Friday, February 16, 2018

Touched by an Angel

Mmmmmm, Angel was different this week.
That is, she wasn't awake and talkative like she has been for the past few weeks. She had taken a bath right before I arrived, and was wiped out. Complaining of a headache, and just wanting to close her eyes.

Well, one thing was the same. She still wanted me to read scripture to her.

So I sat by her bed and read Psalms. Occasionally Angel would repeat the words I was reading, otherwise she remained quiet. And in between psalms, as I turned pages in silence, I wondered at the difference I see in Angel from one week to the next. I remembered when our visits used to be silent like this one, how they became more lively for a few weeks, and were now back to tired and quiet.
I remembered when my grandma was living with me and how I often saw her change from day to day. One day she'd be great, and 24 hours later I would wonder how much longer she had on this earth. Things could fluctuate so quickly.

Then Wednesday happened, and the shooting in Florida.

And I was reminded yet again how quickly a moment can be transformed.

The thing is, we just don't know what tomorrow holds. We don't even possess our next breath.
Let's not waste a single one!

Karen

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Listen!!!

Oh, friends.
This is my heart right here - coming out of Francis Chan's mouth.
From the study I am doing of Jeremiah with my Precepts class, to the condition of our world - this is my heart! The video segment is 12 minutes long, and so worth every second.

Karen

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

It Isn't That Easy

Last week I saw this on Facebook:

The version I saw was a video. The top frame showing a nice trip down a peaceful path in the woods - the bottom frame showing bottles falling and spilling pills everywhere.
I read the words, "This is an antidepressant," and I thought, If only it were that easy. How nice it would have been seven years ago when I discovered depression was the reason I could cry at the drop of a hat, the reason I could take just about anything someone said to me and turn it into a negative slam on my personhood, the reason I often felt like the world was crashing in on me - how nice it would have been to take a walk in the woods and feel all better!
Ahhh, but it just isn't that easy!

When I found out I have a condition called depression, I started taking medication. And I started learning how to think better. That is, I began engaging in a lot of self-talk - which means when a circumstance arises and I start going down the path of negativity, I talk myself out of it. I remind myself the person who just said something to me doesn't really mean I'm a failure. Sometimes it means I recite scripture to myself because I need to hear Truth. I remember once when I realized I had forgotten to get gas and was about to start berating myself for it - I literally spoke the words out loud, "It's OK, Karen. It's OK."

Before taking an antidepressant, my immediate response to almost any circumstance was to belittle myself and rehearse all the reasons why whatever was going on indicated I was a failure. And to cry. Crying was always a part of it.
When I started taking the drug I felt like somehow it gave me space in those circumstances. Rather than going right to beating up on myself, I had a moment to hear what was said and evaluate it. I had time to think better. I didn't rush into condemnation, rather I began to think rationally. And I cannot tell you how that time changed me.
Eventually, I began to think, Maybe I don't need to take this medicine anymore. Now that I know how to think better, maybe I can manage depression on my own! So I weaned myself off the antidepressant.
Twice.
That is to say, I didn't learn the first time how bad of an idea that was. It took me two attempts to realize that for me - it's more than just knowing how to think. Somewhere inside my brain there is a chemical imbalance, and I need medical intervention to achieve harmony.
Since then, I have come to understand one very important thing. God is using this medication to carry me. He could lift me out of the pit of depression any way He chooses, and it appears he's chosen a drug.
Here's the thing: I am confident that God is not ashamed of the way He is working in me. And if HE isn't ashamed, I won't be either!

Karen

Monday, February 12, 2018

Friday, February 09, 2018

Touched by an Angel

If your arrival was received with a warm smile and bright eyes...
If you shared laughter over silly jokes...
If stories of days gone by brought joy and illicited happiness...
If moments of silence were spent in peace...
If singing made your heart soar...
If you're already looking forward to your next visit...

You must have been touched by an Angel.

Karen

Thursday, February 08, 2018

He's Just Like Me, Too!

Tuesday I wrote about one of the ways Elizabeth is just like me.

Today, it's Josh's turn.

See, this morning we got into a conversation about how we respond to one another when we ask for something to be done. That is, I tried explaining to Josh that when I ask him to do something around the house and he doesn't reply to me I think either 1) He honestly didn't hear me, thus I should repeat the request, or 2) He did hear me but he's ignoring me, thus I should repeat the request with a bit more force enthusiasm.
Josh insisted that he always responds to me - though sometimes the response may simply be with a glance my way, or a raising of the eyebrows. I followed up with a request for a verbal reply, otherwise I probably won't know he "responded" and I will repeat myself.
That is the moment he informed me that I really ought not repeat myself because he finds such behavior annoying, and will intentionally go slower to spite me.

My mind immediately went to the numerous occasions when I was a teen and the family was getting ready to go somewhere. My dad had a habit of rushing us because he had this incessant need to be on time way early to everything. I would be in the bathroom, curling my hair and brushing and spraying it. And re-curling some spot because it just wasn't right. Then I would hear my dad call from downstairs that I needed to hurry because it was time to leave. I would think, What? You want me to go faster? OK.
And I would sllooowwww doowwwnnnn.
Yeah. I think I know where Josh gets it.

And I suddenly feel the need to call my dad and apologize. *wink*

Karen

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

God Said NOT to Pray???

Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not listen when they call to Me because of their disaster.

~Jeremiah 11:14
Are you as shocked as I was when I first read this statement from God to Jeremiah?
Did He really just forbid prayer???
I mean, it sure looks like it, doesn't it? The God of the universe who has been sending Jeremiah to the people over and over again with a call to stop worshiping other gods, to stop being faithless and adulterous - and instead return to HIM - has just said not to pray, for HE will not listen when they call to Him because of their disaster.
Because of their disaster.
Because of their disaster.

Ahhhh, that phrase makes all the difference.
God was refusing to listen to another cry for help, another plea for mercy and removal of the impending disaster - from a people whose hearts remained hardened toward Him. As long as the people continued to worship idols, as long as they trusted in deceitful words and continued with their wicked practices - while assuming they were safe from harm because the temple of God was in their midst - until they humbled themselves and returned to HIM in Truth, God was not going to listen.
But what if the prayer for the people was not with regard to their disaster? What if, instead, the prayer was for their hearts? Would God listen if somebody asked Him to have mercy on their souls? Would God listen if an intercessor pleaded with Him to soften the stubborn hearts, to open the blinded eyes, to unstop the deaf ears? Would God hear the prayer of one who was crying for the repentance of His people?

I believe HE would.

So that has become my prayer for our world as I watch what is happening. As I see laws passed which forsake God's laws. While standards which HE set in place at the beginning of time are tossed aside in the name of not "offending" or "hurting feelings." When I read, Shall I not punish these people, and on a nation such as this shall I not avenge Myself? (Jeremiah 5:9 & 29) and think about how the nation in which I reside resembles one such as this.
I am praying for the Truth of God to come back to us, for the hearts of men to be receptive to It. I am praying for our leaders (in the Church, as well as in government) to humble themselves and turn to God in faithfulness. I am asking God to strengthen those who are devoted to righteousness and to give them courage to stand up for what is right. My cry is for the cleansing of our hearts and our return to the One who has the power to destroy or restore.
Because if we continue to be faithless, if we refuse to embrace a reverent fear of our Maker, if we presume upon His mercy while we pursue our own sense of what is right - I don't think He is going to listen.

Karen

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

She's Just Like Me

Last night Brian, Josh and I were talking about Elizabeth while we ate dinner. (Matthew was at work. Otherwise we would have had the family virtually all together. haha) Anyway, Elizabeth had just called and we were talking about the conversation we'd had with her. Which led to an assessment on the guys' behalf of her bountiful frugality. (Like how I linked two opposites there?)
Almost in tandem, as Brian and Josh evaluated Elizabeth's approach to money and material things they turned toward me and exclaimed, "She's just like you!"
And I thought of the list of reasons why they were right.
*The debate Brian and I are having right now about getting a new bed. I think it's fine and we shouldn't spend money on a new one. He thinks it needs to be replaced.
*The thrill I get from looking at my receipt each week and seeing how much money I saved with mperks.
*My tendency to go straight to the SALE rack whenever I go shopping.
*My refusal to buy things which aren't on sale. I really don't like paying MSRP.
*The way my boys used to roll their eyes when I insisted the store brand is just as good as the name brand.
*Then there were my tennis shoes sitting across the room - nearly free of any sort of traction on the sole - which I have yet to replace, because besides the bottom - they're fine.

I mean, I guess they had valid reasons to make their judgement. I don't like spending money needlessly. I love finding deals. It makes me happy to be resourceful and make things "work".
My girl is the same way.
And even though Brian was on the edge of mocking me for my cheapness frugality, I have never once heard him complain about how much I spend on clothes. He doesn't fear that I'm going to go crazy on shoes and belts and purses to match. And he doesn't grumble when I tell him I really don't need a gift for Mother's Day or our anniversary or my birthday.
I'd say he's a pretty lucky guy to have a thrifty girl like me.
And there's a guy out there who's going to find a nice catch in Elizabeth, too.

All this talk about how I don't spend a lot of money has me thinking that over the course of our 24 years of marriage, I must have saved enough money for us to take a certain vacation which Brian thinks is too expensive. Hmmmm. I wasn't going to bring it up again, but maybe I should... *wink*

Karen

Monday, February 05, 2018

You Are Beloved


Mindy had a couple of scratching episodes while I was recording this video - sorry 'bout the noise her tags make in the background. *wink*

Karen

Friday, February 02, 2018

Touched by an Angel

Ahhh, how sweet.
She did it again!!!

For the second week in a row, Angel was awake and alert during my visit. I mean, I am delighted to see her anytime, and it is a blessing to sit and read the Word of God to her even when she is sleeping, or falling in and out of sleep.
But when she is awake, and when she engages with me?
Ooohhhh, how sweet it is!
And so it was on Tuesday. She smiled and greeted me as I entered her room, we paused as I read from the Gospels (Her choice!) to talk about Jesus, and we sang our favorite song. There was a certain sparkle in her eyes which I don't see very often, and she even laughed at a joke I told her. LIFE flowed from Angel, and it was a beautiful thing to behold.

It's kind of a tricky balance to achieve, you know? The tension between she's-been-alive-for-almost-101-years-so-she's-tired and she's-still-living-so-let-her-have-some-fun. Often when I visit I am torn between prompting her to wake up (Because I know social interaction is important.) and letting her sleep as much as she wants. (Because, well, she's almost 101 years old - and that's a lot of hours of being awake!) So on the days when Angel is awake of her own volition, I like to bring as much sunshine (SONshine!) to her as I possibly can.
Psalm 139:16 often comes to my mind when I'm thinking about Angel. "Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." I don't know how many more days God has ordained for Angel, but I sure am thankful He chose to weave our lives together for an hour every week. Because as much as I know this arrangement is "for her," I feel like I'm the one who is most touched.

Is there someone with whom God is prompting you to spend some extra time each week?

Karen

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Have You Heard?

I just listened to the absolutely craziest news story. Ever.

Some man - I honestly cannot remember where he's from - woke up yesterday to find the entire left side of his body missing.
Gone.
Vanished.
Departed.
Nowhere in sight.
Poof!!!

But the reporter said not to worry. Apparently he's all right now!!!

Karen