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!


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!


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


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*


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.
I said NO, and that's final!


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