karigraceplace – A Lighthouse

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

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 of coursyou’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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The Other Side of Angels

Lester Summrall, in his fascinating book, The Reality of Angels, says that “never before in history has there been so much interest in supernatural phenomena.” He talks of the occult, astrology, spiritualism, exorcism, UFOs and extrasensory perception, which, as he quite rightly points out, are indeed “sure to be Box-office hits.” He goes on to say that “much misinformation and blatant falsehood” is presented on these topics and I have to agree. That was in 1982.

Enter An American Werewolf in London. Harry Potter. Twighlight. Hemlock Grove. Zombies and vampires abound in today’s society and few think anything of it. I sometimes wonder if Christians have accepted the status quo.

Take a for-instance. I mentioned misinformation and blatant falsehood earlier. I’ve always believed if you want to learn the truth about a thing, go to the source. I Skype my mother nearly every Monday morning first thing, and she almost always introduces me to something I never knew. Two Mondays ago it was The Girl in the Red Coat, a book written by Kate Hamer that my mother and her reading group just finished. After all, as Andy Stanley quite rightly says, the world you cannot enter is the world you cannot reach. So if I want to reach current society I have to know a little about what’s going on in it.

Researching this led to discovering a similar book, The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold. I made it my mission to find out out details on a ‘fiction novel’ told by a teenager you eventually realize has been raped and murdered. It wasn’t the subject matter that caught this random redhead’s attention though. It was the movie of the same name, produced by Peter Jackson.

First off, I discovered he found his ‘inspiration for heaven through a teenager’ eyes’ in The Partridge Family, of all things. Nothing against the show – used to watch it myself as a teen. But like I said, if you really want the truth about something, why didn’t Mr. Jackson choose to go to the source? As in, The Bible? My guess is, he might not necessarily have wanted Truth. Perhaps, as a movie producer, he felt Wes Farrell had a more viewer-friendly approach to the subject, one worthy of emulating. He’s probably right. God forbid we should actually expose horror-movie-goers to the gospel: they just might get convicted! It was an interesting concept to me.

The second thing to catch my attention actually made me want to throw up, but it’s a chilling inditement on today’s society. When it hit the movie circuit there was public outcry. Why? It wasn’t gory enough.

Apparently when writing, Ms. Sebold must have felt the story was the focus, not the murder scene. Viewers thought differently. So much so that Mr. Jackson decided to reshoot the scene with much more blood. At first I was horrified. Why would the public demand such a thing? And why wouldn’t Christians stand against it?

Then I realized a simple fact – neither side knew. Children of God probably didn’t see the film so they didn’t know to protest, and gore-lovers probably didn’t know obsession with violence is not healthy because they may not know God’s view on the matter. Because Mr. Jackson didn’t introduce them to Truth. Not that he should. I don’t know where he stands with his Creator. It’s just a shame one given a high level of influence chose to wield it the way he did.

I’m left grieving for a society that idolizes celebrities and speaks against leaders. That scoffs at a holy God and looks to the world for its view on the spiritual world. I respectfully disagree with Mr. Sumrall. We have his decade beat by a mile. And it’s going in the wrong direction.  I’m praying passionately for revival like never before, and I also pray that, like John Wesley, wherever I go I set others on fire with the fire burning in me.

Kari, the fired-up-and-sharing-it

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Armor All

I guess you’d have to be a redhead to fully appreciate the way we process stuff, but I often get “ah-ha” moments in the unlikeliest of places. The other week mddm (my dearest darling man) decided to clean our vehicles, and pulled out his trusty Armor All. He did a great job, btw, but I was lost in thought at that point, and this current blog began to emerge.

If you’re in a war you need armor ideally over as much of your body as possible, at minimum enough to cover vital organs. Armor is powerful and a very necessary thing during warfare but sometimes it can be a hindrance. We’re told in Ephesians 6 to ‘put on the whole armor of God’, which tells me God has a specific fit designed for me that’s different than for you.

Saul’s armor don’t fit nobody but Saul! I try to believe others mean well, but it’s a fact of life. 1 Samuel 17 verse 38 says that, “Saul dressed David in his own tunic”, then added armor and a bronze helmet; submitted to his leader, David didn’t question Saul’s decision – however, when David tried to be David in Saul’s armor he couldn’t even walk, let alone fight.

You have two choices. You can accept the status quo and die in stagnation or you can do like Jabez, and pray that God will increase your territory. If you want to possess a thing, logic dictates you’ve got to DISpossess the current owner/occupant of that thing, which usually means warfare. I’ve learned a lot of things in life by doing it the wrong way, and don’t often repeat the lesson.

I know folks mean well, but if a thing’s working for you who cares if it ain’t done the way they’re are doing it? if it ain’t broke it don’t need fixin! God made us all unique and likes us that way.

Can we agree to let me do me and you do you? I’ll love you and support you any way I can, but I give you the freedom to be different and unique and do things the way that works for you.  And I ask the same of you. Agreed?

Kari, the armoured-up-girl

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In his wonderful little book, A Hobbit Devotional, which is fast becoming one of my absolute faves, Ed Strauss makes many fine points but one of the best comes in chapter 2. Once Gandalf tells Bilbo who he is, all Bilbo remembers is the fun and parties stories the wizard told.  But then, “he stopped and asked warily if this was by chance the same Gandalf who, in years past, had talked impressionable young hobbits into ‘going off into the Blue for mad adventures’.”  To which the obvious answer would be simply yes.

I know another rabble-rouser.  You may too.  Jesus.  A brush with Him had a similar effect on almost everyone He met, and pretty soon He had developed a reputation for getting quiet respectable folk to do very strange things, often completely out of character.  Take Zacheus, for example.  He had a rep of his own, though not a good one.  In his day, tax collectors could demand whatever percentage they chose to exact from the good citizens of the town, and Caesar turned a blind eye as long as he got his cut.  That’s why tax collectors were so despised in Jesus’ day – they were crooks, kind of an ancient day mafia.  One encounter with the Saviour changed his heart to the point he willingly offered to give money back to those he’d swindled.  Don’t tell me that wasn’t a heart change!  A con-artist giving back what he’d stolen? Doesn’t happen.  At least, I for one have never seen such a radical conversion, but for the rabble-rousing rabbi it happened everywhere He went.

I heard a pastor say this week that if you want good relationships look to the One who made relationships.  Simple, yet often forgotten.  So how come 70% of second marriages end in divorce?  Perhaps because we forgot to look to the One who started the whole thing.  We live in a broken world, and the current culture isn’t likely to change any time soon unless we, as Christ followers, which is what the word “Christian” actually means, start doing it.  Talking like, acting like, the One we say saved our lives.  Just a thought.

Kari, the rabble-rouser-and-happy-to-be-one

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What If?

Life kind of attacked me recently from several directions at once, but now I’m back, doing what I believe I was put on this earth to do.  Write.

I made a decision some 24 years ago that I wanted to preach the Word, in season and out of season, through the foolishness of fiction.  A wise man by the name of Kenneth Copeland says the Word works, but only when it’s put to work.  So simple, yet profound.

This hit home during a teaching recently about sowing and reaping.  It’s a subject many tend to tune out on, because almost everybody on the planet has heard the story, but me being me, I learned decades ago that if I’m in a moment there’s a reason for it, so I’m looking for the reason.  Even if it’s just being reminded of simple core elementary truths, I obviously needed to revisit them or God wouldn’t have had me in that moment.  I was reminded of several things that day, and if you don’t mind, I’d like to share a few.

One, we are all given what I call The Three T’s – time, talent, and treasure.  Some more, some less, but just like the lazy guy who buried his in the ground, we all have them and only we can decide the measure in which we use them.  Which brings me back to sowing and reaping.

Many complain their spouse doesn’t love them/respect them/serve them/bless them/spend time with them “like they used to.”  My question is this: are you?  Am I what? you ask.  Good question.  Sowing.  Are you loving/respecting/serving/blessing/investing time in them?  The world agrees that what goes around comes around, so if you don’t send it out how can you get it back?

A farmer will tell you that it’s a mystery, this sowing and reaping thing, but it works.  You reap exactly what you sow, you reap on the increase, and it shows up gradually.  But rest assured, the harvest is on its way.  For good and for bad.  Soil quality also determines harvest quality, yet even the best soil can’t transform bad seed.   What you send out will come back to bite you.  Matthew 7 verse 16 says your fruit shows, whether you know it or not.  If you are truly a follow of Jesus Christ, folks should see a difference.  The world taught me WIIFM (what’s in it for me, for the uninitiated), and I had another epiphany in that moment: wise investors don’t check Wall Street every day.  If they did, they’d be buying and selling at the whim of the market.  No, they’re focused on the long-term profit.

When you say yes to something, by default you say no to something else.  The growth process isn’t easy: you have to prepare the ground, water and fertilize the soil, kill the pests, feed and support and nurture new plant growth – if you’re focused on the now you’ll quit since it’ll be just too much work.  If you’re focused on the strawberries/corn/tomatoes/zucchinis you plan to eat next spring, you might press through because the prize is worth winning.

How about WIIFJ?  What profit margin do you think we’d experience if we gave our all to Jesus?  Not just in word, but in deed?  What if we touched one solitary life because we as believers chose to focus on eternity, and the worth of a soul?  The future doesn’t look so bleak when you seek FIRST the kingdom of God, and let all other concerns fade away.  How can anyone’s future be anything other than exciting when you know you’re where you are, when you are, with whom you are, for a reason He will make clear if you trust Him to?  That brings this ho-hum existence many experience into a whole new realm.  You start looking for opportunities to share the life-changing, sin-destroying, soul-comforting Truth many are searching for but never find.

I’d like to share part of a story with you, dear reader, if you’re open , but I don’t want to overwhelm you and since my momma tells me on a regular basis I’m ‘verbose’, I’ll leave that for the next blog post.  Let me know in the comment section if you’re at all interested in what this Random Redhead is currently writing, and if you do choose to read it, I’d love your input.

Until next time…

Kari, the open-to-what-ifs gal

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