Kim Williams' Blog

Kim Williams' Blog, Kim's Korner, provides a personal look into the life and thinking of a Southern man. Husband, Former Pastor, Writer, Author and Serial Dog Owner, Kim Williams writes reflective and humorous posts.

I was just thinking...

I am originally from the low country of SC and we do have some marvelous scenery. Live oaks draped with Spanish moss… azaleas heavy with dew laden blooms… the whisper of salt air and melodies of yellow jasmine… 

A picture may be worth a 1000 words, but words can paint one powerful picture. Yes?

Accidental Saints - Meet Nadia Bolz-Weber @Sarcasticluther

It is fairly clear to everyone that the Christian Church (as it has existed for decades) in this country MUST do something different. The flight from the traditional church to the land of SBNR (Spiritual but not religious) is leaving church pews and congregational funds depleted – and the local church's future doubtful.  I’ve been watching from the side lines, listening and waiting to see what kind of creature the evolution of the Church will become. I found an interesting creature today…I thought I’d share her with you…

When Christians really critique me for using salty language, I literally don’t give a shit.
— Nadia Bolz-Weber

As reported by The Atlantic, “This is what it’s like to talk to Nadia Bolz-Weber, the tattooed Lutheran pastor, former addict, and head of a Denver church that’s 250 members strong. She’s frank and charming, and yes, she tends to cuss—colorful words pepper her new book, Accidental Saints. But she also doesn’t put a lot of stock in her own schtick.”

Bolz-Weber brings a refreshing and candid – albeit somewhat shocking – perspective to church leadership. There is certainly vivid life in her message and perhaps a hint of a reframed theological perspective that will feed the metamorphosis of the church. For example, in contrast to the expected stand of many religious folk that we all stand in judgement by a higher, pure version of ourselves, Nadia proclaims, ““Sometimes I can be an asshole, but it’s almost as though I can hear Jesus saying”—here, Bolz-Weber cleared her throat a little and moved her voice one half-step lower, perhaps trying to imitate bro-Jesus—“‘uh, that’s okay, it’s not that I, like, love you and claim you despite that. I love you and claim you because of that.’” 

Wrap your mind around that one…

I’ll leave you to the full article in Atlantic to discover and ‘dissect’ this new 2.0 version of pastor, and suggest you follow my lead and pre-order her new book, Accidental Saints.

This Just In - Goldfish Syndrome?! #MondayBlogs

 Goldfish Syndrome??

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the average attention span of a human being has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2015. This is one second less than the attention span of a goldfish.

Wait? What was that?


Maybe - Don't Interrupt Those Interruptions

Feeling Ceaselessly Interrupted?

Interruptions Are the Best!
— Said No One...Ever

30 years ago…The morning sun shone through the stained glass of my church office windows. I settled into my chair preparing to type up my sermon when the door buzzer sounded –

Inner voice - “No! Not again!”

Yesterday’s attempt to find some time to write had been interrupted repeatedly and with the weekend looming, I was feeling the real pressure of being unprepared for Sunday. The person at the door turned out to be Edith. I need to tell you about Edith, and I need to tell you what happened that morning.

Edith, a 60 something year old woman, was a regular to the church for worship on Sunday morning. She was perpetually down on her luck and yet dedicated to Sunday attendance and a life of independence. She lived two blocks from the church in a low income housing complex. With only sporadic employment, she had very little to her name. She lived in a meager apartment, wore overly worn clothing and squeaked by from payday to payday.

On a few occasions, Edith had allowed the church to assist her with groceries and rent, but mostly her stoic and determined mindset made her powerfully independent. Each time I spoke with Edith, I was mindful that she likely warred with some internal mental health issues – but all in all – she was a gentle spirit, if consistently odd.

Today, Edith eagerly wanted to tell me something. Her enthusiasm barely allowed her to wait for me to serve her a mug of coffee. Once she took the coffee and sat down, she started talking.

What she told me was…

She had recently gotten a second part-time job had gotten paid the day before. After she had paid her bills and bought groceries for this week, she had some money left over. Then she leaned over and spoke as if telling me a secret.

“There was this bedside stand down at the drug store that I’ve had my eye on for some time. Something I could place by my bed, for glasses, and my bible and stuff. You know. Well I went right down there and bought that stand, yes I did. And I took it back to my room and put it together. Sat it right by the bed. Then I had a troubling thought. Something didn’t seem right.”

“What was that,” I asked.

“It took me a minute, but I figured it out. You remember that sermon you preached last year about tithing and bringing the first fruits of the harvest to God?”

I didn’t. “Go on,” I said.

“Well I have something for the church,” she exclaimed!

With that, she bounded from my office outside and in a blink was standing in front of me holding her prize. That stand, the bed side table wasn’t an actual piece of furniture at all. It was one of those cardboard storage boxes, the kind that you fold tab A into slot B to make a flimsy two drawer chest. There she stood, beaming and childlike insisting I take the chest.

“I want the church to have this,” she employed. "I’m sure you can use it somewhere. Can’t you?” she asked.

I stood there speechless. Part of me wanted to explain to her that her application of my sermon wasn’t needed in this situation. Still, part of me knew no amount of theology or biblical talk would help her right now. What she needed most, as one of the hardest things I’ve done.

I took the cardboard chest from her, feeling all the while like I was receiving the Eucharist from the very table of Christ, and said, “Thank you. I’m sure we can.”

She burst into tears of joy, hugged and thanked me.

I learned some things that day.

1. Most of the time, the interruptions people bring into our lives ARE the work of our lives.
2. Gratitude is a powerful thing…for the grateful and for those around them.
3. Always consider the person behind the action – not just the action
4. Big lessons often come from messy places

I’ll be headed down to that church in August for a centennial celebration of the church, 30 years after receiving Edith’s donation. I will be surprised if the office bathroom still houses a simple cardboard chest that I left there all these years ago.  I know it still rests in my heart and for that day, Edith's interruption will be very present.

Change vs Metamorphosis

We often find, in the most common of things, the familiar moments, our greatest experience of revelation.

The quiet of a morning coffee while listening to the birds wake.
The pauses between conversations between lovers
           Beach strolls
                               Woodland walks
  Floating in a pond
                                               Porch sitting
     Surf wading...

Yet, we seek, nay demand change, movement in and around us as incessantly as the manic hummingbird, flitting from blossom to bloom sipping the momentary fuel needed for continued frenzy. We flip from screen to screen, between search and video, then off to tap texts and slide photos, with the occasional glance up to orient ourselves and then we are off again. We look to move and shake from job to job or better still - career to career - thinly skimming the darker pools below our wake, surface dwelling, unwilling to sink, float down to those deep abysses... relationships, partnerships, compromises, sacrifices, commitments...scary places. Long term, staying places. 

Metamorphosis, the transforming change that our very spirit seeks comes after the stillness, the cocooning of what we are and then...well then...the miracle happens. We become more. Different. Progressed.

It seems we are determined to churn, churn and flit about. As if our churning and yearning for change for change sake will somehow quench our thirst for becoming more, for growing. It can't. 

We need the rebirth that comes from the sedentary stillness of time moving around us, of the processing of knowledge into understanding, of the merger of people in meaningful connection.  

So, dear reader, what do you think? What means of metamorphosis have you found?

On fathering... #MondayBlogs

I am more aware of my short comings than successes, failures than achievements, limitations than abilities. Still, I have no doubt in my heart driven desire to help and encourage, no question about my clear and present purpose to hold steady the ground for and believe in those who are my children. For it all, we are in this together and I will never falter in my commitment to you no matter how many times we may stumble. Of this, above all else, I am most certain. It is not to my credit, but rather because I am compelled by what another has done for me.

Pastor. Father. Husband. Addict.

One of the major obstacles to recovery is public stigma

The following is an excerpt from the Winston-Salem Journal editorial I wrote. Read the full article on Pastor, Father, Husband, Addict here.

Addict. On July 10th of 1999 I lost what felt like everything. Accused of felony crimes, arrested and defrocked, I awoke to the loss of my 15-year career as a pastor. I was unemployed and every family member and friend saw me with tenuous acceptance…and those were the very loving ones. It makes sense, really. I had been arrested for fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance, I had lied to my family, parishioners and friends repeatedly about my opiate addiction. I had ‘borrowed’ money with no real way of paying it back. Being an addict means so much that is negative in our lives. Lies, stealing, distrust – we wrap addicts in all of these things. However, I would like to believe that that is only part of the truth.

One of the major obstacles to recovery is public stigma. The stigma comes, in part from the way we talk and think about recovery. Addict. Junkie. Druggie. These terms carry with them the Hollywood scenes and dramatic memories of the underbelly of alcoholism and addiction. These words cause us to ignore the people like myself who are living in recovery. These words and prejudices cause us to objectify the addict and the alcoholic. We can then easily place them in the box with the ‘town drunk’ as too often incurable. As a result, when I sought help, the help that was available to me existed only in church basements, amid bad coffee, smoke veiled doorways and broken stories of destruction and carnage...


The 2015 Glammys & Goodsearch

The following post is presented as the result of a delightful contact I received via email from Kelly Allegretti of GoodSearch. Content detials provided by Valerie Greene of GoodSearch. Because of the local connection with Mt. Tabor High School - I thought it worthy of sharing.

The 2015 Glammys

GlamourGals was my gateway to working with the elderly, which is something I now spend 15 hours a week doing, and something that has changed my life and view on old age for the better. Through my time with GlamourGals, I have learned that old age is not something to fear, the residents I have been able to work with have shown me that one can be just as vibrant at 78 years old than at 17 years old.
— Jennifer Oberlander

The words above by Jennifer Oberlander, Daniel and Lucille Valerio Outstanding Volunteer Award winner, senior at Ardsley High School who will be attending Quinnipiac University in the fall to study nursing, are indicative of the kind of positive experience GlamourGals is about. What is it?

Bright, young women around the country are bridging the generational gap with makeup and manicures. Fashion savvy high school and college students work with the nonprofit GlamourGals to organize makeover events at local senior homes. 70% of seniors residing in senior homes are women. 66% are widowed and 46% have no living children. As people age, the amount of meaningful contact they experience decreases, particularly for those residing in eldercare facilities. . Beauty care provides a common ground to start conversations, alleviate elder loneliness, and spark lifelong friendships. The events allow elderly women to share their stories and have physical contact with another person, while the young women learn leadership and communication skills. It is a life changing experience for everyone and helps some students, like Jennifer Oberlander choose their career path. 

Every year, GlamourGals holds “The Glammys”. It is a pink carpet event to celebrate the outstanding, entrepreneurial young women making a difference in their communities. There are six individual award winners whom will each receive a $1,000 scholarship funded by the W.H.O (Women Helping Others) Foundation. Four winners will receive the “Glammy Award Scholarship” and two other winners will receive The Daniel and Lucille Valerio Outstanding Volunteer Award and The College Chapter Glammy Award, respectively. The ceremony will take place on Saturday May 30th from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm at the JW Marriott Essex House, located at 160 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019.

The Glammy Award Scholarship winners are Sarah Sandler from Sanford H. Calhoun High School, Ny, Evan Millican from Mount Tabor High School, NC, Janice Hur from Island Trees High School, NY, and Mathis Yaeger from Sanford H. Calhoun High School, NY. The Daniel and Lucille Valerio Outstanding Volunteer Award will go to Jennifer Oberlander, Ardsley High School, NY and The College Chapter Glammy Award designates a $500 scholarship to Carly Roman, Chapter President, University of Pennsylvania, PA and $500 to her chapter.

If you can’t attend the event? You can still help makeovers happen with through the shopping site called Goodshop. They have donated over $500 to Glamour Girls and will donate even more every time you shop at stores on their website. I haven't used the site, but it looks simple enough. Just signup and select GlamourGirls Foundation to raise them free donations. It looks like you can also snag some deals at stores, like e.l.f. cosmetics, BaubleBar, and Amazon.

Stumbling Block or Stepping Stone

A Coke and A Memory #MondayBlogs

Saturday I drank a glass bottle coke. As I tipped the bottle back, the glass against my lips, the sun on my face, the taste of the sugar laden soda slammed me into the past – what seems like a simpler time, a bygone era…

Riding in the back of my uncle’s pick-up, sitting astride crated glass bottles, I felt like the king of the world. – and in a small way, I was just that.

During the summers of my preteen adolescence, in a time before plastic bottles or aluminum cans, soft drinks – or soda as ‘dem Yankees called it – was sold in 12 oz., glass, returnable bottles. Packaged in wooden crates and trucked to various vending machine locations up and down the Grand Strand – these bottles of effervescent liquid could be bought for 20 cents and kept tourists refreshed and coins in the pockets of motel owners. We were the latter. 

My family owned and operated two motels and a half-dozen vending machines. Empty bottles were in abundance throughout the strand and the empty crates racked next to the machines would fill rapidly with not only the bottles from coke brands that we sold, but other brands, as well. It was one of my jobs, as a lad of 11 or so, to sort through the crates of empties and separate the non-coke brand bottles from the rest. That meant things like RC Cola, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Fresca, Mt Dew and 7-Up (to mention a few) needed to be gathered together and crated. The goal, which made me an eager and willing worker, was to transport these to the local market, Chapin Company, and claim the reward of about 2 cents per bottle.

Sorting these bottles into crates and loading them into the back of my Uncle’s 1969 Chevy El-Camino was the work. The fun began when I climbed into the back, found my seat on top of the crates and rode happily, summer’s hot breeze blowing my face, through Ocean Boulevard traffic into town. My uncle always split the money from the returns with me and bought me a Coke and pack of Lance’s salted peanuts for the ride home, peanuts that were always poured into the neck of the bottle and consumed with the coke.

So much of that moment in my childhood is gone, lost to progress, safety precautions and the churning wheels of capitalism. Returnable glass bottles gave way to aluminum cans and then to plastic bottles. 12 oz. drinks that were once a treat for us, have been replaced by our daily consumption of bottomless Big-Gulps and 2 Liter bottles. Traffic laws now prevent the transport of people (much less children) in open pick-up beds and 15 cents won’t buy you water.

Still, the memory I cherish is more about the life I had – sun and fun, a supportive family, the experience of moving and being in the world, and working hard for a reward - than it is about prices or regulations. My nostalgia for the past doesn't cause me to long for a return to it, but begs the question…Where do my kids and grand-kids find these grounding, memory making moments in their lives? Ahhh…that’s refreshing.

NOTE: If you want to read more about the bottle industry history and learn why we occasionally found cigarette butts in the bottom of those recycled bottles (yes. gross), read a comprehensive history of the bottling industry here.