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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The truth about kids and chores.

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I love chores.

No, no, no… i don’t think you heard me. I love them. It’s weird, As I type, it is 7:00 am and I have already made breakfast and lunch for my man, kissed his sweet face and sent him on his way. I’ve swept, mopped, done dishes, stirred lunch, done one load of laundry and taken out the trash.

It’s bad.

If you come to my home mid-afternoon {when and if} there is nothing to do… I’ll have created something to do. I will be cleaning baseboards, closets, raking leaves, mowing the grass, or maybe even starting a new paining project. It is something I have to surrender every.single.day,

being busy.

My kids? Hmmm, for some reason, they can find other things to do; sometimes that gets on my nerves. I mean come on, they make most of the mess, don’t they care?

I remember one day this past winter when we were doing chores around the house before school. I had just configured a new chore chart and it was going to be a history maker. This was going to solve all our chore problems. My kids were going to love doing simple chores and they were going to do them really well. I mean come on, we always have the music turned up loud during chores, we’re all happy here, right?

Well, this momma walked into the bathroom after my little Jordi was sent to clean it and it was not done well. Immediately, frustration took over me.

Look at this, she doesn’t even care.

Look how lazy.

Uh, she didn’t even look behind the door.

Now, before you start feeling all sad for her– honestly, she has swept the floor enough times to know you remove the trash can and sweep behind it and you get the yuckies from behind the door. BUT, on this day, the lesson wasn’t for her, it was for me.

The truth spoken to my heart that day was simply this,

Chores are not given to replace mommas job, but rather build character.

Oh man, I had to re-sweep the floor.

Now, there are days when my kiddos halfheartedly do their work and I have to kindly remind them to give their best, encouraging them they can do better. But for the most part, I usually need to manage my expectations. My goodness, the war of expectations.

Here is the way it works in our home. You probably have a better way, I am sure. I’m sure your children’s names are America, Liberty, Justice, and Peace. In fact, I bet they all say Yes, Ma’am every time you ask them to do something. Yup! I can imagine it now: they are probably only eight and ten and make dinner for your whole family while quoting whole books of the Bible. Actually, if that is you, could you please email me some advice?

For the other one percent of you who are like me and need a bit of encouragement from time to time on the matter,  here are my countless two cents =)

In the morning after breakfast, we do check lists. I have gone back and forth over the years with this method, trying to move past it. However, the truth is– it just works and it works well, for us.

Now, when my children were all young, the reward for finishing your list was just a kiss from mom. However, as they get older, I have added incentive in the form of a quarter. This works good for them because they all put their quarters into the family fun jar which helps us go on fun trips. We don’t have allowance in our home, if our kiddos need money, they ask for jobs but as far as a weekly payment for contributing to the family? We don’t go that route.

little hands checklist
bigger hands checklist

You will notice it says, today’s daily chore. This is based on the child’s individual abilities. I usually try to have these on the board in the morning. Otherwise the children are coming to me asking me what their daily chore is and I have to think of one real quick.

Some days, the chores are a bit harder and I have to get smart. =) For instance, the other day Jordan’s chore was to scrub some spots out of the carpet. For my oldest daughter, this wouldn’t be an issue. She is so type A, she wouldn’t have just cleaned that area, she would have continued throughout the whole house. (not a good thing, mind you–being type A like me =( poor girl) As for Jordan, she just likes to get the job done. So, with a job like this, we make it a game.

I say, “Go outside and knock at the door; we will pretend you are a carpet cleaner”

Anything imagination gets Jordan.

“Ok, Mom, my name is Mrs. Courtney.”

So she comes in the house and explains to me what she is going to do. She then asks, “Are these your children? Meaning Judah and and Emmyn. To which I reply, “Yes” She then tells me, “Well, they are welcome to help me if they would like.”

Of course they wanted to play the game.

Jordan getting Judah’s carpet cleaning belt all ready =)

I know what some of you are thinking, you want your children to enjoy doing chores without a game. You are worried if you make it a game they are not going to have a good worth ethic when they grow up, you fear they won’t ever take initiative. Well, here are our choices right now mommas:

Joy or Hatefulness

One choice is happy, makes it fun. The other yells and makes them work hard.

One child is more likely to love chores when they are older. The other hates them and does everything for their kids because their mom was always so mean.

Think of it this way, it’s a Mary Poppins approach.

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap!  The job’s a game.” -Mary Poppins

Right now, little Judah gets a chocolate chip for each check on his list to keep him focused. The big girls have to write their beginning and end time on their list. Tomorrow, it will be something totally different to keep them going. But for the most part? We’re happily working together to get the job done.

Joyfully managing expectations right there beside you,

Kati

Because they’re all here now: who knows for how long

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Something I wrote almost five years ago came back into memory today on this snowy, Monday afternoon. We’re making stories mommas… and we never know for how long.

from February 15, 2010:

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We have great neighbors. Just yesterday while talking with friends at church the topic of neighbors came up and I have to admit, I love mine. Wouldn’t change them for a second. But you know what? We have a favorite. =) Ms. Renee and Mrs. Cotton.

Renee takes care of her mom, Mrs. Cotton. Cotton is in her 80’s and is as great as can be. Renee is a blessing to just be around. They are the first neighbors I’ve said: “Hey, I have to run to this place real fast can you watch two of my kiddos, I can’t fit them all into the truck.” Or, “Hey, I know it’s 9 o’clock at night, but can I borrow some coffee?”

Alli reads to Mrs. Cotton each week. In the spring and fall they sit outside in the nice weather, talking mostly, not doing much reading. In the hot summer and cold winter they read more, play puzzles and talk about the most interesting things.

Oh, I don’t know why I mention all of that; it really has nothing to do with what is really on my heart, just a sweet foreword, I suppose. =)

On occasion, this past fall Renee and I would jog from our houses down around the river and back. I remember one day while jogging and chatting she mentioned all of her children by name, one given Beth. I had never heard of Beth before. Puzzled, I asked… “Beth?”

“Oh, yes.” She replied. “She’s past away now.” 

I forget how long ago she had passed, but it was on December 10th; I remember that because it’s our Jordan’s birthday. She went on to tell me all of Beth’s problems from birth and how challenging it was. She ended by saying:

“She’s in a much better place now, her pain is gone.”

All of Renee’s children live close by. They are always over during the summer, swimming, eating Sunday dinner, sitting outside with Mrs. Cotton. That is why I was so surprised when I heard the name, Beth.

It makes you think. She’s not here now. She was then, but she is not now.

Life is different.

We make big deals out of such little things, don’t we? I think of my children and how I make such big deals out of the little things with them. I am just sure I was stressing about something three years ago, something that doesn’t even matter now. Something I can’t even remember.

A couple of weeks ago I went to lunch with a friend, leaving all four children at home with Dad, for the first time. When I returned home, only one hour later I was greeted with this:

Three.

Snowman Jordan

Snowman Alli

and Snowman Judah

And I am sure, knowing my Alli, if they had not been called in for lunch by their dad, there would have been a “Snowman Emmyn.”

There they are. Alli, Jordan and Judah. They’re all here now. It may or may not always be that way. One day, when I’m 60, jogging with my 26 year old neighbor she might say, “Alli? I have never heard of Alli?”

The list goes on and on.

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They are here now, not guaranteed another moment. God is so good to bless us with such treasure. Straight from his hand, the Maker. They are his, given to us to teach, train and raise in righteousness.

It isn’t always easy, it’s easy to give up. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep going.

But what a wonderful treasure it will be to stand before our God and hear him say, “I saw each and everything you did. I saw when you didn’t give up. I saw when you prayed for them, taught them, held them, showed them patience, told them no when it wasn’t “fair”. I watched as everyone thought you were not doing things the right way, yet you followed my call. I saw each time you failed and started all over again.”

“You took good care of that which I let you borrow”

It is a good reminder, I may have a Beth someday. Most of the problems of today aren’t that big.

God is so good, to teach us such good things.

Loves today, friend.

Kati

When even your children seem to hate you and you just feel hopeless.

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It was the 16th time that finally broke the window.

She picked up the shoe for the 16th time, mad at the world. She threw and it broke.

You would think the walls would have come down after that.

You thought wrong.

But what do you do when your child hates you? When she looks at you with hate because you’re not the mother of her birth? What do you do when you know she loves your husband more, her dad more.

Simply because: it’s not men she has issues with- it’s mothers.

Because it’s the mother who left. It’s the mother who made the bad decisions. It’s the mother who never stood up for her children. The fathers came and went- it was he mother that always let her down.

So, it doesn’t matter what you do. It doesn’t matter how you love. You always remind her of

a mother.

And really, you just want to be a momma. You just want to hug ,and kiss, and cuddle away bad memories and hard times. You want to say time and time again- “You’re safe here now.”

But time and time again you’re left holding back screams. You’re left wanting to shout, “I AM THE ONE WHO IS HERE! I AM THE ONE WHO LOVES! WHY DO YOU ALWAYS HURT ME?”


We all have windows don’t we?

Days that have been shattered into a million pieces by someones unkind, thoughtless words. The diet that failed once again. The man who didn’t call. The wife who never returned. The mother that let us down. The brother who broke the promise. The family member who broke all of the rules and harmed someone close to you. The mother in law who never forgives. The child who doesn’t seem to ever care- and the battle that.never.ends.

There are windows all around us.

We look into those windows and the reflection peering back to us changes every day.

Some days it says, “You are beautiful” Some days it says, “You are a piece of trash” Some days it says, “You are loved.” Other days it says, “Who could ever love you?”

And then, one day it happens. You just can’t take it any more.

You pick up the shoe and throw it through the glass- hoping for the enemies lies to stop.

And they still come.

Her lies are still there. The broken glass didn’t fix anything. The truth of her past is still as real today as it was yesterday. All the terrible things she yelled at me that day, she’s still yelling.

No. Broken glass doesn’t fix anything. And the same is true of us isn’t it? Broken friendships. Don’t fix anything. Broken promises. Don’t fix anything. Broken marriages. Don’t fix anything.

No. The only brokenness that fixes anything – is brokenness at the foot of the cross.

Dear one.

There are times when there are just no answers. There are no fixes. There are no explanations to why something happened. You are sad, Jesus is sad, and everyone involved is broken into a million pieces.

And the truth is, you.just.don’t.want.to.get.out.of.bed.

I only want to speak these words into your heart today- because He is speaking them into my very own heart.

He loves you. He is close. He is watching. He is proud. He is good. He is just. He is the only thing that will never break. He is the only glass that never shatters. He is able to take your brokenness and make it new. He is watching you.

He loves you and never stops seeing the full, new, beautiful you.

So when you look into that window and you see the ugly reflection peering back at you- remember. We all have a beauty inside of us that Jesus is working on. A beauty that calls out to the savior to make it new each day.

I am there. You are there. Your Christian neighbor is there. Your pastor is there. Your best friend who does everything right is there. The mother that always hurts you is there. The hurting daughter in my home. She’s there.

We are all there. Imperfect, just trying to get a glimpse of Jesus each day. Just a small touch of his robe. We’re all just trying to be made new- time.and.time.again. Breaking the glass won’t fix it. Yelling words we don’t mean won’t fix it. Giving up won’t fix it.

Giving in to Jesus is all that will make anything new.

“Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe,  for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”

Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment.” Matthew 9:20-22

Oh, friends. To long for just the touch of his robe. The newness that comes from the simple touch of Jesus.

Jesus is saying to each of us every day. “My child, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well! Not your actions, not your failures, not your successes. Not your method of parenting, or your tithe amount. Not your involvement in church. Nothing but your faith in me.”

Beautiful one: May you know your true beauty today. May you know he is fighting for your heart, for your soul, for the renewing of your mind.

When the 16th time comes. May you fall to your knees and surrender to only the touch of His robe. My you never give up. May you never look down. May you feel loved and cherished by the ONLY one who loves fully.

Jesus.

Broken, earthly, and nothing compared to Jesus~

Kati


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Dear Women and Daughters… a little encouragement from Ann Voskamp @ aholyexperience

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*Dear Daughter,

When we stood in the check-out and you leaned over and said, “What? I can’t hear you?” I could read it right then in your eyes.

Right there by all the glossy magazines screaming at you like a pack of jockeying hawkers.

If you listen long enough to all the loud voices about who you should be, you grow deaf to the beauty of who you are…



Click below to continue reading this quick encouragement from Ann.

Dear Women & Daughters: When You’re Tired of Media Voices Telling You What Beauty & Love Is

THIS momma of four girls loved every.single.drop of this sweetness tonight.

Soak up the goodness this evening, momma.

Loves,

Kati

 

*this post was not written by me or intended for that purpose. Ann Voskamp speaks daily sweetness for all walks of life at www.aholyexperience.com

 

Jesus can love through a crazy person like me? An adoption story.

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My heart is troubled for three kiddos I know of, needing a forever home tonight…

As our six kiddos are snug as a bug under covers- millions of children wonder if they will ever be wanted. And trust me, they do wonder.

Ever thought you were too crazy to adopt? Yeah, us too. Share the need for adoptive homes.

writingwithintrees

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

~ Mother Teresa ~

Early one morning, talking with my husband, I ask the question, “Well, we’re almost finished. What will we do next?”

Because what do you do when you know there are countless children just waiting for love. 

This time, a month ago, our journey to forever ended and the real forever began as we finalized our adoption of two kiddos. Making our family a fun family of eight!   It seems as though, this is just the way it’s always been. Them and us- us and them.

It’s funny how God can talk to you through so many things- even something as little as adoption paperwork. There are hundreds upon hundreds (ok, it seems that way– 🙂 ) pieces of paper associated with adoption but I have two I treasure most.

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Making sweet love on a bad day

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“Finding myself, this morning struggling with the beginning of my day, I was reminded of a story from a few years back. From a time when my littlest one was usually naked, and my oldest one was still learning multiplication and I did the usual thing  I do when I’m struggling. 

Lost it. In one way or another.

If you are finding yourself like me this morning, or any time at all, really… struggling to get yourself together – perhaps my broken life can lend a little hope to yours, and help your day shine bright.”

February 2011~

Today was a bad day. I was a very cranky momma.

Oh, it’s hard to pin point the exact reason. I started the day out “by the book,” up early, before the kids. Time in the word, time with my man, I made a sweet little homemade breakfast, read to the kids. It should have just worked out right; right?

Wrong.

And looking back, I can’t quite figure out what finally made me snap. Oh, it could have had something to do with the three hours it took one of my children to be ready for her day and start school; just too many rabbit trails to find herself on. Or, it could have something to do with the extensive handwriting lesson one of my other children had to do because her brother almost suffered a concussion when he hit his head on the coffee table during a fun pushing game.

Or it could be the 100th phone call I knew I had to make to AT&T because they can’t seem to bill us correctly and they like to make me sit on hold for 20 plus minutes each time. Maybe it was because I am crazy and allowed my children to get three kittens for Christmas?

Perhaps, the wonderful cold snow isn’t so wonderful anymore; or maybe it’s because we just moved to the town I grew up in and I’m secretly afraid someone will knock at our door and see that it is absolute chaos, and I’ll have to use the line… “Hey, at least we’re learning.”

But then again, It might just have been one. of. those. days. But, perhaps I could just chalk it all up to a girl thing and blame it on my psycho thyroid and the fact that I have yet to find a doctor down here to get it under control.

Whatever the reason may be, I lost my temper, yelled at the kids. Felt the sweet momma in me run dry and went into my room and cried.

So then, I dried my eyes, gave myself a little pep talk, realized that I’m a total worthless parent without God and continued on with my day, teaching Judah the letter X, helping Jordan read the word, frog; again, talked to Alli about how Italy is shaped like a boot, and put Emmyn on her sweet “big girl time blanket” to play with blocks.

At lunch, we talked about Making Sweet Love.

As the children ate, I put before them, four little cups.

One overflowing, three empty.

We talked about the marshmallows, how yummy and sweet they are. They resembled our sweet love. The love we have to share with others. I asked the kids, how can “Mommy share this love with each of you?” They said things like,

“snuggle us”

“kiss us”

“read to us”

“take us places”

with each thing they said, I gave them some of my “love.”

Eventually, their little cups were full of love and mine was empty.

I said, “Oh, no… look! Where is mommy’s love?” (Of course, Judah reaches into the bag of marshmallows, grabs a big handful and says, “Right here, mommy!” But the girls understood. “You’ve given it all out to us.”

Then I told them about how a mothers love is like Jesus, it never runs out. But unlike Jesus, mommas get tired and need some love.

I perked up, “SO! Who has some love for momma?”

“I do!”

“I do!”

“Here is a kiss”

“Here is a thank you”

… the list went on and on, they were racing to see who could fill it up quickest. All of a sudden we all had plenty of love, to equally share. And we were all happy.


And Jesus Said, 

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  John 15: 12-13

Oh, The day carried on like normal, we got on a good track, the house was a complete disaster, we learned, played, laughed, got in more trouble, made really delicious chicken and noodles, and after we were all finished,  sat and rested a while during tea time.

We sipped on coffee, nibbled on egg whites, and enjoyed a glimpse of summer with delicious juicy oranges while we listened to a story, my very favorite story of all.

I haven’t read it since March. Unable to handle the truth of it all, afraid I would come unglued. Each time I read it, silly I know; but I feel like it was written just for me.

And I was right, my eyes filled with tears, my mind filled with thoughts and it was almost more than I could handle.

I. read.very.slowly.

Breathed.very.deeply.

Max Lucado writes:

“He deserves lots of dots,” the wooden people would agree with one another. “He’s not a good wooden person.” After a while Punchinello believed them. “I’m not a good Wemmick”, He would say.

Judah asked, “Momma, those real tears?”

I paused, “Yes, Judah they are real tears.”

I continued the book. Reading about Eli, the Maker.

Eli explains, “The stickers only stick if they matter to you. The more you trust my love, the less you care about their stickers.


“I’m not sure I understand”, Punchinello says.

I understood today.

I asked the kids, like I always do, “Do you ever feel like you have a lot of grey dots?” I continued, “Mommy does.”

I said, “Like when momma yelled today…” “You see,” I said; “When momma does that kind of stuff, I spend the whole day feeling terrible,  like I am not a good mom, like I’ve let God down in the job he has trusted me with.”

I continued, “But, that isn’t the truth is it? That isn’t trusting God’s love, is it?”

Oh mommas, it is a hard day sometimes. Always wondering if we’ve made the right choice, always regretting something we’ve done or said. Battling things from the past, hiding emotions we are having and putting on smiles for our little ones. It isn’t always easy, and it doesn’t always happen. And when our little cups run dry of marshmallows and we cover ourselves with gray dots… all we can do is fall back into the arms of our Maker and let him stand us back up straight ready to right the good fight for one more round.

Eli smiled. “You will understand, but it will take some time you’ve got a lot of marks. For now, just come to see me every day and let me remind you how much I care.” 

-Max Lucado

Alli whispers to me afterward, “Mom… thanks.”

And she gives me a wink.