Well! Seven months later I finally get back to this blog. *sigh* What a sad state of affairs, yes? I thought I'd have the time to at least post here occasionally! Perhaps 2016 will go better...

Meanwhile, here am I.

I've made it a newish tradition for myself to write a Christmas poem every year. The last couple of years it hasn't happened (what with moving craziness in 2013, and weird life, spiritual battles in 2014). I was contemplating for the past several months whether I'd get one written this year or not. When it comes to poetry, I'm one of the writers that has to get inspired to even be able to begin. Some writers can decide they're going to write a poem and sit right down immediately and write it. Me? Not so much. Something has to inspire me to get my creative juices flowing. I was about to despair that it wasn't going to happen for the third year in a row, but...!!!

Yes! A couple weeks ago I watched this lovely Christmas video from Bethel late one Saturday night and when I tried to go to sleep afterward, the words just started flowing. I knew if I didn't write them down immediately they would all be dissolved by morning. (I speak from experience, trust me.) So I wrote what I could that night and then the poem sat for a while. FINALLY earlier this week I got inspired again to finish it. (The life of a writer isn't easy, people. Just sayin'.)

When I shared the news on instagram, several people requested copies. One of my blogging friends (the lovely Jamie) requested that I post it somewhere. So here we are! I decided since I've neglected this space for so long I needed to jumpstart my writing here again. (Plus I know Jamie follows me here, or at least she did. She might have given up on me by now, in which case I don't blame her. Seven months is a LONG time!)

Anyway, here it is. I hope you enjoy.

Mary said yes, Joseph said yes, willing to do it all.
Willing to set themselves aside, willing to heed God's call.
While the world held judgments, curious minds, and questions everywhere,
Mary and Joseph chose God's way, willing their burden to bear.
Their choice was important, their hearts knew it well, they could not deny.
And so in a stable, crude and rough, a newborn began to cry.
Wrapped up tight, held in her arms, the sight of God in man,
Must have humbled their hearts and bent their knees as they held His tiny hand.
Immanuel, God With Us, a big name for One so small,
Yet His earthly father and mother knew He'd come to save us all!

So where are you in this story so big? Right next to the manger bed?
Are you shouting the news and sharing the joy, no matter what anyone's said?
Or do you seek safety in your comfy box, unwilling to step right out?
Scared to go? Has fear taken hold? Is your heart so full of doubt?
Just imagine the idea had Mary said no, what would've happened then?
YES, God could've worked a miracle still, could have come in human skin.
But oh, what a different story we'd have! Mary's choice changed her life.
If she'd said no, would she only be known as merely Joseph's wife?
And Joseph, the carpenter, where would he be? With no faithful step to take?
And you, my friend, do you know the import of the choice you have to make?

What will you do with Jesus? It means life or death for you.
He gave His life, now the question is, are you willing to give yours too?
Oh yes, you may turn your back on Him, He gives you choice most free.
But always, always He's standing there asking "What will you do with Me?"
~ Kara, December 2015


Heart Battles

They aren't for the weak! Because just when you think you've got it conquered, another spot rears its head.

I have a particular situation in my life. It affects an area of my heart that I've known was a struggle, but not until more recent times did I understand to what degree I'm fighting. Because it's a battle, my friend! No easy way around it or over it, I can only go through. (Much as I might wish otherwise.)

It's a battle that I've won actually. I've won and yet it comes back again. It doesn't give up. (Or should I say, he doesn't give up. Our adversary is very determined to get us back, isn't he?) My heart is still fearful. And just when I thought I could handle things, a mini skirmish happened and I came through with my fingertips barely holding on. I won, but it was a grit your teeth kind of win. A win that didn't really feel like a win.

Ever had that happen?

I just want to taste victory for more than a few days or a few weeks! Is that so much to ask?

And yet...

I read this post recently and here is my favorite part of it:
"The person in our lives most challenging to love...is the instrument for bringing us to the end of that plastic kind of love and the beginning of our own personal revelation of the cross as a doorway, not just a destination."
So even though my (our) heart turns again and again to fear, yet God can still use that "thing" in our lives, that battle, to teach us (me) how to love more fully. I hadn't actually made that connection with my situation until I read that post, but now I'm pondering if that isn't what God is trying to teach me. (Or at least it may be one of His lessons? I'm sure I have many lessons awaiting me! :) Loving well.

It's such a vast subject, love. And I am far from figuring it all out and definitely far from putting into proper application in my life! But I think that's it right there. Loving people in spite of anything. Here's another portion of the post that hit me:
"...he or she...is only my greatest challenge if I believe that my eighty-something years on earth were intended for me only to know safe love--the world's version of love. If I am to receive and live a love that has known a shape and form that doesn't bend or break or bleed, then these ones are a real problem. A hindrance. But His love isn't plastic. And He said about me what He is saying to me about them. Go again."
Love is hard, people. Love isn't the happy rainbows we imagine as a child. Loving someone, truly loving someone, is one of the most difficult things that God asks us to do. Why? Because it's worth it.

Because it wouldn't mean half so much if our hearts didn't bleed.

Take this example: I have a dear friend. We've known each other for most of our lives, although we didn't truly become friends until our teens. But once we did, we just understood each other. And loved each other. But then something happened. I could make all kinds of excuses for myself, but all that really matters is that I hurt her. And I shouldn't have. We worked through it, praise the Lord! And now? Now. I count her as one of my closest friends. Our friendship is so much deeper and full of understanding that we never had before. And love we never had before. We walked through a fire and came out the other side slightly crisp but forged strong.

And that? That's what love does. That's what love is. Loving in spite of all else. In spite of the hurt. In spite of the pain. In spite of the frustration. In spite of the fear. Loving again and again and again. And even when we're hurt (again and again and again), going back and loving anyway. Loving hard!

That's real, my friends.

That's Jesus.

So in my battle, my fearful heart needs to remember that. Love anyway, dear old heart. I'm going to hurt, no doubt about it. There's bound to be pain (and possibly a great deal of it). But if I love anyway, if I love well......just imagine what glorious things may be in store!

Whether God is using this battle for purposes which include the people I'm loving, whether it's for a future purpose only He knows, or whether it's simply a battle to be fought so that Heaven will feel a lot more real to me, I don't know. But any which way it can go, this one thing I am clear on....

Love isn't meant for just one person.



Embracing the Mess of My Before

I'm a mess. This Big Move and subsequent Big Change has felt like it's chewed me up and spit me out. There has been good in the past year, just so you know.

There's been great actually! And happy!

But inside? I'm still a jumbled up mess. Still confused where I'm headed. Still unsure where to place my next footstep. Feeling like there's a Plan (because I know God has one), but unable to see what it is yet. And frustrated because I think I should be knowing and stepping and feeling sure.

Don't compare! says everything I read. And that's true. I know it's not good to compare my life with someone else's, because they have different things they're going through than I. We've faced different situations and different choices.

But still.

Do you know how easy it is to do that? When I'm feeling stuck in a spot that I'm not enjoying? My heart cries out that there has to be more! There has to be so much more than just going through each day, working to make money so I can buy one more book or one more Starbucks Chai Tea (those things are good). When the people all around me seem to be headed in a direction (whatever it may be) and I'm still here treading water....

That moment is where it's really hard not to compare.

Still. I do know that I haven't seen all their Before. I'm just looking at their After. And the After always looks settled and figured out (probably because it usually is). I have to keep trusting that I'll have an After some day. ("You will," says future Kara. Meanwhile, present Kara is still hoping.)

So here am I. All up in a tizzy when there's people dying in other countries. (In my own country!) When I type that sentence.....when I think that sentence, I am reminded once again how blessed I am. And somebody else could be looking at my Before, thinking that it's my After, because their Before is much more sobering than mine.


See? This is why I write. Because getting my thoughts down in words allows me to see precisely what a "selfish creature" I can be. And how grateful I should be. Pardon me while I gather my selfishness, give it to Jesus, and determine to accept the mess I am so I can love others no matter what. Answers or no answers, God's got this.

Why am I so worried again?


"The joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold." Nehemiah 8:10amp

It is indeed. I'm reminded again and again, but it truly hit me the other day. Our adversary is weakened when I'm singing praise to Jesus! When I look around and can see the positive and the amazing things that God is doing (whether in my own personal life or in the life of a friend), my heart rejoices and the doubts and fears that satan threw at me disappear. When that happens, when I stop focusing on me and focus on Jesus, the weaker and smaller satan seems. And the bigger and stronger God is!

Recently, I had a hard day at work and I was pushing my way through the fog, trying to see Jesus' Light. It was very slow going. But then. But then! A close friend sent me a text about an awesome thing God had done in her family's life and that's all it took. Suddenly the Light was shining clear and bright and the fog was gone. I only needed the reminder of where to look--UP! Not around.

Isn't God just amazing like that? :) He uses the simplest and smallest things to show His mightiest power. All I could do was sing loudly in my car as I drove home and let His joy make everything better. It didn't fix my own problems, I still had to deal with them. But I could deal with them with a brighter and shinier heart again. And sometimes? That's all I need to get me dancing again.


Just Breathe

{So I started this post a great while ago and left it unfinished. After reading Jamie's post (and attempting a completely different answer to her question "Where are you with God right now?" which I could not seem to write), I was inspired to finish writing this and share it as my answer instead. And.....um....this is a brave moment of mine, just so you know. Pressing that publish button isn't always as easy as one may think.}
Have you ever been there? Where life is full and chaotic and every single moment is filled with crazy? Where you feel like you can barely take a breath? And then...

And then!

A moment happens. A person you love, a person who understands, a person who simply "gets you" arrives right smack dab in the middle of the crazy and....


Just by them being there, it's like you can take the biggest breath again

I tend to be pretty introverted by nature and alone time is incredibly important to me. But I have learned that there is absolutely nothing like that moment when someone jumps in the middle of the frayed ends of my life and ties me back together. What makes it even better is when they have no idea that they're doing it! A God-moment if ever there was one.

In the midst of the fear, the joy, the insecurity, the certainty and the uncertainty, the happiness and the unhappiness, and the chaos of my thoughts that tend to swing around and around and around, I have been incredibly blessed with amazing friends. Both online and off! :) Sometimes all it takes is a simple reply to a phone call or a text message. (Or a comment on a post!) Just having the reminder of the knowledge that I have people in my life who love me is sometimes all I really need. So when it comes at a moment during my day when things are hard (unfortunately, this has been happening a lot more as of late), it's a simple reminder for me to breathe.

Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

Be still. I love that verse from Psalm 46 that says, "Be still and know that I am God." Because it's only in my stillness that I can truly hear Him. His still, small voice tends to get overpowered by the loud noise of my every day life and I need the reminders to stop letting everything ride ruckus over me, to just let them go.

The words that hurt? Let them go. The frustration of not knowing what this person truly wants? Let it go. The fear that what I may say or do that could potentially lead down a path that I've no interest in? Let it go. (Also, I promise I'm not trying to get that Disney song in your head! ;)

Just. Breathe.

In. Out.

Be still. Let His shoulders take it. He can bear it! Let Him carry the emotions I'm dealing with. Because He's a big enough God that He can handle even the impossible. So of course He can handle this "stuff" of mine.

Desperate for a deliverer, my weak faith I bring to You.
Trusting You will accept me and make my heart brand new.

My hurt and my pain overwhelm me, I cannot carry this load.
And I know my suffering Savior has been farther down this road.

Then You wrap Your arms around me, holding my guilt at bay,
Saying, "My death has the power to take all of your shame away!

I know you don't feel worthy, your heart may be trembling with fear.
But My hands are always open, just waiting to draw you near!

Let Me carry your hurt, your pain be Mine to bear.
My shoulders are strong enough, even for your despair.

I'll bind up your wounds, heal your fear and distress.
Just trust Me and release it. With My peace you will blessed!"

With trembling fingers open, I let go of one, then two.
And the sweetest joy overtakes me, I look up and whisper, "Thank You!"

(I wrote this poem a couple years ago and recently found it again. It seemed precisely what I needed right then. Another God-moment! :)