The Circle

Church service had ended and I was talking with a sweet couple. Soon I went to move and found myself surrounded by a circle of people. I made a joke and hugged some of these precious people. I could have just waved it off but I realized that these people in some sense surround me often with prayer.

For a large part of my life I felt betrayed, alone, & sometimes exposed. I didn’t feel safe or known. No more. 

As I was reflecting on my past and seeing the extreme difference in my present it made me smile. It was just a circle of people surrounding me but it was more than that. It was an example of what is & what will be. 

God goes before you and he stands behind you. He places people in your life to surround you and go on the front lines in prayer on your behalf. You are never alone. You are loved.

I love the people in the circle. They are a reflection of God’s heart for me. 

My heart is full of gratefulness.

I am blessed.

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Speechless 

Is there a word that better describes grateful, thankful, or blessed? Joy? 

The past month has renewed hope within me for the impossible. I cannot describe it. I could not tell you when it happened. One day I woke up & all of a sudden what seemed impossible no longer looked or felt impossible. Childlike faith & joy was  restored. It was not like I lost it but the pain that God delivered me from has now enabled joy to invade every part that was ever damaged.

Words are not adequate. Giving my life will never convey how grateful I am for all that God has done for me and my family. 

Just this past week alone I have found myself wanting to shout praises to God! Simple things like being greeted from our cat at home have made me say “thank you”. Or the time she fell out of our window this past week & bounced off the side table onto the floor because she fell asleep there (she didn’t get hurt and I laughed a lot). 

What really gets me is when I see my daughter smile at me & tell me unsolicited, “I really love you Kara”. I love hugs from my husband & waking up knowing he is excited that I’m the first person he sees. 

I am grateful for voxers & phone calls with friends who have lasted the test of time & distance. I love that others have adopted me & love me without an expectation of what my response may be. Love has literally consumed my heart that it often feels as if it will burst.

Grateful? Thankful? Those words do not cut it. Those words merely express a tiny piece of what is in my soul. 

I am living in freedom! 

Joy is life.

Now I know what it means to laugh my way through trials. Do you want to know why?

Because my God is going to do the impossible! There is no way the enemy can win.

The Not So Evil Stepmom

Do you ever wonder if your love is breaking through to your stepkids?

Are you in a situation where the other parent is not easy to work with? Is life often like a rollercoaster due to the parental alienation tactics that brainwash each child that you love?

Do not give up. Do not stop loving your kids. 

Through the years my husband and I have learned some simple things that have helped our daughter have a “place of her own”. What is unique about her is that she has three homes rather than just one or two. It has been crucial to try to find something for her that is stable, safe & her own “home”. I will share a few tricks we have learned & maybe it will help someone get creative for their current situation.

Our kids deserve stability, safety & love. Stepmom, if you are not doing your part to help then you are joining the “problem”. Do not allow the stereotypical label of “Stepmom” or the vile actions from the other side validate your wrong reactions. Respond instead in love & extend mercy.

I strongly believe that my role as a Stepmom is to help facilitate the best relationship that my daughter can have with her Dad. On a similar note I believe I am to encourage all parental roles (in our case it would be bio-mom & grandma/grandpa) to work together for the good of our daughter. This means no trash talking anyone, and never ever taking out your frustration on your child or spouse from the unfair, illegal actions being done from the other side. At the end of the day if it feels you have bitten off your tongue you’ve done well (so pat yourself on the back… Yay).

I’ve also learned that there are appropriate times & ways to speak truth in love. For example, if a child has been misbehaving and the other side keeps making statements about how bad their child is, insinuating it is your husbands fault, I believe it is okay to say how good of a kid and Daddy they are. A child may misbehave but that does not make them bad nor does it necessarily mean one parent is to blame.

Create special traditions that are not dictated by specific dates. This year we do not get our daughter for Thanksgiving & it also lands on our weekend, which BM will not allow to be made up. So we plan our own Thanksgiving & stick to our traditional meal that is special to us. The times you share should not be dictated by having special dates on the actual day. It can always be done differently and creatively. This is a fact you’ll have to get used to. Greive it as you need to but do not get hung up on it. 

Give your child something that can be shared amongst all households. This will be the equivalent of “home” for your child. This could be a backpack, a stuffed animal or a small bag with items. Whatever it is this will be & can be the one stable thing that they can carry back & forth that will not change for them. You will find this provides a “safety” feature that often is not felt in each home. 

Never give up. Never give in. Keep loving. Keep hoping. Keep showing up and following through. 

Your impact is great. 

Cleanse

Cleanse.
There seems to be a health craze lately about cleanses for our bodies. I am not discounting the health benefits from a cleanse. It made me think more about our hearts. Our hearts need a cleanse more than our bodies. After all in the end that is what matters the most.

I’m tired of olive branches being extended out only for them to be cut off. I’m tired of verbal abuse, guilt trips, manipulation and blame cast upon the innocent. I’m fed up with toxic words spoken over those I love, and over our nation. Lies. All these lies will crumble revealing the truth of hearts involved.

When all is exposed what will your heart reveal? Will there be toxic ooze? Will vile & rotting flesh reveal a broken heart that chose to blame cast and tear down others? Or will your heart reveal purity, love, gentleness, joy, and beauty?

Everyone has a choice. 

“But Kara you don’t know how hard my life has been!” 

Hog wash! I’ve been through hell but my God saved me and has continued to turn the ashes into something incredibly beautiful. I’ve experienced my deepest sorrows and deepest pains being touched by my healer. His love and his joy have set me free from not only the fires of hell but he has touched the scars from the battle on my way back up.

He is not done with me yet. 

He certainly has not forgotten about you nor is he finished with you. He took your pain to the grave after dying on the cross so that you wouldn’t have to carry it. Just as he rose you have a choice to choose the same destiny.

A heart cleanse. Get rid of toxic thinking, toxic words & toxic relationships.

Stop casting blame. 

Repent. 

Forgive. 

Choose love.

Choose truth. 

Choose joy.

An Epic Coloring Devotional

                       

I absolutely love Picturing Heaven: 40 Hope-Filled Devotions With Coloring Pages! The illustrations are by Lizzie Preston while the book was written by Randy Alcorn. One of the sweet surprises were the gold detail on the pages. Not only does this add a gentle detail but it enhances your own coloring of the pictures. 

The daily devotions are Randy Alcorn’s own thoughts and interpretations of the scriptures about heaven. I may not fully agree with every detail that he presents but it still is a fascinating study. The most important aspect of the book is that it is so full of hope. Not only did it affirm my longing for heaven but I found that I enjoyed imagining what my eternal home will be like while I was coloring the pages. I imagined walking with Jesus, having everything restored & being with family & friends who are already there. 

This is a fun devotional that adds further interaction from the artist or amateur. The other suggestion that I would have that would add to this book is to have a journal or reflection page where readers and artists could either draw a picture or write out thoughts. This addition is not necessary but while I was reading and coloring I wanted to add more to the picture as well as take time to journal. Heaven is so near yet it is still a mystery to those of us waiting to go home. 

God is preparing a place for us. He loves us. Picturing Heaven is a great reminder to us all to live for eternity even before we get there. We are just travelers passing through. There is so much to look forward to!

I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers and these thoughts are my own.

Punch the Darkness: Love Mercy

Mercy.

My amazing husband and I were talking the other day about mercy after reading Micah 7. This followed a conversation I had with a good friend the night prior about how I was living in His mercy every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). It is an amazing truth!

It is hard to see heart-wrenching things happening all around us. I have asked, as have many of you, why God hasn’t done something sooner to help a situation or specific person. 

As I was processing out loud with my hubs I said things like, “I know God doesn’t like it when people hurt his kids. I know he is for our daughter but I don’t understand why he hasn’t switched things around more?”

His response was wise and it hit me in my gut, “He is extending mercy to her Mom. It took me 30 years to finally give my life to him and he extended me mercy over and over again. Why wouldn’t he do the same for her?” (I am so blessed by him!) ­čÖé

Finally it made sense. I need to extend mercy more. My Mama bear heart can contend for justice but it also can extend mercy to someone who is really in need. I can speak truth in love and still extend mercy. When it is hardest to love mercy (Micah 6:8) get on your knees & pray.

I need mercy. You need mercy. My enemies need mercy.

God is a good God. He is faithful. He waits for each of us because he loves us so much.

 You are worth it (even my enemies).

Working For It!

I have to be honest for a moment. There are so many things that I want to write about but I am hesitant to because there are some things better kept quiet for this season. Eventually there will be a time when I can write about all sorts of triumphs & victories after mighty battles. If you sense that I am being vague, it is to honor certain people I hold dear as well as protect those that are innocent. Our words can cause so much pain even if the truth is being told. I want to write words that speak life, and encourage readers in times of great struggles yet address great difficulties at the right time.

In church today I realized how much my mind is changing. Getting rid of toxic thoughts and surrounding myself with non-toxic people have led me to a place of such joy & freedom. I still have a lot of work to do but I can honestly say that I have noticed a change in my life. Praise is on my lips even amidst trials. Truth is in the front of my mind rather than lies. Because I know whose I am and He is good & mighty & powerfully loving, not wanting any sin to taint me, or someone to mess with me, I am able to rest. No matter what happens I rest without fear of tomorrow.

Life can be hard but my joy does not depend on my circumstances. My joy comes from the One that never changes. He is always faithful, is always good & never gives up on me. He is my constant one. He is the only one I need to look to for my worth. He is always there when I am alone. He understands every tear & speaks life into my identity so that I can slay the enemy once my feet hit the ground every morning. 

Grace is extended during imperfect moments when my emotions are on overload & pain is expressed outwardly. Every time I invite him into the mess, healing occurs.  A new level of confidence grows and new levels of joy flood my soul after failure or heartache is turned to victory.

Surrender and healing is worth the hard work. Just like others work hard for that hot body, I am working on my soul. 

My Response 


My prayers shake the atmosphere.

Beauty rises from the ashes.

Dry bones come to life.

In life and death, in joy and sorrow, in acceptance and rejection I still need you God.

Tears may fall but I know that you love me.

You are good.

You are love.

You are joy.

I will live for you all of my days.

                                                         

Enemy Slaying & Justice

Several weeks ago a certain part of my life was met with some serious confrontation. It began with the injustices over certain things happening with my daughter. I remember dropping her off after having a full two weeks together. When we made it home I cried myself to sleep. I love my girl so much & the battle she endures tears my heart up inside.

The following weeks I began praying differently. I was filled with boldness & confidence knowing God wants justice. And all of a sudden it hit me. I didn’t believe God wanted justice for me. This realization hit me so hard that it almost felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. I grieved the fact that for the majority of my life I did not know my worth. For years I allowed people to treat me awful, always with the thought that it was my fault. I figured that since they said I was to blame that it must be true.

Be careful who you listen to. Be careful the ones you allow to sow things into your soul. 

It can be hard when those in your life that are supposed to love & care for your heart fail miserably. When it comes down to who matters, Gods opinion of you is the only one that will have eternal impact. 

Several days ago I was able to have a pep talk with my daughter. I told her that just because important people in her life place conditions on their love for her & treat her awful does not & will never decrease her value. Her value only increases. She is priceless. Because of Jesus she is able to know that her value is not & will never be dependent on other people loving her back the way she needs them to in return. God has her back. With God she gets better with time just like fine wine & in that case her value increases everyday no matter who neglects or abuses her.

The day I shared this with her was also a reminder of the enemy slaying I had just done the weeks before.

Therefore, this summer has been an epic one, slaying the enemy left & right! 

Justice. 

Justice for my daughter.

Justice for my husband.

Justice for me (I finally believe it)!