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

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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.

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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.

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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!”

His grace covers even the drug addict – time & time again.

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I remember when it finally hit me.

Sitting at a Mexican restaurant eating lunch, with a twenty-something aged man named Dan (no, not my husband, Daniel). Me, only 17. There’s a baby car seat sitting at the table with us; my little Alli is only weeks old.

He’s telling me how good of a mom I am. How would he really know?

A few nights before, we had sat up all night long. Alli laying next to me on the sofa at my friends house- all of us as high as could be. Who knows when we had slept last. I had met him there, at my friends house. She thought he would be a great “fit”.

He was nice. You would never guess. Responsible adult by day, drug addict by night.

I was nice. You would never guess. Responsible momma by day, drug addict by night.

At lunch that day, both of us dressed our best, wearing our “responsible look” he says to me- “So, you do drugs, huh?”

What? I do what? Oh, that sounds bad.

“Well, I… I… I... wouldn’t put it that way. I mean, I just do the one kind, well… maybe two.”

That day, it hit me. I had never thought of it that way.  I know it seems strange. But when we’re caught up in something we like, something that makes us feel good- we don’t always know we’re caught, do we?

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I sit with women each week on Wednesday afternoons. They come in. Grey stripes, neon orange slip on sandals, worn eyes. They usually didn’t know.

They were caught. And more than one way. They were caught living a life that had them fooled. They were caught doing something I’ve done countless times. They were caught doing something someone all of us know and love does. Drugs, DUI, past due fines, stealing, fighting, abuse. The list goes on and on.

There they are- Alone. Lonely. Dirty. Ashamed. Some, ready for change- others ready to resume life as it was. All in desperate need of a saviors love. Someone in their life saw it just like Dan did that day. Someone knew what they were caught up in. I guess we always see what others are caught up in though, don’t we? We just don’t always see what we’re caught up in ourselves. 

This is the beauty of  Jesus. The way he makes us new.

I still crave it from time to time. The rush of doing a line. The endless days, getting everything done- never being tired. Just because you surrender your heart to Jesus doesn’t mean you don’t still struggle with those old ties of pleasure. The difference is- he is now your strength, your rock to help you conquer those desires. Even now, I can hear a song from that time in my life and all of those emotions come back. I can see a person here in my little town and I am brought back to all of the secrets we shared. And just like that- Jesus has to save me all over again.

This is the beauty of being caught up in his unending love. To think, he loves me. Me, the way he does. He knows my heart, my desires, my struggles, and he still loves me. He’s always loving me through evil thoughts, painful desires, judgmental attitude; and self – righteous ‘christian’ pride. He loves me through all the things in get caught up in. Time and time again. And each time- the story of his grace gets bigger and my struggle gets smaller.  Each time, I’m redeemed all.over.again.

What amazing grace.

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3: 4-7 NIV

Surrendering daily,
Kati 

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