Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Awaken the Dawn

Have you heard about Awaken the Dawn?

I'm going to skip giving you the details here, and encourage you instead to go to their website and read all about it. The bottom line is - it's a HUGE prayer gathering in Washington, D.C.
I am not going to be able to attend the bulk of the event because I will be speaking for a retreat Oct. 6-8. However, October 9 is a day on which the organizers are specifically calling for women to descend on the National Mall to pray.

And I've been asking God to make a way for me to get there if it is in His will.

So, last week a friend told me she's going to Awaken the Dawn with her family. But her family is going home Oct. 8, which means she has space in her hotel room for a few ladies who want to come for the 9th. Yes, it was my friend who spoke the words, but I believe it was God who made the way. And I'm pretty sure I felt His nudge and sensed His smile when I heard those words come from her mouth.
Now, I am in search of a few women who will make the trek with me to D.C. to pray.
Is it you???

Please pray for Awaken the Dawn (There is a link on their website to specific prayer requests - under "Prayer Procession".) and spread the word. I am so excited about what God is going to birth through this movement of prayer.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Put A Lid on It!

So, last night Josh was working during the dinner hour - thus he didn't eat dinner with us.
Matthew was, too, for that matter.
Brian and I had dinner alone.
Getting a preview of how the empty nest is going to feel!

Anyway, the dinner I made isn't good re-warmed, so I only made enough for Brian and me. It's easy to put together and I knew the boys would be able to make it "fresh" when they got home. (With a little coaching, of course.) Therefore, I was prepared to talk Josh through it after work.
The challenge being, I was also in the midst of other "chores" so I was a little pre-occupied as I gave instructions. (That's my excuse, anyway.) That is, Josh had gotten through all the steps of his yummy Italian Pork Hoagie when I turned around and looked as he was about to put it in the oven.
I said, "Whoa! You don't need to put the lid on."
And he looked back at me like I was from another planet. "The lid???"
It, uh, took me a minute to understand his confusion but I recovered.
"The top, I mean. Leave the top off to the side so the cheese melts and the TOP gets toasty."
Josh placed the top of the bun next to his sandwich, and put his dinner in the oven. But I could hear him chuckling and mumbling, The lid. You called it a lid. Really, Mom.
And I'm all, It was a slip of the tongue. I was thinking about something else. Don't laugh at me. Eh, put a lid on it!



Friday, August 25, 2017

Lovely Moments

Ahhhh, my sweet friend, Lovely.

Although she denied it, I think I woke her from a nap when I entered her apartment yesterday. Either way, she always greets me cheerfully and I felt welcome to stay and talk with her. So I sat on the love seat next to the couch on which she was resting, and we went over our usual litany of conversation - during which time I filled her in on how the plants are doing around my house, and my visit with Elizabeth last weekend. As it has been recently, our discourse was rather one-sided because Lovely's memory-loss has affected her ability to carry on a conversation. However, her forgetfulness also helps me when I'm running out of things to report or charming stories to tell.
I've always got jokes.
And Lovely doesn't remember when they're ones I've already told her.
Her laughs are just as hearty the second (or third!) time I tell her a good joke, as they were the first time around.
Like this one:
What did the bald man say when someone gave him a comb for his birthday?

Thanks! I'll never part with it!!!
We had a good belly laugh with that one yesterday.

In spite of Lovely's claim that she wasn't tired, she fell asleep while we were visiting. So I watched her and I prayed for her. And every time she slipped out of sleep and opened her eyes, we smiled at each other - and then she'd close her eyes and drift off again.
Even though she really wasn't interacting with me while she napped, I found it to be a very sweet time with Lovely. Committing her to God's care, considering His love for her, and wondering at the memories she's made and the adventures she has experienced over the past (almost) 91 years.
There's something enchanting about watching a sleeping person, isn't there? It reminded me of the times I would peek in on my children when they were babies, when I would wonder at everything before them in their young lives. Only this time, when I studied Lovely's face and hands - when I watched her breathing - I pondered the many years behind her. I contemplated how many weeds those hands pulled, and how many flowers they tended. I wondered how many brownies that mouth has tasted, how many boo-boos it has kissed, and how many times I love you has passed over those lips. What sights have those eyes seen? What fragrances has that nose savored?
And so, although our visit was mostly quiet, the time we spent together was filled with joy - and the moments were lovely.

What lovely moments have you had this week?


Thursday, August 24, 2017

I Hear You, LORD

So, Tuesday I posted about Longing for Someone. I actually wrote that post sometime last week when I was in the thick of the feelings, but I visited a friend Tuesday and we got into a lengthy discussion about our corresponding someones.
Because she had read the post earlier that day.
And we both had thoughts, emotions, and complaints we needed to air.


All that to say, I think God was prepping me to see His faithfulness again. Because re-hashing certain things with my friend made the struggle fresh in my mind. And I think the struggle needed to be fresh for what God was arranging.
That is, after spending the afternoon with my friend I went to a prayer training class at my church - during which a young man (22) shared some of his prayer experiences from a recent mission trip to China. When he sat down, his mother told the group that it gave her such joy to see her son standing there and testifying as he did. Because she said a few (Several? I don't remember exactly.) years ago that same son was her "angry" child. He was not walking with God and was caught up in darkness.
But she prayed.
She called out to God on her son's behalf.
Through a series of events, that son had an encounter with Jesus.
And everything changed.
This brief testimony was not scripted or scheduled by the class leaders. It was simply an off-the-cuff, from-the-heart observation this mother felt compelled to share at that particular moment. But this mother here - the one typing these words - was absolutely convinced that testimony was scripted and scheduled by God, to bring encouragement and renewed hope to a needy heart. It was as if He was saying to me, Karen, dear, keep praying. Keep trusting in Me. I do beautiful work!

I believe Him. Do you???


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Longing for Someone

I have lots of great kids in my life, who are eager to share their lives with me. They come in various shapes, sizes, and colors - and from different backgrounds - but they all have one thing in common:
My love.
They willingly receive it, and graciously reciprocate it.

And I treasure them.
The ones who are comfortable enough to come over un-announced at dinner time.
The ones who call my house "home" for whatever length of time is necessary.
The ones I only see once a week when I go to Mileage Club.
The ones who ask me to pray for them.
I treasure these kids. And I am so glad God has allowed me to participate in their lives.

But Someone is missing from that group.
I love Someone fiercely, and want to share life with him like I do with these others - but Someone is so standoff-ish. Oh, sure, Someone is at my house most nights for dinner, my house is home to him, I see Someone more than once a week, and he doesn't need to ask me to pray for him.
Nonetheless, I barely feel like a part of Someone's world.
While a part of me thinks this is probably a very normal phase in the life of a mother and adult-child, the other part of me feels like a chasm is growing, or a bridge is breaking.
And my heart is breaking along with it.
Many, many years ago God spoke to my heart about Someone, and I believe HE made a promise to me. Occasionally throughout the past years, God has been gracious to remind me of that promise. And each time He's done it - I first apologize for forgetting, second repent of doubting, third thank Him for being faithful, and fourth commit to trusting His plan - and His time.
Today, I find myself in that fourth step. While my heart is breaking for want of closeness with Someone, I choose to believe God's promises - and trust He's going to do what He said He will do. I wish my eyes could see the future. I would love for my heart to already feel the peace. But I am content to know we (Someone and me) are in God's hands, and that He will complete the good work He has begun.

Are you longing for Someone, too?


Monday, August 21, 2017

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mother Knows Best

I told you so!!!

Ahhh. I feel better for having let that out.
At least I think I've been holding those words in.
That is, I've thought them a lot. But I've been biting my tongue to keep from saying them.

OK, the story is, a few weeks ago Matthew submitted a job application online. A friend told him she knew of a great job which was open, and he was very excited about making a change from where he is working now to the circumstance she described. So he got right on the computer and filled out the proper paperwork.
Uh, screenwork?
He applied for the job.
And when a couple days passed without him getting a call for an interview, I suggested he ought to take himself right down to the store and talk to the manager in person. Because it sounded like they were really eager to hire someone. So I thought he should have heard from them already, and wondered if perhaps they didn't receive his application.
But my tech-savvy, 21st century-livin', internet-is-everything kid insisted nothing could have gone wrong.
"It's the internet, Mom. Things don't get lost."
And that was the end of that conversation.
(No it wasn't. I continued to nag suggest he go talk to the manager.)

So, the day finally came when I stopped giving if-you-want-a-different-job-you-ought-to-do-something-about-it advice, and wouldn't you know it? Matthew decided to go personally and talk to the manager of the place at which it sounded so great to work. You know. Just to make sure he/she had seen his application, and maybe decide to hire him on the spot. But the thing Matthew found out was *gasp* his application never came through! It was lost somewhere in cyber-space. For a few weeks.
And my precious son said to me, "I should have listened to you."
Then he went right to his room and re-submitted his application. (Couldn't do it at the store, you know. Because they don't do paper applications anymore!)
And the very next day my repentant son drove right back to the store to be sure his application had arrived this time. And to see if they wanted to interview him.
And hire him.
On the spot.
Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the manager -while Matthew was re-submitting his application - somewhere else in the system arrangements were being made for an employee to transfer from a different store to the one at which Matthew was seeking employment. So by the time Matthew got there to check on his application, the position was no longer available.
And my precious son said to me again, "I should have listened to you."
Yes, son. You should have.
As it is, he filled out applications for a few other local businesses. And I have a feeling he'll be diligent about following up on them. And, maybe - just maybe - the next time I give my precious son some hard-won advice, he'll listen to me before it's too late.



Monday, August 14, 2017

In the Garden, Again

If you need to catch up - here's the link to the post referred to in the video.


Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Survival of the Fittest

At least, that's what I'm telling myself.

That is to say, I'm allowing such a line of thinking to assuage my guilt.

What I mean is, Monday was my wedding anniversary. (Twenty-four years!)
Brian and I had plans to go out to dinner - alone - and as I was making my menu/grocery list for the week I found out both of the boys were going to be working Monday night.
So I didn't plan anything for dinner at home.
Because why should I make something for nobody, right?
Even though Nobody does so many things for us around here. Like, Nobody changes burnt out light bulbs. Nobody picks up clumps of dirt that Somebody brings into the house on their shoes. Nobody wipes crumbs or splashes of water off the counter. And Nobody ALWAYS turns the lights off in the basement. (Which must be why "he" always changes the brunt out light bulbs, too. Very concerned about our light usage, that Nobody is!)
Anyway, where was I???
Ah, yes, I was not making dinner Monday night.
So, as late-night Monday came along Brian and I were in bed and heard the boys talking after they were both home from work. And the topic of conversation? Pizza!
Seems there were no left-overs from dinner *ahem* so they decided to order pizza for their hungry tummies. (Never mind that I had gone grocery shopping Monday morning, and they could have made themselves something to eat. Yeah. Never mind that detail. It would have required too much effort.)
As I lay in bed listening to them discuss crust preferences, toppings, and who's going to pay for this?, I had an inkling that I ought to have made dinner for them - even though Nobody was going to be here to eat it. I considered feeling guilty. But then I thought better of the situation and declared, "I'm teaching them survival skills!"
Because, you know, I'm not always going to be around to make them meals.
They need to know how to order pizza. *wink*


Tuesday, August 08, 2017

In the Garden

Ahhh, In the Garden.
That's a beautiful old hymn.
It was my grandpa's favorite, so I always think of him when I hear it.
And I was blessed to be able to spend some time in the garden with God yesterday afternoon.
Actually, I was on the deck.
I don't have a garden. But I was doing gardening-like things.
So - in my mind - it counts!

And (full disclosure) I didn't enter into my gardening-like activity with the intention of having an interaction with God.
But HE's always doing unexpected God-things.
So - in my heart - that counts, too!

OK. Now that I've caught you up on the scene, I can tell you my story.
I was outside pulling weeds and stuff when I noticed the flowers on the deck looked pretty bad. I admit, it had been a while since I'd paid much attention to them - so I went over to pick off a few dead flowers. And before long, I determined picking off a few dead flowers wasn't going to be enough. So I got some scissors to assist me in my operation and I got comfy sitting on the deck to officially "prune" the plant.
Honestly, I wasn't even paying attention to how long I was sitting there. But when sweat began beading on my forehead (and it really wasn't that hot out) I realized I had been sitting there (in the sun) examining and cutting and turning and looking and trimming some more - for quite a long time. And as I became aware of how meticulous I was being, and the amount of time I was spending on this one potted flower, the passage about God pruning branches came to mind. (Thank You, Holy Spirit!)
I thought about God pruning me - cutting off dead branches (i.e. sinful and useless behaviors) so I can be more fruitful - more like Jesus. And I considered the commonality that these two circumstances (the one at my hands and the one in my head) might possibly have.
I thought, When God is pruning me, is He as close to me as I am to this flower? Is He looking at me and studying me and assessing what needs to be done to make me more beautiful? (In character, I mean.) Does He spend extended time holding me and turning me so He can evaluate His next move? Is He doing all this so I can be who He has created me to be?
With all my heart, I believe the answers to those questions are a resounding, Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes!
So as I continued my work I thanked God for His work in my life. I vowed to trust the cuts He makes. And I made a mental note to seek awareness of His tender, loving presence the next time He's in the garden of my life with pruning sheers.

How does the reality of God's nearness and careful attention affect your view of the pruning process?


Monday, August 07, 2017

Friday, August 04, 2017

Lovely Moments


I got to visit Lovely yesterday and she was, well, lovely!
She was lying on her couch when I arrived, but she was dressed and alert and ready for a visit.
I had brought her some red lilies which are growing by my driveway, and after she admired them and we selected a spot to display them - we got right into visiting.
Because it had been two weeks since we last saw each other.
And there was so much to catch up on.
Like how she's been feeling, and what I did on vacation, and how old she is, and how long she was married to the sweetest man in the world - who never said an unkind word to her, by the way!
You know, that kind of stuff.

And then, then we really got down to business.
I noticed a crossword puzzle on her clipboard (Lovely loves crossword puzzles!) which only had two words filled in and I asked her, "What happened here? It looks like you've hardly given this puzzle any attention!" And Lovely said she was having trouble with it because her "mind isn't very good any more." So I picked up the clipboard, plopped down next to Lovely on the couch, and we tackled that thing.
We determined that the only "kind of fund" with five letters ending in "sh" had to be a slush fund. And we agreed we would both like to have a big one of those.
I reached back into my Spanish class memories to recall that a "lady in Spain" is senora, and "Pedro's house" is casa. And Lovely told me I'm smart. (See why I enjoy visiting her? *wink*)
We laughed when we discovered that "pound sound" was arf. (What else could blank-R-blank be???)
And even though neither of us knew what "verdant" meant, we decided it must be leafy, because that answer supported Fonda being an "actress Jane" and neither of us could think of any Jane other than Jame Fonda. (BTW, I checked it when I got home and got on my computer. "Verdant" equals leafy in a crossword puzzle. You're welcome.)

If you are not a fan of crossword puzzles, I can understand how you might doubt the possibility that two grown women could find enjoyment and opportunities to laugh while wracking their brains over clues, puns, and pointless trivia. Trust me, though, Lovely and I did it.
We frequently told each other how smart we think the other is. We exchanged 'high-fives' and confessed at times that if we had the answers nearby we'd take a quick peek. But mostly we just took pleasure in the chance to be together. To share love and laughter and time.

That's one of the greatest lessons I'm learning from Lovely: What you do with a person doesn't matter very much. The thing that's important is being together.


Thursday, August 03, 2017

From Broken Heart to Bent Knee

I started a new activity this week.
A local children's home has a mileage club (Kids walk/run a mile and log their progress, earning "awards" for milestones.) and they're looking for new volunteers to walk with the kids. I thought it sounded like a neat way to love on some kids who need lovin' - so Tuesday I tried it out.
And I'm hooked!
I walked the first lap (mile) with a "group" and enjoyed conversation with a couple of kids and staff members. Then those kids went inside and a new group came out. So my second lap was with a 13-year-old girl who was full of dreams and was eager to tell me about the purse/bag she'd just made out of Duck Tape. This young lady surprised me with her maturity and optimism. I mean, for living in a children's home, she was so hopeful. Told me that she gets to visit "on campus" with her mom once a week, and that her mom is doing the things she needs to be doing - so sometime soon they're going to be able to visit un-supervised. And then she'll be able to spend an entire weekend with her mom. On the outside, I was excited with her, and talked about how great it's going to be when they get to have that time together.
But inside was weeping.
Because a kid shouldn't have to deal with stuff like that!

When my new friend went inside I took a rest in the shade until another group came around the bend.
In this group was an eight-year-old little guy who was one lap away from his next award, and he wanted to keep going. Since everyone else was ready to be done for the day, I said I'd go around with him.
Once we finished talking about the water bottle he was going to get for completing 20 miles (Not all in one day!), and the cool things he has at his mom's house, and his love of movies - well, that's when this little guy broke my heart. He told me he doesn't have to see his dad for another 10 years. Not until he's 18.
And the reason?
"Because then I'll be able to hurt him back if he hurts me."
The adorable kid at my side - who loves Spiderman and playing on his X-Box (things an 8-year-old boy ought to be doing) - told me that his dad abuses him. He went on to share stories about his interactions with the police, and his thoughts about helping them chase down his dad when he's big enough.
And that's when my heart broke.
Because a kid shouldn't have to deal with stuff like that!

I found myself feeling very angry toward the parents of these children.
How can an adult do such awful things to a child???
Even so, in spite of my anger I was sincere when I told 13 that I hope her mom keeps doing the right things so they can be together again. I spoke truthfully when I told 8 that I hope by the time he's 18 and sees his dad again, his dad will know it isn't OK to hurt another person. And part of me was feeling good for moving past my anger to wish well for these people.
But it didn't take long for God's Spirit to convince me that my well-wishes were not enough.
HE persuaded me that I need to do something.
That is, HE called me to pray for them.
I do not know their histories, their motives, their hurts, habits, or hang-ups. I don't even know their names. But I know God does. And so I am asking Him to work a miracle in each of their lives - to transform their hearts, to heal their broken places, to free them from any bondages which are holding them down.
Then it occurred to me, What if no one else is praying for 13's mom and 8's dad???
God has officially put them on my heart, and I commit here and now to praying for them both.
You are more than welcome to join me!