What Is It Jesus?

Every night, the same thing.

After stories, we snuggle under the covers and say the same prayer we’ve been saying since she was a baby.

Lately, she’s been asking me what certain things mean in her prayer.  “We pray that you would call her, and nothing would hinder her from coming.”  She interrupts me and asks “what’s call and hinder and coming?  What’s that mean mama?”  She sucks her thumb and looks up at me ready for an explanation.

“Well…”  I begin, trailing off, trying to find the simplest way to explain this to my almost three-year-old.

“Jesus can speak to us, He can call us.  Just like mama tells you things, Jesus can tell you things too,” I say.

“But I don’t hear him.  What’s he saying?” She asks, so matter of factly.

“I don’t hear Him with my ears either, ” I tell her honestly.  “But He speaks to our hearts.  He calls our hearts and tells us things, things that we don’t hear with our ears.  Our heart can feel Him and we know He’s telling us something.  When we feel Him calling our heart, we need to stop and listen!  If He’s asking us to do something, we need to obey immediately.  That’s why I pray that nothing would hinder you from coming.  I want you to hear His voice when He calls your heart and I want you to listen to Him!”

She pauses, sits up and looks up at the ceiling.  “What is it Jesus?” she asks.  “Oh?  You want me to lay down?  Okay.”

Satisfied she asks me to finish praying and we snuggle back in, finish praying and give kisses goodnight.

As I’m closing her door, the sweet innocence and faith of a little not yet 3 year old is tugging at my own heart and begging me to ask the same.  What is it Jesus?  What is it?

So many days I am telling Jesus what I want, what I need, what I hope for.  All good things, yes,  How often do I just sit there and ask what is it?

So many days I am waiting on the thing, not waiting on Him.

What is it Jesus?

The hours and hours pouring before him the things I want, not asking what He wants.

What is it Jesus?

The simple heart of little toddler gets it immediately.

What is it Jesus?

I see more and more why Jesus tells the disciples to be like little children (Matthew 18:13, Luke 18:16) as I watch my little girl’s heart grow.  While there is still so much for her to learn, there is so much she has learned already.

What is it Jesus?  What is it you want from me today?  What is it You’re revealing to me today?  What is it you want to teach me today?  

Let me be like my little girl and simplify what I often complicate.  Let me just ask what is it Jesus?  May nothing hinder me from coming!  A prayer for my little babe, and a prayer for me… For always, as I will surely learn this time and time again. :)

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Good Friday, Through the Eyes of a 2 Year Old

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“Will Jesus protect me?  Is Jesus here with me??”  She sits up in the bed every single night and asks the same question.  Only until I reassure her that Jesus is always here with us will she lay back down and snuggle in for the night.  “If you get scared, just say Jesus.  He is right here with you.”  I tell her, and she gets comfy and closes her eyes.

Oh to have faith like a little child.  Lord let me learn from my daughter and have faith like her!

Putting her to sleep last night, I told her that tomorrow was Good Friday.  We would color eggs and remember what Jesus did for us.

“Good Friday?” she asked, looking at me with that 2 year old inquisitive look as if I needed to explain immediately.  “What’s good friday?”

“Good Friday is when Jesus died for us baby,” I replied, and she immediately looked at me with horror.  Snuggling under the covers, she said she needed to talk about it.  Tell me the story, she said.

So I told her how there were mean men who didn’t believe how good Jesus was.  They didn’t believe He was God’s son, didn’t know that Jesus loved them so much.  They wanted to kill him.  They made a cross, took nails and hammers and nailed Jesus’ hands and feet to the cross.  It hurt.  Jesus cried.  And he died on Good Friday.

She stared at me like this was the worst, most morbid thing she had ever heard.  Her little eyes, the corners of her mouth- everything about her face told me she didn’t understand.  How could Jesus, who was with her every night– die?!

“But the good thing about Good Friday is that He didn’t stay dead!  Three days later, on Easter, we celebrate that Jesus rose from the dead!  He wasn’t dead anymore.  He’s alive, Maya!  He’s in heaven, and He’s here.  He’s always with us.  He died so that we could live with Him forever. He’s not dead anymore.  On Good Friday we remember that He had to die so we could be with Him, and on Easter we celebrate that He’s alive.”

She smiled.  “And He’s here with us in our hearts!”  She exclaimed.

Suddenly satisfied with the end of the story, she was okay and ready to go to sleep.  She didn’t even ask me if Jesus would protect her or was there with her that night, because I think she already knew.

She might just be at my favorite stage yet (although each stage I’ve said that so it’s likely her entire life will be my favorite stage!).  A ball of snuggles, a blanket (gabby!) and her thumb.   She’s a little piece of heaven on earth and I literally can’t handle it sometimes!  On nights like this when her little faith heart is so big and receptive, I realize how much responsibility I have as a parent to guide and cultivate her heart towards Jesus.  It is overwhelming at times.  I pray I will have the words and the actions and the heart to reflect a piece of what Jesus is, and that nothing would hinder her from coming towards Him when He tugs at her heart and calls her to Him.

Happy Good Friday friends!  May we take time to remember the somberness of today, the goodness today, the hope of tomorrow and the security of our future because of what He did for us!

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What Are You DOING?!

Lately I’ve been feeling frustrated.  Maybe it’s the morning sickness (or evening sickness for me, and really, I can’t complain because it’s manageable…  But it’s still there and annoying), maybe it’s the exhaustion, maybe it’s the double hormones from the two tiny humans growing inside my belly…  Maybe it’s the winter that is finally “ending” but still feels chilling to the bone (40 degrees is hardly ‘warm’!) or that my brother and his wife just had a baby and I MISSED the little man by a matter of hours (got off the plane and what do you know?!  Jenny’s in labor!).  Maybe it’s because my sister is going to have a major life event happen soon and I won’t be there to celebrate with her in person (this kills me, it seriously kills me not to be there!).  Every single door to bring us back to our family and friends on the west coast seems to close.  Multiple opportunities arise only to fall flat.

I’m staring at the heavens, literally wanting to shake my fists.

What are you DOING up there?!

It doesn’t help that I escaped the last few months by spending a total of 7 weeks away from here.  California, Florida…  Places that were WARM. :)  Saying it like that makes me feel like a modern woman-ish Jonah.

Oh please don’t spit me out and make me go back.

Yet here I am.

I know I’m not the first person to wonder what God is doing.  I know he’s always at work behind the scenes where I can’t see Him.  I know I’m just feeling overwhelmed.

But seriously what are you DOING?!

I bet Esther asked the same thing when she found out her people were going to be slaughtered.

Abram probably wondered similarly when it had been years since he’d been promised a son, and yet was still childless!

Moses surely shook his fists when Pharaoh continued to change is mind.

Mary and Martha certainly questioned when their brother Lazarus lay dead in a tomb for days when they knew Jesus could have healed him without even being there.

When Leah continued to produce son after son and was left unloved, I’m sure she wondered what God was doing!

When Rachel was left barren while her sister continued to conceive, I can bet she felt that God wasn’t doing ANYTHING.

When Bathsheba lost her son due to her husband’s sin, I would be shocked if she weren’t pounding the sky with her fists and shaking her head screaming “What the HECK are you DOING up there?!”

And these are just to name a few.

Yet if we stick around long enough– if we follow these stories through to completion, we see God’s hand at work and his faithfulness in and through all of it.  I know God’s hand and faithfulness are in my story too– even if I can’t see it right now.  Sometimes when I look around at the messes of toys in every. single. room and wonder how TWO more little people are going join this madness, I wonder what are You doing?!  How can you possibly think that I am capable?  I can hardly make dinner and clean it up without thinking about feeding and changing two more newborns at once!  What are You DOING?!  

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. ~Ephesians 3:20, NLT

No truer words said… I mean twins were definitely more than I could have ever hoped for or even imagined… :)

Esther, through God’s almighty power was able to rescue her people.

Abram became the father of all nations.

Moses led the people to freedom!

Mary and Martha witnessed their brother raised from the dead.

Leah is in the lineage of JESUS!!!

Rachel was blessed with not just one, but two sons.

Bathsheba became the mother of Solomon, the wisest man ever known.

Yes, what he’s brought us to He will see us through…  If only we would have the faithfulness to stick it out to the end of our own story!

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Twice the Fun

Things are about to get CRAZY around here.

Yes, I know.  My life is already CRAZY.  My husband has a crazy-busy (and yet wonderful and awesome) job, my two and a half year old tells me she needs her “personal space”, and I work full time from home.  Even so, my life is going to get even crazier.

Times TWO!

I had no idea.  Twins do not run in my family.  Other than feeling slightly more tired and nauseous than I had with Maya, everything seemed to be the same.  Yet when the ultrasound tech put up a peace sign (yes, I really did think she was telling me “peace!”  That’s how outrageous the idea of two babies would be for me!), I did not believe it.  “You guys hit the jackpot!” She exclaimed, and I had no idea what she meant.

When she showed me the two pulsating heartbeats on the screen complete with two separate sacs and two separate embryos, I was in disbelief.  Two?!  Oh Lord what the heck?!

My husband, being the calm, non-reactive one, just stared calmly at the screen.  He was more interested in understanding how this happened and what kind of twins we would be having (they’re fraternal, by the way). I began crying and then laughing and then crying and then laughing.  This was not in our plan ever.  How am I going to have twins?! I kept thinking to myself.

We had no idea.  There is no family history of twins in the family, and I’ve never been on any fertility treatments.  Talk about getting a real two-for-one special!

We have to move.  Our two bedroom is too tiny for a family of 5!

I will need a larger car (wait for it… A minivan most likely!  My 20 year old self would seriously die.  A slow. Painful. Death.).

How am I going to do this without my mom living nearby?

How is my body going to house TWO tiny humans for the next 6 months?

How will I be able to provide enough love and attention to two babies, a toddler and my husband?!

I can’t even begin to answer all these questions, but  there is one thing I’m holding on to and that is HE KNOWS.  HE will provide.  HE will make it happen.  HE will see us through.  HE is the giver of all things through HIM I can do all things.

The shock has worn off now, and I am excited at the thought that our family will be bigger than I ever hoped or imagined (ohhhhh God is funny how he works!).  I’m reading a book on multiples given to me by a friend.  I’ve switched doctors to go with someone who’s specialized in multiple births.  I’m praying for a continual healthy pregnancy and that God’s protection and hand would be over these babies.  I have no idea how I’m going to do it but I know He’s faithful and He will work it all out.  What He’s called us to, He will walk us through… Amen?

So now my toddler is painting her nails with white-out and currently has scissors in her hands.  I best be on my way.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me. :)

 

 

I am leaving Urban Hallelujah.

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I am leaving Urban Hallelujah.

For weeks I have wrestled with how to say that, and then there, just like that, I said it.

For the last couple of months I have been MIA, I have prayed, eaten through an entire package of Double Stuf Oreos, and then prayed some more. Poring over and wrestling to death the question: What is it God wants from me?

Because I fondly remember the day I cursed a crockpot and blew up the blogosphere for reasons I still don’t understand – with half of a million people reading that post alone! And how I cried to the point of hyperventilation in the bathroom because of all the mean things people said about me. People, I would later name “Amy” in an attempt at humanizing ruthless internet bullies and making their words sting less. A sweet, but failed attempt on my part.

How Rachel and I had seriously considered shutting the blog down entirely after such unexpected traffic. Which always makes me laugh, because while some people strive for that level of attention, apparently we just cry. Its just not who we are. And for some reason I am insanely proud of that.

How what began with just 20 followers consisting only of grandma’s, our grandma’s to be specific, grew to a whopping 100 people we didn’t know and who were not genetically predisposition to love us. How shocked we were when 100 followers ultimately grew to nearly 1,600!

…But how cruel it felt when just months later my heart broke and my life cliff-dived into a horrific nightmare. Allowing each of the 1,600 followers to be front-and-center to watch as I screamed, questioned and threw punches at God. How even still, I made God a promise to write through the mess, and how surprisingly glad I am that I did. The writing part, not the throwing punches at God part. Though I am certain He would agree, I’ve got a wicked right hook.

How to my complete surprise, God used so many of you to speak into my darkest days and to pray for my family when all hope seemed lost. How you sent encouragement, care packages (with said Oreos) and friend requests on Facebook.

And how because of that, I am certain if we were ever lucky enough to meet, I would hug you. Maybe even exchange crockpot recipes with you and laugh about all the silly places I put commas, but mostly just hug you. Because mere words couldn’t possibly portray how genuinely thankful I am for each and every one of you. Prayers like yours, saved my marriage and quite honestly, my life.

Yet, I am not the same girl that started this blog with Rachel less than two years ago. Depression and heartbreak have a way of changing a person, I suppose. Yet even still I can feel God pressing, keep. writing. through. the. mess.

Because of that, I feel the need to venture out on my own – to obediently continue writing, all while unapologetically owning the fact that this life of mine is not going the way I told it to. And that the reality of that, doesn’t make my life wrong, it just makes it different. Different than I planned. Different even, than I wanted. But not wrong. And that it is my responsibility to love myself through that, and to mercilessly do whatever it takes to find God’s face in it.

And so after lots of prayer, I have decided to start my own blog which thou shalt be named kristaortiz.com – named in part because my name is the only thing that HASN’T changed about me in the last two years (Though believe me it almost did, if you know what I mean. Awkward pause… I make myself smile.)  And also because lets be real, Rachel is the more creative one of us and that’s all I could come up with on my own.

So my name is what it will be, and that is where you can find me.

I secretly hope to see you there. But in case I don’t, and given the chance our paths cross someday, please come say hi. And bring your best hug.

I’ll bring the Double Stuf Oreos.

Krista Signature

When You Were Just About To Give Up On Love

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Admittedly, I am not the greatest proponent of love these days. 

I’m nearly always the first to point out the romantic song by the debonaire man, was indeed written by a woman. That’s never been married. 

Never fearing to ask inopportune questions like: Shouldn’t we have more humble wedding ceremonies to get married? …And save the lavish celebrations for when we have fought insurmountable odds to stay married? Arguing that the day we look to our spouse and realize, Holy crap. We’re still married. is the ideal time to throw a party and spend exorbitant amounts of money to have people toast our union – With alcohol nonetheless!

Yep. I am that person.

Jaded and crushed, with a knack for making people uncomfortable with my (many) observations about love, and a heart – and a marriage – that has been shaken to the core. You can find me sitting in the back half of any wedding ceremony, bowing my head in heartfelt prayer for the lovely couple exchanging their vows like I did all those years ago…

A prayer they’d be blessed with the marriage I never had: 

An uneventful one.

But I was terribly wrong…

I realized this the night my family and I gathered in our pajamas, around a 70-year-old man telling a story so touching, he had us hanging on every word that he spoke.

They had asked him about his wife. That’s all I knew, because from that point on he trailed off in a flurry of Spanish I couldn’t comprehend.

Yet regardless of the different languages we spoke, it became obvious by the way his eyes danced and by the way he gripped furiously at his heart, that him and I knew the same kind of love:  Intoxicating. Passionate… Heartbreaking.

Later that night my husband helped me piece the story together, and to my surprise I found it more riveting than I imagined.

… How his first wife had suffered a stroke at a young age while singing in church. I recalled how he bellowed the verses of the hymn that night, stopping at the exact place in the song where her health – and their lives – had changed forever.

…How she spent the next 8 days in a coma, stiff as a table, he said. And how each time he spoke to her – each time he leaned in close to whisper his love for her, in no doubt the same somber tone he spoke in that night – how her heart would respond. Literally. On the EKG! How he illustrated the rise and fall of her heart with his finger in the air, and gripped his heart describing the agony of having to let her go…

…How years after she passed, he got a second chance at love with an unlikely woman nearly half his age and living in Colombia, South America. Remembering how his voice livened and his eyes danced, making us laugh as we watched the 70-year-old man transform into that of a dopey young boy when describing the first kiss they shared. 

….But that this love wouldn’t be free of heartache either…

…How for years they were separated from each other, working tirelessly to get her a visa. Only seeing each other three times in the first three years of their marriage!!! Until finally, the day came where she was given permission to come to the U.S.

But there was a catch: He would have to come get her himself, rightthatsecond! Forcing him to put his humble job cleaning movie theaters on the line, and spend the great sum of money (he didn’t have) to drop everything in a moment’s notice to retrieve the woman he loved. How even still, he accepted the risks – traveling great lengths and sacrificing EVERYTHING in his attempt to get his wife back!

That night it was obvious to each of us, the frail man in the corner of the room had fought tirelessly for love …And, that by the grin on his face, He had won!

They’ve been together ever since… my husband concluded. And my heart jumped forgetting for a moment how jaded ‘we’ are these days.

And I realized,

I too, was set in a tragic story of unbearable loss and tireless sacrifice…But that like him, it was a love story nonetheless!

And what I learned that night captivated by the man I could barely understand was,

The love stories most harrowing, catch our attention and captivate our spirit in a way those void of all conflict ever could!

That just like the man who entranced me with the love story he had lived:

– It was in the heartbreaking final breaths of his first love that he learned what so few ever have – that her heart had always responded to the sound of his voice!

– It was in the unbearable miles and years that separated him from his wife, that she came to know the great lengths her husband would travel and the sacrifices he would make in order to fight for her! 

…That oftentimes, it’s amid the desolation the rarest treasures unearth.

Because maybe, just maybe, there is significance to be discovered in our most heart wrenching pangs, an unlikely strength awakened by our deepest sorrows. Uncharted territory we may never have wandered upon – A story never written had it not been for that wrong turn or the turbulent storm that blew us off course and shook everything we believed to the core.

And that’s when I realized how terribly wrong I had been…

The greatest gift in marriage would NOT be an uneventful one, free of all struggle and tragedy; but a marriage that has lived a love story worth telling!

A marriage that has basked in the grandeur of the uttermost heights, and who’ve crawled relentlessly on their hands and knees to get there. Whose eyes have danced in love’s intoxication, and who have gripped their heart in agony at love’s unbearable loss. A love that displays both the scars they earned in battle, and a smile on their face knowing, they won!

A love story worth telling huddled around in our pajamas until the sun comes up. For generations and generations. No matter the language. 

A love story so harrowing, it catches the attention and captivates the spirit, of even those like me –

…Who were just about to give up on love.

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The Terrible Lie

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I hope you all had a MARVELOUS Thanksgiving!  We did!  We went down to North Carolina to stay with David’s sister and her family.  It was so much fun catching up with them, seeing our kids play together, and cooking Thanksgiving dinner!

I love Thanksgiving because of all the family, the warmth, the cozy.  Even more so, though, I think I like it because it’s a foreshadowing that Christmas is coming next.  Christmas.  Christmas is coming!  Hope is rising.  Anticipation is growing.  Something great is coming!

I love Christmas because it is HOPE here with us.  It is celebrating the greatest most extravagant gift of all time.  Being a mother now, I cannot fathom giving up my only child for anyone– let alone people who would despise her.  No way.  Not happening.  Maya is a slice of heaven to me.  How He did it– I have yet to understand it.

And yet, He did– for us.  For me.  For you.

Even though we have this incredible gift, there is a lie that lives in the deepest parts of our hearts.

Does He love me?

Have you believed the terrible lie?

I believe this horrible lie all the time.  Even being a kid who grew up in the faith, I really struggle with believing I he LOVES me not because of what I’ve done but because of who HE IS.  I believe the lie that “lives in every human heart, whispering to every one of God’s children… “God doesn’t love me.”” (The Jesus Storybook Bible, p.30)

Reading this story in the Jesus Storybook Bible with my little babe before nap time, I was again captured at the simplicity and extravagance (how can such extravagance be so simple?!) of God’s love and the sneakiness of the serpent’s lie.  It’s an awful lie.  Christmas reminds me that hope is HERE with us, the mystery of Christ IN us, and the love of God FOR us.

The Terrible Lie

Adam and Eve lived happily together in their beautiful new home.  And everything was perfect– for a while.

Until the day when everything went wrong.

God had a horrible enemy.  His name was Satan. Satan had once been the most beautiful angel, but he didn’t want to be just an angel– he wanted to be God.  He grew proud and evil and full of hate, and God had to send him out of heaven.  Satan was seething with anger and looking for a way to hurt God.  He wanted to stop God’s plan, stop this love story, right there.  So he disguised himself as a snake and waited in the garden.

Now, God had given Adam and Eve only one rule:  “Don’t eat the fruit on that tree,” God told them.  “Because if you do, you’ll think you know everything.  You’ll stop trusting me.  And then death and sadness and tears will come.”

(You see, God knew if they ate the fruit, they would think they didn’t need him.  And they would try to make themselves happy without him.  But God knew there was no such thing as happiness without him, and life without him wouldn’t be life at all.)

As soon as the snake saw his chance, he slithered silently up to Eve.  “Does God really love you?” the serpent whispered.  “If he does, why won’t he let you eat the nice, juicy, delicious fruit?  Poor you, perhaps God doesn’t want you to be happy.”

The snake’s words hissed into her ears and sunk down deep into her heart, like poison.  Does God love me?  Eve wondered.  Suddenly she didn’t know anymore.

“Just trust me,” the serpent whispered.  “You don’t need God.  One small taste, that’s all, and you’ll be happier than you could ever dream.”

Eve picked the fruit and ate some.  And Adam ate some, too.

And a terrible lie came into the world.  It would never leave.  It would live on in every human heart, whispering to every human heart, whispering to every one of God’s children:  “God doesn’t love me.”

~~~~~~

You see, sin had come into God’s perfect world.  And it would never leave.  God’s children would always be running away from him and hiding in the dark.  Their hearts would break now, and never work properly again.  God couldn’t let his children live forever, not in such pain, not without him.

In another story, it would all be over and that would have been…  THE END.

~~~~~~

But not in this story.

God loved his children too much to let the story end there.  Even though he knew he would suffer, God had a plan– a magnificent dream.  One day, he would get his children back.  One day, he would make the world their perfect home again.  And one day, he would wipe away every tear from their eyes.

You see, no matter what, in spite of everything, God would love his children– with a never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love.

And though they would forget him, and run from him, deep in their hearts, God’s children would miss him always, and long for him– lost children yearning for their home.

Before they left the garden, God whispered a promise to Adam and Eve:  “It will not always be so!  I will come to rescue you!  And when I do, I’m going to do battle against the snake.  I’ll get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness you let in here.  I’m coming back fro you!”

And he would.  One day, God himself would come.

~The Jesus Storybook Bible, “The Terrible Lie”

At Christmas, we remember that he did come.  To rescue us.  To battle the snake.  To get rid of sin and darkness and to conquer the lie that seems to penetrate our hearts.  He loves us.  He loves us!

HE LOVES US.

Don’t believe the lie.  When you feel it start to creep in, read this story and hold onto the hope of Christmas.  He’s coming for you and for me, because he truly, faithfully, undoubtedly LOVES US.

***If you’re looking for a great children’s bible, the Jesus Storybook Bible is my favorite.  Check it out on Amazon!***

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