Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Show Me the Way

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life...
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.

Psalm 143: 8,10
Psalm 143 was the focus of my quiet time yesterday. And I suppose it is little wonder that I was drawn to verses 8 and 10. Because yesterday I had my first job interview since I started sending out resumes last week. And all I want to do is to go where my Lord wants me to go.
Truthfully, going into the interview yesterday I was super excited about the opportunity. Thought it sounded exactly like what I wanted to do. And that it fit so well with how God has wired me and filled me with passion. But when I got there, things were not as I'd assumed they would be. I discovered a couple pieces of information which reigned in my excitement a bit. And as I was leaving the interview I started thinking, Hmmmmm. Maybe Job Opportunity #1 isn't the place for me. Because "this" isn't what I was expecting. And "that" is not what I'd hoped for. Maybe Job Opportunity #2 (for which I am interviewing in a couple weeks) will be the one. Or perhaps I'll get a call from one of the other places.
Right on cue, I sensed God's Spirit nudging my heart.
Perhaps. Or maybe My idea of the right fit isn't quite the same as yours. Although "this" and "that" seem out of line to you, maybe I am looking at "the other thing." Be careful, My dear, not to confuse your will with Mine. As you go through this process, be sure to keep your heart open to everything Mine wants you to do. Remember - My plan might look different than yours.

And what can I say to that? Nothing but, "I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go. Teach me to do Your will. Lead me on level ground."
And so shall my prayer remain as I go through these next weeks. Show me the way.
Because all I want to do is to go where my Lord wants me to go.

P.S. I am driving to Wheaton tomorrow to pick up my girl for Christmas vacation, so I am officially beginning my blog-break...NOW.
Planning to re-enter the blogosphere January 4.
Until then, I wish you a very Merry CHRISTmas, and days filled with love, peace, and joy from on high.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I Believe

I sat in church Sunday morning thinking I was "good."

That is, when the pastor asked the question, "Do you believe God is mighty?" I was full-on, YES!
And my mind immediately went to people for whom I have been praying. LORD, You are mighty to bring healing to Patty. Please fight for her. You are mighty to heal Greg and Dot. You are mighty to lead Ashley. You even have the power and ability and wisdom and might to manage the mess our world is facing today. I'm sure of it.
I sat in the pew, listening to the sermon, believing I believe God is mighty.
Yep, I thought to myself. I have faith. I'm good.
But suddenly it was as if God were tapping me on the shoulder asking, Oh, really? Then please explain to Me what was going on last night.
And like a child caught with her hand in the cookie jar, I felt the need to quickly concoct a story to explain away what appeared to be a lack of obedience.
Because I knew exactly what HE was talking about: Saturday night I had been sitting on the couch with Brian, lamenting my concerns for a certain teenage son of mine. I was frustrated with particular behaviors coming from this man-child. I was second-guessing my performance as his mother. Have I failed at teaching respect? Should I come down harder on specific actions? Or non-actions, as the case may be? If I had done x, y, and z when he was a toddler, would things be better now? Am I being too uptight? Or is this simply a result of him being almost-18, and feeling the need to exert his independence? Yes, I was sitting on the couch giving in to feelings of despair. Allowing frustration and unmet expectations to cloud my heart.
Sunday morning I found myself sitting in a pew with the distinct sense that God was asking me, What about your troubles, Karen? You believe I can handle things for your friends, and that's good. I'm glad you trust Me for them. I'm glad you pray for them. But what about your troubles? Do you believe I am enough? Am I mighty enough to fight for your son? Am I mighty enough to lead you through this phase of parenting? Am I mighty enough to manage the mess you feel is closing in around you as a mother? Am I? Am I???

Uh, yeah. I was feeling conviction, for sure.

And here's a peak at my bulletin - and the thought-process through which I went during that exchange with the LORD:

How about for you? Do you believe God is mighty enough to handle your circumstances?


Monday, December 14, 2015

Thursday, December 10, 2015

HE Wants Me Right Here

Over the past 72 hours, God has kept me quite busy.

I've spent a significant amount of time on the computer searching job openings and graduate studies.
*Ruled out going back to school.
*Found several positions which interested me. Discussed them with Brian.
*Updated my resume and drafted cover letters.
*Applied for three of the positions.
*Scheduled an interview for one.
*Learned about another opening and applied for it.
*Waiting on a small detail before I submit the fifth application.
And with every move I make, I ask God to lead me. I seek Him because - with all my heart - I want to go where HE wants me to go. Remembering all the way that I can have courage, because God has a plan.

Oh, I still do not know what my future holds. A significant part of me would really like to have a travel guide detailing the steps I am going to take over the next weeks and months. It would be so comfortable to know. Yes, to know where I am going and what I am to do.
But that just isn't the way my Father is operating with me. HE is requiring me to trust. HE is enjoying my dependence - listening to my prayers and providing peace for my anxious heart. And I am realizing, in this moment, I am right where HE wants me to be. I am doing precisely what HE wants me to do.
That is:

I am at God's feet relishing in my complete need for HIM.

And if not knowing the details of my next weeks and months, if being constantly "on my knees" makes me a bit uncomfortable? Well then, I suppose I have learned that God is a whole lot more concerned with my position in Him than He is with my comfort level on my own.
And I, for one, am grateful.

How about you, friend?
Are you walking in dependence on HIM today? Or trying to figure life out on your own?


Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Speak, LORD, for Your Servant is Listening

Six years ago, I wrote about my placement in remedial Sunday school.
And this past weekend I realized - I'm still there.

I had looked over the lesson ahead of time. I knew we were going to be hearing about the Christmas story from Mary's perspective, and learning that we can have courage because God has a plan. And I familiarized myself with the activity we would do during small group time. Felt quite prepared to lead the girls in their lesson, thank you.
It wasn't until we were well into the large group presentation that it occurred to me: the lesson might actually be for me, too. I sat there listening with my girls as the teacher presented Truth. No matter how uncertain a circumstance, no matter how frightened we may be of the unknown (like Mary must have been)- we can have confidence because God has a plan.
OK, honestly, that was not new information to me. I've heard it hundreds of times before.
And I believe it!

But hearing it in the midst of my NOW was just the thing I needed.

Because this is what my NOW looks like:
Part of me wants to spend time volunteering with Hospice - because I want to be to someone else what Hospice workers/volunteers were to me.
Part of me wants to explore a profession in the care-giving/counseling industry. Which looks like it would require further education of some sort. So I'm looking into it.
Part of me is interested in other volunteer opportunities with prayer/legislation movements about which I am becoming aware.
Part of me wants to spend the entire day praying our nation through the troubles we're presently facing.
Part of me hopes my summer is going to be busy competing with America's Got Talent. (I went through first-round auditions a month ago. Won't know until the spring if I get to audition in front of the judges on the show.)
All of me wants to do whatever God wants me to do.
If only He would tell me what that "whatever" is.

Soooooo, we finished large group and went back to our classrooms for small group. At which time we were to look up and talk about a few Bible verses which would remind us that we can have courage because God has a plan.
These are the verses we were to discuss:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

~Joshua 1:9
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

~Jeremiah 29:11
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

~Psalm 32:8
As we reviewed the verses, I'm all, OK, LORD, I get it. You have a plan. You know the path I should take, and it is good. I can trust You to teach me the way to go. You are always with me, so I don't need to be afraid of the unknown. You will work this all out. Thank You.
And as we were closing our Bibles after that last verse, I could have sworn I heard a whisper in my heart say something like, Need I say more?

What are you waiting to hear?


Monday, December 07, 2015

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

HE is Faithful

I have been so absolutely blessed by the time I have spent with the LORD lately.
I mean, I have always been blessed in spending time with Him. ALWAYS. It's just that yesterday's moments were especially wonderful and I simply have to share about them with you.
I entered into my time with God with a fairly heavy heart, because of so many needs which have been made known to me. My desire was to spend time laying the needs before Him, trusting and thanking Him for meeting every one. So I knelt down and wrote out my thanksgivings and requests and then my eyes fell upon this scripture which was printed in my prayer journal:

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
I will not forsake them.

~Isaiah 42:16
I read those words, and then read them again. And I felt pretty sure God was giving me His plan for how He was going to care for these people whose burdens I carried in my heart.
Because several of them are blind right now. That is, they've never been to this place before and cannot see what is ahead of them. They cannot see how their circumstance is going to work out. They cannot see the path they should take tomorrow, or next week, or next month.
They cannot see.
But HE can.
And HE promises to lead the blind.
Others for whom I was praying seem to be facing a dark darkness. They are consumed by sadness and sorrow. Fear is overwhelming them. They're experiencing pain and confusion and unknown endings. And it all looks so dark.
But God says He will turn the darkness into light.
He says He'll do it, and He will not forsake them.

I have experienced God enough to know that what HE says, HE will do. So it is with rejoicing that I trust HIM to lead these who are dear to His heart, and to turn their darkness to light. Thank You, LORD, for Your unfailing love. Thank You for seeing everything we cannot see. On a daily basis. I praise You for Your faithfulness, and commit to trusting You. Please show the way to these on my prayer list today: Susan's mom and dad, Melissa's family, Autumn, Ashley, Noemi, and Michaela.


Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Go Ahead. Make My Day.

Last weekend, Josh went fishing with a young man who subscribes to Josh's Youtube fishing channel. This boy (I don't remember what his name is, but I'm going to call him "Randy" for the sake of making it easier to refer to him) is 15 years old and thought it would be really neat to go fishing with Josh - rather than to just watch videos of Josh fishing.
And so they went.
Randy's mom drove Randy to the fishing spot the boys had agreed on, and the two of them got busy fishin'. Only problem was, the fish weren't biting.
And after a while they talked about trying someplace else.
Josh was relaying this story to me at the dinner table that night and told me he'd suggested Randy call his mom - to make sure it was OK with her that Randy ride in a vehicle with Josh to another location. And when Randy said he was sure it would be fine with her, Josh held his ground saying, "Yeah. But just call first to make sure."

At this point in the telling of the story, I am not sure which was more pronounced: my smile - which I am sure must have been at least twelve inches wide, or the giant gap in my face from my chin hitting the floor.
I mean, here is this teenage son of mine - who, by the way, used to get irritated because I always called his friends' moms to make sure they were going to be home when Josh was over, etc. - encouraging another teenager to touch base with his mom before making an unplanned move.
MY SON was thinking outside of his teenage world for the benefit and well-being of another individual - and encouraging a call to MOM.

Oh, be still, my heart!

That moment absolutely made my day.

Honestly, I thought I was going to have to wait another 15 years, or so before Josh started showing signs that he thought my parenting m.o. made any sense. Yet, there it was - happening right before my eyes.
So I picked my jaw up off the floor and whispered a prayer of thanksgiving to God.

Is there something you've been waiting for, which feels like it's forever away? Be encouraged today to know: God has not forgotten you, and HE will bring your wait to an end in His perfect time.


Monday, November 30, 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Yes, You Can

So, remember the story I told you about Monday?
The one that didn't go as I had expected?
Well, I'm sure you'll be relieved to know it had a happy ending.
So happy, in fact, that when I finished reading it I closed my eyes, remembered the video devotion I had recorded, and thanked God that I can - indeed - always trust the Author.

Moments later I set aside the novel I had just finished reading, and I picked up my prayer journal. I was acutely aware of God's faithfulness in writing our stories and I wanted to spend some time reflecting on His steadfastness. Before I opened my journal I sat for a few minutes thanking God that I can trust Him even regarding some potentially big stuff on the horizon. I was telling Him, God, I know You know how this is all going to play out. I know You can handle it. I know You are going to write this story beautifully, even though it doesn't look possible to me right now. Yes, LORD, I am trusting You to work out the details.
Then I paused for a moment, breathed in His peace, and proceeded to open my prayer journal.
Written in large print, across the top of the page to which I had opened, were these words:

And I thought, Yes, LORD. Yes! That's what I'm talking about. Your will be done. Write this story the way You want. The way You know is best. YOUR WILL BE DONE!
And then I sat there giggling for a few minutes because I always get a little giddy when God shows up in my details like that. It seemed like He was saying to me, Ahhhh, Karen, I'm so glad you understand and agree now. I Am writing your story. I know you can't see how this circumstance is going to end, and I know it is concerning to you. But you need not worry. My will is going to be done. And it will be good. You can trust Me, dear one. Yes, you can.

And so can you!


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Enjoying My Time

So, I have a bit more time on my hands these days than I am used to having. And though it was a struggle at first...I am finding ways to fill it beautifully. I mean, there's still the regular laundry and dishes and house-stuff like that to do. But yesterday I did something I haven't done in, well, several years.

That is, I sat down and worked on a scrapbook.
*insert applause*

See, when my boys were babies I decided I was going to make a scrapbook for each of them. (Have a different project for Elizabeth.) One scrapbook for their first 18 years - which amounts to 2-3 pages per year. Didn't seem like too much to ask of myself at the time.
But, uh, yesterday? I completed Josh's 13th year.
He'll be 18 in January.
I told you it's been a while since I've worked on them!
Anyway, last week it dawned on me that since Josh will be graduating from high school in June, I really needed to kick it into gear to finish his scrapbook. So I searched for pictures, had them printed, and am eager to get working. So eager, in fact, that I might have done his 14th year as well - if I wasn't so busy looking at pictures and remembering days gone by.
Yes, I will admit: for every minute I spent putting that scrapbook together, I probably spent two or three reading and reminiscing. I think my boys' distract-ability "might" be genetic.

Now, where was I?

Right! Reminiscing.
I know on this blog I have bemoaned the struggles of having teenager, but I must tell you - spending time looking at those old pictures nearly made me forget the hard times. What a joy it is to look back at how my baby has grown up, to realize he is becoming a man, and to have hope for his future because of the gracious God we trust.
We've made it through some pretty rough days. And though there are sure to be more ahead of us, I know God will carry us through. Besides, if I ever get really down and discouraged, all I need to do is pull out pictures like these to fill my happy-tank again. *wink*


Monday, November 23, 2015

Trusting the Author

***Spoiler Alert***
If you haven't read Karen Kingsbury's book, Ever After, and you don't want to know what happens half way through it, you might want to skip this video devotion today. *ahem*


Friday, November 20, 2015

Delighting His Heart

So, Tuesday morning when I was sitting at the table pouring my heart into Wednesday's post, I had no idea God was going to speak to me through my own words.
I was typing as quickly as my fingers and mind would move. Not really editing my words, just letting my thoughts flow. And I wrote, "I want to delight His heart." If you read that post, you know my mind was thinking about doing. And the immediate motivation behind my statement was that I wanted to be doing things which would be a delight to my Father's heart.
But as I typed those words, and re-read them on the screen in front of me, God took me back some seven years to a couple of missed flights, an unplanned hotel-stay in Tampa, and a day of lay-overs in the Atlanta airport. You see, God used that messed-up, inconvenient, perfectly-orchestrated, totally-not-the-way-I-planned-it circumstance to show me that we can delight His heart by simply being with Him. That we don't have to be saving the world, finding a cure for cancer, establishing world peace, or really doing anything in order to delight Him. He just loves to be with us.
In fact, He used that crazy incident to inspire a new retreat topic which I called, Delighting His Heart.
Yes, I have taught women all about this beautiful Truth, which I somehow managed to forget in recent weeks. Oh, for the goodness and patience of God!

So for the past couple of mornings I have found myself cozied up on my couch with my new prayer journal. (Got it for free when I pre-ordered a War Room DVD on Monday. *smile*) I haven't been discovering the answers to our current world crisis (Though I've prayed about it.), nor have I created a solution to personal concerns surrounding me. But what I have done is this: I've contemplated God's amazing grace. That He would choose me - a broken, stubborn woman who didn't even know she needed Him - and would save my desperate soul. I have wondered at His love for a lost world, and marveled at His power to bring forth justice and peace in His perfect time. I have given God praise and the glory due His Name, and surrendered again to trusting Him.
Oh, I haven't done much of anything. But I have been enjoying His presence. And it has been wonderfully, absolutely, completely delightful.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I'm Not Good at This

I feel like I'm entering a confessional right now.

Taking a seat, breathing deeply, about to spill my guts to whoever's listening.
Or reading, as the case may be.
You see, the thing is, well...
I'm waiting right now. And I don't like it.
I'm not good at this!
Waiting makes me uncomfortable. I don't know what's around the corner - let alone how to plan for it. And I am reminded of the fact that I am not in control. *shudder*
With all my heart, I want to follow God. I want to do what He wants me to do, and go where He wants me to go. I want to live a life which is pleasing to Him. I want to delight His heart.
And in my skewed way of thinking - in order to be doing those things, I need to be doing something. Only I don't know what that "thing" is.
For the past nine months, it's been serving my grandma. But now she's gone, and I feel at a loss.
For missing her, and for serving God by serving her.

So, I have all this time on my hands now and I decided I ought to use it for some preparation for a retreat at which I am speaking in April and the retreat I am hosting next October. (You may get details on that retreat here, if you'd like.) Yeah, I know - they're a ways off. But I need to do something!
The thing is, the topic for both retreats is, What Are You Waiting For?
I'm not even kidding!
Just try to tell me God isn't into the details...

So I am studying Matthew 14:22-33 and I'm noticing the different approaches to response times Jesus employed, and I'm reminded that sometimes He lets us wait quite a while. But that He always responds. And His timing is always perfect. And I know what was True of Jesus in Matthew's time is True of Him today. In my life.
I know I can trust Him.
That I need to!
But waiting is so hard for me. I'm just not good at it.
So I confess to God my desperate need for grace. I thank Him for His amazing patience with me. And I ask Him once again to help me surrender to His perfect timing and will.
Because HE is good, and HIS love endures forever!

How are you doing today?


Monday, November 16, 2015

Friday, November 13, 2015

This Week without Grandma

So, Grandma passed away last Saturday morning.
She had been steadily declining all week long, and just after 6:30 Saturday morning we woke to her sounds coming down the hall. Brian and I went to her room and found her having some trouble breathing (I was told this would happen.) so we gave her a breathing treatment to open her airways. When that was finished I gave her some medicine to help her relax (She was a bit agitated. Again, something I was told would happen.) and we left her to rest.
I was in the bathroom after showering and Brian came in around 8:00 to let me know she was gone.

Just like that.

I mean, on the one hand it was a long process. She was losing abilities weekly. Daily. Even hourly.
But on the other hand, I had just been sitting with her, and in less than an hour - she was gone.
Just like that.

So, things have been different around here.
Sunday morning I was eating breakfast and looked at the clock at 8:30. I jumped in my seat and thought, Oh! I need to hurry. Gotta get Grandma's breakfast before I leave for chur... Oh. No, I don't.
And Sunday night I realized I could just go to bed when I wanted to. Didn't need to get Grandma her meds, or help her brush her teeth.
I ran several errands Monday - without being concerned about how long it was taking me.
I went to Precepts Tuesday. Arrived on time, left when it was over, and didn't monitor my phone for calls or texts while I was there.
Got the oil changed in the van on Wednesday. And didn't have to arrange for someone to be home while I was gone.
All week long I have slept through the night without getting up to attend to night-time needs.
And all week I have gotten up and exercised in the morning because I've had a good night's sleep.
I haven't made tea, stewed prunes and apricots, or toasted bread twice - so it's good and crunchy.
Nor have I emptied the commode, rubbed Icy-Hot on a sore back, or searched for a stray cotton ball. (Grandma used a cotton ball to cushion her ear when she was sleeping, and it always seemed to get lost in her sheets.)
And, truth be told? I've felt rather lost all week.
I've missed my grandma.
My daily routine of tending to her needs has been interrupted, and I often don't know what to do with myself. Although life is "easier" it is also emptier.

Even so, I am happy for Grandma.
She is with the LORD, and she is whole. No more achy back. No more uncontrollable shaking. And she can hear everything clearly now. In both ears!
I can only imagine the reunion she had with Grandpa.
And her parents.
And all her brothers and sisters.
Indeed, she is at peace now. There is nowhere else she would rather be.
And one day, I will see her again.

Grandma and me, last Friday afternoon.


Monday, November 09, 2015

Friday, November 06, 2015

This Week with Grandma

My grandmother has been living with us for nine months now. And over that time span, I have written more than 20 This Week with Grandma posts. Since it is always my goal for this blog to be a source of encouragement and up-lifting for the reader, I have tried to keep my posts about life with my grandma positive. Our time together each week certainly gives me plenty of stories from which to choose. And I truly enjoy sharing them.
However, as Grandma is progressing through life I am finding the difficulties are coming more frequently. Caring for her gets harder and harder. Both physically and emotionally. I often find myself having mental conversations like this, Remember, Karen. She is frustrated and lonely. She feels trapped in a body which won't do what it used to do. Which won't do what she wants it to do. She's hurting - physically and emotionally. So it only makes sense that she would be edgy and cranky sometimes. You can't take it personally.
I know it's all true.
But it's hard.
And sometimes there are tears. (From both of us.)
Yeah. That's pretty much how this week has been.

At times I find myself recalling others' concerns when we decided to have Grandma move in. There were those who questioned whether we should take on such a big commitment.
When the days are particularly difficult I ask myself, Were we wrong to do this?
And every time, I keep coming back to the same answer.


Having Grandma here is the best thing we could have done. For one, I am not in this alone. She has a wonderful team of care givers who come to our house, for whom I am so thankful. But, even on the hard days. Even when I feel too tired to meet another need. Even when Grandma's circumstances cause her to lash out, there is nowhere I would rather have her be than right here.

Of that, I am certain.


Thursday, November 05, 2015


So we're sitting at the table Tuesday night for dinner and the boys are talking about school. And Josh says one of his teachers is really nice, but incredibly boring. He begins describing the challenges he has paying attention in that particular class and goes on to say, "I usually feel like falling asleep. But I don't do it. Because that would be disrespectful."
And I'm all, What'd you just say? You recognized that a behavior would be disrespectful? So you aren't doing it? I LOVE YOU!!!


Tuesday, November 03, 2015

My Mini Me?

So the other day, Josh asked me to take a picture with him.
I thought, Awwww. He wants a selfie with me. Probably wants to make it the wallpaper for his phone so he won't miss me at school and stuff. (Of course, he never uses his phone during school hours since it's against the "rules." Which is why he didn't text me Friday asking for a favor. Or Thursday. Twice. Yeah. Maybe he ignores that school policy. *ahem*)
Actually, Josh said one of his friends thought we looked alike, and he wanted to send him a picture of the two of us. (To confirm or deny said look-alike proposal, I am not sure.)
So, we did our best to look alike...

What do you think?


Monday, November 02, 2015


Have you heard about Coach Joe Kennedy in Washington state?

If not, you may read background information here. Or, you can Google his name and you'll get lots of reading options. OR, you might be satisfied to know he is a high school football coach in who has been put on administrative leave for praying on the 50-yard line after games. He's been doing it for years, doesn't force kids to pray with him - though many opt to, and was told by the school district he had to stop. I came across this video and wanted to share it with you.

"It's about the rights of every single person, no matter what their faith is!" Coach Joe KennedyWe met up with an emotional Coach Kennedy the day after he was put on administrative leave for praying with his football team. Watch this truly INSPIRING video as he talks about how seeing Woodlawn has given him strength to know he's not alone. WE #SUPPORTCOACHKENNEDY!!! DO YOU?!

Posted by Woodlawn the Movie on Friday, October 30, 2015

As I share the video, I also ask that you join me in prayer. For Coach Kennedy, and for our nation.


Friday, October 30, 2015

This Week with Grandma

...We learned how to compromise.

Monday was a bad day for Grandma. And when it was time for bed, I just didn't feel I could leave her alone. I contemplated curling up at the foot of her bed, or just sleeping on the floor in her room. But I decided it would be better to sleep on the couch. I would be just 10 feet away from her room, and would be able to hear her easily if she needed anything.
So, I grabbed my pillow and my special blanket and took my place on the couch. (Josh and I crossed paths and he said, "Ah. Not a good night between you and dad, huh? You got the couch." *Funny kid!*)
Right around 3 o'clock in the morning I woke up to the sound of Grandma stirring in her room. So I got up and assisted her, then went back to the couch.

Tuesday was a little better day for Grandma, but I still had questions about whether or not I felt comfortable sleeping in my bedroom Tuesday night. And - as if Grandma could read my thoughts - she asked, "How did you know I needed your help last night?" I said simply, "I was sleeping on the couch so I could her you." And Grandma said, "Oh. I don't like that." (She never wants to "inconvenience" anyone.) Although I tried to reassure Grandma that her safety is more important to me than where I sleep, she didn't seem convinced. And she tried to get me to promise to sleep in my bed that night.
Let's just say I get my stubbornness from my Grandma, and I was not prepared to give in quite so easily to her demand request. So I countered with, "How about this? If you promise to use your whistle if you need help, I'll promise to sleep in my bed."
She agreed.
And we were pleased that we could come up with a solution which satisfied both of us.

Just goes to show you, love and creativity can overcome the tenacity of two stubborn women. Karen

Thursday, October 29, 2015

I Guess I'm One of "Them"

So we're sitting at dinner the other night talking about presidential candidates, and Matthew brought up a conversation he'd had with a friend about one of them. Apparently one or more candidates (From which party? I honestly can't tell you.) are proposing the nation-wide legalization of marijuana. And it seems Matthew and his friend got into a lively discussion about the topic.
Well, at the mention of said legalization I felt my eyes roll toward the back of my head.
It wasn't an intentional reaction, really.
More of an involuntary response reflective of my attitude toward such a law.

And Matthew didn't miss it.

He immediately defended their conversation by flicking his hand in my direction and saying, "It's because of adults like you who take marijuana too seriously" - or something along those lines - "that this issue isn't understood." Truthfully, I don't remember exactly what he said after his first six words, because I was too busy laughing at how I'd just been categorized.
Adults like you.
I'm not sure, but I think I might have achieved a new level of my-teenager-thinks-I'm-a-dork.
And frankly? I'm OK with that.
Because some day he'll be an adult like me, too. *wink*


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Come, Lord JESUS

Ah, so much happening in my little corner of the world right now. Big things, little things, inconsequential things, and some things which hold the potential for eternal significance.
And then I stumble upon this video and suddenly I am unaware of the troubles and excitement around me, and I can only think of longing for heaven. To be in the presence of my Savior - with all the redeemed - singing His praise for all of eternity.
Because there will be a day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory and praise of God the Father. HE will gather together all the redeemed from very tribe and nation, and we will be with HIM forever.
I keep re-playing that video and imagining what it might be like.
In that day.

Sorry I couldn't embed the video here. The embedding feature was disabled on this video. But please do follow the link and join in the worship. You'll be so glad you did.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Order My Steps

So, the highway provided quite a bit of background noise.
Trusting you'll be able to hear me over it.


Friday, October 23, 2015

This Week with Grandma

You aren't a problem.
You're my grandmother, and I love you.

Those are the words I spoke in response to my grandma's statement Wednesday night:
"I didn't realize I was going to be such a problem."

And I meant those words. From the bottom of my heart.

Grandma has been having increasing difficulty with day-to-day life and activities, and it's all getting her down. I lay in bed praying for her Wednesday night and was reminded - she was created by God and is eternally cherished by HIM. God wants her to be well cared-for in these days on earth and I am privileged to be one who gets to help provide that care.
What an honor to serve her.
To serve HIM.

So, my friends, I am asking today that you would pray for my grandma. Please pray that God would ease her pain and lift her spirit. But, more than that, please pray that HE will help her understand how precious she is to Him, and that serving her is NOT a problem for me.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Is There Really a Difference Between Toddlers and Teens?

A few weeks ago, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post highlighting the differences between teens and toddlers. Today, I'm wondering if I got it wrong.
Because of my boys.
Oh, I'm telling you, their behavior of late is making me wonder if there is a difference.

Exhibit A:
I'm in the basement yesterday morning working out. (Go, me!) And the boys are coming and going from the bathroom down there as they always do on a school morning. When, suddenly, they're both in the bathroom and I hear Josh call out, "Why are you following me???" And an argument ensues in which Matthew denies following Josh, claiming he is simply there to brush his teeth. (The fact that he's got a toothbrush in his mouth and foam falling out of it seems to indicate he's telling the truth.)
But Josh doesn't want him in the bathroom (I'm remembering the days of, "Don't touch me!") and begins to threaten Matthew. The next thing I know, Matthew is screaming, "Mom! Mom! Mom! Help me! Josh is going to throw soap on me!" And, although I try to let it slide (Because, honestly, they're old enough to figure out problems on their own.) when Matthew's plea goes up a decibel, or two, I approach the bathroom. Where I find Matthew foaming at the mouth (The toothpaste, remember?) and Josh at the ready with a bottle of soft-soap aimed at his brother.
I let out a heavy sigh (Because I was in the middle of my workout, or because I was astounded by my sons' behavior? You decide.) and asked, "Seriously, Josh? Do you really want me to treat you like you're three years old?" He responded that would be fine, so I said, "OK. First thing, hand over your phone. Toddlers don't have phones."
At that point, Matthew made a teasing noise which was probably intended to communicate, Ooooo. She got you. What'cha gonna do to me now??? and slipped out of the bathroom to finish brushing his teeth in the kitchenette. Josh put the soap down, and I went back to doing pistols. Or kick-backs. Or something.
Within a few minutes, the two of them were rushing out the door to go to school and I was thankful they seemed to be acting like young men again. Of course, that demeanor could change at any moment.

Never a dull moment around here!


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Decision America

Have you heard about Decision America 2016?

I couldn't agree more with Mr. Graham, and that is why I have committed to praying for the Decision America Tour. Our world needs hope, peace, help, guidance - which only the LORD can give. These are desperate times, but God is greater and we can trust Him. So I am inviting you to join me in this prayer movement.
The Decision America team is asking people to start community prayer groups as we head into 2016. I am having people come to my house to pray once a week. (If you're in the area and you'd like to join us, please email me for details.) Perhaps you could start a prayer group in your neighborhood?! There are details on the website.

People need the LORD. Let's show them the Way!


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Family Affair

About a year ago, our family began supporting a little boy from Kenya through Compassion International. (His name is Muthiani and his birthday is May 18. My Matthew's birthday is also May 18 and we thought "Muthiani" looked vaguely similar to "Matthew," so we figured it must have been a match made in heaven.) In fact, in that same weekend about 300 children from Muthiani's village were sponsored by families from my church. Since then, we (that is, the church at which I am a member) have taken on a partnership with Compassion in serving this village.
Recently we became aware of a big need in Makueni. During the dry season - when there is NO rain - water is very scarce. And whatever water can be found is VERY expensive. A system could be constructed which would gather and safely store water during the rainy season, but it is expensive. So, someone came up with the idea to have a couple fundraisers at church to collect the needed money so our kids can have ample, safe, affordable drinking water.
Our family decided to participate in the 5K Walk/Run - Brian, Josh, and me as competitors, and Matthew as a volunteer. And can I tell you? It was so much fun to do together.
(Of course, Elizabeth was missed. *sad face*)
At first, Brian and I thought the boys might balk at the idea - because reaching a consensus on doing anything as a family is tough-going most days around here. But they didn't. There was camaraderie, a little smack-talk, and even some looking out for each other. I was delightfully surprised.

Here we are after the race. My goal was to run the whole thing, but with half a mile to go I had to walk a bit. Still, I finished third in my age group with a time of 28:03. I was happy with that. :)


Monday, October 19, 2015

Friday, October 16, 2015

Movie Night

Have you seen War Room yet? (If not, you need to go!)
If you have seen it, chances are you also saw the trailer for Woodlawn. It opens in theaters TONIGHT.
So there, now you know what you're doing tonight! *wink*


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

McHappy Mom

Sunday after church one of Matthew's friends was coming over. This friend moved a year or so ago and doesn't go to Matthew's school anymore, so it's been a while since he's been over. He's a nice kid, and I was glad for the chance to see him again.
In the past his mom has always dropped him off, and I was expecting the same Sunday. So when a truck pulled into our driveway, and T got out and came into the house - but the truck remained, I was a bit surprised.
But, whatever.
I greeted T and asked what he and Matthew had planned for the afternoon. He told me they were going to go out for lunch.
I paused.
And started putting the pieces together.
Me: Oh, you're 16 now, aren't you?
T: Yes.
Is he driving now? Is that why the truck is still here?
Me: So, you've got your driver's license, huh?
T: (smiling) Yes.
Oh. So, you're going to be driving Matthew today. But he's my baby. And I don't know if you drive well. Me: (trying not to appear concerned) That's great. How long have you had it?
T: Two months.
Panic may have flown across my face, because he went on to tell me he's been driving since he was 14. Always supervised, of course!
But, before I could object Matthew joined us in the family room and the boys were off to get some lunch. I almost had to post something on Facebook about my baby going out for the first time with his driving-friend. Another last-first.
But I refrained. *ahem*

And when they returned, my momma-heart swelled with joy.
Not just because of their safe return.
I mean, I was happy for that. To be sure!
But in addition, Matthew said something that just blessed my heart.
He told me he'd gotten a 10-piece Chicken McNugget for lunch. And as he ate it he realized, "I'm so glad I have my mom. I wouldn't want to eat this stuff every day."

Awww, bless my work-my-fingers-to-the-bone-to-make-healthy-meals-heart. He's grateful for my cooking!

Now that's what I should have posted on Facebook!


Monday, October 12, 2015

Friday, October 09, 2015

This Week with Grandma

Grandma has good days and bad days.
But I am thankful that even on the bad days, we can find reasons to laugh.

It was at the end of one such bad day this week when I stood in the hallway with Brian.
I was lamenting for Grandma her woes.
The memory troubles.
The extreme fatigue.
The feelings of confusion.
And Brian chimed in, "Yeah. I feel the same way sometimes, and I'm only 43!"
I paused long enough to be polite before I responded, "Uh, dear, you're 44."

At that point, we both burst out laughing!


Thursday, October 08, 2015

Dear Non-Stay-At-Home-Parents

I nearly choked yesterday when I was reading a friend's post on Facebook. Her daughter is about 20 months old and she was lamenting the challenge of being a stay-at-home-mom.
That is NOT the part which almost made me gag.
In fact, it was some of the comments her other friends made (I think in an attempt to encourage her???) that raised my hackles. They were comments like these:

I'm envious of the parents (girls or guys) that are able to stay home and be there for every minute...[Describes circumstance which produced guilty feelings]...Now multiply that by hundreds of little things that happen on any given day and you have to realize how lucky you are to be there for it all even when it gets tough.
I would give anything to be a stay at home dad! It's super difficult being a full-time dad, having a full-time job and having three kids that are actively involved in sports/school/band etc. I have not even one hour to myself,… Ever... And I mean,… Ever.
OK. I get it. Honest. I do!
It is so, so challenging to work outside the home AND inside. (I'm speaking from my own experience here. Not sure the dad quoted above comes home from work and makes dinner, continues the work of maintaining a home, etc. But that was often a breaking point for me.)

The thing is, my experience as a stay-at-home-mom tells me the words these friends shared are NOT the things a mom in her place needs to hear.
Consider this:
*She knows she is fortunate to be able to stay home with her babies 24/7 (Trust me, she gets reminded of how "lucky" she is often.) but such knowledge can lead to guilt feelings - for wishing she had some time away. Because she doesn't feel like she ever gets an hour to herself, either.Yeah. While you're feeling guilty for missing things, she's feeling the same way for being tired of experiencing EVERYTHING.
*A stay-at-home-mom loses her patience with a child who just won't listen, or who can't express herself, or who is having trouble with potty-training. *Read that: wets his pants at least five times, daily.* And while she understands her child is just that - a child, she feels an overwhelming need to have a person respond to her on an adult level. *Read that: It makes for a really loooooong day when successful communication almost never takes place.* The result? More guilty feelings.
*Chances are, the stay-at-home-mom used to be a "working-woman." *Read that: She used to leave the house and get paid for the work she did.* She probably used to make significant contributions at work and feel appreciated by her co-workers. Unlike the work she does now - changing diapers, reading "Goodnight Moon" 20+ times a day, and being called "The Meanest Mom in the World" at least twice a week. Most likely, she thinks you're pretty lucky to get to go to work each day.

So, my non-stay-at-home-parent friend, may I ask a favor of you on behalf of the stay-at-home-parent-types? Although I am sure you are well-intentioned (You honestly think a look at your world is going to make her feel better about hers. I understand.) and although what you're saying is true (Being a working-parent is really hard! Again, I understand!), would you please refrain from telling stay-at-homers how lucky they are, and how much you wish you had it as easy as could be like them? Because from where they're sitting? It just doesn't appear the same.
The fact of the matter is - parenting is tough stuff no matter where we are, or what we're doing. Let us all leave the camp of you're-so-lucky-to-be-where-you-are and move on to I'm-having-a-hard-time-too-so-let's-help-each-other.



Wednesday, October 07, 2015

HE Knows

I always love going to church.
It is a delight to gather with my brothers and sisters in Christ to worship the LORD together, and to hear His Word preached for our edification and transformation. I just love being part of such a service.
But sometimes, God has a little something extra planned to make me cherish the experience even more.
Like HE did this past Sunday.

Our pastor was teaching about praying the scriptures and at the end of the service he gave us opportunity to put into practice the very thing he'd just been saying. We each had a list of topics about which we might want to pray, which were followed by a couple related scripture references. Since I had very recently decided to host a women's listening retreat and have much planning to do, the topic Guidance appealed to me and I "randomly" chose the second scripture reference listed. (If you know me, you know I don't believe anything is truly random.) I just love what happened next.
I opened my Bible, turned to John 10:27, and read,
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.
Did I mention that I'm hosing a listening retreat???
This verse is a perfect picture of what I pray will happen at the retreat.
*Women will come and listen to His voice.
*Women will be convinced that they are fully known by their loving Creator.
*Women will follow Him more closely as a result of the time they spend listening.

Friends, God gave me the agenda for the retreat in that one verse! And what blessed my heart even more than His attention to my prayer for guidance is the understanding that HE knows. HE knows what we need before we even know we have the need.
Before I sat in the pew last Sunday, before it entered my mind to host this retreat, before the leadership of my church decided to do this series on prayer, before anyone thought of creating a list of possible concerns and related Bible verses - God knew I was going to need to read John 10:27 as His guiding Word.
And HE made it happen.
Because HE knows.


Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Direct Communication 101

Brian (sprawled out on the bed): Would you like to be a dear?
Me (knowing what he meant to say): No. I'd rather continue on as a person.
Get it? I was answering the question, "Would you like to be a DEER?"
Honestly, I crack myself up!

Brian (trying not to roll his eyes at my feeble attempt at humor): OK. Would you like to be a nice person?
Me (with a mixture of mock-defensiveness and disdain): Uh, I'd like to think I already am.
Brian (speechless)
Me (completely satisfied, and moving in for the direct-communication-kill): Would you like to ask me to do you a favor?
Brian (sheepishly): Yeah. I need my phone. Will you get it for me?
Me: Sure. Where is it?

See what I mean? Direct communication is so much easier.
But not nearly as much fun. *wink*


Monday, October 05, 2015

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Women's Listening Retreat

You'll find details and registration information here.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Turning Mountains into Mole Hills

"What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground."

~Zechariah 4:7

I spent a good amount of time yesterday talking about this verse with the women in my Precepts Bible study. The context is that God is encouraging Zerubbabel that he will, indeed, finish the work of re-building the Temple. Even though the Israelites have been facing opposition in the reconstruction. Even though progress has been stalled for 14 years. And even though Zerubbabel is just a man.
None of that matters because God has promised the completion of the Temple - "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit," says the LORD Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6)
Zerubbable faced a mountainous task of leading the recently-back-from-being-exiled-scared-of-their-oppressors-down-hearted-would-like-to-find-a-rock-under-which-to-hide-people of God in the re-building of the LORD's House. It was overwhelming. Certainly too much for a guy like Zerubbabel to handle. Which is probably why the LORD gave Zechariah such a vision of encouragement for his pal.

So, the question for today: As you seek to follow God, are there any great mountains you face?


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Difference Between Toddlers and Teens

Last week I spoke for a group of young moms at a MOPS meeting. And I started off my presentation by answering a question which is often asked of me these days.
Karen, does it get easier when they're older?
(I distinctly remember a conversation I had with a father-of-teenagers many years ago, in which I was told it does get easier. I now feel it is my duty to set the record straight. *ahem*) So, with all the compassion I could muster I gazed out upon that group of mothers and answered, "No. It just gets different."

Now, I am not gonna lie. Parts of life are definitely easier!
I love the freedom of not having to load kids into the car and buckle them into car seats. The ability to simply grab my purse (as opposed to locating the diaper bag and making sure it is adequately supplied with diapers, wipes, cream, snacks, and an extra outfit - just in case) and run out the door with the kids to do something is amazing. I cherish the flexibility of being able to plan things without always having to consider nap time, or how far we'll be from a potty. And being able to go out with my husband without planning for it days in advance, driving to pick up a sitter, and leaving detailed instructions about clean-up, bedtime routines, and how to handle I-can't-fall-asleep delays? Bliss!!!
But, aside from those points, I'd say life doesn't get easier just because your children get older. We still have struggles and "it" sure doesn't feel easy. Indeed, it's just different.

For example, notice these differences:
Toddlers think you know something about everything and will question you incessantly until you're left making things up just to satisfy their curiosity. (Or, until you find yourself answering, "Because that's how God made it," to almost every inquiry.)
Teens think you know nothing about anything and will question your reasons for everything - until you begin to wonder why you're setting a curfew, requiring chores to be done by a given deadline, and restricting screen time. Just to name a few.

Toddlers aren't truly capable of many things, but want to help you with it all.
Teens can do more than they'd like to admit, but pretty much want you to do everything.

Toddlers don't always have the words they need to express themselves and will often throw a fit to get their meaning across.
Teens have plenty of words to express themselves and will often throw a fit - while using all those words - to get their meaning across.

Toddlers need lots of love and will seek it by being cling-y. To the point that some moms feel the need to lock themselves in the bathroom for a respite.
Teens need lots of love but will sometimes withdraw from hugs and kisses. To the point that some moms feel rejected and unnecessary.

Toddlers need a night light in their bedroom because they are usually afraid of the dark.
Teens don't need a night light. The light from the screen of the device on which they are playing games under the covers is adequate. (Remember that limit you wanted to set on screen time? Yeah. Forget about it!)

Toddlers are small enough to be physically carted away if they otherwise refuse to come when called. Even if it means kicking and screaming so as to completely embarrass said toddler's mother.
Teens have much greater staying power. In fact, if the teen is a boy - chances are he can pick his mother up and put her to the side. (Or will be able to in the next year, or so.)

Toddlers are highly possessive individuals and are usually unlikely to share toys, books, or anything else with anyone. Because they're afraid they might never get it back.
Teens have learned to be generous - such that they will freely loan out Dad's tools, Mom's kitchen utensils, and their sibling's calculator. Without much of a concern for ever getting it back.

And, finally...
Toddlers seem to think the world revolves around themselves, their needs, and their desires.
Teens - Oh, wait. This aspect doesn't quite seem to change.

And that's pretty much how it goes. Wherever you are in this journey of parenthood, you're going to face struggles. I'm quite certain none of us is ever going to reach the stage in which we'll proclaim, "Oh. Now it's easy!"
But I have become convinced that "easy" is highly over-rated. Because I don't grow, I don't feel the need to lean into God and trust Him for my every breath, I don't become more of the woman He intends for me to be when life is "easy." No, all those things happen in the struggles. And every time God brings me through another battle I find myself thanking Him. For His power. For His faithfulness. For the amazing way He takes the bad - and makes it good.

And I know, He's gonna keep on doing it - no matter what the age of my children.