Imperfect People

Imperfect People in love with a perfect God

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Imperfect People - Imperfect People in love with a perfect God

This is a little…uncomfortable

I used to hear preachers talk about “getting uncomfortable” and to be honest I didn’t like it.  Why wouldn’t God want me to be comfortable?  I like being comfortable.  I like predictability, I like stability, and I like warm fuzzy socks.

I am in this weird place I don’t know how to describe.  I read books like, Kisses from Katie where a 19 year old girl left EVERYTHING she knew to be comfortable and lives in Uganda.  She is now 22 and mother to 13 once orphaned little girls.  I hear stories of friends who just last week returned from Honduras where they saw countless houses made of magazines, and scrap wood with no electricity and plumbing.

I see pictures like this:

I read radical too and that probably didn’t help.

It cost $20 a quarter to send a Ugandan child to school (including their meals).  Yet that cost is 4 times the cost of their electricity or plumbing which many of them can’t afford anyway.  Lack of education just continues the cycle of poverty.

We can spend more than $20 going out to eat for ONE meal!

It just makes me, well, uncomfortable ya know?

I love nice things as much as the next girl.  I don’t think smart phones are sinful, and I love our home.

But I just can’t help but see things differently.  It is uncomfortable.  It would be much easier to ignore.  I don’t see poverty around me everyday.  I don’t personally know any starving children.

And I think that’s the problem.

I have heard it said it is not that we don’t care about the poor, it is that we don’t know them.  Just this glimpse from books and stories from missionaries makes me WANT to know them more.

But it’s messy helping the poor.  They need soo much, some need more than you can give, some are looking for handouts, and some are dirty.  It isn’t always safe, some have disease and some are unkind.

But God doesn’t just ask us to help if we have nothing else to do, He commands it…of all of us.

As Katie Davis said, “I am not afraid of disease or death, I am much more afraid of being comfortable.”

I guess I am seeing through all of this that comfortable isn’t such a great thing after all.  A restless hunger to do more to the least of these isn’t comfortable.  From the small amount I have experienced helping, it is pretty messy and time consuming too. But it is so much better than staying comfortable.

Part of me wants to sleep on the floor and skip meals out of guilt, but I know that solves nothing. 

Lord, break my heart until it moves my hands and feet.  Open my eyes to see your love for ALL people.  May I worry less about being comfortable and more about being used by the King of the universe to do great things. 

I can’t change the world, but I can start with one.  Making a difference for ONE person…can change that person’s world.

Mannequins make great models

Today is a guest post from Cecila.  She is a missionary in Haiti and is an amazing writer.  She is sharing her post today about feeling “imperfect” and it is BEAUTIFUL!  I hope you enjojoy!

It must be lovely to be a mannequin; to be perfect in every way and to never have to struggle with emotions.

Sometimes it’s typical to think that missionaries have this “all together”, “picture perfect”, “I’m-working-for-God”, “queue the angelic music” kind of life.

Contrary to popular belief, we experience;
doubt,
fear,
loneliness
and anger.

There are times, when we feel so alone, the lizard on the wall seems to be our only companion. We look at the little creature, and in all of our loneliness, we talk to it (don’t worry, this doesn’t happen a lot). We get pissed to the point where we yell at the coconuts hanging on the tree for not falling (or falling). We get tired of having to communicate in a language other than our own. We look at the fellow to which we are trying to explain something and start to blab in English (yeah, it’s kind of awkward).

We have days when we ask ourselves why are we in a third world country – where showers are cold and bathrooms are scarce. Why are we in a country whose currency can be counted in two ways (gourdes and Haitian dollars) and the electricity is never consistent; in a place where everything takes two times longer and is usually done backwards. We ask ourselves these questions and sometimes feel a tad bit clueless and somewhat confused. These feelings and emotions aren’t something that disappear as one mounts on a plane to enter the mission field, in search for the will of God. We have no halo, we carry no wings.

We are humans (in a foreign country), trying to conquer the mass of arrows and darts life throws at us. We are humans who have experienced the Grace of God on our lives. This Grace, so intense, so pure, so precious that we can’t help but share it with others. And we seek to spread it. This is why we do what we do. Far from perfection and still learning to deal with our vast array of emotions we look to hold the orphan, shelter the parent-less and teach those who would otherwise never get an education.We give of the Grace that was so freely offered to us.

Oh! To be a perfect little mannequin would indeed be ideal, but then I would never have the ability to receive this wonderful Grace and participate in his perfect purpose.

Thank you Cecilia!  You are wise beyond your years!  Please feel free to check out her personal blog or her families blog and see what a cool difference they are making in Haiti.

Jesus needs a better advertising campaign

The Barna Group, a respected Christian survey organization, recently asked young people to identify which perceptions they most strongly associate with Christianity. The three most commonly agreed-upon were: anti-homosexual, judgmental, and hypocritical.

Westboro Baptist church has made headlines with their “God hates fags” philosophy where they protest soldiers funerals.  Also making headlines are abortion clinics being bombed & protests for nearly everything under the sun.

At almost every event with a large crowd you can find “the megaphone man” yelling about hell and eternal damnation. 

All in the name of Jesus?? 

If this is the Christianity the world sees than no wonder many people are not interested. 

My dear friend Katelyn posted this awesome quote:

I have decided to stop letting political and religious organizations represent me on the issues. I have decided to represent myself, and in so doing I hope to accurately represent Christ.

-Mike Foster “Unchristain”

Dear friends, Forgive us. Forgive us for the embarrassing things we have done in the name of Jesus.

 

We are imperfect people for sure.  Our attempts to model Jesus are clumsy at best.  He calls us, imperfect and broken, to transform us so we are no longer the same.  We just don’t always leave the old us behind. 

Please don’t reject Christ because of Christians.  We are still trying to wrap our head around the God of the universe wanting to make disciples out of us. 

Despite our misrepresentation, Jesus was a pretty amazing guy. 

He was the preacher of all preachers yet you could find him dining with some of the worst “sinners” of his day.  Mark 2:15

He was the King of all the universe yet he was born to regular people in a palace no wait, a manger.  Luke 2:7

He deserved servants and crowns, yet he washed his disciples feet. John 13 1-17

He is the only one that was or ever will be worthy of all the fame and fortune of the world, yet he was a servant. Mark 9:35

He spoke love into the people no one loved. John 4

He would touch those no one else would touch. Mark 1:40-45

He did nothing wrong, but he never tried to defend himself. John 18:28-38

He could have had a thousand Angels come to take his place on the cross, but he took mine instead.   John 19:28-30


 I want to invite you to consider that maybe the televangelists and street preachers are wrong — and that God really is love. Maybe the fruits of the Spirit really are beautiful things like peace, patience, kindness, joy, love, goodness, and not the ugly things that have come to characterize religion.

-Shane Claiborne


The Jesus I know is turning the world upside down with his love.  The less I get in the way the better he can “advertise” through me. 

Have you ever witnessed a not so great “advertisment” for Jesus?

-Katie

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Rich People problems

US and Canada represent 5% of the world’s population but almost 30% of the world’s wealth.  Africa is home to double the world’s population yet only 1.5% of the world’s wealth. (source)

Yet when polled, 98% of American’s considered themselves NOT rich. 

Rich is a moving target one that apparently only 2% of Americans (the richest countries in the world) feel they ever reach. 

If you were to ask me if I were rich I would have said no…but I think I had a perspective problem. 

From Craig Groeschel’s book “weird” he met a young man who heard “stories” of rich people that lived like this:

“There are some people who are so rich, they own a car!  I think it’s only 3 to 5% of people in the world so not many, but some people are so rich, they own TWO cars!  Some of these people even have a house for their cars!  It’s called a garage, …then they get in their cars and they eat at restaurants, they are so rich they pay other people to make their food and serve it to them!…Some of these people are so rich they have special rooms in their home just for their clothes!  Nobody sleeps in there, only clothes on hangers and shelves like a store.  Some are so rich they have a closet for the man and for the woman.  Clothes for hot weather, cold weather, some for work, some for church.  It’s crazy! “

What’s crazy is how blind I have been to how MUCH I have compared to how little so many others have. 

What’s crazy is how I sit here in my comfy pajamas and type on my computer, the hum of the TV in the background, a full belly, and pretend I don’t have it made!!

I am realizing how BLESSED I am and thinking twice before I complain about ANYTHING.   I am shifting more toward living in gratitude instead of want. 

Here are some things I could be prone to complain about lately:

  •  I backed my husband’s car (because we have two cars) into the side of the garage (because we have a garage).
  • I can’t decide what to wear because I have so many choices! 
  • And my house could use another de-cluttering.  Because we can afford “clutter.”

 

 

I will take these “problems” any day over not knowing where I will sleep or if I will eat tonight.


Check out Rich Word Problems.  It’s a blog dedicated to all the humors stuff we complain about like:

  • I lost my phone and it’s on silent
  • I just updated my status with important news, one hour later, no comments. 
  • My computer is operating at least 1 second slower that it did yesterday.   
  • I just got used to the old facebook and then they changed it again!

Let’s encourage each other to live in gratitude and laugh at all of our “rich people problems.”

We have a LOT to be thankful for.

What is something silly you have complained about lately?  

Redeeming Halloween

Costumes and trick or treating, and ghosts and ghoul everywhere. Where did it come from?  Am I a bad Christian if I want to join the party?  I did a little homework and here’s what I found out:

Halloween has a questionable past no doubt, but so do I so I’m not one to judge. :)

It dates back to the medieval times with the Celtic people marking the change of the light of summer to the darkness of winter when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.  Apparently a lot of people died this time of year so there was much symbolism in warding off death. 

You can also trace the origin of Halloween back to the Christian tradition of celebrating the lives of Christian martyrs on the anniversaries of their deaths. Pope Gregory  dedicated a chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica to “all saints” on November 1.  This became All Saints Day, otherwise known as All Hallow’s Day. The night before became All Hallow’s Eve.  Hence the name Halloween. 

As Christianity moved through Europe the two collided. The organized church would commonly move a distinctively Christian holiday to a spot on the calendar that would directly challenge a pagan holiday. The intent was to counter pagan influences and provide a Christian alternative. But most often the church only succeeded in “Christianizing” a pagan ritual–the ritual was still pagan, but mixed with Christian symbolism. That’s what happened to All Saints Eve–it was the original Halloween alternative! (source).

What to do? Mark Driscool suggests at every holiday we must choose to Reject it, Embrace it, or Redeem it.

 

Rejecting it won’t change anything, or anyone.  Embracing it makes us just like the world, so I vote we Redeem it!  And here are a few fun ideas to help!

  • Download this cute pumpkin carving for FREE!  For every stencil downloaded, Better Homes and Gardens will donate $2.00 to The Humane Society, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Rebuilding Together, and  March of Dimes up to $5000.00 per charity! Thanks Graceful home!

 

  • Reverse trick or treat.  Our church does a really cool thing with the children’s ministry where they go to lower income neighborhoods and give out candy and toys and just play with the kids. 
  • Give fair trade candy.  “Candy with a conscience” they call it.  The chocolate industry is one of the most corrupt.  I am probably not going to win a lot of friends by saying that but check into where your candy comes from.  If not fair trade, Mars or Nestle products are good choices.  They voluntarily provide child labor-free chocolate. Hershey, not so much.
  • Spend time with your family.  Do something fun and “fall-ish” together.  Lots of ideas here.
  • Dress modestly.  I’m not one to grow my hair long and strictly wear long skirts but seriously ladies, you are God’s precious daughter and way to beautiful to wear “costumes” that are so skimpy. 

* Update.  Great comments on this one! 

 

  • Jamie suggested redeeming Halloween by taking advantage of the huge opportunity to minister to the community while the neighborhood is out and about, coming right to our door. On the one night that everyone comes to me, I don’t want to have my lights turned out. We are also redeeming the Holiday this year is by taking our youth ministry trick or treating for canned food for the homeless shelter

 

Evil spirits are no more active and sinister on Halloween than they are on any other day of the year.  But “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

 

 

 

What do you think about Halloween?  What are your plans this year?

What does God look like?

We all have different images in our head of what God looks like.  I used to picture God as an old man with a long beard throwing lightning bolts.  Anybody else with me on this one? 

But then I read his love story to us, the bible, and I read, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:12

“God is LOVE” is mentioned in one form or another 48 times in the bible.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.  If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth 1John 3:16-18

We recently had a family DONATE A CAR to another member of our church.  It was an anonymous donation and they didn’t receive any form of payment or recognition.  In this I see what God’s economy should look like.  When Christians share their resources. 

I am privileged to be friends with a family who just went on an overseas mission trip.  They worked in an orphanage in Haiti, they fell so in love with an 8 year old little girl they are currently seeing lawyers, and saving up money to adopt this little girl into their family.  In this I see God’s love for ALL children. 

I read about this couple who walked through infidelity and a marriage falling apart.  After viewing the passion of the Christ the husband said, “How could I not forgive her, when I have been forgiven of so much?”  They are now doing well and blog about their journey.  In this I see God’s forgiveness of all my wrongs. 

A family that has been kind enough toshare their story in this place, grew tired of spending all their time keeping up with the status quo.  They sold all of their belongings and travel the country in their new home, a RV.  Their sole purpose is to minister to people and spread love.  In this I see God loves people much more than stuff. 

If Jesus is all he claims to be then we loose NOTHING when we give it all away. 

I don’t know what God looks like, but I get a pretty good idea when I see his people, created in HIS image, BE the body of Christ.  Working, serving, giving, and sharing not for their benefit, but because the Jesus they serve would have done the same thing. 

Share your thoughts.  How have you seen God lately? 

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What Christianity is NOT

Christianity is NOT:

What you wear to church on Sunday
Who you know
Where you are from
What church you did or didn’t grow up in
Pretending
A denomination
A pastor
A magic prayer
A ritual
A megaphone yelling about eternal damnation
A club
A church
Money
How perfect you seem or don’t seem
What you have or haven’t done
It is not hate.  It is the opposite of hate
It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship
It’s more than a relationship it is Love on a completely new level.  It is a love that says no matter who you are, where you are from, what you have done, or who you have done it with, you are perfect.  You are whole, you are new again, and you are mine.  I am so in love with everything you do.  You are perfectly imperfect and I love you. 

It’s a transformation that takes place within in us.  We are no longer just a more shiny apple but transformed into an orange!  Our old selves die in the baptismal waters and the new self is here to bring glory to our father!   

Father forgive us for making it so complicated.  You gave your son because you loved us so much…even when we didn’t deserve it. 

Realizing the amazing, self-less, sacrificial, BIG, romantic, and inspiring love that only you can show us…and loving you back…that is what Christianity is about. 

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Community gardening: how to make a difference

Community gardens are coming up everywhere.  Typically community gardens take an area that was once abandoned or an eye sore and transform it into a beautiful and edible addition to the community.   As if that wasn’t a good enough reason, community gardens also stimulate social interaction, beautify an area, and even reduce crime!

Our local branch of Keep America Beautiful did a really cool community garden at a local nursing home.

The residents loved it, it encouraged community,and it provided free organic healthy food!  We are currently working on doing one for the local food bank too woo hoo!

My friend Megan has been talking a lot about community over at one of my favorite  blogs: Sorta Crunchy.

We all have talents, skills, or know how that others in our community need.  I have a friend that is an AMAZING cook, me…not so much.  But I can make stuff grow and her…not so much (although she does better than she gives herself credit)  So I grow it and she cooks it…PERFECT!!

If you are a gardener and wanting to make a difference in your community your local KAB is a good place to start.  It’s also a good place to volunteer to learn more about gardening too!  Great American Clean up is coming up, the perfect time to start a community garden!

I’ll be doing a Q&A tomorrow to close out our week of “cheap and easy gardening for the rest of us”  Leave a comment about any of your gardening questions you would like answered!

Fair Trade? What? Why? Who cares?

I’m going to spend this week talking about Fair trade. With Christmas just around the corner and a whole lot more buying in general going on I think it is the perfect time to dive into what our dollars support.   

Defined by Wikipedia Fair Trade is a financial relationship between producers, sellers, and consumers on the principle of equity within the exchange of goods. Or in Katie terms…making sure workers are treated fairly to produce the goods you are buying.

I never thought much about it to be honest.  At the store I would find the product I liked and bought it, end of decision.  But after reading Shane Claiborne’s “Irresistible Revolution” and doing some research 

Why bother?

For me?  It’s the whole “love your neighbor as yourself thing.”  I can’t ask my “neighbor” to work a 70 hour week for less than $10 TOTAL so I can buy a pair of athletic shoes for $100 and call it a deal.  It just doesn’t make any sense.

I can’t ask farmers to work in the brutal sun for hours everyday only to have their coffee (tea, chocolate etc.) bought at such a low wage they are forced into poverty.  All the while the farmers product is sold for a much higher price here in America and some corporation is pocketing the difference.

When deciding to buy an item from a superstore to help support a wealthy corporation or buy the same item handmade to help support a girl freed from slavery I choose the latter.

I’ll be the first to admit making sure every product I buy is fair trade can be overwhelming and paralyzing.  I would probably just give up entirely if I put that type of burden on myself.  But baby steps is better than no steps and gradually and collectively we can make a difference.

Yes sometimes fair trade is more expensive.  Being the cheapest…i mean most frugal person you will probably ever meet that is a huge deal.  I am still figuring it all out but I know for certain this is an issue that I just simply can’t ignore.

Please know that I am not trying to push an agenda, boycott anybody, or purchase everything from poverty stricken areas.  I am simply a girl who prays, “break my heart for what breaks yours.”  It’s then that I realize the workers in sweatshops have faces, they have names, and they are Jesus’ children.  These farmers have families, they have dreams just like I do and they deserve to be paid fairly for their labor.  Thank you for joining me as we figure out where our purchases should and should not be made.

“You know someone needs encouragement if they are breathing.”

Truett Cathy said it best, “You know someone needs encouragement if they are breathing.” 

Everyday we are berated with “you can do better, you can be more attractive, you are not quite good enough.”  But noticeably absent from our culture are the efforts made to appreciate each other. 

Positive Reinforcement is a great way to teach children.  Even train your pet.  And while I’m not trying to get you to “train” anyone to do anything I am saying with all the research that a pat on the back goes along way you would think we would do it more often. 

I think being summoned to the bosses office should at least occasionally be a good thing.  Or taking our kids to the side let them know we noticed how well the were sharing and we are so proud of them.

The forgotten art of handwritten notes is a great way to encourage others.  There is something special about going to the mailbox to find a letter with your name on the outside handwritten.  You know its not a bill, it is someone who took the time to sit down, write something special to YOU, pin down your address, and even found a stamp!  Handwritten sticky notes are also very sweet to leave around the house or to place in a work bag, lunch box etc.  My husband is so sweet about doing this before he leaves on trips.  Sweet little sticky notes to find while he is gone. 

But there is also nothing wrong with sending an uplifting email or facebook message.  I try to be sensitive when i notice a certain person keeps coming to mind.  If I know they are going through a hard time I try to make a POINT (because it has to be intentional) to give them a call or just touch base somehow.  I don’t always do it and I often miss the boat but the times I do get it right it is such a blessing to pass on some encouragement. 

I wonder what our world would look like if we actually told each other how much we appreciate each other and did it often. 

Now if you will excuse me I have a long overdue note to send to a friend.