Thursday, April 27, 2017

I Can't Even Imagine

I am part of a Facebook-based prayer group sponsored by my church.
And if you know me at all, you know that prayer is one of my favorite things. Ever.
I believe with all my heart that God wants to commune with us through prayer, and I love the relationship I have with Him in it. I cherish the thought that HE is listening. That HE cares. That HE moves in response to our prayers according to His perfect will.
It comforts me to know I am never in a circumstance alone, because the Holy Spirit dwells in me, Jesus is interceding for me, and my Father is just a prayer away.
For these reasons, I can't even imagine being in the place of a dear woman for whom our group is praying right now. Among other troubles she is facing, she has recently been diagnosed with dementia.
She cannot remember things.
Apparently, she can't even pray.
Her daughter posted about it on our Facebook page:
She is a sweet lovely Godly woman - a prayer warrior - and unable to go to war!

I can't even imagine it. Can you?

A woman who has spent the better part of her 85 years fighting the enemy through the power of God in prayer, now cannot even pray for herself. The disease in her brain has robbed her of that ability. I wonder if she has also lost the cognizance to realize that God is with her in the midst of her pain and sickness.
The hopelessness of that scenario breaks my heart.
So I am doing the only thing I know to do.
And I am asking you to join me.
Would you please pray for this woman who cannot pray for herself?
Knowing she lived her life as a prayer warrior, I can only imagine how many people she has brought before the Father in prayer. Now, may we be among the many who carry her to HIM.
Her name is Thelma.
Thank you, friends!

Karen

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Just for Moms

I am super excited to have the necessary information to share with you about a Moms' Night Out coming up on May 13. The MOPS group at Faith Church in Valparaiso, Indiana will be hosting this event, and all moms (of all ages!) are welcome to attend. Doors open at 6pm and as I understand it there will be yummy desserts available at that time for you to savor while you enjoy fellowship with other moms - sans kiddos! The program will begin at 7pm - at which time I will be speaking and singing and offering lots of hope for overwhelmed moms.
Tickets for the program are $5 and proceeds will be donated to Hannah's Hope, which is a non-profit organization in Northwest Indiana serving children with special needs.

Tickets and additional information are available here.

I would love, LOVE to see you there!

Karen

Monday, April 24, 2017

Thursday, April 20, 2017

What Did You Say?

Have you noticed that your children don't speak the same way you do?
As in, it's almost a completely different language. As if you were living in different worlds.
And it's so hard to keep up with their changing vernacular.
I mean, when I was a kid it seems like all I had to know was "cool". If something was good, it was "cool" and that's about as complicated as it got. But over the past several years my children have gone from calling good things "phat" to "all that" to "the bomb" to "bad" (I don't even know the current correct term...) and I have at times been guilty of using the wrong cool word to call something "cool". *ahem*

Then there's the texting lingo, which has often infiltrated our face-to-face communication. One will call out "BRB" when they're leaving the room for a moment, and another will claim the challenge they faced that day was "NBD". But it wasn't until a couple nights ago when I realized just how much that jargon has become a part of who they are.
Josh was doing his taxes and had a question about how to fill in a certain blank. The information being sought was identical to that which he had previously entered, so Brian said, "Just type 'same'," and Josh looked at him with a very quizzical stare.
He said, "Same?"
And Brian replied, "Yes. It's the same information."
Josh shook his head and said, "OK. But I feel like that's just like entering 'LOL'."
It took me a moment, but then I recalled seeing "same" going back and forth over texting conversations when one person could relate to what another person was saying. And I realized Josh was hearing Brian's instruction in texting lingo, not in adult-who-has-filled-out-hundreds-of-forms language.

The scenario honestly made me LOL.

Karen

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Lessons We* Have (Hopefully) Learned While Doing Taxes

1. Don't wait until the last minute.

2. Don't misplace your W-2.

3. If you do misplace your W-2, call your manager to get a new copy.

4. If you do #2 without doing #1, since #3 is going to take a while, file for an extension.

5. Don't expect your parents to do #4 for you, if you have not heeded their advice regarding #1.

6. When tax season rolls around again next year, refer to #1.

*And by "we" I mean my son(s).

Karen

Monday, April 17, 2017

Friday, April 14, 2017

Lovely Moments

What do you get when you put a ninety-year-old woman, and a girl half her age, into a room for an hour - with nothing to do but talk?
When they repeat old jokes, and laugh out loud - as if hearing them for the very first time.

What do you get when you bring together women from two different generations and leave them to discover what they have in common, and what makes them unique?
When they realize their hearts are very much alike, even though they come from dissimilar worlds.

What do you get when age and ability are not required to be the same, in order for friendship to be formed?
When memory lapses don't matter, and recurring stories are just as delightful to hear the seventh time as they were the first.

What do you get? I'll tell you what you get: Lovely Moments!
And I am so thankful for each one I have the privilege to experience.

Who in your world needs to see your kindness expressed through a smile and a listening ear (and perhaps a corny joke), even though you may feel you have so little to offer? Please receive this encouragement to slow down and spend time with him/her. You probably will not be able to grasp how much your presence means to them, but I can guarantee - your moments together will be lovely.

Karen

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Rise and Shine!

Perhaps you are aware of the way I wake Matthew up most mornings.
Well, I was surprised to learn yesterday that someone else found out about it.
That is, Wednesday morning I received a text message from one of Matthew's friends saying:

This morning I was awoken by loud screeching noises at about 6:45...To my surprise it was Matthew's alarm clock AKA his mother with his morning greeting lol
This friend had been over at our house Tuesday night, and my first thought was, Were they on the phone all night, and somehow still had a connection this morning? Did all Matthew's commotion seriously go through the phone and wake his friend up???
So I responded with,
You heard that???
It was in his response that I learned Matthew's friend had crashed on our couch for the night, so he was just down the hall when I harassed woke up Matthew.
I laughed at the realization of the display I had unknowingly put on for this young man, and responded to his text with a brief explanation of how I wake Matthew up if he hasn't gotten up with his alarm.
He replied with,
I read about it on your blog, but it was funny to witness it happening.
So there you have it. Reading about our antics on my blog is one thing. But if you really want to enjoy a laugh, you'll have to hide out in my house and witness us first-hand. *wink*

Karen

Monday, April 10, 2017

Friday, April 07, 2017

Lovely Moments

My friend, Lovely, enjoys doing crossword puzzles. (Another reason I think we're perfect for each other!) In fact, last week when I visited her we spent a little time playing a word game on my phone. And since she seemed to have fun with that game, I decided to try another one this week. So I took Scrabble with me when I went to see her yesterday. Lovely couldn't remember if she had ever played Scrabble before, but she was eager to give it a go.
As it turned out, Lovely struggled a little bit with remembering the basic rules. Sometimes she chastised herself for dropping tiles, or picking up too many. However, every time she made a play she would smile in satisfaction at her accomplishment. Even so, when we finished playing Lovely commented that she didn't think she performed very well. And she told me the story again that she didn't go to college - because her father died when she was young and her mother couldn't afford to send her to the university.
"Oh, you did fine," I tried to assure her. "Besides, you'll get better every time we play. And think of this: You're so good, you didn't need to go to college! Most other people have to go to college, but not you. Rather, you are so good, the college hired you to work for them!"
(It's true. She was a secretary at Michigan State University.)
Although Lovely is a humble woman, I could tell by the certain sparkle in her eye - she was pleased with my evaluation. And so we agreed, as we continue to work on her Scrabble skills we're also going to reign in her habit of chastising herself.
I got her to agree to that strategy by pointing out that she surely wouldn't let me say the same negative things about myself which she was saying about herself. She couldn't argue with me then. *wink*

When it was time for me to leave, Lovely asked me how many children I have. And she wanted to know their ages. (We have this conversation just about every time I visit.) I told her that my daughter is going to be 21 next week(!) and she gasped - as she always does - because she said I didn't look like I am old enough to have a child that age. (We have this conversation regularly, too.) And I told her I have good genes. My mom doesn't look 75, and my grandma didn't look 95 when she passed away, either.
"Ahhh, so you have good genes," she agreed.
Then I said, "Oh! That reminds me of a joke! But it's kind of gross. Do you mind?"
She didn't mind.
So I asked, "Did you know that diarrhea is hereditary?"
"Uh, no. I didn't."
"Yeah. It runs in your genes!!!" Get it? It runs in your JEANS!

We had a good laugh with that one.
Hope you did, too.
Have a great weekend!

Karen

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

A Mother's Tale of Woe. And Hope!

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched (wo)man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Romans 7:15-25
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
I am not the only mother who sometimes thinks these words could have been extracted from her very own heart, am I?
The other night I chastised Josh for putting half a bag of croutons on his salad. (OK. Maybe I'm exaggerating. A little.) And he came back with something like, "Gee, Mom, you could have been happy that I'm eating salad." Which is so true. The boy almost never eats the vegetables I make for dinner. Many nights I don't even suggest such consumption anymore. Because he's 19, and I think we're past me needing to tell him what to eat.
Anyway, I feigned despair and said, "Oh! I have failed you. Forgive me!" And we joked past the moment. But the memory has stayed with me, and it's driving me nuts!
I find myself often prone to noticing the things my kids do wrongly, or simply don't do at all. Like undone or incomplete chores. Or drowning out the taste of vegetables with using too many croutons. And I tend to point out their error.
You missed some spots on the table. Will you please wipe it again?
I asked you not to eat pizza in the guest bedroom. Go sit at the table.
The trash is nearly overflowing. Will you empty it right now, please?
Is all that dirt from your shoes?
Do you really need that many croutons on your salad???
And on it goes.
Most of the time, my requests are legitimate: The table needs to be cleaned thoroughly. Pizza on a white bed spread is a recipe for disaster. The trash needs to be emptied. One should check their shoes if they've been walking in mud. i.e.Fishing!

But the response I got about the croutons let me know how I must sound when offering all these corrections.

It took me back to days when I was at work and I felt like my boss noticed and highlighted every little (and I do mean "little") thing I did wrong. I remember so often wanting to ask if she noticed A, B, and C which I did very well. It was in those days I said to myself that I would never speak to someone that way. I would never make a person feel as though they aren't doing anything right. Rather, I would always remember to point out the things they're doing well.
Yet, here I am - doing that very thing to the people I love most.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
*heavy sigh*

However, I find hope in Paul's words to the church in Rome, because I am reminded that I am not alone in my struggle. I am a wretched mess, yes. I do the things I don't want to do, yes. But through Jesus Christ and by the power of His blood, I am being delivered. God is changing my heart, and He is sanctifying me.
Lord, I come to You with a broken and contrite heart, asking only that You would make me into the woman YOU want me to be. May I be a reflection of my loving Savior!

Karen

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

I Had it so Good

I'm sensing another round coming on of, I'm sorry, Mom, for the things I did when I was a kid.
You know, those certain feelings you get after taking a trip and answering, "Are we there yet???" a bazillion times. Or the sinking sensation you have in your stomach when your teen is out too late, and the phone rings. Sometimes it's simply no, it isn't ever simple(!)- going shopping for school clothes. But, whatever it is - and whenever it happens - sometimes we moms have a sudden urge to call our own moms and apologize for the things we did as a kid. Because we didn't know what it was like to deal with our whiny selves. *ahem*
Have you been there?

I was there once again Sunday evening.

I was standing at the sink washing green beans, snapping off the ends and tossing the beans into a pan. For a moment I re-visited the dream of having my own garden in the back yard. How great would it be, I thought, to have my own garden? To grow all the green beans I want, and tomatoes, and zucchini, and squash, and strawberries. And maybe even some corn...
But we don't really have a good place for a garden. And I can only imagine how difficult it would be to keep all the local critters from helping themselves to my hard work. But, but...I would so love to have a garden and grow my own vegetables, and snap my own beans, and can my own tomatoes.

And, just like that(!) I was transported to a memory from my childhood.
I was sitting on the porch with my mom and my sister, grumpiness all over my face, as I snapped the ends off of a bazillion green beans and broke them into 1-inch pieces. Grandma Peggy had a garden behind her house, and every summer she gave us lots and lots of green beans. That is, every summer we HAD TO go to her house and spend DAYS (It was really probably only an hour or two, but it felt longer to the younger me.) picking beans. And then we came home and spent DAYS (^^^Same.^^^) sitting on the porch getting the stupid beans ready for my mom to freeze.
And I hated that task.
I whined and complained about having to do it.
The stupid bean chore was almost as torturous as stringing cranberries and popcorn every December to put on the Christmas tree.
Nearly ruined my life, so I thought.

But Sunday evening as I stood by the sink preparing the green beans for dinner, I pondered how good I had it as a kid:
*Fresh green beans from my grandma's garden. Every summer!
*My grandma labored and toiled - planting, weeding, watering, tending - and I got to benefit from the bounty of her work. (Not to mention the corn on the cob she also gave us.)
Ahhh, I was a kid. And I didn't appreciate how fortunate I was - to have a grandma who gardened, and a mom who knew how to preserve the produce. I only knew I didn't like chores.

I see things so differently now - as an adult.
It makes me want to apologize to my mom.
And it gives me hope that one day my kids will realize how good they had it, too. *wink*

Karen

Monday, April 03, 2017

Friday, March 31, 2017

God is Faithful

Once a month I speak at chapel for the Lansing City Rescue Mission's women's shelter.
Last night was my March night.
And, once again, God delighted me by displaying His faithfulness.

When I was there in January I met a precious woman who had been at the Mission for just a couple of weeks. She was visibly responding to the message I shared, and I could tell God was stirring her heart - so I sought her out after chapel to talk with her. "H" told me her story, we prayed, and I was incredibly touched by both her pain and her hope.
Before the February chapel service began I saw H and she told me with great excitement that she had just gotten a job. After chapel she told me about the process she'd gone through in finding the job. It was a wonderful story of seeking and waiting and trusting, and the joy H exuded was contagious. I was so happy to be able to witness God's move in her life, and have thought of and prayed for her many times over the past several weeks.
So, last night I was eager to see H again and ask how her new job is going. We sat together after the chapel service and she told me, "Oh! It's wonderful!!!" With a tear in her eye she went on to share that her boss is very pleased with H's performance and just the other day gave her a connection to help H get into an apartment. H told her boss she hadn't expected to be so cared for at work - that her boss's kind gesture was beyond what she had even hoped for.
I had closed my message by singing "My Life is in Your Hands" and H told me when I was singing it was as if God said to her, Yes. Your life is in My hands.

I realize that God's work in H's life may mean she isn't at the shelter when I go back in April. But this is one case in which I will not be disappointed if I don't get to see my friend again.
Because God is faithful.
Because H is in His hands.
And because I know we can trust Him.

Karen

Thursday, March 30, 2017

I Didn't Tell a Lie

I told her it sounds wonderful.
And it does!

I told her I'm excited for her.
And I am!

But, well, my mom-heart is a little less than enthusiastic.
The thing is, Elizabeth keeps growing up and experiencing new things. She continues finding bigger and greater adventures to take. (Like the internship she's doing this summer in Vail, CO - about which I was responding in the opening statements of this post.) For goodness sake, she's going to turn 21 years old in a couple of weeks!
She's hardly my little girl anymore.
So, as I ponder her future exploits I find myself forgetting about things like, oh - how colicky she was as an infant, the trouble we had figuring out how to nurse, and the sneaky ways she always seemed to get me into "one more thing" before tucking her into bed.
Yeah, I don't think about the struggles so much these days.
Instead, I'm facing the reality that this coming summer is the last one before she graduates from college. So when she moves home for a week or so in May - before going out to Colorado for the summer - it could very well be the last time she "moves home." Rather than remembering the hard times, I'm considering the passage of time - and recognizing that our time is limited.
The fact is I am reaching the time which, as a young mother, I thought would always be "forever" away.
And while I am truly, truly, truly delighted for my daughter, and I think it's exciting that she has these experiences ahead of her, well, I'm also a little sad.
Because part of my mother's-heart still sees her as my little girl.
And the thought of releasing her to the big world out there?
Well, it makes me feel kinda blue.

Karen

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

This Makes Me So Mad!

I had an odd experience yesterday in my Precepts class while we were discussing Colossians 2.
I got mad.
And I don't usually have that emotion when I'm doing Bible study.
But yesterday, well, I did.
You see, one of the main reasons Paul wrote his letter to the Colossians was to warn them of false teaching and doctrine. He said in 2:4, "I say this so that no on will delude you with persuasive argument," and again in verse 8, "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ."
(He says more of it, but we were only studying verses 1-10 this week.) So - obviously - a large part of our discussion and the teaching time focused on false teaching and our need to be grounded in the Word of God so we know Truth, and can discern lies.
Well, the further we got into our lesson, the more I felt myself getting mad. I was angry that false teachers are out there spouting off fine-sounding philosophies and clever arguments, which are trapping people and leading them away from God. The idea of deceivers lurking around looking for unsuspecting prey to devour with their distortion of God's truth enraged me. But as I was beginning to become furious with people (false teachers, etc.), I realized the real enemy is Satan - the deceiver, himself.
He is the father of lies and will do whatever he can to steal us away from the Truth.
And that makes me so mad!
I sat in class with a heart burdened for Truth, with my spirit longing to protect vulnerable hearts from being lured away, wishing I could destroy deception. But I know I am not able to save the world. So, I pray the LORD of Hosts will crush the devil's efforts to mislead the children of God. And I beseech you, brothers and sisters in Christ, to get grounded in the Word of God so you will not fall.

2 Peter 2:1-3 New International Version (NIV)

1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

2 Peter 3:17-18 New International Version (NIV)

17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

Karen

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Confessions of a Mother Whose Kids are Nearly Grown

Dear Mothers of Young Children,
I know you're busy.
I know you're stretched in every direction imaginable, and you typically feel like there is not enough of you to go around. Some days you feel like a failure. Some nights you wonder when you'll ever be able to REALLY sleep again. And there are mornings when you dare to wish your angels would stay in bed quietly for just 10 more minutes.
Then you find yourself in the grocery store trying to get the last few items on your list before Junior completely blows his gasket, when Sissy wakes up crying (Because Junior just poked her face.) and your own tears are about to flow (Because, frankly, you're exhausted and you desperately want to go home and collapse, but you know as soon as you get there Junior and Sissy are both going to need something, anything, NOW!) - when some dear, elderly lady smiles at you and says, "Oh, honey, enjoy them while you can. They grow up so fast, you know. You're gonna miss these days!"
And you, you stare in outright disbelief at this life-form in front of you, wondering how she could produce such a vile message without actually uttering a single curse word.
Yeah.
It happens.
I know - because I've been there.
And I remember when I was there, I felt so hopeless.
I loved my children, but I hated the struggle. I wanted to be a good mom, wanted to cherish each moment, so wished I could enjoy it all. But, dang! Life with young children was so hard, and some days seemed as though they would never end.

Can you relate to the way I was feeling?

Oh, dear mother-friend, hang in there!
Because I've got good news. You're going to make it through the endless days and perpetual neediness. There will come a day when your precious little energy-depletors are going to take care of themselves.
And you're going to love it.
You are totally NOT going to miss those days. (My stance on that statement is this: I miss many of the moments. But I don't miss the entire day. *wink*)
Not when I am able to have a morning like this:
Saturday, I didn't have anything to do in the morning so I didn't set my alarm. Matthew had to work at noon, but he's big enough to manage. So I didn't worry about him. Instead, I lay comfortably in bed as I heard him get up, put his uniform in the washer and get his shower. I smiled at his act of responsibility then rolled over and closed my eyes. Some time later, my husband and I, uh, enjoyed each other. And chose to snuggle up and snooze for a while longer. I must have been sleeping when Matthew left for work, because when I finally got out of bed - it was after 12:30.
Oh, yes, I did!
(And it only had a little bit to do with the fact that I was still healing from being sick.)
Yeah. I am totally loving (this aspect of) this phase of parenthood!

Karen

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Down for the Count

Annnnd, the sickness which has been plaguing all my guys has finally caught me, too.
Not sure when I'll be back to blogging...

But I am sure God is good.
All the time!

Karen

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Finding Encouragement Here

Nations are in uproar,
kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice,
the earth melts.

~Psalm 46:6
This verse has been riding in my pocket, and stirring in my heart for the past six days.
I have worked on committing it to memory.
I've studied the key words in their original language.
I have meditated and ruminated and appreciated and concentrated and anticipated and investigated but never once become irritated, rather found myself fascinated - by the way God speaks through His Word.

And in my sanctified imagination, I see a picture like this:
Nations are in uproar. That is, my soul hears threats and howling coming from afar. The menacing noise gets louder and closer. The intimidation grows in ferocity - until my heart can take no more.
Then, kingdoms fall. That is, my spirit crumbles under the weight of peril which has been lurking, stalking, seeking to destroy me.
But, he lifts his voice. And a thunderous blare as mighty as a hurricane - yet contained in perfect restraint - whispers, Peace. Be still.
And, just like that, the earth melts. That is, the terror which threatened to undo me is rendered helpless. The danger dissolves and is swept away - at the command of the One who guards my heart.
And I am safe in His keeping.

I pray this picture will encourage your heart, as well.

Karen

Monday, March 20, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

Lovely Moments

I swear, this volunteer role is just like having another teenager.

That is, I called Lovely yesterday morning to see if I could come over for a visit. But there was no answer.
So I called again in the afternoon.
Still no answer.
And I'm all, What's wrong? Why isn't Lovely answering her phone? She didn't tell me anything about going on vacation. Is she in the hospital? Why didn't somebody call and fill me in on her condition???

I mean, I tried not to think the worst, but I love her. And I couldn't get in touch with her.
She's always answered her phone every other time I've called.
The difference in this instance was troublesome to me.
But what could I do?
It felt strangely similar to the times my texts to a certain child have gone unanswered. And I've imagined that child in some predicament in a fishing boat somewhere. And I have scolded myself for worrying, but what else could I do? It feels like if there is no answer, something must be wrong.

I'm not the only mom afflicted with this jump-to-the-worst-conclusion disorder, am I?

Somehow, I made it through the rest of the day and evening. And I tried calling Lovely once more.
This time, she answered!
And said I could come over Friday afternoon to see her.
So my Lovely Moments are not lost.
Just delayed.

Remembering again, how important it is to cherish each moment.

Karen

Thursday, March 16, 2017

There's Just Something Precious...

...about a sick boy.

I have a couple of sickies in my house right now. It started with Matthew (He stayed home from school Monday and Tuesday.) and now it seems to have moved on to Josh.
Except it hasn't left Matthew.
So, I guess it hasn't really "moved on".
Excuse the interruption. Just analyzing my word choice out-loud.
Er, in-writing.
Bahhh, there I go, again!

Anyway, poor Matthew has been practically coughing his lungs out for the past few days. He's spent lots of time in bed, and has been pretty miserable. And, somehow, the whole scenario makes me willing to do nearly anything for him - because he's just so precious when he's pitiful.

Like Monday afternoon, when I was sitting with my heating pad trying to relieve the pain in my back. Matthew plodded out of his room and asked how my back was feeling. "Eh, it's so-so," I responded. With a look of disappointment he said, "Oh, then I guess you don't want to go to Subway to pick up a sandwich for me." (He may be sick, but the kid still eats!)
Truth be told, he was right. I didn't want to go. Sitting with my heating pad felt so nice! But before I could get control of my mouth I heard myself saying, "It's OK. I'll go. You're sick."
And I went.

Then there was Tuesday.
I think I was laying in bed with my heating pad. (It has become my friend!) Must have been somewhere between reading a book and falling asleep, when I thought I heard a voice. But I was too groggy (or lazy?) to investigate. Then I heard it again and my conscience got the better of me, so I rolled out of bed and went to Matthew's room to ask if he had called me. "Yes," he moaned. "Can you get me a drink of water?"
"Sure," I said.
And I did.
Without even a bit of resentment for being dragged out of bed - because he is so darn cute when he's crestfallen.

Which brought me to Wednesday morning.
I was downstairs exercising (Very carefully, avoiding anything which would irritate my back.) when I heard Josh softly call out from his room, "Mom?" At this point, I didn't know what he wanted. Was he going to ask me what we're having for dinner? Did he want me to put something in the wash for him? Didn't he realize I was up early exercising because I had to get to church to do child-care for the moms' group, so I wasn't looking for interruptions to my routine??? But before I could voice my indignation (thankfully!) he asked, "Will you get me an ibuprofen?" and I realized - he wasn't feeling well, either.
Poor kid!
Of course I would get him what he needed. And wearing my leg weights up and down the stairs would do me some good anyway.
So I got the pill and a cup of water, and I didn't even mind walking into his smells-like-a-teenager room to deliver it. Because when my man-child is sullen, he's just so sweet.

OK, I am looking forward to both of them feeling back-to-normal, but I must admit: I kinda enjoy having them docile and thankful for their mom. *wink*

What do your kids do to tug at your heart?

Karen

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

My Wishes for The Shack

If you live in America and spend any time on social media, chances are you are well aware of the controversy among Christians surrounding the movie, The Shack. No?
I did my share of reading blog posts and movie reviews both in favor of and opposed to seeing the movie. I read the book several years ago and already knew there were theological problems with it, and after reading a number of arguments for not going to the movie - I decided not to go.

But then my husband invited me to join him and a group of friends for a showing and, well, I accepted the invitation.
Fully expecting to not be impressed.
However, as I sat through the movie I was impressed. Impressed by the beautiful portrayal of the gracious love of God. I honestly was grateful that I was there, that I had changed my mind about going. Because I saw representations of God knowing what we need, and meeting us there. I took in a tender scene depicting that Jesus cares about the pain we carry in our hearts - He cares deeply, and wants to comfort us. I cherished the picture painted of the Holy Spirit making beauty out of the mess that is us. These scenes - and many others like them - welled up within me feelings of thanksgiving and an attitude of praise to God for His amazing love.
And I thought it a shame that so many people would not come to this movie because of the negative reviews and "warnings" that it would lead people astray.
I thought it a shame for people to miss it, because it was so touching.

Yet even as my heart was wooed as I watched, I also had frequent feelings of disappointment. I was saddened by scenes which stopped short of presenting the gospel, and which missed opportunities to declare significant spiritual truth. That is, the movie did an excellent job of depicting the LOVE of God - and that made it touching. But it failed to display the HOLINESS of God. And if it had done that as well, I think the movie would have been powerful, not just touching.
I'm thinking of two scenes in particular, and if anyone were to ever re-do The Shack, these would be my wishes for redeeming them:
1) When the main character was with Papa and asked something like, "So You don't condemn sin?" And Papa replied something like, "Oh, sin is it's own punishment" (and I cringed in my seat) I wish Papa had said, "Oh, yes I do!..." and then had gone on to explain that sin is evil and must be punished. I wish Papa had told about how sin broke the perfect relationship which had existed between God and man, and brought death into our world. Oh, if Papa had made clear that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
And 2) when the main character was talking with Wisdom and was struggling to be the judge, when he couldn't bear to chose to send one of his children to Hell and cried out, "No! Send me instead!" oh, how I wished Wisdom would have gone into the gospel right there. I was yearning for her to say, "Don't you know? That is exactly what God did for you! He couldn't bear the thought of all mankind being condemned to Hell so He allowed Jesus to die in your place. Jesus took the punishment for sin which you deserved. He died and was buried so you could be forgiven. And God raised Him from the dead so you could have new life. Now everyone who believes in Him and takes Him as their Savior is freed from the grip of Hell and can look forward to eternity in Heaven."
I wish...

So, there it is. My response to the movie, The Shack.
I enjoyed it very much and was delighted by the beautiful picture it painted of the unconditional, unending love of God. But I wish it had also shown the undeniable holiness of God. I wish the gospel had been presented. If those aspects were included I would actively recommend the movie to anyone. As it is, if you choose to go - while I hope you will relish the love of God - please remember it is not an accurate representation of the Truth. Only the Bible can give you the Truth!

Karen

Friday, March 10, 2017

Lovely Moments

Whew! I didn't mean to go AWOL on you this week. But between life, intermittent back pain, and lots of naps - I just haven't been writing. Special thanks to those who noticed and checked in on me. *smile*

The good news is, I got to see Lovely yesterday.
I called in the morning to see if it was a good day for a visit and Lovely told me she had company at the moment, but would be free in the afternoon. So we made our plans and said Good-bye.
Well, when I knocked on her door in the afternoon and walked into her apartment I discovered someone else there with her. "Oh! You still have company!" I said. But they welcomed me in to join them.
Turns out it wasn't the same company she'd had when I called. It was a man who lives in her apartment complex who had stopped in after lunch to visit. (A budding romance? I dunno! *wink*)
Anyway, the three of us sat and talked for the next 45 minutes and had such a nice time.
Her guest was just delightful.
Yes, Delightful. That's what I'll call him.
Over the course of our conversation we talked about everything ranging from Tiger baseball and Michigan State basketball to using our hands as a Michigan map to raising kids and following Jesus. I even found out that Delightful attended the same church I've been a part of for the past 23 years. Now he goes to services at the chapel in their apartment complex. And we agreed that this Sunday morning he ought to knock on Lovely's door and take her along with him.
It was true joy to spend time with both Lovely and Delightful, as we shared thoughts and memories and plenty of laughter. Didn't get to the Bible study I had brought to do with Lovely, but that's OK. Next week I'll bring three copies. And if Delightful is there again, perhaps the three of us can go through it together!

Karen

Monday, March 06, 2017

Friday, March 03, 2017

Lovely Moments

Late in the morning yesterday, I called Lovely to see if she was up for a visit from me in the afternoon. But I could tell from the moment she said, "Hello," that she wasn't feeling quite right. She told me she had just gotten up, and was a little confused - so I promised to call back later, and said good-bye.
And when I contacted her again two hours later, Lovely said she was still in her night-gown. Laying on the couch. We agreed that a visit would be better on another day, and I hung up the phone - a bit concerned about my new friend.
I mean, having had Grandma live with me and observing her many ups and downs, I fully understand what it's like for an elderly woman to have an off-day. But I've only ever seen Lovely "up". So hearing her "down" tugged at my heart.
And I interpreted that tug as a nudge from the Holy Spirit to pray for her.
So I gathered a list of some of my current prayer requests and went into my room where I spent time with my Father. I entered into time with God by praising Him for who He Is, thanking Him for what He has done, and recognizing that I can trust Him at all times.
For all things.
I prayed for Lovely. I prayed for the members in my church small-group. I prayed for my Precepts sisters. I prayed for my family and several friends. It was an absolute delight to bring these many needs and concerns to the One who knows all things, and who can do something about them.
Then I lay down to take a nap, because I was exhausted.

And when I woke up I realized: even though I didn't get to visit Lovely, I had some very lovely moments!

Karen

Thursday, March 02, 2017

I'm a Dork

What did Cinderella say when her photos didn't show up?
Some day my prints will come.

Why do dragons sleep during the day?
So they can fight knights!

What did the paper say to the pencil?
Write on!
Ahhhh, jokes like these make me laugh so hard. I love them! And I enjoy telling them, too. Especially to my boys. But they just roll their eyes at me, snicker, and moan, "Mmooooomm."
I don't understand.
I mean, haven't I raised them to appreciate a clever pun???
Or do they simply think I'm dorky?

It's hard to tell.

See, I like to have fun with them. But it can be difficult to discern whether or not they think I'm funny.
For example:
*The snicker when I tell my jokes. Is it at the joke - because it really is funny?
Or, is it at me - because I'm a dork?
*The fake laughter when I tickle Josh's feet which are hanging over the side of the bed. Is it because my teasing really does "tickle" him?
Or is he laughing at me because I think I'm being funny?
*The yelp Matthew lets out when I sneak up behind him, poke his sides, and call out "Shank!" Is it because I have truly startled him?
Or is he just playing along so I'll think I got 'im?

I don't know.

But in the end, I guess it really doesn't matter to me very much.
Because the other day after I had folded the laundry and was delivering it to each owner's bedroom, I caught a glimmer of satisfaction. That is, Matthew was laying on his bed when I got to his room, so I picked up a pair of his socks and threw them at him.
Landed right under his chin, caused him to startle, and I let out a hearty laugh.
He proceeded to semi-glare at me, then did his classic point-wink-smile gesture - which told me he noticed my effort at humor and recognized that I can be fun(ny).
And even if they do think I'm a dork, I'm OK with it. Because I trust that someday (Perhaps the same day they realize I "knew what I was talking about," after all.) my boys will look back fondly on my teasing and joking and remember the good ol' days.
Maybe they'll even share my corny jokes with their own kids!!??
*wink*

What do you do to have fun with your kids?

Karen

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Who is "Her"?

God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at the break of day.

~Psalm 46:5
It's March 1st.
Time for me to begin the next verse in Psalm 46.
And as I looked at the verse, my very first question was, Who is "her"? Because the psalm started out in the first person, talking about "our" (v.1) and "we" (v.2) and now it has switched to the third person. So I wanted to get my bearings before I went any further.
Looking back at the previous verse (and because there is a hard break between verses 3 and 4) I felt confident "her" was in reference to either the river, or more likely the city of God. And my consultation with several commentaries confirmed it: everyone with whom I conferred believed the reference was made to the city of God, to His people. The Church. And we are the Church who have trusted in Christ Jesus - who have His Spirit living in us.
Indeed, God is in the midst of us and we shall not fall. Because God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. And He will help us at just the right time.

Sooooo, my friend, what does your landscape look like today?
Are the waters surging?
Is the ground quaking?
Fear not! For if you are a follower of Jesus, you are "her" and God is with you!

Karen

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

When Phones Aren't Allowed at the Table

Like most moms, I am a stickler for not allowing phones at the dinner table.
And, like most kids, mine challenge me on that ruling almost daily. (Or would that be "eveningly"?)
I cannot count how many times a certain man-child of mine gets up from the table to, oh, throw something in the trash or fill his glass with more water or whatever - and "happens" to notice something on his phone as he walks past it, to which he just has to respond right now. Because if he waits another 10 or 15 minutes until we're finished with dinner, well, something terrible might happen!
If I could count the number of times a scenario like that has occurred, I could also tell you how many times I have threatened to destroy hide keep the phone in my possession for all future meals. *ahem*
Anyway, I value the limited time we have together anymore, and I don't want it to be ruined by needless interruptions.

Which is why I got my phone out the other night during dinner.

Because my guys were having fun around the dinner table, and I wanted to record the memory.



One of them (probably Josh) grabbed the foil which had been covering our dinner while it baked, and made a ball of it. Then he threw it at Brian's water glass - and waited to be reprimanded. (I think. I mean, that's usually what I would do. Josh, don't throw things at the table. You could knock something over. Yada, yada, yada.)
But instead of going down my typical road, I watched as Brian picked up the ball and threw it back at Josh - aiming for his glass.
Thus began the challenge of seeing who could actually make a "basket". And I thoroughly enjoyed seeing my guys enjoying time together at the table, not in a rush to be excused and run off to some other activity. Just content to play.
It took quite a while, but amidst much laughter and smack talk (as well as some serious horse play) each of us eventually made several baskets. (Yes. I got in on it , too. I mean, if I'm going to let it happen, I might as well have fun with them, right?) And, in spite of allowing my rule to be broken about not throwing things in the house, I was simply delighted in the fun we had without any phones at the table.

Karen

Monday, February 27, 2017

Friday, February 24, 2017

Lovely Moments

I visited Lovely again yesterday.

And found more reasons to love her. *smile*

What a dear and precious woman she is.
We talked about everything from crossword puzzles to our changing perception of "old".
I'm the big 9-0, you know, she says.
Yes, I know, I say. Goodness, that means I'm only half of you!
And she laughs, Oh! You're so young!
I found out she likes my kind of jokes, which is a good thing. Because I'm full of 'em, and cannot always control when they come out of my mouth. By the way, do you know the difference between George Washington and a duck? ***One has a bill on his face, and the other has his face on a bill.***
Lovely liked that one.
We discussed smoking, why one should quit, and the reasons quitting is so hard. (Her husband died 18 years ago. Three months after he'd quit smoking. Lovely is convinced if he'd quit 30 years earlier, he would still be with her. They were married 52 years, and she misses him.) And she told me about her best friend who recently passed away - who she also misses dearly.

But the focus of our conversation during this visit was dancing. I think she brought it up, and I told her that Brian and I are taking dance lessons. Oh, that got her excited. She asked what kind of dancing we are learning and when I told her "East Coast Swing" - and that it works well with big band music - her eyes lit up even brighter. Of course, then I mentioned that Brian and I choreographed the bridal dance for our wedding reception (Totally Brian's idea!) and I sang a little of the song for her. By that time, Lovely was shimmying in her seat and said she felt like going dancing.
She proceeded to tell me about the dancing she did as a young woman, how she and her husband would go to Coral Gables on the weekends to dance, and that she never took lessons. Just learned it on her own. Lovely thinks dancing is a wonderful activity - it's good for exercise, provides great memories, and is clean fun. She doesn't think her children dance. (Told me that a few times. *wink*) But she is of the opinion that everybody ought to.

And there you have it. Wisdom from the ages.
I am not sure what we'll discuss next week, but for now? Grab your dancing shoes and get moving!

Karen

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ahhh, the River

I've been learning Psalm 46 this year.
Presently, I am memorizing and meditating on verse 4, and I feel like we've turned a corner.
That is, for the first three verses there has always been mention of turmoil of some sort.

1God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
I mean, it isn't that the mention of turmoil has been necessarily bad. Because of the Truth that God is present in it. He is our refuge and strength, so we need not fear. That's all been a good thing!
It's just that I've been watching and praying for a friend whose life seems to be filled with one quaking mountain after another lately. It's heart-breaking. (And I'm not even the one going through it!)
So, while it is encouraging to know God is present in the midst of the pain, while our hearts may be strengthened with the knowledge that we need not fear - the trouble gets tiring. And I find myself asking at times, God, when will this end???
I think that's why I felt peace when I got to verse 4.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
With all the previous talk of mountains falling into the heart of the sea, and the roaring, foaming, surging waters, something about the mention of this river and its streams makes me want to run to it and splash around. To savor the peace that seems to be associated with it. And my heart is glad.
With this image, I am reminded that there will be an end to the troubles we face. There will come a day when we have no more pain, when we will cry no more tears of sadness, and our sorrows will all be gone. We will dwell in that holy place with the Most High. Never again to long for His presence because HE will be so present! Oh, what a wonderful thought.

Part of me is tempted to look ahead at the rest of this psalm, to see what's next and discover how it ends. But I will fight that urge. And, instead, I am going to enjoy the rest of the month basking in this peaceful thought of splashing in the River.
****************************************************************************************************
It isn't too late to join me in this Psalm. I am starting a new verse on the first and fifteenth of each month - memorizing it, and thinking about it throughout each day. It would be a joy to share the experience with you!

Karen

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I Wish I Was There

Yesterday when I turned my phone on, I had this message from my daughter waiting for me:

I miss having a mom in the house that will sometimes pick up my mess when I'm too tired to do it. Unfortunately, I go to bed knowing that in the morning, the kitchen will look exactly how I left it.
I smiled at her sweetness, and thought about the conversation we'd had this past weekend. My girl is in the thick of classes and looking for an internship for this summer. And she isn't feeling like she has any of it under control.
Rather, she's feeling quite overwhelmed by it all.
Especially the unknowns.
And in moments like this when she's tired and overwhelmed and feeling a bit disheartened - while I know I can pray for her - I really wish I could just be there. To clean up her kitchen, and do her laundry, and buy her groceries, and anything else she might need.
Oh, and to sing her songs at bedtime, like I did when she was little.
In moments like this it's hard for me to remember that my little girl is a grown-up and is learning to handle life on her own. Because just like she misses having a mom in the house, I miss having my girl.

But she's there, and I am here.
She's growing up, and I am learning how to let go.
And my mother's heart is thankful beyond words that my Father - her Father - is there and here. Growing her and helping me. Holding us both, and always hearing my prayers for my girl.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

~Philippians 4:6-7

Karen

Monday, February 20, 2017

Friday, February 17, 2017

I Have a New Friend

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

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

Karen

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What is Your Goal?

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

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

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

How about you? To what do you aspire?

Karen

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

When I Was Your Age

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

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

Like I did yesterday.

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

Karen

Monday, February 13, 2017

ASK

Karen

Friday, February 10, 2017

When a Home Makeover Becomes a Heart Makeover

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

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

Karen

Thursday, February 09, 2017

What I Wish I Would Have Heard

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

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

Karen

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

How Should We Respond?

Have you noticed the unrest in our world today?

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

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

Have you wondered what you can do???

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

Karen

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Never Give Up

Full disclosure: I am not a big football fan. I had nothing riding on the Super Bowl. Didn't even know who was playing in it until I asked the girls in my Sunday school class this past weekend. And, going into the game - I didn't care who won.

Having said that...

What a great football game!
Er, more appropriately, what a great fourth quarter and overtime period.
Like I said, going into the game I didn't care who won. But I had heard something recently about Tom Brady being in or near his last season, because he's old. (*Gasp!* He's six years younger than I am. But knowing that he's old like me kinda gave me a soft spot in my heart for him.) And I heard that he could set some kind of record for the most Super Bowl wins, or something like that. And my softened heart thought it would be great for him to make that achievement. AND, I'm a sucker for the underdog. So when the Patriots were so far behind, well, I really started pulling for them.
In the midst of my rooting for the underdog, I had to answer to my son who had completely written them off. I kept telling Matthew there was still hope. That as long as there was time on the clock, there was still a chance for them. I told him this was a perfect example of why you should "never give up."
And he rolled his eyes at me.
Which made the result of the game even sweeter. *wink*

Motherly sarcasm aside, Sunday night's game really did make me smile. To see a team come from so far behind - when any reasonable person would have said the game was as good as over - just blessed my heart. Maybe because I think it is such a great lesson for my teenage son to learn as he gets ready to engage this great big world on his own.
And, maybe because I have been in so far behind myself.
So far behind plagued me as a young mom, trying to get a grip on raising kids.
Still haunts me now as I attempt to navigate parenting adult-children.
Some days I feel like the game is as good as lost.
Do you???
Thus, my sentiments for this year's Super Bowl victory.
I am reminded that we need to keep trying. As long as there is still time on the clock, we have a chance. We're only defeated if we throw in the towel.
So, fellow mothers-in-the-trenches, huddle up and let me hear you say it.
Never give up!!!

Karen

Monday, February 06, 2017

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Confessions of a Dependent Woman

I had lunch with a new friend yesterday.
We've met face-to-face a couple times, been Facebook friends for quite a while, and done our share of texting. But this was the first time we were able to spend any significant time together in person. And what a joy it was to watch God at work - breaking down walls and opening hearts.
See, this dear woman has been through some rough stuff in her life and is therefore a little gun-shy when it comes to trusting people and forming friendships. In spite of that fear, she felt comfortable being open with me and sharing her true self. And when she expressed her own surprise at how much she was sharing - because she believed I was "safe" - I suggested what I thought may an explanation for why she felt that way about me.
When I was a young mother struggling to hold myself together, I was living a lie. Every day when I left the house, I wore a mask trying to convey that I was a perfect mother - just like I thought everyone else was. Although on the inside I was a mess, I tried to portray confidence and happiness outwardly. And, wow! Was that ever a tiring charade to play!!!
So I shared this confession with my friend and explained to her that, by God's grace, I got over trying to be who I am not. I told her that by His gentle (and sometimes painful) refining fire, He is transforming me to be more like Jesus - and that I no longer feel I must try/pretend to have a handle on life.
I am fully dependent upon my Lord. For everything!
"So, you see," I told her, "I know I don't have it all together, and I don't expect anyone else to pretend to, either. Maybe that's why I feel safe." After further conversation we agreed: Any "together-ness" we have, anytime we get it right, or live virtuously, it is only by the grace of GOD and all the glory goes to HIM.

Without HIM, I am a hopeless mess. But with HIM - all things are possible!

Karen

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Dear God, I'm Sorry

The other day I was getting supplies together to go paint in a house we're getting ready to put on the market. Among those supplies was a plastic grocery bag. And as soon as I grabbed the bag and closed the cabinet door, I regretted my action.
Because Mindy came trotting over to me with a look of hopeful expectation.
And I wasn't going to grant her wish. (She thought I was preparing to take her out - as getting a plastic bag to, uh, be a responsible pet owner is one of the steps she knows comes before a walk.) Never mind it was too cold for a walk anyway. I had a job to do, so I apologized to my faithful companion for getting her hopes up - and I stepped outside.
Without her.
Yet I carried with me the very sad look in her eyes which cried out, But, Mom! I want to go with you. I want to go on a walk! Can't we spend time together?
And with the memory of her disappointed puppy-dog eyes, I found myself wondering if I've ever left God feeling the same way. How many times has He witnessed me picking up my Bible - as if I am going to spend time with Him in His Word - only to see me rushing through a reading, or so distracted by my circumstances that I am clearly not present with Him?
As much as I felt remorse at inadvertently getting Mindy's hopes up, it crushed my heart to consider the reality that I have grieved my Father's heart.
That I have left Him wanting for time with me.
Even wishing I would give Him as much attention as the task at hand.

Lord, Jesus, please forgive me. I am sorry for every time You have been graciously waiting for me to come and abide with You - to sit at Your feet and allow You to feed me from Your Word - and I have instead gone somewhere else. I am sorry for every time I have failed to notice You, forgotten to seek You, or simply brushed You off. Oh, that You desire to have me in Your Presence is too much for me to comprehend. That You - in Your holiness, would love me - in my imperfection. I cannot grasp the magnitude of that Truth, Father. Please, according to Your grace and mercy, establish me in Your love and enable me to cherish time with You as You cherish time with me.

Karen

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

When Wheels are like Wings

Well, poo.

I have this great picture of Matthew posing by his new (to him!) car, and for some reason my "server" is rejecting it every time I try to load it into this post. Not very good service if you ask me! *ahem*
I mean, I'm sure it isn't operator error.

Anyway, Matthew looks cute nice too stinkin' grown up next to his new car.
Or maybe that's just the way my mother-eyes see it.

That is, in many ways I still see him like this:
My little guy who follows his big brother around, drinking from the sprinkler, doing whatever he does.

But, alas, Matthew has ventured out on his own. Negotiated the financing with Dad, searched for the car he wanted, tested it out, talked it over, and made the decision.
He drove us to dinner Saturday night, drove himself to Meijer Sunday afternoon (To get air fresheners - because the previous owner smoked. And a snow brush. Gotta have a snow brush!), made his own way to school Monday morning, and went off to work Monday afternoon without needing to ask if he could use my van. He seems to be very much enjoying this new level of independence.

And it's moments like this - when a mom watches her youngest child driving off into the sunset (OK. There's no sunset right now. It's cloudy and gray and looks rather dreary outside. But that just isn't poetic!) that she realizes, sometimes wheels act an awful lot like wings...
*****************************************************************************************************
Well, how about that? I decided to try once more. I prayed, Please God???
And the picture loaded. *grin*

Karen