Tag: Love

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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)

knowing

What do you wish you would have heard your parents say? That question on a Christian radio station got my attention. As adults looking back, what do we wish we would have heard our parents say? 

Some of the deep and heart-tugging responses shared by the call-in listeners were: I wish my parents would have said they loved me. I wish my parents would have told me they were proud of me. I wish my parents would have apologized for making me be the parent at times. 

I considered this question on my drive and later broached the topic with my husband. I wasn’t ready for his response. We dated 6 years before getting married 33 years ago and this man continually surprises me. In certain areas, he felt he could not live up to his parents’ high expectations. I never knew he carried those feelings. 

Admittedly,  I wish my parents would have said they loved me. Over the years, I have justified not hearing those 3 magical words as a generational shortcoming or a result of their strict upbringing. Whatever the reason, feelings weren’t shared or discussed. But I told my husband, I knew they loved me. Without any doubt, I knew it. Their unspoken love was exhibited in many, many ways.

I knew they loved me by how hard they worked and by the sacrifices they made to provide for our family of 6. I knew they loved me when we gathered around the supper table and we had plenty to eat. I knew they loved me when we piled in the car on Sunday mornings to head to church. And when we piled back into the car for a Sunday afternoon drive and ended up at Baskin Robbins for an ice cream cone. I knew they loved me.img_0230

I knew they loved me when they knelt beside my bed holding a bowl and catching the remnants of too many pieces of apple pie. I knew it when they painstakingly helped me through homework battles. I knew they loved me when they steadied the back of the bicycle after removing the training wheels and when they bandaged  my skinned knees when the ride went awry. I knew it when I was tucked in my bed safe at night. Yes, my parents loved me without saying the words.

Walking on the road to Jesus, we come upon the stumbling block of not being able to hear or see Him. We decide to sit and question. Why can’t I hear or see God?  How do I know He really loves me? So we stay longer.  Satan, the prowling lion, encircles and whispers lies and doubts as we rest upon that block. Will we get up and take the next baby step of faith? Our Heavenly Father awaits with open arms and big love but it takes faith to move forward. It takes believing without seeing or hearing. It takes embracing His unconditional love without hearing audible words.

I know God loves me.  Without any doubts, I know. When I prayed a sinner’s prayer on a college dorm room floor, I found His love. When I held my newborn children for the first time, I experienced His love. When I look out my windows and see the tree line ablaze with reds, yellows, and oranges, I witness His love.  When I cry out for forgiveness, I feel His love. When I open up His Word and read His love story written to me, I drink-in His love. With a broad brush stroke, God paints His love for all to see from Creation to the Cross to Eternity.

This is how much God loves me: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. John 3:16 (MSG)

Yes, God loves me, big time! His unspoken love is revealed in many, many ways. He shows it, displays it; the mountaintops and ocean waves thunder His love message loud and clear. His love is ultimate and complete without saying a word.

Parents, children, and others will occasionally disappoint and hurt us with their spoken and unspoken words. But I know I am loved deeply and extravagantly by my Creator and Savior.

I know my parents loved me because they took me to Sunday School where I learned this song:

Jesus loves me this I know

For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak but He is strong
Yes, Jesus loves me
Oh, yes Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me for the Bible tells me so

 

 

fixer upper

Chip and Joanna Gaines are remodeling pros on the TV show, “Fixer Upper”. They save homes that look hopeless by renovating the imperfections. In the end, they reveal the home as  it always intended to be: beautiful.

I was a self-anointed “fixer upper”.  I identified people, usually those closest to me, who were in desperate need of help; my help, my fixing-up.  As project manager,  I had identified what needed to be renovated. Let’s gut this and get rid of all of that!image

I scribbled lots of remodeling notes for all my “projects” during the messages at church. My always-critical mind was at work. Yes, ________ would benefit from this.  Yes, this would really help __________.   Yes, this will finally get through to _________. Praise, Jesus!

But when I excitedly arrived at the job site with the must-do renovations, I was met with resistance and anger and tears. Again and again. Over and over. Something’s not working. Why isn’t this working? Why won’t they listen to me? I am sharing because I care. I am nagging because I care. I am talking very loudly and demonstratively because I care. Dang it! Can’t they tell how much I care?

It all seemed so clear to me.  If they would  just listen to my remodeling suggestions and fix the obvious problems, then life would be better. Isn’t that what we all want? The better life of rainbows and puppies down on easy street. What was broken; would now be fixed. What was outdated; would now be new. Everything would be better, at least from my perspective. This seemed like a very Jesus-like thing to do; helping others to a better life. Didn’t Jesus want me to help others?

Albert Einstein defines insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. According to his definition, I qualify for the insanity diagnosis. I have been doing the “fixer upper” thing over and over again with no new results. Just the same strained, awkward, and broken relationships and a large bump on my head from beating it against a wall.

Not only were my “projects” in misery, so was I. Peace was nowhere to be found but weariness was everywhere. I needed “self-renovation”. I needed a DIY on myself. The nearest, dearest people around me had become projects to be managed; instead of people to be loved.

Thankfully, God provided His perfect blueprint.  He reminded me of our roles. My job was not as a fixer upper; my job was to love and keep on loving. Simply love others as He loves me.  I can’t change or fix people; only He can. That’s His job; He’s the foreman.

Jesus just loved people. He was always loving. He loved while walking and talking to people. He loved while hanging on the cross.

So I am putting away my tool belt.  There are apologies that need to be said and love that needs to be given. I am fixing my eyes on Jesus and the only renovating project I see is the one reflected in His Loving Eyes: me.

We can’t tell people to come as they are, but insist they change before they arrive. People grow where they are loved. Bob Goff

 

Let’s Walk Worthy!

Photo credit: maxwellinterior.com

 

 

The Box

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She balanced the box steadily with great confidence. Obviously, she had done this before.  It had just rained, but her footing was sure and determined. It was not the man’s job to carry the box;  this was her role and she was the pro. The women transport their water containers and baskets with graceful harmony daily; they are my heroes.

We were walking through a rural area to visit a home in Tanzania with Compassion International.  Compassion practices hospitality. They donate a box of goodies to each home visited. The box contains bags of rice and beans; cooking oil and other staples.

It was a privilege to be welcomed into the modest home. There were no hesitations at the differences in our skin colors or our confusing languages. Nope. Just excited to get to know one another and become friends through the help of translators. There was time for questioning and answering. There was time for laughing, crying and praying – together. God is always the closest at these most precious times.

At the end of our visiting time, we presented the box. Their sincere gratitude and appreciation was humbling. Asante sana (thank you very much in Swahili)

After hugs and good byes, our group traveled back to the buses. I walked with a Pastor who had accompanied us. I chattered about the box and how it was such a blessing to the family. Pastor Joseph wisely responded that it really wasn’t about what was in the box; it was the love behind the box. The box was a reminder to the family (usually a mother and several young children) that they were loved. The box spoke loudly of love and acceptance. It was given without any expectations; the box was a love gift.

Love. Everything in life always circles back to love.  Love circles from the manger to the cross to the empty tomb.  Love circles from the valleys of my darkest sins to the mountaintops full of His forgiveness and grace.

My box experience took place in March 2014. At the end of May, I will return to Tanzania. I am looking forward to two very special home visits; those of my Compassion children. When the boxes are presented, I will joyfully look beyond the rice and beans to see the brilliance of God’s love behind the box. Asante sana

Let’s Walk Worthy!

 

Verbs

A verb is one of the main parts of a sentence in English. You can’t have a sentence  without a verb. That’s how important these “action” parts of speech are. The verb signals an action, an occurrence, or a sate of being. Whether mental, physical,  or mechanical, verbs always express activity.

God, Creator of everything including grammar, knew the importance of verbs. In Deuteronomy 7, God uses verbs to clearly express the actions He is instructing the Israelites to take. When He brings them into the Promised Land and drives out the enemy nations,  these are the actions (verbs) they are to perform. No exceptions. No questions.

Break down their altars

Smash their sacred stones

Cut down their Asherah poles

Burn their idols in the fire

Purge the evil

Destroy completely

In Deuteronomy 10, God shares what He wants the Israelites and us to remember using more verbs: Fear Him, Walk in obedience, Serve and Love Him with all of our being, and Observe His Commands.

The Israelites are reminded of His 10 Commandments in Deuteronomy 5. What should they (and we) do with His Commands?  More verbs: Fix these words in your hearts and minds, Tie them unto your hands, Bind them to your foreheads, Teach them to your children, Talk about them all the time, and Write them everywhere.

God is very clear with His verbs. He wants us to have an active faith. IMG_7163

Too often people are turned off by the Bible, God’s love letter to us, because they believe it is filled with too many verbs. Too many uncomfortable do’s and mega-tons of restricting don’ts. Rules ruffle our-free-to-live-how-we-want-to feathers. We spend our lives under someone’s thumb of authority: parents, spouses, bosses, and government. We don’t want any more rules and commands coming from another source in our lives especially not an invisible God. Ugh! So we rebel whenever and however we can.  We bend, if not break, most or all of His verbs. We can and we do. I can and I have. The Israelites did. In Deuteronomy 31, the Israelites’ rebellion is predicted. God shares openly with His good friend, Moses, whom He will bury Himself (what a perfect love story ending).

“You are going to rest with your ancestors, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake Me and break the covenant I made with them.” Deuteronomy 31: 16  NIV

They didn’t get it. The Israelites missed out on the life God wanted for them. I don’t want to miss out on the life He wants for me. But that will take obedience and yielding to not my will, but His Will in my life. It will mean following His verbs.

But then I stop to consider WHY? Why so many verbs from God? I quickly realize it isn’t because My God is a tyrant or dictator. No, quite the opposite.  All He has ever done and will ever do is from His favorite verb of all: LOVE.  He loves us so much. Parents who love their children provide boundaries/guidelines for the child’s safety and well-being. Same concept.

During a sleepless night, I started my own list of verbs. What activity God expresses towards me through verbs. My list of God’s verbs follows the ABC’s.

My God   adores, blesses, created, defends, embraces, forgives, gets, hugs, improves, justifies, knows, loves, molds, notices, overwhelms, purchased, quiets, reassures, saved, teaches, understands, values,  welcomes, X-Y-Z   Me.

Verbs express activity. What verbs has God used in your life, to demonstrate His amazing Abba Father love towards you? If any start with X-Y-Z, please let me know 🙂

Let’s Walk Worthy!

 

A Pretty Big But

What’s that? nemo
I know what that is. Sandy Plankton saw one. He called it… uh… he said it was called a “butt”.
That’s a pretty big butt. 

 

 

When you are driving alone for 8 hours, you have a lot of time to think and to listen to music. My CD player was locked and loaded.

Newsboys (my preference is “old” with Peter Furler), Abba ( 2 words: Dancing Queen), Fleetwood Mac (no explanation needed), Bee Gees (sometimes you just need to hear some falsetto), Downhere (can’t beat Marc Martel’s uncanny vocal resemble to Queen’s Freddie Mercury), and Sidewalk Prophets (recently saw them in concert).  On standby was ELO and Celine Dion. Eclectic mix but I stayed awake!

That is a pretty big BUT.  “I am the sweat from your brow, BUT You love me anyway.” A really gigantic BUT. There’s more…..

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Everyday I screw up and everyday Jesus’ response is, “BUT I love you, Krista, anyway.” Did I already stain my 2016 clean slate?  Yes! Did I already allow unwholesome words to come out of my mouth (see previous post, “Build”)? Yes!  BUT He loves me anyway.

“I ( Krista) am the nail in your wrist, BUT You love me anyway.”  I caused Him pain, I betrayed Him,  and I nailed Him to the cross. His response? BUT He Loves me anyway!

That is a pretty  (insert all the synonyms for “big”) colossal, hefty, immense, huge, gigantic, mammoth, jumbo, oversize, whopping………..  BUT.

On this fresh, New Year, there is great Freedom and amazing Grace in knowing  when I  ____________________; But He loves me anyway.

It cost Jesus His life to be able to offer this to you and to me. This is serious. I am very grateful and deeply humbled by these words replaying in my head. I will keep hitting rewind.  I need to be reminded everyday of His Ultimate Sacrifice and the pretty big BUT.

Photo Credit: Disney’s, “Finding Nemo

 

Beef and Cheese

There is a scene from the Christmas movie, Elf, where Buddy the Elf (played by Will Ferrell) accuses the Santa Claus at a department store of being a fraud. Buddy, who grew up as a human at the North Pole, certainly knows who Santa is and he passionately declares  “He is not Santa!” as he pulls off fake Santa’s beard.

He can recognize Santa by his scent too. I love the lines, ” You smell like beef and cheese. You don’t smell like Santa!” Obviously the real Santa would smell of pine, peppermint, cinnamon and maybe  Old Spice (for Mrs. Claus).

thISCVQSHYSeveral years ago, my husband and I found a piece of furniture listed in the Classified Ads. The owner didn’t live too far away so we called and arrived at the appointed time to take a look. An elderly woman answered the door and lead us inside.

While we were there, we made some small talk with her as we inspected the item. Then surprisingly she asked, “Are you Christians?” We responded “Yes” but wondered why she blurted out that question. Then she made a statement which I have never forgotten, “You smell like Christians.”

Hmm.  We smell like Christians. I was never told I smelled like a Christian before. Growing up on a farm and spending time around pigs and cows, I was convinced I smelled of manure long after my hot showers. My father  burned a wood stove and enjoyed frying bacon in the mornings and I remember trying not to reek of those smells as a prissy teenager.  “Eww! I just washed my hair and now I stink!” (I was a mess.)

So what did she smell? What fumes were we giving off? What had she sniffed out the few minutes we were there? We weren’t quoting scripture or waving a Bible around; we were simply being kind, respectful and polite. We were giving off an aroma and it was Christ.

You smell like Christians.” We said ‘thank you’ because we took it as a compliment. According to 2 Corinthians 2:15, it is a very kind compliment.

As far as God is concerned there is a sweet, wholesome fragrance in our lives. It is the fragrance of Christ within us, an aroma to both the saved and the unsaved all around us. 2 Corinthians 2:15 (The Living Bible)

I asked the real Santa for some perfume this Christmas. Perhaps I will find a bottle of sweet-smelling  fragrance under the tree but whether I realize it or not, I am giving off an aroma everywhere I go.  So are you. In the very long check-out lines, in the mall and at the bank, at family gatherings; every where we go. Whether we realize it or not: we smell! Let’s make sure we smell of Christ; we reek of His Love.

Splash on some of your favorite fragrance (leave the beef and cheese behind) but most importantly, let the love of Christ leave a lasting impression on everyone this holiday season and beyond.

When we walk with God, we leave behind a sweet fragrance that can inspire others to follow.

Photo credit: New Line Cinema

Love-Hate

 

November 12, 2015

Dear fellow travelers,

I confess I have a lot of love-hate relationships in my life right now. I love when the life-waters are calm and the life-sailing is smooth but those feelings turn to  hate as soon as the waves grow larger and the turbulence increases.

I absolutely love to blog when my computer cooperates but when I spend hours writing a post and it disappears…….HATE TIME. I love my microwave when it is installed above the stove and with  the push of a button heats up something yummy but currently I HATE it. Several weeks ago, it began beeping randomly throughout the day causing me to question my sanity. I think it was sending out a secret SOS message to the mother ship about the unintelligent life here. Now it has been removed from the wall and is sitting in the middle of our  floor until my husband lets me take a sledge hammer to it. Definitely Hate , the microwave, not my husband 🙂

I passionately love my Steelers when they play well and hopefully win ( yes, I do expect them to win every game) but on  most  Sundays I hear such hateful, ugly  words coming out of my mouth. My husband could insert lots of comments here but I can’t let him near the keyboard so quickly moving on…….

I love my gym membership. At least I think I love it, I can’t really remember.  I haven’t been there in so long, obviously I am not  in love with it after all. Never mind.

I love the trees in our yard for the shade and the birdie homes they provide throughout the summertime. But now I hate them. How dare they drop all those leaves for me to rake! Grrrrrr

I love my jeans when they can stay zipped-up throughout a meal but usually I hate them because they are cutting into my extra roll of tummy and the zipper must come down  (see above  gym membership).

I have the luxury to change my mind and move in and out of lovehate relationships. Sometimes silly relationships.

What about people? Am I always loving? Do I sometimes hate? To be honest, yes I do. I have hated. That is an ugly thing to confess. I can be full of love but also very full of hate.

I have just finished reading through the book of John in my yearly goal to read through the Bible.  This means I have read through all 4 Gospels which means I read about Jesus’ willingness to die a horrible death on the cross for me 4 times. I have read 4 times about His arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial and resurrection through the inspired words of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. That is hard to read and attempt to comprehend one time, but 4 times is beyond humbling and sickening.

Through it all, Jesus is all Love-Love. Through the bogus trial and false accusations- Love. Through the brutal beatings and inhumane crucifixion – Love. And that Love was for me, then and now. What He did then, was out of Love for me now.  I continually offer  Him countless reasons to turn away from me and even hate me:   when I am disobedient,   when I sin, and when I turn my back on Him.   But LOVE, was His response then and now  He is all Love-Love. All the time.

For God so Loved the world…..