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Month: November 2016

Silence!

Silence!

July 28, 2013 Facebook post

Had the privilege of preaching on 1 Timothy 2:8-15 today….women must remain silent:-) Title was “Keep It in Context.” How I love being an ordained minister of The Salvation Army!

Check it out. I am just an ordinary woman, and God is allowing me to preach His word. The infamous verse about women remaining silent. Used by many a man as a weapon to silence the women in their lives.

This was my pericope throughout training school. Ironically taught by an oppressive character. Nothing is lost on God. He is always teaching.

Confession time. This scripture passage resonated with me because it was me. I loved the limelight. And for all the wrong reasons. Then this depression hit. And I wanted nothing to do with being in front of people. I would purposefully place everyone else on the church bulletin, so as to avoid having to be in front. I was petrified.

God has humbled the holy living heck out of me. I am unsure of myself in this world of helping others all the time. So I have to rely on God that much more.

As I stumble into middle age, I find myself not so concerned with my looks. I still clean up and present well, but I am less absorbed with compulsive fitness regimens. I mean to what end? My husband adores me. I walk nearly every day at least three miles. I eat when hungry. And am learning to stop when full. I am keeping my food down. My body is finding its equilibrium and place of normalcy. Apparently normal is gaining weight specifically in the tummy area. In addition to all this, I had my first two hot flashes at age 43. One thing aging does. It humbles you.

And then God asks me to reach down deeper. I am more than what I do. I am more than what I look like. I am a beloved daughter of The King. Yeah, yeah…what does that mean though? It means I am worth something simply because I exist.

Feces

Feces

August 4, 2014 Facebook post

5 minutes prior to the Holiness Meeting my husband Eric Rudd was mopping up feces…within an hour he was preaching the word of God…there is no job below a CO:)

Isn’t this what we paid the cleaning company to do? Holy cow, what is the world coming to? I grew up with a stay at home mom that still had a maid come in to clean once a week. Mother had it made. She had ample time to smoke her Virginia Slims while sipping on her cream liqueur. This was below us.

God is so funny, isn’t He? Eric has no problem cleaning up fecal matter. He doesn’t look forward to it, but it’s part of the job. Somehow Eric is able to make light of everything. His own coping system I suppose.

God continues to humble us. There is actually no job below us. This truth is presented to me on a regular basis. As a corps officer, all bets are off. I could be asked to literally do anything. This has taken some getting used to for this valley girl. God loves to stretch us far outside our comfort zones. The truth be told. I haven’t been comfortable since I met The Salvation Army.

They Are People

They Are People

September 18, 2014 Facebook post

God’s presence is upon me. A year of struggle. A square
peg in a round hole.

We had 40+ friends at devotions tonight. Our disciples served, listened, loved…in Jesus’ name.
Building relationship.

Learning their stories. Heartbreaking. Yet my heart overflows.

Today, I found true joy in our homeless ministry.

Submission+humility=joy

God was doing a miraculous thing in my life. I was looking into their eyes. I saw that they were people, just like me. Only their brokenness was also on the outside, whereas I wore mine internally.

I remember walking Third Street Promenade with my best friend. I had made sure she was dressed up and looking sharp. We were going to have some fun girl time. And then she started engaging with this homeless lady. I was like, what? Another person besides Eric that does this kind of thing? I wasn’t going to have anything to do with it. I acted appalled because I was frightened. Let me say that again. Sometimes when people are acting put off by all this, it’s because they are deeply afraid. My girlfriend turned me head on and told me that it was important to look into their eyes. They are people Kari. They are people.

Still afraid to fully engage. But giving it my best shot. And then the miracles begin. I make a new friend. I enjoy yet another conversation. I have the opportunity to talk about Jesus with someone. Jesus is ultimately glorified as one of his beloved is treated with dignity and respect. As I submit my will, and humble myself, God grants me His joy.

Gnarly Knife

Gnarly Knife

September 26, 2014 Facebook post

The hubby had a gnarly knife pulled on him last night at program. This is normal for an urban ministry right?

It began as a bible study. No one showed up except a few homeless. You see how I do that. Rather than rejoicing that some people showed up, I say no one. I devalue their worth. This is something I internally battle with every day.

The assailant was high. He had a BIG knife on him. And he was swiping it from side to side at my husband. It looked like a real life drama of West Side Story. Only the knife wasn’t rubber.

Eric and I sat in the house that night. He was a bit shaken up. Now, I was really beside myself. This couldn’t be happening? When I told my therapist, my non-believing licensed clinician with a specialty in eating disorders; she encouraged me to quit. She never really got the concept of the calling. All that to say, I was torn.

Then in conversation with a seasoned officer, she retold the story about how her husband contracted scabies when ministering to the homeless. And how someone at her first appointment got stabbed. Apparently, this wasn’t unheard of. What kind of life had I gotten myself pulled into? This all seemed a bit out of control. Firefighters run into danger. Common every day folks like myself do not. Who did God think he was enlisting here? Eric and I were not made for this kind of drama. We like to read books and drink coffee. You know, really adventurous stuff.

God was really pushing us to our limits. At least mine. He does that, doesn’t He? I am glad he did though. 13 months has passed since the knife incident, and God continues to push us. I am getting used to it. I call them growing pains. I recognize the pain as spiritual growth.

This has become the new normal. As abnormal as life may seem, it feels fine now. Oh, how one adjusts. We still call it all the circus, but it’s entertaining to be sure.

Weakness

Weakness

October 3, 2014 Facebook post

Thank you God in heaven for showing up in my weakness.

There are so many things about this appointment that I am deficient in. I am ill equipped with the ARC men, and running on empty with my homeless friends. Yet, I am seeing them as my flock. As deficient as I feel a times, I am now taking ownership of our congregation.

Still can’t function beyond a week. Still feel bound to this weight that continues to pull me down. At times it feels like a deep abyss. Other days I can see the light. Depression is tangible. Depression is real. It feels like being devoured by darkness.

Praise His holy name. He is my true source of love and hope. He is carrying me, and then holding my hand as I make my own way. I can feel myself healing through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I am functioning at 60% and relying completely on God. I now understand my own weakness. God took me out. He benched me from the game of busyness. I now understand that all I can do is a gift from God. And I am not a human doing. I am a human being.

Suburbanite

Suburbanite

October 26, 2014 Facebook post

We had a brigade out today; they really ministered to our souls. Thank you for your words of encouragement; truly a blessing.

Ever have one of those moments when someone says something to you and the comment illuminates truth for you? That’s just what this brigade of cadets did for us.

As we were making our way through a very tough transition, this brigade of cadets would show up with genuine enthusiasm and positive spirit. They loved that we had homeless. They loved that we had ARC guys. They loved the ministry all around us.

Through them, God was saying, “Look all around you Kari. The treasure trove of gems to love.” I began to see my flock in a different light.

There was a cadet with a four month old baby. She was holding her happy little chunk of joy while striking up a conversation with a homeless friend. Confession time. I was beside myself. Yet, The Lord shone through in that moment. This young mother was so at ease with her baby and new friend. I watched and learned.

Allow me to explain what it is like for a suburbanite valley girl like myself. We had paseos throughout our neighborhood. We walked from the bus stop to home unattended in kindergarten. It was safe and quiet. Not only did we have no homeless, we didn’t really know about their very existence.

Eric and I courted in Santa Monica 20 years ago. I was so in love, drowning in elation. I never saw the homeless. When you grow up being taught that they don’t exist, this becomes truth. I recall being in a book store chain, and Eric saw some friends. He introduced them to me. I walked straight away. They were homeless. I was appalled that Eric even knew these people, and by name. Until forced to see them, they did not exist. It’s fascinating what the psyche can do.

Why tell you this? Because not all people think like Salvationists. Not all Christians think to help others. I actually went to parochial elementary school. There is a learning curve to be considered. Stepping into this world of helping the helpless, loving the unloved, so on and so on…is really scary. When all you’ve known is the Reagan era of more, more, more for self, self, self; thinking to be there for others is quite a paradigm shift.

Here’s the thing. Now that I live for others, I myself am more fulfilled. It’s the wonderful secret, isn’t it? When we give out, we get back.

Valentine

Valentine

February 14, 2015 Facebook post

Spent the morning giving out Jesus loves you Valentine’s to the homeless. Three highlights. Three generations of family worked together. Nami and Papa, Eric and I, and Chloe. Secondly it was a collaboration of ARC, Dogtown Disciples, and UCLA Christians. And finally an encounter that Mom had with a little street friend. Mom wished her a happy Valentine’s Day from Jesus. This child of God looked into Mom’s eyes and she said, “No one has said those words to me in years”. Huge smile. It takes very little of self to produce much joy in the lives of those desperately disenfranchised. God is teaching me so much about His love for us. Thank you Jesus.

Even the homeless appreciate valentines. We placed hand written valentines inside the sack lunches. Eric’s parents were in town, so they helped out. Somehow we were able to get Chloe to come along with us that morning as well. It was a cool thing to serve side by side, all three generations. Very nice.

I was reminded of how little it takes to bring joy to the lost and lonely. Mom wished a little homeless lady a Happy Valentine’s Day. The look on this lady’s face was memorably precious. She smiled from ear to ear with genuine happiness. The simple statement brought back a flood of better times for this woman. She was elated to have someone wishing her well. It had been years.

Can you imagine what life must be like as a homeless person? People avert their eyes. Make wide births when they see you coming. Usher and shield their children away from you. Hold onto their pocket books and purses a little more tightly. You are a leper to society.

What did Jesus do with the lepers? He loved and healed them. We can love the homeless. And bring about an ounce of emotional and spiritual healing to their extremely broken lives. This is only because of Jesus. Jesus is the hope. Jesus is the message.

Dogtown

Dogtown

March 3, 2015 Facebook post

Active evangelism…two Dogtown Disciples studying their Bible Lesson at Denny’s…making their witness a part of daily life for the world to see. A very cool thing to walk into a restaurant and see two young men studying their bibles proud to be Christian men.

They call Eric and I, Mom and Dad. While this feels good, we recognize that it is more than likely just for a season. That being the case, I want to showcase their value and worth as much as I can.

Two young gentlemen, both raised in hardship and challenges. One has lost father to death and mother to prison. Living with cruel Aunt, only to be kicked out with little notice. Second young man knows the love of family, yet also knows the loss of family relationship due to addiction. Both are clean and sober, attending college part time, working part time, and serving their community every week. They both participate in weekly bible study, praise n worship, vespers, and adult Sunday School. All this to say, they are making a significant difference, at an age when most 20 year olds are feeding their own selfish desires.

One asked my husband why we loved them so much. Eric told him we just did. The truth is we love Jesus, because he first loved us. And it is the love of Jesus overflowing through us that runs onto others. I forget how young 20 is. So much energy, misdirected as it may be. With this energy comes with it hope and aspiration. It feeds us at times.

We study the bible each week. Our kids have each been gifted with their own personalized study bible. They are learning how to investigate The Word and its eternal meaning. God is speaking to these disciples through His spoken Word; and the kids are growing deeper in His knowledge. It is truly an honor to witness the transformation.

These two young men bring special gifts. They are talented, gifted, hard-working, all those things. But most importantly, they have willing hearts and open minds. At an age when most are self-seeking, these two are pouring out to underprivileged youth, homeless, elderly, and the rest. It is a privilege and honor to love these two young men. To believe in them. To encourage them. To rebuke them. To wait on them. To love them in Christ’s name.

Fear

Fear

March 20, 2015 Facebook post

I grew up being taught to fear criminals, drug addicts, and the homeless. I have feared these folks for 42 of my 43 years. I confess to having an elitist attitude in the past. It served to protect.

Our flock consists of ARC graduates and beneficiaries recovering from addiction, several who have been in and out of jail. And our second largest population is with our homeless friends. God is schooling me. Some of the most authentically beautiful people ever.

However, the poverty and mental illness swallows me up. There is so little I can do. This is how it feels at times. The depravity surrounds me. There are times I question God. Why do people have to live like this Lord? Animals are treated better.

And then I am reminded. God knows. God sees. God loves for He is love. We can offer hot coffee. We can offer prayer. We can offer blankets. We can offer Christ. We can offer a human touch. We can offer a kind word. We can offer hope. May it be so through God’s strength.

Tenderloin District in San Francisco is known for their homeless. What better place to bring the cadets to do outreach street work? Having never spoken to a homeless person in my life, when the leader started to warn us of all the potential threats awaiting us, I began to break down in tears. I was thinking, “How could they ask us to go out into this violence?” A fellow session mate took me under his wing. He was older, wiser, well-seasoned, and patient with me. He said that I could stay with him and everything was going to be OK. I was terrified. As God would have it, we found very few homeless that night. I was relieved.

Fast forward five years. I am the corps officer at Santa Monica, the Mecca of homeless people. Holy cow. You’ve got to be kidding me God. My adoptive parents taught me well. We did not help people. We kept to ourselves and worked like crazy to succeed. That was the pathway to happiness. I still recall having a boyfriend as a teenager over at my house. He had gotten into a physical altercation with his father, and needed some emotional support. Possibly intervention. But at least most certainly an empathetic ear. I went to my adoptive parents, and was instructed to have him leave the house. I still remember going out onto the master bedroom’s balcony to tell him he needed to leave. I knew there was something wrong with this. I wasn’t sure how it should’ve been handled. I just knew that we had an opportunity to help someone, and we asked him to leave instead.

So back to the present, I am in in Santa Monica helping the homeless and convicts every day. Am I still scared? Not as much. Still cautious, but not entirely petrified. Here’s what I’ve learned. The homeless need love more than most. The convicts in our rehab programs are putting up a tough front, because they don’t know how to be genuine yet. They are still acting hard; it keeps them safe. Safe from rejection.

We show them that Jesus accepts everyone, just as they are. And we are called to do the same. We are called to love our people and allow them to come to the foot of the cross just as they are. Jesus can get a hold of anyone and bring about hope and change. In the words of my husband, “It is not our job to save people. It’s our job to point them to the one who can.”

Transgender

Transgender

May 7, 2015 Facebook post

For Lei Day we had Ocean, our transgender homeless friend, pass out leis to unsuspecting folks on the beach. Our Dogtown Disciples played the ukulele and helped spread the love in Jesus’ name. Ocean who struggles with mental illness and a cast of other issues, knew that he’d been included in church ministry and kingdom building. He said to my husband, “Thank you so much for doing that for me.” A small investment of plastic leis helped make a child of God feel accepted and valued. Praise God for such meaningful ministry opportunities.

Ministering to the mentally ill is like being in a circus. There are a cast of characters that attend our corps. Folks colorfully dressed, making conversations about just about anything you can imagine. Ever read One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest? Yeah, kinda like that.

Ocean, a total social outcast found a home in the corps. Ocean flushed his medications down the toilet, only for the toilet to overflow. This served as confirmation that the medications were bad for him. He functions well enough to navigate the streets and beaches, but reality is at best skewed for him.

Hawaiian by birth, Ocean thought it a good idea to pass out leis and spread Jesus’ love on Lei Day. Our Dogtown Disciples accompanied him with ukulele in hand. It was Ocean’s idea and pleasure to carry it out.

So Ocean is transgender. He’s not the only one. He is accepted and even celebrated at our corps. Aside from being homeless and transgender, Ocean suffers from mental illness. How do we love him? Just as he is.