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.