Monday, July 22


I was talking with a casual friend today and we started to talk about ways that we'd like to get involved in our community. She mentioned wanting to help in Sunday school and I said that I'd like to ask if the church had any outreach programs for the homeless and poor. She responded with "Oh, that's your thing?" I laughed and said yeah, I guess it is. She went on to explain her feelings on the subject of helping the homeless and the poor. She said that she'd rather give money to someone selling fruit on the side of the road because she can tell they are trying. But when she gives money to the man on the corner with a cardboard sign, she believes she is only fueling his laziness and his drug problem. Then she said "But I usually still give him money, because, not to be mean, but maybe I'll help them overdose and they'll finally be off my tax money." I was dumbfounded. And speechless. I just kinda shook my head and she said "I know it's probably not the best attitude," and I said "Probably not." I said that even though there are and always will be people who take advantage of programs designed for those who need it, it's really difficult and not even appropriate for us to distinguish between those who truly need it and those who are just taking advantage. And no matter how someone got to the low point in their lives, we should still be helping whenever we can and feel led to.

I understand that everyone has different passions and callings. I know that what speaks to one person's heart doesn't always speak to another person's heart. And that's okay. But in reality, as Christians, what speaks to our hearts should be the same things that speak to God's heart. Across the board. Of course you may have different interests, gifts and skills than I have. You may be skilled in areas that I have never touched, therefor better suiting you for a different area of ministry. Some people come alive when surrounded by many faces and some people thrive more with one on one interaction. These differences in one another are beautiful and amazing and it is so exciting to see what God has gifted in each member of His family and how He wants to perfectly orchestrate and match us with an area to serve Him. Together we are complete. But our hearts should be on the same page.

I have prayed for years that God would break my heart for what breaks His, although I think I've only meant it recently. And once I genuinely begged Him to stir my heart, He complied. Boy oh boy...did He comply. I laid in bed last night, just aching. My heart has been aching for a while but last night it all came to a head. Her words pierced through my heart...and not because I was so shocked because of their sentiments are shared by many. The fear, the hate and the cold hearts towards the poor and the finally broke me. I laid in bed and I just couldn't stop the hot burning in my eyes until my face was wet with tears. And I actually prayed that I didn't know it would actually really hurt this bad. I thought of Leah, the woman we shared coffee and soap with in the park, and I thought of the man with the dog, the veteran, the African American who assured my kids he wouldn't hurt them, Sky the man who hugged us, David, the guy who was clearly a little off, but flabbergasted that we were even talking to him, Lydia and her friend who asked why we weren't afraid of them, Steven, Daniel and Maria, and Brant, who we met by the grocery store a couple days ago. He is not homeless, but very poor. He and his wife Brandi can't seem to keep a job and have three kids ages 2, 8 and 10. He was out begging for $73 to keep their utilities on. These faces and names are burned into my mind and heart and knowing that so many of us scurry past them, clutching our purses tighter and holding our kids closer, refusing them money for their "drug habits," this is starting to really break my heart. I didn't anticipate that. It always made me sad and feel kinda bad, but last night it actually hurt.

I highly suggest not really praying that prayer unless you are ready, because apparently God's heart breaks hard. For His children....all of His creation. And to be honest, it is discouraging when you start to realize just how steep this uphill battle it. I am not going to solve this crisis on my own....not even with the other thousands of people who care so deeply. And when you see how many more thousands of people just simply do not care, or worse, are hardened to the lowest of our society, it starts to feel overwhelming. Jesus came and taught us to reach out to others, to help the hurting. Not after a drug test or a mental competency interview, but to love them because God loves them and us oh so much.

So today, I (somewhat reluctantly) am praying for God to continue to give me eyes like His and break my heart for what breaks His. And now, along with praying for the people around the world who are hungry or hot or cold this morning, I am realizing that some of the most very "blessed" people are the ones who really need prayer. Prayer for their eyes to be opened, for the hearts to ache, for their callousness to be worn away. The life that Jesus wants for His children is so full, so abounding. I am not talking about tangible blessings, but rather He imagines a life where our hearts are bursting with love for our neighbors, not just our blood relatives. Where we are ministered to by the widow around the corner, where the single mother desperately trying to make end meet can show us God's love. He wants us to look into the eyes of the desperate, the hurting, those grasping at life and those who are giving up on it and He wants them to see His face in ours and even more, He desires that we see Him in their faces. Jesus spent His time with the marginalized, the sick, the most wretched of humanity. He wandered with no home, constantly going against the grain of society in order to reach those in the shadows. And I believe He has called us to do the same.

Saturday, July 20


I believe that God speaks to us all in different ways. We don't all hear God in church, or on the beach at sunset, or in signs and clues laid out for us like a scavenger hunt. And we definitely don't all hear from God in our dreams. I especially do not. My dreams are usually sourcing from a funky dinner eaten too late the night before or when I'm pregnant. My dreams get really crazy when I am with child. But the other night, my dreams were pretty interesting. And I am most definitely NOT with child. But before I share my dreams with you, let me back up just a tad. 

I've had at least three or four conversations in the past couple of weeks about one silly little thing. You see, I am definitely not a hoarder, but I am a saver. I am frugal. Waste not, want not, I tend to wave it around like a banner. I have been going through my kids' clothes and sorting the ones that they have outgrown, the ones that are just worn out and the ones that are too big. I always keep clothes that are in good condition for the younger siblings and generally only get rid of clothes completely when the younger two have grown out of them. And even then, I have a treasure box filled with sentimental clothes that will someday grace my grandchildren. After all of my sorting and organizing, I have about seven LARGE boxes and totes filled with clothes and shoes that will someday fit my kiddos and I have two boxes filled with clothes that I'd love to see my grandbabies in. 

So the conversations I've had have been about this nagging little feeling that I shouldn't be keeping all these clothes for my kids to wear "someday." My well meaning friends have said that they too save things and suggested that it is wise and being a good steward to keep them, because I won't have to buy new clothes later. And which point in the conversation I mention that the verse that keeps sneaking it's way into my heart:

Matthew 6:19
"Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal."

Now, in the past when I have read this verse, I have taken it very figuratively. I have understood it to mean that my focus should be more on saving up my treasures in heaven than here on earth, as in investing in my eternity. Keeping my relationship with God in a good spot and so on. But for some reason, now I have this nagging voice that is pointing out that Jesus actually says not to save up things that MOTHS can destroy. Hmmm....I wonder if my boxes upon boxes of clothes qualify?

I also had a tiny thought that me saving these clothes shows a lack of faith on my part. Stick with me, I'm not grasping at straws here, but really, think about it with me. I am saving mountains of clothes that nobody is wearing for at least a year, so that I will be prepared when that time comes. But in reality, I am not promised tomorrow and neither are my children. And if we make it to tomorrow, have I so little faith that God will provide for our needs that I save up mountains of clothes just in case? Really, someone probably needs clothes today. And I wonder if God would have my boxes be their provision for today?

Well, since I was still unclear on what God was putting on my heart in regards to this silly little situation, I have kept the clothes. They are still neatly stacked and folded and tucked away. I resolved to pray that God would give me a (more) clear sign as to whether or not to save them. Apparently I am a VERY slow learner. 

Last night I was just about to open my Bible to read before bed when I suddenly remembered my dreams from the night before. Random, huh? I hadn't really thought of them all day, but they came to mind right as I slowed down and started to seek God. The first was a dream about a friend using an incredible gift she has to further God's kingdom. In my dream I saw her face clear as day as she served the least of these, the forgotten children, the abandoned kids in our society, It was beautiful. The second dream was me. Well only my hands, and I was in a closet shuffling through clothes hanging on hangers. This closet just seemed to keep going. Let me assure you, while I am guilty of an abundance of clothes, I do not have the never ending closet. Not even close. But this closet in my dream, it just kept going. And the clothes in it were not all mine. Some were men's, some were small like children's clothes. I got to one particular item and stopped, pulling it out from the others a little bit. It was a soft pink sweater. As I looked closer at the shoulder, I noticed something on it. A moth. A moth actually eating the sweater. I flicked it off and started shuffling through the rest of the clothes. On every single item there were moths, clearly eating our clothes. They were destroyed. 

Again, I am no Joseph, and maybe I'm being dramatic, but I'm pretty sure God just made it very clear to me. How can I justify saving mounds of clothes and shoes, most of which were given to us when we needed them, when there are surely children somewhere who need them now. For me to have excess when others are in need, isn't that in a way, me stealing from them? When will I realize enough? When I realize that I have enough and stop at that point, that is when I will be freed from the burden of stuff. Excess. When I take no more than what I need and share anything beyond that, that is when I am truly free and living the lifestyle Jesus lived and taught. Just enough.  The early church in Acts is described as not having any needy persons among them because they did not keep anything for themselves, but shared all of their possessions with each other. How amazing would it be to be a part of a community like that? Now let's take the dream just a bit bigger and think of how incredible it would be to imagine this on a global level? Christian brothers and sisters sharing everything with one another, around the world, and reaching out and taking care of the needy, the poor and the sick? To share everything until there were no needy persons among us? Of course I realize that my seven or eight boxes of clothes and shoes isn't about to solve world poverty. But it is what I have. And that's really all God asks of us. To give what we have. It has been said that true generosity is not measured by how much we give but by how much we have left. Guilty as charged. 

So those boxes are being moved out. I am praying over them, praying that God leads me to whom they belong. Because it certainly isn't me. God told me. In my dreams. 

Sunday, July 7

Heavy heart

I'm struggling today friends.
My heart feels overwhelmingly heavy.
I feel ready to crumple into a sobbing heap at any moment.
I am trying to figure out exactly why.
 I am still more than a week away from "that time of the month," so maybe I have an extra surge of hormones right now. I have been staying up late and waking up with sun, so I could just need to fall into bed and not get up for a week. I am missing friendship, someone to share a coffee with, invite for a play date, so I could just be incredibly lonely.
But when I actually try to say things out loud, explain verbally what I am feeling, it just comes out:
 I am broken hearted.
For multiple reasons. My sister, who is 26 weeks pregnant, has been in the hospital for five days. She's alone. She has her fiancé there, but he is floundering trying to figure out how to meet her overly emotional and hormonal needs. She is having severe anemia, and her Crohn's disease is out of control, despite best efforts from all the specialists that have seen her. Now they are starting to discuss the possibility of taking the baby early. As in earlier than 35 weeks.
I am so skeptical when it comes to doctor's...I'm that person that has to do hours of my own research before I believe anything they say. Not to say that I'm not thankful for them or that I do not respect their expertise. I'm just wary of modern medicine. What can I say? My sister, she is not. If they told her to balance on a tight rope and juggle water balloons, I think she just may do it. So of course I am nervous that she is there alone, trusting these doctors blindly with her and her baby's well being. But sheesh, she is a grown woman for goodness sake. Why oh why do I feel so protective, so frustrated that I cannot help? She is struggling with so much emotionally and physically, it would bring the strongest person to their knees. And as much as I want to swoop in and take this all from her, I know that her knees is exactly where she needs to be. I want to see her melt into Jesus' arms, to feel His goodness and love washing over her. Pray for her heart, for her soul. Pray with me for my sister, friends.

I am also overwhelmed looking around at the pain, the corruption, the sin. I cannot fathom the things that are cheered on and exploited. There is so much sadness and grief, but the things that we celebrate are just baffling. Life is not embraced, but drowned. Smothered. Oh the joy that is stifled by greed, selfishness. And how easy it is for us to look the other way, to convince ourselves that we cannot help, we are but one tiny piece. Why is it so easy to squeeze our eyes shut tight and deny the truth even when we are all but tripping over it?

I've been preparing to start my seven experiment in August. And with that in the back of my mind, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to ignore the abounding excess I am surrounded with. So my piles are growing. I had a box of women's clothes and shoes, purses and jackets (really, I only need one purse and how many flats and flip flops can I possibly wear??). Kenny kept urging me to take them to goodwill, but I kept feeling a tug to wait for a particular person. So they sat in my entryway for a few weeks. Finally, yesterday, I just couldn't handle it anymore. I threw the piles and boxes in my car and headed to goodwill. After all, what was I expecting, some half-naked women to come knocking on my door asking if I had any extra clothes? Sheesh.

So on our way, I was sitting at a red light and saw a police vehicle with it's lights on parked at a 7-11 that is always busy with beggars and drifters. I nosily gawked, trying to see what was going on, but incredibly I could not see any cops or any unusual activity. I did however, see a frail woman and a man sitting on the curb. The clothes are hers.
I don't know...I thought to myself...she seems a little, well, scary. There's a cop there, what's she gonna do?! Exactly, there's a cop there, I can't take my kids into a scene that could be dangerous.

That was my back and forth arguing with myself. So I drove by and continued on my way. And then, I just didn't. I changed lanes quickly and did a u-turn. When I drove back by, only moments later, the cop was gone, but the couple was still sitting there. The man was staring off into space. The woman was smoking. I used to always say that maybe if homeless people stopping smoking through packs of cigarettes, they'd have some more money for food and water, or a pair of shoes. But I have learned that most of the time, they are picking up used butts on the ground or right out of ash trays. They bum a light off of someone and there ya go. Now I could of course, step up on my soapbox right about now and talk about how unwise and irresponsible smoking is, the health dangers, etc. But really, God has not called me to judge, to point out everyone's wrongs. He's called me to love. To love people like crazy.

So anyway, I pulled up a few yards away from the couple and grabbed the bag of clothes, shoes, jackets and purses. It was more than this couple could carry, I knew that. Street people often have to carry all of their things with them and therefore have to be selective about what they take. There is little safe, public storage available, although some places do offer lockers for a period of time.
I walked up to the couple and said hello and introduced myself. I offered the clothes and the woman exclaimed that she couldn't believe I was bringing clothes. She said she needed some new clothes and shoes and was trying to save up some money to buy some from Goodwill. The closest goodwill to this place was at least four or five miles away. She looked through the bag and admitted it was more than she could carry. I asked if she knew anyone she could pass it on to. She looked at me and said really? Her eyes were big, and sad. I nodded and she hollered at a woman named Lydia to come and see. Before Lydia came over, this woman, her name was Sue, stopped looking at the clothes and looked at me. She asked me why I was doing this. I told her I was on my way to drop them off when I saw her and thought maybe she could use them. She laughed an embarrassed laugh and said, It's that bad? I look that bad that I need clothes? I smiled at her and said we all are desperately in need of something. I told her I was glad I saw her, I'd rather give them to her than to a store to sell. She just kept staring at me. She repeated over and over I just can't believe this. And then she said, why are you so brave? Why are you not scared to come up to us? We look like a mess!
I told her that I wasn't scared and knew that I was supposed to give these things to her. She thanked me and so did the man. I wished them well and told them I hoped I'd see them again soon. Her friend Lydia thanked me also.
As I drove away I thought about her questions. Why? What should I say when people in need ask why I am helping? I wished I had hugged her. I had felt the urge (creepy, huh?) but my fear had stopped me. Then I thought of how she said I was brave. I didn't feel brave. I did feel scared at first. Usually I don't, but the man that was with her was most definitely not mentally "all there." I'm not sure if he struggled with a mental condition or if he was just high as a kite (probably the latter :( ) but it did make me nervous. And then I thought of how when I turned around I found myself singing that 90's worship song "I will trust in you and I will not be afraid!"

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of peace. He has not called us to decide if someone looks worthy of our help, but has just called us to love and help those in need. It doesn't matter how they got there or how long they've been there. They are in a difficult place in their life, and the details don't matter to us. God has put us here to care for these people. His people. The least, the poor, the marginalized. Widows, orphans, vagabonds. God loves them all so much and that's good enough for me. I am so thankful that I heeded God's tug yesterday, that I didn't accept the fear creeping into my heart. That I trusted in His hedge of protection. And I found that woman that I was saving those clothes for. Two women actually. And you know what I realized after I drove away? I had put a Bible in that bag in the very beginning and forgotten to take it out. I hope they find love and peace. I hope they see God's grace and light.

Thursday, June 20

the least

I'm spending a couple weeks visiting my parents out of state. The time has been lovely, enjoying family, free of chores, loads of help with my kids, sunshine and swimming. Such a fun time. And the entire time, my heart is heavy. So very heavy. Weighed down with thoughts of sidewalks, empty bellies, barefoot children, broken roofs and penniless pockets. I asked God to give me His love, His eyes, His heart for people and He has...and it hurts.

My eyes fill with tears with no warning at all. That silent lump creeps into my throat and I am still.
My mind is frantic at times, always searching for a solution. Before my heart speaks up and reminds me: love. Connection. Jesus. Yes, ah yes. That's it.

And so my heart is heavy, because it is weighed down by this love that God has poured into me and commanded that I pour into others. Most especially the forgotten and weak. The outcasts, the hurt and hungry, the sick and suffering, the poor and underprivileged.

I tried to share my heart with my mom and sister over the last couple weeks. I found myself discouraged because we don't all share the same calling. And not that they should. But in the moment, I felt saddened by the separation. And I wondered for a moment or an afternoon or a day if I was wrong. If I was being dramatic. If I was putting words in God's mouth and writing my own story. And I didn't know how to answer these questions. I asked God. And maybe that is dramatic, but really who else could I ask? I begged Him to tell me if I was wrong. To make things more clear to me. To lead my feet, steer my ship.

I fell asleep, a little sad, a little confused, a lot wondering.

In the morning, we headed out early, rushing to beat the midday temperatures of 109 degrees. We were taking the children to explore some fun and typical sights and activities in the area. I glanced at my tires before I buckled tiny little bellies into their seats and saw that one looked noticeably low. We stopped at a gas station on the way out, you know the kind, at the corner of the Baron's center with the Starbucks and the Panera? A nice gas station. And it was closed... so we headed on to the next closest gas station. You know this kind too... at the corner of the boarded up laundromat and the carniceria? A not so nice gas station.

And I pulled up beside the air pump, shook my head at the one dollar charge as I sipped my three dollar drink and wished that I hadn't worn a dress as I crouched down to check and fill my tires. The pump was finicky and taking longer than usual. A gentleman walked over, in worn jeans with a shirt tucked in, a dingy hat that had been cleaned...well, someone had tried to clean it. He had a fanny pack on and a bicycle. A simple band on his ring finger. His skin was weathered, brown and dry. His hair was combed but dirty. His eyes were deep...those eyes you read about in novels. Those gray eyes that house secrets and stories of the ages. His voice was gruff, but kind. He offered to help and to check the rest of the tires too. He gave me a couple tips about driving long distance. My mom came up and offered to buy him a drink. He thanked us and said it wasn't necessary, he was just wanting to make sure we got our tires filled right. He turned his gray eyes to me and explained that he was homeless. The minute I heard that, I felt overwhelmed. My heart felt it would explode and my eyes were stinging as I fought to hold back tears. Of all the people at this busy gas station, God sent this one man to help me. This man who had empty pockets and no roof at all.

And I know. I know this is it. I know that this burden I feel is real. I know that this love I have is from God. I know that this calling on my heart is His voice calling me to love the least. I just know. Maybe it seems ridiculous or dramatic or it just doesn't make sense to anyone else. But in my heart, nothing has ever made more sense.

Friday, June 14


Shortly after Shane destroyed my complacent, easy going, happy-go-lucky mojo, I decided that I am a glutton for punishment and started to read some of Jen Hatmaker's books. All while reading the entire New Testament. You read that right. I read the entire New Testament in three days, devouring every word (probably subconsciously looking for a passage somewhere that would excuse me from these recent...ummm...convictions, burdens, callings, whatever). The New Testament didn't help my subconscious much, but it sure did get my conscious. Verses like:

"But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?" 1 John 3:17

"In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way, we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said 'it is more blessed to give than to
receive.' " Acts 20:35

"Sell your possessions and give to the needy..." Luke 12:33

"He said also to the man that had invited him, 'When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."
Luke 14:12-14

"And he answered them 'Whoever has two coats is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise." Luke 3:11

Friends, I don't know about you, but for some reason these verses have never popped out to me in the way that they are now. I always assumed meeting people's needs meant helping when some poor soul asks for help, or donating to charity here and there. Tithing counts right? I figured He probably wasn't be literal when he suggested to sell everything and to host parties and invite all the poor, sick and homeless. I mean, seriously?

But, now I am starting to think maybe He did. The Bible has hundreds of verses about serving the poor and sick. Yikes.

So between Shane and Jen (her books Interrupted and 7) and God, for crying out loud, I was seriously backed into a wall.

I am so very fortunate. I have so much...all of my needs are met and beyond. It's ridiculous. And when I look around at just my own community, let alone people all over the world, I can't help but feel a pang of guilt. But then, I am overwhelmed, looking around...where do I begin? Should I just call Goodwill and tell them to take everything. Eh, I don't really feel like that's what Jesus is getting at.

What in my life is too much? Well, duh, everything. But where do I begin? How do I trim away the excess and at the same time, fill that space with the Spirit and living and loving the way Jesus commands so that I don't fall back into the same trap of excess?

And cue: 7

Such a fabulous book. Such an incredible experiment. I read it in about a day and a half and then spend another day and a half in tears, praying. I know this is a challenge I need. I know God wants me to try this fast, to learn where I have replaced Him with....stuff. So friends, I am embarking on this challenge. To get rid of the excess in my life, learn to live humbly and simply, more in line with the way Jesus taught Christian life in scriptures, and to draw closer to Him. To leave room in my life for Him to speak to me, to move me, to use me.

I'm super nervous.

So how about it? Anyone read 7? Anyone interested? Anyone want to try the 7 fast?


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