Friday, November 30, 2018

Getting Ready

It's upon us!
Tomorrow is December, and Christmas will be here before we know it.

My question is, Will you be ready?

And I don't mean, will the tree and decorations be perfectly adorned?
Will the gifts be purchased and wrapped?
Will you have enough goodies baked?
Will the cards be signed and sent on time?
Will the stockings be hung by the chimney with care?
Is this list of questions producing anxiety in anyone else???
If it is, then this post is for you.

The question I am asking is...

What are you doing to prepare your heart for the coming of your King?
I asked myself the same question earlier this week - when a friend inquired how he could pray for me regarding my "Quiet Time with JESUS" during this busy season.
I asked it again when my daughter brought up the same subject. (The same day! I knew then that God was behind the whole thing. *smile*)
And so, I am directing the question to you now.
While I understand the need to get "things" ready, and I know there is much joy (albeit much stress, too) in getting those "things" done - What are you doing to prepare your heart?
I downloaded an advent devotional to my phone which I am reading each morning. As I read, I am asking God to slow me down. And to direct and prepare my heart during this season of celebrating His coming.
I don't want to miss Him in the midst of all the stuff.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

There's an App for That!

"There's an app for that."

How many times have you heard this statement made by someone who is eagerly trying to help you solve a problem?

I want to keep track of how many steps I take each day. There's an app for that.
I need to plan meals for my family and not repeat things more than once a month. There's an app for that.
My quiet times are lagging. I wish I could be more disciplined in finding time and content to go deeper with Jesus. There's an app for that.
Wow! It's almost Christmas, and I have no idea what sort of gifts to buy for my various family memebers. There's an app for that.
I'd really like to get some variety in my work-outs. Doing the same routines each week is boring me to tears. There's an app for that.
If I could figure out how to do my laundry while also cleaning the house and making dinner, boy, I could really save time in a day. There's an app for that.
Whew! Now that I know my steps, have my meals planned, got my quiet times going, gifts purchased, work-outs arranged, and chores done, I am exhausted! There's A NAP for that!!!
(Hee hee! Sorry, I couldn't resist throwing that in there.)

Ahhh, but it seems the real problem I have is having an app that is getting too much into my business. That is to say, I have a calendar on my phone for my personal things. You know, appointments and reminders and work schedules and incidentals.
I also have a calendar on my website for speaking events.
My phone is associated with one gmail account, and my website with another. But yesterday after I entered a couple of new speaking dates, I looked at the schedule on my website and saw ALL my personal things on there, too. And I'm all, Wait a minute! Who needs to know when I'm getting my hair cut, when I'm visiting Mary, when Mindy needs her heart-worm pill, when I have to be at work, or when I pray for the safety of our troops??? This stuff doesn't belong on my website calendar!
I quickly searched for a way to delete the nobody's-business-items. (Glad to have discovered it, as technically-challeneged as I am!)
Once that situation was remedied, I started looking for a different calendar to use on my phone. And I found one. Even entered a "test" event to see if it would show up on my website, and... it didn't.
However, now I'm concerned that my appointments and reminders might start migrating again in the future, and I may - once again - be putting a bunch of information out there that no one really needs to know. (But without which I'll be completely lost if I don't make a record of it somewhere!)
That is, I'm troubled with the idea that my apps may start talking to each other again and getting all up in my business where I don't want them to go.
And I'm wondering, Is there an app for that???


Monday, November 26, 2018

Honoring the Word of God

If you're interested in listening to the sermon I referenced from my church, you may watch it here.
The link will take you to the church's Facebook page, and the streamed version of the service. The sermon begins at about minute 32.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

This quote is currently featured on the sign of a local church.
Good food for thought today!!!

We don't need more to be thankful for.
We need to be thankful more.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Are You One of the 'Others'?

Thanksgiving is tomorrow!
Turkey and stuffing and sweet potatoes and pie.
And family. Lots of family!

I'm looking forward to it all!
Taking a brief vacation from my Keto diet to enjoy plenty of carbs. *wink*

I realize, however, the thought of gathering with family is not a happy one for everybody. For some, it's because this year someone is going to be missing from around the table. And, for others it's because of hurts and relational damages from which they have yet to heal - and maybe for which they have yet to extend forgiveness.
For those of you who fit into the "some" category, please know I am not intending to down-play your pain as I write this post. I am so sorry for your loss. Your grief may be very fresh, and I know at times you feel like you cannot breathe. As I type these words I am asking God to comfort you as only HE can. I am asking Him to raise up loving people around you to help you walk this road. I pray your hope in Jesus and the gift of eternity we have because of His death and resurrection will sustain you.

It is for those of you who find yourselves in the "others" category that I am motivated to write this post.

That is to say, over the past few days I have listened to - and participated in - several conversations about broken familial relationships which plague too many of us. The thought of it all breaks my heart.
And so today I am making a plea.
I realize I do not know the wrongs which have been done to you. I admit, I am unaware of the torment you have experienced, and the angst you feel when you are in the same room as "that person." I don't know how hard it is for you to attempt to interact civilly with - or even politely ignore - said family member.
But I do know this:
*I have sat with an old woman and held her as she cried for the regret she had of not loving her son well.
*I have listened to the heart-ache of a father whose children refused to visit because of the things he had done or said years ago - for which he was so sorry, but about which he could do nothing because they wouldn't make room.
*I have watched an elderly woman agonize over why her siblings ignore her requests for reconciliation.
*I have witnessed the tears of an elderly "child" who wept over wounds he was unable, or unwilling, to forgive.
In each of these circumstances I have seen people of goodwill who committed a wrong unintentionally, and people of compassion who didn't know how to let go of bitterness. And the error of each of their ways stole years of life and love from them. Sadder, still, is the reality that some of them came to the end of their lives without ever extending or receiving the forgiveness which would have set them free.

Thus, I am making my appeal to each of you "others".
If tomorrow, you're going to be seeing the one involved in your wounding - if you're going to face the one who holds bitterness in their heart toward you - would you please pray today that God will strengthen you through His Spirit to seek and extend and receive and embrace forgiveness?
Please, don't let another day go by without searching out reconciliation.
Please, choose to believe that the one who wronged you didn't do it maliciously - and if they could go back and change things, they would.
Please, understand you might not really know the whole of the story - and if you did, your feelings wouldn't have such a powerful hold.



Monday, November 19, 2018

Thursday, November 15, 2018

When HE Speaks Through the Dog

OK. I have this exercise goal.
I am working up to holding a plank for 5 minutues. And the way I intend to get there is my adding 5 seconds to one plank on each of the three days a week I work out.
That is, when I work out I do three sets of five exercises. And the first exercise is always a plank. So, I figure on Monday I'll increase plank #1 by five seconds, Wednesday #2, and by Friday I'll be doing #1,2,& 3 at the new time. Then continue the increase the next week until I'm up to 5 minutes, each. (This week I'm working up to 4:15.)
Um, I forgot to mention that I don't like to exercise.
Getting up early to exercise causes me to not like it to a greater extent.
And, yesterday I had somewhere to be early-ish, which made it not likely that I would get up early-er to work out.
BUT, there's this goal-thing I've got going on, and I didn't want to interrupt it. So I decided I would go ahead and get up early-ish to work out. (Sometimes, being anal is good for my health!)

So there I was: hopping out of bed when my alarm went off, getting my clothes on, heading downstairs, annnnd, seeing a puddle on the carpet - left there by my dog. I was not happy.
I turned around and went back stomped upstairs to get the necessary cleaning supplies, glared at the dog, and went back down to take care of business. The whole process set me back about 10 minutes, or so, and when I finally got to my workout I felt irritated, taunted, and rushed. (Remember, I don't like getting up early. So when I planned my morning I neglected to add 10 minutes for doggy clean-up.)
BUT, I had a goal to pursue so I got down to business. And as I began my first plank, I began to pray. (Honestly, praying is the only way I can make it through those things. And when it comes down to the end, and I am ready to give up, and I don't think I can make it another 10 seconds - let alone 90 or more! - ahhh, that is when I get really passionate about begging God to strengthen the ones for whom I am praying. It's a good thing, really.)
Anyway, I was just beginning the plank and the prayer. I wasn't struggling to hold on yet. Actually, my struggle at that moment was with my feelings of irritation toward the dog. (It's hard to pray when you're feeling irritable. *ahem*) So the Holy Spirit stepped in and took over my prayer.
It went something like this:
HIM: Karen, dear, you're upset, aren't you.
Me: Well, duh! She peed, AGAIN. She knows better. I'm tired of cleaning up her messes. It's so annoying!!!
HIM: Ahhh, yes. She did wrong, again. She knows better. You had to clean up after her. Hmmmmmm.
Me: Yeah. It's so annoying!!!
HIM: *Graceful silence*
Me: What? Don't You agree it's annoying???
HIM: *Loving look of silence*
Me: Oh.
Time passes, and my spirit listens to His.
Me: I get it. You have to clean up every mess I make when I sin. When I do the very things I know I shouldn't. When I know better, but I let my flesh have its way instead of being obedient to Your Word. Yet, when I confess, You always forgive me. And You always will. You never get annoyed. Your grace, Your mercy, Your patience just keep flowing toward me.
You don't agree that it's annoying when I have to clean up after Mindy, because You never tire of caring for me.
Father, thank You. Thank You for this unending love You pour over me. Thank You for the blood Jesus shed on the cross so I could be forgiven. Thank You for reconciling me to Yourself through Him. Thank You, Father. Thank You!!!
HIM: You're welcome, darling. I'm glad you understand what I wanted to say this morning. I knew you would. (Psalm 139:2)


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Preferring Others

3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Philippians 3:3-4
Are you familiar with these words?
They are found in Philippians 3, right before Paul urges his readers to take on the attitude of Christ.
The attitude of humilility which saw Him set aside His rights as God, come to earth in the likeness of man - in the form of a servant, and become obedient to the point of death on a cross for the forgiveness of all mankind.
Do you grasp the severity of that transaction???
God left His God-ness to become a sacrificial servant for the ones He created. The very ones who turned from Him in rebellion and deserved the death He came to die.
And that, Paul says, is the level of humility to which we ought to aspire.
In our lives - as we pursue the call of God to become more like Jesus - we must be willing to prefer others before ourselves. And that, my freinds, goes against everything our flesh seeks to fulfill.

I just finished a study of Galatians with my Precepts class, and the overwhelming message God spoke to my heart through it was my need to walk by the Spirit, so I will not carry out the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)
And, wouldn't you know? God is giving me daily opportunities to practice preferring others' needs over my own. It's as if He wants to test me to see if I really believe what I've been learning. If I trust Him enough to apply His Word even when it's difficult.

Have you been in this place, too???

With all my heart (That is, all my heart which has been made new by the One who makes all things new!) I want to be like Jesus. I want to reflect the love of God and the character of Christ to my friends, my family, and strangers I meet wherever I go. And so I pray, Holy Spirit, please lead me. Please enable me to walk where You walk. Please give me the grace to prefer others, to love sacrificially, and to serve like Jesus served.

So that's what's going on in my heart today. How are you doing???


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Words Roll Better Now

I remember when my kiddos were little and they would say something they really didn't mean.
Like when I made something new for dinner - and before even taking a bite one would declare, "I don't like it. It's yucky!" I'm pretty sure she/he meant, "That's something I haven't had before and it looks/smells different. I am not sure what it is, and I don't feel like trying anything new right now. Cuz, what if I don't like it?"
They just didn't have the vocabulary to appropriately express their feelings. Yeah. That's it!
Or, one of the hundreds of times when I forbid a child from doing something they wanted to do (You know - play in the street, run with scissors, eat a gallon of ice cream before dinner, or *gasp* go to bed without bathing or cleaning up toys.) and was told in no uncertain terms, "You're the meanest mom in the world!!!!" At times like that I imagine what she/he was really trying to say was...
Oh, who am I kidding?
They thought I was the meanest mom in the world.
And they had precisely the vocabulary they needed to express their feelings.
The thing is: whether, or not, they truly meant what they said - whether, or not, they even understood what they were saying - part of my momma's heart broke when I heard those words. Because I was trying so hard to do things well, to make good decisions (and meals), and to lead them on right paths. I was in a world of not-knowing-exactly-what-to-do, trying to make my way - while not ruining my kids.
And some days I felt like I wasn't going to succeed.

Which is why yesterday afternoon I found it rather ironic that it didn't even phase me when my youngest son said another thing which (I hope!) he didn't mean.
That is, Matthew was bemoaning the number of notifications Facebook sends to his phone. (Apparently the number is LARGE.) "I mean," he said, as he read from his phone, "here's one that says, 'Karen Sheaffer Hossink posted a link.' Why'd they send me that???"
"Ummmm, because I'm your mom?" I proposed.
He exhaled with notable exasperation, "Like I care!!??"
And I wondered, 'Like you care' that I'm your mom? Or, 'like you care' that I posted a link?
Without spending too much time on it, I decided he cares that I'm his mom, but not that I posted a link. And I moved on with my day, happily and peacefully. (If only I'd had the ability to let words roll off my back those many years ago.)
Ahhhhh, but thanks be to God for His grace and patience which carried me through those moments and days and years. Thanks be to God for growing and protecting and shaping my children in spite of my best efforts. Thanks be to God for His wisdom and mercy in leading us through the hard times. May you find yourself carried by Him today, as well.


Monday, November 12, 2018

When We Struggle with Sin

Here's the podcast to which I referred in my video. I would sooooo encourage you to listen. It's an hour long, but fully worth the time.


Friday, November 09, 2018

Where's God?

I have a friend who is constantly reminding me (and all the ladies in our Bible study) to pray for our country, our leaders, upcoming elections and decisions and stuff-going-on-in-our-government.
I love her tenacity in calling us to prayer.
I have another friend who knows how I love to pray - who inadvertantly inspired me to set an alarm on my phone which reminds me daily to stop and pray. For our country and our leaders and our troops (and recently the upcoming elections).
I love that daily notice.
I receive numerous emails from various Christian organizations who are involved in our governmental process and - especially within the past couple of months - these emails have included continuous calls to be in prayer. For our country and our leaders and the upcoming elections.
So, it ought to go without saying, my prayers for our country and our leaders and the (recent) upcoming elections have been plentiful. And I know the same is true for many, many Christians. I know God's faithful have been faithful in seeking Him. Thus, as I went into Tuesday - as I cast my ballot - I did so with the peace He provides.
Then came Wednesday morning when I turned on my phone and looked up the election results.
Dang, I thought, as the first result I saw told me that "my candidate" didn't get elected.
Awwww, really? as the same was true for the second.
Then, Hmph. and, Wha??? and *eye-roll*, as more candidates and even most of the propsals went the opposite way of my vote.

For a moment I was tempted to think my voice hadn't really been heard. I mean, I voted the way I thought was best. But it seemed there were more people who thought otherwise and - because of the numbers - their's were the voices which were heard.
Yes, I was tempted to think that way. But God's Spirit intervened and reminded me my voice had, indeed, been heard. By the One who hears and sees and knows and can do all things.
When my initial reaction bordered on being one of disappointment, of wondering what went wrong (or what is about to go wrong) - when I was among many people questioning the outcome - the Holy Spirit reminded me, Karen, God is still on His Throne.
And that's really all HE had to say.
I was wondering where God had gone, and His Spirit assured me - He hadn't moved at all.
God was on His Throne when I was praying before the election. He was on His Throne listening as I sought His mercy and direction and sovereingty for our country and our leaders and the election.
I was confident of it.
And I trusted Him.
I believed He would do what was best. What was according to His good plan and perfect will.
So, why? I asked myself, Why am I questioning the outcome? If I trusted God before - when I couldn't see the results - why can't I trust Him now - when I can see them?
The answer, of course, is that I can. I can trust Him now.
And with the gracious prompting of the Holy Spirit, I do.

The thing is, God works in ways we cannot see. He does wonderful things in ways we weren't expecting. His ways are higher than ours, and we cannot predict how His hand will move.
But we can trust Him. We can always trust.
And so I'm puttin' this out here for anyone else who anticipated a different outcome Tuesday.
For anyone else who prayed and prayed, yet found themselves asking, "Wait! What? Where's God???"
On His Throne, my friend.

HE is comfortably and confidently and eternally on His Throne!


Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Gettin' my "Grandma" On

Monday afternoon I had the fun opportunity to babysit a couple of young boys at my house while their parents attended parent/teacher conferences. My guests were ages 4 and (almost)8. And, I'm telling you, it's been a while since I've had that much energy and noise in my home!
I put aside my chores (That is, getting dinner ready.) so I could play with the boys - and in the short 90 minutes they were here, those little guys nearly wore me right out.
First, I taught them how to play Foosball. OK, I didn't teach them "how" - as in they learned the rules and proper techniques. I mean, I taught them "how" - as in we crowded around the table and they grabbed at the handles and spun the guys around and sometimes actually kicked the ball, and once or twice even scored a goal. But mostly they just yelled and laughed and ran around having fun.
Then they got interested in the work-out equipment they found downstairs. Especially the 90-lb dumbbell. "Wow! That's heavy!" they said. "But I bet my dad could pick it up!" they said. And they rolled the medicine ball around on the floor to each other. Ahhh, who am I kidding? They're boys. The truth is although I suggested they roll it, the ball somehow found itself with quite a bit of air time. But that was OK. They were excited to see something new, and they were having fun.
Soon enough, they were finished with the basement and wanted to go outside. So we got our coats on and went out to play.
The swing on the deck was good.
The swing on the tree branch was better.
But their favorite thing was raking leaves to jump in. Seriously, I was with the younger one on the deck swing when I saw the older one with a rake in his hand - actually raking leaves. And I'm all, Hey! If you want to rake leaves (If you don't realize that is a job NOBODY around here wants to do!) let's do it!
So "4" and I joined "(almost)8" and we got a pile of leaves going. When the pile got nice and big (to a 4-year-old) the proclamation was made that it was time to jump in them. And I kinda questioned it because the leaves were kinda wet and I thought, Hmmmm. Would Mom approve? But then I reasoned, Ahhhh. They're having fun. And we'll only be out here for a few more minutes. They aren't going to catch a cold from getting a little wet. That's an old wive's tale!
So I joined them in the leaf pile.
After a short time we found ourselves back inside, downstairs playing with the medicine ball again. And one of the boys discovered a jar on the countertop with Hersey's Hugs inside.
You know what happened next, don't you?
He wanted to have one. And it was almost 6:00, and his mom would be back soon to pick him up, and I knew if I let him have one his brother was going to want one. I also knew they'd be having dinner as soon as they went home. So I asked, "Would your mom say it's 'OK'?" (I didn't really expect him to say, "no". *wink*) So when he said, "Yes," and I reasoned a little tiny Hersey Hug wouldn't ruin their dinner, I said, "Yes," too.
So I gave them each a Hug, and we went upstairs because Mom had just arrived.

And as we bid the boys farewell, Brian looked at me and chuckled. "Look at you, gettin' your 'Grandma' on!" And I'm all, "Wha????" And he says, "Come on! You've gotten soft. You know you wouldn't have given our kids candy before dinner. You're going to be such a good grandma!"
And I joined him in the laughter, because as I considered all the little things I'd let go over the past 90 minutes I realized he was right. Something about getting older and having grown-up kids does cause one to soften up a bit. *grin*


Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Celebrating with My Son

So, you all know my oldest son lives for fishing, right?
What you may NOT know is that for a very, very long time he has been wanting to catch a musky.
Known among anglers as "the fish of a thousand casts" (That is, it'll take you 1,000 attempts at throwing out your line before you'll catch one.) the musky is an illusive critter.
But Josh has put his time in (and his casts!) and last week he had his day.
Watching this video just made my heart so happy - seeing him, not only do what he loves (and succeed!) but also noticing his attempts to educate and include his viewers. *proud momma moment*

If you don't want to open a new window, you may watch his catch here:
OR, you can follow this link and watch it on his channel. That way he'll get "credit" for the view and earn a few pennies. *wink*

Lovin' my fisherman!

Monday, November 05, 2018

Who Am I?