Daily Archives: May 19, 2012

Just the Facts


Dear Friends,

Many of you have been kind enough to walk with me and Doug over the last year or so, as God has begun to lead our family to move to Clarkston.  For a while now, I’ve been wanting to have a place where I can chronicle our journey and share it with those who want to know more.  This blog is my attempt to bring others along with us.

A few things to note…

I’ve tried to tell our story under the “Clarkston” tab of http://www.lovethestranger.com.  It’s a meandering one, and one that has barely begun to be written, but hopefully I’ve given some of the context of our last couple of years of involvement with refugees in that community.

Some of you have asked how you can pray or how you can serve.  I’ve listed our current prayer needs under the “About” tab, and I’ve listed Ongoing Opportunities that I am aware of under the “Clarkston” tab. I plan to update those two places as we have new needs or ways to serve.

This blog is our family’s Clarkston story, but it’s also (necessarily) the story of my own struggle with what it looks like to have a faith walk that goes to scary places and that confronts the question of the gospel in new ways.  Hopefully the ponderings of my heart will be an encouragement to you in your own journey of faith.

The Sign. Gulp.

As of Monday, the house is For Sale and we’re standing on the diving board, waiting to jump.

I’d be pleased for you, my friend, to take note of the messiness of the splash and be available to do CPR if it becomes necessary.

– Karen




Sign’s in the Yard


Earlier this week, the sign went up in the yard.  Up until now, there have been a lot of scary things about our move to Clarkston, but this one has topped it all. It’s not so much scary due to the physical part of the move, or even the adjustment part of the move. It’s scary in a way that I’ll call the “backpack” way.

I’ve gotten to the bottom of my backpack of coping mechanisms (the contents are few: control, persistence, performance, humor, and People Magazine).  Having thrown out control a few weeks back and having let my subscription to People expire, I’m left with only a few ways to cope.  None of them is very promising.  Humor helps, but I’m finding that humor is too close to cynicism, which can border on bitterness, and that’s no good.  Persistence is important, but I’m not sure that going to Clarkston running on pure resolution is going to be very helpful in my relationships – old or new.  So, that leaves my very favorite old standby: performance.

I hate it.  It’s the auto pilot setting of my life.  It’s nasty in its ability to generate pride and fear simultaneously.  When it fails, it generates shame and depression.

The reason I’m so bummed that performance is still in my backpack has to do with my heart’s desire for our move to Clarkston.

You see, I don’t want it to be about me.  (I don’t even mean that in a humble sense right here.)  I mean I don’t want the me part to get in the way of the God part.  I don’t want my performance-self to kick in stronger and harder in a place that will only, only, only be redemptive and sweet if the grace of Jesus is the illuminating, energy generating force behind what we are doing.  In my wildest spiritual dreams, freedom would be losing the backpack altogether and finding that the gospel grace of Christ makes carrying a backpack totally unnecessary.  “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake shall find it.” Matthew 16:25

When performance reigns, I go to bed at night measuring myself against the standard of the day, and then congratulating (cross averted) or crucifying myself.  This process yields pride or shame.  This belief that I’ll write the rules, measure myself against them, and then judge myself and pronounce a verdict is all a sinner’s attempt to circumvent God’s love, to get around the two most important words of faith: surrender and trust.  I think, too, that performance is my way of validating myself so that I won’t have to believe that God really loves me THAT much.  It’s a little like the old Rich Mullins song that says,

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy

I cannot find in my own

And it keeps His fire burning

To melt this heart of stone

Keeps me aching with a yearning

Keeps me glad to have been caught

In the reckless raging fury that they call the love of God.”

This morning, I took performance-girl to the real cross.  The one that matters.  She has been around my whole life, but I don’t think that I ever recognized that she needed to die in order for Jesus to live.  Call me dense, but I’m really not sure I’ve ever seen how prideful she is until just today.  I think I thought she was just a good mix of Sunday School and stewardship. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for being the author of furious love that melts stone hearts. When echoes of performance ring in my ears, please remind me that she’s been swept away by the reckless, raging love of Jesus.