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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Let’s talk about sex, baby.

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Cooking dinner I overhear them on the steps.

“You know, you are not defined by your purity.” That sweet man of mine says to our almost 15 year old who is reading passion and purity– (a book about love and letting Christ be in control)

Of course, being the momma I am, I pipe in:
“Well, we’re called to imitate Jesus and he calls us to a life of purity.”   That man of mine replies, “Yes, but that doesn’t define who you are.”

He goes on to say, “Many times Christian girls get so tied up in being pure – they forget it (being intimate) is a beautiful thing when you’re married. Being with your husband is what brings him home each night. Think about it, men are workers, hunters, manly… what brings them home? The love of their wife. I’ve seen it all too often: the good girls, so focused on being perfect, are afraid of sex because it’s “dirty” or “sinning” once they’re married. THEN, they have marital problems. Be pure, yes. But don’t worship it or let it define you. Be defined by a child of God and when you’re striving for that- purity comes. Be honest with yourself and talk with mom and I about issues you may be struggling with. When you don’t open up and be honest, the enemy makes sexual things impure and that will affect you for life.”

The wife in me was super impressed and a little humbled. It’s true, mommas. Talking about purity with our girls is a must! But, sharing the beauty of intimacy with their husband is a topic we should also embrace. Scary, yes!

Oh, if only someone would have told me: one day, someone will love you. They’ll love only you and you will be theirs, only theirs. And he’ll love you like Christ loves the church…

When I was young we NEVER talked about the “three letter word” So, I always thought love and sex went hand and hand- hey, that’s what I saw in the movies!  If you “loved” a boy, you do “that”. I KNOW! So sad. The truth is, nobody ever told me anything different. So, this led to lots of bad decisions and my heart being in a million different places before it finally landed with my husband. However, it was broken in a million pieces, prone to bad choices, and filled with regret. I just wish someone would have said:

Love isn’t defined by sex. Let’s talk about purity.

Learning right there next to 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

The day my nine year old was picked up by the police: When people think you have it all together

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“I don’t want to live here anymore.”

“I.want.a.NEW.family.”

Stomping her feet- right there in the middle of her bedroom, surrounded by all who love her; she had made up her mind- it was time to leave.

And what do you do when something like that happens?

Because when you’ve grown up being tossed around from foster home to foster home- from institution to institution when things get hard; of course you want to leave.

So, she left. And I followed- all secret agent like. Parking behind trees and in peoples driveways. It’s true. I simply hid out as I watched my little girl skip around town- thinking all was right with the world; thinking she had won.


Some days, I want to skip around town- thinking all is right with the world, thinking I have won. But the truth is: I’m a broken mess.


I followed her for an hour before the city police finally came and picked her up and drove her home. All the while I thought, “And people think we have it all together.”

This is the truth, friends.

None of us have it all together.

I have sat with mommas who have tried to take their lives; mommas who I thought had it all together. I have sat with women whose marriage I envied; only to find they were nearing divorce. I have wished upon stars for your picture perfect child to influence my not-so picture perfect child; only to find your child is no-so picture perfect after all. I have hoped and dreamed for the homes of many- only to see those homes be taken by the bank or cause a divorce over finances.

My nine year old just wanted a new family. And when the police picked her up? Well, she didn’t care one bit. She told him she ran away because she didn’t want to do her math problems and she wanted a new family. Well, in orphan world- police take you from families to make you safe. She thought he would just snatch her up and move her to a math-less world. So, when he said, “Next time, I’m taking you to juvie.” She wasn’t too impressed.

So, how do we: moms, dads, sons, daughters, co-workers, bloggers, foodies, grandmothers, men and women– how do we show the love and grace of Jesus in a true and genuine way? Because as Ann Voskamp sweetly reminds us:

“Aren’t we all really like Peter– cowards and liars and deniers and absolute messes? I am.”

I am.


And when one runs away or one hits another child, or one does something unthinkable, I simply am reminded. We all need Jesus. A suit, tie, and seminary degree, all packaged with a big smile aren’t going to change the fact that I am a broken mess and so desperately in need of a savior.

And hopefully? By leaving all of that religious, “I’ve got it all together” facade aside, this desperation can speak loud into the lives of my children. That life is hard, and days can be crazy. But Jesus is loving, and grace filled- no matter what.

Then, when we break at the feet of Jesus,  we’re just a bit like my nine year old- who, hours later– even hours after being toted home in a patrol car- finally broken, collapsed in my arms and said,

“I’m sorry mom and I love you.”

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“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.” 1 John 3:1a

Lavished by the King- and so desperately in need of Him–

Right along side of you, friend.
Kati

Similar Post: Do things that make the white guy in Walmart say, Da** girl; how many baby daddies have you had?


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this helped my children stop complaining.

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It’s the sigh I hate most.

I don’t know why it always grabs me the wrong way, making my tongue want to leap out of my mouth like a snake–

When they complain.

It’s the fastest ticket to this mommas nerves. I don’t know why. Sometimes I think it’s because I have a go-getter attitude, “get it all done yesterday” =) Or perhaps because I’m an adult and I see a need and meet it.

However, as sure as the sun is rising this morning my little heart whispers to me, yet again:

“It’s your flesh”

Ah, yes. That sneaky ‘ol thing again– trying to ruin the sweet fellowship between me and my kiddos.

Sometimes it’s a quick trip to the table for sentences. Right now, it’s the complaining jar.

As soon as that sigh or words of complaint come from those sweet lips of theirs– my tongue doesn’t have to whip out like a snake, I have a plan.

A solution.

I think as a parent, most of my frustrations, doubts, and sleepless nights come from having no plan– no solution. So then, I am left to worry and parent out of fear, rather than love. Fear of what consequences they will face as a result of their choices. Such as, complaining when someone askes for their help.

Now, I know your children don’t struggle with this, they do twirls and sing hymns while they gladly help with everything you ask.  And my kids do that too– when we’re on our way to get ice-cream 😉

For when we are at home and I’ve asked maybe one too many things– when they give me the sigh, (my littles mostly) I simply reply:

“Oh, you just complained, I’m sorry– you have to go to the complaining jar.”

And then this little momma has to follow through with the consequences =(

 

But when they choose Grace–oh happy day!

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One day, it will all be just a memory.

Breathe deep today, mommas. Remember, they’re all here now.

And they’re watching you. =)

Holding my tongue daily,

Kati

Have you heard how to trick your kids into love? Oh yes! It works too!


 

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Could my bad mom moment help you?

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We all have that child.

Well, at least I tell myself we all do. Maybe it’s only me.

In this home of half a dozen children- the “that child” always changes.

But lately? It has been the same one.

over

and over

and over

again.

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Last night, all of my kiddos were tucked into bed.

Sneaking one little guy a banana I thought, maybe I should give his brother one too.

“No, he doesn’t deserve a banana.”  I thought.

He yelled at me.

He hit his sister.

He did that thing he does- again.

Then I heard it.

“I’m watching the way you treat him.”

It came all over me like a flood. You know, the way God does? Just says six little words that rock your world?

Yeah. That God of ours. He did that.

Again.

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Compassion, Kindness, and Love.

Within five minutes, all of my littles had a banana; all giggling under their covers at the idea of a late night, sweet snack.

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So, I wrote it down. Right there in the hallway– where we write prayers.

He’s watching.  And He notices when it’s hard. He hears when you pray again out of frustration. He is planting little seeds in my little man’s heart each.time.i.choose.to.love.

no matter what.

Sometimes, I don’t deserve the Fathers love. But He gives it still.

May we be a person with the mind of Christ. To love even when we’ve been wronged. Even when they’ve done it again. Even when it seems like they’ll never change. May we sneak a little bit of sweetness into their hearts so they know we love them still.

Because He’s watching the way we love them. And the thought of seeing my Father look upon me with a smile of satisfaction?

Well, that’s beautiful.

Learning Daily,

Kati

Dear Women and Daughters… a little encouragement from Ann Voskamp @ aholyexperience

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*Dear Daughter,

When we stood in the check-out and you leaned over and said, “What? I can’t hear you?” I could read it right then in your eyes.

Right there by all the glossy magazines screaming at you like a pack of jockeying hawkers.

If you listen long enough to all the loud voices about who you should be, you grow deaf to the beauty of who you are…



Click below to continue reading this quick encouragement from Ann.

Dear Women & Daughters: When You’re Tired of Media Voices Telling You What Beauty & Love Is

THIS momma of four girls loved every.single.drop of this sweetness tonight.

Soak up the goodness this evening, momma.

Loves,

Kati

 

*this post was not written by me or intended for that purpose. Ann Voskamp speaks daily sweetness for all walks of life at www.aholyexperience.com