Forgive Anyway

This week I chose forgiveness…

Image It started 6 months ago, when a mantra stirred at my heart, and laid the foundation to forgive those responsible for the deepest wounds hidden away in my heart.

It goes like this…

Most people, most of the time, are doing the best that they can.

As simple as it was, this mantra reminded me of the most unflattering parts I had played; the times I had shunned -or even worse, led others on- because I didn’t want to reveal my true feelings at the risk of hurting theirs. Only to later, abandon them completely without even a word of explanation.

The times where someone I loved, hurt me so deeply that I ‘got even’ in a way that bordered on betrayal… The things I let myself do when I was young and ‘in love’… the decisions I made because I ‘wanted to be accepted’ …

And when I took a good look at my life, I saw that most of the time, I was doing the best that I could.

It also helped me to see that the boy who stole my heart, and lied to me endlessly (even down to his flippin’ name!) was also dealing with an abundant amount of pressure from the starry eyed girl, with big dreams, and even higher expectations!  The pressureput on him to be something that he wasn’t!

It helped me forgive the friend who had seemingly abandoned me in my moment of desperation -because looking back, I can now see that I failed to acknowledge that my circumstances were flooding her with painful memories of when, she too experienced a similar situation years before.

That the family member who never seems to understand the deep-seated hurt I’ve harbored towards them, couldn’t possibly grasp the immensity of how I feel – not because they don’t believe the feelings to be real – but because I have never once attempted to articulate it to them!

Looking back, I found it to be true…

Most people, most of the time, were doing the best that they could..

It doesn’t make what they’ve done ok, it helps me to forgive. 

It doesn’t give them an excuse for their actions, it gives me a better understanding!

And after months of looking at the past through that lens, I could feel God calling me to forgive;

To forgive, even in the absence of an apology.

He went even further by pressing me to apologize! To ask forgiveness from someone that I had sought to forgive myself!

So this last week, after a handful of sleepless nights and a few long, drawn out prayer sessions – where it’s quite plausible that I begged God with all-that-I-had to reconsider! – I did decide to step out and own the hurts I had inflicted.

In the end, my heartfelt request for forgiveness would be accepted; but I would not get an apology back.

Even still, I could clearly hear the Lord asking me to forgive anyway…

And so, I took full ownership for what I had done – without making excuses or pointing fingers – and worked hard to not expect anything in return. I didn’t get answers, nor did I ask for them. I still don’t understand why, and have little hope that I ever will…

But the Lord never wavered,

Forgive anyway!

After I had finished the job at hand, I fully expected to see God looking down at me with a twinkle in his eye, exclaiming, “Well done my good and faithful servant!”, and leaning in to give me a congratulatory smack me on the rear as I exited the game.

Yet instead, the Lord crouched down next to me, tears in His eyes and thoughts of my childhood heavy on His heart;

Thoughts of the little girl who felt the pangs of betrayal, long before the butterflies of a first kiss. The girl who came far too close to giving up on Santa, role models, and daddies at nearly all the same time, and who would learn what it felt like to be truly rejected at the age when most kids, only understood it to mean getting picked last for the kickball team.

The very thought had my knees on the verge of giving out, and my heart ablaze in the hollowness of my chest.

How could I have forgotten…

There was still someone very significant left to forgive! A person rooted DEEP in my past, and unmistakably GUILTY.

I looked up to find His eyes gentle and full of understanding; knowing that nothing could erase those years of turmoil, or could possibly mend that little girl’s broken heart. Yet, even still, The Lord lovingly whispered,

“My Child,

Forgive them anyway…

And so it would seem, that this weeks lesson in forgiveness, has only been a practice session…

The weak can never forgive.Krista Signature

Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

-Mahatma Gandhi

#NoWords

imageIt isn’t often that I am rendered speechless. But after the week I just had…

THERE.

ARE.

NO.

WORDS.

It started months back, when while groggy and disoriented and drinking my morning coffee, I’d swear I saw something dart across the floor…

“It couldn’t be…” — it was! And after weeks it was apparent, we had a MOUSE!

In the beginning there were tears, and other times, just an overabundance of curse words!

I bought traps, and deep cleaned every surface…

photo-5I even went as far to adamantly deny my daughter’s request for anything Mickey Mouse, and prohibit the story of “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” from every being read in our household.

Once, I even placed my daughter’s stuffed dog to ‘guard’ the living room in a (failed) attempt at intimidating the mice into staying away while we slept…photo-8A failed attempt, because when I woke up one morning I found two holes punctured through the top of the plastic wrap that I had placed over brownies the night before! The entire top layer EATEN!

Needless to say, we spent that entire next weekend tearing a part our apartment and searching out even the tiniest of holes! We laid out poison and countless traps, we even called an exterminator! Even still, the mouse would return! … Over and over… FOR 3 MONTHS!!!

Which brings me to this week: where the better half of the first night was spent balancing my body weight on strategically placed chairs, all while prodding the mouse to come out from behind the refrigerator with a Swiffer. While the next night, we sat down to smell the rotting carcass of another mouse that decided to croak under our couch. (And at that point, because I had already tried everything else, the only thing I could do was take an exceedingly long shower, and spray enough Febreeze to intoxicate me into forgetting that this is my life!)

But that was only a temporary fix! Because little did we know what was in store for us the NEXT night…

It all began when I turned on the oven and was startled when a mouse grazed the top of my foot as it scurried out from underneath in a frenzy! In that moment, I did what any logical human being would have done. I turned the oven back off, maintained composure just long enough to phone my husband, and  tell him I wouldn’t be cooking. Like, EVER AGAIN!!! ( And I meant it.)

I then made a decision that would change our fate forever: I  put a sticky trap directly underneath the oven, where I had just seen the mouse run from.

Interestingly enough, my husband got home unusually fast that night (probably sensing my already fragile state was now borderline skitzo) and sweetly suggested we take a nice long walk together.

But there wouldn’t be a walk long enough to prepare us for what was awaiting us back home…

Upon returning, I watched my husband slowly make his way up the steps, unlocking the door, only to stand motionless in the doorway for an uneasy amount of time.

“…I think…we caught one!” is all he had to say to get my heart racing, and have me hurrying up the stairs behind him!

Not even 2 seconds after walking into the apartment, the high-pitched screams of a mouse filled the air!

Now for those of you who’ve never heard a mouse scream, I have heard it best described this way…

It’s kind of like those ‘ocean wave cd’s’ with the sounds of the ocean on it… except there’s no ocean wave sounds. It’s just a mouse, SCREAMING FOR IT’S FRICKIN’ LIFE!!!

-Taylor Williamson

To which, I concur.

And not only was it SCREAMING, it was staring back at us and scrambling to get loose! It’s back legs stuck in goo, but it’s front half attempting to crawl along the floor with the trap still attached to it!

Upon taking a closer look we realized that not only was there one mouse – there were TWO!!!!! — Even worse, they were eating their limbs in an attempt to set themselves free!

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Seriously though,

WHAT.

WERE.

WE.

GOING.

TO.

DO!!!!!

My frantic, late-night google searches of nights past, came flooding back — stories of mice eating through the plastic bags they were placed in and crawling up the pipes, back to the apartment they came from WITH A VENGEANCE!

I cringed, and decided to use a lifeline and phone a friend. Just as she picked up, I could hear my husband’s panic-stricken voice in the background, “… THERE’S 3 OF THEM!!!”

I gagged while quickly getting my friend up to speed on the science-project-gone-horribly-wrong that was going down in my kitchen!

“… I don’t know, If I were you, I would put the mice in a bag and then go outside and hit it against the brick wall until they all die!” she said, strangely calm.

It was apparent at that point that if THIS was the best advice I could get, then only one thing was certain: It was going to be a VERY loooooong night in which NO amount of febreeze would suffice!

I took a deep breath as I hung up the phone, and braced myself for the unthinkable.

First, we decided to cover each mouse so as not to have their beady eyes staring up at us! (And somewhere along the way, it’s quite possible that my husband took it upon himself to step on them, though that’s still up for debate.)

All I know for sure, is once we got to mouse #3 we realized we had a very BIG problem!

Mouse #3 was barely on the trap and was literally hanging on for dear life to the bottom of my stove!!! Every time we tried to pick up the trap, he would get a little more loose… a little more loose…

I paced back and forth, hyperventilating at the thought of the third one getting away and telling all his mouse friends about the bullies in Apt 2N that needed to be ‘taught a lesson.’ We couldn’t have that happen…

Understand: We were desperate! And it was just a matter of time before they escaped…

(Enter: The Meat Mallet)

In the end, what we did with that meat mallet would no doubt have Bobby Flay’s skin crawling. However, we DID indeed get mouse #3 to let go!

… And once the screaming mice had been silenced, and somewhere between mopping the blood off the floor, and bickering back and forth about whether the meat mallet was still usable, a victory dance ensued right there next to the dishwasher and the box of Honey Bunches of Oats. #ThereAreNoWords

… So class, what did we learn?

We learned that unlike the literary classic claims, its not ‘Giving A Mouse A Cookie’ that’s the problem, its giving him a damn BROWNIE that will have you dishing out more than you bargained for!

And seriously, you absolutely MUST get yourself a meat mallet. Like, pronto! Yah know, #JustInCase

Krista Signature

Goodnight kittens, Goodnight mittens,

Goodnight clocks, Goodnight socks,

Goodnight house, and… GOODNIGHT MOUSE!

-Goodnight Moon, with special emphasis.

Step. Away. From. The. Mop.

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This week I welcomed my first house guests! 3 of them!

And for the sake of simple math;

3 guests + the 3 of us = 6 people

6 people in my 650 sq feet New York City Apartment!

6 people not including our mouse ‘friend’ Luca –Yes, I gave him a name… and no, a name doesn’t make me anymore excited to see him bolting into my kitchen in the middle of the night!

3 days, one bedroom, one bathroom, a pull-out couch and an air mattress! Praise Jesus!

As I prepared for my guests arrival, I couldn’t help but to think of how much my life had changed in just a year…

In my ‘past life’ I often enjoyed making extravagent themed meals – because a meal with a theme, is so obviously more enjoyable 😉 – and making wall art out of paper bags and poster board! I even noticed when Rachel started folding her bath towels differently, and went home to practice folding mine the same way!

I know some of you probably want to punch me in the face! I kind of want to punch me in the face too, when I say things like that, but ’tis the truth!

photo-3I started to cry at the thought of how my life had evolved from throwing exquisite 1st birthday parties – complete with intricately handmade party favors and melted ice cream cone cake pops – to transporting already-smushed hamburger buns for an hour long train ride from Manhattan to Yonkers, for a shotgun 2nd birthday barbeque in Ricky’s aunt’s neighbor’s backyard!

I recalled my previous guest room – the one I had designed straight out of a magazine, with crisp white linens, a dramatic gray wall, and a crystal chandelier overhead.

Only to then have my thoughts turn to our ‘new accommodations’, which consist of nothing more than a cracker-crumb laden pull-out couch that the mice feed under! 

I cringed.

Tossing in bed that night, I was overwhelmed with how little I had to offer my guests.

The next morning, I woke up in a frenzy; scrubbing the grout in my bathroom floors for an hour an half, rearranging my dishes, and doing anything I could to overcompensate for the fact that my new home is reminiscent to that of a tree house!

Hours later, and after I had exhausted myself, I sat breathless and weary… and even more, frustrated with the Lord.

In that moment, I couldn’t help but to feel that by God calling us to move here, that He had chosen to take something sacred from me; relocating us to a place where cooking is a near impossibility, and Pinterest is a taunting smack in the face!  It often feels like my back’s up against a wall of mediocrity – thanks to such a small living space, and an even smaller patience level!

With only had an hour till my guests arrived, I looked around, and was surprised to find that after scrubbing nearly every surface, and moving random pieces of furniture around, that my apartment looked almost exactly the way it had before! Only difference was the air smelled of ‘Autumn Sunset’ thanks to the scentsy pot that I had running on over drive!

All that work, and nothing to show for it!

I realized then, it was something in me that needed to change!

I recalled the story of Mary and Martha; two sisters who invited Jesus into their home.

The bible says Martha was distracted with serving; probably scrambling to pick up the shoes that the kids left scattered on the floor, fluffing pillows on the couch in a fury, and looking up a quick pinterest recipe to ‘wow’ her unexpected guest! Maybe even fretting when she didn’t have the right ingredients, wishing she would have picked up some fresh flowers on the way home, and anxiously wondering if the little she had to offer Him was enough -just as I had done the night before!

Her sister Mary -who seemed to not have a worry in the world – chose to instead, sit at the feet of Jesus and listen intently to him as he spoke.

Jesus then called Martha to his side…

” Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

I could feel the Lord asking me in that moment, to do the same-

to be like Mary and not Martha…

Martha in the bible, and even more, not like Martha- flipping- Stewart!

You see, Martha’s primary focus was on RESPONSIBILITIES while Mary’s priority was RELATIONSHIPS!

Martha thought about what she could DO for her guest, while Mary wanted to savor the moment she was blessed to SHARE with them!

Oh, how I need that reminder at times!

In 2 Timothy 1:16  another example of true hospitality can be found when the apostle Paul describes a home that graciously took him in.

Paul writes these words,

“May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for they often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains”

By the sound of it, this family wasn’t appreciated simply because they made homemade pot roast, and provided 400 thread count sheets and a clean towel every day!

The family of Onesiphorus stood out to Paul above all others, because ‘In the heat of his affliction and persecution, they were like a fan in hot weather; cooling and reviving his spirit.’

They didn’t care about the baggage Paul carried – the chains he wore – and the mistakes he made! They showed love to him regardless, and openly welcomed him into their home.

I realized then, that biblical hospitality has less to do with what you can do for someone, and a whole lot more about what you can give of yourself!

No matter what our living situation is we can always offer a listening ear, an encouraging word, or an open mind!  Always!

And so I put the mop and clorox wipes away…

I worked hard to be present, and to refrain from demanding that the shoes be put in the closet.

I chose to stock the fridge with take-home pizzas, and premade conveniences – that the ‘former me’ would have scoffed at – but continuously reminded myself that this weekends guests were getting my attention, not just my efforts! 

There were times when I struggled to find my sense of humor- like the one flippin’ time I attempted to turn the oven on and the fire alarm went off!

And other times, where I had to adamantly choose to let go of hurt and past offenses –the chains we had been wearing– and instead choose not to hold a grudge.

In the end we would all share a surprisingly wonderful birthday weekend together – even with the smushed hamburger buns, store bought cake, and sleepless nights on the pull-out couch!

And the Lord taught me a lesson I can only pray I will have the courage to live out…

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To choose today, to be present above all else!

To do less, but savor more!

Step away from the mop, and say yes to staying in our pajamas!

To quit checking emails, and get on the floor and play with our children.

Let the dishes sit in the sink and instead, eat double stuf Oreos with our husbands!

And maybe even spontaneously invite someone over… for take out!

Truly seek to refresh others,

And don’t be so surprised when you too, find the refreshment your soul has been longing for!

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!