Monday, September 22, 2008

Grace and Karlena

I was blessed with a fun, inspiring and relaxing weekend with Karlena again and am so grateful that I had the opportunity to be in Denver with her. We stayed in the heart of downtown in a hotel on the 16th street mall and walked to and from the Pepsi Center and it was fun seeing all of the diversity that Denver has to offer!

This year’s conference was on celebrating God’s Infinite Grace. And a celebration it was! We were entertained with awesome music, speakers and as always the message of hope. Hope in life everlasting because of the amazing grace that God has poured out onto us, given freely at little cost or sacrifice to us, because He loves us. It is a gift that I find myself overwhelmed by still and so very grateful for.

And then I wonder how am I living out that gift in my own life? Am I giving freely to others of my time and gifts? Am I grateful for the life I have – even when at times it isn’t what I thought I wanted for myself? Am I finding ways to spread His message of hope with others or am I holding it in because I am too afraid of what other will think of me if I do share the Truth? Am I setting an example of grace and love in my life for my children to see?

Karlena is….

She is an amazing woman. I know that I said that on a previous post – but it is worth saying again. When she was 18 she found out that she carried the gene for a disease called Ataxia – something that runs in her family and took her father at a young age. She knew then at 18 that there would be a chance that she might develop the “symptoms” of the disease later in her life. But instead of letting that seemingly negative information bring her down she chose to live her life to the fullest regardless of what path would be given to her.

And she has been doing that ever since.

Several years ago she started showing some of the typical “symptoms” of ataxia and we all knew what future was in store for her. When I found out I was angry with God – it isn’t fair that someone so young, so beautiful, so filled with Christ should be faced with something like this. It isn’t fair. I struggled with that for a long time.

I am sure that there must be times Karlena struggles with that same feeling – but you wouldn’t know it if you spent any time with her. She is faithful in her walk with God – trusting that He knows the plans He has for her and although not always “fair”, she doesn’t question His will for her life. She is grateful for the time she does have and lives life that way.

She is an example to me each and every time I am with her. Life isn’t fair. It isn’t right that a 33-year-old woman should be planning her own “celebration of life” ceremony. But she has and it is something she needs to do. I am grateful that I can support her in that – even if it isn’t fair and even if I want to deny the truth of the situation. I know that some day I will get that “call” – the call that I dread because it means an end of something on earth here for me.

But again as I talk with Karlena and we remember the promises that God offers, I am reminded that we have something more wonderful to look forward to. She maybe sooner than I – but we both have the assurance of that reunion again someday, and that is a reason to celebrate.

I shared with her this weekend the lyrics to a song I recently heard. It is from Chris Tomlin’s brand new CD “Hello Love”. It is an amazing CD and one song in particular has really touched me. The first time I heard it I thought of Karlena. Because as her body continues to fail her, as she continues to struggle with some of those daily tasks we take advantage of – she holds onto the promise of a Savior that loved her enough to die for her and make a place for her where one day she will dance unassisted, rising in worship to a God that loves her, loves me, loves all of us.

What an amazing gift we have been given – the gift of GRACE.

I hope that the words to this song will touch you as it did me. I am lucky to have Karlena in my life – someone that has made that difference in me – who is it in your life? If you have that someone, tell them what they mean to you. Don’t wait – our time here is precious.

I Will Rise
By Chris Tomlin


There’s a peace I’ve come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There’s an anchor for my soul
I can say, “It is well”

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagle’s wings
Before my God, fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

There’s a day that’s drawing near
When the darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagle’s wings
Before my God, fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

And I hear the voice of many angels sing,
“Worthy is the Lamb”
And I hear the cry of every longing heart,
“Worthy is the Lamb”

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagle’s wings
Before my God, fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

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