Friday, May 22, 2015

This Week with Grandma

Some days are easier than others. Know what I mean?
This week has seen quite a few of those "others" for Grandma. A nasal infection seems to be the culprit - as it interferes with her sleeping ability, and the antibiotic she's taking to clear it up was giving her stomach problems. The combination of those two things left her feeling kinda rotten.
Not a good time.
Grandma's trouble, coupled with my own issues this week, have made for a cloudy atmosphere around my house. But as we sat down for lunch yesterday she held her hand out toward me (Because that's what she always does.), and I took her hand in mine and we bowed our heads to pray. As I always do, I thought about the things for which I could give thanks. I thanked God for Grandma's physical improvement, for her massage therapist who was going to be coming that afternoon, and for...
And for God's faithfulness.
Because His faithfulness is so good, and so complete, and so, well, faithful.

As I prayed those words I noticed a smile spreading across my face, which seemed to also be making its way to my heart. And I remembered part of the lesson from last week's Sunday school class - that it is impossible for us to have both a thankful and discouraged attitude at the same time. I remembered it, and I was proof of it. Because sitting there thanking God and meditating on His faithfulness had completely changed my heart.
Which made me even more thankful.
And put me on an upward spiral.
That's the beautiful thing about God and His faithfulness. When you start thinking about it - thanking God for it - your circumstances become far less important. You remember the ways in which God has carried you through previous trials, He assures you He's still the same today, and you find yourself confident that He's going to see you through whatever it is that's in your face at the moment.

And just like that, the "other" days become less frightening.
Because God is good.
All the time!

Karen

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Getting Ready to Fight

Prayer has long been an important part of my life.
But even in the past several months, God is calling me deeper and deeper into it.
He is convincing me more of our need to call on HIM and trust in HIM for all things.
Annnnnd, smack dab in the middle of this passion HE is growing in me, here comes War Room. I had the opportunity to see a pre-release screening of this movie a couple of weeks ago and was immediately excited about it. Since seeing the movie I have been more aware of my own prayers, and more confident that God will show HIS power through them.
There was a man who stood at the end of the movie (in the theater where I saw the screening) and shouted, "Who will join me in this battle?" I think everyone stood in response to his (HIS!) call and I am eager to go forward in this movement.

Here's a look at the heart of War Room. Please take a minute to see what has gotten me so enthused.

There has been a call to pray for War Room this coming Friday, May 22. I am full of expectant hope for what God will do in our country and world through the movement which will be started by this movie. And I am going to be praying Friday. Would love for you to join me. You may find specific details here.
See you on the battlefield!

Karen

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

When Angels Come Knocking

Oh, the beauty of God and His gracious ways.

I was struggling fiercely on Sunday with depressive thoughts.
As in, I can't remember the last time I have felt so rotten. I kept "hearing" everything as an attack on who I am. Fighting off the lies with the Truth was physically exhausting me. In my head I knew this was a battle which has already been won. I knew I have the Holy Spirit on my side, and He will empower me with everything I need to overcome these conflicts.
Still, I was feeling low.
And going lower.
Couldn't wait until it was time to go to bed and start on a new day.
But Monday morning I woke up ready to go back to bed. Soooo tired. Monday never waits for me, though, so I got up and began my day. I was thankful for a fresh start, trusting in God's mercies which are new every morning, and hopeful it would be a better day. Yet, the cloud from Sunday seemed to still be hanging over my head.
Until...

An angel came knocking.
I was sitting at the table avoiding the laundry which needed folding catching up on Facebook (Yeah. That's it!) when there was a knock at my door. And in walked a friend. Her sweet spirit lit up the entire room when she entered. (It's a big "open" room. That's how bright her presence was. *smile*) She was just stopping by quick to bring me a couple things she had for me, and before she left she said, "Prayer?" I looked in her kind eyes, and I knew her offer was real. So I told her about Sunday. She put her hands on my shoulders and took me to the Throne where she asked my Father to lift me up.
And I realized He already was. God had been lifting me up from the moment my friend walked through my door. He knew what I needed, and He made it happen.
Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.

Isaiah 65:24
Oh, the beauty of God and His gracious ways!

Karen

Monday, May 18, 2015

When God Speaks Through Your Own Words

This past weekend I spoke for a women's retreat.
Since I didn't have time to record a video devotion before the retreat, I decided to have a friend capture a moment from one of my sessions to post for you. At this point, we were talking about Exodus 6:6-9, when God was speaking very encouraging words to the Israelites but they were so distressed with their circumstance that they couldn't hear Him. And I shared a story about a time recently when God used an interaction with my dog to remind me that sometimes I act the very same way.
BTW, one of the women in attendance lives in my neighborhood. She is the one to whom I was talking about Mindy.


May you have a wonderful, Jesus-FULL day!

Karen

Friday, May 15, 2015

This Week with Grandma

OK. So, I am convinced the worst combination of personality traits for any given task is to have a recovering perfectionist doing a job for a doesn't-realize-she-is-a-perfectionist. (When the recovering perfectionist is fully aware of the other individual's - uh - condition.) Especially when the task in question is one which simply cannot be completed to a perfectionist's standard.

And there you have the background information necessary to understand the exasperation welling up within my when I say:
This week, I faced the greatest challenge I have ev.er. faced while ironing a pair of pants.
As in, I was ready to cut apart and re-sew the stupid challenging pants.
See, Grandma was going out to spend the day with my dad and my aunt. She was so excited about it. Started thinking about what she would wear DAYS in advance. (That's where I came in.) Grandma wanted to wear a particular pair of pants, which needed to be ironed. And she asked me to do it.
I'll be the first to admit, I don't do much ironing. But I'm not afraid of it. And I was happy to help my grandmother in this way. You need to understand, however, that she is very particular. She always looks sharp when she dresses to go out, and I knew she would be expecting a top-notch job from her "laundress."
I fully intended to give her that high quality result.
So, there I am, lining up the seams in the leg of her pants. I pressed the back side of the leg. Got the crease just where I thought she would like it, being careful to keep the seam on the inside in line with the seam on the outside. But when I started pressing the front side of the leg something went terribly wrong. The crease wouldn't line up both above and below the knee if I kept the seams in line. It was like there was extra fabric in places it shouldn't be, and I'm all, C'mon! Ironing these pants shouldn't be this hard.
I began a personal debate inside my head. One side telling me to relax, let go of my perfectionist tendencies, and iron the crease in a crooked manner. Since that's the way the material seemed to want to go, anyway. The other side retorting, Oh, no. That'll never do. As a memory came to me of Grandma sitting in a chair, examining the crease going down the front of her pant.

And so the battles continued.

The one between myself and me - arguing about letting go of perfectionist ideals while realizing Grandma's standards were that high.
And the one between me, the iron, and the stupid challenging pants.
In the end, I did the best I could.
It wasn't "perfect."
However, Grandma didn't care. Or didn't notice. Or was too polite say anything. Anyway, she had a great time with her children. And that's what really mattered.

But I'm telling you, for the love of mental stability, never send a recovering perfectionist to do a job for someone who has a history of expecting perfection.
It might just send her off the deep end. *wink*

Karen

Thursday, May 14, 2015

HE Knows

Several years ago I memorized Psalm 139, and God continues to speak to me through those words. Yesterday HE had me remembering verse 2.

You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

~Psalm 139:2
*Honest moment*
I love what I'm doing now. Staying home, taking care of Grandma and my family. But sometimes I get tired. Sometimes life's demands get big, and not all things go as planned. Disappointments happen, feelings get bruised, pride tries to rear its ugly head, and I get to top it all off with an achy back.
Yeah. I reached that point yesterday.
Er, Tuesday.
So yesterday I was trying to operate with a smile in place, and a cheery disposition. But it was so fake. I just wasn't experiencing inside what I was trying to portray outside. And I felt like a hypocrite.
That is, until God brought Psalm 139:2 to my mind and I remembered that HE perceives my thoughts from afar. I thought, You know how I'm really feeling, don't You, God. I can't be fake to You, because You know my thoughts.
By Gods' grace, I was alone in that moment and was able to just let down my guard and be real. I was comforted by the knowledge that HE sees me, and HE knows me.
It felt so good to know that I was known. God reminded me that HE knows it all.
And HE still cherishes me.

I'd love to say that after our moment together, I went on with the rest of my day happy as a lark. But I didn't. And that was really OK with me. Because, instead, I went on with the rest of my day confident that HE knows me. HE can handle my stressful days and overwhelmed feelings. And because of who HE is, I'm going to be just fine.

Thank You, God, for knowing and loving even me.

If you've been having days like mine, I pray these words will be an encouragement to you, too.

Karen

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

HE is Still at Work

Do you ever get the wrong idea about yourself and God?

Like, when He's using you in a particular situation, do you ever get the wrong idea that the work might not continue if you aren't there anymore?

As if HE needs you? (Instead of the other way around...)

I'd like to say I have never been there. But, uh, that would be a lie.
The truth is, I've been there more times than I care to remember.
The truth is, I was there just a few months ago.
And the Truth is, God is still at work.

You may remember stories I have shared here about a very special man from Edgewood whom I referred to as "B." This man stole my heart and I simply loved working with him - watching out for his needs, encouraging him to push his capabilities, and sharing our love for God. Honestly, when I resigned from my role at Edgewood part of me felt like I was abandoning him.
I mean, he was so special to me and we were making such progress. How could I possibly leave him now? What would come of the strides he had made in his recovery? (Do you see how I was thinking too highly of myself? *ahem*)

Well, last Friday I had the delightful opportunity to see B again, at Edgewood. And I'm telling you, my faith in God's faithfulness was bolstered like never before. The office administrator and the life engagement team told me all about the things they were doing with him, and the improvements he's been making. I observed their excitement and listened as they shared stories of what they're doing with B. And I thought, God, You're still at work here. You're continuing to do the good things in B which You started when I was here. It's YOU. Always YOU. I'm thankful for the part I got to play, and I am thankful that You are still at work. You are faithful, God!

My heart is peaceful, knowing God is good. I know HE will not abandon those who love Him, and those He loves. I know HE will continue the good works He has begun. I know HE has a perfect plan, and will bring it to completion. And I know all these things depend on HIM. Not me.
LORD, Your works are wonderful. I know that full well! Thank You for what You're doing in B - and all over the world. When You call me to participate, please help me remember that You are the One working. And my job is simply to trust and obey.

Karen