Author: Krista (page 2 of 12)

dominoes

Domino Day 2009 broke a world record.  It took 89 builders to set up 4,491,863 dominoes and a single touch to topple them.

One tap produced a huge chain reaction. One action caused 4,491,853 dominoes to fall.

Sometimes,  a single act or a single gesture is all it takes to cause a chain reaction. Then step back and watch out. One act of kindness causes another. One deed of compassion leads to another. One step of faith invites the next.

The Graney family from Oklahoma initiated their own chain reaction by a single act.  Read about the power behind their single act of love and generosity towards  a family in Kenya. You’ll want to share The Marvelous Mud House by April Graney with your children and grandchildren.

http://www.aprilgraney.com/p/the-marvelous-mud-house.html

Read and then step into acts of kindness, compassion, love, and generosity. Remember it only takes one gesture to make the next domino fall.

Let’s keep the chain unbroken.

 

corralling cats

I live on a hill. During thunderstorms, water flows downhill taking my gravel driveway, stone by stone, with it. The powerful rush of water carves deep gullies. Recently, my husband attempted to force the water away from the driveway with a wall of rocks.  He hoped to divert the water from the driveway into a ditch.

Forcing water to change direction is like corralling cats. It’s impossible. My father, a fireman, battled Hurricane Agnes’ waters in 1972. I recall his wise words: “You can fight fire, but you can’t fight water. It goes where it wants to.” Those affected by the recent hurricanes understand this hard truth.

Water does what God designed it to do; it flows. Some days, my relationship with God functions how it was designed; it flows. On those days, I sit beside my best friend watching the sunset knowing my best friend created the sunset. Natural. Peaceful. Fully at ease. I talk; He listens. He talks; I listen. Back and forth. Give and take.

But on other days, frustration sets in from trying to corral cats. When I force my relationship with God, I respond and react with have to vs. want to. Forced time with God resembles a long distance relationship gone cold. But God didn’t move; I did. I stacked rocks and built a wall. I diverted His grace and mercy into rules and requirements.

I desire more flowing days.

Today, my husband invited me to explore a local waterfall. On this beautiful September afternoon, we walked the trail beside Mill Creek. I heard the flowing water before I saw it. It sounded natural and peaceful. The water flowed; doing what God created it to do.

Nothing forced, just flowing.

And there were no cats in sight.

 

 

 

dirty hands

I spent most of my childhood years dirty. My childhood farm offered many opportunities for play and work.

In the summertime, my sisters and I spent hours creating play houses in the cows’ pasture. We used shovels and rakes to assist with construction. The limestone rock outcroppings functioned as the foundation and we added misshapen tree branches or rocks as furniture. A flat rock served as a table or chair. A tree branch doubled as a coat rack. Our imaginations knew no limit.

Summertime also involved plenty of work. The sweet corn and potato fields required weeding and hoeing. The rows seemed to go on forever. Baling hay,  feeding cows, and picking vegetables kept us busy and dirty too.

Saturday evenings promised bath time. Time to get clean for Sunday church. The dirt from playing and working washed away leaving a brown ring around our cast iron bath tub. Washing allowed the clean to shine through.

Jesus, Creator of the Universe,  rolled up His sleeves and got His hands dirty too.

 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. John 9:6 NIV

Dirt plus spit equals mud. Messy and dirty mud. Jesus knew opening eyes and changing lives sometimes required dirt and spit.

Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. John 9:7 NIV

Washing removed the dirt allowing the True Light to shine through.

 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. John 9:38 NIV

Jesus’ dirty hands along with His bloodstained hands on the cross granted the man sight and eternal life. Eyes opened and sins forgiven.

My Saturday night bath began a 24-hour window of temporary cleanliness. A new adventure loomed for me on Monday morning. But this man found eternal cleanliness by uttering three words, “Lord, I believe.” 

All because Jesus loved and got His hands dirty.

 

 

 

 

 

mirror mirror

Mirror, mirror on the wall…..

Looking at mirrors with my 4-month old grandson entertains both of us. We point and giggle as we discover who is looking back at us. We talk (Ok, I talk) about the cute little boy in the mirror. I see new life with fresh potential. All things are possible. Prayerfully, this little guy will grow into a Godly man as well as a kind and loving husband and father.  Endless possibilities stare back at us.  Mirrors offer hope of somedays full of what ifs. Mirrors are the launching pad of amazing dreams.

Last year in Tanzania, I stood in front of new mirrors with Neema and her two friends. (Neema is the girl on the left, smiling from her hoodie.) I snapped this picture at their Compassion Center as I toured the new sanitation project filled with flushing toilets, running water, and shiny mirrors. Was this the first time they saw their reflection? Possibly.

Walking through the facility with Neema and her friends, we paused in front of the new  mirrors. I encouraged them to see the beauty of the girls smiling back at us. Could they see how God created them, each so unique and precious? Could they see what I saw?

Were they able to see a bright future? Could they see into tomorrow or next month or next year? Could they see beyond the poverty of their surroundings? Whom did they see? A future teacher, pastor, or doctor?

Neema and I connected during my visit; she never left my side. At the end of the day, I left her with a big hug and a pack of colored pencils.  I also tried to leave her with a hope-infused vision. Keep looking in the mirror and seeing a brighter future. Keep looking and seeing God’s immense love.  I pray she sees herself for all she is to God; His wonderful and perfect creation!

Mirror, mirror on the wall,  Who is the fairest one of all?   Neema, my grandson, and all of God’s beautiful children

 

flashback

One year ago.

Flashback:  June 2, 2016       Karatu, Tanzania                 

How much love can a heart hold? When blessed with the opportunity to love deeper and wider, my heart expanded just like my elastic waistband pants.  As the youngest and poorest surrounded me in Karatu, Tanzania,  I freely loved and kept loving. As the Grinch’s heart grew 3 times bigger on Mt. Crumpit, mine enlarged with each wonderful encounter.

 While my husband and his Compassion International teammates climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, I loved the children everywhere I went. Each day was a holy appointment with Jesus’ favorite people: children. Back from a trip to a squatty potty, I veered off the path to visit with  children gathered around a rusty swing set. I bent low,  lifted up a child, and loved. These children were not part of the Compassion program. They needed a bath and love. They were dressed in ragged clothing and were perfectly wonderful.  My heart shifted into overdrive.

Flashback: June 2, 2016       Karatu, Tanzania     

Surrounded by precious children; giggling and ready to be loved. I soaked in their love. I touched their faces and kissed their foreheads. We laughed together as I rubbed and rubbed convincing them my skin really is this color. Loving and laughing: what every childhood should be filled with.

Then they sang to me. Twinkle, Twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are. These small twinkling stars standing in the dusty earth of Tanzania sang about far off shining lights. Worlds apart but the same twinkling lights. I clapped enthusiastically during my private concert; thrilled and honored to be here.

Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky. Do they know they are more precious than diamonds? Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are. 

 

Flashback: June 4, 2016       Arusha, Tanzania                      

My husband enjoyed spectacular views from above the clouds, trekking to 19, 341 feet at the summit.  A step closer to Heaven, perhaps. But my eyes beheld beauty of a different sort, yet no less amazing. Beautiful faces dotted with bright and kind eyes. An offer to hold their small hands, to touch and to know love. I reached out and connected. A perfect fit. Love never lets go.

 

Flashbacks, always reminding me.  Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

 

Pause

Sometimes God brings a pause into our lives. A quiet time to figure out the next step. My pause is now. May this pause draw me closer to my Heavenly Father as we commune together.

See you on the other side of my pause.

 

9 lives

Growing up on a farm, we had an abundance of cats. Most earned their keep by hunting mice. With corn in the corn crib and feed grain for the cattle, our farm offered a buffet to unwanted rodents and, in turn, a never-ending supply of food for the cats.  Our cats enjoyed several buildings to live and dine in: chicken house, hog pen, summer kitchen or wash-house, and barn.

Occasionally, some of the female cats ventured into the surrounding fields for privacy as they delivered a litter of kittens. Unfortunately, some encountered machinery such as a combine, tractor, or hay baler as they faithfully refused to abandon their kittens.  Some lived, though injured, and eventually returned to living a normal cat life.  They were living proof that cats really do enjoy nine lives.

Last week, 9 lives of a very different sort were celebrated. A 21 , a non-profit organization devoted to ending slavery around the world, rescued 9 lives. In Ukraine, two women were rescued and 2 men were rescued from labor exploitation.  In Thailand, two women and 3 children were rescued. Praise God! 

Nine lives freed from bondage. Nine lives starting over and free. Nine lives now hopeful of tomorrow.

Perhaps in time, smiles and laughter will come from those nine mouths. I won’t pretend to understand or comprehend the emotion associated with any of those nine rescues. But I can join in praising God for new beginnings and second chances. Nine lives coming out of the darkness and into the light. Nine lives free to continue to become whom God created them to be.

God is a God of second, third, and fourth chances. And, yes, even more than 9. God doesn’t keep track. Thankfully, He is always a God of another chance.

I don’t know if this applies to cats or not, but I am certain it applies to those 9 precious lives and to my life too.

Starting over and free.

  Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:22-24 (NIV)

Photo credit: A21

give & get

Recently, a friend received a Facebook zinger. You know, the type of comment that leaves a heart scar. I imagine my bewildered friend mumbled a few choice words as she hit ‘unfriend’.  I read the unkind comment before my friend sent it and its author into cyber extinction. Scanning through Facebook, I found an interesting post by the offender, the same person who forgot to pause and think before posting. The offender posted how much she appreciated kind words from her co-workers following a difficult time in her life. Hmmm. Let me get this straight. The offender enjoys getting loving and kind words from others, but she doesn’t always give them to others?

Why does this sound so familiar? Because I am also guilty of engaging in the dangerous and hurtful disconnect between giving and getting. I know what I want to get from others (love, kindness, respect, honesty), but sometimes I am not very mindful about giving the same.

Give what I want to get. If I give my body more vegetables and less sugar, I get to inhale and exhale while wearing my jeans. If I give black oil sunflower seeds, I get to enjoy the splendid beauty of my feathered backyard friends.

Give what I want to get; a warm-hearted and humane life motto.  Always try to give to others what I want to get back. It is the abridged version of the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12,  So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.

I will give grace and mercy to someone who made a mistake on Facebook because I, too, need much grace and mercy to cover my thoughtless words and careless actions. I will give grace and mercy to those around me and in cyber world. For it is by His Blood that I can approach His Throne and receive His grace and mercy in my time of need including navigating Facebook.

 So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive his mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need. Hebrews 4: 16 (TLB)

more

I met this little boy while visiting a Compassion project in Tanzania.  After touring the facility and worshipping with the children,  it was time to eat. We served approximately 100 children a meal of rice, chicken, and fruit.

This little guy was not enrolled in the Compassion program. I don’t know the reason. But he, like others, stood outside the windows. It was rewarding and exciting to be sitting with the wonderful children enrolled in the program. But it was heartbreaking to realize there are always more children. There are always more children who are on the outside looking in. There are always more children longing for a warm smile and a loving hug. There are always more children with empty stomachs. Ugly truth: there are always more children in need.

I reached out and took his hand. I squeezed it and tried to convey as much love in that touch as possible. I didn’t see the cross in his photo until later, but it is there. The Cross is there reminding me to ‘keep on keeping on’ for all the children on the outside, like this dear little boy.  It reminds me there is much work to be done on behalf of the children living and dying in poverty around the world. The Cross reminds me, “whatever I do for one of the least of my brothers and sisters, I do for Christ”.

So I advocate and sponsor children with Compassion International because there are always more children. There are more lives to be touched, more smiles to be shared, and more bellies to be filled. If you look, you will find a child who needs you. Let the Cross guide you to him or her. Then there will be one less child standing on the outside looking in.

 

 

 

 

shape

It’s pruning time in North Carolina. Northerners by birth and in heart, we are in unfamiliar land. On their daily stroll, our neighbors kindly remark, ‘You need to prune that’ pointing to the crepe myrtle in our front yard. Yes, we know. All around the neighborhood, pruning and shaping is taking place.

So we read and watch YouTube videos to gain semi-confidence. Gloved and armed with pruners (short and long), we approach the victim. Vase shape is the goal without cutting off too much. Will this lovely tree ever bloom again? Only time will tell, but we hope our neighbors notice and applaud our effort.

Many years and dozens of cookies ago, my physical shape resembled a banana but now I identify more with a Bartlett pear. A recent church message encouraged me to consider my spiritual SHAPE as defined in Purpose Driven Life by Pastor Rick Warren.  I can best serve God when I am operating and serving within my SHAPE.

S– Spiritual Gifts     H– Heart     A– Abilities     P– Personality     E– Experiences.

What is my shape? How can I best serve God based on my shape? As my physical shape changes so does my spiritual shape. Thirty years ago, my shape was a stay-at-home mom of two little blessings. Later, called to serve and lead ministries, a different shape took form.  In each season of life, God drew out my gifts, passions, abilities, personality traits, and life experiences. Some previously unused, now emerged. Some faded to the background, some blossomed; all by His Hands and at His timing.

In the Bible, I read about Joshua’s shaping that began under the whip of an Egyptian taskmaster.  God continued to prune and reshape Joshua from the bloody doorposts on the first Passover, through the dry Red Sea, and into the Promised Land as a spy. Joshua stood firm before the nation and gave his surveillance report. He spoke truth with confidence because of his shape.

Wandering in the desert for 40 years, God continued reshaping Joshua. He would be the one, not Moses, to lead the Israelites and conquer the Promised Land.  As he followed and obeyed, the Master Gardener shaped. God equipped Joshua for what he needed, as he needed it. As Joshua was faithful, God was abundantly more faithful. Joshua’s shape changed as God moved him through his life seasons until calling him home at the age of 110.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

Looking at the bare branches of our vase-shaped crepe myrtle, we have faith the beautiful blossoms will cover the tree this summer. The flowers will serve as proof that the cutting, pruning, and shaping were necessary.

As God continues to shape me so I can best serve Him, I endure His pruning. In time, blossoms of the Spirit’s Fruit will emerge; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. A wonderful shape for this pear tree.

 

 

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