Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Jesus wears a Mohawk

God found my selfish heart and turned it in-side out on the MAX this past Saturday evening.

I was reflecting on the events of the day as I was heading home well past midnight. It was a great day. I was hanging out with a best friend all day in Beaverton, doing things that girls do best: pedicures/manicures, gossip and sharing hearts.  This was followed by an awesome dinner date, Voo Doo donuts for dessert and late evening drinks at Portland City Grill, overlooking the Portland skyline by night. Life had been good to me this day. 

The max stops, doors open and in walk two men.

 The first man was drugged-out and barely coherent. I would guess he was in is early fifties, but would not be surprised if it turned out that he was 5 or 10 years younger.  The drugs had taken their tole on his body. His clothes barely fit his frail frame and deep, dark circles surround his red, half-shut eyes.  His name is Joel.  The second man appeared to be in his early fourties, dressed well, slightly overweight, sporting a short, bleach-blonde Mohawk and clearly homosexual.  I share the latter descriptive label understanding the risk that is attached. I do not share my speculative judgement of his orientation as a means of degradation of his humanity, but rather to give you greater insight into the interaction I eavesdropped on and the impact it offered to me.

I did not catch the second man’s name, so I will call him Mohawk to eliminate confusion while I describe to you what happened next.

Mohawk leads Joel to a pair of seats right in front of me, close enough for me to hear their conversation even if I wasn’t trying to hear it (I was).

At first glance, they appear to be friends. One friend trying to help another get home safely after Saturday night Shenanigans downtown together. I was quickly mistaken.

Mohawk begins to patiently ask Joel questions that include:
 “Were you with any friends tonight?” (No)
“Do you have any friends?” (No)
“Is there anyone I can call who might know what your plans were tonight?” (I’m not sure)
“Do you have a phone?” (No)
“Do you know anyone’s phone number who might be able to help us?”

Joel hands Mohawk his wallet, and directs Mohawk to pull out the folded napkins with names and numbers written on them.  Mohawk calls one of the numbers.

From what I can gather, on the line with Mohawk is a relative of Joel’s – perhaps a brother or sister. Mohawk introduces himself as a stranger who had just met Joel and was trying to help him find his way home.  After a brief conversation that I could only catch one side of, the person on the other line begrudgingly agrees to pick Joel up from the Lloyd Center Max Stop. Mohawk thanks the person and hangs up the phone. Five Max stops later, Joel gets off as instructed, to be picked up. As the Max doors are trying to close, Joel haults the doors and pokes his head back in to looks at Mohawk square in the eyes and says “Thank you for helping me”.  Mohawk replies with no words – they both know they aren’t necessary at this point.  A grin emerges across his face as he responds with an affirming head-nod back at Joel.  The doors close and the max takes off. This is probably the only interaction that these two men will ever share.

For those of you who know me well, you know I couldn’t help but say something at this point to Mohawk.  I tap him on the shoulder and express as genuinely as I can that I don’t know many people who would have done what he did for Joel just now. I also share that it was a pretty incredible thing to experience.  I also made sure to thank him as well for what he did. 

Mohawk responded with gratitude and invited me into conversation to more clearly understand what had just happened.

Joel was lost and scared.  He didn’t know where he parked his van hours before and had no idea how to get home now. He reached out to a stranger (Mohawk) on the streets of downtown Portland with a cry out for help, like a child lost from his mother.  Mohawk, who was out with friends drinking that night, took the time to help this man. He didn’t have to do this, in fact, he admitted to me that he didn’t even want to. Joel had interrupted his Saturday night plans. I asked him “Then, why did you do it?”  His response was simple. He said that he would hope that someone would do the same for him if he ever needed it, so he did.  

Mohawk was Jesus to Joel that night. He showed love to someone who was broken, lost and afraid.  He proved to Joel (and to myself) that there are still good people in this world and that love does still exists.

This was a reality check for me, big time.  I tend to get so stuck in my own little world that I don’t realize the opportunities God puts before me all day to change someone’s day for the better.  Why do I automatically feel like saying “No” when a stranger asks if I can spare some change?  Of course I can. I can spare way more than that and I should.

I heard someone say recently that when you start to view everything that you’ve been given (money, gifts, time) as blessings from God, it becomes so much easier to give these things away and pass the blessing on. I want to live like that.

Granted, it’s not appropriate for a 25-year-old woman to take a drug addict’s hand and drag him onto the MAX with you in order to help him get home. We definitely need to use caution when we feel the Holy Spirit nudging at us to make a move. But we shouldn’t be afraid when we’re called to action. 

Mohawk inspired me to share his story in an effort to infect others with his same heart condition.

To not be afraid to say “yes” when asked if you can spare a dollar, or even a few.
To go out of your way for someone you don’t know.

In its simplest form, to leave someone better than you found them. Not for selfish ambition, but because you’ve been blessed so much – now its time to pass that blessing on, to pay the blessing forward.

To be Jesus to someone today.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bucket List

So I thought it would be kind of fun to publically announce my bucket list items for this year.  This will allow me to hunker down and focus in on that which I would like to accomplish for this season.


 Complete my first year at Multnomah Seminary (May 2013)

Complete P90X and Insanity all the way through

 Run another marathon, possibly two this year. Portland Marathon in October?
My initial gut response is to say that its too soon to do it, but that’s also all the more reason why I want challenge myself to do it.

Participate in SEVEN: Seven days of prayer and fasting for the city of Portland September 30-October 7th this year.

Join a tri-club and do my first triathlon by next spring/summer

 Start a blessing fund where I put $50 a month into it, and spontaneously use it as I see needs in peoples lives.

Continue Blog Ministry: writing posts once/week

Visit Becca in Virginia

 Visit friends in CA in October and January


Volunteer at homeless shelter

Missions trip this year

Run my 22 mile training run in Forrest Park.  How I’ve lived in Portland for this long and still have never explored Forrest Park is beyond me.

Explore a new restaurant in/around Portland every month with someone new
Immerse myself in Portland culture, to live on mission for God.

Send more handwritten letters.  Everyone loves to receive a good, old fashioned handwritten letter

Go vegetarian for at least a month

Go vegan for at least another month

Plan a trip for spring break

Plan a trip for 26th birthday in June/4th of July

Read the bible in a year: commit to reading the bible every day. I really want to be more disciplined in this area of life

Follow through with tattoo ideas – I have three or four ideas in mind J
Be more like Jesus in my every day life.  Live out love. See the needs in people. Be bold in my faith. Radiate God’s love. Live confidently and fearlessly in who I am in Christ.


Ok.. seatbelt is fastened tight, running shoes are double knotted. Time to start accomplishing these! Any one of you are more than welcome to join me for any of these bucket list items.  Dont everyone jump at the tattoo or skydiving line items first ;)

Let the prayers/hopes/dreams for this next year begin!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Solitude, stillness and silence

Hi friends, I'm back.

I took a nearly two month hiatus from writing and I wish I could say it was because I was off on an adventure of sorts, or swept away to a tropical island by a tall, dark and handsome.  Nope, not at all.

 In early June I ran for the hills, away from the public eye out of fear and panic that I was exposing myself "too much too soon" and afraid of what was at stake in doing so. I was experiencing burn out from the pressure of keeping my life exciting enough for these posts to keep an audience drawn in and captivated for three posts week. You cant blame a girl for being exciting, inspired and amitious about her new blogging hobby, but the ramifications were inevitable.  Writing had chewed me up in its mouth and spit me out raw, leaving me tired, anxious and feeling like a failure.

I have reassessed my goals and have come back to play in the sandbox with you all, but just once a week for now.  I believe that I can realistically hold to that as well as juggle full-time work, full-time grad school and maybe a social life in there, too.

While these past two of months made for a challenging season to say the least, I was able to grasp onto some valuable lessons that God was teaching me through trial. I would like to share these lessons learned over the course of the next few blog entries (I promise to not let two months span between again). Its on my heart today to share with you what God has been teaching me about solitude, stillness and silence.

There's something profound to be said about being still and quiet.  To shut ourselves up every once in a while and just listen.  Not necessarily to anyone or anything, but just to listen in to the present moment. It is in this stillness that I have often found God's presence clearer and hear His voice louder. By nature, we like motion and noise; we live at a ridiculously fast pace. going a million miles a minute in our minds, overdosed on caffeine and never allowing ourselves just to sit and enjoy a moment of silence. Whoa, breathe Kathryn. In fact, we have made up the term "awkward silence" to justify how silence truly makes us feel.  But what makes silence awkward and uncomfortable to us? We do.  We feel the need to push silence away because our past has collectively taught us that it is distasteful, uncomfortable and that we should not allow silence in.

God tells us a different story.

Psalm 46:7-11

The Lord Almighty is with us, the god of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breasks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
He says, "Be Still and know that I am God;
I will exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."

Not only does God allow us to be still, he commands it. He is our God who can stop the chaos of the world, stops wars and breaks our weapons to emphasize the importance of pausing in all of our business, self control and independence to reflect upon the truth that HE is God and WE are not.  He is above all and is all. He is lifted high above all else. God calls us to stop, be still and know that He is who he says He is.

I love The Message translation of verses 8-10:

Attention, all!  See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, Bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. "Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything."

That certainly convicts my heart when I read it. It forces me to really check myself: Am I so busy that I forget to acknowledge God throughout the day? What is more important than my God who has provided the food in my stomach and the shelter above my head? Or put in other words, what am I making more important than God? I admit that there are many days that it isnt until Im laying my head down for sleep that I think to give acknowledgement to my Creator. What is that?? Admitting that out loud makes me nervous, so I am trusting that you're not judging me upon it :) What is that though?! Simply put, that is the traffic of our lives - the business, chaos and hyperindependence that we live in - that we put above our God.

But God graciously calls us out of that, to live set apart. The truth that keeps coming up in various conversations lately is that "We are in this world but we are not of this world" as laid out in John 17:14.  If we believe that, it should cause us to live differently.  What does different look like? For me, it looks like taking moments to be still and stand in awe of Him. To lay aside agendas and plans and bask in His Glory. To acknowledge that He is God and I am not;  that He is worth our time, our energy, and even our silence. And that type of silence, my friends, is not the awkward kind.

I pray that this lesson comes to you gift-wrapped exactly as you need it to be today. I am hopeful that it hits your heart and stops you in your tracks a bit, as it did for me. I love you all and it feel so good to be back. :)