Ready to quit? Perhaps it’s time to get dirty…

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As we approach yet another year of the FREE Community SHARE our little family puts on each year (a time when people donate items they no longer want and we set up the local community center as a store where people can come and get all they want for FREE) I am overwhelmed with the amount of people helping. This morning, I was thinking of a story I wrote two years ago. It was our second year of doing the SHARE and I wanted to quit.

I hope this story of my failures helps encourage you to be strong and do something God has laid on your heart!


“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done.

We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”

–Mother Teresa


April 2012

I almost didn’t do it.

I walked into the house and said, “I’m quitting it all.”

“I’m tired.”

Ever felt that way?

 

 

Just because you have a calling on your heart, doesn’t make it easy.

Actually, it’s easier to give up– or better yet, not even start.

Did you know, I’m a quitter? Did you know, I’m a mess? Did you know, sometimes I get tired and want to give up? Did you know sometimes, I yell, cuss, and wish for a quick shot of something hard (that being hard liquor for those of you with virgin vocabulary ; )

If you think less of me now– you thought too much of me to begin with.  

I am so broken. 

 

Crying hard, I yelled “Why do I have to start everything!? Why can’t I just be a part of something?”

 

Little did I know, I was apart of something bigger than me. Did you know, if you knew who I am apart from Him– you would turn and walk away. I wonder what she did.

What did she do? What did she say? There, looking Grace in the eyes– How did she react? 

“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. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”“No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”


John 8:1-11

Did she sit and anxiously await the following Sunday when she could go to church and share what happened to her? How about starting each morning with devotion? Did she sit in her comfy, cozy house by the fire and meditate on His goodness with christian music playing in the background? Perhaps she even gave a shout out on Facebook of how big and good her God was.

Or wait! Her eyes were open to grace, open to what she had been forgiven of– she was now “better than that.” Better than that person she once was. Did she forget? Did she forget where she came from? Did she forget what it felt like?

Did she forget the Grace in His eyes and how they looked on her with compassion, love, and mercy– regardless of what she had done? Did she know she didn’t deserve it? 

 

Don’t get me wrong, Christian music is good, and I love me some cozy meditation beside the fire. And of course, we all know–quiet bible time before my day is full of loud, is the best start to the day. But what good are those devotions, those songs, that grace— if my hands are not getting dirty.

What good are those scriptures; God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, and training in righteousness, if I’m sitting on the sofa reading my Bible–maybe even baking cookies for a church bake sale– but I have not loved with my hands, with my feet, with my story.

 

 

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise you are only fooling yourselves.For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” James 1:22-25

 

So, I quit. I threw my fit. Cried real hard. Felt overwhelmed. Got back up. And started to plan the SHARE– where people could come and get whatever they needed or wanted. All for free.

I asked some people to help. For some, it was their first time to feel the dirt. Some felt uncomfortable; some felt stretched.  For that day, we lived the scriptures– we dug through bags of peoples junk making it treasures for someone else.

 We even had christian music playing in the background. 

 

 

 

It’s not about me. It’s not about what I have done. I have done so little. In fact, more bad than good. No, friends. It’s about the opportunity to be a part of the big story– The God Story.

It’s about Grace.

It’s about the unexplainable, always perfect, always covering, always good, love of our sweet Jesus. It’s about knowing, you are never too far from Grace. Did you hear that? You are never too far from Grace. Your storm is never too big, your attitude is never to rotten, your pain is never to deep. Your past is never too ugly, your choices never define you. That love that covers the dirt, the wounds, the imperfections– yup, it’s always there.

Oh, friends I can only hope! When we have discovered this gift, this grace, this LOVE… it would cause us to be crazy! It would get us off the sofa and into the dirt, not only reading but living the scriptures. It would make us tired and even a little crazy. Oh, that It would keep us bent low to the ground, healing through helping.

 


Much love,
Kati

 

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Sharing is at the heart of the God story.

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This is the beauty of stories:

A few years back a friend of mine from highschool contacts me, via Facebook, out of the blue. “Hey Kati” she says, “What age is your little girl? I have some clothes I’m needing to pass along and wondered if you’d be interested.”

At the time of that season change we really did need new clothes for our little Emmyn. Her message was right on time.

May this story  encourage you to contact someone today– just out of the blue. May you be the answer to their prayers today. May you be the one who shows them what Jesus looks like.

All because you took the time to share.

*********************

Spring 2012:

She tip toes from her bedroom, sleepy eyed and messy hair; still half asleep from her nap.

Quietly, she asks me a question,

“Momma… are these for me?”

With a great big smile– I get to say, “Yes, they are.”

 

My two big girls and ‘Ting’, the foreign exchange student we had at the time ask, “Who are they from?

I reply, “A friend from high school.”

“Who?” They ask.

“A lady named Andrea.” I reply.

Ting asks me, “She just gave them to you?”

“Well, yeah” I say.

“Why?” He asks.

My response? “Well, it’s a blessing. God knew our little Emmyn needed some clothes.”

“…always God,” he says.

always.god

 

There are so many clothes, we put a whole bag away for next years size.

Meanwhile, my little Emmyn changes clothes all night long saying, “Look mommy, look how pretty.”

She felt special and pretty all because someone shared.


As I folded all the clothes my friend had passed along to me:  I couldn’t help but smile real big. My mind flooding with memories. Memories of fancy dresses, boys, nail salons, tanning beds, and getting our drivers license.

Now, she thinks to give me clothes.

It’s a total God thing. … “always God.”

******************

We’ve been blessed by many, many, many people over the past thirteen years of parenting with great hand me downs and are so very thankful. However, there is just something so special and surreal to see how this web of life continues to spin me in crazy directions of “I cannot beleive this.”

“A friend from high school named, Andrea.

Sharing is at the core of the God Story. 

Last year, after the Community SHARE (a little thing our family does to help in the community) was all over and done, someone approached me asking how it went. After telling them all the great things about it, they had just one question.

“How do you know they aren’t taking advantage of you?”

I replied, “Well, I don’t. But it’s not my job to make sure they use it correctly, it’s my job to give in love and let God do the rest.”

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”  -Luke, in Acts 20:35 NIV

Over four years ago our family returned to our home town. Moving home was hard. It wasn’t the part of “home” that was hard. It was leaving what had become home behind that was hard.

One of the hardest things was finding a way to help those around us. Where we had moved from, my man worked in a church– opportunities to love and serve were all around. Well, how do you, in the “real world”, create those opportunities?

Think about it.

As a Christian, we use our church as a platform to love, serve, and notice need. If we happen to work in the corporate world where we’re surrounded with people everyday– we can use that outlet.

Well, I stayed home and my man worked with his Dad.

We thought we were going to die for lack of ways to help. So, out of pure desperation, we created ways to help. We got out into the community and started helping. And people always asked (still ask)  “Now, tell me again… what church are you with?” and we always reply.

Oh, we’re just a family.

Friends– we are the church… don’t forget it doesn’t take a building. It takes the sweetness of Jesus pouring out of us. Don’t feel you have to stay behind the walls of a church to love.

Remember what Jesus said :

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

The people on the receiving end of that word from Jesus didn’t run to the church building and start a planning meeting. They didn’t set a budget, ask an evangelist to come, or even beg for volunteers.


They just went and did.

We can witness through love at work, at walmart, at school; or at the gym. We can spread love like wildfire through social media, email, letters; and sweet gifts. We can even love through random acts of kindness in the community. We don’t have to rely on the church calender to match up to our schedule [we don’t even have to rely on their approval].

4thshare

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.  James 1:17 NIV

THIS is the great thing about giving:

it’s all about grace.

Someone can take your free stuff, your story of the cross, your kindness, your mercy, your compassion and not use it to it’s fullness. It’s true, they can. Makes me sit and think, I sure am glad God didn’t withhold grace from me, contingent on what I would do with it.

 John reminds us,

“If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” 1 John 3:17  NLT

Ah, how simple. We see. We help. Then, Jesus takes control and the Holy Spirit does the work.

Aaaannnnnddd that’s probably best– considering I’d make a pretty lousy Holy Spirit 😉

Blessed to humbly share this broken story with you today,

Kati

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why you should never talk to homeless people

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They will drive you crazy.

Because my house seems small everyday some days. Because us eight who live here? We really live here. Because I’m compulsive about my house being clean (WHY?!) Because my kids are probably bickering again. Because one kid spilled a smoothie last night, another one did today. Because that joke one kiddo told me for the millionth time really wasn’t that funny but you have to laugh. again.  Because five times they tried to come in while I was taking my allotted two minute shower. Because the snow makes my crazy night job incredibly scary and hard. Because boys are stinky and girls are always making something messy. Because of all these things and countless more reasons… I’m sure there’s something at the store I could buy today that would make it all more simple. A tote perhaps to put all the mess in? A new shampoo to handle the stink? A book I could buy that would solve this problem I have- maybe a nice glass of wine and a quiet dinner. Because after all. I see all of you and you all seem to have it all together. Right?

Contentment.

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Paul and Silas sang while in prison. I complain in the Wal-Mart line. In the Wal-Mart line! The place I drive my CAR to, buy a bunch of things I don’t need, and then complain about the line. Or, if I don’t let the line seal my joy I let the long red light in traffic steal my joy.

When these moments come, which they do so often… me being human and all. I go back to a story. Stories, always. Stories are what make us. Mold us. Shape us.

The amazing truth? Every homeless person or hard up person I have come in contact with is happy. Once you start to talk with them anyway- always. They laugh through toothless smiles about some great story. What do they have that I don’t?

Several years back while visiting home; the town we actually LIVE in now (c-r-a-z-y)… we met a man sitting on the ground at the local convenient store.  For so many reasons, you can only imagine, you could tell he didn’t “belong”. So, we offered him a hand. And of course, he did what all of of those stinkin’ (pun not intended) homeless people do to us- he changed us.

Sept 2005
“Oh wonderful God, you have sent us an Angel. Floyd is his name. He came to us as a homeless man from Chelsea, Oklahoma. Full of love and joy. He has now gone but I pray we will never forget him. While we were visiting home last weekend, Daniel saw him sitting outside the convince store; no sign, no bags, just sitting. He offered him a ride. Then after hearing his story offered him our garage to sleep in. He was so happy! So ready to go find work, maybe go settle down, start a family. But there was no way Floyd could go find a job, or even start a family on his own without help. Floyd was slow, but he had something special. A gift. Joy.

Sweet Floyd. We didn’t know what we were going to do, or how we were going to be able to tell him he couldn’t work or probably “settle down” here. His family was back in Oklahoma. Not the city we found him in, but another one far from it.  On our way to church today I asked him if he would want to go back home by way of bus. Oh, man! Was he ever EXCITED! He had just left a boarding house and had not been home for years.

Well, we bought him a ticket. Alli was just so happy “Flo” (that is what she called him. Being only four, she couldn’t say or remember Floyd) was here and she was very sad to see him go. In just a few short days he had become family. He would crank up the music loud and just sing his heart out to the “good ‘ol oldies” He ate all our meals with us. He always said “thank you”, “I appreciate it”, and always said… “You’re so kind.” He was such a thankful person.

Last night, Daniel went out to check on him. After several minutes, I thought I’d walk out across the yard to check on the two of them. You know, thinking maybe the toothless, homeless man, fresh from a shower in our home– might have killed Daniel and left him for dead. Hey, you never know. But then I heard it. My man. Reading to Floyd. He was Reading the sweet words of  Apostle Paul.

Apostle Paul. The man whose life was changed as he sat in a strangers home. Floyd who couldn’t read a word was letting the sweet words seep deep into his rough, dark skin. Seeds being planted.

Floyd is happy to be going home. Daniel took him tonight to the Greyhound stop. His bus leaves out at 1:15 am but he’s been asking the time since 7:30. We watched a movie tonight, “Bruce Lee”. Man, was Floyd excited! He loved it. He said it reminded him of going to the movies when he was just a boy. I thought, a boy? You mean when life was normal. When he had a mom, a dad, sisters and brothers. When he played in the yard like our kids?  Because I’m sure he didn’t plan to grow up and be a homeless man. Just like my kids don’t. He kept complementing our stuff. Our house, our beat up cars, our dry, dusty, rocky yard. Our church with hard pews and slow hymn songs and our family. And God, most of those things? I’m unhappy with or sometimes even embarrassed. And that Bruce Lee movie?  I’ve hated that VHS since the moment I married that man of mine and it came with him.

Daniel and I cried tonight after Floyd left. We thought, “God, when were we ever as happy as Floyd was? When were we ever happy having nothing while someone else seems to have everything? Come to think of it, when did we ever have nothing?” He never said one time: Man, I wish I had a house and a yard. I wish I had this Bruce Lee movie, this place to sleep, this shower, this place called home.  He had nothing, yet he never compared his stuff to ours. No, he took joy in everything– for us. He NEVER stopped smiling, even though he had no teeth. He just wanted to sleep in our garage.

Lord, Thank you. Bless Floyd. He can’t read the promises in your word God, send him someone to be the word for him. And thank you for sending him to us.

Thanks.

At the time we lived in a 900 sq foot house with two VERY small bedrooms, one living room, and a kitchen. We dreamed of bigger living. We had moved from our American Dream life, complete with white picket fence and all, for Daniel to go to bible college and thought we were making such a sacrifice. Luckily, we had an old detached garage with electricity that Floyd was able to live in for such a short time. But it would not have been long before he would have shared our home if he had stayed.

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You see, if I had this book or that curriculum-  I’d be a better homeschool mom. If I had a bigger house, I’d be a better wife, friend, or host. If I had this job or he did this different, THEN I would be pleased. If I had this type of floor, the smoothie wouldn’t stain the carpet- if I had this type of vehicle, my kids wouldn’t argue over getting in and out. If I only…

If I only had a homeless person for every day of the week, huh? Maybe my life would then be truly different.

Good thing Jesus was homeless. And he’s mine.

He’s mine,
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday

and over and over and over again I just need to set my mind on that sweet, sweet Jesus.

Because the house will never be big enough, the smoothies will spill again tomorrow; and someone will always have something better than me.

But that Jesus of mine? He will always be the life giver of true joy. Which is never found in things, rather life being lived.

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May we become crazy! As crazy as a homeless person. (because that Jesus is yours too!)

“Be good, keep your feet dry, your eyes open, your heart at peace, and your soul in the joy of Christ”. ~ Thomas Merton

Loves this Monday morning,
Kati
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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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Um, yeah… is there 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. Sorry about that.