Number 10

A co-worker of mine had this impressive list on her office door entitled “10 Requirements To Be An Effective Believer”.  I was so captivated by it, because until I stumbled on to grace I would never have been able to get past even Number 1.

I googled the list it but I haven’t been able to find its author. It sounds like Tim Keller, but I couldn’t authenticate it.

As I look over the list it hits me that there are a lot of Christians that have trouble getting past even Number 1 on the list.  I know it took me awhile because the more life is about you, the less you recognize what’s right in front of your face.

The other thing I figured out is that each requirement builds on the next – you won’t get Number 2 until you first get to a place where you’ve completely embraced or understand Number 1, and so on.  The list isn’t for everyone, but it’s my hope it will be for you.

Personally, I struggle the most with Number 3 and Number 4…and sometimes Number 9 (when it applies to Salsa Guy).

Number 10 is the reason I blog.   Enjoy, and let me know what you think:


10 Requirements For Being an Effective Believer

1. A personal understanding of my own sinfulness

2. An overwhelming sense of God’s grace for me, and for everyone

3. A heart that forgives and forgets

4. An absence of agenda

5. An expectation that God is already in the world…I’m joining Him there – not taking Him there

6. A sense of the church as the body of Christ Universal

7. An insatiable curiosity for all that is not yet known to me

8. A belief in the intrinsic value of every of every human life

9. An assumption that I have something to learn from everybody

10. A deep and abiding desire for everyone to know what God has done for them through Christ

God Uses Broadway Plays

I love how God can use even our selfish motivations for His glory.  Such is the case with my involvement in a wonderful ministry in New York called Operation Exodus.

Much of my younger life was filled with feelings of entitlement and pity parties. One of those areas that I felt entitled was travel. “I’m the only person I know that hasn’t been to Hawaii!  I never get to travel anywhere.”  I remember some of those words coming out of my mouth, and God, in His sovereignty probably rolled His eyes and shook His head and mumbled something like “Kris, Kris, Kris! REALLY? You’re going to play that card?”…when what He probably really wanted to do was drop-kick me.   Just another time I’m sure I grieved the Holy Spirit.

Grace comes into this story (as it always does) by the Father allowing me to slowly learn a great lesson once I started to put other people first.  I’ve now been to 3 of the Hawaiian Islands, Alaska, Mexico, the Bahama’s, to many states in the U.S. and ya know what….they’re just places.  None are quite as pretty as Lake Tahoe.  So what I built up in my head as something that I deserved – I really didn’t need.  Oh, they were nice and the experience was fun, but God doesn’t owe me anything.

Fast forward to 2009 where I am facilitating mission trips at work that deal with an organization called Mission To The World.  By then I had been to Mexico to build homes for needy folks for several years and had begun to catch on to what ministry to others felt like (putting others before myself) and God was gently directing my heart to embrace serving others. It was exhilarating and new and it felt really good.  That’s what happens when you take your eyes off of yourself.

I was challenged via Skype by my dear friend Bobbi Jo at MTW when she said “Why don’t YOU go on a short-term mission trip, Kris?” I quickly  informed her that I had been serving in Mexico for years, but she persisted in encouraging me to stretch myself out of my comfort zone.  My boss (gosh darn him!) supported Bobbi Jo and also encouraged me to go.  Really?….I was a middle-aged woman and where would I go?

When Bobbi Jo informed me that she was the Director of MTW Missions to Asia, Europe and New York City… well my ears perked up when I heard New York!  What was this?…a Broadway play mission trip?   I had always wanted to travel to The Big Apple and here was my chance!  This was something I could embrace AND look good at the same time because people would think I was being self-less by doing ministry!  And it was certainly less threatening than Asia and less scary than traveling to Europe by myself.   WooHoo….sign me up, baby!

Thus began a love affair with a broken and beautiful city that would rock my world and change my life.  I packed my bags that first year and headed to New York for a week and worked alongside Bobbi Jo and the tutors at Operation Exodus, feeding 45 volunteers daily and watching the most amazing young people in the inner city of Washington Heights do an amazing job teaching and mentoring kids.  These tutors, many who have been through OE themselves as kids, walk alongside the local Dominican and Puerto Rican children and teach them how to better themselves, and how to make a difference for the gospel.  In an area where gangs and drugs and teenage pregnancy rates are high, the tutors at OE help build Christian character, and focus on academics in a program that has seen phenomenal high school graduation results in the past 14 years.

I fell in love and have been going back the past 5 years, taking with me teams of people each summer whose lives are forever changed by the ministry. You go thinking you’re going to help these kids, but you walk away finding that God is teaching you way more about yourself than you could ever teach these children.  And isn’t that what grace is?  Getting something you weren’t expecting?   Even a middle-aged gal…traipsing around NY like a teenager.  HA!….Ya gotta love it!

OK – this is the part where I have to “fess up”.  I have to admit that I’ve been to a few Broadway plays while there, so don’t hate me because I’m Broadway saavy.   It’s what God lured me to New York with in the midst of my selfishness and so I feel like I should honor Broadway plays by seeing a show now and then.  That, or at least a Yankees or Mets game.  Are you buying this?  Yeah…no – me neither.

So anyway….I’m heading there again at the end of the week to work again with these delightful kids.  If you think of it, pray for a safe trip, lots of great stories about God’s grace, as well as my ability to lead our team of 14.  Each team going this summer will be teaching on a different genre of books;  historical fiction, mystery, biographies, science and technology, etc.  Our team will be teaching on mysteries, writing stories and how God writes OUR story.  We have been busy preparing, but I sometimes get all wrapped up in  the plans that go along with making this a successful trip, when my first priority should be to pray.  I always want to be reminded that I’m not in charge – it’s God’s gig and it’s His party.

Speaking of parties….this will be the first year that we are in the Big Apple when our country celebrates our Independence on July 4th.  That will be a treat!  Undeserved….but a treat nonetheless.  Follow along on the fun as I blog my way through New York next week with Operation Exodus.  Grace…and Broadway plays.

Fathers and Forgiveness

I’m thinking about my Dad today.  He was a wonderful man, although I didn’t know that until I had children of my own. Growing up, we didn’t have a close relationship, mostly because he wasn’t very relational.

I’m wired for relationship and he was practical, analytical, loved routine, was linear, didn’t color outside the lines and ate the exact same thing every day for lunch.  He was an aeronautical engineer that had a pocket protector that held his pencils (you know the type). Rather than offer encouragement and support he was wired to look at something and figure out the how / what / when / where of what could go wrong or break down.  So we didn’t speak the same language and we weren’t close.

After I married and had kids, my son developed a love for “Papa” that was endearing.  “Mommy, Papa can fix anything!”  I learned to appreciate his practicality and the fact that although we didn’t speak the same language of love he still loved his family and cared for us by providing for us financially and with a nice home.  He wasn’t exactly knowledgeable on the emotional and spiritual aspects of supporting and raising children, but you do the best you can with what you’re equipped with.  And I think he had regrets about that, but being the practical guy that he was he didn’t dwell on it.

Could my Dad done better as a Father?  Sure he could have. Could I hold on to bitterness and un-forgiveness for things he wasn’t programmed to understand?  Absolutely…and I dabbled in that for a season.  Could I bash him after he was gone and blame him for being the reason for my own lack-luster ability to be more of a positive encourager? Oh, that would been the easy thing to do. But the bottoms line is forgiveness and grace.

Dang – there’s that grace word again.  Ugh.  Giving my Dad something that he didn’t deserve.  But what if I want to hold on to it for a little while longer until I’m feeling better and THEN I offer him grace when I’m good and ready?

The place that I’m at is this:….I certainly don’t deserve forgiveness from MY “heavenly Father”…and so today I will offer forgiveness to the man that cared for me in his own way – the only way he knew how and I will continue to allow God to heal any broken places in my heart.  I will say “Happy Father’s Day” to my Daddy and rest in the knowledge that my Heavenly Father offers me the best love and support my earthly father couldn’t.  So its a win / win.  Forgiveness is for me to offer, and when I have trouble walking through that all I have to do is ask God for help.  And forgiveness is for my sweet Dad.  Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Oh….and by the way….guess who now is just as linear as her dad (I seriously want to roll down my window and reprimand people whose bumper stickers aren’t placed evenly in the middle of their bumper) and eats almost the exact same thing for lunch every day?  Uh huh.  However, I DO draw the line at pocket protectors!  🙂


Wild flowers and rebels

I just came off of a wonderful weekend away with girl friends.  Not just any girl friends.  These ladies – some from my past but most in the-here-and-now are the ones who I surround myself with to keep me grounded.   I hold each of them near to my heart, as they are the ones who make me feel that I have value.  I am humbled that they walk this journey with me, and I am so thankful for the special part each of them play in my life.  When we get together, all our different personalities come to the surface and you can imagine the fun we have.  They kidnapped me unknowingly (or at least tried to) for a R&R  weekend in Tahoe, and before you could say “pass the M&M’s“,  Christ’s bond knit us together and the laughter began, the wine was opened,  the stories began to spill out, the chocolate began to be consumed and before you know it we began to make another special memory together.  These ladies take very good care of me, and this weekend was meant to honor me in a special way when I needed it most.  I am so grateful.

Shortly before the drive up the hill to Lake Tahoe (my favorite place on the planet) a new friend, Sara gave me an encouraging note to help lift the burden of a big project we are working on together.  It came with some wild flowers and hand delivered by her sweet children with a big hug, and a note that said “…let these wild flowers remind you that our God brings order to wild things and makes rebels into His children.”   On the front was one simple word.…”Holiness”.

Sara and I have had conversation about our former lives, and how by God’s grace we are changed women, so the part about making rebels into His children especially hit home with me.  Like those wild flowers, I was a bit of a rebel in my past – oh, probably tame by many standards but rebellious towards God nonetheless.  My mouth (no filter) and actions (most of which were geared towards attention towards self) sometimes were a reflection of my desire to hold on to some bit of control of my own life and not have to turn everything over to this cosmic killjoy in the sky.

As you can guess, I’m typically the kind of gal that you can warn, “You’d better not run into that brick wall…it’s going to hurt” and I’ll still end up running head-on into it because I somehow don’t believe you.  When I was young, I wasn’t exactly listening well to God.  Yet He has been so kind to me in that vein and He hasn’t  forced Himself upon me.  He’s allowed me to walk through life full of myself and often going my own way until I bash into a few walls and finally come running back to His side.  There, He enfolds me in His arms with nothing but unconditional love.   “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.  for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear him..” (Psalm 103:10-11)

So there we all sat, gathered on the deck of this beautiful cabin and one friend started sharing some old stories about some of my antics from years ago.  Admittedly, we have some pretty funny stories from our younger years – when I wasn’t exactly plugged in to the Holy Spirit.  As she spoke there were moments where I cringed.  Did I really say that?  Ugh.  I did what?  My main concern was that those in the group that might still be holding on to a thread of misconception that I might possibly have it somewhat together, surely they would be shocked to hear some of the less than holy things that I had done.  Again, trying to look better than I was.

But as we walked through the weekend together, and I was loved and encouraged by these precious sisters, it was a sweet reminder of the grace God has shown me.  Just like those wild flowers Sara brought me, He has brought order to this wild thing and taken a rebel and turned her into one of His children.  My hope is that someday I’ll end up resembling just a inkling of the flip side of the card ….something that I could never achieve on my own – just a tiny glimpse of holiness.

I am so grateful that these ladies water and nourish this wild flower.  Thanks girl friends!



The Penguin and the Melanyorkie

I just noticed that the last two posts of mine started out talking about my husband. Hmmmm….do you think I maybe like the guy? I didn’t always. Loved him….yes…..liked him….not so much. I’ve told you a little about myself – now its time to tell you a little about the man I’m married to. I’m going to call him “Salsa Guy” (and if you read my earlier post you’ll know why).

Say hello to Salsa Guy….

Salsa Guy

You know how people say opposites attract? I’m a big believer in that philosophy. I think its because we look at another person with different temperament traits and we see qualities in them that we lack, and we want what they have…so we’re drawn to those people. That’s how it was with Salsa Guy. He was handsome, sensitive, caring, gentle, attentive, loving, kind (right about now you’re remembering what I said about being attracted to the qualities we lack…which doesn’t make me look so good right now), and when we were dating and we talked on the phone he never wanted to say goodbye. We would say goodbye about 10 times and then start another conversation because we just couldn’t get enough of each other. Isn’t that just so cute?

It wasn’t long after we got married that all those wonderful things about my sweet husband started to drive me crazy! That sensitivity in him that I was attracted to…now it drives me crazy because he can be a little “oversensitive” and I can hurt his feelers and not even know it. And his attentiveness – still going strong. The funny thing, though, is that he also needs it from me. What is up with that? When I work, and I have laundry to do and kids to feed and clothes to fold and dinner to make and a house to clean and ….well, you get the idea. I wasn’t always so able to be attentive or accept his attentiveness because I was falling asleep mid-underwear fold which didn’t bode so well with him. As the kids grew up and moved out, Salsa Guy remains attentive….kind of like a freight train heading my way that I have to get out of the way. And the phone call thing – at one point I had to set a limit to how many times he could call me in a day because I couldn’t get anything done. Dad-blam it…the guy was enamored with me.

Now before I go any farther…I get it, girls – there’s many out there that would trade their lower back tatoo for a man like that. I am, truly blessed. I know this to be true, trust me. But we are polar opposites, which makes life fun at our house.

If you’ve ever done a study of the God-given temperaments (and may I say I think every person on the planet should be required to do so. It should be taught in our schools and in every marriage counseling session) you’ll know that there are all sorts of temperament descriptions. There’s the Meyers-Brigg (I can never remember all those letters) and the Teacher’s Personality Assessment (too academic) and then there’s the basic personality description using animal motifs. Now that’s something I can get behind…..except that I’m an otter and its says that I’m “playful and non-productive”. Oh brother.

The one that I keep going back to is the Personality Plus study of our God-given personalities. It’s sub-title is Understanding Yourself So That You Can Understand Others. Did you notice it didn’t say anything about “changing” others? I really hated that part.

About 25 years ago as I was perusing the Christian bookstore Marriage Self-help section, I came across a book entitled I Love You…But Why Are We So Different? by Tim LaHaye. BAM….I bought it on the spot! It’s sub-title is “Making the Most of Personality Differences in Your Marriage“. This book saved my marriage! OK, if you’re going to argue that God saved our marriage I’ll give you that…but He definitely used this book in the process.

So the four personalities that are described in the book are: the sanguine, the melancholy (opposites – one out-going/the other not so much), the choleric, and the phlegmatic (one also out-going/the other not). They’re based off of Hippocrates’s theory of temperaments, and they all have their own strengths and weaknesses, and no one is completely one without some of the others. Jesus was a perfect blend of all of the strengths of each. They can also change depending on your environment, age, and events that take place in your life.

You should check the book out to find a more detailed description of the strengths and weaknesses of each, but my two dominant temperaments are the sanguine (think Kelly Ripa, Robin Williams) and the choleric (think Oprah and Donald Trump). If you gave one word to best describe those two dominant temperaments they would be “Popular” and “Powerful”. But on the flip side there are a list of not-so great weaknesses that plague those two personality types. We can say things without thinking, hurt people’s feelings, bulldoze people, and boss people around without even knowing it. Thank goodness for people who showed me grace despite those flaws.

Salsa Guy hates labels and it took him a couple of years to warm up to the whole concept of personality types (he could never remember the name Sanguine, so he started calling me a Penquin), but he finally embraced it. His two dominant personalities are the melancholy (think Hemingway and Beethovan) and the phlegmatic (think Tim Duncan or Sandy Koufax). One word that best describes his two dominant personality types are “Perfect” and “Peaceful”. But also on his flip side his melancholy weaknesses sometimes (but not always) make living with his opposite (me!) a bit like throwing a match into a firecracker warehouse. KABOOM!

I explained where the word Penguin came from that Salsa Guy refers to me by when talking about temperaments, but I should explain where we came up with the word Melanyorkie. We have 3 dogs…all Yorkies. One of them (Bailey) is definitely a Melancholy personality. Yes, animals can have different personality types, and Bailey can go from high speed chasing and playing to sudden depression at the drop of a Frisbee. But, since he’s a YORKIE and not a Collie (get it!….meloncholy….collie!) we call him a Melanyorkie. Cheesy, I know. So, I call Salsa Guy a melonyorkie and he calls me a penguin.

So you see….this marriage thing was not always peaceful or fun. We had some bumpy moments and (whew baby!) we could tussle like the best of them, but we’ve also seen our temperaments change and soften through the years. Some of my melancholy and phlegmatic traits that were hidden below the surface are starting to show more, as are some of his sanguine and choleric. I guess that’s what happens when we start to put others first before ourselves.

The part that grace played into our marriage is that God blessed me so abundantly when he gave me the gift of relationship with my husband. I didn’t deserve him, and there were definitely moments throughout our marriage where I didn’t particularly want him…but I’m so thankful God knew better and now I thank Him for Salsa Guy every day. Except when he bosses me around in the kitchen. God knew exactly what I needed in personality type to fit together with my crazy quirks to make a beautiful mess. And in the midst of all the bumping up against our differences, our souls agreed on one thing – we were deeply in love and didn’t want to be with anyone else. And somehow, for 34 years, we’ve tangled our hearts and our souls together like a vine…which ultimately kept us tied together and never wanting for another. And isn’t it amazing what happens when you stick with it? It would have been easy to quit. But then I’d never have been able to see him with gray hair, or glasses, or have him stand beside me when I buried my parents. It was worth all the bumps and bruises.

So there you have it! Me and Salsa Guy. The Penquin and the Melanyorkie. Living life loving one another despite our personality differences.