sometimes dreams just don’t come true.

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I wrote this story a few years back after a trip to town with my littles. Today, while a repair man was here at the house– he overheard the lesson I was teaching the kids during homeschooling. Each day, I give the kids a “quote to ponder”;  the quote to ponder today was:

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall” – Confucius

The repair man, in the other room, calls out “Amen to that! I’m in the middle of that lesson right now.”

His remark reminded me of this story- May it be an encouragement to you today as you chase those great big dreams of yours.

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We’ve always liked to pack up and head somewhere “special” to learn little things– create a memory.

In Missouri, it was books and cookies at the library coffee shop {yes, it was a.m.a.z.i.n.g} sometimes, it was books and donuts early in the morning at the local donut shop. Then of course, there’s always the park.

I think school at the park is Chapter One in The “Typical Homeschool Trends” handbook; along with baby carriers and long skirts, ha!  (That book doesn’t really exist)  🙂

Typical or not, it’s what we do.  Sometimes it’s history, sometimes is devotion, sometimes it’s just a silly book that makes us all laugh loud and heads turn. This week, it was The Tale of Three Trees.

It starts with loading cups into bags and books into hands. Yes, always take your own cup, refills are around 59cents compared to $1.40 for a drink in their plain ‘ol not special at all  their cup.  We’re mug people around here, everyone has their favorite.

Then we head out. No big deal right?

Today, I walked into our towns little grocery store with no kiddos, a rare thing indeed (ooh, maybe Daniel is my secret servant this week?) I was all alone, in my own little world, price comparing and trying to get the best deal on chicken.

Greeting the clerk a friendly, “Hi how are you today”, then moving my stare past her onto my items,  watching those sought after good deals move across the scanner, wondering if the clerk would see the $2 off instant coupon on my smart chicken… the check out girl, a senior in high school, says to me–

“I saw you the other day, are those your kids?”

Totally confused, I ask “You saw me? Where?”

“At the store, reading to your kids.”

“Oh, yeah” I reply,  “Those are my kids. Wait, Unless they were bad then they aren’t mine” I said, with a silly smile.

She continues, “Yeah, I heard you reading to them.” 

Sliding my chicken across the scanner, removing my coupon, she goes on to tell me how she heard me asking the kids what their dreams were for when they were grown and she listened as Judah told me he wanted to be an NBA Player. Continuing to listen, she heard me bring it back to the book, where the three trees had big dreams but God used them to fulfill those dreams in His way, not looking exactly the way they had planned.

She says, “I heard you ask him,

What if God has a different plan for you?”

Then she heard his reply,

“Oh, he would never do that to me, it’s my dream and he’s given me the skills to do it.” 

Telling me my total and reaching her hand out for the money, her eyes tear up and she turns her elbow towards me to see her scar.

“That was my dream too and it seemed so reachable, until I fell and broke my arm just this year before my senior year of high school. I can’t play like I use to and now no schools will choose me.”

She smiles real big, tears still welling and says,

“I don’t know why it wasn’t His plan but I know somehow, it’s all going to be used to give Him glory–  I know he has a plan.”
 

Slipping into my van, chicken loaded carefully in the trunk, I see the book there on my dash. I walk back in and say, “I still had the book, why don’t you read it.” 

She smiles that real big Jesus smile and says–

“Oh wow, thanks!”  

For everything there is a season,
      a time for every activity under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT

Oh, NBA seems like a big unreachable dream, doesn’t it? Well, I’ve had dreams both big and small that never happened. Hopes, dreams, goals, and wonders that at this time in my life, God just didn’t answer.

No matter the size of your dream- it’s yours. And if it doesn’t happen– it hurts.

My prayer for us is this: May we find grace and give glory in each season, my friend. May we live today with the crazy peace and comfort that only our great big God can give.

May you find comfort today in knowing- God’s really big and He’s got this.


May Mercy, Peace, and love be yours in abundance. Jude 1:2

Dreaming Big, 

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.

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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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So, you think everyone is better than you huh? Think again.

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THIS is what I look like when the little things I write matter to people and they actually read it and I’m left feeling like a little Minion on the movie Despicable Me saying,  “whaaatttt?”

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That, my friends- is a thirty year old woman taking a planned ‘selfie’. =)

Cue next picture of me climbing into my turtle shell- bound for hiding because I think maybe people have it all wrong? Maybe they don’t really understand I’m just a mess trying to figure it all out and it just so happens, my heart pitter-patters for words? Maybe they don’t know I’m just a silly girl who loves sharing words on a screen- hoping one day they’ll spill over onto real sheets of paper and sit next to peoples bedposts. Do people even know that I really don’t know what I’m doing? Like for real- I may love words, stories, and sharing brokenness with the story of Gods redemption, but I don’t even know where the commas go and spell check is my best friend.

So, yeah. I know. It’s a scary impossible,  you just know everyone can’t wait to see you fail sort of dream.

But it gets me thinking just a bit- makes me wonder:“Do people reading my silly words understand they’re amazing? No, seriously. Do they realize they’re created to be unique, different, and totally not like anyone else?”

Then I realize, the truth is: probably not.

Most of us spend a lot of our time comparing screens. Your screen is much cooler than mine. Your facebook or twitter page gets way more likes than mine and you have way more friends than me. Your kids are perfect, and you read your bible every day. Your husband takes you away for mini-vacations three times a year and he even buys you a new dress to celebrate. You’ve adopted three kids, I’ve only adopted two- you drive a new mini-van, I drive a beat up SUV with a broken heater. Your house is bigger, your family is much cooler, and you even have a dog that does tricks.

*sigh* I’m such a major loser.

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See I told you. Major.

If you are someone who is a major loser like me but you think you’re the only one— I’d like to share with you this simple truth:

psssst, it’s a secret. guess what?

Everyone’s kids have cranky, bad days. We all feel lonely and misunderstood from time to time. Not all of us go on vacations all of the time and I know I never get new dresses. We all spend too much money on something, and we all have our things we “just can’t live without”. We all have seasons where our spiritual walk seems dry, and we all sometimes want to walk away from a screaming child of ours at Walmart and pretend they aren’t really ours. There are days when we all want to give up or  just sit in a corner and cry. I know I’m the only one who sometimes lets a bad word fly out of frustration though- right?

Here’s the truth. Nobody’s life is picture perfect. If our lives were perfect, we wouldn’t need the cross.

There is a false reality that comes along with reading about other peoples lives day in and day out. I can get all wrapped up in what others are doing that it becomes very damaging to me as a wife, a momma, and a daughter of the King. I start to compare my life, actions, and activities, with other mommas instead of how I measure up to the calling placed on my own life; The calling of Jesus.

“Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:6

If I claim to follow Jesus, I must try to live as He did. It’s not a choice- rather a reaction. It is an overflow of who I am. I am loved by the King. Oh my goodness, I get goosebumps just thinking of His love and favor!!

Isn’t it exciting? As Christ followers, we get to share with the world the beauty of being unique!

You may be like the widow who fed Elijah; or perhaps you have a faith like the Canaanite Woman whom Jesus called a dog. Perhaps you need grace, like the  the woman caught in adultery who Jesus saved from stoning. Or perhaps, you’re someone who needs to just.quit.throwing.stones. No matter what point we are in our walk with Jesus, we have only one person to imitate, Him.

I remember when I first became a stay at home momma. It all happened at once. I had just had our third kiddo, Judah. Only days out from c-section (i know you have home-births, you’re so much cooler than me) I became a stay at home, homeschooling momma. Also a full time ministers wife all in a new town, surrounded by all new people. One night, I was crying, talking to that sweet man of mine about how I just didn’t know how to juggle it all. In response, he looked at me and said something I will never forget.

He said:

“As long as you are being the best daughter you can be; then how can you not be the best mother, wife, and friend.”

I still think of that every day. “Father, I’m doing the best I can; you’ll have to fill in where I lack.” And trust me, I lack a lot. So, the truth is simple. We’re all always falling, and He’s always picking us up, dusting us off and helping us start again. In the world of computer screens, blogs, facebook, pinterest, twitter– we hardly see the falls, we only see the beauty of His help.

For instance, see my little Emmyn making a cutie-pie snow man in this picture?

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Well, what you don’t see is the fight she gave me when I made her wear boots instead of flip-flops only minutes before. =)

Oh and… remember the post about my crazy past of drug addiction and God’s saving grace? What you don’t realize is… i didn’t even realize my sweet man (aka HUSBAND) didn’t even know the ‘date story’ from that post.  ha, ha… oops = /  I thought he knew every little detail of my life.

How about this random pig we saw walking down the road a few weeks back? Yeah- that was strange and my kids wanted to take him home. I almost did.

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See this cutie pie picture from our adoption day? Yeah, the picture of my boys? Isn’t it nice of Triston to be giving Judah a piggy-back ride? Well, what you don’t see is Judah running over in between picture shots to get a huge drink of lemonade and then spilling it all down his shirt. So, we had to hide the evidence. Hence, their sweet, on screen, brotherly love. ; )

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The truth is, there is no one good- accept the Father. Including people with cutsie little blogs or pictures on Facebook. Our days are filled with challenges, temptations, sin, wrong choices, harsh tones in our voices, and bad judgment calls. That’s the beauty of grace.

He is so good to give such good gifts.

Titus 3: 4-7 NIV
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.

May we be seeking Him each and every moment of our days, friends. May He fill our every thought. May we compare ourselves to that sweet Jesus of the cross. Who took on flesh to live a life of example and sacrifice. Let us not compare ourselves to the broken brother or sister sitting next to us in the pew, showing up in our newsfeed, or walking beside us at Walmart.

While you slap your little babies hand, while you wipe your little guys runny nose… again. While you have yet another hard discussion with your teenager; while you show grace to your nagging mother just one more time. While you serve at that job you hate just one more day, or help that person just.one.more.time.  May you remember to be the best Daughter of the King you can be.

“As long as you are being the best daughter you can be; then how can you not be the best mother, wife, and friend.”
The rest will fall into place, my friend.

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”  Ephesians 5:1-2

No better than the next guy,
Kati

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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 

Do things that make the white guy at WalMart say, “Da** girl, how many baby daddies have you had? An adoption story.

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Everyday. That’s how often someone asks me about adoption.

Most people want to know- “Doesn’t it wreck your life?

I don’t think people ask everyone who has adopted this same question. I don’t think the person who adopts the cutie pie little baby is asked this question. I’m sure their most asked question is different.

I think it’s the people who adopt the older “un-adoptables” who are asked my question. Sort of like – everyone loves puppies, but the older pit-bulls- nobody wants.

The problem is:

They all wreck your life.

Big, little; nice or mean. HIV positive, healthy. Two months old, ten years old. Domestic, International. All of them. They all wreck you.

This is how I want to answer everyone who asks.

It’s hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Each day, everyday. It.is.hard.

It’s hard because when I go to the school and the kids in her class interview me, like they do all of the other MVP student’s moms,  they want to know: “What was her first word?” And of course, I can’t say, “Well, I only met her nine months ago… let me get back to ya on that”  ; )

It’s hard because when we celebrate birthdays in our home- we look at baby pictures. And for them, there simply are none. And the truth is: there never will be.

It’s hard because as much as you try to be mom and you really are- you simply are not the only mom they’ve ever known and you never will be because they still remember that mom.

It’s hard because as much as you tell them you love them- at first, they wonder if you’re for real.

It’s hard because, by this age, they really should know how to take baths, eat food, pour water or simply apply chapstick and lotion but they just don’t.

It’s hard because every now and then, they tell you stories of dark nights, no mattresses or food. They remember bugs crawling on them, and dogs hurting them. They have stories of dads yelling and people leaving. Over and over again.

It’s hard because as much as you love them- as much as they’re yours forever and you’d take a whole dozen of them. You still get really mad because someone did this to them.

And then I think:

Oh yeah, you bet we’ve been wrecked.

We’ve been wrecked by that sweet Jesus who makes all things new. Wrecked by this love He has shown us in real life by the true heart of adoption. Wrecked by this reality. Really? Is this the way it is? Jesus loves me? Me? Messy, abandoned me? Me? Always messing up, never getting it right, me?  He.adopted.me?

And now, out of the love of two broken people– two people He adopted into His family, that man of mine and little ‘ol me, we get to show the love of a savior to two kiddos? Two kiddos who, as you can tell, are totally “Gibson”…

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Let me give it to ya straight.

Adoption isn’t for everyone. I get that. I’m not saying it is. Fruit Loops aren’t for everyone either. But just so you know, I think they’re delish. =)

Here is something else I do know. God is moving in the hearts of His people to care for orphans. It simply must be the reason I am asked every single day about adoption. It must be the reason my email is flooded with questions from people I don’t even know asking me how to help with their hurting adopted kids. It must be the reason I am asked, almost daily, “How do I adopt.”

If you are someone who is asking that question allow me to share with you this:

Adoption is hard.

The paperwork is endless, the people involved in the process aren’t always the best. It will require a lot of work. Your house may need some changes- your perspective might need some fine tuning. Some kids are really messed up, they need your love pretty bad. Some people are rude to you- it’s just the truth. Like the man at Wal-Mart who took it upon himself to ask me “Damn girl, how many baby daddies have you had?” as my little crew of white and brown children trailed behind me– totaling six all together ; )

Yeah, he must be a real winner.

Who cares about all of that stuff.

Here is what really matters:

Today I watched my boys play basketball in the freezing cold wearing matching NBA sweatbands. And if the nerdy matching sweatbands weren’t enough to make this momma tear up- I heard Triston (who is adopted) say, “You’re the best brother Judah.”

Here is what really matters:

Two days ago we celebrated Ashley’s ninth birthday- it was her first birthday with us. The truth is, she doesn’t know what this momma was really celebrating. I was celebrating her surviving those first eight years and rejoicing in knowing she gets to live the rest of them- no longer surviving.

Those are the kinds of things that really matter.

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The hard paperwork and countless expenses associated with adoption will fade away.  In fact, some people don’t even have much expense or paperwork. The truth is- the scary unknowns don’t stay unknown for long. And who knows? Your house might be more ready than you think. Someone might answer you “yes” to adopting, rather than “no”. You just never know until you go for it.

When I watch this video- [the video just below]  I know it’s about a sweet baby and the fight for clean water. But I want you to know this:

When you adopt- THIS is the type of world, wonder, and opportunity you offer a child. A chance to see it all for the first time. A chance for them to fulfill their “If I had a mommy and daddy list” and believe me.

They have that list.

“Once I knew only darkness and stillness… my life was without past or future… but a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living.”

-Helen Keller

May we be the hands that clutch at emptiness, friends.

All my love made possible thru Him,

Kati

Related Posts:
Jesus can love thru a crazy person like me?: an adoption story.
His grace covers even the drug addict, time and time again.

 

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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.”

————–

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

—-

*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!”