Monday, January 30, 2012

Just enough

I have some praise to share.  I'm so grateful He has given us prayer.  So, here's the story.  The doctors thought my brother had a cyst in his liver, and went in to drain it.  It turned out to be an abscess which is an infected cyst.  When they drained it, he got sepsis (bacteria).  This is deadly and goes through the blood stream shutting down vital organs.  Hope I didn't make you queazy...  The doctors identified the bacteria and stopped the sepsis.  He's out of ICU now.  His organs are good.  He's on the transplant floor of the hospital.  It turns out that if his wife hadn't taken him into the hospital when she did, the cyst could have burst at home; we might have lost him.  She said that she just knew she had to take him.  I told her, "It may have been God whispering in your ear.  He does that sometimes."

I'll keep praying for the transplant, and thank any of you that prayed too.  He has a few more procedures today.  God is good, I will trust in Him.

Proverbs is a hard book to read sometimes.  It's full of common sense in how we relate to others and God.  Sometimes it feels prickly.  The authors who wrote this book were inspired by God over 2000 years ago.  They were humans like us.  That's why it's all so familiar.  Even though the world has changed dramatically since then, man hasn't.  It's a good book to read every now and then.  Sometimes I forget.

Proverbs 30

The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, his utterance. This man declared to Ithiel—to Ithiel and Ucal:

2 Surely I am more stupid than any man,
And do not have the understanding of a man.
3 I neither learned wisdom
Nor have knowledge of the Holy One.
I felt this way more when I first became a Christian than now, after 35 years.  But I have to admit I still have my moments.  Having a relationship with Jesus does get easier with time and His grace.

4 Who has ascended into heaven, or descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has bound the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name, and what is His Son’s name,
If you know?

It's Jesus! Don't you love how prophecies about Jesus turn up long before He was born as a baby?  We actually don't know God's real name.  His name is so powerful we can't use it at this time.  He has given us the name of, "Jesus."  We know that Jesus is the Son of God and is God.  God has three forms:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  This verse puts us in our place doesn't it?  We can't gather the wind, bind the waters, or create an earth.  Agur is showing his humbleness before God.

5 Every word of God is pure;
He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.
I can confirm this.  He is a shield, sometimes warning me in my heart not to go somewhere.  Sometimes not saying yes to my prayers.  We really don't know all that goes on around us.

6 Do not add to His words,
Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.
We write down scripture, quote it, learn about its history, listen to other peoples' thoughts, pray for the Holy Spirit to help us understand.  None of these things are adding to God's Word.  Adding to His Word means rewriting the actual Bible for selfish purposes.  That's one of the reasons I put the Bible verses in a different font, I don't want anyone to be confused between what's my thoughts and what's His Word.  God is pleased when we highlight Bible pages, and write verses on index cards to memorize.  The thing I am most proud of in my Christian walk is I wore out my first Bible.  The pages started falling out.  It was a real challenge to read it the first time.  I did it!  God used it to change my life.

7 Two things I request of You
(Deprive me not before I die):

8 Remove falsehood and lies far from me;
Give me neither poverty nor riches—
Feed me with the food allotted to me;

9 Lest I be full and deny You,
And say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or lest I be poor and steal,
And profane the name of my God.

This is an awesome prayer.  It sums up what God wants for us.  When I was a child I lived in an upper middle class home.  We had a swimming pool in the backyard.  My Dad had a dune buggy.  We had all the love that money could buy.  Our house was full of anger. When I went to college I had no money.  I was broke.  I had holes in my tennis shoes.  The manager in the cafeteria where I worked told me that I needed to get new shoes.  I couldn't.  I had great friends; my faith was growing; I was on my own.  It was the perfect opportunity for me to learn about prayer : )  I don't recommend this lifestyle for the weak of heart!  Truly the best times for me are when we are doing fine.  I can be creative and enjoy living.  No worries about what to buy- just live.

Friday, January 27, 2012


© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

I'm almost through the Proverbs, just 2 more to go.  I'm thinking I'd like to read through Ephesians next or maybe the book of John.  It's time for me to get back to the New Testament.  But there's a lot to learn in Proverbs.  Here's some more bits of wisdom...

Proverbs 29

7 The righteous considers the cause of the poor,
But the wicked does not understand such knowledge.

Basically, one of the things I've learned from Jesus is compassion.  I didn't have it before.  He has a way of allowing me to understand what other people feel.  Not just my agenda, in fact I can sense when my prayers are selfish.  Hate when that happens!

11 A fool vents all his feelings,
But a wise man holds them back.

It used to be that people were told not to hold their feelings in; let them out.  But in reality, it's best to ask the Holy Spirit for words.  At least for me.  I know how hurtful venting can be for others.  One time I was actually approached and told, "I would feel better if you did things my way."   Hmmm...  it's good to consider other people's feelings, show compassion and be kind.  But, allowing myself to become manipulated isn't right either.  Focussing on my feelings, instead of the other person, can create all sorts of issues.  The Lord knows we all get carried away at times though : )  Sometimes a good friend who listens is wonderful medicine.

19 A servant will not be corrected by mere words;
For though he understands, he will not respond.

It's hard to change unless I actually experience failure sometimes.  Always do things the hard way.  But it is wonderful to do things right and then have that "Ah ha!" moment where it all makes sense.  Sometimes the greatest gift I can give my husband is allowing him to make a mistake, after I told him my thoughts.

21 He who pampers his servant from childhood
Will have him as a son in the end.

I wish management today would understand this principle.  The better you treat others, the easier it is for them to work.  When the manager becomes more work than the job, it's hard to stay around for long.

23 A man’s pride will bring him low,
But the humble in spirit will retain honor.

Pride is a tough one.  It can create conflicts between people faster than anything.  I know of a family that was constantly at odds with each other because no one was wrong, and no one apologized.  I've found apologizing even when I'm not wrong helps smooth things out.

25 The fear of man brings a snare,
But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.

I actually memorized this verse.  It's no good being afraid of people, it just makes things more difficult.  Trusting in God brings joy, and the strength I need to move on in situations.

**Side note: A few days ago my brother was put in Intensive Care.  He has liver cancer which miraculously disappeared last year, but came back recently.  Here's my prayer for him, feel free to join me if you like.

Dear Heavenly Father I lift up my brother to You.  I pray You will send the angels to supervise my brother's care.  Please give the doctors wisdom as to what to do.  Let his wife know You are present, give her rest and peace.  You are the Great Physician and our Creator, You know more about our bodies than anyone on earth.  Please heal his body and provide a transplant.  Your timing is perfect; Your love never fails.  I will trust in You though I don't understand.
In Jesus Name, Amen.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bold as a lion

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

All systems are up and running now : )  My computer and everything is working fine.  I can even import photos with my copyright (huge time saver).  One itsy bitsy problem this week, the cold!  I was all set to get back into my regular routine and sneeze, cough, cough.  I'm better today but still drippy.  Finally decided the best thing to do was get back to work.  Seems like there's always something, life's a challenge.  Last week the faucet decided to spray under the sink instead of into it...  Kind of makes thoughts about God's love and Heaven seem all the more splendid.

Proverbs 28

1 The wicked flee though no one pursues, 
   but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

This verse reminds me how doing the right things in the first place (however hard), leaves me with a clean conscience and boldness.  There's nothing to hide.  If I'm doing something wrong, I feel ashamed and want to hide.  Even though no one is looking at me... except God.  It's important to note that righteousness to God, is faith.

4 Those who forsake instruction praise the wicked,
   but those who heed it resist them.

To me, this is saying if we listen to the wisdom and instructions in the Bible, we can resist wickedness (although we will stumble at times).  Those who deny God support the wicked.

11 The rich are wise in their own eyes;
   one who is poor and discerning sees how deluded they are.

Wealth can be a huge distraction.  There's a false sense of security in it. But money doesn't bring true friends or perfect health.  We will all pass away in the end (unless Jesus comes first).  It is better to have enough, lots of friends and good work to keep us busy.     

12 When the righteous triumph, there is great elation;
   but when the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding.

This is so true.  The world has seen some great leaders, some horrible tyrants, and a few in the middle.  The next election in the USA is very important to us.

13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
   but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Oh! I hate it when I have a guilty conscience.  And we all know God sees and knows everything.  So it's much better to confess than hold things inside and try and hide it.  We suffer a lot more than God does, by trying to pretend. 

20 A faithful person will be richly blessed, 
   but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.
I believe this is referring to focusing our lives on getting rich.  Stepping over people, telling lies, manipulating, cheating, hurting others to get to the top.  Once that person is at the top, they've left a sea of sharks ready to take them down.  But a faithful person is richly blessed.  One who can earn respect from their co-workers and treat others fairly- makes others proud to work with them.  

27 Those who give to the poor will lack nothing,
   but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.
It's important to help others out.  When I miss an opportunity, I feel guilty.  God forgives, and it does make me want to try harder the next time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Word-filled Wednesday

Mt. Rainier, WA
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

In my last post, I remembered the verses about Jesus and the fig tree.  I wanted to pull out these verses in a separate post.  Prayer is an amazing gift from God.  He doesn't need us to pray, He's God.  Yet He's given us the ability to communicate with Him because He loves us and wants to be present with us.  He has also given me a very creative mind. When I read these verses, I imagine praying to move the mountain. The mountain rises in the sky, falls into the ocean and then a tidal wave happens...  All the people run in horror screaming.  Yikes!  I'm not the right person to be throwing mountains around.  I'm naturally clumsy.   I much prefer leaving the earth and it's design to God : )

But there are other mountains I've faced.  The Supervisor who just doesn't seem to get it.  My brother's liver cancer.  Financial struggles and how to earn money in this economy.  Neighbors that can't be quiet in the evening.  Traffic jams on the way to work that made me late.   Times when marriage seemed more impossible than worthwhile.

These are a few that I've experienced.  I've prayed some extreme prayers and seen some amazing answers.  The secret is to pray in accordance with God's will and character.  God is love.  He doesn't destroy people or change them, unless they are ready and willing.  We all have free will.  He wants marriages to last.  I prayed for peace in our household (even the cats were fighting).  He brought peace.  Through an illness, my husband and I found new love and respect for each other.  He makes all things new.  He tossed a few mountains into the ocean and set us free.  Still praying and waiting on my brother's liver transplant.  It's nowhere near being too big for God to handle.  He is love, I want what's best for my brother.  When I pray, I need to remember who I'm talking to.  He's never been too fond of my "gotta have" lists.  God builds my character and allows me to learn.

About this photo:  I took this shot of Mt. Rainier when we lived in Seattle, WA.  I used a film camera with a special filter.  Then added some special processing.  We lived underneath it for several years, in sunrise it looked like strawberry ice-cream : )

God bless!

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.

Challenge sponsored by Internet Cafe Devotions.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wisdom and fruit

Sorta what a fig looks like : )
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
Digital Painting (Gouache) - Corel Painter

Well the Broncos lost last weekend.  My husband watched the game with his Dad so I couldn't pray for the team.  I just can't sit through football alone...  I found this link that really put things in perspective from two of my favorite Christians, Ron Hutchcraft and Tim Tebow: Tim Tebow losing or winning? (link).  With Jesus, even when we lose we win- if we're serving Him.  He turns everything upside down and backwards : )  Makes me want to find some volunteer work, I miss it.

Proverbs 27

Back to the Proverbs.  I found some good wisdom for us.  Some is a bit humbling.

1 Do not boast about tomorrow,
   for you do not know what a day may bring.
To me, this verse speaks of putting things off until tomorrow.  Sometimes I think I'll take care of that tomorrow.  After a week, I realize tomorrow is long gone...  I think this applies in relationships as well.  Oh I'll call my Dad tomorrow, maybe the Lord is prompting me to call him today for a reason.

2 Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth;
   an outsider, and not your own lips.
It's always best to be humble and get noticed rather than boasting.  However, there will always be people who will happily take credit for our work.  I know about that all too well.  God knows the truth and He will reward us.

14 If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning,
   it will be taken as a curse.

Had to chuckle on this one.  So true, it's not good to wake up people when they're sleeping : )

15 A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping
   of a leaky roof in a rainstorm;
16 restraining her is like restraining the wind
   or grasping oil with the hand.

Well we all have our moments don't we?  This is another one that makes me chuckle.  I've learned sometimes people are quiet after I say something, they're thinking.  I don't need to repeat what I say (hahaha).

17 As iron sharpens iron,
   so one person sharpens another.

Even though people can be annoying at times, the truth is we need each other.  Even the annoying ones have something to teach me about self-control, peace and patience.

18 The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit,
   and whoever protects their master will be honored.

This Proverb is interesting.  It reminded me of what happened with Jesus and the fig tree:
Matthew 21:18-21 
Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, May you never bear fruit again! Immediately the tree withered.
When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.
Jesus replied, Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”  NIV
To me, the fig tree symbolizes people.  If we look out for others, especially when they're down (fruitless), God can use us to restore them.  We bear fruit for Him and protect our Master's interests.  Only Jesus is the judge of people.  I can't see what a person has or hasn't done- or even if they are a part of the body of Christ.  I don't know what they've experienced in their lives.  I've never walked in their shoes.  I see some people and think they must be able to walk on water.  But only God sees our hearts, He knows those who are His.  There will be a time when those who claim to follow Christ, but don't know Him will be separated from the rest (Matthew 13:30).  There is no fruit in their lives. Jesus did promise we'll be able to see each others fruit, and we're not yet perfected in Christ (Phil. 3:12).  Best not to judge.  Being a Christian isn't a birthright.  It's a choice to allow Him to be our Lord and Savior.  Our job is to focus on Jesus' love, and help others.  When I focus on Jesus, helping out is pure joy.

Matthew 7:16 
By their fruit you will recognize them.  Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?  

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Word-filled Wednesday

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

This verse is an assurance that even when we feel lost, or just unsure of where we are going with things, God knows.  Today I was working on my computing system.  I've been putting it off because it's a little scary moving photo files into a new data storage tool.  I really don't want to lose all my work.  And I worried about pressing the wrong button, or breaking the hard drive.  I prayed a lot too.  It all came out fine.  It's going to take awhile before I can quickly work on my new computer.  But God's not guiding me to a dead end, and the ground is definitely getting more level.

Seems like part of being human is the uncertainty ahead.  None of us know for sure what's coming next.  Maybe that's why God tells us to just focus on today.  When tomorrow comes or even disaster, He promises to guide us on.

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.

Challenge sponsored by Internet Cafe Devotions.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lights and fools

"He chooses the foolish and the simple."
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

My husband is a huge Broncos football fan.  His favorite gifts have a Broncos logo.  I'm just not into football that much.  I ask the annoying questions like, "Honey, don't the players know how to fall properly?  Why do those guys look like bullies?  They're huge."  He's very patient and mostly silent.  But then Tim Tebow came along, I got so excited to see a football player shining God's light.  Like David and Goliath, he stands strong.  He's my brother in the Lord.  

But Sunday night, my husband wasn't happy with the Broncos.  They'd lost 3 games, and they were losing then.  I wanted my husband to win.  I hate when things go bad for him.  I asked him if the game was live?  It was, so I told him that I'd pray for Tebow.  3 losses are discouraging for all of us as believers.  My heart went out to him, and my prayers up.  The camera was focussed on Tebow as I prayed for wings like eagles, for strength- I saw his spirits rise as I prayed (and probably lots of other Christians).  Everything changed,  they started winning.  I prayed for Tebow more, then the still small voice whispered- he's on a team.  He can't play alone.  So I prayed for all of them.  They won!   God blessed them.  

I didn't catch all that the broadcaster said, but this is what I remember, "They don't dwell in their fears.  They dwell in their hopes."  I wrote that down.  I want to dwell in my hopes too.

Proverbs 26

I may be the only one who does this, but one of my struggles is reading about characters in the Bible and thinking, "Wow!  Glad I'm not like that."  I've spent hours thinking about people who are irritating to me.  What a miserable waste of time.  These verses are about fools.  Warning: there's a zinger in the end.

1 Like snow in summer or rain in harvest,
   honor is not fitting for a fool.

3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
   and a rod for the backs of fools!
4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
   or you yourself will be just like him.
5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
   or he will be wise in his own eyes.
6 Sending a message by the hands of a fool
   is like cutting off one’s feet or drinking poison.
7 Like the useless legs of one who is lame
   is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
8 Like tying a stone in a sling
   is the giving of honor to a fool.
9 Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand
   is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
10 Like an archer who wounds at random
   is one who hires a fool or any passer-by.
11 As a dog returns to its vomit,
   so fools repeat their folly.
Shew!  I'm innocent, I would never...

12 Do you see a person wise in their own eyes?
   There is more hope for a fool than for them.

Fail!  Now I really need to let go of judgmental thoughts.  So glad He chooses the simple and the foolish.

Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, "There is no God."

I am so grateful for Christians who stand up and acknowledge who they are in such a wholesome way, like Tebow.  It's such a wonderful testimony to a hard, skeptical world.  And it's downright encouraging to those of us who are Christians.  Also, grateful He chooses the foolish and simple.  I pass!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Word-filled Wednesday

"Hey ladies, what do you think of my toupee?"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

It's so great to know God will never give up on me.  Even when:
  • I'm having a bad hair day; He sees my heart.
  • I don't have any money; I'm worth more than silver and gold to Him.
  • Things are not going my way; He helps my faith grow stronger.
  • I can't forgive myself; He waits patiently for me to accept His forgiveness.
  • Everything around me is crazy; He longs for me to know His rest.

"For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  Matthew 11:30

When my husband and I saw this buffalo, we had to laugh.  We'd never seen such a hairstyle before.  But there's something about this guy that seems so familiar.  He thinks he looks good  : )   Even in those moments I think I'm lookin' good- He never gives up.

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.

Challenge sponsored by Internet Cafe Devotions.

Monday, January 2, 2012


© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Happy New Year!  Although for Christians everyday is a new beginning.  

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

We had a real nice holiday.  It was relaxing and quiet- which left plenty of time for movies, games, and reading.  My husband pulled a muscle in his back before the holidays- so he had to stay home.  It was great having him here.  His back has healed so he can get back to work today.  I have some cleaning up to do!  After all the stuff from last year, I'm happy to put it behind me.

Here's my prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father thank You for all the new starts you give us.  For never giving up, and love that never fails.  Your patience is incredible!  I pray You will help us as Your Church to be one in spirit so we may grow strong in the purpose You have for us.  Our differences are so small compared to Your great sacrifice.  Let us show we are Christians by our love.  Guide us away from resolutions we never keep, and toward trust in You.  Examine my heart, and give me the strength to change what I need to.  I am so grateful that You are the God of new beginnings.  Change me Lord.  Make me new.  Cleanse me til I'm squeaky clean. 
In Jesus Name, Amen.

Here's some verses about how He makes things new:

"Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.  
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
       I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland."  
Isaiah 43:18-19

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  2 Cor 5:17

"Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. Isaiah 65:17

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"  1 Cor 2:9

Hope this will be a blessed new year for us all!