Count the cost . . .

 

Wow!  These past 6 months have been a whirlwind for us.  In January my hubby awakens in the morning looks over at me and pastors shoessays, “God told me to shut the café.”  So, we did.  We have invested 4 years of our life here.  We had many struggles throughout these last four years and I must say it’s been a real ride with twists, turns, ups, downs and 180s but through it all God’s been in control.  Do we know what He’s doing, nope, not all the time but obedience my friend that makes the ride a little more comfortable.  When you fully rely on and trust in the One sending you there’s nothing like it.

 

We are fairly transparent people; God has told us to live our life out loud.  However, there are still many things that we keep personal.  Is it because of pride; I don’t know.   The why is really unclear but it has been disobedient.  Today as I write this blog my hubby is at a church we have been serving for 9 months painting.   He has spent a lot of time there working most of it by himself.  Why he does this is only to Honor and Glorify God and no other reason.  Trust me, he wouldn’t be there for any other reason . . . not this amount of time.   He’s been trying to obtain painting jobs on the side to help us make ends meet.  For some strange reason when we closed the café down we lost all of our monthly support except for $200.  Each month, each day, each hour we have had no idea where our bill or food money is coming from.  When we had the café we had some tough times but after all we did work in a café and there was at least lunch there.

 

Hang in here with me for a moment, I know my thoughts are kind of scattered but I must be obedient.  So over the course of these last four years we’ve only had 2 churches that have given us monthly support – – we believe it is because God wanted us to fully rely on Him for our income and not a particular church.  I get that.  About a year and a half ago God impressed upon us to give away most of what we had.  De-Clutter I was calling it.  Nonetheless, we gave away so much.  Then one year ago God told us to move into Hamilton – – leave our comfy home in West Chester and move into the city that we have been called to serve.  We did that.  During this time we heard a lot of complimenting and atta boys but to us, it was all about hearing God say, “Well, Done”!

 

We have been serving and serving and so a few weeks ago my parents gave us a gift by sending us to Myrtle Beach for a week.  What a blessing and what an honor.  My parents have always stood beside me my entire life; they have been my biggest cheerleaders and most trusted supporters.  They have seen how we have served so many and not done anything for ourselves and I really enjoyed the beach, let me tell you.  Thank you mom and dad!

 

Now, we are at a crossroads.  I sometimes would joke and ask God so are we gonna be living like our “poor neighbors and homeless friends”.  I did not realize how true that statement would become.  I thought we had been through tough times before.  But now, here we are buying our clothes from the thrift store – when we can afford it.  There was a pair of Capri pants that I wanted from there and check this they were $19.  What in the world, what do you do when the thrift store is too expensive?  Next, came the food pantries.  Yup, we have.  I must say that has been the hardest one to do.  I am thankful for the pantries; however, I do not understand why a lot of the food is generic and outdated.  Would you want to eat outdated food?  Then what I noticed was we may get some meat like a steak or a few potatoes but no butter or sauce.  Interesting.  Feeding the hungry – yes we are.  Our leftovers and throwaways.  I’ve had people give me food and say, “Well, I cleaned out my cabinets and thought you would know someone who would want this.  Are you kidding me it expired 2 years ago.  Can I say, uh, no thank you.

 

I know as I am writing this I appear to be ungrateful.  I’m not. I truly appreciate each person that God has brought into our lives.  We’ve had many.  We’ve had several people we thought God brought to really dig in and get dirty but I do completely understand that sometimes it’s hard to trudge through the mud everyday and not see many results.  We have literally seen people die in the streets.  That’s tough – – no matter who you are.

 

So transparent I am.  I’m putting it all out.  Like me or not and like it or not.  But I’ve noticed in the last 4 years that if you want to know someone’s heart – look at their checkbook.  If you want to know who good leaders and pastors are – look at how they lead their church.  Are we making disciples or consumers?  Do we lead as Jesus did like servants or do we have the parking spot closest to the building.  Are we leading our congregations out into the streets for the “outreaches” or do we have a committee that goes for us?  Truth my friends.  Painful; you betcha.  Before I start getting hate mail, I am not talking about anyone in particular.  If this is tugging at your heart or raising your blood pressure – – go talk to my boss.  King Jesus.  You know the one who died for us!!  DIED for us!

 

This is not a game, this is not a dress rehearsal this is real life with real human beings dying and going to hell every single day.  There are missionaries out on the mission field that have been called to the front lines but our building projects have taken so much of our resources that we have to cut or withdraw support.  So why would a good God send two people into an inner city saturated with churches have them give away their possessions to serve people who just go right back to their vomit.  Why has God allowed our support to go away?  Why has God allowed us to go to food pantries?  Why has God allowed us to get our utilities’ shut off?

 

I can tell you for this missionary I finally understand poverty; the poverty in which I serve.  These people are not all addicts. These people are just like me.  Ordinary family people doing the best they can with  what they have.  God has given me a clear understanding of why poor people are overweight.  The food we give is not very nutritious and we can also buy more of the other food.  Ramon Noodles don’t cost very much.  Why do people with very little money have such large TVs.  Well, it’s cheap entertainment.  Movies, Kings Island, Creation Museum, YMCA passes.  We can’t afford to do that.

 

Lastly, I want to share one last personal bit of information.  The picture at the top is an actual picture I took this morning of my husband’s shoes.  This is the only pair of gym shoes he owns and are you ready for this, a homeless man gave them to him.  Yup – community.  I have learned about community from the people we’ve been serving.  At any given time, I would take food over to one house and they would call up their neighbors and prepare a big meal and all would eat.  It’s true.  If one of them has a need the others will come in to fill it.  We had one of our neighbors give us $2 one day.  We knew this was all they had but they gave.  We had another neighbor give us an old rusty tin that used to have popcorn in it as a gift.  I had one of our homeless friends give me a stuffed animal that he had fished out of the garbage for my birthday.  I have got to tell you tears are streaming down my face when I think of this.  I have some many stories of community I could share but I’m sure you are getting bored.

 

Ok. One more … I was notified that one of our homeless friends was found sleeping on the steps of Offerings.  Breaks my heart.  This same man calls my husband and says, I need help.   This person would come to the café almost everyday and we poured into him for years.  We are to be God’s hands and feet, and when people need help the “church” should be there to help them.  But I know how hard it has been for me and hubby to get into churches; there’s only been a few that have allowed us to come and share our mission.  After all, for most there is only one service a week and we can’t bore congregants.  Our buildings are closed up tight and getting past a pastors secretary is tough stuff.  Where is the church that is totally committed to God and one another?  Where is that community living on mission together?  Where is that community that has everything in common and no one wants for anything?  I am longing for that community.  The lost sinners have it — oh, yeah they have it minus a Savior.  Which, of course, is the most important part.  But they are not seeing the love that we should have for one another.  What do we have to offer them; what joy do they see?  They notice, believe me they are paying attention.  They know when you are there putting on an event and when you truly love and care for them.  And having a special seating section for them all to sit at in your Sunday service doesn’t count.  We’ve got to be living in community and doing life together in order to impact this world.  Total devotion to God and love for others before ourselves.  And, hey, if you are not called to the frontline at least support the ones that are.

 

I know most people have big hearts and love God deeply.  I’m just in a place where I long for the model of the Acts church.  Friends, we are still on the streets feeding, serving, loving and sharing the gospel and we could really use your help.  Here is what we need:  Personal Hygenie items; soap, shampoo, conditioner, femine products, diapers, laundry detergent, finger nail clippers, combs, brushes, tooth brush, toothpaste.  Food – we serve food each week.  Who is willing to ma ke side dishes, desserts, or provide some meat for us to grill.  I’m also looking for some donations of soil and veggies and herbs so that I can plant this year’s community garden. We had one at Offerings and it really helps us provide fresh tomatos, cucumbers, lettuce, etc to people.  Lastly, a vehicle – we are still after 4 years in need of a box type truck/bus to serve out of.  Then lastly, please consider financially supporting us and inviting us to your house, community group, church ,etc to come and share our mission.

 

We are also going to be going to be going out more days a week now so if you would like to be added to our food donation list, please let me know.  My email is Pastorkimrusso@gmail.com.

pastors shoes2

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My Journey To Minimalism – Week 2

After a BIG downsize, clean and truck bed full in our Master Bedroom we were blessed enough to be able to take a couple of days and go stay at a respite for full-time ministry workers.  While we were there we had time to relax and reflect.  I’ve got to say after week 1 I am already feeling a little lighter and I can’t wait to give all my clothes away to people in our neighborhood in need.  I think a lot about those that we serve in this inner city ministry; the ones in jail and the ones in our back yard.  Three years of being on this mission field we have learned so many lessons and have grown closer and more connected to God.  I’ve prayed for the last two of the three years to be able to see the people through Jesus’ eyes and love them with a compassion that He has for them.

No matter if you are the C.E.O. of a major corporation, a ditch digger, a mega-church pastor or a homeless addict we are all God’s creation and people that Jesus died for and each individual life carries equal value and worth.  Through my prayers I have been able to see the needs around me.  During this journey I’ve been able to slow down enough to notice my community.  I’ve realized that my money and my stuff do not belong to me.  I am only the steward over the resources that God has allowed me to have.  I must admit as I’ve been clearing out the clutter I am ashamed at all of the “stuff” that I have.  When I think about all of the clothing and perfumes, nail polishes and even extra linens that I keep in my closet I realize that they add up to quite a lot of money that I invested in things.  How selfish of me to spend God’s money so unwisely.

Each day I pull into our cafe I am reminded of the condition of the battleground we are on.  We have so many broken people that we come into contact with each day and the deeper and longer we are in this community the more I want to be a voice for the homeless.  I want to remind people of the forgotten and fight for those who cannot.

You see, this journey that I’m on is not only about cutting the clutter out of my life but it is about living the life that I was created to live.  I believe that when Jesus saves us  He calls us to be His imagine bearers to a lost and dying world.  I have been asking myself if my savior didn’t even have a place to lay His head why do I deserve to have all this excess.  Honestly, for me, I am not able to live a life of excess; excess clothing, excess possessions, excess housing when my brothers and sisters are hungry and dying in the streets.

Please friends get this, I am not being dramatic I’m being real.  This year alone I can testify to several deaths resulting from drug, alcohol and poverty.  The time and money that God gives us each day is not to be squandered away.  We are His light in this dark world and perhaps instead of building bigger buildings to meet in our buying the newest fashion we could put shoes on some of our neighbors that don’t have any.  Yes, I have neighbors that do not have any shoes.  I’m working on that by the way.

If we would stop for just 15 minutes and go to God in prayer and ask Him, “How have I done with the time and money you have given me?  Have I spent the money the way you want me to?  Have I spent the last 24 hours doing what you would have me do? ”   Have we even slowed down long enough to realize that the only reason we are here right now is that God is allowing us to be.

I want you to be encouraged.  I hope that you are picking up what I am laying down here.  I am going through several life-changing lessons that I believe I am supposed to share.  There is someone God wants to be impacted by this other than myself.  I believe God is revealing himself to me more and more throughout this process.  I am earnestly seeking the simplicity that minimalism offers.  We are living in a culture that encourages selfishness and excessive consumerism.  I don’t want to drown in all of my possessions and I certainly don’t want to spend the time it takes to maintain them.  I want to live a life of passion and purpose that is bigger than me.

So for today, I have managed to clear out the excess in my bathroom closet and vanity area.  Be encourage friends.  God is all we need.  His values and His plans are all we need.  Praise Him!
Pantrybefore linen closetafter linen closet 2after linen closet 3 after linen closet before vanity drawer 4after vanity drawerbefore vanity drawer2after vanity drawer2before vanity drawer 3after vanity drawer3 before vanityafter vanity topUnder vanity

My Journey To Minimalism – Week One

bed area beforeMy nightstand beforehubby's nightstand beforecloset before 1closet befre

In process

 

 

 

 

Before Pictures

 

I began my search last year into a simpler, quieter, more peaceful life. I was determined to clear the clutter not only out of my house but out of my mind and life. I’ve read many books and blogs on this topic and as my search continued I knew I wanted . . . no, needed to become minimalist.

As I researched, I realized that I needed to slow down so

that first and foremost I could hear God’s voice. I was realizing that I lived a very busy life always running around trying to fit everything in and make it there on time. Well, that’s enough to wear a person out. As I went about my every day over commitment I began to notice all the clutter around me and all the noise going on in my head.

As I dug deeper I began realizing that minimalism goes against our consumer driven hectic lifestyles that living the American Dream encompasses. We are bombarded with advertisements and infomercials telling us we need to purchase the latest and greatest products to make us happy. So in an effort t

o accumulate more we work more hours to make more money because, after all, that is where happiness can be found; right. WRONG!

Now, you may be thinking, “does this mean that you will be living only out of what you can fit in a suit case?” For some, perhaps but for me it means that I am in pursuit of a much simpler, quieter and clutter free life.

I would love for you to join me on my journey whether in reading about it or finding a way that min

imalism will work for you. I can tell you I am excited about where this path will lead. So, with that said I’m jumping in with both feet . . . Here I go.

The first area in my physical living space I have decided to de-clutter

is my bedroom. My bedroom is my sanctuary, my peaceful private place. However, these days it’s been so crammed full of stuff that my closets are busting at the seams and my dresser drawers are overflowing. My first area that I tackled was my closet and boy oh boy did I have a crammed packed mess. During this week when all was said and done I had boxed up a total of 13 totes full of clothes that I had not even worn in years but, hey, it may come back in style or I may get back down to that size. Um Nah. I can tell you that I am looking forward to mornings free of the stress of trying to figure out what to wear.

This particular part of the process took me exactly one week and several passes through to get it to where I feel ligh

ter. The first phase was pulling out the obviously outdated and just plain ugly clothes. You know, the ones you got for a bargain and couldn’t pass up but never wore. For me, this was the easiest phase. A couple days later, I looked again and really took stock in what actually still fits me. I decided that it does me no good to have smaller sizes for my weight loss journeys and the larger sizes for when I eat too many gobstoppers and coca-cola. So, I toss aside all the clothes that did not fit me right now today. The last phase I must say was the most difficult for me and that was to narrow down my clothing choices just because I have too man

y clothes. The end result, I have so many totes for women’s clothes in a plethora of sizes that I am giving away to the local commun

ity that we serve. That my friends makes it all worthwhile.

Now, for the nightstands, over the years I have managed to turn a total of four drawers into junk drawers. If I was reading a book, I would shove it in the drawer. If I was keeping a journal or three or four it would go in the drawers. Oh, and let’s not forget all the lotions. I think I had a different bottle for everyday of the week. And the pens that I discovered, needless to say I will keep the café in supply for at least the next year.

Last but not least I decided that I needed to part with some of my much loved knick knacks t

hat I have sitting all over the place. Even though they match my furniture and are just too stinkin’ cute the only role they play is dust collector. So, I picked a couple of my favorites and I am goin

g to donate the rest.

A week, a good dusting and vacuum later I have a clutter free oasis. A quiet place where I can come to at the end of the day, snuggle tightly under the covers and let out a nice comfortable sigh.

Next week I will be moving on to the second area of the house where I spend most of my time, the living room.

Before you leave make sure you check out my before and after pictures then leave me a comment to keep me going on my journey of minimalism. Friends, good night and God Bless.

After Pictures

Bedroom 1
Bedroom 2shoe storage aftercloset floorCloset 2 after bedroom after 3

Hubby's nightstand aftercloset 1d

Negative Thoughts

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Friends, I pray that your day will be blessed and that you were able to take some time with God yesterday. 

How many of you have regrets in your life?  Perhaps you started out in college but didn’t finish or you made a career change.  Perhaps you wanted to start crafting and you bought all the tools and books but never actually got anywhere with it.  Can anyone relate to those statements or something similar?

 Do you seem to be people pleasing; or even have negative often self defeating thoughts?  Do you have a to-do list a mile long and you feel trapped by it?

Sisters, today I want us to focus on living in the here and now.  I mean the kind of living where we wake up and realize that today is a gift that has been wrapped up so beautifully and handed to us by God.  Can you imagine with me for a minute that you are lying in bed just gently waking up and you feel the peace and presence of our God lovingly handing you a gift, the gift of today.  I don’t know about you but, wow, that makes me smile.

I can probably say that most of us don’t think that way.  Our typical morning routine would be to jump out of bed with the alarm clock buzzing loudly; we rush to grab our coffee and get our day going.  After all we have that dreaded to-do list that we need to tackle and accomplish today.  Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with organizing your day with a to-do list.  However, we should never get so locked in that we measure our days and the success of that day in the amount of action items that we have crossed off.

Girlfriends, I’m talking about embracing our gifted day with the excitement and enjoyment of the here and now.  Be present.  Be mindful.  Be in love with yourself, your family, your creator and your life.  Take the steps today to remove negative thinking from your lives.  Most of us can’t even begin to remember the last time we actually felt good about ourselves.  We are just too busy being overwhelmed that we put too many pressures and restrictions upon ourselves. 

We need to break the cycle of the same old negative thoughts we have playing and replaying day after day.  Today we need to start to make a conscience effort to make an audible or inaudible acknowledgement that when we start down this same path of negative thinking that we abruptly stop it.  We have got to say to ourselves it is time to change the channel because I am not listening to this tune any longer. 

Stay on top of this and you will begin to see that your negative thoughts will not come as often and not only that your attitude will start to change and your mood will start to lift.   We are not victims to our negative thoughts – we are told by God to take every thought captive. 

Spend some time alone with God today reading, praying and meditating on His word found in 2 Corinthians 10:5.  Journal about some thoughts you need to yield to Christ.   What thoughts and thought patterns do you need to capture?  Write them down, pray over them, and then release them. 

Keep in mind that our thoughts can hold us back from becoming the women God created us to be.  It is so important to start our journey by recognizing and acknowledging how important our thoughts are.  Now, is the time to make that change and release it all to God and live in the here and now.  It is time to be peacefully and successfully present and arrest the clutter that goes on within our minds.  So girlfriends, it’s a brand new fresh day and God is standing over you holding out this beautiful gift – what are you going to do with it?

Praise Him!

Declutter

As the Christmas season approaches us it can be a very stressful time.  Most of the time we overspend, over commit and run ourselves ragged until we hit the bed at night exhausted.  Why not start this holiday season and start making the changes in your life. Show that you care for the home God has blessed you with by cleaning out the clutter.  Appreciate the people He has surrounded you with by spending quality time with them, stop and actually “listen” to what is going on in their lives; be present.  Be good stewards with the income He allows you to make, remember everything belongs to Him so ask Him before you spend His money.

Ok so dear friends, for those of you who are ready to join me in a true “Awakening the journey begins today.  The journey begins with you and God.  It is important that we spend some time alone with God today.  Ask him what His priorities are for your life.  Ask Him what activities or appointments are not necessary for you to be involved in; even if they are good.   Allow Him to begin to set our schedules and priorities for us.  As we’ve been learning this past week in our women’s group, we exist to glorify God.  That’s our purpose, to glorify God.  Take a good inventory of your life from how you spend our money, how you spend your time and what relationships may be unhealthy for you.   Do your life and the way you spend your time, your money and your relationships glorify God? 

I encourage you to start journaling through this process as well.  Journaling is an invaluable way to organize our thoughts, look back over our accomplishments and recognize our personal development. 

First step:

  • Grab a journal – this does not have to be anything fancy, just a regular notepad will do. 
  • Sit down with God and spend at least 10 minutes in prayer and meditation and take the time to silence the noise around you so that you can really hear God.  

In your quiet time today, please read Psalm 139: 13-16.  Read it quietly then read it out loud.  Spend time with God meditating on these verses.   We can see in these verses alone that God cares so deeply about us that we are marvelously made.   Pay special attention to verse 16, “You saw me before I was born.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”  Friends, God created a baby book for you!  He planned out your life and recorded every moment of it.  Isn’t that just like a parent; proud of their precious creation given to them by God?  When our precious babies are born we start planning their lives, we have hopes for their futures and God has those same desires for our lives; He makes plans for us.  Now, it’s up to us to make sure our lives line up with God’s plans for us.  Jeremiah 29:11.

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