In a world filled with hate…

…may I reflect the LOVE that is unconditional.  Lord, help me!  May I love as You have loved us.  You bestowed Grace and Mercy upon us, ALL people, through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  May I not be selfish with that Love!  May I overflow with what You have given me so that others too may know Your Love!

Where is the blame in these acts of violence?  Society?  Laws? Politicians?  Human Nature?

Where does it stop?  How does it change?  With more gun laws?  With more hate?  With more discrimination?

No.  It starts with me.  It starts with MY HEART, MY MIND.  Lord, if I am to love You with all my heart, all my mind, all my strength, all my soul, then I must love what YOU love:  Your creation, Your people, Your promises.

We as the human race are so broken.  We are prone to sin, to lie, to hate.  It is only through CHOOSING to love that we can overcome those natural tendencies we have.

In the midst of differences, LOVE.  See the beauty and interconnectedness through our differences.  Each of us is a thread in a vast tapestry.  Each of us, as tangled as we may be, add color and texture to the final Image of Grace.  We NEED the different colors, textures, and facets in order to see the Image of Christ in each other.  So LOVE.  Honor.  Extend grace and mercy.

And go.  Encourage others to do the same.

Whatever we do, readers, we do to and for Christ.  Be a vessel.

Circumstances vs. Identity

Today’s online Bible Study message got me thinking about separating my circumstances from MY identity!  Yes, I learn from the experiences I encounter, I grow through the ups and downs.  But that is not what defines me.  The Lord defines me.  I am HIS creation, and therefore, I am one of His GREAT WORKS!  So many times, I will have tears spring from my eyes when I realize who God is and what He has done for us.  He sent His only begotten Son to this crazy earth, to walk it in perfection, to take every sin (past, present, and future) on His shoulders, to die a gruesome death, and to conquer that death for ME.  For YOU!  Would Jesus do that for trash?  Oh NO!  He did that BECAUSE of the VALUE we have in the eyes of God.  God LOVES US THAT MUCH.  And God doesn’t love trash.  As soon as that truth hits me (every single time), I am overwhelmed.  How could I keep forgetting that I have such incredible value?  The lies of the enemy are strong, and GOD IS STRONGER.  So, let’s OWN OUR IDENTITIES.  We ARE daughters (and sons) of the King.

So much scripture speaks to this truth too.  Take a look (I have bolded, Italicized, and underlined specific text…)

Romans 8 English Standard Version (ESV)

Life in the Spirit

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh,could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Heirs with Christ

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Future Glory

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God’s Everlasting Love

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing will separate us from the Love of God.  How deep does His love flow?  It flows deeper than the blood of the Lamb flowed from His wounds on the cross.  It flows deeper than the bonds of death.  It flows through eternity, from before time began, to well after time will end.  That is the greatness of God’s love for each of us, as His people, and as individuals. That is the greatness of God’s love for YOU!  Yes, YOU!  What stops you from accepting that love and letting it flow around and through you to define you?  Give it to God.  Confess it.  Let Him alone reveal your identity.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

New year, more posts!

So I haven’t been keeping up with my blogging goal.  Having two toddlers will do that to a woman!  😉

Next week, I am starting an online Bible study with Proverbs 31 Ministries.  I did the online Bible study shortly after I began my blog, and blogged my way through the reading.  So guess what?  Yep!  I am praying I get to do the same this time as well.

I invite you to join me.  The study will not only work through scripture, but will also help us sort through legalism vs. true relationship with Jesus Christ.  Remember, it is not about what we do, but it is about the reason why we do what we do.  Our actions should be a manifestation of the love and grace given to us, that changes us!  It is not a mandate.  It is not forced.  And we do not earn our way into heaven, we come to the throne through acceptance of the greatest gift of mercy and grace the world has ever known.  So join me on this journey toward Truth.  Join thousands of other women as well!

If you have an e-reader, the book, More Than a Good Bible Study Girl, by Lysa TerKeurst, was only about $8.

2016_OBS_BSG_PreStudy_Square-03

 

“Bring on the Rain”

A number of years ago, I heard this song and had to pull over to the side of the road.  I had to let these words wash over me.  It was right after my sister and grandfather had passed away and I was really struggling emotionally.  Listen to these lyrics:

 

Yeah, bring on the rain, I thought to myself.  I felt like Job in that moment.  Just bring it!  “What else can you take from me?” I thought.  Don’t.  Just don’t say these words to God.  Why challenge Him?  I was angry.  I was lost.  I was hurt.  I was one broken child of God.

I fell so far from Him in my anger and grief.  And yet, through that same anger and grief, He drew me near to Him.  He renewed my faith, sanctified my heart.  As I reflect back today to that fateful December of 1999 when my world fell apart, I realize I would not be who I am today.  I would not have the strength of faith I do today.  I would not have the deep understanding that I will never fully understand the ways of my God, but I trust Him.  Yes, even through grief, I learned to trust Him.  Trust is so different from understanding!

And yet, I understand so much.  This world is fleeting.  It is temporary.  Nothing in my hands or in my life is certain except for God.  He alone is constant.  So in all the stability I was seeking and desiring in my life, I find it in Christ alone.  He is steady, especially in the storms of life.

Then I stumbled upon this song, and again had to pull my car over to the side of the road and just sob.  Let the tears fall!

 

Yes, I have learned to praise my God, even in spite of loss and grief.  I have learned to praise Him because He is ALWAYS worthy of praise.  Even when I don’t understand what He is doing, I trust in His Holiness.  I trust in His plan, in His purpose.  In my weakest of moments, He gives me strength to keep going, to press on toward the goal.  Even when He does bring on that rain that overwhelms and consumes, He gives me a life boat.  He fills me with His strength so that I may hold on for dear life and come out on the other side of the storm.

Philippians 4:4-7 speaks this truth:  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The peace of God is so real!  We never fully understand the truth of that peace until we are in situations where we need it.  God has given me much peace over the years since my sister died.  He has given me many blessings!  Had I given up when I wanted to, and followed my sister into death, I would never understand the idea of the fullness of God’s love.  I say the idea of fullness because my small, finite brain could never fully comprehend the vastness of the fullness of God’s love.  I have seen glimpses, and I have felt that peace that surpasses all understanding.  But to fully comprehend it is out of my league.  God alone can understand His own fullness.  He only gives us insight through glimpses of the whole.

And so I press on, because God has given me strength.  I press on, because He has given me purpose.  I press on, because I desire more of you to know and love Him as I have come to know and love Him.  Whatever storm you are in, whatever crashing waves are washing over you, hold firm to His Truth:  you are loved so greatly that Jesus gave His life for you and conquered death to cleanse you of every wrongdoing you have ever done and will ever do.  That is truth, and that is worthy of praise!

You are for me…

I have been reflecting a lot on Romans 8.  For a while, I have been getting stuck on the whole concept of “You are for me.”  Specifically, this line:  If God is for us, who can be against us? (verse 31b)  What does this mean?  Who can be against me?

Then it hits me.  God LOVES me.  He is WITH me.  When I am apart from His will, His Spirit draws me back in.  He guide me.  He gives me opportunities to obey Him, to draw near to Him, to seek forgiveness and His Truth.  He gives  us victory when we overcome the lies of the enemy with His Truth, with His strength.  God’s victory is SURE against the enemy.  God’s desire is for me to be continually sanctified and transformed to His likeness.  Nothing can separate us from Him when we are adopted through Christ.

He will not give me EVERYTHING.  He gives me what I need.  He does not want me do whatever I want; He wants me to seek after His heart and follow His will.  He faithfully reminds me of His grace, His mercy.  He fills me with His love.  His fruit grows within my heart and soul.  He desires my worship of Him!  I want to crave Him above all things!

I am weak.  I fall.  And His Spirit lifts me up, and the blood of Christ washes over me.  We begin again.  And again.  And again.  I am human.  He is full of patience and mercy.  He knows my weaknesses, and leads me to His Truth so that I may learn to flee from temptations.  He always provides me a way out from them!  He equips me with HIS armor so that I may stand firm against the devil and his schemes.

This is what it means that He is for me.  He does not forsake me in my times of needs.  He surrounds me, fills me with strength, creates the safety net beneath me that I will inevitably need time and time again.  And He allows me, through time and reflection, to see His hand in each and every one of those falls I take.  I am thankful for my weaknesses, for the strength He provides to bring me through them each time.  He carries me, even when I don’t recognize it.  Yep, I am human, and quite often blind to His Holy Work.  So when He does reveal that to me, I am in awe.  I am humbled and thankful.  He has saved me so many times!  Thank You, Father!  Thank You for Your limitless love!  I am constantly in awe of You!

It’s Not Fair…

I was reflecting on the Made to Crave Bible study this morning, and as I wrote my response on the M2C Blog page, I thought I should share my response here as well.  Today and tomorrow, the focus is on Chapter 10 of Made to Crave, entitled, “It’s Not fair.”

So here are my initial thoughts:

It isn’t fair…that I have type 1 diabetes…that I lost my sister to suicide…that I struggle to lose weight…blah blah blah….
All these thoughts have run through my heart and mind over the years. It isn’t fair that every time I have those thoughts, I sink deeper and deeper into depression, which brings me more frequently to the fridge and the deliciousness I find inside. Or to the pantry for the jar of peanut butter and a spoon with which to stuff my face…
I have been on a journey to health. A journey of healing. Type 1 diabetes does not ever go away, and I am 28 years into the journey. Grief is a path that ebbs and flows, with crashing waves at times and moments of serenity, basking in the memories. There are violent storms, gentle rains, and sunny days all mixed in, no matter how long it has been. It has been 14 years now without the physical presence of my dear sister. And I still go on. Granted, I have been in and out of therapy and on and off anti-depressants (currently on again).

In all of this though, the Lord has proved Himself. He provided the best counselors for me when I needed them most. He has filled my life with the best girlfriends a woman could ever want, to the point these women have become as sisters to me. I have 7 women in my life I would gladly claim as my sisters. God knew I needed them, and they needed me.

The path He has given me is not an easy one. Looking back, I can see His handiwork in it: His safety net in place to catch me with every fall. By His strength alone, I am here. I am weak, but HE IS STRONG. Paul writes that he prayed 3 times for the Lord to remove the thorn from his flesh. I have prayed hundreds, if not thousands, of times for the Lord to remove this disease from me, or to bring my sister back. And I hear His still, quiet voice whisper gently as He pulls me into the shelter of His Fortress, “My grace is sufficient for you.”
One of my first blog posts describes my journey: https://walkingfaithlearningtolove.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/footprints-in-the-sand/

The story of Abby Rike is heartbreaking and inspiring.  Her video is in the Bible Study blog page, linked at the top here, and I linked her personal page here as well.  Check it out!

Diabetes Burnout

May 19, 1986.  My grandmother showed me this date in her catalog of memories.  She recorded the date and time I was diagnosed as a Type 1 (Juvenile Onset) diabetic.  I have a label.  “I am diabetic,” I would say.  Like it defines me or something. 

I’ve been dwelling about this a lot.  About a year ago, I went to a support group for adult women who happen to have diabetes.  At this session, our counselor mentioned a book called Diabetes Burnout.  I just bought it a month ago on my Nook, and just finished Chapter One. 

I also downloaded today Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst.  I read the introduction. 

I have a new goal to add to my list this year:  Each night, read one chapter from each book.  I think they are going to work very well in tandem with each other.  I am seriously burned out on being diabetic.  Having pneumonia this week is certainly not helping, as I have to take Prednisone which drastically affects my blood sugars in a hyperglycemic way.  Does not help I don’t like checking my blood sugar.  Who does?  Really.  That’s the burn out talking.

I need to remember this:  I am KARA.  As KARA, who happens to have diabetes.  It does not define me, but it is a part of me.  It’s not going away.  Type 1 just doesn’t disappear, even if I lose weight and exercise.  I mean, if I do those things, I can be healthier overall, and I still need to take insulin and I definitely need to check my blood sugars. 

And I need motivation.  As Lysa TerKeurst writes, I need the “want to.”  I know the “must do” and “have to.”  I am missing the “want to.”  Please pray for me.  Pray I find my “want to” so that I can be healthy, have energy, and keep up with my almost-walking baby boy. 

Pray this cough goes away.  Pray I am not defined by the circumstances in my life, but by the Creator who knit me together with this very specific genetic code.  He allows me to experience this, and who am I to question why?  Burnout and doubt bring that question to the surface, every time I hear a sermon or read a passage of scripture about “healing.”  “Why not heal me?” I hear over and over in my mind and heart.  Then I remember:  “Because My Grace is SUFFICIENT for you.”  A lesson I continue to learn, I am so thankful Paul wrote of his experience with the same battle.  “Three times I prayed for the Lord to remove this thorn in my side…”

And my syringes, lancets, test strips and insulin remain.  “…My Grace is sufficient for you.”  Lord, teach me.  Your servant is listening.