It’s not supposed to be this way

Something brought me to church on that week day.  I now know it was the holy spirit calling me where I needed to be.  I awkwardly dragged my eleven year old eye rolling girl, my bible and drove to church.  The idea seemed silly as I belong to a large church with many members.  It is unusual to be able to slip in and out without being seen by someone. I really didn’t want to see anyone, because I didn’t really know why I was there.  I kept telling God that I could pray right where I was if that is what He was calling me to do.  When we arrived, I thought, “it’s my lucky day!  the sanctuary is dark, I can slip in and pray and slip out without being noticed.”

My heart was heavy.  My dear friends had lost their youngest son.  He had been attacked in a parking lot a few years prior…I’ll never forget that call.  My friend Margie and I are mostly texting friends.  When the phone rang in the middle of that night, her voice, the desperation and shock, “please pray for Stuart.”  I could barely hear her.  Dear Lord, I don’t know why this woman trust me with such an important prayer but do what only you can do.  Stuart lived, however, he had severe brain damage and his life was altered tremendously.  I remember Margie telling me he had to put post it notes all over his apartment to remind him of the most simple things like, brushing his teeth, combing his hair.  Stuart was determined to be independent and live on his own despite his new disabilities.

Time went by and a few years later, Stuart was found in his apartment dead.  He had suffered such severe brain injuries that he suffered from seizures and eventually the damage took him.  I got a text, please pray, my baby died.  My baby.  Those words hit me like they would anyone.  This can not be!  What about his only brother, his mom and dad?  How will they ever recover from this?  How?  stuart-cole-2

The next few months with my sweet friend were filled with talks of autopsy reports, cleaning out her son’s apartment, tying up his loose ends.  And like every parent in this situation it feels wrong, “It’s not supposed to be that way”.   The attack seemed to be forgotten and the attackers were unidentified and off free.  It seemed they had gotten away with, well…murder.  Not only did the family have their hearts broken from loosing their son, but also knowing he was murdered and their didn’t seem to be any interest or concern about who did it.

The Cole’s had fallen on some hard times in the years prior to Stuart’s death.  They had owned a successful building company .  Between the building recession and a physical injury they lost everything material that they had owned.  Now they had lost a son, a brother.

These were the things on my heart as I walked into my church.  The church where my heart was set free in Jesus name.  I was desperate for peace, I was desparate for God.  I didn’t realize it at the time, I thought God had sent me to pray for all who were attending the funeral, He was…and that included me.

I walked into the dark sanctuary.  My eleven year old plopped in a pew with her ear phones and I-pod.  I was not sure what to do, so I grabbed my bible walked up and down the isles and prayed.  God show yourself, show your love, show your peace.  Be with each person attending the funeral tomorrow.  Up and down the isles my heart ached, tears streamed.

When I was out of words and had prayed over every inch that I could think of I sat in the dark, in a pew up front.  Where are you God?  Show yourself God.  Show up tomorrow God.  They need you God.  Before I knew the lights in the sanctuary came on and the darkness in the room was no more.   I turned around and there was a man I have been serving with in middle school ministry for a long time.  I said something like, “don’t mind me, I’m just here praying.”  He told me to take my time, there was a funeral in a couple of hours and they were setting set up.  I sat there and watched a couple of flower arrangements get delivered.  I’ll be honest, I was empty.  I figured it was time for me and my daughter to go.  I got up to leave and there was our churches former choir director.  She is a dear friend of our family.  I told her why I was there and she asked me if we had any music for tomorrow.  She offered to play the following day for the funeral.  What a blessing that was.

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The choir director had arrived early and needed to practice for the funeral that was later that afternoon.  I asked her if she minded if I just sat and listened.  Of course she didn’t mind.  I could feel God loving me through the music her graceful fingers tapped out.  I felt God calling me to the altar as , Turn You Eyes upon Jesus was playing.  I was in the corner of the sanctuary, no one could really see.  I went up, kneeled and submitted my whole heart to God.  In prayer I knew God had a message for me. ” Turn your eyes upon Jesus,  look full in HIS wonderful face, and the things of this earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of HIS beauty and grace.”  The words sound so cliché and without meaning until you live them and experience them.  Until we hear and live out our lives and testimonies.  As Carolyn pounded the song out on the piano my heart was filled with light the darkness faded.  God was showing Himself alright…right then, right there, right into my spirit.

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I believe God called me to my church that day to pray for others.  I also believe that HE called me to church to let me know I was not alone.  There is a body of Christ and I just have to be obedient and keep my eyes on Jesus.  It’s okay to question, and hurt…but I must keep my eyes on HIM.  When I do that I am free to love as Christ loved us.  I love because HE loved me first.  Let us receive that truth deep in our hearts today.  stuart-cole-3   ***********************************************************************

A note to my sweet sister in Christ Margie:  I hope this blog brings you a bit of peace.  I can not seem to find words powerful enough to express my love and prayers for you and your family.  Margie, thank you for reaching out to me and reading devotions to me in the middle of your pain.  There is nothing more powerful than loving someone in the middle of the deepest grief any of us can imagine.  I give praise to our Father for bringing us together so many years ago.  Connecting us through the spirit of Christ.  I give praise for the others that God has placed to shine HIS light into your life.  I do not know any of them personally but we are connected through the body of Christ.

 

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Dear Woman in Black

I do not fall into the far right conservative or the far left liberal, I am human on this earth with other human’s. A few years ago I was faced with my own biased regarding the Muslim community. If I had not had the experience, I would have never believed that I held such fear in my heart. Hopefully these words move someone today. Peace.

Because you're worth it and so am I

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Dear Woman in Black,

Hello, my name is Karen and I am a Christ follower.  You may not have seen me in the store with my ten-year old daughter today,  my heart hopes you didn’t.  This letter is an apology to you.  You see, while I would have denied it up until today, I realized that I have let this world taint my heart.  When I saw you in your traditional clothing, unable to see anything except your eyes, I was filled with fear.

You see, dear woman in black, when I saw you I couldn’t get my daughter out of the store fast enough.  I kept thinking things like ISIS/terrorism and felt the need to protect myself and my daughter.  It is with shame that I admit that perhaps, after searching my heart, I have been racist.  If I am being truly honest, I would take that perhaps out of…

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When you love chickens…

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I peeked out of the back window to see my husband trying to get Spike out of the chicken coop.  My heart sank, he needed some help. He was fumbling, Bella, Nelly and Grace were all up in his business.  Hub does not have much to do with the chickens, except the hard stuff, gathering the dead or killing snakes.  I had gone out moments earlier to see Spikes lifeless feathered body in the bottom of the coup.  DARNIT…

The day was coming to an end, my daughter was not home so I went out to lock up the chickens for the night.   We were down to four chickens, Spike: a feisty Rhode Island Red, Bella, Nelly, and Grace: a breed of chickens called, sex link.   Spike was a hen that had been with us the longest out of the four.   She lived up to her name and was at the top of pecking order.  Pecking order is a real thing.  I don’t like it.  The past few weeks have not been good for Spike.  She had a leg injury that would not heal.  Over the past couple of days, she was holding back more and I knew it was the beginning of the end.  When you have had chickens for a while, you just know.  chicken-blog-chicken-with-butterfly

The thing about chickens, is they know when one of theirs is dead in the coop or chicken area.  They get all stirred up and squawky.  When I went out to lock them up I knew something was up.  Normally, they get themselves in the coop as soon as the sun starts going down.  We didn’t know this when we first decided to start raising chickens.  After a couple of days, chasing them around and putting them in the coop, we went out a little later one evening and they were all settled in. All by themselves.  No one told us chickens put themselves to bed.  When I went out and the three were not settled, I should have known.chicken-blog-roo

James is a good sport.  Right in the middle of jeopardy, I came in and asked him to take care of Spike.  He stopped what he was doing and went out.  Now, neither James nor I are “farm” people.  Sure, we have chickens but that is the extent of it.  So when he takes care of the dead, it’s a thing.  He’s the man and he just does it, for me, for our girl.  Husbands and Dad’s do things like take care of dead stuff and I am thankful.  Our girl Dixie, the St. Bernard,  he took care of her too when it was her time.  We drove separate to the vet and after, he left with her.  Took her to his brothers in the country and they buried her.  My brother-in-law had a back hoe and had the earth ready for Dixie’s empty body.  The hard heart stuff.  I can’t even write a story about her just yet…not even.  chicken-blog-reading

So there he was, taking care of the dead stuff and needed some help.  What’s a wife to do but put on her chicken boots and go out with the dead.  I thought I was going to be helping with Spike, and I did in the way that I could.  When I opened the gate, Bella, Grace and Nelly came running.  It was like they were telling me all about the sadness of the day. They have been through it.  Just a few weeks ago they lost their rooster, Roo-Stewart.  Roo-Stewart was an extra special white silkie chicken.  He strutted around and the girls loved him.  For real.  I don’t want to talk about it, how he broke my heart….(get it?).  The three remaining girls were out-of-the-way so hub could do his man thing.  He didn’t need me to help with the dead, he needed me to help with the living, with the broken chicken hearts.  Yep, that’s a thing too.  At least in my back yard.

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The thing with chickens is that they will keep on going.  They will get up in the morning, lay their eggs and just keep on going until their day comes for hub to take care of them.  Raising chickens can be a risky thing for a heart.  When I lost the rooster before Roo, (his name was Gene..),  I made myself a promise…to never love another chicken.  You can see how long that lasted.  My new promise is, I will love them for as long as I have them.  Period.

It’s like that in people life too, you know.  Dead is hard.  No one wants to be around it, no one ever.  Except when we are called to and then it is sacred and never forgotten.  Being able to say goodbye, and not being able to say goodbye…to lives well lived and lives  not so well lived.  May we have the courage to make our minds up that despite the pain that comes we will never regret loving and may we never forget that we are here for the living, for however long that is.

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Then there was a miracle

IMG_2846 (2)IMG_2917 (2)Matthew 14:13-21 (NIV)-(13)When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.  Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. (14)When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (15) As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late.  Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.  (16) Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away.  You give them something to eat.” (17) “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” the answered. (18) Bring them here to me,” he said. (19)And he directed the people to sit down on the grass.  Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves.  Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. (20) They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelbe basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. (21) The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Recently the middle school ministry at our church’s weekly lesson was based on the above scripture from the Bible.  The focus for that lesson was serving.  There was powerful testimony from our leaders/teachers of how God has/is using them to serve.  How by just saying yes to God has increased their faith and they have truly seen God move in their lives and the lives around them.

As one of the leaders of eighth grade girls (some of us have been together since 6th grade), these verses spoke to me in a way that I had not experienced before.  When I read ahead to prepare for the lesson, I noticed which verses we were reading and figured there was nothing new.  I had heard/read that story a bunch and was ready to encourage our girls to increase their faith through service.  As I read the words the holy spirit moved my heart in a different direction.

I got stuck on Matthew 14:13 (NIV)-“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.”  Previously,  I was reading to get to the miracle skipping over the horrifying tragedy that had happened.  John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin was beheaded.  He was beheaded because he made King Herod’s wife uncomfortable.  She didn’t like that Jesus’ cousin spoke the truth to her husband about marrying his brothers wife.  King Herod’s wife went about getting the king to order the death of Jesus’ cousin in the most devious way. This woman was determined to get what she wanted. She used her daughter to get Herod to agree to have John the Baptist beheaded. An old twist on the man being the head of the household and the woman being the neck.

This time reading the passage I got stuck on the human side of Jesus.  Seriously, can you imagine what he must have been feeling?  Anger, immense grief, helplessness?  The text says that “he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.”  Jesus and his cousin were close and loved each other.  I can envision Jesus just getting in the boat and trying to get away for a few moments alone.  Alone to pray, grieve, gather his own thoughts at the murder of his cousin who had served God with his whole heart.  Justice?

As you know from the text Jesus did not get away.  The text says, “hearing of this the crowds followed him by foot.”  So, the crowds knew.  They knew that Jesus’ cousin had been murdered, they knew Jesus was taking off to be alone, yet they followed him.  You would think he would be annoyed.  Instead “he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”  I used to get frustrated with the disciples when the disciples told Jesus to tell the followers to go away.  I clearly can see now that they must have been exhausted too.  Done. Drained. Finished. Depleted.  Then, there was a miracle.

Can you not only imagine the folks that traveled by foot experiencing the miracle of the bread and fish multiplying to feed thousands, but what about the disciples?   At the moment when they were done, drained, finished, depleted, there is a miracle.

Let this truth sink deep into your heart.

Peace,

Karen

 

 

 

Confessions of a pretender, faker, people pleaser and performer

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photo above: When I first started thinking about the blog, I thought it was going to be about posting pictures of the messy in my house.  Turns out it was supposed to be about the messy in my heart.

Authentic-Having a genuine original or authority, in opposition to that which is false, fictitious, counterfeit or apocryphal; being what it purports to be; genuine, not of doubtful origin; real.  Websters online dictionary

In other words, authentic people are never ever pretenders, fakers, people pleasers, or performers.  Or are they? The truth is we are all guilty.

It seems no matter what circle’s we travel in these days there is that buzz word, authentic.  What does it mean?  I have had folks tell me that they like my blog and my Facebook post because I am authentic.  I smile and say thank you, but deep down I think…If they only knew.  If they only knew that I am struggling with forgiveness, I can be moody, and a multitude of other sins that are not coming to mind at this moment.  I think, if I had a camera recording what goes on in my home, they would all know.  I am a pretender, a faker, a people pleaser and let’s not forget performer.

Just recently, my Facebook post went something like this: Today I will not be a pretender a faker a performer or a people pleaser.  The very next day, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought: you are a liar, that’s what you are.

I decided to check in on a friend who has been sick.  I was feeling guilty because I knew she had been ill and I had not checked on her.  Now this is the type of friend that will show up with a meal, a card or candy at any given moment.  It seems she always has something in her hands to give to someone. Once she saved a free sample of dog food for me.

I sent a text asking how she was doing.  All the while feeling a day late and a dollar short.  Her response? “Finally, I’m starting to feel better.”  Me: I am sorry that I am just now checking in.  I’m glad you’re feeling better (feeling like I let her down).  Her:”no worries, I know you’ve been busy.” Me: Yep, story of my life these days. Busy.  Feeling like a performer  (thinking she was thinking the same about me) .  Her: “Why do you say that?”  Me: You know too busy performing, not enough time for real stuff. May as well add faker and people pleaser to my list Her:” Sounds more to me like the enemy is mentally attacking you so that you’ll feel less than for your fullness of life and pursuit of God than what you’ve described.  Don’t buy into his lies about faking, pretending and such. You are who God says you are, beloved, redeemed, forgiven and chosen.”

Shortly after that my phone rang.  Another dear friend called: “About your Facebook post yesterday,  you are none of those things.”  I have been in a small group with this woman for years.  We have had some very deep conversations and I would say she knows me pretty well.  She said “you are authentic”.  There it was again, that word.  If she only knew.  I explained honestly to my friend that I have been struggleing, and her phone call came at the perfect time.  This is what she told me: ” authentic to me is honest and also knowing you can’t do it alone. Alone without God is what I think Christian authenticity is. Honest and God is Strength”.  Ah, the wisdom that God has placed all around me.

Don’t miss it.  Learn from each other, be real with each other.

Recently, I ran into a friend who I had not seen for a few months.  I had known this friend was struggling with simply being exhausted.  She has a bunch of kids and is always on the go.  When I ran into her she said “how are you doing?”.   I told her that everything was good.  I told her I missed her and was excited to see her.  Then it was my turn…How are you doing?  My friend grabbed my hand, looked me in the eyes and said “I’m tired, so tired.  Oh and I’m pregnant…again”.  I could see the desperation in her eyes and could tell she needed to say it.  My friend needed to tell someone what was going on in her heart.  I thanked her for being so honest with me and she said, “I don’t know how to be any other way at this point”.  Raw, real and authentic.

I’ve been meditating on this idea a bunch lately.  Does being authentic mean letting every person that crosses your path see every deep thought or hurt that is going on?  Not unless you are led by the spirit.  (That is an entirely different blog post)

I find when I am feeling like a pretender, faker, people pleaser or performer it has to do more with where my relationship is with God then the person/people I am trying to impress.  For example, recently I have been struggling with un-forgiveness.  I felt betrayed and lied to by a friend.  There was shame attached to those feelings because I knew I was wrong.  I could feel the foothold of un-forgiveness seeping into other areas of my life.  I felt anger, betrayal, and then guilt.  On with the mask.  Faking, pretending, and performing. inside I felt exactly what the world see’s Christ followers as: I was a hypocrite.

I did confess these feelings to a group of women in my Bible Study. The ladies prayed over me and the situation.  Oh, how we need to surround ourselves with prayer warrior’s.  Not folks that are going to tell us how wrong we are, but folks that can bring our brokenness to our healer.  My heart was covered in peace for the first time in what felt like forever.

It was not long before the un-forgiveness and betrayal was creeping back into my heart.  I felt shameful and somehow I couldn’t confess it to God.  I kept justifying those feelings.  It was causing a separation between me and my Father.  I was hiding.

The turning point happened a few days ago when we had to rush my eleven year old daughter to the emergency room because of severe chest pain.  This was our second emergency room visit with her in one week.  The previous visit was because of an acute asthma attack.  This mommas heart was done.  As we headed to the emergency room for the second time my heart was raw.  I looked at my girl gasping for her breath, she was experiencing the kind of pain no one ever wants to see their child in.  At that point I noticed that my husband had thrown the afghan that my son-in-laws grandmother made for me around our girls shoulders.  When the grandmother gave it to me, on my daughter and son-in-laws wedding day, she said she prayed over me the entire time. Remembering that moment,  I found words.  As the tears slipped down my cheeks with my arms wrapped around my girl, I whispered: I trust you, I trust you, no matter what I trust you.  I gave HIM my biggest fear at that moment.  That does not mean I was not scared out of my mind, what that means is that I knew I was not alone.  It means that I know that I have angels with me, it means that I know that HIS ways are not the worlds ways., it means HE loves my children more than I do.   It means HE knows and loves me relentlessly no matter what.  The good the bad and the ugly. At that moment I could be nothing other than real and honest.  My emotions were raw and sometimes that’s what it takes to get real.

Since then I realized my un-forgiveness is coming from a place of fear.  I am the closest to God when I allow myself to feel the very thing I am hiding from HIM in HIS presence.  It is only then, my dear friends, that I can truly come from a place of truth.  My fear is stopped in it’s tracks.  Only when I am truthful with God am I not a faker, a pretender, a performer or a people pleaser to others.  When I know I am honoring God the best I can the mask is removed and I can be the woman HE calls me to be.

My prayer is that someone will read this and remember that God knows the REAL you.  The one you hide from everyone else.  He knows every lie you have told, every bit of ugly in your heart.  He did not send HIS one and only son to the cross for us to be caught up in bitterness and unworthiness.  Jesus paid the price already, allow yourself to be honest with HIM.  That is how we can be authentic my friends.  Sure, there will be eye rollers and critics.  Guess what? When our heart is right with God we do not care.  We can get on with God’s work.

It’s not easy to shake the dust off when your feet are wet.

IMG_2111Reading “The Peace maker” and “Resolving Everyday Conflict” -Ken Sande Reminding me, sometimes you must shake the dust off and keep on keeping on.

Because you're worth it and so am I

Matthew 10:14- If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.

Recently, I have been meditating on this verse. Why is it that for me my feet always seem to be wet when I am trying to shake the dust off? You know, like when you go to the beach and your feet are in the salt water then you walk in the sand…hard to shake off. You can shake off the loose sand, but you must find more water to really clean your feet. Sometimes it does not seem like it’s worth getting your feet wet in the first place.

Our bare feet touch the sand and sometimes it can be hot and burning. We put our feet in the salt water and our feet are healed and cleansed. Then we are in the sand…

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The loneliest goodbye

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Those sweet feet prints are of a darling baby girl who never took a breath in this world.  Her life ended in her momma’s womb.  I KNOW this momma, I saw the heart break this momma felt.  I can still see her walking up to the tiny little casket, her baby, her future, her dream.  Dead, gone, forever.  Tears stream as I think about this sweet momma, as this baby was the second that wouldn’t take a breath in this world, and there would be one more.

The first baby that would not make it outside the womb my friend believed the lie “don’t look and it wont hurt”.  The second she held, bathed, dressed….until she had to give her back.  Forever. At least she had a box this time, pictures, feet prints, tiny clothing.  Then there was another years later…a boy.  She had to give him back too.

I’ll never forget the day I asked my friend about her girl.  It was like she was waiting.  Waiting for someone to remember, someone to ask.  She pulled a box out from under her bed, and I got to be part of it all.  For a few seconds there were tears and to my surprise joy.  Joy as my friend remembered what it was like to hold her, to bathe her, to dress her.  Then sorrow as we packed the box up.  My friend gently folded and put what she had left in this world of her girl.  Proof that her girl was here, proof that she was a momma.

There are many momma’s out there that have a story.  A story of a baby that didn’t make it into the world…or if they did make it, it was for a few short breaths.  The rest of us never ever ask.  As we do not want to be the one to stir up her pain.   What I know now, what I wish I would have always known, the momma never ever forgets.  The loss is always right beneath the smile.

A friend sat at my kitchen table just yesterday.  We talked about her baby boy…the one that his heart just stopped beating in her womb one day.  Gone, just like that.  She went in for a ultrasound, everything was fine days before.  Days before she heard the heartbeat of her unborn baby.  She dreamed of her boy coming into the world…he was gone, just gone.

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Sure she went on to have another boy.  Plus two girls before him.  Eight pregnancies all together, three live births.   She spoke of one of the “miscarriages” that she had on her break at work.  Reminding me of  a doctor I know who was having her own miscarriage as she was delivering someone else’s healthy baby into this world.  Her hope and dream leaving her body as she brought a healthy full term baby into the world.  The world says keep on moving, on to the next thing.  I see a bunch of momma’s who never grieved their babies, they just built walls.  If they ever let the sorrow all the way out it may never go away.  So they keep on moving.  The loneliest goodbye.

I think of how my daughter and I wondered into the store and began a conversation with a joyful cashier behind the counter.  The woman mentioned one of her grandchildren.  I went on to ask her how many grandchildren she had all together.  I don’t remember the number she gave me.  I do remember her saying that one of them didn’t make it. “She was a stillbirth” the lady said.  The lady went on to tell me that she does not always tell others about that baby.  While it had happened years before the grandmother still ached for her daughters broken heart as well as her own.  God provided a quiet moment in the store, tears slipped down both of our cheeks as the grandmother went on to tell how painful it is to loose something so precious.  The loneliest goodbye.

The grandmother needs to count her grandbaby.  The momma’s need to count their babies…all of them.  We need to not be afraid of hurting with the families.  Let’s stop saying things like “that’s going to make me cry” and running away.  Let’s be a world where we can say, “that’s going to make me cry” and run to the hurt.

One of my Christian sisters told me of a time when she had a miscarriage.  A woman from our church showed up on her doorstep and said, “I always wondered why it happened to me, now I know.”  It happened so she would know what it was like.  She could walk with my friend heart in heart because she KNEW what a loneliest goodbye was like.

As a obgyn nurse, I have sat with some of the momma’s who have been through this.  The times when I let myself feel with and for the patient and just let the tears flow with them have formed relationships and sacred moments with families that I will cherish forever.

I have a cousin who went full term with a baby.  She believed she was in labor, went to the hospital, it was too early so she was sent home.  Her baby girl was fine at that point.  When she went back to the hospital, there was no heartbeat.  Her baby, her dream was gone.  The families excitement of a new baby coming into the world was changed to heart ache and pain. I remember hearing the heart wrenching news.  How would she ever go on?  My cousin talks about her girl Aubrey.  She reminds my heart that a momma never ever forgets.  Behind that smile she remembers.

A song for Aubrey’s mom and all the momma’s who share, the loneliest goodbye:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IWxocGm21U

She was Empty

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She raised her hand in a group of youth years ago and was “officially” saved.  She would be  baptized a few years later.  They told her that she had to follow a bunch of rules.  She kept up with them for a while, pointing out and praying for everyone around her who did not follow the same rules.  Then one by one she started breaking the rules.  One by one, God’s laws that she promised she would keep would get broken.  She was empty.

She met a man, got married, had kids, a house.  She was empty.

Hours upon hours she would think about all that she had done wrong, all that she was not.  She was empty, her soul was empty.  She tried to cover it with what the world was selling.  She used to go to church and believed that God could never love her.  She believed she had broken God’s heart with sin. She wanted to seek him but how could he love her?  She was empty.

She lied when they said, “did you ever think about dying?”.  Not only to them, but to herself. She wondered if she had the spirit of suicide in her, like her earthly father did.   The father who wanted her erased from his life, the father who never wanted her, the father who called her a mistake.  The father she does not  remember seeing face to face.  She was empty.

Everyday it took all she had to meet the basic needs of her children.  She would lay in bed, “ten more minutes” she would say.  Ten minutes turned into hours, hours turned into entire days.  She knew she failed again, another wasted day.  She was empty.

She tried to get better, tried to get on her feet.  She saw a counselor, got a divorce, went to nursing school.  She met a new man and thought, this is it!  I’ve figured it out, I’m HAPPY!! She did every thing that the world told her would make her life better.  Really, she just traded one set of problems for another.   It was not long before, again, she was empty.

Sure, she went to church with a mask on.  Make-up- check, hair-check, shoes/outfit-check, these things were very important at church, especially during communion Sunday when everyone is going to see you for sure.  She rolled her eyes at al the sinners around her.   She prayed for this, she prayed for that, never really believing that her prayers were being heard. She was empty.

You see, this woman had heard of God’s love but had never received God’s grace.  Not because no one told her about it, but because she didn’t think she deserved it. She never believed she was worth it.   After all, she broke God’s heart. She went to places she never thought she would go.  She didn’t deserve God’s grace, and she would not give grace to anyone who ever hurt her.   The woman heard God’s word, and Christ followers tried to tell her God loved her no matter what.  She believed it for everyone except herself.  She could now add divorce to her list of sins.  Over and over she heard that God hates divorce.  In her heart , God hated her.  She was empty.

She sat in church one Sunday, there was a message about divorce.  She sat there and  wished she would have known what the sermon was about, she would have stayed home. After all, she already knew she was a disappointment to God. As she listened to the sermon, her heart began to soften.  The holy spirit spoke to her heart as the pastor told the truth, the whole truth.  That even divorced people are God’s people.  That God does not leave us or forsake us EVER.  She knew the difference between conviction and condemnation that Sunday.   She was loved.

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I have been thinking about writing this blog for a while.  I couldn’t get the words to come until I started writing it in the third person.  The person in the beginning of the story does not feel like me at all.  It was painful remembering what it was like not feeling worthy of the cross.    I truly am a new creature in Christ.  The old is gone.  The sermon about divorce was the beginning of healing.  Since then, I have held Christ’s hand and  gone back to my past and healed old wounds.   My older girls and I jokingly call the dark moments of my time lying in bed the “great depression”, although looking back there was nothing funny about it.

Through Jesus I live with boldness and courage.  He has called me to lead middle school aged children and has even sent  me to Africa on a couple of mission trips.  He has broken my heart for what breaks His and filled my mouth with words to bless people at exactly the right time.  In HIS perfect will is where I find peace.

I wish I could tell you that depression and anxiety never press in. When I try to be a people pleaser or buy what the world is selling, I can feel it.  I feel the old lies…”you will never be enough”, “God can’t love someone like you”, ect.  I fight it with the truth.  God calls me chosen, he calls me HIS.  He will never leave or forsake me….even when I get it all wrong. Jesus died for me too!  Please know that I do get it all wrong more than I would like to admit.  The difference is that I now know truth!  I know that HE loves me no matter what.  There is nothing I can do to make HIM love me more.  I am HIS daughter.  I fill myself with those truths each and every day.

The interesting thing about this journey was that I now realize that God was there all along.  He was there at my darkest and there when the sun was shining the brightest.  He gave me a mother who made her mind up that she was going to love me.   He has reminded me of my uncles who showed up when they didn’t have to when I was a little girl. I had grandparents who loved me with every bit of their heart.   He gave me a step father at exactly the right time.   He gave me children, brothers, sisters, aunts, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends that love me.   Oh, and an amazing husband who I am certain I fascinate in more ways than anyone could imagine.

This has been an incredible journey with Jesus.  My hope is that maybe someone will read this and at the very least remember the beginning of their transformation; at the most experience the holy spirit and know that they know that they know that no matter what, they belong to God.

Peace!

Karen

Social media and Jesus

Oh how it breaks my heart when I see “Christians” blowing up social media with God’s laws.  Brothers and Sisters do you not remember that the veil has been removed?  That when our Jesus died on the cross there is a new covenant?  That OUR hearts are the letter from Christ?  Not written with ink but with the Spirit of the LIVING God? ( 2 Corinthians:3-You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God,not on tablets of stone but on the tablets of human hearts).

I urge you to let Christ’s light shine.  Speak of your transformation in Jesus Christ, speak of how having the Holy Spirit live inside you has changed EVERYTHING about the way you view the world. Shout about the peace in your heart that is worth more than ANYTHING this world can give. Tell the world that our Jesus died because they are worth it!  Brothers and sisters, that is how we win souls.  Not by informing each other that we have sat in the judgment seat and know who is and who is not going to hell.  Need we be reminded of Paul, who pretty much sounds like someone from ISIS was transformed and changed the world?  Spend time with our Jesus before going on a social media rant that could indeed damage the kingdom instead of growing it.

Let us always remember before we go on a “what God says” rant to consult with our holy counselor first. Let us remember my dear brothers and sisters the first time that we really received the love of our Jesus and you believed that HE died because HE said we were worth it?   Then as time passed HE lovingly wrapped HIS arms around us and said “If you want God’s best you are going to have to change a few things.  Some of these things are going to take some time.  My child I will be with you the entire way and will never ever stop loving you.”  Don’t you remember what it felt like to be received just as you are?  If we truly want to grow the kingdom, lets post about HIS mercy.  Not our mercy, HIS mercy and HIS mercy is new every day!!!

Please do not mistake this blog as a note saying God does not care if we sin.  Of course HE does.  There is a place to discuss and wrestle with God’s word.  If we do feel called to “discuss” a matter we must do it without the veil.  Allow the Holy Spirit to shine so bright that the grace and acceptance of our Jesus can not be denied.  Let others be loved into believing that we are more than conquers through HIM who loved us.  That there is NOTHING that can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.  Then allow the holy spirit go to work in broken hearts.

Peace!

Karen