Posted by: Kara Luker | January 4, 2011

Advice from a poker player

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

Yesterday morning NPR had a guy on who runs a company making a profit flipping houses – yep, even in this market, albeit in smaller measure that in years gone by. He also happens to be a killer poker player, as evidenced by his presence in the poker hall of fame (which I didn’t realize existed until yesterday morning). He very convincingly explained that the key to doing well in either of these areas is to be unemotional about decisions. It’s all about cold facts and hard analysis. When the rest of the world is drunk with fear, you stay sober by making decisions based on what you determine to be true rather than on what you feel.

I was taken with this concept and thought of it much of the day. Not because I have any interest in flipping houses, which makes my heart laugh out loud inside my body. But because I don’t trust emotions, which can deceive, mislead, dominate, and destroy. And they can generally be a pain in the butt.

In the midst of this thought process, my boss got back from several weeks in Chicago. He noticed a very distracted me trying to focus on work and failing miserably. And trying again. And failing. Hopeless sighs may have escaped my lips as I lifted my head between bangs on the computer. My thoughts seemed to be all tangled up in a guy named John, who has been the focus of several posts. My heart didn’t feel quite right either. So much for cold facts and hard analysis.

I deemed a walk necessary at lunch to clear my head and regain whatever focus I had before floating out onto this sea of clouded bliss. My feet moved like usual but each time I opened up my mouth to pray, all that would come out was, “oh shit.” So I walked around the neighborhood with my heart turned toward the Lord repeatedly saying, “oh shit,” like a homeless person with a mental disorder.

It doesn’t sound very romantic, I know. But it is, and that’s exactly the problem. Our nightly conversations while I was in Colorado felt comfortable, real, normal. I looked forward to the way they tucked the day in and kissed it on the cheek. When he picked us up at the airport, I realized I knew him better than when I left. And I liked what I knew.

A walk by the creek

A walk to the creek together with his neighbor, a few kids, and a dog on Sunday – through mud and rain while wearing flip-flops – nearly sent me into orbit. He held an umbrella over me and grabbed my hand so I wouldn’t fall. I never knew I wanted to tromp through mud with someone, but I do. Desperately, my heart would say. Shut up, I would retort.

He has met my son, and I have met his daughter. He’s introduced me to some of his friends, and I’ve introduced him to some of my family. These things have gone well, I think. We have much in common. He is kind and strong. Our lips fit together beautifully. He has seen me in sweatpants – and still likes me.

As often happens, things are becoming clear as I write. The fact that I can’t think straight at work doesn’t really mean any grand thing for my life, although it just may be a miracle that John got through the guard dogs of my heart to provoke this reaction. But it is very possible that there is something of real substance here; something that could be proven true. And maybe these emotions (which must be somehow good since God made them), could be a bridge over paralyzing levels of caution. An override of sorts. The kind that causes people to create things or buy puppies… or step into relationships.

So maybe it’s about humoring emotions while doing the important and enjoyable task of getting to know each other, and taking in the mystery, delight, and kisses along the way. And maybe the substance of the relationship will become more and more evident… possibly enough even to convince a poker-playing-house-flipper of its value.


  1. Okay, it’s official. The Holy Spirit has given you the gift of expressing the revelation of His heart through yours via writing. Part of your calling/stewardship is to write. And to keep writing. And then to write some more.

    • Well, my goodness, that is wonderful. Especially since there’s nothing I’d rather do. Except maybe walk. It’s a shame I can’t do them both at the same time. 🙂

  2. Is this the effect of “just keep swimming”? 🙂

    • Yes ma’am. And I suddenly think swimming is fabulous! So I’m going to sing it right on back to you…. just keep swimming, just keep swimming, what do we do? we swim, swim swim…

  3. Kara,
    Rich truths wonderfully expressed! Love your honesty and humor.. I look forward to your posts.. Thanks for sharing…

    • Thanks Kelly!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: