Give Me Jesus

When I rise this morning, to a strangely familiar list of “to-do’s” (oh wait, I did all this yesterday)

1. referee many arguments (you’ve only been awake 10 minutes and your already bickering over something!)

2. make MANY meals

3. Clean up from all those meals

4. Try to wrangle in 4 little people’s attention span so that I can impart some kind of education to them

5. change who-knows-how-many dirty diapers…always right in the middle of the math lesson, or the dinner hour or some other inconvenient time.

6. discipline for all the disobedience’s

7. fight the losing laundry battle

8. catch up on all the chores that I somehow didn’t get to the past several days

My hope cannot be in the accomplishing of tasks, because those tasks will need to be repeated over and over and over again.

But when those tasks become meeting places to meet a LORD who has promised to abide in me as I abide in Him, then that repetitive list of To-Do’s becomes time carved out to commune with my Savior.

So instead of trying to merely wake up before the kids so I can meet with Him…

or rush them through the day to naptime or bedtime so that I can meet with Him…

I invite Him IN.

Into all those moments of harried mess-control, temper-control, child-control…

GIVE ME JESUS.

When I’m sorting, washing, folding clothes, never to have the satisfaction of “getting on top of it”……give me Jesus.

When I have to stop, once more, to discipline that same heart-issue-turned-disobedient-act in my child…..give me Jesus.

When I can’t cook food as fast as it is consumed, but keep chopping and stirring and preparing anyways….give me Jesus.

When I’m changing the 13th nasty poopy diaper of the day…..give me Jesus.

When I’m finally on a roll “accomplishing” something, and have to stop to mend the skinned knee….give me Jesus.

In all the humdrum of many small, seemingly insignificant tasks…give me Jesus.

And when I have HIM in it all…there is a peace, there is a perseverance, there is a joy

that could never come if I was singing through life to the tune of  “Give Me my “To-Do List” “.

Instead, I’ll hum it a thousand times today…

GIVE ME JESUS.

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Joy Dare

A Holy Experience

According to the Joy Dare, if I record 3 gifts a day, every day for a year, I will have communed with the Father over the receiving of One Thousand Gifts by the end of the year. So here is this week’s collection (with some added in because, like I said last week, I’m always behind)
16. Brilliant moonlight reflecting off palm branches
17. Baby boys turned best brothers
18. The budding language abilities in my curly headed toddler
19. Aforesaid curly headed toddler lost in his own imaginary world all.the.time.
20. Baby babble
21. The excitement of bath time for a 9 month old
22. Bike rides
23. A new neighbor-turned-best-friend for my  boy-turned-lad
24. Hours of outside play for my kids
25. Backyard forts
26. The satisfaction of decluttering
27. The ambiance a lit candle brings to a dim room
28. Flickering flames
29. Phone conversations with friends on other continents
30. Crisp fresh apple slices
31. A captive audience for tales being read aloud
32. Little tiny fingers clutching mine
33. A curious baby exploring his world
34. Big brown eyes with so much spirit behind them
35. A toothless grin
36. Hearing the Apostles Creed declared in Korean and English simultaneously, and the privilege of hearing it every week

37. The feeling a good book in one’s hands

38. toothebrushes

39. clean teethe

40. a cool breeze whisping in through the window

41. bittersweet joy of death to self, because fighting to keep self…. makes one miserable.

42. a husband who cooked dinner

43. good preaching

44. going for a run

45. the countless nerves, brain waves, muscles, ligaments and bones that make that run possible

46.  the fact that the brain releases endorphins after exercise

47.sleeping babes, and the quiet of the house at this time of day

Can I just highly recommend this experiment? It put me in a good mood just re-recording these things!

Mirror, Mirror in my Kid–Reflecting All I Said and Did

You might think you’re holy (or at least close)… and then God will give you kids.

And you might think you’re pleasantly being sanctified by those infant months when you have to “give” a little to a new cute bundle of joy.

And then you might be a bit more broken and needy for wisdom, when they hit the terrible twos.

And THEN, you will be utterly disgusted by the sin habits that emerge in those little ones, as they grow, develop, and become

MIRRORS.

When I’m utterly exhausted by the complaining spirits over the meals I make, or the chores enforced, or the reading time logged in, I start to wonder WHY everyone is complaining so much and see what a drain my lack of gratitude is to my Maker.

When I’m annoyed at my oldest trying to manipulate his way by begging and prodding, I see a bit tarnished mirror of what I put my father through oh so many years ago.

When I am exasperated by “random act of violence” committed by my three year old to whomever is in her path, I have to wonder has my roughness towards her at times stemmed this? Has she learned that this way of acting out is the only way to get mommy’s attention, negative though it is?

When everyone is tense and at odds with each other, I have to wonder, “Have I set the tone for this?”

When I hear loud outbursts between siblings, they sound oh-so-painfully-familiar,  I know they are mimicking such outbursts from the one leading them.

When my usually helpful and compliant little girl starts to get that a look of hardness towards me in her eye, I always know its a sure sign of having lost her respect (usually from my own anger outbursts towards them, followed by self-righteous, self-justification over why I got angry)

When my two year old boy is screeching over his different needs, but then melts into tears saying “Hole me. Hole me.”, I see how in my rushing from one activity to the next, I have missed the most importantly activity-cuddling, loving, and holding close my rapidly growing boy.

When you have children,      you    can’t     hide.

You have mirrors always present to reflect what is in your heart as it comes out.

And God saw fit to fill our home with five of them

reflecting EVERY ANGLE.

So when life and spirit and heart are so vividly on display,

with fear and trembling, one’s day must begin on one’s face before the God who calls Himself Love.  (I John 4:8)

one’s soul must be filled up with the all-satisfying Living Water (John 7:35)

and one must clothe himself with the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14)

because anything else that is reflected is just, well, ugly.

And those mirrors need to see a humility quick to confess (over and over again) one’s failure and need of the Saving Grace that covers it all.

May this poor, ugly mamma die, and may the resurrected Living Lord LIVE with in her

That she might reflect His beauty,

and these five little mirrors might reflect HIS Spirit.

The Joy Dare

I’m always a bit late…in everything I do. Whether it be meeting you at the park for a playdate, getting a blog post up, or getting on the Ann Voskamp bandwagon. I read her book, A Thousand Gifts, last spring after a very dark time of being exhausted by the little soul I was growing within, and the daunting task of raising and educating four small ones. The book had a huge impact on me, and I began recording the gifts the Lord was giving me each day. Then…it…fizzled…out…at around #297. But raising now five little ones and the unending housework (as soon as I get one thing done, 10 little hands have undone about 30 things-they work so much more quickly than I do), and the barking of orders I do, and the complaining spirits that I butt heads with (it simply couldn’t be a mirror image, could it?), all make one, well, weary. And if I’m not proactively counting the blessings, the complaints in heart and mind take over like weeds-crowding out the fruit bearing growth.

So here I am, to start the Joy Dare, and start my list over again…because these precious lives that I’m called to love and disciple, get hidden behind the veil of the never ending to-do list and the daunting task of maintaining some order in this chaotic and full home. And, because, I truly believe Scripture when it says, “Children are a heritage from The Lord, offspring a reward from Him” (Psalm 127:3) I want to RECEIVE all the reward they are RIGHT NOW. I want that Matthew 18 kind of living- like a child always trusting, always receiving and enjoying in wonder and awe the world set before them. After all, I will never enter the Kingdom of God unless I become like them. So, here I am to receive the gifts and record them, because I KNOW they are there, I just often don’t unwrap them.

So, here. we begin the thrill of seeing life in view of God’s goodness towards us…
1. The Gift of the YMCA childcare offering me a few moments of clarity to write this

2. The loving, generous big brother who made membership to the YMCA possible

3. Windy days and the surge of a gust whisking my breath away

4. Children to enjoy the wind with

5. Sunshine, ever faithful to brighten the day…and my heart

6. The state of Florida, and its clos(er) proximity to the equator

7. the slow content breathing of the sleeping babe cradled close

8. a sweaty, curly head of my baby-now-boy resting against my shoulder

9. being married to my best friend

10. my handsome boy-turned-lad flicking his blonde,overly-long locks out of his eyes so he can work on his project

11. jeans, folded up at bottom with anticipation of the ever-stretching legs to fill eventually  (reminds me of The Sandlot)

12.  A curly headed three year old preaching the Gospel to her mamma, after such mamma confesses her sin of losing her patience

13. warm, milky chai

14. the human soul, and its desire to connect with it’s Maker and others

15. little girls busy at work putting away groceries (even if its not very organized)

A Holy Experience

Meeting Him on the Water

The waves are crashing all around, while the secure boat feels safe against their surge. But then you spot, in the distance, an Image that beckons you. The figure that you have grown to love and adore asks you to meet Him out where there is nothing firm to stand upon, or so you think. “Is meeting Him worth the risk?” You sigh, and begin to get out of the boat. The risk will be taken, if the thrill of seeing Him up close is the sweet reward.

You can’t truly see Him show up, unless you get out.

And get out, we did, this Christmas.

And SHOW up, HE did.

Scheduled for this Christmas season, were Christmas clubs each Friday afternoon, a week long visit from Eric and Sara-Beth and their four children, during which, Danny’s other sister, Martha and her one year old would be staying with us (in case you need help doing the math- thats five adults and a 7,6,5, 4, two 3, two 2, 1 and 8 month year olds in our home! Joyful chaos is what we like to call it.) All in addition to extra Christmas outreaches at OKPCA, where Danny is a part time pastor, plus all the Christmas shopping, cooking, and baking needing to be done. As soon as those guests left, we were scheduled to host international students again.

The coordinator of the ministry we have been involved with for the past three years here in Orlando called me up to work on placing some students in our home. I had told him previously that we would be willing to take whoever was the hardest to place.  He had a Korean family of four who would be hard to place because the unit was so big.  I told him “yes” with slight disappointment in my heart.  Why? Not because it was a unit of four, although that would indeed make for a full house. But rather because the mom and three girls had marked “Christian” as their religion on their application for the program.  I was very glad they were Christians, but my heart beats for people that don’t yet know Christ as their Savior.  Last year’s thrill of sharing the Gospel with people who had never heard the Word of God or the Savior which it proclaims was still fresh in my heart.  “I guess we won’t get that joy this year….” I think as I agreed to take the family.  Despite the surface disappointment, I knew that if I just said “yes” and got out of the boat of my expectations, I would meet my Savior out on that water. And there is nothing sweeter than stepping out, and seeing Him show up and show OFF His beautiful handiwork.

The first little detail He took care of was their arrival.  The Nolls had JUST left and so many sheets and towels needed washing, floors needed mopping (you should have seen all the dirt those 30 feet tracked through our house), and bathrooms needed cleaning.  I was on a push to get things done WHILE keeping five children occupied, watching the time tick away quickly while the To-Do list did NOT tick so quickly.  Then I got word that their flight would be arriving late, and had 4 more hours to work before they arrived!  Thank you, Lord, for showing up, and taking care of this tiny need-to be ready for their arrival!

Then I got to meet my the family and it turns out it was a mom, Juyeon, her two daughters (9 and 11 years old), and her niece (16 years old) who had flown to visit them during her winter break.  As we talked about the upcoming schedule of events (including activities at our Korean Church), Juyeon asked, “My niece is Buddhist.  She has never been to a church before.  Is it still OK for her to come to church if she is Buddhist?”.  Is. it. OK…..My heart began to soar! “You mean she doesn’t know anything about Jesus?”  “No, not really.” was the reply. Jesus knew the desire of my heart, and He met me there.  I WOULD still get to be sharing with someone who had not yet even heard of the good news of Jesus!  Katherine (the niece) drank in everything while we were at church, and asked lots of questions.  She received a Jesus Storybook Bible from us for Christmas, as a follow up to what she had heard us read to the kids at family devotions during the evenings.

Then Juyeon (whose English was incredible) and I had wonderful conversations AS SHE HELPED ME CLEAN THE KITCHEN (more on that in a minute) she said she was so impressed that Danny led us in family worship each night, and she thought it was so good for her girl’s to see the father taking that role. She confided in me that her husband was not a believer, and how she longs for her life to be a witness to him.  We talked like kindred spirits over the struggle to live LOVE all the time and that we so often fail, and lose our patience.  We spoke of letting Christ live in us to the degree that HE is the one who lives, handles the conflict, and is the witness through our hands and feet and mouth and ears.  We even had prayer time together for her witness to her husband and for her girls to grow to know and love the Lord.  Throughout the week, she had so many questions for me…about why we have so many people live stay with us/come over, why we have so many children, why we work at a Korean church, etc.  I think she was amazed at our lives, which seem so “normal” to us. It was a joy to share that it wasn’t ME, anything good or challenging she saw in our lives, was due to the Power and Grace of Jesus living in us.

About the cleaning thing…Juyeon was just like the wonderful Korean women at my church…Always busy working on something, washing dishes, and tidying up.  She asked “Is it OK to do this?  It just feels natural to me.”  I’m not one to argue over that due to my own pride…I’ll take all the help I can get!  I couldn’t believe it. She made my week and a half with them even easier than when it’s me by myself with my kids – just another way of Jesus showing up and carrying what would have been a huge burden.  Beforehand, I had no idea how I would keep up with everything…my own children and the messes they make plus extra people at meals and more hospitality on Christmas day…but I had known that when saying “yes”, God would take care of those details somehow-and He did in Juyeon’s helpful spirit)

THEN, my least favorite part about hosting the students at Christmas is being down in the kitchen by 6:45 am to fix them breakfast, get them fed, and then get them out the door by 7:30 so they can go on their Disney excursions.  But the night they arrived, Juyeon said to me, “I hope you don’t mind, but I brought noodles for our breakfasts because my girls are picky eaters.  Is it OK if I just fix them their breakfast each morning?”  What?!?  Jesus showing up again and taking care of the details…

The first half of Christmas Eve, they attended a conference in which the Gospel was shared- it was Katherine’s first time having the full Gospel shared with her. They arrived back home, we had dinner and started getting ready for our Christmas Eve “Service”  (Korean style, is to do a talent show, where each small group does an act or a song, and then we close with a candlelight singing time).  Danny was going to be rapping for it and the kids were in a couple of acts, and shot-in-the-dark, I asked our Muslim housemate,Nader, if he wanted to come.  We have asked him numerous other times to go to church with us, and he never does, so I didn’t have much expectation of him doing so.  BUT faithful Juyeon, says, “Yes! Yes! You need to come with us, we will all go together and it will be so much fun.”  Low and behold he decides to come with us 20 minutes before we leave!  THEN half the acts and songs are in Korean, so Juyeon is faithful translating things for Nader.  A little kids Christmas play of the story of Jesus’ birth with the Scripture of each scene up on the screen in Korean AND English-Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem, Jesus being born, the angels appearing to the shepherds, and the wise men coming to worship Jesus-led to alot of question and answer on Nader’s part.  In the past he has said “Muslims believe in Jesus too-that he was a great prophet” but he knew so little about Jesus’ background and his birth so we were a bit noisy explaining everything during the play, but so thankful for the opportunity. Only Jesus could have coordinated a woman from Korea getting a Muslim guy from Libya to go to a Korean Christmas Eve Service in America, to be a place where this American family could explain more about Jesus’ coming. Jesus shows off in extravagant ways out there on the water!

Then Christmas morning was SUCH a joyful time together.  Our guests and Nader experienced “Christmas” complete with “Joy to the World”, a reading of Luke 2, and massive amounts of presents** being opened for the very first time.  **(Did I mention that right after I agreed to host the four Korean students, someone anonymously sent us a $200 gift card to Target (THANK YOU to whoever it was, if you are reading this), which in turn paid for the stocking stuffers for the ELEVEN stockings I had to shop for and fill. )  Everyone had a such a wonderful time opening things, and I just loved seeing Nader’s and the Korean student’s reactions when I have gifts for them to open and they weren’t expecting it.  (Must be how God feels as I received gift after gift of seeing Him work and coordinate events this Christmas season)

After presents and Christmas brunch, our house looked like a tornado had hit it, and we were having two guys from Egypt and a guy from Iran(who now will be moving in with us in February) for Christmas dinner.  Again Juyeon came to the rescue and recruited her girls to set the table, and she herself cleaned up the house, while I was busy in the kitchen cooking.  (Thank you, Jesus, for taking care of the details again!) Then we had a wonderful dinner and a two and a half hour discussion afterwards about God, the Bible, the Koran, the Gospel, Islam, and salvation.  Around our table sat Coptic Christians from Egypt, a former Muslim now agnostic from Iran, a devout Muslim from Libya, three Christians from Korea, a Buddhist from Korea, and then our Christian American family.  You’d better believe we had a LIVELY discussion….but amazingly, even though things got somewhat intense at times, we all ended better friends and blessed to have been challenged by one another’s beliefs (Juyeon’s daughters kept my kids busy playing upstairs with new Christmas toys).  Again we saw Jesus show up around our dinner table, and throughout our conversations, throughout every little detail.  It is a joy to step out, and let Him take care of the logistics.  I just love meeting a LIVING SAVIOR outside the boat.

Our time with the students came to a close with Katherine telling me that she had learned SO much over the week and a half, and Juyeon and I promising to get together up north (she lives in Albany) before she moves back to Korea in a year.  I ended my time with them in awe of God’s goodness, and more inspired to take bold steps of faith, for having seen Him take care of everything, down to who would keep my kids occupied so I could engage hearts from the nation’s around my dinner table.

There is no greater joy than simply showing up, saying yes, getting out of the safety of the boat of my own limitations, and walking on water with a supernatural power that could only come from the One who had created it in the first place.  I’m sold.  I am convinced.  There is no other way to live life but outside the boat…walking towards the Image of the Holy One and meeting Him in the impossible places.

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The Home…Tool or Treasure?

Definitely NOT our home.

Definitely NOT our home.

Those magazines, blogs, and advertisements…they’ll do a woman like me in, if I don’t keep my heart in check.  The standard of neatness, organization, decoration, and perfection they set are so unattainable.  And if that is the kind of standard I abide by in order to welcome people into my home, we’ll live a hermit life.  This internal battle surfaced a few weeks ago…

I was quickly tidying up before I had to go get Daniel Josiah, and the troop of children from his public school who would be gracing our home for Christmas club that afternoon. I was coming off of having my family in town for the week, and hosting nearly 20 people for Thanksgiving.  As I was cleaning, I was quickly noticing how desperately my home needed a deep cleaning.   I was excited  to have the troop of children over, but with the children would come the moms.  What would they think of the smudges on the front windows, the stains on the carpet, the clutter on the bookshelves, and the watermarks on the coffee table, not to mention my two year old’s artwork on the walls and the poorly kept lawn   “Why can’t I keep up with my housework better?”  “What will these moms think of this house, bearing the marks of the many children the live and play here?” “This place is ridiculous!”

But as I wrestled with these internal criticisms, I had to ask, “OK, Kimberly, is your home going to be a tool or a treasure? ”  Is it going to be a trophy that you only show off when it is perfect, so that people will think highly of you for your creative decor and you superb organization?  or is it going to be simply something you use, to bless people and make Christ’s love known in.  When its just a tool, you work on it to keep it functional, and its only a means to an end. Not an end in itself.  And that is where the magazines and ads scream lies at us.

As I searched my heart, and my desires,  I’d much rather have the PEOPLE than the  pristine home. And you generally can’t have both. People produce smudges, and stains, and stepped-on goldfish, and more dirty dishes. But they also produce more joy and laughter and fun and interaction. Not only do we have a lot of  people (mostly little ones) that LIVE  here and make messes here, but we also have a burning desire to invite people into our home with whom we can share the gift of life, and most importantly the Giver of Life. The joy of all the new faces, new personalities, and new cultures we get to experience through continual hospitality far outweighs the physical imperfections that get left behind. If they don’t like to stained carpet, I guess they’ll have to stay home.

And in the meantime, those who don’t mind crunching on a Cheerios every once in a while or the unique wall art , those who DO want to come over, can have a lower standard on what their own homes need to look like in order to entertain guests.  I’m willing to die to self and “nice-home-righteousness”, in order to be real about how messy life can get. I don’t mind being the home which people compare theirs to to make themselves feel better…as long as my home is graced with souls tasting and seeing the goodness of the Lord and salvation found in Jesus.  After all, there is home being prepared for me in heaven, and I’d rather use this temporary home to be a tool to store up my treasures in that place, where it will never spoil or fade.

These types of pictures show up on my phone when little hands get a hold of it.

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