Thank You, Arkansas Women Bloggers!

April Blogger of the Month

A big THANK YOU to the Arkansas Women Bloggers for featuring me as their April Blogger of the Month.

The Women Bloggers LLC community members (in eight states!) are natural megaphones and amplifiers, and their talent in curating and sharing content combined with life experiences and strong opinions as parents and consumers makes us the most unique talent agency our partners will encounter.

I wanted to be sure to give you the links to all my posts on the Arkansas Women Bloggers website. So, I hope you will check it out. You can also find #ARWB on Twitter @ARWomenBloggers and Facebook.

Miss April 2016 – Karen Jordan. I started dabbling with blogging in 2008 under duress. At my first Christian writers’ conference a few years earlier, everyone urged me to begin building an online platform. They claimed if I wanted publishers to consider my nonfiction book proposals, I’d better start “building a platform.” I panicked at first. Then, I dove head first, drowning in the technology challenges. [more]

Imagine Your Wildest Dreams. Imagine your fondest dreams coming true. What do you see? Years ago, a dream was birthed in my heart. Then, I buried it. [more]

A Day in the Life of KarenMy life changed dramatically this past year—my husband, Dan, retired. And retirement life did not turn out quite like I expected. In fact, I don’t know what I thought it would look like. But I’m adjusting. [more]

The Best of Karen. I entered a new season this past year when my husband, Dan, retired. So, I decided to record a few of those moments in my blog. I call it “Life in the Gray Zone.” [more]

Thanks again, #ARWB! You’re the best!

Have you checked out the Arkansas Women Bloggers site?

 

Finding Hope When Life is Heavy and Hard to Take

Words That Change Everything

imageIt doesn’t take much negative input to pull me down to the pit of despair—a phone call, an e-mail, or even a glance in the mirror.

I’d like to say that I’m able to resist the fiery darts that come my way, but I still get broadsided at times, especially when I’m not on guard against them.

At other times, I’m fully aware of my vulnerability, and the darts still sting. You’d think I’d learn to sidestep the attacks by now. But I’m still learning.

Facing Battles. In fact, I know what to do when the darts start flying now. I’ve learned some valuable lessons on the battlefront.

For instance, this scripture continues to guide me on days when negative issues infiltrate my thought life.

When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. (Lam. 3:28-29 The Message)

Today, I experienced one of those “heavy and hard to take” days. Things seemed to be going well at first. I had taken photos at a ministry event, and I enjoyed the fellowship with the ladies in my community.

On the way home, I received several encouraging text messages from two writing friends, as we planned working on a new book project together.

When I returned home, I enjoyed eating lunch with Dan and watching a short program together on TV.

Then, I opened my office door.

I felt the incoming attack of negative thoughts. I should’ve stayed home and worked. I’ll never get all of this done! [Notice the first-person, guilt trips?]

I moped over to my chair, and the negativity continued. I don’t even know where to start. I’m so unorganized. Why would anyone want to read anything I wrote anyway? Lord, help me!

Then, the truth swept across my thoughts once again like a gently rain, drenching the fiery darts. And I knew what I needed to do.

When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. (Lam. 3:28-29 The Message)

Breaking Free. I stood up, grabbed my purse, and walked toward my car, calling out to Dan: “I’ll be back in a little while—I need to get my act together!”

“Okay! See you later!” Dan knew what I meant. And he knew where to find me if he needed me.

At Lake Desoto, I took photos and refreshed my thoughts, as I observed the lush greenery surrounding the still, calm waters. The spillway poured over the rocks, drowning out all sounds of negative thoughts once again.

One photo of the bench overlooking the spillway stood out to me. So, I decided to make a shareable image, adding one of my favorite scriptures to offer to others who might be facing a tough day.

Finding peace. As I meditated on God’s promises, I sensed His peace guarding my heart and my mind once more (Phil 5:7).

I hope you’ll consider the promises in the Bible when you find your life gets “heavy and hard to take.”

God’s promises truly are Words That Change Everything!

What scriptures have helped you get through some tough days?

Words That Change Everything

Speaking Truth to Your Soul

“Write the books you really wish were out there in the world” (Anne Lamott).

Good news! WordsThatChangeEverything2My book, Words That Change Everything: Speaking Truth to Your Soul, is scheduled to be published this summer by Leafwood Publishing.

Words That Change Everything offers personal stories with biblical applications to help everyday women understand the purpose of their God-given emotions and identify biblical prayer strategies to help them confront their worries.

Worry, anxiety, and fear saturate our world today more than ever—from acts of terrorism to economic downturns. But many women face real fears in their own homes—death, illness, job loss, betrayal, rejection, and dozens of other threats that challenge their family’s well-being.

As women recognize and understand the warnings signs of worry and negative self-talk, they can employ strategies to navigate their overwhelming anxiety and hopeless thoughts.

Most Christian women know the Bible encourages them not to worry about anything, but few women know how to respond to their worries, especially in a crisis.

In Words That Change Everything, I share what I have learned about dealing with my own worries and fears.

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. (2 Cor. 1:3-4 The Message)

I look forward to sharing Words That Change Everything with you soon. So, be sure to sign up to follow my blog today to keep up-to-date on my book launch plans.

What strategies do you use to overcome your worries? Be sure to respond in the comments below or on my Facebook page.

 

Acting My Way Into Feeling

What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do

Photo/KarenJordanI’m about to do one of the hardest things I’ve done recently—WRITE!

“What? How can that be?” you ask. “You’re a writer! Isn’t that what writers do?”

I wish I could tell you what’s keeping me from doing what I need to do. But I don’t have any answers at this point.

In fact, I’m not even sure I have anything of substance to offer anyone now. But I’m just going to write—and hope something helpful surfaces. Anything is better than nothing at this point.

After church this morning, I confessed to my husband that I hadn’t really felt like going to church today and entering into worship. But I did. And I’m glad I did—the sermon really spoke to my heart. Thanks, Pastor Shawn.

I’m also reminded what I learned years ago in a behavior modification class at seminary, “You must act your way into feeling.”

At first, I didn’t have a clue what the professor meant by that statement. But I tried it, and it worked.

For instance, I NEVER feel like doing housework. But I ALWAYS feel good about finishing my work.

So, that’s what I’m doing right now. Writing—even though I do NOT feel like writing. And in the process, I hope and pray the feeling and the words begin to flow again.

Have you ever faced this problem? Maybe you’re not a writer, and you don’t get it. But perhaps there is another issue you might be struggling with in your work or even at home.

Maybe you want to be happy or thankful, but you just can’t conjure up those positive emotions right now. Or perhaps you just don’t “feel” like being anyone’s mom right now—but you ARE a mom.

Maybe you don’t have any romantic feelings toward your spouse anymore. I’ll share what a pastor advised one man who claimed he didn’t love his wife anymore. This wise counselor simply quoted a scripture to this battle-weary warrior.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . (Eph. 5:25 NIV).

Do you see his point? God’s Word reveals that love is a choice, not a feeling.

So, maybe—just maybe—we can experience joy and thankfulness as we make the decision to be happy or grateful.

What about writing? Well, I’ve learned that often, I really don’t “feel” like writing. And many times I must just to do what I don’t “feel” like doing.

So, I guess I’ll just repeat the words of a wise writing instructor to myself once again, “JUST WRITE!”

By the way, I hope my confession encourages you today to do whatever you need to do if you’re stuck!

And another thing—be blessed!

Tell us about a time when you had to act your way into feeling? Share your experience in the comments below or on my Facebook page

 

 

 

 

Finding Grace on Narrows Road

An Energy Crisis in the Gray Zone

Thirty miles from home, my low fuel warning light flashed on.Photo/DanJordan

How could I have forgotten to fill up before I left my daughter’s house two hours ago?

I panicked and called my husband, Dan, “Where is the nearest gas station to our exit from the interstate?”

“What? Where are you?” I could hear concern in Dan’s voice.

“I’m exiting I-30 right now.”

“How much gas do you have left?” Another question I couldn’t answer.

“I don’t know. The warning light came on a minute ago?”

“Take Narrows Road. I think the gas station at the East Gate might be the closest one. Call me if you don’t make it, okay?”

“I’m SO sorry to worry you!” Even in the gray zone, I still can send my husband into emergency mode responding to my impulsivity and carelessness.

“Be sure to turn your air-conditioner off to save fuel. And be careful!”

“Just pray I make it.” Even as I spoke my request, I knew my words did not comfort my husband.

Lord, help me! I’ve been in trouble on this road before. But you guided me through that snow storm two years ago. So, Lord, I’m asking for your mercy and grace once more.

As I reached down to turn the air off, I remembered the fuel indicator on the dashboard. So I took a breath and pushed the button. Fourteen miles of gas left. Oh, Lord! How far am I from that gas station?

My digital GPS revealed that home was twenty miles away.

As I prayed again, a few scripture promises came to mind.

Lord, I’m so grateful that you promise to always be with me (Phil. 4:5) and provide all my needs (Phil. 4:19). Thank you for your promise to cover my weaknesses with your strength (1 Cor. 12:10).

I turned up the volume of the radio so I could focus my thoughts on some positive, encouraging Christian music.

After I made it through all the twists and turns of Narrows Road, I held my breath and turned left on the Hot Springs Highway. Almost there!

I looked at my gas gauge. Nine miles worth of gas left. Yikes!

I whispered another prayer and drove on.

When I saw the gas station’s bright, yellow sign, fear left me. And a few minutes later, I sent Dan a text, acknowledging my victory, “Thank You, Jesus!”

Photo/DanJordanHe responded, ”Made it, huh?”

“With four miles worth of gas to spare!”

“Joy comes in strange ways!”

Then, I asked Dan, “How many gallons in this tank?”

“It holds 20 gallons, I think.”

“Really? I bought 20.52 gallons!”

“Grace gas!”

“Yep! Not the first time that I’ve found grace on that “Narrow(s) Road.”

… the door is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life that lasts forever. Few people are finding it. (Matt.7:14)

Did my post remind you of a grace story? Be sure to share your story in the comments below or on my Facebook page.

 

A Wake-up Call

Grace in the Gray Zones of Life

What are some of the blockages to communications in your life?

Photo/KarenJordan

Silence? Well, duh! Of course, silence would be a blockage to communication. But how do you open the door to conversation when the other person is not in the same room? Easy. Text messaging.

I’m embarrassed to admit how early I woke up this morning. Well, okay–it was three a.m. How’s that for vulnerability and transparency?

Positive beginning. Anyway, I tried to start my day with a positive attitude, listening to dailyaudiobible.com (DAB). Reading the Bible always kickstarts my day on a positive note.

Of course, I had my morning java to help me focus. But after DAB, I became restless. And the silence of the morning drove me to my social networks, where I caught up on news about family and friends. My life seemed a little boring in comparison.

I thought of what my 11-year-old grandson Ethan asked me this last Saturday, “What do you and Pop do when we’re not here?”

I guess life in the gray zone seemed a bit too slow for him, too. As I laughed about Ethan’s comment with my daughter, Tara (his mom), she made light of his comment, comparing the rituals of our life with the the daily circus at their house. But I could tell that Ethan didn’t buy it.

By Monday morning Ethan’s comment didn’t seem so funny to me. So, I abandoned my frustrations by reading blog posts and hoping for another good laugh or inspiration.

Minutes turned to hours—five a.m. and still no communication within my home. My impatience continued. So, I began to sort my e-mail. Then, I sent a text to a friend who I hadn’t heard from recently—we had been playing “phone tag” for days.

Then, I remembered a podcast I wanted to watch. Another diversion.

Finally, I heard movement in the kitchen. I looked at the time—six o’clock. I hear coffee brewing. Steps walking toward me? No, he headed toward his man cave. What do you have to do to get someone to engage in a dialogue around here? Text? Yes, maybe that will work.

Dynamic duel. I write a quick and sarcastic message. ”Sometimes it feels like we’re two strangers living in the same house.”

His response: “Strange message. Different sleep cycles.”

I respond: ”You sit in one room drinking your coffee, and I sit in another listening to you.”

He asks, ”Are you really listening?”

I answer, ”Maybe we communicate best via text.”

Another rhetorical question: “Why aren’t you in your new recliner?”

We digress—our ramblings tend to go downhill from here. So, I won’t record all of our not-so-friendly chat.

He concludes: “Texting is a form of sign language.”

“Whatever! It’s communicating without talking.”

Dumb reply, I know. But I was running out of curt comments.

“I know you like coffee before talking,” he offers another pithy one-liner.

I feel my blood pressure rising. “Really? And how would you know? Have you ever asked me what I like?”

I snap back before he has a change to respond. ”What do I like? Hmmm … I’ll have to think about that. No one has ever asked me that question.”

Another careless comment comes to mind, “But I bet you know what I don’t like, right? I’ve told you a million times!” Whoosh—I tap “send” without hesitation.

“White rice?” He jokes.

“Wrong! I like white rice. It’s just not the healthiest choice. See … I told you!”

Silence invades our home again. No talking. No texting. Did someone issue a gag order here?

My man continues to drink his coffee, alone in his cave, facing the changing seasons in our back yard.

I walk out the front door, moving to our screened-in porch. And I decide to write this blog post on my smart phone, venting my frustrations. A healing narrative? More like a rant.

Wake up call. Then, the phone rings. Finally, someone to talk to! I see my friend’s name displayed on the caller ID. I stop writing and answer.

“How are you? I’m glad we finally connected.”

“Yes, me, too,” she agrees. “Your text this morning was timely. My brother died around four a.m. this morning.”

Shocked, I express my condolences. ”I am SO sorry!”

I grieve with my friend. Her younger brother, a single dad with a young son, succumbed to cancer. So sad. My friend’s brother had a miraculous story of transformation after the birth of his son. Aware of God’s intervention, he walked away from one life to build a new life for his son.

Now, this tragedy with his health. My friend knew her brother found healing in heaven. But he would be missed by all, especially his three-year-old son.

“It’s been a hard week! But we didn’t expect this to come so soon. We only moved him to hospice care yesterday.”

”I can only imagine!”

I hear my friend’s husband call her name in the background. “Can I call you later? Things are kind of crazy around here right now.”

As our conversation ends, I consider the events of my morning. Caught up in the worries of my own life, I wasn’t aware of the trouble my friend faced. I thought my day started out rough! My friend’s brother died right about the time I poured my second cup of coffee.

Once again, I’m reminded how life could be SO much harder. What do I have to complain about today? Silence? Seriously, is that the worse thing happening in my life right now?

Lord, help me!

And Lord, please bless my friend and her family today as they face the loss of their loved one. Bring your peace to calm their storm. May they experience your grace and mercy during this difficult season of life.

Let the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing in Your eyes, O Lord, my Rock and the One Who saves me. (Psalms 19:14 NLT)

Lord, thank you for waking me up to the reality of your truth and lifting me out of my self-pity. Forgive me for judging others and help me forgive their offenses. Remind me to count my blessings and trust you with my frustrations and fears. And thank you for your promise of grace in the gray zones of our lives. Amen.

How has God broken down the blockages to communication in your life?

I’m honored to share some of the lessons that I’ve learned about worry at the Women’s Connection in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 14, 2016.

Photo/TaraRoss

A Word about Worry. How do you deal with worry in your own life? Many women suffer with symptoms of anxiety and stress that often affect their relationships, along with their mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. But I’ve discovered some practical, biblical strategies that have helped me navigate my negative self-talk and overwhelming worry.

Date: June 14, 2016
Time: 11:15 a.m. - 01:15 p.m.
Event: Tulsa Women's Connection: A Word about Worry
Topic: A Word about Worry
Sponsor: Stonecroft Ministries
Venue: Marriott Hotel
(918) 493-7000
Location: 1902 E 71st Street
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74136
Public: Public

It’s Always Something!

4 Tips about Rashes and Relationships from the Gray Zone

Retirement days never get boring here in the gray zone—always a new problem, pain, or predicament to test your patience.

Photo/KarenJordan

Patience. Did I say “patience”? If you haven’t pulled that “fruit of the Spirit” out of your treasured promise box lately, you might want to take it off the shelf and dust it before you graduate to the gray zone. Just saying …

Speaking of patience—I’ve needed a full bushel of that “fruit” in the past few weeks. And I am grateful for the promise in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (NLT).

Promises. I’ve heard many women praying for patience in every area of their lives, including marriage, children, job, friendships, and more. And I’ve been tempted to ask them, “Do you know that patience is a fruit of the Spirit?”

That’s a bold statement, huh? Why would I be so rude? Well, my kids say that I haven’t been watching my “filter” lately. But I guess that’s a topic for another blog post.

Bottom line—I get a little excited about the biblical principles I’m learning. Have you noticed?

Words That Change Everything. Galatians 5:22-23 promises that if the Spirit of Christ lives in us, He will produce patience and every other spiritual fruit you need, like love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

I’ve needed this promise of patience as I dealt with an annoying body rash. Without going into all the personal detail, I can say that my itchy rash has forced me to examine myself and to apply God’s promises to my problems.

  1. Recognize. First of all, you can’t ignore a rash. You may try to ignore it, but some rashes just don’t go away without medication.I found the same truth about some annoying issues in marriage or any relationship. You must admit you have a problem before you can deal with it. And some itchy relational problems will never be solved unless the root of the problem is treated.
  2. Acknowledge. I also came to the realization that my home remedies and over-the-counter products did not relieve the rash. So, I had to seek professional help for a prescription.I discovered the same remedy applies to relational issues. Sometimes you do all you know to do, and the problem remains. I’m thankful that I can turn to the Great Physician for spiritual help.
  3. Submit. I confess, I don’t like to focus on this concept. And I don’t like to visit my doctor either. But I’ve learned that sometimes problems become too complicated for me, and I need a professional.At times, God has given me direction, and I failed to follow through. I started out strong, but I became weary in the battle and abandoned the idea of accomplishing it.
  4. Heal. With the rash, healing came after following my doctor’s advice with the prescribed medication. I also learned how to avoid future rashes.In relationships, healing comes as we allow God to guide us through a reconciliation process. But we must also remember to guard against repeating those mistakes.

Points. I hope my R. A. S. H. tips help you avoid some of the pitfalls in the gray zone of your life.

  • Recognize you have a problem.
  • Acknowledge your need for help.
  • Submit to the Great Physician’s guidance.
  • Heal, as you take the steps needed for restoration and reconciliation.

“It’s always something.” Comedian Gilda Radner used this well-known phrase from her famous character Roseanne Roseannadanna in her book about her struggle with cancer.

As I read Radner’s book, I recalled watching her on Saturday Night Live in the late 1970s. I’ve even quoted her many times as problems emerged in my own life. Again, in the gray zone, I continue to confess, “It’s always something!”

GrayZone Q & A: Do you have any tips that might help others avoid some of the pitfalls of the gray zones of their lives?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every Day is Saturday!

Lessons from the Gray Zone

Many of you may have wondered, “What happened to Karen? I guess she’s unplugged for awhile.”

Photo/TaraRossThen again, you may not have even noticed.

Either way, here’s the deal—we’ve entered into a new season of life at our house.

EVERY DAY IS SATURDAY!

Gray Zone. Maybe you’ve noticed my gray hair and tennis shoes. If you happen to drop by our house, you’ll also see some subtle changes in the décor—like the two new recliners in front of our big-screen TV.

You’re laughing? What’s the big deal? Every day is Saturday!

Several of Dan’s friends have asked him, “How’s retirement?”

Saturday Fever. If you know Dan, you won’t be surprised at his quick humor and pithy comebacks. So, don’t say I didn’t warn you. But if you dare to ask him that question, he’ll just smile and repeat his canned response, “Every day is Saturday.”

The first time I heard Dan reply to questions about retirement from one of his friends I thought, Maybe for YOU every day is Saturday. But I haven’t retired yet!

Writer’s Life. Do you know how hard it is to focus on a writing project when “every day is Saturday”?

Yet, the first eight weeks of Dan’s retirement, that is exactly what I needed to do. Why? I had a deadline to meet to turn in my first book manuscript.

Yes, I am a late bloomer. Just when my ‘baby boomer” decides to wind up his career, I’m stepping into a new role as a book author. 

How on earth can I do that? Good question. I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out.

In fact, I can’t wait to tell you all about my debut nonfiction book, Words That Change Everything, scheduled for release in Spring 2016. But I’ll save that news flash for later. But considerer yourself warned—I’ve waited a LONG time for this moment. 

First Lesson. Back to Dan’s retirement—I know what you’re thinking, “What a great time for a writer to sit down and write her memoirs!”

NOT! Remember, EVERY DAY IS SATURDAY!

I’m hoping this first lesson from the gray zone will help you understand a little bit more about this new season of my life. I never expected some of the blessings I’ve discovered with my husband’s retirement.

In fact, when one of my Texas friends found out Dan retired, she said, “Bless your heart!”

Now, if you’re from the South like me, you know what she meant. And I don’t think it was about counting my blessings.

So, I’m glad Dan didn’t hear her. He’s a native Texan, too.

I do plan to write more about the tribulations and celebrations of retirement—or my lessons from the gray zone. But at this point, I’m not making a lot of commitments. Remember–EVERY DAY IS SATURDAY. Right?

Hope to see you again next week—”If the good Lord’s willing and the (saints) don’t rise”!

GrayZone Q & A:  Do YOU have any helpful tips or warnings about retirement? Bring ’em on!