31 Days: A Monday Morning Prayer

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Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much

seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

(Prayer of St. Francis)

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31 Days: A Monday Morning Blessing

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A Franciscan Blessing
May God bless you with discomfort,
At easy answers, half-truths,
And superficial relationships
So that you may live
Deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression,
And exploitation of people,
So that you may work for
Justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears,
To shed for those who suffer pain,
Rejection, hunger and war,
So that you may reach out your hand
To comfort them and
To turn their pain to joy
And may God bless you
With enough foolishness
To believe that you can
Make a difference in the world,
So that you can do
What others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness
To all our children and the poor.
Amen
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31 Days of Kingdom Life: Sunday Rest and Being Enough

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(See the other posts here)

The other week we spent an evening at the Balloon Glow the night before the Great Forest Park Balloon race. We went with my sister and her family, and picnicked on a field over looking the balloons as they were inflated.

We were surrounded by a sea of people in varying skin tones and a couple of different languages.

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I didn’t know their stories but I was overcome by God’s love for them all, just as they were.

Not for anything they had done. Not for anything they hadn’t done. Some individuals within that mass of people had probably done unspeakable acts towards fellow humans. Others (or the same ones) had probably done beautiful things acts towards fellow humans.

God’s love for them was not because of or in spite of anything they did. It just was.  Simply because they existed.

I was deeply aware in that moment that God had been with every single one of us every single moment of our lives. Always a loving presence as real as our breath.

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I’m not always good at sabbath rest. Sometimes I think the things I am involved in are more important. Sometimes the to do list is overwhelming.

But I can understand the importance of rest. Sabbath says I am not God. Sabbath says God is enough.

As I wrestle with living out God’s the prayer “thy Kingdom come,” I always come back to the realization that I do not have to earn God’s love.

I don’t serve others because I’m trying to win some celestial prize. I love because I was first loved. I serve because I was first served.

I rest because I am completely and utterly human.

(See the rest of the 31 Days of Kingdom Living here)

Moving, moving, moving.

Happy Saturday afternoon, all.

It’s been quiet here, because we have moved on over to my own domain. I will miss this little spot, but owning my domain gives me a little more flexibility than the free blog here. :)

Thedayofsmallthings(dot)com wasn’t an option. So I’ve moved over to KristiAtkinson.com, although, that feels a little strange and self-promotional.

So far it’s been like setting up a new house. A little strange at first, but turning slowly into home.  I am starting to get used to the layout of the land. Trying to do the same things I did here in different ways there.

I’m grateful for this space and what it has meant for me over the past three years or so. It’s been a lovely home to my thoughts and family memories.

Looking forward to this next season on KristiAtkinson.com and new possibilities.

If you’re an email subscriber, you are welcome to head over there and sign up in the same way you did here. :)

31 Days: Kidst Gebretsadik

kidstpic2My friend Kidst moved from Ethiopia to the United States at the age of 18, joining her sister in Minneapolis, MN.

I met her when I started working in the activities department of the nursing home. We would run into each other in the hallways. I was usually ushering a resident from one activity to another. Kidst was usually gently, patiently tending to whichever resident was under her care at the moment.

What I noticed about Kidst was that when she worked with a resident, she was fully present with them.  She didn’t rush through the tasks as if they were just one stop on her to do list. She stayed by their side, ministering to their needs. When she was done with the things she had to do, she went back into their rooms to spend time with them.

She treated the residents as humans worthy of dignity and love, not as her job.

What I know of Kidst in my own life was this: When I was pregnant, and wanting to eat healthier came over to teach me to cook an authentic Ethiopian meal. Kidst would often stop what she was doing to help me move tables for an activity or push whichever wheel chair I was at that time.

Kidst dropped everything when we bought our new house and came over to our EXTREMELY messy apartment to help me load my car full of unorganized items and bring them to our new house. When Kidst came over to hang out with the kids and I one afternoon when Judah was around 2, he claimed her as his friend and not mine. What I know of Kidst is that she has lived Christ’s love into my life, out of the overflow of her own life.

Kidst lives Love to everyone she meets.

She is sincere and earnest when talking about her faith, but more often than not she is serving in big and small ways. When Kidst and I worked together, she was a nurse’s aide while in school to become a nurse.

As I thought about spending a month talking about living a Kingdom life, Kidst’s name came to mind immediately. We lives several states away these days, but got a chance to talk one afternoon during nap time.

Me: What made you want to become a nurse?

Kidst: Since I was five years old, I liked to care for my family. Whoever was sick I wanted to go and comfort. I would go and wash their feet. It’s something that is growing in me. I wanted to protect everyone in the house. I have had this compassion in me since I was a kid. Growing up I used to go visit the poorer neighbors and help. It’s not me, it’s God in me. In nursing, there are more interactions with people. You can care for the sick very closely, and that’s what I love

kidst picMe: What are the greatest rewards of nursing?

Kidst: I think the greatest reward is fulfilling God’s will. Jesus was healing people and feeding them and people praying for them. I can do what he was doing. I am serving God at the same time and I’m working.

 Me: What is one thing that you have learned from your patients about the love of God?

Kidst: I think it is more about the acceptance of love. I love caring for [the most difficult] people because those people need love. They need God. I pray before I go to help them and I show them love. I think that interaction shows me that God really  loves those people. Even if other people do not love them. God accepts them. God loves them. Jesus died for them. And it is nothing that I do from myself or my strength. Sometimes people get confused [that] even when they yell at me, I don’t respond [angrily]. I smile or treat them kindly. They react to that love. It changes them.

Me: What is one thing you hope your patients learn from you about the love of God.

Kidst: I hope and I believe in God that one day they will realize that God exists. [That they will see] one day that [interacting with me] was God loving them. That was God providing for them. They can see God and God will open their eyes one day. That is how God did it for me. One time I started going to an evangelical church in Ethiopia. I went to their tutors, prayer times, and services. Seeing their life. Seeing their love for God and for us. They were good to us and I wanted to be like them.  Seeing the example of God’s love in other people changed me.

Me: Tell me about your heart for you home country? Why is it important for you to continue to go back and serve? How often do you go back? What do you do there?

Kidst: I hope to go every year. Right now it’s every other. It’s important to go and serve the poor. God gave me this opportunity to come to this country and be educated. I have to go back and give back to the people in Ethiopia who don’t have medical privelidge like we have here.

After serving in Ethipoia with another organization, Kidst came back with a hope that her church in Minnesota, (the Ethiopian Evangelical Church) would answer the needs in their home country. Shortly thereafter, Agape Med was started with a heart to serve the mental, physical, and spiritual needs of the poorest areas in Ethiopia. “We are willing to take anyone who has a heart to serve.” Kidst said. “Whether they are Christian or not.” (There is a form for potential volunteers on the website as well as opportunities to give).

 Me: If you could encourage everyday people to serve God in their own way, what would you say?

Kidst: “Serving God is [not only done] by speaking or preaching. But by living, and walking in love. Showing love for others no matter who they are. Love is big. It’s a power. People are not coming to Christ because we are not showing love and we are not serving the poor. Loving means not only who loves you, but the people who don’t love you. That is one way that we can show Christ in our world. By Praying every day that God can give us his power so that we can walk in love and forgiveness. [What I am doing] is not about me,God is using me.”

Kidst reminded me of a resident in the nursing home who angrily fought all of her nurses. She seemed to have a permanent scowl across her face. The nurses and aides dreaded working with her. But Kidst would always volunteer.

Kidst: “I did what she wanted. She wanted to choose her own clothing. She wanted respect. We prayed together and read the bible and that lady really changed. And there was a picture of her smiling with me and another resident saw picture and said “I have never seen her smile.”

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(Kidst and Judah playing in our kitchen after he declared her HIS friend, not mine).

That is the amazing thing: how love can change people. People would say wait two or three weeks, and she will start being mean to you too. But she didn’t. Instead she changed completely for everyone, not just for me. 

In [my current] job at the hospital, the manager gives me the difficult patients and families saying: “I want you to take care of them to see how he reacts with you.” [One in particular] started smiling and talking with me. He had never spoken to anyone. It’s just God in me, I’m not scared of  the people

My advice to others would be: Be yourself, wherever you are . Everything you do, do it for God. God will use you. That will change other peopole. You don’t have to be a nurse, whatever you do God will use that. I think that is why we are here. If not for God, life is meaningless. Do anything in the name of God and   he will give you compassion love and respect for others.

Kingdom Come: A 31 Day Series

This is the first year that I have joined in with the Nester and the rest of the bloggers who are are writing for 31 days on their own specific topic.

This year, I am holding onto one of the topics I wrestle with the most: Engaging with God’s Kingdom in the context of our own lives. What does it look like to pray and live into, “Your Kingdom come.”

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One of the most pervasive questions I wrestle with is how to live “as Christ.”

And while this season finds me at home with my kids, I have also pondered this thought in other seasons of full time ministry.

For example, when I was working 60-80 hours serving at-risk youth, I felt like maybe I should volunteer in my “off” hours with a group that taught English to the Somali refugee population of Minneapolis. Now when most of my day is rooted in my home with the kids, the question is a little louder.

At least in the back of my mind, I have always wondered if my life looked truly, deeply like a follower of Christ.

Because this Savior of mine? He gave up everything during his three years of ministry. He was more or less homeless. He didn’t seek glories, but poured out love, healing, grace onto everyone he met. He rejected things that we find incredibly important in our lives, like financial security and personal safety.

He also lived 33 mysterious years of normal life– that is whatever normal life means to God with skin on.

So, how does a mom of two young kids in a suburb two thousand years later follow this Man who changed her life?

There is so much brokenness and hurt in the world. There is much darkness. How and where do I shine light?

This month will be about seeking scripture, and talking to people I know or have heard of who walk in the way of Christ.

I welcome you to follow along!

Another Mid-Monday Blessing.

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If this Monday finds a full week ahead colliding with your finite limitations,

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May you have the grace to stop and see the light falling just so across the whirling days.

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May the messiness remind you of the wise man that once said: Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests. (Prov. 14:4)

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And may a messy home be a sign, not of failure, but of a life well lived.

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