karigraceplace – A Lighthouse

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

Archive for the month “January, 2013”

I Did It My Way

I sure did. For three decades. I had to finally accept the fact that it births nothing more than an empty life. I started to understand what Solomon meant by his words, “vanity, vanity, all is vanity”.
Selfish and self-centered. The phrase has been going around in my brain for several days now. There’s a chick out there on the great world-wide-web who calls herself ‘the Selfish Seamstress’. I myself am a seamstress, and I count it a precious gift. I love to share it; I can’t imagine not using it for others. It grieved me so, when I discovered her blog. Then I realized something had happened in this woman’s life to make her untrusting of her fellow man – or woman – and she feels the need to justify that decision. But selfishness is such an empty way of life. It’s wrong, on so many levels. It achieves nothing, blesses no one. As believers we’re commanded to be a blessing.
Agape is nothing more than sacrificial love toward someone unworthy of such love. Christ was our example. I’ve heard the word ‘soul’ defined as what you think, what you feel, and what you want. Which will lead to serious heart-examination if you take it literally, rather than view it as just a cute phrase to throw out when you want to win friends and influence people. Meditating on those words produced another revelation. I’m sure you’ve already realized it but I hadn’t made the connection till the other day. The bible starts with a wedding and ends with a wedding. So if God is so much into relationships that He starts His love letter to us with one and ends it with another, why don’t we put the same importance on them? Statistics say that the average dad talks to his average kids an average of 45 seconds a day. How pitiful is that? How in God’s name can we influence anyone on 45 seconds a day? The same survey said those same average kids watched an average of 4 hours of tv a day, though. Makes me glad I don’t have cable. Pause for thought, maybe? I know I’m gonna make more of an effort to reach out to my two biggest blessings in life, my daughers. Just sayin’.

Kari, the unselfish seamstress writer calligrapher entrepreneur extraordinaire
original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved

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A Life for a Life

God said it first – there is no greater love than that a man lay down his life for a friend. The military do it every single day, and they do it for those they don’t even know. I’m so thankful to the nameless, faceless, brave men and women who fight for my right to freedom of speech. Of expression. Romans 13 tells us God was the One who instituted them in the first place, and living close to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, I have a constant reminder of their sacrifice.
Matthew 11.12 tells us that the kingdom of God suffers violence and it’s the violent that take it by force. The Amplified Bible says in Matthew 5.9 that it’s the makers and maintainers of peace who are blessed. So if we’re ever going to experience peace, if I’m reading my Father’s precious holy Word right, I’m gonna have to fight for it.
I never really thought of myself as a fighter but if you ask my mother she’ll tell you I am. We’ve had many a disagreement over the years, but they pretty much all seem to be over our core convictions and beliefs. I’m not a mean or hateful person, I just know what I believe and I’m not willing to compromise in that one area. It’s not that I’m close-minded, I’m just convinced. After all, Jesus said, “I am THE way”. He’s also the Truth and the Life, but getting back to the ‘way’ part, how narrow-minded can you get? The One who gave His life for me tells me He’s the ONLY way to heaven.. so for those out there who believe there’s more than one way to heaven, I’ve got news for you – the Being who created heaven in the first place, claims He made not only the the heavens but the earth as well, claims He put the stars in place with His very fingers, even claims He’s written your name in the palms of His hands, says there’s a broad way and a narrow way but we’re the ones who get to choose which we will walk. My pastor used to say that if you question the first three words in the bible, “in the beginning God…” then don’t bother reading further, ‘cos it’ll do you no good whatsoever. Good point. Why would you bother to read a book when you didn’t even believe the premise that book stands on? What a waste of time. Yet so many do. It’s not the kind of book you can pick and choose what you like and what you throw out. It’s never been The Ten Suggestions. It’s the 10 Commandments. I’ve always been an all-or-nothing gal, and even when I was running far away from my Father’s precious presence I lived my life with gusto. When I came back to Him, totally and completely, my personality didn’t change, just the focus. Why are so many Christians mega-weird? How are we ever going to get people to want what we have if we’re just plain kooky? I’d rather be Jesus with skin on, and He went about doing good. It’s hard to resist good indefinitely. Waddya say? Will you lay down your life for a friend? A total stranger? To invest some of your valuable time in someone who just happened to cross your path that day? Are you up for it? To change your world by showing it the goodness of God through an imperfect vessel, loved by a very perfect God? I am. Hope you’ll join me for the ride.

Kari, the laying-down-her-lifer
original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved

Compelled By Compassion

Reinhard Bonnke said that loveless people cannot share the gospel – it would be a sham. How many times have I been one? Pastor Bryan’s teaching yesterday really got to me. Starting with communion. How simple but profound. I’d never really thought about it that way – if your car isn’t functioning on all cylinders it’ll make for a rough ride. How many times have I been guilty of the same? Living with gunk in my spirit, yet not taking time to pray for the Lover of my soul to remove it? And traps? Oh yeah. So powerful. I got a multitude of lessons yesterday. Like I’m closer to freedom than I think – only a prayer away, in fact. Like not to condemn myself when I fall into the same trap, day after day, and that if I do, rather than feel guilty for falling for the lie I need to repent and move on. Like sometimes you can stand on one side of the trap but you need a sista or brother help you stand on the other side to become free. Like the story of the elephant. How powerful. Do you know it? In case you don’t, I’ll give you the CliffNotes version. Hunters trap the while they’re babies and attach a metal band to their leg. They struggle and struggle, sometimes for days, but finally accept that they can’t break free. Years go by and they become big and strong, yet they never test the limits imposed upon them by an outside unknown force. As soon as they feel the familiar tug they accept their bondage. They know no other way. I refuse to be a baby elephant. I don’t care how long I have to believe for my freedom, it’s still a better way to live than acceptance. Pastor Bryan also talked of conviction verses condemnation. He said that the God of conviction is very different from the god of condemnation, and had a completely different agenda.
I’ve made another decision. Apart from a renewed determination to walk in the freedom my precious Jesus purchased for me with His very life, I’m also committed to helping others do the same. How ‘bout you?

Kari, the freely receiving and freely giving
original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved

Rotten Root, Rotten Fruit

Angry undercurrents. You can literally feel them. Matthew 12.33 says that we have the responsibility to make the tree good if we want the fruit to be good, and if we want a good life we have to be a good-fruit producer, because what we sow we reap. I must admit that I’ve had a week that was enough to test the soul and character of anybody, and I’m sure you’ve been there a time or two. My job description is personal assistant, but that amounts to several things: chauffer, maid, house cleaner, the heavy (mov multiple computers for several days straight), laundry woman, computer geek (which I’m not, but I do know more than the person I work for), and cook. Yep. I’m so glad it’s Friday.
I was thinking about the day last night, how I’ve been feeling manipulated and taken advantage of for quite some time. Then I remembered that I’m not going to give an account to my Father for anyone but me. So today I’m asking for your prayer. That I would do what I do in love. Whatever job that requires. That I would keep my attitude straight and my mouth closed. That I wouldn’t act ugly, because even if I’m right, I can still be wrong. And anyway, being right is highly over-rated. I’d rather be righteous.

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

At Ease, Sergeant!

This day I celebrate the gift of life more than I usually do. The sun seems brighter than it was before, the flowers smell sweeter. 50 years ago yesterday I entered this beautiful world, and the circumstances of my birth were such that I should have never survived. I’m a living testament to His grace, and I’m learning to really live in my middle name. I’m learning to give it, as well as something much harder for me –receive it. It seems like the older I get the bolder I get. I’m more apt to share what I’m thinking. If others don’t give me that same grace, that’s on them.
Joyce was talking this morning about facing fear and finding freedom. For years she’s told people to learn to “do it” afraid. So I started thinking about something; what am I afraid of? What’s my if? My worst possible scenario? So very many things. What if… if I never get to have the relationship with my youngest child like I long for… if I never meet the man I want to spend the rest of my life with… if I feel like a failure, like my life counts for nothing… if I never feel like I’m brave… if I doubt I’ll ever walk in my Father’s perfect will for me… if I see those around me doing amazing things and I start to think I will never walk in the same… if I will always lack confidence taking risks both financially and personally… if I don’t think I can trust one more person with my heart, because of past experience…
Then God reminds me once again that we fight the good fight, or so Timothy thought in 1st Timothy 6.12. In my opinion, the only good fight is the one you win. I realized that I’ve read the back of the book, multiple times, and I know the outcome. We win! So if it’s a good fight, then I’m in it for the long haul.

Kari, the stouthearted
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You or I

What’s your default?  That’s my question to you today.  It’ll make sense by the end, I promise.  I’ve had a rather introspective weekend, and I realized afresh the value of a lesson I learned several years back.  Many companies will tell you it’s in their “vision statement” that there are “no I’s in team”, and how everyone’s “in this together”, but employees actions show the belie those lofty claims.  A friend of mine was working with a guy once called Will, and this friend was getting very frustrated.  She happens to be an expert in her field but this guy just couldn’t seem to get past the fact that she was a woman.  Why that meant she couldn’t teach him anything about business I’m not quite sure, but anyway, as she was venting a few things God revealed something to me.  He said we all have the same choice as Will, to do things His way, or his way.  That’s how God showed it to me.  Big H verses little H.  I’m definitely doing what Ann Voskamp calls “leaving academics for reason”, because I’m learning that when I know the God who knows, I don’t have to.  When we live our lives like we truly belong to an all-knowing God, we can see good in bad.  I’m so glad He’s never surprised or disappointed in me.  He knows what I’m capable of, and still loves me.  He alone knows why I do what I do, and that makes all the difference.  Max Lucado once said God never promised to remove our struggles; He did, however, promise to change how we look at them.  And He’s doing just that.

Cicero said many profound things, but this in particular really hit a nerve: While I would fain have some tincture of all the virtues, there is no quality I would rather have, and be thought to have, than gratitude.  For it is not only the greatest virtue, but even the mother of all the rest.  An anonymous person said that if we pause to think, we will have cause to thank.

Back to the subject of default.  Mine has become thanksgiving.  What’s yours?

Kari, the discerning, reasoning, thankful gal

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

Hidden Depths

There’s an old English saying that has been running round my brain recently: still waters run deep. In the whole of my life I’ve never, ever, been accused of being a “deep” person, but it’s still something I strive for. I’m very random, and don’t always think things thru before I act but I’m working on that and I’m much better than I used to be. I know I have one mouth and two ears, I’ve been told that more times in life than I care to remember, but still I find myself speaking up at times. All I know is that God made me the way I am, and He likes it. He’s well able to work in me and perfect me to where He wants me to be, not where others think I should be. That being said, I don’t go out of my way to deliberately offend people, even though some are so touchy they may see it that way. I’m so thankful for Romans 8 verse 1 that says there is NOW no condemnation for me, because I’m “in” Christ Jesus, and for 1st John 3.20 that says that even if my own heart condemns me, God is greater than my heart. And other people’s opinions of me. I’ve decided that it’s a new day, and a new me. A very young but extremely mature man once told me something: life in the shallows is not worth living. I agree. This is the day that the Lord has made, and I’m not promised tomorrow. My Father, the One who loves me and showed me by giving His very life for me, has given me today. So just for today, to the best of my ability, I’m gonna live deep. Deep in love. Mercy. Joy. Compassion. Are you willing to come along for the ride?

Kari, the deep waters
original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved

The Brightest Crayon in the Box

Have you ever heard the expression, “the elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top?”  I was thinking about this today, because of an experience recently.  The Latin translation of thankful is actually thinkful.  When I discovered that, the word “thankful” took on a whole new meaning for me.  Two people God has allowed in my life for a short time, Dug and Gary, taught me a facet of a thankful life I had never experienced before, and I’m forever grateful to them.  Right now I’m thankful for elevators.  Well, actually, I dislike them intensely.  They make me feel like the bottom has dropped out of my world – well, OK, just my stomach.  Either way, I really don’t like elevators.  The way they drop at the start of the trip and abruptly slow down at the end messes with my insides.  But three days ago a good friend of mine was hauling a ton of stuff.  By the end of the day I was thankful for elevators.  She was blessing someone with a lot of books, and the boxes were really heavy.  I seriously considered the stairs, but it was a long day and I had one more thing to be thankful for and thinkful for.  The legwork was enough, without the added blessing of an abs and arm workout.  What are you thankful for today?  Just look around and you’ll find a few unexpected ones.  I’m in my right mind, and I’m 5 feet 3 inches above ground.  I’m not in pain in a hospital some place dying of cancer.  I have eyes to see, ears to hear, and people to love.  Most of all, I have a Father who thinks the world of me.  How can I lose with a life like that?  Let me know what you’re thankful for and thinkful for.

 

Kari, the very brightest, very thinkful crayon

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

Running on Empty

A verse I really love and have been thinking quite a bit about recently is Colossians 3.15, where it tells us to let peace be the umpire of our soul.  I’m not that into sports, probably because I’ve never really known anyone who had the time to explain the rules and transfer passion for a sport to a very random redhead, but every once in a while they do touch my life slightly.  So I have a question for you today.  Did you ever think of your life as a baseball game?  Me neither, but apparently, God thinks they have a lot in common. 

Hebrews 12.14 says that we’re to make every effort to live in peace as far as depends on us, and 1 Peter 3.11 says we’ve got to seek peace and pursue it.  Which tells me you’ve got to fight for it.  And a heart at peace makes for a wonderful life.  I’m not completely there, but I’m glad to be on my way.

Many seem to think they have the right to share a piece of their mind that, in my opinion, they can’t afford to lose.  So many will cut you with the sword, but they forget to follow through with the balm of Gilead.  Yes, we’re called to share the truth, but we’re to do it in love.  What’s our motivation?  Do we affirm the person and attack the problem?  Or do we have it the wrong way around?  Do we care more about the person than what they think of us?  Are we willing to share hard truths in a Godly way?  The older I get the more I’m analyzing the reasons why I think and act the way I do.  I’m a work under construction, so be patient with me.  I’m so glad His mercies are new every single morning.  My pastor says that it’s because we must need them… Just a thought.  If my middle name is Grace, and it is, am I willing to be full of it?

 

Kari, the lover and fighter

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

A Father’s Love

Father love.  These words are often incomprehensible to me.  I feel like the Australian shark in the movie Finding Nemo – I never knew my father…

Psalm 68.6 says that God Himself sets the lonely in families, and claims He’s a Father to the fatherless.  Like many other people I didn’t have a perfect childhood; both my parents were emotionally, often physically, absent.  I wasn’t a great parent either.  I’m convinced part of it was because I never had a role model.  Hindsight is always 20/20 – if I’d knew better I’d have done better, but I didn’t.  I find I often have to forgive myself, on a daily basis, for all the mistakes I made with my children.  I do know love them and am committed to them, wanting their highest and best.  I know I wasn’t physically absent.  I may have been emotionally absent at times, since I was in a really hurting place due to a painful divorce.  I was dealing with many self-esteem issues myself and like Mother Teresa once said, you can’t give to a hurting world what you don’t have on the inside.  I wasn’t always there for my precious babies like I should have been, would like to have been, but I did the best I could with what I had to work with.  It’s really all about trust.  How do you trust someone you don’t know?  I didn’t know the love of the One who loved me, sought for me, died for me.  Many claim to know Christ but their actions deny their words.  I want to know my heavenly Father more and more every day, and I want that change of heart to show on the outside.  I’d rather be a 1st Peter 3.4 gal, with my beauty coming from the heart.  God considers that way more precious than a fine outside.  He should know.  In 1 Samuel 16.7 David’s oldest bro looked good, talked good, fought good, but God didn’t give him a second look.  Margaret Wolfe Hungerford once said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  It amazes me that God finds beauty within me, a feisty redhead who loses shells and loses sleep.  But He says He does, and He never lies.  How amazing it is to me that He considers me worth His time.  Another thing I’ve learned in life that character trumps shallow every time.  You?

 

Kari, the Fathered-by-God

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

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