Karen

Planning Your Way

January 2, 2012 in Inspirational, Uncategorized

Proverbs 16 reminds us that we can make our plans, but only God can make them come true.  Before I left Ohio to make the 17 hour drive back to Florida, I made a plan.  I printed out the route from google maps and felt  satisfied that I could accomplish the task.  After all, it was pretty much a straight shot down I 75.  No problem.  Home free.  Winding my way through the holiday traffic around Chattanooga, Atlanta, Macon and Valdosta, I started feeling pretty confident that even though I’d been driving for well over fourteen hours, I was still ready to finish the job and head for home.  Happily, I wasn’t feeling too sleepy, though I was a bit bleary-eyed from all the lights of oncoming cars and heavy traffic through all the big cities.  I had stopped for coffee and planned to just get home and crawl into my own bed.

I was listening to a novel on my cd player and it looked like I would finish the book just about the time I arrived in my driveway.  As I hummed along on I 75, I saw a sign that showed an exit for Belleville, Florida.  I was awed that I had reached my destination exit so quickly, but got off the highway, knowing that I’d face some country roads as I wound my way to my home town.  It was around midnight and the further I went on the old road, the darker it got.  There were no street lights, no houses, hardly any road signs.  After a bit, I realized that I was totally in the wrong place.  I started to go down one back road and then another, hoping to see a bigger road that would let me get back on the highway.  After a half hour or so, I was still trying to find my way.  It was foggy and my gas tank was getting lower on fuel.  Making one turn to the right, I started down yet another road hoping it would get me to somewhere I could recognize.  There were still no gas stations, no little mom and pop stores, nothing but darkness and uncertainty.  As if it could get worse, I found myself in a dark road where a fire had happened earlier.  By the time I arrived, and there were no firetrucks or other indicators anywhere, the thick smoke was still wafting its way across the road, making it impossible to see.  Now I was not only lost, I was unable to drive forward because of the smoke and even breathing was difficult, and the road itself was very narrow.  I started to pray.

“Lord,” I said.  “This isn’t exactly how I had planned to start the New Year.  In fact, I’m wondering if I’ll be seeing YOU before I see my bed again.  Please help me.”  I started to weep with frustration and worry that someone would surely run into my car because of the thick smoke.  I did the only thing I could do.  I started backing up, hoping I wouldn’t back into the ditch that was a three foot drop-off on the side of the road.  Slowly, I turned the car around, praying the whole time that no one would come around the bend and run smack into me.  I was scared to death.  This was NOT my plan at all.  I started thinking about how grateful I was that I had just seen my kids and how much I hoped to get out of this mess so I could see them again.

Finally, I found a clear patch of road and drove till I saw a sign for a town about thirteen miles away.  I decided to drive toward the town, hoping my nerves and my gas tank would get me there.  When I finally found my way back to I 75, having now traveled a good two hours more than I had planned,  I remembered that I was supposed to get off the road at Bellevue, Florida, not Belleville.  At 3AM, I pulled into my garage and wept for joy.  I thanked God for getting me home again.

Sometimes, we make our plans and sometimes with no warning at all, we get off the path, unable to see what is up ahead.  Fortunately, we have a God who goes before us, who helps us find a way to the light again.  This year, as you travel your path, know that you will find moments that are somewhat uncertain, somewhat off the path you had planned.  If you do, then keep looking up, for your Heavenly Father will surely provide a way back to better ground again.  What a blessing that is!

Karen

Wonders Never Cease!

September 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

Whoever said “wonders never cease” may have been in awe of a particular event, something monumental, like seeing an awesome view from a mountaintop or holding a newborn.  That person may indeed have been taking in a wonder of the world.  More than likely though, it may have been a tongue in cheek comment where the person was amazed at something on the opposite end of the scale, someone’s willingness to be greedy and cause others harm, or some craziness like a 9-11.  Wonders never cease!

For you and me, it’s important to pay attention to the wonders.  It’s important to note the people who are doing everything under their power to do good, to bring light, and to create the balance in a world that feels almost out of control.  Sometimes it’s even necessary to point out the wonders so that others remember what they take for granted and keep seeing the miracles God provides moment by moment.  We aren’t serving a wimpy God who looks the other way when the going gets tough.  The fact is, the One we serve is indestructible.  The doubters, the nay-sayers, the arrogant only cause Him to try harder to wash His light over their negative views.  No matter how often we shake our puny fists, He’s strong.  He’s there and He knows that we need Him more than we need anything else this planet has to offer.

Some days are hard.  Some days are full of coping with one thing or another.  Some days feel like there’s nothing left, nothing to wonder about, nothing wonderful.  Fortunately, that feeling gives way to truth and the truth sets you free to see that there is much to be in awe about, much to help you shake off the lethargy.  As Oprah said in her farewell show after 25 years, “you have it.”  You have the light of God within you to do your calling.  You have everything you need to stand up and be counted and to not only see that wonders never cease, but to become part of the force that brings wonder and delight to others.  You have something special that others need and it’s important that you don’t hoard it away, store it in a box, or simply give up on it because it seems like too much effort.  Consider yourself on a team.  You and God are a force to be reckoned with.  You’re a team that cannot be defeated, but you can’t walk off the field.  You have to stay and keep in the game.  In fact, God’s wearing your jersey.  He’s got your number.  So play!

Today, make it your business to stop and be awed at something around you.  Really see the landscape.  Really consider the miracle that comes in the form of your children.  Really understand the complexity of human nature and the simplicity of God’s love.  Be in awe because “wonders never cease.”

 

Karen

Missing Matt Dillon

July 27, 2011 in Inspirational, Uncategorized

I guess growing up in the Gunsmoke era meant that I was gently exposed to the rough and tumble West and its struggles with good and evil during my formative years.  Fortunately for me and all the other viewers of this classic TV show that ran for twenty years, we had Matt Dillon to keep everything straight for us.  James Arness brought Matt into our lives and reminded us that things like honor and truth existed even in those dusty corners of early TV westerns.   I find myself pining for Matt Dillon to make an appearance all over again to bring back the code of the West that allowed the good guys to win.  Today’s cop shows that go to great lengths to put the gruesome realities of the crime in your face and those money-making reality shows that leave you wondering whatever happened to common sense,  make it look like nice guys don’t actually stand much of a chance.  Matt Dillon lived on biblical principles and even kept his relationship with Miss Kitty at an always respectable familiarity. He was an honorable man and the producers of the show wanted us to believe in him.  We did.   It was good TV.

Personally, I’m still rooting for the good guys, the ones who respect the ideals of law and order and make all of us feel like we can be safe in our own home town.  It’s hard for me to imagine what it’s like for girls growing up now, teenagers with no heroes to speak of, no sense that justice prevails.  If I had to reflect on life from the vantage point of all I see on The Shield or Lost, I might not know where to hang my proverbial cowboy hat because chaos seems to be the order of the day.  The other night, I had a chance to go to the American Idol tour in Orlando.  It was faithful in the sense that it showcased the talents of the fabulous young singers from the TV show.  It was flashy and loud, maybe too loud at times drowning out the powerhouse voices and causing them to have to scream to be heard, but it was  great.  I couldn’t help thinking that if each of us worked as hard as those kids did to give our best to our work, or to our life for God, we’d all be a force to be reckoned with, but that’s for another day.  The point I wanted to make is that the show took on a whole different pace when Scotty McCreery came on with his deep cowboy voice, allowing us to hear the words of his spirited songs and quieting our hearts and minds.  It was just a bit of Matt Dillon walking into town and reminding us to get back to our roots, to hold on to the good.  For me, it was the best part of the show because it wasn’t about glitz and power, but about gentle longings for things we don’t ever want to lose sight of.

Today, remember that the good guys have a Source of Power that nothing can shake and that Source is the one lighting up your heart and soul.  You can step out onto the street, well armed, well prepared, ready to take on the villains.

Meet ‘cha for a sarsparilla!

 

Karen

Fathers, Dads…and Papa

June 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

My Dad has remarkable courage. He managed to help raise four daughters and with only one bathroom, that wasn’t an easy task. He started out as a teenage father with a teenage wife and he could have walked away any time. He could have taken the quickest exit and shirked the responsibility. After all, he was young. He was good looking and he was headed to Japan just after the War ended. Instead, he returned from active duty to the young woman who held his only daughter and created a family. With what little he had when he left the army, he started taking care of his first daughter and created a second one. He had courage and honored his commitments.

As a blue-collar parent, he couldn’t always provide special things for his two daughters, who soon became three daughters, and then four, but he did what he could. He wrote poetry to honor their birthdays and made swings out of tires. He brought candy bars home in his lunch box and found great delight in letting little girls discover the treat. He laughed easily and hugged us a lot. He was proud when we achieved something in school and taught us all how to bowl and how to fish, two things he enjoyed.

I know that people who are blessed with good fathers have a better way of understanding their Heavenly Father as well. They can more easily imagine the twinkle in His eye when they do well, and the smile it brings when they discover the special treats He has for them. Earthly fathers sometimes reflect the One who created us and that reflection stays with us for a lifetime.

One of the things I loved about Wm.Paul Young’s book, The Shack, is his way of addressing God as Papa. Papa is such a warm and inviting way to think of God. It brings a sense of connection and promise, of healing and hope. Papa takes care of His own, loving and guarding and guiding each one. Good dads everywhere are reminders of Papa, of all that is good about our Heavenly Father.

To my dad, Doug Moore, I say thanks for the love, the guidance, and the hugs of welcome that always make home a great place to be. To our Papa in heaven I say thanks too for giving so many of us wonderful fathers, to laugh with, to grow with, and to love our whole lives through. Happy Father’s Day to all dads who share your gifts of love with your own children, or the children around you who see the twinkle in your eye.

Karen

On Meeting George Bush…

November 21, 2010 in Karen's Soapbox, Uncategorized

No matter how I feel about politicians,  I was excited to meet President Bush during his recent book tour here in Florida.  It was an honor for me to meet a President of the United States. It was my own little moment of history making.

It made my heart happy to hear him say things that reflected his great love for his parents, his wife, and his country.  I laughed when  he said he didn’t miss being the President, even with some of its perks.  He told some personal stories, shared some heartfelt observations and was generous to the crowd.

Those of us who had purchased copies of his book in advance, were invited to shake his hand in a receiving line.  I wasn’t sure what you actually say to a former President when you get the chance, so I simply borrowed a line from his book and said, “God is good…to me, and I’m delighted to meet you.”  He took both of my hands then, and smiled and said, “God is good all the time!”  Then we chatted briefly about the wonderful story that inspired those lines from his book and I moved on.  It was a sweet moment.

My sister came up behind me in the line and she simply told the President that he was “gorgeous.”  Of course, that made him smile and he told her she wasn’t half bad herself and gave her a kiss on the cheek.  Safe to say, it’s a moment she’ll remember forever.  I loved the whole incident though because it was so incredibly fun and Bush accepted it that way.  Yes, indeed a charming man.

I’m reading Decision Points now with a different perspective.  I’m reading the story of someone who has had experience that I’ll never have, but who in one brief moment in time touched my life.  I’m hoping to learn more about what motivates someone not only to become a politician, which I confess is right up there with tax collectors for me, but what motivates any of us to do what we do.

Sometimes we seek opportunity, sometimes it simply knocks on our door and we answer.  Sometimes we create it.  I imagine George Bush did all of that in his journey to the Presidency.  I imagine you and I do the same thing.  We embrace our destiny and create our future every time we trust the steps we’re taking and our life path.  We are molded and shaped by God, by friends and by family.  We’re only as good as our next decision.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t claim that I’m proud of every decision I’ve ever made.  I’m sure our former President might feel the same way, but the truth is, we do the best with what information we have at the time.  I do that.  You do that.  It’s how we discover the best course to take.

Maybe it would be a good exercise for any of us to look at our decision points.  Maybe we would see that the responsibility of our choices rests in one place whether we like it or not, whether we had good reason or not, whether we were right or wrong.  Responsibility rests squarely on our shoulders.  When we own the good, the great, the bad, the ugly of ourselves we can go on because the decision will always be to do better next time.

My hope for any of us is that as we get to the place where we have new decisions to make, that we trust in God and can truly say,  “God is good…all the time!”

President Bush, thanks for opening my eyes to these thoughts.  God bless you, and God bless the work He gives each of us to do!

Karen

Power-Surged Faith

November 8, 2010 in Uncategorized

The other day I was noting how many cords I have plugged into my surge protector.  It looks like I’m wired to keep up with the world, yet that mass of plugs is really all going into one channel, one wall socket.  It’s the place where I hope to stay plugged in so I can keep communicating with those around me and do the work I do.  Oh sure, my computer may be wireless, but it’s still getting its energy from the router plugged into that wall.

What about you?  What are you plugged into so that you can get the energy you need to do the work before you?  How many ways are you protected from a sudden jolt that takes out all your circuits at once?

I love the quote that says, “People are divided into three groups:  Those who make things happen, Those who watch things happen, and Those who wonder what’s happening?”  On any given day, I’m sure that I’m one of those people.  I’m sure that I’m not always plugged in to the things that I should be or to the work that is really mine to do.  Other days, I’m running on full power and nothing can stop me, or so it seems until I simply run out of juice to keep going.  So in my strongest state or my weakest state, I still need to stay plugged in, I still need a surge of power.  Of course, I can’t really count the times I’ve stood around and asked God, “What happening now?”

The apostle Paul tried to shed light on this issue when he talked about the “thorn” in his side.  He asked the Lord to take it away at least three times.  God’s response to the request was this:  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

There’s a strange thought.  Does it really mean that God doesn’t want me to go around all the time at full speed, in full power, carving out a path like Wiley Cayote?  If I’m running as far and as fast as I can on my own steam, do I forget where that steam came from?  Hmmm…!   That could be the very place where I get off the track.

Sometimes I strive to make things happen and I do and it feels good.  I thank God with just a little pride that I accomplished something.  Sometimes I sit back and watch the world go by and feel uncertain as to what my role really is and  how I can be of any benefit to those around me.  That particular question will usuallly drive me to my knees.  Then there are times when I feel caught off guard, totally surprised, unplugged, wondering what is happening.  All my senses are on a roller coaster at Universal and I’m just left yelling at the top of my lungs.

That’s when it’s time to plug back in.  That’s when I need to find my Surge Protector,  the One who supplies all my need and the One who offers me strength when I’m weak.  As we walk into another week, let’s take all that leaves us dangling and wondering and plug into the real Source of strength.  Let’s believe that nothing can happen to us that we won’t take on together with His love.

So, plug in, stand firm, and know that your shaky knees aren’t in charge of anything.  The One who sees you on your knees has everything in control.  He’s willing to share the power of His love and His strength no matter how weary you are.   That’s a promise!

Karen

If Jesus was on Twitter

August 3, 2010 in Uncategorized

Technology has given all of us a chance to be better communicators, better able to stay in touch with each other.  We almost have no excuse for not keeping connected these days.  Though the art of handcrafted letters may well be a thing of the past, creative emails and profound messages on social networks abound.  On any day of the week, hundreds of opportunities pop up to be inspired, to be reflective, and to be present in the moment.  In the world of leaders and followers, we get to post a thought for the day in 140 characters and offer each other incredible insights and favorite quotes.

All that considered, I can’t help wondering what Jesus would do if He was suddenly in a culture like ours.  Would He have followers on Twitter?  Would He follow His favorites?  Would He send out a pithy message for each day so we could have a pearl of wisdom at a moment’s notice to keep us strong and grounded?  Imagining that He might offer us that kind of opportunity, let’s pretend for a moment that we’re following Jesus on Twitter.  I think these might be some of His tweets…

  • Just wanted to remind you I’m here for you anytime!
  • Hey, did I mention how awesome you are?  Keep going on that kindness thing.
  • Thanks for noticing that I have friends everywhere who need your help.
  • Nobody can bring what you bring to my world.  You rock!
  • Sure do miss you…let me know when you have time to talk a bit.
  • Hey I woke up happy today just knowing you were out there taking care of my children.
  • If I can help you in any way, don’t hesitate to ask…I’m always right near by.
  • You may not see me just now, but if you listen, you can hear me.
  • If you need a good word, just take a look in my book.  I’m here to answer questions and I autographed it just for you.
  • What can I do for you that would make your life more full and complete?
  • Just wanted to encourage you in your work today and remind you that we’re in this together.
  • You’re an answer to my prayers.   Thanks for all you do for me.
  • You really are true to your word and that makes me always want to be true to my word too.
  • Wow!  You’ve got that love for your neighbor thing down!  I can’t help but smile!
  • I’ll be following you all the days of your life.  Thanks for inviting me in.

Who knows what all Jesus might want to share in his tweets…but somehow it makes me happy to imagine it.  Maybe we can tweet to each other in a voice that sounds like Him any chance we get.   My tweet for today is…I’m sure happy you’re here in my corner.   Blessings and joy to you!

Karen

The CEO

June 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

Culturally, we seem to have a thing for titles.  No doubt titles are created as badges of honor to those who have built a reputation or a business or a life around a cause or a work that makes a difference.  CEO status is earned and learned.  We like to think of the CEO as being at the top, the decision maker and deal breaker.  We see that position as the seat of power.

Well, hold on!  Stop right there.  What about you?  Perhaps you’ve forgotten, but you’re a CEO too.  You’re the chief executive officer of your own life, with a rather Heavenly board of directors.  When you put your plans out there, you go right to the top for answers and direction.  In fact, you don’t have any one else you have to answer to so that really makes you a powerful CEO.  That makes what you do incredibly important.

Some of us have lived with humility for so long, we’ve become unaccustomed to the idea that we actually have any power.  We’ve done a good job of keeping others first, playing our cards carefully, keeping life close to the vest, because we didn’t really know we had more authority to act.  The fact is, we do.  We are plugged into the greatest source of power the world has ever known or will ever know so sometimes our humility is not serving us well.  Humming along when we should be singing, joining the chorus when we’re meant to lead isn’t serving us well.  We have big, BIG jobs to do and keeping the light on is hard work.

My role is to be the CEO of this blog.  I think of myself as the Chief Encouragement Officer.  I think it’s a role that fits me well and one that gives me the courage to step out in front, wave my little candle, and hope someone sees the opportunity to raise their candle higher too.  It’s up to us to raise the vision of hope, to keep the light on all the time.  We’re a little like that hotel commercial that used to end with, “We’ll keep the light on for you.”

When it’s raining so hard you can’t see the path in front of you, it’s difficult to remember that the pummeling rain is soaking the flowers and bringing the earth back to life.  It’s hard to believe that the gray skies will give way to peaceful clearings, awesome sunsets.  In fact, for any of us, life can take us to places where it’s simply hard to believe that all things are possible with God.  Our impossibles become His possibles when we step up, shine a light on them, and put them before our personal board of directors.  Nothing else works!  Everything else is an imitation.  The moon can never give off the light of the sun, it is only a reflection.  But as CEO, in this case, Chief Energy Officer, you get to plug into the Source of light and shine.

It’s time to work on your inner CEO.  You’re in command of this day according to the work you have set before you.  Your neighbor is not in command, your spouse is not in command, only you are CEO of your life.  You’ve been given the power you need to act, to become, to live abundantly.  So hold that thought, and if anyone asks you what you do, just tell them you’re the CEO and you’re busy building your business because you have to answer to a heavily invested board of directors.

Keep on working it because what you do matters.

Karen/CEO

Karen

Designing Your Life Today

June 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I think the clean white canvas of the day is mine to design and that I can shape things any way I like.  Oh, I might wave at God as I’m heading out the door, a nodding acquaintance, grateful that He’s out there somewhere, but not really stopping for a coffee chat.  I imagine when I do that, that He might be wishing I’d come back for a little latte and some warm discussion of all that is possible in the day. Alas, I go on, seeking to create a work of art all on my own.

I’m reminded then of a quote by André Gide, “Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does, the better.”  In the best sense a collaboration of any kind is one where two come together to determine the next steps, create the vision, and prepare the canvas of opportunity.  I like collaboration.  I like knowing someone else is there to share the risk and reward.

The good news is that I can’t simply design today all by myself, even if I want to.  I can make the choice to nod at God as I go about my work, or I can choose to actually include His thoughts into what I’d like to do, but either way, I’m in a collaboration and the success of it depends on my willingness to be present, trusting and faithful to us, to what we bring to the table together.  Sadly, I don’t always remember this.

When I realize that I’m valuing my independence, more than the opportunity to collaborate, it makes me want to pack up my paint brushes and go back and start the day again. Oh, sure, I may have had a stroke of genius when I was out there on my own.  I may have stumbled upon some momentary brilliance, but nothing works quite as well as when I’m deliberate about the approach, willing to look at my true colors.

God has a design for your life and for mine.  Like a parent who sends his partially grown teenager off to a college campus for the first time, He sends us off into the world to become all that we’re meant to be.  But like a parent, He hopes we’ll call home often and remember that our greatest source of joy is knowing we’re not out in the world alone.

Let’s remember our Creator in all we do today, allowing His Master hand to vividly put us in the best possible direction, creating the most authentic canvas.  We can give the greatest expression of our true selves when we collaborate with Him, becoming a paint brush in His hand.

Go out now and show your true colors!  You’re an awesome design!

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him,  the son of man that you care for him?  Psalm 8: 3-4

Karen

Filling Your Shoes

April 8, 2010 in Uncategorized

A classic greeting card offers the sentiment, usually with some big shoe on the  cover and a tiny kitten sitting in the middle of it, that “no one else can fill your shoes.”  It’s a great sentiment really because it offers a truth that there is no one quite like you.  Turning that phrase a bit we also might be reminded of the one that says “You have big shoes to fill.”  That one sets a different tone, now you’re the person in line behind someone great, stepping into the role, hoping you can do the job.

We also have the saying “if the shoe fits” meaning perhaps that we need to own an idea or an action because someone has reminded us of a truth we might not have wanted to recall.  Perhaps we borrowed that one from Cinderella, who apparently was the only female ever to wear tiny glass slippers.  Clearly, no one else could fill her shoes.  Personally, I love Ellen Jackson and Kevin O’malley’s version of that story called Cinder Edna.  Cinder Edna wouldn’t let life’s troubles ever weigh her down.  She didn’t sit in the ashes feeling sorry for herself  just waiting for her prince to come along.  She actually preferred loafers.  She was out there planting seeds of joy and giving back to the neighborhood.  She didn’t have time to even worry about what wasn’t happening because she was so busy making things happen all by herself.  When she was introduced to the Prince’s brother, she hit if off with him because he was a go-getter, a goofy dancer, and otherwise authentic person just like herself.  She left the Prince, who was really quite a yawner, to Cinderella.

As long as we’re remembering fanciful shoes, we might think of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz as well.  Getting blown out of Kansas, Dorothy has to retrace steps a hundred different ways, following the yellow brick road, fighting off scary creatures and making friends with unlikely characters along the way.  Fearless in her pursuit to find her way home again, she sets out to get wisdom in the form of a self-made wizard, only to discover she had the truth within herself the whole time. In fact, she was wearing the dazzling red shoes that would get her home again whenever she chose.

Sometimes, I think we’re like all these examples.  We get lost.  We try to fill someone else’s shoes but it doesn’t really work.  We lose our way and hope someone will find us, help us before we get caught in some other world where we don’t belong.  We try on shoes that don’t really fit, made of glass when all the time our loafers were actually the ones with the magic.  All the time, we had the power to change things because the gifts to do so had been put within us by a master designer.

These stories remind me of yet another one, the story of John the Baptist who was out in the desert making a path for Jesus.  John was a realist though, he had a sense of direction like few before him or since.  He said, “He Who is coming after me is mightier than I.  Whose sandals I am not worthy or fit to take off or carry.”  John had a sense that those sandals were going to be big ones to fill and he was right.

Wherever we walk today, we have big shoes to fill.  Whether we’re stepping out in fancy glass slippers, hoping to be discovered, or changing the world in our loafers, one act of kindness after another, we’re in the big shoe dance.  Like Dorothy, we can tap our shoes together and find our way again any time because we’re always connected to the Source, the One who gives us happy feet.

You may have big shoes to fill, but you can do it in your own style!  Just walk the walk!