I met her Monday.
Monday. The day I finally let down my guard and allowed you to tip toe into my world. The day I finally shared what all God was doing. The day I trusted you with my secrets.
Because after all. People like to see a persons plans fail. Not many like to see or help them succeed. I believe the old saying goes, “They’ll pay a quarter to watch you smile, a dollar to watch you cry.”
But this isn’t about succeeding, is it?
Driving past our new future homestead, on our way to someone’s home to take out their garbage, we saw the neighbor, Ms. Rachel*.
By chance, my man and oldest daughter had met her earlier in the day, they mowed the empty lot next to her home. They never told her we would be moving in, next door to her– next month, Lord willing.
Stopping by to say hello, Daniel introduces me to her. She’s only lived there for two months. She tells my sweet man about a leak, asks if he can help. We talk about food from her country, her small business here in America, and then it turns to where we live. To which my man says, “Well, you know, Ms.Rachel*, we are going to be your new neighbors.”
Puzzled, and talking so super cute with her accent, “You a gonna do what?”
“Yes- we are going to be your neighbors, right across the road. We are going to use it for the community.”
We went on to tell her of our plans. Once a week, nonprofit, donation based cafe’ downstairs with healthy, homegrown food– special teas and coffee. We told her about the evening soup kitchen. Where people can come and eat homegrown food, enjoy special drinks, yummy coffee. Talk about Jesus, life, hardships, and just live together. We told her about the community garden we’ve been blessed to already start. We talked about the lifegroup currently meeting at our home, studying the book of ACTS and the early church. How they gathered together, sharing everything, nobody in need. Everyone a family. We told her about the community clothing SHARE we plan to have open twice per week. Where people can come and donate time, earning vouchers to shop for good, clean, clothes, toys, and housewares.
Then she says it.
“You a gotta be kidding me…. ohhhhh you a gotta be kidding me. I just a sitting in my living room saying, ‘Oh God, today I fasted, something good is gonna happen… oh God, today I fasted, something good has to happen.’ You are my good news! The Lord has answer my prayers– I a prayed someone would come to that home who would use it for Jesus. “
“Oh, this is a gooood day. A gooood day. “
She grabs my face with her worn hands and kisses my cheeks.
“The Lord has answered my prayers. We a gonna do a lot of good stuff together. We are gonna use your home, AND my home. Oh, I’m a so excited.”
Little did she know, meeting her- had answered my prayers.
Funny how God works.
Not moments later, a man pulled up. Talked with my man. He had heard, through the little community grapevine, what we were doing.
He offered his city lot to use for an additional community garden.
His vacant. totally ready to plant a garden. city lot. The city lot directly across from the home we’re purchasing for the purpose of doing life together with the community. He offered it free of charge to be used for the purpose of loving people. Loving people through food, through working the ground, through talking about life, through living. Together.
He [that amazing. always knocking my socks off God.]
He had provided. again.
Not only had He provided like-minded friends to start together.
sold our house.
provided another home several thousand dollars less than asking price.
even given us an additional fridge for the cafe’ and a neighbor had randomly given us a deep freeze, unaware of what the Lord was doing.
The list goes on, and on, and on.
And He still knew I still needed a little something- something like a random neighbor saying, I’ve been praying for this sort of thing to happen.
Because when you do this sort of thing, friends. Something like offer your home for community use, take on a home bigger than you would choose to buy if not for this purpose, with human hopes it all works out… when you share hopes and dreams of simply walking this Jesus walk differently, a little more like the way you read about in scripture- where people lived together, dreamed together, held each other accountable, and helped each other no matter what. Where there were no TV’s or smart phones to steal our attention… back “then” as my kids always say. When you start talking like that?
People think you’re crazy. YOU start to think you’re crazy.
So, tomorrow, I’m going to need another reminder, I’m sure. Because I’m human. And the ways of the Lord are scary. And saying you’re following the “way of the Lord” alone sounds and feels all pious. But He just reminds me again and again.
This. is what you’ve been called to at this moment. Don’t hide your lamp stand. Tell others the good news of what I am doing.
So, we told Ms. Rachel*. And she said, “We’ll use your home, and my home.” The man stopped and said, “You can use my city lot.”
And God says, “See? There are other crazy people out there, my darling.”
Do not be afraid.
“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Do you ever feel crazy?
Friends. We serve the God who silenced the hearts of Kings. The God who created the ground we walk on. He will give you boldness to stand strong and love big. It’s scary. But He’s bigger than your fears.
Sometimes it takes a long time. Sometimes it just starts with a prayer or sharing ideas with friends. Most times? It means putting the bible study down and just getting dirty– applying the words we’ve read time.and.time.again. Sometimes, it’s getting out of the boat and sinking time.and.time.again. Oh my, oh my, I’ve almost sunk to the depths of the sea several times. I’ve done a lot of things wrong, assumed wrong things, and handled loving people wrong, many times.
But that Jesus of ours? He loves us all the same. He looks on us and has big plans for our little steps of love.
“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should: how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.” Ephesians 3:18
May we have the courage to show this love to everyone– no matter how crazy it makes us seem, no matter how many times we fail, no matter how scary.
“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” – Mother Teresa
*Ms. Rachel’s name was changed for this story.
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Um, yeah… is there 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. Sorry about that.
Thank you for all of the sweet emails and such checking on me up here in my little ol’ tree :-)
You see, there are exciting things going on around here!
I am so excited to share all of the wonderful things we have been blessed to take part in! All because God is so great to use broken people like us– we have been able to put legs on a few of our long time dreams for our little community.
We have joined with friends to begin a garden for our community. Ground has been broken, manure hauled in and fall planting has begun. See that big space wayyyyyy back there? That is one garden:
We spent the sweetness of last Monday chopping and delivering salsa to the community.
My sweet man and oldest daughter were gone last week to church camp.
I was rockin’ it with the littles.
We’ve been playing sweet tunes and diving into God’s word right here in our living room.
We’ve been getting down and dirty with the sweet people in our community- all different sorts of folks.
When crazy Ideas come, we quickly write them down.
We prayed for our house to sell in 30 days, if the Lord wanted us to pursue this crazy big historical home in our little ol’ town– for use of filling it with people. Cooking food, loving and serving; being Jesus together in this big ol’ home. Filling it with hurting people, helping people, and all sorts of walks of life.
and it totally did sell in 24 days.
which is totally unheard of in our little town, population 50. ;)
After crying for about two days, because we will miss our little homestead here, we started to rejoice.
Matthew 25: 35-36 ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…’
To live the words of Jesus is the definition of pure joy friends.
Yup, I’m pretty much a kid in a candy store at this point.
Annnndddd half way scared to death at the same time.
Oh, that he would save a wretch like me,
As we approach yet another year of the FREE Community SHARE our little family puts on each year (a time when people donate items they no longer want and we set up the local community center as a store where people can come and get all they want for FREE) I am overwhelmed with the amount of people helping. This morning, I was thinking of a story I wrote two years ago. It was our second year of doing the SHARE and I wanted to quit.
I hope this story of my failures helps encourage you to be strong and do something God has laid on your heart!
“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done.
We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”
I almost didn’t do it.
I walked into the house and said, “I’m quitting it all.”
Ever felt that way?
Just because you have a calling on your heart, doesn’t make it easy.
Actually, it’s easier to give up– or better yet, not even start.
Did you know, I’m a quitter? Did you know, I’m a mess? Did you know, sometimes I get tired and want to give up? Did you know sometimes, I yell, cuss, and wish for a quick shot of something hard (that being hard liquor for those of you with virgin vocabulary ; )
If you think less of me now– you thought too much of me to begin with.
I am so broken.
Crying hard, I yelled— “Why do I have to start everything!? Why can’t I just be a part of something?”
Little did I know, I was apart of something bigger than me. Did you know, if you knew who I am apart from Him– you would turn and walk away. I wonder what she did.
What did she do? What did she say? There, looking Grace in the eyes– How did she react?
“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. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”“No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
Did she sit and anxiously await the following Sunday when she could go to church and share what happened to her? How about starting each morning with devotion? Did she sit in her comfy, cozy house by the fire and meditate on His goodness with christian music playing in the background? Perhaps she even gave a shout out on Facebook of how big and good her God was.
Or wait! Her eyes were open to grace, open to what she had been forgiven of– she was now “better than that.” Better than that person she once was. Did she forget? Did she forget where she came from? Did she forget what it felt like?
Did she forget the Grace in His eyes and how they looked on her with compassion, love, and mercy– regardless of what she had done? Did she know she didn’t deserve it?
Don’t get me wrong, Christian music is good, and I love me some cozy meditation beside the fire. And of course, we all know–quiet bible time before my day is full of loud, is the best start to the day. But what good are those devotions, those songs, that grace— if my hands are not getting dirty.
What good are those scriptures; God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, and training in righteousness, if I’m sitting on the sofa reading my Bible–maybe even baking cookies for a church bake sale– but I have not loved with my hands, with my feet, with my story.
“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise you are only fooling yourselves.For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” James 1:22-25
So, I quit. I threw my fit. Cried real hard. Felt overwhelmed. Got back up. And started to plan the SHARE– where people could come and get whatever they needed or wanted. All for free.
I asked some people to help. For some, it was their first time to feel the dirt. Some felt uncomfortable; some felt stretched. For that day, we lived the scriptures– we dug through bags of peoples junk making it treasures for someone else.
We even had christian music playing in the background.
It’s not about me. It’s not about what I have done. I have done so little. In fact, more bad than good. No, friends. It’s about the opportunity to be a part of the big story– The God Story.
It’s about Grace.
It’s about the unexplainable, always perfect, always covering, always good, love of our sweet Jesus. It’s about knowing, you are never too far from Grace. Did you hear that? You are never too far from Grace. Your storm is never too big, your attitude is never to rotten, your pain is never to deep. Your past is never too ugly, your choices never define you. That love that covers the dirt, the wounds, the imperfections– yup, it’s always there.
Oh, friends I can only hope! When we have discovered this gift, this grace, this LOVE… it would cause us to be crazy! It would get us off the sofa and into the dirt, not only reading but living the scriptures. It would make us tired and even a little crazy. Oh, that It would keep us bent low to the ground, healing through helping.
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…
A friend replied:
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.
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.
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.
Grab this picture and share it? Yup, spread the idea of simple love today. #14daysofsimplelove
Happy Monday (tuesday,wednesday,thursday and beyond)!
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.