Tuesday, December 30, 2014

until we meet again

For a while now, I have known that I this will be my last post for an indefinite period of time. I had considered simply turning away, but I cannot help but think my faithful few deserve better, deserve my heart on this. This blog has been short-lived, and I despise that, though I shouldn't. And in all honesty, I am not sure entirely why I am giving it up for now.

It isn't right--this just isn't working. This post, this blog. And I think I need some distance. Time to think, and pray. To really evaluate why I blog, and whether my writing is being guided in a different direction. For a while I have been working on a picture book--perhaps to publish someday, but for now just to give away. There are other projects filling my hard drive and journals, too.

So I come to the end of a year and the beginning of new ways. I have always been infatuated with paper, and the sincerity and tangibility it brings. The internet exhausts me sometimes with airs and distance, and I am tired of feeling far away. I want my writing to be more meaningful, for it to be placed in hands and given with honest eyes. Meaningful. I seek the meaningful. If that means less readership, I'll take it, though my readership here has never been large. But I value my faithful few, and sincerely sadden at the thought of leaving here. God has done so much in me alone here, and I cannot see what He has done in you. But He draws me to different corners of the earth, to different ways.

Perhaps my dreams have been too cookie cutter, and I have to learn to dream in different shapes and silhouettes. I am not Ann Voskamp or Aliza Latta. And I am not supposed to be. I am Karly, and above all, a child of God intended to bring Him glory however He might call me. For now that seems to be away from this blog.

Hope fills my heart, though, and the new projects excite me in a way this place has not in a while. It has been a strange year, a long year, full of change and turns in the road. I suppose I am ready to face more turns, only because I know He walks beside me.

I will leave this up for now, in the hope that past posts may be of help to you. May these words help you, and may your new year be filled with hope and courage from the Light who shines in our deepest darkness.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


I watched the snow fall,
a white Thanksgiving
before my glistening eyes.
And I thought of my own words:

It snowed.
and I wondered how such smallness
could fall so heavy,
pooling in drifts that twist,
defying the pull of gravity.

The weight of it welled up in me,
how all the smallest gifts
pile up and overflow
into mountains of beauty
into a life.

My hands all soapy, I crumbled inside,
knowing this is how we are purified.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Where We Are

Something crumbles.

The words have been all dammed up, and the eloquence, the art, has been elusive. I have tried to write, to build with small word-stones a reminder of this season I am in.

The learning, growing, healing and knowing flood me as I allow myself to feel the sharpest of pains. It is what has been whispered to me by the other word-builders who string together sentences like garlands to decorate our minds. I hang quite a few in my little attic. 

As the days shrink dimmer, there is this thinking about light.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.  He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.  John 1:1-13

The challenge hung in the air as the choir left last Thursday night: to let the words fall afresh on our ears. He spoke of hymns and songs, but it is these words, these Words from the Word, the One who came to us, these are the words that hang in graceful swags about my mind. 

Read them again. Go back and read them. Slowly. Without expecting the words that come next.

The darkness has not overcome. Let the words print deeply, don't just ink, but etch them on your heart. carve them into your minutes, breathe them every second. Because sometimes I think we live as though the darkness has won. This absent-minded child of God forgets who her Father is. Before our cellphones broke and our cars ran out of gas, before the price of milk went up, before the world tore itself into the pieces scattered as they are—He was there. Not only was He there, but He knew. He knew us, and our frustrations, and can we ever stop forgetting that where we are is no mistake?

Where we are is no mistake.

Honestly, that changes everything for me. It changes every day into something destined, something to be treasured even in ragged shadows that clutter His light. When I realize that the present, the now—where I am—is where I am supposed to be, I stop trying to leave. And I start trying to see what I am meant to see. To hear and know what I am supposed to know. I start looking for Him, instead of His way out for me.

I start looking at where I am instead of what comes next.

And oh, how it changes me.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

my good & His glory

It seems my feet are muddy.

Some days, some weeks, some months or years can be muddy roads. I can’t seem to miss those dark puddles. I can’t seem to get the dirt off my clothes, the mud off my tired feet.

I write, and it looks messy. The letters and the life behind the words.

Everyday, I step into a roomful of strangers. These are moments when I wish I could be more like my friend who sees all strangers as friends yet to be had. But I have my own struggles, and strangers are strange and sometimes frightening. I talk loud and confident to them, but sometimes, inside, I am shaking, not saying what I wish to say. Only whatever rehearsed line escapes my lips first. Not all days, but enough.

Why here? Why has He called me here? Did I do something wrong? Should I have stayed near my college, tried to get a job there? Should I have shipped out to some foreign country? Is this a punishment? Did I miss something?

I have asked these questions. Because there are days when I don’t know.

Days when people from the past walk by, and I feel like the ghost. Days when nothing seems to go easily, let alone as planned. Days full of loud advice from those who don’t really listen to what you are saying. Days when I can’t seem to wake up—can’t seem to see the world blooming around me. Days when counting gifts is a heavy, strained exercise.

Days when I don’t seem to have answers.

But we don’t live on answers. If I have learned anything through the questions and the wondering and the doubt, it is that we will starve, if we live off of answers. And haven’t I been pondering manna? Thousands living on mystery alone. I read in in those pages of the devotional, and it struck anew, the way Ann said it.

“When we find ourselves groping along, famished for more, we can choose to live as Israelites gathering manna. For forty long years, God’s people daily eat manna—a substance whose name literally means “what is it?” Hungry, they choose to gather up that which is baffling. They fill on that which has no meaning. More than 14,600 days they take their daily nourishment from that which they don’t comprehend. They find soul-filling in the inexplicable. They eat the mystery.” Ann Voskamp.

What we need is not answers. It is mysterious. It is Him.

But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4 (Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, a reference to manna)

So the days come, and I think of Christ, my word for the year, and so much more importantly: my Savior, the only One who can clean my muddy feet. When I don’t know what else to do, I look for Him. The One who began in me what He has promised to finish. (Phil 1:6

And I don’t feel it right away, but there is sunlight, and the gentle sound of music, and thawing that is slow, and then sudden.

Perspective. And I remember this is for my good & His glory.

As autumn blooms and dies, I learn and grow.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Misplacement & Manna

Somewhere between all the goings and comings, in the spaces and plodding along, a seed is growing. Though autumn is in full bloom outside, inside of me there is this sprouting spring.

Being home instead of at college, being in a different school every day(substitute teaching), being in a big church, well, it can sometime feel a little like being lost. Displaced. Misplaced?

This isn't what I thought it would be. My life. I thought I would have a full time teaching position. I thought I would have made scads of friends at church by now. But it took two years to settle in at college—why would I expect this change to be slick and quick?

And why can't this slow be a good thing?

It is. 

As much as it drives me crazy sometimes—or makes me think I am crazy—there is something quietly lovely about here.

small spaces
calling out the best of who we are
and I want to add to the beauty
to tell a better story
I want to shine with the light
that's burning up inside, oh..."

Sara Groves

Doesn't this change perspective? Instead of wishing, begging to be in a beautiful place—why not make the place we are more beautiful?

Here, there is humility to be learned, to be chosen, to be practiced. Adding to the beauty isn't about adding to our resumes, our followers, our likes. It often requires sacrifice—of time, of thought, of energy. And it begins small & strange. Two mushrooms in the forest. A brief text to be reminded I am not forgotten. A nice conversation with a new friend. A keeping track and counting of all that He gives.

A focus on noticing more than being noticed.

"Even among Christians — despite what we know in the depths of ourselves – there is great enthusiasm for being noticed, perhaps at the expense of the quiet acquisition of virtue." Jennifer Dukes Lee

These words pierce deep, and it begs the question—what is it I am after? While I walk the steps of each day, what am I chasing? (because we are always chasing something) Being noticed? Or the quiet acquisition of virtue? Because maybe this wilderness is for my good. Maybe where I am is no mistake, and I am not misplaced. Maybe sub jobs and unexpected reassurances, and His presence are my manna, coming day by day, so that I learn the habit of trust. Take a slow read through Exodus 16. Manna every morning because they looked for the source of life in their bread alone, and that way would only lead them to death. He responds, even to their grumbles, with grace.

I fail, but I learn to take my manna with a humble smile, and make the very most of that "what is it?" that comes in the quiet, the small, and the strange. In His ways that are mystery.

Maybe I am the only one who likes quaint mushrooms on my desktop, but who knows? Click the image to download if so inspired!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Grass Blades & His Ways

It came to me as I sat in a moment of frustrated rest. The strokes, greens pale and deep, and some golden, were so repetitive, over and over, up and up in thin, haphazard lines. I have never loved painting grass. Every ten minutes I would droop—arms crashing to bent knee, head hanging limp.

“I just want to be done.”

This was my frustrated whisper.

This is the frustration of my soul.

I didn’t know just what I wanted to be done with then, but I knew it was something important, something worth wrestling with in the night. 

Done, I wanted to be done—to be over that sin, to be through the waiting, to be healed completely, to fully forgive, to release it all, to know how to live a godly life where I am, to be right there at the end of the work begun in me.

 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6 ESV)

Can that day be today? My semblance of patience is but a thin mask; I am not patient. Not today, anyway.

Some days ago I read Psalm 85 in the fresh rays of morning. The words seemed fresh to me—I am not sure I ever read this particular Psalm before, or really let the words soak into my soul.

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, 
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.
Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.
 Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky.
Yes, the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way.( Psalm 85:8-13 ESV)

The end of the Psalm still tumbles about my mind; the words have been percolating, and the power of His Voice penetrating. And when I look at the way the words are put together, it pierces deep. I am no scholar (though I would very much like to be) but I like looking to the Strong’s Concordance for the deepening of understanding, the concentrating of the language.

The King James Version translates the last sentence as “Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps.” The word for steps, is also sometimes translated as time, a beat, an occurrence. And this settles over my soul the way this early autumnal sun settles over my shoulders: warmly. In the way of His time, His beat, His steps.

But I read it again, and again, look at more words: Make or set can be translated also as establish, or appoint. And way is sometimes translated as the course of life, a journey.

He will establish us in a life of His rhythm; a journey in His beat will be appointed to us. He will make his footsteps a way.  Behind and before us, His footsteps are a way to walk, a way to spend our lives. 

The connotations are coming together, the way becoming clearer.

My soul knows it not well enough yet: small strokes and steps make lives, set by the One who will give what is good. Will I ever remember? “Sometimes the great thing that heals us is doing a small thing again and again.” That is what Ann Voskamp said, and isn’t healing what I want? Maybe I don’t need some huge, flashy miracle, but small, gritty, everyday miracles, beautiful blessings He cannot help but give, everyday chipping away of what I must release. I need these brushstrokes of green, over and over, disciplining the heart to know what it forgets; I need to read the words over, over, to give thanks again, again in all the smallest of graces, to give the hurts and hardened parts to the One who sends them forever away. And I come to wonder if the journey is slow so that it can be filled with more of Him, that we may know Him more for all our weakness and suffering.

So I paint and paint and paint these blades of grass so that I won’t forget.

The Lord will give what is good.

I traced the oak leaf from the lake, and would he ever have imagined that falling down and drying out would lead to beauty that might go on and on? Beauty to encourage, to remind us of His promises?
So here, have a printable poster in two sizes :)
And maybe make it your own, you know? Print on colored paper? Watercolor it? Or leave it simple, like mine. Click right on the images to download.

8.5" x 11"
11" x 17"

Friday, September 19, 2014


If you could hold days and hours like pebbles in palms, I might be able to show you.

Then again, I might not.

If history was a piece of string that ran through our hands, we might get rope-burn. But I could show you.

I want to show you.

If these words are my stones, my memorials and monuments to the places God has been, then where is it that have I found Him these days?

In the spaces. The stones invisible, the empty places on the string.

Sure, there have been rustling waves of morning light through old windows, tea with donuts that taste like autumn, a few kindly given smiles, mystic fog that poses questions, the joy of pen on paper to create. I count them, taking them from their wrappings and ribbons of His love.

But life has been very spacious today and this week and this month. My mind rustles like the drying leaves—restless to glow in truest color, eager for what lies ahead, hesitant to really bloom so late in the season, in this humble patch I find myself.

But somehow in these empty places I have turned my attention—though I sometimes talk too much, rambling on when I should be listening—to Him. And the words from the hymn sung Sunday morning tumble round my mind.

And maybe it isn't a coincidence that the song is called My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness, because it takes the humility of a thankful heart to find joy in empty spaces filled by Someone else. I spoke it to the flames and the glowing hearts in a patch of grass among cornfields, that the only way to be full is to let His love pour through us.

And so maybe wasted space isn't empty space, but space full of waste.

And Isaiah is trying to tell me in Chapter 30 verse 15 what God says;

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;

    in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”

So I learn so slowly to let Him fill gaps and hollows, because when He is present, He floods with salvation and strength. I take that extra moment in the staff bathroom, in the empty hallway, in the warming sun, to just be, and be with Him.

And maybe we can learn it together, to look to Him when we drive alone and walk to cars and sit at home and scarf down meals. Small spaces add up to a whole lot of Grace.

Maybe we both need this just now, to turn our gaze, the gaze of our soul, as Tozer pens, and simply look to Christ instead of looking at how empty these spaces are. Even that is a filling, a rising something we cannot claim, but can name, that floods and sways to the brim of our souls.

A subtle knowing that He was here.

He is even here.

Zephaniah 3:17 ESV:
The LORD your God is in your midst,
  a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
  he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.

I drew & edited these stones to remind me, for I am absent-minded, forgetful. I am placing them all over my spaces—my mirror, in my planner, in my car. Just a reminder of what I forget sometimes.

Even when we hide, He is here.

Download this printable gift from me for free?