Thursday, February 26, 2015

Words of Truth, Words of Life

I can't wait to read her next book, her next blog post (, the articles in the news or magazines that also have hung on her words.

Kara speaks truth--life-giving truth, freeing truth. Truth that is Jesus; Jesus and the grace he offers is the only truth that sets free.

"And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
John 14:6 (underlines mine)

Ahhh, I breathe more easily. Kara by the way she lives gives me permission to take off my mask, to live out-loud, and to live in the freedom Jesus offers.
Kara and me last month.

I've mentioned my friend Kara before. You may know her too--she is my friend who is living with terminal breast cancer. As I type she is experiencing the care of hospice.

Cancer is a horrible, horrible disease. But the horrible laid bare Kara's love for Jesus, her identity as his precious daughter, and her heart for his people in new and deeper ways. We have all been blessed.

I started my Thank You for Kara list last summer. It keeps growing.

In no special order, let me share my Top Ten Thankful-for-Kara List.

10. Kara appreciates our engaging with her, our questions for her. But she requests, Please ask, not how I'm feeling, but how am I living? And that is her question for us as well, How are we living today?

9.  Kara lives vulnerably. she shares the hard; she lets us into her real. Kara is human and sometimes human is not pretty. Kara doesn't offer her religious persona, she offers herself. 
II Corinthians 2:14 and 15 come to mind, "But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ ..." Vulnerability is different from transparency. Kara asks, she wants our thoughts too. Kara is an aroma of beauty.

Kara and Jason
8.  Kara lives with intention. she asks God and she asks herself, How does my mothering look? What does it look like to love Jason well? What do my friendships look like in the midst of my reality? Because she asks, she hears God's wisdom and she lives well in the midst of her harsh. 
James 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God,"

7.  Kara lives her creativity. she communicates uniquely, refreshingly, and in fun ways. she always draws her readers in. Kara is a writing tutor for me and many others. "But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard--things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart ... able to marshal and direct our energies wisely." 
Galatians 5:22-24, The Message. 

6.  Kara models the beauty, the strength, the attractiveness,  and the safety of grace. May that grace spread to us all! Grace, not just graciousness. Grace allows Kara to be Kara and then Kara loves well.

5.  Kara trusts the goodness of God. Many times her words, "Hard is not the absence of good" have challenged and ministered. Brennan Manning in Reflections for Ragamuffins says, "The troubled eyes and furrowed brow of the anxious believer are the symptoms of a heart where trust has not found a home." (page 7) Trust has found a home in Kara's heart.

4.  Kara knows Jesus knows. In the same volume, Brennan writes, "Christian living makes no sense unless we believe that at the moment, Jesus knows what hurts us. Not only knows but, knowing, seeks us out." (page 67)
from October

3.  Kara continues to live well while fading (her word). I love her phrase, "As long as I have breath to breathe ..." Her sense of humor is alive and well. "I am a gifted napper and pill taker." (I bet there are others who would like the gift of napping.) Speaking of her littles, Kara says, "Let's hope they can at least find their shoes and get their teeth brushed" ... every mother's hope.

2.  Kara allows others to minister through her story. "Let it be to me" the title of a blog I penned during Advent came from Mary's response to Gabriel's message to her. Kara's life truthfully echoes Mary's words.

1.  Kara reigns in life! "For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ." Romans 6:17 (underlines mine)

Thank you, Kara. I am blessed to you friend.     sue

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Winter Aspen

The stark sentinel standing tall
     The winter Aspen gracing our yard.                  

Beautiful in its quiet grandeur
     Embracing God's ways

I take a deep breath
     And enjoy
          God's picture of growth,
          God's picture of life.

My creation craves quiet places
     Embracing God's ways

I look forward to
     Tiny buds
     Delicate green
     Fluttering leaves in summer breezes.

A story of God's wisdom
     Seasons are good
     Seasons are necessary
     Seasons of quiet
          Embracing God's ways
     Seasons, a gift from God.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

That *#*#%** Airport

Now I laugh. It wasn't funny then.

I was more than frustrated that early morning in Florida, I.was.angry! And those gate agents ... who also worked the counter knew it. As did anyone else who was there and awake that dawn.

The business trip morphing into a ministry trip (or a ministry trip partially disguised as business) started well enough. Connections happened, revenue was generated, partnerships deepened. Now I was off to a collegiate ministry conference.

Then the hinge.

My friend drove me to the small airport that morning. The line was short--no surprise there. Luggage checked, boarding pass in hand, we (this was before 911) headed for the fake-leather upholstered seats in the waiting area.We continued to talk business while we waited ... and waited.

I glanced at my watch, surely anytime now they will announce my flight.

Nothing. Silence except for the man snoring a few seats down.

Again I check my watch and this time looked out to the tarmac. A small plane, my small plane, was pulling away from the gate!
Okay, it wasn't quite as small as this Cessna. My husband Bill is on the left.
I rush to the gate agent. Sorry, too late. "I never heard the boarding announcement", my irritation obvious. "No, you wouldn't have. Our PA system is broken."

*#*#%**. My frustration (really not that mild) exploded. I.was.mad!

As I look back on that incident, I have new understandings. Missing the plane wasn't my biggest issue.

Missing the plane was the trigger that ignited my shame; ignited that old lie I had come to believe about myself, I'm not good enough.
GRAND, Judah doing a pre-check before going up with Papa.

At that ministry conference I had one responsibility, greeting. That was my role, the hat I was to wear that weekend. Missing the original flight stripped me of what made me look like a somebody.

It was unconscious, but the ember of that lie were close enough to the surface to catch oxygen and burst into flames of anger.

That was the real issue.

Oh, I covered it up well enough (or at least I think I did). I smiled. I told my story in a calm voice. But inside the fire of shame was hot.

This incident also highlighted a second truth about me and I was totally missing the bright, flashing yellow light.

"We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives." 
II Corinthians 4:7, MSG

My belief system told me that because I didn't have a job to do providing a hat to wear (like greeter), I was value-less. I was not good enough.

"It is clear to us friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. ... Your lives (not your role) are echoing the Master's Word."
I Thessalonians 1, MSG, underlines and parentheses mine.

Sue, it's your life, who you are, Jesus in you who loves and ministers through you. Not what you do or what hat you wear.

I was not trusting truth. OUCH!
I felt I needed to create a persona, rather than be who God created me to be.

I was not trusting the truth, because my circumstances were shouting so loudly, truth totally eluded me. OUCH! OUCH!

I'm learning to listen. What might these emotions, these re-actions, these flashing yellows be trying to communicate? 

My unresolved sin of believing that lie caused me to focus on another (the gate agent) and their issue of the broken PA system and try to hide what was true about me (I was living out of a faulty belief system).

Now it's so clear. Now I can laugh ... until next time anyway. 

What are the lies that lead you into emotions and re-actions that are big yellows for you? What helps you re-claim truth? Do you see the pattern?

"This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."
Matthew 17:5

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Holy Explosions

This new thought ...
   A tad different.
   A tad deeper.
   A tad better.

This tiny tad created a holy explosion erupting in my head.

God is Love!
Like a path gently curving, and turning, and revealing new beauties along the way. New vistas to awe my heart. New truths to grasp, to ponder, to believe. 

Thank you to the True Faced ministry
My first awareness of this path came during my college days--although it started way before then. I heard God whisper, Sue, I love you. Drawn like a magnet, I walked onto His love path. It was good.

Somewhat like the road that leads up to our road, I can't always see what's coming. The gentle up and down of Holmes Road keeps me alert. God's love path is not up and down, but it is curvy, I can't always see around the next bend.

I remember the John 17:23 curve ... God loves me with the SAME love He has for Jesus.
A holy explosion!
I grasp, I ponder, I believe. Still amazing!
John 12:45, when a man looks at me he sees Jesus in me. REALLY??!!
A holy explosion!
Truth, humbling reality, grasp, ponder, believe. Does it get any better?
Then there was the Song of Solomon 7:10 holy explosion and the I Thessalonians 1 holy explosion. The curves are endless each one revealing more and caressing me with more truth.

Then the guest preacher fills our pulpit. He says, when God looks at me, He sees me! Another holy explosion. God created me. God gently molded my clay. God decided on my blue eyes and my brunette hair (at least that's the color it used to be) before mom and dad ever met me. God sees me.

God consecrated me. He planted desire. He saw fruit from my life before I was born. 

As I listened that Sunday morning, the beauty of the picture became a bit clearer. Thank you Drew.

I grasp, I ponder, I believe, I smile. 

And I wonder, what is around the next curve on this holy path. What tad of truth will set off the next holy explosion.
My GRANDS on a snowy path near their Kansas home.

"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!" Romans 11:33

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Lack of Trust - A Definition

1. Worry, sleeplessness, nervousness.
2. Prayer turned to beggings and pleadings.
3. When I think that MY solution is THE solution.

Check, check, check.
Guilty, guilty, guilty.

All of the above characterized me in one short weekend. UGH!

Daniel 10 (not normally where I turn when I need my prayer life revived) is where God brought me that Sunday morning. Thank you Mark Bates.

It wasn't that I wasn't praying--I was. I was speaking words to God. I wasn't trusting. I was worried; I was pleading; I knew what the best answer looked like.

I forgot who I was conversing with. Really conversation was really not the descriptor of our interaction that weekend. It was more like, God please listen; something needs to happen and here's my solution; now set my plan in motion ... PLEASE! 

Be still and remember.
I needed to remember God is near, God is wise, God knows, God cares, God is able, God is
trustworthy and much much more. But I wasn't.

Especially I was forgetting how much God loves me. Twice God spoke these words to Daniel,
"O Daniel, man greatly loved," verse 11.
"O man greatly loved," verse 19.

The first pages of my leather journal, my really important journal, are filled with scriptures God has tenderly spoken about His personal love for me. I NEED to review these words LOTS. It is essential; it is critical. It's hard to trust someone you don't believe loves you.

CE Spurgeon says, "the greatest kindness a man can do for me is to pray for me."

Yes, I covet your prayers. And I pray for you too. I'm praying that we would trust God's love.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart,"
Proverbs 3:5a

Reminder: There are only two days left to register for the Sabbath-Living retreat at the early bird price.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Actions - Re-Actions

As we drove across town a few weeks ago, my 4 year old GRAND announced, my feelings are hurt.

We adults queried, what hurt your feelings? (He doesn't get hurt feelings.)

But I do. My re-actions prove it--to me and all who surround me.

Last week I felt very un-trusted; my feelings were hurt in two different scenarios. My ugly un-invited re-actions proved my hurt. In those moments I didn't like where I was and I didn't like my re-active responses.

Then the timely words of two friends invited me to Ephesians 3.

I paused and listened.
God smiled and loved.

Paul's prayer at the end of Ephesians 3 reminded me of 4 importants.

1. Paul prays for the Ephesians (and me) that we would be strengthened in our inner being. My soul, the invisible me, the true me out of which flows the real me. Those re-actions spoke truth. Sue, tend to your inner being.

2. So that Christ may dwell in their (my) heart through faith. Faith-trust; noun-verb; where I am-what I must do--trust. I asked God what it would look like to walk in the path of trust in these situations.

3. "...that you being rooted and grounded in love," For many years part of my regular devotional time centered on reviewing God's love for me, grounding myself in his love. But I started skimming over that. I knew it. Do I really need to remind myself all the time? YES--I need to keep my roots healthy. Health doesn't happen if ignored.

4. "may have strength to comprehend with all the saints ..."  Oh how I need community! It was my friends who delivered me back to encouragement. It was my friends who opened Truth to me. I imagine it was many friends who pray for me that opened my eyes an my heart. I need you. We need each other.
Now I know why I like this plaque so much. It's message is biblical.

Oh that these truths would characterize me. Perhaps then I wouldn't experience the unwanted re-actions that surfaced a few weeks back. Or more honestly, experience them less.

How do you tend to your inner being? What does trust look like for you today in your now? How do you stay rooted and grounded in love? How does your community help you to be the person God created you to be?

"My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit--not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength--that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love."
                                        Ephesians 3:14-18, The Message (emphasis mine)