Care to hear a story of yet another homeless man? Living the book of James: week 3

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We ended last week with James 1:26-27 and are starting this week with James 2:1-12

Monday night: read James 2:1-12  (thru to the end of 12)

Tuesday night: read James 2:1-12 AGAIN and then go back and read James 2:1-4 (thru to the end of 4)

When I originally wrote this study, it was for Jr. Highers. This is a lot easier text to go through with a bunch of public school Jr. Highers- struggling to figure out who they are in the mist of several different social groups at school. It’s a little harder to address with adults.

Maybe it’s even a little more important?

Vs 3-4 says: If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet”, you have  discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts.

You see, we picture this scenario to go like this…

A nice looking, clean, “rich” person walks into a room and we offer him a chair. THEN a poor man walks into the room, he stinks and is not dressed well. Do we offer him a chair or just ignore him? Of course we offer him the same type of chair at the same table. We would never separate him from the others… that would hurt his feelings. I mean good grief most of us are not totally mean.

As an adult, I believe this scripture goes a little deeper within the heart here. I think it has several applications for different stages of life. For some, it is a matter of just not loving poor people outwardly. For others, it’s a heart issue. And me? I don’t have either one of them figured out. I simply know this. Jesus loves the poor. He loves them just as much as He loves you and I.

Yes, we know He loves the poor child in the other countries we support monthly, and He loves the hard working momma in Uganda, but listen when I tell you this: He loves the man sitting on the corner begging for change. Many of us would probably argue, “How do we even know if that person is poor; he may have a mansion just around the corner.” The beauty of that crazy God story? It doesn’t matter what we think he has, it matters what God says our love should do, love unconditionally.

Here are a few ways you can love poor/homeless people:

Stop and pray with them. This is one of my children’s favorite ones. Especially when a person is in an area that is applicable to stopping, such as a Wal-Mart parking lot. Stop, ask their name. Ask their story. Grab their dirty hand and pray with them. When you leave, don’t stop praying.

Take them home. Yes, I know it’s a scary step. And as much as I want to say, It will be OK, just put them up in your guest room. That is not safe. Let’s be honest, God calls us to love. There’s a smart way to do that. If you choose to take in a hurting stranger, especially one you have never met, I suggest having a garage, tent, or storage building you can give them. Let them earn your trust over time if they stay. Don’t give them your home, especially if you have young children.

Feel uncomfortable doing this? Why not take them to the local shelter for the night? They are equipped for this situation. You can read about one of our homeless friends, Mr Floyd, by clicking here.

Ask them. Ask them what their need is. One man we met, his sign said “Needing cash for gas to get home.” We took him to go get gas. Did he ask us for cash after filling his pump? Yup, he sure did. Did we give it to him? Nope. But we smiled real big and hugged him goodbye. I know he probably stopped and held the same sign for years, every time he needed gas. But it’s not about him, is it? Another man had just been released from jail and had a free rehabilitation place to stay across the country. He only had to get there. He needed a bus ticket. His letter, addressed to him in jail, was from the place he said, stating the things he told us. At that point, we only had one choice, help him.

Ask them to go eat with you. Several times, the sign will read “Hungry, need money for food.” Don’t want to just fork out money? Take them to lunch. We have offered this to several people, several. Only one has accepted; his name was Willy.

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 We met him on our vacation to San Antonio, TX a few years back. While walking the river walk, he asked us if we could spare a dollar. We invited him to dinner. He walked with us, several blocks to the hub of town telling us all about the city. As we passed other homeless people, he would call them by name, saying, “Hello, Roger…”. When we passed some of them homeless men, Willy would warn us to move over. “This guy is no good, you kids move away from him.” Our oldest daughter, Alli who was nine at the time,  was totally enamored by his ‘homeless man knowledge’ =) His shoes were too small, and he smelled real bad but he had a smile that was worth gold. There might not have been any teeth, but there was joy. =)

When we asked him what he wanted, he said, a hamburger. “Oh, I’d love me a good hamburger”, he said. Well, have you ever been to the river walk on a Friday night? Yes, it’s packed with people and apparently, they all love a good burger. After waiting several minutes at one restaurant, we decided to move over to another. A fancy Mexican restaurant, they had immediate seating and hamburgers.

The staff was very rude to us and the table next to us asked to be moved. But we laughed, worked with Willy on reading our names, and talked about life. Willy’s belly was full. And us? We.were.full.


Taking them to lunch too big of a step for you right now? I had a friend tell me once they buy up lots of gift cards and store them in their purse. When they see someone but don’t have time to stop, they give them a small gift card. Do the people sell that for drugs or beer? Possibly. But again,

It is not our job to determine how they use Grace, it’s our privilege to share it.

Wednesday:

Thursday: read James 2:5-12 (thru to the end of 12)

Question: what do you think about vs5?

Notice how he says “those who are poor in the eyes of the world

You see, we put a value on people based on what they look like or by what they own. If they don’t look a certain way, they are poor. If they don’t have a certain amount of money, they are poor.

God puts a value on people by where their faith lies. 

God says, you can have a great style, a nice house, tons of friends and money but if your faith does not dwell/reside in God, you are poor. And the people we think are poor, God considers rich.

Notice James says at the end of that verse … he promised those who love him. The poor person has to love God, obviously. BUT it is much easier for a poor person to have faith in God; not only because they don’t have money to depend on but also the little things like not typically having friends or family.  God is their source of strength in times of loneliness, heartache, and financial crisis. Again, if they love God.

Who or what do we truly depend on in times of loneliness or heartache? Our family? Our spouse? Our credit card? Our savings?

Oh friends, being alone. The desert. There is a relationship in those places we will never understand.

He says in vs 5 that He has chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and inherit the kingdom He has promised those who love him. But we say, well, I love God. Do we? We love God by loving people, not only believing in Him. We learned that a few weeks ago. We have to love all people. It is a hard thing to do, trust me, I know but God knows when we are trying. When we are trying that is being faithful to Him. It is when we just don’t even try that we are lying to ourselves in saying that we love God.

My friend Tony says it best,

Love is an action.

Friday read James 2:5-12

Yesterday we touched a little on ‘you love God by loving people’ check out vs 8. It says, if you keep the royal law (which is the law of love) found in scripture “love your neighbor as yourself”, you are doing right.  You see, friends. It all comes down to the same song, love others like you love yourself. This is everyone. Your parents, your friends, your boss, people who are real mean to you, people who are totally skanky. We are called to love them all. Sometimes we feel like it is our job to not love them or to be mean to them because they are always mean to us. Nope. Jesus says revenge is his. Our job is to love them and trust faithfully that the Lord is going to bring justice. And believe me; He does a much better job of it than we do!

We think that we have all these “rights” but think about this:

God is the shepherd of our lives. Think of a shepherd, what does he do? He takes care of his flock. The sheep have no rights; they cannot do anything for that shepherd or to that shepherd. But guess what! The shepherd is always faithful to care for the sheep’s needs. He protects them, feeds them, and dedicates his life to them FULLY.  If we are the sheep, what rights do we have, especially the right to determine who to love and not love. {my, oh, my I am right there with you!}

This weekend, let’s focus on not being the judge of people’s status. Let’s try our hardest to love everyone equal. Treat everyone with equal respect.  Remember, God does not judge us at all by what our money can buy or by how our clothes look. He judges our heart and our faithfulness. We cannot be a fair judge of those things, only He can because only He knows our hearts. Therefore, we have no business judging others. I cannot tell you how happy I am knowing that only God can judge my worth because I know that I will just never measure up to everyone’s standards!

vs 13.  … if you have been merciful.

 Mercy, Grace, and Peace to you!

Lovingly,
Kati


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When the world says you’re not worthy- God simply says you’re wonderful & worthy.

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Life is such a roller coaster ride.

So, you lost it again- did ya?

You fell backwards- again. Yelled, thought that yucky thought, visited that friends house again and did that thing you really should not be doing- a.g.a.i.n

You thought you were better than that person, again. You thought you were better than them, did ya? Slipped with that addiction, talked bad about that dear friend, broke a promise?

It’s. OK.

No, no. really- listen.

It’s OK.

You slept with that man, you told that lie, you sat in church like none of it ever happened. You lied on that paperwork, you cheated the system.

It’s ok.

He did it too, you know.

King David.

He saw that beautiful woman bathing across the way and he wanted her. That married woman across the way- He had her. Her husband? He had him killed. Why? Because that beautiful woman was now pregnant with his [david’s] child.

Yet, God calls David a man after his own heart. And he calls you, child of mine.

Here is the part of David’s story we often forget, at least I often forget.

He was blind. He didn’t even realize what he had done. It wasn’t until a messenger [Nathan] came to him and told the story of a mans life to David that David realized, “Who is this man? This is terrible! He must die!” Nathan says, “You are the man!”

From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful…

 

One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.10 David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?”11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents,and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”12 Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home.14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.18 Joab sent David a full account of the battle. 19 He instructed the messenger: “When you have finished giving the king this account of the battle, 20 the king’s anger may flare up, and he may ask you, ‘Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn’t you know they would shoot arrows from the wall? 21 Who killed Abimelek son of Jerub-Besheth? Didn’t a woman drop an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you get so close to the wall?’ If he asks you this, then say to him, ‘Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.’”22 The messenger set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. 23 The messenger said to David, “The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance of the city gate. 24 Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king’s men died. Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.”25 David told the messenger, “Say this to Joab: ‘Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another. Press the attack against the city and destroy it.’ Say this to encourage Joab.” When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the LORD. 

Well, ya think??? It displeased the LORD, huh? Well, I bet it did!

Hold UP! Did we really just read that correctly? David, DAVID? He did that? He slept with that chick?

Yeah- and we’re not just talking Shrek and Fiona type of “sleeping” We’re talking, get down and dirty with another mans WIFE type of “sleeping”.

Well, I know if it had been me, I’d be feeling pretty bad. That’s not where we find David. We find him needing a friend- someone to come and show him what he had done. And his friend didn’t just tell him “Hey, David! What are you doing?” No. Nathan put it into perspective for David.

12 The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.

“Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’11 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.

2 Samuel 11:2-12:13

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David was blind to what he had done. He knew he loved and served God– but was totally unaware of his evil sin.

Oh my, oh my. I am so very blind. Yet, so very loved.

When the troubles of my day weigh me down- when my regrets seem to heavy to carry I simply must remember this- he loves me still.He doesn’t love those things I do. But he loves me through them. Where the world says, I am a failure- God says, I am worthy and loved 

Do you ever feel that way? If I could whisper something sweet into your ear– If I could give you any hope at all: it would be hope in this:

If he can forgive me and make me new- he can forgive you and make you wonderfully new!

When God forgives someone like me- someone who had done the things I did– Someone who still continues to do things today. Someone with a past like mine? Well, there is an unremarkable feeling of thankfulness. I’m talking, every day- every.single.day I just can’t believe he loves a wretch like me.

This is the truth we find in the man they call Jesus- this is the hope we have to offer others. An unexplainable love. We see it all throughout his life portrayed in scripture. You know, Jesus– God here on earth. That’s who I’m talking about– the God who  rebuked the proud religious leaders; showed us grace, mercy, and peace in a real way- That sweet man they call Jesus. He is good. He alone is good.

God is good. And not just stupid, fancy church type of good. I’m talking get down and dirty with drug addicts, prostitutes, and adulterers good. He gets down in the nitty-gritty of our junk and brings us back to life. 

And he is watching you. He is watching you love when you are tired of loving. He sees you fighting the good fight. He sees you choosing peace when life is hectic. He sees you love your spouse when it’s hard; clean dishes one more time and he is so proud. He sees you smiling at work when those people are rude to you, he is watching you simply trying to get something right. He knew- the day he formed you- that this day would come, that you would need him so desperately. If you’re life is hard during this season. If you feel you just can’t get anything right- lean on him more than ever– talk with him, tell him your fears, struggles, and angers. Rejoice at each moment of joy with him and when this stage of life has passed, praise him!

And GUESS WHAT?!?!??!??!  AHHHH!!! It’s the BEST news EVER!!!!

He doesn’t love you because of what you’ve done today. Your good deed or mistake today didn’t catch him off guard. He loved you from the moment he formed you in your mothers womb, knowing all the mistakes you would make and he loved you still, blessed you still, and called you his own- still.


The Lord directs the steps of the godly. 
He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

Psalm 37:23-24 NLT

Much love and grace today friend.  May you feel worthy, beautiful, and loved in all circumstances. Knowing there is a Jesus who alone is good and loves BIG He know you today, yesterday and knows who you will be in fifty years from now! Yet loves you so much.

All my earthly love,
Kati  😉

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a story of addiction and sweet love for the toll guy.

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Feeling silly, a few days ago– after a crazy day of everything seeming to run behind schedule and then several hours of open road with those crazy kids of mine, I met the toll man.

I smiled and said, “Hello!” In my totally annoying, high pitch way.

He was all frownie.

He was crabby.

And it made me all gloomy.

So, I set out to change the world in the the most effective way of our day…

Facebook.

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A friend replied:

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And I replied…. Why haven’t I ever thought of that??

And then it hit me: Because I don’t think of every single great idea.

Even though this Friday for Valentine’s Day we will celebrate as we always do- walking around our little town handing out treats. Even though we left cocoa for the mail lady last week- even though my eight year old told the produce guy the other day “Excuse me, sir but you are doing a great job at stacking that lettuce…”

I had never thought about cheering up the toll booth guy.

Because believe it or not- we would be silly to think we can’t all learn a bit from the ideas of others. 😉

So, of course.. I stopped at SAM’s during our road trip and bought a little bit of love in a box.

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And after eating two Kit- Kat bars on my own… (that is a sad truth) we saw the toll man again.

And we gave him a little bar of love.

He smiled.

Well, as you know— when you find what makes people smile, you sort of get addicted to making it happen.

And when you have a gigantic box of goodness tempting you to eat.just.one.more you can’t help but want to share more love so the candy is gone ; )

Yup, we gave the car wash man one too.

Do you know what that car wash guy did? He stopped in the middle of washing someone’s windshield and JUMPED UP AND DOWN. Then he gave my 12 year old a fist pump, and even said, “Oh my, Oh my, God Bless You”

Now my 12 year old is addicted too.

Of course, It got me thinking… maybe you would like to join our addiction? Hey! You can get 52 of those bars of love for only $28 at SAM’s Club. Or stop this morning and get one at your local convenient store and share some love with the grocery clerk, drive through man, bank clerk or even the toll guy.

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Grab this picture and share it? Yup, spread the idea of simple love today.   #14daysofsimplelove

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Happy Monday (tuesday,wednesday,thursday and beyond)!

Kati

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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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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!”