15 Apr

Honest Prayers

I haven’t been praying honest prayers lately. Well, I guess I’ve been praying honestly, but I haven’t been making honest “prayer requests” from my people. You know, the friends who know you best? The ones who love you through thick and thin? Your people.  The deal is our family has been going through some tough financial times lately. Because my husband’s business is seasonal, we try to save as much as possible from our busy summer season in order to cover all our expenses during the slower winter months when there’s not as much work available. But the past several winters have been especially hard. It seems like one thing after another keeps happening to deplete our finances. Something in our house breaks, a major appliance, our water heater, etc. So we dip into our already tight winter budget to get it fixed. Then a few days/weeks later something else breaks, or a car battery wears out, or the washing machine finally calls it quits after only half working most of the time anyway. Super frustrating. And stressful. Today our water went out for the 4th time in 4 weeks. We live out in the woods and have a well for our water supply. We’ve had sand in our water off and on for 2 months now. Our neighbor told us that our pump at the bottom of our well is probably going bad. We don’t have the money right now to have our well dug up and the water filter at the bottom replaced. So tonight when my husband was taking a shower after a long day at work and I was cooking dinner and the water flow stopped again completely, I just stood at the kitchen sink and laughed. Because if I don’t laugh, I’ll start crying. 

Being under financial stress is no fun for anyone. It’s hard on your marriage, your relationships, your kids. It bleeds into every part of your life. It affects your sleep, your attitude, your health. It can make everything in your life pretty miserable. Lately, it seems to be getting to me more than it ever has in the past. I don’t know if it’s because the “sandy water” put me past my breaking point, or if I am just so weary from the battle of it all. Or, if I am beginning to believe the lie that it will always be this way. That our situation will never improve. That we’re stuck. All I do know is that I feel fragile, vulnerable, and tired. So, so tired. Tired of being strong, tired of being positive, tired of believing, tired of waiting. Always waiting it seems. That’s what I say to my friends when they ask how they can be praying for me. “Pray for breakthrough”, I always say. But now I feel like saying “Pray for my heart. I’m so sad. I’m so frustrated. I’m so tired.” But I don’t ever say that. And here’s why – many of my friends have situations or circumstances in their lives right now that are much worse than mine. One of my girlfriends is going through a horrible divorce. She spends every day trying to protect her children from an abusive father. Another friend has a dad fighting the advanced stages of cancer and my friend has had to move back home to take care of him. She feels helpless and alone, watching her dad suffer. I could go on and on, tons of people are in the middle of their own tough circumstances. So when I’m speaking with them about how they can pray for me, I feel completely absurd complaining about our “dirty” water, our tiny grocery budget, or that I can’t afford to get a haircut so I just keep wearing a ponytail everywhere I go. My problems feel trivial compared to theirs.

But I think there is something to being authentic and real with our trusted friends about our disappointments and personal struggles.  Even when they don’t compare to somebody else’s “bigger” problems. Praying for each other is such a powerful thing. In James 5:16, the Bible tells us to pray for each other because our prayers for each other have “great power”. That verse became a truth in my life today.  A dear friend who now lives out-of-state called my cell phone this morning. I didn’t have the energy to have a good attitude at the moment, plus I didn’t want to be Debbie Downer either. So I just didn’t answer. She left me a message saying that God had really put me on her heart all day today and that she was calling to check on me and let me know that she was praying for me. I finally called her back and told her the truth. She patiently listened while I told her what was going on in our lives. And then she did the sweetest thing. She said “Karla, I’m going to be honest. I don’t know why all these things keep happening. And I don’t have any great spiritual answers either.  So I don’t know what to say, except that I am praying for you”. I loved that. I loved that she just listened. That she didn’t try to convince me that it was no big deal and I should just get over it. She didn’t make me feel bad for complaining. I loved that she was willing to pray for me.  And that’s exactly what I needed.

What tough circumstance are you walking through? Don’t let the enemy lie to you and tell you that you are alone. Or that your situation is never going to change. Or that your circumstances are not going to get better. Because that is just not true. Our God is Faithful. Jesus will never leave you or forsake you. And whatever you do, don’t ever stop asking your dear friends for prayer. They care about you. You matter and your problems matter. Be truthful and authentic with the ones that love you. Every time you pray for each other you are bringing heaven to earth in your circumstances, one honest prayer at a time.

2 Corinthians 1:10-11: “We have put our hope in Him that He will deliver us again while you join in helping us by your prayers.”

Love and Hugs,


19 Mar

Share Your Testimony

I remember very clearly the first time I ever shared part of my testimony in public. I was totally terrified. With a group of about 9 other adults and 3 of their teenagers, I was on a missions trip at an orphanage in the Philippines. We were all so grateful to God to be there, halfway around the world, watching Him minister His love and acceptance to these beautiful kiddos. The week had been full of excursions to the beach, fun outings to the local “McDonalds” type fast food restaurant, and bike rides around the city. We also ran a Vacation Bible School during the day where the children got to hear all about Jesus and learn lots of fun VBS songs. I had gotten really close to many of the girls and boys throughout the week, and my heart was already heavy with the thought of having to leave for the return trip back to the States.


On our last night there, our group leader asked me to share my testimony of healing from the effects of sexual abuse. She had heard me share it in our small group at church and felt like it would be helpful and encouraging for some of the older boys and girls at the orphanage to hear. At first I refused out of fear and embarrassment. But then the Orphanage Director explained to me that many of the kids in their care had been molested by family members and that my story might give them hope for a better future and also help them see that there is healing available through Jesus.


So I prayed and really felt the Lord encouraging me to be brave and tell my story. I walked into a room where they had gathered about 30 teenagers, boys and girls, sitting cross-legged on the floor. With trembling hands, and a very shaky voice, I began to tell how I had been molested by an adult relative at a young age. I told how it had been kept locked up like a dark secret in my family. I spoke of the damage it caused in my life, in my relationships, and in the choices I had made as an adult. The shame and guilt I carried weighed me down for over 25 years until one day when Jesus set me free. I explained to them that they could be free too, that they could give all their pain to Jesus and let Him speak His Truth and healing words to them also. I read Jeremiah 29:11 out loud to them. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Then I closed with a prayer over them for their healing. Walking away I felt certain that my story hadn’t made much of a difference. I felt insecure and a bit embarrassed for baring my soul. But then one of the Orphanage School teachers came up to me outside and wrapped her arms around me in a tight, reassuring bear hug. She said, “ Karla, you may never see the fruit of what you did here tonight. But I know these kids and I know their stories. And by you being so brave and sharing your story, they can see that there is a hope and future for them too. So don’t be discouraged. God did a mighty work here tonight!” I was so grateful for the kind words of encouragement. I decided right then and there that whether the Lord ever let me see the fruit or not, I was going to be brave and obedient and tell my story whenever He asked me to.


Later that night one of the moms of a teen on our Missions team asked me if she could speak to me in private. She went on to explain to me that after hearing my story, her teenager daughter admitted to being sexually abused by an older neighbor boy. Although shocked and saddened for her daughter, she was grateful to know the truth. She thanked me for being so vulnerable and transparent and asked me if I would meet and pray with her daughter. I quickly agreed and met her daughter for prayer early the next morning before our team headed to the airport. The young girl told me how she had kept the secret for several years and that the shame and guilt had led her to turn inward and become very isolated and shy. I could feel the heaviness on her like a cloak. The Lord gave me such clear words of healing and freedom for her as I prayed over her that morning. Even before we finished praying she began saying “ I feel free! I feel light and so happy!” The Holy Spirit did an instant work of healing in her heart. It was truly an amazing transformation to see right before our eyes! Her mother was crying tears of joy – along with the rest of us :). As they left to go gather their things for the trip back home to the States, I heard the Lord whisper softly in my heart. “Little one, you may have come halfway around the world to share your healing with a group of strangers that truly needed to hear it. But there was also one who traveled here with you that needed to hear it. She would not have been set free this morning if you had not been vulnerable and shared your story last night. I Am Faithful.”


So friend, I encourage you to be brave, be vulnerable, let His light and truth SHINE through you. Whatever He has Healed you of, whatever lies He has broken off of you, and whatever He has set you free from, that is part of your testimony. Be brave and share it when He leads you to. Tell your story. Set a captive free. And when you do, I promise you He will meet you there. And sometimes, He will even let you see the fruit :).


“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;

make known among the nations what he has done.

Sing to him, sing praise to him;

tell of all his wonderful acts.” Psalms 105:1-2 NIV



Love and Hugs,


08 Mar

The Next Chapter

Karla Swanigan Ministries (KSM) is entering into a new season. We are excited to be on the road traveling and ministering everywhere that God is taking us. If you are interested in having Karla speak or minister at your event, visit the Booking page for more info.