Chase Fireflies


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I Am Not…

I am not a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend (my relationships)
I am not an educator (my training)
I am not an early childhood teacher, youth group leader, children’s church coordinator, or writer (my work)
I am not disciplined, motivated, creative, independent, idealistic, sensitive, or encouraging (my gifts)
I am not scheduled, impatient, anxious, busy, perfectionistic, or critical (my weaknesses)
I am none of these.
I am a naked soul clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

This is my Prayer of Identity. Its purpose is to help me remember who I am, instead of trying to be what others want me to be. When I strip away the layers of performance, ability, or expectations, what remains? Who am I without my role as a wife or mother? Who am I without my education or work? What is my value without accomplishment?

I suppose that I waste a lot of time being what others want me to be, as opposed to what God has uniquely created me for. I also suppose that my view of myself impacts my view of others, whether I intend it to or not. Jesus said that love does not seek its own. If that is true, and I believe that it is, what layers of expectations do I throw on others? Do I love regardless of how someone measures up or fails in that regard?

I think I need to quiet the voices of others more and live loudly the voice of my God. He says,” You are precious and honored in my sight and I love you.” Not because of the roles that I live out, the successes or failures of each day, or the approval or disdain of others. He loves me just because. And that means that I need to love just because.


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Spontaneous Conversations


My mom makes me laugh. Though she would never admit it, she has the worst ADD. Our conversations are rapidfire stories and questions interspersed with her driving while she’s on the phone, taking her contacts out, changing a cd, and fixing her heel. Today, she threw out a gem of a backhanded compliment in the midst of how to cook pork tenderloin so that it’s melt in your mouth, raves of the new Iway bridge, my brother’s incredible sense of humor, and Selah’s cognitive developmental milestones. Please enjoy.

“Kristin, have you been doing anything different to your face?”

“No, mom. Why do you say that?”

“Well, I mean, did you have anything different done to your face?”

“Mom, I’m not sure what you mean exactly. How much can you do or have done to your face without like some sort of weird injections or something? My face is the same.”

“So, you didn’t have anything pulled, burned, or waxed off your cheeks or anything?”

“Gosh, mom. No. Maybe my upper lip and my eyebrows but not my cheeks. Why is that?”

“Well, let me just say that your cheeks look great honey. The best I’ve ever seen them. They are far less hairy than they used to be.”


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Speaking of Community…


We awakened yesterday morning to hear that some close friends of ours had lost everything they had in a fire. Though we are thanking God for their lives, we also are grieving with their loss. Everything is gone, just like that.

The Oesterling family is one of the most respected families in our church. We think the world and more of them. They’ve got three girls in our youth group – Heather (a freshman in college), Aprille (a high school junior), and Christin (an eighth grader.) Their parents, Lon and Sharon, live out their faith daily by helping those in need. Because their kids see an authenticity in their own lives, they are following their parents’ example. The girls have been on missions trips to Mexico City and Africa and are the first to volunteer at the homeless shelter. Recently, they have pretty much adopted a family in the area who live in poverty. They have loved on these four kids like you wouldn’t believe and those kids adore them for it. We see it in their eyes every Sunday morning at church.

Now, it’s our turn to love them. If the church is fulfilling our role as the church, then we need to love, give, cry, encourage, support, sacrifice, and show them the goodness of God in the midst of a pretty bad deal. This is community in action. Please pray for them as they seek to trust God while they are rebuilding all that they know. Pray for the body of Christ to make love evident to them in very practical ways. Pray for their circle of influence – including those 4 kids that I mentioned above. Pray that those kids and their parents would see Jesus in their response to this loss. And pray that God would so pour out His goodness on this family that they would hardly even know what to do with it all.

If by chance, you would like to send a note of encouragement or give a specific gift in their name, please email me at kristincharles@hotmail.com. I will get back to you asap about how you can help. Thanks so much.


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A Gesture of Hope

Nothing is sweet or easy about community. Community is a fellowship of people who do not hide their joys and sorrows but make them visible to each other in a gesture of hope. In community we say,” Life is full of gains and losses, joys and sorrows, ups and downs- but we do not have to do it alone. We want to drink our cup together and thus celebrate the truth that the wounds of our individual lives, which seem intolerable when lived alone, become sources of healing when we live them as part of a fellowship of mutual care.”

-Henry Nouwen

I stumbled across this quote today and fell in love with it. In our individualistic society, we often shun community because we think we can do everything ourselves. So every evening, we escape into our places of refuge and lock the doors. We don’t know our neighbors and sometimes we don’t even know our friends.

I will admit to you that I am one of the worst offenders. It’s really hard for me to connect with people sometimes. One, because I’m so awkward and often uncomfortable in my own skin. I feel like people won’t really like the person that they get to know. Second, when I invite others to live life together with me, they see my vulnerabilities. And then I am found out, unmasked, transparent. In this case, it’s good for me to remind myself that none of us have it all together, ever. And in the realization of that, there is freedom.

The truth is, I know that I need others. We all do. God created us to laugh with each other and to cry with each other. He created us to challenge one another and to confess our failings to one another. Too often I find myself concealing weakness or minimizing hurt. And I assume that I’m not alone in my guise of perfection.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is this – call me to community. Yeah, I need tons of alone time, but I also need others. And if we get together, I’ll look past your inadequacies if you can pretend you don’t see all the clutter in my living room, that annoying eye twitter of mine, or the fact that I can rarely piece two legitimate sentences together these days.


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This and That

So I’m almost a qualified Gymboree instructor, one who can call Gymbo out with gusto and coordinate some sweet parachute moves. It’s a toss up as to which is my favorite song – the frenzied, We want, we want Gymbo (Gymbo is a red clown, green clown, yellow clown… to the Queen tune) or See Saw Margery Daw (Gymbo shall have a new master. He’ll pop only a bubble a day cause he can’t pop any faster) Oh, then there’s one about sliding down my rainbow barrel into my cellar door and of course – when you fall into my cellar? – we’ll be good friends forevermore. It’s a bizarre little world in that place, but now that I’ve got the scripts down, it’s manageable. And besides that, the kids are each so precious and their parents have really been very gracious and friendly. I start my own classes in April and I’m itching to get Selah and Adden in there. They are going to love it, love it, love it.

I gave my testimony this morning at a moms’ group that I go to. I woke up this morning, feeling like I had run into a wall, and just never woke up. I felt bad because I wasn’t prepared enough to share (I have been so disorganized of late that I thought this particular meeting was in May.) In a way, I felt like I had disgraced God and discredited him with my rambles. I just pray that the women there were able to look past me and see Jesus somewhere in the mess of me.

The other women that shared were outstanding. I learned so much just by listening to their stories. They were authentic and real and heartwrenching. It reminded me of how important it is to be intentional about getting together with people, asking questions, and hearing what their hearts are saying. The effort needs to be made and I am so sorry for failing in this regard.

Tonight I was able to attend youth group for the first time in a while. It was a blast hanging out with the girls, giggling, and listening to their stories. They are so much fun. I just about melted when Lillian told me she has missed me, Christin drew me pictures, and Pam didn’t leave without her hug. I love them all more than I could describe.

So, March Madness is almost here. Whohooo! I just filled my brackets out and I’m ready for go time. Every year I think I’m going to win it all. For real. And I get really upset when I don’t. Paul thinks I’m ridiculous because noone has ever had a perfect bracket. But I will be the first, I tell you! And when I am, I’ll go on the Today show saying that it was just a fluke and meet Ann Curry (but Matt Lauer will probably end up doing that segment.) Truth be told, I will bomb out just like every year and then be a very disgruntled woman. But, there’s always a chance…

Well, I better get to bed here. I have about three million and two things to accomplish tomorrow. We leave for RI Friday so there’s packing to do, Gymboree homework, housework, and a consignment sale to prepare for. Oh, and eggs to dye with Selah’s “people” on them. The people refer to Cinderella, Sleeping Booty, and Belle. She sure does love her princesses.


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How Does God Allow Evil?

I asked God how He could allow suffering.

And He said, “I don’t. You do.”

-David Kuo

Paul directed me to this blog entry today and it coincided with some reading that I got to do today – all about bringing our presence into another’s pain – loneliness, poverty, disease, hopelessness, whatever.

As a follower of Christ, when we bring our presence, we bring the presence of someone much more significant than ourselves. We enter into the face of suffering with the God of all hope, all comfort, and all compassion. We make our invisible God visible.

Henry Nouwen said that, “Compassion, to be with others when and where they suffer and to willingly enter into a fellowship of the weak, is God’s way to justice and peace among people.”

We need to not allow suffering anymore, when it is well within our power to do something.