran a small shop behind the Division Headquarters, not much more than a camping trailer with a small refrigerated display case, a sewing machine, cheap cigarettes, and the usual souvenir items. And, most importantly from my point of view, phone cards to keep my cell phone alive.

Did I mention that I had the opportunity to meet one of the nicest, best-looking, most generally all-around wonderful guys this past Monday?

Yep. My replacement has arrived. And he brought along the replacement crew for the rest of the office. Things are a tad crowded at the ol’ home place, since we shoe-spooned them into our trailers until we leave, but you know, I haven’t heard any complaints. Sleeping double on a cot is not as bad as you might think…

Tried to call the War Bride to let her know the good news, and that it was beginning to look like I might actually be leaving this place I’ve come to know and loathe so well, but
I ran out of time on my phone card.

You know, it was being out of time on my phone card that led to my first meeting Hassan and Yasim. I hadn’t been able to find any on post, and Mumbles took me over to the little trailer that they work out of, and sure enough they had some phone cards. Hassan was working away over the sewing machine when I walked in, but greeted me with a smile and a reasonably accurate version of “hello”. His work area was pretty small, but he’d made room on it for a picture of his daughter, a little girl with big brown eyes guaranteed to steal any Daddy’s heart. Yasim had a pleasant smile and obviously enjoyed her customers. I liked them both almost immediately.

Probably hadn’t mentioned it before, since it was beginning to assume the characteristics of an urban legend, but Mumbles, our resident master of the under-the-table dope deal had somehow convinced the Engineers that we needed an office to work out of. Of course, he was probably able to make a pretty convincing case since we’ve been working out of the MP supply room and an appropriated trailer for the past six months. Now, I should explain that there is such a thing as FOO funds, an acronym for what I don’t know, but you can use it to obtain things for the office, daily operation, and what not. Plus, you have to spend it in country (no mail orders allowed!) so we help the Iraqi economy. We needed someone to put the flooring down in our new building, and didn’t have any contacts, so we asked Hassan if he might know someone. Yasim did most of the talking, and before long we had a crew to help with the building. Mumbles bought a couple of cartons of cigarettes of dubious pedigree, and I bought a coke and some munchies more to help their business than anything. I suspect there are a great many Iraqis like Hassan and Yasim – good, decent people just trying to make an honest living.

So the past couple of days have been busy, with our eager and oh, so-earnest replacements busily carting stuff out of the ol’ home place to the shiny new digs. Not everything is completely ready there, like the plumbing isn’t hooked up and there are no blast barriers around it, but hey, this is war. Ya gotta tough it out – especially when you’re getting about twice as much room, real live interview rooms, and twice the computer hookups.

Having a natural and commendable phobia against heavy manual labor, I found it necessary to depart the scene of such frenzied activity before some insensitive clod invited me to help. This coincided nicely with my need for some more phone cards, so I walked over to Hassan and Yasim’s little shop to see if they had any cards in.

For some reason, they had the trunk of their car stuffed with their sad little pile of merchandise, and I was worried that maybe they were moving to a different location. That seemed to be a reasonable hypothesis when I walked through the door and noticed the refrigerated display case dark, and the shelves just about bare. Not even the ever present sewing machine was there, the one that supported their family with alterations for soldiers, and especially the fire department here who pretty much had adopted them. Hassan wasn’t there, only Yasim and a dignified, solemn looking older gentleman who smiled nervously at me. Yasim was crying, and talking to a fireman.

I could understand Yasim being sad about moving away from great customers like myself, but somehow I doubted that was enough to provoke tears. I didn’t like the feeling I was getting. Not at all.

I followed the fireman out the door and touched his shoulder, and noticed the sadness in his eyes when he turned. Hassan was gunned down on the streets of Baghdad about a week or so ago, Yasim had been with him, and when he recognized what was coming he covered her with his body and took the bullets meant for both of them. Yasim said that no one would help her, until finally an ambulance arrived too late.

Hassan died for the unspeakable crime of trying to support his family as best he could.

We all die. Some of us will have more days recorded on our tombstones than others, but that doesn’t really say anything about the life lived in those days, does it? And against a backdrop of eternity, maybe it doesn’t matter if someone lived to be 80, and another man dies at 33. But it does matter – Lord, it matters so much – how a man lived those days, and how he met his end. Hassan lived an honest life graced by a pleasant spirit, and died defending his wife. That has to count for something, or everything counts for nothing.

I don’t know what Yasim will do now, or how she’ll support her little family. The terrorists – hell, they’re not terrorists, they’re just plain cowardly criminals – have accomplished their goal of intimidating a single mother, and she won’t work here anymore. The fireman told me that they were taking up a collection for her, and were going to come by in their truck to present it to her when she clears everything out this Saturday.

Hassan’s story reflects the hope, the tragedy, and the loss of the nation of Iraq. And I nearly made it out of here without tears.

Call him Hassan.
To read more selections from Jerry's Sandbox Diary you may go to this website:


Random thoughts

"The worst disability is a bad attitude" - Kate Downey


"We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to say 'It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.' Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes." -Fred (Mr.) Rogers


Whimsical rhyme about Noah...or Faith and our daily boat ride

Would you have been in the boat?
Would your courage to live be afloat?
Would your children abound?
Would they still be around?
Would you have been in the boat?
-Martha Kate Downey


Hope ...
That element that gives us courage to turn a stumbling block into a stepping stone. The link between acceptance of life as it is and the awareness of life in its graduer. It comes in many forms, it's taught by many people. Our special children are master teachers and we the parents are grateful students.
-Martha Kate Downey


Of this I am certain...
A school is only as good as the person in the room with your kid at the moment!
-Martha Kate Downey


Looking for the Cross

Lent, that time of cleansing, that time when we search for the cross, hoping to find it empty
but knowing it cannot be,
must not be.
That time when we know we must go through great pain,
great sorrow
to find great joy
-Martha Kate Downey


You have lashed the dormant tigress in my nature into fury!
-James Joyce


It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one that is most adaptable to Change.
-Charles Darwin


People will forget what you said -
People will forget what you did -
But people will never forget how you made them feel.


You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.


And when the day is done

Romans 12

Will He rejoice with my choices
Or weep with great pain?
Will the hour have passed
That I cannot regain?

Will my reasons for acting
Be honest and clean?
Will a legacy linger
That God's Love I had seen?

Will the work that I do
tell the world of God's grace,
That He trusted my spirit
To look in His face?

This day and each day
Make me prayerfully led
To accomplish those tasks
That I do in His stead.

And make me remember
The faith that He placed
In my spirit to act
In a world that He graced.

Dear God, as I come
To your side everyday,
Make me conscious and grateful
to serve You this day.


Selections from TAP DANCING in the night

Tap Dancing in the Night in Turquoise High Heels
Thoughts of a tired mother as she contemplates how to get her "wired for sound" child to rest so that all may sleep

very late at night,
I listen.
I wait to hear those sounds that tell me
entertainment is about to begin.

My body and mind are tired,
yet, I know that my rhythm belongs to me,
it governs my patterns but cannot,
should not,
govern yours.

You’re up for dancing,
doing your math
and talking to strangers.
I’m down for resting
and feeding my mind on still,
undemanding respite.

But in a strange way
your rhythm becomes mine.
I wait for that tap, tap, shuffle
that dances me to sleep in these otherwise
quiet hours.

Perhaps that’s the appeal.
Maybe your mind
needs the time to be active,
when the world is asleep -
No competition,
no annoyance,
just calm,
quietly blinking stars

and a


Composed by Martha Kate Downey, this poem was written in appreciation for her dancing Aspie daughter, Kate Noelle Downey. It demonstrates how with a little education and a turning of the heart, what was once viewed by the mother as annoyance became the sound of a lullaby. This is the title poem in the book/CD TAP DANCING in the night Copyright © 2001
Copyright © 1997 Martha Kate Downey

Finally Fitting

Living without knowing why you're different
is much like being homeless.
Sure, your parents and doctors and teachers
all have a responsibility to provide for you,
and you try to fit into systems that seem to work
for every other kid,
you don't fit,
and you know it,
and they know it.

Like the homeless, you wander,
going from diagnosis to diagnosis,
in and out,
looking for the right place to be,
to belong, to be wanted,
to be accepted,
not just tolerated.
And sometimes you just settle for where you are
and pretend it is okay
and that you are in the right place,
you know you're not,
and they know you're not.

And sometimes you get so discouraged
after wandering and wandering
and searching and searching
for that intangible place where you do fit
that you give up trying;
you feel yourself failing
in your everlasting trial to fit.
And you know it,
and they know it.

but then...

Picture after you look and look
and try and try,
suddenly what you've dreamed for comes true!
A door is not just opened,
but something through it beckons you to come
out into the light!
It welcomes you.
And so with much trepidation,
you tiptoe out of the darkness
and try to blend in and not be noticed.
But you are noticed!
Except this time, it is a new kind of exposure.
Because, instead of having to try to be
what man expects you to be,
you are allowed to be who God made you to be.
You are challenged to be just who you are,
the best that you are.
Not crammed into the same old dark box
but allowed to blossom and bloom.
Not required to hide
but encouraged to stand tall
and be proud of who you are
and why you are.
Picture being embraced
as being absolutely necessary
to complete the whole of God's world.

Now that's finely fitting!

Copyright © 1997 Martha Kate Downey

Alone in the Lunchroom

Please come sit
beside me, friend.
I know I can't
invite you in.

I eat alone
and wish for more
to share with you
...or three or four.

It's lonely here
but safer, too
than risking what your
shun would do.

I sit and yearn
but do not dare
to offer you
my lonely fare.

But there!
Across the table tops!
Another lonely
student stops.

And recognizing
his deep fear
my eyes to his
say, "Please come near."

You see, he's me,
and I am him.
We're instant kin,
born out of whim.

We did not ask
to be alone;
to be outcast
or made of stone.

But in our loneliness
we saw
another's pain,
another's flaw.

We share a bond -
that fear of trust.
It turns our
loneliness to dust.

And so now
my wish is found.
I conquered fear,
a friendship bound.

Please come sit
beside me, friend.
I know I CAN
invite you in.
Copyright © 1997 Martha Kate Downey

Lacey's Poem

All I Wish
by: Lacey Scheelk, 14

Being bored one day,
I start to realize,
how horrible my childhood was,
then I dose off
and I suddenly go back in time.

Back to when I had longer hair,
back to when I was teased and bullied,
and when I had glasses.

now I remember it all.

My life changed when I was very young,
and it sticks with me to this day,
this is something, that I fear,
will never go away.

In my dream I see,
the unattractive, younger me,
scared to face school,
knowing that it would be another day of hell.

And those kids,
they all knew why I was different,
and teased me every chance they had.

Every time I was bullied,
rage and hatred filled my blood,
then at night I shed tears of acid,
that ripped through my heart,
and tore up my soul.

I used to think that I had nothing to live for,
except sit in my room and cry,
nobody cared about me,
or even tried,
I just wanted to rot and die,
and not go through any more of the pain.

Because I was different,
I was often judged,
"freak", "ugly", "half brained girl",
were the names they called me.

The only thing they noticed,
was the ugly duckling they thought was me,
swimming a line with other ducklings,
and the beautiful swan in front,
knowing that I would never be the beautiful swan.

Then I wake up,
and look around me,
I seem to be back in 2003,
and I compare to then and now,
some things have changed.

My life is better now,
but I still want to be recognized,
for my beauty,
and achievements,
but there is one thing that I want more than anything,
something I've wished for my whole life,
and that is to be respected for who I am,
and someday telling my secret to the world,
that I am an autistic.

The End

Copyright © 2003 Lacey Scheelk, 14


The Night the Moon was Lonely

Last night as I looked around the skies of our metropolitan area I was struck not by the quiet, not by the absence of regular activity, but instead by the skies. I was moved by the loneliness of the moon without our usual colorful, flashing, traveling city skies. Never in my life has there been such as night as that, and never, I hope, will there ever be again.

Our lives were marked by unspeakable hatred, yet unspeakable acts of love.
I watched a young man, who because of his feelings of frustration over the antics of elected officials never places a vote in an election, yet knows when the time comes to step up and be counted as he gives his very blood. I experienced a brother, who though often out of touch with my life, came to my rescue to ensure that his niece and nephew have their family reunited as quickly as possible.

I thought about families who watched as their loved ones, put on their army fatigues, leave their safety and wait it long lines to enter the nearest army facility to do a job I would never want my son, brother or husband to have to do.

I became angry when I saw prices rise at the gas pumps, another form of terrorism, though not as direct, still aimed at US citizens. I vowed never to use those stations whenever I traveled their way again.

I listened as the world tried to gather enough information to understand what had happened, then try to understand how to live with what they learned. And all along the moon is waiting, waiting in the sky, alone.

I experienced the fear of having much less control of my world and my ability to move around within it, or easily access those services that I forget are so specially given to us in this country.
I look around today and wonder what the moon saw. I wonder what other goodnesses and tragedies I missed...tragedies I am relieved to have missed.

My prayer is that never again will our moon be lonely, never again will we be so threatened that any one person can control our skies.

The moon looked lonely last lonely as I felt.

Martha Kate Downey
Euless, Texas
Copyright © 2001 Martha Kate Downey

Copyright © 2004, All Rights Reserved