Friday, December 18, 2009

This Week's WORD

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the
clans of Judah,
our of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.

Micah 5:2


But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."

Luke 2:10-11


Last Sunday I heard a sermon in church which has stayed with me and given me hope all week long. The speaker took is through many, many Old Testament prophecies and showed us the New Testament fulfillment in Jesus. He (the speaker) reminded us that the Old Testament was written over a period of 1,500 years, by 25 different authors, yet every prophecy was fulfilled without contradiction and without error.
Only God could coordinate something like that!
And he reminded us - if God can manage the fulfillment of those prophecies over the course of 1,500 years and through 25 different authors, He can surely handle the details in our lives. Amen?
I pray today you find yourself trusting God more than you ever have before. He loves you so much. He sees what you cannot, and He will care for you in your circumstance.

I'll be taking a break from blogging until Monday, January 4, 2010.
Please enjoy celebrating Jesus with your family this Christmas.
Love them.
Love HIM.
Remember His amazing love for you!

May the peace of Christ rest upon you, and may you overflow with the joy of His Spirit. Today, and until we meet again.


Karen

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What Would it Take?

My Facebook friend, Julia, answered a question about me the other day which really got me thinking.
The question was, "What would it take for Karen Hossink to run a full marathon?" And Julia responded by saying, "Well I know of one way...if Jesus were standing at the finish line!"
At first I laughed.
Me? Run a full marathon???

Not likely!!!

First of all, my knee is bad. It hurts when I run.
Second, a full marathon is 26.2 miles. That's a lot of running. I do not have the endurance to go that long.
And finally, when I add the above two objections together, and consider my weak flesh, I just know I would not be able to run a full marathon.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized, I'm running that marathon right now. Every day of my life is another step in the marathon.
Oh, how many times I want to quit running! Because my heart hurts. Because the pain of real relationships can seem too much for me to handle. Because I can't take the sting of one more disappointment.
And, wow! How this marathon wears me out. I'm tired of unanswered questions. The endless list of needs and demands in front of me floods me with weariness. When I think of how far I have yet to run, it seems every ounce of energy is drained from my spirit.
And when I look at my condition, I get overwhelmed and believe I cannot go on.
BUT - and you know how I love a big BUT! - when I look ahead to the finish line, when I remember Who is there waiting for me, I am determined to keep on running.
And so, I will run. Without concern for my appearance. Not caring what my finish time will be. Unconcerned about who passes me, or by whom I run. Only fixing my eyes on Jesus - the Author and Perfecter of my faith.

What would it take for you to run a full marathon? Jesus is at the finish line.
Grab your running shoes. Let's run this race together!


Karen

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Today I'm @ Faith, Family and Fun

It's the same every day.
At 8:10 my son and I stand on the corner waiting for our neighbor, and then the three of us walk to school.
The boys will lag behind and I'll tell them to keep coming. Then they'll run ahead and turn around to wait for me.
They'll grab sticks laying by the road and pretend to shoot passing cars. (If you drive by us, don't worry. They're harmless!)
At some point, there's usually talk about the latest game in gym class, and more recently - what's on top of the Christmas wish-list.

To read the rest, click here.


Karen

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday in the Psalms

Psalm 30

1 I will exalt you, O LORD,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
2 O LORD my God, I called to you for help
and you healed me.
3 O LORD, you brought me up from the grave;
you spared me from going down into the pit.

4 Sing to the LORD, you saints of his;
praise his holy name.
5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

6 When I felt secure, I said,
"I will never be shaken."
7 O LORD, when you favored me,
you made my mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.

8 To you, O LORD, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
9 "What gain is there in my destruction
in my going down into the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10 Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me;
O LORD, be my help."

11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.


Which of these verses particularly speaks to your heart today? How???
I hope you'll write it down and carry it with you in your pocket - taking time to remember it throughout the day.


Karen

Monday, December 14, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

This Week's WORD

And whether they listen or fail to listen - for they are a rebellious house - they will know that a prophet has been among them...
You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious...
Go now to your countrymen in exile and speak to them. Say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says,' whether they listen or fail to listen...
And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days - overwhelmed.

Ezekiel 2:5&7 and 3:11&15b

Can anyone else relate to Ezekiel the way I can this week???
I was reading these words, thinking of my rebellious pre-teen son. And the repeated message to Ezekiel - that he needed to speak, whether the Israelites listened or failed to listen - pierced my heart.
Do you know how many times I just want to give up?
Do you have any idea how often I wonder if the words I am saying to my son will make an iota of difference in his life?

Oh, how often I have sat where he lives - overwhelmed.

But I read these words from God - His clear instruction to Ezekiel to go and speak to these people - and I realized something. Even though the Israelites were a rebellious people; even though they didn't do what God commanded them; even though they turned away from Him and did exactly what He told them NOT to do - still, He loved them. Still, He wanted them to hear His Word - to have an opportunity to hear the Truth.
And with that realization, God spoke to my heart.
I may not think my son is listening to me - when I correct, instruct, or even when I profess my love for him - but whether he listens or fails to listen, I will speak. And I will pray that whether he is listening or failing to listen today, God will store my words in my son's heart, that one day he may understand.

Have a wonderful weekend. I'll see you back here Monday!


Karen

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Who's to Blame?

Let's see...
I could blame the boys. After all, they are the ones who were messing around at the top of the steps and knocked the can over - sending it falling into the basement.
Of course, it could be my fault. Since I am the one who put the can there in the first place.
But maybe Elizabeth is to blame. She's the one who invited her small group over - which is why I put the can on the top of the steps, to get it out of the way.
Then again, maybe it's the church's fault. It's because of the huge Christmas outreach that's taking up the entire church building that there's no room for the youth group to meet. Such that they needed to meet off site, which is why Elizabeth invited her small group over to our house. Leading me to put the can at the top of the basement steps, to get it out of the way. So that it was in the way when the boys were messing around and kicked it, and sent it tumbling into the basement.

Er...Wait! Maybe God is the one to blame for this whole mess.

He's the One who sent Jesus to the earth to take the sins of the world upon Himself so that we may be reconciled to God.
Because of what God did through sending Jesus to save us, our church is using up the whole building for this major outreach event - that people may come to a saving knowledge of who He is!
So it's as a result of God's amazing love for us that Elizabeth invited her small group over to our house.
It's because God sent Jesus to teach us about grace and forgiveness, because He sent Jesus to die that we might live, that I put the can of paint at the top of the steps and forgot about it.
And the boys kicked it when they were messing around.
And the carpet going down the steps is ruined.
And the walls are a mess.
And the articles of clothing that were laying on the steps have been thrown away.

Clearly, if God had not sent Jesus to the earth to teach me about grace and forgiveness, there would not be this huge mess going down to my basement.

But now that the paint has dried and I've had some time to think about it, I've realized something wonderful.

That mess on the stairs really doesn't matter.

My heart is messier by far, and Jesus still loves me. And right here - in my face - He's given me an opportunity to practice what He preached: To offer grace and forgiveness in spite of the mess.

How about you? Been trying to figure out who's to blame for the mess around you?
Let's trust in His power at work within us, and offer grace and forgiveness instead.


Karen

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Was That a Compliment?

OK, so the other night I was in my daughter's bedroom saying goodnight and she was telling me about some adventures she'd had that day. (Elizabeth loves to talk and would do so non-stop, given the chance. Which is why I laugh at parent-teacher conferences when her teachers tell me she's quiet. My daughter???)
It was getting late and I still needed to say goodnight to the boys so I said something like, "OK, honey. That's all the time we have for the story. Would you like a song tonight?"
Elizabeth said I must not have been that interested in her story. Well, honestly, I really wasn't. And I admitted as much.
Then Elizabeth said, "Mom, you're really good at making people think you're interested in what they're saying, even when you aren't."

And I wondered, Was that a compliment?

Karen

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Tuesday in the Psalms

Looking for a psalm to consider today.
Turning the pages of my Bible, pondering God's goodness as I read many verses I've underlined at one time or another.
Stopping when I get to this one. Yes. This is the one for today!

I will praise you forever for what you have done;
in your name I will hope, for your name is good.
I will praise you in the presence of your saints.

Psalm 52:9

Today I am praising God because He is faithful and patient. His love endures forever!
I am so undeserving of the Father's love. If I were my child, I would have run out of patience for me a loooong time ago.
But not God.
He keeps on loving. Keeps on persisting in teaching me. Keeps on staying by my side.
Our God is faithful!
And my hope is in Him.

Please join me in praising God in the presence of His saints by contributing your praise in the comment section. And may I encourage you to write Psalm 52:9 on a piece of paper and stick it in your pocket today? Then, whenever you remember this verse - offer up a prayer of praise and thanksgiving to the One who loves you endlessly. And, if you're in the presence of His saints when you remember the verse, how about verbalizing that praise audibly???

Karen

Friday, December 04, 2009

This Week's WORD

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born.

Luke 2:6

When God caused Mary to become pregnant with Jesus, do you think He was aware of the fact that when the time came for the baby to be born Mary would be far away from home?
Do you think He knew there would be no room in the inn?
Have you ever wondered if God should have timed things better for Jesus' birth?
Ever wondered if He had His wires crossed in the timing of your circumstance?

I am certain God knew exactly what He was doing when He planned the timing of Jesus' birth. He worked out the details perfectly. And He's working perfectly in your life, too.

I'll be presenting a message based upon this scripture at a women's advent program this coming Sunday night. Will be including the gospel and an invitation for women to give their lives to Jesus. Would appreciate your prayers!

Edie has announced the winner of yesterday's giveaway - and explained the "real" element for this layout. Check out the details here.

Have a great weekend. I'll see you back here Monday.

Karen

Thursday, December 03, 2009

My New Look

Soooo, what do you think?

Edie is such a talented woman, and I hope you like the new look she's given me here as much as I do. Remember that I asked her to create a look that conveys a feeling of hope and peace? But that I also wanted to portray real? I don't ever want someone to come over here and think I have this whole mothering thing figured out, and that I never struggle.
So, Edie took that guidance and went to work. And this is what she created.
Now - as promised - you get to participate in the fun, too. Take a look around and see if you can determine what it is Edie included to convey that sense of real.
Then visit her Graphics Blog and tell her what you think that piece is. Edie will randomly pick a winner from all correct entries, and that person will win their choice of my books.
Hurry! Edie will have the drawing at 10pm EST today.


Karen

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Today I'm at Faith, Family & Fun!

A few days ago I was meeting with our Physician.
The GREAT Physician, that is.
I was talking with Him about my children. My friend gave me a list of 31 Biblical virtues, and every day I talk with the Physician about one of those virtues as they relate to my kids. On this particular day, we were focusing on mercy.
As I do every day, I told the Physician how much I love my children and how great my desire is for them to grow up and become young doctors, walking in His footsteps. Then we started talking about this "mercy" issue.

To read the rest, click here.

Come back here tomorrow to see my new blog layout and enter the giveaway for one of my books!

Karen

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

While You Are Waiting

1How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
4my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me.

Psalm 13

Have you ever been there?
In the midst of a terrifying situation, waiting for God's deliverance?
Or, even in the midst of a not-so-terrifying situation (but difficult, nonetheless), just waiting?
Have you ever wanted to cry out to God, asking Him, "How long, LORD? How long must I wait???"

Recently I was talking with a friend about what happens to us when we're waiting on God to move. Both of us admitted we don't like to wait. Oh, I would much rather be busy working out the situation. I think, Don't ask me to wait, God. Just tell me what to DO! Let's not waste time with this "waiting" thing.
But as my friend and I talked and looked at scripture together, we realized - While we're waiting, God is working.
He may be building our trust, growing our faith, shaping our character, or coordinating the details. But God is never wasting our time.
Do you believe it?

If you are in a waiting pattern today, will you choose to trust God in spite of what you cannot see? Why not write down Psalm 13:5-6 on a piece of paper and carry it with you in your pocket today? Let God remind you all day long that He is working while you are waiting.

May the peace of Christ rest upon you while you wait.

Karen

Monday, November 30, 2009

God Will Fight for You


BTW, the new blog layout will go "live" Thursday. Be sure to stop by and participate in the giveaway drawing!

Karen

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Things Are About to Change

One day soon when you stop by this little corner of the blogosphere, things are going to look a lot different. Edie is in the process of designing a new blog layout for me, and it's going to be great. I am so excited for you to see it!
As I was thinking about the "look" I wanted my blog to have so I could give Edie some direction to begin her work, this is what I said to her in an email.

When women come to my blog I want to convey a feeling of hope and peace. I want them to feel like they are safe, and in the presence of the One who loves them endlessly. But I also want it to be real. Not perfect. Know what I mean?
I think she has done a wonderful job of capturing that essence.
I hope you'll agree.
And I hope each time you visit this place, you truly will feel like this is a safe place - where the One who loves you endlessly reaches through my words (I always pray that He will!) and speaks to your heart.

Perhaps my favorite part of the new header is the piece Edie included to convey "real." There's something on it which I hope will cause you to think, That woman understands me. She is not perfect. She struggles just like I do, and I feel comfortable with her. And when the new design is up, you are going to have an opportunity to identify that aspect of the header and enter for a chance to win one of my books. I'll give you more details when the time comes.

For now, I want to wish each of you a very Happy Thanksgiving. I'm going to take a blog break until Monday - but then I'll be back to tell you a little more about the new layout. See you then!

Karen

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Together in the Psalms

Shane has felt God calling her to "Unplug" and take a break from writing for a while, so What's on Your Mind '09? isn't officially running anymore. But I have so enjoyed the last couple of weeks together in the pslams with you that I decided to continue.
Today I want to do something a little different. (And I may do this again, if your responses tell me you like the idea.) I am going to write a portion of a psalm here and I would like you to read through it, asking God to speak to your heart. If there is a particular verse that stands out to you, please share about it in the comments.
Then - and I hope you'll do this whether you leave a comment, or not - write that verse down on a piece of paper and stick it in your pocket so you can refer back to it throughout your day.
Ask God to keep speaking to your heart!

5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

Psalm 62:5-8


Karen

Monday, November 23, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

This Week's WORD

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.
2 Chronicles 32:7-8

Are you facing a king and his vast army today? Fear not, my friend. For the King is on your side, and His power is greater!

May you rest in the assurance that the King will fight your battles.
See you back here Monday.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bless My Heart

The sad thing is, one of Elizabeth's pet rats died last Saturday.

The glad thing is what I witnessed when we went to get a new rat.

Elizabeth cried her tears for Lacey on Saturday, but wasted no time in pursuing the idea of getting a replacement pet. So Monday night found us ('us' being Elizabeth, Joshua and I) going to the pet store to buy a new rat. Elizabeth didn't want Allison to get too lonely, you know!
At the first store, there were only male rats for sale. You may have noticed from the above mentioned name, Elizabeth's present rat is a female. Ahem. We don't want baby rats.

Strike one.

At the second pet store we found female rats. But they weren't the kind Elizabeth wanted. And they were pricey. ($!)

Strike two.

So we piled back into the van to check out the only other pet store we could think of in town. It was about a fifteen minute drive, and as we were getting closer I could tell from Elizabeth's remarks that she was concerned about the possibility of not finding a rat at our final stop.
On the one hand I was thinking, This isn't exactly an issue of tremendous eternal significance. And on the other hand I was thinking, God cares about Elizabeth's heart. And He tells us to pray about everything.
So I said, "We could pray about it."
At which point Elizabeth and Joshua said simultaneously, "I am." "I have been."
And this mother's heart filled with joy.
Sometimes I think my kids roll their internal eyes at me when I suggest we pray about everything. But one of my greatest desires is that my children learn to pray at all times, that they become convinced God truly does listen and care - and has the power to act. So, if their eyes are rolling, let them roll.
But Monday night in the dark of the van I could see their eyes weren't rolling. I could see my children are learning to pray on all occasions. And my heart was truly blessed. Thank You, Jesus!

Oh, and Elizabeth found a female rat to adopt and love when we made that final stop. Because God cares for her heart, and He has the power to act!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Overheard in the Kitchen

Me, singing: Give me Jesus. Give me Jesus. You can have all this world. Just give me Jesus.

Brian, thoughtfully: Speaking of Jesus, Dr. Kirby has a thing going for referrals right now. He's giving away a huge flat screen TV. For each referral you submit, you get entered into the drawing. And I have a friend who needs his services, so I'm going to refer him.

Me, confused: OK. And what does that have to do with Jesus?

Joshua, enthusiastically: He's meeting our needs!

Yeah, because we really need a flat screen TV. Oh, my son! *grin*

Karen

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What's on Your Mind '09? - Psalms

Before we get into today's post, I just have to tell you what I did last night. I talked to Edie! Live and in person. It was so cool to hear her voice. She is going to give me a blog make-over, and Monday night we talked for about an hour and a half on the phone. About the blog, and about life.
What a joy for my heart!

OK, we can get to the regularly scheduled post now. But I was so excited to talk with Edie that I simply had to share it with you. *grin*

Well, this writing prompt from Shane for What's on Your Mind '09? is turning out to be harder than I thought it would be. Because I'm afraid there aren't going to be enough Tuesdays in this month to reflect on all the psalms I'd love for us to share together.
But, alas, I must pick just one today.
And so I shall.

I was pushed back and about to fall,
but the LORD helped me.
The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.

Psalm 118:13-14

Oh, these verses are so true in my life.
Most recently I have been struggling with trying to understand my little ADHD guy. Homework, and studying for tests are just the pits with him. He hates doing it, even though I have tried so hard to make the work as painless as possible. My efforts are usually met with fighting and crying.
Lots of it.
And many, many times I have been ready to quit. I have been pushed too far and have just wanted to give up trying!

But the LORD has helped me.

Sometimes His help comes in the form of my husband who "takes over" the homework session.
Sometimes it comes from the power of His Spirit who calms mine, when I am about to blow.
Sometimes God helps me keep going by allowing me to see my son's pride, as he shows me his science test that has a big A+ on the top of it. And we're both reminded that the studying was worth it.

I am so thankful for all the ways the LORD has helped me!

Have you ever been pushed back and felt like you were about to fall? How has the LORD helped you?

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

This Week's WORD

I am the LORD;
in its time I will do this swiftly.
Isaiah 60:22b

I almost want to leave this statement alone and see if God speaks to you through it the same way He spoke to me.
But I just can't keep quiet!
After reading about Israel's perils, their stubbornness, and God's wrath; and then His promise of salvation, of restoration - and Zion's future glory, I'm thinking, Wow. The Israelites must have been going nuts wondering when His promise of deliverance was going to be fulfilled!

Because I know the waiting had to be hard.

It always is for me.

I think that's why God's statement grabbed me. I am the LORD, in its time I will do this swiftly.
It is as if He is saying, Do you know who I Am? I am the LORD. The Creator of heaven and earth. I set the stars in place. I gave you life. I know your comings and goings, your thoughts, your needs, your fears. I am the LORD!
And this thing you're waiting for? I know when the time will come for your situation to be resolved. (Remember, I am the LORD. I know everything.) I know you want the trial to end right now, but there is work that needs to be done in your life first. I have a purpose for this pain. But, darling, when this trial has accomplished the objective for which I allowed it into your life, rest assured - I will bring about its resolution promptly. I will not let you suffer needlessly.
I am the LORD, in its time I will do this swiftly.
You can trust Me.


May you find yourself trusting in His timing today.
Have a great weekend. See you back here Monday!

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Give Me Jesus

This song has been consuming my heart and mind all week.
Jesus really is all we need.
Please take the time to listen - and may your heart be blessed, your spirit encouraged.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Don't Let Your Mood Dictate Your Direction"

The above quote comes from my wonderful husband. A.K.A. my voice of reason.

I am so thankful for him.

Have you ever been feeling kind of blah, and found yourself questioning the reason for your existence? Doubting your worth? Wondering if you're where you should be?
I've done a very recent and quick dive into this kind of mood, and those questions have been floating over my head.
Oh, I know the Truth, but sometimes I get in these ruts and I start to over-analyze everything.
That's why I'm so thankful for my voice of reason. God speaks through him so clearly sometimes!

Don't let your mood dictate your direction.

OK. I've got it.
I'm only going to let God dictate my direction. He is steadfast and doesn't change like my moods. Yes. I will hold onto Him!

If you're in a place like mine today, I pray these words will lift you up, too.

And I hope you'll come back tomorrow. I'm going to post a song that God has been using this week to carry me.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What's on Your Mind '09? - Psalms

Oh Good! November's focus for What's on Your Mind '09? is Pslams. I love the psalms. They're my favorite!
Oh, wait, did I say the same thing about prayer last month?
Well, honestly, everything about God is my favorite. *sheepish grin*
Thanks, Shane, for picking another of my favorite things to dwell on this month. Love you!

I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the LORD;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together.

Psalm 34:1-3

Psalm 34:1-3 is the very first piece of scripture I memorized after I became a Christian nearly 20 years ago. And today I want to invite you to join me in living it out.
I am going to boast in the LORD right here. Then, I want you to join me in the comment section so we may exalt his name together.
And today, if you are one who is afflicted? Come. Hear and rejoice!

My boast:
If you watched my video yesterday, you may have caught my comment that things have been rather rough around here recently. Honestly, in some moments I have been allowing myself to believe that between Joshua and I - only one of us is going to survive this school year.
I have been at my wits' end with that boy.
Trying to understand him. Wanting to be gentle. Meaning to give him room to be who God has created him to be. Knowing I need to give him boundaries. Feeling like a desperate failure in every respect.

My tears and my prayers have been plentiful.

But God's grace and mercy have been greater.

Every time I start longing for these days to be over, God reminds me He is right here in the middle of the mess.
When I am despairing about my situation, God tells me the Truth and shifts my focus from my situation to Himself.
In the moments when I'm feeling lost and alone, God sends people into my life to lift me up and help me.
After a night of fighting about homework, God wakes me to a morning full of new mercies.

Ahhh, yes. My soul will boast in the LORD.
Let us exalt His name together!

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Monday, November 09, 2009

No Trade Backs



Your Turn: Okay, be honest. Have you ever thought it would be nice to trade your kids in for "better" models? Though you know it is impossible to do, have you ever just wished you could swap out your kids for some others who seem "perfect" to you?
Let's examine the Truth. Do you believe God knew what He was doing when He created your children? Read Psalm 139:13-14, inserting your children's names at the appropriate places. Do you believe His works are wonderful?
Spend time praying for each of your children. Think about each one individually. What makes him/her special? Praise God for His wonderful works and for creating your child perfectly.

BTW - This isn't in the book, but that night I ended up going to the store and buying cookies. Some days are like that! *sigh*

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Friday, November 06, 2009

This Week's WORD

I will heal their waywardness
and love them freely,
for my anger has turned away from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
he will blossom like a lily.
Like a cedar of Lebanon
he will send down his roots;
his young shoots will grow.

Hosea 14:5-6a

Read the whole book of Hosea this week. Oh, how I love that book! The story of God wooing Israel back to Himself is just beautiful.
We get the picture of Israel's unfaithfulness to God through Gomer's unfaithfulness to Hosea, and God's amazing love for His people - as He commands Hosea to take Gomer back again, and again.
The reality is, though - it was a painful time for Israel. They went through seriously hard times. But God was using it all for the purpose of bringing His unfaithful people back into a love relationship with Himself. He knew just what to do.

The day I finished reading Hosea, I was praying for a dear friend who is struggling with faith right now. I considered what God did for the Israelites in Hosea and was about to pray that He would do whatever was necessary to draw my friend back to Himself.
But then I realized what I was about to say. What if God did for my friend something like He did in Hosea? My life could be significantly affected by such a move. I began to wonder, Do I want to invite hard times into my life by praying this way???

OK, call me selfish, but I seriously asked myself that question.

Then it was as if God said to me, Karen, do you trust Me?
I remembered the beauty of the restoration in Hosea. God's love for His people spoke tenderly to me. And I knew I needed to move ahead and pray that prayer.
God had reminded me that His will, the end toward which He is moving us, is good and perfect. And along the way, my comfort is of far less importance than my friend's faith.

May you rest in His arms of love this weekend, trusting Him more and more with each moment that passes.
See you back here Monday!

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Are You Running on Empty?

I remember once when I was driving my car and I looked down to see that the gas level was almost on EMPTY. As in, the car was running on fumes. That is, I didn't know if I was even going to make it to the gas station.
So I sat behind the wheel begging God to just get me a little farther. Another block. Around this corner. And just a little farther, still.
Ultimately, I did make it to the gas station. I think I promised myself I would never let the gas get below half a tank again. The thought of being stuck on the side of the road - alone and helpless - (This was years before cell phones were so common...) helped me to realize how important it is to keep your tank filled.

Fast forward to about a month ago.

I was sitting with my mentor/spiritual director talking about the excessive crying I had been doing recently. Jenni convinced me that the fact I was so prone to tears was an indication something was wrong.
Seriously. I felt as though my tears were constantly "on the ready." There was no welling up with tears for me. My well was full and ready to overflow - without even a moments notice.
So she and I talked about it.
And God was leading us.
And we came to the conclusion that I was running on empty.
I was trying so hard to meet needs, fill roles, mend holes, and do stuff that I was forgetting to fill my own tank.
That's just the way I'm wired. I love to serve. God made me this way, and so I think I need to excel at meeting needs.
But Jenni gently reminded me, I can't give what isn't there. I can't run on empty. And when I attempt to, the stress which wells up inside me tries to escape through my tear ducts.

I knew she was right.

So we came up with a plan. One day each week - starting when I get home from taking Matthew to school, until Elizabeth and Joshua get home - I am going to do what I love to do. Whatever. I am not going to feel guilty about not meeting someone else's needs. Rather, I am going to spend the day filling my tank - letting God pour His love into me and allowing it to simmer.
Because I can't run on empty. It isn't good for me, and it isn't good for anyone around me.
And do you know what I've found since doing this? On the other six days of the week, I am even more joyful in serving. Yes, having a full tank is a very good thing.

How are you doing today? Are you running on empty? What would it take to keep your tank full?

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Today I'm at Faith, Family & Fun

Dad, Mom, do you sometimes feel like you do nothing but instruct and teach your children? Do you feel as though you're just no fun, because all you do is say, "Do this," and, "Don’t do that"? Have you been concerned that your children see you as nothing more than a litany of lessons?

Or maybe you're totally cool with the way you teach your children and I'm the only one who struggles???

Come on over to Faith, Family & Fun to read the rest!

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

You Can Say That Again

Have you ever heard a statement which rung so true that it has stayed with you for years? A statement which you find yourself repeating over and over again?

I mean besides statements like,
Because I'm the Mom.
Because I said so.
and
I said NO, and that's final!

*grin*

A few years ago I heard someone say,

You go through what you go through, so you can help other people go through what you went through.

Do those words ring as true to you as they did to me?
I see its truth playing out through this blog, through my books, through my speaking engagements - as God gives me opportunity to share about the places He has taken me, to hold out hope for others who are "there" right now.
I know God is also using my hard times to refine me, that I may become more like Jesus. And that knowledge is delightful to me.
But it brings me just as much joy to be able to hold hands with other moms and encourage them through "these days." When a mom tells me she's so glad to know she isn't alone, when I am able to hug a tearful mom and pray with her, when I hear her say she has hope again - I really am thankful for what I've gone through, because I know God is using it for good.

How about you? What things have you gone through and subsequently been able to help other people go through, too?

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

This Week's WORD

The LORD, the God of Israel, has spoken...
The LORD has spoken.
Isaiah 21:17, 22:25

That's pretty much what it came down to. Much of what Isaiah had to say was unpleasant and unpopular - Who wants to hear prophecies about judgment and destruction??? - but he spoke what the LORD told him to say. Period.
There really was no sense in arguing or complaining about it.
God spoke.
And so it was.

And so it is today.
May each of us listen to and obey God's Word today. And always.

Have a joy-filled weekend. See you back here Monday!

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sometimes it Hurts so Good

OK, so Tuesday I told you that today I was going to expand on the idea that God's purposes are perfect. Have you been waiting with baited breath???

You don't have to answer that question. *grin*

The point is, sometimes I have been praying for something and God has not answered in the way I wanted, nor in the time I wanted. But when all was said and done, I have understood that God's purposes are greater than my desires. In fact, most recently I have learned His purposes are greater than my pain.

I mentioned last week that I have been experiencing some back pain. To be honest, at times it has been debilitating.
I have been concerned about how I was going to get things done. I have been in tears, wondering why God didn't just touch me and bring healing. I have begged Him to take the pain away and let me function like I am accustomed to doing. I have asked God to examine me and show me if there is some unconfessed sin He is trying to bring to my attention.

I have been all over the map.

And do you know where I have landed?

Right here. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:8-9)
God has shown me so much through this pain.
When I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to speak for a MOPS group because of the pain, God showed me that He is big enough to bring relief right when I needed it.
When I had to stay home from church and missed teaching my Sunday school class and another event for which I had signed up to help, God showed me He is big enough to carry on these events without me.
God used the pain to slow me down and led me to moments of sweet fellowship with Him. He has used it to show me His love and faithfulness. God has humbled me through the pain and required me to accept help from other people.
And through it all, He keeps reminding me - His grace is sufficient for me.

Do I still wish He would touch me and take away the pain?

I sure do!

In fact, I would love to be pain-free by the time this post hits cyberspace. But God has shown me, and continues to convince me that His purposes are greater than my pain. And that is why I can say, Sometimes it hurts so good.

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I wrote this post last week, and thought I ought to update it to say that my back and I are getting along quite well now.
I can stand up straight.
I can walk.
Something still isn't quite "right" and I am still being careful, but I can honestly say - if my back never improved from where it is right now, I'd be OK with that.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Today I'm @ Faith, Family and Fun

I've got great kids. I love them so much!

I know the same is true of you. I know because I've had some of your children in my Sunday school class. I've experienced their charming personalities and I've seen your tender love for them when you drop them off for, and pick them up from class.

Indeed, we have great kids.

But sometimes I feel weary in parenting.

You, too? To read the rest, click here.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What's on Your Mind '09? - Prayer

I hope you've been enjoying this series on prayer for What's on Your Mind '09? as much as I have. Again, I want to say thanks to Shane, both for hosting WOYM '09 and for choosing this topic.
I so enjoyed reading your comments last week about why you pray, and I hope we can continue the conversation today. Only today I have a slightly different question.

Why do you keep praying?

* If you're in the middle of a struggle and you're asking God to free you from it, but nothing seems to be happening, why do you keep praying?
* If the circumstances around you are confusing, and you're unsure about what you should do so you ask God, but no answer appears to be coming, why do you keep praying?
* If God is all-knowing and all-loving and He's supposed to be able to handle your situation, but the petition you've been bringing before Him - for years, even - remains just a petition, why do you keep praying?

I don't know about you, but I have often been praying about something and grown tired of waiting on God to answer. It has seemed as though He had other things to which He needed to attend, and hadn't been able to pay attention to my prayers yet. At least I've assumed that must be the explanation, because in my estimation - if God realized how urgent my request was, He surely would have taken care of it sooner!
I would wonder when He was going to get around to my needs.
And sometimes I would feel like giving up.
I would think, Well, my concern must not matter.

But God has taught me a wonderful thing while I've waited for Him to "get around" to my prayers. It is that thing which gives me reason to keep on praying.
And what is that "thing"?

God's ways are higher than my ways.

While I've spent time waiting I have learned that God's will is perfect. And sometimes that means He answers my prayers in a way I didn't ask Him to. But when I have hind-sight I can see that His answer was so much better than that for which I was asking.
During my waits I have learned that God's timing is perfect. So sometimes He answers my prayers according to a totally different schedule than the one I had in mind. But in retrospect, I have been able to see why His time-table was better than the one I was proposing.
And as I have waited I have also learned that God's purposes are perfect. More on this point Thursday.

I have become confident of the fact that God's ways are higher than mine. Everything about Him is perfect, and I can trust Him.
Even when I don't understand...
Even when I don't like it...
Even when I'm tired of waiting...
Even then, God is up to something good. So I keep praying. I keep hoping. I keep trusting.

How about you???

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

This Week's WORD

"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD.
Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the best from the land;
but if you resist and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword."
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Isaiah 1:18-20
I started Isaiah this week, and I know things are going to be difficult for the Israelites in this book. But right away I am drawn to the tenderness of God.

Come now, let us reason together.


Can you hear it?

It is His desire for us to be clean before Him and in a right relationship with Him. And I know all the trouble which is about to come to the Israelites in this book is for the purpose of bringing them back to God.
Oh, the wonderful, terrifying work He has done (Think of Jesus, on the cross.) so that we might be united with Him.

Come now, let us reason together.


Yes, Lord. I come.


May the peace of Christ rest upon you this weekend. I'll see you back here Monday.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

At Which Point I Realized, God Just Touched Me Through My Daughter

I sat on the couch, not wanting to move. Tears were welling in my eyes - partly for the pain I was experiencing, but more because I was so discouraged that the pain was still lingering.
I did something to my back last week and went through some serious pain. It looked like things were getting better and then, well, I started downhill again.
So there I was, sitting on the couch after our family prayer time. The boys had already gone to their rooms and it was just Elizabeth and I in the living room. She looked at me and asked, "Mommy, are you OK?" (I love that - at 13 - she still calls me 'Mommy.') I nodded, but my tears started falling and Elizabeth knew I was lying.
She said, "You're back still hurts?"
I nodded.
"And you're discouraged because you thought it was getting better?"
I nodded again.
Then she got up off the floor and came to sit next to me. Elizabeth put her arms around me and I rested my head on her shoulder. I let the tears flow freely and realized in the moment, God knew.
He knew all about my pain.
He knew my sadness.
He knew I needed to be held and comforted by Him in that very moment.

And He used my daughter to do it.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

HE Repeats Himself

So, the other day I was reading A Prayer for Hope on this blog and was drawn to this line: because He knows what comes down the road and each moment could be His way of equipping you. I was in the middle of a struggle and was so encouraged to be reminded that God will use each trial I face as a way to prepare me for "someday."
As I pondered that thought, I was reminded of an entry from God Calling which had spoken the same hope to me. It says, Life is a training school. Remember, only the pupil giving great promise of future good work would be so singled out by the Master for strenuous and unwearied discipline, teaching and training.
Remembering that truth made me think of another Truth God has spoken to me before. From James. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds. Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

Considering this third assurance of God's purposeful utilization of trials convinced me, God repeats Himself. I was in the middle of a minor storm - wondering how I was going to make it, and what possible purpose there could be for me to be going through it. And there God was, reminding me three times that He knows what He's doing, and I can trust Him.
Yes. He knows what I need. He knows that I'm a little slow and sometimes I need to hear the same thing over and over again. So HE repeats Himself.
And I am so thankful!

Has God been repeating Himself to you, too?

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What's on Your Mind '09? - Prayer

It's still October, so we're still talking about prayer during What's on Your Mind ' 09?
Many thanks to Shane for choosing this topic!

During this series on prayer we have talked about our joy in knowing that God listens when we pray, and the wonder of having Him speak to us. Last week we talked about some of the when and how of our prayer lives.
Today I want to go a little deeper. I want to ask why you pray?
God knows everything about us. He knows our hearts, our thoughts, our needs, our fears. When we pray, we aren't telling Him anything He doesn't already know. We aren't giving God news! So, why bother?
And what difference does it make, anyway? I mean, doesn't God already know what He's going to do? He hardly needs our input to decide on matters of universal (or even global) importance. I don't believe He's into opinion polls or popularity contests. So what are the effects of our prayers? Have you ever wondered if you're just wasting your breath?

Part of me asks those questions in a teasing sort of way. I hope you already know I have confidence that our prayers do matter to God.
But part of me has also wrestled deeply with those questions. In fact, there was a time I was so confused about what to pray, I wondered if I should be praying at all. I knew what my desire was regarding the situation for which I was petitioning Him. I knew how I wanted the matter to be settled. And I was praying that way.
Over and over.
But nothing in the circumstance was changing and I began to wonder, Am I wrong to ask for my will to be done? In my heart of hearts, I want Your will to be done, God. But with my limited vision, all I can seem to ask for is my will. I know Your will is best, Lord, but what is it???
That is when I found great comfort and encouragement from Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane. He said, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will." (Matthew 26:39) I began to understand it is OK for me to tell God my desire for a situation. I can tell Him what I hope for - while still submitting to, and trusting in, His good and perfect will.

And so I look to Jesus' example and I pray - not because I think I can change the heart or will of God, but because I know He loves me and cares about my heart. I pray because in so doing, I am reminded of my need for God. I remember He has the power and the know-how to handle each situation. Praying takes my focus off of myself and my circumstance, and puts it on God to Whom belongs all the glory and praise. When I pray, I am drawn closer to the One who can do something about my need.
I don't believe my prayers change God, but they surely change me. And that is a very good thing.

And you? Why do you pray?

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Monday, October 19, 2009

That Counts!



By the way, Faith, Family & Fun - my church's new blog for families - has been officially launched! Mondays will be about faith, Wednesdays will focus on family, and Fridays will be for fun.
I'll always let you know when I'm posting at FF&F, but want to encourage you to visit there often, to find encouragement for your family, and to get in on the FF&F community!

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Friday, October 16, 2009

This Week's WORD

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasing God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

It started Monday morning.
I was working out and Mike was having me do some hard exercises. Trying to encourage me, he said something about soaring like an eagle through the sets, and I told him that reminded me of a Bible verse. I said if I could just remember it I would repeat it to myself and be able make it through this workout he was giving me. So during a breath-catching break we ran into my husband's office and looked it up on Biblegateway.com.
As I did my next set I prayed, My hope is in You, LORD. Please renew my strength!
That evening as I sat in the parking lot during Matthew's soccer practice - with a headache from all the stress and frustration which had led up to that moment - I opened my Bible and read this entire passage from Isaiah aloud. Several times.
Just let the Truth of it sink into my heart, and fill me with hope.
And I've been clinging to it all week!

May you find hope in the LORD today, and see Him renew your strength.
See you back here Monday!

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

What Do YOU Need to Hear?

Have you ever been having trouble with your children, been struggling through an issue, experiencing frustration and you just need to tell someone about it? Then the opportunity presents itself (i.e., you're in the presence of another woman) and you pour out your heart, and she responds with something like, "Everybody goes through it," or, "Just try..."
I have been in that position more than once, and my heart sinks everytime I get one of those responses.

Recently I have been thinking about it more, wondering why I react inside the way I do. Surely, the women who are talking to me have good intentions. They're trying to be helpful. So why does my heart sink when I hear their words?
Like I said, I've been pondering it more, and I believe I have come to an understanding of myself. I'm wondering if you might feel the same way.
When I am struggling, there is something I need to hear more than condolences and solutions. While it's nice to know I am not the only one who has ever faced this situation, although advice can be beneficial, what I really need to hear is that my feelings are valid. I need someone to tell me that it's reasonable for me to be weary, because this thing I'm facing is hard. Then I need them to take my hand and lead me to my Father's throne and pray for me. I need to be reminded that, although the circumstance seems too much for me, God can handle it - and He's going to carry me through it.
And then? I think I'm ready to listen to suggestions.

How about you? When you're struggling, what to you need to hear?

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tell Them Now @ Faith, Family & Fun

My church is getting ready to launch a new blog for families called Faith, Family & Fun. And I am a contributing writer. The official launch for the blog is this coming weekend, so I didn't even realize until recently that one of my posts had been published already. Anyway - it's a story I didn't want you to miss, so I'm pointing you to it today.
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My son had lost his Nintendo DS. One minute he had it, and the next? It was gone.

Now, Matthew is known around our house for misplacing things, so I wasn't surprised when he told me he couldn't find the DS. I figured it would just show up – like all the other lost items tend to do. But this time, the lost item stayed lost for weeks. In fact, Matthew seemed to nearly forget about it. Until his friend called and invited him over to play.

To read the rest, come on over to FF&F!

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What's on Your Mind '09 - Prayer

This month Shane has declared a prayer focus for Whats on Your Mind '09?, and I am only too happy to go along with it!

Last week I asked what was on your mind in regards to prayer, and it was Patricia's comment that inspired my post for this week. Patricia said that rather than much time of "formal prayer," she often finds herself talking to God throughout her day - as she's doing various daily activities. And I thought, Yeah! That's me, too!
I do have time when I sit down on the couch and read my Bible, and close my eyes and pray "formally." I love writing out my prayers in my journal. And sometimes God moves in me to get right down on my knees with my face to the ground to pray. But most of the time when I'm praying my eyes are wide open, my hands are not folded, and my head is not bowed. So NOT what I was taught in Sunday school as a child!

No, most of the time when I am praying I am also doing every day, ordinary activities.
*I am walking to or from school.
*I am standing in line at the grocery store.
*I am helping my son with homework. Oh, boy, is THAT ever a time for prayer!!!
*I am making dinner.
*I am driving to a speaking engagement.
*I am chatting with someone on FaceBook.
*I am preparing a blog post.

The thing is, I have come to understand that God is involved in every moment of every day of my life. There is never a time when He is not with me, so there is never a time I cannot speak with Him. And He listens to me and loves me whether I am actively doing something else, or not.
Yeah, that thing Paul said about praying continually? (1 Thessalonians 5:17) I'm learning what it means, and I love doing it!

How about you? How do you pray?

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Friday, October 09, 2009

This Week's WORD

Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the LORD your God...even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD.
2 Chronicles 16:7,12b

This week I read about King Asa, and God caused me to beg of Him to protect my heart. To keep me steadfast in seeking Him.
Just two chapters before the above verses - in which Asa was not seeking God - I had been admiring his devotion to God with these words: "LORD, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O LORD, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you." (2 Chron.14:11)
I cannot help but wonder what happened to Asa's heart between his devotion in chapter 14, and his detachment in chapter 16.
Seriously. I was so moved by Asa's prayer in 14:11. And then in a matter of minutes (Well, it was minutes for me. Don't know how long it was for Asa.) he was completely turning away from the God who so faithfully delivered him. And I don't know why.
All I could do was respond by praying that God would protect my heart, keep me faithful, find me fully devoted to Him all the days of my life.
May we each surrender ourselves to God and seek Him faithfully today and always.
See you back here Monday!

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

What NOT to Do - Again

This week has shaped up to be busier than I anticipated, so I am relying on my Archives for today's post. I had fun re-reading it, and laughed at the memories. Hope you enjoy it, too - even if it is your second time.
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If you are a mother prone to irritability, with tendencies pointing toward perfectionism; and if these conditions are intensified by 8 and 10 year-old boys who act like, um, 8 and 10 year-old boys, I have some very specific instructions for things you should not do.

If you are a mother like the one mentioned above, and your husband owns a personal training studio, and he has an idea that it would be a nice touch to have you and your boys come in and wash his clients' vehicles while they are doing their work-out, don't agree to it.
Your boys might be excited that their dad is going to pay them for washing these vehicles, but you really don't want to do it. Because what will likely happen is the boys will think the work is fun the first time around. In fact, they'll probably work at it really hard and do a great job, and make you think the day you spend washing cars is going to be great.
But chances are, they'll lose interest by the time you start the second car. They might start arguing with each other and complaining that their brother is not working hard enough. And when one brother accidentally gets some of the wash water on the other, the offended brother will likely throw an angry fit. He will throw the fit about his "wet-ness" in spite of the fact he purposely gets in the way of the water you spray out of the hose - even when you expressly tell him to get out of the way.

And when these things occur, you will question your state of mind at the time you agreed to this car-washing bit. So you probably just shouldn't do it.

Because later in the day these boys will likely need to use the restroom. And even if you allow them to enter the studio one at a time, so as not to disturb the clients who are trying to endure enjoy their personal training session, they will find a way to be disruptive (By hiding around the corner and shooting off their pretend gun, or something.) and make you regret letting them go in. Surely, one of the bushes out back would have worked just as well. So, don't let them go in.

And if you need to leave momentarily to drive the client's sparkling clean car to the front of the building, even if you tell the boys to sit on the stoop and behave, don't do it. Ask your husband to do the driving. Because, even if the boys say they'll behave, they'll probably grab the hose and start spraying the dumpster and whatever else catches their fancy. But if you're lucky there will be no additional cars parked nearby to receive the random sprays.
Of course, each boy will be eager to point out the misdeeds of the other and you will tire of hearing it. So just don't leave them alone. You'll regret it.

Finally, at the end of the day, when you're home and hurrying to get the finishing touches put on dinner so everyone can eat, when you've been reminding the boys they need to set the table, when you're tired of answering questions, tired of listening to bickering, and just plain tired, and your son says, "Mom?" by all means - Don't answer him abruptly and with a short temper. Because, chances are he just wants you to turn around so he can hug you and say, "I love you."

That was my day. How was yours???

Karen

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

My Accountability Journal

I have been working out at Fitness Together for nearly two years now, and have been entirely pleased with my trainers and my experience there. But I have a new trainer now, who has given me a new task, and - wow! - has it opened my eyes.
Last week as I was getting ready to leave Mike asked me, "Do you have an Accountability Journal?"
What he meant was, Are you writing down everything you eat and how often you're exercising?
I admitted that I did not have such a journal, and he promptly gave me one. I think I groaned when he put it in my hand. Not because it was too heavy, but because I was not fond of the idea that I had to write down everything I eat, so that Mike can critique it. I mean, I know it's for my good, but c'mon! Can't a girl sneak a treat here and there without feeling guilty?
I was soooo glad I had purchased and eaten a candy bar the day before I got this journal. Didn't have to report that one! LOL

I'm telling you, this Accountability Journal is the best idea there is for getting me to eat well. Every time I want to sneak a little something extra - which I don't need and I am totally desiring just because I am bored, or emotional, or for some other non-essential reason - I stop short. Because I know I'll have to write it down. And I know Mike will give me a hard time about it.
Writing down everything I eat in my Accountability Journal makes me think twice before I put something into my mouth. It makes me ponder the value of the food item. It makes me make wise choices.
It makes me think we should all have an Accountability Journal for the words we speak and the way we treat each other.

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What's on Your Mind '09 - Prayer

Oh, this is going to be a good month for What's on Your Mind '09.
Shane is devoting the whole month to prayer.
What's on my mind about prayer??? Seriously, friends, I could write for the whole month - not just Tuesdays!

Those of you who see me on Facebook know that I have been crying quite a bit over the past few days. I won't go into all the details of Why? here and now - don't even understand them all myself - but I can tell you one of the sources of my tears has been the subject matter of my prayers for a very long time.
And I know God is listening.
I know He cares about the things which concern my heart.
I know God does not get tired of listening to me as I bring my questions, fears, heart-aches and frustrations to Him. Over and over again.
I know He knows what is best for this circumstance and that it is all a part of His plan.
I know I can trust Him to respond in His perfect time.
So, I wait.

It is these assurances of God's tenderness and care, of His perfect nature, which make me so thankful for prayer. The LORD of the universe listens to me!
And He speaks to me, too. He speaks through His Word. He speaks through my pastors. He speaks through Bible study with my small group.
He speaks through you.
And I am so thankful.

Yes. Prayer is always on my mind. Sometimes speaking, sometimes listening. Always thankful for the ability to communicate with my Father.

How 'bout you? What's on your mind about prayer today?

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Friday, October 02, 2009

This Week's WORD

He will not let your foot slip -
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
Psalm 121:3-4

As I drove home late Thursday night after speaking for a MOPS group, with droopy eyes and a tired mind, I realized I had forgotten to write today's This Week's WORD post. And as I thought about how desperately I just wanted to crawl into bed and go to sleep, I was reminded how very thankful I am that God never gets tired of watching over me - and rolls over to take a nap.
God is never not watching over us.
He always has us in His sight. Always.

May the knowledge of God's constant attention bring you peace today.
See you back here Monday!

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

HE Cares for my Husband's Heart

I love to brag about God. Love to tell about His faithfulness. It simply delights me to share cool God-stories.

And I have one for you today.

As you may know, my husband is a small-business owner. And as you may also know, small-business owners are particularly prone to stress these days.
Brian is no different.
Like everyone else, he is dealing with a failing economy. He has had issues with employees, had his business burglarized this summer, and is having his faith stretched as He tries to trust God in the midst of all of it.
Not to mention he is also a landlord, dealing with some very difficult tenants.
Yeah, that, and he has to come home to ME every day. *grin*

A few months ago I started seeing ads in the bulletin at church about a four-day men's conference coming up in October, and I was so hopeful that Brian would want to attend. I knew it would be a good thing for him to get away and have God refresh his heart. And one Sunday I pointed to the announcement, asking Brian if he had thought about going.
Oh, he had. But the cost was $260, and that's a lot of money. (Good value, but still a lot of money.)
He commented, "I wish I had $260."
The next morning I was thinking about Brian and this conference and began praying. I told God I knew He could provide the money, that it wasn't too much for HIM.
Then I remembered Brian had a stash of money on his dresser. A pile which he's been accumulating from Christmas and birthday gifts. I ran over to his dresser and started counting.

Y'all, that pile of cash totaled $261!

I jumped and smiled and laughed and praised God.
Brian said he wished he had $260. And here it was. With $1 left over for fun. *grin*
I knew at that moment God intended for Brian to go to the conference. And Brian agreed.
So, today Brian is on his way to somewhere in northern Michigan where God is going to refresh his heart. I am jealous as can be absolutely thrilled for him. Praying that God will speak tenderly to my husband, that He will care for my husband's heart, and that Brian will be renewed in his love for the Lord.

I just love it when God works like He has in this circumstance. And I am anticipating great things for Brian.

Thank You, Father!!!

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hope From the Sidelines

When Matthew was first diagnosed with ADHD I was quite overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed, first, with What do I do? and How do we handle this? questions. And overwhelmed, second, with the amazing outpouring of support I received from people who have dealt with ADHD kids - people who seemed to just show up from nowhere. It was incredible!
One of those supporters told me about Michael Phelps. He's an ADHD guy, and seemed to have found his "thing" in swimming. Found a place to exercise his focus and got himself a few nice shiny medallions and some world records to boot. I read an article about him with great encouragement. The article said when he was a youngster at the pool, he was usually the one sitting on the sidelines because of his raucous behavior.
I read and marveled at the reality that this kid was able to overcome his challenge, was able to find his niche and really make a difference.
We'll not mention the trouble he's gotten into since his rise to fame. I just wish someone had prepared him to handle it all with grace and dignity...

Anyhoo, the other night I was sitting in the van while Matthew was at soccer practice. I looked up to see the coach walking him to the sidelines and heard him say Matthew needed to take a five-minute time out. Prior to that exchange I had witnessed my son running when he shouldn't, and throwing the ball where he wasn't supposed to. I thought, Yes, a time out is entirely appropriate right now. And I was thankful for the coach's patience.
As I sat there looking at Matthew sitting on the sidelines, I recalled that article about Michael Phelps. I remembered the part which talked about him sitting on the side of the pool, because of his out-of-control behavior in the pool. And I wondered for just a moment, Will Matthew be part of a gold-medal-winning Olympic Soccer Team some day???

A Mom can hope! *grin*

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What's on Your Mind '09?

It's time for another edition of What's on Your Mind '09?. Many thanks to Shane for planning this weekly activity!
According to Shane, the last Tuesday of the month is going to be set aside for our own photographs and creative writing.
This one had me stumped for a while. I am not much of a photographer. In fact, for some time I was on a bit of a picture-taking strike. I was soooo far behind on my scrapbooking that I simply stopped taking photographs.

Yes, I can go a little overboard when I get overwhelmed. Surprising. I know!

But, alas, I found a picture from days gone by to share with you today!
This picture was taken seven and a half years ago. We thought it would be cute to get a picture of the kids praying, had it all posed and ready to go, and at the last minute Matthew peeked.
Personally, I think his gesture makes the picture more precious. *grin*
Ahhh, how I long for my children to grow up with a passion for prayer. It is my prayer that my children will know deep in their hearts that God hears us when we pray, that He is powerful to act, and that He wants us to come to Him with our praise, our thanksgiving, our confession, our needs. Our everything.
Yes, Lord, please give my children spirits which long to commune with You always!

And as I am writing about prayer today - as I am sharing what's on my mind - I also want to bring one of my prayer needs to you. I have a small group of women who have been supporting me in prayer for several years. Each month I send an email to them with my speaking engagements for that month and specific prayer requests for my speaking and writing. And as God leads them, these women pray for me and the women to whom I speak.
Would you be willing to be on this prayer team, too? I cannot do anything apart from the power of God and it is my earnest desire to be covered in prayer every time I go out in His Name. If you want to join me in this venture, please email me (Karen@IrritableMother.com) and I will add you to my team.
Thank you, thank you!

May the joy of the Lord fill your soul today.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

This Week's WORD

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.

Proverbs 22:15

I am loving my time in Proverbs, and so appreciate the wisdom in this verse. Children are childish and folly is bound up in them. But as we discipline them and teach them what is right, folly will be driven away.
Father in heaven, please help us to remember that our children are children. Give us the grace we need to put up with their folly.
And fill us with wisdom and understanding as we seek to raise these little ones to become men and women who reflect You and have not a trace of folly left in their hearts.


Have a wonderful weekend. See you back here Monday!

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

How Did I Get So Good???

It is not uncommon around here at bedtime for me to have to remind Matthew many times to stay on task.

Who am I kidding? That happens all the time - not just bedtime!

I have become accustomed to the sounds of him not staying on task. It usually sounds like gun-fire with a bit of spittle for special effects. And I call from whatever room I'm in, "Matthew, put the gun away and get your pajamas on."

Well, the other night I was walking past the bathroom - where Matthew was supposed to be brushing his teeth - and everything was strangely quiet. The door was cracked open ever so slightly, and provided me with just enough space to see that my little man was spending his time combing his hair in various directions.
I cleared my throat and said, "Matthew, stop messing around and brush your teeth."
There was no change in his actions.
So I said, "Matthew, put the comb down and start brushing your teeth."
And he responded, "Wow, Mom! How did you get so good?"
I don't think he realized the door was cracked open.
And I'll never tell. I'll just let him think I'm that good!

Karen

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wait and See

The first time I heard this song, I cried. I had just been in the midst of major frustration with my son. I wondered if he was going to "turn out" OK. I was tired of the struggle, and quite ready to quit.
Then I heard these lyrics and it was as if a boost of hope shot through my veins. God reminded me that He is at work, and I need to wait and see.
Since my first exposure to this song, it has played again at the most wonderful times. Always to encourage me with my boys. And now when I hear it I thank God for everything He knows regarding my children which I do not. I remember, I cannot expect them to be perfect. Lord, You aren't finished yet!


And the winners from my birthday giveaway are Ronel, Shane, and Shawna. Thanks - everyone - for the kind words and Happy Birthday wishes. I truly had a great day!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Birthday for Me, A Gift for You!

Happy Birthday to me!
As promised, I am going to give away a few books because I want to clean off my nightstand have you share in my special day, too!
Seriously, I have three books to give away today that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and am sure you will love, too.
They are:
*Bookends, by Liz Curtiss Higgs
*One Tuesday Morning and Beyond Tuesday Morning (two in one!), by Karen Kingsbury
*Redemption, by Karen Kingsbury

Each of these books was given to me by someone special. Yes, I am totally re-gifting. But, hey! It's my party, I'll re-gift if I want to, re-gift if I want to!

This one was a Christmas present from my mother-in-law. (Who happens to be the best m-i-l this side of the Mississippi.) I almost completely ignored my family for a day or two, because I just couldn't put the book down!




This one (It really is one book, but I couldn't find the "one book" image...) was gift from a friend I've known since junior high. No particuar reason for the gift. She was just being nice. *grin* Found it hard to put this one down, too. And I just heard there's a third book in this series. Hmmm...



And this one came from a MOPS mom at my church. I was the MOPPETS worker in her son's class and established a sweet relationship with him over the year. She brought me this book as a Thank You gift. Another great read!
Now they've gone and moved to Texas and I don't get to see my little buddy anymore. *sniff*

OK. Have I sufficiently made these books sound special?
If you would like to win one of them just leave me a comment telling me so. Wishing me a happy birthday and telling me you love me will, in no way, increase your odds of winning. But it will make me smile. *grin*
I'm going to close comments and draw the winner right around 10 o'clock tonight. Make sure you either leave your email address or have it attached to your profile so I can contact you if I draw your name.

Now, go and have a wonderful day.

Much love,

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