Monday, July 16, 2018

How to Fold a Fitted Sheet

So, I was planning to edit out the first thirty-or-so seconds of this video, but decided to leave it in for fun. *wink*
The back-story is: on the first take of this post my video guy (aka, my husband) "took" a picture - rather than recording a video. And just before we started the second take I said something funny about his technical know-how and, well, I had a hard time controlling my laughter.



Karen

Friday, July 13, 2018

No. Not Tears!!!

I know I have mentioned previously that my girl is in the throes of job-seeking, and building an adult life.
There was that thing on Monday about praying for her to remember to turn her eyes upon Jesus.
It continues daily as she applies for jobs, goes to interviews, and searches online for more opportunities.
And it got more tender yesterday as we sat together at the table, each working on different things. Elizabeth asked my opinion about a job (and sounded kind of despondent in her delivery) so I paused and looked up from what I was doing. Just in time to see a tear drip from her cheek onto the table.
Then another.
And another.
And my momma's heart nearly burst.
Because I do not like seeing my girl cry!!!

Oh, how I do NOT miss those days of searching and wondering and not knowing what the future holds. (Er, I guess not much has changed. *ahem*) Anyway, I don't miss being a young-twenty-something trying to figure out who I am and what I should be doing.
If I could, I would step in and take over this phase for her - just so she could avoid the struggle.
Because I really don't like it when my girl cries.
How I wish I had all the answers - and could tell her just where to go and exactly what to do.
If only there was a way for me to make her journey seamless. So she wouldn't go through hard times and she wouldn't have to expend so much effort. So there would be no more tears!
But I know the only thing I can really do for her is pray.
And when I pray, I am reminded that God uses the struggle. He grows us through hard times. Our efforts are not wasted by Him.

And He holds every tear.

So I will continue to ask my Father to lead my children. (I'm including my future son in that prayer!) I will persist in encouraging my girl to seek His face. And I will keep trusting that He knows what's best and He'll do what's best in the time that's best.
Even if that process involves a few more tears.

Karen

Thursday, July 12, 2018

This is Dedicated to the One I Love

So, I have a new elderly friend I'm visiting as a volunteer with Great Lakes Caring.
She's a sweet, sweet lady and I've been seeing her for a couple of months. I can't remember if she's 95 or 96. But I do remember that she loves Jesus, she used to be a seamstress, she loves crossword puzzles, and she and her family survived the concentration camps in Japan during World War II.
Dear One (That's what I'll call her.) is hard of hearing and her memory is fading, so our conversations are a bit limited. Often it's just me asking her questions which she can answer briefly, and telling her stories about my family. (And my garden. I keep her updated on my garden!) Regardless of how much she does or doesn't say though, I cherish my time with Dear One. She is a kind soul whose smile brightens the room, and I love that we always end our visits with prayer.

So I'll do whatever it takes to see her each week.

Including descend a valley, or climb a mountain.
What I mean is, Dear One lives in a facility about a mile and a half from my house and the road which connects us is presently under construction. So yesterday when I was riding my bike to visit her (Elizabeth needed to use the van...) and I came upon a Road Closed sign, well, I just road around it as I have done before - figuring I would also have to ride around some hills of dirt and such. Except, as I got further from the sign and closer to the action I realized I wasn't going to be riding around anything. Because there was a great big valley going straight across the road. (Think, "Going on a Bear Hunt"...Can't go over it, can't go under it. Can't go around it. Gotta go through it!)
Seeing no other option, I called out to the construction workers for permission to cross.
All I got back was that they could not give (nor deny) me permission to do so.
Sooooo, I carefully walked my bike down one incline - then picked it up and manuvered up the other side. Stepping in significant amounts of mud and dirt on the way. *ahem*
But I made it through without incident, or need of rescue. *grin*

And after enjoying my time with Dear One, I did it all over again.
Only this time, I had a certain song running through my head. *wink*



Karen

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Lessons From the Garden

If you were around this part of the internet last week, you probably saw my first flower.


I am pleased to report, it has grown nicely.

And I am even more pleased to report, it has friends!!!

The beautiful colors (especially the PINK!) are my reward and motivation which keep me watering and tending to the plants in the midst of our very hot days. But sometimes I feel even more delighted by the little lessons I hear God whisper to my heart as I care for my garden and landscaping.
That is to say, I have been suspicious about a couple of growing things over the past weeks - and I think my questions are now being answerd.
You may recall in the beginning of my story about my flower garden, I mentioned planting seeds for flowers called "Everlastings". And somewhere along the way to the pretty blooms I have now, I thought the Everlastings had vanished. Because there was no sign of them anywhere, while my other seeds were producing greenery. But not too long ago when I was weeding I noticed some growth in the places where I had sown those seeds, and I decided not to pull the little guys - just in case they weren't weeds after all, but the Everlastings which I had written off. I even watered and fed them, fully aware that I might end up pulling them in time.
But now? Now I can distinctly see little flowers forming on the tops of their little stems, and I noticed more of the same growth in two other areas where I also planted those seeds. So I am really starting to think the Everlastings are OK. That, or some weed is going to add color to my yard.
And I am so glad I didn't pull them when I thought they might be weeds.
Which brings me to another part of my landscaping. I am growing mertyl under a tree in my yard and earlier in the summer I dug up a few peices of mertyl from the front of the house to aid the fill-up-the-space-under-the-tree process. *Read that: I am still working to overcome impatience.*
In spite of my best efforts to make the displaced patches of mertyl feel comfortable in their new location, one of them got all brown and brittle and appeared to die. But I kept watering it because I have heard rumors that mertyl is very hearty, and I thought - Why not??? Well, wouldn't you know it, a green thing started growing in the very spot that the mertyl died. But I tend to get a lot of weeds under that tree and I was ready to pull it along with all the others until I thought, What if? What if this isn't a weed, rather it is some hearty mertyl playing resurrection?
So I left it.
But every day for the next week I looked at it and felt disappointed because - aside from its green-ness - it really didn't look like mertyl.
Until yesterday!

Yep. I think that weed is, indeed, resurrected mertyl.

And as I pondered my weed-turned-mertyl (And the possibility that the other "weeds" are actually Everlastings.) it was as if I heard God whispering to my heart, Dear one, are you getting this lesson I've created for you? Do you see the picture I've painted? Sometimes the work I do doesn't appear at first the way it's going to manifest in the end. In the beginning, sometimes people and situations look more like weeds than like cultivated plants. But when you practice patience, when you slow down and reserve judgemnt, when you nurture a specimen even though you aren't sure what it is - dear one, that is when you give Me space to do My best work.

Ah, yes, LORD. Please cultivate patience in me!

Karen

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Garden Update

Look! Look! Look!!!
It's my very first Zinnia of the season in my new garden. *smile*
I mean, it will get bigger. There will be more. And - together - they'll be so much more beautiful.
But I was so excited yesterday when I looked out my window and saw this little splash of yellow.
If you look very closely at the bottom of the picture you might see a couple little Alyssum flowers, too. They're there. Just not very plentiful.
At all.
Actually, the Alyssum seeds I sowed on the side of the house are doing much better.
See???
Anyway, back to the Zinnias.
As I considered how happy I am with my one little Zinnia - in spite of the fact that the current situation is nothing compared to the beauty of what is to come, I felt a bit of inspiration. Because I thought of Ephesians 4:11-13 which paints a picture of a unified, mature body of Christ demonstrating His beauty for all the world to see.
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
See? God intends for us to be a beautiful, mature garden - displaying His glory to the world.
That is what HE wants.
That is HIS goal for us.
It's HIS objective!
Yet, even though God's desire for us is something far greater than what we presently are, as I stood beaming over my one little yellow flower - delighted by what it is and what it will become - God's heart spoke to mine.
Yes, dear one, in the same way I am delighted in each person who choses to follow Me. I am not disappointed that you are not yet who I know you will one Day be. Hold on. I am growing you. I am maturing and uniting My children. I am preparing the body of Christ for glory. And I love each one of you today just as much as I will on that Day, too.

I pray this thought encourages your heart as much as it did mine!

Karen

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

My Declaration of Dependence

In spite of today being the official recognition of our country's independence from British rule, I am letting my rebellious streak shine and I am making my own declaration.

Of Dependence.


I declare that I am completely dependent on Jesus for life, both now and for eternity.
I declare that I am completely dependent on Jesus for the forgiveness of sin, because I cannot save myself.
I declare that I am completely dependent on Jesus for wisdom to know what to do, where to go, and what to say.
I declare that I am completely dependent on Jesus for hope through the hard times I face here and now, and for every struggle which will ever come my way.
I declare that I am like a branch, which is nothing without its vine. I need Jesus for life, and my life is in His hands.


Karen

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Where I Was & With Whom

Ahhhhhh, what a glorious, glorious week I just had!

I traveled with my family to the Outer Banks of North Carolina - to meet up with the rest of my family for a week of sun and fun and rest and sun and laughter and relaxation and sun and memories and did I mention my whole.entire.family was together???
It's been six years since we've all been together like that, and it was wonderful!
Annnnd, since I am still adjusting to the reality of alarm clocks, grocery shopping, doing laundry, and all the other harsh facts of life in the non-vacation-world, I am going to let pictures do most of the talking for this blog post.
Assuming I get a handle on life within the next 24 hours, I'll use more words tomorrow.
Thanks for giving me grace. *smile*

When we were together six years ago, we had a great time playing miniature golf.
So we decided to do it again.
And the teams were:
Elizabeth, Brian, my brother - David, my niece - Skyler, and my brother-in-law - Glenn


Josh, my sister - Kim, my brother - Chuck, my niece - Jacki, and Phil

My dad, my mom, my sister-in-law - Kristin, me, and Matthew
I should probably mention (for the sake of honoring my elders *ahem*) that my parents' team won the mini-golf tournament.

We spent most of the week here, at the beach:

And if we were too tired (or it was too hot) to walk to the beach, we could be found lounging by the pool in back of the house we rented.

When lounging by the pool or at the beach didn't exhaust us, we were able to make it to the small town to the north of where we stayed (The town's name is Duck. No kidding!) and enjoy a beautiful sunset.

And then this happened.
Apparently not everyone got the memo that I asked for them to turn around and act silly.

So, that's the snapshot version of why I haven't been blogging for a while.
It was time well-spent. So well-spent! And I'll probably reflect on that in a future post.
For now, I am thanking God for my family - and treasuring the time with them.
I enocourage you to do the same!

Karen

Friday, June 22, 2018

I Wrote to my Reps

So, this splitting-up-immigrant-families issue has been heavy on my mind and heart this week.
I've been seeing lots of opinions and reading articles and viewing news clips and trying to sort out what the truth is, and praying. Lots of praying!
Then somebody said, "Praying isn't enough," and I'm all "Wha???" Because I am convinced praying is the most important and powerful thing I can ever do.
Because prayer is my connection to God, and there is no power like the power of GOD.
But then I began thinking more about what she said. Better yet, what she (hopefully) meant by what she said. (Not that God is unable to be powerful enough, but that He would choose to use us.) And Matthew West's song began going through my head. And I began wondering, Really, what CAN I do???
I mean, seriously? Who am I? What connections do I have? How can I make a difference???
So I did the only thing I could think of to do.
I wrote to my congressman and both of my senators, asking them to work in unity for immigration reform - that the problems causing this crisis for families might be solved. But I know I cannot leave my "action" there. I am committed to praying for these leaders (and their colleagues) as they seek resolution. I will pray for God to lead them and make the way for unity and peace.
As I pray for them, I am also listening for whatever way HE might lead me to Do Something.
And as HE leads, I will follow.

Are you feeling a tug on your spirit to do something?
**************************************************************************************************
For the record, I am going to be taking a break from blogging in order to spend some wonderful time with my family. If God says the same, I'll be back here on July 2.

Karen

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Let Me at 'em!

I used to take my children to a cheap hair-cut place each month.
Then there came a time when the prospect of saving roughly $30 a month by doing the hair cuts myself motivated me to buy some trimmers and open Karen's Kids' Salon.
And I've been cutting my boys' hair ever since.
Yes, even now at 18 and 20!
In fact, just yesterday Josh asked, "Can you cut my hair tonight?" When Matthew got home from work he asked for a hair cut, too. And for about 15 minutes each, I was living a dream...
One-on-one time with each son, full freedom to run my fingers through their hair to reminisce when they were toddlers and liked me to play with their hair brush out tiny clippings, conversation about whatever, no rush to go somewhere or do something else, time to lay hands on their heads and pray God would fill them with all things lovely, pure, good, and praiseworthy.
Ah, yes. What a delightful time it was. My mother's heart is full.

Honestly, there was a time when I didn't have such fond feelings toward giving my boys a hair-cut. Probably because they didn't like getting them, didn't like sitting still or stopping whatever thing they were doing from which I had interrupted them. Indeed, there was a time when I might have considered letting them grow their hair long. *ahem*
But now?
Now - when time with my boys is so much more limited, when my mother's heart has grown and matured, when I realize the value of having my boys' undivided attention, when they ask me for a hair-cut - rather than wish I could take them to the barber, my heart jumps at the opportunity. Let me at'em!
Unless, of course, they ask after 10:00 at night. Because, hey, my salon? My hours!

Karen

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

My Heart's Cry

Ahhhh, LORD, there's so much!
I know I am asking You for so much. But You are our only hope.

You are THE only hope!

So LORD, I'm asking - because I'm needy.
WE are needy.
We need You.
Your grace. Your intervention. Your mighty hand and outstretched arm.
Please remove that cyst. Remove it completely!
Please heal that infection and restore strength.
Would You bring back life? Would You make new connections in that young brain?
Father, would You be father to the fatherless? Would You capture Your son's heart and make him into the man You want him to be? The father his son needs him to be? Please do whatever he needs You to do in his life to break chains and bring Truth.
Thank You for turning baby around. Please bring her safely into this world when the time is right.
I'm asking You, God, to protect the children. Comfort them, LORD, in the midst of all they do not understand. And please heal their families.
Creator God, Maker of the universe, our nation - our entire world - needs You. Would You lead our leaders? Would You bring peace among powers and in policies?
Ahhhh, Father, would You unite the Church? Please teach Your children how to love one another - by the power of Your Spirit, in spite of our differences.

I know I'm asking for so much, LORD. But I also know nothing is too difficult for You.
You have put these people, these circumstances, these needs on my heart, and I am crying out to You. For mercy.
For grace.
For miracles.
For testimonies.
Please demonstrate Your wisdom and power, for Your glory and praise.


Karen

Friday, June 15, 2018

Right-on-time Inspiration

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

-Ghandi
So says the back of the t-shirt my son got for his senior sevice project.
Which I read as I folded said t-shirt, while doing laundry for the family.
Which I do a couple times a week, in addition to sheets and towels.
And grocery shopping, and meal planning and preparation.
Plus yard work, and pet care, and mess-cleaning-up, and counter-wiping, and bed-making (Mine and Brian's, that is. The kids are on their own!) and event-scheduling and planning, and prescription-getting, and problem-solving, and did I mention laundry?
Sometimes in the midst of all that stuff I do for my family I get lost in feelings of being under appreciated or taken for granted, and my mood gets a bit foul.
Annnnnd sometimes, at just the right time - in the middle of a thankless task - something reminds me that I am right where God wants me to be, doing just what He wants me to do.

Something like a quote on the back of a t-shirt - which I see while I'm folding laundry.

What are some unique ways God speaks to your heart???

Karen

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Reason #7 that I love my son's job.

Josh: I got so annoyed at work yesterday!
Me: Oh, really? What happened.
Josh: Well, I was on boats (Meaning, he was working in the boat rental shed.) and I had to recite the rules to everyone who rented a boat. And, well, maybe I've done this to you before, but it was soooooo annoying!
Me: Go on.
Josh: OK. So, I have said the rules often enough that I don't have to read them. I can just look at the people and tell them the rules. So I can see them not paying attention to me, or even starting to walk away while I'm still talking - as if they're trying to get me to hurry.
Me: Wow. Sounds frustrating. (While I'm chukling inside.)
Josh: And then they say things as if I can't hear them, or as if I've never heard it before. Like, "Ha ha. We can just go to the other side of the island and get out of the boat there. They won't be able to see us!"
Me: They said that??? (While inside I'm thinking, Yeah, I remember you saying similar things when you thought I couldn't hear.)
Josh: Yes. Oh, and then sometimes when I looked out from the boat house I could see them standing up in the boat, jumping, and I wanted to ask, "What did you think I meant when I told you it was against Park rules to stand up in the boats? Or, maybe you didn't hear that part because you had already walked away from me???"
Me: (With a mixture of sympathy and vindication.) I completely understand how you felt. (While also thinking, That "What did you think I meant" phrase, you got that from me, didn't you!!!)

Yeah. I must admit, witnessing my son get annoyed by the same things which bothered me as his mother in years past has a certain level of What-goes-around-comes-around satisfaction. *wink*

Karen

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

What If?

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4

3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Romans 5:3-4

I've been thinking a lot about these verses and their implications this week - since Sunday's sermon and Sunday evening's small group discussion.

Care to join me in my thoughts?

The thing is, as Paul and James were writing those words, they were thinking about the wonderful good God works in the lives of His children as they endure suffering. Paul and James were considering how beautiful a child of God becomes when that child has gone through God's refining fire. These guys had their eyes on the end result of the trial, and because of how glorious that result is, they had confidence to call us to rejoice - to consider it pure joy - while we're on our way.
And all that talk about God's amazing work because of His goodness, which is fueled by His wisdom and grace, though it appears to us as hardship - it all has me wondering, What if?

What if we trusted God so much, and believed so fully in His wisdom and grace, if we were so confident in His mercy and goodness - that we truly did rejoice in our sufferings and consider all our trials as pure joy?

Brothers and sisters, is it possible that Paul and James were inspired to write those words - by a God who desires to conform His children to the image of His Son?
Is it possible that the trials we face really are allowed by God for the purpose of building perseverence in us - to the end that we are mature and complete in character, truly lacking nothing?
What if we sincerely believed it? Could we rejoice in suffering?

Father, please work in me that which is pleasing to You. Please help me trust and believe in You so faithfully that I am able to consider it pure joy whenever I face trials of many kinds.
Jesus, I just want to be like YOU!!!


Karen

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

In the Fridge

With my crew, I do whatever is necessary.


No joke! One of my "crew members" opened the refrigerator last night and said, "Are these rubber bands meant to keep us out of this container, or are they here for another reason?"
Elizabeth replied, "Read the note!"

Karen

Monday, June 11, 2018

Friday, June 08, 2018

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

So, I've had a request for a garden update.
And truthfully, as I think about what to say, I'm feeling a little jealous of Ms. Contrary - because when asked, she seemed to know exactly how her garden was growing.

With silver bells and cockleshells, and pretty maids all in a row.

I, on the other hand, can only say I am going to have pretty Zinnias all in a row.
The Alyssum seems to be sparse, and I don't know what has happened to the Everlasting.
Ironic, isn't it, that the Everlastings seem to have disappeared?
Actually, I had more seeds for the Everlastings so I re-planted them last week - in the hopes that they will show themselves in due time. (It's the optimist in me!) The other part of the equation is, there are some green-things making an appearance along the back of the flower bed, and I *might* have dropped some seeds there. Or, they might be weeds trying to invade my flowers. And since I am not entirely sure how my garden grows, well, I am letting those green-things grow - in case they're flowers.

***At this point in writing, I pause to pray because my daughter is outside talking to my husband, and she's in tears, and I have a feeling I know the topic of discussion, so I am asking God to lead and speak. Then Phil walks through the kitchen and goes outside, too. And Brian invites him to join the conversation. So I step outside, as well, because it seems like it's time for a family talk.
Throughout the conversation I glance in the back of the yard at my little garden, and as we're drawing our chat to a close I am in amazement at the picture God had me drawing as I wrote this post.

See, the thing is, what we were talking about was Phil and Elizabeth's future. About finding jobs, and real adulting. About needing to have it all in place before they get married in October. About the pressure each feels to perform, to know the unknowable, to do that which is out of their control, and to have wisdom to operate within the areas where they do have influence.
And, man! It's so hard.
It's so unknown to them.
At this point all they see are some green-things, and Elizabeth and Phil don't know what is going to come of them. They know the future is on its way, but they don't know what it holds. They know that for which they are hoping, but they don't know if those are the seeds which are going to grow.
And I sat there with them - heart aching, as I wished I could just give them a blue-print to live by and follow for the next four months. But then I thought about my little garden, and this post, and the fact that I was going to write something about God knowing what those green-things are in the back row. About the truth that I don't need to be concerned about it, because HE already knows.
And, bam! Just like that God impressed my heart with the Truth that even as He knows about my flowers, HE also already knows the future for my daughter and her husband-to-be.
HE knows.
HE sees.
HE makes a way.
HE is faithful.
HE is good.
And we can trust Him. Even when we don't know.

Ahhhh, Mary, Mary, quite contrary - I may not know how my garden grows, but I know the Gardener.
So I am not worried!


Karen

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

What Are You Worth?

I walked into the kitchen to find Phil and Elizabeth sitting at the table - both on their computers - diligently seeking jobs and filling out applications.
And as I listened to them talking, I began praying.
Not, however, the usual, LORD, please lead them to the jobs You have for them. Please guide their steps and provide what they need...
Rather, this time my prayer was for their hearts. For their sense of worth. For their identities to be solidly founded in Jesus Christ and His love for them.
Why, you ask?
Well, because I heard discouragement and doubt in their conversation.
I heard questions like, "Am I qualified?" "Would they want me?" "Can I do this?" "Do I have enough experience?" "Am I right for this job?"
To me, those questions sounded an awful lot like, "Am I good enough???"
And it didn't take me long to relate those thoughts and feelings to similar ones I have had in the past. Yeah, every year right around tax time I am tempted to doubt my self worth, to question my contribution to society. Because I have to add up the dollars I've earned over the previous 12 months - according to how many times I have spoken and how many books I've sold - and report a number which is all too easy to tie to how much I matter. The bigger the number, the greater my importance - and the smaller it is, the less difference I am making in the world.
Am I good enough?
It is such an arbitrary measurement - the world's standard of our worth, and reading over those words makes the situation sound ridiculous to me. But at the time the feelings are very real.
And as I listened to my two job-seekers questioning their worth in the eyes of a possible-future-employer, I realized how apt they might be to tie their qualifications for the job to their overall worth as human beings. Like I sometimes do at tax time, I imagined they might be tempted to sit in feelings of self-deprication. And for a moment, I wished for those days teens of years ago when I could simply say, "You're wonderful, sweetheart, and I love you!" - with confidence that Elizabeth would believe me and skip away, smiling.
Ahhhh, but adult doubts are not so easily convinced. So I drop to my knees and I ask Jesus to lift these kids up. I ask Him to convince my job-seekers that their worth is in HIM. I pray that their resumes, their cover letters, their applications and their lists of qualifications would not hold weight in their hearts, only JESUS and His love for them.
And, I add, could You remind me about these truths again at tax time next year?

How do you measure your worth???

Karen

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

I'm Listening

So, you know those times when it seems like God is repeating Himself, and you find yourself thinking, Gee, I guess I better pay attention?
Yeah. That's been happening to me.
The other day I noticed I was exceptionally touchy. Getting easily irritated by things which really weren't a big deal. Little things someone said or did would set me off on an internal huff (Thank You, Jesus, for helping me contain it all inside!) and my mood and spirit were getting sour.
In spite of my bad attitude God's Spirit was able to nudge me enough to realize what was going on, and I asked Him to change my heart.
The next day my devotional reading was titled, "His Spirit Will Change the Heart". (I love it when God wastes no time getting my attention!) It talked about how God - through Jesus and the Holy Spirit - fulfilled the promise He made to Moses (Deut. 30:6) and which He repeated in Jeremiah 31:33 and Ezekiel 36:27. I read with eagerness, and echoed the prayer at the end which begged of the Spirit to change my heart to be pleasing to my Father.
And that afternoon I saw a post on Facebook which called followers of Jesus to seek to be conformed to His likeness. I read and I prayed, Yes, Lord, please make me more like YOU!

At the beginning of this year God impressed the phrase, More of YOU, on my heart.
Then He made a way for me to take part in a class all about becoming Christlike.
His Spirit keeps speaking, and I am determined to listen.
Yes, Lord! I want to see less of me and more, so much more, of You!!!

Karen

Monday, June 04, 2018

Friday, June 01, 2018

Does Prayer Even Matter?

NO CANCER! Yay God!
So said the text message I received yesterday from a friend for whom I have been praying.
And my heart and prayer echoed the sentiment. Thank You, JESUS! Thank You for hearing us and answering our cries for mercy!

We praise God for the ways He is [providing].
So reads the post on a Facebook page regrading a young boy for whom I am praying. And I am encouraged as I read the things HE has done for this family. Encouraged that God will continue to carry them, and do miraculous things as they continue this journey.

"I'm calling for my prayer! I feel great and I know God is taking care of me."
So says my friend who is calling me from the hospital, for whom I pray every time we speak on the phone. (I pray for her when we aren't on the phone, too!) And I just love her eagerness to pray together. I love that she is growing in dependence on HIM.

But then there are texts that say this:
All I can do now is cry!
Even though I've been praying.

And posts like this:
My dear husband lost his battle last night. He is with the LORD now.
Even though I was among thousands and thousands in Facebook-world who were praying.

And phone calls that don't come because there are no words to say.
Even though my prayers have continued.

It's so easy to have faith and be prayerful when we see God moving in the ways we had hoped He would move. Yet it can be so difficult to remain faithful and continue in prayer when we feel like our prayers aren't impacting change.
Sometimes I think - when I receive a "good report", Oh, I guess God had that all handled. Maybe I didn't need to pray after all. And other times I think - when things aren't going the way I had been praying they would, What's the point? If God isn't willing, what difference do my prayers make?
And in both scenarios I can be tempted to get off my knees and let the chips fall where they may.
I can be inclined toward spiritualized apathy - you know, God's will will prevail, so I'm just going to let Him be sovereign.
And that's the holy paradox, the beautiful mystery of prayer. God's will is going to prevail. He is sovereign. And at the same time, He calls us to pray. God invites us to petition His heart on behalf of our world, and He listens. Yes, He listens and He moves. In fact, He moves perfectly - even when I can't see or understand it.
It is for these reasons I will keep on praying.
For healing. For provision. For transfomation. For salvation. For protection. For wisdom. For guidance. For grace. For peace. For God's glory to be seen all over the earth!
Yes. Our prayers do matter.
Because God is good and He is listening.

Karen

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Things That Make You Say, "Hmmmm"

Yesterday Matthew and I were standing in the kitchen looking outside at a very cloudy sky when he asked, "Do you know if it's going to be cloudy all day?"
I had looked at the weather forecast previously, but information like that only stays in my head long enough for me to decide what I'm going to wear that day - so I had to tell Matthew I didn't know the answer to his question.
He kind of *hmphed* and said, "Well, I hope it gets sunny so I can mow the lawn." And I had to pause at that comment, because I didn't understand what the sun had to do with mowing the lawn.
Last I knew our lawn mower ran on gasoline.
I certainly wasn't aware of us buying a solar powered machine.
And I'm guessing my ponderings showed up on my face as confusion. Because after a moment of silence Matthew explained his need for sunshine. That is, he wanted to mow the lawn with his shirt off so as to even up the "farmer's tan" he's got going from all the days of pushing carts in the parking lot at work.
"Oooohhh, I get it," I said. "Ummmm, did you know you can still get tan through the clouds?"
Honestly, I am not sure Matthew wanted that little piece of information - or maybe he just didn't believe me. Either way, he got the lawn mowed. And a few hours later, the sun was shining.
Whether, or not, he evened up his tan in spite of the clouds remains to be seen. *wink*

So, there's that.

And then there's the interaction I had with Elizabeth on Tuesday which really had me saying, "Hmmmmm?"
She approached me and asked, "Is there anything going on between now and Sunday?"
Now, I don't know about you, but that question was just a bit too broad for me. I mean, c'mon. Of course there were things going on between that moment and Sunday. Like - I was going to go grocery shopping, there was laundry to do, I had an appointment to get my hair cut, a lady to visit, a talk to hone, and lots of other stuff. Plus, I was sure Brian and the boys each had stuff going on.
So I asked, "Can you be a little more specific?" And my girl - rather than jumping to her confused-mom's rescue like her brother did - smiled at me and said, "Uh, yeah. Is there anything going on Wednesday, or Thursday, or Friday, or Saturday?"
Ahhhh, she's a funny one, that girl is!

Karen

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

What are the Odds?

Phil: What are the odds you'll drink straight soy sauce?
Elizabeth: One in ten.
Phil: Three, two, one...
Phil and Elizabeth together: Seven!
Elizabeth: Aaaggghhh!
Phil: Laughs heartily as he hands Elizabeth a small dish with soy sauce on it, and watches her wince while she drinks it.
Such was the scene I observed yesterday, of these two love birds in my kitchen.

What are the odds?
It's a game all of my kids enjoy playing. Maybe yours will, too!
Here's how it goes: Person One thinks up an action for Person Two to do, and asks what the odds are that they'll do it.
After careful consideration, Person Two states the odds: one in "whatever", depending on how much they do or do not want to perform the proposed action. For example, if you said to me, "What are the odds you'll eat this peanut butter chocolate chip cookie?" I would probably say, "One in one." Because I want to eat that cookie! But if you said, "What are the odds you'll put peanut butter in your ear?" I would probably say, "One in five-hundred." Because I really don't want to put peanut butter in my ear. (And because I am not very adventurous, and would therefore choose very big odds.)
Next, Person One counts down from three, and then One and Two simultaneously say a number within the given odds.
If they say the same number, Two has to do what One proposed.
If they say different numbers, Two is off the hook.

It's kind of like the game "Truth or Dare" which we played a lot when I was a kid.
I like this version more, though, because it gives the players more control over whether or not they have to do the "dare".
And it's fun to watch the anticipation of Person Two as One is counting down to Two's fate. *wink*

So, what are the odds you'll teach your kids how to play this game???
Karen

Friday, May 25, 2018

Ahead of Schedule

So, the flower seeds I planted last Friday?
They're sprouting. LOOK!!!


What? You don't believe me???
Look again. CLOSER this time!
Can you see them? The ones in front are very tiny.
But they're there!
And I am so excited. You can tell the level of my excitement by the fact that I already know they're sprouting. That is, the seed packets said sprouts would show up in 7-10 days. And if I am counting correctly, I discovered these little guys on day six!

The thing is, already - before the flowers are even a centimeter high, and waaaaaaay before they're blooming beautiful colors - I am not even thinking about the work I put into getting the flower bed ready. I don't care that my hands were hurting. My sore muscles are long forgotten. I am simply enjoying keeping the soil watered and anticipating the growth of the flowers.
I am equally enjoying the thought of God's perfect care for His children - His delight in preparing us and helping us grow into the likeness of His Son. I cherish the idea that everything we do in our efforts to grow in Christ - when we bring ourselves under the power of the Holy Spirit - through studying His Word, in prayer and contemplation, in service and sacrifice, all of it produces in us life and beauty which is fully worth all the effort.
Sometimes it's hard for us to see.
Sometimes we have to wait a long time.
But - always - we can trust Him!

Karen

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

She Said Yes to the Dress

Soooooo, Elizabeth and her friend and I went wedding dress shopping yesterday...
And after a lot of trying on and smiling and ooohing and re-trying on and aaahing and grinning and trying on one more time, Elizabeth picked her wedding dress!!!
It is so beautiful, and absolutely right for her.
And do you know what it has me thinking about?
I mean, besides remembering when I was a young woman choosing the dress in which I would pledge my life to the man of my dreams. *wink*
Elizabeth's wedding gown has me thinking about Jesus preparing a Bride for Himself. It has me thinking about HIM transforming me, making me into HIS image - so I might resemble Jesus in thought and word and deed.
The thing is, that man to whom I pledged my life almost 25 years ago is sitting beside me as I type these words. And, to be honest, I sense the Spirit of the Lord nudging me to set the computer aside and focus my attention on my husband.
And, to be honester (That's a real word. I just made it up!) I am convinced that I am not going to be made more into the likeness of Christ if I ignore the promptings of His Spirit. So, I'm signing off now.
With the good news that Elizabeth picked her dress.
And the better news that I am choosing Jesus!

Grace and peace to you today, my friends!

Karen

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Encouragement for Moms of Littles

Are you a mother of young children?

Are you training them up in the ways they should go?

Trying to teach them manners and good habits, and all that other stuff?

Do you get tired of their whining and complaining, and sometimes feel like giving up?

Dear friend, hear this encouragement. Don't give up!!!!
Sunday night I was sitting at the table making my weekly menu and grocery list. Elizabeth and Phil were sitting on the other side - addressing wedding invitations. And my ears perked up when I heard Phil say something about writing Thank-you notes - and how nice he thinks it is that Elizabeth regularly sends them to people to express her gratitude. The part which really interested me, however, was when Elizabeth responded with something like, "Well, it's just what I learned to do. Mom always made us send them out when we were kids."
I mean, it would have been lovely to hear her expound on the merits of conveying gratitude toward people for the gracious things they have given or done. To listen to words about a caring mother who demonstrated the grace of thankfulness, and tenderly instilled the same value in her children. How precious it would have been to hear my daughter speak of how her heart was shaped to give thanks by her dear mother's loving instruction.
Instead, she acknowleged that I made her write them as a kid - so now she does it as an adult, by habit.

And I? Am OK with that!

Years ago, writing Thank-you notes involved lots of cajoling and reminding. Maybe even an admonition, or two, now and then.
Occasionally I wondered if it was worth it to keep insisting on them being written.
However, the more I experience the fruits of my labors of yesteryear, the more I am convinced that - YES! - it's all worth it. The whining, the complaining, especially the moments when your child says you're the "Meanest Mom in the World" are so painful when you're going through it, but they will all be worth it some day. Keep on keeping on, dear mother-friend.
You're going to make it, your kids are learning, and they're going to turn out beautifully!

P.S. I just took Thank-you notes into Matthew's room for the birthday gifts he received this past weekend. At first he looked at me quizzically, not knowing what I was doing. But when I laid the cards on his table which say, "Thank you" on the front, he simply smiled and said, "Oh, yeah. OK!"
#ThankYouJESUS #KeepOnKeepingOn

Karen

Monday, May 21, 2018

Yes, You Can

Whoa!
I had a super busy (and super great!) weekend. Which left no time to record a video devotion.
So I'm reaching back into the archives and posting something I was thinking about nine years ago.
Praying God speaks to your heart, wherever you are today.




Karen

Friday, May 18, 2018

Seed-Ready

Ahhhh, it's ready.
My flowerbed is ready for seeds!!!

Yesterday I worked hard, digging up the top layer of ground in order to get rid of the grass and to make a place for the frame. I used a soil tiller thingy to break up the ground a bit, and then I added a couple bags of garden soil.
And now, now my flowerbed is ready for seeds.
The very seeds which inspired me to go through all the work of preparing a flowerbed.
(I received some flower seeds from my dear friends in Precepts, which I intended to put in flower pots on the deck. But then I discovered that the flowers would grow to 2-3 feet, and I decided that was too much for a flower pot. And what else is there to do but make a flowerbed???)
The thing is - like most projects taken on around the house and in the yard - preparing that flowerbed was a lot harder than I imagined it would be.
And I have the beginnings of callouses on my hands to prove it!
The other thing is - I have a feeling the effort (The callouses, the sweat, the aching back, the sore muscles, the bug bites, all of it.) is going to be completely worth it. Because I am going to plant seeds for three kinds of beautiful flowers (with lots of pink and purple!) and later this summer when I look out in my back yard I am going to be overcome by their beauty. And while I am enjoying their beauty, I am quite certain I will not be regretting the work I put into getting ready to plant them.
Rather, I think I'll be very glad I did it.

What makes all the work on my flowerbed even sweeter to me is they way God has been speaking to my heart through it. Kinda like He was speaking to me Sunday.
I am well aware of the fact that God puts in a lot of work in His efforts to make me more like Jesus. And although I want to be a willing participant in the process I know I provide no shortage of things for Him to do, discipline He needs to dole out to me, and convictions He has to press upon me.
If it were possible for God to run out of patience, I'm sure I could take Him there. I'm sure He could get tired of digging me out of pits, and rooting sins out of my heart. It wouldn't surprise me if God wanted to stop repeating Himself every time I forget what He's been trying to teach me, or how He's been working to transform me.
But as I breathed deeply, rested my tired body, and rubbed my aching back - while anticipating the beauty of the flowers which are going to blossom as a result of my efforts - I got a sense of the joyful anticipation God must experience when He considers His children becoming like His Son.
And my heart filled with thanksgiving.
Ahhhh, Lord. Thank You for considering me worth it. Thank You for all the effort You exert in order to make me more like Jesus. Thank You for tilling the soil in my heart, for weeding out the sin, for feeding me with Your Word, for patiently tending to my growth. Please help me, Father, to walk in harmony with Your will for me. Help me to be seed-ready.

Karen

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Laughter is Good Medicine

I have a friend who enjoys puns and groan-able jokes as much as I do. And many evenings find us texting one-liners back and forth to one another.
My sons and husband often roll their eyes at the things which I find so hilarious, but I think they secretly enjoy watching me laugh so hard. :)
Anyway, last night I found some really good ones, and I thought I would brighten your day by sharing them with you here.

You're welcome.

I saw an ad for burial plots, and thought to myself this is the last thing I need.
"Doctor, there's a patient on line 1 that says he's invisible."
"Well, tell him I can't see him right now."
Thanks for explaining the word "many" to me. It means a lot!
OK. One more.
I got a new pair of gloves today, but they're both 'lefts' which, on the one hand, is great, but on the other, it just isn't right.
Here's to lots of joy and laughter today!

Karen