10/31/17

:: old friends ::

There we were, a whole group of us. Sitting around a table of hot tea, delicious food, and delightful conversation. Though seemingly only one thread connected us, yet it may surprise you to know there's so much more. There's a knowing that comes from years. And experiences. A knowing of the heart that settles in.

No matter the time.
No matter the circumstances.
No matter the age differences.

Once connected in heart, always connected in heart.

The infinite beauty of an old friend.

We've chosen different jobs, different churches, different life experiences...

And yet...

The same God, the same Jesus, the same love, and the same friendship. Even the same laughter whenever we're together! So much more commonalities than would seem apparent.

It's the heart lessons here. It's joy we've experienced together, and it's the heartaches too. These ladies have simply always been there. I've moved far away, yet they never left me. I came back and there they were, arms wide open.

My constants.
My heart.
My dearest of friends.

We have hiked and road-tripped and toured...
We have sat hours talking and playing games...
We have journeyed life together...
And at the end of the day, we have LOVED.

It's a heart-full, loved-on, happy-inducing, smile-bright, imperfectly-perfect friendship, these ladies.

And through dating, marriages, inter-state moves, and all manner of changes... Every single step we've taken together has grown my heart three sizes.

There's just something about old friends!

For my heart that pulls elsewhere always knows,
no matter where it may be,
there's hearts waiting,
always at the ready,
to welcome and love
no matter what.

It's a glorious feeling like none other! And when life hits hard, and the pain gets crazy, my wild heart knows the place it can count on...

That's what these ladies are to me.
A comfortable place of rest that is sure.

HOME

kara
10.28.17

10/21/17

fighting fear

"Being brave and courageous isn’t the absence of fear, but as many have said, it’s the willingness to fight that fear head on. It wouldn’t be courageous if there wasn’t something a bit scary about it."
My friend Jamie wrote that in a post from last year. I was randomly skimming through some of her old blog posts for whatever reason and I read that and y'all....

Fear is so very real, isn't it? It's a BATTLE. Every single day! Maybe not everyone has the hard battle I do with it, but I feel fairly safe in saying we all battle it in some form or other. And man what a battle it is!

And now that I'm at a better place with my health, I have no excuse for just sitting idly and refusing to think about this Thing again. So naturally, that's when this incredible FEAR rises! Everything within me may be saying YES, but that fear says what about...what if...what are you doing?! And honestly? I have no idea what I'm doing. I have absolutely no idea where this will take me or what hard I may endure or what exciting stuff may happen. The only thing I do know? Is God has absolutely gotten me this far. I would NOT be here but for Him. I would definitely not be on this cliff edge, wondering if I should jump off into the unknown, but for Him.

Yes, it's scary. But as so many have said through the years, if it's scary that probably means you should do it! If it's scary, that probably means that the enemy is striving hard to keep you from it, because it likely means you could do him some serious damage if you do it! And how amazing would that be? To be a part of the bigger battle! To do some MAJOR damage to the enemy! To become broken and scared and wondering, yet step out anyway! Because God said DO IT and I did.

If He tells me to do it and I don't? Isn't that a MUCH scarier place to be? I think so!

I think maybe He's just waiting for me to LEAP and then He'll take care of the rest. He's waiting for me to prove I believe Him, that I trust Him, and so what if I fall? So what if I leap out and then it turns out maybe I don't actually do this Thing after all? Turning around after leaping out doesn't mean I was wrong. It doesn't mean I misheard Him. It simply means I had things to learn from the experience. It means those steps were necessary in order for the next steps after to be able to happen. For that next person that I might need to help, for that next experience to grow in my knowledge of Him, for the next example I can use to reach someone who is withering in the battle themselves!

For the simple fact that I chose to be obedient.

I've been waiting for the clear sign I've asked for. Didn't I receive it this past week? I'm pretty sure I did! So if that sign is there, how can I deny it?

There are unsettled days
When sense & logic are a tangle of knots
The heart is seeking elsewhere
& every thought is churning
In the question marks & unknowables
& all the unexplainable feelings
(which tumble & crash & loop-de-loop)
God's quiet relentlessness can break our walls
fill our hearts
& make possible embracing our uncertainty
It's there we surrender
& in our yielding, He is Grace
& Hope is brave again

kara
4.30.16

Going back to my own words to remind myself....

Hope is brave again

9/16/17

it's a faith thing...

"And then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick." ~ JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit
So I leaped a couple weeks ago. A mini leap, if you will. Nothing great, or huge, or amazing. Except actually it was? Not to anyone else but me (and God!), of course, but that's okay. Because it was fairly incredible for me! And I seem to get reminded of how incredible it is whenever I begin to speak of the New to someone else who hasn't heard it yet. (Which turns out to happen a great deal, as I haven't shared this New with hardly anybody prior to now! Not the details anyway.)

I've had small little convos here and there with just a few in my life that I decided it high time they knew where my heart was reaching. It's during these serious convos that I forget how exciting it is! I get focused on the Hard and the Unknown, because believe me, those things are there and quite big. Yet as I sit here contemplating (only in my own heart) all the details and the what ifs and the unknowns and all the scary, I am filled yet again with a heart-beating-loud excitement! (Or maybe it's because I'm currently sitting in my newest fave spot, a quaint little coffee shop that just gets my creative heart pumping hard. :) It's true, there is much to contemplate before I jump off the ledge into God's arms. I know He'll be there, but I want to be sure that He wants me there, off this particular ledge I mean.

I was talking with a friend last week and he stated exactly what I was feeling but couldn't put in words. Approximately a month ago, when this door suddenly made itself known to me, I stood in front of it for days and days, staring and praying and contemplating. Wanting to be absolutely certain that God wanted me to go through it. Finally that moment came when I knew it was time to step over the threshold. But now, I no longer have as much time to just stand and contemplate the roads before me! I'm still praying and seeking, don't get me wrong, but I'm learning that the praying and seeking have to come mid-stride, not while standing still in one place. I have to keep going, keep walking, and each time I raise my foot and lower it down, I want to be certain that I'm moving in the direction that God is leading me.

That's tough, friends! It's the obedience in action. Which, I know, is so much of our constant daily lives, but it simply feels way different when I'm moving towards a scary and BIG change and direction! And all the potentials for moving out in the wrong direction seem bigger too. Because I want certainty. And obedience in action doesn't always bring immediate certainty. Or maybe it does? I'm not clear on this quite yet. God and I obviously still have much to chat about!

Really, I think it's more of a faith thing. Faith that brings obedience that brings action. How much of what I'm thinking and praying about am I willing to step out in faith for? Am I going to continue to doubt and wonder whether this certain path is where God is leading? (I mean, He's clearly put it in my heart, otherwise I wouldn't be so focused and unable to think about anything else. He never places things and options in our path if He didn't want us to pray about them, right?) Or am I going to stop the doubt RIGHT HERE and move forward without it? How much am I trusting my Father? How much am I willing to surrender? Everything? Because until I can surrender it all, I'm probably not going to get very far...

Yet I was just reminded of those verses in Mark chapter 5, where it's talking about the lady with the issue of blood and how she gets healed. We read through that chapter several months ago during church one Sunday and this particular verse has been stuck in my heart ever since:

vs 34 "And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole..."

And also this one:

vs 36 "As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe."

"Something Tookish" has been gripping my heart for months, for years even, and I think it's high time I paid attention. My heart has been stymied by all manner of doubt and fear, even while everything else within me is screaming to go for it. So why am I listening to the doubt? Why am concentrating so heavily on the what ifs? What if God is simply waiting for me to let go and move?  I want to be determined to stop the fears and doubts right now, right here, right this very second. When everything in me says YES, YES, YES. It looks big, yes. It looks hard, yes. It looks uncomfortable and crazy and all manner of things, yes. But where in God's Word does it say I need to be concerned with uncomfortable and crazy? So this is me, reminding myself again.

God's got this! He's got me. Cradled right there in His arms and He'll never let me go.

Onward!

9/2/17

:: LEAP ::

"Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life." —Galatians 6:4-5 (MSG)
This passage is very dear to me. It's convicting. In fact it WAS so convicting to me more than five years ago, that it set our family on a course of life-change we never could have imagined.
I was struggling with the first part of that verse -- the self-exploration I did resulted in a mirror image of a woman I didn't want to be. There was this small flicker of a flame -- a dream of creativity on my heart -- that for the life of me, I just could not shake. And each day, I went to work. Happy to have a job. Responsible to contribute to the care of our family. But feelings of discontent began to override any of the comforts in the life we'd built for ourselves. And out of the exploration (and several years of focused prayer), my husband and I had a sense that God was calling us to more. Not to have more or achieve or collect or succeed by the world's standards. This was spiritually more. To be closer. Walk farther. Dig deeper into the heart of God through His Word. To live a life that was sold-out. Sold-out to Jesus. And that was new, scary...exhilarating to imagine.
What if we weren't afraid to take a leap?
What if we could risk in order to live the life God had put on our hearts?
It IS possible. Maybe someone needs to hear that today? That the dream-of-your-heart moments are not disposable to God! They're not wasted. They're not meant to be tucked away for some brave moment in the future when we might give it a try. Why? He put the dreams there on your inner-most heart. He engraved the creativity. This is the ONE LIFE we get. And it's not meant to be spent living it safe. We can trust Him with our loftiest dreams. We can risk with Him -- because the truth is, He will never let us fall.
So EXPLORE today. Look where He's sending you. Just wait and see what He will do... Here's to the dream-chasers!"
~ Kristy Cambron via Instagram

Kristy wrote that last fall, almost a year ago in fact. And it spoke to my heart. Oh, friends how it shouted! But I could in no way tell you why or what on earth it actually was that my heart was feeling in that moment when I read those words. All I knew is that it felt something. Something clear as a bell rang through the fog and I knew. Only I didn't know what I knew!!

How crazy is that? It makes no sense, right? I completely agree. Only I think I may finally be starting to understand it? Because the heart-dream that I had tucked way, WAY down deep inside? So deep that I barely even remembered it was there? It's speaking to me this days, friends. My heart jumps and leaps and beats crazy hard these days. And I still don't know precisely what it looks like, but I know it's there. I know I'm feeling it and I'm excited! So excited that even just writing about it right now, at the mere thought of it, my heart is nonsensically happy. It's leaping and bounding, sort of like Tigger does in Winnie the Pooh! ;D

Excited to the point that I can't hardly contain it! I've haven't felt this way since I don't even know when. It's hard for me to even pinpoint the last time my heart beat so crazily at the mere thought of a Thing, it's really been that long. And the Thing! Oh friends, I don't know what this Thing is going to be. I'm still working through what the Thing is going to look like, what it's going to entail, where it's going take my heart....and it's a fear-filled huge jump out of my nice little comfort zone. Here where I'm content, most days I'm happy and joy-filled and getting through. Yet this Thing? While there is great potential to be quite happy and joyful and filled to the brim with MORE, it also looks really, really........scary. And impossible. There are SO many things that would have to fall into place perfectly for this to happen. Scary things. Hard things. Things that I'd have to accept for the miracle they are, yet I know the guilt and wondering that could come along with them.

Yet here's the kicker. Today I was pondering a convo I had recently with this awesome teen that I know. He is in his senior year of high school and imagining where his future is going to take him. Which is an exciting place to be! (I should know. ;) But where my thoughts were going was how badly I wanted to tell him to LEAP!


My mind immediately went to Serena Chase's dedication in her latest book Intermission. Wherein, as you can see, she tells us to hold on and then when the time is right, we need to leap. Leap out in full faith that Jesus will guide our steps! This particular teen has some ideas of where he'd like his future to go and, as is wise, he was cautiously excited about a couple new ideas thrown out at him. He absolutely does need to be sure God is guiding him this way. However, I really want to shout at him to step out anyway! Because that excitement he's feeling? God placed it there. I'm absolutely certain about that. And God never, ever, ever places excitement for something in our hearts but what it doesn't lead somewhere awesome. Granted, it may not look exactly like we're first picturing, but that doesn't mean it won't be AMAZING. God just works like that.

Someone told me that very thing recently and I was struggling to believe it. I knew it in my head, but getting my heart to cling to it? A whole other thing entirely. Yet when I pictured myself trying to say this same thing to my teenage friend? I had no hesitation whatsoever! As that occurred to me, I realized I needed to be taking my own advice, I needed to believe it about myself just as much as I believed it about him.

So I'm taking it. Today, I am claiming that for me. Whatever this Thing is in my life, whatever God has planned for it, whatever it looks like, however crazy and impossible it seems, I'm claiming it. I'm tired of dithering. I'm tired of circling my brain over and around and all topsy-turvy. It's mine. He planned it and He gave it and He'll water and care over it and make it glorious to Him.

All I have to do? Is just say yes. Simple as that!

Here I am, Lord, leaping.

YES.

stories

{So my birthday happened recently and a dear friend had a little party for me. A bookish sort of party! :) She requested that I pick out a quote from a book that I really liked or I could write a poem or whatever inspired me... So! I happened to remember one of my very favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis and this poem happened.}

A story begins with chapter one
(as does life)
Even the Bible has a beginning
Not so, with God
He always was
is
& will be
Yet in that Great Infinite
He understands
our hearts need story
Immersing ourselves
& our imaginations
in this incredible adventure
With our newborn cry
our first pages are written
& the story grows
Sometimes the path is easy
(not much is happening on the page)
yet moments may come
rushing one to the next
as the plot thickens!
Mystery
Romance
Action
Drama
our lives mix genres
at any one time
With a constant Thread of Hope
weaving in & out
of every moment
Friendships
Relationships
building characters & heart
amongst a backdrop of unimaginable Beauty
(for God's world-building is limitless)
Every word & breath
with a Purpose
moving scenes forward
step by step
page by page
until we reach the Climax
"& for us this is the end
of all the stories
& we can most truly say...
they all lived
happily ever after
But...
it was only the beginning
of the real story
All their life in this world...
had only been
the cover & the title page
now at last
they were beginning Chapter One
of the Great Story
which goes on
for ever
in which every chapter
is better
than the one before"

kara
{& C.S. Lewis "The Last Battle"}
8.26.17

8/26/17

Dear Friend...

{This is written in response to hearing about friends whose parent has been diagnosed or they fear may be diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.}

Dear Friend,

It's scary, isn't it? This not knowing? This new diagnosis that looks huge and terrifying? I know that feeling well. Oh how I know it. I wish I had the words to tell you it will be alright. But the truth is? It won't be. Not really. Your new reality is that your life and all those around your loved one's lives have irrevocably changed. And everything will take on a difficulty that you won't necessarily like.

Parkinson's is a terrible, awful, no good, very bad disease, for the record! And whether you're the one going through it or someone you love dearly is going through it, it just simply stinks. Plain and simple, it's yucky and there is no getting around that!

I was only 10 or so when my mom was diagnosed, so I dealt with it much differently than if I'd been an adult. I know that. But mom did SO well for so many years that it wasn't until the last 8 years or so of her life that we, as her family, had to really look this disease in the face. My dearest mother (and my father, I'm sure) took on the huge burden of what this new thing was going to do to their lives and carried it so calmly and reassuringly that the rest of us had no idea of what they were carrying.

But then...

I was in my upper 20s when mom fell and, through recovery of a broken pelvic bone, threw her Parkinson's into overdrive. Suddenly there was this HUGE UNKNOWN staring me right in the eyes and I had no idea what to do with it. For years, I'd just been in denial, really, that mom's disease affected me. I learned really quickly that it did. When your mother suddenly requires help, when she suddenly can't make any and all decisions alone, when you have to step up and take on more responsibility (on top of your already busy/crazy life of your own), and especially when your parents sit all of you down and admit that they can't do this without you...

Let's just say it was an eye-opener. So I get it! I was forced to make one choice that day. Whether I was going to step up and take on that responsibility, including everything that I didn't know it entailed at the time, or whether I wouldn't. Obviously, you can probably figure out which I chose. But it wasn't easy, and so yours won't be either. But it'll be worth it. Trust me. Looking back on this side of mom's passing, I am so, so grateful I had that time with her.

Yet I'm not kidding when I say it's not easy! It's so much more than just having to physically do things for your loved one that you've never had to do before. It's the emotional side! I think that's actually the hardest. Watching as dignity and pride of both you and your mom have to get tossed out the window so you can help her to the bathroom and other things we're used to keeping private. Struggling to find words to encourage when she's just really tired of fighting this battle and wondering why God thought she could endure it. Your own battle of accepting your new normal and coming to terms with it. (Realizing that sometimes you just don't want to have to help her, you wish your life was "normal" so that you could come and go as you please without constantly wondering how she was doing and if she needed anything and keeping one eye on her at all times. Then immediately feeling guilty for having such understandable feelings!) The emotional aspect is certainly a roller coaster. And the combination of both the physical and emotional toll it takes on you can be more difficult that I can describe.

But now that we've established the terribleness of it, can I tell you something else?

It can bring really good things into your life, if you let it.

  • Things like a new appreciation for all the little things we do, such as simply decide I'm going to get up and walk across the room and I do it! It's a daily reminder for how precious life truly is.
  • It can bring your family closer together. It did for mine. We had to make effort to contact one another often and check in. Encourage each other that we weren't alone in this battle. 
  • It'll grow your prayer life and reliance on God like never before! It's definitely a constant reminder that we can't do any of it by ourselves, it's only through His strength.
  • It can cause you to find a core group of friends around you who let you vent, give you hugs when you need them, and inspire you to keep going.

Fighting a battle such as Parkinson's Disease can bring some amazing things in your life that you may never have discovered elsewise. God likes to work like that, you know? :)

So what I'm saying is that it's hard, but you can do it. Just remember not to try to do it alone! Because that's what the enemy is going to throw a lot of his poisonous arrows at, our sense of loneliness and fear. Keep praying, get a core group of friends (even if only two or three) to actively pray on a daily (or hourly) basis against this specific thing! It's really amazing how much encouragement it gives when we know someone is praying for us. :) 

Above all else, if you remember nothing else from this letter, remember this one thing: God's got this. You may never understand why your family is having to go through this, but He does. He's got a purpose in everything, and as cliched as that sounds, I truly believe there is some AMAZING things that will come out of this if you let Him lead you. You'll probably make some mistakes (I made plenty!), you may even end up with regrets (I definitely did), but the Good Things God will do will be too numerous to list. I believe that with all my heart.

Hang in there, okay? You are not alone. 

Love,
Kara

6/3/17

No Voyage

I wake earlier, now that the birds have come
And sing in the unfailing trees.
On a cot by an open window
I lie like land used up, while spring unfolds.

Now of all voyagers I remember, who among them
Did not board ship with grief among their maps?—
Till it seemed men never go somewhere, they only leave
Wherever they are, when the dying begins.

For myself, I find my wanting life
Implores no novelty and no disguise of distance;
Where, in what country, might I put down these thoughts,
Who still am citizen of this fallen city?

On a cot by an open window, I lie and remember
While the birds in the trees sing of the circle of time.
Let the dying go on, and let me, if I can,
Inherit from disaster before I move.

O, I go to see the great ships ride from harbor,
And my wounds leap with impatience; yet I turn back
To sort the weeping ruins of my house:
Here or nowhere I will make peace with the fact.

~ Mary Oliver