Saturday, November 28, 2015

Blog about the Sermon on the Mount? Whaaaaat? ME? -

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him,
 and he began to teach them, saying:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. 
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you..."

And Jesus, God Incarnate, the Living Word by whom the Universe came into being and still holds together, sits among the throng and continues to lay out foundational principles for godly living one perfect cosmic precept upon another for another page or so in fine print. No wonder the hungry followed Him. No wonder the people worshiped Him. No wonder the religious power brokers hated Him. No wonder the sinners loved Him. That is where He started, with the sinners: "
Blessed are the poor in spirit"...

Looking at the Greek Lexicon & Concordance afforded me instantly in this internet age, I wondered and asked Him what He meant by *poor*.


[From ptosso {to crouch, akin to πτοέω (G4422)and the alternate of πίπτω (G4098))]
  1. reduced to beggary, begging, asking alms
  2. destitute of wealth, influence, position, honour
    1. lowly, afflicted, destitute of the Christian virtues and eternal riches
    2. helpless, powerless to accomplish an end
    3. poor, needy
  3. lacking in anything
    1. as respects their spirit
      1. destitute of wealth of learning and intellectual culture which the schools afford (men of this class most readily give themselves up to Christ's teaching and proved them selves fitted to lay hold of the heavenly treasure)

I looked at the Greek in the concordance and what I discern from it is this-  "Poor In Spirit"  in this usage means lowly in demeanor before God & men.  It does not mean *lacking faith in Christ* which is the path of eternal salvation and the greatest spiritual wealth, the only lasting possession in all the universe. It means knowing that I know that *Jesus is the Christ* is only a light by which I can see my true destitution.  There is this adorable video on the web of a toddler trying to hula hoop like his big sister. The tot stands gleefully shimmying back and forth until he is exhausted with the effort-- while the hula hoop lays on the floor at his feet. His gaze was transfixed the whole time on his adoring father and the child was sure he has accomplished just the same glorious hula hoop exploits as his sister.

ALL my spiritual posturing will never keep my spiritual hula hoop off the floor.  I want to be like Jesus!! I want to love even the unlovely as He loved, walk on water in faith, lay down my life for the Father's will, but my spiritual hula hoop lays at my feet. Only God's righteousness put on me like a garment, as a gift from the Father for acknowledging my poverty and need for the atonement of Christ can change anything about my poverty. All my obedience to excruciating details of religious observances in piety and devotion are filthy rags IF NOT offered in humility of my abject poverty.  I have to KNOW that all my rightness is still imperfect, wrong and worthless unless it starts from abasing myself before the cross. I have to look at myself and see that I do not measure up. I have to acknowledge the gravity of my sin and self are the reason I cannot get that hula hoop in the air.
ALL MY *KNOWING* I AM RIGHT ON THIS ISSUE AND THAT GOD THINKS AS I DO is the exact opposite of spiritual poverty.  Yes, the CAPS are necessary to make my point. My spiritual posturing is a problem.  My spiritual posturing is *the* original problem.

It is not that I am not supposed to have an opinion, nor be certain of it. I am not supposed to be a doormat or wallflower for Jesus. That is not it either.  I am just supposed to know that God is righteous and I am not.  In myself I am not.  My motivations are always tainted with self-interest, not the least of which is smug holier than thou self-righteousness-- that is *in and of myself*-- but praise be to God, I am not my own.  The truth of what Paul described is so precious: 

And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord."
I am supposed to be ever conscious and vigilant of the nature of self and it's propensity to make itself equal with God- *knowing* what is right or wrong in someone else's life, but not attending to my own spiritual housekeeping with the same ardor in true humility and affection for the heart of God. It is always the way of a Pharisee to know the All The Rules and keep track of who is keeping them, rather than subjecting oneself in humility to be made new in the likeness of God. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Getting to "Happily Ever After" and the Power of Influence

[I am publishing for the first time this blog post written in the Spring of 2013.  I am tremendously encouraged by the revelation that had come to me before the storm I was about to face. He is so faithful.  He does not ask us to walk on water in the midst of the wind and the waves except that He Himself has prepared us and will meet us there in that storm.]

What no one ever told me about getting to "Happily Ever After" could fill volumes.  Understand, just because no one ever came up, put their arm around me and said, "Let me tell you the keys to living a happy life" doesn't mean the information is not out there. It's out there. The happy people, the people who have gotten comfortable in their own skin from an early age, they might have grown up with other happy people around them. The unhappy people may or may not have.  There is a word for this effect of one person's wisdom or lack thereof upon another: Influence. In the business world and motivational speaking circuit,  that positive influence is called mentoring. It's called parenting within the family structure. It's called coaching in the sports world.  It's called discipleship in some churches. It's called grooming in certain circumstances, with a positive or negative connotation depending on who is grooming whom for what. Regardless of the label given this influence, it is a powerful force for reproducing good or evil. It is the ultimate pyramid scheme. I have been influenced and I have influence with generations of people that my early life mentors will never meet, but their influence for good or for evil may still be powerfully felt. So nobody really ever offered me any sound advice on how to live a happy life, but there was the inescapable power of the influence of those who passed through my life and what I chose to do with the power of their influence.  Getting to "Happily Ever After" in your job or career, in your marriage, in your parenting, in your life, wherever you go in your own skin is a daily process of deciding what to do with the imperceptible power of influence.  First, you have to get that "imperceptible" that has been talking to your subconscious to a level that you can perceive.

The source of influence may be insidious and difficult to trace. Right now the intelligence community is trying to figure out who "influenced" the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing.  No one is admitting to having radicalized the bombers. No one on the whole planet is admitting to the media to having encouraged their cowardly and heinous acts of terrorism.  A few are saying that they very quickly dissociated from them when their radical views became known.  Even some of their relatives are saying they had disowned these two brothers or even that whole branch of the family for their adoption of radical terrorist views--whether the views were politically or religiously motivated is still being debated. The bombers brand of "Happily Ever After" was so extreme that they were bent on killing or being killed to get there.  Even so, many will triumph over the hatred and destruction wrought by two destroyed and bent on destruction by the power of influence. Those who will triumph are clearly many of the actual victims of the same bombing.

The families and friends of marathoners know something about happily ever after that the bombers did not. Even as the newsfeed swirls around speculations of what could have prevented the bombing and what more can be learned. We see stories of the beautiful families of many of the victims of the bombings coming around them with amazing outpouring of love and support.  We hear that many of these were runners or marathoners themselves and some are already making plans they have to compete in "para-athletic" events as soon as they can master the use of prosthetics. "Happily Ever After" is a lot of work. It is up to ME to make my "Happily Ever After" work from what ever "Once Upon A Time" I was born into or has transpired since then.  It is my parents job to make their own "Happily Ever After" work, whether or not their four adult kids figure out their own "Happily Ever After" at 18, 28, 38, 48 or never at all.  My "Happily Ever After" does not depend on my parents, my ethnicity, my intelligence, my health, my spouse, my kids, my job, my neighborhood, or even the absence of war, famine, pestilence or plague. There will be people who overcome every type of disadvantage and obstacle and there will be healthy, wealthy, upper middle class, ethnic majority offspring of happily married parents from any and every country on the earth who somehow squander or destroy every advantage and opportunity.  It all depends on what you do with your circumstances, your power to influence and the influence that has always surrounded you.

Maybe we cannot choose our preferred "Once upon a time..." but "and she lived happily ever after" really is up to me and what I choose to do with the power of influence.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Of Leeks and Garlic and Unbounded Freedom: What is your surname?

I have been wandering among meditations of leeks & garlic and the overwhelming burdens of complete freedom when you have never known anything but generational bondage, codependency and self-doubt.  An amazing thing I find about the anointing to speak, to teach, to write, to preach, to exhort or encourage, to bring His Word and living presence to bear in any way to another human life or even gain insight for my own life is the "Otherness" of the wisdom and revelation.  It is SO NOT ME when it comes through me.  It is only any part of me and my understanding that I can grasp for a fleeting moment, but then I fatigue or falter, and my hands droop and I need the same impartation and renewal again.  We are leaky, imperfect vessels constantly in need of refilling.  The most beautiful thing about the anointing that has ever flowed through me is when it flows back to me in something I wrote or said months or years ago, it is fresh and powerful and full of His perfect presence and revives me because of that Otherness.  It never was from me to begin with.  It flowed through me for a moment.  Maybe it flowed through me then because someday, like today I I would need it to flow back to me and to speak Life to my weariness.
Here is a blog I wrote three and half years ago.  I could never have anticipated then what these words could mean to me NOW.  If you know of the season of my life in 2013 when *everything that could be shaken was shaken*, maybe you can begin to understand what this did for me prophetically today.
So wandering this week among meditations of leeks & garlic and self-doubt in the face of complete freedom, it seems back then I had yet to understand the need I had to shed a false self-confidence that was really bondage to a lie of security in my insecurities and abdication of any freedom at all.

From my singular post to 

Faith Comes by RHEMA

from WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14, 2012

Taking the Name of Your Beloved

Will you be made new? Will you forsake everything you were, everything you had, even your name to belong only to your Beloved? What would it mean to you to take His Name? what will it cost you? Everything? What will it gain you? ZOE- life, abundant and to the full! Eternal life! Wholeness, Salvation, Safety from danger. Freedom.
Would you hold on to whatever desperate attempts you have achieved by the work of your own hands and machinations you have wrought. Are you at peace? Are you in safe harbor? Are you whole in body, mind and spirit? Is your wretched human pride so precious to you that you would not lay all your self-ness aside to identify with Him, who loved you enough to die to save you from yourself?  Is your identity in yourself- whom He made--more worthy than identity in Him who made you?

You see yourself "as through a glass darkly". Come to Him that you may see Him and then see yourself in Him. You are so much more beautiful than you could ever know, but you can never see it but through the Creator's eyes of love for you. For God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Broken, used, dirty, ashamed, unlovely... and precious beyond all comprehension to the God who is Love personified and manifest in Christ our Savior.

Have you taken His name? Have you identified yourself with Him and been made new? Do you need to renew your identity in Him as His mercies are new every morning? He will receive you with joy and without reproach. Renounce your self-ness. Take on your Him-ness. No, we do not become gods, but we become God's. Oh what a difference!  When storms rage there is One who will calm the wind and waves with a word. When troubles come, He is a refuge. When sadness overwhelms, He is there as Jehovah Shalom, the Lord our Peace.  What does mortal self-ness have to offer in comparison to all the comfort of the Comforter?

For “whoever calls on [EPIKALEO] the name of the Lord shall be saved.” 

EPIKALEO meaning whoever allows himself to be surnamed "Christ" will be saved. 

That is whoever identifies himself as of the family and lineage of Christ will be SOZO, safe from danger and made whole.

I am a Christian.  I am His.  I am saved.  I am made whole.  I am made new.
Others can tell who you belong to.  What do your friends say? Who is your beloved? Self or Him? Are you His today? What is your last name? 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Every once in a while I come across a blog post that grabs hold of something so plain and simple about how I get in the way of my own success that I will pin it to the opening tabs on my browser, so that I can read it over and over. It gets to the point that I can just glance at the title of the tab and remind myself of the principle I am trying to embrace. This article "You're Never Going to Be Fully Ready", by Shauna Niequist is one of those articles I draw strength from daily. It has sat there patiently among my home tabs on my browser for months, waiting for those words to finally click for me.

[I would love to insert here the beautiful serene photo from Shauna's post or any Google Image search of two companionable paddle boarders launching out onto a lake , but I am pretty vague on how to honor photo credits and want to avoid copyright infringement that my cut & paste skills might allow. Those photographers launched out into the deep unknown, not being fully ready, and I don't want to diminish their ventures by taking from them without compensation. Not being fully ready to illustrate my thoughts, I will paddle on with the wordsmithing.]

We may never actually feel completely ready to handle the new venture in front of us "flawlessly", but that is very good news! We don't have to be, because we are not going to perform flawlessly the first time out if, in fact, we are doing something new. New is thrilling, intimidating! New is great!
"But I don't know how to do new!"
That is completely okay and good and right. That is why we are calling this "new". So, now, take a step of faith. If you have felt compelled or called by Him to do this new thing-- He Himself will certainly meet you there and give you what you need to: 

"get there", 
"take another step", 
"swallow your pride and ask for help", 
"defeat perfectionism",
"kill procrastination".
Whatever else you may need to do the new, He Himself will meet you midstride.

Begin. Dare. Practice. Do the New with untried, unproven hands moving in faith.  I used to tell my kids all the time, "You don't have to be perfect. That's God's job." over and over, trying to encourage them to make the imperfect mark and the next one and the next one on the pristine sheet of lined paper--in each case, the battle with perfectionism reared it's head with their earliest attempts at penmanship and continued well into adolescence-- and to call each attempt good and now it was enough that they were trying their best. 
That inner struggle besets so many of us. Perhaps, it even "so easily besets" all of us. How many big things and small things were never tried or even seriously considered because we were intimidated by the "No! Can't! Won't! What if?" of self-doubt?

I don't get to be perfect and, what's more, 
I don't need to be perfect. 
That's God's job.

Being perfect in love and grace and provision and every good thing, God Himself is ready and waiting to go with me and do New Things!

Shauna, thank you for the encouragement to embrace the process of learning, being fully alive and fully human in being imperfect and absolutely reveling in it.

BE IMPERFECT TODAY!! Be fully alive and fully human!!
DO SOMETHING COMPLETELY NEW!'re+Never+Going+to+Be+Fully+Ready

Being perfect in love and grace and provision and every good thing, HE is ready and waiting to go with me and do New Things!

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Do you know that our transparency in the process of healing works for God's purposes?

Here is my transparency:

  • I moved this little scrap of photograph today...
    It might have been five years ago that I rescued the little photo from a drawer and a popsicle stick and craft foam picture frame that was and obscuring it from view
  • I took the photo from my then husband's bathroom vanity drawer,  removed it from the craft frame,  and tucked the photo behind an outlet there in my bathroom. It was too small to put down anywhere else and was a beautiful,  laughing smiling photo of my older son Michael, my archangel, when his heart still had  childlike joy ...

  • The photo was still there in 2013 when I learned my son's diagnosis.
  • The photo was still there, tucked behind the outlet when I took the kids to Raleigh to do the developmental therapy.
  • Still there when I returned to home, since I was getting "the house and the kids" as a consolation prize for putting the kids in therapy.
  • The picture was still there reminding me of the little boy's heart that adored his daddy who put his joyful face in the drawer.
  • The heart that broke again and again over the divorce, then my mom's death and
  • being dropped from enrollment at the early college high school without the courtesy of explanation directly or personally to him.
  • I just kept it there.
  • I didn't have the emotional energy to find another frame, or decide where else to display it...
  • so I just glanced at my autistic son's peaceful happy childhood whenever I flipped the light switch for almost two more years...
  • And today, I was tidying up and decided to move the photo
  • and it broke the dam of emotion pent up behind a few square inches of Kodak paper.
  • I lost my son's heart long ago to the injustice of autism that picks winners and losers in black & white qualifying terms without allowance for remedy or reconsideration.   When I *lost* my husband's loyalty and confidence, I lost my son's heart and confidence as well.
  • It has been 2 1/2 long years of trying to keep my emotional ship upright, with no room left to mourn the very real *loss* of my son.  
    A child may be living still, but utterly lost to drugs or alcohol or gang loyalties or jihadi allegiances or many things I know nothing of-- but a child can be right there in front of you every day and just as lost in autism.
  • Moving the photo broke open the dammed up grief and I just sobbed and sobbed -- those groanings too deep for words followed -- and then more wailing and sobbing at the unmourned loss, the ungrieved death of my right to think of myself as his mom.  
    He had long ago withdrawn my right to be his mom
  • But today
  • in my weeping and groaning and releasing the pent up storm
  • He showed me that commonality I had with the mothers of addicts and alcoholics
  • and gang members and jihadis
  • and so many other things I know nothing of
  • In the blink of an eye He showed me millions of women mourning for son's to whom they had no bridge of connection
  • who feel like they alone have failed to keep that tender connection to the young man now just out reach
  • He told me as I mourned freely for the first time in years for the broken connection between me and my baby boy who is now a sizable mountain of a man
  • That's what Abba told me...
  • That I wasn't alone, wasn't the only one.
  • He did not allow this for no good reason or without purpose.
  • He would use my broken heart in compassion for millions of women who need a ray of hope to help let their heart live again even while estranged-- for just cause or for no good reason at all-- from their own sons and daughters.
  • THAT is what God said
  • GOD SAID that

  • So what momento have you got tucked in the corner of your daily routine that is waiting for you to give your undivided attention? Waiting for closure, waiting for healing, waiting for acknowledgement at the bottom of your soul? Reach your hand out and move it. Look at it.
  • Look deeply.
  • Look at the reminder.
  • Pick it up and hand it to Abba, our heavenly Father. He will take hold of the thing and wrench your heart free with the skill of a surgeon and the gentleness of the most loving heart in the universe. He will set your heart free to love again, 
  • to rejoice again,
  • to live again. 
  • Pick up that thing and look up at the Father. TRUST HIM with all of it.
  • Yield it all to him and He will heal it and He will use it. He will use the mended brokenness of ANY life to His glory if you let Him. Be one of those stories. Trust Him to write a new beginning and a better more glorious ending to your story. He is waiting.

Monday, July 13, 2015

I am my first assignment.

The article  by Christy Wright quoted here  and linked below makes an important point about our identity. 

The struggle is the same.
It doesn’t matter if you work in nonprofit or work in a ministry, whether you run a business or just run to keep up with everyday life—the temptation is always the same: to help everyone everywhere.
- See more at:

We are called to be who we are and who we are becoming, but we are not called to be everything to everybody.
We are not even supposed to be the magic band aid that fixes everything for any other somebody.
We are supposed to be the one's who keep our own lives in order and in balance so no one else needs to come in and be our shining knight on the white stallion. 

Even Mother Theresa did not aspire to help everyone. From what I have read, she simplified her own life down to a few essentials and THEN devoted herself to helping the one in front of her.
If we have a high needs dependent child, that would be our assignment, but only after taking care of ourselves.
Mother Theresa did not live such a long life by denying her own physical, spiritual, emotional or medical needs. She simplified her wants to meeting her own needs so she could serve.
As wives and mothers, we are NOT supposed to try to *keep everybody happy*. What a waste of a human life- trying to keep someone else from melting down-- NOT my assignment.
I did, as my mother did before me, try for decades to keep my people happy, until I realized that all my accommodating others was erasing me.
I decided I wanted to be me right out loud in living color again. I wanted to meet my own needs, exercise my right to be, to be heard, to have a say, to take care of me and nurture me-- because it wasn't anyone else's job to do that for me and-- having no infants or toddlers left among my children-- It was no longer my job to do that for anyone else.
That is how I would describe learning to have Boundaries. The funny thing is, if I had NOT begun to exercise healthy Boundaries, I would never have stopped trying to keep everyone else happy-- and I would never have begun to recognize how dysfunctional all my people were always on the verge of a meltdown or withdrawing from basic life responsibilities and expectations.
I would have NEVER seen that there was a pattern to all the craziness that had the diagnostic label of Asperger's Syndrome.
Boundaries in dealing with my family saved my life, but I still have to choose daily how to set my boundaries with other needy people.
I have stopped helping everyone. It was never my assignment. I am my first assignment.
When my basic needs are met, I am in a much better place to be of help to someone else IF they are my assignment.

With Love to Karen at