When we become the Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church

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Where there is love, there is God. God is love.

– Mother Teresa

It seems like a lot longer than four years. Since the last time I saw him cry.

That sweet man of mine, he’s not really a tear kind of guy. Three times only that I can remember in our almost 13 years of marriage. This day was number three.

Home early, midday. A car full of books, papers, plans, and dreams– ready to be packed away for safe keeping.

Those things, still packed away. 
 

It’s a sad day. The day they say to you, go away and never come back. Don’t say goodbye, don’t finish the conversations you were having with so many people, just sign here.

Their demand was simple.

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“We are offering to pay a 60 day severance to be paid in normal payment cycles, providing you agree to the following terms.

 

A. Attendance to this church is forbidden

B. Any and all means to malign the church or its leaders by you or your spouse, Kathlean Gibson, will terminate the severance agreement immediately. This includes all forms of internet use, chat rooms, Facebook, texting, etc. Any behavior that is viewed as defamation will be reviewed and decided by the Elders of this Church. 

C. Contact with he youth of this church with the intent of defamation will also terminate the agreement. 

 

Additionally, if all terms are met, a letter of reference by the Senior Pastor will be provided. 

 
Sign Here”


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“Have your stuff out within 24 hours and don’t take it personally” they said— “it’s just business”

 

He sat there. Just crying.

Finally he says, “They asked me not to contact anyone until after Sunday. I’m not allowed to talk about it until they tell the congregation.” He explained, “They canceled all the service projects scheduled for this weeks spring break, not giving a reason to anyone–I can’t even give people a reason.” 

What was their reason”, I asked.

He replies, “We’re not relational enough. and I don’t agree with the vision of the church.”

No warning, just get out.

 

What in the world do you do when you’ve been told to go away and never come back? 

What do you say when your nine year old,  who eats, sleeps, and breathes church– says, “Can’t go back to church? But anyone can go to church- no matter what.”

I’ll tell you what you do.
you die.
 

When the church, the body of Christ, Christ’s Bride, the place where grace is abounding, becomes a business- when they turn their face to you and say go away, you die. 


You die a slow and painful, lonely death.


We’re still dying.
We’re different now.

It has changed us. Oh, we love. We serve. And we worship the One True God. But we don’t give our heart away. We don’t talk about much with you anymore. We don’t really discuss much about what God is teaching us. And when you are sitting next to us in church, we’re wondering– who are they really and when are they going to hurt us? Daniel? He’s not going to open up to you, that’s for sure. You can tell me how wrong all of that is– I already know. But for now, for some reason, it’s just something we cannot shake. We pray for people to come into our lives and aid the healing. We’re waiting, leaning on Jesus, and hoping for a day when all of that is gone.

And you see, when there is a pain like this– people don’t mention it. It’s like a secret they don’t want to bring up. Like having a child pass or a spouse leave you. Doesn’t anyone realize maybe you just need to hear, “Hey, how are your wounds and what can I do to help? Let me sit here with you in the ash of the painful wounds; what if we heal together.”

The hurt, it does bring hope. Being ripped away from the gathering of believers, being told to go and never return–the pain it has caused, there is hope in it.

There should be pain.

In scripture we see a loving, jealous, and just God. Then, we are introduced to a radical, loving, and just Jesus. A Jesus who loved prostitutes and sinners. A Jesus who always told off the Pharisees, A Jesus who said, keep nothing, and give it all. A Jesus who taught us how to offer a kiss to the person planning to turn against us and ultimately lead to our unfair trial and death.

You see, when the church, or anyone who follows Jesus, has operated outside of this Jesus way. It hurts. But when your heart longs to be loved the way Jesus loves, unconditionally. There is hope.

There is hope because God is a healing God. He takes our wounds and makes us new. It takes time, yes. But in time– memories fade, the pain slows and you begin to trust just a little here and there.

Then there is love. I could rant and go on about how poorly we felt treated. I could tell you the lies, the disgusting truth of it all. I could share with you the sad stories of how badly I just wanted to go back and see my friends but I had to realize, those are not friends. But love has came and made that story new.

Oh, it still hurts. And it’s wounds go deep. But there is love and forgiveness.

This is the amazing thing of God. He is a God who not only teaches us good things but also brings us out of the human mistakes we often make and he teaches us good lessons.

I cannot tell you how many times I have said something that hurt someone– all in the name of Jesus. I cannot tell you how many times I have been the deliver of death- like the church was to us that day.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been the Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church in the lives of my friends.

Because the truth is: we live in a broken, broken world with hurt and ugly all around. I think we are a world torn apart by abuse, selfishness, divorce, lack of love, and even yes– people getting kicked out of church and not allowed to go say goodbye all because they don’t agree with the unknown vision of a church.

We’re all human. Fred Phelps felt strongly about certain groups of people. That church felt strongly of me.

And both of those sad situations hurt hearts.

I struggle through my own issues. If good ‘ol Fred and his group of people were to hold up signs directed toward me, they would say: GOD HATES PRIDEFUL PEOPLE. GOD HATES SINNERS. GOD HATES PEOPLE WITH TERRIBLE PASTS. Because I have Issues of pride, anger, self-righteousness; the temptation to stir the pot and cause dissension. And I was a total mess before I met Jesus.

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But you see: those issues- God has to work out within me, through fear and trembling. Nobody’s rant, sign, or bull horn will change my heart- nobody’s rant DID change my heart- Jesus did.

So, therefore. In my OPINION… I think-

the more people I love to the feet of Jesus, the more hearts he can heal to his perfect way.

“The saving grace of Jesus changes the hearts and ways of fallen men, not me. So- hopefully the more time I spend with the broken people of the world- the more people I can share this healing Jesus with.”

And handing it to Jesus- isn’t “just siting by and doing nothing” After all, God handed it over to Jesus and he started a revolution.

May you realize the truth: When the church, or anyone who follows Jesus, has operated outside of this Jesus way. It hurts.

BUT when your heart longs to be loved the way Jesus loves, yes- that unconditional love: don’t give up. This life is big and someone will come along and love you back to health. And until then, lean on that Great big God who loves you– you. YOU YOU YOU YOU YOU YOU. Not the Sunday morning, masked you. Just you. Not the office you. Just you. Not the you on the weekends. Just you. Not the “you” you were when you were getting this christian thing right. Not the you I see. Not the you people like Fred Phelps sees.


He loves the YOU he made. The YOU he’ll see in glory.
As you reach, lean, jump, burst forth- trying so hard to find this healing Jesus- remember. He is always there. He is always ready.

And he is never a business. He is the lover of your soul.

Oh friends may we never be the one causing the pain. May we be life givers and deliverers of hope. But when this wicked heart deceives us and we cause the pain– may God come along side of us and love us through correction. May those we hurt have grace and understanding. And above all– may God heal those wounds and use them for glory.

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16

Don’t give up- real love gives hope.

Healing alongside you,

Kati

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Everyone’s view is different than mine. #14daysofsimplelove

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“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:18

Each Saturday morning we visit granny.

My sweet mans 86 year old grandma, the one who does art with our oldest daughter Alli each week. The most precious soul in the world.

We’ve been having breakfast with granny for the past three years- since we moved back to my hometown.

Over the course of three years, we’ve noticed a few changes. She sort of forgets things, and sometimes breakfast is a little funky because she added a few of the wrong ingredients. ; ) Some mornings, we hear the same story we heard last week because she forgot she already shared it with us. She’ll say-

“I’m sure I’ve already told you this, hun. But did you know…”

I know, it’s super cute.

Over the past six months or so, we’ve noticed she doesn’t hear us quite as well as she use to. Unless she knows the story involves her, she sort of tunes it out because she knows she can’t really hear the story fully.

Yesterday at breakfast, my sweet man was talking to me about some silly thing he had seen somewhere. I noticed granny was toned out. She was just watching the kids (our kids) playing in the living room. I thought to myself- Her view is totally different than mine. I wonder what it’s like to sit and hear only pieces of conversation- knowing you use to hear everything perfect.

Then I realized, we all see things from different views. Granny sees things through her eyes. Aged eyes, years of experience and memories.  My children’s views are all different- their life stories are all different. Alli, the oldest of six has changed lots of diapers, seen lots of little toddlers throw fits. She’s also had more conversations with me and experienced more “life” than the other children. Then there’s Emmyn, who is only four. She can’t even see the kitchen counter.

The hurtful mother, the fun friend. The cranky neighbor, the snobby co-worker. They’re all living life from their view. What has life dealt them? What challenges have they had? How have they arrived at this ‘view’?

Has the mother been scarred by a life of hurt? Has the neighbor had bad neighbors in the past so they’re not even interested in giving you a fair chance? Has the snobby co-worker always had to be appear better than everyone else because she’s actually lonely and dying inside?

What if we all took time to intentionally get down on other peoples levels. What if I sat in silence with granny doing a puzzle, or sat and played with Emmyn today. What if I bent low to make the shot with Judah to see how hard it is to make a three point basketball shot at the age of six (well, I’ve actually never been able to do that). What if I could have a glimpse into the past lives of Ashely and Triston, recently adopted. I wonder if that view would give me the occasional nightmare too.

I bet it would.

Are you apart of the 14 days of simple love challenge? Where we love simply, in some way — each day? Knowing our little bit of love can make a big difference. But wait! It gets even better! The great news——>> When the person we loved goes and loves someone else, all because of the love we showed them? Well, that could change the world.

Leading up to Valentine’s Day why not love, simply each of the 14 days? Besides, why save big love for only one day, right? Here is how it works:

Everyday there will be a new simple way to love posted here. Each day you use that simple love idea and run with it. However that way is possible for you- do it!

For instance. Yesterday’s love was: take someone special on a date. The post was about dating your children. But you might not have children! Don’t have children? Take your mom, grandma, nephew, best friend. Call someone far away and share a conversation- call it a date!! Share a picture of your simple love. Share the hashtag #14daysofsimplelove. Tell someone what you’re doing- give them a great idea!

Everyone is looking for someone to love them. And the more we love, the happier our little hearts are.

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread” – Mother Teresa.

Today’s simple love: See the world through their eyes.

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“How can I be useful, of what service can I be? There is something inside me, what can it be?” Vincent Van Gogh

A few ideas?
Have kids? Sit and play today.

Have grandparents? Give them a phone call, I bet they would love someone to chat with.

Have a parent who struggles with medical problems and can’t do all they use to? Play a game of cards with them!

Have a little sister or brother? Sit and play with them- try 10 min! I’m sure it will turn into 30 before you know it. =)

Know a widow? They’re probably lonely- give them a visit?

Have a teenager? Laugh loud with them today, make silly videos with them, take goofy pictures- speak their language.

Have a sweet man who wants to watch the Super Bowl but you totally don’t get football and wonder why all those grown men run around in all that armor chasing a silly ball all day? Yeah, me too.  Simply love that man today and watch that game! ; )

Total crazy love- not just these 14 days but always~
Kati

Have a picture of your simple love? Send me a picture by clicking HERE and I’ll post it for all to see or link up to me on twitter: @kati_gibson  #14daysofsimplelove Lets spread the joy of love in a really simple way!

……………………
yeah… if there’s an ad below here—> don’t click the creepy ad  (yes, directly below here, some strange video perhaps?) I didn’t put it there = /

Part 1. Why resolving to love is really the only thing worth striving for this new year. [ a three part series on 2014 new year’s resolutions ]

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“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”

-Helen Keller

This was once my grandmothers house.

I remember when I was a young girl and we would travel there– I would always run fast from the car to step on the grass.

She had the fancy grass. You know, the kind that stands two inches from the ground and feels like you’re walking on clouds.

I remember her yard was always so beautiful and full of life. Her backyard was full of flowers and there was always laundry hanging out to dry. I remember she went out and fed the birds each morning, even calling one Robin by name, Robbie. He would eat raisins from her hand.

She had raised him from a baby and set him free in the backyard.

I remember the day of my Papa’s funeral, the adults sat inside listening to the funeral service on a cassette tape. I was outside, kicking a ball against the shed out back.

I remember the way her door would sloowwwly close with that hissing sound only screen doors can make.

I remember my mother and her, never getting along. I remember my mom always saying, “Mom, you don’t have to make your yard look perfect, you really are too old to be out there doing all that work.” I remember going for walks while visiting — my mom would always say, “Oh, my goodness. I don’t know why your Mema chooses to live in this neighborhood. The houses are so close together.”

I was 12 when my grandmother passed away. I remember my mother had a letter from my grandmother,  sitting on the kitchen counter. She had been too busy to write her back. Those were the days when you paid for long distance and nobody had a home computer.

When the call came in that she had passed away, I remember how badly it hurt my mother.

And now, when you hear my mother talk of my grandmother, she has only good things to say about her. That grandmother she use to talk about is no more and she dreams of just one more day with her mom, in that cramped neighborhood, with that perfect yard– just one day to sit and love.

So when I told her I was making a trip to Oklahoma City she asks me to go.

“Go and take some pictures for me, Kati. I haven’t seen it since we laid her to rest.”

When I give her the pictures, I simply wrote:

“I hope these photos can bring good memories and not bad pain. It is such a good testament to how we must love fully today because we are not guaranteed tomorrow.”

I love you,
Kati

And it did to me, like writing somehow always does–

it changed me.

Because isn’t it the truth? When we resolve to love fully, it changes us. If we love fully our family, we strive to bend in service for them more than expect things from them. If we love fully our bodies, given to us by our creator, we strive to only give it the best things- to nourish and keep it well. Put simply, when we love fully those around us, we are truly full.

I believe a little man named Gandhi once said: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service of others.

And a little old lady, not always so old once said, “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” – Mother Teresa

Oh my! This could start a resolution revolution!

May we love fully today friends. Touching those around us with gentle smiles of love and grace. Creating warm feelings deep within them of value. Starting with those in our home. {my, oh my- how this story is for me.}  May this be the thread that binds our resolutions together this 2014 New Year’s.

Simply, Love.
All my love,

Kati