karigraceplace – A Lighthouse

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

Archive for the month “December, 2013”

Humble Beginnings

I’ve never been good at fake – I’d rather know facts and then decide for myself. That’s just how I am. Show me your ugly and I’ll tell you if I can deal with it. You’d be surprised what I can deal with. Friendships are very precious to me. I don’t have many really deep ones but the ones I do have I’m thankful for. I’d like to share a story with you today, if you’re open to it, dear blog reader.
I shouldn’t be here. Yep. I was born dead. Beyond dead, actually. “White asphyxiated”, according to my mum, and she should know – as a midwife in the east end of London during her early years, she had adventures that would make your hair stand on end. Brave woman. Strong. Persistent. But she didn’t get around to telling me I was born dead for many years.
The humbling thing is that my good friend M happened to share one day in a moment of weakness that she was born dead. Being a very immature Christian at the time I found this fact intriguing, and would introduce her to friends with, “This is my friend M, and she was born dead…” Callous, I know. But as the old folks say, if I knew better I’d do better. Or, to quote Forrest Gump, stupid is as stupid does. And boy, that was me. Then, out of the blue, at the tender age of 40 something, my mother announced that I was too! I was flabbergasted. How could this be? Nothing that exciting had ever happened in my mundane life as far back as I could remember. Talk about eating crow. I now had to say, “This is my friend M, and she was born dead – but then again, so was I…” Some people will tell you that explains a few things… not about her, but about me…
Being a child of a single mother is never easy. On the finances, but also on the emotions. Mother Teresa said you cannot give to the outside what you do not have on the inside. When you’re hurting you can’t help but hurt those around you, despite your best intentions. So for all those friends out there that I’ve never met yet, I want to encourage you. Pain is a universal emotion. It’s OK to feel that pain. It means you’ve not shut yourself off from the world and can still relate to those around you. Use it to your advantage. Reach out and touch someone. Take that pain, and turn it into gain.
One more thing. As anyone who goes to CLuv will know by now there’s the most incredible song the choir is singing right now called, rather innocently, Great Are You Lord. We were singing it for two full weeks before it hit me. What hit you? I’m glad you asked, dear blog reader. The first line of the verse: It’s Your breath… in my lungs…
“You give hope, You restore… every heart that is broken…” would have made me go ballistic. Three years ago. It still does, to some extent. But now, I’m in a different place. Knowing you were born dead will change your perception of life in a very deep way if you let it. As we were singing this song the third week I had a literal vision of God breathing life into Adam, and it wasn’t a huge step to see a tiny baby, dead as a doornail, lying on a hospital table some place in England with that same God breathing that same life. Into me. Life has become so precious to me. Even on my worst days, and yes, I do have them, tho I don’t let it show as much as I used to, I know every day of life I’ve been given is a slap in the face to my enemy, the one Papa calls “the accuser of the bretheren”. Or sisteren, as the case may be. How cool is that? So if you see me lose it in Praise and Worship from time to time, humour me will ya? I’m a walking miracle.

Kari, the lively and lovin’ it!
original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved

Quiet Moments

Yes, I admit it, I’m an avid reader. I love to write, and I love to read. If I had my druthers I’d be doing it for a living! Hey, hope springs eternal… or at least Alexander Pope thought so. I do too. But hey, thanks to a snake we now live in a fallen world. Maybe in heaven you’ll find me sitting by the banks of a river with notepad and pen in hand. There has to be some use for me up there… even if it’s only to regale the angels with my stories.
What’s on this random redhead’s mind today? Well, thank you for asking. I just finished a book written over 10 years ago but the subject matter was so timeless it made for very thought-provoking reading, not exactly fresh revelation but worded – nay, crafted – it in a way that gave a completely fresh and vital awareness of the seriousness of sin.
For some reason God seems to use fiction to convey deep spiritual concepts to me that leave residue long after I’m done reading. I’ve been rebuked often for this bad habit. People feel the need to tell me, in rather icy tones, “I only read the bible…” and I often sense a rather sanctimonious attitude in them that makes me want to do one of two things: barf, or slap somebody. Namely them. We’re never gonna win the bruised and broken to our wonderful Saviour, the Lover of our soul, if we’re not open to new ways of doing it. Jesse du Plantis said recently that Jesus moved with purpose, and never hurried, but He never wasted time. He was open to hearing what others had to say, even if He disagreed with their conclusions. Even Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9.19 that he would be “all things to all men” if he had to. I’m with Paul.
I heard Lisa Bevere say that we need to rise above the gender debate, arguing about preeiminence; after all, isn’t God alone supposed to be first. Does it really matter if He uses a woman or a man to get His message across? Some would say yes, yet I would say no. Mature strong men will never fear strong women. As Lisa quite rightly points out, women are never effective when their strength is usurped by excessive doctrine, and men will never find true strength in dominating the fairer sex. If the woman is genuinely submitted to those who are in authority over her I happen to believe God can use her. I told Him years ago, “Papa if You can use a donkey You can sure use me!” Hence this blog.
I want to speak for those who cannot. And for all you guys out there who may be uncomfortable with my boldness and honest, I want to remind you I’m an asset, not a threat. We’re in this together, doing life together, learning and growing side by side. God is no respecter of persons, so I’ve decided I’m brave enough not to be either.
If you’re still reading and are at all interested, here are those profoundly riveting yet ageless words penned by one of my absolute fave authors ever that totally recharged my thinking and helped me see so much clearer than before:

“Sin is the monster we love to deny.
It can stalk us, bite a slice out of our lives, return again and bite again, and even as we bleed and hobble, we prefer to believe nothing has happened. That makes sin the perfect monster, a man-eater that blinds and numbs its victims, convincing them that nothing is wrong and there is no need to flee, and then consumes them at its leisure.
We’ve all been assailed by the beast, sometimes face-to-face, but all too often from a direction we aren’t prepared to defend, and it’s only in recognizing the beast for what it is that we can hope to escape at all. In Jesus Christ we are forgiven and empowered to overcome sin, but opening the door and tossing the beast kitchen scraps of our character is no way to drive it off. Toying with an animal that is actually toying with us is a sure way to lose part of ourselves.
I was watching it happen to some friends of mine the year I began writing The Oath. As the rest of us just kept on praising the Lord, loving one another, smiling, and trying not to be judgmental, some really good people walked stupidly, blindly into the jaws of sin. The tooth marks still show today, in ruined marriages and soiled ministries. The rest of us should have said something.
In The Oath, I tried to say something through a vicious drama. I gave sin a form, an identifiable embodiment hellbent to consume the hero. I chose an obscure, remote setting because sin shies from examination just as vermin flee from the light, and in this place, there are no rules. Denial is easy, and sin is protected. The consequences, of course, play out just as they do in so many real lives: we’ve all seen friends, relatives, and fellow believers dragged out the door by a pet that got too big to control. Some have managed to come back, bleeding and bruised, hopefully healing and wiser. Some have never come back at all. And some of us have been there.
The Oath is a story we’ve all had a part in, to one degree or another. And years later, it still cries out the same warning God gave Cain: “Sin is crouching at the door, and it wants you, but you must overcome it.”

As an aspiring writer I do so appreciate those who can craft words in such a way with such skill that grabs the reader and teaches them a deep spiritual concept. Hope you find this as deeply moving as I did. In another of his books I found my second ever favourite quote. The hero had lived through hell, and at the end of the tale has only one thing to say: “He [God] is ordering my life, and doing all things well.” Sometimes I need for scripture to be put in a different way so I can appreciate the beauty and simplicity of it. When I feel like my life is spinning out of control, those words will quietly yet persistently echo in my mind and, like Zephaniah 3 verse 17 says, I find my wonderful, gracious, patient, awesome heavenly Father will gently “quiet you with His love”, a fact I find so precious and tested and true in my life that I’m reduced to weeping just thinking about it.

Kari, the slightly introperspective today
original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved

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