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

Humble Roots

May 3, 2017 in Family and Friends

This past week, I had a chance to spend a few days in upstate New York where I grew up.  I’ve visited there through the years, though not often enough, and this time I realized that some pretty significant changes have ocurred.  Either the town has changed or I have!  It seemed somehow out of sync with my current life. The main street is still graced with leafy trees hugging the houses and the center of town.  Some of the old Victorians have been kindly restored and a few even tempt the heart of a poet.  Other sections of town though, seem to have forgotten their original purpose and have not aged well.  I felt somewhat like an outsider peeking through a window of the now defunct train station.

Beyond the creeks and parks where I once played or the memory of river canoe trips and cookouts on the bank, I felt somewhat disconnected. I was drawn to the passage of time via the houses that no longer contained former family members, and by the school that is now an elementary school only and not a K-12 as it had been for me.  The diner where we once hung out after a victorious basketball game was no longer open.  My grandparents and my aunts and uncles have passed, though I’m blessed to have my parents still there, living just outside of town.  Perhaps this is the reason we can’t go home again, visiting our humble roots, hoping to see something familiar that will make us smile.  We can’t ask time to stand still just so we can capture old memories.

Lest this become too somber, I will say that there were also several unique gifts woven into my visit.  Certainly seeing my parents is always one of those, but seeing a high school friend that I hadn’t connected with since the graduation pomp and circumstance was another one.  We went to church together and then out to lunch and caught up a bit on the path each of our lives have taken.  Oddly enough, gray hair didn’t change the smile that could just as easily have beamed from an 18 year old, as he and his wife sat opposite me.  It was so much fun to renew a friendship that helped us revisit scenes from the chapters of our school days.  It was a gold nugget experience; one that I will cherish always.

I also visited Coach Green who still lives in the home he has shared with his wife of 67 years.  His daughter and I had renewed our friendship several years back and we discovered that we had a mutual commitment to our faith.  Sadly, Judy passed away much too soon and so visiting her family had always been something I hoped to do.  Clearly, God knew that we could bless each other’s lives.  I left his home in perfect peace and joy. It’s interesting to note that Coach Green and my dad went to the same high school in New Jersey, and yet somehow ended up in Unadilla.  Life is funny like that!

I know I still have a few old friends back in my home town and I hope that little by little to have a chance to connect with each one of them again.  After all, it’s only in sharing our stories that we can each understand our heritage and the blessings that life has brought us.  I’m so glad I was able to walk those streets of Unadilla once again.  I thank God for giving me a home there.  It’s appropriate that its name means, “The Meeting Place.”  I hope to meet more old friends there every chance I get.  May the grace of God shine on each one of you!

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

And Sometimes You Stub Your Toes

March 28, 2017 in Mini Moments

Last week I had the honor of speaking at a women’s retreat in Florida.  I was very excited about the opportunity and had prepared my talk over and over again.  In fact, this event was supposed to happen last fall, but a hurricane prevented the get-together.  So, I was pleased as my husband and I drove from Nashville to Florida, and apart from one nasty traffic jam, got there in plenty of time. All was well…or so I thought.

Since the event was going to be all day on Wednesday, we drove to the site to set up my book table and to check the sound system and other things on Tuesday afternoon.  It was amazing…great room, nice facility, lovely hosts from the advisory team, perfect!  We had just gotten everything set up and we’re getting ready to go to dinner.  I decided to put all my notes on the platform where I’d speak and then I’d be prepared for the early morning session.  And then it happened.  Yup!  Total embarrassment, total humble pie experience as I tripped off the platform, removed the nail from my big toe and sat horrified while everyone rushed to help me.  Talk about making an impression!

We cleaned up my toe and blushing all the way, I headed off with the team for the dinner.  Everyone was gracious and God took over because my toe never bothered me the whole time I was there speaking the next day.  It didn’t hurt until I actually was driving home and heading back to Nashville.

So, I share this because I realize that no matter how much you prepare for something, you can get surprised by an unexpected event, even one that makes you feel humbled right down to your toes. It was an auspicious start, but the opportunity was not lost as we discussed what it means to be a woman of worth in God’s eyes.  Trust me, your value to God has nothing to do with how well you can navigate your surroundings.  It has everything to do with HIM and His love for you.

Fairway Christian Church ladies, you blessed me beyond measure. I’m going to do my best to stay on my toes.

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! 

Karen

It’s Okay to Have a Soft Heart

January 17, 2017 in Inspirational

I once read a quote that said something to the effect of, “The biggest judgment of God on the world comes with the hardening of people’s hearts.”  If we look out at the world with a lens for politics or others who might convince us that having a heart no longer makes sense, then it’s a scary world indeed.  We wonder where the people are who are willing to throw their hearts over the fence first and see where it takes them.  We wonder if anyone remembers the old adage that claims we get further with sugar than we do with vinegar. We might even wonder what happened to the words of Jesus when He advised us to treat others as we would want them to treat us.

For me then, living this life is a heart thing.  Sure, we have a lot of work to do, but allowing bitterness to take root in the soul of humanity, or building more walls to keep us insulated and alone, may not be the best ways to exercise the power that lives in our hearts.  It’s okay to be a soft-hearted person no matter what your position is in society, in your community, or in your home, because that heart of yours is then able to be shaped and molded by the only real power in the universe, the Creator God Himself! Only He can give you a heart strengthened by the wisdom born of love!

Perhaps then our work is not to give in to those who have forgotten the power of kindness and love, but to surrender instead to the One who has been about love right from the beginning.  We don’t have to be theologians or politicians or scientists or rock stars to recognize God’s heart.  We only need to be willing to set our humble hearts at His feet and open the way for Him to lead us to being people who bless each other’s lives.

I encourage you to see if there is any space within your heart today that you might surrender to God’s hand, allowing Him to give you a little more power, fueled by love and grace and mercy and forgiveness…those are the tools of His trade…and yours.  Blessings to all of you, my friends!