God Doesn’t Need Your Help

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Growing up as a Pastor’s kid had many perks.

Empty wooden pews transformed into our playground. And it wasn’t uncommon for regular competitions testing upper body strength and physical endurance to ensue as we competed to see who could army crawl their way from the pulpit to the back row the fastest!

Vacant Sunday School classrooms (which we had access to, thanks to the master-key we were always able to get our hands on!) were always filled with endless entertainment thanks to glitter glue and infinite amounts of goldfish crackers.

And the day that was always sure to get this PK’s heart racing in excitement was the one in which we would take ‘The Lord’s Supper.’ More specifically, it was when the hundreds of people who had once filled the pews were now heading home with their families for the afternoon, and a little plastic cup with a shallow pool of leftover grape juice marked the place where they sat. It was there that I would wait. Wait for when my father was far too busy cleaning up and locking the doors, to notice me shamelessly walking the aisles and drinking the last remnant of juice…. from each cup… in every row…. until I had savored the last drop of each and every one! 

Sorry Mom, I do sincerely hope this isn’t the first time you have heard this.

But above all else, I am most thankful for the skill I have mastered over the course of my many years growing up in the church… the uncanny ability I possess to spot even the most subtle of judgements.

How did I acquire this gift you ask? Because judgement is as prevalent in church as fake smiles, panty-hose, and renditions of Amazing Grace!

Over the years, I have overheard the backhanded comments towards the ‘tattooed couple’ sitting in the back row of the balcony; I have sat at, then excused myself from, a table of people who had nothing better to do then to whisper about the same-sex couple in the booth behind us; and I have endured innumerable prayer requests shared ‘with a heavy heart’ that are laced with malice and gossip.

Sadly, even to this day, I have friends and family who at the hands of such judgement, seem to believe that one must “exude perfection, lest you be judged…”

But this last week, while reading the Book of Hosea, God spoke to the most superficial and judgmental person in me

Hosea illustrates both God’s uncontainable fury towards sin, and His passionate love and loyalty for His people in spite of it! It begins with the story of a man named Hosea, who is married to a prostitute named Gomer, and whose three children are the product of his wife’s unfaithfulness. A man, who if you were asking just me, had every right to judge! And to light some junk on fire, if you know what I mean!

But God had a plan to deal with Gomer’s straying when in Hosea 2:6,14 He says, “I will fence her in with thorn bushes. I will block her way with a wall to make her lose her way… But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. I will return her vineyards to her, and. transform the valley of trouble into a gateway of hope”

I found it interesting that never once does God ask Hosea to ‘grab her arms, while He grabs her legs…’ so-to-speak. Instead, He makes it very clear that He has a plan and, more importantly, that He’s got it covered! He will fence her in… He will block her way… He will win her back… He will lead her and transform her…

And that, ultimately, He doesn’t need our help. (GASP!) 

I believe many of us Christians begin to think a little too highly of ourselves. We start seeing ourselves as the ‘Robin’ to God’s ‘Batman,’ and we falsely believe that the Creator of the Universe needs our help rescuing lost souls…often times one “strategically placed” Bible verse at a time! We resort to pitchforks and engage in spiritual debates; yet in these verses it seems God never asked for the help we so free-handedly offer.

Kinda stings, doesn’t it?

But then God does ask something from Hosea! And what He instructs him to do is surprising…

“Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. THIS will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel.'” – Hosea 3:1 [Emphasis added]

You see – at this time Israel, much like Gomer, was full of wickedness with a tendency to fall back into its “unbecoming” ways. This was a nation whose people were far from God and indulged in every sin imaginable. But God’s most passionate desire expressed in the book of Hosea is to show the unrighteous and immoral people of Israel that He still loves them in spite of it!

(Now for the record, this post will in no way directly address cheating spouses. Nor is that my expertise! After all, like I said earlier, I lean towards lighting things on fire! 😉

I am talking about the epidemic Christians have believed for far too long! The belief that we are to embark on a passionate crusade against the way other people are living their lives. A journey, that the Lord made very clear to me this last week, I was never invited on to begin with!

My job, like Hosea, is to love.

To ‘go and love’ those who are the cause of my anguish… to ‘go and love’ the person I just don’t ‘connect with’ and who I avoid at all costs in the church lobby… to ‘go and love’ those who have been given too many chances and who are SO undeserving….

You see, there’s a man that stands every day in Times Square with a megaphone…

A man with a message, standing in one of the most prominent areas of our country to speak words he believes are of great significance. So he amplifies his voice loud enough so the 170,000 people walking past him can hear what he has to say.

But the message he has hand-selected to introduce our God to the streets of New York City is always one of condemnation, rage, and disgust with the sin of this city. Even worse yet, our hopeless future as sinners because of it!

And you know what? I don’t think he is a bad person.

I believe just as much as him, that the world … that WE – desperately need Jesus more than ever! Furthermore, I know that some could argue that the man with the megaphone’s fury against sin and alternative lifestyles, parallel much of the same outrage that God had for Israel at the time…

I fear however, that he is playing the wrong role.

In Hosea, we learn that it is God who can, and will, judge. And ultimately, it is only God’s perfecting love that can “transform …” 

But like Hosea, we are only asked to love.

So, we too must decide what message we are going to proclaim to the world. What will be our chosen words to the people who pass by us each day?

Will it be a message that arrogantly puts people in their place and, in doing so, broadcasts that the Almighty God we serve lacks the strength to fight for His people on His own? Do we truly believe that our God is so weak that He needs flawed human beings like ourselves to be His backbone?

OR…  are we going to remember the truth found in Hosea and believe that the Lord, in all of His power, will Himself fight for His people? And will we remember that the best thing we can do as His devoted followers, is to choose each day to speak a message that sounds like hope and feels like an outpouring of love to all of His people?

This is the message that beautifully illustrates the fervent love God has for even the most undeserving and unworthy, no matter how far they have strayed from Him!

Because I realized this last week:

It’s not about us as Christians standing by to do nothing. It’s about stepping to the side to allow God to BE everything!

It’s nothing personal, God just doesn’t need your help.

Krista Signature

This Blog Isn’t For You

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So we blew up the blogosphere this last week…

Like for real, and entirely on accident!

And as Rachel and I watched the number of daily visitors grow on our blog – doubling, tripling, and so on…  and so on – I realized something new about myself…

Success isn’t my scene.

While it makes me momentarily want to dance on the table in excitement, just as quickly, it had me rocking back and forth in fetal position, scratching my eyelids, and taking an oath that I would never write again.

Throughout the week, it’s entirely possible that I made a few frantic phone calls to Rachel, where we weighed our options, and questioned whether it would be best to just shut down the blog completely (no really… we were THAT freaked out!)

And yet, interestingly enough, here I am once again.

Only took 500 gallons of chamomile tea to calm my escalating heart rate, and another trillion prayers to the Lord Almighty, but I am here!

But due to the attention we got this last week, and taking into consideration the many feathers I ruffled ( because apparently people don’t understand the disclaimer: “I know this post will offend people… and for the record I am not sorry!”) I thought it might be fitting to clarify a few things:

Yes, I am a pastor’s wife. And no, that’s not a title I can live up to! Being a ‘Pastors wife’ is in no way my identity (you won’t here me ‘name dropping’ that in posts to come…) And whether you choose to believe it or not, I am a human being  just. like. you!

I am not über spiritual- In fact the Real Housewives of New Jersey and I have an ongoing date on my couch every week (and if there are wheat thins and chocolate covered acai berries involved, then all the better!) Admittedly, I curse on occasion for emphasis, and I make a MEAN margarita!

That being said, while it’s entirely your choice whether or not you hold me to the unrealistic standard of what you believe that a Pastor’s wife should be, if you choose to do so, I can say with 100% certainty that I will fail. Miserably.

And when I do, it’ll be your fault for putting me on that pedestal -not mine!

And if you don’t like that, then this blog is not for you.

I also am by no means the picture of a perfect parent. I secretly despise the playground, too often turn to the plethora of take-out menus for dinner at night, and it’s entirely possible that the first music my daughter ever heard in the womb was a Black Eyed Pea’s song, that my husband and I had methodically picked out!

And if you don’t like that, then…

well, you get where I am going with this!

I love the Lord deeply with all that I am. And whether or not a relationship with Him is what you desire, you hang with me long enough and it’s likely my faith will be contagious.

So a word of caution: If that is something you are extremely opposed to, then this blog might not be for you. (Although, I secretly hope you will stick around anyway!:)

If my grammatical errors anger you to the point where you feel the need to comment about them, then I am sorry, but it seems you have confused me with a real writer!

Simply put, I am a stay at home mom, who – what I lack in hobbies, is made up for with dishes in the sink! I struggle daily to get out of my pajamas, and am always scrambling to get my weekly blog post done in time while my two year old crawls all over my limbs, feeding me fistfuls of goldfish crackers in an attempt to get me to impersonate the cookie monster (which for the record, I have no shame in doing!)

All that to say, if you are looking for an eloquent speaker or errorless presentation, then this will never be the blog for you!

As for me, I will cling to the hope that if God can use simple farmers, despised tax collectors, and even sons of prostitutes to bring Him glory, then surely the Lord in all of His greatness, won’t even bat an eye at the mish-mash that can be my english!

And given the chance that I get a negative comment – or give or take a few HUNDRED like last week! 😉

I will not respond. Ever!

I know, I know…  you are “being pressed by the Holy spirit” to tell me how wrong I am and what not, but regardless, that’s just not me. It’s not that I don’t respect your opinion, it’s that I don’t write to please you – or anyone else for that matter!

I write because God has laid it on my heart to be unapologetically honest and courageously me! To be vulnerable enough to share my weakest, and rawest thoughts so that He can meet me there and transform my heart to be more like His. NOT to merely write for His people; their praise, their public acclaim, or to address their criticism!

So if you are looking to debate with someone or are itching for a feud,

This

Blog

Is

Not

For

You.

Phew! Now that we got that out of the way – and since we have weeded off all the haters by now –  may those of you who are still with us, continue on this journey of true authenticity. The kind where we aren’t afraid to publicly declare that our kids are making us cray cray, that our spouse is one- dirty- q tip – left – on – the – counter away from sleeping on the fire escape (like, indefinitely!) and to address that more often then not, we struggle with feelings of being not enough; enough of a provider, enough as a spouse, enough as a parent, and at times, even enough as a CHRISTIAN! Gasp! I know, its scandalous I tell you!

Together, I hope we can learn to lean into Christ for all that we need, learning to love Him and trust Him more, so that with His strength we can embrace the (at times craaaaazy) life he has laid out for us!

We will be your guides, and although we can’t promise perfection, an agreeable nature (or in my case, savory language 100% of the time) you do have our word that we will be honest and raw to the core, in hopes that one day you too will be able to do the same!

And if THAT is what your soul has been so desperately longing for, then I am so happy to announce that this IS the blog for you! And we couldn’t be happier to have you on board!

But before I go I must publicly declare…

that I, Krista,

do solemnly swear,

to never curse a crockpot ever again! 😉

There. I said it. Now can we all just get along?

Krista Signature

To: The Haters

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I wanted to be Nicole Thompson.  I envied her long blonde locks, and the perfection that was her handwriting.  I can still remember how she munched awkwardly on her apple at snack time; avoiding getting pieces of fruit lodged in her braces. I pleaded with my mom to pack me an apple for snack time too, and every day, attempted to eat mine in the same fashion.

I was her best friend.

The only problem was, so was Emily!

Nicole often enjoyed pitting me and Emily against each other; taunting us with the most miniscule reasons why she was going to play with one of us, and not the other…

“I like Emily’s shoes, so today I’m going to play with her on the monkey bars instead of you!” she would say, leaving me alone to drag my feet in the bark, and contemplate what was so wrong with my shoes.

Hater.

Many years later, and after I had just recently gotten married, the first couple I –  so nervously – invited over for dinner, spent the first few bites of the meal I had made , bickering back and forth about whether the pasta she makes was better than the one I had made!

She savored another bite, and then looked to her husband. Both of them nodded in agreement. Her’s was most definitely better, it seemed.

Mine was ‘missing a little something’ she would go on to say, resting her fork on her plate and graciously asking my husband to pass the bread.

cough* Hater.

Around this very time last year I posted a request for prayer on Facebook; specifically for me and my extended family in a time of great need.

I had someone contact me privately and tell me how inappropriate it was for a Pastor’s family to reach out for prayer like that.

hmmm….

Hater.

Whispers then began to circulate; speculation spread about why I had asked for prayer in the first place, and our moment of desperation as a family was met with a wealth of malicious rumors and lies!

Months later and completely unrelated to my plea for prayer, my husband got a job in New York, and we were surprised to find that our decision to be obedient and follow God where He had called us, was met with unwelcome opinions openly declaring that we were making a huge mistake!

Some even laughed, as if to say God wanting us in Manhattan was a joke…

Many others, wouldn’t even say goodbye.

Haters. Haters. Haters. 

Now I know from the title of this post, it would be easy to assume that I will be addressing those haters, and no doubt use verses like “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths”, or how “a dishonest man spreads strife”  in an attempt to put those haters in their place…

but that’s for another time!

It’s much more valuable instead, to address the nature of the Lord in situations like these.

Because around that time last year, when I found myself overwhelmed with grief and betrayal, I also found myself captivated by a verse; a verse that as a lifelong Pastor’s kid, I had never heard before.

And I will restore to you, the years the locusts have eaten…

Joel 2:25

This verse spoke straight into my current heartache, and every hurt proceeding it.

Because not only was God accepting the fact that there will be times in life where swarms of locusts will come – devastating our crops and stripping them of all life! He promises even then, to restore them!

He promises to restore us!

How long have ‘haters’ (aka locusts) been cutting down everything you have worked so hard for? Eating their fill of everything you have labored endlessly to protect, the very crops that we have spent our entire lives tending to -the very person we have worked so hard to become!

Locusts, leave us feeling defeated, and lifeless; laughing in our face, and spreading cold hearted lies, until they move on to the next crop that they want to destroy.

imageJust last week I traveled back home, and met these feelings head-on when past hurts and betrayals all came flooding back!

Especially when upon returning, I noticed a few people still shuffling awkwardly to avoid me in the church lobby and struggling to maintain eye contact through half-hearted inquisitions of how my husband and I were adjusting to our new life in the city.

Locusts…

I was discouraged – but only for a quarter of a moment! Because just as quickly as the pain of rejection was felt, I could hear the Lord’s still strong voice reminding me, that even without the ‘blessing’ of others, that I am indeed still a blessed person in spite of it!

How thankful I am that the Lord doesn’t rely on majority rule to determine the level of blessing He will put on my life! That He wont withhold His blessing just because others have! 

He is bigger than the people bringing you down!

And He will see us through our hurts, and bring us back to a place of immeasurable blessing!

Just as Jesus who was beaten beyond recognition and who looked to be defeated on the cross, had come to life again just 3 days later – so can we rest in the fact, that the same power that brought His spirit back to life, is at work to do the same on our behalf!

During my trip back home –  just as my past heartache came back – so also did my eyes open to the Lord’s amazing power of restoration in my life!

The flood of people who have seemed to leave my father’s church in a frenzy, have now given way to a crowd of others who have found their place amongst the same seats; finding Christ come alive, awakening their souls and calling them to life change, just like the previous people had! 

The same friends who walked with me through the darkest of days last year; meeting me for coffee at random hours of the night and holding me as I cried, can now chat about more light hearted topics, such as mice eating brownies off my counter and Tom Selleck sightings!

And in just a year, the family that I requested be lifted up in prayer, has now taken giant strides – with or without the prayers of others – thanks to the Lord’s unfailing love and restoring power!

No more hiding behind fake smiles, of past hurts. No more shielding ourselves from the extreme ill will of others. Instead, we laughed over banana waffles, and participated in group hugs until everyone screamed out in frustration. I went on a lunch date with my dad and went shopping with my mom, and made nearly every effort I could to embarrass my little brothers.

Sweet restoration!

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And Just like the emerging blossoms from a tree after a barren and bitterly cold winter,

Or a loved ones embrace after too many months and miles have seperated you.

Like a heartfelt apology that mends the deepest wounds,

And the first laugh after a season of sorrow,

So is the restoring power of Christ

Available to each of us!

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace… will Himself, restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

1 Peter 5:10

Krista Signature

 

*** And to all the Haters: Quit being a locust. It’s not a flattering look on you!