Monday, December 28, 2009

Fearless Heart

About a month ago, I had a panic attack. I say panic attack but really it was more like a tightening sensation in my stomach complete with butterflies and a racing heart, shortness of breath, and a fight-or-flight response. And no, in case you're wondering, it was not a result of a guy (believe me, I would have preferred that). Nope, it was my reaction to fear and to a realization of what the next year could hold. Grad school applications are in, and now it is time to start on financial aid applications and internship applications. But in the middle of all that, it became very real to me that I will be moving out of the state and potentially far away from my family for at least two years. It is easy to talk about it, easy to know that that is what I am supposed to be doing, easy to distance myself. After all, it is still months off. But then the reality of my decision set in when I hit send on the last application...and I was scared. Fear was crowding in.

As an English major, I love quotes. I recently came across one that really gave me a peace in the midst of this fear. A man named John Haggai says, "Attempt to do something so impossible that unless God is in it, it is doomed to failure." Wow, that packs a punch. That is exactly what I feel I have done with grad school. Even my professor has told me that I have a very slim shot of getting into some of the schools I have applied to. Big cause to fear. Then I remember that I serve a big God and if I am supposed to get into one of these schools, then it will be a God-thing. I will confidently be able to say that it is nothing that I did. Then....I turned to scripture to see what the Lord says about fear.

Fear is the result of trouble and anguish that can overpower you - Job 15:24

Fear consumes - Psalm 73:19

Fear couples with distress and anxiety, but is an earthly reaction and not one of fearing the Lord - Proverbs 1:27-29

Fear should cause believers to trust in Christ and realize man can't do anything - Psalm 56:3-4,11

Fear overwhelms us and causes us to want to run, but then we go to God to get peace - Psalm 55:5, 18

Safety and security in Christ cast out fear - Proverbs 1:33

Perfect love casts out fear and perfection can only be found in our Creator - 1 John 4:18

Lord grants rest from fear - Isaiah 14:3

Waiting on the Lord and realizing who He is (Light, salvation, strength, promises courage of heart) dispels fear - Psalm 27:1, 14

We are not given a spirit of fear - 2 Timothy 1:7

He has redeemed us and called us by name, erasing all need to fear - Isaiah 43:1

And here is my favorite one...Psalm 119:105-106 says His Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. He is guiding and directing me and therefore....NOTHING will I fear.

One of my favorite bands growing up was Point of Grace. They sing a song that is encouraging to me when I focus on my fears. It has become my prayer as I see that fear is not a healthy thing, unless it is fear of the Lord. It is a human, natural reaction and is therefore of the flesh and not God-honoring. It says, "I wanna live with a fearless heart, with courage that's coming from trusting God. It is constantly guiding me though the road may seem long. I wanna live with a fearless heart."

My prayer for you is that surrendering that fear to the One who made you and loves you like no one ever will, will bring a peace that passes all understanding, and that you will rest in the promises He has made to you, even when you can't see where He is leading. No fear! He is in control and still on His throne.

Praying for a fearless heart,
Kar

Sunday, December 13, 2009

On Guard!

I have been absolutely terrible with keeping up with this lately. The Lord has been teaching me so much but it will have to wait until another time. Right now, an issue has come to my attention that has been heavy on my heart this week. Before you read the rest of this post, please read this article.

"Supreme Court takes case of student group that bars gay members" http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20091207/ts_csm/achristian

One guess what kind of student group that was. That's right...it was a Christian club called the Christian Legal Society at Hastings College in San Fransisco. Please hear me...I in no way desire to be extremist but I do believe Christians and non-Christians alike need to be aware. The dynamics of certain aspects of our country are changing. And they are not changing in favor of believers. This group is being charged with discrimination against a fellow homosexual student who desired membership within the group, as well as a potential leadership position, but refused to sign the contract necessary to become a member which included things such as: belief that Jesus is the Son of God, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cross, was resurrected, returned to Heaven, the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, sex before marriage is wrong, etc.

Are you seeing anything un-Biblical yet? This group was holding its members to a high standard which I greatly admire. As a result, this case is being brought before the Supreme Court. Did you catch that? The SUPREME COURT! Guys, depending on how the court rules, we could see religiously based organizations on our campuses forced to changed their rules drastically or be disbanded. That means your fraternities, sororities, FCA, Christian clubs, anything and everything religious could be required to change their membership qualities to include anyone who wants to join and will be charged with discrimination if they choose otherwise.

If I am being honest, this scared me. My desire is to write Christian based material in a secular college setting for the next two years of grad school and it is possible that this ruling could effect that as well. As I began to think and pray about it, the Lord brought two passages to mind.

The first is in Acts 4....let me break this scene down for you. Peter and John have just healed a lame man through the power of the Lord and are now preaching about Jesus to a big crowd. I want you to note several key things and see if they remind you at all of this big decision that is about to go before the Supreme Court or of the changing temperament towards Christians in our nation right now.

Peter and John are arrested by the religious leaders of the day, who were pretty much the Law to the Jewish community. They were disturbed that Peter and John were preaching about Jesus and that people were listening and responding. Here is an interesting fact...the Sadducees were a religious sect that were part of this arrest. Here is my favorite part. This sect was described as being "liberal, compromisers, and political opportunists." Ring any bells? I'll leave political parties for you to think about.

Anyways, these leaders threw Peter and John in jail to shut them up and then brought them before the Sanhedrin (which was a place where these leaders all got together to make big decisions or in this case, try Peter and John). Know what their question was? "By what power or by what name have you done this?" (vs 7). Hm that is a very loaded question and sure enough Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, lets them have it. Know what he does? He shares the gospel with them!! He boldly claims the name of Jesus Christ, and claims the power of His death and resurrection.

Here is a cool part. So the leaders are listening to these guys and it says that "they saw their (Peter and John's) boldness, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, and they were amazed." (vs 13). Now let's stop and compare. These leaders could not deny the boldness of these men, nor could they deny that technically by society's standards these guys were working class, low, and dumb. But yet they spoke with confidence and knowledge, and they could not deny the evidence. This lame man is standing right in front of them! They saw the evidence of a changed life. May this be said when this decision is brought to the Supreme Court. My prayer is that they see the boldness of this group and regardless of what happens they cannot deny the evidence of changed lives.

But to keep going, stay with me, I know this is long...the leaders deliberated and came back to Peter and John and commanded/threatened them not to speak or teach the name of Jesus anymore. Peter and John pretty much tell them, "Hey you are the religious leaders, you let us know whether it is better to listen to God or you, but we are going to keep telling of what we have seen and know." Did they back down? Absolutely not!! Did the judge and jury's decision ultimately matter when it came to things of the Lord? Absolutely not!! So you draw your own conclusions of what I think of the Supreme Court's decision either way.

So the first thing Peter and John do is they go back to their companions and it says that "they raised their voices with one accord" and then acknowledged the awesomeness power of their God. I don't know about you, but some of the sweetest times for me this past summer were spent with friends talking about the Lord, encouraging one another, praying, and then worshiping our God! There is amazing power in that.

Now here is the most important part of this whole passage to me. These followers of Jesus pray that the Lord will grant them all boldness to share Him and that amazing things will be done through them in His name. Then look at the power of their prayer..."And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness." (vs 31) Wow!

So let's bring this back home to 2009 and the Supreme Court's ultimate decision. It is so easy to sit back and say, "Well I have no power here. What happens will happen." Hello! Do you realize apathy is wrong? The Lord has called us to proclaim Him boldly! So let's do it. What can we do? Let Christians know about this...it will most likely not be all over the media. Look it up for yourself...research it. And then as Christian students and adults, let's be of one heart and mind like the example of this early church. Ultimately, the decision doesn't matter. Our God is Sovereign either way. And let's pray...let's see our country shaken. We have a relationship with the God of the Universe!!! Talk to Him and surrender this decision to His capable hands.

The final thing I want to share with you is this: 1 Peter 5:8 is a warning to Christians. "Be sober, be vigilant for you adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour." Be on guard, be aware of what is going on in our country and the changing atmosphere and attitude towards believers. Here is the promise after that verse...verse 10 and 11 say "After you have suffered awhile", note that it says after and not if. It is a guarantee that suffering will come. But in the end the Lord promises to perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. We may be undergoing personal attack as Christians but we are being beautifully perfected by our Savior in the process. My prayer for each one of you is that we are bold and see the hand of our God in the midst of this.

Praying for boldness,
Kariss

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Heritage

Heritage is a big deal to me. I spent Tuesday driving home from Lubbock to Dallas and looking at the beautiful West Texas country...the cotton fields, open spaces, oil rigs, small country churches, and windmills...in other words the life blood and history of this land. As I have taught in classes preparing for Thanksgiving, I have been reminded of the rich heritage I have as an American. No matter how much historical revisionism exists, no matter how much politicians try to say otherwise, the roots of this nation lie with people who desired to worship God freely and walked by faith and not by sight in crossing the ocean and starting over. So today, like so many bloggers, I reflect and thank the Lord for what He has allowed me to experience and the family and friends He has chosen to bless me with.

-An amazing family, Godly parents who push me to love the Lord, and serve Him wholeheartedly. Both sides of my family have and continue to instill me with the values and morals that have shaped who I am today.-Courtney and Clinton are awesome examples of what a Godly marriage should look like
-My cousins and best friends

-my Alpha family from this summer. The Lord radically changed my life and I am so thankful for not only these amazing new friends who I constantly run to but the new peace and attitude the Lord has instilled in me this year.

-My roommates from this summer...Ashley, Brittany, and Rachel. Love these girls
-Never underestimate the bonds of community when the Lord is involved
-My Nebraska best friend....one sweet girl with an amazing heart for the Lord
-The guys showed me what a guy pursuing the Lord and learning to lead should look like.
-thankful for sunsets that are gorgeous.
-this country that I am blessed to live in.
-the passions, dreams, and desires that the Lord has placed on my heart. -
SALVATION. This one should be first. My Lord is strong, mighty to save, loving, and gentle
-and so so so much more.

Take time to thank the Lord specifically for the things in your life that you know you couldn't live without. These things, these people are my heritage from the Lord and for these I am so thankful and so humbled.

Blessed,
Kar

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wilderness Wandering

In the Bible, the desert and the mountain seem to be places that God takes His children to test and teach them. I understand the mountain experience better after living in them for a couple months this summer. But the past week, I have been wrestling with the concept of the desert. I think the desert is a time where God does some serious work on our hearts.

1)The desert is meant to isolate us
Do you ever feel incredibly lonely? The kind of lonely where you can be in a crowd of people, maybe even your own friends and family, and feel disconnected? I think our desert walks are times where God isolates us from people and things we would normally run to to prove Himself all-sufficient. In Genesis 21:14-21, Abraham sends his mistress, Hagar, and his son, Ishmael away, and the two wander in the wilderness. When Hagar and Ishmael have run out of food and water and think they are going to die, God speaks to her and makes her the promise that Ishmael will also grow into a blessed nation and then He provides for them. Would God have spoken to her like that if they had not been isolated and had nowhere else to go?

The children of Israel wandered in the desert and were isolated for forty years. Exodus 13:17 says, "When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said,'Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.' But God led the people around by way of the wilderness."God knew the hearts of His people and their desire to run back to a place that was familiar when the going got tough. He knew they wouldn't run to Him. So what did He do? Yep, led them into the wilderness. God provided food from Heaven, water from rocks, a pillar of smoke to lead them by day, and a pillar of fire to lead them by night. He showed Himself mighty, their Provider, and in control even in their desert.

The desert is a place where God breaks us so that we turn to Him. He shows up in mighty ways that we might have missed if we were still in the midst of our mountaintop experience. This week I asked the Lord if He was lonely for human companionship during His wandering in the desert. But then I realized, because He and the Father are One, He was never alone....and neither are we. If we are in Christ and Christ is in the Father then we are NEVER alone. Even in the midst of our desert wanderings.

2) The desert refines and equips us
You may be thinking, "I'd rather just stay on top of the mountain and God can move in little ways in my life. After all, He will still be moving, right?" Here's the deal...desert experiences are part of life and the goal of the Christian is a metamorphosis or transformation to be more like Christ. To have that transformation, we must have the mountain top experiences as well as the desert wanderings. So not only does the desert isolate us so God can show Himself mighty, but the desert refines and equips us for the journey ahead. In 1 Kings 19, the prophet Elijah is fleeing for his life into the desert from the wicked Queen Jezebel. God often takes us into the desert to shape us and speak to us in a still small voice, like He did to Elijah. I think often times in our contentment and joy on top of the mountain when everything is going well we neglect that still small voice because we just don't think we need to hear it.

Have you ever studied desert plants or animals? Not only does the Lord send us out into the desert to refine us but He is equipping us for our next trek up the mountain. Take camels for instance...they can withstand temperature changes and little water that would kill most other animals. Cacti conserve water within their bodies to enable them to go with little water for a long period of time. Do you get the picture? He gives us strength for the drought! Isaiah 43:19-21 says, "The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, for I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise." He doesn't send us into the desert to die or be miserable...He sends us to equip, strengthen, and enable us for what is coming. These plants and animals not only survive but thrive in the desert. If the Lord does this for the plants and animals (Matthew 6: 26-30), how much more will He do it for you who are created in His very image (Genesis 1:26)?

3)The desert is a place to both remember and forget
In 1 Chronicles, David charges the people to remember the miracles and judgments God had done. The Old Testament is full of encouragement for the people to remember the things God had done for them in the desert. They were charged to remember in order to not forget the One who never left them. But in Isaiah 43:18, the Lord says, "Forget the former things, do not dwell in the past. See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs forth. Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." The Jews are a people of rich heritage and tradition, but they could get so bogged down on what God had done in the past that they weren't looking to see what He wanted to do next. The desert is both a place for us to remember what God has done but also look toward the horizon with anticipation for what He both desires and promises to do. As a friend told me recently, "We remember, but we don't dwell."

I don't know where you are at in your life right now. You may be smack dab in the middle of a desert that seems to have no end. If you know the Lord, understand that the desert is His tool to draw you closer. He is strengthening you and refining you more into His image through the process. Beauty in the brokenness, remember? For those that may feel like they are going through a never-ending desert and don't know the Lord...could it be that He is using this time to break you and draw you to Himself? If you choose to follow Him, He promises to walk with you and strengthen you. There is hope in His name! Otherwise, your desert wanderings are meaningless. Find comfort that this God that loves and created you placed you in the desert for a purpose. Remember what He has done and look for the pillar of fire that is leading you out of the desert and to the next mountain He has purposed for you to climb!

Following Him in the desert,
Kar

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What is in a Name?

Have you ever looked your name up in a book to see what it means? A name defines a person...what they do, who they are, what they believe. It is your identity and speaks of your character. My dad was studying Greek and Hebrew in seminary when my brother, sister, and I were born. He and my mom chose our names because of their meanings. My name is Greek for "God's grace", my brother's is Greek for "God is my good", and my sister's is Hebrew for "protected of God." Growing up, my parents often prayed that we would embody the meaning of our names.

Did you know names in the Bible were often chosen to define a person? Moses was named because he was drawn up from the water. The prophet Micah's name meant "for who is like God." Adam means "earth" or "man." Get the point? Did you also know that God chose to rename people because of things they did or something He called them to do that redefined who they were? Abram is changed to Abraham (father of many nations) and God promised to bless this fatherless man with generations more numerous than the stars. Jacob (deceiver) was changed to Israel (struggler with God) because He wrestled with God. Naomi means pleasant, and she changed it to Mara (meaning bitter) after she lost her family. Saul changed his name to Paul after his conversion. Jesus changed Simon's name to Peter (Rock) and promised he would use Peter to help build the church.

So if names are chosen to define a person and our names are often reflective of our character, actions, and decisions - then how much more should we recognize and trust in the character of our God who is defined by His many names?

I AM God Almighty (Genesis 17:1)
God Most High (Genesis 14:18)
Lord, Master (Genesis 15:2)
The Lord is My Banner (Exodus 17:15)
The God who has been my Shepherd (Genesis 48:15)
I AM the Lord your Healer (Exodus 15:26)
The Lord is There (Ezekiel 48:35)
The Lord is our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6)
I, the Lord, sanctify you (Exodus 31:13)
The Lord, the Everlasting God (Genesis 21:33)
God, Creator (Genesis 1:1)
I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God (Exodus 20:5)
The Lord will Provide (Genesis 22:14)
The Lord is Peace (Judges 6:24)
Jesus, Savior (Matthew 1:21)
Alpha and Omega, beginning and end (Revelation 1:17-18)

All of these phrases are actually names for God in the Hebrew language. Have you ever heard of names that pack a more powerful punch? If names reflect character and the Hebrews considered names to identify and match the character of the person, what does that say about the names by which God is identified? What an awesome God we serve! If you don't know Him, understand that these names of God not only identify His character but demonstrate His power and love for His people. He created You and desires for you to know Him! He has a mighty purpose for your life!

In The Crucible, a play by Arthur Miller about the Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts in the 1690s, one of the characters, Proctor, is falsely charged for witchcraft and sentenced to hang. To avoid death, he is asked to sign a confession that he participated in witchcraft and here is what he says, "Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of those that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!" (Quoted from a spark notes site on Crucible quotes taken directly from the book.) Are you getting why names are SO important? They not only reflect who we are, but who we belong to. Are we making our King proud...the One who Defends, Saves, and Provides? Do our lives, our character, our names reflect the One we serve? Are we marring his name by claiming to be His but living in such a way that disrespects ourselves and Him?

I know this is long, but stay with me....as I mentioned earlier, sometimes God renamed His people to redefine who they were, equip them, and remind them what task He had designed them for. Maybe you haven't felt God calling you to something specific, or maybe you have. This summer, I felt God renaming me "His Bold Grace." I desire to share the gentleness and love of His salvation while standing up for what is right...even if that means standing alone. Is your name associated with good character? Do people know to whom you belong? Wait and listen for His calling in your life. Live a life worthy of the name He has given you and look to see if He will rename you to equip you and define you for the purpose He has created you to fulfill. I will be right here....serving along with you!

In the name of the One who is Mighty to Save,

Kariss

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Beauty of Change


It is in my nature to be the biggest optimist or the biggest pessimist, the biggest realist or the biggest idealist, the biggest romantic or the biggest cynic. Depends on the situation. Just goes to show the warring of our sin nature with our redeemed nature (Galatians 5:17). But lately, I am making the point to see the beauty in everything, and right now, I am enraptured by Fall (romanticizing, idealizing, pick one). Usually, Spring is my favorite season...new life, new things, everything green, gorgeous flowers and trees...but Fall has captured me this year. And I wondered...why is that?
My mom loves Fall. We would walk through the neighborhoods and crunch through the leaves when we were little kids. We would take the prettiest ones home and use them to decorate the table as the centerpiece. But this year, it has struck a special chord with me. Spring may be the season of new beginnings, but Fall is the season of change. One thing is passing away for something else to be born a couple of months later.
I feel like this season of my life is a lot like Fall. Something is passing away. People, moments, places that have defined my life the last three and a half years are falling away, coming to an end. I am preparing to say goodbye and step into the unknown and a season of new beginnings. This season of my life is one of change and transition.
Change is difficult for me. I like my comfort zone. Who doesn't? But change also excites me. I love seeing everything green in the Spring, but I know that in order for that to happen, the leaves now have to change color, fall, and decompose. They turn such beautiful colors, though, before they fall! It is reminder to me of God's hand being constantly at work through the changing of the leaves and this transition phase in my life. He is doing something beautiful, intimate, and purposeful through the change.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'" For those that are experiencing change or transition and your life feels like chaos trying to prepare for it...know that the One who made you desires to do something just as beautiful through the change as He promises to do wherever your destination may be. He has a divine plan and purpose for you and NOTHING takes Him off guard. He has your back and He is in control even when everything is upside down!
Trusting in His perfect plans for me,

Kar

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Even in Darkness...My King still Shines!

Lately, I have developed a fascination with the night sky. Well, I say lately, but I have always loved it. This summer, we went on a night hike up Pike's Peak twice...the first time we took the wrong trail so we did it right the next night. But the sky was beautiful!!!! We were out away from the city, on the side of a mountain, in the woods, and it was pitch black. The moon was gorgeous and I had never seen so many stars. They literally coated the night sky and sparkled. I stood in awe of my Creator, and wish I could have walked up the mountain with my face pointed at the heavens.

Psalms 19:1-3 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard."

How can you look up at the sky, see stars more numerous than the sands, and not acknowledge that there is a Creator? Have you ever wondered why they hang up there and don't fall down? The heavens scream that there is a Creator. They are beautiful, they are divinely created, and more numerous than we could ever count. God even promised Abraham that his descendants would be more numerous than the stars in the heavens (Genesis 26:4). What an amazing promise! Psalms 147:4 even says that He numbered the stars and knows each one by name. If the God of the universe could make so many stars that we can't even count and know each one by name (which indicates both an intimacy and involvement with His creation), how could we ever doubt that He both knows our needs and our hearts so intimately?

By nature, I am a night owl. My dad and I would stay up for hours on the weekend to watch movies or talk...often long after the rest of the family had shut down for the night. Night has always been a time of rest, peace, and beauty to me. But I think we also fear the night...we fear the darkness...we fear the fear that comes with things we can't see. Darkness in its very nature has always been associated with the evil one. He is always associated with spiritual darkness. But even in the darkness...my God is a genius!!!

Genesis describes the moon as the lesser of the two bodies of light that God created. The stars are also not very bright. But guess what? Even with the weak light that they give off, they still shatter the darkness! It is like the Lord, in His divine planning, is showing us that even when we can't see, are so weak, give fear and evil power over us, He provides light that shatters our darkness. Darkness is simply the absence of light. But because we serve such a big God, we will never be without some light!

As believers, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden" (Matthew 5:14). As light, we are shattering the darkness in our world. And one light effectively ends darkness. It may be dim, but darkness no longer has complete power. This world will never be without God's people. Even in prophecies about the tribulation, the Bible says that Christians will be handed over to the Antichrist but they will not be completely blotted out! We stand and we shine because we serve a God of light who always, always, ALWAYS shines a light in our darkest night. Look for the light He is giving you! Beauty in the brokenness and light in the darkness. It is a promise, and we serve a God who has not broken a promise in all the existence of creation. Take heart and look to see the light God promises to provide! He is faithful!

Following His Light,
Kar

Friday, October 9, 2009

Shaken not Stirred

Hebrews 12:25-29 says this, "See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused Him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven? At that time, His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised, "Only once more will I shake not only the earth but also the heavens." The words "once more" indicate the removal of what can be shaken - that is, created things - so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire."

OK, long passage but I have not been able to get it out of my head this week. Have you ever wondered why God allows your world to be rocked? I say allowed because the Bible also says that nothing evil comes from the Lord, but that does not mean that He does not allow it to happen. But why the heck would He want our worlds to be rocked? Why didn't I get into graduate school like I planned? Why did my plans bite the dust? Why did people I thought were permanent fixtures in my life up and walk away? For most of these questions I have to be honest...I have no clue. But that got me thinking...why did God allow Job to lose his family, his health, his possessions, his friends? Why did the Lord allow many of the disciples to be tortured and in some cases martyred? Why did He allow our good, Godly family friend to drop dead in His front yard a couple of months before his first child was to be born? I have no idea but it sure makes my problems seem minuscule.

However, this passage has gone a long way this week to soothe my heart and maybe not give me a definite answer but help me understand the Lord's purpose in allowing the storms in life to rage. Ready for the brilliant conclusion I have come to? He shakes our worlds so that when the dust settles we look around, take account of everything and see the things in our life that will never be shaken. Profound, right? Not really but a profound realization for me.

Maybe the Lord shook my life so that I would see the stock I was putting in my own plans when the Lord clearly says He directs our steps. Maybe I didn't get into grad school at Tech because a)I needed this time of rest and healing and b)there are people somewhere else that the Lord wants to use in my life and me in theirs. Maybe those friends drifted out because I was basing my identity in what they thought and not in the One who already bought and paid for my heart. Again, these are all maybes but I am finding I don't really need to know. I just know they were shaken out of my life for a reason and I see the beautiful things and people in my life that were not shaken and that I need to pour myself into. May this be an encouragement in the midst of your storm. As for me, I still don't understand but I know that He is good, and when everything else is shaken...my Rock still remains.

Resting in His goodness,
Kar

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My 2.5 Week Challenge

I think God often laughs at me. Seriously, I think He does. I seem to have a problem with thinking that I know it all and He is constantly laughing, shaking His head, and gently saying, "Sweetheart, you can't even begin to fathom the plans I have for you. Stop trying to figure it out and stop thinking that you know what is best for you. I have something so much better in mind." When I started leading this Endeavor group through my church, (Endeavor is a group of sophomore leaders that I am co-leading to teach them leadership skills and equip and encourage them to lead small group freshmen Bible studies)I prayed that God would use me, but I really didn't think that He was going to teach me much. That was my first mistake. God seems to teach me humility in spades...and I am so glad that He does.

This past week in Endeavor we discussed solitude. If you have been keeping up with me at all, you will understand when I say that stillness and solitude are not my strongest abilities. In the past few years of college, I have grown very uncomfortable with stillness. I have this mistaken notion that if I am relaxing I am missing out on something I should be completing, and so even when I am relaxing, I am working. This is a huge problem. This week, I realized that I suffer from "hurrying disease" and I must ruthlessly eliminate it from my life. I do not like the quiet because it offers time to think about things that I frankly just do not want to deal with. But, I was reminded this last Sunday that "I can't go faster than the One who is leading" as our book said, and if I try, I miss out on the things He wants to teach me in the quiet and still moments of my life.

Again, it comes back to being still. So, we challenged our Endeavor leaders to practice solitude and eliminating hurry from their lives in some form or fashion over the next two weeks. So for the next two and half weeks (since I will miss a Sunday with them) I am committing and challenging myself to practice solitude and remember the beauty that comes in the stillness. I am committing to seeing how God moves and what He wants to teach me in the quiet, unhurried moments of my life. So I will deliberately turn the TV and radio off more and spend some time every day journaling on top of my time with the Lord. Last night, I spent an hour doing this and it was a sweet time of fellowship with my Savior. But it was not an easy thing and I was constantly thinking about what I had to do and about what movie I wanted to watch as I finished up a few things. So we will see what God does. After all, if I can't be still enough to hear Him in the quiet, how in the world can I expect to discern His voice in the chaos of my life?

Listening for His voice,
Kar

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sweet Reminders

I am so thankful for the people in my life who constantly remind me to rest in Christ. The lesson has continued to crop up this week...every time I start to forget the lessons I have learned, something or someone reminds me. Last Sunday, our lesson in Endeavor was about abiding in Christ. These verses continued to come up this week in my times with the Lord and in the time with my friends:

John 15: 9-11 "As the Father love Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full."

Psalms 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in all the earth."

John 17:24 "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am."

Christ's desire is to abide with me. Abiding, being still...so much easier said than done. It means to rest in Christ, in who He is and what He has promised. When we are doing that, when we are completely surrendered, we remove ourselves from the equation and give the Lord so much more room to do amazing things in and through us.

This summer, the Lord really broke me and worked in my heart in the area of being still before Him. I am someone who has to constantly be moving, constantly have a purpose, constantly be doing something with my hands and my mind. My senior year of college was stressful. I left a very angry, bitter, hurting girl. While at Focus, I met with Mrs. Ogden, a woman in her eighties who helped to found the Institute for college students. She wanted to know my story (the classic question from this summer) and I told her about failing to get into grad school at Tech and some things I had faced over the last year. She got angry for me, she laughed with me, she sought to help me find direction...and then she prayed for me.

She told me to bow my head and listen to God while she prayed for me, and then I could tell her what God told me. I am so terrible at being still before the Lord and just listening. So I prayed one of the most honest prayers I have ever prayed. I told the Lord I needed Him to tell me something in the next couple minutes, I didn't care what, because I had to tell this lady something when the time was up. So I sat quietly and just tried to listen. Song lyrics started flooding my head, such as,

"When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrow like sea billows role, whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, it is well with my soul."

"Rest my soul in Christ alone, know His power in quietness and trust. When the oceans rise and thunders roll, I will soar with You above the storm. Father, you are King over the flood, and I will be still and know You are God."

"I will praise You in this storm."

I remember thinking, "Seriously, God? I really need You to tell me something." So I got quiet again and the same lyrics flooded my mind. It was then I knew what God was trying to teach me. This lesson to be still before Him will be a lifelong process for me, but I am thankful that the people in my life, especially those that God used to soften my heart from this summer, are there to remind me the lessons God has taught me when I lose sight of His peace and focus on the waves. He calms my storm. Rest in His promises to you today. Being still is a conscious practice. It is daily surrender!

Being still before Him,
Kar

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blessings

When I was younger, my mom would sing that old hymn with us as a reminder to "count your blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings, see what God has done." It is past time that I counted my blessings. It is so easy for me to be consumed by the many changes in my life that are challenging and scary. It is easy to focus on them and forget to look and see what God is doing in the small, seemingly insignificant, intimate moments of my life. But as I have challenged my sophomore Endeavor leaders that God has given me the daunting, blessed task of leading this year...I am looking to see how God is leading, teaching, molding, and blessing in the small moments....

-my family is amazing, they love the Lord and love one another, they encourage and push me

-my Alpha family and friends from Focus all over the country are my constant source of encouragement, love and prayer

-I have started the Truth project with an amazing group of older leaders from my college group...they are already challenging and blessing me with a support system here in Lubbock and greatly desire to see God transform them and our world

-new job starts tomorrow! I have the amazing opportunity to be a light to kids all over Lubbock who need Jesus as I start substitute teaching

-my roommate has been an answer to pray. It is a blessing to see her smile and see her sweet spirit for the Lord.

-God has seen fit to give me the task of leading the sophomore Endeavor leaders at FBC and teach them how to lead. They passion to reach freshmen is infectious, and I pray I can pass the role off to them to lead this college group in the coming years.

-I have been blessed with a like-mind and kindred Spirit in Courtney, a new friend with a beautiful heart for her husband, her friends and family, and God's people

-I have amazing friends who have stuck for years that constantly remind me of God's faithfulness and goodness to give me something of the familiar in my new stage of life

-I have begun a new study through the gospels and I truly cannot wait to see what God desires to teach me about His very nature and about holiness.

-I serve a God who never changes and He promises to walk with me every step through this process. He has given me peace and joy in place of the stress and is my constant companion even when I feel all alone.

Blessed,
Kar

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Splashes of Color

It has been absolutely crazy being a graduate and not being able to actually go to support my Red Raiders. However, my brother is playing for the Hardin Simmons Cowboys this year and every other weekend I have been making a three hour trek down to Abilene to cheer him on. The drive back has blessed my heart. Each time, I get to see the gorgeous masterpiece of God's sunset for the night. They are ALWAYS unique, with different shades and colors and spreads. But without fail, they are always breathtakingly beautiful. Living in west Texas has made me fall in love with sunsets. They speak to my heart, soften it, and bring peace. It is God's way of reminding me daily of His faithfulness, the care He takes with His creation, and His promise to heal, restore, and renew what has been broken that day. Enjoy some of my pics from the last couple weeks in West Texas of some gorgeous sunsets reminding me of God's beauty...

"But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out like stall-fed calves." Malachi 4:2
"For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations," says the Lord of Hosts. Malachi 1:11

"Praise Him, sun and moon; praise Him, all you stars of light!" Psalms 148:3
"For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly." Psalms 84:11
"Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sun, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever." Daniel 12:3

"Your sun shall no longer go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended." Isaiah 60:13
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies show His handiwork...In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run its race." Psalms 19:1, 4b-5
Basking in His light,
Kar

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Thought for the Day

Nahum 1:7 says, "The Lord is good, a STRONGHOLD in the day of trouble, and He knows those who trust in Him."

Lamentations 3:22-23 says, "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

Praying that you see the goodness of the Lord today. Find the beauty in the brokenness and cling to the God who is your stronghold!

Clinging to my Rock,
Kar

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tearing Down Walls

Another post for the day....I must be in a writing mood. I won't lie...being back in Lubbock has been difficult. I am floundering, trying to find a place, trying to find a job, trying to find a group to encourage me and push me through this transition year and so far all have been fairly unsuccessful. This summer, as I have mentioned in previous posts, God really broke me. He tore down walls that I had built around myself. I think a lot of times people build walls as defense mechanisms. Walls exist to protect, to shield, to provide safety, security, a level of comfort. But they are detrimental to a very large extent. I had gotten to a place where I was willing to serve and give of myself to a point, but I wasn't willing to let anyone in. Actions can tell a lot about us but when we let people close, they learn even more and have the potential to hurt you even more. This summer, God really used the people at Focus to tear down those walls of bitterness, pride, defensiveness, self-pity, and distrust. Like I said, He broke me. It has been difficult being back in familiar territory without the people that helped soften my heart this summer and learning to operate without these walls. They aren't beneficial or Godly, and ultimately they hurt me and others who desire to be there for me as the Body of Christ should be.

I always think once God has shown me something, the lesson is learned and we can move on to the next one. But He has to continue to teach me or the lesson becomes something really cool that God showed me but not something I apply to my daily life. I am determined these walls stay torn down. God led me to this passage the other night in my quiet time and it really spoke to my heart. I am in no way saying that the following is theologically sound but it was a great analogy for what God desires to do in my life if I give Him an open, willing heart, knowing that it could come with pain, and trusting that He will give me strength and healing if that is what He asks of me:

In Joshua 5:13-6:27, the Lord tells Joshua that He wants him to go march around a city wall and the wall will fall down. That is a very basic summary, but bear with me. Earlier in Joshua 1, God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous, and He promises to give Joshua and the Israelites (God's chosen people) every place they set their feet. Then back in Joshua 5, God promises to give Jericho to the Israelites and tells Joshua the place that the Angel meets with Joshua is holy. OK, so not only does God say, "Hey I am giving you this land," but He makes it holy. Also, notice the progression: the Angel (who some say is Jesus) told Joshua what to do, Joshua told the people, and they did it without asking questions or complaining.

Now, the Bible specifically says that the walls of Jericho were fortified and guarding the city against the Israelites (that's what walls do, remember?). The Israelites walk around this wall for 7 days in a row and then on the 7th day, Joshua tells them to shout for the Lord is giving them the city. Their command was to destroy everything within the city, except that which was most precious (the jewels, gold objects, etc.) and that stuff would be added to the tabernacle of the Lord. So the people shout, the walls are flattened, the people destroy everything and keep the most precious things for the tabernacle of the Lord. Then, Joshua charges the people not to rebuild the city or its walls or they would be cursed. And then the last sentence of the chapter says that God was with Joshua.

Now here comes the real life application and why this convicted me so hard: The Jericho wall reminds me of the walls I build in my life to protect and defend me, sometimes to the point where I hinder the people of God from using their strengths to minister in my life. My life, like that ground Joshua stood on, is claimed for Christ, therefore my life is made holy because of who I serve. God comes into my life, like He did this summer, and reminds me that I am His, claimed for Him, and He tears down my walls, destroying all the bitterness, defensiveness, self-pity, insecurity, pride and keeps only the precious things in my life to add to His tabernacle. In other words He refashions what I have built and rescues me, leaving only what He sees...the beauty of Himself in my life. And then like the people of Israel, He charges me not rebuild the walls in my life that He has torn down because He desires to do something through my vulnerability and openness. And His ultimate promise is to be with me!!! How exciting is that? I hope it encourages your heart and I hope that you allow God to tear through the defenses you have mounted. He can't use something that is focused inward because of walls. He desires to give us freedom and a life spent being used by Him.

Leaning on His promises,
Kar

Legacy


This past week, one of my great uncles died. This may not seem like a big deal...I wasn't close to him, but if you understood the Lynch family, you would understand the significance. The Lynchs are close...I have grown up knowing great aunts and uncles, second and third cousins as if they were first cousins and close aunts and uncles. We are a close knit family. And this is our third funeral in a year. My granddad and his two sisters are the last three of ten Lynch kids.

It is amazing how much I realize what this family has given and taught me. The legacy they have entrusted to me. They love one another despite mistakes, difficulties, lifestyles, etc. They are protective of their own. They show up en mass at graduations, weddings, and funerals...they share in joy, applauding personal victory and sharing in it as their own. They come together to celebrate lives, cry together (although they don't show emotion well) and support one another. I have learned family loyalty, strength, and love from them. Those who have divorced from the family are still considered family. Those who marry in may be given a hard time initially, but once they are in, there is no getting rid of them. I have gained strength from this family and a strong appreciation of family history and identity.


As we drove back from New Mexico to Lubbock, my two aunts, grandmother, and dad stopped to show me the places my grandparents had grown up on farms, where my great grandparents had grown old, where my grandmother played basketball in high school, the ugly and beautiful legacies of generations before (including the fact that my great granddad at his death a few years back was the oldest bootlegger to live in the US...his dad had been a preacher in the late 1800s early 1900s). They introduced me to Cherry Newtons (a combination of cherry flavoring, milk, and coke...it doesn't sound good but it isn't half bad) at a little run down restaurant. Then we drove to the war memorial.

Apparently many men in my family, including my great uncle who just passed away, and my granddad have served their country. Their names were written on huge slabs on this little West Texas war memorial honoring the men and now women from the area who have served. I learned one of my uncles was a POW in WW2. I was proud to be a part of this legacy and hear the stories of those gone before me.

It made me curious about the legacy I will leave. Many of the Lynchs are not Christians...they live life according to their own rules and I can't help but think that the legacies they are leaving are ones that will one day be forgotten. I pray that the legacy I leave will be one of eternal significance. A Nicole Nordeman song says it best, "I wanna leave a legacy, how will they remember me? Did I choose to love? I pointed to you. Wanna leave a mark on things, wanna bring an offering, child of mercy and grace who blessed Your name apologetically, to leave that kind of legacy."

I pray my legacy will be the ones I get to spend eternity with. I pray that I pour into the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ and that I bring others into this eternal family that I belong to. What kind of legacy will you leave behind? Matthew 6:26 says, "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."

Leaving a legacy,
Kar

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Own Personal Psalms

Back in April 2008, I wrote what I thought would be lyrics, maybe they are poems, but ultimately they are my psalms to my Savior. Enjoy!

Fill Me Up


I call on the One
who turned water to wine,
loved the unlovable,
gave His life for mine,
called the unworthy
forgave all my sin
gives strength to the weak,
calmed raging winds.

Fill me up.
Let my life overflow
an out-pour of grace
running the race.
Fill me up

Committing to you,
I take up my cross,
willing to die
I will suffer the loss.
I call on your mercy,
I beg for your strength
to proclaim you boldly
and walk unashamed.

Fill me up.
Let my life overflow
an out-pour of grace
running the race,
fill me up.

Empty I come,
a willing vessel.
Clay for the Potter,
it's all I can offer,
Fill me up.


Run

Searching so long
a fear deep inside
a trunk full of baggage
and a lifetime of pride.
But a voice gently calls me,
He whispers my name,
a promise of peace
and relief from my shame.

Run to the cross
to the One who can save you
who died for the lost.
Arms always waiting to welcome me home,
Run to the cross.

Casting my burdens down
I fall at His feet
capture my heart
make my life complete.
To know and be known
is the cry of my soul.
To glorify the Lord of Lords,
my purpose, my goal.

Run to the cross
to the One who can save you
who died for the lost.
Arms always waiting to welcome me home
Run to the cross.

Healer of broken hearts
Father, my friend
Creator and God of all,
the One with no end
My Savior, Redeemer
my friend and my Lord
tearing my walls down
I fall at your throne.
Run to the cross.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Life's a Dance

One of the last few nights I was in Colorado we had a swing dance party in our student lounge. I grew up around very musical, very artsy, very talented friends both at school and at church, but had never learned to swing dance. To be honest, I was nervous. I learn better when I figure it out on my own and then apply it. I want to have the steps and the moves down before I am in the spotlight. In other words, I want to have an element of perfection and control. This is a huge problem for me. As I sat on the couches watching some of my friends dance and have a good time, one of my friends came over, pulled me up off the couch, and was determined to teach me. He recognized my fear and was determined I would get over it. He began to teach me the steps, reminding me to follow his lead and I wouldn't have to do anything. I would do well for a little while and then lose my focus, remember I wasn't in control, worry about missing the next step, and I would stop following his lead...and we would mess up.

As I thought about this later, I realized that it is such a perfect example once again of the stage of life I am in right now. English major, remember? Analogy in everything. But it is the simple, beautiful, stupid, seemingly meaningless areas of my life that God seems to teach me the most through. My life is a complicated dance, and right now, my Savior is reminding me to follow His lead. I get frustrated and want to know the next step! I don't want to mess up, I don't want to miss it. But when I try to take back control, I mess up and I am no longer allowing my Jesus to lead me and it hinders the beautiful, intricate steps He wants to bless my life with, if I would just allow him to teach me, lead me, and walk me through the steps.

He is once again teaching me surrender. I have started to wonder the last couple weeks if the idea of surrender is something that the church has made up or if it is really something that is Biblical. I found an example of God's call to us to surrender in Matthew 19:16-26. Jesus is teaching His disciples and a rich young man comes to Him and asks how he can have eternal life. Jesus tells him to first follow the commandments, and then sell everything he has, and come, follow Jesus. The man went away saddened because he wasn't willing to give it all up to follow Jesus. We may look at this story and see a very drastic example of surrender, but isn't that what God calls us to do? To be willing to give it all up, every aspect of our lives (because He gave it it to us and it all belongs to Him anyway), and follow Him? If we truly believe that He is sovereign (in control), and our provider, then shouldn't surrender be easy? Ha, no! We are selfish creatures that desire to do it on our own...when we realize that doing it on our own means falling flat on our face because we are simply not capable, then we run to our Savior.

Surrender means to give up, abandon, yield. None of those things are easy for us. When I realized that I had to follow my friend to have the most fun possible, I realized the freedom of just releasing control and dancing. My picture of surrender may be childish but here it is: I picture myself in a field of wild flowers with a blue sky overhead and all I want to do is open my arms, close my eyes, twirl around, and praise my Creator for the freedom that comes with giving it all to Him.

I have a new I AM (if you don't understand this then check out my I AM post from earlier in the summer). I have been sweetly broken and I AM wholly surrendering. I AM ready, Lord, send me.

Surrendering it all,
Kar

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Beautiful You

I was asked this summer to consider the question: "What breaks your heart and baffles your mind?" My number one heart breaker are girls that are hurting. We are fed so many lies in our culture today. My desire is for my girlfriends to know how loved they are. In the book Captivating (which I would highly recommend for you ladies who have never read it), the author says that because God created us, there is a place in His heart that only He can fill. When we allow Him to fill our hearts and realize that He is our true love, we see that He consumes us!

Ladies, God created us to desire love and security...the fact is that we allow guys to fill those places in our lives when the Lover of our souls is whispering in our ear sweet nothings about how beautiful we are to Him, how much He cherishes us, and how He promises to take care of us more than the flowers of the field and birds of the air. That is the heart of our God for us!! We are the bride of Christ! We are already cherished so much more than a man will ever be able to love us! Don't get me wrong...I have dreams of a white wedding, a man who is tall, dark, and handsome and loves me more than anything except His King. I am no feminist. But I also realize that that man will take the place of God in my life if I am depending on his love to be enough for me.

It broke my heart this summer that so many of the amazing girls I spent two months with had let a guy hurt them or steal their joy (me included). I can't wait to see the men God brings into their lives who will cherish them! Ladies, let's not settle! God has called men to love us as Christ loved the church! And what did Christ do for the church? He died for it! Is the guy in your life so in love with Jesus, that He recognizes his role is to lead you spiritually and love and cherish you so much that he would die for you? If he doesn't, HE IS NOT WORTH IT! That immediately eliminates a lot of men...which should make finding a good one easier. :) Guys were made to reflect God's strength and girls were made to reflect His beauty and glory. Guys, you need to learn how to submit to your Maker, because there is a reason that girls go for the "scumbags" and its because a lot of times they see no difference between you as a Christian man and them.

In the Bible, God's relationship with us goes from Potter to clay, sheep to Shepherd, Father to child, Best friends, and then Bridegroom! Do you notice that the level of intimacy with Him increases as our relationship with Him increases? I once made a list of everything I want in a guy and when I reread it, I found that God fulfills everything on there already because He already knows my heart so intimately! Know and rest in how much He can fill your heart and how passionately and tenderly He loves you.

Another lie we have bought into as girls is that we need to meet the standards of the world as far as beauty goes. I struggle here, too! I have definitely bought into the lie that I need to look a certain way, dress a certain way, act a certain way to be attractive or succeed. But in all reality, God says that man looks at our physical appearance while God looks at our hearts. What if we worked on dressing up our hearts for our Lord so that every time we talked to Him, He was pleased with our appearance? What if we learned to see the beauty of our character and personality and crazy perks that God has given us are actually a gift and not a curse? What if we realized that because we are created in our Savior's image, we are automatically the most beautiful thing that walked the planet and could win any fashion show? What if we realized the heart of our God for us to give us beauty for ashes and His desire to heal us and fill us with His love? What if we remembered that because we are daughters of the King we are clothed in His beauty, righteousness, and holiness? That should make us so excited and feel treasured!

I worked with kids at a day camp for two summers and something that broke my heart was young girls listening and singing songs and performing dance moves to terrible lyrics. They had obviously been watching MTV (shame on their parents for that). One amazingly sweet, gorgeous Christian nine year old came to me hurting because she had refused to do some of those dance moves, talk in a certain way, and listen to some of those songs. I could relate. There were many times in high school when I felt uncomfortable around my girlfriends. I left sleep overs in the middle of the night because I did not want to discuss the subject matter or act or dress in a certain way. I discussed this with some of my guy friends and they voiced that they actually like and respect a girl more when she stands up for what is right, and dresses and acts in ways that not only respects them as Christian brothers but is also honoring to their Maker. John Randalls says that what you do to get a guy, you will have to do to keep him. If starving yourself, dressing inappropriately, or acting seductively hooks you a guy, run away fast! Chances are if you do get married you won't make it to your Golden Anniversary if that is all that attracted him to you. A relationship attracted by the beauty within will last much longer.

I am now done with my soap box... but know that you are so beautiful to God! Be secure in who you are as a daughter of the King of Kings. If you don't know my Jesus, know that accepting Him as your Lord and Savior and desiring to live for Him will introduce you to the most intimate, unconditional, forever love relationship of all time!

Your sis in Christ,
Kar

Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Prov. 31:30

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought with a price. So glorify God with your body. 1 Cor. 6:19-20

"There could never be a more beautiful you. Don't buy the lies, disguises and hoops they make you jump through. You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do. So there could never be a more beautiful you." song by Jonny Diaz

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pendulum

I often feel there is a war raging within me between the girl who wants to trust and lean on others and the girl who is independent, stubborn, and doesn't need anyone because she doesn't want to get hurt. The pendulum is constantly swinging back and forth between the two natures, desiring to find a happy medium and never quite figuring out how to rest in the middle. There is a good chance this will be a lifelong challenge for me, however, this summer I was introduced to the beauty in the Body that appears in our weakness.

Weakness unifies the Body because it allows God to be glorified and the Body to operate smoothly because others strengths are allowed to blossom. This song greatly encourages my heart as I remember my community from this summer, and remember that I don't have to be so independent and alone. There is hope in the journey down the mountain and beauty when people surround you, smother you, and walk down with you. My Savior has walked before me and I am following in His footsteps.

"Walk Down this Mountain" by Bebo Norman
It's a better place
standing high upon this mountain.
I've seen your face
full of the light that only this height can show.
Blistered hand is what you you've given
But you've been given all you'll ever need
to know.

Chorus:
So walk down this mountain
with your heart held high,
follow in the footsteps of your Maker.
With this love that's gone before you
and these people at your side
If you offer up your broken cup
You will taste the meaning of this life.

Well it's a common ground
and I see you're all still standing.
But just look around and you'll find
the very face of God.
He's walking down into the distance
He's walking down to where the masses are.

Chorus:
So walk down this mountain
with your heart held high,
follow in the footsteps of your Maker.
With this love that's gone before you
and these people at your side
If you offer up your broken cup
You will finally taste the meaning of this life.

We are standing in a place of peace
And this is how the world should be.

In Him,
Kar

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Diamond in the Rough

Well I have officially climbed up and down Pike's Peak. My goal has been accomplished. I have climbed a mountain and lived to tell the tale. My adventure on Pike's Peak was entertaining, challenging, humbling, and enlightening. We hiked up in the dark so I couldn't see anything but the flashlight illuminating the step in front of me. Coming down after we watched the most gorgeous sunrise, I was thankful that I couldn't see what I had hiked up in the night.
Seeing would have put me in the position to fear and be more eager to quit. Seeing only the step in front of me reminded me that each step, though difficult and often slippery, could be accomplished. Just reach the light and then continue to follow it up. I think this may be why God only gives us the next step in our great adventure. If we saw the big picture, we may want to quit, alter our route, or become reckless and miss the sunrise at the top. Giving us just the next step is God's way of saying, "I have designed each step. Let me show you how to conquer this one and we will tackle the next one together. I know the road ahead, and I'll help you up it one step at a time. Just trust me for the rest."
It was then that I realized in my desperate need for direction for grad school and my dreams and what city I will live in in the next year, that God is giving me just the next step and when I get up that one, He will show me the next one. That is the very nature of God...not giving us more than we can handle, knowing what we need even when we don't, loving us in spite of our stubbornness and independence. He helps us to temper those character qualities that He gave us to allow us to better reflect His image.

Now here's where nature comes in, touches my heart, and whispers sweet nothings about the very nature and character of my Maker. As we walked down, I could not get over the beautiful mountain flowers flourishing in the rocks along the path. They thrive with little water in the midst of rough terrain. They are strong! They are beautiful! And they live in spite of the elements! They are diamonds in the rough. As Christians, God never promises the road to be easy. In fact, I am sure it looks much like the path up Pike's Peak...steep and rocky. But he promises that in the midst of the difficulty we will thrive and grow. He promises Beauty in the hard spots of our life. God is the beauty in the midst of our circumstance. He is the diamond in the rough, bringing hope and life and strength.

I pray that this blesses your heart,
Kar

"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in You, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17

Friday, July 31, 2009

Quiet Strength

During my summer in the Springs, I talked with my roommate, Rachel, about God's way of demonstrating strength in His creation. The ocean or water to me shows God's ever-reaching, majestic power that can rage and destroy, or calm and soothe. I love to sit on the beach and just listen to the waves roll in and lap at the sand and shells on the beach. It is peaceful. The mountains are dangerous, strong in their very nature, steady, unmoving, unchanging. They point to Heaven and require strong, adapted animals and plant life to thrive. We hypothesized that the mountains are God's picture of masculine strength while the ocean represents a more gentle, feminine strength.

One night, five of us girls took a night hike to Mt. Cutler. The curse of being an English major is that I find an analogy in EVERYTHING, and God greatly teaches me through nature. I noticed a tree that was knarled and leaning over in the trail, yet it had corrected itself and was still standing straight. Its roots were clinging to the rock and though bent, it was standing tall and proud. It was strong! There was a time where it had bent under the elements, but as its roots gripped the rock and dug deep, it filled out and grew tall. It still bore evidence of its brokenness but it had been healed and revealed this quiet, steady strength.

I feel like this tree reflects my life. It has been bent, twisted by the harsh winds of life. It's roots are apparent yet they have burrowed deep. I have been broken, challenged, knocked over by the winds of life, I have succumbed to pressure and struggled to correct myself. But there is a promise in the very nature of God that we will bend but not break. His strength is sufficient and we will be mighty oaks of righteousness for the display of His splendor (Isaiah 61:1-3)! I am clinging to my Rock for strength and I pray that the broken and bent parts in my life pull my roots to the surface so people can see what I cling to in the harshness and have hope. I will grow tall and strong because I serve a mighty God who made the mountains. I pray that like that tree, my Maker gives me a quiet strength to withstand the strongest elements because my roots are clinging to my Rock.

In the One who is Mighty to Save,

Hos. 6:1 "Come, let us return to the Lord; for He has torn but He will heal; He has stricken, but He will bind us up."

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I AM


God continues to work on my heart and show me new things about myself and what He has called me to while I am here at Focus. One of the most popular questions here is "What is your story", and I swear it gets asked on a daily basis. I am ashamed to say that I have never thought to ask my friends back home this question. I am constantly amazed at the stories of others and that the same God bringing them out of a bad situation or shaping their circumstances is working to restore my heart and embolden me.

We did an activity the last few minutes of class one day this week. In the center of the board was written a huge I AM. We were asked to come and write down where we are in our story around the I AM. It was powerful and emotional. It hurt my heart to see the broken places that some of my friends are in, and it made me smile to see what God was doing in spite of it. I often have a hard time being open with others and I broke down actually verbalizing where I am at and knowing what I didn't want to write down. I pray that as you look at where you are at in your story...you will see the mighty hand of our God. God is the I AM in the midst of our circumstance and He has called us to be vulnerable with His Body:

I AM daughter of the King of Kings. I AM a recent college grad with a calling. I AM attempting to be still and know that He is God. I AM in transition, and I AM scared to death about the next step.

But just like on the board, the Great I AM is in the middle of my circumstances, just as He is in the middle of yours.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Gladiator - A Call to Boldness

So far this summer, God has really been working on my heart in regards to being still and knowing who He is and understanding that He has called me to boldness. To be honest, that scares and excites me...I feel so unworthy and inadequate, but I feel He is calling me to stand up. One of the qualities I admire most about people is what I call "humble boldness." They are unashamed and bold about Christ but they do it in such a way that draws people to them; they are confident in who they are and who their Savior is and don't feel the need to be defensive.

The summer before my senior year of high school, I went on a leadership trip to Rome with a group of seniors and college students. There was a guy about to go into the marines that was on the trip with us. When we went to the Coliseum, we prayed over him, asking that God would make him a mighty warrior for Christ. It was surreal...we were commissioning a guy in a place where so many Christians have died because they refused to back away from their Savior! What an awesome testimony. And sometimes I wonder, will God call me to do that, too? If He does, I pray for strength, peace, and joy, and that it will ultimately glorify Him.

I feel that our nation is coming to a crossroads. We claim to be tolerant, but really tolerance includes everyone but Christians or conservatives. Is this fair? No, but the fact is that up until now we have had a relatively easy time, and as a result, our nation is drifting from God. China, under the rule of a dictator who kills Christians, has one of the biggest and healthiest Christian bodies in the world. What if in the face of mounting persecution and intolerance against Christians, God is trying to wake American Christians up to see who will follow Him?

I recently had a dream that I was back home in Texas and my family and I were scrambling around the house trying to pack because people had heard we were Christians and were coming to take us somewhere where we wouldn't be able to tell others about Him anymore. A few nights later, I had a similar dream that I was rushing to pack and load cars with my friends here at Focus because people had heard they were training Christian leaders for the next generation and they wanted to stop us. I in no way claim that these are prophetic. On both occasions, I woke up anxious and scared. But I prayed that God would give us a boldness to preach Christ unashamedly. I have not been called to sit on the bench. I have no idea what that means exactly but if God is preparing me to stand up for Him then I trust He will give me the strength and peace to do so.

As I continue to pray that God will equip me and empower me to be bold for His glory I go to these verses. I hope they encourage your heart and help you to realize that God called us to a life of boldness for Him! It's time for us to take a stand and share the love of our Savior...there is power in His name!

"Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident." Psalm 23:7
"And now, Lord, look on their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your Holy Servant, Jesus." Acts 4:29-30

God is still working...may we make His name known!

In the One who is Mighty to Save,
Kariss

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Healing Rain

Let me just say up front that God did not design my body to hike up mountains. I am terrible at it...but I absolutely love taking the trail up slow and looking at everything that God has made. Last Thursday, a few of our Focus crew took a hike up the Columbine Trail. It was super steep and I hated it...until I dropped back with a few girls from my group and just enjoyed the walk. As we wound up the trail, the clouds moved in and it began to rain. We turned to head back down the mountain, slightly worried about the thunder and lightening. Our leader came barreling down the mountain, shouting at us to get off the mountain as quickly as possible all the while praying that no one got struck by lightening or hurt on the way down. I ran. The trail was steep, slippery, tiny streams were forming and cutting their way through the dirt and down the mountain, racing my feet. I was getting soaked and all I could do was smile and laugh. I was like a little kid basking in the rain of my Father, and it was exhilarating.

I realized as I was running down that my life as of late is a lot like this trail. Sometimes God has to push us up a mountain, and we are so caught up in the midst of a painful situation that we forget that He is walking with us. We are too busy focusing on breathing and keeping our feet moving that we forget the One that made us is walking with us, promising to help. But once we get to the top, it is like the journey up never happened, because we can bask in the glory and joy of making it through and seeing the beauty around us. Then we have the run down to a valley and small time of peace before God brings us the next mountain, and on that run down He rejuvenates us with His healing rain.

Growing up, my parents called me a fish out of water. I love the feel of the water on my skin and the lightness and grace of my body as it submerges! Lately, I have been fascinated with the idea of water and looked it up in my quiet times to see what it represents in God's Word! I was shocked and elated...check out what I found:

Water penetrates, it conforms to the condition of our hearts. What we do saturates us: Psalms 109:18
It grows, revives, and restores that which was broken or decaying: Job 14:8-9,
Hosea 14:4-6
It cleanses, purifies, marks us as God's, almost like anointing, cleansing our filth so God can give us a new heart : Ezekiel 5:26
It is used as a source of miracles - turned into blood, into wine, brought from a Rock(our Rock is the source of living water) brought from what is dead (brought from the jawbone of a donkey) : Exodus. 7:17, 20, John 2:7-9, Exodus. 17:6,
Numbers 20:11
It represents the voice of Christ: Rev.1:15
It represents the knowledge of God: Isaiah. 11:9, Habakkuk 2:14
Represents wisdom we should have in Christ: Proverbs 18:4, 20:5
It denotes stillness: Psalm 23:2

My favorite passage that has gone a long way toward showing me the heart of God through rain and water this week was Hosea 6:1-3. I hope you find it equally encouraging and see the heart of God and His amazing love for you! We serve the God who is Living Water, and through it, He desires to heal, restore, bring peace, cleanse, and show Himself more powerful so that we are conformed to His likeness. Our God gets the ultimate glory!

"Come and let us return to the Lord; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight. Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth." Hosea 6:1-3

Friday, June 26, 2009

New Beginnings

Change does not come easily for me. You fight to hold on to what is familiar all the while enticed but fearful of the great unknown, the call of something new and exciting. I just graduated from Texas Tech University and my plan to go to grad school there for Creative Writing fell through. Immediately my future seemed to plunge into a black hole with no direction. I feel like Indian Jones being told to cross a bridge he can't see. Thankfully, I serve a God who has already planned my next step; I just have to be willing to put my foot out. I don't know what the next year will look like. I have a feeling I may experience a small taste of a gypsies' life, but God is so faithful and is preparing me to step out into the vast unknown.

Jeremiah 29:11 "I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. Plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

I am currently attending the Focus Leadership Institute at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs. God is teaching me awesome things. I was encouraged to start a blog and make myself more comfortable with sharing my heart with people since I want to write for the rest of my life. I feel it is something God has called me to do and look forward to it with great anticipation! Vulnerability, just like change, does not come easy, but God never called us to a life of secrecy and loneliness. He desires for us to have community and relationships and share about Him boldly. This is my attempt to do so.

The title of this blog comes straight from a soft spot in my heart. I love to find the beautiful aspects of simplicity. I love to look at nature and see the amazing things God did and thank Him for it. My mom has always called my style "simple but elegant." I also believe God makes beauty of ashes. When we think our lives have crashed and burned, He is there, asking us to wait as he fashions a beautiful painting out of the mess of our lives. His mark is everywhere...and it is simply beautiful. I hope that you will be encouraged as I chart my journey over the next months as God shows me the simply beautiful things of life and writes the next chapter of my story...even though I don't know how it will start yet.

In the One who is Mighty to Save,
Kariss