Friday, March 29, 2019

It's My Pleasure

How often do you consider the impact of your words?
I mean, really.
Do you think about the way you speak?
About how what you say (and how you say it!) affects your listener?

Since beginning my job at Chick-fil-A I have had ample opportunity for such reflection.
It all began with my need to begin responding to expressions of thanks by saying, "It's my pleasure!" Because that's the Chick-fil-A way.
It's the servant-attitude, the verbalization of Second Mile Service.
When we're able to meet a need someone has in the restaurant and they express gratitude, we want them to know we are truly happy to serve. We want to communicate their worth and value by letting them know serving them was much more than "No problem". Rather, that meeting their need really does delight us. And choosing to respond with, "It's my pleasure!" is one way to accomplish our goal.
(Those words do make a difference. Try it sometime!)

Besides the impact of those words on the listener, however, I have discovered a wonderful impact on the speaker, too.
That is to say, in moving from my previously typical response of, "You're welcome," (Which can be uttered begrudgingly. BUT, try saying, "It's my pleasure!" reluctantly. Can't do it!) to an enthusiastic, "It's my pleasure!" my heart attitude has joined forces with my words - and I can honestly say it IS my pleasure to serve our guests.
To get a few extra sauces.
To wipe up a spill.
To re-do an order because you changed your mind.
To do, whatever.
Simply because of being intentional with the words I use.
It's a beautiful thing.
And it's a behavior I am praying the LORD will help me carry over into the rest of my life.
I mean, it isn't difficult to do when I am at work - because everybody else is doing it, too! But I want to be intentionally living a servant-hearted-life all the time. Even when I am not getting paid to do so. *ahem!*

How about you? Are you willing to give this way of speaking/living a try???

P.S. I am going on vacation with my family next week, so I won't be posting here on the blog. If God says the same, I'll be back on Monday, April 8. Showers of grace and blessing on you until then!

Karen

Thursday, March 28, 2019

We WILL Bow Down

All the earth bows down to you;
they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name.

~Pslam 66:4

How are you doing on memorizing Psalm 66:4 this week?
I pray the LORD is speaking to your heart through His Word!

As I have been thinking about the earth bowing down to God, I came across Isaiah 45 and I want to encourage you to read it today. (The entire chapter is in the link above - in case you don't have your Bible right beside you at the moment.)
Ahhhh, this Word is so rich! Perhaps you will want to read it a couple of times.(!)
What reason does God give in verses 3 and 6 for what He is doing?
As you read, notice the repreated statement God makes about Himself (in various ways).
Also note the many times He mentions what He has created and the purpose for His actions. What do you learn about God's character?
How does God distinguish Himself from idols/gods in verses 20-22?
What can HE do which they canNOT?
How do verses 23-25 relate to Psalm 66:4?
What is God saying to your heart about your position before Him?

Karen

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Some Things Never Change. Thankfully, Others Do!

So, it's been about two months since Josh moved out of our house, and into an apartment.
In the beginning we saw him frequently, often right around dinner time.
But in recent weeks Josh-sightings have been somewhat rare. (That is, since I have been working at Chick-fil-A I am gone more frequently during the day, so when he does stop by I am often not home.)
And that distance called for a special dinner invitation last week.
We made plans for Josh to join us Friday, and I was looking forward to feeding my boy some good home-cooking again.
(Ended up changing plans to Saturday, because he had a better offer - or something - Friday. *wink*)
So he came over Saturday evening for dinner, and he brought Mindy along. (Did I mention that our dog moved out with him?) And I noticed how some things never change.
That is to say, when we sat down to eat Mindy found her way to the space between my chair and the wall. Her usual spot from her pre-apartment-days.
Additionally, when we sat down to eat Josh had disappeared into the basement for something. And when he made it back up - and the rest of us were seated at the table - he was in search of a charger for his phone, which meant he blew through the kitchen looking for said techno-gadget.
His usual behavior from his pre-apartment-days.
As I thought about my efforts to prepare a nice dinner for my son I got a little huffy at his perceived indifference, and I might have rolled my eyes.
My usual response to his pre-apartment-days behaviors.
When he finally made it to the table (Phone plugged in and charging.) we all held hands and started to sing the blessing.
And I shouldn't have been surprised to see that God's faithfulness is just like it has always been since long before those pre-apartment days.
Because Brian randomly chose the "Every Day" song for us to sing. (Have I mentioned before my absolute dis-belief in anything "random"?) With a twinge of annoyance still in my heart I joined the guys singing, "Every day is just a day until You come my way. Things change when I stop to thank You..."
And instantly God changed my heart.
Indeed, I quickly recognized I had so much for which to give HIM thanks. Another day of life, everything I need, a home, a good meal, my husband and both of my sons sitting at the table with me.
Yes, even that son who sometimes does things which annoy me. God reminded me I can give thanks for Josh - that silly annoyances are meaningless. I am thankful for the gift he is to my life. For the ways God is growing him. For the promises I still believe HE is working in that young man.
Ah, yes, there is so much for which I can give thanks. And, truly, things change - my heart changes - when I stop to thank HIM.
Yet, for as delighted as I am that some things change, I am forever grateful that HE never changes.
My God is always faithful, and I am eternally glad.

Karen

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

That Watchman Thing

So, I mentioned it in the video yesterday.
I said I feel like God's Spirit is calling mine - through the study I'm doing in Ezekiel, and through verse 4 of Psalm 66 - to speak more boldly for Him. For Truth.
And, to me, that nugde is simultaneously exhilarating and scary.
Exhilarating because to be in step with God, to be on mission with Him for what He wants to do in the world is the most amazing thing I can consider doing. And scary, because most of the world who isn't walking with the LORD doesn't want to hear about it. Like the people of Ezekiel's time, most of them are rebellious and uninterested in Truth.
Thus, the timid side of me wants to back down. Wants to say that call was for Ezekiel.
In his time.
It isn't for me, because I haven't had the word of the LORD come to me the same way Ezekiel did. And, therefore, I have an out!
Except, that reasoning doesn't hold, and I know it. When I felt the nudge the first time it was mentioned in Ezekiel, I was able to use the above logic to push it aside. (Yes, I am making a confession here...) When it came back in full force as we studied chapter 33, I was pretty sure the LORD was speaking to me. And when He nudged me further with Psalm 66:4, I simply couldn't deny it.

God says over and over in Ezekiel 3 and 33 that the watchman's job is to warn the people of coming judgement. At that point, it is up to the individual to decide whether they will turn from their wickedness and live - or continue on the path they have chosen and die.
The response of the one warned is not the responsibility of the watchman.
His (or her!) job is simply to warn.
To tell the Truth.
To be faithful to God's call.
And that is what I intend to do.
So I am taking steps of faith, asking God to show me what He wants me to do. I'm asking Him to fill me with the words HE wants me to say - and to keep my mouth closed except for those words. I'm trusting Him to lead me in the way He wants me to go.
May the Holy Spirit so fill me that I move in step with Him and carry out His agenda every day of my life.

How is His heart speaking to yours through these words?

Karen

Monday, March 25, 2019

Psalm 66:4



All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name.

~Psalm 66:4


Karen

Friday, March 22, 2019

It's My Pleasure

If you know me at all, you know the Truth of God is very important to me.
My heart longs for the world to know Truth.
THE Truth.
THE ONLY Truth.
My heart breaks (As I believe God's does also!) when HIS Truth is distorted or maligned.
And it breaks even more when I see people believing the lies.

If you know me at all, you also know prayer is my heartbeat.
My lifeline.
My connection to the One who can do all things.

So, I trust you'll understand why I was delighted when I saw the Lord bring those two passions together this week while I was at work.
That is to say, a couple of times I have noticed small groups of Mormon missionaries coming in for lunch. It has always been my habit to pray for these young men and women when I see them - in the grocery store, or riding their bikes along the street - and now, sitting at a table enjoying some chicken.
But Monday as I stood behind the counter taking "Sister Stirling's" order (because we always ask for a name with each order) it occured to me, Now I know her name! I can pray for this young woman by name. Not that God will hear more or better when I speak to Him using her name, but I feel more committed to her because I know her name. Stirling is no longer an anonymous soul to me, no longer just "someone" who needs to know the Truth of who Jesus is.
She has a name, and I know it.
She has become more personal to me.
I am reminded that she was created in God's image, and is deeply loved by Him.
And it truly is my pleasure, my joy, my delight to bring her before the LORD - asking Him to expose the lies she has believed, and to reveal the Truth of Who He Is.
Because Stirling needs to know.

Karen

Thursday, March 21, 2019

So Great is HIS Power

Are you working in memorizing Psalm 66:3 this week?
In case you need to be reminded, here it is:

Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you."

Psalm 66:3
I don't know about you, but when life gets really hard for me I need to be reminded how AWESOME are God's deeds. How GREAT is His power. Because when I'm facing overwhelming challenges it can get easy to forget the faithfulness and strength I have seen come from His hand in the past.
That is why I am so encouraged by this psalm - the constant reminder to praise God, and by this verse in particular - with its recollection of God's great power.
And do you know what story comes to my mind when I think of God's enemies cringing before Him?
I mean, there are so many of them, but the one I'd love to share with you today is from 2 Chronicles 2:1-30. It's the story of King Jehoshaphat's army facing an attack by three other armies. Jehoshaphat and his men were terrified, but God stepped in and demonstrated His power.
The link above will take you to the 2 Chronicles passage on Biblegateway, so if you don't have your Bible right by your side just click the link and read the account of this battle.
*As you read, notice the position of Jehoshaphat's army in verse 12.
*What encouragement does God bring to them in verse 15?
*Notice what happens in verse 22. Including the order of events.
*How does verse 29 line up with our Psalm 66 verse this week?
And, finally, my friend - how is God speaking to your heart today? For what circumstance in your life do you need the encouragement that God's power is so great His enemies (and yours!) cringe before Him?

Karen

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Serious About Bible Study

I am not sure what matter of discussion in Ezekiel 33 or 34 caused me to make such a silly face, but one of my co-leaders caught me with this expression yesterday. And it made me laugh.

So, for what it's worth - welcome to Precepts. Where we love God and His Word.
And sometimes get a little goofy. *wink*



Karen

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

And There is Hope

The study I have been doing of Ezekiel has provided many, many opportunities for self-examination. Oftentimes my heart has been broken for the condition of my own nation - as I have read about the rebellion and stubbornness of the nation of Israel. And the consequences of such disobedience.
More than once I have found myself begging God for mercy.
Oh, I know we don't deserve it, but I continue to cast myself before Him.
Because there seems to be no other option.
What other way than by the grace of His mercy will we finally know HE is the LORD?


So, these thoughts of our desperation have been heavy on my heart - and then I came to Ezekiel 34.
The chapter begins with the word of the LORD coming to Ezekiel, speaking woe to the shepherds of Israel. The shepherds who did not care for the flock. Who stood by and did nothing to strenghten the weak or bind up the injured.
In response, God determines to care for the flock, Himself. To place over them a shepherd who will tend to them. And then HE promises to make a covenant of peace.
It is an absolutely beautiful picture of God's mercy and grace.
Although the ultimate fulfillment of these words is yet to come, I see in them a depiction of Jesus, coming as the One who knows what we need and who is able to meet that need. His love, His protection, His never-ending patience. It overwhelms me.
In a very good way!
And I find my heart lifted, no longer heavy. Because I am reminded there is Hope.
Friends, there is HOPE!
In the midst of a world which is lost and rebellious, there is hope.
In the depths of a marriage between hurting people - which is broken and falling apart, there is hope.
Even though a circumstance is dark and all the options seem to lead nowhere, there is hope.
Despite the prognosis which claims the end is near, there is hope.
Because God always has the last say.
Because He is Redeemer of the lost, Repairer of the broken, Restorer of the weak.
Because His mercy is great.
Because JESUS.

Karen

Monday, March 18, 2019

Psalm 66:3

Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you."

Psalm 66:3

Karen

Friday, March 15, 2019

It's My Pleasure!

Well, my first week as "not a trainee" is complete. And, can I just say this?
Every day I worked this week, I found more reasons to love being a part of the Chick-fil-A family.
*There was the joy of humming along with familiar Christian melodies as I worked in the dining room.
*I saw several special needs kids doing tasks, and learned that they come in once a week to gain work experience - as they are given jobs to do which fit their skill-level, yet also challenge them to stretch.
*I met an "opertor candidate" volunteering in our store, and found out that in order to open a Chick-fil-A restaurant you actually need to go through a significant application process. It isn't just about having enough money to open a store. It's about character and compassion and conviction.
*And at the end of the day I received encouragement from a manager, and from our store operator. Each of them spoke words of affirmation to me. Each of them took the time to ask how I'm doing, how my adjustment is going, how I like being a part of the family. Each of them assured me that it's OK to have questions. They each cared for my heart and my feelings of worth.

And I'm telling you, working alongside people like this - being a part of an organization which truly values the worth of every human being and seeks to serve them well - inspires me not only to be my best while I'm clocked in, but to serve well wherever I am.
Because it's all for HIS glory.

Karen

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Make: Be Intentional

Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious!!!

Psalm 66:2
Are you joining me this week in memorizing and contemplating Psalm 66:2?
As I consider this verse, I think the thing which stands out most to me is the action of it.
The intentional nature - the call to a response.
And I love how God is working that call into my heart and life.
He is making me more alert. I think about how I can make his praise glorious, and I find myself actively watching for the ways He is moving and the wonders He is doing.
And He is inspiring me to be verbal. To sing (Or type, as the case may be.) the glory of his name. I have been more intentional about sharing praise for God's faithfulness on platforms like Facebook - and it has been delightful reading the responses from friends who are encouraged by my testimony.
It's just the beginning, but I feel like I am living Psalm 66.
I am eager to be shaped and molded by God in His Word.

And because I am bubbling with joy at who He is and what He does, let me just say this: Monday I became aware of a financial problem. Immediately, I prayed - because I believe God is over all of it. I know the resources are His, and the mission is His. I have full confidence that He can provide.
So I'm asking.
And I'm trusting.
Then Tuesday as I sat in my Precept class watching the video for the week's lesson, and the teacher spoke of how we respond to things like financial struggles (Random example he pulled out of the air? Maybe. Or, maybe God was orchestrating the details for me.) by prayer or by panic, and I recalled praying the night before and surrendering to God in faith - I felt like God took my face in His hands and looked into my eyes and said to me, Rest, child. I've got this.
He met me in the middle of the afternoon, in the middle of a video (which was probably recorded years ago), and He spoke encouragement to my heart.
I just had to tell you about it!

How is God leading you to make His praise glorious???

Karen

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

So Much Fun

Oh, how things change.
How the passing of time, and a differing level of responsibilities, and growth in perspective, and an increasing appreciation of life - affects the way we see and respond to circumstances.
That is to say, I had a very long day Monday.
And it was wonderful!!!

My day "began" at 6:30 Monday morning, when I clocked into work.
Punched out at 3:00.
From there I did my weekly grocery shopping. Must have been in Wonder Woman mode because I was through the store, cashed out, car loaded, driving out of the parking lot at 4:04.
Then I went home, put groceries away, and started making dinner so I would be ready to receive two charming young boys into my care at 5:00, while their parents attended parent/teacher conferences at school.
Yet, for as exhilarating as it was to accomplish all that, the wonderful part didn't really begin until my young charges arrived.
What I mean is, as soon as the boys entered my house they were ready for adventure. Full of excitement and energy, and eager to get down to the business of having fun. We went downstairs to see what there was to do, and found a couple of cool things to explore. But then the decision was made to try a game of hide-and-seek, so we went back upstairs and took turns - well - hiding and seeking!
When that game became uninteresting, we went back downstairs and started playing foosball.
(To gain the full affect of the scenes I am attempting to describe, insert lots of laughter and horse-play and shrieks of delight.)
Not too long into our game, Brian got home and came downstairs to see what was going on. Annnnd now, the teams were more "even" and the real fun began around the foosball table. Even a bit of very young trash-talk between the brothers.
After our raucous game ended, we all hurried back upstairs for some more hide-and-seek.
This time the teams consisted of the boys vs. Brian and me. We had a blast pretending we couldn't find the boys' hiding spots, while also acting surprised when they discovered our location.
(Except that one time when we hid in the bathtub, behind the shower curtain. We stiffled laughter as we listened to them searching. Finally, my "sneezing" led them to us - and we all enjoyed a moment of celebration.)

The thing is, after mom and dad took the boys home and I had some time to reflect, I felt like I had a better understanding of the blessing of aging maturing. I grasped the reality of how our outlook changes over time. (I still don't miss "those days". Several of the moments, yes. But not the entire day!!!)
Honestly, I well remember the days when another game of hide-and-seek, or one more shoe to tie, or yet another moment of yelling (even if it was all in fun!), or "just one more" of just about anything had me completely worn out and ready to quit.
Or explode, depending on how the rest of the day had gone. *ahem*
But Monday - even at the end of a super long day - I felt simply delighted having two young boys vying for my attention, running around my house, making too much noise, and having the time of their lives. Because I'm on the other side of being "mom". Because I'm more relaxed now than I was then. Because God has given me the grace to enjoy the moment.
And now I am really looking forward to some day, when my children have children and they need me to play my role as Grandma. It's going to be so much fun!!!

Karen

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Don't "Do You"

I made a mistake.
In retrospect, I feel like I should have been able to avoid it.
Nonetheless, I was a proponent of the "do you" craze. (Even bought my daughter a wall-hanging which says "Be-YOU-tiful". Because I think she is a precious soul, and I wanted to encouage her in being the beautiful young lady God was making her to be.)
In many ways the "Do You" movement has been about not following the crowd. About being an individual, rather than trying to measure up to unrealistic expectations which others might place on a person. It's been about, "You're different than the crowd, and that's OK!" It has celebrated diversity in our physical appearances and abilitites, and even likes and dislikes. The trend has set a tone for embracing our uniqueness.
And I see that as a good thing.
However, in recent days I have gained a different perspective.
That is, I have seen people cheering "do you" in a darker tone. Specifically, though the Word of God tells us how to live, many people are choosing not to live that way - and people (even some Christians) are cheering those individuals on by encouraging them to "Do you!"
And as I read the comments (This particular day it was in a thread on a Facebook post.) I thought, Wait a minute. People here - who claim to love my friend - are encouraging him to go with his passions and do the things his flesh wants to do, regaradless of what he knows the Word of God tells him is right. Just "do you". Celebrate who "you" are by doing what you want to do. Really???
Because at the same time the Holy Spirit brought scripture to my mind which didn't line up with that way of thinking. Scripture like this:

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin

Romans 6:6
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires

Ephesians 4:22
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

Colossians 3:5
Try as I might, I just couldn't get those verses to support the notion that it's a good thing to "do you".
OK, I didn't really try to get them to affirm that idea. *wink*
I did, however, recall verses which encouraged a much different way of doing life.
Verses like this:
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

Romans 8:28-29
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romqans 12:2
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 4:20-24
Oh, I love how the Word of God speaks to the heart of man!!! (And woman!)
Because when we get to the Truth, we understand there is nothing good in ourselves. At the core of our being is sin and selfishness and death. To "Do You" - as much of our culture is calling us to do - is simply to cultivate that which the Word of God calls us to put to death.
How much better to obey the higher calling of being conformed into the likeness of Christ?
I still believe it is a good thing to embrace our uniqueness - and not be concerned with fitting in to what "everybody else" is doing, or likes, or wants to attain. However, I am stepping far, far away from the philosophy which touts "Do you!" and I am trading that statement in for this one: Do HIM!

Karen

Monday, March 11, 2019

Psalm 66:2


Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorius!

Psalm 66:2


Karen

Friday, March 08, 2019

It's My Pleasure!

Sooooo, I started my job at Chick-fil-A this week.
Orientation Monday.
Training Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
And, in spite of a major case of information-overload, I'm lovin' it!
(oops! Wrong company. *ahem*)
I was shown the location of supplies and beverage refills.
I was instructed in dining room etiquette and the proper form for wiping tables.
My trainer(s) even helped me learn how to transport ice cubes and sauces.
But I think the most useful thing I learned this week was Chick-fil-A's Core Four.
Because I think these four things - which are the backbone of how people are treated at Chick-fil-A - ought to govern the interactions all of us have with everyone. Every day.
They are:
1. Make direct eye contact.
2. Share a smile.
3. Speak enthusiastically.
4. Make a connection.
And I love it because even though I'm still slow at taking orders, and have lots of questions when it comes to scanning the Chick-fil-A app and substituting ingredients and taking coupons and stuff like that?
I can do the Core Four!!!
There was the man Wednesday who spoke softly and I had trouble hearing him at first. When I asked him to repeat himself he said, "Yeah. My wife says I need to speak up." And that reminded me of a joke - which, of course, I had to share with him.
Oh, you wanna hear it, too?
OK. If you insist.

There was an elderly woman who was concerned about her husband's hearing - because so often he just didn't respond to her when she spoke. The woman shared her concern with the doctor and he gave her a suggestion to further her investigation.
That night when her husband was sitting in his chair she went to the other room and called out, "Honey?"
Nothing.
She moved half-way closer to him and called out again, "Honey??"
Again, no answer.
So she got right up behind her husband and called once more, "Honey???"
At which point her husband turned around and said, "For the third time, WHAT???"
That soft-spoken man and I shared a good laugh.
Connection made? Check!
And there was the mom Thursday who returned to the register to get that one thing she'd forgotten to order for her child the first time - which apparently upset said child. So I rang it up for her, but had to ask again what kind of sauce she wanted because I'd forgotten. Even though she had just asked for it less then a minute before. I smiled at her and said with a shrug, "Mom brain, you know?"
And we shared a laugh.
Connection made!
I enjoyed flirting playing peek-a-boo with a little guy who caught my attention while his parents were ordering at the adjacent register.
I felt like I could better understand the woman whose English was broken, when I leaned in and looked her in the eye.
And I truly meant it when I said to the man who graciously joked around with me as I stumbled through taking his order, "It has been my pleasure serving you!"

The thing is, I know I will get more comfortable with the details of all the tasks involved in taking orders and fulfilling duties. I'll learn the things I need to learn. And that's good. I want to get there!
But the most important thing is touching people. Making them feel like they matter, like I'm happy to see them and serve them. It's about making the love of Jesus tangible. And I am so pleased to be working for a company who knows what's really important.

Karen

Thursday, March 07, 2019

How? Who???

Shout with joy to GOD all the earth!
Psalm 66:1
Have you decided to join me in memorizing Psalm 66 over the next 20 weeks?
If you missed the invitation, it's in Monday's video.
And it certainly isn't too late to get started! *smile*

As you are asking God to speak to you through this Word of His, may I offer some insight?
According to biblehub.com, the Hebrew phrase translated here as "shout with joy" is intended to paint a picture of public worship - with music and sacrifice.
And the call to that public worship is extended to "all the earth".
So I am imagining a pretty big, overt celebration of God here!
Because HE is good.
Because HE is worthy.
Because - no matter what else is happening in any of our circumstances, or anywhere in the world - it is always a good time to shout with joy to GOD.

So let's raise our voices in joyful worship to our King.
Let's ALL OF US raise our voices to HIM!!!

Karen

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Through the Years

So, Elizabeth and Phil needed something to hold their new projector. And after searching through our basement they found the perfect thing! A small bookcase which was doing nothing more than holding some old books-n-such. All I had to do was find a new home for the books-n-such. And in the process of doing that, I came across these photos in an album I'd completely forgotten.

First, we have this gem from circa September 1996. I can't help but chuckle as I notice how exhausted I look in this picture. It also kind of shocks me that I once had hair that long.


Next comes May, 1998. Josh is four months old, Elizabeth has recently turned 2, and Brian and I are still just kids - trying to comprehend that we have kids of our own!

My best guess is that this picture is from November in 1999. It's clear that Josh is going to be a blonde - rather than the redhead we were suspecting at first, and you can't tell yet but: Matthew is on the way!

And then it would seem we got busy and didn't have a family portrait taken for a while. I'm thinking this photo was taken in the early part of 2004. So, since the last one Matthew was born (obviously!) and I'd had brain surgery. Hence, the short hair. And, yes. I am holding Matthew's hands down - not just holding them. The boy couldn't stop moving! (I still remember that fact.)

Ahhhh, it is so much fun for me to look at these pictures and remember life from yesteryear.
Part of me wants to go back in time and give a lecture/pep-talk/sermon/I've-been-there-and-now-I-know-better-speech to my younger self.
Another piece of me feels like crying for the time she wasted in anger, frustration, and insensibility.
I can honestly say some of me would love to go back and re-live the moments. (Not the entire days, mind you. Just some of the moments. *ahem*)
But mostly, as I look and remember and contemplate the events of the past 22+ years - I am overwhelmingly grateful for God's grace and mercy and never-ending patience.
At the best moments, HE was there. In the darkest days, HE was there.
When I had a firm grasp on life, and when I wasn't sure how I would manage living through the next moment - God was there wooing me closer to His heart.
Holding my hand and leading me to the next step.
It's a beautiful thing, remebrance is.
What a blessing to conjure up the faithfulness of God and recall the days when HE carried me.
Hmmmmm, I'm so glad Elizabeth and Phil wanted that bookcase.

Karen

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

When God's Answer is not What We Wanted

So, I prayed and I prayed and I prayed.
I believed God was listening.
I trusted that He was able to do all things, and move in a mighty way.
I asked Him to do just that. All for HIS glory.
And I was sure HE could.

But He didn't.

Have you ever found yourself in that scenario?
One in which you think you're fully trusting God, totally relying on His power to come through in a particular circumstance, completely surrendered to His perfect will? (Because you're equally certain that His will is in line with yours!)
But when all is said and done - when the dust settles and the smoke clears - you discover that God didn't answer a single prayer you prayed.
And you wonder what on earth (or in heaven!) happened?
Because as far as you can see at the moment, the only reasonable explanation is that God doesn't care.

I have a friend sitting in this position today, and it has me asking, What do we do when God's answer to our heart-wrenching prayers is not the answer we wanted, and certainly not the answer we thought we would receive?
Because, really, we all know God is able to do anything. How many times do we read in the Bible that nothing is too difficult for Him? We know He sees all things and knows all things and is sovereign over all things. I mean, c'mon! He spoke, and the world came into being!
So, why is it, we wonder, that He seems to have been unable (or unwilling?) to accomplish our desires? Doesn't He care???
On the basis of disappointment - and even shock, because we were so sure we knew what the outcome would be - I fully understand those questions. But I've had some time to think about it, **read that: The Holy Spirit has taken the time to speak to my heart** and I have a different outlook right now.
That is, if God truly is all-powerful, if He really can do all things - because He sees all things and knows all things and is sovereign over all things, if we believe He can keep our lives secure for eternity, can we trust Him to tell us No when "yes" would have been the wrong answer?
What I mean is, what if God heard our prayers and listened to our pleas for Him to work thus and so in our circumstance, and what if He watched us laying out what we thought was the best solution to our troubles, and what if He saw us agonizing over how to accomplish it - and heard us crying for help to make it happen? And what if, in the midst of our toil, HE knew the outcome for which we were striving was not the result that would come to pass?
What if HE - who sees and knows all things - had plans which were better than ours?
What if the solution we proposed in our prayer paled in comparison to the will of the One who was listening, and it was the desire of God's heart to bring us to a place of abundance, even though that meant going through a period of hardship first?
If we had faith enough to believe that God really is good, and really does know what He is doing, could our hearts be at peace when He tells us, No?
Maybe, perhaps, could we trust Him when His answer is not the one we wanted?

Karen

Monday, March 04, 2019

Friday, March 01, 2019

I Pray

I have a list of prayer requests in my Precept folder.
We pass a fresh sheet of paper around the room each week so requests may be shared and updated - and every day before I begin my study I pour over that list with the Lord.

I read articles and opinion pieces on issues ranging from the recent vote on the abortion survivors bill - to the UMC conference decision - to the unrest in Venzuela, and my heart breaks over the brokenness in our world. So I come to God and beg for mercy. For healing. For transformed hearts and renewed conviction that His ways are right.

I receive a monthly prayer calendar from Compassion International, and every day I read a new request and bring it before my Father - believing that He has the wisdom, the power, the grace to meet the need.

I regularly find prayer requests in my email folder from various sources and organizations, and I stop to pray for them before going on to another message. Because I believe God is listening.

I get a text from a friend, "I really need prayer. Please pray that we can keep our emotions down." I reply, "Praying for your emotions." And I do pray. Knowing God knows the specifics of the moment, and exactly what is needed in the situation.

Three days a week I do my planks, and I pray for those who need strength and grace to get through some overwhelming struggles.

As I am out driving and I see yellow cars, I pray for a particular young lady - because God has given me that cue to pray for her, and I know He is thinking about her and He knows her need. (Many yellow cars this week!)

I pray before I write blog posts, and before I respond to posts on Facebook - because I want my words to reflect HIM.

I pray all the time, about everything, because I believe in God. HE is my hope. My only hope. I believe HE listens and moves and works. And I don't want to try making it through a single day without Him.

And just as I'm finishing writing this post, I get another text from that friend. "Thank you for the prayers! Amazingly enough exactly when we got into a heated discussion you and two other people had just checked in on me saying you were praying. That is a big God thing! Since then we were able to calmly talk and it was very good. Thank you so much!"
And I say, Thank You, LORD! Thank YOU for listening and loving and moving on our behalf.

How about you, friend? Have you called upon the LORD today?

Karen