God longs for us to come to know Him in a fashion that moves us way beyond what passes for ‘normal’ Christianity into a deep relationship of love.
Posted 6/8/16 at 12:24 PM | Karen Woodall
This week’s news has been dotted with stories covering the life and career of former Heavy Weight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali who passed away last Friday from protracted health issues. Arguably the first of a vanguard of flamboyant ‘trash talking’ athletes, Ali was known for taunting his opponents openly both inside and outside the ring, boldly declaring himself to be “the Greatest of All Time.” And, you know, he was right… for a while.
But that was a long time ago, and as he learned, (and the rest of us will learn if we live long enough,) time has a way of stealing away things in which we once took great pride and satisfaction. Oh, these things don’t have to be limited to athletics. They can be beauty, intellect, dexterity, imagination, creativity, or a host of other things. Even for those who are skilled and fortunate enough to somehow against all odds reach the pinnacle of their career, and to ride the fading wave of fame and fortune while garnering the admiration of millions, they all soon find out that being “the greatest” just isn’t that great anymore. FULL POST
Posted 7/22/15 at 12:59 PM | Karen Woodall
Did you see the recent story about Kim, the college girl who spent nearly her entire $90,000 college fund in 3 short years? While she did use a chunk of it on her first years of school, the remainder, which would have been more than enough to get her through the last year of a fairly expensive education completely debt-free, was spent on clothes, non-essentials and an indulgent European vacation for herself. In an interview on a call-in radio program, the junior bemoaned her predicament and had no viable plan for how she would be able to pay the tuition for her the remaining two semesters. To be honest, the whole situation was so ridiculous it was hard to not laugh out loud.
But really, the most painful part of the whole pitiful story was that instead of taking ownership of her poor decisions, she blamed her parents for not instructing her properly in how to budget and was angry at them for not being willing to bail her out by dipping into their retirement fund! (Listen to the interviews here) While It’s possible that they failed to give her wise counsel about how to use her college fund, seeing that they managed their money well enough to have a retirement account, the more likely scenario is that their daughter simply chose not to listen. After all, saving and budgeting is much less FUN than staying in B&B’s as you tour the European countryside! FULL POST
Posted 7/8/15 at 10:40 AM | Karen Woodall
Recently I read the testimony of Rosaria Champagne Butterfield who was once vehemently opposed to Christianity. As a self-described happy and content leftist, liberal, post-modernist, she pronounced those who followed Jesus as worthy only of “pity” and “wrath.” She sought neither a personal understanding of faith in God nor any interaction with His followers. That was until she published a forthright article denouncing Christianity and in response, received a “kind and inquiring letter” from a pastor who politely caused her to re-evaluate her long-held presuppositions and ask herself some honest questions. The ensuing discourse that lasted over two years proved that this pastor neither feared her lifestyle nor hid his commitment to the truth. Her friendship with him and his family eventually smoothed the way for her to experience and know Jesus for herself. Instead of simply inviting her to church, she described his actions as “bringing the church to me, a heathen.” (Read her whole story here) FULL POST
Posted 6/30/15 at 10:26 AM | Karen Woodall
Listen to the news on just about any given day, and you’ll most likely hear another disturbing story of some kind. Violence, riots and lawlessness both domestically and abroad seem to be unrestrained while assaults on long-held values and godliness are unrelenting and even publicly praised. It’s as if traditional thought, reason, and decency between people seems to have suddenly evaporated as wickedness and open rebellion push relentlessly forward at an alarming rate. It’s impossible to make sense of a world that appears intent on declaring good to be evil and lauding evil as good.
As our country prepares to celebrate its Independence Day, I’d like to take a minute to juxtapose today’s trends with the Old Testament story of Job. As I read the first couple of chapters, I can’t help but see a possible parallel that might benefit and challenge faithful believers today.
The biblical account of this righteous man gives us a unique audience into the heavenly realms by allowing us to be a ‘fly on the wall’ to listen in on a discussion between God and Satan. FULL POST
Posted 6/3/15 at 10:07 AM | Karen Woodall
The boys in my house are headed out of the country soon for a lengthy canoeing trek up through the lake county of Canada. In preparing for this trip, Clif has gotten a crash course in how international travel has changed since the last time he visited our northern border a couple of decades ago. It used to be as easy as boarding a plane on the international concourse. No passport. No customs. No hoops to jump through at all. But 9/11 and the continuing threat of terrorism changed all that. Now, you have to have proper documentation anytime you cross the US border for any reason.
So the last few months, we’ve spent copious amounts of time filling out forms, filing papers, mailing this and that to here and there so we’d be sure that authorities have all the right documents to prove everyone is indeed an American citizen.
The other day I was putting away their official documents for safe keeping and as I was sorting through the stack, I stopped to for a few minutes to look at my kid’s birth certificates. I only intended to pause long enough to jog a few memories, but as I reviewed them, it occurred to me that there was one glaring omission on the documents! And not just on ours, but on all birth documents. FULL POST
Posted 5/27/15 at 11:27 AM | Karen Woodall
The college semester is over and my oldest son spent the weekend emptying his backpack of textbooks and school supplies and reloading it (and several other containers) with an odd collection of camping, hiking and outdoor equipment to head off for three months for his second year as a counselor at a local scout camp. Never being one to plan very far ahead, the lion’s share of materials were gathered the night before he had to leave.
As you might imagine after the requisite scramble to pull everything together, there was quite a mess left behind after he was gone. So the next day, I headed to his room with the intention of just folding up a some of the clothes that were left on the floor and making his bed. But what I found was that, the entire area was a complete disaster! (see picture above!!) In fairness, he shares a room with his brother so it’s not all his mess! What I thought would just take a few minutes of tidying quickly ballooned into a full-on, top-to-bottom purging. FULL POST
Posted 5/13/15 at 3:02 PM | Karen Woodall
As I begin to put away class materials (for awhile), I also close the book on my seventeenth year of homeschooling.
It boggles my mind! (Has it really been that long?) As I survey the years, I can't help but sometimes wonder how exactly I came to be here, especially since I never really planned to homeschool my kids in the first place. As I recall, it was really my husband’s idea. I went along with the plan since, at the time, I was pretty sure I could at least teach kindergarten! Little did I know back then that I’d graduate two kids from high school and still be plugging along all these years later. FULL POST
Posted 5/6/15 at 1:16 PM | Karen Woodall
I once heard a pastor say that close to 90% of all the answers pertaining to what God wants you to do can be found by consulting the Bible. I wholeheartedly believe that most of our anxieties about God’s will can largely be relieved by studying the scripture and following through on its guidance. Now I know that it’s not always easy, simple, or convenient to obey, but figuring out what He says isn’t as complicated as a lot of people make it out to be. (See more on How to Find Answers) But even though it’s not usually complex or mystical, there are definitely those times when the Lord isn’t as forthcoming with specifics as we’d like… but I’ve discovered that not knowing isn’t always a bad thing. Here’s why… FULL POST
Posted 4/22/15 at 9:55 AM | Karen Woodall
When I was in in junior high, I had a teacher who would rarely answer our questions… at least, not right away. Most of the time, he would instruct us to search for the solutions first and come back if we were uncertain about what we found.
Since this was long before the internet and a google search, we’d have to drag out our textbook or trudge over to the library to look up something in the (what were they called...) encyclopedia. Or even worse, some obscure reference source that we had to find in the card catalog! And if we asked for the spelling of a word, he would predictably say “look it up in the dictionary.” And of course some naive student would say … “How can I look it up if I don’t know how to spell it?” to which he'd respond, “You know the letter it begins with…right? Start there.”
As frustrating as that was when I was in school, I can now, clearly see the wisdom of his practice. Instead of just handing out an answer we might quickly forget (which would have been much easier for him), he was patiently leading us in a learning exercise in how to use available tools to find the answers for ourselves. FULL POST
Posted 4/15/15 at 9:39 AM | Karen Woodall
You know how sometimes there is something so irritating that you simply can’t focus past it? Well, my personal universe definitely has a center this week. I have a bad case of poison ivy all over my face. (I’ll spare you the pictures!)
Unfortunately, when I was a little kid, I got an extremely high concentration exposure to it late one fall when my cousin and I decided to make ‘natural’ bracelets and headbands from dormant vines we found growing on trees in the woods. I was sick, sick, sick! Ever since then, my reaction to the cursed stuff has been what you might classify as just this side of extreme.
Knowing my vulnerability, my mom made it a priority to teach me to identify and avoid the those clusters of shiny leaves that continue to thrive all around our old house in North Carolina. I can still her say, “Leaves of three; Leave it be!” as I raced out the door on some grand adventure. FULL POST