Friday, February 17, 2017

I Have a New Friend

Two years ago at this time, I had just begun a new adventure.
I left my job as an activity director and welcomed my 97-year-old grandmother into our home.
It was a delight.
It was quite difficult some times.
It was the right thing to do.
There is absolutely no way I could have done it alone.
And because of an organization called Great Lakes Caring, I didn't have to.
Grandma had weekly visits from a Registered Nurse who was full of compassion and was always ready to answer our questions and offer help. She had twice-weekly visits from a home-health aide who helped her with showers - and was also full of compassion. Grandma received visits from a social worker, Chaplain, and case manager. And even had weekly massages!
In addition to all that, while Grandma received care from Great Lakes she also was matched up with a volunteer who visited regularly and always lifted Grandma's spirits. How many times did I hear her say, "That Jenny is such a nice girl!"?
Soooooo, because I am so grateful for the blessing Great Lakes was to us, and because I believe strongly in their mission, I have become a volunteer like Jenny! Even have my own official badge:

And yesterday I met my match for the very first time. She is just lovely!
In fact, I think that's what I'll call her here on my blog.
Lovely.
Yes. That suits her just fine.
I have a new friend named, Lovely, and I look forward to sharing her with you on Fridays.

Karen

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What is Your Goal?

Goals?
Ugh.
I'm just not good at them.
Setting OR keeping them.
Though, if I am not good at setting them, I suppose keeping them is a moot point. *wink*
Brian used to ask me on occasion, Where do you see yourself in five years? What do you want to be doing in ten years? How do you want to spend our retirement years?
And my answer was always the same: I don't know!
So, last week as I did my homework for Precepts, and this question was posed: "Honestly, what are your goals in life?" I was stumped.
As in, I thought, Really, Kay? You're going to hit me up on this, too???
But then I re-read the verses I had just been studying.

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

~Philippians 3:13-14
And I realized therein was my answer to the question. Really, I just want to be like Jesus - loving people, speaking and teaching the Truth, serving as He served. Whatever God calls me to do, whoever He is making me to be - that is my goal!
In this moment, the ways that goal seems to be fleshing itself out is via speaking for moms' groups and women's events, Sunday school with my 3rd and 4th grade girls, a couple of volunteer opportunities I'm discovering (More on those at a later date!), and simply serving my family. These are the places God has led me to, and these are the places He seems to be growing me. Where I can be His vessel. Where I can extend grace and show compassion and point to God. And as much effort as I put into it, I cannot think of anything I'd rather be doing. I cannot come up with a higher goal.
I just want to be who HE wants me to be, doing what HE wants me to do.
And if that happens to involve a calendar full of speaking events and opportunities to sow into the hearts of women? Maybe writing another book? Well, yee-ha!

How about you? To what do you aspire?

Karen

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

When I Was Your Age

How many times did you hear that phrase when you were growing up?

If you're anything like me, every time those words hit your ear drum you promised yourself, Yeah, well when I'm you're age and I have kids of my own, I'm never going to say, "When I was your age..."
And, again, if you're anything like me - You've broken that promise more than a time, or two.

Like I did yesterday.

Josh was telling me about a problem he has with the windows in his Jeep. Apparently, they don't open.
I asked him, "Didn't Dad fix that last summer?" Josh confirmed he did the repair, and told me it was an intermittent problem. "Maybe something in the window is just frozen?" I suggested.
And he looked at me as if to say, Yeah, Mom. Like you know anything about my Jeep.
Or more likely he was doubting my ability to know anything at all. *ahem*
So, I had to tell him. I mean, he practically forced my hand! And I complied as I explained that when I was in college and had my first car *read that: When I was your age* I had an intermittent problem during the winter, too. That is, one morning I opened the driver door to get in, but it wouldn't stay shut. And since I had to get to campus for class, I got a rope or something and ran it through the handle on the door and around the seat - and tied the door shut.
Not the safest way to drive, to be sure, but you do what you've got to do, right?
Well the thing is, when I got to campus and got out of my car - the door stayed shut! And that's when I diagnosed my problem. Something inside the door was frozen, and the drive to campus warmed the car so the frozen thing thawed and worked again. Thus, dear man-child of mine, I do know something. Maybe something in the window mechanism is wavering between being frozen and not. And that's why sometimes it works, and other times it doesn't. I mean, it could happen. Because it happened to me when I was your age. But I drove my car, anyway. (Up hill, both ways. Through three feet of snow, without shoes.) And I was thankful!
Er, I got a little carried away with that last part. Seems like that's what my mom always said about walking to school anytime I complained about something - when I was his age. *wink*

Karen

Monday, February 13, 2017

ASK

Karen

Friday, February 10, 2017

When a Home Makeover Becomes a Heart Makeover

If you see me babying my right arm, don't worry. I'm OK.
You see, I did a lot of painting yesterday. And since I am not ambidextrous - well - my right arm got quite a workout. So it's a little sore now.
But so worth it!
Yeah, because in addition to good progress being made on the house we're getting ready to sell - oh, did God use that time to continue His good work in my heart.
See, the thing is, I wasn't actually excited about going over to the house to paint. That is, I would have rather done just about anything else. I mean the house is dirty, no one else would be there to make the work seem like it was going faster, I'm always cold when I'm there, I was doing just fine taking care of laundry and other chores in the comfort of my home, and - quite frankly - I really didn't feel like getting paint all over myself. (Always happens, no matter how careful I am...)
But guilt had the last say, and I left what I'd rather to do accomplish what I ought to do.
There. I said it.
Anyway, as I was painting I received a text message from an organization for which I pray. The text was to alert me to pray for emergency housing for two very young children and their mother who are facing immediate homelessness. So in my heart I was suddenly joined by a frightened and desperate family, and I began praying for them. And after a couple of hours of painting and praying, I packed up and started for home. That is, I lugged the vacuum cleaner down the stairs, turned the heat down (Yeah, that part about always being cold when I'm over there? Easily fixed by cranking up the thermostat.) and made a couple trips to the van to load everything up.
The back and forth outside got me quite chilly again, so I turned up the heat in the van - and that was just about the time God's Spirit got through to mine.
It was as if He said, Do you realize what you just did, dear? It was so easy for you to solve your problem of being cold. I acknowledged that it was, indeed, easy. And then He brought that family back to my mind. The one I'd been praying for while I was begrudgingly painting the house I didn't want to paint. The one who currently doesn't have a home. Who probably would be delighted to stay in that house - in spite of the mess, and the need for new carpet, and the in-the-midst-of-repair-walls-which-also-need-paint, and the chill in the air. Because the furnace works, and makes the house toasty.
My very next thought was the recognition that I am way more fortunate than I realize. I was driving my van across town from the house I used to live in to the one in which I currently live. I was driving - not walking, or taking a bus, or looking for a ride - and I was warmed by the heater, and I had ingredients waiting for me at home with which I would make dinner for my family. My family - which may be imperfect, and may have struggles, but we're healthy and we're together. I have the resources to buy gas for my van, the physical ability to climb on chairs to paint high places - not to mention the ability to lug a vacuum cleaner up and down stairs, from one house to the other. Yeah, and I have a really great vacuum cleaner. Even that's got a wonderful God-story behind it!
In my moment of clarity I began to understand that God was willing my thankfulness and gratitude into being. I had been wallowing in a pit of woe-is-me, I-have-to-do-work-I-don't-want-to-do and was fully neglecting my need to be thankful.
(And, yes, I believe it is a need.)
Because when I'm rolling around in self-pity all of my focus in on me, my troubles, and how "bad" I have it. But when I start being thankful my gaze shifts upward. I start looking at God and recognizing how generously He has provided for me. When I give thanks to God, I am reminded of His faithfulness - and I remember no matter what I have, or do not have, God is good.

Oh, how I want to live with a thankful heart. Every moment of every day.
Because God is good. All the time!

Karen

Thursday, February 09, 2017

What I Wish I Would Have Heard

So the other day I was chatting with a friend on Facebook - via the comment section of her post. She was at our mutual dentist's office and I said something about liking the massage chair they have in the waiting room. I mentioned that I love sitting in it while Matthew is getting his ortho adjustments. Ahhhhhhhh.
And she replied that she wasn't able to enjoy it because she was "chasing the baby" - but realized she'll have a chance some day.
My initial reaction was to say, "Yes. You will." And then I was tempted to advise her to enjoy these moments because they'll go so fast. *Gag!*
Fortunately, before I typed such hypocrisy my memory took me back to a day at the pool when I was chasing kids. When I was looking longingly at the moms who got to sit around enjoying one another's company, seemingly relaxed and care-free. When one of them said to me, "Your time will come," and I didn't feel consoled by her words.
I remembered another time when an older mom tried encouraging me (At least, I think she was trying to encourage me.) by saying, "Oh, we've all been there." Except rather than being encouraged, I felt like her words were telling me I needed to suck it up - because I wasn't the only one who ever went through whatever I was going through at the moment. (In retrospect, I understand that was the faulty thinking of my depression.)
In light of these memories I paused before I finished typing my response. I didn't want to say anything which might in some way discourage or discount my young-mother friend. So I asked myself what I would have wanted to hear at that moment if I were in her shoes.
And I wrote, "Yes. You will. Until then, I pray God will give you the grace to stay in the moment and trust Him through each one." Because even as I wanted to encourage her to not wish these days away, I understand the desperation one can feel when it seems like "this" will never end. And I wanted to direct her gaze toward God as the One who will help her through every "this" she encounters.
Because I have been through a lot of "this."
And I have found that HE is faithful!

Hmmm. After writing these words it occurred to me that someone reading them - even now - may be in need of the same encouragement. If you're the one, I pray God will encourage you with the knowledge that HE sees you, HE knows what you're facing, and HE will be faithful to see you through it. May God give you the grace you need to stay in the moment and trust Him through each one.

Karen

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

How Should We Respond?

Have you noticed the unrest in our world today?

Heard about the arguing and resistance going on in Washington, D.C.?

Read any articles, or watched any reports about President Trump's Cabinet appointees?

Have you wondered what you can do???

As I scrolled through angry and concerned posts (about Betsy DeVos's confirmation) yesterday on Facebook, I commented one thing:
Let's pray for her, asking God to give her wisdom and to work good through her.
Regardless of our political affiliations or our feelings about the men and women in office in our government, I hope as brothers and sisters in Christ we can agree on one thing.
God is sovereign.
And if God is the One who is holding this world together, I hope we can agree to trust Him above our political leaders. Furthermore, if we are trusting Him over our political leaders it seems most reasonable to me that we ought to bringing them to Him in prayer. We ought to be petitioning God to work in and through them, according to His good pleasure and purpose.
And if we can agree to trust God and pray for our leaders, maybe we can find a way to exist in harmony with one another.

Karen