"Every day that you don't read your Bible is a day that you're trying to live life in your own strength, and it's too hard for you.  The Bible is God talking to you!  Soak yourself in it." — Karen Jensen

How to Overcome the Hurts in Your Life

Have you been hurt?

I think we could all say “yes” to that! And really, we know we should forgive those who have hurt us, but maybe you’ve tried to forgive and you just couldn’t.

Maybe you thought you forgave, but what happened just keeps coming back, and it feels so raw and painful, you wonder if you’ve failed in the forgiveness department. Maybe you know you should forgive, but you’re just plain mad, and you don’t want to forgive at all.

Or maybe you’ve forgiven the same person again and again, and you don’t want to do it anymore.

First, let me say I’m so sorry you’ve been hurt. I know your pain is real. You may think, “No one understands what I’ve gone through” or “How can I forgive the horrible things I’ve endured, the emotional, mental, or physical scars I wear every day?”

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I Was Amazed by God's Answer for This Woman

I first met Barbara when she came to church on a Sunday morning.

She came not long after my husband, the founding pastor, had unexpectedly died, and I had taken over his job pastoring the church, so I was pretty new at it. (You can read more about that story in my book, Why God Why? What To Do When Life Doesn’t Make Sense.)

Barbara caught my eye because she seemed so unhappy and downtrodden. When I greeted her after service, she looked down as I shook her hand. She murmured “thank you,” then walked toward the parking lot.

It wasn’t until her third Sunday that I finally managed to catch her for a quick conversation, and was able to ask, “Is there anything I can do for you?”

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When You Disagree With Your Leader

We all have leaders in one form or another – they’re bosses or pastors or teachers or parents or public figures, etc. And the chances of agreeing with our leaders 100% of the time is zero. I know I’ve disagreed with my leader before – I’m sure you have too. 

When I was a pastor, I used to tell my congregation, “If you haven’t disagreed with me yet, you just haven’t been here long enough.”  Because nobody agrees with anyone else all the time – even if we love them (and especially if we don’t).  

So…what should we do when we disagree?  We live in a society that has taught us to rant when we disagree with someone or something. And our human nature is to tell people (loudly and clearly) when we disagree, in an effort to find people to take our side. But most of the time that just inflames the situation – it doesn’t solve anything. And it’s not God’s way.

Wait a minute – you mean God cares about this? I think so. I think He knew we humans would disagree with each other, and gave instruction for when it happens. Does the Bible have something to say about what to do when we disagree with our leader?

Yes, I believe it does. Here are some things to think about...

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Someone Is Praying for You

I once heard a story from a missionary who had been ministering in a foreign country many years ago. In those days he and his ministry team traveled mostly by donkey along very rugged trails to remote villages in the mountains, where most of the indigenous people had never heard the gospel or even seen a white person.

This team had made an agreement with one another that if any of them got sick or were unable to travel for any reason, they would go on without the person who had fallen ill. They felt it was that important to reach this region with the good news.

Well, one day this missionary got very sick….

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Get Encouraged and Stay Encouraged!

Have you ever been discouraged? I think we all have been at one time or another. You might even be discouraged right now.

Well, I want to help you. I’ve been discouraged and I’ve been encouraged, and I’ve found out that being encouraged is better! God doesn’t want you to be discouraged.   

Let’s face it, when you’re discouraged you’re not going to rise up in faith and conquer the enemy. You’re not going to help anyone. No, you probably feel like going back to bed and pulling the covers over your head!

I don’t think we’ve properly understood the importance of being encouraged. When you’re encouraged, you feel strong. You make things happen. You believe God. And you reach out to help and bless others. Being encouraged is more vital than we’ve thought!

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Encourage Your Child's Gifts

Here’s something I’ve learned in life: everyone is good at something. And no is good at everything! We all have giftings and strengths, and we all have weaknesses.

The same is true for your children. Just like everyone else in the human race, they aren’t good at everything. But they are good at something!

Maybe your child struggles in school or in social situations, but they’re great at running or putting things together. Rather than focusing on the things they don’t do well, understand that there is something they’re good at, and help them develop it.

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4 Things to Stop and Start

In spite of all our prayers asking God for His help and His intervention in our lives, there are a lot of things that we ourselves have control over.

Sometimes we don’t like to hear that, because it makes us responsible to do something. If you’re like me, sometimes you want God to move your mountain for you, you want Him to charge down from heaven and change things, you just want to cry out, “Help me, Lord!” And thankfully, help is often available. But much of the time, we want Him to “fix” things in our life, when the power is all ours.

So, to me, it’s good news that I have control over some things; that I am responsible for the fix, not someone else. That means I can decide. I’m not a victim, I’m the one with the power – Jesus gave it to me! (Luke 10:19).

I’ve been thinking about four things in particular that we have control over – four things we can stop in our lives, and four things we can start. 

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When It's Not Happening Fast Enough

You and I live in a time that we can have almost anything we want quickly. So then we tend to get impatient when we pray and ask God to meet a need or give us direction, because it feels like it’s taking too long.

But you know what? God isn’t at all moved by our time table! If you don’t believe that, just look how long He’s been saying that Jesus will return “soon.” Apparently, God’s idea of soon is different from ours. He’s just not in a hurry! His timing is perfect.

And here’s the deal – a lot of times, you simply aren’t ready for the next step, and He knows it. He loves you and wants you to succeed. He doesn’t want to throw you into the deep end before you can swim. You might feel like you’re ready—ready for ministry, ready for marriage, ready to move away, ready for that new job. But the truth is – and I know you probably don’t want to hear this – but you might not be ready yet!

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When You Don't Know What to Do

When it comes to getting God’s direction for your life, it’s best not to get in a hurry. Sometimes after you’ve prayed and sought God about a decision, you might feel like you still don’t have any idea what to do. Ever been there? I have.

There can be any number of reasons that you still don’t know what to do. It could be because the time is just not right yet for something you feel led to do—some other things may need to happen before you step out into God’s next direction for your life.

So if you’ve prayed, sought God, asked questions, checked with mentors, and done your research but you still aren’t sure what to do, don’t do anything yet.

There, I said it. And I know it might not sound like much help, but I promise, waiting won’t hurt. The plan that God has for you today will still be the plan He has for you tomorrow. You won’t get left behind if you wait for His timing.

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Poor Me!

If you’ve been alive longer than 15 minutes, you’ve probably had something horrible happen to you. I’m pretty sure we all have.

And I’m sorry. I wish bad things didn’t happen, and I wish it hadn’t happened to you. Part of me wants to wrap you in cotton and bubble wrap and keep you safe in a closet so nothing else can hurt you.

But really – what kind of life is that?

No, as long as you’re alive on this planet, there are going to be troubles and trials and bumps and bruises. Even Jesus told us, “In the world you will have tribulation…” (John 16:33). Thankfully, He followed that statement up with, “…but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” That’s good news!

It’s easy, though, to feel sorry for ourselves in the midst of adversity and painful events, isn’t it. In fact, self-pity can be our automatic reaction to trouble unless we know how to recognize and stop it. “Poor me!” can easily become our habitual thought.

But here’s what I’ve learned: I can’t have faith and self-pity at the same time. So it’s time to shut down the pity party and rise up in faith! Because faith is what I need in order to come out the other side of any trouble (1 John 5:4).

So how do we rise above self-pity and get into faith when awful circumstances come our way? Here are two steps...

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God, Which Way Should I Go?

When I first moved to Minneapolis, anytime I drove my car I never knew where I was or where I was going. I had to depend completely on the navigation system to get absolutely anywhere – seriously, I couldn’t even get to the grocery store without it.

I felt pretty stupid around my husband and all the other Minneapolis natives who knew their way around everywhere they went. But really, if you’re new, you’re new, right? How could I know where to go if I’d never been there before?

Well, if you think about it, it’s the same way with our lives. I mean, we can make plans to head in a certain direction, but none of us have been to the future. We might know which direction we want to go, but we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, because we’ve never been there before.

But there’s good news…

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What I Learned After My Husband Died

When I was 37 years old, my husband Brent (also 37) was four years into pastoring a church we had pioneered in Boise, Idaho. But on the evening of New Year’s Day 1997, Brent went to bed before me, and by the time I got there about an hour later he had suddenly and inexplicably died. I called 911, but he was never revived.

As you can imagine, my life and the lives of my young sons (age 12 and 13 at the time) changed drastically after that. I went on to pastor the church by myself, and the boys grew up without a dad. 

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4 Things I Learned From a Modern Day Christmas Story

Recently, I got an excited voice mail message from an old friend. She said, “Karen! Something happened to me today, and I felt like I really should tell you about it. Call me!”

In my author life, sometimes I have to screen calls (like when I’m writing) and I don’t always get to answer back as quickly as I’d like, but who could resist a message like that? Needless to say, I called her right back as soon as I heard it.

And she proceeded to tell me the most wonderful story…

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