Sticking to Jesus!

October 26, 2010 in Karen's Soapbox

If you want to experience the full force of what the internet can do to create a community, strengthen the Spirit, and keep all of us connected in a lovefest of joy and thanksgiving, then you want to get behind the work of Tami Heim and Toni Birdsong.  They’ve just launched a powerful book and website at StickyJesus.com and you’re invited to dip into the rich content, the inspiring conversations, and the incredible opportunity it brings to shine your light.

The online community of believers throws open the portals to the faithful without labels or legislature.  It simply gives you a place to come home and share what you know and what you believe with others.  Some of us are always searching for more of the One we love, some of us are searching for people to share our stories, some of us simply want to bask in the joy of knowing we’re not alone as we walk the walk of faith.

Now, you have a place to go any time you need a breath of fresh air, a window of opportunity to bring you more peace and more grace.  Now you can sense the Divine nature of God as reflected in the voices of His people all across the globe.  Now you’ve got StickyJesus and you’re already part of the community.  It’s as simple as opening your heart and mind and clicking in.

Congratulations to Tami and Toni for this magnificent undertaking.  See it today on Amazon.com and get a copy of the book because you’ll want to refer to the profiles, tools, and links over and over again.  Welcome, StickyJesus!


Night and Day

May 13, 2010 in Karen's Soapbox

I just read Elie Wiesel’s incredible book, “Night.”  I’ve never read any of the work of this Nobel Peace Prize winner before, but I’m glad I read this book, even though it rips through my heart and mind at nearly every page with the horror of it all.  I don’t usually read things that deal with the darkness, the incredible inhumanity that we can exhibit to each other.  It hurts too much.  It makes me understand why even God might turn His head away when His children have become cruel and soulless.  This kind of reading is heartbreaking for me, with the sobering aspect of it, the story of millions of innocent people subjected to unimaginable indignities so that death itself is a gift. I can only then imagine how important it is for those who bring the light, who work in the day, to become even more willing to stick to the job.

The images of the Holocaust are some of the bleakest history the world has known, and Wiesel has painted the picture of his own survival through it all in such a way, that we can still hope for the daylight, still wait for good to rise up again.  Einstein said, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”

One question that keeps coming through in Weisel’s narrative is the one asking “Where is God? Why is God silent about what is happening here?”  Greater theological minds than mine wrestle with this question even now, but the only answer that makes sense to me is that sometimes God allows us to see that left to our own devices, we stoop to our darkest aspects.  The question that looms in my mind after reading a book like this one, is “Where am I? Why am I silent about the darkness even as I see it in the world around me?  Where are we when God needs us to be the light, to balance the possible outcomes for the greater good of all mankind?  Big questions!  Tough questions!

You hold a candle in your hand and each day you have a chance to let it shine.  You bring that light to many people in such a way that the darkness gives over to the blissful joy of sunshine and blessing.  What we can offer to each other, turns the night into day, the sorrow into joy, the opportunity for God to truly “shine His face upon us and be gracious to us and give us peace.”

One light at a time, one willing soul to another, let’s keep shining, for this part of history can never be allowed to repeat itself.  You’re the answer to someone’s darkness, the light that will bring them new joy.

The difference you make is “night and day.”


Too Good to Be True

March 12, 2010 in Karen's Soapbox

Remember Frankie Valli’s hit song, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You?”   It started out with the lines, “You’re just too good to be true, can’t take my eyes off you, You’d be like heaven to touch, I wanna hold you so much.  At long last love has arrived and I thank God I’m alive, You’re just too good to be true, Can’t take my eyes off you.”

You’ve probably had one of those “too good to be true” experiences yourself, but I just encountered one recently and for me, it had an interesting outcome.  Any of us who try to connect with others via the social networks like Match.com or eHarmony or others, know that there is a risk involved.  If you do it long enough, you get fairly astute at recognizing the players and can quickly move along.  Sadly, some players have such a good story, they can actually engage your mind, even if not your heart, long enough to seduce you into thinking everything about them is real.

You’ve probably already guessed that in my experience with this, the “real” became phony fairly quickly when the day after sending flowers to affirm his interest in getting to know each other, my would-be suitor, called to say he’d been mugged and was stranded in his travels in a foreign land and could I just send him enough money to help him while he waited to straighten things out.  If you know me, you realize that I genuinely seek the good of others and in this case wanted to help this person, but God intervened.  I went totally cold at the request and knew that it was a lie, a total sham.  The person was only engaging in correspondence to get to the place of scamming me for money.  Now, I want to say he was impressive.  He locked into my faith in God and claimed he shared that.  He had a deceased wife that even the thought of still caused him pain, and I empathized.  He had a son who traveled the world with him because they had no family and I was the first voice of love they had received in a long time.  Whew!  It was one for the books or maybe a good soap opera!  I never knew how awesome I was until I read his unbridled epistles.  It was truly amazing.  Add that to a beautiful French accent and I was nearly hooked.  Maybe God had actually done it.  Maybe the person I had prayed for for years finally arrived.  I was holding out a tiny ray of hope.  Fortunately, I was never truly drawn in and when the request for money came, I just said, “No!”

Now, here’s the part that interests me.  It’s not that there are unscrupulous guys who cruise the internet for women to prey on, though I think that is pretty horrible.  It’s not that he sent flowers and love letters and turned out to be an absolute lie.  It’s that I can’t help praying for him.  Here’s a guy that needs God in a big way.  I think this is just one more lost soul in a world that is upside down, and though he happened across my path, God protected me, but what about him?

Today, I am writing this for him, the guy who needs to face the truth about himself, needs to get down on his knees and receive a new story from a forgiving God and start again.  I can forgive his lies, but in my heart of hearts, I have to ask God to help him see who he is and find his way to the light again.  After all, as a believer, that seems like the only response I should have here.

I’m writing a book now about the dating experience for those of us who have been cast out into the system since we were 40 or so.  If you have any stories to share, please email me, it might be the best thing I’ve been able to put out there yet.  Funny, amazing, unbelievable…how different those stories are for all of us who only seek one thing, a kind and loving partner.  I can’t help but keep faith in that idea because it just can’t be “too good to be true.”

Bless you all today!


The Odyssey of Match.Com

January 26, 2010 in Karen's Soapbox

Some of you, perhaps the lucky ones, have been married a long time and have never had to take on the challenge of managing life by yourself.  For you, there are unique moments of craziness, other forms of relationship lessons you face, but for those of us who are single, the strange odyssey persists in trying to find love, or companionship, or even a good date.   We’re trying to figure out what it takes to have the partnership others already take for granted.  If you’ve never had to consider the workings of Match.com or any other online dating services, I suggest you say your prayers and thank God for His grace and mercy.

Just for fun, I thought I’d give you a peek into that world.  Of course I can only address this from my perspective.  But let me say, the whole process takes a kind of patience and discernment you may never have considered before.  You have to learn to discover the disconnects in the profiles.  This one doesn’t post a picture…why?  Maybe because he’s married or maybe because he’s overweight, or maybe because he’s just fishing and doesn’t want his girlfriend to know.  Maybe he simply doesn’t have a picture to share.  As you read the profile, you quickly weed out the ones who can’t write one good sentence to save them, or who talk about their love for PDA, you know public displays of affection.  Some are even willing to share what great lovers they are and how good you could be feeling right now.  Some are creative story tellers, but once you exchange a couple emails, you discover they’ve forgotten some of the details of their own story…and it goes on.  It becomes sadly fascinating to realize how many lonely people there are in the world. It becomes scary to realize you’re there too.

Yes, I have friends who have met life partners on Match and sites like Match, but it’s an endurance race,  a test.  Is it better than meeting someone at the local tavern or at church?  Who knows?  It provides an opportunity to ask more questions, sometimes those you probably wouldn’t ask for three months of regular dating.  Somehow being behind a computer screen makes it easier to ask.  Mind you, the person may or may not tell you the whole story.

That’s even more fascinating really.  Why would anyone fabricate their story?  Eventually you could meet and the truth will be discovered.  Nevertheless, they create a biography that is pure fiction; good fiction sometimes, but still not a word of truth in it.  Then there are those few who actually use the site as it was intended.  They post a profile that gives some idea about themselves, at least what they’re comfortable sharing in a public forum, and then they wait.  Sometimes they hope, a few even pray.

That would be where people like me come in.  We’re praying that a partner who really is honest and hopeful and loving and kind will post a bio and through the grace of God somehow connect.  We’re praying that he won’t be put off because we’re not a Barbie doll with plastic features and a foolish sense of spending.  We’re praying that he’ll see us even as we are, get past the number of birthday candles, the cellulite, the dipping bank account and actually care that we’re a real person in an awkward and crazy world, looking for a needle in a haystack.  That’s the hope…who knows the reality.

Sometimes  I imagine God hosting Match.com.  He has his giant book of potential life mates and page by page, He moves the players around until one day, they actually connect.  One day the miracle happens.  One day, they get to leave the world of the matchless and the lonely and live as He intended, two by two…in loving partnership.  That is the fantasy that gives me hope.  The Odyssey goes on, but the odds get better the longer you play.  Any day now, you could be turning a new page…the prayer could be answered.  Pray for me, will you?


If We Could Just Say “No” to War

November 16, 2009 in Karen's Soapbox

In honor of  recent Veteran’s Day remembrances and those who have given their very lives to promote the intentions of peace and safety for people all over the world, I wanted to share one of my favorite Shel Silverstein poems, called Hug O’War.  Imagine the child who is determined to right the wrongs he finds with love instead of violence.  Idealistic, certainly, but something to consider…definitely!

Hug O’ War (a poem by the late Shel Silverstein [Author of A Light in the Attic]

I will not play at tug o’ war
I’d rather play at hug o’ war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses
And everyone grins
And everyone cuddles
And everyone wins.

Imagine a world that allowed everyone to win.  What if we didn’t have to compete, or control, or invade, but chose rather to work toward cooperation, mutual understanding, generosity and the things that make great partnerships.  What if we just quit studying about war?   Remember Willie Dixon’s song?  What if we study war no more?

Study War No More

Won’t that be one mighty day When we hear world leaders say
“We don’t have to cry no more”, “We’re givin’ it up, we gonna let it all go.”

Ain’t gonna study, study war no more
Ain’t gonna think, think war no more
Ain’t gonna fight, fight war no more
We’re givin’ it up, we gonna let it go
We’re givin’ it up, we gonna let it go.

These are the dreams of peacemakers.  Certainly, I have great respect for those who protect and defend the price of freedom.  My dad is a veteran and I’m proud of him.  But somewhere in my heart of hearts, is a cry for change.  A few months back, I was on a plane that was bringing a young soldier home to his family and it was heartbreaking to see his coffin coming out of the hold and his tearful family waiting to receive it.  It’s a scene repeated countless times around the world and yet it never seems totally real to me that we can’t come up with more peaceful solutions.  We have years of training, years of intelligence, so much skill in negotiating and teaching.  Peace somehow falls off the list of options.

My intention in this writing is only to bring honor to those who serve and to remind those who make decisions about the lives of others that we realize freedom is expensive and we know that it often comes with the shedding of blood and the loss of life, the price Jesus also paid for our freedom, but it’s a human sadness that cannot be measured.  It’s a human tragedy that will never be fully understood at the loss of one more innocent soldier or innocent family in a village far away.  If we could pour millions of dollars into the strategies that promote peace, that mean we see each other as family members, all part of the human drama, all worthy of respect, then we would indeed achieve some kind of greatness.

In some small way, we can each practice Hug O’War.  We can determine that in our families, and in our communities, and in our neighborhoods that we’ll find the peaceful options.  We’ll look for the mutual understanding, the strength we can demonstrate by hearing each other’s hearts, and the possibility that might be ours if we exercise restraint and generosity and love to each other.  One writer put it like this:

“If there is righteousness in the heart there will be beauty in the character.  If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home.  If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation.  When there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.”

Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.  Psalm 133:1.  May peace walk with you and strengthen your heart and mind today.