Monthly Archives: August 2013

Five Minute Friday – Worship

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Linking up with Lisa Jo again this week to participate in Five Minute Friday.

Today’s word is WORSHIP– ready, set go –

Music has always been in my soul – the one way that I connect best to God.

Singing in my car, music cranked up and praising God for all He has done in our lives.

When everything around me was falling apart and I felt like God wasn’t there – I sang anyways because it was all I knew how to do.

When I lost my best friend and wanted to honor her….singing was way that I best knew how to do that.

But singing, music isn’t the only way we can worship. My son Gabriel who is 9 just doesn’t sing. AT.ALL.

But man can that boy pray!  He learned the ACTS prayer and he has such spirit when he gets into it…eyes closed, worshipping God.

One day I asked him why he didn’t sing in church on Sundays. He told me that singing wasn’t the way that he was going to talk to God – prayer was.

Very well then! 😉

But he reminded me that worship is a unique experience for each of us and I am just so grateful that he has found a way to connect with God too – even if it isn’t the way that I do!

What form of worship best connects you to God??

Abundantly Free!

Broken Chains

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I have spent a large majority of my life in chains.

Bound by fear and doubt, concerns about how people saw me, plagued by the belief that I was never going to be good enough, that I would never measure up.

It is a miserable place to be and I know that God doesn’t want us to live this way.  Recently I started the Fall Hello Mornings challenge. We are studying the book of Ephesians. This week we have been reading Ephesians 1: 1-14.

Specifically we are looking each day at what truths, promises and commands we find in these verses.

Verses 7-10 stood out for me and I wanted to share it here with you! (The Message translation)

7-10 “Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.”

Did you see that??  God doesn’t want us to live barely free He wants us to live Abundantly free!

And to do so we have to start letting go of the lies and start claiming the promises!!

LIE: “I will never measure up…never be good enough”

TRUTH: “Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love.”

LIE: “I don’t belong”

TRUTH: “Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ.”

LIE: “I don’t have a purpose, I am not valuable”

TRUTH: “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.”

Friends when the lies come, and believe me they will because the enemy wants nothing more than to bury you with them….start claiming the promises instead. Say them out loud if you have to! Praise God for the truths He set for us in His Word and live free!

Abundantly free!

What lie have you been believing and what truth are you going to claim today instead??

He Calls the Broken

I LOVE to sing.

Worship music has long been the one thing that can lift my mood and bring me to the feet of Jesus. I LOVE singing praise songs. I haven’t honestly even heard a secular station in years. Doesn’t do anything for me….so I listen instead to songs that have an uplifting message…good in, good out right?

I wish I had taken voice lessons when I was younger and had learned how to use my voice better. I sing well, I think God has given me a good voice but it is no Natalie Grant! Within the last year I have become involved with our church’s worship team.

I love singing, love the practices, love seeing the people in the church praising God. It terrifies me every week I am on stage, but I do it because I love it. I don’t believe for a second that I am “better” than anyone else when I am up there…I am just using the gift God gave me to help lead worship.

But I have struggled with this a little.

I used to believe that I needed to have my life all together before I had the “right” to be up there singing.  I wanted to be involved but I knew that I was a failure, a hypocrite and a sinner and God calls the perfect right?

At least that is what the enemy likes to whisper to me….and for a long time I believed it.

And one day someone (so sorry I can’t remember who…) said the following and it stuck with me.

God doesn’t call the perfect – He perfects the called.

Oh such sweet music to this broken girl’s heart.

I don’t have to have it all together. I probably never will. And I can guarantee that I have a LOT of growing and refining to do. But knowing that God has called me to a specific purpose, and knowing that He will equip me along the way is enough for me right now.

It gives me the courage to say “yes” to being a part of something that is for His glory and not my own.

Today in our fall Hello Mornings challenge we were introduced to Paul – or at the time Saul.

Acts 9: 1-9 “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him,“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.”

It was another reminder that God calls the broken, the angry, the sinner….

He called Saul – called Him by name. A man who was set on murdering the disciples. He used a man like that! Why in the world wouldn’t He use you and I?

I don’t know what your past looks like. What demons may be hiding in the shadows trying to tell you that you will never be enough.

You know what…maybe you won’t be “enough” but you don’t have to be!! God is enough for each of us and it is through Him and by Him that we are redeemed. God uses the redeemed. And that is you!

Don’t ever forget how valuable you are to God….how He has called you by name, broken and beautiful you!

The Buckle

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She is only 2 1/2 but she is fiercely independent and smarter than it seems she should be for her age. And sassy….oh the sass. I am a little frightened at what the teenage years will be like, I am going to spend those years praying I can guarantee!

Recently she figured out how to buckle herself into her car seat. Helpful for certain and we celebrated her success. Then she figured out how to unbuckle the clasp….

Oh that buckle, that infuriating buckle.

She has decided that she no longer wants to wear the upper straps of her 5-point harness, and since she can undo her own buckle she takes great liberty in making herself quite comfortable in her seat.

And so it goes, every time we are in the van for any length of time, the buckle comes undone. And then the argument insues. “Karlena – put your straps on” “No!” “Karlena – it isn’t safe, please put your straps on” “Noooooo!” “KARLENA (insert mama’s impatient tone) PUT YOUR STRAPS ON!!!” “NOOOOOOO – followed by what I call “extreme spitting”.

Oh you haven’t lived through a good toddler tantrum until you have experienced extreme spitting!

Sigh…

Last night on the ride home she followed her exuberant spitting with screams and cries. Lots and lots of screams and cries. For over a full hour she carried on and there wasn’t anything that I could do about it.

I even stopped about 45 minutes in at a McDonalds, at 10pm at night, to buy some cookies in hopes of bribing her with chocolate.

She saw past my ploy and refused to take one….she is one strong willed girl.

I on the other hand am not. I ate her cookie and mine as she screamed on.

Finally at some point her body tired to the point that she couldn’t fight any longer and she fell fast asleep.

As I glanced back at her, mouth slightly open and peaceful, I couldn’t help but think about my own “fight”.

We wear our seat belts because they protect us. They can keep us safe from injury. This is super important when driving in SW MN, the “deer on the side of the road state”. We frequently travel through an area lovingly labeled “the kill zone” because of the large number of deer killed in that several mile stretch every year. So many that once they had piles of dead deer stacked on the side of the road for pickup.

But I digress….

There is a reason that we believe in the validity of the buckle, the strap….

I thought about my relationship with God. How walking with Him, following His path keeps me safe. He is my buckle, He is my strap.

But if I am honest there are times that the buckle and the strap feel too constricting. I think that I know best and just want “freedom”…so I undo the buckle and tuck the straps behind me.

Of course when trouble hits, and God is gently calling me back under His care, I choose to rage instead.

I too have mastered the tantrum of a child who hasn’t gotten their way. While it typically doesn’t include “extreme spitting”, the behavior itself usually isn’t much better. I blame, I scream and shake my fists. I swear and cry and ask God “why”?  And at some point my body is weak and I give up the fight.

I have been to this place enough times to know that my perspective is always different in hindsight. That in the thick of the fight I can’t see the benefit of the buckle. I can’t see how any good can possibly come from a difficult situation.

But as I reflect on the past 17 years, on all we have been through, how God has redeemed so many areas of my life. How he has taken the broken and the ugly and made so many things new. At times I shake my head in disbelief at how generous this God of mine is. How much He truly loves me.

Funny now how I have come to appreciate the buckle and the strap. Come to see how clothing myself in the Word of God is important and necessary.  That if I want to really know who He is and understand the full benefits of His plan for my life I have to invest in my relationship with Him.

And let’s be real, at times the investment is tough. It can feel constricting…and I want the buckle off. I make excuses of why I don’t have time.  But as I look back on my life and remember all God has done for us even when I wasn’t making Him a priority in my life, I am encouraged to seek Him completely and embrace the comfort that His buckle has to offer.

Yes it is a buckle that I am grateful to wear…it has brought a multitude of blessings and I am so grateful.

Where do you find yourself today friends? Are you fighting the security of His hand or relaxing in the peace He offers? My prayer is that you may seek to know Him and discover the peace that trusting only Him can bring.

Linking up with Fellowship Fridays and Imperfect Prose.

Getting Ready for Allume – Things My Roomies Need to Know!

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In just 10 short weeks I will be stepping out of my comfort zone and flying (all by myself) to Greenville, SC to attend a blogging conference called Allume. So what the heck is this all about anyways right?? Well in their words “Our goal at Allume is to minister to the woman, the blogger, the story teller. We want to love well, encourage, and spur women on to shine the Light that lives within them. We want to serve you in ways that cultivate the Light of Christ in you, help you expand your influence, use your influence well (in your home, your community, or around the world) and encourage you with stories of those who are living out that Light.”

So I am excitedly anticipating this trip and meeting some wonderful friends IRL for the first time and learning how to be a more effective light for Christ in this space here.

One of the women attending Laura, created a fun link up for us to share some things that our roommates should know about us before we go.  Since many of us are sharing rooms with people we haven’t ever met in real life before – I thought this would be fun…so here we go!

1) I am totally a morning person. Like up with my first alarm ready for the day, kind of girl. But will be very quiet for those of you who aren’t!

2) I have longer, curly and often times (in my opinion) unmanageable hair…so I like to shower early so I have enough time to let it dry etc.

3) I am NOT a coffee drinker. But I will drink hot chocolate and just hang with you as you drink yours! 🙂

4) I am already nervous about what I need to pack. Afraid to pack the wrong thing, or too little or too much. I worry about silly things and this is one of them.

5) I don’t have a “smart” phone. I may be the last blogger on the planet NOT to have one. I may have to change that before October! 😉

6) I get nervous speaking in front of people and making small talk. Once a conversation is started I can join in…but I always feel awkward starting a conversation.

7)  I am worried that I won’t remember people’s names, faces etc. I am considering printing pics off of FB for those of you I really want to connect with…but if I don’t recognize you please don’t take it personally…I am just bad at that kind of stuff!

8) This is the first time I have ever done something like this so I am intimated by just about everything. I am an introvert by nature and shy – but once I get to know you I will come out of my shell!

9) I decided to come an evening early so will be there on Wednesday and helping with “dressing” the rooms and decorating etc. I am super excited about this part!!

10) I really just want to be filled this weekend. I pray that I learn a lot, but also see a better direction that God has for me and this space and of course my hope is to develop the friendships that have started with so many of you! I anticipate that there will be little sleep, lots of laughs and maybe even some tears but I know it is going to be worth it!!

Are you coming to Allume? What is your biggest fear about the weekend?!

Five Minute Friday – Lonely

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Linking up with Lisa Jo again this week to participate in Five Minute Friday.

Today’s word is LONELY– ready, set go –

Yesterday I was going through the saved voice mails on my phone and suddenly her voice was there. It was during one of the last visits where I was able to see her alive.

“Have you landed at the airport yet?”……

We were both so excited for the visit, eager to spend even the weekend together sharing life. Because we knew we wouldn’t be given many more opportunities to do so.  So we shared a lifetime’s worth of love in a much shorter time.

It has been almost 3 years now.

And yet the lonely creeps in, especially when I hear that message again. A message I haven’t been able to erase because I don’t want to forget her. Forget how she sounded….a voice completely unique to her.

When you lose your best friend it is hard to “replace” that. I don’t know that I even want to fully replace it. But it is lonely when there isn’t “that person”, “that girlfriend” to share life with.

I may always live a bit of my life lonely for her. But I celebrate who she was, and hear her name every time I call out to my daughter…her life is such a big part of who I am, even today.  So I recognize that this lonely will be a part of me until we celebrate together at the feet of Jesus. And I thank God for the time we did have and that I was lucky enough to know her and love her.

Missing you friend….

Karlena 2

 

 

Quiet around these parts!

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I kind of feel like the tumbleweed is blowing across the pages of this blog lately! Thank you to those of you that continue to stick around even when I am only posting once or twice a month! I realize that this isn’t probably the right way to “grow” a blog…but I feel like this is a season that God has me in and my dreams in regards to this blog can be put on hold for awhile.

But I have been growing and challenged in new ways and wanted to share those with you a little…to explain my absence here! 🙂

First of all how is it that we are now less than 2 weeks away from the start of school? I am not sure where our summer went, but I am guessing the busyness we have had is in part, a bit of the reason I spend less time writing!

2 weeks ago we traveled to the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota for a wedding and a family vacation. This was a big deal as it was the first vacation that we planned for our family in 17 years! We have been on a few awesome vacations with my entire family, but the was the first we were able to afford on our own. It was glorious.  We got to have both of our parents join us in the fun during the week, rented a beautiful house at the top of a “mountain” and just enjoyed being unplugged (as there was no WiFi available!)

I have a post I will share with more details – but it will be later this month!!

This past spring I signed up to be an Accountability Captain for a group of  women as we walked through the book of John with the Hello Mornings group.  It was so good to HAVE to be accountable. Apparently I need that when it comes to reading the Bible because if I am not accountable I make up excuses. Not good!

We had wonderful women in our group and I learned so much! But I found that if I really wanted to read and understand the verses I needed to spend adequate time doing so. I often would read 3 different translations (ESV, The Voice and The Message). Doing this gave me a better overall picture of what I was reading. It also took longer (not complaining) but I used to blog in the mornings before anyone else was up and this study took presidence over that!

As a result I was given the opportunity to be an ACE (Accountability Captain Encourager) for the upcoming fall session where we will be studying Ephesians!! I was so honored to ask and now will be praying for and helping 12 other AC’s who are leading their own groups. So again the blog takes a bit of a backseat. And that is ok.

I am finding though that if I want to be effective here, in sharing not only my story – but the love of God….I need to KNOW Him. And the only way to know Him is to spend time with Him, learning about Him.  Hello Mornings has given me the push and the tools that I needed to do this.

I believe that eventually (at least I am really hopeful!!), as time permits, when I do share here it is done so in Truth and knowledge that only comes from spending time with God.

So there you have it. A bit of a run down on the past few months and a prayer for the upcoming as well. I do miss the community of beautiful women that stop by here though so know I am praying for you as well!

 

Five Minute Friday – Story

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Linking up with Lisa Jo again this week to participate in Five Minute Friday.

Today’s word is STORY– ready, set go –

For many years I lived angry about how the story of my life was playing out.

Bitter about the trials and disappointments, only seeing what was unfair and constantly comparing myself to every one else’s joy…my life felt like a defeat.

I wanted a story that was “normal”.

I would cry out to God to change my life, make it easy, make it better and I couldn’t see, I wouldn’t see that each trial was making me stronger. Causing me to rely on God and building a foundation of faith.

I wanted the easy route and I didn’t get it.

Today I stand with a different view. I can see how God was shaping my story. Molding me so that my story is less about me and more about Him.  It isn’t the way that I wanted initially, this refinement process isn’t one that I would have chosen. But I can finally see the beauty that has emerged.

And I am grateful.

I don’t know that I do “normal” well, and I am not sure that I even know what that is!

And that is ok. Each of us walks a different path, God has a story planned out for all of us. Some get to walk the easy a little longer than most. Some trudge through the difficult on a daily basis.

But I have become convinced that each path is a walk that can bring us closer to God and when we seek Him, lean into Him during the journey we will see a story emerge that is one of beauty and blessing because of Him.

And that my friends is a story that needs to be told!

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