When we become the Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church

Where there is love, there is God. God is love. - Mother Teresa
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Where there is love, there is God. God is love.

- Mother Teresa

It seems like a lot longer than four years. Since the last time I saw him cry.

That sweet man of mine, he’s not really a tear kind of guy. Three times only that I can remember in our almost 13 years of marriage. This day was number three.

Home early, midday. A car full of books, papers, plans, and dreams– ready to be packed away for safe keeping.

Those things, still packed away. 
 

It’s a sad day. The day they say to you, go away and never come back. Don’t say goodbye, don’t finish the conversations you were having with so many people, just sign here.

Their demand was simple.

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“We are offering to pay a 60 day severance to be paid in normal payment cycles, providing you agree to the following terms.

 

A. Attendance to this church is forbidden

B. Any and all means to malign the church or its leaders by you or your spouse, Kathlean Gibson, will terminate the severance agreement immediately. This includes all forms of internet use, chat rooms, Facebook, texting, etc. Any behavior that is viewed as defamation will be reviewed and decided by the Elders of this Church. 

C. Contact with he youth of this church with the intent of defamation will also terminate the agreement. 

 

Additionally, if all terms are met, a letter of reference by the Senior Pastor will be provided. 

 
Sign Here”


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“Have your stuff out within 24 hours and don’t take it personally” they said– “it’s just business”

 

He sat there. Just crying.

Finally he says, “They asked me not to contact anyone until after Sunday. I’m not allowed to talk about it until they tell the congregation.” He explained, “They canceled all the service projects scheduled for this weeks spring break, not giving a reason to anyone–I can’t even give people a reason.” 

What was their reason”, I asked.

He replies, “We’re not relational enough. and I don’t agree with the vision of the church.”

No warning, just get out.

 

What in the world do you do when you’ve been told to go away and never come back? 

What do you say when your nine year old,  who eats, sleeps, and breathes church– says, “Can’t go back to church? But anyone can go to church- no matter what.”

I’ll tell you what you do.
you die.
 

When the church, the body of Christ, Christ’s Bride, the place where grace is abounding, becomes a business- when they turn their face to you and say go away, you die. 


You die a slow and painful, lonely death.


We’re still dying.
We’re different now.

It has changed us. Oh, we love. We serve. And we worship the One True God. But we don’t give our heart away. We don’t talk about much with you anymore. We don’t really discuss much about what God is teaching us. And when you are sitting next to us in church, we’re wondering– who are they really and when are they going to hurt us? Daniel? He’s not going to open up to you, that’s for sure. You can tell me how wrong all of that is– I already know. But for now, for some reason, it’s just something we cannot shake. We pray for people to come into our lives and aid the healing. We’re waiting, leaning on Jesus, and hoping for a day when all of that is gone.

And you see, when there is a pain like this– people don’t mention it. It’s like a secret they don’t want to bring up. Like having a child pass or a spouse leave you. Doesn’t anyone realize maybe you just need to hear, “Hey, how are your wounds and what can I do to help? Let me sit here with you in the ash of the painful wounds; what if we heal together.”

The hurt, it does bring hope. Being ripped away from the gathering of believers, being told to go and never return–the pain it has caused, there is hope in it.

There should be pain.

In scripture we see a loving, jealous, and just God. Then, we are introduced to a radical, loving, and just Jesus. A Jesus who loved prostitutes and sinners. A Jesus who always told off the Pharisees, A Jesus who said, keep nothing, and give it all. A Jesus who taught us how to offer a kiss to the person planning to turn against us and ultimately lead to our unfair trial and death.

You see, when the church, or anyone who follows Jesus, has operated outside of this Jesus way. It hurts. But when your heart longs to be loved the way Jesus loves, unconditionally. There is hope.

There is hope because God is a healing God. He takes our wounds and makes us new. It takes time, yes. But in time– memories fade, the pain slows and you begin to trust just a little here and there.

Then there is love. I could rant and go on about how poorly we felt treated. I could tell you the lies, the disgusting truth of it all. I could share with you the sad stories of how badly I just wanted to go back and see my friends but I had to realize, those are not friends. But love has came and made that story new.

Oh, it still hurts. And it’s wounds go deep. But there is love and forgiveness.

This is the amazing thing of God. He is a God who not only teaches us good things but also brings us out of the human mistakes we often make and he teaches us good lessons.

I cannot tell you how many times I have said something that hurt someone– all in the name of Jesus. I cannot tell you how many times I have been the deliver of death- like the church was to us that day.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been the Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church in the lives of my friends.

Because the truth is: we live in a broken, broken world with hurt and ugly all around. I think we are a world torn apart by abuse, selfishness, divorce, lack of love, and even yes– people getting kicked out of church and not allowed to go say goodbye all because they don’t agree with the unknown vision of a church.

We’re all human. Fred Phelps felt strongly about certain groups of people. That church felt strongly of me.

And both of those sad situations hurt hearts.

I struggle through my own issues. If good ‘ol Fred and his group of people were to hold up signs directed toward me, they would say: GOD HATES PRIDEFUL PEOPLE. GOD HATES SINNERS. GOD HATES PEOPLE WITH TERRIBLE PASTS. Because I have Issues of pride, anger, self-righteousness; the temptation to stir the pot and cause dissension. And I was a total mess before I met Jesus.

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But you see: those issues- God has to work out within me, through fear and trembling. Nobody’s rant, sign, or bull horn will change my heart- nobody’s rant DID change my heart- Jesus did.

So, therefore. In my OPINION… I think-

the more people I love to the feet of Jesus, the more hearts he can heal to his perfect way.

“The saving grace of Jesus changes the hearts and ways of fallen men, not me. So- hopefully the more time I spend with the broken people of the world- the more people I can share this healing Jesus with.”

And handing it to Jesus- isn’t “just siting by and doing nothing” After all, God handed it over to Jesus and he started a revolution.

May you realize the truth: When the church, or anyone who follows Jesus, has operated outside of this Jesus way. It hurts.

BUT when your heart longs to be loved the way Jesus loves, yes- that unconditional love: don’t give up. This life is big and someone will come along and love you back to health. And until then, lean on that Great big God who loves you– you. YOU YOU YOU YOU YOU YOU. Not the Sunday morning, masked you. Just you. Not the office you. Just you. Not the you on the weekends. Just you. Not the “you” you were when you were getting this christian thing right. Not the you I see. Not the you people like Fred Phelps sees.


He loves the YOU he made. The YOU he’ll see in glory.
As you reach, lean, jump, burst forth- trying so hard to find this healing Jesus- remember. He is always there. He is always ready.

And he is never a business. He is the lover of your soul.

Oh friends may we never be the one causing the pain. May we be life givers and deliverers of hope. But when this wicked heart deceives us and we cause the pain– may God come along side of us and love us through correction. May those we hurt have grace and understanding. And above all– may God heal those wounds and use them for glory.

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16

Don’t give up- real love gives hope.

Healing alongside you,

Kati

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When the world says you’re not worthy- God simply says you’re wonderful & worthy.

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Life is such a roller coaster ride.

So, you lost it again- did ya?

You fell backwards- again. Yelled, thought that yucky thought, visited that friends house again and did that thing you really should not be doing- a.g.a.i.n

You thought you were better than that person, again. You thought you were better than them, did ya? Slipped with that addiction, talked bad about that dear friend, broke a promise?

It’s. OK.

No, no. really- listen.

It’s OK.

You slept with that man, you told that lie, you sat in church like none of it ever happened. You lied on that paperwork, you cheated the system.

It’s ok.

He did it too, you know.

King David.

He saw that beautiful woman bathing across the way and he wanted her. That married woman across the way- He had her. Her husband? He had him killed. Why? Because that beautiful woman was now pregnant with his [david's] child.

Yet, God calls David a man after his own heart. And he calls you, child of mine.

Here is the part of David’s story we often forget, at least I often forget.

He was blind. He didn’t even realize what he had done. It wasn’t until a messenger [Nathan] came to him and told the story of a mans life to David that David realized, “Who is this man? This is terrible! He must die!” Nathan says, “You are the man!”

From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful…

 

One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.10 David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?”11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents,and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”12 Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home.14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.18 Joab sent David a full account of the battle. 19 He instructed the messenger: “When you have finished giving the king this account of the battle, 20 the king’s anger may flare up, and he may ask you, ‘Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn’t you know they would shoot arrows from the wall? 21 Who killed Abimelek son of Jerub-Besheth? Didn’t a woman drop an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you get so close to the wall?’ If he asks you this, then say to him, ‘Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.’”22 The messenger set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. 23 The messenger said to David, “The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance of the city gate. 24 Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king’s men died. Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.”25 David told the messenger, “Say this to Joab: ‘Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another. Press the attack against the city and destroy it.’ Say this to encourage Joab.” When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the LORD. 

Well, ya think??? It displeased the LORD, huh? Well, I bet it did!

Hold UP! Did we really just read that correctly? David, DAVID? He did that? He slept with that chick?

Yeah- and we’re not just talking Shrek and Fiona type of “sleeping” We’re talking, get down and dirty with another mans WIFE type of “sleeping”.

Well, I know if it had been me, I’d be feeling pretty bad. That’s not where we find David. We find him needing a friend- someone to come and show him what he had done. And his friend didn’t just tell him “Hey, David! What are you doing?” No. Nathan put it into perspective for David.

12 The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.

“Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’11 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.

2 Samuel 11:2-12:13

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David was blind to what he had done. He knew he loved and served God– but was totally unaware of his evil sin.

Oh my, oh my. I am so very blind. Yet, so very loved.

When the troubles of my day weigh me down- when my regrets seem to heavy to carry I simply must remember this- he loves me still.He doesn’t love those things I do. But he loves me through them. Where the world says, I am a failure- God says, I am worthy and loved 

Do you ever feel that way? If I could whisper something sweet into your ear– If I could give you any hope at all: it would be hope in this:

If he can forgive me and make me new- he can forgive you and make you wonderfully new!

When God forgives someone like me- someone who had done the things I did– Someone who still continues to do things today. Someone with a past like mine? Well, there is an unremarkable feeling of thankfulness. I’m talking, every day- every.single.day I just can’t believe he loves a wretch like me.

This is the truth we find in the man they call Jesus- this is the hope we have to offer others. An unexplainable love. We see it all throughout his life portrayed in scripture. You know, Jesus– God here on earth. That’s who I’m talking about– the God who  rebuked the proud religious leaders; showed us grace, mercy, and peace in a real way- That sweet man they call Jesus. He is good. He alone is good.

God is good. And not just stupid, fancy church type of good. I’m talking get down and dirty with drug addicts, prostitutes, and adulterers good. He gets down in the nitty-gritty of our junk and brings us back to life. 

And he is watching you. He is watching you love when you are tired of loving. He sees you fighting the good fight. He sees you choosing peace when life is hectic. He sees you love your spouse when it’s hard; clean dishes one more time and he is so proud. He sees you smiling at work when those people are rude to you, he is watching you simply trying to get something right. He knew- the day he formed you- that this day would come, that you would need him so desperately. If you’re life is hard during this season. If you feel you just can’t get anything right- lean on him more than ever- talk with him, tell him your fears, struggles, and angers. Rejoice at each moment of joy with him and when this stage of life has passed, praise him!

And GUESS WHAT?!?!??!??!  AHHHH!!! It’s the BEST news EVER!!!!

He doesn’t love you because of what you’ve done today. Your good deed or mistake today didn’t catch him off guard. He loved you from the moment he formed you in your mothers womb, knowing all the mistakes you would make and he loved you still, blessed you still, and called you his own- still.


The Lord directs the steps of the godly. 
He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

Psalm 37:23-24 NLT

Much love and grace today friend.  May you feel worthy, beautiful, and loved in all circumstances. Knowing there is a Jesus who alone is good and loves BIG He know you today, yesterday and knows who you will be in fifty years from now! Yet loves you so much.

All my earthly love,
Kati  ;)

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a story of addiction and sweet love for the toll guy.

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Feeling silly, a few days ago– after a crazy day of everything seeming to run behind schedule and then several hours of open road with those crazy kids of mine, I met the toll man.

I smiled and said, “Hello!” In my totally annoying, high pitch way.

He was all frownie.

He was crabby.

And it made me all gloomy.

So, I set out to change the world in the the most effective way of our day…

Facebook.

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A friend replied:

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And I replied…. Why haven’t I ever thought of that??

And then it hit me: Because I don’t think of every single great idea.

Even though this Friday for Valentine’s Day we will celebrate as we always do- walking around our little town handing out treats. Even though we left cocoa for the mail lady last week- even though my eight year old told the produce guy the other day “Excuse me, sir but you are doing a great job at stacking that lettuce…”

I had never thought about cheering up the toll booth guy.

Because believe it or not- we would be silly to think we can’t all learn a bit from the ideas of others. ;)

So, of course.. I stopped at SAM’s during our road trip and bought a little bit of love in a box.

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And after eating two Kit- Kat bars on my own… (that is a sad truth) we saw the toll man again.

And we gave him a little bar of love.

He smiled.

Well, as you know— when you find what makes people smile, you sort of get addicted to making it happen.

And when you have a gigantic box of goodness tempting you to eat.just.one.more you can’t help but want to share more love so the candy is gone ; )

Yup, we gave the car wash man one too.

Do you know what that car wash guy did? He stopped in the middle of washing someone’s windshield and JUMPED UP AND DOWN. Then he gave my 12 year old a fist pump, and even said, “Oh my, Oh my, God Bless You”

Now my 12 year old is addicted too.

Of course, It got me thinking… maybe you would like to join our addiction? Hey! You can get 52 of those bars of love for only $28 at SAM’s Club. Or stop this morning and get one at your local convenient store and share some love with the grocery clerk, drive through man, bank clerk or even the toll guy.

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Grab this picture and share it? Yup, spread the idea of simple love today.   #14daysofsimplelove

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Happy Monday (tuesday,wednesday,thursday and beyond)!

Kati

yeah… if there’s an ad below here—> a creepy ad  (yes, directly below here, some strange video perhaps?) I didn’t put it there = / And I didn’t choose what it will advertise.

No matter what you’ve been told, no matter what you’ve done- God loves, no earning required #14daysofsimplelove

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Francis Chan poses the question:  “Can you worship a God who isn’t obligated to explain His actions to you? Could it be your arrogance that makes you think God owes you an explanation? “

My heart longs for heaven.

To the point that sometimes, the enemy’s voice speaks louder than my Saviors.

Some days I wonder, how do I turn to someone and tell them- this is the best life.

I remember when I felt that way. I remember thinking this was the best life. When I first found grace. Before my eyes were always so open.

Now, I feel my heart will explode and even worse, sometimes it lies. Some days I get mad at where God has me, some days I feel alone. Some days, I feel like a pawn in the game called God.

Some days, I’m mad because I can’t just close my eyes and get lost in my own world. School, kids, husband, jobs, chickens, garden, games, trips, fun, privilege.

Some days, I manage it all– I balance it well, GOD- school, kids, husband, jobs, chickens, garden, games, trips, fun, privilege.

Some Sundays, my heart sings for joy with the body of Christ, others it hurts and has distrust for the body. Some days, I feel like it’s all a lie– this family.

Some days, when I cross the Christians in our town, hair pulled up high, skirts hanging long and mean furrowed brows looking at me– I get mad– because I am reminded of that “god” who I could never touch as a child because I wasn’t holy enough. Why can’t they ever smile back, just once?

Sometimes, I want the political views and opinions to stop and the praying to begin– some days I want to hear someone say, “Jesus loves Barack Obama as much as he loves me.”  Random, I know.

Some days I just feel like it’s all too pretty. This Christian life. So, people die. And I sit on the sofa with my apple computer typing on a blog? So, people in Kenya are shot to death for gathering to worship and I get to pick and choose the church that fits me best? And to be honest, I’m so picky– none of them do. Again, the anger.

Oh friends– if you think less of me now, you thought too much of me to begin with.

I’m so broken.

Some days, the enemy speaks louder than love. Some days, he disguises himself as love, as help, as hope, as my heart. And every day, it breaks me even more.

Sometimes, the enemy tells me I’m too privileged for His [God's] love– too comfortable, too inconstant, too hurt, too wounded for love. Sometimes, he tells me I’m not good enough, I don’t do enough, I sat too long or didn’t read enough. Sometimes, he tells me I think too many bad thoughts, I hurt too many peoples feelings- I didn’t send enough thank you’s or I didn’t donate enough. All the time he tells me, I don’t do enough and I could be better.

And then the whisper comes,

1 Kings 19:9-16 (NIV)

“…And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lordwas not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave…”

God was in the whisper.

That God of ours, in the mist of all my storms, He simply whispers so gently to me–”you are loved.”

“i love you”

no matter what you do– no matter what you don’t do

no matter how you feel or what you hear– I love you.

you are loved.

Sometimes I wonder–Is it the grace that’s hard to understand,

–or the free gift of unconditional love.

Both the same, I know, in His eyes– but uncompromisable and totally different in my mind. 

In this world where you have to earn everything– He whispers,

“I love– no earning required.

 Not only you, I love them all.”

I love the mean furrowed brow Christian in your town. I love the immature Christian who never seems to grow, I love the political person, I love the man who shot the Kenyan Christians, I love you in your pretty house, playing with your children just as much as I love the hopeless without a house to play in. 

And I’m again, conflicted. Confused and bewildered at that whisper. At that love.

So, I continue to break. And choose to rejoice.

“When I am consumed by my problems-stressed out about my life, my family, and my job-I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God’s command to always rejoice.” Francis Chan

Perhaps when we choose to rejoice, the singing is so loud– we can’t hear the lies anymore and the wounds left by the enemy’s lies begin to heal– becoming just a memory.


Maybe it’s not meant to be the best life– rather the best hope in this life. 

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. Romans 5:1-11 NIV

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Are you a part of the 14 days of simple love challenge? Where we love simply, in some way — each day? Knowing our little bit of love can make a big difference. But wait! It gets even better! The great news——>> When the person we loved goes and loves someone else, all because of the love we showed them? Well, that could change the world.

Leading up to Valentine’s Day why not love, simply each of the 14 days? Besides, why save big love for only one day, right? Here is how it works:

Everyday there will be a new simple way to love posted here. Each day you use that simple love idea and run with it. However that way is possible for you- do it!

Everyone is looking for someone to love them. And the more we love, the happier our little hearts are.

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread” – Mother Teresa.

Today’s simple love: STOP. And let someone know they’re loved.

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Rejoicing with you today, [and so desperately in need of His love.]

Kati

#14daysofsimplelove guide:
Day One: Who said grown men can’t date boys
Day Two: Everyone’s view is different than mine
Day Three: That stinkin Proverbs 31 woman
Day Four: When it cuts you to the heart and the coffee sits cold

Some of you have asked how to receive posts in your email: it’s simple. On the lower right hand side of the screen there should be a “follow” button. Click and enter your email. It’s totally safe.

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When it cuts you to the heart and the coffee sits cold #14daysofsimplelove

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At the time this story was written- I only had four children and we were hosting a foreign exchange student. I had been, as I had always been, trying to love my mom in simple ways.

I spent several years trying to love her.

 This is a story of just one of the failed attempts. There have been many. Since this story, our family has grown by two, and there have been many times when I’ve needed a mom.

It’s been almost a year now since my last attempt at loving her, we haven’t spoken since. And even though she lives right down the road. We never speak or see each other.

There finally came a point where I had to be honest with myself, “Maybe, she doesn’t want to be loved.” So I stopped inviting, stopped calling, stopped putting myself out there to be hurt. And she just never called or visited again.

This is a story from a few years back, but it encourages me still today-

to love fully.

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I should have known better. After all, she had told me no thanks the first three times I asked. I should have known not to ask again.

But the yard looked so nice, and the flowers were in bloom. My green thumb, she told me I would one day have, had come and the fruit of it was bursting forth in beauty. I thought she’d be so proud.

We set the table nice, outside and put on a big pot of fresh coffee, expecting an evening of walking through the garden and around back to the bushes I wanted to cut down, asking her opinion.

I can’t recall when exactly I could tell it was going to get bad.

She was running late, the eggs were getting cold. Trying hard to keep omelets warm, knowing she hadn’t had one in years, nerves were began to start, and my fingers working quickly.

“Grandma’s here” Judah comes in to say. She’d never come in and say hello, oh no.

Time for dinner.

We all sit outside enjoying a meal, letting Grandma talk mostly, that way is best. Afterwards, I pour us both a cup of coffee– ready to sit and try this “chatting thing” I hear works for some moms and daughters. Then it hits her.

“Where are the plants I gave you last year?” she asks.

“Well, mom I told you I wasn’t really a ‘dig up plants’ kind of girl– you told me it was OK, you didn’t expect them back.”

“Yes”, she says… “But I gave you the pots to put them in last fall.”

“Well, mom I just didn’t get around to it and then the first frost came and they died, where was I going to put four big, dug up, elephant ear plants anyway?”

“Could you at least give me back my pots?” She says.

I reply, “Yes, In fact, they are already in the back of Daniel’s truck, I keep meaning to give them to you.”

I go get the pots.

“Where’s the big green one?” she asks.

“Actually” I say, “The kids accidentally broke it a while back.”

“WHAT? She says, Kati you should be more responsible.”

“I’m sorry, mom. I’m busy, I have five children I’m raising right now. They play. They break things.”

“Don’t give me that.” she says. “I raised four children.”  (I came along so late that I was raised all alone though)

I said, “I’m sorry mom, I’m just not as good of a mom as you.”

She says, “Oh no, you just have don’t any discipline in your home.

She goes on to tell me about how she had just spend $2.50 on that new green pot from wal-mart last year and never got to use it. Tearing me down with little sarcasms. All the while, I’m sitting there, quiet. Thinking,

do you even know me?

Me.

The one — the only one of your children — who remembers holidays and birthdays, the only one whose presents sit under your tree at Christmas. The only one who calls, who checks, who seems to care?

Me.

The only one who invites you to dinner.

Me.

The only one who says, “I love you” to you.

Me.

Do you even know me? Really? $2.50, that’s your breaking point? That’s where grace ends and bitterness begins? I’ve never broken anything you’ve given me.  It’s not some crazy bad habit I have.

Finally, I say: “OK, mom, I need to hear something nice from you, please.”

She laughs at me and says, “Well, the eggs were good.”

The eggs? The cold eggs were good? That’s all you can say, I thought?

“Oh, my” I said, “I can’t take anymore.” and I left silently crying.

With the front door open, I could her her laugh, “Well, party’s over… your mom’s upset. Daniel, I guess I made your wife mad.”

I just sat. Sat there on my bed and cried.

Returning outside, seeing my little family playing in the yard. My mom gone. I just sat there, watching them; letting her coffee just sit there. In fact that cup sat there all night.

That cold cup of coffee–representing her cold, mean heart.

I suppose it starts now, doesn’t it? As much as I’m not like my mom, in some ways I am. Tell me, how much do you think that spilled glass of milk cost? I bet it’s less than $2.50. How about that muddy foot? How much does that cleaner set me back?

Are those the moments where my grace ends and bitterness begins?

You see, It’s not about the money. Anyone would agree treating me like a piece trash over a $2.50 pot from a department store is crazy. It’s more than the money, deep down it’s all about the relationship.

It’s not about the math homework, or the broken picture frame. It’s not about the chore done wrong, or the tattle tale told once again. It’s about the relationship.

Grace must cover all things, both big and small, for there to be relationship. 

 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3: 12-14 NIV

Playing a game with my Alli a few weeks back at a bridal shower the question was asked, “What is some advise you would give the mother of the bride?”

Alli, in her girlish way, just wrote a simple question.

When I get married, will you help me with my situations?

My heart swelled and I breathed deep.

I will help you with all of your situations.

I will know you.

Because my Jesus is so good and He makes all things new — I will stumble often, but by His grace, I will stand tall, dust off my knees, and try again.

It’s all about the beauty of being made new, friends.

It’s all about getting up and trying again.

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Are you a part of the 14 days of simple love challenge? Where we love simply, in some way — each day? Knowing our little bit of love can make a big difference. But wait! It gets even better! The great news——>> When the person we loved goes and loves someone else, all because of the love we showed them? Well, that could change the world.

Leading up to Valentine’s Day why not love, simply each of the 14 days? Besides, why save big love for only one day, right? Here is how it works:

Everyday there will be a new simple way to love posted here. Each day you use that simple love idea and run with it. However that way is possible for you- do it!

Everyone is looking for someone to love them. And the more we love, the happier our little hearts are.

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread” – Mother Teresa.

Today’s simple love: Don’t let the ‘small stuff’ make you a monster.

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May our grace build relationship today as we breathe deep before choosing hurting those around us.

I am right there with you,

Kati

#14daysofsimplelove guide:
Day One: Who said grown men can’t date boys
Day Two: Everyone’s view is different than mine
Day Three: That stinkin Proverbs 31 woman

Some of you have asked how to receive posts in your email: it’s simple. On the lower right hand side of the screen there should be a “follow” button. Click and enter your email. It’s totally safe.

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yeah… if there’s an ad below here—> a creepy ad  (yes, directly below here, some strange video perhaps?) I didn’t put it there = / And I didn’t choose what it will advertise.

That stinkin’ proverbs 31 woman again. How love can shape generations to come #14daysofsimplelove

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“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”  James Baldwin


like it most when I’m up before the pitter patter of little feet. I like to sit and prepare before they come bounding, excited and ready to start a new day.

They usually start by telling me all about their dreams or informing me they’re hungry.

While the house is quiet, I like to set the mood. My mood. 

It is a peaceful thing, a quiet house. Before I begin the daily battle that wages deep within me, the battle of self and selflessness, it is best if I start in the quiet.

I wonder if that’s what she thought. You know that girl.  The one who puts us all to shame. “That Proverbs 31 Woman.”

“She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.” …but no servants found here.  I’m planning my work. –  and maybe it’s best if I begin in the quiet. Begging God to help me get it all done.

“She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.” because the Lord is her strength. …because he alone is [her] rock and her salvation. [Her] fortress where [she] will never be shaken.

“She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.” …because she knows it’s the only way her children will see, those people matter.

And my very favorite part…
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”because she realizes she cannot parent out of fear of their future, or of her past.

“When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.” …only because she pauses. breathing quietly and deeply before she responds, perhaps?

“She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.” …because she runs one more time at the cry of help, bends down one more time to pick the little one up, and sits to read… just a little bit longer.

Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.”  because he knows, this job of being a mother—will keep her close to the heart of God.

So, they tip toe out, into the darkness of early morn one.by.one.

And then your sweeties little baby joins the two of you…

and the list goes on,
and on,
and on.

I wonder- if the Proverbs 31 Woman of today would have been able to explain herself- would she have said things like,

“Yeah, it’s super, duper hard some days and I just need my Fathers help over and over again.”

because she knew, one day she’d be old and grey. If we caught up with her years later after her hands worn from years of love and hard work, would she have told us,I realized I was raising generations when I loved my little ones so it was worth the fight. I knew the love I gave today would impact them forever. I knew I was shaping generations to come.

Because when we love them, they’re learning how to love forever, right?

Our children, our students in a classroom, our neighbor, the neighbors kids… whoever we talk to, share life with, share stories with. If we’re showing, living, and talking about love. Wow. What a difference that can make.

Are you a part of the 14 days of simple love challenge? Where we love simply, in some way — each day? Knowing our little bit of love can make a big difference. But wait! It gets even better! The great news——>> When the person we loved goes and loves someone else, all because of the love we showed them? Well, that could change the world.

Leading up to Valentine’s Day why not love, simply each of the 14 days? Besides, why save big love for only one day, right? Here is how it works:

Everyday there will be a new simple way to love posted here. Each day you use that simple love idea and run with it. However that way is possible for you- do it!

Everyone is looking for someone to love them. And the more we love, the happier our little hearts are.

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread” – Mother Teresa.

Today’s simple love: Give Instruction With Kindness.

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“Her words are wise and kindness is rule when she gives instruction” Proverbs 31:26

this.one.will.be.hardest.for.me.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.

Loves today and always,

#14daysofsimplelove guide:
Day One: Who said grown men can’t date boys
Day Two: Everyone’s view is different than mine

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies.

Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar. She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard. She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night. Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes. She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns. Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders. She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her:
“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.”

Proverbs 31:10-30 NLT

yeah… if there’s an ad below here—> don’t click the creepy ad  (yes, directly below here, some strange video perhaps?) I didn’t put it there = /

Everyone’s view is different than mine. #14daysofsimplelove

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“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:18

Each Saturday morning we visit granny.

My sweet mans 86 year old grandma, the one who does art with our oldest daughter Alli each week. The most precious soul in the world.

We’ve been having breakfast with granny for the past three years- since we moved back to my hometown.

Over the course of three years, we’ve noticed a few changes. She sort of forgets things, and sometimes breakfast is a little funky because she added a few of the wrong ingredients. ; ) Some mornings, we hear the same story we heard last week because she forgot she already shared it with us. She’ll say-

“I’m sure I’ve already told you this, hun. But did you know…”

I know, it’s super cute.

Over the past six months or so, we’ve noticed she doesn’t hear us quite as well as she use to. Unless she knows the story involves her, she sort of tunes it out because she knows she can’t really hear the story fully.

Yesterday at breakfast, my sweet man was talking to me about some silly thing he had seen somewhere. I noticed granny was toned out. She was just watching the kids (our kids) playing in the living room. I thought to myself- Her view is totally different than mine. I wonder what it’s like to sit and hear only pieces of conversation- knowing you use to hear everything perfect.

Then I realized, we all see things from different views. Granny sees things through her eyes. Aged eyes, years of experience and memories.  My children’s views are all different- their life stories are all different. Alli, the oldest of six has changed lots of diapers, seen lots of little toddlers throw fits. She’s also had more conversations with me and experienced more “life” than the other children. Then there’s Emmyn, who is only four. She can’t even see the kitchen counter.

The hurtful mother, the fun friend. The cranky neighbor, the snobby co-worker. They’re all living life from their view. What has life dealt them? What challenges have they had? How have they arrived at this ‘view’?

Has the mother been scarred by a life of hurt? Has the neighbor had bad neighbors in the past so they’re not even interested in giving you a fair chance? Has the snobby co-worker always had to be appear better than everyone else because she’s actually lonely and dying inside?

What if we all took time to intentionally get down on other peoples levels. What if I sat in silence with granny doing a puzzle, or sat and played with Emmyn today. What if I bent low to make the shot with Judah to see how hard it is to make a three point basketball shot at the age of six (well, I’ve actually never been able to do that). What if I could have a glimpse into the past lives of Ashely and Triston, recently adopted. I wonder if that view would give me the occasional nightmare too.

I bet it would.

Are you apart of the 14 days of simple love challenge? Where we love simply, in some way — each day? Knowing our little bit of love can make a big difference. But wait! It gets even better! The great news——>> When the person we loved goes and loves someone else, all because of the love we showed them? Well, that could change the world.

Leading up to Valentine’s Day why not love, simply each of the 14 days? Besides, why save big love for only one day, right? Here is how it works:

Everyday there will be a new simple way to love posted here. Each day you use that simple love idea and run with it. However that way is possible for you- do it!

For instance. Yesterday’s love was: take someone special on a date. The post was about dating your children. But you might not have children! Don’t have children? Take your mom, grandma, nephew, best friend. Call someone far away and share a conversation- call it a date!! Share a picture of your simple love. Share the hashtag #14daysofsimplelove. Tell someone what you’re doing- give them a great idea!

Everyone is looking for someone to love them. And the more we love, the happier our little hearts are.

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread” – Mother Teresa.

Today’s simple love: See the world through their eyes.

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“How can I be useful, of what service can I be? There is something inside me, what can it be?” Vincent Van Gogh

A few ideas?
Have kids? Sit and play today.

Have grandparents? Give them a phone call, I bet they would love someone to chat with.

Have a parent who struggles with medical problems and can’t do all they use to? Play a game of cards with them!

Have a little sister or brother? Sit and play with them- try 10 min! I’m sure it will turn into 30 before you know it. =)

Know a widow? They’re probably lonely- give them a visit?

Have a teenager? Laugh loud with them today, make silly videos with them, take goofy pictures- speak their language.

Have a sweet man who wants to watch the Super Bowl but you totally don’t get football and wonder why all those grown men run around in all that armor chasing a silly ball all day? Yeah, me too.  Simply love that man today and watch that game! ; )

Total crazy love- not just these 14 days but always~
Kati

Have a picture of your simple love? Send me a picture by clicking HERE and I’ll post it for all to see or link up to me on twitter: @kati_gibson  #14daysofsimplelove Lets spread the joy of love in a really simple way!

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yeah… if there’s an ad below here—> don’t click the creepy ad  (yes, directly below here, some strange video perhaps?) I didn’t put it there = /

It’s monday, again. And things aren’t going so great.

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The baby didn’t sleep and the toilet didn’t work. The friend didn’t call and the raise didn’t come. The car didn’t start and the bills didn’t get paid. The church didn’t work out and the kids fought all day. The school work didn’t get planned, the lunches didn’t get made.

The weather wasn’t agreeable, the grocery store- too full. The oil didn’t get changed and the trees didn’t get planted. The sun didn’t shine on winters chill and the toys are still strewn all over the yard. The mother didn’t care and the son didn’t call. The little one felt hot to the touch and you don’t feel so good. The chemo didn’t work, the big break didn’t come, the prayer wasn’t answered.

The laundry’s still waiting and it wasn’t even your day to put it all away.

The letter didn’t get written, the book didn’t get read. The cake wasn’t baked and the memory wasn’t made. The grocery list was never started and the coupons never clipped. The jog never happened and the cupcake tasted so good. The husband didn’t say sorry; in fact he didn’t even care.

But you know what? The Father, yeah that one they call King, Savior, Adonai? The I Am, the Alpha the Omega the one who touched the dirty and loved the crippled? He saw it all. He sees it all.

And He is always there.

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Of this I am reminded once again~

It isn’t what happens to me that defines who I am – it is how I react to it that determines whose I am.


Hebrews 12: 1-2 NLT “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne…

[... watching you, smiling at you, finding joy in you sweet friend.]

Monday, Tuesday- whatever day. May your heart be full of faith as you conquer the darkness that tries to capture the joy from our days. May your mind be focused on the I Am because we know we cannot conquer this day without the One who created it. May you lean solely on The One and Only. May the creator of the universe, the painter of the sky; the designer of the honey bee and the intricate flower it draws its strength from- may THIS God be ever evident in your day as you trust in him. As the honey bee must have the beautiful flower to begin it’s journey to honey- may you start your everything by the strength of our father.

Loves,

Kati 

some people don’t need to hear about jesus

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When we got there, of course, it happened again. Looking around in amazement, I thought to myself, “Just get busy and get rid of some of this stuff.”

She seemed to walk fine to me, playing with her little puppy outside. In fact, when we got there she was walking around her yard on her cell phone. Why does she need our help, I wondered.

I unloaded my little children into the cold evening air expecting to finish in two hours only to reach the gate and know it would take much more than a cold evening, this would take another day.

She had replied to an ad we had placed in the local paper offering free leaf raking help to local people 55+ who either needed help or needed us to do the job for them. We were there to rake her yard. A simple task. After all, her yard needed major help, it hadn’t been helped for several years.

When you walked through the gate, you could see her life that once was. Play toys, flower gardens, sitting areas, and even a pool. At first glance someone would think…

“This person doesn’t need help, she just needs to clean up her yard.” 

 That is what I love about our Jesus. It’s not always the person who needs help he’s helping, it’s usually me. 

We worked hard that night, doing as much as we could.  The kids we’re having a blast, there were so many leaves to have fun in, making piles, running and jumping. Discovering treasures that had been buried under the mess of leaves for what looked like, years. 

I always do it. I judge. I make excuses for why someone isn’t worthy of my Graces. Why I don’t have time to help. Why my help won’t make a difference because I’m just one person- we’re just one family.

I really am a mess. 

As I worked that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about Grace and how absolutely desperate I am for the precious gift. I also thought about how so many people look to me like they don’t need [or deserve] it.

 I stopped and chatted with *Ms. Martha for a bit. She told me of her grandkids who once swam in the big pool (now overtaken with weeds) and how long she saved for that patio furniture nobody sits in anymore. She shared with me about all the pins in her back, the countless surgeries she had endured and how she was preparing for yet another one. She said thank you countless times. When we left, her eyes filled with tears and she said,  

“Nobody ever helps.” 

 

She had experienced Grace and I don’t really know how it happened. I mean, all we did was rake some leaves. My goodness, the kids even argued a few times over the rakes. 

How does grace show up looking like some crazy kids and a tired mom? 

Of this I am always reminded: when we love people, no matter how big or small He does all the rest. He moves and stirs their hearts the way they need stirred. The way only he knows. He uses our crazy, messed up lives to love and help people. 

It’s how they know, He [that magnificent jesus of ours] cares. 

They know He cares because you came. Because you sat and chatted, because you touched them. Because you hugged them, cleaned their house, talked them away from their addiction one more time, took them into your home one more time, or perhaps forgave them once again. 

I realized that night, for the first time. Some people are just ready to see Jesus.

Some people don’t need to be taught about Jesus; they don’t even need to hear the Sunday sermon. They’ve heard it all before– they know all about our Jesus. They’ve heard the stories. The heartbreaking truth? Some may even sit in a pew all their days and never really see Jesus.

I’d like to tell you it’s always easy. I’d like to tell you loving on people always brings contentment to your soul, always fills your voids.  I’d like to tell you everyone I’ve ever touched was nice. I’d like to tell you my kids understood yesterday when I denied the homeless man a dollar but then he denied me the opportunity to buy him lunch or even bend to pray with him. I’d like to tell you I’m totally content where I am in serving others and I’d like to tell you I  don’t pray each time I read Katie’s  updates that He would send me there to help. I’d like to tell you, I don’t question God and beg Him to let me do something more. I’d like to tell you I’ve never had to stop and pray before we step foot out the door- headed to help- asking that sweet Jesus to forgive me for yelling at the kids or being impatient when we’re trying to get out of the house. I’d like to tell you I didn’t have to ask for peoples forgiveness time and time again.

But I can’t

I can’t because I am desperate. So, desperate for His Grace. I can’t because I’m broken. I’m broken and only complete in Him.

Like so many, I didn’t deserve grace. I was a liar and a thief.  I was an unwed mother at 17. I was selfish,  mean, and full of hate. I was broken.

But grace? That gift I don’t understand one bit? I fell into it hard. And when it caught me, it changed me. It didn’t take away my struggles- no. It gave me a hand to hold thru the struggles. It gave me hope of a day with no struggles. It gave me peace.

It said, “Hey you. I really love you.”

And He has to say it over and over again: “No, no, no. for real. YOU. I love you. Hey Kati- I know the world says you’re no good or not good enough. I know your mind says you have to get it all right before I’ll love you. But no, for real. I love you now. Messy yard and all. Messed up plans, dreams, and hopes- I’ve got that. Wrong decisions, damaged relationships- I’ve got that.”

Someone really loves like that? Yup. He sure does.

Reminds me of a story:

John 8:1-11

New Living Translation (NLT)

A Woman Caught in Adultery

8 Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”11 “No, Lord,” she said.And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

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I bet she thought she was a total loser ; ) And He just loved her, showing grace in abundance. He’s pretty cool like that.

May you fall into grace today and everyday friend and rest there peacefully. May it cause you to be a crazy bright light- shining for Him everywhere you go. And when you fall and stumble? Like I do every.single.day. may he gently help you up. dust you off. and make you new.over and over again.

All my messy, broken love~
Kati

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*ms. martha’s name changed for story

Because you don’t have to be prefect this Christmas: a story of how Jesus loves broken-imperfect people.

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IMG_1220 IMG_1223 IMG_1225I’ve felt this one coming for a while now. Sometimes, you can feel the words there- words ready to heal. But walking down those roads again, the roads those words came from- can hurt.

I am convinced. We’re all full of words. Walking here and there, with all of life’s words, life’s stories- hidden deep within our hearts.

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Christmas time always makes me think of her. When the weather is cold, so cold your body shakes as soon as you step into the dark- I have to physically shake my head to make the thought of her leave my mind.

We were always poor. But cold winters and a promised Christmas morning, always made poor have a feeling. 

Sleeping together in the same bed to stay warm, running quickly to the electric stove, burning orange to warm frozen toes each morning before school- the kitchen lit by the light of the microwave. If there was extra money that winter- we would actually put up a sheet on the door of the room we slept and run a space heater. We had central heat and air, we just didn’t have money.

We had each other.

My mom was special. She worked hard. She would fix things when they broke. It was amazing. She would drive her little car into town and load it with lumber and then cut it with a real saw, like the ones dads used in their garage. On hot summer days, we would drive down to the filling station off the highway and share a real ham sandwich from the deli- made with Miracle Whip. We ate real slow, savoring each bite. If I was lucky, I also got to pick out a penny piece of gum.

Divine.

Our Christmas tree was always so ugly. She would climb a ladder to the top of some cedar tree in our yard and cut out the top of it for a Christmas tree. Always telling me the same story of how her and my dad spent countless nights stealing little trees from ditches along the highways- planting them in the yard and planning one day to cut them for Christmas trees. Totally crazy in love.

I don’t think he ever cut a tree.

I hated those trees. They were so ugly. And our neighbors? They didn’t only have a real family- three children, a dad, grandparents, and a dog- they had a perfect tree too.

Now, all grown up- I only wish I remembered more ham sandwiches and ugly trees. The truth is- I remember lots of pain.

I get my fight from her. She was a fighter. Wouldn’t give up. Wouldn’t back down. Wouldn’t let go.

But you can only throw your fists up for so long before you have the throw in the towel.

Then, you decide. You decide to love or be hurt. You have to figure out- did you survive or die?

There were never free turkeys, coats, or school supplies those days. We didn’t have things like free health insurance and food stamps. For some reason, they had told her no and she never tried again. They didn’t enforce child support those days.

We ate a lot of Ramen Noodles.

Police didn’t respond like they do now- when the man who always said he loved us would hit and she would scream for hours, I would call and they never came. Not once. We must have lived to far. One day, he hit hard enough- she never let him come back.

She threw in the towel. Hurt for the last time. Two failed marriages, a failed lover, a cold house. That’s it.

She gave up the fight. She locked up and hated the world. Finally removed the mask and realized, what was always hidden had become worn and weary. And she couldn’t fix it- no matter how strong her fight.

What do you do when your hero leaves? She had loaded the lumber in the tiny car and cut it with the real saw. She had cried, silently, every month when the bills were due but still allowed me the penny gum from the filling station. She couldn’t be perfect anymore.

The problem with realizing you’re not perfect is- others will soon know. So, to keep others from knowing, you just shut down. She shut down. She became bitter and mean. She never smiled. She never encouraged, she stopped buying the penny gum and sharing sandwiches on hot days- she was finished.

I slept cold and alone that winter.

You still want to love when that happens, I wanted to love even more. When you’re twelve and your hero is hurting you don’t know what to do– but you want to do something. Now, I know though. It can’t work that way. There is only one healer who can mend those wounds.

She didn’t have to be perfect. I never knew what perfect was. We learn what perfect is by those around us. I wish I had known- I would have taken her weary face, held it in my hands and said, give up the fight. Surrender the pain and love like crazy.

———–———————————————————

We’ve had a lot of people in our home lately. New people. Two nights ago, I finally just started to cry. I told my husband, I can’t just keep loving like this Daniel. I think I’m afraid– It’s going to hurt too bad.

He says, “There’s no love without risk”

You see, what happens is in your quest for friendship you find the need to be perfect. And you don’t know it’s happening. You have a bunch of kids and people just assume you’re nice. Or you homeschool and people just assume you’re patient. You’re crazy about loving broken people and people think you’re some super Christian. But the reality is, you’re none of those things and you’re crazy dependent on Jesus to make you new every.single.day.

So you love. And people leave. You say the wrong thing that didn’t fit who they thought you were or should be and it’s never the same. So you’ve given your heart to them and now- they’re gone and you have a decision to face– did you survive or die? Do you close out the world and live in your box of pain or do you surrender, yet again, to an unfailing Jesus and start all over again?

When you sit with the “good brother” during the Christmas meal at the moms house who always told you you weren’t good enough- do you survive or die? When the father of your child doesn’t send a Christmas gift again for your little one- what do you decide? Do you ever love again? Or have you died to being loved. When you arrive at your in-laws home and they share with you, once again, how you really could have a better job and provide better for their daughter. You have to decide, do those words define you or does the love of a Savior and his promise of unending love define you?

I will never be strong enough. And not everyone will love me for who I really am. Someone will figure out I have Ja Rule in my Pandora playlist and they’ll decide I simply must be a reprobate. My big mouth will say something controversial and they’ll decide we can’t be friends. My Christmas tree will be too big for some and too little for others. My skirt too short, tattoos too exposed or skirt too long and perfect. I’ll make homemade bread one day and eat a donut the next and someone will have some sort of an opinion.

The truth is: in this life- many will still love, some will leave.

But the babe? The babe sent so perfectly that day? He will love.

I love Christmas. I am sure if I lived in a place such as Haiti or Syria- where death is all around and brokenness is so visible- Heaven and the promise of a new earth would be what I long for most. But here- in this world that I live in- the world I wake up in each day.  A life full of masks, broken relationships, constant reminders of cold nights, a mom who has given up on love, and a mind reeling daily with imperfect memories of pain– struggling through self imposed standards- I long for the day when I will see Jesus. Streets of ‘gold’ don’t excite me one bit. I’ll take Jesus in the streets amongst the slums – I just want to be with Jesus.

He is the one. The only one perfect. And yet he chooses to look sweetly upon broken me and love. He knows my Pandora playlist; he knows my struggles and insecurities and he still chooses to love. Not just any type of love. I’m talking get down and dirty with my junk type of love. He never leaves my side and he never judges through human eyes. He helps me surrender and gently corrects my faults. He’s always there.

When I really sit and think of what Joy filled the earth that day- I am overwhelmed at the love of a savior that really did come in the form of a babe- dependent on a broken woman. A woman who many, I am sure, had decided, was not perfect.

Oh, the irony of that magnificent King.

This Christmas may you be overwhelmed at the majesty of his great love for you and may you remain humbled and dependent on Jesus- realizing only his opinion of you truly matters and if we are seeking him to the fullest, he is good to teach us such good things. And one day- we will truly be perfect and whole.

May you smile a little brighter and love a little deeper simply because he loves so sweetly.

Merry Christmas,

Kati 

“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!”