In What or Where Do You Find Rest?

186115b161814f9c84c2932635b0446bef5a703957d276de07b9a5a444df2d17-qI8ei0mud puddle girlWhere do you find rest?

The world offers many remedies for rest.  Many desperately try to find rest in alcohol, or in drugs.  Many hope vacations will give them the rest they need, but find they are more exhausted when they return home than when they began their vacation.  Or some turn to entertainment and computer games to relax.  Some think they will rest when their forever growing ‘To Do’ list is done.

We are in a very visual, stimulating world.   Busyness and distractions get in our way of realizing the rest we need.   Unless you are at a burnout point, like I was, and the doctor says you must rest and quit work.  I had left work with cardiac symptoms and walked to the clinic next door.  My resting heart rate was 110 bpm.  I felt like I was on a treadmill internally that would not stop.  The sad thing is, I asked the doctor if I could at least go back to work and finish the report I had due by the end of the day.  Of course, he said “NO”!  I sadly realized I had become more of a “human doing” than a “human being”.

Genesis 2:2-3  “By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work.   And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.”  Our Creator God modeled and set the example for us to rest.  We need to learn to unplug and give ourselves permission to rest.

I live in chronic pain.  I have cervical dystonia and TMJ that challenges my adrenals and my faith every day.   Often the Holy Spirit will bring to mind Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  I do believe God’s promises, but I don’t always understand them.

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”.  I’ve told the Lord it’s much easier to trust Him when things are going great and things are going according to my plan.   I’m learning it’s not about how much faith I have but it’s actually whom I place my faith in.

Psalm 46:10 is a promise that helps me relax and rest.  “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth”.

Jesus invites everyone of us to come to Him and find rest.   Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”   An inner, peaceful rest that only comes through a surrendered personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  He longs for and waits to give us the peace and rest we are searching for.

In my song, In You I Find Rest, I wrote at a time when Jesus, by the power of His Holy Spirit, revealed Himself in a deeper way to me.  His Truth does set us free.

IN YOU I FIND REST  Words and Music by Karen L. Carlson                     CCLI #3356409   Composed by Rich Crouch Show & Tell Family Projects     Sung by Josie Colby

In what or where do you find rest?






DSC_0622mud puddle girlI love music.  I enjoy Christian music.  Everyday when I wake up, I turn on my favorite radio station, Spirit 105.3   They’re a huge part of my day.

Years ago, our son came home with a new friend. I had to laugh as he was introducing his friend to me, he exclaimed, “This is Spirit 105.3, my mom’s favorite radio station.  She has it on everyday!”  I realized then how big of an impact the music had on our kids as well.

My grandkids love to sing silly repetitive songs to me; they know the songs get stuck in my head.  They sing it once or twice and yep, it’s stuck in my head.  That drives me crazy.  This past week, our son and granddaughter skyped us.  During our conversation they sang, “It Is Well With My Soul.”  Absolutely precious…songs and music are such a gift.

  • Music can be moving.
  • Music can be fun and silly.
  • Music can make you want to dance.
  • Music can be comforting.
  • Music can be relaxing.
  • Music can be healing.
  • Music can trigger memories and emotions.
  • Music is powerful

While growing up, my dad played the button accordion.  He often played Edelweiss, from the Sound of Music.  To this day, hearing that song brings a flood of childhood memories back to me.  Certain hymns, also bring back memories of me sitting by Dad during church and hearing his rich bass-baritone voice. Even now I can still hear my Dad’s voice when certain hymns are sung at church.

At our wedding, I was doing great until the music started to play.  I began to cry and couldn’t stop crying throughout our whole wedding and into the reception line.  I even had my flower girls and ring bearers in tears.  Wow…music can stir emotions.

Speaking of music, did you notice that Terry added something to our website this week…a new menu button:  Karen’s Songs?   Over the next few blogs, I will share the stories behind some of my songs.  I believe God has a sense of humor because…I DON’T SING!

When we began to have children I struggled with low self-esteem and unrealistic expectations.  While listening to my favorite radio station, James Dobson,, was interviewing a woman about a new ministry for mothers who have preschool children called MOPS.  I prayed and got the courage to talk to our pastor about it.  Eventually he and the church board saw the need and enlisted me to be the first coordinator of our MOPS group.  I loved MOPS and served in a variety of positions for years.  MOPS was so dear to my heart and I grew to know Jesus more as I served.

I was in a very difficult time in my life when I wrote the first song, “MY JESUS“.   (CCLI #3355929)  Sung by Josie Colby…Arrangement by Rich Crouch…Words and music by Karen L. Carlson

After serving many years in MOPS I became very ill.  I ached all over my body and was chronically fatigued.  Getting out of bed became difficult.  One by one, my teeth began to die.  I had root canal after root canal.  In desperation, I cried out to the Lord.  He heard me and gave a quick, clear answer.  In one day, I had three people tell me I needed to let go of MOPS and take care of myself physically.  I obeyed and let go of serving in MOPS.  This was not the answer I wanted to hear.

Shortly after letting go of MOPS, I attended a Sunday school class taught by a married couple.  I soon became good friends and prayer partners with the wife.  One Sunday after class, she and her husband prayed over me and anointed me with oil.  As we drove home, I started singing a song I had never heard before.  Terry said he had never heard it either.

When I got home, I wrote down the words.  I called a talented musician from church.  I was hoping he could help me put the music and lyrics on paper.  He couldn’t meet with me for awhile so he told me to sing my song into a tape recorder.  If more songs came to me in the meantime, I was to record them as well.  Over the years He gave me twelve more songs!

I’m in awe of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His love for us.  I hope you are, too.  I was entering a difficult time of physical affliction and was afraid He would be disappointed with me.  I didn’t want to let Him down now that I couldn’t serve Him.  He was faithful to show me how mighty and personal of a God He is.   Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save, He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Music is powerful!  Music is a gift from God!  Enjoy it this week.

What songs stir up childhood memories in you?








LOVE MEDSC_0893I have a secret.  I don’t want to share it for fear of being judged.  Why do I fear being judged?  Because I have a behavioral dysfunction; I am a people pleaser.  I want people to like me and at times am tempted to manipulate the truth to gain acceptance.  Why am I sharing this with you?  Because I am also a Christian and the real Truth will set me free.

While preparing to write this blog I did a little research.  I typed in, people pleaser symptoms into my search engine and was surprised to find out I really suffer from a disorder: Avoidant personality.  Wow!  That sounds so much worse than just wanting people to like me.  This is a self-diagnosis based on what I read from a website article.

The following article listed five possible manifestations of this Avoidance Disorder.

  1. Needs To Be Well Liked.
  2. Not Open To Intimate Relationships
  3. Uncomfortable In Social Settings
  4. Avoids Work Activities
  5. Avoids Conflict At All Cost

I have all these symptoms in varying degrees.  I falsely believe that by practicing these behaviors I’ll protect myself from uncomfortable situations.  I have discovered though that there are negative consequences for believing these lies.

Needs to be well-liked:

During my school years I was always teacher’s pet.  Why?  I wanted them to like me.  I strove to never do anything which would land me in trouble.  One day a boy cut in front of me in the lunch line.  I loudly complained.  Our teacher walked over demanding an explanation.  The other boy said I was the one who had cut in line.  Before I could reply, I was led by the ear back to the end of the line.  I was mortified that I had gotten in trouble.  I remember apologizing, hoping that would once again get me in good graces with my teacher.

Not open to intimate relationships:

As a child, I could only fit into what was then labeled “Husky” for the size classification of the blue jeans I wore. I was teased about my weight.  I remember going home one day and asking my mom why everyone was so mean when I always tried to be nice.  In my young mind, friendships meant having to endure ridicule, so I kept my classmates at arm’s length.

I did find one friend who didn’t laugh at me when I tore my pants bending over playing Four Square or who didn’t pinch my belly fat.  We became inseparable. We were best friends all through elementary and junior high school.  We hung out every day, even during summer vacation.  I don’t remember having one argument with him…ever.

During my sophomore year of high school my friend started branching out and developing new friends.  He didn’t dump me but I took offense and when I met my future wife, at a high school dance, my relationship with my inseparable friend slowly disappeared.  I had found another best friend, and in my world, I only needed one.

Uncomfortable in social settings:

I caught the mumps when I was four or five.  During the course of this illness, I awoke one morning with blood on my pillow from my infected ear.  I was later diagnosed with permanent hearing loss in my right ear.  I quickly adapted to hearing out of only one ear.  In school I always sat in the front row (which also made it easier to catch the teachers adoring eye).

As I grew older though, I turned my disability into an excuse to avoid social gatherings.  It’s true that having only one working ear makes it hard to talk in noisy environments but it became an easy justification why to leave school dances early, or years later, to avoid weddings and other social events.

Avoids work activities:

The article states that people with Avoidance Disorders seek a low profile at work to keep from interacting with others.  While I still feel uncomfortable at meetings mingling with everybody, I prefer one-on-one interactions.  Instead of having to please a large group, I only have to please the person sitting across from me.

Avoids conflict at all costs:

Recently, I talked to someone a few years older than me who rode the same school bus I had.  He laughed and asked if I remembered my first day riding the bus.  He recalled how excited I was after my first day of school on the bus ride home.  I hopped from one seat to another introducing myself and asking everyone about their day.  Suddenly the bus screeched to a halt.  The bus driver marched back, picked me up and literally threw me into the empty, trouble-maker seat in the front of the bus.  That was my seat for the rest of the school year.

I didn’t remember the happy-go-lucky, little boy self, from that story. I did vividly remember the embarrassment and shame I felt in front of all my peers that day.  I remember being afraid to talk to anybody on the bus for the rest of the year and having that carry over into the classroom as well.

That avoidance of conflict has unfortunately carried over into adulthood and my marriage.  I’m overweight and know it.  I’ve been diagnosed as pre-diabetic and my loving wife, Karen tries her best to get me to eat right.  Over the years, I have resorted to hiding candy and soda pop so I won’t have to deal with the guilt I would feel and conflict which would arise by having to admit my failure.

One time in particular, she asked me if I had bought a pop at the store.  I said no.  Later on, she asked me again.  I became enraged.  I did everything I could to heap guilt on her for suggesting I had lied to her.  Then she held out a receipt.  It showed Mt. Dew had been purchased earlier that same day.  I accused her of spying on me.  She said she went to the car for something, and when she closed the car door the receipt blew out and landed on her.  I believe God wanted to reveal my sin that day to help me face my misbeliefs.  After tempers calmed down, Karen and I had a good talk and I promised to never deceive her again…but I did…over and over again.

I know this sounds so trivial compared to lying about having an affair or a gambling problem.  But this is what I am tempted to lie about to my wife and this breeds distrust which could undermine our marriage.  Karen only wants to spend a long and healthy life together with me and I feel guilt over not taking care of my body and want to avoid confrontations (even mild ones) over my deceit in this area of my life.

I know I’m not the only one who is a people pleaser.  All of us have some varying levels of dysfunction in our lives.  Some of us have addictions, we’re co-dependent, we have anger problems, we live through the lives of our children, and so on.

It all boils down to this: Who is in control of your life?  If you have a major level of dysfunction in your life that dysfunction rules over you.  It is your king.  If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, they have power over you.  If you have anger issues, you are in bondage to your emotions.  If you live through the lives of your children, your happiness depends on their success.  I have made pleasing other people king of my life.  Even if you are a control freak, making yourself king is not the answer.  You will never find peace trying to control the lives of the people around you.

Through counseling I have gained a better understanding of my dysfunction and have more weapons to help me in this battle.  My therapist is great but he doesn’t have all the answers.  The question still is this: Who is in control of my life?  Who has enough intimate knowledge of me to share wisdom and truth which is both unbiased and unchanging.  It’s not my wife, Karen.  She knows me intimately but not wholly.

There is only one who knows you inside and out; there is only one who created you; there is only one who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Jesus is the only one who can heal our wounds because He knows us fully.

Psalm 139 says, “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar…before a word is on my tongue you know it completely…For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…my frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body…Search me O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Isn’t this our greatest longing:  To be understood; to be heard; to be thoroughly known without fear of condemnation.  This is the relationship we all yearn for.  And this is the relationship you can have with Jesus as your King.

Have I arrived in my relationships with others?  Heavens no…but I have come a long way.  Have I arrived with my relationship with my King…again, not by a long shot.  By yielding control over my life to Jesus though, I have hope for this life and for the next.

Who has control over your life?




WORDS WE USE! Intended to Bless or to Curse?

MOPS Car Picturemud puddle girlDo you ever have one of those days when things just feel ugly?  You feel irritated and everyone around you seems to be annoying?  Do you lose control?  Maybe you just need a time out.

I remember one particular summer day when Katie, Jaymi and Michael were young… I was having one of those days.  This mom was stressed and recognized I needed a break.  I called my parents and bless their hearts, they offered to let the kids play over there for a few hours.

On the drive over to their house, the kids were bickering even louder and I lost it.  I was not a yeller and I rarely lost my temper.  I can even remember where we were when I verbally lost control.  I yelled and said, “JUST STOP IT!  YOU KIDS ARE ALL ACTING LIKE JACKASSES!”  The shock factor silenced the three of them.  I even shocked myself.

At the time, there was nothing funny about that “out of control” moment.  Later I did have to humbly ask for their forgiveness and tell them I was sorry to call them a name.  Now today, we laugh about it whenever they so kindly bring it up.

Our words matter.  Ephesians 4:29 reminds me “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  It’s hard to apply that truth in the heat of the moment.  I have memorized this verse since then. I am amazed how the Lord often prefers me to be silent.

We all have memories of words that were spoken to us; words that blessed or words that cursed.  They are seared in our soul.  The saying, “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me” is not true.  I desire to be the kind of woman who uses my words wisely and is an encourager,  a blessing not a curse!  How about you?



DSC_0141mud puddle girlIt was a beautiful sunny day and we had our grandkids over. Brooklynn’s favorite thing to do is pick raspberries from my garden. She loves Grandma AMA’s raspberries. Maya was in the garden with us and Logan was playing basketball with Papa!

I don’t know about you, but I am tempted to compare my garden with other gardens. And in doing so, my garden is never good enough…. especially this year.  My chronic pain is draining and I physically haven’t had the energy to do what I need to do in my garden to make it what I would like it to be. But I learned something that day with my granddaughters.

As Brooklynn was enjoying every sweet berry she could find, Maya said something that totally blessed my heart. Maya said, “Ama, your garden is so beautiful.” She was being sincere and meant it. I stood back and took in her words and thanked God for my garden. Will it ever make it in Better Homes and Gardens? Not a chance. But there is beauty in my garden…I just need to find it through the weeds or through my granddaughters!

Philippians 4:8 comes to my mind. It says, “Finally brothers and sisters,  whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is LOVELY, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things!”

From that day on, I am choosing to see the LOVELY in my garden. How about you?

If God Exists, Why Is There Suffering?

At the time of me writing this, 50 lives have been lost, 53 lives have beenWhy suffer Image physically injured and too many lives will bare emotional scars over losing a son, a daughter, a friend or a lover at that gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida early Sunday morning at the hands of a killer.  What a horrible tragedy!  How could this have been prevented?  Who or what is to blame?  Was this another act of Jihad carried out by a Muslim extremist or a hate crime against the LGBT community?  Do we need to have tougher gun laws or do we need to build more prisons and have tougher penalties for people who use guns in a crime?  How can a loving, all-powerful God allow evil to exist?  Why doesn’t He intervene to prevent these bad things from happening?

These are the questions people around the country are asking themselves today.  The first two questions will be figured out during the ongoing investigation conducted by the FBI and the local police.  The following two questions are political footballs which will be punted all over the field leading up to the upcoming Presidential election.  The final two questions though are questions Christians and non-Christians alike have grappled with since the beginning.

For centuries, non-believers have used the great tragedies of their time to pose these questions to believers as some sort of proof of their stance that because evil exists, God is either weak, doesn’t care or doesn’t exist.  For centuries Christians have defended their faith by pointing out the story of Job.  God allowed Job to be tortured by Satan.  Job’s family, his wealth and even his health was destroyed.  While Job suffered much at the hand of Satan, he never cursed God.  Instead he said, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

How do we respond during the darkest times in our lives?  How do we respond when circumstances just don’t go our way?  Following Job’s advise is not easy especially when tragic events unfold like the horror at the nightclub.  What was Job’s secret?  God Himself said about Job that, “he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”  To fear God is to know Him.  Job had a relationship with God which drove him to acting in a way which pleased God.  It is only by building a relationship with God (or with anyone) which allows trust to form and without trust, Job would have buckled under the weight of suffering he was enduring.

So how do we build that relationship with God?  It’s like with any relationship: We must spend time with the person we want to get to know better.  And what would a relationship be without talking to one another?  God communicates through His love letters to us….the Bible.  We talk to Him with our prayers.

So get to know the Creator of the universe.  He wants you to get to know Him.  And pray for the many hurting souls in Orlando.  God loves them all.

P.S.   My wife, Karen wrote a fantastic little story about trusting God in her book Trust Me My Child.  You can learn more about this book under the Our Books tab.