Category Archives: Identity in Christ

Happy Anniversary! Reflections of the First Year

I spent time last night simply watching the snow fall with a warm blanket and an eager puppy on my lap. (One that currently will not stop barking at anyone who dare to try to shovel, so he may be free to a good home at this point.)

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In the midst of the endless to-do list filled with books to read, messages to write, paperwork to complete, and a puppy to entertain, I was compelled to simply stop and watch.  It was too peaceful and mesmerizing not to take in for a moment. And it gave me the time I’d been longing for and needing to simply reflect. You see in the midst of a “snowpocalypse”, Super Bowl festivities, and the typical activities of a Sunday afternoon, today marks the one year anniversary of the launching of MND GMZ Ministries. One year ago today, with the simple push of a button, MND GMZ Ministries became a reality with this simple blog. There was no going back! It was exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time.

And as beautiful as the falling snow looked last night, God revealed a stunning tapestry this morning that beckons one to continue to put the to-do list on the back burner, to curl up with a hot drink, to invite that playful puppy to stop barking and curl up with me, and continue to reflect on the past year.

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After playing in the snow a bit of course…

So as I sit and stare at the winter wonderland outside my window and think back on the last year, one thought consumes my mind: that of profound gratefulness.

I am thankful for family and friends that make up the MND GMZ Core Team. You have always encouraged, never once accused me of being crazy (even when I felt like I was), and have covered me in countless and unceasing prayers. MND GMZ Ministries is a reality because of your belief in its mission and your faith in Christ!

I am thankful for YOU – my readers, cheerleaders, followers, and friends. MND GMZ Ministries exists to bring truth where lies have taken hold, specifically truth about the source of our identity. Every time you “like” or “share” a post or encourage someone to follow this blog, you join in that mission.

Finally, I’m thankful that I’m as passionate about that mission as I have ever been and believe it is more important now than ever before. And I’m thankful to not be alone in this important Kingdom work. May we all work together to “reclaim the rules” that our true worth and identity is found as God’s beloved sons and daughters by adoption through Jesus Christ!

Here’s a few opportunities in which you may join MND GMZ Ministries in the days to come and what you can expect for year two!

First, MND GMZ Ministries Core Team will be having a prayer event Friday, February 6th at 7:00 pm. Prayer is the backbone of this ministry. It was born in prayer, launched in prayer a year ago, and has been bathed in prayer ever since. It is only fitting to mark the one year anniversary with prayer of thanks for the past year and prayer seeking guidance for the year to come. Join us from wherever you are. That is what is wonderful about prayer – it unites our hearts and spirits regardless of physical proximity!

Second, continue to follow, read, and share with others! Your social media creates a powerful chain reaction that allows the message to spread more quickly than you realize. Your role matters! Over the next week or two, you’ll notice a few of our favoirte “throwback blogs” as a reminder of the focus of this ministry, but then you can expect new blogs to begin to appear again. I have much to share but there are also some AMAZING guest bloggers line up as well! Whether old or new, keep hitting that “share link” button!

Third, I have the distinct honor and privilege of speaking at Central College next Sunday and Monday. If you are near the Pella area or know someone who is, you are welcome to come! The events are free and open to the public. I believe God will be present in powerful ways so please come join! And keep your eyes open for other speaking events in the future. There is an updated calendar and don’t hesitate to think of us for your next youth, college, or adult ministry event!

So, grab your favorite Sperrys, your brightest sneakers, prettiest pumps, or boldest boots. It’s time to journey into year two! And I couldn’t be happier you’ve come along!

~Karen

I’m BAAAAAAACK!

So I have been on a bit of a hiatus. My silence has not been the result of writer’s block – trust me, I have much to share! Nor have I been sitting around twiddling my thumbs! No, I’ve been out and about sharing with some amazing ministries, teaching classes, and of course seeing clients. (My boss wishes doing paperwork was among that list – don’t worry Jean, the notes will get done!)

I love you, my readers, and I’m both honored (and frankly taken aback) that so many of you have missed my random musings and little insights. And I can’t wait to share with you some of the things I’ve been pondering and some of the thoughts that have been marinating over the last couple of months. Here’s a sneak peek…

Everyone wants to belong…

We need each other. Young and old alike – all have something unique to offer.

Waiting is the hardest part, but the most important part…

Authenticity is scary, but necessary…and awesome!

And of course, Christmas craze, holiday haze, and the meaning maze.

I. CAN’T. WAIT!!

I’d stay up writing all night if I didn’t have to be coherent enough to teach in the morning. Or have those silly progress notes to write. Or have papers to grade. Or was 15 years younger and actually still capable of pulling all nighters.

For now, here’s a silly, yet sincere tidbit.

I attended an Iowa Hawkeye football game this fall. Thanks to a VERY generous friend, I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a game for the last few seasons. My favorite team since my youth, it is always a thrill watch them play live. One of my favorite moments of every game at Kinnick Stadium is hearing those first few notes of “Back in Black” begin to blare over the loud speaker as the jumbotron shows the team making their way through the tunnel from the locker room to the field. This little pregame ritual always brings tears to my eyes. Yes, you read that correctly, tears. And yes, I’m embarrassed to admit that. But I finally sat down and asked myself why I become so emotional watching a football team run onto the field.

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coming onto field

For one thing, there’s nothing like the excitement and anticipation before a sporting event. The hope and promise of a victory, even if the possibility seems slim, exists at the start of each contest. Second, the team runs on as one – united by one objective – to win the game. They are united by the name on the front of their jersey, which for the duration of the game becomes much more important than the name on the back. They win as Iowa Hawkeyes. They lose as Iowa Hawkeyes. (And a little piece of me dies regardless of the outcome because my blood pressure rises to dangerous levels during each game.)

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What does this have to do with identity or faith (other than the fact that I owe the Hawkeyes for improving my prayer life and teaching e how to endure suffering and deal with disappointment)? Well, it may sound silly, but as Christians, we also play for the same team. We are united not by our individuality (although our uniqueness is beautiful and necessary) but we are united by our commonalities. We have a common Creator, who serves as our coach in a common goal – that of glorifying His name and bringing Heaven to earth. And the best part? He guarantees victory! No need for high blood pressure. There may be high drama at times, but there is no need for concern when the outcome is assured. We win. God will be glorified. His Kingdom will come on earth as it is in Heaven. Jesus will indeed return (though the trumpets probably won’t be playing “Back in Black”). And when He does return, every knee will bow and every tongue will proclaim that He is Lord! Praise God!

Whether a Hawkeye or a Cyclone. A Bugeater or a Badger. A Blue Devil or a Tarheel. Or no fan at all. I’m honored to journey and battle alongside each and everyone of you.

Loved, Forgiven, and Beautifully Made

The middle school girl whose head hangs low because the comments she hears from her peers confirm her greatest fears and insecurities, creating gaping wounds on her heart. And eventually those emotional wounds become physical ones on her arms and legs.

It’s the bully, the mean girl, whose only way to feel good is to put others down. The desire to climb the social ladder requires stepping on other students. Collecting social capital means picking on the less popular. But being on top is surprisingly lonely. Popularity is both pricey and precarious.

The college student whose perfectionist expectations of herself are not only unrealistic but unattainable. And so she doesn’t eat, doesn’t stop striving, and doesn’t say no to anyone but herself. And so the more uncontrollable her life becomes, the more she focuses on the one thing she can control – what does, or does not go in her mouth.

It’s the captain of the football team who understands that his acceptance and affirmation from peers and parents alike rests on his ability to achieve. And so he turns to pot to numb the pain he feels from longing to be loved as a person instead of for his performance.

Young people are struggling. I see it everyday in my office. They are hurting because adults are hurting in many of the same ways. The mother who needs her family to look a little bit better than the one next door in order to feel like she is ok. The pressure for perfection is passed on to the children and when a mistake is made the panic is real and the shame salient. Or the mother who’s checked out and given up completely. Her self-worth waning, her stress mounting, and her resources stretched way too thin. The father whose drive for the next promotion and a more prestigious title prohibits him from being present. And even when he makes it home for dinner, his mind is else where and his emotion aren’t engaged. Or the “deadbeat dad” who deserts his family like his father did, fulfilling the seemingly prophetic voices that have convinced him he’s a failure and incapable of being a provider, a husband, and a father.

All of these people suffer from the same core issue, a lack of understanding of their true worth and value. We all struggle with grasping both the source and the scope of our value.

you are loved

John 3:16 (The Voice) says, “For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life.” This all too familiar verse is all too often taken for granted. The key to life is believing in the enormity of God’s love, a love so large it did not withhold anything, not even God’s own Son. To believe isn’t just to have a nice thought, to believe requires action. What if I acted as though I were worth so much and loved so deeply that God gave His own son? We are loved!

You are forgiven

We are loved, but we are also forgiven. Romans reminds us that all have sinned and fall short of God’s standards (Romans 3:23) and Christ died on the cross in our place despite of our sinful state (Romans 5:8). In Ephesians 2:8-9 Paul says (The Voice), “For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing.” What would happen if we acted as if we are truly forgiven?

beautifully wonderfully made

Finally, what if we truly believed that we are beautifully made? Paul continues in Ephesians saying, “For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago (Ephesians 2:10, The Voice).” The NIV says we are “God’s workmanship”. Psalm 139:14 says (NIV), “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” We are loved. We are forgiven. We are beautifully made.

What would happen if we truly understood how deeply we are loved, how truly we are forgiven, and how amazingly beautiful we are made? What if we truly believed what God tells us? I can only begin to imagine what a wonderful world it would be! Insecurities would melt away. Pride would become humility. Competition would become cooperation. Fear would give way to confidence in Christ. Hopelessness would be no more. Grudges would give way to grace as the forgiven extend forgiveness. And the Apostle Paul must have known just how important truly believing these things are. His prayer for the Christians in Ephesus reads, “Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your people. Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in their hearts. May love be the rich soil where their lives take root. May it be the bedrock where their lives are founded so that together with all of Your people they will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may Your fullness flood through their entire beings (Ephesians 3:16-19, The Voice).”

And that is my prayer for all of us. That we may live as if we truly believe that we are loved, we are forgiven, and we are beautifully made. So what if…?