No New Years Resolutions!

It seems like the new year always brings others to reflect inward.

This year it hit me hard during my daily reading as I realized how self-absorbed we often can become with new year goals and aspirations. The thought occurred to me how many of us never accomplish what we had hoped to accomplish. We never follow through with our new goals.

How many of us even made promises to God or perhaps told him we would obey and did not follow through? Many of us may have made initial steps but never followed through to completion. If you are one that finished what you started for the new year I applaud you and I am cheering you on with my coffee in hand.

With the holiday mess all around me (I have pieces of gingerbread house sticking to my sleeves as I write), I am challenged to change my own focus. I am not making a New Years goal. In fact I am getting on my knees to ask God for forgiveness for the things I did not follow through on in 2019.

It is humbling to acknowledge my disobedience and lack of follow through. It is humbling to admit to you, dear reader, that I should have followed through with everything but did not in regards to the things I decided to do with God in 2019.

You might be thinking right now, “but Kara lack of follow through on a New Years goal is not bad!”

I disagree, yet God has extended so much grace.

When we are people of honor and obedient to the life we live for God, that means we follow through. I am not talking about weight loss goals but the ones that are a matter of the heart. Yes, outward issues can often reflect what is going on in the soul but it is not bad if you began making changes and are not quite there yet. Matters of the heart are another matter and we often forget that others are dependent on our obedience. One of the ways we rob ourselves and others is by focusing on ourselves, being self-absorbed. There are people who do not even know it but they need you to be present.

For me I can think of one thing I felt the Lord prompting me to complete and here I am ending the year with it incomplete. Did the people I was supposed to be present for know that He loved them in that moment?

“Lord, forgive my disobedience! Forgive me from partnering with fear instead of faith. Help me start the year with my focus on you and loving others. Remove any self-centered focus. Remove any fear of man. Thank you for your grace and mercy on this year and on the one to come. Thank you for valuing obedience and giving grace with my imperfections.”

This year, vote “no” on making any New Years resolutions in protest of the culture it has created. Instead, be obedient in all things. Love others. Let us return to love instead of selfish ambition and pride. Stop being offended all of the time and instead choose the higher road. Seek to understand rather than prove yourself right. Choose joy in all circumstances. Choose to be humble.

How was your 2019? Is there anything incomplete? Were you obedient in all things?

Turn your eyes to Jesus.

Obey.

“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” John 14:23 ESV

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV

God’s Steady Heartbeat, 2020

There is a steady heartbeat I hear. It is strong. It is steady.

In these moments of serenity I see my God going before me. He sits with me by still waters. He prepares a table amidst my enemies. One word from his lips quiets the accuser.

There is a steady heartbeat I hear.

I know many of us have had a year of heartache and trials. Many have endured through injustices while others have whispered dreams out into the open, hoping this year would be the year of unfolding.

It is the time of year where people wind down. Some cannot wait for the year to end. Others are indifferent or thankful for what is.

Every moment matters to God. There is not one second lost on our behalf or on the behalf of those we love. Now is not the time to settle in or give up. God is a miracle worker and not one moment is forgotten in his hand. These last few weeks are of high importance to him as he works on our dreams and whispered prayers. Or perhaps words have barely formed from our lips as we have wept. God has seen every tear and knows what is written on our heart.

Let us not give up what has yet to happen in 2019. Let us enjoy our favorite holiday beverage (coffee anyone?), sit back and see what God will do. As we pray, as we go to the front lines of intercession, the Lord has made a table amidst it all for us. He has done this for us to learn to enjoy and walk in the victory that is ours even if we have yet to see it.

As this year winds down, enjoy it. Walk from victory into 2020.

There is a steady heartbeat I hear. It is strong. It is steady.

Dog Lessons

This dog sure has given me a lot to keep up with this week! He was digging himself into a hill of mud while barking at the neighbor dog that he could not get to (instant bath even if I had no time for it). Then it was head in a trash can one day, stealing bread out of a bag the next and yesterday it was squeezing himself into the area with cat food and gorging himself.

Yet, he comes back after having done all that and looks at me like this:

Did you know that no matter what, you can come to God like this and ask for help? Too often we rob ourselves of the mercy and forgiveness that is ours when we choose not to go to God anymore. Put pride, stubbornness, guilt… Whatever it may be aside and come back to God. He won’t push you away. He loves you and only has the best in mind for you.

Do not be like my dog though. He will go right back out onto that mud Hill (I had to go get him off a couple times after that muddy incident) and get messy all over again. He will keep trying to get to the trash, head covered in wrappers. He needs to change and those changes come slow because I cannot always be there to guide, offer discipline and teach him new ways.

But God is always there. Yes, there are consequences to our actions but he is not there with a lightning bolt. He is ready to meet us when we are willing to change. He offers mercy and grace despite our lack of understanding or our lack of desire to follow him. He fondly looks upon us when we look up and ask for his forgiveness, his help.

Be Unafraid

When life looks uncertain God is taking care of you. You do not need to be afraid. He has coordinated your victory before you get there.

Raise your head. Set your shoulders straight because of hardships. The enemy views you as a threat. Your worth is immeasurable.

Love is unafraid.

Take more ground rather than retreating back. You are a force to be reckoned with because of God within you. He makes your path straight. You are surrounded by him.

Dear Reader, God has got you.

Be unafraid.

Get Out Of The Way

In our instant gratification type world, the process within our lives can often be a struggle. We doubt our faith. We doubt our actions when results do not occur quickly or within the time frame we might expect. Why are we so quick to doubt or even begin to complain about the process? Are we just whiners? The world does not revolve around us.

I feel that most often we desire results without much work or sacrifice. We think that we must feel a certain way all of the time or that certain things must be in order, otherwise God is not good. Are you kidding me? Have you looked at the life of Jesus? He was outcasted, slandered, ignored, considered crazy, betrayed, lied about, and murdered for other people’s wrongdoing. Do you think that Jesus thought that through all of that, that his Father was not good? Absolutely not!

God is good and he wants to give us good things when we ask him. What we get caught up with is the fact that we often think that we know what is better for us than God does. Too often we want someone else to be blamed for our sin, our apathy and our selfish desires. All of this decreases joy because we are the ones choosing the opposite of it.

My prayer is that it would become normal to ask God to have his mind and desire what he wants, rather than getting caught up in selfishness or pride, thinking that we know best. It can be so easy to cast blame if that is what is normal. In our culture it is normal and has come to be accepted in several large circles. Those in leadership are applauded when they do so.

But do not applaud so quickly. Ones own pride comes at a price. Sin comes with a price. It is too heavy for one to measure.

Let us return once again to repentance. Let us return to asking, seeking and knocking without complaining after “too much time” has passed and you have been outside the door waiting.

God is good. He has the best waiting for you if you get out of the way.

Who I Want To Be

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Being an introvert has probably been one of the things I have struggled the most with. Growing up I didn’t know how to communicate that I needed space. If I was overwhelmed by people I didn’t know how to communicate my feelings or my needs.

As an adult I realized very quickly that I had come to be borderline hateful of this part of me. I was told quite a bit as an adult that there were no introverts in heaven. This inadvertently led me to believe that there was something very wrong with me. I could never figure out what hidden sin was causing this for me to continually struggle with needing space and time behind the scenes.

One day I realized that God had designed me to give him glory while alone so he could be seen better in the crowd. The part of me that was needing space led to great reflections, writing and creative arts. I see and feel things in a different way and solutions come when I am recharging alone. To hate this part of me or communicate to someone that they are “wrong” is to deny a part of God. God had written introversion in my DNA not to remain by myself but for the benefit of myself and others.

When I realized that it was imperative for me to be alone to be the best me with others, I began to accept who God made me to be. He loved this part of me! Slowly I was able to let go of who I thought I should be and embrace who I was in alignment with Holy Spirit. Without God I would be like a broken compass always questioning myself.

Today I still remind myself that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Most of the time I don’t feel guilty for needing space. I often have to say no in order to get rest and proper self-care in. I will start my day alone or quietly leave a room to breathe. When I do this, my mind is alert and my soul refreshed. My creative side is able to flow freely and I feel the most alive when this happens.

A beautiful thing occurs when you can accept the “flaws” people have pointed out about your personality. Freedom to be yourself leads to confidence. Accepting how God made you (your heavenly design not your sinful one) and getting to know yourself rather than how others tell you, is important to live a victorious life. Obviously if there is known sin, repent and change. But if it has to do with your heavenly design stop trying to be someone that you are not. Be who God designed you to be. Place him back on the throne instead of others.

Extrovert or introvert, you are wonderfully made!

When God Takes Away

Have you ever felt like God was taking things away from you?

The past year has been a life-changing year. My heart has been broken and wrecked in ways I never thought possible. Unimaginable things have occurred, both good and bad. We are still staring evil in the face. God’s gaze is my focal point.

Through it all I have asked God, “what are you doing?” My entire mindset has changed. My view on my career, personal goals and “plans” have all changed. I technically do not have a “plan” anymore and that is a good thing considering “planning” is usually what I do. I plan and make goals and then feel fulfilled after it is done. This year was the first year I felt incomplete after accomplishing some big goals. It led me to make some drastic changes. It made me realize that I was placing too much of my worth on accomplishments rather than on God alone.

This shift in mindset has not been easy. Letting go of huge loves of mine has not been easy. Completely pursuing God’s promises has not been easy either because His plans have been different than my own. He has taken a lot away.

He has taken certain things away in order for me to be ready to embrace the best! He gives far more than I could ever imagine.

The beautiful thing about God is that his plans are better than my own. Even though I am in the waiting I know that his intentions are good. In the letting go and letting God it has opened the door of heaven over me and my household. In the process peace has made it’s home permanently in me. No matter what circumstances I face it doesn’t knock me over like it once did. Because of this, letting go of all I’ve known for more of him is worth it. It is hard because dying to oneself is never easy. But his ways are better.

What has he taken away so that you may receive the best?