karigraceplace – A Lighthouse

How do you change your world? One word at a time, one heart at a time

Choice Control

The tragic events that recently happened in Florida have shaken a nation already in turmoil.  I pray for the families affected by the tragedy. I also pray for our president, whose job it is to guide this fine land in the darkest hours and the brightest. I wish he could, without having to account to the self-proclaimed media gurus for his every move.

Oh, but there’s more. So much more.

Itty-bitty Fayetteville, North Carolina has seen its own share of shootings recently, and I agree with the theory that shootings spawn more of the same. But stricter gun control won’t solve a thing. All it will do is tie the hands of law-abiding gun-owning citizens. Those with no regard for the law will be affected by all the gun control laws in the world because – imagine this – they don’t care!

Any woman in the world will tell you that a man’s gonna do what a man’s gonna do. Joyce Meyer says that a made-up mind is a powerful thing. You  can use it to become the next JD Rockefeller. Or you can go the Timothy McVeigh route. It boils down to choice. If a teenager has decided that shooting people is the answer to a perceived problem in their world, stricter gun laws are not going to change that perception. It may mean they have to jump through more hoops to achieve their goal, but it won’t change their mind. It doesn’t address the root of the problem. Free will.

I’m so ready for the government to start making folks young and old take accountability for their own actions. The media always blames it on the scapegoat of violent video games (a choice) or dysfunctional family life (a choice) or any current trend they happen to have handy. It boils down to one thing. Choice.

I’d like to share something with you that recently made the local news. It’s something that shouldn’t even have become an issue in this fine country of ours, but apparently our brains dropped out some time in the last decade and we now accept anything from anyone with any agenda… as long as the pockets are deep enough.

“Cumberland County Schools remove controversial sex-ed class” – sounds good, right? Until you read a little further. ” “It’s been a hot topic for months.” Ya think? Norwood said it like that’s a bad thing. “We don’t want our children to be taught there are various ways to have sex…” said Judy Cannady, CCS parent.” Which is her right. The school has no business deciding how children learn about sex. That’s the parent’s job. Or it was the last time I checked. “The program is really focused on decision making and self-esteem. The content is age appropriate…” According to Tania Connaughton-Espino, schools should have the right to teach our children oral and anal sex are ok. At a 6th, 7th and 8th grade level. Which I don’t happen to classify as ‘decision making and age appropriate’. But that’s just me. Shift-NC can “recommend” this program to Cumberland County Schools all they want, but the parents have rights too.

“… that topic is something Cumberland County parents say they’d rather teach at home.” (emphasis mine). Seriously? With all due respect, Morgan Norwood, they shouldn’t have to “say”. Forgive me for being old-fashioned but I believe the job of the school system is to teach what my grandmother, God rest her soul, referred to as the 3 R’s: Reading, Writing, and Rithmatic. Remind me – where does sex come in? It doesn’t.

The other article, “Cumberland School Board to Drop Controversial Sex-Ed Program” also has issues. First of all, why is it labeled ‘controversial’ when local parents are brave enough to be vocal about the fact that they don’t want their schools teaching sex because their county has chosen to accept funding from Planned Parenthood? Next issue is the tag below the picture – “complaints stall Cumberland sex ed program” (emphasis mine). Why does it need to be stalled? It shouldn’t even be an issue in the first place! How can the program be “designed to reduce risky sexual behavior” when it’s advocating oral and anal sex with anyone and everyone you happen to like? How is that unrisky? “… officials decided to delay it and review the curriculum in light of parental concerns.” (emphasis mine). I shudder to think what would have happened in my home town if a bunch of parental concerns hadn’t gotten together and made enough noise that folks had to take notice! In my humble opinion a 6th grader isn’t old enough to make educated decisions on “sexual preference”, or learn “how to use a condom”. I don’t consider that ‘education’.

Seriously. I’m interested. What are your thoughts on this hot topic of the day? All I ask is that you make your responses G-rated.

Kari, the so-against-sex-ed-for-6th-graders

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Slingers and Keepers

Psalm 24 verse 14 says that the secrets if the Lord are with those who fear Him, and that He ‘maks known His covenant to them.’  I’m not completely sure what the second half means – after years of prayer I don’t have too much revelation – but I have thought deeply on the concept of God sharing His secrets. As a gal who grew up with no bff and noone to share her deepest darkest secrets with, the idea that the Creator of all we see and all we know, the One who put the stars in the Heavens with His fingers, wants to share His secrets with me is, I admit, fairly mind-blowing. Call me a legalist if you choose but I take Him at His word… literally. I told God that anyone could be a secret slinger: I wanted to be a secret keeper.

After I got this (for me) rather heavy revy I started praying differently. I also noticed in the next six months that multiple women snagged me at church on a Sunday morning, seemingly randomly in passing, intent on exposing the hidden details of their life. To me! A red-head from Reading, England. In fact, when I probed further as to why they trusted me with such information they both responded with the same phrase: “You’re a safe place.” In the words of my grandmother (may she rest in peace) you could have knocked me down with a feather! I didn’t know these women intimately, yet they knew I was a secret keeper.

How wild is that? God actually answering prayers? Omg. Who’d have thunk it? So… will you choose to be a slinger? Or a keeper? I choose keeper, every time.

Kari, the keeper-not-slinger

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The Garden and the Gate

From the Garden of Eden to the Gate of Glory, God has promised to be with us. People keep telling me this world’s in a mess and going to h e double hockey sticks in a hand basket. I respectfully disagree.

My bible says that there will always be evil, but that good men can make a difference. He tells us to let our light shine regardless, in Matthew 5 verse 16 if you’re interested. He also says that in this world we’re promised tribulation – not one of my faves, I must admit – but He goes on to say, “don’t fear! I’ve overcome that very same world you’re so upset about!” OK, not exactly, but it’s close.

I do have a question for anybody interested enough to read my blog. The stats on literacy of so-called North Carolina High School graduates, and I use the term loosely, are pitiful. We’re ranked among the lowest in the nation, in fact, and I might have an idea why. I give a clue at the end of this blog.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and the fascinating book A Great And Godly Adventure: The Pilgrims and the Myth of the First Thanksgiving, by Godfrey Hodgson, is a case in point. The pilgrims never ate turkey – it wasn’t around in Plymouth Rock and even if it had been, the muskets they used wouldn’t have been fast enough to hit one. They didn’t eat pumpkin either, or cranberries, in sauce or otherwise, ‘cos it wasn’t around in Plymouth Rock. These are just a few examples of how culture has formed our history, and our kids are learning untruths. As an avid writer and devout Christian I’m all about Truth. I pursue learning with a passion, but I want what I learn to be true!

With that in mind I’ve been putting together a Teen Writer Boot Camp, not to replace but to solidify the three R’s. (For those who don’t know, that’s old school for Reading, Riting and Rithmatic.) I can’t help much with the third but I fully intend to do my part in increasing the first two in my home town of Fayetteville, North Carolina. (Just a little shout-out there…)

So my question dear readers is this: what do you think of such a proposed plan of action? I’m working on classes in the Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced levels and there’s a pretty big payoff at the end of each. When kids take ownership of the learning, as in applying it to writing the stories they were born to write, those skills transfer over into “real life”, such as job and college applications, written and oral communication skills, even social interaction.

We can’t change the world, but we can change our little corner of it. Who’ll go with?

Kari, the garden gate girl

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(Here’s the promised clue: bear in mind that this program, Get Real: Comprehensive Sex Education that Works, run by Planned Parenthood, is aimed at 6th graders and our schools are so strapped for cash that they’re letting this into the school system. Do the research, people…)


Relative Truth

The Bible is full of if-then’s. Take a for-instance: John 18 verse 38. But don’t disgard John 8 verses 31 and 32.  And John 17 verse 17. More on that in a minute.

If you’ve been on the planet any length of time you’ve probably heard the, “What’s true for you isnt necessarily true for me,” arguement.  That logic has so many holes in its not funny, yet folks still believe it. Which is of course their right. I myself have never been a leming. I may follow some, but not blindly.

I have contact with God’s Word pretty much daily, whether it be through tv sermons, auto university (MP3s), or plain old-fashioned sitting on the ncouch reading my Bible, coffee in hand. I can be a stubborn cuss at times, I admit, and many times  don’t realize what I’ve got until it’s gone. Either as a result of my own choices or by those imposed upon me. Such is the case in Frank Perretti‘s book, Nightmare Academy.

It might be simply because I’m a writer at heart but I seem to learn deep profound spiritual truths from fiction. The foolishness of stories has solidified my core beliefs and forged my Christian walk in the ways even I can’t begin to verbalize. I long to do the same for others. Perhaps that’s why this one resonated with me. Only Frank can take at crazy tale about two high school kids and weave it into a social commentary. So worth the read.

We live in a world where the loudest voices proclaim that there IS no absolute truth. I respectively disagree. Pilot apparently lived in the same world, so much so that out of confusion and desperation he finally asked, “what IS truth?” Unlike our current culture,  I have an answer. To know real Truth you have to go back a bit, to John 8 verses 31 and 32, the if-then. Jesus said IF we abide, live, remain in Him, ie. His Word – now comes the promise – THEN we’ll be His bff’s and we’k know the Truth, which is the only thing in existence that truly makes men free.

John 17 verse 17 says God’s Word is Truth. Whether you agree with it or not, He claims it. Free people know how to live a morally right life guided by right thinking. But if Truth is removed, right and wrong soon follow. In his book, Frank sums it up like this:

“The Knight-Moore project was an experiment to discover what happens to people when there is no truth, to observe and record what people can do when pushed to the extreme with no ultimate moral foundation.” The ‘people’ in question here are unwanted, runaways, teens hungry for love and acceptance. The story centers around an attempt by power-hungry ruthless faceless folk who thought it acceptable to rob others, of their freedom. I agree with his conclusion;

“Take away Truth and a tyrant will rule.” How true. The Lord of the Flies bears out the fact that once you throw human compassion, Love (God, Truth) out the window all you’re left with is a savage society. Is that really what we want?

Just a thought.

Kari, the absolute-Truth-beliver

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Ding Dang Dong Dawg!

That’s all I have to say today but it doesn’t really do justice to the way I’m feeling right now. This weekend was eagerly anticipated and was by no means a disappointment. I’m still super stoked. In fact I invited quite a few folks I know (who claim to be ‘writers’) to the once-a-year Writers Workshop, an event at the local library; unlike the other ‘busy’ friends, there was so much learning going on in my brain I’m sure smoke was coming out of my ears!

There’s something about being around a group of eclectic energetic out-of-the-box creative types that seems to light my writing fire like nothing else I’ve found. My poor husband demanded to know how much coffee I’d had when I got home… because I was almost bouncing off the walls… which seems to happen every time I get in my element. He gets a tad manic when fixing cars, btw, so he really shouldn’t point fingers. Just sayin’.

Hosea 4 verse 6 says that God’s people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. And I was. For many years. But more on that in a little bit.

This week I also discovered a new hero. Dan Hall. If you have time, the interview below is  definitely worth listening to. A paraplegic who can find the funny in life? Yeah, that gets major koodles from this random redhead. There aren’t a whole lot of people I’d like to meet but he’s definitely one of them. Along with John Maxwell. And Nick Vujicic. Another guy you just have to love.  Tetra-amelia means nothing to him, he’s irrepressible. When I have the inevitable hedgehog-day we all get sooner or later all I have to do is think of Nick and I realize I have no problems.

I hope you’ve found your calling and that you’re walking in it today. If not, you might want to think about it. There’s nothing worse than living your whole life and never discovering your destiny. Unfulfilled purpose takes a toll on the soul. It took me 42 years but I finally find mine. It totally revolutionized everything. I hope you have too.

Kari happy writer and sharing it

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Dead Men’s Bones

If WordPress really does power 28% of the internet then why is it that almost every day I meet ‘writers’ who don’t blog?

I recently read a book called The Bones Will Speak. Can’t think who the author is just at the present moment, but I highly recommend it. (If you’re interested, comment below and I’ll get back to you.) So this random redhead brain started thinking about, of all things, bones. I guess it all goes back to the whole Elijah thing. The story of when some guys threw someone’s body into a tomb that just happened to contain the prophet’s bones. The minute the dead body touched his bones it came back to life. I kind of feel sorry for the buds who threw him in there. I also wonder if he was upset about the landing. That’s the something-shiny syndrome at it’s height, I guess, but I see stuff in what many consider dusty old bible stories. It might be the whole writer thing but I actually picture myself as the people in them there stories.

Ok. Back to the initial comment. If you truly have a message, and you claim you want to share it with the world, you’ll take advantage of every available voice. They have a Twitter and a Facebook page and an Instagram, but they rarely get around to a blog. I was talking to God about this one day and I felt like he said, “it’s free advertising!” Me, being me, I responded, “if I build it, will they come?” Some have. Not many, but some.

I totally blame my pastor. He’ll say something that will start the wheels whirring and before I know it, I’m baring my soul to the whole  worldwidewebiverse. One thing I value almost more than anything in life is authenticity. I’m nothing if not real. If I’m going to tough my generation, which is a big part of my dream, then I need to be transparent. I want to leave a legacy that will never die, and fruit that remains long after I don’t. Which was why I decided a long time ago I don’t want to be one of those “whitewashed tombs, appearing beautiful on the outside but inside full of dead men’s bones,” Jesus talks about in Matthew 23.27. Dead men walking, yet they don’t have a clue. Our culture will do almost anything to avoid a long, hard, heart-examination. How much clearer can you get than the Burger King tagline? Have it your way. Regardless of the cost to anyone else around. Seriously? Am I truly all that matters in life? So not!

I’d rather be a follower of Jesus than a leader of the clueless. I’m determined my bones will speak, both when I’m alive and when I’m dead. Which is part of the reason for publishing all the stories in my heart in the first place. It goes back to one of my absolute fave one-liners of all time, spoken by Myles Monroe. “Your books will go places you’ll never go… touch people you’ll never meet… who wouldn’t even like you if they met you!” It was the last part that really floated my boat. I’m a tad intense and rather passionate when it comes to what I believe and why – it’s kind of hard to shut me up once you open the door. If you don’t you’re usually safe because I rarely share my opinions unless provoked. So, will you join me? Will your bones speak Truth too? When you’re alive and when you’re gone? Wanna come with? It may be bumpy but I know it’ll be an amazing ride!

Kari, the speaking-bones girl

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Emoti Con-Man

The power of a con never seems to diminish, no matter the decade, geography, or individual situation.  And folk seem to be taken in easily.  I hate when I don’t see it coming.  Even more, I hate when I do it.

Kerry Shook once said we rarely change when we see the light… we change when we feel the heat.  How true this is of me, and perhaps even you.  I need to change, I know I need to change, yet it often takes drastic things to bring me to my knees.  Matthew 21 verse 44 says if we fall on the Rock we’ll be broken but if the Rock falls on us we’ll be crushed.  Personally, I’ll take broke over crushed; broke can be fixed. Unless you’re Humpty Dumpty.

Tony Dungy put it another way.  He believes there are two kinds of men in the world – those who are humble, and those who are about to be.  I realized the instant I heard it that I’ll happily ‘be’.  That way I’ll avoid the painful ‘about’ to be.  I figured it was just common sense but I meet a whole lot of folk who don’t get it.

Why does pride sneak up so easily?  When I’m least expecting it I get ambushed by the ugly monster and find myself all tied up in knots.  Even more abhorrent is when I find myself acting from impure motives.  It’s perfectly normal to think our heart is pure.  I for one don’t often take time to judge it in the heat of the moment.  I mean to, but I don’t.  Nobody enjoys being conned.  I’m praying God will help me look at my words and deeds through His Word, Truth, and repent when I miss it.  You?

Kari, the totally-emotional

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Memory Scribe

Most of the time I really don’t miss much.  I’m an avid reader, passionate writer, and movie lover but I’m also careful what I expose myself to.  Years ago a guy told me the only difference in who you are now and who you are a year from now will be the books you read and the folk you hang with.  I agree, which is why I make it a habit to monitor what I allow in my life, my mind, and my spirit.  While many are watching 50 Shades of Gray the sequel, I choose differently.

Every once in a while something amazing will slip by me but God has His ways of leading me to discover them.  When I find those wonderful surprises it is always a genuine pleasure.  I had such an experience today.  I heard of a film completely by accident, in a totally unrelated circumstance, and had been meaning to research it but hadn’t quite got around to it.  To be honest, I’ve been a tad consumed lately with finishing a children’s book about a pair of wellington boots.  MD (my dearest dahling man, MD for short), says that I’m the one with issues, since I’m the one talking to rubber boots.  Wot eva.

The Book Thief.  Such a short, innocuous, unassuming title that gives no hint whatsoever of the story to come.  It truly is one of the most hauntingly beautiful films I’ve ever had the privilege to see.  The title doesn’t really do it justice, yet somehow, it works.

Set in a time many claim didn’t even exist, when events were unfolding that would shift power and shape world history, it’s the tale of a young, remarkably resilient lass who finds her passion early on in life, thanks to the kindness of a complete stranger. Fear has a way of turning ordinary decent common folk into savages, but a few hold on to their humanity and this was one of the themes weaved throughout that touched me deeply.  When most made the choice to give up secrets, there were a few who chose to keep them and save lives, at the risk of losing their own.

1st Corinthians 13, most know, says that love is patient, and love is kind.  But what does that look like played out in real life?  I believe this film does a good job showing us.  I didn’t see the end coming, and I found it thought-proving.  The words Aristotle said still ring in my ears: Memory is the scribe of the soul.  It is indeed.

Kari, the memory scribe

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Kingdom Dwellers in a Whatever World

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, or happen to know me personally, you’re probably aware of what is possibly my strangest hobby – collecting things I affectionately refer to as ‘one-liners’.  They’ve changed my mind and shaped my Christian walk.  For almost a week now I’ve been meditating on two such nuggets: What you weave on earth you will wear in heaven, by Richard Foster, and My motivation for accumulation is distribution, by George Pearsons.

Regarding the first quote, like many I meet I seem be walking through what Renita Weems termed, “the winter months of faith”, and it’s not been easy but I have seen growth.  Patricia Raybon put it best when she wrote, “this is where condemnation leads – to bitter words and harder hearts.”  Someone close to me has been less than positive and extremely disrespectful for months now; is it just me, or does anyone else find it hurtful when those close to you feel it’s ok to treat others any way they please?  I know I  responsible for my own choices, so I choose love.  I want to weave wisely.

Colossians 3 verse 14 tells us to ‘put on love’, which, being the writer that I am, tells me we can take it off again.  It’s a choice.  This perhaps explains mean behavior of ‘Christian’ folk I encounter in daily life – they might just be undressed that day.  I’d rather not fight naked, personally, but that’s just me.  I wear my armour at all times because I never know when I’ll need it.  There’s a strong chance I won’t see the bullet coming.

Regarding the second quote, for some reason in this season God has chosen to expose me to a lot of “free webinars”.  I  smart enough to know the world lives by one rule and one only, WIIFM.  Cref said once if you let folk talk long enough they’ll reveal what’s in their heart, and since I tend to be a talker naturally I’ve really been working on shutting up and listening.  He’s right.  Out of the heart mankind does tend to speak.  You can only fake it for just so long before the real you will emerge.  Still I’m often surprised, both pleasantly and unpleasantly.

Today I made a life-defining choice.  Yes, I want to be more prosperous.  Yes, I have a lot to say about a generation headed in the wrong direction.  Yes, I have a lot of opinions about a whole lot of subject.  But above all things, I want my motivation to be love.  When I love and serve and bless someone who has decided they want to live ugly, I’m weaving wisely.  I ant help what they choose to wear but I choose to wear something amazing, built on love, joy, peace, patience, with even some kindness thrown in there for good measure.

What’s your choice today?  Seriously.  I’m interested.

Kari, the careful weaver

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Words Without Borders

There are no words to express my pain at what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, and my prayers are with all the families touched by this tragedy.   Every American has the right to freedom of speech, regardless of race or gender, and to gather in public without some madman deciding to drive down a street full of people, maiming and killing.  I believe in my heart of hearts his actions had nothing to do with racism, or even letting his voice be heard.  I am firmly convinced he was set on violence and destruction, and when the opportunity presented itself he simply executed the plan he had in mind all along.  Mayhem and murder.  If it hadn’t been last weekend I have a feeling he would have found a way to destroy life, at some other opportune time, at other public gathering.

Proverbs 23.7 tells us as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.  It also tells us in Matthew 7.18 that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit.  The “fruit” Jesus is talking about here is our actions, and how they correlate to what’s going on in our heart and thought-life.  If we accept this as truth, tell me – what was the driver of the car thinking when he derive over living breathing human beings?

John 1.13 says that by Him (Jesus) were all things made, and without Him nothing was made.  We live in a society that not only denies the presence of the One Who made them but claims they made themselves and need no one but themselves.  ‘Self-made’ men and women abound today, and they’re proud of it.  How deceived can our be be to honestly believe that?  The poet John Donne penned the words, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…”

As a cleric in the Chirch of England during the Black Plague I’m sure he was faced daily with his own mortality.  He knew we are all part of what the Lion King called, ‘the circle of life.’  Which would imply that we need each other, because without help none of us would survive.  You can never succeed in any venture without bringing others along on the journey with you.  What hurts you hurts me.  None of us are isolated.  We may think we are, but the ripple effect touches everyone.

White supremists stand for hate, and that is diametrically opposed to all our forefathers stood for.  You can rename history, in the name of being “political correct”.  You can even remove history, so as not to offend militant groups, while ignoring the average patriotic American.  But you will never change history.  Perhaps we learned nothing from Hitler.

The words of George Santayana ring in my ears: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  Charlottesville is a prime example of that.  Maybe we haven’t so much forgotten as erased the lessons learned.

My pastor’s been saying for years that Christianity is the new hate speech.  He may well be right.  But I’m not backing down and I’m not shutting up.  This world is in a mess and needs Jesus bad.  Few are telling it.  Perhaps I’m just the guy for the job.  Will ya help a sista out?

Kari, the Truth-teller

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