Kara praying with women at the Redeemed Ministries Safe House
You may know that the human trafficking ministry has been on my heart for over a decade.
Over the years, I mentored at-risk and trafficked teens, volunteered with various ministries to rescue women off the streets, and even traveled to Thailand, which is considered the sex tourism capital of the world.
My most challenging, yet most rewarding effort was working on staff at a Redeemed Ministries safe house where I created workshops that engaged newly rescued women to begin the healing process.
Many of the scriptures I used with the trafficking survivors were inspiration for the Child of God Gracelet, which is all about our identity as a child of God.
Giving is a natural part of the Gracelets business/ministry all year and 10% of sales proceeds will go to Redeemed Ministries as they are seeking to raise $10,000 to kickstart a graduate housing transitional living program in the Spring of 2021.
When I worked at the safe house, one of the most difficult and heart-breaking things to witness is when a woman relapses. There are many reasons for this but the new transitional living program will address these and give women a fighting chance to stay out of the commercial sex industry.
So as you shop, shop for a purpose!
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Actual Cliff in Plymouth, MA where I grew up
I love the wind. Stillness is irritating to me. The wind feels calming, as if something powerful is happening - advancement, even while I am being still. Refreshing, assuring. Things are being moved, changed. The wind feels like freedom to me. As a little girl, I struggled with anger and fear, but the power of the wind always made me feel safe. As if something much more powerful than the circumstances in my home was really in control. It comforted me to feel a greater power was looking out for me. I would stand on a cliff high above the sea and watch storms roll in. Trees bending and bowing around me, waves crashing way below. I would stand one foot in front of the other bracing my balance, head forward leaning into the wind. I felt strong, powerful, brave. The peace of that seems ironic. I didn’t know then, God stood with me.
Last week, I found myself in a frenzy. My prayers were more like a chapter in lamentations and I completely fell from being anywhere seated with or near Jesus. I was disappointed, discouraged and worn out, feeling like I was the mole in the game of whack-a-mole. I had completely lost my SH-alom!
In this current environment, it’s not hard to do. I had enough sense to stop the babbling and with my face to my prayer mat, exclaim to Him “what happened!?” Except with more of an accusatory “well-where-are-you” tone. His response:
“You just lost your peace”.
Together we traced the steps backward through the chaos as one would if you were trying to recall where you left your keys. Together we began to pinpoint where my child-of-god crown slipped from its place and where I lost the keys to the kingdom.
It started with a few segments from the news, then my son getting very sick and tested for Covid, concerns regarding my youngest son’s safety heading off to college soon, some needed home repairs, multiple jewelry shows getting cancelled (my livelihood), more news and blah blah blah. As a single mom, to be honest, there is never a shortage of content to build a case that you’re alone. Which of course, is not the truth! But when you are decorating for a pity-party, or a fear-party or a what-if party, this seems to be the first banner I hang. I feel alone!
With what we are all facing in the world today, and I’m sure you have your own list, it’s not hard to lose your peace. I find it interesting that God’s response to any of my lamentations over the years is always lovingly pointing out how I lost my focus, took my eyes off of Him somehow. Not once, have I ever uncovered a place where there was a breach of contract between us…. well, on His end.
He has never failed me. And again this time, He Hadn’t changed, hadn’t moved. Simply, lovingly, he pointed out “You lost your peace.”
He never left, He hadn’t abandoned me, didn’t give up or even leave the party. In fact, He’s the first attendee to every pity-party, fear-party or what-if party, waiting patiently for me to tire out, take my ragged party dress off and put on my royal robe again, taking my rightful place as His beloved, well-cared for daughter.
I decided to press a bit further. Generally, it comes down to asking myself: “Do I believe God is the alpha and the omega? Do I believe He is same yesterday, today and forever? Do I really?” I believe I do, so I sought His clarification. I felt Him nudging me forward with this:
“You must practice peace.”
Hmmm- I had to practice. I had to guard my peace. I know that verse!
“Let the peace of God guard your heart.” Phil 4:7
Together as we traced the steps backward I could begin to recognize when I felt the chaos coming in, the confusion, feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, alone… when I felt fear coming in. When that inner-frenzy rises building into chaos. When I lose being in His presence. When multi-tasking kills being present. When the outer world over-takes the inner world and His presence is overshadowed by the perceived ‘bigness’ of the issues around me.
Maybe you’re thinking “duh” but for me, I realized God had pointed out something that I have struggled with for years. It was so familiar to me, it seemed normal. In fact, it seemed necessary to run a business, a household and parent two young men. But, I hadn’t been fully present in years. Living in the moment seemed elusive to me, luxurious, and came in rare moments.
I gave it pretty words like responsible, productive and successful. But it was really striving, frenzied and fearful.
Over the next week, I began practicing recognizing the MOMENT it happens. The moment I switch back over to my old way. It’s a practice. Sometimes I would catch it quickly, other times, I was pretty miserable for hours. You’d think being miserable would be a big clue, but familiar is comfortable I guess. He was instructing me in realizing when I switched from one faucet to another.
My neighbors have a weird hose. It’s a dual-spicket. Last week, they had asked me to water their flower beds while they were gone on vacation. I had to choose which spicket or which hose I wanted water from. Standing on their lawn, staring, I thought Why? I stood there staring at this thing like it was the most profound sight. I can only imagine what I must have looked like to any peering neighbors standing there as I stared at this hose in wonder for several minutes. God was unfolding a lesson.
There are two spickets (in general) we can choose to drink from. #1 God’s hose or #2 The world's. It can be the news, media or any counterfeit source of nourishment in our lives. Those things you drink from but are still thirsty. (Woman at the well.) Any place we find counterfeit Provision, Identity, Significance, Intimacy, or a million other things. For the sake of keeping this current, we will say the second hose represents the news and media. Right now, well in general, there is a constant inflow of bad news making it easy to take our eyes off of Him and lose our peace. So it is our choice to unhook from the hose of fear and foreboding and hook back into God’s truth, guarding the flow between the two.
Back to God I go. Ok, God HOW do I balance this, HOW do I keep my peace?
“If your input from media is greater than your input from God, your discouragement is self-inflicted.” Bill Johnson
It's what we focus on... The waves or Jesus. After Philippians 4:7 tells us to guard our peace, it tells us HOW:
8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think on these things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.…
There it is again! “Put it into practice!” Why do I still get so blown away when God proves himself true to me?
Don’t you just love when He teaches us patiently about His own character? - and then when we finally get it and have this ah-hah moment, it’s blows us away! Like when they discovered the earth was round. It seemed so trendy and new - Yet, it always was!
Soooo, can you guess the new 2020 Gracelet?
In January, I started to play around with the idea of the new Peace Gracelet!! As you know, I design many new pieces a year, but only one bracelet. Each one has been a journey in my life. And the main ingredients are always scripture, then colors and a theme finds it’s way. God knew we would need to guard our peace long before 2020 started 2020-ing! Since January, I have been collecting and researching scripture and sourcing beautiful gems, pearls and crystals to represent each scripture, and He always makes sure I have a good lesson on a topic before I think I can go out and share! Here is a little collage-painting from when I started thinking about this back in January.
I think 'Peace' is the perfect Gracelet for 2020! How about you?
Thanks for reading and listening.
I would love your thoughts/comments... and feel free to share your own tips and stories about maintaining your peace.
An invitation to encounter His Peace
An excerpt from my journal after I was soaking in His presence one day.
For those of who may not have ever soaked, the first time I tried is actually a funny story! (Ask me sometime!) Soaking, for me, is listening to worship music on as I lay on the floor letting Him love me and loving Him back – this is often where He speaks to me because I am available to Him. My head is cleared and open to His voice, His leading. Sometimes He gives me an impression, or a word, or a verse and sometimes a vision like this one. I invite you to picture yourself in this scenario… I pray this sparks your own encounter with God...
From my journal:
All of a sudden the music I was listening to faded and I was aware of the sensation of rocking in a boat. I realized I was in a dingy out on the open sea. The waves lapped softly and I lay in the curve on the bottom of the wood dingy. I knew somehow that I was out in the middle of the ocean very far from land. The peace I was wrapped in was almost indescribable and did not match the circumstance around me. Safely tucked in the crook of the curve in the bottom of the boat feeling the sensation of vastness around me. I could even feel the dampness in the air. I wasn’t cold, I wasn’t hungry, I didn’t feel lost, alone or afraid. Suddenly, I was made aware of what raged and threatened from below the boat. Huge sea monsters of various sizes, colors and shapes swam just below and along the side of the boat, although never breaching the surface. Again, I was in complete peace and it occurred to me to ask about the oddity of these ‘sea monsters’.
I ‘felt’ Jesus whisper: “These are your fears that lie just below the surface”. As I lay safely in the bottom of the boat, I was aware that these monsters just inches beneath me had the power to capsize me. I never sat up. I never looked over the edge and I never once felt fear. Not a single morsel. The peace was so full, so encompassing and I realized the source; I trusted in my boat. I trusted in my position in the boat and I just lay there safely even though monsters swirled and threatened below. It occurred to me then that I had no oars to even steer the boat.
Suddenly, the waves picked up and the boat began to rise and dip in the swells. Still I had peace. I was actually really enjoying this. It felt like I was practicing peace in the storm. I knew my boat was God himself. I knew He was teaching me, instructing me and even giving me some practice as He demonstrated His own word to me, His own character to me. Isn’t that amazing? He loves us so much, He takes the time to personalize trainings.
He doesn’t give up on us. He doesn’t turn to Jesus and say “Jeez, this one just doesn’t get it!” Instead, He says “Jeezus, this one needs a little help.” ( :
Soon my little boat was being tossed about and the winds were fierce, the waves were massive and I can honestly tell you that I was even feeling those little butterflies in my stomach in the natural! It was so weird. I had butterflies like you would on a roller coaster but it was more that feeling you had after a day at the amusement park as you lay in bed at night and your stomach is still reminding you of what you did to yourself that day in the name of ‘fun’. At one point, my boat spun around and around in a whirlpool and yet I had complete peace. Honestly, it was more than peace, it was completely present in Him. In His power, His safety, His promises for my life, His love. Nothing, nothing, nothing was bigger than Him.
Then, the storm began to subside and the waves calmed. But, I was aware that the waves were now directing me. Like a child in the bathtub pushing the water to make waves pushing his toy boat, two or three last waves grabbed me and carried me toward a sandy beach where I was able to step out into a new place I had never been.
As I write this, I am enjoying the feelings I just experienced but I don't have an interpretation other than I believe He is saying that no waves will overtake me and at the end of this pandemic, I, we, will be in a new place. I hope you enjoy this truth as well and can really picture it for yourself. The rest of that day I was still intoxicated with the peace from that little play-date with Papa God (Abba). Honestly, for two days, I was able to go right back into that feeling. It was wonderful. I knew that God was telling me this: “Kara, it’s not by might nor by power, but by my spirit”. In other words, trust in me, you don’t need to strive, control, worry or make anything happen right now. The fears below the surface, the storms around you will not touch you, if you just rest in me, trust in me, I will direct you and bring you into something new on the other side of the storm.
After years of being told to, I think tonight may be the catalyst for a first blog post...
Here’s to the one!
As I sit in a hotel room, I am still overcome by a beautiful fiery little 7 year old girl that came to the Gracelets booth tonight and began watching my TV showing the bracelet scripture videos. She told me she liked my “TV show”. Her mom rushed her along and she said “But Mom! I’m watching a movie about God!” I keep a bag of precious little gems and pearls to give kids at my booth and offered her a little pearl cross. She jumped up and down and hugged me. I told her Jesus thought she was very special and really loved her. Her eyes got so big and she asked “really?” "Yes!" I said! "And do you know - He’s my best friend?" Later tonight she came back again to watch more of 'my tv show' and I was able to chat with her mom and learned that she attended a catholic school and was baptized but hadn’t yet accepted Jesus.
(Fun fact about me- I shared that I graduated from an all girl catholic college in Massachusetts and didn’t accept Jesus until I was 33 - honestly I can’t remember anyone ever walking me through the meaning or process of salvation. And for the sake of the story, I shared that I had even graduated valedictorian of the college and didn’t know Jesus! Proof that head knowledge doesn’t reach the heart sometimes).
Her Mom said she would like me to talk and share this with her daughter. OH-my-gosh I can’t tell you how excited she was to hear about and receive Jesus as her savior and new best friend! She jumped up and down, curls bouncing, clapping her hands, eyes sparkling with wonder and hugging me over and over as I told her how all of heaven and the angels were singing and celebrating tonight over her!! She ran and told her Mom that angels were singing about her in heaven and that Jesus was her new best friend and that Holy Spirit is her teacher! She immediately wanted to share with her cousin and already has plans to tell friends about Jesus tomorrow! - and asked if I could babysit her and teach her the Bible! Childlike wonder and hunger... It's what Jesus loves.
So tonight I am rejoicing too... for the privilege of sharing the Love of Jesus which started a fire in the heart of a young girl who may very well ripple effect to thousands of others in her enthusiasm throughout her lifetime! What if tonight was an Esther moment? What if this is the single most fruitful act for eternity of my entire life? Just for the one? One little fiery girl named Margot.