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Author: kari

Believing your own press…

Believing your own press…

Lunch with a fellow believer. Brand new soldier. Grew up in another denomination. Asking why some in our beloved movement ignore and exclude. I do not have an answer.

Christ followers. Proclaiming love and inclusivity, only to behave as if in high school.

Some of the time these folks altogether ignore. Completely freeze out. And in more vulnerable settings, this kind warms up. Hot and cold running rudeness. The inconsistency is confusing and the intermittent rejection wounds.

The Christian bubble. Lord may I never be blissfully unaware of life outside the safe zone of geekdom.

Human beings suck. And Christians that act like jerks, are worse than that. If you’re going to be rude and exclusive, my goodness don’t claim to follow Jesus.

Ain’t no one better than the other. If you think you are, you’ve allowed the devil a foothold. Pride is dangerously enticing. Don’t believe your own press. Hard truth. We all wear the same polyester.

As does this new soldier. For now. What will our testimony be? Will we decide to include or exclude? Will we open ourselves up? And welcome others in? Will we be Jesus?

Scents & Sounds

Scents & Sounds

It’s a fully immersive experience; sitting in a homeless shelter. The scent is overwhelming. Ripe. The sounds of bodily functions and snoring abound.

Low barrier ministry; folks are loaded. A gentleman is rolling around on the floor, far off of his mat. Hoping he doesn’t wet himself tonight.

Most are grateful to be out of the below freezing temperatures. A safe place to rest. Perhaps clean up in the bathroom. Wash some clothes. Refresh one’s physical body. Restore some dignity.

She was distraught upon arrival. Her face severely scratched. Sat with her. Prayed with her. She took three fistfuls of pills nonetheless. Had to call 911. She began insulting us for allowing her to take so many pills. Let us know how stupid we were. Ended up leaving abruptly. Only to be followed by the paramedics. Praying she gets the needed professional help. At least for tonight.

These folks are truly torn up. Covered in their own filth in some cases. Hungry and cold, with no place to lay their head at night. In our current culture, this is the least. They are alone in this world.

In my ignorance I ask silly questions to myself. Like, where are your families? How did you end up sleeping on the street? How long have you been unhoused? How are you keeping a job while sleeping on the streets? Where do you shower? Clean your clothes? Where do you get your food?

What can we do for these suffering children of God? So many of them are addicted. Mentally ill. Some with disabilities. We have two blind men, and three hearing impaired guests.

We can open our doors to them. Extend kindness and hospitality. Even in a shelter setting. It’s in our intent behind the act. Folks know if we care or not. They feel it.

Lord, may I love the unlovable. Befriend the friendless. And earnestly minister to those in the margins. Help me to live these aspirations out in tangible practical ways, so that they are more than just platitudes. I want a life lived for Jesus. May I reflect His shining light to a dark world.

I Choose

I Choose

A few months ago, my physician recommended a plant based diet. My numbers were pre-diabetic, with high cholesterol. After prescribing the standard meds, I lost my mind a bit. The idea of being old enough to require medication for my physical health…it was quite a blow to my waning vanity.

So I attempted this vegan diet. Lasted 7 weeks. Lost 20 pounds. Never been so sad in my life. I would give up on my salad, sitting across from someone with a plate full of ribs. What’s the point? The joy of food was no more.

I enjoy cooking for my husband. For my family. I appreciate the domestic expression of love. The act of serving something delicious for the senses.

My husband does not eat vegetables. He has an aversion to all things health food. He lives on meat. Cheese. Bread. Pasta. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

So here I am eating plant based; preparing meat based dishes for family. Too much. I felt deprived. I could not cook the very foods that were forbidden, and remain solvent in my new diet. I absolutely failed. I have conceded; taking the medication.

Aging has proven to present game changing challenges. To go from being called cute little wahine, to being asked if I have grandchildren. That’ll humble the heck out of you. It did for me.

In certain ways, I sense the freedom. My looks are no longer a factor. I won’t fall victim to our overtly sexist culture.

And then The Lord asks me to look deeper. Step beyond the exterior. Lean into the state of my heart. Remembering that no one cares. Simply a latent manifestation of a deeply dyfunctional upbringing. Was taught that a women’s worth was directly correlated to her exterior beauty. I have believed this lie for most of my life.

I am getting older. I need glasses. My hair is greying. My double chin and neck wrinkles are more prominent this year, than they were last year. I take medication for my physical health. Ugh.

I have grieved the loss of my external beauty over the last five years. If I choose to buy into the propaganda, I am rendered overlooked at best. There is always a choice. In every season, we are offered options.

I choose to see my aging as something other than what our culture tells me. Rather, I choose truth. I am a creation of the Creator himself.

A Sad Reality

A Sad Reality

Aloneness. A close friend. One that brings comfort and clarity. Friendships. Deep river relationships. They too bring comfort and clarity.

Surrounded by incongruity. Completely understand why some want nothing to do with the church. We Christians can be mean to one another.

I grew up fitting in everywhere, except church. The same continues on today. I feel comfortable in most scenarios, but never more alone than in a church. A poignant question posed to me…why are my secular friends more kind than my church friends?

We come at things with judgement in mind. When a young adult comes to us with a revelation of being gay, we respond in prayer. Prayer for healing. Really? Are we so disconnected from the world that we come to the table with judgment and condemnation. Who are we to make the call on needed healing? Give me a break.

The main reason people want nothing to do with the church? Incongruency. We claim to be about love. And then we lack that very love for one another.

I get along with the world much easier than with those in church. There is a truth in the secular; they are who they claim to be. It’s honest. We Christians tout love and forgiveness; all the while slandering our brother and sister in Christ. When the world calls us hypocrites, we live up to that.

Never been more hurt than by self proclaiming Christians. Some are filled with malice and toxicity. Those that teach holiness, in the same breath are cruel hearted to their fellow Christian.

What kind of light are we being to the world? One of acceptance and love? Or judgement and pity. We are no better than anyone, saved or not. Any kind of elitist attitude within the ranks of the church poses a threat to the very purpose of the church; to spread the gospel.

Non-believing friends. They watch the way we Christians treat one another. It stands out to them because we proclaim holiness, but project haughtiness. We lie. We gossip. We hate. And that does not align itself with the teachings of Jesus.

So non believers see this, and opt to live their own truth. We are losing souls because we are awful to one another. The world is watching and learning.

First Time

First Time

First time. First time ever.

Thirty years of abuse and body shaming. The ongoing battle with my long time frienemy bulimia nervosa. Restricting. Over exercising. Binging. Purging. Diet pills. You name it. I’ve tried it.

Was nicknamed ‘thunder thighs’ at the tender age of six months. I thought for the better part of my young adult life that I had thunderous thighs. I was a size 8.

This last year I allowed myself to get fat. I gained 30 pounds. The food was so yummy! The victory was in the decision after each meal to keep it down. I did. I ate whatever I wanted and paid the price.

After receiving medical news, things changed immediately. I went vegan a few weeks ago. Down 20 pounds. At least 15 more to go. Not sure where I am meant to naturally land. Been abusing my temple for decades; simply don’t know how God sculpted me.

First time eating healthy. Keeping things down. Exercising in moderation. Losing weight the healthy way. Never been here before.

Praise God for his strength and grace to change and overcome past struggles. All things are possible through Christ.

My Officership

My Officership

First three years. Confident. Ambitious. Driven. Much was accomplished in our first appointment. Became dangerously self-reliant.

Fourth year, second appointment dealt a huge blow. Mental illness. I broke. Eric had to step up and take the lead. I was suddenly totally God-reliant.

Fifth through seventh year, God stretched me beyond any comfort zone I could dream of. It was brutal. And now, my heart loves the unlovable. Thank you Lord, for breaking me and then reshaping me into your vessel.

Now into our eighth year of Officership. Third appointment serving in a completely divergent capacity from the corps. What have I learned? Leadership is hard. Observing and learning. Taking it in.

I love doing for the youth of our Army. To be able to create experiences for our folks brings such joy. Is this for real?

Challenges? In each appointment thus far. And yes, we grow deeper in faith because of the struggles. Refiner’s fire.

Overwhelmed? Every day. Back to being God-reliant. One of the most helpful statements said to me in recent history. Made by a long time, high ranking Officer. He said that in each new appointment, he always felt like he had no idea what he was doing. At the time this frightened me. If he didn’t know what he was doing, the rest of us were doomed. But with a few years under my belt, I think I understand. We cannot do this without God. He will uphold us with His righteous right hand. He will be our helper. Our strength. God’s faithfulness.

So far Officership has been many things. Really all things. It has brought me to tears of laughter and tears of sorrow. I have watched people die around me, helpless to do any more than extend Christ’s love. I have led new couples into their marriage covenant, and held their newborn babes. I have led God’s children to the foot of the cross. Oh, the sweet salvation.

I grew up in a large, rather formal Lutheran congregation. I attended parochial school. And I was never taught how to actively love His lost sheep. There were no feedings. No social service work. There were no basic needs being met, because everyone in our congregation had no needs. Christian Country Club.

And now at the age of 45, I find myself completely immersed in the work of Jesus. I love the unlovable. I reach out into the stormy sea to rescue those drowning in sin. Leading a soul to Jesus…there’s nothing like it. Honored privilege.

I love my life. Grateful that God called me. I am a Salvation Army Officer. It is good to be in the sweet spot of His will. Covenant Calling.

So far…

So far…

Fascinating dynamics every week. To witness some shirk their responsibilities, while others strive to do more and more.

Getting used to being in an overwhelmed state. The Holy Spirit reassured me of His faithfulness. All will be well.

Favorite part so far? Planning the events. Creatively brainstorming memorable experiences for our folks.

Been placed in an awkward position of having to bring correction. Hate this.

We’ll get there. A little bit of progress each day.

With each transition, God’s strength renews me. I can do this only in His power.

Mindless Musings

Mindless Musings

Anxious, disjointed, and distracted…

Never been a time when Eric was without pain or condition. Major surgery every 3-5 years. Gastrointestinal, esophageal, and spinal. It is our normal.

In spite of his brokenness, God uses him mightily. He brings hope and respite to his sheep. They adore their beloved shepherd.

When first appointed to Santa Monica, Eric was deeply convicted. He saw hungry folks on the street; deciding that if there were so many in his midst starving, he could go without. Eric made it a practice to eat half of his lunch, and bless a homeless person with the other half. He could afford to go a little hungry. This partial long term fast resulted in significant weight loss and a decrease in blood pressure.

He approaches life with peace in his spirit and love in his heart. Every time I think that I have become comfortable with our homeless ministry, Eric pushes me further. Let the pitbull worship in the sanctuary. E says that if it’s the only thing keeping them from Jesus, let the animal in. Okay then, how about a couple more dogs, a cat, and don’t forget the bird! I don’t know whether to call our corps the circus or the zoo.

No matter. Today we had to ask people to scoot closer to make room. Chairs were brought out to line the aisle ways. Who comes? The rejects of society. Those that are absolutely down and out. Destitute without the basics like food and shelter. Yet not without hope. It is in the corps that our broken, rejected sheep find solace, comfort, and acceptance. They eat food literally and spiritually. We cannot save them. All we can do is point them to the One who can.

Eric and I find out in 7 hours how the surgeon wants to proceed. Possibly more surgery. Growing weary and heavy laden. In Him I will find rest.

I see them.

I see them.

Raised in a safe culdesac suburb. Attended a large Lutheran congregation. Didn’t help the homeless. Didn’t really know of their existence. Church was a club.

Was introduced to those living on the streets through The Salvation Army. Declared that this was NOT my ministry.

Was placed in Santa Monica. The Mecca of homeless. Had no bearings, context, or skill set to minister to them. It was too big.

Hid in my office for two years. Avoided contact. Cried. Failed. Failed some more.

The scales are coming off. Our friends have been praying fervently for Eric’s recovery. They genuinely love Eric. This love is changing people. In particular, me.

My heart breaks for these folks. They don’t want to be mentally ill. No medication. They don’t want to be sitting in their own filth. They don’t want to be treated like rabid dogs. They need love more than most. They are considered the worst.

Eric and I currently pastor a congregation of 100+ folks. Most are homeless. They call our church home.

I know why people don’t help. It’s unpredictable. Scary. Unpleasant to the senses. I did not see the homeless as people. I simply never saw them.

I am witnessing the transformative power of love. Our homeless friends are changing me. I am more empathetic, compassionate, and patient. I am closer to my Savior after having built relationship with our friends.

Christ’s love cuts through the messiness of homelessness. These are daughters and sons. Brothers and sisters. Mothers and fathers. I love these precious souls. Now that I finally see them.

Chloebear

Chloebear

She’s a lover of music, especially live. Expressive through multiple mediums. Paint. Jewelry. Pen and pastels. Grows succulents for fun. Hikes to waterfalls with no more than a canvas and primary colors.

She reads authors like Camus and Dostoyevsky. Gets Shakespeare. Wears mismatched patterns. Attends political protests and women’s rights walks. Takes the metro into downtown to visit her favorite book store, and eat curry with her friends.

She is fiercely independent. Passionately engaged in issues close to her heart. Driven by a love for life. Excited about the future.

Her feminist minded soul seeks equality and tolerant love for all. She accepts people for who they are and where they’re at.

She’s my daughter; one of the coolest people I know.