no greater love than a love chosen

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If I need to say it again, I will. I’m madly in love with her.

The problem is, that is the hardest part. When you love someone and they just don’t love you back. And really, please don’t tell me: “Oh, you’ve got it wrong, she does love you.” Or, “Oh, she’ll come around.” Because while all those things are well and good  — even possibly true:

It does not make it any easier today.

Don’t feel all sorry for me either- Really, I’m fine. You see, this is the beauty of an unrequited love… It keeps you close to the feet of Jesus. How could it not? The story of Jesus IS unrequited love.

John 15:13
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

So when she tells me she hates me or hates the color of my skin, the family she’s in or the past she remembers, it hurts. When she says she’d rather be in foster care or she was in jail like her mom, it hurts. Yes, for years you can let is pass as the “adoption adjustment period” but there comes a point in this human life where you simply have to fight harder against a hard heart.

Like the mother you can never please, or the husband who never fully loves or appreciates. The boss who never compliments or the friend who never follows through. The teenager who tells you they hate you or the wife who has cheated time and time again because your love just “isn’t the same as his”.

It hurts.

Dearest friend, hear me say this. To my own heart: listen closely…

It is worth it.

To love fully, even when hurt is the example of Jesus. No matter your religion of christian faith, we can agree on the same thing: the heart of the Jesus story is hurt. The story of Jesus’ life is a life of pain and constant betrayal.

Yes. I know, we tend to say, “I am following the will of God, why does this hurt so bad?”

Friends. When did we start to believe that following the ways of the cross would be easy and painless? The ways of the cross are not easy but they are full of worth.

Matthew 16:24
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

So when she wakes up and decides she still doesn’t love you, possibly not even love a single person in the world today: you choose to love.

Each day is different. For me, this day: I choose to help her find beauty in her different skin.

For my girl who has a color she hates and hair that reminds her of her past, I choose to help her find beauty. I look straight into her eyes and say, “The way God made you was perfect. We are all different and you should never be ashamed.”

Hoping one day, it’ll break down the walls of  insecurity and she’ll fall into the saviors arms knowing she is wonderfully and beautifully  made: no matter where she’s come from or where her story started. Like we used to hold her and tell her we loved her and we were never letting her go- one day we trust those chains will be broken and she’ll stand taller and stronger knowing she has overcome. Because someone chose to love.

Some days, it just becomes a choice: I will love even though it is hard. Do not grow weary because it is hard, friends. Of course it is hard. After all, loving someone who loves you back is such a simple task. Choosing to love is a hard and holy thing.

Luke 3:32-36
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

I’ll come back to this time and time again. I always do. How quickly we forget the simple message of love. That.love.is.merciful.

I know, to think of children or spouses, co workers or friends as enemies is taboo but I’m only spilling my human heart. When someone doesn’t show kindness or favor, it can be hard to love. When you love them unconditionally and they just don’t love you back: the pain can be immeasurable. You know the way you start looking at them just a tad bit different, maybe not smile quite the same… oh, the temptation to pull back on the reigns of mercy and protect your heart can be so strong.

But this, I think on this: how many times has my savior held me so sweetly and spoken those same words, I’m not giving up on you. Or how many times has he looked deep into my cold eyes and seen beauty?

May you seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God this hard, hard road called: grace.

Choosing right alongside you,

Kati

 

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Because they’re all here now: who knows for how long

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Something I wrote almost five years ago came back into memory today on this snowy, Monday afternoon. We’re making stories mommas… and we never know for how long.

from February 15, 2010:

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We have great neighbors. Just yesterday while talking with friends at church the topic of neighbors came up and I have to admit, I love mine. Wouldn’t change them for a second. But you know what? We have a favorite. =) Ms. Renee and Mrs. Cotton.

Renee takes care of her mom, Mrs. Cotton. Cotton is in her 80’s and is as great as can be. Renee is a blessing to just be around. They are the first neighbors I’ve said: “Hey, I have to run to this place real fast can you watch two of my kiddos, I can’t fit them all into the truck.” Or, “Hey, I know it’s 9 o’clock at night, but can I borrow some coffee?”

Alli reads to Mrs. Cotton each week. In the spring and fall they sit outside in the nice weather, talking mostly, not doing much reading. In the hot summer and cold winter they read more, play puzzles and talk about the most interesting things.

Oh, I don’t know why I mention all of that; it really has nothing to do with what is really on my heart, just a sweet foreword, I suppose. =)

On occasion, this past fall Renee and I would jog from our houses down around the river and back. I remember one day while jogging and chatting she mentioned all of her children by name, one given Beth. I had never heard of Beth before. Puzzled, I asked… “Beth?”

“Oh, yes.” She replied. “She’s past away now.” 

I forget how long ago she had passed, but it was on December 10th; I remember that because it’s our Jordan’s birthday. She went on to tell me all of Beth’s problems from birth and how challenging it was. She ended by saying:

“She’s in a much better place now, her pain is gone.”

All of Renee’s children live close by. They are always over during the summer, swimming, eating Sunday dinner, sitting outside with Mrs. Cotton. That is why I was so surprised when I heard the name, Beth.

It makes you think. She’s not here now. She was then, but she is not now.

Life is different.

We make big deals out of such little things, don’t we? I think of my children and how I make such big deals out of the little things with them. I am just sure I was stressing about something three years ago, something that doesn’t even matter now. Something I can’t even remember.

A couple of weeks ago I went to lunch with a friend, leaving all four children at home with Dad, for the first time. When I returned home, only one hour later I was greeted with this:

Three.

Snowman Jordan

Snowman Alli

and Snowman Judah

And I am sure, knowing my Alli, if they had not been called in for lunch by their dad, there would have been a “Snowman Emmyn.”

There they are. Alli, Jordan and Judah. They’re all here now. It may or may not always be that way. One day, when I’m 60, jogging with my 26 year old neighbor she might say, “Alli? I have never heard of Alli?”

The list goes on and on.

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They are here now, not guaranteed another moment. God is so good to bless us with such treasure. Straight from his hand, the Maker. They are his, given to us to teach, train and raise in righteousness.

It isn’t always easy, it’s easy to give up. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep going.

But what a wonderful treasure it will be to stand before our God and hear him say, “I saw each and everything you did. I saw when you didn’t give up. I saw when you prayed for them, taught them, held them, showed them patience, told them no when it wasn’t “fair”. I watched as everyone thought you were not doing things the right way, yet you followed my call. I saw each time you failed and started all over again.”

“You took good care of that which I let you borrow”

It is a good reminder, I may have a Beth someday. Most of the problems of today aren’t that big.

God is so good, to teach us such good things.

Loves today, friend.

Kati

When even your children seem to hate you and you just feel hopeless.

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It was the 16th time that finally broke the window.

She picked up the shoe for the 16th time, mad at the world. She threw and it broke.

You would think the walls would have come down after that.

You thought wrong.

But what do you do when your child hates you? When she looks at you with hate because you’re not the mother of her birth? What do you do when you know she loves your husband more, her dad more.

Simply because: it’s not men she has issues with- it’s mothers.

Because it’s the mother who left. It’s the mother who made the bad decisions. It’s the mother who never stood up for her children. The fathers came and went- it was he mother that always let her down.

So, it doesn’t matter what you do. It doesn’t matter how you love. You always remind her of

a mother.

And really, you just want to be a momma. You just want to hug ,and kiss, and cuddle away bad memories and hard times. You want to say time and time again- “You’re safe here now.”

But time and time again you’re left holding back screams. You’re left wanting to shout, “I AM THE ONE WHO IS HERE! I AM THE ONE WHO LOVES! WHY DO YOU ALWAYS HURT ME?”


We all have windows don’t we?

Days that have been shattered into a million pieces by someones unkind, thoughtless words. The diet that failed once again. The man who didn’t call. The wife who never returned. The mother that let us down. The brother who broke the promise. The family member who broke all of the rules and harmed someone close to you. The mother in law who never forgives. The child who doesn’t seem to ever care- and the battle that.never.ends.

There are windows all around us.

We look into those windows and the reflection peering back to us changes every day.

Some days it says, “You are beautiful” Some days it says, “You are a piece of trash” Some days it says, “You are loved.” Other days it says, “Who could ever love you?”

And then, one day it happens. You just can’t take it any more.

You pick up the shoe and throw it through the glass- hoping for the enemies lies to stop.

And they still come.

Her lies are still there. The broken glass didn’t fix anything. The truth of her past is still as real today as it was yesterday. All the terrible things she yelled at me that day, she’s still yelling.

No. Broken glass doesn’t fix anything. And the same is true of us isn’t it? Broken friendships. Don’t fix anything. Broken promises. Don’t fix anything. Broken marriages. Don’t fix anything.

No. The only brokenness that fixes anything – is brokenness at the foot of the cross.

Dear one.

There are times when there are just no answers. There are no fixes. There are no explanations to why something happened. You are sad, Jesus is sad, and everyone involved is broken into a million pieces.

And the truth is, you.just.don’t.want.to.get.out.of.bed.

I only want to speak these words into your heart today- because He is speaking them into my very own heart.

He loves you. He is close. He is watching. He is proud. He is good. He is just. He is the only thing that will never break. He is the only glass that never shatters. He is able to take your brokenness and make it new. He is watching you.

He loves you and never stops seeing the full, new, beautiful you.

So when you look into that window and you see the ugly reflection peering back at you- remember. We all have a beauty inside of us that Jesus is working on. A beauty that calls out to the savior to make it new each day.

I am there. You are there. Your Christian neighbor is there. Your pastor is there. Your best friend who does everything right is there. The mother that always hurts you is there. The hurting daughter in my home. She’s there.

We are all there. Imperfect, just trying to get a glimpse of Jesus each day. Just a small touch of his robe. We’re all just trying to be made new- time.and.time.again. Breaking the glass won’t fix it. Yelling words we don’t mean won’t fix it. Giving up won’t fix it.

Giving in to Jesus is all that will make anything new.

“Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe,  for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”

Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment.” Matthew 9:20-22

Oh, friends. To long for just the touch of his robe. The newness that comes from the simple touch of Jesus.

Jesus is saying to each of us every day. “My child, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well! Not your actions, not your failures, not your successes. Not your method of parenting, or your tithe amount. Not your involvement in church. Nothing but your faith in me.”

Beautiful one: May you know your true beauty today. May you know he is fighting for your heart, for your soul, for the renewing of your mind.

When the 16th time comes. May you fall to your knees and surrender to only the touch of His robe. My you never give up. May you never look down. May you feel loved and cherished by the ONLY one who loves fully.

Jesus.

Broken, earthly, and nothing compared to Jesus~

Kati


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why shackin’ up with people might not be such a bad idea.

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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 outwhen 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.

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“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.

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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

Much love,
Kati

*Ms. Rachel’s name was changed for this story.


 

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Yup! The rumors are true, we’ve gone off the deep end.

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You.Are.Amazing.

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:

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Then another:

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We spent the sweetness of last Monday chopping and delivering salsa to the community.

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My sweet man and oldest daughter were gone last week to church camp.

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I was rockin’ it with the littles.

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We’ve been playing sweet tunes and diving into God’s word right here in our living room.

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We’ve been getting down and dirty with the sweet people in our community- all different sorts of folks.

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When crazy Ideas come, we quickly write them down.

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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.

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Oh, that he would save a wretch like me,

Unbelievable.

Kati

Even the trash man needs some lovin’

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Because it’s raining and you really do appreciate him a whole bunch.

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Because, what if.

What if, out of allllll those trash cans– *YOU* are the only one who shows him love today.

It’s trash day somewhere. Love simple.

Because love never feels simple to the one receiving it.

Oh, and… quarters work best for rainy days 🙂

Happy day!

Kati

Why the only fight worth fighting is the fight for love: A daughters story of her fighting dad.

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As I type- someone I love fights to breathe.

Gone are the days of important phone calls, junk mail to read.

The phone calls missed, the birthdays forgotten.

All matter not.

This is the truth of life friends.

We will all fight. We will fight over dirty laundry, dishes, and kids who have places to go.

We will fight with neighbors over property lines, cooks over food served cold. The phone company over high bills and insurance companies over unpaid promises.

But when the time comes to fight for life: those moments will not matter.

What will matter is, did you love.

Did you love when it was hard. When it wasn’t deserved? Did you love after years of absence and neglect?

Were you Jesus to someone?

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My dad left. He was fighting hard for custody of me and didn’t win. And when he lost, he left. And I never saw him again.

It wasn’t until a dozen years later that he called out of the blue to meet.

We’ve seen each other every year – once or twice, sometimes more for the past several years.

And the reason of absence doesn’t matter- the loss for words. The birthdays forgotten and the books never read.

What matters is now. What matters are the years after the dozen lonely ones. The years of having babies and those babies calling him, grandpa. Years of random phone calls from him- sometimes an email.

What matters is today. That when a fight ends- either his or mine, we will have loved no matter what.

May you choose, friends. To fight the battle that matters. The battle to love others- no matter what.

1 john 1:19

“We love because he [jesus] first loved us.”

And that dad of mine?

Well he’s pretty great after all.

Loves today and always friends,

Kati