“Believe,” she said. “You just have to believe. And don’t settle. See belief all the way through.”
It sounded like a very good and faithful thing to do. It sounded like what I really should do. But as we all know, faith in practicality lives much more painfully than it does through words. You think things like: If God doesn’t come through on this, I am toast. If I don’t find my way, I’ll never be happy. If I don’t get this done, I’ll be left behind.
Belief wavers after that first jolt of confidence and fizzles out like day-old soda. It gets flat sometimes.
So, when looking for a house and walking through one that was “a definite possibility,” her words came back to me. “Don’t settle.” She had gone on to say, “If it is an orange light from God, don’t go, but it if it is a green light, only then proceed.”
I liked the layout. It was open. I liked the paint color. It was grey. I didn’t like the door frames that looked like water had gone up their side. I also didn’t like the musty smell. Internally, I debated if the place had mold.
I wanted to overlook the bad, so I could move forward and be done with this frustrating process of finding a new place.
I went home and told my husband, “I think I found a place that looks pretty good. We probably should move on it.”
He remembered the words of our friend, “Kelly, is it a green light or an orange light?”
How often do we push into something God hasn’t called us to because we are over things? Because it is easier not to contend with that issue anymore? Because faith is hard?
When I saw the reality of it, that place was orangey-red.
“See belief all the way through.”
Where do you need to see belief all the way through?
“Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” Jo. 2:29
After talking with my husband, I redirected my thoughts, my heart and my will to believe. I committed to see things through. And I did. I write now from the comfort of a green light home without mold. Our family loves it.
As my husband put it, “Kelly, you need a day of relaxation.”
I tended to agree. Recently, stress sat on my shoulders. Grievances were monumental annoyances. My mind was having an affair with worry. To-dos were growing longer. Much was adding up to – too much.
With this, I knew: God was calling me elsewhere – to something greater. So, I went.
I drove to a local park to take the day off and to walk. I was confident I’d found relief right after the 30-minute drive of grueling, never-ending traffic. Except it wasn’t.
As I pulled up to the address shown on Google, the gates were slammed shut. Closed for business. No entry. Bye-bye day of relaxation.
No-go, Kelly. No-go to where God called you.
More irritation climbed my back.
Have you ever gone where you believed God wanted you to go, only to find it a no-go? Only to have the gate shut? Only to feel lost?
Frustrated, but determined not to give up, I circled the mile-long block a couple times, wondering if there was another entrance. There wasn’t. I returned to the gate with the word “STOP” on it, trying to inch forward and back to see if it would open. It wouldn’t. I called a number to find out if it really was closed. It was.
“God, why did you take me here? To drop me? To leave me?”
“Kelly, I never dropped you or left you.”
I looked down on my lap, and I could see that along the drive to this location, God had been speaking all kinds of blessings to me. Words of encouragement, thoughts of learning, discoveries about my day. He had been with me all the time.
He invited me to a drive of delighting in him. Not to a destination I demanded of him.
He never left me.
He never dropped me.
He never lost me.
Often, we declare we’re lost when God knows we’re in the process of being found. We see our way as long and burdensome, but I believe God thinks, “I’m doing something amazing along this way. I am transforming this woman, my way.”
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Cor. 4:17)
Perhaps today, you don’t lament where you are, but you grab on to it and see what God has for you.
Friends, as a heads up, Jami Amerine’s book, Stolen Jesus is now available. Don’t miss it.
One time, I did this totally un-Christian thing. I hid something behind the picture frames on my walls. Because it was unseen, potential new home dwellers never knew what lurked there as they walked through my house. Heck! I halfway forgot what was back there too. But on move-out day, when I took the frames down, I saw them: deep wall gouges. Ones never fixed. Ones left behind.
Welcome home! You need to re-plaster your walls!
We walk around just like this. A beautiful picture covers our deeply wounded selves.
We carry these wounds:
We don’t meet the standard of the woman we should be.
We are always falling short of other’s expectations for us.
We don’t match the persona of the woman who can do it all.
We are unworthy of receiving unconditional love.
Underneath the glass cover, no matter how beautiful or sophisticatedly adorned we are, our smile is not as real as we pretend it is. We hurt. We angst.
Our internal pictures tell a different story.
What picture is behind your picture? Is shaped like a wound? What lies deep in your soul? Loneliness? Isolation? Discouragement? Doubt?
May I tell you today, Jesus is strong enough to heal. He still is.
He still works. He still frees. He still sets free. The ancient of days is not so ancient of days that your internal wounds are outside his repair, today.
He loves you. He has chosen you to be in his care, and that means he wants to care for you. What would it look like to let him take what you’ve hidden so long?
To let it belong to God? I believe this blog post is a knock on the door of your soul: let God in.
What if you were to believe: God really heals and right now, he is actively healing you? What would it look like to let his freedom in?
“He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” (Psalm 107:20)
Friends, as a heads up, Jami Amerine’s book, Stolen Jesus is now available. Don’t miss it.
Often, it can be hard to love others authentically. Ever noticed that?
It can be hard to drop TV and take a meal to a sick friend’s house. It can be hard to make a phone call when you had a horrid day. It can be hard to write another blog post when you’re struggling to get by yourself.
But then you think about love. You think about who He is. Jesus.
You think of how he went out there, carrying what was back-breaking, burdensome and unbelievable. . . and he kept going. With us on his mind. With our sin on his back. With our pain that became his pain.
Jesus doesn’t give up on love. I am compelled not to either.
With this, I’ve been observing it…Love-in-action. Others have loved me a lot lately: They’ve taken me into their home when I almost had no home. They’ve made me food when I didn’t have much to offer. They’ve texted me even though I haven’t talked to them in years. They’ve just done stuff in the face of this post-Irma trial.
And in their actions I can see love is what it is all about. It’s about me, and not giving up. It is about me, and enduring. It’s about me, and believing God can, and will.
It is also about you. It’s about you and acting anyway. It is about you, and reaching out. It is about you, and responding kindly. It is about you, and giving to the person with nothing left to give. It is about continuing to speak authentically when the trials of life leave you breathlessly out of words.
I was thinking of all this today. And then a friend wrote me and said her life was changed because of my breathless writing. It wasn’t in a big way or even a big deal. But that’s how the responses to love usually appear – small, little, inconsequential. But somehow, I figure they’re not. The small thank yous? They all add up to something monumental and massive over all the years in the sight of God.
The bottom line to today’s post is this: We don’t know how much all our small breathless acts of love change — everything.
Let me warn you, this is not one of those “I have it all figured out and I’m on the other side of this situation” kind of posts. This is more of a “I am right here in the middle of a mess” kind of posts. Today, I am in smack dab in the middle of a season of transition. Honestly, it’s a big one. My job situation is in question and my housing situation is in question. The Lord has been opening doors for me in my writing and speaking and coaching. And I have also been in a hard season in my thought life where I have felt very tormented. So, in many ways I have not had the best year.
Transitions are tricky. They can be really good or really bad. They can come at the perfect time or at the not so perfect time. They can be for the better or for the worse. All year, I have had a sense that transition was coming and boy has it come. It’s all coming at once. I’m not really sure where this transition falls. It’s wrought with deadlines and unanswered questions and not a strong sense of direction.
There are not a ton of things I’m sure of right now, so I have determined to lean on what I do know. Maybe you’re in a transition too and needing to be reminded of truths that will never change.
God is good.
“The Lord is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made.’ Psalm 145:9
I know sometimes, I don’t want to hear that God is good because what I’m going through doesn’t feel good. This is when I try my best to ignore my emotions and what I can see in the natural. I try to focus on the things that don’t change. God’s goodness is at the top of that list. He is good. He just is. It is part of His nature. Everything flows out of that goodness. He promises to bring good out of the hardest and most confusing circumstances. He promises to work it out for our good. I may not know how He will accomplish this, but all I need to know is that He will.
God’s plans are good.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Not everything that happens is good. That is what happens when we live in a broken world among broken people. Jesus never guaranteed that life would be painless, effortless or that only good things would happen to us. In fact, He gives us a heads up as to how much tribulation would actually come our way.
The heart of transitions is so multifaceted. Many of the areas where I find myself in transition are all contingent on something else. They are not simple in any way. But, I am grateful that the One who created the Heavens and the earth and me knows my future. He has already been there. He is there now. It blows my mind every time, but it’s true. His will is for us to rely on Him, follow His lead, fulfill His calling for us and be light to a dark world.
God is faithful.
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful— for He cannot deny himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13
This is one of my favorite verses! Like God’s goodness, His faithfulness is a part of His character. An aspect of this transition that causes me concern is wondering whether or not I will make the right decisions. I think for the most part, I hear from God clearly. But there are times like now, where I have no clear sense of direction. I don’t know what to do. That is a difficult place to be. I want everything planned out fifty steps in front of me, but that is not in any way how God works.
I tend to struggle with remembering His past faithfulness to me. In my mind, I think whatever is happening right now is the one thing He won’t be faithful in. I think I suffer from some sort of spiritual amnesia. Even then, He remains faithful.
All of us are either in transition, coming out out of one or heading into one. That is the rhythm of life. I want to do my best to glorify God and follow His leading in every transition that comes my way.
There is no grand revelation here, just basic reminders of where to set our gaze. I’ve found that I need to tune out the voices of the world and cultivate an ear to the God who whispers promises, purpose, provision and destiny over me.
If you are in a season of transition, I’d love to hear about it and pray for you!
About Karina Allen
Karina is a devoted follower of Jesus from New Orleans, Louisiana, but has made her home in Baton Rouge for the past 15 years. She spends much of her time leading worship at church, writing, reading, dancing and mentoring the next generation. She has a huge heart for serving and missions. She is an advocate for the local church especially the one that she attends, Healing Place Church. She also enjoys working out, traveling, photography and going to concerts/conferences.
Karina believes that every woman has a God-sized dream on the inside of them and it is up to an encouraging community to help nurture that dream. Her goal in writing is to see women get a revelation of God’s Word and discover how to apply it to their lives in order to walk in freedom and live the life that God intended. But the most important thing to her is to live out the call of Isaiah 26:8…For His Name and His Renown are the desire of our souls! You can connect with her at “For His Name and His Renown.”
My son can’t keep his eyes on me when I talk to him. Granted, he is only six, but his small eyes wander left and right when I’m giving instruction. It drives me nuts.
“Hey boy, Mama is over here, not under the table…”
I hate it the most during those lean-in kind of conversations, the ones where I really need him to pay attention because I have something important to say. When his head starts spanning the ceiling, I just know he isn’t listening. I’ve lost him somewhere. It is usually hard to bring him back and get him to hear me.
Like my son, we can’t easily hear God when our eyes are off him. We can’t easily follow what He is doing when we look left and right and all around.
We miss His directions. God may be standing in the center of our intersection called “life,” waving his arms, trying to tell us where to go. But if we have our head turned in other directions, thinking about random thoughts, annoyances, pestering people and pain-soaked problems, we won’t see what he is doing or saying to lead us.
So how do we keep our eyes on God so we can follow him? How do we focus our attention on his Word, on prayers and on his beauty so we find ourselves full of his joy?
I’ve mulled over this question long and hard, day after day, week after week and the more I consider it, the more I am finding these steps keep intimacy in this crazy world.
5 Ways to Keep Focus on God:
Give yourself allowance. You have a human mind that does human things. It gets distracted. It wonders about random people. It notices ancillary objects. It tallies up its list of to-dos.Don’t hate yourself for getting off track. Just choose to get back on.
Go back to where you last were with God. Example: If you are reading the bible and you find your mind has gone off another trail, return it back to where you last were.Pick up on the last place you remember being with God.
Swap what you listen to. I watched a Nazi film last night. I couldn’t think about God, nonetheless sleep. But on the nights I pray before bed, I go to bed thinking, dwelling and at peace with God.Sometimes you have to swap what you watch or partake in.
Ask for God’s help to stay awake to him.Then, act like it’s Christmas. Know that today, God has something good for you and you don’t want to miss it.
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jer. 33:3
5. Shut it all down. Literally.Shut down your phone, computer and your active-lifestyle. Pick a certain amount of time and call it off limits. Let no one, no how, no way encroach on that time with God. Then, during this time, refer to items 1-4 above.
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (Is. 26:3)
The more you practice these things, the more these things will seamlessly and effortlessly become part of your life. They’ll soak into your thinking, living and doing. . . and before you know it, you’ll find yourself walking with God far more often than you’re not.
A couple weeks ago we left our house to prepare for Hurricane Irma. There were so many moving parts. We had no idea when school would resume. My husband needed to take a business trip. The storm had no real direction, and we had people telling us to leave and which houses we could live at. A million decisions were thrown up in the air, with a storm barreling towards us.
And so many worries…would our car be okay? Would our place get flooded? Would our life ever return to normal? Would power take months to go back on? Would schools ever start up again? How could I get my manuscript done for the next week with a hard deadline on my shoulders?
Add to the ride screaming kids, a phone that was blowing up with texts, bad news after bad news and it all could add up to: too much.
My husband looked at me and said, “Kelly, we need to take things one day at a time.”
These words released me from the burden of knowing it all. They spoke to me: Kelly, it is okay to be where you are today. Just stick here, in today. . .you can figure out the rest later.
Inhale. Exhale. God has this.
Where do you need to “take things one day at a time?” How might keeping your thoughts in today prevent you from rushing into quick, sandy thoughts of tomorrow? Thoughts that want to sink you emotionally?
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Mt. 6:34
What we have here, in this moment, is what God works with. It is what he impacts, as we trust him. It is what we feel peace with, as we address it. It is what calms us, as we know we did our part. It is what sets us free from overwhelming and heartbreaking worry.
Let it go. You have full permission, today, to take things one day at a time.
There is a homeless lady my kids love. She sits on the side of the road in a makeshift tent made out of trash bags, tarps and cardboard. Everyday, when we pass her on the way home from school, my kids scream out the window, “Hi, have a great day,” as we pass by.
They know her name because one day, my daughter thought we should bring her food. She thought carrots would be nice. My son thought flowers would be a good idea too. So, we bought carrots and flowers and delivered them to her. It was then we learned she had a name.
Linda. I can’t stop thinking of Linda right now. She had to leave the streets…probably by force. I hope she didn’t protest. Somehow, I imagine her not wanting to desert her carts of personal belongings. I imagine her crying because that block is where she’s always lived. But if Linda didn’t leave, she might be dead. Hurricane Irma planned to hit her, hard.
Linda likely perceived her stuff more valuable than her safety. And she probably didn’t think about how there was a better place for her.
We’re like Linda, too. We don’t want to leave “our heart stuff” behind for God’s soul-calming safety.
We don’t want to cling to the safety of what we know, forgetting the calm that God brings. We don’t want to stay in a marginal place, missing the greater place of growth God is calling us to. This is even riskier than staying where we are. To stay on our corner, clinging to the past, our faults, insecurities or worries, hurts not only ourselves but others.
We must leave our baggage behind to pick up God’s easier yoke. There is a transaction involved in this. There is a sacrifice.
I’ve certainly learned this. I could easily go through life paying no attention to what God is prompting. Or the greater love he is calling me to, the mission he’s set ahead, or the unneeded garbage he is calling me to leave behind. But I would lose so much. Everything, almost.
Left to the whimsies of Kelly Balarie, I’d be a woman in a storm who felt like she had no home. I’d be tossed to and fro, feeling powerless.
The letting go and going where God goes is safety and power. It is a powerful Christian life that permits God to decrease self, while increasing the Spirit. This woman realizes more and more she’s in love with her daddy. She sees his best beyond her worst. She uncovers his faithfulness.
What is better than that? What is a more worthy pursuit? A more honorable goal?
Every time God teaches us something and inches us in a new direction, it’s not because we are doing bad, but because we are doing good and because he loves us that much. He wants our full heart within the safe place of his arms, where no harm can touch us, because — when we let go of everything, we find him fully.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Mt. 5:5
Where is God calling you to step more fully out of your comfort zone and into his love? What if you were to believe he truly did have your best intentions in mind?
“See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Ps. 139:24
Right before a recent move, someone told me, “I hate __ city. I hate everything about it. It is busy. It has mean people. It is a bad environment for living.” I had to pray for God to remove that from my mind so I wouldn’t allow their declaration to become my reality.
Another person essentially told me, “Kelly, you’re not a good enough writer.” I also had to erase that from my memory, so I could do what God wanted me to do without letting their words take life and speak over me day in and day out. But even now, I remember them.
Someone else told me, “All boys with the name __, act a certain way. You never want to name your kid that or they’ll be …” Again, I had to recognize this was something I could be prone to believe. I had to seek God’s truth and his ways, rather than to let those words take root in me.
What have people spoken over you lately? What have you permitted to become a part of you? What words might not be from God?
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
What ruler, authority or dark agency has spoken within you? Does it sound like love? Or does it sound like…
An Authority Saying, You’re Ruined: There is no time. There are no people behind you. You will fail. You don’t have enough __. You are always without ___. God is far.
An Agency Stating, Take Care of Yourself, Only: There is not enough to go around. Protect yourself first. Give later. The world has limited resources. Take first, give later.
A Hard-Driving Ruler demanding,Perform! Perform! Perform! Work, strive and push yourself harder: Imperfection is not allowable. It’s an all or nothing lifestyle. It’s black or white thinking. It’s thrive or die. People are liabilities and injuries just waiting to happen. If they don’t help you, hurt them. That’s what you say.
An Authority proclaiming, You’re Incapable: You’ve always done bad in life. Why change now? You know you are unlikable, but there is no use trying to be different. Your past has marked you. The world, the hurters, owe you. You’re a victim. You don’t really have what it takes, anyway.
God is not a Father who enslaves you to a chamber of fear.
He is a daddy who loves you. He gives us… A Daughter mentality: He loves me, oh, he loves me. Every day, he loves me.
His voice sounds like this:
I choose her. I want her to feel my love. I want her to dwell in it and to feel the fullness of my presence around her. I want her to know I am both behind her, in her and working out through her. I rejoice over her with singing, I write her name on my hand, I prepare a room for her, I have good works ready for her to walk in, and I want to give her all my riches. I want to pour out my glorious inheritance (shout out to Jesus Christ) all over her. I want her to walk knowing she has the biggest, baddest and strongest security behind her at all moments. I want her to see she can do anything through me. I want her to know her faith can part seas and make her walk to lands unimaginable. I want her to hear my words of truth before she relies on her perceptions, because then she’ll know my love.
I want her to know I’m always cheering for her, leading her, loving her and ready to help her.
It was an odd encounter. I am not sure why. I didn’t intend to make it odd, but my mouth got ahead of my mind. What was meant to come out as, “Wow! You are so talented…” rolled out as, “What do you think you are being led to do in life?”
As if she wasn’t already doing enough.
As if God wasn’t already using her.
As if there was more to life than the moment she was currently in.
The second my question made its weird appearance, I wanted to withdraw it. I wanted to grab it and stuff it back into my mouth because I could see what it was producing: a seat-shifting sense that she should be doing more. That where God planted her feet today wasn’t good enough.
Yet, where she was — was entirely good enough. In fact, I was very much struck by the individual. And although I’d just met her minutes ago (another reason my mouth should have shushed it), I knew her wisdom and insight would have an impact on my life, as it has with so many others.
I left the gathering. On the way home, all I could think was: She thinks I am an oddball. I came off as prideful. She feels put down…not used enough…like she should have some greater mission…all because of my fast track mouth.
My hands clenched the car seat. My ears tuned out my husband and my embarrassment stuck on me like icky glue. It kept on bothering me — for days.
Yet, something hit me as I wrote this story down, after seeing it in black and white. What if the big deal I made about my words was really only a small deal to her? And what if her shifting around was only because she was bound to a clock and needed to start the meeting? What if her short response was only because she was thinking about what she needed to do next?
What if I read into things? And what if her words were far less about me, because she was already on to the next thing?
What if she didn’t really think I was:
the arrogant one
the insensitive girl
What if she just thought I was a new person who seemed nice, who she is interested in getting to know as well?
How many times do we personalize predicaments and let them name us poorly? How many times do we let the enemy declare us bad when God is trying to set up a good friendship? How many times do we see our failings when others aren’t seeing that at all?
That night at the prayer gathering, I lost my prayer mojo because I kept thinking I injured her. I lost the chance to plead for, impact and change the hurting lives of others because I was caught up in my own mind-story. I lost God’s better plan.
When we personalize issues that really are not personal, we always lose God. We let our feet venture off his track and we head down some windy road with the goal of making man love us. We divert love. We walk away from Him who is love.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10).”