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

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As I type- someone I love fights to breathe.

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

The phone calls missed, the birthdays forgotten.

All matter not.

This is the truth of life friends.

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

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

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

What will matter is, did you love.

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

Were you Jesus to someone?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 john 1:19

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

And that dad of mine?

Well he’s pretty great after all.

Loves today and always friends,

Kati

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.

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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.”

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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].

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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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Teaching love through the muddiness of life. [how God uses broken people like you and me]

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I’m not sure when it hit me.

The reality. He’s not mine and what in the world am I going to do with this teenager? Besides, what in the world were his parents thinking? Sending him to live with two 28 year olds raising four children of their own in a tiny little town called Chelsea?

I wonder, was it the first time I had to use the phrase– “If you don’t fix your attitude, I’m going to have to take your ipod and cell phone” or was it the first time he raised his voice at me– raised it louder than any child ever had.

Perhaps it was when I raised mine in reply.

I remember feeling very scared. Scared we were going to ruin him for sure and he would never know Jesus.


“Hello Gibson’s-

How are you guys?? Doing well??

I miss you all like crazy when I got back to my Taiwan’s home. 

Remember we used to riding bikes, planting garden, swimming together, cleaning house, also traveling? Do all the things together as a family… and you guys took your free time, come to my school games, I’m really thankful and love you guys sooooo much, more than I can say and write. 

Gibson’s shone the glory, mercy, peaceful around people, let people feel how gorgeous and wonderful this family could be…

I’m glad I could meet you guys, I have learned a lot from you all, learn how to babysitting, how to use the mower cutting the grass without using scissors… also learn how to be independent without parents around, learn how to work hard as a man, the most important is loving people like God does!!!

I miss Gibson’s and love them…, hope we can get together again like we used to be… 

Pray for Gibson’s to do well on everything… “

Ting.

Because he knew us best. He lived every moment, saw our good and bad. And appearance only lasts so long, right?

Sound familiar?

It only makes sense that my eyes fill with tears and I’m full of emotion when I read his words. Words sent from across the world– words handwritten and sent right to our little place we call home.When I opened the package and saw his writing, my heart leaped and I cried just a bit. Even now, as I type– my eyes fill with tears, at just the simple thought of his words written on paper for us.

There’s no obligation now. He doesn’t live here, eat here, rely on our transportation. He’s home– free to live his life. Yet, each morning– we talk. It’s his night, our morning and always– there’s Ting.

 

When he writes to tell us he finally attended church for the first time in Taiwan, along side his Dad— my heart leaped again.


 

 

 

Then he says, “I was the only teenager there and the crowd was small.” And I think,

he went.

He continues, “It felt good-like being back with the church in America- I could feel Jesus close. We sang songs and worshiped our God”

I wanted to wrap my arms around his tiny self and whisper, “He is always close.” I wanted to look into his eyes and tell him, “You are not alone in this scary journey. God is there. He is real, can’t you feel Him?”

 

And I think to myself, is this it? Is this what it is like, sending them out– our little children, out to the wolves? How will my heart take this ever again? How can I do this not once but four more times and possibly even more? How do I let go?

 

How do I trust that God is God and He is Good. How can I Trust that my children listen to God, not me. How do I trust that He is the Lord of their life and I’m not just lording over them. 

After we’ve spent years raising our voices louder than anyone else ever has– threatening to take away everything under the sun, for whatever reason irritates us that day; said, what feels like, one million I’m sorry’s, cried over math problems, worried over reading and relationships– then blistered our knees in prayer–

How do we know they will be alright?

How do we trust they will seek Him? How do we know we haven’t ruined them for life? How do we know this everyday thing we call, life– hasn’t left it’s ugly mark all over their souls?

We know, because we’ve loved.

We know, because He loved.

We know, because we fell.

Time and time again, we fell.

We muddied our knees once more, wiped up our mess and tried again.

Just like they will one day do.

We loved through spit up, spilled milk and mis-spelled words. We loved when it was hard and they were ugly. We loved just a bit harder when we felt like giving up. We went to games and cleaned the house. We rode bikes and said, no. We showed glory, mercy, and peace to people — so they could see Jesus. We lived. Together. Every moment.

And they watched.

He watched.

and now he says, “I know the most important thing is loving people like God does.”

He doesn’t say, “Why did you take my ipod that time, or yell back at me when I was rude.” Not, “Why did you make me go to bed early some nights and tell me I couldn’t have everything I wanted.”

He says, you taught me love. 

And I think, really? Us?

Us, with our crazy bed hair, messy house; and crying baby? Us, with the five year old who’s always in your business and the sometimes moody 11 year old? Us? Married, with our “discussions” that can sometimes become heated or long and drawn out?

Us, with our constant talk of that crazy love for this person you’ve never heard of– this person called Jesus. Us? Messy, desperate for grace, constantly in the mud of life… We taught you love?

He simply says, yes.

And that great big God of ours, so full of good, simply reminds me– it’s not about what you do, Kati. It’s about what I’m doing.

Because I Am. And I Am good. And I Am always there, can’t you feel me?

 

May you trust– they are watching you, He is using you, and He is always good.

Much love, friends.

Jude 1:2,

Kati

 

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.