I experience firsthand two things today. 1: being a boy mom is not easy and may potentially lead to excessive consumption of coffee and tea to deal with the stress of it all, and 2: my daughter, much like me, does not want to grow up.

Regarding the first thing: While I was going to the bathroom today, i realized my son was not in a safe and secured place. And then I realized I was going to be a bit longer, so I asked my daughter where my son was. “By the steps,” she answered. Great. One of my fears is him falling down the stairs, so I ask her to move him away but she doesn’t want to. “It’s a big person job. I’m still little.” I’m wrapping up my business and the next thing you know I hear a thud and cries. Lots of cries. Giant cries from both kids. He had fallen down the stairs, leading me to panicking and praying he’ll be ok. Amie, likewise, was scared, and crying. I had to make sure that my next words did not make her feel guilty in any way for my mistake. You see, he’s been creeping to the edge of the stares a lot lately, and I knew there was the risk he’d fall, yet I’d asked my three year old, one who is still very much a kid, to be a little more responsible than she what she was ready for. I wasn’t angry at her, but at myself, and I realized that almost immediately. I also checked on him and we all calmed down. By the way, he’s totally fine and has been cleared by his pediatrician for more shenanigans. I, however, may need to seek out a cardiologist for that fright.

About the second thing, I learned my daughter, unlike many other kids her age, does NOT want to grow up. She refuses to poop in the potty, not because she’s scared, but because she doesn’t want to grow up. And I’ve been asking her to grow up before she’s ready. I really should know better. She’s my kid after all, and I distinctly remember saying I was a Toys ‘R Us kid and singing, “I don’t wanna grow up!” So now, as a parent, I’m having to reevaluate what it is exactly I want from her. I want her to grow up, in that I want to NOT put her in diapers any more. I know she can do it, but she won’t. While we’ve been full blown potty training this week, she’s struggling with the idea that she’ll still be my little girl while she learns these big people skills. I guess I need to reframe how I teach her to potty! And I need to embrace these years that she’s my child, when she wants snuggles before bed, and is goofy, and simultaneously wants to protect her big brother and play with abandon. I’m trying to over complicate my child’s childhood when it should be so simple.

I guess it’s time for me to learn to handle momming kids as kids and not expecting mini adults…

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i’m gonna let you in on a little secret. the past several months have been hard. like really, break down and cry hard. like giving up on dreams because i can’t see how they are gonna come about hard.

i’m gonna let you in on another little secret. life has also been sweet. like crying because it’s lovely sweet. like enjoying the summer with an ice cold tea sweet. like staying up late and waking up late sweet. it’s been beautiful. hard and beautiful.

this dichotomy found in my life has led to some very interesting conversations with me and God. but it’s been good. i’ve allowed myself freedom to be who he’s created me to be. i’ve allowed myself to thrive in the difficult times. i’ve allowed myself to be weak so he can shine his strength through me. i’ve allowed him to show me my identity instead of placing it on people and things. i’ve let him strip me bare to build me up and clothe me in his love.

earlier this year, i felt that he was calling me to wait. i had no idea for what, and in all honesty, i still am uncertain, but i can say that this waiting has definitely stretched my faith. i chose to pursue a business venture. my friends make it seem easy, but it’s so hard. i have wanted to quit at least 20 times since may, but i choose to continue because i’ve told him i’d wait. and i still wait. i will wait, although not as patiently as some.

i still wait. i still am unsure for what. but i truly believe that he’s got me right where i need to be. and so i’ll still wait.

-in him-
karen

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So three times means it’s happening, right?

So I got challenged. Several times. Since Saturday.

Saturday night, I went to a friend’s to celebrate her completion of classes. “Karen, you’re a really good writer,” she said. “I read what you write on Facebook and it’s more like a blog than a typical Facebook post.” uhhh…. ok? Ok, God. What’s going on here? You trying to tell me something?

Today, I mentioned this dream that I’ve had off and on for years of being a writer. I mean, it’s only right that someone who reads voraciously should write? When I mentioned this, the ladies in my group all said, essentially, “Do it!!” Immediately, do you know what I did? Make excuses. I made so many excuses. “I don’t know what to write. My train of thought is anything but coherent.” Their response, “Do it anyway.” Seriously. SERIOUSLY! So I don’t know what to write, and yet, i’ve been challenged to write by some of my tribe, my people. “Karen, I love the footnotes you bring to Bible studies. You add so much to it!” But how do I write things that i forget about because they only come up only in conversations. “Do it!”

And then, to add to the challenges, a friend posted on Instagram, basically, “Be brave! Do it anyway!” Three times usually means something, right? I mean… doesn’t it?

God, what the heck is happening?

I want you to write.

Write what?

You’ll know.

I still don’t know. So here I am, taking a leap of faith, hoping to write more. That may mean more blog posts, but who knows?

Until next time,
Karen


Last week I spoke of my broken heart and how many were being rejected the freedom they so desperately wanted, and even some had thought they’d had until that point. Broken. Hearted.

The executive order is still breaking my heart, and I can’t get past the fear that it seems to perpetuated.

In 2001, I was a sophomore in small town Texas. I knew about other places but my school was pretty much all white, Hispanic, and African American. I don’t think I really knew much about Islam unless I read something about it in a book, which, let’s be real, is probably true for all non Baptist denominations and religions. I grew up Southern Baptist.

So September 11 happened, and I, in all my maturity of a 15 year old, was singing, “It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine,” not realizing at that point how true it was. I didn’t understand the importance of the acts of a select few terrorists at that time. I had no idea what was really happening. People at Christian universities will say they live in a “bubble.” The same can be said for small towns, or at least my small town.

Yet somehow, even in that moment when fear started creeping more and more into our culture, I knew I couldn’t blame one religion for the actions of a few extremists. I wanted to learn more about Islam. I wanted to talk to women who wore hijab, or men who wore a yarmulke (by the way, i learned YEARS later there was a synagogue about an hour away. AND even more recently did I learn about a mosque in that same town.) I longed for a class that would teach “cultural sensitivity,” as my mom put it. Perhaps, at this point in time, God, in His infinite wisdom, was preparing me for college, and, eventually, my job with the Prince and his family. Eventually, I did get to take classes in which I learned more about Islam and Judaism, about Daoism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. When I learned about Zoroastrianism and the influence that it had on the Bible and Judaism, I was amazed. My heart leaped with joy.

While I understand the fear many have toward refugees and immigrants from countries that don’t seem to line up with our very Western ideology, the best way to combat that fear is not with bans and walls and refusal to let them in, but rather knowledge. Learning what they believe, learning why they believe it, learning why they want to leave their homeland, learning their culture. This knowledge, this desire to learn, will only open more doors. It takes time. It’s not an easy solution. But it stops fear.

The world is filled with immigrants, even here.

-Karen, the descendant of German, Irish, Scottish, and English Immigrants. Also the descendant of Tennessean immigrants to Texas. Currently a transplant from Texas to Colorado. See? Immigrants, yo.

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heartbroken

My heart breaks. My heart breaks for the Prince’s family, for my Afghani American neighbors, for the men and women who are fleeing from major crises and rejected from entering because of an executive order. My heart breaks because in his first week, the President has made a mockery of my home country, and I cannot let this stand.

In my studies of the Bible, one thing becomes evident. God has a soft spot for the immigrants and the refugees, for the men and women who have no place to call “home.” I believe it started in Genesis when God told Adam and Eve they could no longer stay in the Garden. I believe it broke His heart to see His creation, His friends, separate themselves from Him because of a damn serpent and a choice that had consequences… of death, of exile, of shame. He didn’t want that for us.

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells a parable of the goats and sheep, when someday, he will separate humanity by their deeds. Whatever we do to the least of these, the immigrants, the orphans, the widows, the hurt, the broken, our neighbors, we do to him. We either feed and clothe them and otherwise take care of them, or we don’t. And we will be judged on that. I’m not perfect. I’ve done my fair share of ignoring, of passing by. In Exodus, God exhorts his people to make allowances for the strangers in their land, to give them food and provide for them. And here we are thousands of years later, looking at these words, and ignoring them.

1 John talks a lot about love. A lot. Beloved is used throughout the book. John got it. “Beloved, let us love one another. Love is from God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God… Perfect love casts out fear.” But fear rules American Christianity today… and that breaks my heart. The God that we claim is love, and that love is CRAZY! It’s the kind of love that hides Jews when their lives are threatened. It’s the kind of love that is on the grounds, within miles of the front lines, making sure that the refugees are not forgotten and have food, water, shelter regardless their faith. It’s the kind of love that forgives an entire native tribe for a massacre of fathers in the Amazonian rain forest. It’s the kind of love that takes families away from their jobs, their homes, and places them in Africa to help a community with self sustainability. It is not a safe love. God is not a safe God.

Where did we go wrong? When did we start worshiping safety? When did we start placing our needs above another’s? When did we forget that our God asks us to care for others, like the refugees? When did we forget that He is not a “safe” God and that “safety” and wealth isn’t necessarily what He desires for us? This cannot stand.

May I have the courage to speak up, to stand up, to seek justice, because this past week has been difficult. May I continue to seek Him and His truth. May I always remember that no matter what, His Kingdom is my home, and He wants everyone there, because that rift that started in the Garden is closed… because He shed His blood for me, for you, and for that Syrian refugee wanting to escape. Because He is not fear, but He is Love. And may I continue to have His Love in my life.


And so I wait.

 

I began a new journey this year. Actually, it’s not that new. I’ve attempted it numerous times before and failed, but I’m determined to keep going. It’s hard to explain the why of this journey, but it’s been beautiful so far. I hope that I can continue it and send you little snapshots along the way.

So what is this journey?

Reading the Bible, cover to cover, in a year.

It’s been a beautiful journey. I’ve read of creation again. I’ve read the stories of the great patriarchs of my faith. I’ve read of the exile of Ishmael (and my heart breaks so much for Hagar! Her son was just playing with his half-brother!) and the salvation of Israel through Joseph, who has a complete attitude shift between being sold and helping others. Right now, I’m smack dab in the middle of the Exodus story. Oh, Israel. I relate to you a little to well.

A week or so ago, as I prayed, I felt God gave me a word for this year, or at least for this season. Wait. And can I tell you? I hate waiting. I hate being still (unless I’m tired, but man, put me on prescribed bed rest? I’ll be fidgeting and ready to be outside in five minutes!). But I feel like it’s a word God has given me. And it’s been good and hard. And He still hasn’t told me for what I’m waiting… Just to wait.

Since I’ve received that word, the waiting hasn’t really changed the way I do life much. I have made some intentional slow downs by not going out every morning and attempting to grocery shop with both kids one day a week (usually Monday) so that we can stay at home and relax and wait and play and wait and try not to go stir crazy while we wait. And because I’m not going out to shop and buy things every day (which, even though my kids do well shopping, I’m so happy not to be tempted to spend more money because I got bored), I find myself wanting to better myself. I want to exercise and go to the park with my kids. I want  to eat healthier and encourage my kids to do the same. I want to be the best at Overwatch… (Ok, that’s a little bit of a stretch but i find my afternoons are so much less stressful and I can play Overwatch if I want to).

And today, I’m waiting. A new President. New promises. New Congress. I’m waiting because I can do little else. I’m waiting, and praying, and clinging to the Truth of the Cross. He is still in control. He is still on the throne. And despite my fears and uncertainty of what’s going to happen, He still has me.

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Yesterday, I read this verse for the millionth time. I read it and sat and let the truth seep into my deepest being. Before this verse (Exodus 14:14), Israel had a lot of uncertainty as well. They had just been released from captivity but Pharaoh regretted it. He was in hot pursuit. And God told Moses exactly what needed to be done and what to tell his people. God knows our struggles. And He fights for us. We only need to be still.

Shortly after this, Israel crosses the Red Sea, and all of Pharaoh’s horses and men were drowned while the Hebrews crossed on dry land with walls of water beside them. He freed them, as He frees us.

be still.

wait.

He’s got this.

Until next time,
–Karen


Weeds

“You are growing like a weed!” family used to tell me. Twice a year. I never really thought about it at that time, but now I’m a mom, and I start thinking about those things again. By the way, my kids? Totally growing like weeds.

As a kid, our house had three trees in the front yard. Two of them were my brothers’ pine trees because they brought them back from a Carlsbad Caverns school trip. The third was a mimosa tree. It started out as a weed, and then my parents decided to keep it. It was my tree. It’s no longer a weed! It is wanted. I, at last, had a tree. I say at last. I don’t know when they moved it to its home. After all, I was probably a baby. The weed grew up to become a tree.

Now, as a home owner and as a mom, I got to thinking about weeds. There’s a plant under our patio that likes to grow out and block the steps down. I’m pretty sure it was planted there, but to me, it’s a weed. I really want to burn it with fire. Several friends recently have had their third kids (or they are about to, at least). Some of them weren’t expecting it this soon in their family life. Some thought they’d only have their two kids until they found out about kid #3. But the interesting thing? None of these friends don’t want their kids. It’s just not on their timing, but those kids? So very loved.

And then I got to thinking about life because that’s what i do in the wee hours of the day when my son is awake, and my daughter happily is still asleep (or at least happily quiet in her room). Someone in a chat server I occasionally visited called himself “unimportant.” That struck a nerve, that someone wouldn’t feel important, and suddenly I wanted to teleport through electronics to his end of the computer or phone (I’ve been binging season 1 of Supergirl. I essentially want to be Indigo/Brainiac, just not as sadistic), give him a hug, and tell him, you are important you are valuable… you are loved…

Election season is upon us, and it’s tearing our nation further apart with the horrific name calling and blaming of each other. I hate it. I could tell you why I’m voting the way I am, but that’s not important. What’s important is after a tape was released of so called “locker room talk,” women who felt like they had been devalued through no fault of their own, started coming forward, speaking up against said “talk,” telling their stories… Stories of pain, betrayal, hurt, confusion… stories that break my heart. And yet people still shame the victim, asking about impertinent details. This still happens. There have been many moments I’ve wanted to, once again, Brainiac my way through my computer to give these people hugs. I want to remind them of their worth, which is independent of what has happened to them. I want to remind them they are loved. They are not alone.

A large part of my faith is placing my identity not in my flesh and who the world says I am, but in Christ and who the Bible says I am. I am His. I am loved. I have been bought with a very steep price… If I could, I would tell everyone about their worth not being a part of what the world says. “Beauty is fleeting…”

Dear Reader, if you are struggling with feeling loved, please reach out to me. Tell me your story. Know that you are loved just the way you are. You are not a weed to be tossed out, but to be transplanted, nursed, and grown into a beautiful tree.

-Karen