Kara’s Collection: Known, Truly Known

from an article originally posted October 31, 2014…

I was kept awake last night from the pain that radiates in my bones. I have the proper pills to help me in my pain, but I simply tire of them. I woke this morning tired and grouchy. I have not left my bed. My oldest has entered the bed beside me, my guy is doing work in the chair next to the bed, and I have been slowly reading through Galatians this morning. It has done my heart great good. It has refreshed me. I love the direct and shaking words of Paul. They have shaken me from my selfish and self-focused thinking. They have lifted my face this morning. Let me share the verse that is loving my heart this morning.

But now you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slave you want to be once more?
— Galatians 4:9

Paul goes on to beg them not to forget Jesus, His abounding love, His sacrifice. He begs them not to return to their former living. But what I love in this verse is where Paul says, rather to be known by God. To be known is to be met specifically. And in the words of Galatians, I hear the sweet admonition of the Spirit that begs me to remember truth, to stop looking to myself, but to look at Jesus. Oh, there are days I need shaking. Days I need the gentle words of Scripture, and days I need the in-your-face, remember-truth words of Scripture.

Next week is another scary snort (PET scan), next week is another treatment, next week there is grace. I believe it is already there. Next week the report will be read if this battle is being won, if this aggressive treatment is working, or if we need to change our game plan. But next week, I am also called to remember truth, to receive the story that is given, and to trust, to trust, to trust Jesus with my moments. I fight to open my hands. I struggle to receive the hard, but I am known. I am intimately known. And in that knownness I find great peace. God is not overwhelmed when I pour, and pour, and pour out my weary to him.

Today marks the end of October. We will move our fire pit to our front yard. We will meet new neighbors, we will enjoy the delights of our community tonight. We will place seats around our fire and hope to capture some of the lives of those in our community and neighborhood. Tonight also ends the first month of my book being published. What a wild and amazing ride it has been. You all have shared my story, looked for grace, loved and encouraged my heart as you have read our story. You have met your loves in looking for grace and living in kindness. You have given my book to friends, shared it with the brokenhearted in your life, and loved me with your amazing feedback. I am thankful. I am humbled. I am awed at the ways Jesus is using the sharing of my heart to open doors into your hearts. Thank you for buying The Hardest Peace. Thank you for writing such gracious and beautiful reviews of the book. Thank you for sharing my journey with those in your life. It has been such a privilege to hear and meet so many of you. Thank you. October has been a beautiful and amazing whirlwind.

I pray tonight you have the opportunity to love and meet your neighborhood. I pray you get to smile in the young faces that come to your door and radiate the beauty you know in Jesus. I pray as you meet your neighbors and love them with your brand of beautiful Big LOVE. I hope to meet and warm a few new faces by my fire tonight. Some of you darken your doors on this day. The freedom we are given in Jesus is to do that or to open wide our doors and meet the faces that come tromping to our door. There is liberty for us all—I do not wish to start a debate on this issue. Simply tell you that tonight, the fire pit is moving from the back yard to the front yard, and the Holy Spirit in my soul will be meeting the faces that enter the warmth of my fire with the known grace I enjoy today... Even when today is hard. I am known, and I hope to share that knowing, loving, pursing Jesus with another today. Jason is on daddy duty walking the neighborhood, then he will join me by the fire in sharing the real warmth we know in Jesus and kindness simply by being a good neighbor.

Kara’s Collection: What a Night

Kara’s Collection: What a Night

from an article originally posted September 29, 2014…

Friday was a night I will carry with me forever. Forever. I entered a room full of so much love I could not take it in. I struggled to look into the audience, because I could not understand this room filled with people coming to hear my feeble words trying to express love unending. Honestly, it is not mine to take in—the words are not mine. I’m simply the one that has the pleasure of sharing them. I entered, I tried to look up, but I could not. So I let my gaze fall on the front row. The row I know well. My loves. My family, and dear friends to my family. I could look there. But the room, oh my soul, there was so much love in the room Friday night. It was unbelievably humbling.

Kara’s Collection: Guest Post ~ Retreat Love

Kara’s Collection: Guest Post ~ Retreat Love

from an article originally posted September 16, 2014…  

I have known Kara for 10 years. My name is Autumn, but I am blessed to be called her Diana and to call her my Anne of Green Gables. (If you have no clue why, be sure you read L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables; it’s a great book). God gave us one another because He knew we needed each other, and I am ever so thankful!

Kara’s Collection: Tears in my Popcorn

from an article originally posted July 31, 2014...

I wrote a review after seeing A Fault In Our Stars with friends. When I left that movie I simply didn’t feel my biggest was ready for the movie. Then one evening we had a dinner party and a friend changed my mind. Chris Hooper gently spoke to me about my decision to keep Ella from this book and this movie. He was so kind to listen to me and my fears.

He then turned to me and gently told me something I had not considered. Chris has unique entrance into my heart and my story because he lost his mama at a young age to cancer. He simply said, Kara, Ella is the only person among her peers that understands the pain of cancer. Letting her read this book and see this movie will help her not feel alone. In that tender comment I knew he was right.

I told Ella she could read the book, and she absolutely consumed it. She has been asking for a movie night for the two of us. The movie came to the dollar movie theatre in town, and last night we ran away together to see this heartbreaking story. On the way, we talked about the sex scene in the movie. I told her how Jason and I deal with scenes we don’t feel comfortable watching. She heard my heart in it, and was careful when the scene approached to protect her heart.

There was a point in the movie where Hazel Grace bowed her head and said, This is not the life I want. That moment cracked the brave veneer of my daughter. Ella was undone.

Together we left the movie arm in arm and sat quietly in the car and shared our hearts, our hurts, and the pain of our present. I was able to tell Ella what a cherished child she is. I was able to articulate through the tears my hopes for her story. I shared that I long for her to remain a young lady, and if I do fly away, I asked her to let my girlfriends step in and bring big mama love to our family. But we were honest about the high calling of being oldest in a family like ours. I honored her heart, her protection of her siblings, her big sister love.

I went on to ask her to enjoy life, even if my life is fading. I asked her to embrace joy, to live each moment bravely. Then we wept, wept for the story we have been asked to receive, but struggle to understand. Then we spoke of the hope of heaven—our future together. A hope lacking in the movie.

I came home and shared with Jason the gift of the painful evening with Ella. Then he went on to share his burdens. We laughed, we wept, we tried to articulate our hearts in a new way. I will say, I woke this morning with painfully swollen eyes from so many tears. I looked at Ella, and she too was sporting swollen eyes.

I always say tears are the best evidence of love. They must be braved. The movie has a quote that is fitting, Pain demands to be felt. Goodness, I believe it’s true. Chris Hooper was right, this was good for our hearts. All of us try and live braving our pain. We need these moments to release the pressure cooker of pain that builds up over time.

How do you brave your pain? How do you struggle to live near to your pain honestly? Does living well mean faking at happiness when you are inwardly breaking? What would sharing your pain look like? Do you feel the pressure of hiding how you are feeling? How can you live honestly today? How can you let the tears fall in your popcorn?

I will forever cherish this painful night with my first born. I will forever love the tears she braved with me. I love that we had this time where we could speak honestly about my flying away, her pain in the separation, and the struggle for joy in the midst of pain.

I ended by asking her what Ella wants from me while I’m still here. She simply said, You, Mommy. I don’t need to jump through any exciting hoops to love her well. I simply need to live beside her with all the love I’m granted to pour out onto her tender heart.

Kara’s Collection: Dear Ann Voskamp

Kara’s Collection: Dear Ann Voskamp

from an article originally posted April 17, 2014…

Thank you Ann—you cannot know the reach of your love in my life. I had heard the murmuring, the cheering, the championing of your words long before they met my eyes. I’m given to cynicism, and I wasn’t sure if we would be friends. My sister in law met terrible blow after terrible blow one year, and she sent me to your blog. She told me they were getting her through her dark season.