Purposeful Faith

Category - dreams

Out of Sight and Out of Mind

Out of Sight

I want to extend a warm welcome to Kari Stainback. Her words hit the tender places of not being seen and chosen. I couldn’t be happier to feature her words as part of the Ministry Monday Series. Welcome Kari!

Not long ago at a family gathering, I happened upon an endless version of the game “Peek a Boo” with a toddler.  Over and over and OVER again I put a scarf over her little head and said, “Where did Lucy go?”

Then I’d yank the scarf off to her gleeful shrieks and reply, “There she is!”  The giggles and the fun lasted for longer than I thought possible for a game to continue with a baby.

What made Lucy giggle so profusely as she participated in this game is that she was learning something called “object permanence”.  It is the developmental process that allows children to understand that an object continues to exist when it can’t be seen, touched or heard.  Prior to this stage, in the first few months of a baby’s life, they think when an object is “out of sight”, in their minds, it ceases to exist!  So when Lucy couldn’t see me, she just thought in her tiny toddler mind, “she’s not gone, she’s right there and boy howdy that is hilarious!”

Object permanence is very important because it gives us the ability to understand that objects that we may have never seen in our lives actually exist.  For example, I’ve never been to France nor seen the Eiffel Tower, but I know that it exists even though I’ve never physically seen it.  Throughout our childhoods as we become adults, object permanence moves from the physical to the abstract as we gain more experience with the world around us.  And, by God’s grace, it lays the foundation in our brains to develop faith in the triune God.  We can know, by faith, the One who we have not seen physically, but we can be sure He is with us.  In Christ, He is our ultimate permanent object.

Some of my favorite verses that teach us this truth are:

“My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.”  (Exodus 33:14)

“Just as I as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” (Joshua 1:5)

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Or where can I feel from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.” (Psalm 139:8-9)

“…I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b)

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b)

Sometimes, I don’t feel God is near.  Perhaps, you, like I, tend to think, “Does God really care? Does He know I’m feeling alone and forgotten?”  

For years, I thought I experienced loneliness because of my singleness.

I find, loneliness tempts us to find comfort by escaping through activity, or shutting down or drowning our sorrows in food or drink, or my personal favorite: cruising the mall on Saturday nights.  It’s easy to give in to despair and resentment, to stop reading the Bible or praying. I keep learning, none of these leads us to lasting peace.  What does lead to peace is something Amy Carmichael wrote about in her poem, “For In Acceptance Lieth Peace”.

Our loneliness may not go away,
but it can be accepted as God’s will for today and that turns it into something beautiful. 

Recently I had an ugly bout with loneliness, all of my familiar temptations to doubt and escape swirled around me.  I did not feel God’s presence.  All I felt was the dread that the loneliness had returned and that it would only get worse in the days ahead.

I found His presence.

I opened my Bible and read it, listening for the Word He had for me.  It came!  I prayed and thanked the Lord for being the One who would never leave me or forsake me.  He gave me peace. The very next day God sent me a surprise of His love in the mail, something only He could do in His perfect timing.  It was a quarterly magazine from the seminary from which I graduated.  On the back was a graphic of a tree, rooted in Christ Jesus, with its branches filled with names of single men and women who have furthered God’s Kingdom throughout church history.

To my utter amazement, in the far right branch I saw my name.  Underneath the graphic was written the verse, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35).  

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About Kari

CounselingandCare (1)Kari Stainback is Director of Women’s Ministries at Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas, TX.  She coordinates women’s Bible studies, discipleship and special events.  Kari is a Licensed Professional Counselor and does pastoral counseling for women in the church.  She is also a board certified supervisor of counselors.

Kari joined the staff of PCPC in the fall of 1999.  She has been in her present position for 15 years.

Broken Perfectionism

Broken Perfectionism

I could not be happier to have Angela Craig joining us today for Ministry Monday. Angela is on fire for the Lord; her passion exudes from her (and I have only talked to her online, so this says so much!). She is a gift sent by God to this world and I am excited to honor her here today. Welcome Angela!

“A dangerous leader is one that has great familiarity with their skills and gifts
but cursory knowledge of their inner brokenness.”
– Dan White, Jr.

I will admit it. I want everyone to like me. The two things I have struggled with most of my life are people-pleasing and perfectionism. In the past, if someone didn’t like me or critiqued my work, I would spend an unhealthy and disproportionate amount of time lamenting on where I went wrong. Then I would make a plan to fix it. The problem was, no matter how hard I tried, I still disappointed people and made mistakes.

It could be because I am human. As far as I know, human beings can strive for excellence but they can never be perfect. Having the hope of perfectionism is like having a boat with a hole in it and thinking you can stay afloat if you can just keep the water out of the bottom. Eventually, you will take on more water than you can bail out and get tired of trying to fulfill other people’s expectations. This leads to burnout or drowning. Neither, a good option.

But what if I was perfect? Would everyone like me then?

Actually, the answer is no.

Listen for a moment to this story of Jesus. On Palm Sunday, Jesus made his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem on a humble donkey. The people were so enamored by Jesus they lined the street with their cloaks and palm leaves in honor of who they believed to be the next royal King from the line of David. Jesus could do no wrong. Five days later, that same King hung on a splintered wooden cross with a crown of thorns on his innocent head – naked, accused, mocked, beaten, hated, and judged – but still perfect.

As the story ends, we see it was obedience, not perfection that changed the world forever.Broken Perfectionism

As leaders, it is easy for our interactions with others to become performance driven. We can become actors on a ministry stage. Our actions being guided and directed by audience approval and recognition. If left unattended, the approval and recognition of others will eventually affirm or challenge our identity and self-worth, leaving God’s opinion back-stage.

We must maintain the ability to embrace our gifts, God’s words, and our brokenness at the same time. For me, a broken perfectionism has been the path to being a healthier leader.

You are unique and distinctive. Your leadership matters. Live fearlessly for Jesus today, my friends, and be encouraged by these last scriptures and a quote from Brennan Manning. I will be here cheering you on!

Brennan Manning wrote: “God loves you without condition or reservation and loves you this moment as you are not as you should be!
Real freedom is the freedom from the opinion of others. Above all, freedom from your opinion about yourself.”

“Man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7 NIV).

“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” (Galatians 1:10 NIV).

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8 NIV).

About Angela Craig

image001 (1)Angela’s 10 years of international speaking experience covers leadership and women’s conferences, non-profit events, and on-line leadership training. Angela is the Director of the women’s department at the Northwest Ministry Network where she has the honor to lead a team who is responsible for the development and empowerment of female leaders in over 320 churches. Angela is an ordained minister and a certified coach with Gallup Strengthsfinder, SLTA 360, and AGC. A life-long learner, Angela has a Ministry Leadership degree from Northwest University and a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga. Angela is honored to teach as an adjunct professor at her alma mater, Northwest University. Angela is also the founder of the GIVE GOOD Awards Foundation, an organization that recognizes inspirational people and promotes volunteerism.

Devoted to helping others reach their fullest potential in life and leadership, Angela has authored two books, The Story of Leah: When life is not what you expected it to be and Pivot Leadership: Small Steps – Big Change . You can read her weekly blog encouragements and leadership tips on angelalcraig.com and  on hervoiceblog.us, a blog specifically designed for women in leadership.

Everybody Needs Encouragement

Encouragement

I could not be more delighted to welcome Jan Greenwood to Purposeful Faith today. Her book, Women at War, both uplifted my heart and rekindled fervor for Christ. Jan, a natural encourager and an endurer, is flame-lighting the world with truth. Thank you for that, Jan. We are truly blessed by you and your mission. Love, Kelly

Post by: Jan Greenwood

Most of us are starving for a little encouragement.

We’re walking around parched, prone to self-doubt and focused on what must be done.  Some of us are downright afraid.  Some of us have fallen into a pit of discouragement and feel totally alone.  Some of us are riding the mountain top of breakthrough and find that even good, God things bring stress and fear.

Can you relate?

I’ve recently been in a serious battle for my health. I’m grateful that many have been encouraging me.  However, I often run into friends who say something like “I have been thinking of you, but I didn’t want to bother you.  I know so many others are already encouraging you.”

I wonder why we think we should limit encouragement?  

Or why we think our encouragement is inferior or too late?  

People are made to be filled with courage…
to be comforted, built up, and empowered by you.

I Thessalonians 15:11 says “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up…”

I cherish every face-to-face encounter, notecard, email, text, post or even a like, love or follow on social media. They remind me I’m not alone and fill me with courage. But everyone needs encouragement to arrive in ways they can manage the impact and influx.  It’s not that they don’t need encouragement but simply they need it delivered in a manner they can receive it.

I think this is the major reason we limit our encouragement –we’ve experienced encouragement from another in a manner that was insensitive to how we are feeling, out of order, embellished or at a moment where a response was expected of us that we simply didn’t have the capacity to give.

I’d like to share some of my favorite ways to both give and receive encouragement that are simple, inexpensive, really effective – and never arrive at a bad time.

It’s never a bad time to send a note.  I still love snail mail.  It speaks to me and says “I care.  I thought about you enough to buy a notecard, think of something kind to say, write it down, and even spend a little more to put the stamp on the envelope.” It makes me feel special and cared for. A written word, no matter how small or short has great value. So go ahead and send a text, email or social media like.  It all lasts…it lingers…it can encourage multiple times.  If you add a scripture or a brief prayer – double points for you!

It’s never a bad time to pray. Pray each time that person comes to your mind and trust that you are depositing faith, hope and courage into your friend.  (You’ll notice I didn’t say it’s never a bad time to pray with the person you want to encourage.  Ask permission, don’t make it too long, and be sensitive to the environment, timing and how the person is feeling.)  I like to imagine I have a giant prayer bowl on the altar of God that is filling with the beautiful aroma of prayer.  When I feel weary, afraid or even downright fearful, I will lift my eyes to heaven and ask God to throw down some fire from that altar. The prayers of others get me through.

It’s never a bad time to say I love you. People are drawn to those who can express an authentic concern and affection for them and their needs. A thirsty man can spot water from a mile away.  People will be drawn to your genuine encouragement.  That same thirsty man can smell insincerity. Never lie or overstate your concern.  Keep it simple.  Touch them if appropriate.  Look them in the eye.  Don’t overstay your welcome.  Follow their cues.

It’s never a bad time to send a gift card especially for restaurants or grocery stores. People love to eat (have to eat) and often in the midst of a difficult season preparing a meal for your family can be a really big drain on your limited strengths or resources.  (I also love home cooked meals, but they require a lot more coordination/energy for both parties. Cards allow me to meet the needs of my family as they come and on tough days that means I’m not in the kitchen at all. Double points for me!

So go ahead and act on your impulse.  You are made for this!  You are an encourager and your love and concern for others is powerful.  Don’t withhold.  Don’t worry.  Don’t delay.  Someone right in front of you needs to be encouraged.

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About Jan

encouragementJan Greenwood, author of Women at War and Pastor of Women at Gateway Church, is a fervent developer of women.  As a speaker, author and pastor of women, she’s taught many how to create powerful, healthy female relationships.  Jan and her husband Mark have been married over 30 years and live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Texas area. Follow Jan on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

 

 

encouragement

About Women at War

Women at War is revolutionizing the way women treat one another and the value they place of their own gender.

Pink Impact

Learn more about Pink Impact, the annual women’s conference at Gateway Church.

 

 

 

When No One Sees or Cares

When No One Sees

I remember as a kid that door knock. People from everywhere walked up to our cracked doorstep. People with knives, people with vacuums, people with contraptions and people with frozen foods. When the doorbell rang, you never knew what you were going to get. I always hoped it would be chocolate and something with a cherry on top; my luck was never that good.

Every time, my inclination was to run right up to the door, open it and say, “Show me your presentation, show me the process and tell me the story.” They always had a story and it always left you wanting to shell out hundreds of dollars on things you knew you never needed – but, all the same, felt great handing over in large sums.

These people knew how to reach deep within you and pull out – compassion.

Yet, the other inclination within a household, was to shut off the lights upon their arrival, to run to the bathroom or to get vertical against a wall. All of these were good techniques to be left safe, secure and unhassled. You just leave that person waiting, sweating, hoping and alone on a doorstep…unseen.

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Despite all the great things they bring to the table – you leave them unseen.

Despite all the preparation they have put into their project – you leave them unseen.

Despite all their dreams someone will care – you leave them unseen.

Despite a vision to forge into something more,
something risky and something powerful – you leave them unseen.

I stand on the doorstep sometimes. Do you? I stand trying to knock, in the best way I know how, not much succeeding – with no one really caring.

No one says to me, “Keep pressing on. You are doing something important here.” I keep moving, door after door, each time feeling like I am just left with cold air and a twisted ankle on the way back down the stairs.

I am sensitive, I guess. Aren’t, we all?

God, if you see me, why don’t you encourage me?

This makes me think of – her. She walked up to that well as if it was already a slammed door on her face. She knew what to expect: 1.) She wouldn’t be spoken to by men 2.) She was a Samaritan and Jews wouldn’t give her the time of day 3.) She was shady and unworthy all the same.

I imagine as people saw her coming, they hid behind the safe refuge of the well…

When No One SeesOne man saw her, though, saying, “Will you give me a drink?” (Jo. 4:7).

She answered with (imagine: an inner finger wagging at itself, “This is impossible”),
“How can you ask me for a drink?” (John 4:9).

Sometimes we feel so unseen, we feel so unworthy of being seen, we annihilate the love that tries to penetrate us. We let it burst into smithereens. Inside we nod our head saying, “There is just no way…”

I do this.
I believe what I have always known to be true.
I justify the case, rather than considering what could actually be the case.
I excuse others good intentions, saying, “If history is any indicator, they are bad.”

When No One Sees

Jesus says, “If you knew the gift of God … ” (Jo. 4:10)

If only, I knew it, I guess…

I might taste refreshing and rejuvenating water as she did.
(Jo. 4:10)

I might draw water from a well that gives new hope and vigor all the way up to eternity. 
(John 4:14)

I might beat down the lie – that strongarmed the truth – in order to hold me back.
“Go, call your husband and come back” (John 4:16)

I might confess.
“I have no husband.” (John 4:17)

I might find myself knocking on every door to share how me, the lame one, is now seen.
“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:29).

Have you considered the reason why you feel unseen
is because you want to keep – unseen?

I can’t help but think, what if we let in what we have kept out? Might we find it is the love of Christ that has been knocking on our door for so long?  What might happen if we stopped hiding and opened our gates?

When No One Sees

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How God Will Make Your Impossible – Possible

Impossible

When there is nothing left to do in a day, and my mind has nowhere left to go, right or wrong, Facebook and I get friendly. It’s the mindless scroll that numbs a mind. It’s the old faces that remind me of days yesterday. It’s a knowledge that somehow everyone is okay. It is just seeing and being. Yet, this time, God wasn’t content to let me sit. He wanted to show me some little things; little things ready to teach me big things.

First, an old friend caught my attention…

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My beautiful friend‘s husband made her a special contraption for “little arm” so she could blow dry her hair without issue. Hmmm…powerful. Her husband helped her to do what was difficult for her to do.

God, let me see what you want me to see…

My thumb got arthritical again. I scrolled, then I hit this video (Life).

It was daddy, super-daddy, I’ll call him – he made a super-duper, over-the-hips harness holder for his son, who I am sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, had never walked a day in hisScreen Shot 2016-04-29 at 5.12.59 AM life. The pure joy written all over his face made that clear. He was all things laughs, exuberance and pleasure. It was his moment on daddy’s toes. Not black and white, but shades of alive.

I want my moment on daddy’s toes.

Where he rescues me. Where he helps me to move in ways I never considered. Where he blesses me beyond measure. This is life. This is what pixels and images of years passing all add up to.

That boy’s face explained it – it is the elation that you are loved.

God, teach me, right here and now, teach me…

In his unfathomable love, God does not see our lackings, but he sees the makings of incredible about to explode.

We don’t have to see it – to believe it.
He’s a good, good, daddy.

Where we feel incapable, he is capable.
Where we feel down, he is ready to lift.
Where we say, I can’t, he says, “You will – just wait.”

We just believe and then we, fly into his purposes…

Will I give him a chance? Will you?

What if my friend didn’t accept the gift or the gesture? What if that boy pushed away the over-the-hip harness holder? What would have happened?

How often do you – or do I – miss the insane workings of God because we get prideful and believe we can do it on our own?

God, don’t let us miss it anymore.

I am faulted. I need you.
I feel incapable. Show me.
I am handicapped in so many regards. Reconstruct me.

I want to fly.

I believe.

I believe in God’s power to love me like family. I believe in his power to make a miracle out of my control issues. I believe in his power to banish shame. I believe in his artistic genius to make a gizmo so wild it will soar me right up to – alive.

It will save me, right as I wait on daddy’s toes. And like that boy, I Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 5.05.53 AMwill dance. I will smile, laugh, giggle and wonder –  attached to daddy – loaded up with all the gadgets of his goodness.

I will. You will.

Where do you feel broken? Faulted? Injured? Less than?

Know this: Daddy is building a doohicky. Accept it. Put it on. Believe in it. Trust it to work. Smile. Let go. Feel his love. It is the answer.

God, indeed, takes our limitations and makes them into proclamations of his goodness…when we let him.

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The Question: It Will Bring Life Or Hold You Back

Brings life

I know what you all would say. I am blessed. I got invited as guest on Proverbs 31’s “Compel Conversation”.

You may say, “What is the issue, Kelly? This sounds like a good thing.”

It is. I agree, except for this likely question: “Tell us a little bit about yourself…”

What “little bit” does anyone even care about? Who am I?

Am I the middle schooler who won the Junior Olympics bronze medal for race-walking (yes, it’s as duckish and as funny-looking as it sounds)?

Am I the caffeinated and domesticated house-cleaner, laundry-pusher and child-rearer who works tirelessly to keep the house moving?

Am I the secret vagabond woman who loves to pack up all her goods and travel to some new and foreign land that she hasn’t traversed? After all, I am taping up brown cardboard yet again…

Am I the woman who hides in the bathroom when life gets tough and kids become screamers?

Am I fighter woman, the one constantly trying to keep one hand on God as my feet side-step this world detonating with traps?

Who am I? Who are you, really?

How do we sum up the 78 organs that make up “woman” when they are constantly changing? Growing. Shrinking. Aging. Becoming. Dying.

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And why is there this demand that we know?

Will we ever know?

Because I don’t. And, I don’t know if I ever will. And perhaps this is the point. Perhaps we won’t really know our place in home, until we really arrive at home. Perhaps, we won’t see our tailor-made and perfected job in God’s kingdom until we walk right up to the gates – and pull them open – and walk right in.

Then, we will see…

Then, we won’t share a “little bit,” but we will radiate in “the everything” God made us to be.

Does all of this transcend to the here and now?

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When do you feel alive?

When I stand in Christ’s love, 
I become more aware that who I am is – one – made to love & be loved.

I see:
It is not who we are, but whose we are.

I am not scabbed, but healed by truth.
It’s not about me, but about how God sees me.
It is about where he wants to go…

this is when I come alive.

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Perhaps, all these little moments – with God – they force the true out from the cracks.

The heaviness of me…
can’t stop the new growth of God.
It is not restrained by the weight of life… 

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A woman made in the image of Jesus.
A woman walking with his being in her.
A woman pursuing the dream of his cause.
A woman existing in his truth.
A woman fighting against her desires to win and succeed and – to walk all over people.
A woman looking to get untied, so she can rely on him.
A woman falling on her face, but getting back up again.
A woman healed from things that could have killed her.

This is a little bit about Kelly: A woman twirling in love. A woman listening to the Spirit’s leading. A woman always anticipating more doses of God’s best.

Who are you?

What heaviness is tying you down?

What might God’s love want to push out from within you?

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I Am Tired of the Sidelines

the Sidelines

Post by:Karina

I’ve been thinking, maybe obsessing, about dreams, purpose and calling. I’ve been thinking about my present circumstances and where I’d like to see my life in 10, 20  and 50 years. Many times, people have a gift or skill or talent that is obvious. It stands out. It gets them noticed. That’s not me. More often than not, I feel completely average. I’m not saying average is a bad thing. I’m just saying that I don’t often think I stand out. And that’s okay as well.

Over the past year or so, my dear friend Aimee has been speaking over our lives that we have in many ways been placed in a hidden place by the Lord . We have skills and talents and gifts, but we’re not necessarily flashy and in the forefront. I’m sure many of you feel the same way.

Over the past several years, I have literally watched friend after…both online and in my everyday life, launch businesses and non-profits. It feels like everyone else’s dreams are coming true. I feel left behind.

For me, being in this hidden place has caused me to shrink back from stepping out in faith and taking chances. By nature, I’m not a risk taker, but I want to be more of one. I want to take the risk that trusts God and builds His Kingdom.

Some aspects of calling and purpose have come to mind as it relates to what I can do and the timing of it all.

God works in His own timing.

“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Luke 1:45

There are several truths wrapped up in this one verse. It refers to blessing, patience in waiting and fruition. The time of waiting between our now and our future can either make us break us. So much of our character is forged during this time. It is here where we come to know and truly believe the promises that God has spoken to us. It is here where we push past what we can see in the natural and trust that God is working in the unseen.

We are co-laborers with Christ.

“For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:9

We have a part to play in our dreams, calling and purpose. It doesn’t all rest on our shoulders. Praise God! But, we have work to do! This is the fun part! We get to embrace who God  has created us to be and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Before the foundations of the world, He prepared good works for us to do. And the beauty of that is that He has equipped us uniquely for each of these good works. There is a deep satisfaction in playing a small role in God’s great story.

Seek the giver of the dream more than the dream itself.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

Dreams are great! For the believer, they are God-given and God-sized, but scripture clearly tell us that is God who brings the increase. A man plan’s way but it is God who directs our steps. We can strive and hustle and take situations into our own hands. We can speak pretty, persuasive words, but if all of that wasn’t birthed in the heart of God, it will all fail.

Only God’s plans are guaranteed for success.

He will always bless those plans. We are to seek His heart, His purposes, His truth, His way and His Kingdom. He will take care of the rest.

He will fulfill the desire of our hearts when our desire is for Him.

Cheer on those who are stepping into the fulfillment of their dreams.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Sometimes I think I have this one under control. Other times, I know I don’t. It frustrates me to no end because I am an encourager. God has gifted me with this. It comes so naturally most of the time. Sometimes, I have to work at it. The times where I have to work at it are the times when my friends are getting opportunities that I’d do anything to have. I don’t begrudge them, but I would like to have them as well. I easily fall into the scarcity mentality that believes an opportunity for someone is one less opportunity for me. This just simply isn’t true. It’s a lie from the enemy.

He wants us to be divided and warring against each other. But, the heart of God is for unity and oneness. The best way to combat this battle of comparison is to cheer wildly and pray fervently for one another. We need to believe the best for one another and call out the gold in them.

A win for my sister is a win for me.

A win for me is a win for her.

So no more sideline living for me! I am going to chase hard after my Jesus, confident in who He says that I am and trusting in His goodness. He’s got everything else!

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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.”

Take Off from “Blah” to Blazing New Heights

Blazing New Heights

I know, I know, this is going to sound weird. I am infatuated with the whole idea of airplane take-offs. Always have been.

I feel the rumblings of something new, the speed towards adventure and the call towards something greater.

I love it.

New places.
New people.
New encounters.
New opportunities.
New feelings.

Usually, as the plane rises, I know I am about ready to head to somewhere better.  The stress is off; I have no control over the speed, the timing and the path – it is all in the captain’s hands. It is a trusting kind of thing; I know he will do his job.

I wonder though, why day-by-day I don’t rise with this same sort of
eager expectation towards life?

What really makes it any different?

I could wake excited.
Knowing God will send me.

I could look expectantly.
Believing God will lead me.

I could anticipate.
Seeing life from the heights new opportunities.

I could be willing.
Letting in feelings of purpose and passion, all the while – nodding yes.

All vision of my end destination belongs to him. All the controls are in his hands.

Why not let go?

We need no plans, except to be with him. He steers, we fly. He leads, we end up at the good works he has already designed for us.

If we have expectancy,
we won’t be prone to live complacency.

We see new journeys.
New heights.
New views.
New callings.
New pressures that he alone manages.

And right in the center of it all is our chosen seat. The one that allows us to enjoy the heights of his glory, the sprawling colors of his ownership and the gentle covering of his clouds.

So we go. We let go. We move. We explore. We adventure.

Tomorrow, let the morning alarm goes off. But, take a new look at your new day. Let expectations rise and – fly.

Will you join us?
Sure, there may be turbulence,
but rest assured there will be magnificence too.

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My Confessions & Our Return Back to God

my confessions

Lord, I don’t want to go through life thinking wrongs are normal.
I don’t want to go about striving, thinking that I am thriving.
I don’t want to do anything, thinking you won’t help me.
I don’t want to waste my life, thinking that you’re average.
I don’t want to take my hurts and brush them under the carpet.

When we let the piles of wrong build up inside,
they end up cover our eyes,
and blind us from the most majestic view – of you.

We follow a shadow of darkness and box God’s power to a limited distance.

No more God! I want to hear your voice.
No more going through motions! I want to see your face.
No more trying to do better! I want to hand everything over to you.

So here it goes:

Lord, I am sorry. I am sorry I pursue self over selfless. I am sorry that so often I make my needs King. I am sorry that I try to Lord over people. I am sorry that I don’t trust you in the gap of the unknown. I am sorry that I miss so many pre-set opportunities for faith, because I allow myself to sit in the agonies of fear. I am sorry that my pride makes me think I need to pry doors open. I am sorry that I listen to the voice of victimhood instead of your voice, the sound of eternal victory.

I am sorry that rather than living by your very Word, I have been living by rushed standards of this world. I am sorry that my mind is quick to dwell on nothingness rather than the vastness of you. I am sorry that I first see how you won’t be there for me, rather than how you will. I am sorry that I determine where I should be, rather than just being in you. I am sorry that I forget to thank you for all your little and unseen protections. I am sorry for how I have believed you won’t come through, when you promise you will.

Will you forgive me? For I want all of you. I don’t want to settle for a half-way God, a marginal interpretation of your love, I want the full deal. I want the whole kit and caboodle. I ask you to restore trust and to rebuild my life in ways that are exceedingly abundantly greater than I could even ask think or imagine.

God, I know when all I need is you,
I get everything I really need (Ps. 37:4).

This is truth; you are all I need.

You are all the answers to my greatest questions.
You are the sustainer to my very breathe.
You are the pipeline to my wildest dreams.
You are the beginning of life change that doesn’t cease.
You won’t ever fall from high.
Your throne won’t ever break.
Your power won’t ever cease.
Your mercy won’t fail to work.
Your grace can’t possibly give up.

You bring me high as I let you carry me.
You pursue my heart every waking hour.
You lead me to repentance so I can walk in complete assurance.
You give me power, even when I feel week.
You strengthen me in the face of opposition.

There is not a day you are not for me.
There is not a week you aren’t working on my behalf.
There is not a month you will turn the other way when I mess up.
And there is not a year that you will not delight over me with singing.

For you are love,
and your love is mine.

You are salvation,
and salvation is here,
it waits for me – literally every hour, every milli-second even, of every day.

I want to turn into it,
I want to miss it no longer,
for in many ways following Jesus,
is about returning back,
again and again.
It is a life dedicated to a grand return.

A return like hurt child runs to her daddy;
So I will run to your arms,
and you will lift me up,
swirl me,
hold me,
squeeze me
and then I will know,
there is nothing that can ever remove me from your love (Ro. 8:38).

I will know that you and me, we are once again united and such a bond like this – it can never be broken.

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Learning to Love Your Purpose, Even When It’s Painful

love your purpose

I am delighted to have Mary Carver join us today for this #RaRalinkup post!

Last night I messaged two friends. I asked them if I was a bad person for getting upset to see other people get attention and accolades for something I had also done (but for which I certainly wasn’t receiving that attention).

Honestly I wanted them to yell and point fingers and join me in my indignation at being left out and overlooked. Instead, they did what good friends do and reminded me that I wasn’t in this business or this life for either attention or accolades.

They also admitted that my feelings didn’t make me a bad person, simply human – but they were right about my focus. I had forgotten that my ministry and work and life are about obeying God and serving Him the best I can. Not pats on the backs and plastic trophies, not awards and atta-girls. But trust and obedience, love and service.

We can easily get distracted from our mission, can’t we? One minute we’re all about following God, no matter where He leads us, loving Him and loving others, doing whatever it takes to help people see Him. And then…bam! Before we even know what’s happening, we’ve heard about someone else’s mission – and all the perks that come with it, and we’re simmering with envy, wishing our call looked like theirs.

My friend and co-author, Sara Frankl, knew something about that. The call on her life was one that was full of beauty and joy – but it was also full of pain and loss. Trusting God and loving what He had given her was a challenge, but she managed to do it with a grace and wisdom that encourages me and teaches me every day.

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I remember the first time I really understood the parable of the vineyard workers. I had heard this Bible story all my life, but it finally clicked in college.

In Matthew 20, Jesus is recorded telling the story of a man who needed help with his harvest. He hired some men for the day, telling them the day’s wage, which they accepted and began working. Throughout the day, he realized he needed more help to get the work completed, so he went out multiple times and hired more workers. Each time he offered the wage to his new workers, they accepted and set out to work.

At the end of the day, he called all the workers together and paid them the same day’s wage. It was the wage he had offered to them, the one they had all accepted. But the men who had worked all day laboring in the fields were angry. They said they were cheated because they worked harder and longer than the others, and should be paid more than those who had worked only the last few hours.

In reality, the problem wasn’t the amount they were paid for the work they did. He gave the workers what was promised to them. The problem was in the worker who only felt cheated when he compared his life to someone else’s. The problem arose when the worker took his eyes off of his own mission, the one he agreed to gladly – and decided he wanted the easier task that was promised to someone else.

I have to remind myself of this story because it’s hard for me not to feel cheated. It’s hard for me to be thankful on a holiday weekend when I have to be alone in this condo. When there is no bustle of family or friends, when I can’t enjoy a turkey dinner, when I have no one to talk with and laugh with and reminisce with and grieve with. It’s hard when I compare my isolated existence with what I know is happening everywhere else.

But that’s not the deal I made with God. I promised Him my whole life, and He promised He would love me, never leave me, and take me home to have eternal life in Heaven someday. It was the wage He promised me, the wage I accepted – and it’s only when I take my eyes off of that promise that I feel cheated. God is honoring His deal. It’s me who looks at life and says, “I’ll have what she’s having, please.”

Does going back to that Bible story make all the hard-to-deal-with feelings disappear? Of course not. It’s still brutal. But it reminds me of what I believe. I believe that God has a purpose for me, and that my job is to be faithful to whatever comes with my life. I will do my daily task and honor Him as I believe He is honoring me.

I believe it. Even when it doesn’t feel good. Even when it hurts and is lonely and feels unfair and requires me to grieve a life I was never promised.

The truth is that my life is no better or worse than I wanted. It’s just completely and utterly different. The wisdom comes in knowing that it is exactly as it should be. The joy comes in learning to love it, not despite all I’ve lost, but because of all that it has brought to me.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Excerpt, Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts by Sara Frankl & Mary Carver

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Mary and SaraMary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She writes about her imperfect life with humor and honesty, encouraging women to give up on perfect and get on with life, at www.givinguponperfect.com. Mary is the co-author of a new book called, Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. Released by the Hachette Book Group in 2016, CHOOSE JOY is a must-have for those searching for meaning and beauty in a world full of tragedy. Sara’s words breathe with vitality and life, and her stories will inspire smiles, tears, and the desire to choose joy. To learn more about CHOOSE JOY.

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