Karen

BIG Belief

March 19, 2019 in Inspirational, Uncategorized

This morning as I read an entry from Wellspring, I noted the Scripture from Matthew 9:27-29 where Jesus is talking to two blind men. They have followed Him around with the hope that He will heal their blindness. Jesus asks them plainly if they truly believe that He can do this…do they believe that He can heal them? They say they do believe and so Jesus heals them.

As I reflect on this idea, I can’t help wondering if I have it in me to believe big enough that even my own blindness can be healed. I don’t wonder so much about whether Jesus “can” heal me, but I tend to be less certain about whether He “will” heal me. I suspect if I had been one of those blind men, I would have been able to see better, but more than likely, I would have still needed glasses because I probably wouldn’t believe BIG enough to see perfectly.

So often we are reminded in Scripture to look at what it is we truly believe. Somehow BIG things don’t seem to happen if our belief system is small. Big things require us to step up and put everything we’ve got on the line. They require that we believe that God can do anything. If we surrender our worries and our hopes and our need to be healed of any kind of blindness, seeking to be all that He intends us to be, then He will act in big ways on our behalf. Ah! There’s the problem! We have to have BIG belief and big faith.

Whatever you are believing for today, be brave and have the courage to believe bigger than you’ve ever believed before. Chances are good that you will begin to see many things about your life more clearly, and you may even be healed of some matter of blindness.

Let’s think BIG…no, BIGGER today!

Karen

Christmas Treasures

December 22, 2018 in Inspirational, Uncategorized

Many of us have ornaments, or handmade decorations from our children, or gifts from beloved friends and family that only make an appearance once a year at Christmastime. We treasure those special things and find joy in holding each one as we remove them from their protective wrappers. Seeing them in the sparkling light, a flash of memory brings back the picture of when we first received them. They are treasures that bring joy to our hearts.

Actually, Christmastime is filled with treasures as we sing our favorite carols once again, make grandma’s recipe for sugar cookies, and send love and good wishes to our friends. Silent Night and Away in a Manger bring gentle memories of days gone by, echoing their joy and filling us with peace and with the spirit of the season.

It has always been this way. When a young virgin named Mary first heard the words of the Angel, announcing God’s plan to deliver the world from sin, she pondered those words, treasuring them in her heart, most likely for her entire life. When the shepherds in the field heard angels singing in the night, they were caught in the glory of the moment and determined that they would go to Bethlehem and search for this treasure, the baby in a manger. Of course, the wise scientists of the day had been studying the stars for some time, prepared to follow His star and bring treasures of gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

Christmas is filled with treasures of the season, but some are only fleeting and disappear like visions of sugarplums. Other treasures, like the gift of God’s Son, will last forever. May you be blessed this Christmas with the treasures that remain in your heart from here to heaven.

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:21

Karen

When the Dust Settles

December 19, 2018 in Uncategorized

Yesterday I had the opportunity to do a radio chat with Carmen LaBerge at Connecting Faith.  It was only the second such interview I’ve ever done in my life, and I have to say, I wasn’t particularly good at it.  I definitely need more experience in this arena.  Fortunately, Carmen was brilliant and kept things smoothly on track.

It’s funny that you can know something so well, but stumble over yourself in an effort to share your understanding with others.  As we discussed my new book, What a Great Word, I realized that I had pulled a rather difficult concept to share on the air, over many that I could have explained more easily.  Since the book focuses on one word in Scripture and seeks to offer a more intentional or perhaps new perspective on that word, I offered the word “dust” as an example.  The Scripture says, “Where the Lord goes, there are whirlwinds and storms, and the clouds are the dust beneath his feet.” (Nahum 1:3)

Nahum’s words caused me to think that I should remember that the Presence of God is everywhere.  Much like the dust on my dresser, I may not notice it.  I may simply let it build there.  I may totally miss it if the sun does not clearly bring it back to my attention.  As I reflected on that idea and God’s presence, it occurred to me that though the dust of God’s Presence can swirl around me like a whirlwind, I can choose to not see it.  I can simply ignore Him, though He never goes away.  I can miss His Presence until He shines a light on it in a way that makes it clear that He is still there, still waiting for me to notice.  The idea that I could either realize God is everywhere around me and honor Him for being there, or that I could simply shake off the dust and ignore it, gave me pause.  Today, I choose to look for Him everywhere, knowing that He is always around me, blessing me, and waiting for me to acknowledge His precious Presence.  May His light open your eyes to realize that His love surrounds you, whether you notice or not, like dust in the air!  

Karen

Little Love Notes

December 3, 2018 in Uncategorized

Here’s One for You!

I drove my husband to the airport at 4AM.  He’s an early riser, so I imagine that was not quite as difficult for him as it was for me.  7AM is more my style!  Later that day, as I began to rise and shine, I started finding little love notes…everywhere!  There was one on the coffee pot, one in the silverware drawer, another in the refrigerator, still another on my computer and I suspect there are more yet to be discovered. Sure, it’s a little over the top, but then that’s the gift of love…it always strives to be more than you imagined it could be.  

I’m sharing this with you because I feel fairly certain that in His own way, and with His own hand, God does this all the time. He leaves little love notes everywhere, reminders that He is thinking of us and that He loves us more than we can imagine.  He shows up when we least expect it, answers a prayer we whispered in haste, and goes a little over the top, trying to get His message to resonate with our hearts.  He knows we’re busy. He knows we think that our independence and our intelligence, and our perseverance are the things that get us through the day.  Yes, He gave us those things, but He goes beyond our abilities and capabilities. He inspires a friend to call just when we needed a warm voice. He reminds us of a Scripture, or blesses us with a song that brings us peace. He’s there…still sending you love notes!

Karen

Struggle Makes You Hold On Tight

August 21, 2018 in Inspirational, Uncategorized

My new devotional, What a Great Word will come out this fall and as I was looking at writing a blog today, I decided to share one of the entries.  The book focuses on one word each day from Scripture that you might want to study, or contemplate or consider again to get a new perspective.  I chose the word STRUGGLE for today, because that’s what my own life has felt like for the past few weeks.  I’ve spent endless hours praying, worrying, wondering, trying to fix things, and yet, nothing has changed. I’ve put up the white flag of surrender though, believing that the answers will come soon. Now I will simply keep my chin up and trust that God has my back.  Maybe you’ve been there too.  So, here’s the piece on STRUGGLE from the new book:

Struggle is an equal opportunity player. It doesn’t care what you do for a living or where you build a home. It doesn’t care how educated you are or how many children you have. It doesn’t even care if you go to church Sunday after Sunday or simply visit on key holidays. It’s there for you, or perhaps it’s there because of you.

Struggle comes to each of us as a contender, as a boxer in the ring. It’s ready to brag about its winning abilities, to taunt you into fighting, to get you into the arena where it competes. We know this because struggle is not coming first and foremost from the job you have, the family dynamic you live in, or the people in your neighborhood. It’s coming straight from the wily One who prowls the Earth. It comes to you to test you and taunt you and make you question the authority of the absolute power of God. It’s spiritual warfare that attempts to whittle away at your heart and mind and soul until you simply feel lost.

You may struggle to pay your bills, or to lose weight, or to find a great job, or about any number of other life situations, but remember that no matter what it looks like on the surface, it’s really a challenge to distract you from God’s love and grace. It is an attempt to get you out of God’s hand. This is not your day to struggle, though. It’s your day to win! Give God thanks and praise that you are tightly held in His powerful hands.

Scripture: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12, NIV

 

Karen

Walking in Bill’s Shoes

September 18, 2017 in Uncategorized

My Father-in-love, William Barbour was an incredible man and I have updated this post in his honor.

 

William Rinehart Barbour, Jr. turned 95 in March of 2017!  The sparkle in his eye was as welcoming as ever. His love for his family and friends radiated from a face that lit up when you entered his room, glowing more than 95 birthday candles ever could.  He had enviable silver white hair and a ready wit.  He was a man to be admired; always was, and always will be.

WRB, as he’s often called, was a man of many talents and for most of us, it’s hard to even imagine walking in his shoes.  Some of you may recognize his name as the man who picked up the gauntlet set down by his father and his uncle to find a way to make Christian books available to everyone.  His uncle, Fleming H. Revell, Sr., and His father, William R. Barbour, Sr. set the groundwork for WRB to continue to develop a publishing legacy.  He was an innovator and when he became president of Revell Publishing in 1968, he wanted to make sure that great preachers, Christian entertainers, businessmen and laymen, and notable women all had an opportunity to get their work into the marketplace.  He pioneered the things we take for granted today…getting Christian books into secular stores, creating books about family values, and ways to live life more honorably.  He published women like Marabel Morgan, whose “Total Woman” was one of the top selling books of the 70’s.  He published Corrie Ten Boom’s, “The Hiding Place”, and Dale Rogers’, “Angels Unaware.”  He was a publisher who was always connected to his readers and humbled by their messages.  He began every editorial meeting with a letter from someone who wrote to share how their life had changed because they read one of the books he published.  “This is why we do what we do,” he beamed.  He was intent on publishing books that mattered.

That’s not the whole story though.  Yes, he was a brilliant publisher, but even more he was a man with a capacity to love and forgive and bless the lives of others in every way he could.  He was a man who loved his brother Hugh and his sister-in-law, Eva. He loved everybody in ways that were reminiscent of the kind of brotherly love Jesus talked about.  He was a man who blessed his children, Bruce, Betsy, and Alan with gifts and talents beyond measure and hearts like his that are as big as all outdoors.  He was a man who honored his wife of 65 years, Mary, and understood the gift that she was to him for many years. He loved his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. William Rinehart Barbour, Jr. was a man with big shoes and most of us will spend years trying to find ways to walk in the path he created.  As his family and his friends, when he turned 95, we shouted with love and joy, “Happy Birthday, WRB!”  “Happy Birthday, incredible, remarkable and wonderful man!

Sometimes we wonder if we make a difference.  Sometimes we look in the mirror and try to imagine what it would be like if the work we did in the world, and the love we shared with others, could be so amazing that it would last forever, long after our days on earth are through. All I know is that it’s a great blessing to me to be part of this family and I’m humbled as a daughter-in-law, as an author of Christian books, and as a friend of this man to realize all he’s done to make my path a bit easier, long before he knew I’d ever be in his life.  I want to be like that.  I want to walk in Bill’s shoes!

Don’t you?

NOTE: William R. Barbour went home to be with Jesus on September 12, 2017.  He was peaceful and loving all the way to heaven.

 

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Karen

Coaching Myself

October 22, 2015 in Inspirational, Uncategorized

 

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Recently I read a piece in my devotional book called You Are Worth More than Rubies.  I love the title of this book because it’s such a good reminder to try to be a little more tender to myself.  After all, the worst critic in the world is the one who lives right inside your head.  In the piece from the book I was reminding readers, and myself, since I always need the words God gives me on those devotional pages, that it’s important to coach ourselves to not talk defeat.  After all, when the coach comes out to give a pep talk to the players before the big game, he doesn’t even suggest that they won’t win.  In fact, he makes it pretty clear that they were born to win, prepared for that very moment in time to create the victory.  He lets the team know in no uncertain terms that they’ve got what it takes to play well and spur each other on toward the goals.

That’s what we need to do too.  We need to spur each other on to the victories that God intends us to have.  We need to see ourselves as worth more than a pile of rubies and we know that we have been prepared from the start for whatever this day brings.  We’re part of a team because we have friends who are prayer warriors who keep us lifted up to the Lord even when we don’t know they are praying. We have the word of God to remind us that He is with us every moment no matter what opponents we might face.  We have the assurance that all things are possible with God!

As it says in Hebrews 10:39, “We are not of those who turn back and are lost. We are people who have faith and are saved.”  We have the victory and we have to keep coaching each other, and keep coaching ourselves to trust in that truth.  Your value is beyond description and you never have a reason to talk defeat.

This is a great day because you have everything you need to win!  Now get out there and play!

Karen

Rocking Horse Dreams

February 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

Do you remember those fabulous antique rocking horses?  They were often made of hand-painted wood, sometimes with a little rope mane and a padded seat to look like a saddle.  When you were a little kid, that rocking horse could take you any place you wanted to go.  You could imagine yourself riding across the prairie, your hair flowing in the breeze, your trusty horse keeping you safe and happy.  You could ride away from the bad guys, or maybe from mom trying to get you to take a nap, but one way or another, this was a great place to be and you rocked on and on.

The problem is that the rocking horse never left the room.  You didn’t get anywhere.  You didn’t even outrun that nap.  So, where are you now?  Are you still sitting on some dreams that you meant to pursue?  Are you still wondering just where you could go if you really took a chance on yourself and headed out the door to make a new discovery?  If you’re a dreamer, that’s a good thing, but if you’re only having rocking horse dreams, you may not ever get out there on the prairie.  So what would help?  Maybe it’s time to let go of the yesterdays and redesign today.  Maybe it’s time to go out and rock the world the way you meant to.  Yesterday really is behind you, and today is the field of opportunity.  Today is that big wide open space with your name all over it and as it turns out, God has actually given you a clean slate.  He makes you new every morning.  He brings you new chances and new blessings and new dreams to pursue every day and He’ll help you get where you want to go.  If you were waiting for the cavalry to rescue you, well consider yourself rescued, out there on Calvary.

So what is it going to take to get you off that cute, but going nowhere rocking horse?  Here are a few ideas:  Try doing one thing in a different way today.  That’s right!  Connect with someone you hadn’t thought could do a thing to help your dream move forward.  Change your routine.  Pray first!  Eat later!  Rock on!  Okay, try this!  Laugh!  Take a moment to see yourself on that horse and laugh that you’re still there.  Give yourself a medal for staying the course this long and then get going in a new direction.  Give thanks!  Be grateful that you’ve gotten this far and that you haven’t given up on your dream already.  Then jump!  Jump at the chance to get out of the old groove, get the wind in your hair and move and see just where it takes you.  And, if you’ve been riding in the dark, well, put away your flashlight and follow the One who can light your way wherever you want to go!  This is your day to get a move on.  Remember these great words from Lamentations:  “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  The Lord is my portion, says my soul. Therefore I hope in Him.

So it’s your day to ride like the wind.  turning up the lightpsd

Karen

Square One? Really?

August 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

If you’re as familiar with Square One as I am, you may wonder why it is, that no matter how many moves you make to get ahead, you somehow end up back there.  You may have tried new things, pushed through the obstacles, found new doors to open, and yet, still, without warning, there you are…Square One!  What is it that sends you back to the beginning like a pawn in a chess game just when you thought you were finally making progress? What do you do now to motivate yourself to get back out there and try again?

Square One may feel like you fell down and skinned your knees, but let’s look at it again.  Standing on the first Square in any game, in any arena in life, means that you showed up.  It means that you are IN.  You believed enough in yourself to get in the game.  The first Square is where your coach is the loudest because you need a lot of instruction and it’s important to get prepared for all that is up ahead.  We might call Square One, the place where you’re willing to hear God’s voice the most.  After all, this is the space where you’re most uncertain about what comes next, most aware that you need help to move to the next step.  This is the connection Square then, the one where you know you’re not alone, that even if you jump out of an airplane, the Coach is tied to you and jumps with you.  Yes, Square One is the renew, refresh, and review square.

Square One is the safety zone too, the place where you can ask more questions and get answers.  It’s where you go back over the game plan and maybe find the reasons why you fell off the path as you worked your way toward your goal.  Going back to Square One then is not a punishment or a failure, it’s just a resting place, a chance to remind yourself of what’s important now.  When you were out in the game, you were so busy with the effort of your work and your dreams, that you may have lost sight of the goal, the one that you and God set from the beginning.

Did God send you back to Square One then?  I’m not going to suggest that He did, I’m just going to suggest that He’s there with another safety net, another smile because you tried so hard, and a reminder that you have a lot more information to keep moving ahead. In fact, now you may get around the board in record time. After all, life is a marathon and not a sprint, and you’ve jumped the gun more than once, or at least made a few false starts. So…it’s up to you.  You can sit in Square One and never try again to move on, always assume you’ll find yourself back there again, or you can rest, pray, renew yourself and get your new game plan together.  The One who directs your steps has been all around the board and knows every move and He waits for you on every square.  Get back in the game as soon as you can because there’s some wonderful moments up ahead that will make you feel like an Olympic champion finally winning the gold.

You’re awesome and it’s time to move again.  God bless you BIG!

Karen

Lost and Found

August 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

Did you ever lose something, search frantically for it, then try to back track and figure out just where the thing you’re searching for may have gone?  If you were lucky and you lost your treasure in a public place, you may have stumbled across a big sign along the way that said, “LOST and FOUND.”  Oh, now there’s a place to start searching again.  Now you can rummage through other lost things and find what you’re missing.  Of course, if you think about it, the thing that was lost doesn’t “know” it was lost.   It was safely being kept in the “Found” box all along.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes life comes at me in such a way, that I just feel lost.  I don’t realize I have been sitting in that one safe zone marked “Lost and Found.”  I don’t realize that even though I feel lost, I’m not.

How does it happen you wonder?  How do you go from being secure and happy to feeling somewhat left behind?  Of course, the “How” doesn’t really matter because the fact is that you are where you are. You know you must choose to discover what all lost things must discover, that there is a way to be found.  That  means you may have to accept where you are for now.  You’re actually safe there and you can wait with an open heart and a hopeful spirit, anticipating the day you’ll find yourself in a better situation, a more fulfilling relationship, or a more exciting job.

There’s an adage which reads, “All who wander, aren’t lost.”  I encourage you, if you’ve been feeling like I have recently, somewhat uncertain of where you are, somewhat disconnected from all the things that usually make you feel whole and complete, that the truth is still one of hope.  The truth is still that the One who created you knows where you are at every moment.  He knows what you need.  He knows every ounce of your being and does not want you to suffer a sense of loss because He’s there, wrapping His love around your heart, shining His light into your soul, ready to claim you from whatever “Lost and Found” table you might be on.

You may not recognize it today, you may not feel it tomorrow, but no matter where life takes you, no matter how many losses you sustain, your hope is sure.  You’re in the good news Lost and Found.  Your hope is always in the One who is seeking your highest good, finding new doors for your dreams, opening new paths to joy.  You’ve been found!  Here’s a big hug for you!