karigraceplace – A Lighthouse

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

But God…

Who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us… Ephesians 2.4.

How often I forget. Which leads me to think about others who forgot. The women at the tomb. Read it for yourself, in Luke 24.8; then they ‘remembered’, which you can’t do unless you forgot.

Which leads me to more thinking – how many things have I forgotten that Jesus has done for me? Rescued me from? Walked me through? All the lions and the bears He kept me safe from. Won’t Help do it again? O me of little faith.

Sometimes I’ll be talking with someone and they tell me all their circumstances. After quietly listening for a while I’ll softly say, “don’t leave it hangin’…”

If they look at me funny I’ll be more blunt, and tell them, “Don’t leave it there! But GOD…”

If they still don’t get it I’ll ask them what He’s been doing. I’m not blind. I see the bad. I just choose to focus on the good. Why? A wise woman once told me, “every time you see the word ‘good’ in the Bible, take out one O.” What does that leave you with? G O D.

Kari, the thankful fruitful redhead
all original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceauthor.com, all rights reserved

A Touch of Leaven

He’s coming soon. Like… really soon. I pray with all my heart He finds us ready!

Came across this today and wanted to share. Serious heart-check-up stuff here, so don’t read it if you’re not ready to abandon all for Jesus.

How many of these is this nation doing? The secret things will be made known, Luke 8.17. I’m seriously in prayer for my country.

43 Things God Hates
(Based on Meredith’s Book of Bible Lists)

  1. Homosexual acts (Leviticus 18:22).
  2. Bestiality (Leviticus 18:23)
  3. Idols, and the materials used to make idols (Deuteronomy 7:25)
  4. Blemished sacrifices (Deuteronomy 17:1)
  5. Worshipping the sun, moon or stars (Deuteronomy 17:3-4)
  6. Divination (Deuteronomy 18:10)
  7. Astrology (Deuteronomy 18:10)
  8. Enchanters (Deuteronomy 18:10)
  9. Witches (Deuteronomy 18:10)
  10. Charmers (Deuteronomy 18:11)
  11. Wizards (Deuteronomy 18:11)
  12. Necromancers (Deuteronomy 18:11)
  13. Transvestitism (Deuteronomy 22:5)
  14. The hire of a whore (Deuteronomy 23:18)
  15. Remarriage to a former wife after she has been married to another man (Deuteronomy 24:4)
  16. Dishonest scales (Deuteronomy 25:13-16)
  17. Workers of iniquity (Psalm 5:5)
  18. The wicked (Psalm 11:5)
  19. Those who love violence (Psalm 11:5)
  20. The froward [perverse] (Proverbs 3:32)
  21. A proud look (Proverbs 6:16-17)
  22. A lying tongue (Proverbs 6:17)
  23. Hands that shed innocent blood (Proverbs 6:17)
  24. A heart that devises wicked imaginations (Proverbs 6:18)
  25. Feet that are swift in running to mischief (Proverbs 6:18)
  26. A false witness who speaks lies (Proverbs 6:19)
  27. Anyone who sows discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:19)
  28. Lying lips (Proverbs 12:22)
  29. The sacrifices of the wicked (Proverbs 15:8)
  30. The ways of the wicked (Proverbs 15:9)
  31. The thoughts of the wicked (Proverbs 15:26)
  32. The proud in heart (Proverbs 16:5)
  33. Those who justify the wicked (Proverbs 17:15)
  34. Those who condemn the just (Proverbs 17:15)
  35. Vain sacrifices (Isaiah 1:13)
  36. Feasts as Israel celebrated them (Isaiah 1:14)
  37. Robbery for burnt offering (Isaiah 61:8)
  38. Idolatry (Jeremiah 44:2-4)
  39. Evil plans against neighbors (Zechariah 8:17)
  40. False oaths (Zechariah 8:17)
  41. Esau (Malachi 1:1-3; Romans 9:13)
    [Actually, it’s “Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated” -ed.]
  42. Divorce (Malachi 2:14-16)
  43. The deeds of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6, 15)

Kari, the thankful fruitful ready redhead
all original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved

Today I have a question…

For all those who are even slightly interested in where my heart is right now, it’s for the lost. I wrote a short story inspired by a sermon I heard the week before Christmas. Apparently, Charlie Brown’s Christmas was intimidating and threatening to the powers-that-be, so much so they decided not to air it on December 25th, for the first time since 1965. Guess mentioning Christ on that day offends. Shocker.

After I got over my initial reaction to this news I decided I can do my small part to change my small corner of the world. By writing a short story. About the one left behind. I rarely share my writing other than in blog form but today, I’m genuinely interested in your thoughts. Pretty please and thank you.

Of Shepherds and Kings – a short tale by Kari Grace

Miriam, have I got a tale for you. A tale to tell that might seem impossible. Definitely improbable.

All I ask is that you listen, with an open mind and open heart.

I’ve got to get this off my chest. I’ve been silent for years but now, as this sickness, and my possible death, take their toll, I must speak. I cannot leave here with this inside.

You have often asked me over the years why I changed, seemingly overnight.

I’m finally ready to tell you.

It all began the night we saw angels. Yes, angles. They really do exist. We’ve seen them.

What I’m about to tell you is true. I promise. On oath. It’s the truth. The whole truth.

No one really pays attention to sheepherders. We’re the least likely.

On a scale of one to ten, no kid ever admits in school that they want to be a shepherd.

We’re right up there – or down there, as the case may be – with pig handlers, inn keepers, and lepers.

Forgotten. Ignored. Overlooked. Rejected. Disdained. Demeaned. Despised.

But we are also necessary.

Some of our sheep will become a temple sacrifice. Without us, how would the priests function?

They may look down on us, but they need what we supply.

Anyway, I still remember that night, as clear as day. We were watching our flock of stupid, rebellious sheep, protecting them from harm. Just like we always do.

There was no indication this night was any different from any other. But it was. Life changing.

We were all around the fire, telling camp-out stories like we always do, some true and some I’m really not sure about, when a bright light appeared out of nowhere. Bright as day, and twice as terrifying. Then we heard a voice. No, wait, it gets better.

The voice was loud, but we’d never have missed it anyway, because of the sudden calm in the wind.

A being that resembled a man stood in the center of the light. He said words I’ll never forget, even if I live to be eighty.

He said this:

“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. There is born to you this day in David’s city a Saviour Who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you. You will find a Babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

Well, you’d have thought that would be enough, but no.

The next thing we know, that beautiful being I believe to be an angel was joined with a bunch of others, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace; goodwill toward men.”

Heaven is my witness, Miriam; it happened.

Well, after the light beings left and after we got over the shock of seeing and hearing what we all decided later were angelic creatures, the guys got together and decided to go down to Bethlehem and see this thing that had come to pass which the Lord had made known to us.

Yet Joshua pointed out that we couldn’t leave the flock here in the field unattended.

So we drew lots. It was my lucky day. Or night. I drew the short straw.

All night long, as I sat there beside the dying fire, I couldn’t shake the revelation that we were being watched. Had been watched. Who knew how long this angel appearance had been planned? How many years, decades, centuries had they waited for this night?

It wasn’t random; those angels came straight to us.

Shepherds. Worthless, dumb, dirty, trusting, devout men others disregarded.

Thoughts whirled in my head as I realized my Creator, the One I love and worship every day including the Sabbath, knows not only the number of hairs on my balding head but where I am, every moment of the day. And night. And cares enough to show me.

Was I jealous of the others, and wishing I could have gone? Of course. A little.

But every part plays a part. My part that night was to stay and guard the flock.

The guys came back a whole lot later with the other half of the story. The part I didn’t get a part in.

They were moving pretty fast for a bunch of old men as they left me and their livelihood, almost running in fact, spurred on no doubt by the angel’s words; they claimed later they had no trouble finding the mother and father and Babe just as the angel had said, even down to the manger for a crib, to hear them tell it.

The minute they saw Him they fell to their knees in worship of this tiny Babe whose birth angels had foretold’ they were full of joy and exuberant yet reverent adoration. Or so they say.

I think they might have experienced what I call a Holy Hush Moment, right there in amongst the straw.

The scene in the humble stable moved each and every one of them so much they couldn’t keep their mouths shut! Even Stephen, who’s normally so shy and quiet – even he was a part of the telling of that night’s events. Immediately they left the Babe they felt the need to wander all over town, sharing what they’d witnessed.

Guess they forgot about me. The lonely shepherd who drew the short straw.

All the townsfolk who heard them, (and they heard, believe me; I’ve heard from those who heard my fellow sheepherders that night), were amazed; some started praising God, some were close to tears, some marveled, yet some did not believe a word. Some thought them drunk, others blessed.

In the wee hours of the morning, as dawn rose in the east and the chill of night slowly dissipated, they finally made their way back to me and the sheep, still glorifying and praising God for all they’d heard and seen that night. Boy, they were cutting a rug; they let loose right there and then, jumping all over them there hills! Grown men who should know better.

Then they would not be content until I joined in the fun. I tried to tell them someone had to watch the money-makers, but no: they would have none of it. I finally gave up and danced a jig or two myself just to please them, but something came over me and I got all caught up in the moment. You’d probably have been ashamed of me that night but I just couldn’t help myself.

All I can say is this: if I ever see another angel, and he tells me something, I’m gonna be the one to go.

Whenever, wherever, however. I’ll go. I won’t stay behind again. No matter what.

Kari, sheepherder, daughter of a King

all original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved

Ghosted, or Gifted?

I’ve been having a lot of issues with WordPress recently, though I have no idea why.

I’m working on getting back to posting regularly.

Once again, Steven Furtick is the inspiration.

Today he was talking about Acts 2 verse 4, how it was 50 days from Jesus’ death to His ascension, and how the disciples saw Him for a full 40 days but that then He (apparently) disappeared. Some would say He ghosted them.

Then the ‘tarry in the upper room’ for 10 days happened – so was it worth the wait?

My first question to you is: have you ever ghosted? Been ghosted yourself? Have you ever felt like Jesus is totally not there? Even though you know His promise and you’re standing on His promise? I’m sure the disciples did too. But here’s the thing – He had to go dark so the true Ghost could come. And it works both ways. You can’t enjoy something and abuse it at the same time.

The Holy Ghost in Acts 7.60 made Steven so bold he was stoned to death by haters and was unafraid. In 8.9,Philip spoke and a male ex-witch was impressed. In 12.5 believers had the urge through the Holy Ghost to pray so fervently, God sent ‘an angel’ to answer. Paul had a habit of ticking off the religious folk so much, he developed a rep and became a flight risk. Ananias and Saphira chose the wrong side of the equation paid a high price for deception.

Now to the second question. Have you been ghosted, or gifted? In my opinion, yes. Meaning, both. We’ve been ghosted by Jesus because His relationship with us changed but did not end. And we’ve been gifted with Someone far greater than He because we now have a live-in partner who is just as powerful, and just as committed.

Was it worth the wait? You tell me.

Kari, the ghosted gifted believer

all original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved

Trouble Don’t Last

Steven Furtick did it again.

“The Waves of What If.”

How many times have I been there? More than I care to admit.

It’s the waves within that’ll get ya, every time. When you have anxiety within, it shows up without. Hate within, hate without. Ungodly within, ungodly without.

Yet all it takes is one word to calm the storm. If it’s the right kind of Word.

As believers we’re supposed to be more than conquerors. Do you see many conquerors conquering out there? Maybe you do, but I don’t. What I do see is a bunch of murmuring and complaining, speaking against and disrespect to authorities, madness and mayhem. Even ‘preachers’ now proclaiming abortion is ‘aligned’ with their ‘Christian values’. I don’t know what Bible they’re reading but mine is very clear on this point: murder is defined as pre-meditated.

I’ve thought a lot about this societal issue and I’ve honestly never heard anyone say, “you know what? I found out I was pregnant. Then two days later I just happened to be walking by Planned Parenthood. So on the spur of the moment I decided to give them a generous donation.”

We think. And plan. And make a conscious decision. Pre-meditate. Which is what all human beings do, with almost every sin. Some are done in the heat of the moment, yes, but most are not.

I don’t condemn anyone, please hear my heart; God knows, I’ve made many a choice I had to ask forgiveness for. I’m just sick of being told what God calls sin is ‘normal and ‘acceptable’. I’ve finally had enough and I’m taking a stand against the cultural norm. Where a woman of grace and dignity is attacked and does not retaliate, whilst a young woman with a broken soul and a filthy mouth is honoured. Tell me there’s not something fundamentally wrong with that.

I don’t care how many people loudly declare America’s going to hell in a hand basket, and “well, ya know, we’re in the last days….” So we stop praying? I know what I believe, and I have two things to say;

1) I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me only half of the land so I would not destroy it, but I found no one, Ezekiel 22.30 – well, He found me. I for one will intercede, and stand in the gap for this nation. Until my last breath.

And,

2) By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned, Matthew 12.37. We will eat our words. Which is why we need Jesus.

Romans 3.10 says none of us are righteous in our own strength. So why are we pointing fingers? Dear sweet child of God, have we forgotten we were given one primary purpose? To share the surprisingly misunderstood, life-changing, revolutionary love of God with those around us?

Can we? Intercede, stand in the gap, turn the tide of this nation for good instead of back-biting and participating in media drama? I will, and I sincerely hope you will too.

At the end of my sojourn here I want to hear, “Well done,” not, “Well?…”

Your thoughts?

Kari, the focused-on-the-good redhead
all original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved

Lazarus Moments

Is there something in your life you know you know God has called you to, or promised you, and it just ain’t happenin’?

Maybe it’s been weeks, months, years, and the passion is wearing thin. Your faith may even seem stretched beyond what you can bear.

Been there, done that, so many times, believe me; you have no idea.

Yet it comes down to one basic question and one only: do I trust Him?

John 11 tells the story of a dead guy with two sisters. Jesus loved that family deeply, yet He didn’t step in when they knew He could. Why? Not My will but Thine. The same thing Papa asks of us. Again, why? So verse 44 can come into effect. How can Papa raise the dead if He doesn’t allow things to die beyond human ability to resuscitate?

If Laz hadn’t have died Jesus could not have displayed His glory and power in a very unique way. He didn’t raise that many people the literal stone-cold-dead state in His short stay here, so perhaps He had to be picky about who He chose. I don’t know. I still find it fascinating, though.

I’ve got a dead thing or twelve hanging around in my own life, things I know God promised me, that look impossible; every day I get to choose if I want to hold fast to the promises in His Word or to throw in the towel in quit. The former may be harder but it pays higher dividends on the back end.

In the words of Sam Collier, “trust God’s plan while holding His hand.”

Yep. Works for me.

So… check-up from the neck up time – do I want my dream? Or His? For real. In my core being. Let me think about it… umm… His. Every time. It’s better than mine, more strategic and way more influential. Souls are on the line.

You?

Kari, the dead-gal-walking redhead
all original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved

Normal Redefined, aka ThankFest

I apologize for being MIA recently. Life at the Lowthers has been fun, and I use that term in the most sarcastic sense of the word.

As the self-iso rules remain in place, the deeper we go into this (human) social distancing thing the closer I find myself to the Lover of my soul. I’m reading my Bible like I haven’t in a long time, and I have total, seemingly irrational peace.

I see the affects of sin all around me, but I think I have a glimmer of understanding of Acts 20.24, where Paul says, “none of these things move me.”

I’m not completely there, but I’m on the way.

I also find myself in the middle of a rather extreme ThankFest right now. No idea why, I just am. Maybe that’s inevitably when you shut up a super-sanguine, uber-extrovert redhead for days and weeks and months on end, I don’t know.

People keep telling me every day we are “getting ready for a new normal.’ That may be their perspective but I beg to differ:

I’m already IN it. I’m praying more, and dreaming more, and writing more, and using my faith like crazy.

And by the way, I choose to pray for restoration. For God’s people, for families, for this nation, for all believers with pure motives. I’m praying that what the enemy has stolen he will be required to restore seven-fold. I’m praying that our faith fail not, and that He would strengthen us in our inner man.

The word ‘curse’ actually means ‘to speak ill of’. That puts it in a whole new perspective.

What’s your new normal? Do you know anyone who speaks ill of their president? Husband? Pastor? Friend? We all have a meltdown from time to time, but I’m talking default setting here.

Search your heart today, dear reader, and reset to thanks if you need to. I highly encourage it.

As always, I’m interested in your thoughts.

Kari, the so-not-normal-and-never-really-have-been
all original content, copyright © 2000

(ps. I found this, and folds four and six resonate with me.)

http://influxdivine.com/one-nation-god-meaning-fold-flag-military-honors/

Life in the Learning Lane

If I may, I would like to start with three quotes that have been life-changing for me.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away – Maya Angelou

I can spend the rest of my life handing people bricks… I don’t have to build the whole wall – Frank Peretti

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood… I took the one less traveled. And it has made all the difference – Robert Frost, from the poem The Road Not Taken, 1st and last lines

Every day I wake up I have the opportunity to hand little people bricks. Bricks of learning. Empathy. Acceptance. Encouragement. Kindness. Even love.

We all have similar opportunities in life, I believe; it’s what we do with them that counts.

Growing up in England and moving to North Carolina is a major culture shock for anyone but I’ve always been an intrepid rebel at heart. I agree 100% with Wayne Gretsky – you really do miss every shot you don’t take.

My experience with Education First since starting with them in February has been nothing short of revolutionary both professionally and personally. If I had not been more of a risk-taker than most I might never have experienced the utter joy of connecting with Chinese students. I absolutely adore each and every one it has been my privilege to meet. Every lesson I discover some new aspect of their personality or their life. One enjoys the outdoors. One is quiet and thoughtful. One likes it when I ‘do voices’ as my angels used to call it. (I guess being an avid reader and writer that comes with the territory.) We discovered this pleasure one day when the lesson got rather boring and I was wracking my brain for a way to keep them engaged…

As a published writer I have a deep love and abiding respect for words, both written and spoken. Words touch a heart, change a life, and shape a nation.

Yes, I have indeed taken the road less traveled through my life. And it has indeed made all the difference.

KG

Kari, the learning-and-lovin-it redhead
all original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved

(also published on my LinkedIn profile)

Shadows and Echoes

I need to say upfront that the English word “tweak” has nothing whatsoever to do with what the youth of today call “twerk”; one is a small but necessary adjustment, while the other is a kind of exotic, seductive dance, apparently. I really wouldn’t know, but I’ve heard the rumors. So… I may be a tweaker but I’m no twerker. More on that a little later.

Almost everyone on the planet loves a good story told by a passionate storyteller. Jesus was a master at this. His stories were allegories, using everyday objects His listeners understood, like lost coins, lost sons, pearls, and sheep. A particular favourite of mine is found in Matthew 19.24, the short one-line commentary on the camel and an eye of a needle. If you do the research you’ll find there’s a gate in Israel called the Eye of a Needle, which explains the next few verses, where Jesus says it’s hard, but doable.

I have no idea how you’d go about teaching a camel to kneel, which, I am assured, is the only way to get them thru the gate, but obviously, for those in the know, it’s possible.

Plato had Socrates tell the story now referred to as the Allegory of the Cave.

There is much more to the story but the short, Karified version goes something like this:

Numerous people were chained in a cave from early childhood, heads facing the wall. A fire burned brightly behind them, in front of the cave mouth. Objects moving in front of the cave mouth often cast shadows on the cave wall. The chained began naming these shadows, (I would imagine out of sheer boredom but I could be wrong), and over the years they came to believe these shadows to be real objects.

One of the captives was eventually set free. For the first time in his life he saw true reality. The poor guy could only focus on shadows at first because he couldn’t handle so much light. He gradually worked his way up to looking into water, then finally at real objects, by which time he realized the shadows he had seen all those years on the cave wall were merely a reflection, not true reality.

His desire became to set all the other captives free, sharing this truth about real reality. On returning to the cave he found them completely unreceptive to this knowledge; worse still, they ridiculed him, claiming his eyes had been weakened by the sun, since he was now unused to life in the shadows. They finally threatened to kill anyone who would ever attempt to set them free.

Just like the prisoners convinced shadows themselves are true beings, a perception that then dictated their reality, I find myself occasionally believing the lies told to me. Society daily plants these seeds in the mind, and some of us never take time to question them.

Like the prisoners in the cave, when we break free and experience the authentic love and acceptance of a risen Saviour and try to share it, those around us reject and ridicule us. Yet it’s not really the messenger they’re rejecting… it’s the message.

In Socrates’ own words, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

Now for the tweaking. May I encourage you to examine yours today? And if you find some places that need a little tweak or two, do it. Make your life a life worth living. The lives of those who will hear your story may well depend upon it.

Kari, the hearer, perceiver, tweaker, and doer
all original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved

[According to google, allegory is defined as “a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one”.]

http://www.personal.psu.edu/users/m/v/mva5428/Art101_Assignment6.html

Of Specks and Spots and Telegraph Poles

I refuse to be a Speck Inspector.

Confused? Let me explain.

Matthew 7 verse 3 admonishes us with a simple but painful thought – “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

Ouch! How often have I been guilty of this? We find what we look for. God knows, others could find a bazillion issues with me; who am I to judge theirs? There’s a ton of ugly out there. Magnifying only makes it bigger. But big or small, ugly doesn’t add one positive thing.

You’ve probably met a Speck Inspector or two on your journey in life. I call them “so-no’s”, meaning I so don’t want to be like that. Whatever the that happens to be. There are a great many things I don’t want to be, but at the root of it all is Matthew 7.3. And verse 12 goes right along with it; do unto others…

I saw a tweet today that said we love patience in the driver behind us, but hate it in the one in front. How very true. Which makes me thankful for The Ultimate Do-Over. Commonly known as a fresh new day. A new chance to make new choices. Do new things. Try new ways. Make new friends. Embrace the positive and let go of negative. Oh, how I love the gift of a new day. God is the gift that keeps on giving, not National Geographic. (That’s just my own opinion, of course.)

I’ve started paying more attention to what I choose to magnify. And it is a choice. We’re all crazy; the question is… what kind of crazy are you? Everyone sins, it just comes in very personal flavours. For some it’s bitterness, for others it’s gossip. For still others, it’s false humility. Or gluttony. Or anger. Yes, sin is very personal.

I’m reminded today because we choose what we magnify, I’m trading in the magnifying glass for the mirror. It’s got to start with me. I can’t change anyone, but God can change me.

God is coming back for a church – which isn’t a building, it’s you – without spot or wrinkle.

I don’t want to live in what I’ve lost. The past is a frustrating place, full of “if only”s. I prefer to live in God’s plans for my future. It’s bright, full of hope and purpose and passion and joy. Now that’s somewhere I want to live.

Your thoughts?

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