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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Forget what everyone says: love is hard.

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It’s our family motto.

do hard things.

But just because it’s your “motto” it doesn’t always make it easy.

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Monday we’ll say goodbye to this home and although it’s for all sorts of great reasons— I didn’t realize it would be so hard.

Because I’ve wiped lots of tears from tired eyes in this home. I’ve sat with countless mommas for tea. We’ve celebrated countless birthdays and made up countless excuses to throw parties. We’ve hosted countless guests in this little home of ours. We’ve harvested lots of love from our garden and taken lots of walks through those trees. We’ve loved those living around us, countless times. Our children have grown up with the littles around us. We’ve had times of plenty and times of need. We’ve had spiritual bliss, and walked hard roads of wandering in this home. We became a family of eight in this home. We’ve loved big, been loud, and it’s all been within these walls– never knowing it was anything special, it was just life.

And soon– this life will be only a memory.

To the town we prayed we’d never return to – God has brought us. To the town we prayed we’d never return to- God has helped us come to love, call home, and care deeply for.

As we move with purpose to love the community in a bigger way. Gathering with others to open a piece of this towns history for all to see, love, and use all while trying to figure out: when do you just, live. To live our life so openly– is frightening if I give it much thought.

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My head keeps saying, “It’s no big deal, Kati.” with it’s upbeat tune of Bob Marley singing in my ear; every little thing is gonna be alright”. Yet my heart is fighting back the desire to stay in the comfort of all I know and love. Right here on our little hill. With chickens, tall grass, and doors we never lock.

Doing hard things is hard.

I remember a time in my life, before Jesus wrecked me. A time when success what all that mattered. A time when I couldn’t even say the words, “I’m sorrybecause my heart was too prideful.  Then, simply saying, I’m sorry, was hard. Over time, there have been lots of hard things. Times when we could have said, no. There are times when we’ve chosen not to fight and that was the hard choice. There have been times when we’ve had to say goodbye. That was hard.

The truth is: we all have different things we’re facing. Different hard choices. Jesus is such a radical example of choosing the hard way. He forgave. We washed the feet of the man who would betray him only hours later. Jesus showed us what really matters in life. People. Loving people. Regardless of who they are– what they’ve done. He knew, that love would be revolutionary. That love would speak over religion. That love would speak over the pharisees of this world. That love was the universal language.

Love is hard. Real love. Like, lay down your life love. Love can look like a bad day.

At a time in my life, saying sorry was revolutionary. Now I couldn’t imagine being a person like that. One day, I hope to say, “I had a house once, that was hard to give up. Now I can’t imagine being a person like that.”

May we be a people always doing hard things.  May we fight the good fight with kindness, dignity, and respect. May we say goodbye when it’s hard and hello when we just want to turn and run. From speaking love to moving away- there are many seasons of hard.

May we be a people of big love carried by small steps. All over our neighborhoods, towns, communities, and ultimately- the world. Loving in all sorts of ways allowing it to get easier and easier as we start to look a bit more like Jesus.

Like disciples.

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

-Jesus

Loves always,
Kati


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Follow what we’re doing with our new house here: Café of Life, Chelsea: a place for community

scripture quoted from, John 13:35 NLT


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A story of roaches, coach shoes, and Jesus. A story of grace.

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“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”  Mother Teresa 

I had a friend tell me once,

“Just because you have a bunch of white friends with money – doesn’t mean you’re supposed to be a missionary.”

I was so mad God wouldn’t send me to Africa.

And this was just two years ago.

My friend and I weren’t talking about white people or black people, we weren’t talking about people giving money: don’t miss the point here by reading trivial text out of context. We were talking about being mad at God.

I was mad because we couldn’t adopt. I was mad because we weren’t working in a church. I was mad because we couldn’t be missionaries. I was mad because I felt like a pawn in the game called, Christian.

I was mad because I wanted to just do something and it seems like I was stuck doing nothing.

Because the truth of the matter is: sometimes you’re tired of hearing, “Go into all the world” and you’re saying, send me! And He simply says-

Not.right.now.

And I was sick.to.death of being told, no.

So I was crying. Well, screaming really. I think I even had serious booger action going on. I was a mess. On the phone with my friend, yelling about how angry I was at God for giving me crazy desires and no outlet for them.

Have you ever been there?

Where you’re just crying out to God. I’m here and WHY DON’T YOU USE ME?


 

There’s this lady I know. She sleeps with roaches.

And we’re not talking a few roaches. We’re talking: When we go visit her… we strip down before coming home and even hours later– we still feel the bugs. She lives in our town- population 3,000.

There’s this lady I know. She wears Coach shoes. (Yes, the purse company, Coach makes shoes… I didn’t know either) This lady? She lives in our town– population 3,000.

The cost of Coach shoes could feed a village in my beloved Africa. We’re talking feed them for days.

Last week? My friend with Coach shoes, washed the feet of the lady with roaches. And even as I type this my eyes fill with tears. Every.single.time I think of it– my eyes fill with tears.

My friend with the Coach shoes? Yeah. Her. She washed the feet of the lady with bugs crawling all over her. She bent low on her dirty, filthy floor and washed her feet. She washed her feet while wearing her Coach shoes. 

Because she understood. This lady isn’t dirty and filthy, she is loved by a Savior. Her feet are precious and worth more than gold.  Her floors, her feet? Those are just material things.

You see, just because we have feet adorned with jewls doesn’t mean we can’t love those whose feet are worn and tired, dirty and needing grace.

It wouldn’t have mattered if it were Keds, Coach, or Reebok. Our friend with roaches only felt the sweetness of Jesus that day.

And she didn’t care what kind of shoes Jesus was wearing.

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There’s this lady I know. She turns red faced when you ask her to speak.

There’s this other lady I know. She needed new shoes. She’s the lady with roaches.

My red faced friend? She was there when the feet washing happened. She left and bought new shoes. She returned with the shoes and cut them to fit our friend with swollen, tired, clean feet. While she placed the new shoes on her feet- my Coach shoe wearing friend and I dumped the water from washing the feet of our new friend.

We dumped the dirt and shame out of that bucket and returned inside to see her in new, shiny, dollar general shoes.

Our lady with roaches? She felt like a princess.

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Here’s the deal.

We were missionaries that day. And if I had moved to Africa I would have missed it. If I had stayed mad at God because he didn’t fit the desires of my heart- the desires HE gave me-into MY box, the way I thought it should go… I would have missed it.

And those two crazy kids we adopted last year? If I had moved to Africa, I would have missed. it. If I had stayed mad at God because he didn’t fit the desires of my heart- the desires HE gave me-into MY box, the way I thought it should go… I would have missed it.

And this church thing? This revolution we’re startingIf I had stayed mad at God because he didn’t fit the desires of my heart- the desires HE gave me-into MY box, the way I thought it should go… I would have missed it.

May we live boldly friends. May the desires placed upon our hearts change those around us. May we realize moving thousands of miles away isn’t always the answer. May we be a people who are not above getting our Coach shoes dirty. May we be a people proud of who God made us and live boldly according to the desires placed in our hearts.

May we have the wisdom and strength to do things now. Not later when we are prepared. Not later when we’ve moved to our “Africa” may we understand God has equipped us now for good works.

May we realize, it doesn’t matter. Coach shoes, shy and red faced, or angry hearts. God can do big things through each.and.every.one.of.us.

Typing barefoot- wishing I had a pedicure, broken in a million ways~

*edit this sweet soul did go home to be with the LORD during that same hot summer.*

All my love,

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