Karen

Warm Up to a New Year

January 2, 2018 in Inspirational

Many of us are starting out the New Year in a deep freeze as temperatures dip way below zero.  I’ve never been a good cold-weather girl so when Mr. Freeze shows up, this batgirl goes into her cave. The good news is that being in a cozy cave gives you time for reflection, time to consider new goals and what it means to you to get a fresh start.  Personally, I love starting over!  I love the idea of having a clean slate, looking at a blank page, and giving myself a chance to write a new story.  After all, no one can fill in the content of the chapters of my life better than I can.  I get to create the new goals, dreams, and hopes that provide clarity to what it is that really matters.  You get to do that too.

Oh, sure!  We often set these goals in January and by March, they are forgotten. The gyms are full of well-intentioned people determined to lose some weight or get into better shape as they start the year anew.  Those are good goals because your health is primary to everything else you do.  Today though, I’m simply encouraging you to look with love at where you’ve been, forgive yourself for those things that didn’t work out as you had hoped, and then give yourself the grace to try again.  Give yourself the opportunity to exercise your right to be a new you.

If you want to do a few warm-up exercises try this.  Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale and with each of those breaths, give God the thanks that you are indeed alive and well. You are still growing and changing and capable of becoming more than you were last year.  Then as you raise up your arms over your head and look up to the ceiling, imagine there’s an angel there, applauding you on and encouraging you to keep lifting your arms up to heaven.  Laugh out loud as you do your own version of head and shoulders, knees, and toes, and then clap your hands with joy.  Give God thanks and praise that no matter what else is going on, you are still able to try again.  You are in a position to start a new year in hope and peace and strength.

Then relax and pull out that blank journal you meant to write in last year and start creating your story.  Talk it out with yourself and with your heavenly Father and by the time you finish the first page, you will already feel better, more positive, more in charge of the story you will tell this year.

You have an amazing story and no one can tell it like you can.  Open your heart to opportunity, to spiritual growth, and to all that God has for you.  Stay warm, my friends, and Happy New Year!

Karen

Over the Top Christmas

December 16, 2017 in Inspirational

I will confess that I’ve been accused more than once of going a little over the top when it comes to Christmas.  I love all the parts of Christmas, from the birth of the Savior to the generous spirit of Santa Claus.  I love to decorate the halls and the walls and anything else that I can adorn with glittery ornaments.  I love to plan the gifts I will give to my family and friends. Nothing quite delights my heart more than seeing their smiles as we intentionally take time to share our gifts of love.  I bake cookies and breads and give them to anyone near enough to receive them and sometimes mail them off as well.  My husband says I have a childlike heart and I’m pretty sure it comes alive at Christmas, like no other time of the year.

Perhaps my approach to celebrating the event of welcoming Baby Jesus is more than some people do.  Perhaps my desire to express my heart and my love is a little over the top, but it’s nothing compared to all that I receive through the year from the people who support me, encourage my work, revive my spirit, and help me to realize how much I have been gifted by their presence every day.  To those who would wish I might pull back, set my Christmas up more like they would do, I can only say, that we each must find our way to celebrate the greatest gift that ever happened to any of us.  I feel pretty certain that what God did that first Christmas was over the top. His gift was beyond measure and everyone who participated in the event lit up with great joy. Angels and shepherds and those who had long awaited the Savior celebrated in their hearts and expressed their love through songs of joy.  They didn’t hold back. They didn’t worry about whether any one else heard the angels singing or if anyone else found their way to the manger, they simply spread the joy every way they could.

This Christmas, I’m going to be a little over the top again. There will be lots of cookies, lots of presents, lots of Christmas music, and lots of gratitude for what God has done for all of us.  You celebrate however you wish, but I’m going to pray that this season you allow yourself to go a little over the top.

Big love to you all.

Merry Christmas!

Karen

Wondering about Wonder Woman

July 5, 2017 in Inspirational

Yesterday was my birthday and Bruce and I decided to take the day off and simply be together.  We rarely go to a movie so we got a big bag of popcorn and pretended we were seventeen and settled back to watch Wonder Woman on the big screen.  It was a great choice for so many reasons.  You may feel differently about it if you see it, but I wanted to share the gift I received in a movie like that.  I appreciate a movie built around a female heroine, but that wasn’t the best part.  I appreciate the amazing technical aspects that bring a film to life, but that wasn’t the best part either.  The best part was that it made me wonder what part of me could possibly be like Wonder Woman.  You may laugh!  Sure, I don’t have her face, her power, or her abilities to fight off evil in the world, but what else did she exhibit? She reminded me that we can live fully and meaningfully if we believe in who we are meant to be.  In my case, that means that I believe God created me for a purpose, that He designed and equipped me to get a particular job done here on this planet.  One of the messages that was often given to Diana (Wonder Woman) as she grew up was that she had to believe in herself. She had to believe in her life purpose.  I think I need to do that too.  Beyond that, I have to learn to try even harder when there are setbacks, or even when there are bullies who want to make the pathways difficult.

When Diana found out who she was, who her Father was, she tried even more to live up to her calling.  She put her whole heart and mind and soul into it.  Now that’s the part, that I can do too.  I have been equipped by my Father to do amazing things. I have to be willing to put my whole heart into those things, to trust that they are part of my calling and to be steadfast in my willingness to keep moving forward in spite of setbacks.  I have to believe that I truly am my Father’s daughter!  I wonder if you and I can find our inner Wonder Woman, (Or Wonder Man)!  Can we believe so totally in who we are and what we are here to do that we put every bit of heart and love and imagination into it? Can we believe bigger now than we ever have before?  Can we put the wonder back into our own lives? No matter how old we are, we are called to perform wonders for the sake of those around us. We are called to love.   I wonder about Wonder Woman because I wonder what else I can do if I put my whole heart into it.

Stay tuned!  I’m getting my shield and my lasso of truth ready to do greater things.  I hope you are too.

Karen

Counting the Days

June 8, 2017 in Inspirational

It can be fun to count down the days to a special event in your life.  Perhaps you count down the days until Christmas with your children each year.  Maybe you count the days before you can take a great vacation.  My husband counts the days we’ve been married.  Today it is 1010.  Whatever reason we may have for counting our days, one thing is clear.  It’s important that we make all of our days count.  As it says in Psalm 39:4, “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered and how fleeting my life is.”

It seems to me that we now live in a “take nothing for granted world.”  There was a time when I would have taken it for granted that human beings respect and care about human life.  I would have said that love was stronger than hate, and that people with good hearts and good intentions would prevail. When we read the headlines though, it often feels like the good people are simply outnumbered by those who would do them harm.  So what does that mean?

To me, the condition of the world reminds me that there is just one thing I can count on.  I can count on the fact that God is still in control and that He alone knows how anyone’s story will end. If I trust that God knows my story, that He cares about me and trusts me to do a certain work, then the best thing I can do is make my days count.  I can embrace the work I am called to do and make sure that it gets done.  Sure, God can find someone else to do the job He assigned to me, but that cheats both of us out of the opportunity to walk the path together.

Some of us step outside on our own and imagine that we’re fine, that nothing can stop us, that life is built around endless days. That thinking may be the stuff that motivates us the day after we graduate from college, but it won’t sustain us through life.  We run into obstacles along the way and we have to find another route to success.  No matter how old you are, you might start looking at what it would take for you to get God’s work done today, because you simply may not be guaranteed tomorrow.  What you can count on is this moment.  Take this moment and guard it and love it and help it to become significant, because this could be the best moment of your life.  Keep counting the days if you’d like, but wherever you stand and whatever you stand for, be sure that it counts for God’s glory.

This is your day to shine!

Karen

You’re So Right for Me!

May 12, 2017 in Inspirational

My husband recently gave me an anniversary card that declares, “You’re so Right for Me!”  Now mind you, our anniversary is not until September 22nd, but we kind of feel every day we celebrate the wonders of God’s grace in bringing us together.  We like a daily anniversary moment.  This card also reminds me of a selection from my Wellspring book.  I thought I’d repeat it here for those of you who might need a reminder that “You are So Right for God!”  Yup!  That’s why He chose you.

“Sure, God could have passed you by. He could have decided that you had too many issues, too much ego, too many sins to deal with.  He could have thought you were just too much trouble.  He could have. But He didn’t!

In fact, He looked at you with the eyes of compassion and thought how wonderful it would be if you could see yourself as the whole and beautiful person He sees when He looks at you. He thought about your willingness to be tender at just the right moments and your ability to kindly tolerate those who aren’t quite like you.  He saw you in a way that raised you up above the turmoil and the mess that life can be and He determined that everything about you was good.  He chose you.  He thought you were just right for Him!

Today, He wants you to go out and walk in love, share your heart, and do whatever you can to bring peace and kindness to just one other person. You have been forgiven, loved, and entrusted with this one job.  You have been chosen to represent Him to others. Show God what you’re doing with His unending and steadfast love for you. Make Him proud that He chose you!”

Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other. And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.   Colossians 3:12-14

You are simply amazing!

Karen

Heart-Shaped Faith

April 20, 2017 in Inspirational

On May 1st, my new daily devotional called The Heart-Shaped Life releases into book stores.  I’m excited about this book, not only because it happens to be my 100th published work, but because one of my life’s desires is to be counted as a person who experiences life heart first.  It’s not an easy task and I recognize that as well as anybody, but with the help of God, it becomes a task worth pursuing.

As I look out at the world, the one that is way too big and out of control for me to feel at all effective, I realize that it may well be too big for me, but the One who started it all, has to rely on the little lights He has in the world to help make a difference.  He has to rely on you and me. As the world gets darker, we are more needed than ever.  Our hearts are soft and pliable because that’s the way God made us and He did so because He can use a soft heart to do His work.  He can’t do much with a hard heart. Your heart matters to Him. In Proverbs 4:23 we read that it is important to protect the heart because from it comes the wellspring of life or another translation says, guard your heart for everything else flows from it.

I come to you today to encourage you to throw your light around.  In fact, let your heart become so big and your faith become so much bigger that today you can do some of the biggest things you’ve ever done.  Is it possible? After all, you’re just one you…but one you fortified with a big, soft heart, can change the world. Please consider what you can do, wherever you are today to shine a light on others and share from a heart that is willingly and lovingly shaped by God’s hand.  You can make a difference. You DO make a difference!

Don’t be afraid!  Every time angels in the Bible appeared, they usually said something like, “Have no fear!”  My friends, you don’t need to have fear that the world is big and crazy.  You have a source of power like no other and it is BIG!  Reach out! Stand up! Love your neighbor as yourself and God will bless you.  A heart-shaped life is always driven by a heart-shaped faith, and your faith is a gift from God.  Put it on a lampstand and let it shine!

Sending you all big love today!

Karen

I Love to Tell the Story

March 16, 2017 in Inspirational

One of my favorite songs as a young girl was called, “I love to tell the story!”  It was written in 1866 by a woman named Arabella Hankey.  Here are the lyrics:

  1. I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
    Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love;
    I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true,
    It satisfies my longings as nothing else would do.

    • Refrain:
      I love to tell the story,
      ’Twill be my theme in glory,
      To tell the old, old story
      Of Jesus and His love.
  2. I love to tell the story, more wonderful it seems
    Than all the golden fancies of all our golden dreams;
    I love to tell the story, it did so much for me,
    And that is just the reason I tell it now to thee.
  3. I love to tell the story, ’tis pleasant to repeat,
    What seems each time I tell it more wonderfully sweet;
    I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
    The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.
  4. I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
    Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest;
    And when in scenes of glory I sing the new, new song,
    ’Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.

I share this with all of you today to remind each of us that if we have one mission here on planet Earth, it is to continue to “tell the story of Jesus and His love.”  Wherever you are, no matter what other work you do, let this be your calling to “Tell the story!”  One hundred and fifty years ago, people were “hungering and thirsting” to hear it.  I would suggest that there may be more people parched and starving now than ever before.  Talk it, sing it, tell it anyway you choose, but let’s work together to get the good news out there.  You’re an amazing storyteller and you have an awesome story to tell!  

 

 

Karen

You: “I’m Sick and Tired of Everything!” God: “Come to Me and I Will Give You Rest!”

March 6, 2017 in Inspirational

A few years ago, I wrote a book called Your Promises from God Today.  The idea of the book was to help readers express their feelings and frustrations to God and to understand that God has an answer, a promise that He is willing to make for nearly every circumstance life presents.  Since these are feelings we all have from time to time, I decided to share these ideas with you here.  In each section, you’ll see a problem, God’s answer, some Scripture promises, and then ideas to help you think about it more, talk about it with God, and then take an action step.  If you have days now and then when you just feel “sick and tired” of everything, or maybe just one particular thing, then take a look at this.

You can have moments when you’re weary of making one more effort to fix a problem or understand an issue. You’ve prayed a lot but nothing has changed. You may even feel like you’re walking under some proverbial black cloud that simply won’t lift.  When you’re worn out, the best thing may simply be to surrender it all to God, sit down at His feet and rest.  Give yourself a break! Even Jesus had to get away from the crowds sometimes and try to find a place to take a good nap. So let go of your weary struggle, put your head on Jesus’ lap, and relax a bit.  Here are a few sweet reminders:

Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest.  Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives.       Matthew 11:28-29 NCV

Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand.  And this peace will control the way you think and feel.    Philippians 4:6-7, CEV

He gives strength to those who are tired and more power to those who are weak.  Even children become tired and need to rest, and young people trip and fall.  But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles.  They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.  Isaiah 40:29-31 NCV

Think about it:  Some days all you need is a chance to stop the noise and the chaos of all that is going on around you.  When that happens, just climb up on your Father’s lap and rest. He loves to simply hold you peacefully in His hand.

Talk to God:  Lord, please help me to know when to quit, even for just a few minutes. Help me to put down the things that wear me out and leave them with You. Amen

Act on It:  Make a list of things that weigh you down.  Pray about each one and then tear up the list. You have put all those wearisome things in God’s hand.

Have a great day…refreshed, relaxed and renewed.  Bless you, my friends.


 

 

Karen

The Grasshopper and the Giant

February 27, 2017 in Inspirational

Not long ago, I was re-reading the story in Numbers about Moses and his request to send twelve scouts into the Promised Land.  Moses asked one representative of each of the twelve tribes of Israel to search out the land and let him know how it looked.  Did it have great trees and gardens? Did it have amazing fruit?  Did it look like the land of milk and honey that God had described to Moses all those years before?  Since by now, Moses knew he wasn’t going to be able to go into the land himself, he was simply curious about what was ahead.  After all, he’d traveled with all those people for nearly 40 years.

The part of the story that really drew my attention though was when the twelve men came back to offer their reports.  They had each gone to different sections of the country, but they came back at an appointed time and told Moses what they saw.  All twelve described the land as fertile and amazing.  It took two men to carry a bunch of grapes from a vineyard because they were so laden with fruit, and the land looked awesome.  Everything sounded great until one man said, “Yes, but, there are also giants in the land.  In fact, we look like grasshoppers in comparison.”   With that report, ten of the twelve men felt pretty sure, they would never be able to enter the land.  For them, the giants were too big, and God was too small.  As it turned out, only the two who believed God could protect them and go before them and defeat the giants, ever made it to live on the land.  So here’s my take on this.

All of us probably have giants in our lives.  We have those areas where we simply feel like grasshoppers and that our troubles or our dreams or our passions are just too big for God.  I know I have some dreams right now that could be my milk and honey, if I could just cross over the lands of my giants…those doubts and fears that cause me to only see my grasshopper status.  It’s time to change my thinking.  It may be time for you to change your thinking as well.  Let’s dump the doubts and stop thinking that everything we do is something we have to face alone.  We have a BIG God who has great desires for us to succeed.  We have to let Him deal with the giants, slay the dragons, and get rid of all those things that look too impossible for human hands and hearts.  We already know, “with God all things are possible.”

Let the grasshopper in you move on.  This is your day to do big things!

Karen

Keep Your Heart Pumping

February 6, 2017 in Inspirational

Since February is “heart” month, both in terms of remembering the people you love on Valentine’s Day, and in also remembering to sustain a healthy heart, I thought I’d share this excerpt from my devotional book, called “Wellspring.”

We talk about how to keep our hearts healthy at least in the physical sense. We recognize the sadness of heart disease as it destroys people’s lives. As true as it is in our physical nature, it’s also true in the spiritual sense. What are we doing to avoid spiritual heart disease? What are we doing to strengthen our hearts for God on a daily basis?

The heart muscle pumps as long as it can no matter how we take care of it. The problem comes in when we neglect it for too long, when we eat all the wrong things and avoid exercise, or when we act as though what we do has no real consequence.  The truth is that what we do matters, especially in matters of the heart.

That heart-thumping evangelist Jonathan Edwards said this: “See that your chief study be about your heart: that there God’s image may be planted; that there His interests be advanced…that there the love of holiness grows.”

The heart has a big job to do. Today and every day, check in with your spirit and make sure your heart is being nourished. Ask God to keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. That way, you’ll always have a healthy heart.

Let’s pray today that God gives each of us a healthy and loving heart, the kind that keeps our spirit pumping with joy!