The Coin: A parable

August 28, 2014

I heard this story once.


There once was a young man who struggled to know his worth. He lived in inner turmoil, racked by his guilt for things he had done and things he had left undone. He simply could not accept that he was loved and cared for given all that he felt he had been in the past.

One day, not so long ago, he was out walking, head down, heart torn. As he walked along, he wondered, perhaps even prayed, “How could anyone want someone like me? How could I ever be worth something to God, to someone else?”

In that moment, his eyes aching to cry, he spotted an old, dirty coin on the ground in front of him. It was caked with the blackness of the road and grime of fingerprints and all the gunk that finds its way to coins. Someone had dropped it. Left it. Had not wanted it.

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Solitude and God

August 24, 2014

Seven years ago, this month, we moved here. We moved here eager and ready for a new thing. We moved here hopeful and excited about possibility. We moved here scared and anxious for God to use us in whatever way he wanted. This place was not our first place we wanted to live. It wasn’t even on the list, to be honest. But looking back over the way God called us out here for the millionth time, I know beyond a doubt that we were supposed to be here.

I just don’t know the why. Why we had to be here.

Had I known 7 years ago that we were moving out to eventually be thrust into a spiritual wasteland, I’m pretty sure I would have stayed with my congregation in Illinois, living in their beautiful parsonage, preaching each Sunday and worrying about the budget and the souls belonging to the beautiful faces that I saw each week. If I had known, I would have never said yes. I suppose it’s a good thing I didn’t know then, isn’t it?

But as I said, looking back, no matter how many times I’ve questioned it, it is clear that God moved us here. He wanted us here.

I don’t pretend to understand God. Ask anyone who knows me well. I don’t pretend to get him and quite frankly, sometimes I find his mysterious nature downright annoying! I have no problems telling him that regularly. I imagine he just throws his cosmic hands in the air (does God have cosmic hands?) and laughs warmly at me and says, “Oh, Karen, what will I do with you?” Good thing he loves us so much, right? A woman at a church I preach at regularly said to me last Sunday, “We love you because you aren’t afraid to show us your warts when it comes to your relationship with God.” I said, “Those aren’t warts, those are real conversations!” Read the rest of this entry »

When a Dream Matters

August 23, 2014

I have never been very good at baring my soul and asking for prayer. I don’t know that it’s pride as much as it’s fear, along an incredibly powerful ability to minimize my needs in light of what others are suffering. Sometimes it’s my education that gets in the way too. But mostly, I think it’s fear. Fear of opening myself up to being someone who desperately needs the faithful prayers of others. And a (not so) little touch of introversion thrown in as well.

I do pray for myself. I pray for the people in my life. I pray for my family. But asking for prayer… tough for me. And I know that I’m not the only one, because I’ve met many people like me. We sit back and sometimes roll our eyes at the consistent prayers of others asking for a community to lift them up in these matters, but deep inside we ache for the ability to bare our souls so powerfully. But when we bare our souls we then must welcome the outpouring of love and grace often given to us and that can be just as hard to receive. Or we fear, wrongly, that people will laugh at our pain or slap their trite answers on top of which hurts more than our silence.

And so we suffer in silence, throwing our desperate prayers around an empty room, throbbing in our hearts to just have someone- just one person- read our minds. And it rarely happens that way.  Read the rest of this entry »

I just picked up fresh organic eggs from a woman who was a stranger to me before this summer began. She is young and beautiful and a mama to a few young children. And every week, her mother brings eggs to her to give to me. I have yet to meet her mother, but I have spoken to her on the phone. This mother and daughter duo is so interested in you. They ask about you. They pray for you.

And there are my gym friends. Many of them are thinking of you and ask about you regularly. They have never met you and yet when they hug me in support, I know they are hugging you too.

And then there’s the church up north, one of the several I get to preach at regularly. This little church has faced significant struggles and I have been honored to walk with them through those struggles. On Sunday, they put me in tears when I opened an envelope and a check shook its way out- their small contribution to the mounting bills that are all stamped “Your Recovery.”  Read the rest of this entry »

In between therapy sessions for my son and the long driving that accompanies them, I have been watching the outpouring of reactions to the news of Robin Williams death, by suicide. Most have been heartfelt, sad, and filled with regret for a man who endeared himself to so many with laughter and joy, yet struggled so greatly to find hope for his own life.

Sadly, a few responses have been less than generous and kind, including some from the Christian community. I was especially appalled at a popular blogger, claiming the same faith as me, who decided Robin Williams simply needed to choose a little more joy and all would be well. A facebook friend claimed he had wasted his life and compared his death to another woman’s fight to live with her physical illness (she later had the integrity and courage to apologize). Still another made the audacious proclamation about his eternal destination, comparing his life to the nihilistic ending of one of his movies in which he played a teacher in a boys’ school.

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