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.

…when sorrows like sea billows roll…

One of my all-time favorite hymns is called “It Is Well.”

When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”

Horatio G. Spafford wrote these words after an extremely devastating time in his life.  He has lost everything in the Chicago Fire, and he has just lost his children when the ship they were on sank.  All he had left was his wife, and God.  And yet, in spite of the anger, doubt, fear, frustration, grief, and despair, these words flowed through his mind, heart, soul, hand, pen and ink onto paper.  God took H. G. Spafford’s valleys and made such beauty from the darkness.

Why does this matter to me?  It struck me today while I was doing my Proverbs 31 Ministries Bible Study that God’s Word is so powerful, and brings such incredible imagery to mind.  It is ALIVE, and sparks these beautiful tapestries that are our lives.

Here is the blog post I read today:  Managers of Blessings?  The questions at the end of today’s post are these:

And here are my responses:

O—For me, I am managing the blessings in this disease of Type 1 Diabetes. When I get so frustrated with dealing with this, God reminds me of this: “I am with you.” I was diagnosed in 1986. I have zero complications. That is a blessing. I have two beautiful sons. That is TWO blessings! I can work full time with minimal issues. That is a blessing. THIRTY years, God has allowed me to walk this road alongside Him. When I remember that HE is with me, my pity parties melt away and my burnout moments slink back into the shadows. They still come, and God still shows me He is sovereign.
B—For this week’s verse (2 Corinthians 4:18), the Amplified version caught my attention: “So we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are visible are temporal [just brief and fleeting], but the things which are invisible are everlasting and imperishable.” The words that jump out to me are TEMPORAL (fleeting) as compared to EVERLASTING AND IMPERISHABLE. Such strong words! Temporal brings to mind a mighty tempest, a storm over the sea. And you know what? Jesus calms those kinds of storms. These moments in life are tempests. And my savior walks on waters in the stormiest of nights. My savior speaks, “Peace,” and that storm even listens. IMPERISHABLE. My future, my eternity is so secured through my savior, I have zero doubts. So why let these momentary struggles bring me down?
S—“This week, when struggles arise in my everyday life, I will keep my eyes fixed on God by…” taking some deep breaths, and asking Him to change my perspective. Move me, Lord, move my eyes, move my spirit so that I can see Your Hand in this. So that I remember that You are in control. You are bigger, Lord. Bigger than ANY of this. Help me to let go.

 

I want to go deeper into the keywords from 2 Corinthians 4:18 that jumped out at me. When I read the word “temporal” in the amplified version of the Bible, the image that came to mind was Jesus in the boat with his disciples on the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus, asleep, remained so as a huge storm came over the waters.  His disciples feared for their lives, and woke him up in a panic!

Mark 4:35-41  On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”  And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was.  And other boats were with him.  And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.  But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion.  And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!”  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  He said to them, “Why are you so afraid.  Have you still no faith?”  And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and sea obey him?”

That is my savior!  Mightier than the storm, mightier than the wind, mightier than any situation God allows me to face!  The tempests are momentary.  They are finite.  My God is infinite.  When I feel like I am sinking in the storms surrounding me, Jesus is right there walking on water, lifting me up in His arms.  My weakness will pull me under if I forget to look to the hills, from where my help comes!  Keep my eyes on Jesus, and He WILL bring me through the storm, one way or another.  Sometimes, He calms that storm by saying, “Peace!  Be still!”  And sometimes, He calms me through His words, saying, “Be still and know that I am God!”  (Psalm 46:10)

So when peace like a river comes my way or when sorrows like sea billows (during a tempest) roll, I will turn my eyes to Jesus and KNOW that He is God, that He is mighty to save.  I may be weak and broken, yet He IS victorious.  He has already won the battle, AND the war!

So what storm are you facing?  Know that is finite.  There is a beginning and an end to it.  I have faced some storms over the years, and one has been long term thus far.  Through 2 Corinthians 4:18 though, God reminds me that it DOES have an end.  Type 1 Diabetes will end either with a cure or when God calls me home.  My prayer of course is for that cure!  Will it come in my lifetime?  Only God knows the answer to that.  In the mean time, as needed, Jesus is here with me speaking peace to the storms and peace to my heart and soul.  So then, it is well with my soul, and He is my strength.

Speak your storm, speak what it is.  Bring it to Jesus.  Trust that He will calm it or calm your heart.  Sometimes, He’ll do both!

Until next time, may you find peace in His presence.

Roller coasters and crashes

I love when the Bible study I am doing currently coincides with the activity in my daily life.  Boom!  Something terrible happened.  Crash!  God speaks truth into my life!  It took less than 24 hours for this to happen this time.

Yesterday morning, I had an “I really hate being diabetic” day.  I had listened to my body and taken less insulin than I normally do, and still something went topsy-turvy on me!  My blood sugar fell for no apparent reason.  I had to make some difficult decisions in the moment.  Thankfully, I had some glucose tablets with me that I quickly consumed, and even poured sugar into my hand and licked it out.  Disgusting, right?   Desperate times call for desperate measures.  And the roller coaster of blood sugars began.

As soon as I was stable enough, that’s when things began to fall apart.  As soon as I could, I got myself out of the situation.  Can I just say, PEOPLE ARE MEAN?!?!?  I don’t ever want people to have to experience what I experience, but yesterday was one of those, “I wish you could feel what I am feeling and experiencing right now” kind of moments.  In public, I balled like a baby.  Yes, I broke down in tears.  It took me a good hour and a lot of people talking truth into me to bring me back to baseline.  And in that process, God reminded me, “I am bigger than this, Kara.  I’ve got you.”

Then I read these words this morning:  “I NEED to open my Bible to see what God can teach me about peace and trust. Then He can show me how to become more than a good Bible study girl in my walk with Him. He’s shown me I can’t just read the verses. I have to understand and believe them, then put them into action by allowing His Truth to replace my anxiety.”  (Thank you, Walking the Daily Walk)

When I spend time with Jesus, He is able to remind me that He has the wheel.  He’s had it all along.  I try to take it from Him, try to be a backseat driver, but He NEVER LETS GO.  Even in the most chaotic of moments, He has it.  He never leaves my side.  And I know this.  I have experienced it time and time again.  I just needed yet another reminder!

How often do we all forget that though?  How many times in scripture does God remind His people, the Israelites, that He is in control?  That He is sovereign?  Oh, I don’t know, hundreds of thousands of times over the generations?  As He is providing Manna to them in the wilderness, or sending water out of the rock, or bringing them out of Egypt, or bringing them into the land of milk and honey, and even as He brings His Son to the cross, God reminds us that He provides, He loves, He is faithful.

Thank you, God, for reminding me that You are sovereign in all things, and that You call me to action through prayer.  So I pray for the people I interacted with yesterday.  I pray You remind them of Your truth.  I pray that Your Spirit will equip me with Your strength to forgive them before I interact with them again.  I pray that You will continue to walk me through this life of Type 1 diabetes, and continue giving me insights into the needs of my body.  You have brought me almost 30 years in this Type 1 journey, with minimal issues, and I am so thankful.  May I not forget that.  G0d, YOU ARE GOOD, in all things.  Teach me, mold me, make me.  I am Yours.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

…Perfection?

“Holiness is more about the devotion of my life than perfection in my life.  Jesus directs us to the object of our devotion in Matthew 6:33, ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’ As we seek Jesus we begin to bear a resemblance to our family heritage of holiness.” –Wendy Pope, First 5 app

This is what I read in my devotion this morning.  And I needed that reminder!  I am far from perfect, I will never be perfect…on my own.   Romans 8 starts off with, “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, 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…”  My flesh is weak.  I have already sinned many times, even unknowingly (especially as a child in moments of disobedience), and perfection on my own, redemption on my own, is impossible.  There is nothing I can do to make up for the mistakes of my past.

Yet through those mistakes, those trips down various rabbit holes, God has never left me.  Even before I knew He was there, He was (and is) by my side, having sent His Son before me, to rescue me, to cover me with his cloak of righteousness.  I did nothing to earn that (in fact, I continue to fall further from that unattainable perfection).  Yet He wrapped me in His loving arms.

Why?  So many times in my life, I have asked Him, “How could you love me?  Why do you love me?”  Be honest, we’ve all asked at least one person that “Why do you love me” question in some form or another!  So, God, why?

“Because I love you.  I made you.  You are my creation, and I knit you together in your mother’s womb.”

In these words that God whispers through my soul, scripture comes alive.

On the sixth day of creation, Genesis 1:26-27, 31 reports God’s words as, “ Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them…And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

Psalm 139:13-14 continue the whispers within me:  “For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

1 John 3 continues in this confirmation for me:  “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”  I encourage you to read the rest of 1 John 3 as well.

How thankful I am for the Voice of Truth!  How thankful I am to be covered by Jesus’ righteousness, that my sins, my mistakes, my shortcomings, have been covered, erased, removed as far as the east is from the west! (Psalm 103:11-12 “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is  his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”)

 

Oceans

“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

[6x]
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you’re my God!

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

Every time I hear this song, I am reminded that life does not go as I have planned it.  God really is in control, in every mountain-top experience and every valley full of shadows and unknowns.  So, as Peter did, I get out of the boat and walk on water toward Jesus.  Keeping my eyes stayed on Him, He will not let me drown.  If I should (and I have) turn my eyes away and focus on the stormy waves around me, I will sink.  I have sunk before, and yet He grabs my hand and pulls me to Him.  He is my Savior, and I will continue to call upon His name!

Fresh Snow

It is SNOWING!  Again.  But it is SO BEAUTIFUL!  I am looking out my window now, watching the big flakes majestically fall to the ground, adding a fresh, purified look to the dinginess of post-winter.  You know that look:  all the salt, dirt, deadness of the trees…

Soon, the buds will begin to form on the trees (except for our walnut tree, which is half-dead…).  The shoots of growth will emerge from beneath the thawed soil.  The scent of lilacs will fill the air.

But, until then, I will let the frosty fantasy bless my vision this morning.  Plus, the show is that  heavy snow good for snowballs…and a snowball fight with my husband.  It has been SO cold this winter, I have not taken Zander outside to play in the snow we have had thus far.  I think this morning, we will bust out the snow suit and explore.

Of course, I am reflecting on the spiritual reminders of snow as well:

)

The snow falling on the ground right now symbolizes the fresh snow that falls on my heart and soul through the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross at Calvary and the victory over death in the empty tomb!

That’s what scars are for…

I came across this song by Mandisa, and it just gave me some incredible shivers!  Listen, read the lyrics.  Reflect over what your own scars mean.  I am going to share after the music video what my scars mean to me as well.

 

Most of my scars are internal.  They are emotional wounds in my heart, my mind, my soul.  I do have some physical scars, like from my c-section last year on January 21, and this scar reminds me of the most incredible day of my life:  the day my son was born.  I had tears of joy spring instantly into my eyes the moment I saw him for the first time!  And that scar reminds me that all the muscle aches, the pains, the tears, the emotions, the hormone swings, the back aches were so totally worth it!  My internal scars took me so much longer to value, and I think that is because the wounds they represent took so much longer to heal.  At times, they open up again and healing begins all over again.  Thankfully, that healing is not as extensive a process as it was the first time.  My emotional scars remind me of my sister, my grandfather, my great-grandmother, friends, teachers, loved ones who passed from my life well before I was ready to let them leave.  They remind me of the bullies in school when I was in eighth grade.  They remind me of lessons learned in romantic relationships over the years.  They remind me of my own struggles to overcome depression, low self-worth, and suicidal thoughts.  And they remind me of a Man who also has scars.  That man is Jesus.

Jesus, who became scarred because of my sin.  Jesus, who suffered through countless stripes of the barnacled whip of the Roman soldiers.  Jesus, who had a crown of thorns thrust upon his head.  Jesus, who hung on the cross with nails through his wrists and ankles.  Jesus, whose side was pierced with a spear.  Jesus, who also was rejected, bullied, betrayed.  Jesus suffered emotional and physical scars so that we might come to know Him as our Savior! (Isaiah 53)  We have a Savior who suffers right along with us, providing balm for our own wounds, physically and emotionally.  He brings peace to our weary souls, and holds us, cradling us as a father or mother cradles a newborn baby.  Safe and secure in the arms of my Abba, I can find rest, I can find strength to continue down the path toward healing.

That’s right:  we have choices to make all along the way.  We choose to take the next step.  And that step is not always easy to take, especially when we are so weighed down with emotional pain and grief.  The strength to take that step is not our own.  Truly, if it were, I would not be here typing this.  I would have perished years ago!  God is my Strength, my Fortress.  Psalm 18 describes my own journey as well as that of King David.

So, my scars are reminders that my God has brought me this far.  2 Samuel 7:18-22 echos my awe:  Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God! And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it.  Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.

And as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12, I will go on boasting so that the Lord may be glorified!  He is my strength, He is my Savior, He showers me with grace and mercy that I am so far from deserving!  And yet, He has brought me thus far.  I praise Him!