2017 Offers An Invitation to New Things!

Newness

Fresh. Invitational. Possibilities. Wide open doors. Blank canvas.

“I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom – how great is that?” Soledad O’Brien

2017 is fresh before me inviting me to the new possibilities that are just ahead of me. It’s exciting. I am a processor. I want to take in every part of the journey. I want to glean the pearls of wisdom and insight along the way. I want to eat of the bread and then turn around and sprinkle a breadcrumb trail behind me.

From time to time my fears tell me that there is no need for my talents and abilities. I get to choose who I believe. This new year I am walking into for 11 days now is offering newness.

Fresh vision of what can be done with the crumbs gives new life to my thoughts. I am not one to make a new year’s resolution. Yet I do approach each new year both looking back and looking forward. What have I lived through? What have I learned? What lessons can be caught along the way? How can I live them out loud?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be blinded by fear.

I want VISION to be the very thing that beckons me to keep walking down the bright path.

Each of us has a particular part to play in the bigger vision of our world. The decisions we make day by day determine whether or not that part is fulfilled. Do you know that your part is valuable? If I am honest, I know that the part I’ve been given is valuable, but I have lacked the ability to make good decisions at times to make the definitive decisions to move forward one thing at a time.  The decisions are the pillars that hold the vision high. Not for ourselves, but for others to benefit from.

Can we walk into the newness of 2017 together? I would love to hear about your vision!

  • What is the vision you’ve been given?
  • What decisions need to be made in January 2017 in order to affect the next three months?
  • Who can you share the vision & decisions with & ask them to pray with you?
  • Who are the people you can ask to be a part of the decision going forward?

What are you waiting for?

LET’S DO THIS THING!

Visioning WITH you,

                                        Karen 

 

 

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6 Tips for Finishing 2016 Well

Out with the Old I say.

The old has gone, the new is here!

I remember being a new Christian and feeling like the years before I knew Christ were a waste. I was ashamed and certain that my previous living didn’t count for anything positive and life giving. I tend to think in terms of what I have to show for where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing.

I am tempted to have the same attitude as I prepare to say goodbye to 2016. But then these words come to mind:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the old has gone, the new is here {2 Corinthians 5:17}.

Christ came to offer me new life. And it was new! New perspective. New thoughts. New questions. This new perspective was calling me to leave the old behind and embrace the new. It took time to learn how to graciously accept the invitation. As I did, I also began to see that the old that brings us, you and I, into the new. It’s all a part of THE JOURNEY. Everything i have walked through in 2016 has brought me to the moment I am living right now.

So, rather than crossing the old off as useless, I choose to believe there is value in it.

Maybe you’ve had a hard time looking back on this past year and seeing any value. Perhaps you’ve struggled to get your head above water again. Maybe you set goals for yourself and then didn’t meet them.

Let’s look back over 2016 together and set our hearts and minds on these thoughts:

1}Give thanks for the circumstances that brought you to today.

      I give thanks that after a rough two years I was able to begin slowly engaging again in      the things I love.

Writing a blog post here and there is a far cry from not being able to find the words.

2}Believe that what you’ve learned through the ups & downs adds value to the journey.

      I have to believe it. I am a processor. Everything counts.

What I am learning today

will make me better for tomorrow.

3}Note how your perspective has changed through the circumstances of 2016.

     I’ve gained much more hope in this past 364 days. Gaining hope changes vision.

Gaining hope brings peace. Experiencing peace makes room for vision.

4}Celebrate what you’ve gained along the road winding to the end of this year.

      There were times in my period of darkness that I wondered if the light would ever shine again. I wondered, after trying so hard to draw back the curtains & pull the up the shades, if maybe this would forever be my new normal.

The winding road of 2016 took me to the places where the sun shined beautifully through the dense fog and danced through the tree branches inviting me to come and bask.

5}Choose what you wish to carry over to 2017 & continue to focus forward on.

I choose to keep walking, remembering to bask in the Son who has given me the NEW.

I choose to continue following what I believe He has put in my heart to do – to accept the invitation to have a part in – Cultivating Real Relationship with God and with one another.  

6}GO! Focus forward – not backward as you set your sights to what is possible in 2017!

Retreats! Mentor Coaching. Gospel Conversation Coaching. Real Relationship Workshops!

W R I T I N G.

Just to name a few thoughts.

If you share how you’re choosing to finish well I’ll cheer you on from where I sit. Won’t you please take a few minutes to think through and share your thoughts?

Win a PRIZE! 1} Share your response. 2} Share this post on your facebook page.

The 1st person to do both will win this green crossbody clutch. 

The 6th person to do both will win this grey felt reversible shoulder bag. 

I can’t wait to hear how you will choose to finish well!

Whose attractive image do you want to reflect?

Sitting in church on a Sunday morning listening to the message I was stopped by that feeling rising within me. I’m talking with you, my daughter…will you listen?

It’s every little girls dream to have her daddy walk her down the aisle to her waiting fiancé. Right? I’m not alone in this, am I?

photo

Awwww

I know.

You can tell I am his daughter – right? Daddy’s girl.

Same big brown eyes.

Same head full of thick dark hair.

It doesn’t take much to be able to tell I am his daughter. I reflect many of his characteristics.

My dream came true the day he walked me down the aisle to my waiting fiancé.

The picture doesn’t tell the whole story though. What you can’t see from looking at this photo is that he walked out of my life shortly after the courts took us from his home when I was ten years old. He walked out again after walking me down the aisle.

You can’t see that no matter what I desired, he would not pursue me as his daughter. I’m sure he is a good man. But chose not to pursue a relationship with me.

Why wouldn’t he choose relationship with me? 

I asked – when my daughter was 3 months old. I made a trip to ask him to be involved in her life and in mine. He said his priorities had been messed up. Maybe he wanted to – but didn’t seek me out. About three years later I received a call from him but by then I was angry. Heartache is real and grief has a progression of emotions that takes on a life of its own.

Years later in a handwritten, snail mail delivered note I would ask his forgiveness for my anger and the range of emotions I felt towards him over the years. I unexpectedly got a response from him. “Let’s try again.” Of course I want to try again. It’s the longing of my little girl heart & my big girl heart too.

He never followed through with pursuing a relationship with me…his daughter.

A heartache I have carried most of my life.

I wonder if you have carried that same heartache.

Maybe different circumstances than mine – But your heartache has been very real.

3 things that stood our for me as I sat in the chair – absent from the sermon:

1 – God has not left us fatherless. He himself is a Father to the Fatherless. {Psalm 68:5}

2 – God Knew us before He formed us {Psalm 139}

3 – God Chose us {Ephesians 1:4}

As I leaned in to pay attention to the thoughts flowing through my mind, the words came one by one.

Though I have long desired to be loved by the one whose image I clearly reflect, God has not forgotten me. His love and care for me is as real as my desire for a daddy. He knows me and he has not left me alone or without a father. A daddy. It’s one thing to read these words and quite another thing to let them sink into who I am and how I view myself.

My Father. Who knew me. Who is my strong tower. Who is my safe place. He is the one whose image I want to reflect. I want you to look at me and see a glimpse of the reflection of my father, God. Because I know Him, because I’ve spent time with him, because the more I do, the more I reflect His image – without great effort.

I think of  the photo of JFK – his son playing at his feet in the Oval Office. As the son of the president he had access unearned. I think in pictures like this one.

God knew me before He formed me in my mothers womb. He granted me access unearned.

I was already a Daddy’s Girl.

His Girl Not because of anything I did. And He didn’t leave because of anything I did wrong or could have done better. Nothing brings me more peace than this. Nothing helps me settle my anxious heart more than this.

My Dad – I may have his eyes, I may have his hair. But today I can say I reflect something much more beautiful than my earthly Father.

I hope as you look at me you see a glimpse of the resemblance of my Heavenly Father who has loved me since before I took my first breath.

But more than that, if you have faced heartache from not being chosen, from a father walking out of your life, or maybe a father who had stayed but not been present, there is a Holy God who is as close as your breath who made you in His image and longs for you to know just that. I hope as you stand in front of a mirror after reading my words, YOU see in yourself a glimpse of who God is just by the very fact that He created you.

He is your Father. He knows you better than you could ever imagine, your thoughts, your heartaches, your joys, your desires.

And He is pursuing us, you and I. He has and will continue to. He loves you more than you will ever know. Will you sit with these thoughts for a bit to consider whose attractive image you want to reflect?

What’s in a Name?

whats-in-a-name-1It happens most every Wednesday. I climb the steps. Four of them. To find her on the other side of the counter. Only I’ve made the climb so often that she grabs the cup and pen. She know’s my name. Many of them actually.

She puts on her imagination cap when she sees me coming. I never know what it will be. It always ends in ia. Sometimes sounding adventurous, other times nostalgic. But every time creative and thoughtful. Personal.

catherineShe knows my real name. My given name. She values me as I step into her presence. Maybe as a customer. maybe as a human being. Today, she didn’t even ask what I wanted to drink. She, Catherine with a C & an ine, grabbed a cup and pen and made me what she knows I’ve ordered every week since March. It allowed more time for conversation with her, which I love and look forward to. Today as she chose to give me the name Iridia, she explained something having to do with the periodic elements chart. It didn’t have to make sense. I enjoyed every moment. Our conversation turned to the European’s tradition of naming of children. Before we knew it we were in Ireland. The land of both our ancestors. I love getting to know her. 

Does it matter if anyone knows your name?

Does it matter if you take time to know theirs?

I deeply value interaction with other human beings. I think it comes from being known and deeply valued by God. It changed the course of my life. Words of life freely given back and forth between us — they matter. They can kindle a fire within us. To keep going. To not give up. We never know.

When was the last time you noticed your waitress as a person, not just in her role serving you?

When did you ask the cashier at the grocery store her name, which stopped her in her tracks and brought a smile to the middle of her shift?

When was the last time someone noticed you and valued you when you least expected it?

Will you share? I ‘d love to hear.

HIS,  karen

Love Well. Two Words…Simple

img_5024Two words. It should be simple, right?

Love well. Now, go and do it!

A friend presented me with this beautifully framed gift. With it she gifted me her words; you do this well. Gifts like these keep me humble. I don’t always do this well. And to be completely see-through, God is continually showing me where I fail to love well. Impatience. Self-righteousness. Needing to be heard or understood. Did she see some of this too? I believe she has seen glimpses for sure, yet she still values the relationship. And my heart says thank you.

Maybe you’re like me and want to stay in the classroom of learning to love well. If so, listen in to where my thoughts have taken me today.

See, if we are learning to love well, we are probably not even aware of it. To say I love well is itself an arrogant comment. To say I long to love well more accurately casts a humble note over both my posture and my words. It’s impossible for me to accomplish such a task without complete dependency upon and daily surrender to God. He alone enables me to carry out any good thing.

One of my favorite scriptures instructs me on the HOW.

Years ago Jen and I sat across the table from one another contemplating what God was teaching us. I remember so clearly the words she directed me to read. She wanted to learn to love well. These verses were tugging at her heart. She asked me to pray with her that might be able to love this way. The scripture admonishes us to turn from loving in a way that seems natural to us, to a deeply centered, intentional love.

We turned the pages until she showed me, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection,[a] and take delight in honoring each other.” {Romans 12:9-10} NLT

My favorite version speaks even more pointedly, Love deeply from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. {Romans 12:9-10} MSG

A few other versions speak it this way:

Love for others must be sincere {NIV}

Love must be without hypocrisy {HCSB}

Let love be Genuine {ESV}

We tend to think loving well is something that if we try hard enough we will be able to accomplish. We are off the mark. If we are loving well in the truest sense of the phrase, most of the time it’s because we’ve done some hard work of getting ourselves out of the way.

If I say I trust in Jesus, then I am told He lives at the center of who I am. The love I have for others needs to come from the very core of who I am in Christ. For me, this only happens when I trust in His love more than I trust in myself. Jesus literally laid down His life for me. It’s the ultimate of loving me from the core of who He is.

Oh that I might really believe in my every day hours that He loves through me as I lay my life down for others. My dying moments come every day. My self screams for the attention it wants and I have to tell it the truth over and over.

Before I knew Christ, to love well meant worrying about every move I made relationally. My confidence came only from people’s response to me. God would not let it remain that way. He wanted to break old sinful habits in me in order to build new healthy life-giving habits in me. The Builder…He is still at work in me today.

Oh, Lord, how i desire to love this way. Genuine. Honoring others.

I can love you most deeply, only as I draw from the part of me that is sincere, genuine & without hypocrisy. Yet, I wake every single day with a propensity to live in complete opposition to these character traits.

Loving well according to the scriptures isn’t really about me. It’s about you. True hospitality is all about meeting needs of others. Not just those who reciprocate our love, but those who persecute us, those who don’t care for us, or maybe even those who rub us wrong.

Precious One,

Will you join me in continuing to look to these scriptures to equip us to love well? If you leave me a message to pray for you as we learn to love well together – – – I’ll stop and breathe a prayer over you.

                                Karen

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THE FIGHT BACK From the Wall

The window closed. The words stopped coming. At least words that I could share publicly with others. Imagine filling a swimming pool with ping pong balls and trying to submerge all of them at the same time. Arms not long enough or wide enough. Body mass not able to cover the expanse.

Two and a half years ago I stopped writing publicly {mostly} in order to deal with the thoughts that came rushing in when my mother died. The thoughts came from every direction in uncontrollable succession. I didn’t know what to do with them when they came. Most days I couldn’t even catch my breath. I’ve written maybe three times on my blog since then. The winter months left me frustrated and overwhelmed, unable to make syllables come to form words. In private the ink pen was ready. Nothing. I was waiting on God to help. Nothing. I showed up and waited. Longed. Did what I had done before hoping it would flip a switch somewhere in me. Silence. Spiritually I hit a wall. Over and over.

FullSizeRenderI had been patient in the first days, weeks and months of waiting. Waiting for the words. When spring came I would go to my quiet place. The place where the breeze blew through the screens and the sun warmed my skin. The words came bit by bit but stopped as quickly as they came. Just a few at first. A few more the next time. Some days none.

While she was still living it was hard for me to find words with my mother. The words I used and the timing – always wrong. Should be no surprise that the words didn’t come. I felt I had no voice with her. As she left this earth I began to wonder if my ability to find the words left too. Ironic. A writer-friend shared with me that perhaps I might consider uncorking the bottle of wine. Not literally, but figuratively. She wondered if I might be able to just let the words spill out at first in my writing and come back after I’d gotten them out to clean them up.

I wonder if you have ever experienced a time like this in your life? I wonder if maybe you’re there now.

Oh how my heart feels for you. I long to walk with you through this time. To let you see in to where I’ve been. To see where I am today. And to help you find hope and courage to keep fighting. Fighting for life. Fighting for words. Fighting for peace. Fighting to believe God is with you even when you aren’t so sure.

I stepped over each crack in the concrete and rounded the corner. As my eyes lifted I was glancing at this brick wall at this beautiful angle. It pulled me in and reminded me that in much the same way, unexpectedly, I had begun to see beauty again. I was still hitting a wall, but I began to set my sights to give thanks for every circumstance God was allowing me to walk through. Trusting He would work all of it for His good.

As I dare to let my words spill out before you, this messy-real life-writer, please know it is a part of my fight to find my way back. Just showing up. See, I would never have called myself a writer before. I would just share my words and others who knew me well would tell me I was a writer. It’s only as I lost the ability to find the words that I knew what it was to be a writer. A writer with no syllables.

I am a writer. I am back. The cork has been popped. The wine is spilling out and it is messy. This post is the first in my attempt begin to process out loud with you what the fight back has been and still is for me today.

Precious One,
My hope for you today is the same encouragement I received from a dear friend in the middle of the hardest part of the process: O, LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. {Psalm 131}. May you find the rest you need as you hope in the LORD.

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Legacy – Live On Purpose

home-box-sofaI am passionate about investing in others! Maybe you are too.

Living on Purpose & Passing it On. It’s what Legacy from the Leather is all about.

I deeply desire to encourage women to learn how to become authentic in all areas of their lives.

It is my desire to journey with women encouraging & equipping them to be real – struggles and all.

Legacy from the Leather is an extension of Ruth’s Hope that seeks to connect, engage & equip women to cultivate generations of Christ-centered relationship. A place where women of all ages gather and begin to understand their legacy, what they live now, lives far beyond their days on this earth.

It is my hope that Legacy from the Leather  will be a place you will feel comfortable enough to not only drop in, but stay for a while. Read my thoughts from time to time, and feel free to join in, interact and comment on any of my published thoughts so that we may begin a conversation of sorts of authenticity before God and others. It would be great to be able to sit face to face, but this is another format that technology offers us, so let’s take advantage of it.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted on my blog. Since launching my new freshly updated website I’m eagerly anticipating giving in to the creative writer juices flowing within me again. As blog posts speak to your heart I encourage you to let me hear.

Let’s spur one another one to be real women who desire real relationship and run hard after a very real God

Precious one, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

Take a second to sign up to have THE LEATHER delivered to your inbox. {Right hand column}

31 Days – What keeps?

A friend and I were spending some quality girl time together recently. Our conversation led to the topic of authenticity. We really care deeply about the topic. Basically because we really care deeply about relationship.

It seems this is a girl topic not a guy topic.

As women, we tend to guard our emotions carefully. We hold our natural responses close until we know we can trust. Then, perhaps we can let another know us – really know us. Or do we really know ourselves?

I hope to hear from you on today’s post.

What keeps you from being authentic; letting others see you as you really are?

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31 days – Pursuing authenticity – Filters

IMG_0156Some days I am still blinded as I was in my twenties. But if I am careful to remember, there is a filter that helps me to see more clearly.

He {God} knew me before he formed me in my mother’s womb. All of my days were written before one of them came to be. The New Living Translation of the Bible says every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. The one who created me knew my days. Knew my form. {Psalm 139:16}

What’s the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear the word authenticity? Being real? Saying what you really think when someone asks? Letting someone know if you don’t like something? Sharing every thought?

I’ve learned a lot in my years of being refined and sharpened. Here are just a few:

Living a life of authenticity is a response to understanding who I was created to be.

  • It is an expression of who I was formed to be.
  • The expression often has few to no words.
  • At times it includes laughter and joy.
  • And some days the expression reflects sadness and struggle.

It has little to do with me and more to do with God.

How I’m wired determines how I may express myself in any number of circumstances.

God’s love for me is so real that he sent his son Jesus to die for me. My greatest and most real presentation of myself is rooted and grounded in this.

I am learning every day about living and loving others by filtering all things {when I remember} through these questions:

Who is God in relation to who I am?

Who does God say that I am?

Am I living out of the answer to these questions or am I still trying on hats that belong to other people?

DEAR READER,

What’s your filter in your pursuit of authenticity?

 

 

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Days upon days – Let’s define it

DockDays upon days – missed!

Best laid plans of mice and men – right? Sign up for a 31 day writing challenge and then leave on day two for a women’s retreat. Without having your drafts set to post while you are away. Not a great start. I’ve got just enough audacity, though, to keep pressing on.

What does it mean to be authentic anyway? Not false or copied; genuine; real.

I don’t know about you, but there were years in my twenties I tried on personality qualities of those around me. I respected them. It’s not that I wanted to steal from them. I just didn’t have a clue who I was. As women often do, I compared myself to women around me and knew I fell short in most areas of my life. Grasping at straws to have some kind of identity, I tried on different hats waiting for one to fit just right. They never quite did.

Perhaps that’s part of why I’m so passionate about authenticity. My journey to understanding authenticity is a journey I would not trade for anything. You see, my first taste of what it meant to be the real me came at nineteen. I had no idea what to do with it. I came face to face with the reality of just how lost I was. At eighteen I was pregnant and scared to death.

I felt alone, overwhelmed and confused about what to do. I had options, they said. Numb and terrified I researched those options. One cold silent step at a time I walked the halls in search of the answer. A young fatherless woman in search of wisdom that would direct me, I cried out in my numbness to God I wasn’t sure existed. If you are real, will you show me what to do. I need to know. The days passed in slow motion until before I knew it these twenty-four hours periods passed into weeks. Just a few weeks after the research began I made the decision to keep the baby. I couldn’t make sense of any of it. How would I do it? How would I parent and provide for this child who would be dependent upon me for everything. Everything? In a moment I made a decision I would give anything to go back in time and change. Before I knew it I was home in the solitude of my bedroom with darkness surrounding me. Just the way I wanted it. Deserved it to be. How could I have chosen to take the life of my unborn child? Nothing made sense to me except the shame I felt.

Yet, this is the very beginning of truly understanding the real me. The reality of what my fear would drive me to choose was something I could not run from or ignore.

As I sought to understand how to be beautiful like Leigh and Debbie and how to carry myself like they did with such confidence and joy, I followed them to a bible study we were invited to. Now you have to understand, the bible was not something I grew up with. Turning the pages week after week revealed things I had never heard before. With increasing guilt and feeling dirty and ashamed I showed up on the doorstep ready for more. Something was enticing me to return.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. Proverbs 9:10. (KJV)

The day I began to understand myself in light of this truth is the day my credible search for who I was took root in something (someone) other than those around me.

The day I understood I was created by God and meant to acknowledge my need for him was the first time I tasted peace in the search for the authentic me. The pieces were not all accounted for and appropriately placed on the roadmap to finding my identity, but meeting the Creator of the universe and understanding that he knew each of my days before one of them came to be was the stake in the ground I would come back to over and over through my lifetime. You see, it is the one thing that changed the course of my life.

How can we, you and I, live with audacious authenticity unless we draw from the one who knows us best?

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