There is Beauty in the Rain

There is beauty in the rain.

Flowers need rain or they wilt. But if they receive rain and still wilt, that’s when you know there are problems. No one ever accused me of having a green thumb. When my sister sent me an herb garden starter kit, I got nervous. Has she met me? And while the herb garden seems to be coming along, here is the current state of my outdoor ‘flowers’.

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Pretty bad, huh? They are supposed to look like this:

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Well, minus the dog… and this:

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Irises, my favorite flower in the whole world. Poor irises. They never even had a chance.

These particular iris bulbs came from my parents’ house in Pennsylvania. They have never once bloomed since my parents brought them to me. They always grow leaves, but never flowers, and then eventually they get too much sun or too much water and just die because I don’t take care of them.

It’s not difficult to see why these poor flowers have likely met their final resting place. Perhaps they are just old and tired from blooming year after year in the same soil. Then, some homewrecker digs them up and tries to re-plant them in completely different soil and these poor souls just say, ‘that’s it, I’m done. I’ll give you leaves but you took me away from my home so I just can’t bloom anymore.’ Apparently in my mind, flowers can talk. Moving on.

Or perhaps I’ve tried to cram these beauties into a pot that is too small to contain their roots. Maybe they are unable to grow deep enough due to small space or improper soil. Maybe I’m choking the roots because the HOA frowns on planting flowers in the actual ground. Silly HOA.

There’s also the likelihood that the scorching Tennessee sun is just too much for these flowers, since I never move them out of the heat during long periods of no rain. I do water them occasionally but the damage may already be done.

Or maybe when the rains do come, these cheap-o pots do not have the proper drainage to keep them from dying. I’m certain that’s what happened to the impatiens. After days of sun, the rains finally came but by the time I realized what was happening, the flowers had drowned. I’m terrible at this whole gardening thing.

I got tired of blooming once. Year after year I had the same routine. I love routines. I was very good at what I was doing and I thought that was enough. But after years of stifling some of my God-given gifts under a whole lot of comfortable busy-ness, I forgot to bloom. I lost my good soil because I only occasionally read the Bible and often prayed one-liners before getting distracted. Little did I know the soil was eroding around me. Before I knew it I had taken my bulb away from its home. I had taken myself away from God. To be completely honest, I didn’t even know I was doing it. If you had asked me during that time how my relationship with God was, I would have told you it was fine, but I had no idea how beautiful a blooming relationship could actually be, and how much I had to lose in order to gain it. I had also shoved myself into a neat and tidy little ‘pot’ with no room to grow. Boy did I love it there. So safe, so comfy. Those were the days. I completely shut out any possibility of a bigger plan for my life, one that would stretch my roots further into the soil of God’s grace and allow me to reach to the sun in the glory of his mercy. I had no idea what I was missing in that safe little box. Life felt really, really good. The sun was shining on my home, my career, and my relationships. But I had no idea just how scorched I was becoming.

And then one day the rains came. They poured. A hurricane came and brought with it a flood. What little good soil that was left around me washed away. My tiny, safe pot broke open. I was drowning. My lack-luster relationship with God had been scorched and then broken under the weight of the downpour.

But you know what? Those iris bulbs can bloom again. If I get them a bigger pot with some better soil or if I take them back to their proper home, they can thrive. And I can thrive too. God had to drown me before I realized I needed to re-plant myself. I needed the proper soil – his Word and his presence. I needed to sink my roots back into my Home.

Now I am striving to take care of myself Spiritually, spending time with my God, searching for his beauty even when it’s difficult to find. I thirst for him now, and maybe when the rains come I will be able to accept them instead of drowning in them. He tends to me, making sure my roots are growing strong and my leaves are still bright and that I’m getting just enough rain to keep me growing. I cannot wait to see how I will bloom.

Lord, Send Your Rain.

You may listen to the song God gave me here.

The rain came down from Heaven today
Bringing new life to the ground
The flowers grew as the storm clouds passed
And the rain came pouring down

Lord, send your rain
I know you stay the same
But I will grow in beauty and grace
If you send me your rain

The storms you send can seem so loud
As your voice thunders over the wind
With fear and trembling I come to the One
Who will never flood again

Lord, send your rain
I know you stay the same
But I will grow in beauty and grace
If you send me your rain

Remind me of your truth
With a rainbow or two
Show me how you're growing me
When you send me your rain

Lord, send your rain
I know you stay the same
But I will grow in beauty and grace
If you send me your rain.

 

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He will Show You a New Beauty

I saw the strangest thing yesterday. I was at my favorite park where I love to walk or just sit and enjoy the incredible view of the mountains. The mountains are some of my favorite things about living here.  I have always loved just staring at them, basking in the glory of God’s creation, and imagining his hands forming them. This quote from the series, Christy, describes my feelings about the mountains perfectly:

"The great Smokies. Nothing in my life had prepared me for the wonder of those mountains. Smoke blue and serene folded one behind the other. I counted eleven ranges rising up toward the vault of the sky. I didn't realize it then but from the very first moment I saw them the mountains were a source of peace and strength to me, always there to quiet my mind and satisfy my heart."

Yep, I get chills every time I watch that part. I’m not ashamed to say that a huge reason I moved back to TN was because I couldn’t imagine not being able to look at these mountains every day. One day I will have a house that overlooks the mountains… perhaps in my dreams.

But back to the strange thing I saw yesterday. There is a particular gazebo with a bench that has the best view of the mountains at the park. After my walk I love to sit there and talk to God or just admire the incredible beauty. But yesterday there were two people sitting in that gazebo, which is fine. Everyone deserves to sit there. It’s not just MY place. However, these two people were facing AWAY from the mountains. I could not get over such a travesty! HOW could they be in the presence of something so inexplicably beautiful and be looking in the opposite direction?! Just to drive my point home, I took a picture. This, my friends, is the view they were ignoring.

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I thought, if they are going to occupy the prime spot at the park, the least they could do is stare at the beauty. For real. I still can’t get my mind wrapped around it.

But then, as usual, God always teaches me a lesson. I almost immediately thought about how often I look away from the beauty of God. When circumstances were still pretty good, I think I just got used to seeing the same view every day, the same beauty in my life. So, I kind of forgot to bask in the glory. It’s sort of like driving past the same mountain view every day. Eventually, you might not notice it so much. Then, when circumstances got really bad, I focused on the past and wondered why God had taken me away from the beauty.

I was reminded of the Israelites in the desert. God brought them out of slavery in Egypt and gave them manna to eat, but once they got tired of the manna, they complained that God took them out of Egypt. They remembered the good food they ate in Egypt and forgot that God had just freed them from slavery! They focused on the past instead of finding the beauty in their new situation. They said in Exodus 16:3 – “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death(NIV). Talk about ungrateful!

During my period of darkness, I pretty much refused to look for the beauty in my circumstances. I thought something so painful could not contain any blessing at all. It’s like God was standing there waving his arms and saying, “Over here! Look! I’ve done all this for you!”, and I just kept looking at the ground and sulking. What a waste of time and fellowship I could have had with the God of the universe, if only I would have been paying attention.

I remained focused for a long time on the past, when things were what I considered ‘good’. I stood facing the past, which had all grown dim in the horror of my present circumstances, and screamed at God, “Why?! Why have you brought me here to this ugly place? How could this be anything but a terrible gift for your child? A father is supposed to know how to give good gifts, and this is anything but good!” And the whole time he was whispering to me,

“My precious child, all you have to do is turn around. I can show you a new beauty, one you have never seen before. It is my gift to you, if you will only turn and look at me.”

My friends, I never, EVER want to face away from my God again. I want to bask in the beauty of his presence! I don’t want him to look at me, like I looked at those people in the gazebo, and think, “If only she would just turn around. I’ve made this gift just for her.” I pray that no matter what painful circumstances we find ourselves in, that we will be able to see the incredible beauty as we turn toward God.

Love to you,

~Karina

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Facing My Giant – I Invite You to Join Me

I have a lot of giants in my life. But most boil down to just one:

FEAR.

I have always been afraid of uncertainty, uselessness, and change. Ask anyone who used to work with me. I LOVE rules. For real. Who loves rules?! I just like things to be neat, tidy, and very predictable, and I like to know exactly what I am doing and how to do it. It makes me feel safe. But I’m pretty sure feeling safe is not the life to which God calls us.

It seems that whenever there is a certain theme in the multiple avenues I’ve been reading and studying, that is a sure sign that God is trying to reach me. I am following along with Jennie Allen’s Daniel study and it is amazing. You should check it out on her Facebook page. One of the things she said during the first part of the study was that to be the people through which God chooses to display his power, we must choose holiness over comfort. And her very first study question was, “what convictions have you been ignoring?” Good grief, why don’t we start with something easier? Oh wait, that’s not how God works. God wants holiness and faith over ease and fear.

I’ve shared before that since my illness and not having a job, I have felt useless, purposeless, lost, and paralyzed by fear of the unknown. God has been slowly teaching my stubborn soul to see each moment as a gift from him, and a new opportunity to see him working in the challenges. I definitely spend much more time with him now, seeking his guidance. He has led me to re-discover ignored passions like writing and song-writing. He is so much more a part of my life than he was even just a year ago.

I’ve been torn for such a long time between focusing on what it takes to ‘make it’ in this world and what God wants me to do instead. I’ve felt such a call on my life recently but I have largely ignored it. I keep thinking I don’t have the knowledge, the skill, the technology, or the right heart to do this. And what if no one listens or cares? Excuse after excuse. I felt like Moses, whose excuse was, “but I can’t speak well.” I felt like Gideon, whose excuse was, “but I am the least of my family.” Would God really choose me? I thought of David, who followed God’s call to defeat a huge giant when he himself was only a little bit of a thing!

For so many years I have ignored God-given opportunities because I was too busy and too focused on the life I was building for myself. Now I am ignoring them because I am too sick, too angry, too broke, and too lost. I may have earned an extra hand squeeze from Jason when one of my recent dinner prayers sounded a little like, “Give us a freakin’ break, please!” I thought, THIS is the girl God is going to use? Really?! God is going to call someone who is in the midst of turmoil, doubt, and fear? And the answer is so clear.

OF COURSE HE IS.

Fearful, inadequate people are exactly the type of people God uses. Because it’s not about the person at all. It’s about God working in the lowest of the low, to accomplish HIS purpose and not ours.

I’m struck by how similar my own response has been to Gideon’s:

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." 
"But sir," Gideon replied, "if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, 'Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian." The Lord turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?" - Judges 6:12-14 (NIV)

That. Is. So. Me. God, if you are with us, why has all this happened to us? In all Gideon’s “why, God?” questions, I find it so interesting that God doesn’t respond with a reason. Instead, he simply tells him to go in the strength he has to accomplish God’s will. Like me, I’m sure Gideon got a little ironic chuckle out of God attaching the word “strength” to him. He said he was the weakest in his clan and the least in his family. There are many days that I have thought I cannot possibly have an ounce of strength left in me. But it’s not our strength that God is after, it’s his. To ‘go in the strength I have’ means to go in the strength God gives me.

God is usually patient with me when I need clear confirmation and he graciously gave it to me. I had posted a song in a Christian Songwriters group. From there, someone found my music page and then stumbled upon my blog. He sent me a message about his own struggles with illness and said that he and his wife really needed to hear the words of one of my posts. God used me to touch someone I don’t even know. I shared it with my husband, along with an instantaneous excuse (my habit, I guess). I asked him if I should really be focusing time and energy on something that will not earn an income. Here I go again with the worries of this world! He, in all his wisdom said, “I think you already know the answer to that question.”

So, while God has not called me to lead an army or lead people out of captivity, he has called me to defeat the biggest giant in my life = FEAR. Although I fear the unpredictable unknown, I absolutely know God will have an impact, small or large, even if it is just on me! It doesn’t matter to me, as long as it is about him. I must become less so he can become greater (John 3:30).

As of right now, we launch Beautiful Rubble Ministries. I have no idea what it will look like in the future but for now I am in this writing thing for the long haul. I will continue to write and share what God gives me through this blog and through the songs he gives me. The “Next Big Thing” he has called me to is an online support group of sorts called Beauty in the Rubble. It will be a safe place for those who are experiencing illness, pain, or other life struggles to share in each others’ lives. It will be a place to share how God is building up beauty from our brokenness. If you or someone you love is experiencing struggles or brokenness, please join us at Beauty in the Rubble. If I can figure out how to put all of this together on the website, it will make more sense, but for now I’m taking the leap and knowing things will fall into place as we go along!

Through whatever direction God takes this ministry, I long to allow him to use me to help others through their dark places. God, speak and act through me, a flawed, fearful lover of rules and predictability. A broken person climbing out of the rubble of her life, into your life. Guide us through the dark places and show us beauty in the rubble.

Amen.

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