Meeting Jesus in Walmart.....

A few weeks ago I was in the home-goods section of Walmart.  I'm not a huge Walmart fan, but we needed more reusable plates and forks for our after-school program and that seemed like the best place to buy them.  So I'm walking around and I notice an older man in a scooter and on oxygen.  He was looking for twin extra-long sheets for a hospital bed.  He asked the employees for help, reasoning that they should still have them, since students had just gone back to college.  Both employees tried to help them, but couldn't find the sheets.

As I was searching for reusable plastic plates (which are more difficult to find than I would have imagined) I debated with myself over whether or not I should help this man.  He reminded me of my dad in about 20 years.  With a Chiefs shirt, graying hair and a bigger belly.  An older gentleman, but the nicest disposition. Carrying on and joking with the employees as they halfheartedly tried to help him.   I abandoned my search for the plates, and went over to look through the sheets department.  Sure enough, in about 30 seconds I was able to find what he was looking for, even in Chief's red.  I gave them to him, and he thanked me.  Even told me that Walmart should be paying me. I laughed and told him I was good, that I was glad I could help, and walked away because I was starting to tear up.

As I hid in the gloriously chaotic clearance section and acted fascinated with the clearance school supplies (though, maybe it wasn't an act), I tried to come to terms with my response to helping this man.

Was it because he was in a scooter and oxygen, and looking for sheets for a hospital bed.  Was there know one in better shape who could help him out, or was he helping out someone in worse shape than him?

Was it because he was wearing a Chiefs shirt and I am so fiercely missing my own grandparents (huge Chiefs fans), this first Chiefs season without them.

Was it because he reminded me of my own father, both in how he looked, and in the idea that he might be taking care of someone else.  And though my parents both follow Jesus and heaven would be much better than earth, I am terrified of losing them.

Was it because of my own hesitancy to help him?  Kristen in the past would have helped him before the Walmart employee could have given it a go.  Kristen in the past would have looked at it as a small way to be Jesus to someone.  Kristen in her current condition had to mill-over it and decide if it was worth the time.

I think that is what made me sad.  The realization that ministry right now isn't flowing from my heart, but has become something that I ration, something that I have been holding tight-fisted to. Something that I have reserved for places and spaces with the fear of it running out.  

How do I get back to a place, where the joy of Jesus is in my life and ministry happens from the over-flow of that?

Here's to 32

It's been a while.Two years to be exact.

30 has, come and gone.  Which in and of it's self is pretty humbling.30 was fine.  Nothing too crazy.

I reached being fully funded for the first time at work, drawing a full salary for the first time in in over 4 years.  There were some great moments of Jesus breakthrough with the kiddos I worked with.  We saw tremendous growth in our ministry. Both our Tuesday night program and our after-school program grew and multiplied.  I became a boss.  Supervising first 1, and then 3 staff members, and leading our youth and kids ministries.

31 was a little bit different.  A little tougher on a personal level.My sister got really sick, and ended up with emergency surgery and 11 days in the ICU.  While Tiffany was in the hospital, I had knee surgery(I know, my poor parents).  I lost my Granny in January, and Popo in June.

31 had a few good moments.  Disney with my mom, sister and nephews.  Camp with some amazing girls.  Great moments in community with friends in neighbors. Learning to ask for help.

But, somewhere along the line, I realized that I had lost track of who I was.  I got caught up in doing and forgot how to be.  I realized I had become tired, weary, and stoic. I had lost joy. I was becoming bitter.

I didn't like myself.

I was burnt-out.

So, when 32 arrived, I made some resolutions.  Not something you normally do in August, but you know, it works. I decided that I wanted 32 to look different.

I want to waste time.

I want to laugh.

I want to pray more.

I want to be ok with things getting messy.

I want to stop looking to others for approval and affirmation.

I want to to say something other than "busy" or "tired" when people ask how I am doing.

I want to be an encourager, not just someone that is in desperate need of encouraging.

I want to be healthy, in all aspects.

I want to figure out what I enjoy, and get back to doing it.

So, here's to 32, to getting a life, and remembering who God made me to be.

(and, I like writing, so maybe it will be less than two years before I write again:-))

A few photos from the past 2 years...

Sweet Granny B

My sweet Granny Burton passed away from cancer in January. My Granny was someone who loved Jesus and loved others. She was known for being an encourager, someone who saw the best in others and made sure they realized how special they were. I shared at her funeral that growing up, I was convinced that I was Granny’s favorite, but in reality, Granny made everyone feel like they were her favorite.

Mom and I would frequently go visit Granny as she was getting ready to meet Jesus, and in one of our trips, I asked her how Granny became a Christian. I found out that Granny wasn’t raised in the church, and her parents didn’t go to church at all until she was older. Granny came to know Jesus because when she was a little girl, a neighbor invited her to go to church with them.

As someone who work with kids, this hit me hard. I sat and thought about my mom, aunts and uncles, my siblings, my cousins and my second cousins and my nephews and about the legacy of faith that we had inherited which includes loving others and loving Jesus. We probably wouldn’t have that faith if a neighbor didn't take Granny to church because she saw the significance in offering Jesus to her.

I thank God for that neighbor. I am so grateful that they took little Emogene to church, and that she met Jesus there. I am left challenged and wondering, how can I be that neighbor? How can I encourage those around me to be that neighbor?

I have the chance to be that neighbor to many kids and teens. I have the chance to show them that Jesus is the way, that He will forgive their sins, and that following Jesus will make their life better. We can bring God’s Kingdom to earth in how we love and serve those around us. I think about how God used a neighbor 75+ years ago to lead my grandma to the Lord, and as a result 4 generations of our family know Jesus as Lord. What might He do with the kids and teens I get the chance to hang out with? How might He use the relationships that the Jesus followers of our neighborhood have, to change the eternity of generations to come. Wow, that’s a pretty humbling thought.