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!

Karen

A Little Bit of Scrooge

December 19, 2016 in Inspirational

Dickens Christmas CarolThis is the season where we watch our favorite Christmas shows and this year, I’m pleased to be watching the various renditions of A Christmas Carol.  I’m not sure if Charles Dickens ever anticipated some of the poetic license that has been used to spin his tale, but overall, I still find it an intriguing storyline.  Of course, Dickens’ intention was to shed light on some of the cultural disparities of his day; the rich and the poor, the givers and the takers, the have’s and the have-not’s.  As I have watched this show over the years though, I realize that the brilliance of it is that we are all Scrooge sometimes.  Oh, we may not have his miserly ways and we may not be grumpy about Christmas, but chances are, some part of us stays walled up in a world we created in our own effort to shut everyone else out.  As the story unfolds and the ghosts of Christmas help us determine the reasons behind Scrooge’s life view, we come to understand his losses and his heart that grew ever colder, becoming one tiny ember in the fireplace.

Perhaps we don’t have money to hide behind, or a nasty demeanor that snipes at the world.  We may not have a big heavy door that we keep bolted shut so that no one can enter into our homes or our hearts.  But, we do have some Scrooge in us, or at least many of us do.  When we’ve suffered ill will at the hands of others either intentionally or not, we tend to erect walls to protect ourselves from letting those things happen again.  When we’ve been abandoned by family or friends, we withdraw and wonder if there’s any sense at all in keeping any relationships going.  We may even find it irritating to see so many people walking around with “Merry Christmas” on their lips when the world is in such a mess.

What will it take then?  Do we need a visit from the ghost of Christmas past to change our attitudes and help us understand ourselves better?  Do we need the ghost of Christmas present to show us what we’re missing in our relationships with friends and neighbors?  Perhaps we need the ghost of Christmas future to remind us that we surely hope to go to heaven one day and we want to leave a legacy of love and joy behind.  Or maybe, we simply need to remember that the One who created Christmas brought us all three of those things in the form of His Son.  He gave us a tiny baby to remind us that He knows us exactly as we are, and that we are all fragile and often innocent.  He gave us the hearts of wise men and shepherds who wanted something better for the world they lived in, right then and there.  He even brought us a peek at the future, a chance to understand that through that baby Boy we could leave a legacy of love and live in His grace and mercy.

Yes, Christmas reminds us to wake the Scrooge up that might be living in us and transform him to go out into the world with his heart on his sleeve, ready to be kind and giving and loving to everyone he meets.  Why? Because the Scrooge in us has been changed by the love of Christ and that light carries us through every season of the year.  With Dickens and Scrooge and Tiny Tim, we say, “God bless us, every one!”

Karen

Do You Still Have Room?

December 16, 2016 in Inspirational

One of the things we learn as we read Luke 2 and prepare for Christmas is that the city of Bethlehem was filled with visitors.  Everybody and their brother had shown up to be counted for the census.  Unfortunately, Joseph didn’t have access to Yelp or Hotels.com or some other source to call ahead for a room.  He simply had to keep walking, a walk that took two weeks,  with his very uncomfortable, very pregnant wife and somehow reassure her that he would take care of things once they got to town.  The problem was that everybody else had the same idea.  Every five star hotel and B&B was booked.  Every neighborhood already had taken in the rest of the wayfarer’s through their air b&b’s.  So, there they were, Joe and Mary, going from door to door asking if anyone still had room?

Having had three children myself, I remember what it was like those last anxious days of waiting for the moment when the pains of giving birth would begin.  I remember that all I had to do was call my husband, call the doctor,and head to the hospital.  A room was already prepared for me. The interesting thing is that I was nobody special, just one more woman giving birth to a baby.  When I think of Mary though and try to relate to her thoughts as they walked wearily along or as she rode on the back of a donkey, flinching with every step, hoping God had a plan, it must have been frightening indeed.  It must have made her wonder what she had gotten into.

Coming back into the current age, to the house where you live, I wonder if you have given any thought to whether or not you’ll have room if Mary and Joseph knock on your door.  Will you have room for the baby Jesus to come into your home and into your heart? At Christmastime, we are filled with a divine spirit of love and most of us do everything we can to reach out to friends and neighbors and our families.  We invite people into our lives and into our homes to share warm conversation and sparkling Christmas trees.

This year, as you open up your home to the people around you, give one more thought to what you’ve done to prepare for the baby Jesus to be born in your heart anew.  Look around your house and see if you still have room for Him and for His family.  Open the door to His love and offer the gift of His presence to everyone you can.  The nice thing is that it’s never too late.  He just wants to know if you still have room for Him.  “O, come, let us adore Him!”Christmas pencil drawing of Joseph and Mary and donkey

Thanks for giving room to all the people you love this holiday season.

Karen

I Voted for You

November 11, 2016 in Inspirational

I thought I’d confess who I voted for in this past election.  I voted for you.  I voted for each one of you who wants to be the change you hope to see in the world.  I voted for your strength and your kindness of heart.  I voted for your ideals and your dreams.  I voted that you would remember that leadership is and always has been in your hands.  You are the one with a voice that can make a difference.  You are the one who can champion a cause that is dear to your heart.  After all, you live in a democratic country that allows you to speak up for those things that you feel need to change.

Whether or not the candidate of the day is elected is not nearly as important as what you will do from here.  How will you show leadership that helps those who are in poverty? How will you make sure that people who are different from yourself have the opportunity to be treated with respect and to live in freedom?  The job has not ended.  Your power is not gone.  In fact, it may have changed up a notch just because you realize how important it is for you to live in victory.  It is not time for you to fold up your tent and go home.  It is time to ask yourself what can you do to make things better? How can you bring positive light to things that need to change?  How can you support the opportunity you have to make this world a better place?

I am glad I voted for you because I know you can do it.  You can rise to the occasion better than any politician will ever do.  You can be the joy of your family, the wisdom of your neighborhood, the heart of your city.  You hold all of those things in your hand.  This is not a time to think small.  This is a time to stand for what you believe in more than you ever have before.  Obviously, you can’t do it with violence or hatred which only perpetuates the problems.  You have been called to love and to trust that there is only One supreme ruler and leader of this world or any other.  You are part of the possibility and that’s why I knew it was so right to vote for you.

Today, I am thanking God for His wisdom in choosing you so long ago.  Yes, He voted for you too.  Together, we can effect the changes we believe are important in our personal lives, and in the lives of people everywhere.  Let the celebration begin for you have a bright future ahead of you and there’s so much work to do!  Thank you for being you!  I know you will make a difference wherever you are!image016

Karen

When Things Grow Dark

November 9, 2016 in Inspirational

I’m writing today to my friends who may wonder where God is when you suffer disappointment or loss. You may imagine that a political upset or a lost job or some other matter of critical importance, means that you’re alone. You may see yourself as walking in the darkness, uncertain as to where the light will be up ahead.  I understand those feelings because I have them myself at times, but I want to offer you one thought that may provide some consolation, some comfort for your spirit and it’s this:

But even the darkness is not dark to you. The night is as light as the day; darkness and light are the same to you.

            Psalm 139:12, NCV

God sees just as clearly in the darkness as he does in the light.  He does not trip over the obstacles that we so often build, the ones that get in the way of our being able to feel his presence or recognize his hand at work.  We see the darkness and we wonder what to do.  He sees only the light and always knows what to do.  Darkness and light are both the same to him.

Whatever your feelings may be about the outcome of this election or about the direction or turn your life has taken, imagine this.  Imagine that God sees you exactly where you are.  He loves you exactly where you are and no matter what you may think, he does not shy away at any point from wanting to embrace you and bless your life.  There is no authority under heaven that will be able to remain in darkness; he will be sure that each one, any person in leadership anywhere on this planet will have to come into the light.  He will be sure that all of His children will be safe in his hand.

He promised us long ago when he said, “I will be with you always; even to the end of the age.”

So, I embrace you today and remind you that you are being held up to the light wherever you are and that the details of your life matter.  Nothing will be lost in the darkness, for with God, there is no darkness at all.

I send my love to each of you today.  May you draw even closer to the light.

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