Tuesday, April 30, 2019

My Sons are Making Me (Look Like I'm) Crazy

A few weeks ago I was startled when I went into our guest room and discovered that someone had been sleeping there. (The bed was "made" but not the way it had been when I last made it.) It appeared they had also taken a shower, as a towel was draped over the chair in the corner of the room. Honestly, I was a bit freaked out. It was obvious to me that someone had been in there, and I didn't know who, when, or why. My mind began to think irrational things about intruders, and somebody hiding out to get us.
Somehow, the situation didn't bother Brian as much.
He wasn't completely convinced the bed had been slept in. (I mean, seriously!!?? The pillows weren't in the right places, the pillow shams were to the side of the bed, and the decorative pillows were under them. Not to mention the comforter wasn't "square". How could he NOT see what I was seeing???) And I had already moved the towel, so that didn't impact his thoughts, either.
He kind of looked at me like I was a bit off my rocker.
Then last week happened.
We got home from our trip to see my parents on Monday, and on Tuesday I noticed the garage door opener was missing from the van. Elizabeth had used the van while we were gone and I wondered if she might have it for some reason, but I forgot all about it until I reached up to use it again on Wednesday. So I texted her to ask if she knew where it was - but she didn't. Hmmmm, that's odd, I thought, and I shared my conundrum with Brian.
Then Friday morning *poof!* the garage door opener mysteriously re-appeared right where it belongs in the van. And I told Brian about it Friday evening.
He just looked at me, with his eyebrows raised.
Then he asked, "Are you sure it wasn't there before?" And I responded with determination that I, indeed, was sure. I was NOT imagining the disappearance of that garage door opener!
Nonetheless, the look on his face said, OK, dear. If you say so. But in my heart of hearts I'm concerend about your mind. *kiss*

And now, I'll tell you the rest of the story!
Turns out a few Friday nights ago Josh's roommate invited friends over for a late-night gathering. Josh had to get up at 5:00 to go to work and, rather than putting a damper on his roommate's fun, he came over to our house at 11:30 (We were already sleeping.) and slept in the guest room. He got up at 5 and was showered and out the door by 5:30. Just forgot to leave a note or offer any other explanation about why the room looked "used". That is, until I asked him about it several days later - on the off chance that it might have been him. *ahem*
And the garage door opener?
That was Matthew.
Seems he decided to use it while we were in Florida visiting my parents and didn't remember to return it until Thursday night. Also didn't feel the need (or remember) to tell me he was the one in possession of the missing item, until I asked about it - on the off chance that it might have been him.

So there you have it.
Both of my sons doing unusual things which result in my husband thinking I'm losing my mind.
Granted, there was a time many years ago when I thought they were making me lose my mind, too.
But we're past that now.
And I'd like to think my sanity is secure. *wink*


Karen

Monday, April 29, 2019

Psalm 66:8


Praise our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard.

Psalm 66:8

Karen

Friday, April 26, 2019

It's My Pleasure

I looked up from the cash register to greet the next guest, and I saw a very nervous young man who was leaning into the woman beside him.
He was saying over and over, "I can't do it!"
I heard her offering words of encouragement and reassurance - with a touch of exhortation - and, as I made eye contact with her, I stepped in from behind the counter to assist.
"You can do it," I said. "Come here. I'll help you."
Not sure if I saw a gentle push from his helper, or not, but that young man cautiously apporached me to place his lunch order. I asked him (as I do with everyone), "Will you be dining in with us today?"
He answered affirmatively, and I said,"Great! See? That was easy!"
He smiled.
I followed up with, "Now, what would you like to eat?"
And with that, we worked together to get his order. I talked him through selecting his meal, his drink, and making his payment. And he did it ALL without the help of his helper. He did it himself.
Later, he came back to the counter to order more fries (His helper was in the distance - farther away than she had been the first time.) and it was delightful to have the opportunity to interact with him again.
This young man, whose knees were knocking the first time we met.
Although I do not know the circumstance behind the struggle he faced in talking to a stranger in a restaurant to order lunch, I could tell mustering the courage to go through with it was a major accomplishment for this young man.
And the silent celebration I had with his helper as we made eye contact one more time was like icing on the cake. Truly, I can say It was my pleasure to serve him.

Karen

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Nations and Rebels

He rules forever by his power,
his eyes watch the nations -
let not the rebellious rise up against him.

~Psalm 66:7

I hope you have been delighting in your time thinking about Psalm 66:7 this week.
Are you ready to dig a little deeper?

Almost as soon as I read this verse, my thoughts went to Ezekiel and the things I've been learning in my Precept study. Because among the things God makes very clear in Ezekiel is this: 1) HE sees what's happening (i.e. the nations cannot get away with their shenanigans), and 2) you don't want to be on God's bad side.
Go ahead and read through Ezekiel 25, Ezekiel 26, and Ezekiel 29.
Each of these chapters speaks of coming judgment on the nations.
According to 25:3 and 6, why was God bringing judgement on Ammon?
What does 25:8 give as the reason for His judgement against Moab?
What was the error of Edom's ways in 25:12?
According to 25:15, what did Philistia do wrong?
Why was God against Tyre in 26:2?
According to 29:3 and 9, what did God have against Egypt?
How do these verse relate to Psalm 66:7?

There was a lot of pride, vengeance, and haughtiness among these nations, don't you think?
Could we classify them as rebellious???
It's very easy to read about the nations and see the fault in their ways, but I don't think God gives us His Word for the purpose of seeing what's wrong with others.
How is your heart today? Is there any rebelliousness in you from which you need to turn?
Ask His Spirit to open your eyes and cleanse you from unrighteousness as you confess your sins to Him.

Karen

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Survivor

My husband and I were gone for Easter weekend.
We had the delightful opportunity to go to Florida to visit my parents, and my sister and her family.
It was a wonderful treat!

But when I got home Monday, I found this:

The daffodils are lovely, but do you see the tulips???
Of course you don't.
Because some little critter ate them while I was in Florida, not watching over them. *grrrrr*
Indeed, some nasty little critter ate my tulips right down to the ground. And I was so angry!

But yesterday when I got home from Bible study and looked with sadness at my would-have-been-beautiful-pink-flowers-probably-blooming-on-Mother's-Day, I saw this:
Do you see it???
One tulip survived the vicious attack of the unknown critter!
And my heart feels so happy!!!

In a world of chewed-on tulips, may you find your surviving bud today.

Karen

Monday, April 22, 2019

Psalm 66:7



He rules forever by his power,
his eyes watch the nations -
let not the rebellious rise up against him.

~Psalm 66:7


Karen

Friday, April 19, 2019

It's My Pleasure

So I started this It's My Pleasure series with the intent of sharing weekly reflections each Friday about my experiences working at Chick-fil-A.
But today is a different kind of Friday.
And I'm reflecting on different kinds of thoughts.
Today is the day which is recognized by the Church as Good Friday. The day we set side to specifically remember Jesus' death on the cross - His sacrifice for our sins.
His death for our life.
His suffering for our salvation.
Even as I sit here contemplating the words to write my heart aches for the reality that it was MY sin - not just "our" sin, but MINE - which sent Him to the cross.
My heart aches because I know the descriptions in the Bible, even the portrayals of the crucifixion in movies (as gruesome as they may be) cannot come close to depicting the reality of the pain and suffering Jesus went through as He bled and died for us.
For YOU.
For ME.
Do you get it?
Jesus didn't deserve to die!
He lived a perfect, sinless life. Eternity in Heaven was HIS for the taking. It's what HE deserved.
But He came to earth for another purpose. He came to show us how to live. And He came to suffer and die on our behalf. (Yes, this has me thinking about Psalm 66:5 again.)
Jesus didn't deserve to die, but He came and He did it anyway.
Because of God's love for His creation.
He knew His sacrifice would result in new life for everyone who receives Him.
And as I was contemplating this post it occurred to me how fitting it is with the title of this series.
Because - at the risk of sounding cheesy - I propose that when I say, "Thank You, JESUS, for sacrificing Yourself so I might have new life!" He may very well respond by saying, It's My pleasure.

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

~Hebrews 12:2
Thank you, JESUS!!!

Karen

Thursday, April 18, 2019

From the Sea into Dry Land

Have you been thinking about Psalm 66:6 this week?

He turned the sea into dry land,
they passed through the waters on foot -
come, let us rejoice in him.
Today I want to invite you to spend time studying the event behind that verse - as one of the awesome works God has done in man's behalf (Ps.66:5).
You'll find the account in Exodus 14.
And, actually, the thing I'm going to invite you to do will take a little while. But I promise - it will be so worth every minute you put into it!
Go ahead and print Exodus 14 so you can write all over it.
And now? Gather four different colored pencils or pens.
Just as we see different parties doing their thing in Psalm 66:6 (God turned the sea into dry land, "they" passed through the waters on foot, and "we" can rejoice in him.) so I want you to see who did what in Exodus 14. As you read, use different colors and underline what God did, what Moses did, what the Egyptians/Pharaoh did, and what the Israelites did.
(You can skip this step and just pay attention to who did what. But I'm telling you - it will be much more effective and rewarding if you take the time to write it out.)
I find it interesting to go back and read the story from the four different perspectives. First, read only what you underlined for God, then Moses, the Egyptians, and finally the Isralites.
Now that you're pretty familiar with the story (as if you weren't already...) summarize in a couple of sentences the situation the Israelites are facing.
How does Moses try to encourage them in verse 14?
What did God promise to do in verses 16-18?
What did God do in verse 20?
What did the Egyptians realize in verse 25?
What happened to the Egyptians in verse 26-28?
According to verse 30, was Moses accurate in what he said in verse 14?
How did the Israelites respond in verse 31?
How does this passage parallel Psalm 66:6?
In what ways have you seen God's awesome works in your behalf?
What response has His work evoked from your heart?
Why not take some time to thank and praise Him right now???

Karen

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Who's Making Your List?

I have recently been listening to and praying for a friend who is struggling with identity.
A large part of that battle shows up in her self-talk and the things she believes about herself. And as I was praying for her recently it occurred to me that we ALL need to be on guard when it comes to the lists we make in our heads about who we are.
That is to say, I think it can be easy for us to look at our circumstances and start to believe lies if we are not careful to consider who is the one making our list.
When our station in life is difficult - when the burden is heavy - our list might look like this:
I am unloved.
I am forgotten and forsaken.
I am hopeless.
This circumstance will never improve.
I will always be hurting.
Bad things are just a fact of life for me.
Have you ever had thoughts like these running through your mind???
From where do you think they come?
On the surface I think we can see them coming from people and places in our lives: Wounds we experienced as a child in word and deed. Broken people speaking broken words to, over, and around us - yesterday and today. Failed reltionships and damaging situaions. Things which seem to continually work against us, no matter what we do.
The pain produced from these places can speak very loudly to our hearts.
Ulitmately, however, I believe the list-maker of lies is the enemy of our souls, himself.
I think we need to do everything we can to combat his lies.
And I believe a good place to start fighting him off is in creating a new list - based upon the Truth of the One who is TRUE.

Try this on for size!

I am loved. (John 3:16, Romans 5:5 & 8)
God is always with me. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
My hope is eternal and secure. (Acts 2:25-28)
My trials are temporary. (2 Corinthians 4:17 & 18)
God is working in me - even through my pain - for my good and His glory. (1 Peter 1:3-9)
Even the "bad" things in my life can be used for good in God's hands. (Romans 8:28-29)

What do you think?
As I compare these lists - even though sometimes the first list is the way I feel - I know the second option is the one which is True. And when it comes to discovering who I am and what I believe about my life, I know I want it all to be based on Truth.
I'm going with what God says.
How about you???

P.S. As long as we're talking about identity and believing what is true about ourselves and our lives, I want to mention the new Kendrick Brothers movie coming out in August. It's called OVERCOMER and is about our identity in Christ. Although I have not seen it yet, I am confident it is going to be amazing.
(The Kendrick Brothers made WAR ROOM. Need I say more???)
So, mark your calendars for August 23, and plan to head to the movie theater!

Karen

Monday, April 15, 2019

Psalm 66:6



He turned the sea into dry land,
they passed through the waters on foot -
come, let us rejoice in him.

~Psalm 66:6


Karen

Friday, April 12, 2019

It's My Pleasure

Five hours is a long time to be standing, but after my break yesterday that's what I had to do.
(Actually there was a lot of moving around, and dodging other employees as we all filled drinks, served orders, replenished cups and lids and sauces, etc. So I guess I wasn't really "standing" for five hours. But I was on my feet the whole time.)
When my shift was over and I finally sat down, my feet let me know how tired they really were.
But my face still held a smile, and my heart was very happy.
Because the previous five hours - in spite of being a bit chaotic at times when the lines were really long - were filled with laughter and joy.
*There was the young lady who had trouble deciding on a drink, whom I teased by asking, "Is that your final answer?" And her friend who joined in the joking by adding his own funny comments.
*I fully delighted in talking with the couple who carried in their 7-day-old baby girl. And encouraging the tired mom that she is amazing - being out in the world with hair done and make-up on. Because I remember when Elizabeth was a newborn, and I thought I was onto something if I was showered and dressed by 2:00 in the afternoon. Forget the hair and make-up!
*Another young couple traveled up to Okemos from Jackson (Because there is no Chick-fil-A in Jackson!) so the young man could have his first Chick-fil-A expereince. Girlfriend and I had lots of fun orienting Boyfriend to all things Chick-fil-A.
*And I cannot forget the numerous children who gave me shy peeks, the funny and friendly construction guys who are working across the street, or the I-can-do-all-things young mothers who refused assistance with carrying drinks/children/bags/sauces/and sometimes even trays to the dining room because, hey! that's what moms do.
God used each of these precious souls to help me delight in the day in the midst of the crazy.

The bottom line is: even when circumstances are taxing, when pressure is rising, when demands are rapid, and our feet are tired - joy can be found and our hearts can be lifted.
Whether we're at Chick-fil-A, or not!

Karen

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Come and See!

Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man's behalf!

Psalm 66:5

Have you been memorizing and thinking about Psalm 66:5 this week?

What comes to your mind when you consider the invitation to "Come and see"?
My first thought was of John 4 and the woman at the well.
Perhaps you are familiar with this scripture. But in case you are not, I'll give you a quick overview.
In this chapter we read about Jesus resting by a well because he is tired from a long journey. It is the middle of the day, and he is hot and thirsty. A Samaritan woman appraoches the well to draw water and Jesus asks her for a drink.
(This is unusual behavior because 1. Jews didn't like Samaritans, and 2. Men didn't usually talk to women.)
But neither of those conditions kept Jesus from reaching out in love to a woman who needed a Savior.
Nor did the fact that this woman wasn't exactly virtuous.
Jesus knew everything about her, and still He loved her. Still He pursued her. And ultimately revealed to her that He was the Messiah for whom she had been waiting.
Then the disciples showed up, the woman got nervous, and she took off for home. And when she got there she invited the people in town to "come and see". Jesus had captured her heart and she wanted everyone to know about Him.
My invitation for you is to read John 4 for yourself now.
What did the Samaritan woman say in verse 29?
How did the people respond in verses 30 and 39?
What changed in their response in verse 42?
If it is still true that the fields are ripe for harvest (v.35) how can your invitation for people to "come and see" affect the lives of those in your sphere of influence?
What awesome works has God done in your behalf?
Is there somebody who needs your invitation to "come and see"?

Praying for you this week as God works His Word into your heart!

Karen

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

When HE Speaks Through the Struggle

In January I hit a major goal in my workouts.
Five-minute planks.
If you read my posts about it, you may recall that I took lots of baby steps (and prayer!) to get there.
And knowing what went into that effort, maybe you can understand my surprise (and disappointment) when I discovered I was doing them wrong.
That is to say, for some odd reason when my family was at the airport waiting to begin our vacation Brian suggested doing planks. Always one to accept an invitation to fun *insert eyeroll* I agreed to it. (There was hardly anyone else in the gate area. Small airport. Sunday morning. You know!) And we both assumed the postion.
As I was in my plank Matthew said my backside was too high. At first I scoffed because everything felt right to me, but he had a better viewpoint so I took his word for it.
I lowered my butt until he said my back was flat.
And can I say? I had a harder time holding that plank. Only went for 4 minutes. (But I hadn't worked out at all the previous week... So I attributed the difficulty to losing progress.)
However, Brian and I visited the ship's gym a couple of times and I discovered the struggle didn't come from a too-busy-to-exercise-week. The gym had a huge mirror and I got right up beside it to do my planks - where I could see for myself what my posture looked like. And, sure enough, Matthew was right. My butt was too high. To have a straight back only meant I needed to go down an inch or two, but the difference felt very significant. And holding it was a lot harder!
Nonetheless, I wanted to do my planks correctly so I kept monitoring myself in the mirror and prayed for strength to keep going. And dropped to my knees by 4:15.

Now that I'm home and returning to my routine I am finding it super challenging to hold planks for 4 minutes 30 seconds. Getting back to 5 seems so far away. (And the mirror I found to keep an eye on my posture prevents me from "cheating". Not sure if I'm happy about having the accountability, or not. Ignorance was so much easier!)
But as I have been in the middle of the struggle, praying for friends and for God's strength to carry them through their challenges - as well as for me to push through to 4:30 - HE has shown me Truths which I might not have seen if I hadn't faced the realization that I was doing planks wrong.
1) Doing what "feels right" doesn't make something right. I seriously feel like I am arching my back when it's straight. It feels much better to lift my backside an inch or two. But the mirror shows me what is true about my posture. Just like God's Word shows me what is True about life.
2) The fact that something is difficult doesn't mean I shouldn't do it. Confession: More than once, I have considered scrapping this exercise thing. Because it's too hard! But then the Voice of my Savior penetrates my heart, So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10) And I am reminded that HE will help me with so much more than just the physical endurance I need to keep going for a few more seconds. So I hold on. To Him!
3) Joy can be found on the other side of the battle. Monday I had (barely) made it through my first two planks and by the time I got to the third one I thought I would be satisfied if I just made it to two minutes. But I was praying for a friend who is trying to quit smoking, and as I asked God to strenghten her resolve to keep quitting I decided to push myself to three minutes. And I considered more this friend's need to not quit quitting, which motivated me to also keep going. I prayed, and I strained, and I was shaking like a mad woman - but with God's help I held that plank (with a flat back!) for the entire 4 minutes and 30 seconds. And when I was finally able to fall onto my belly I thanked and praised God for giving me the strength to hold on. I praised Him with a joyful heart for His faithfulness through every difficult circumstance in which I and all my friends ever find ourselves. HE is good and HE is faithful, and going through struggles helps me remember that Truth.
So I will press on to get back to 5-minute-planks, trusting in the One who is faithful in every moment.

With what struggles do you need to trust HIM today?

Karen

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Mexican Cruise 2019

So, I mentioned yesterday that my family enjoyed a cruise to Mexico last week.

Today I am going to share a few of the highlights so you can enjoy it, too!

First, this is the ship on which we sailed:

You can see on the top a bit of the water slide. That was just one of the many very cool things aboard the Independence of the Seas.
Note: If you ever have the opportunity to ride down such a slide and you're following instructions and laying flat - ankles crossed, arms on your chest, head back - make a mental note of what the end of the slide looks like so you can raise your head when you get there. Because if you keep your head back as you are hurled into the pool at the end of the slide you will probably experience an intense flushing of your nasal passages. I hear it is quite unpleasant. *ahem*

Have you ever been serenaded while eating? Or before?
These guys sang to everybody who came into the Windjammer Cafe - which had sinks lining each wall so we could wash our hands before eating.

Here we are in Mahaual - the city on the other side of the port known as Costa Maya. (Who knew Costa Maya was a port, not a city??? The things you learn when you pay attention to your tour guide!)


We also stopped in Cozumel. (Which is actually a city, not just a port!)


And in Cozumel I learned that hands are completely optional when it comes to sailing a catamaran.
Our captian seemed to prefer his FEET!

For all the fun and adventure, and for all the sunshine and relaxation, the one thing which always captured my attention and kept me in wonder was the gorgeous blue of the waters.
It just doesn't get any more beautiful than this:


Ahhhhh, so there you have it. A little taste of last week's delights.
I hope you enjoyed it!

Karen

Monday, April 08, 2019