Thursday, December 31, 2009
My goal for 2009 was to read 13 books--one for each month and one more. It seems like a small number, but when your schedule already includes several literature classes it's hard to read for fun, too. The rule was if I was required to read a specific book it did not count but if I could read a book from a list or a book in a specific genre it did count.
Here are my books from the year and my thoughts on them:
1. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
I opened it expecting a novel, and that's not what I got. However, it was a nice read while on a cruise. It definitely challenged me and I need to read it again.
2. She Said Yes by Misty Bernall
A simple novel written focused on Cassie Bernall, one of the students who died in the Columbine tragedy. Unlike most biographies of the dead (especially those written by parents), this one does not paint Cassie to be unrealistically perfect. Her mother depicts the mistakes they made as a family and mistakes Cassie made herself. Definitely a touching novel.
3. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Randy Pausch taught American how to die. The end.
4. Me, Myself, and Bob by Phil Vischer
An inside look into Big Idea, the man and the company behind VeggieTales. It also shows flaws and shortcomings in addition to successes. Highly technical at times but very interesting. Did you know the original lyrics to "Where is my Hairbrush" was "Where is my razor" but they figured parents would not want their kids running around the house frantically searching for razors?
5. Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
Dan Brown is a fantastic story-teller, that is for sure. I read the book after seeing the movie, but, as always, the book is better. I also read this book in English while living in a Spanish-speaking country, so any story I could understand without trying was very welcome. Read it as fiction and it's fascinating.
6. Every Young Woman's Battle by Shannon Ethridge
Please don't let your daughters read this book. Highly graphic, incredibly biased, and very condemning, yet it was interesting.
7. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Yes, this novel made me cry. A well-written story of a girl with leukemia and her genetically designed sister conceived to be her donor. As a writer I am prone to guess the end of novels before I get there and this one I did not successfully guess. Definitely read but have tissues handy.
8. Faking Grace by Tamara Leigh
This one I did guess the end. A highly predictable Christian novel but still enjoyable.
9. Somebody Else's Daughter by Elizabeth Brundage
Don't waste your time. The dirt and grime covers up the story-line.
10. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
Wow! A retelling of the Biblical story of Hosea and grabs the hearts of female readers. Yes, I fell in love with a fictional character.
11. Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
Interesting blend of Catholicism and Buddhism. This book challenged me a Christian, but I'm not a big fan of Kerouac because I don't think his novels have a plot and that annoys me.
12. Mistaken Identity by Newall, Colleen, and Whitney Cerak, and Don and Sue Van Ryn
Another heart-wrenching true story. Several college students are in a bad accident killing many of them. One survivor is slowly recovering and it is months before they realize she's being treated under a false name. A family who was grieving their daughter's death receives a midnight phone call announcing she is still alive while a family who has been sitting at their daughter's bedside for months watching her condition improve realize their daughter is dead and this is someone else's daughter. Oops and wow!
13. A Thousand Tomorrows by Karen Kinsbury
Check out the book review I wrote on this book for all of my thoughts. It's a story about how a girl with Cystic Fibrosis and a cowboy who struggles with abandonment put aside themselves and learn to love.
14. The Bible
For the first time in my life I read the entire Bible, and I did it in a year. If you don't have a copy, please go pick one up!
PS. Except for Angels and Demons, I own all of these books, so if you want to borrow one let me know.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
"I asked that. He said he's not; he's avoiding work."
"Then I won't tell you it's currently 6:04, so we can keep scrapbooking until Dad notices."
Inside I was screaming, "MORE family activities?" We had family over from the time I went to bed yesterday! All of this just a few days after Marathon Christmas. Besides, we're partying with family again in two days for New Years. All we do is "family somethings."
We call ourselves the Banana Bunch. Every spring for probably the last ten years we've gone to visit my aunt and uncle in Florida. On their counter they always have a full bowl of bananas. Within two days of our arrival, all of the bananas are gone. Noticing this as they pack a lunch for the day in the morning, my aunt and uncle BOTH make special stops on the way home from work that day. Crud! Now there are two things of bananas. Not to fear; the Banana Bunch is here! Two days later, we're out of bananas again.
Well, we have recently put a new spin on our title. Our latest "family something" has been the Scrabble-like game Bananagrams. As with all of our other "family somethings" all five of us don't love the game. For some unknown reason dyslexics have this thing against playing word games with English majors. I'm sorry! I didn't ask for eloquence!
Deciding on "family something" has become a challenge. Someone refuses to watching House; someone else refuses to watch anything but House. Someone refuses to play Bananagrams, and someone else refuses to play Scattergories. That settles it! We have to play Apples to Apples.
Ladies and gennifers, the Banana Bunch is civily playing Apples to Apples. There is something wrong with this photo!?
Every time we say goodbye in my family we always end up wrestling. Yes, there are a few reminders of our latest line, "No time for the ER on Christmas." It's not Christmas anymore, folks. Punching, hitting, flicking, and karate chopping is all legal. Right after we hug, I become the recipient of one of these things from my uncle. The problem is that he forgets I'm a girl and hits just a little too hard. I cry, he tells me I need to work on my speed, I grab his hat and disappear until I'm ready to forgive him. Anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes later (yes, this is all while we've got coats on and are saying goodbyes) I come back and return the hat; he hugs me again (without hurting me). I've gotten a lot of self-defense lessons while fighting back tears. This has been happening for years; it's normal.
Today when we hugged he was holding a few boxes for Ziploc bags. After the hug, he picked up one of the boxes and went to hit me on the shoulder. With my left hand I grabbed the box and with my right hand I stole his hat. We stood there staring at each other both in shock.
I did it! I finally did it! I don't have any idea how it happened but the persistence paid off! Yes, I'm going to toot my own horn with this blog, but you have no idea how big of a deal this is! For my entire life I've been playfully beat up as part of "good-bye," and I finally was able to stand my ground!
Monday, December 28, 2009
Oh my gosh it's frigid in here! It's Christmastime; why is the air conditioner still on?
Hey, you're the smart one that sat in the same seat twice in one week. Didn't you learn on Christmas Eve?
I feel like I'm sitting in a wind tunnel!
At least you can feel.
I'm serious. Your friend with Lyme disease's body doesn't control temperature correctly. Yours does.
But I'm always cold. I'm already wearing a sweater and long pants. I can't put much more on.
Then it won't do me an good when I go outside. Have You noticed it's 16 degrees outside, Mr. I Control the Weather?
I have noticed.
Did You also notice I don't have any gloves?
You have gloves.
That's My point. You have gloves... a plethora of gloves. A red pair in your peacoat, a blue pair that belong in Wonder Jacket but are in the dryer right now, a purple pair for texting, a black pair for skiing... Katie, you even have a pair of gloves you wear around the house.
But my hands are still chapped and cracked. All of those gloves aren't doing me any good right now!
But you have gloves. Remember the mitten tree in the atrium? Those kids are getting their one and only pair of gloves.
The mitten tree! That's a good idea! Maybe I'll borrow a pair for the day.
I can turn up the AC if you'd like.
No, thanks. Heat would be nice right about now.
Not until you realize what you do have... a working body--
Minus the spontaneous bleeding of my hands.
You have gloves, your choice of jackets, and think about all of the miscellaneous items stored in Wonder Jacket.
No, they're not home being washed. Not because they were dirty but because you think they're full of germs.
Do you used the washing machine, which you have.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Several hours later the movie ended and they walked into the kitchen bewildered. I asked what they thought, and they were all very confused. Eventually they concurred they would not need to watch the movie again, had no idea what it was about, and wanted to watch the deleted scenes for clarification. Problem: there were no deleted scenes to be found.
I think we have a similar problem with life. We look at scenes, time spans, and sometimes even entire lives and are left bewildered. Are there some vital deleted scenes we missed? Always. Just like the movie director has a big picture in mind, God has a big picture in mind. Just like the movie viewer, we don't always get to see the big picture. Even at the end of the movie, or the end of life, we sit back to reflect and realize we're more confused than we were previously. It doesn't make sense.
However, I assure you that God's plan does make sense. We're just missing scenes. He has seen them, He knows the unmentioned details, He understands the purpose. Max Lucado says, "God not only knows your story, He wrote it." God not only knows the movie plot in your life, He wrote it. He didn't forget parts, eliminate vital scenes, or mess up lines... He just hasn't shown us the whole picture (even though we think we've seen it).
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Sorry, I don't know how to do the cool "click this link" thing... I can do it for my school/work blog on wordpress but not here).
That's right, they're changing airport security measures at least temporarily. When I first read the article, I was worried. They said no carry-ons in your lap when you're one-hour out from your destination. Um... my flight home is only two hours; you mean I'm going to sit there staring at the back of the seat in front of me for half of that time? I think not. No electronic devices I can handle. While I can't handle words in the car, the motion from planes doesn't bother me, I'd much rather be reading or writing than staring at the stranger sitting next to me.
I then learned it's only international flights. While I've never flown through any of the cities mentioned in the article, I do have international flying stories that can tell, and I realize international airports have different rules and regulations.
In Central American countries, security measures are... well... a bit different. My friend had his wallet chain confiscated. This had not been a problem for him to and from Europe nor to Central America. We were amused the US didn't care about it but this country did.
Also, the 3-1-1 rule does not apply (3 ounce liquid, 1 quart size bag, 1 traveler). Even though it was under 3 ounces and in a Ziploc bag, they took my hand sanitizer. I didn't understand, and the security guard felt the need to attempt to explain it to me in very broken English (I am an American but that doesn't mean I'm ignorant; I do speak Spanish). What I finally understood is that they had to take it because it has alcohol in it. I worked really hard to not laugh as I assured him I would NOT be drinking my hand sanitizer. He took it anyway and I was glad this was on the return trip. He didn't care about my one-liter bottle of water, though.
If you've been in an airport in the US you've heard the woman say, "Items purchased beyond the security check point may be carried on to the aircraft." This seems really weird, right? Well, in Central America, items purchases beyond the security check-point may NOT be carried on-board the aircraft. They hand-check bags as you're boarding the plane and confiscate water bottles at this point in time. This was bad news for our team member with a kidney stone. Flying with a kidney stone isn't a good idea to begin with but to board a plane in a lesser-developed country with a kidney stone and no bottle of water is... well... let's just say EMS met the plane when we landed in the US.
I'm not saying one way is right while the other is wrong. I do prefer the US standards because I'm not forced to surrender my beloved hand sanitizer and then fly five hours without a bottle of water but that doesn't mean it's a better system.
Just something to ponder.
"No! Why?" Grandpa responded. He pretends to not like the dogs, and when there are four of them running around I guess I can understand that.
"Well, Russell was on the sofa, and I didn't know... I'll tell him to get down next time," she explained, looking at me as if I should have known to shoo Russell off the couch.
"Oh, that don't matter. The dogs ain't allowed on the tree... the lamps... the tv... that kind of stuff," Grandpa told her and she and I both looked at each other and stifled laughs.
"But the couch don't matter?" She asked.
"Nah. That couch ain't furniture," he clarified.
Charlie Brown Christmas trees are furniture.
Lamps are furniture.
TVs are furniture.
A couch is not furniture.
Thanks for clarifying, Grandpa.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Sounds like a very cliche opening line to a novel, right? Nope. Just my life. It wasn't really intentional that I hadn't been to the farm in ten months; it just kind of happened that way. When someone brought it to my attention that I hadn't been out here in almost a year I didn't believe her, but it's true. As for the eight dollars... I am a college student.
Even though it's been almost a year since I've been out to my grandparents' "farm" some things just don't change.
This was a story Grandma shared with us for the first time today; it happened about two years ago.
Grandma and Grandpa discovered some abandoned kittens in their barn, so my grandparents adopted them and raised these kittens in the house. Apparently they were so small they were bottle fed and needed help pooping (insert countless dirty jokes here). I would like to add that having kittens in the kitchen is not bizarre at my grandparents' house... pigs, chickens, dogs, cats, people, are all welcome around this table. One of the black and white kittens escaped from the box on the kitchen table, jumped onto the chair, and then on to a towel before Grandma could grab him. Well, the towel was covering a huge bucket of Grandpa's fermenting home-made wine. This poor little kitten was swimming in home-made wine. Eventually he escaped and began running across the kitchen. Grandma grabbed the now-pink kitten, rinsed him off in the sink, and hoped Grandpa wouldn't come in before she got the mess cleaned up. Luckily, Grandpa stayed outside and no one witnessed this hilarious event.
Now the home-made wine is gone and no one died from it, so Grandma had to get this off of her chest. She carried this hilarious story inside herself for two years without telling a soul. Haha!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Hope, Pray, Wish
I hope you all have a blessed, healthy, and safe white Christmas. This is especially important for my family because it would be a significant first if we made it through Christmas without a glitch. Let's just say we're gotten really good at throwing flaming items into snowbanks, and we tease my sister that it isn't Christmas until she almost passes out. :-) However, we always have a good time, laugh a lot, and take a million photos enjoying each others' company.
I pray for those who aren't with their families this holiday. I am thankful we know if in all of our brouhaha we need emergency personnel they're on the other end of 9-1-1 ready to take our call, but this also means they are not celebrating with their families. Likewise, I pray for those who are fighting for our freedom both here and abroad. I pray for those too sick to enjoy today the way we think when we think of Christmas. I pray for those stranded both due to problematic travel plans and financial difficulties.
I wish for everyone to know the real reason to be joyful this Christmas season. It's not about the big man in red who magically squeezes down the chimney. It's not about the candy. It's not about the pretty lights outside. It's not about the gifts under the tree. It's about the Gift God gave when He sent His Son to leave the heavenly realms and become a baby. What a marvelous gift.
Every time I write "Hope, pray, wish" I have to think because it reminds me of "Tears, Hopes, and Promises" a wonderful Easter song that discusses how after Jesus died on Good Friday there were many tears, lost hopes, and broken promises. However, those of us who know the rest of the story know the tears became tears of joy, the hopes came to fruition, and the promises were fulfilled. May your Christmas be filled with hope, prayer, wishes, joyful tears, and promises.
I thank you for reading and I thank you for putting up with my grammar errors this blog. We're leaving in twenty minutes and my hair is still wet, but I had to post this before my Christmas got too wrapped up in the traditions and I hadn't taken a minute to remember the real reason we celebrate.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Both of these ideas are my Sunday School teacher Matt's, but they really stuck with me so I want to share them.
Have you ever walked through a spider web? What is your immediate reaction? Get the spider web off of you, right? What if we reacted to sin the same way we react to spider webs? What if the instant we sinned we tried to rid ourselves of it?
Last night, I walked up to order my food and the woman behind the counter was texting... with her gloves on... I made my order, she reached for my pizza, and I added, "And I'd like you to change your gloves before you make it, please. Sorry." Her face changed and she looked at her coworker as if to say, "Did you hear that?"
I felt rude, yet not sorry. If it happened again, I'd do the same thing, and here's why:
1. She should not be texting a work.
2. If she must text behind the counter, her gloves should have been removed. I've always learned that when gloves are on you are committed to what you are doing and nothing else. If you do something else, change your gloves. It's not that hard.
3. Cell phones are among the germiest things on the planet.
I shared this story with my surrogate family because Ruth is more outspoken than I am and she would have had no problem asking the woman to change her gloves. Yes, Ruth definitely agreed with me. My brother Andy, looked and me and said, "That's awful!" I like to think my eyes got huge when he said that because he kind of backpeddled realizing how that could have been interpreted. He then added, "That she did that, I mean; you were in the right."
Why does the right still feel wrong? What would you have done? Sometimes God tells us to do something that is right but it still feels wrong.
What would you have done in the dirty glove situation?
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
For the rest of Christmas break I'm going to try and post daily. As I get back into the brouhaha of school I'll return to my poorly-kept every other day rotation. Some of these blogs will be God moments but some will just be funny stories and you'll have to find your own spiritual connection. I'm also going to try to resurrect the Birthday Blog idea (I know, Melissa, you never got yours; I haven't forgotten). I'll also write about whatever else is on my mind: dreams, book reviews, old memories, and maybe--if you're really nice to me--you'll get blips from the story I've been working on for years (but no promises). Even though my psych class is over I'm going to keep working on my project to minimize the complaining, so I'm going to try to avoid "people are basically stupid" blogs. I also don't want you to hear the play-by-play of my day because, frankly, no one cares that I ate peanut butter on my breakfast bagel today instead of my normal extra cream cheese. Oh, and sometimes I think in Spanish and sometimes I think in sign language, so I apologize if you need to learn both of those in order to read this blog. Be multilingual. It's fun. I'll try to keep it mostly in English but sometimes I just can't help myself.
With that said, I need your help. It's really discouraging to look back and my blog and see "0 comments," "0 comments," "0 comments." It makes me wonder if I'm talking to myself or if people actually read this. Do me a favor and if you take the time to read it, take the time to let me know you're read it. I don't care if your comment is a, "I read this post," "Good," "That doesn't make sense," or even "Grammar mistake here" if you must. Please just let me know I am actually writing for an audience and not just for myself. I'd appreciate that a lot. Thanks!
This is me being vulnerable, please be nice.
Monday, December 21, 2009
"In group devotion, we read Psalm 139. It was perfect for our saddened hearts after saying 'Good-bye.' We also sang a few songs (in English). I did sing for awhile* otherwise I didn't focus. I always feel weird not singing. I feel like I'm not focused/ unenthusiastic, etc. I think that's because I judge those who aren't singing. Another thing I've learned on this trip: it's ok to be silent and listen. That sounds like something I've been taught again and again, but it was reinforced today. Singing your heart out and praising God with your hands is not the only way to worship. It is just as much worship if you sit still and allow Him to move. It's worship by looking at His beautiful creation. Worship is painting a building. Worship is tediously cleaning a paint tray... twice. Worship is everything you do if you do it for God and to the best of your ability. Worship is sitting around a cement table with a few friends, freezing cold, looking at the starts, being amazed by the city/ mountain views, and reminiscing about the week."
*This was during the time when I was forbidden to sing and sign. Click here for the full story.
Whenever I finish a blog and don't close the tab on my internet, the name of the blog appears followed by that post title. Since my blog is boring and just my name, it's my name followed by the title of my newest blog. Last night, it read:
That caught my eye. Katie: Perfect. No, no, no. Not in the slightest. No perfection here... remember the Rudolph nose and chapped hands I mentioned yesterday? Have you heard about how I learned campfires make bad sit-upons but leave great imperfections? Perfectly-shaped bodies fit perfectly into clothes, right? Then clearly I don't cut it. And there I go complaining again. Complaining, point out others' faults, and not giving the benefit of the doubt are things I do well. Plus, even though I'm an editor, I know it's only a matter of time before someone points out my own grammar mistakes.
Yet through Christ, I am made perfect. So are you.
Jesus the sinless positions Himself between you and the Father, so that God can look through Jesus-colored glasses and see us as sinless.
(Maybe that was confusing, but it makes a really pretty picture in my head.)
I hope you all have a perfect Christmas!
PS: In case you are wondering, our self-decorating living room tree now has two red ornaments, a red and gold bow, and a silver tree-topper. Do you think it will be done in time for Christmas?
Sunday, December 20, 2009
- I could talk about how the 7 foot Christmas tree in my living room has only one ornament on it (it's red) because we lost interest after trees numbers one, two, and three.
- I could talk about wearing gloves to bed to protect my freezing cold hands with 100 little tiny paper cuts. Thank you, winter wonderland.
- I could tell how my sister thought I cut the grass yesterday (It's December and snowing, really, Tina?)
- I could talk about how annoyed I was this morning in church when everyone was texting, coddling babies, passing notes, or making faces at strangers across the sanctuary.
- I could explain how thrilled I am for the Christmas paparazzi later this week since I've got a beautiful new pimple on the end of my nose that makes me look like Rudolph and a grow-out line in my hair that is phenomenal. (I stopped dressing up for Halloween when I went to college, but I might take up dressing up for Christmas...)
Except most of those include some sort of complaining, and I'm really trying to work on that...
Or I could tell you about the some inspiration I recently received.
I had the amazing opportunity to hear Peder Eide talk about Christmas. He said something that really struck me, and I've been mulling over it ever since. He said God made a plan to save the world and it went off without a hitch. God's plan worked, and it worked the first time.
Does ANYTHING we do happen on the first time? This very sentence I've recrafted three or four times. Even the simple activities sometimes take two tries.
Yet, Jesus doesn't have a Plan B. Plan A worked and it worked perfectly. The census, the manger, the shepherds, the virgin birth, all worked perfectly.
Wow. What a perfect surprise.
Peder ended his Christmas devotion with a prayer as possibly prayed by several people vital to the Christmas story. Will you combine them and make this your prayer?
"No matter what people think or say, or even it works out completely different than I planned (Joseph). It’s all about You God (Angels). Give me more passion for what You want, logical or not. (Shepherds). Do with me as You will! (Mary)"
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
Friday, December 18, 2009
A mom is turning off the lights on her way to bed, and she goes around the Christmas tree to find her young son hiding with a toy guy and a rope.
"What are you doing, Samuel?"
"Shhh! I'm going to catch Santa," he explains.
"What are you going to do with the rope?" She inquires.
"Tie him to the Christmas tree," he says nonchalantly.
"Honey, you can't even tie your shoes," she reminds him compassionately.
"Go to bed, Mom," he says seriously.
This kid is serious about capturing Santa and tying him to the tree. He's not even concerned with simple logistics. He is determined to catch Santa.
What if we had the same determination to fulfil God's wishes. He can worry about logistics and we just sit waiting with the rope telling any skeptics to go to bed.
Maybe the commercial isn't great for Wal-mart (because you don' know who the ad is for until beyond this scene), but it is great for God moments.
PS: If you want to watch the commercial, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwVT_bQVO4A
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Well, today--probably 5 or 6 years later--I was talking to this friend again and this incident came up. She admitted it was something she had always regretted, so she stopped regretting and did something about it. She decided she would send the other girl a facebook message regarding their conversation in the car 6 years ago. Well, days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months and she hadn't sent the message yet. It was as if God told her, "Stop putting this off! Stop putting Me off!" That very night (at 1 am) she wrote a facebook message explaining how we don't need to be fearful of dying because Jesus died for us. She said she doesn't remember what she said, meaning she didn't write it; God did.
I'd be taking creative liberties if I said the girl confessed her sins, accepted Jesus that second, and died the next day. No, instead my friend has heard nothing. And she doesn't expect to, but the funny thing is that she's ok with that.
It's only ok to accept silence after you've done what God has asked you to do. Don't be silent until then. Don't spend 5 or 6 years regretting being silent. Do something about it. Do it now.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Going to school a million miles away from home has made me a frequent flier. I think in terms of flights and never put anything I can't take on an airplane in my purse for fear that it won't leave before I fly next and therefore will be confiscated. I store my 3oz liquids in quart-sized Ziploc bags. Flying is the story of my life. This year alone I've flown 15 times (not counting lay-overs). I'm pretty sure that qualifies me as being able to go through the expert traveler line at security.
Well, today I flew on autopilot (pun unintended). I went through security, took of my shoes, pulled out my bag of liquids, arranged my bags in order so that it's easiest to pick them up on the other side, and walked through the metal detector. This no longer worries me. I've been selected for extra screening in the past; I've got nothing to hide therefore don't mind the magic wand. Today, I made it through and was waiting for my bags when I heard it, "Bag check!" Crap. It's mine. "Laptop!" CRAP! How often do I fly? When is the last time I flew? Not really a big deal, they pulled my laptop out and run the bag through again, but I felt like an idiot. I should know better. I think I forgot I had it with me because last time I flew (two weeks ago) I didn't bring it.
Just wait, it gets better.
I realize I'm halfway through the concourse before I even bothered to look at the monitor to see where my gate was located. Thank goodness I was headed in the right direction. I buy my customary bottle of water and something to snack on (I can almost never eat on "airplane days"...I've come to accept it rather than fight it), take a seat at the gate, and start to read. I pondered briefly if my bag would fit in the overhead compartment. No, it won't. Sadness! Gate check. See you at baggage claim, wonderful blue bag I carry-on so as not to have to wait at baggage claim... They began boarding the flight, so I walked up with my ticket in hand and was halfway through the tunnel before I realized I didn't know what zone I was sitting in. I knew my seat assignment, but they load by zones, so I shouldn't be allowed to board the plane until my zone is called. I definitely think I boarded with the "Parents with small children, and people needing extra time or assistance." Oops. In my defense, I think they might have called, "Gold, Silver, and Preferred customers" which IS me, but I couldn't prove that. Oh, well.
Sometimes when we do something so often it becomes ritual. What once was so important it was the only thing you could focus on for days has become so mundane that it barely crosses your mind. Pay attention when you do something ritual because otherwise you miss important steps. Ask yourself why you're going to church today and be sure you know what the pastor discussed. Don't simply read your Bible because it's what you do every morning but take a look at what the words actually say. Think. Don't just do.
Oh, I did make it home safely, picked up my bag, and headed out to the car when it hit me. It hit like knives piercing through my skin. Ladies and gentlemen, it is FIVE degrees Fahrenheit here. Welcome to Alaska, Katie. Merry Christmas!
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
My friend Nikki lost her voice. She's really frustrated because she can't talk. Rather than partaking in the conversation, she's been forced to listen. In fact, whenever she does try and speak she either can't be heard or is just talked over. She's also been put in time out because she can't talk at a normal volume level.
It's finals time. That means my apartment is study central. Last night, we took a break and went for fast food dinner. The rule was that all homework needed to stop while we ate. We took a time out.
Take a time out. Maybe you don't have to stand by the ice cream. Maybe you don't need to be silent for the day. Maybe you don't even have to ban the books.
But take some time out of your busy day. How you spend it is your call but I think it's best to do borderline nothing. Sit in the peace and quiet and wait. Talk with some friends instead of racing from one activity to another. Be silent and wait before the Lord.
"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
Monday, November 30, 2009
As I sit here back to class on a Monday morning, I can't help but wonder if anything has changed since I sat in this same place and the same time last week Monday. Sure, I got three days off classes, traveled 800 miles (twice), spent time with my family, and Christmas-treed (verb-it!).
Yet still. What has changed? The temperature is the same. It's still overcast and rainy. It's still crunch time.
Something has changed. My rule of thumb is if I'm going on an airplane, the textbooks aren't coming with me. One of my textbooks made its way into my "to take home" heap last week but I left it here and turned in a project that was not done to the best of my ability, but I don't regret it. Instead of stressing out during break, I literally took a break. I read a book. A tradition started last Christmas when I had a 13-hour travel day to get home and I read a whole book in that time. Ever since then, it's been my goal to read one book every break. This Thanksgiving, I made it! (Fall Break I didn't...).
I read A Thousand Tomorrows by Karen Kingsbury. It's an interesting novel about a horse racer who struggles with Cystic Fibrosis and a cowboy who has anger issues. An unlikely pair who both learn to love. While Kingsbury's grammar is less than something to be desired, the book is a good read. It doesn't get added to my "must read" list that I recommend to everyone but I definitely don't regret it. I'd give it a 4 out of 5.
A thousand tomorrows. We aren't promised that. We aren't even promised to see today to completion. A thousand tomorrows. Tomorrow may bring tragedy, disaster, or final exams(or all of the above) but today is still today. Today--although gloomy and rainy--is a day the Lord has made therefore something in it is beautiful.
I think that's my theme for this semester: Today is still a day the Lord made therefore it is beautiful.
A thousand tomorrows. Gloom. Sun. Rain. Shine. Snow. Clouds. Tomorrow.
Today. The day the Lord has made. Smile.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
"My spirit is praising."
"Well your spirit needs to tell your body to come alive because the two are not communicating very well."
Mark Schultz said this to his wife one day after she'd worked 30 hours. She came home, and Mark was playing piano. Standing there she lifted her arms just a little bit and looked half dead.
How often do we do the same? Look half dead but are still praising? It's much easier to be physically and spiritually dead and go to bed. Nope. Come alive; come alive.
"Bring your broken unto Me lift it up and you will see that a love can make a heart that's been defeated come alive; come alive. My love is stronger than your weakest moment my grace is greater than your worst mistake no matter where you've been I'm waiting at the end of your weakest road." - God (Through Mark Schultz's "Come Alive")
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
With that said, here are some rough thoughts to ponder. I'm developing this blog as I write it, so don't expect me to have all of the answers figured out and the loose ends tied in a pretty bow.
Theological debates aside, I'm not a big fan of altar calls primarily because it leaves those of us who already know Christ sitting there uncomfortably while those "new believers" head to the front of the congregation. Sometimes I also feel like preachers who end with altar call are just pushing an agenda: get people into heaven. Just a reminder, the Bible doesn't say "make converts;" it says, "Make disciples." Sorry, I said theological debates aside so I'll stay focused here even though I've seen three or four different tangents peruse.
Last night, I was at a worship service with an altar call. Yes, I felt like the preacher was pushing his goal of making converts. As he stood on stage, he made every single one of us in the congregation nod or shake our heads to simple questions such as: do you know Christ? Does Christ have control of your life? And stuff like that. By the time he got to where I was sitting in the back, I was starting to get annoyed. That's when it hit me. Perhaps I'm not giving me life to Christ for the first time (or second or fifteenth) but that doesn't mean He and I have everything right. When the speaker said to the new believers, "Are you willing to change?" It hit me. As we say in ASL, HEART PIERCE! Are you willing to change? Really, it's not a one-time change. It's a continuous, life-long process. Change. Not fun. Not easy. Not avoidable. Change. It must happen.
Are you willing to change? Maybe you're not throwing off the ways of this world and submitting your life to Christ, but that doesn't mean you can't change. Are you willing to change? Are you willing to spend more time with Him? Are you willing to wait? Are you willing to unite with your brothers and sisters in Christ around the world? Are you willing to change?
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Thank you for doing what I am not brave enough to do.
Thank you for giving of your time... and your life.
Thank you for giving up all of your tomorrows so that we can be here today.
We love you,
Thursday, October 29, 2009
I never realized quite how big of an impact the weather has on attitude and moreso relationships. For example, yesterday I passed my friend Jordan on the quad from a distance. Normally when I see Jordan he’s got a big smile and is enjoying himself. Yesterday when I saw him I gave him a big wave and a smile. I probably would have walked over and given him a hug but it was raining and I really wanted to get into a building instead. Later, I wished I would have walked in the wet grass because he needed a hug. I could tell from the look on his face. No smile and a small wave. We passed and headed on to class. Once I got there, I texted him asking him if everything was ok. He said yes, he was just a little sad because it was rainy. I offered him a free hug and he said even a free hug probably couldn’t cheer him up today. Free hugs solve everything. Nope. His facebook status that night was talking about how he hates rainy days because they’re depressing. I was worried about him yesterday because he just seemed so sad. When I saw him today I gave him a free hug and asked if today was better. He said today was much better. Perhaps it's because the sun is shining today.
I know I’ve done the exact same thing. Why do we let the weather control our moods? Why? God makes the rainy days just like God makes the sunny days. God loves us on the rainy days just like He does on the sunny days. I don’t get it, but I fall victim to the rainy day trap, too.
Learning to love the rain,
Thursday, October 22, 2009
My freshman year, my FOCUS team did the famous Lifehouse Skit...I'd like to note that this was before the Lifehouse skit was cool... we made it cool. Just kidding. Sort of.
Anyway. It's been several years since I've prayed/practiced/performed that skit, but when I heard it begin to play, my world stopped. I mentally took my place on the stage and envisioned us creating temptations to seperate one of us from Christ. As the music speeds up, the temptations gather in closer to challenge and fight with the girl as she gropes for Christ. When this part began to play, I started to fight. I could feel the pushing and shoving from my focus siblings as we struggled to push down our protagonist. I saw the bruises on her knees from falling. I could smell the coffee-soda-water mix we used for alcohol. I was there on that stage with the bright lights as we pushed away from Christ. Remembering that ultimately He would slam the temptations down and dance with His beloved again.
Think about a time when you strayed from Christ. Think about a time when you (intentionally, unintentionally, successfully, or unsuccessfully) contributed to someone else's stumbling. Remember the awesomeness of dancing with your Abba Father. Take His hand and don't look back.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Confession time: I my only brother is the tractor. Sometimes I eel like I missed out by being in a primarily female family. My dad always teases he's the minority in the sorority, but it's actually true. My life has almost always been filled with female friends and I've had very few close guy friends over the years. This summer my sister was teasing me about the "four" guys I have in my phone. (In my defense, I really have more than four guy friends but that's beside the point... and I mean their numbers in my phone not the guys themselves because that would be weird). I think all of these factors could contribute to why I don't really know how to behave around guys.
However, as of late, I've discovered I have a lot more guy friends than I'm given credit for having. I mean, go back and reread this blog. Either I have my share of guy friends, I'm making up, or the few I do have just inspire me write. (All of the above is not an option). I've also taken a look at where I've spent my time lately. Monday night confirmed this inkling when I was actually one of the guys for a few hours.
Monday night, my Green Bay Packers played the Minnesota Vikings and I was invited to watch the game with a bunch of guys (and a few girls briefly). At first, I was wondering if they were all Vikings fans who invited me over for a good laugh as my team was destroyed. Most of them are Vikings fans, but they didn't laugh at me. Not even when I confessed part of a deep secret: I don't really understand football. I know to cheer when the green guys are running and to boo when the purple guys score. I know Brett Favre is a traitor. I know the thing on my head is a cheesehead. Ask me about scoring and I'm clueless. I even had to think if football games were separated into quarters or only halves. Hockey I can explain in full detail. Tennis I can play. I understand the basics of basketball and baseball, but football and futbol (soccer) leave me totally confused.
It didn't really matter. We weren't all glued to the tv. Fellowship, friendship, and football took place in that dorm room. I looked over Four Year Plans (I love these!), we traded pictures from this last weekend, and we shared life together. I got the opportunity to witness true selflessness (a guy offering to drive a friend three hours to her date with a different guy, sit around while she was on her date, and drive her three hours back), someone else pull the door shut to shield the girls' eyes when a friendly dorm prank turned dirty and involved the removal of pants, oh, and I wasn't killed when I helped myself to a guy's food either. I realize this isn't normal: we all gathered to watch the football game and it was just background noise, yet it was wonderful. It is how it should be: brothers and sisters helping each other out and spending time together while honoring their Abba Father.
Oh, and just to clarify: I'm not dating nor am I trying to impress any of these guys. They didn't pay me to say this either; they're the brothers I've never had. :-)
Monday, October 5, 2009
This year, I'm reading through the Bible and right now I'm in Isaiah. The passage for Friday night--ok, 3am on Saturday morning while I secluded myself for some time with God (and sleep) but could hear the youth wreaking havoc around the building--was Isaiah 40. "The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will no grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:28b-31
I read that passage aloud to my friend Jeanie who was responsible for coming up with something for the Scripture reading on Sunday. She had already been contemplating those verses. We laughed about the "youth growing tired and weary" part. On Saturday night, I read the verses again, this time to Sarah and Jeanie. Sunday morning, Jeanie read Isaiah 40:28-31 for the Scripture reading in church.
Now, the original plan was that the youth pastor was going to do Sunday's sermon on a passage in Revelation. Well, the youth pastor had a family emergency and the senior pastor did the sermon. We had no contact with the senior pastor--other than repeatedly running past his office on Saturday--and he came up with his sermon without knowledge of our scripture reading. Both happened to be based in Isaiah 40. Different passages; same chapter. God's sense of humor.
After church, my host mother from the night before came up to me, "Did you have a dream about a Bible passage last night?" I hadn't that I could remember. Apparently I appeared in several peoples' dreams on Saturday night and in one I was dreaming about a Bible passage. Hum... You never really know what God is doing and He does still speak through dreams.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
We don't have a video of clip of that, but if we did... THIS is what it would look like.
Four friends approach a car, three men, one woman, no couples. One man opened the door to the front as if to get in. "Really? He should let her have the front," a bystandard thought to herself. He steps aside, allows her to sit in the front, and closed the door for her.
I really though you all should know that chivalry isn't dead. Especially you ladies! But men need to know it, too.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
PS. Like the shorter post? If you actually read this, let me know, please!
Thursday, September 10, 2009
It's such a miserable day today.
I mean, it's so rainy and cold.
This is the day that I have made.
No offense, but could we please have some sunshine? If the sun doesn't have to be up, I don't have to be up, right?
Why the rain?
I like the rain. We need the rain. Do you see how low the lake is?
We don't want a flood either!
I promise I won't flood the earth again.
Ok, fine. I'm up, but today is a perfect day to crawl up with a good book. Quick, cancel classes.
I give the orders here.
I know, I know, You don't need my advice. But, really, God, why the cold? Today of all days! Do You know what today is?
Do I know? Of course I know. Today was the day I welcome you into my family. Twenty years ago.
You make me sound so old!
Do you really want to talk old with the Eternal God?
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
In the morning I mentioned the rude awakening and most people never heard it. Perhaps the fact that my open window was within arm's length of my head had something to do with it or perhaps not. Even people who insist they were up at 5am did not hear it. Of everyone I've mentioned it to today, no one heard it but some heard about it. (Apparently, it wasn't campus' siren but rather the town's siren, hence was there was no talking).
Am I crazy? Did I dream it? (I did record it in my dream journal this morning before talking to anyone). I'm pretty sure I heard it. That window didn't close itself. I just don't know exactly what happened at 5:05am on 09-09-09, but I do know that for some reason, I needed to pray for my safety and the safety of my campus. Why God chose 5:05am I may never know. Why He chose the tornado siren, I will also probably never know. Yet it happened. I know it happened. As annoyed as I was this morning, I realize I wasn't disturbed for no reason. There was a point and purpose (no, not a porpoise), but I will never know it.
Let God use you for some unknown point and purpose today. It doesn't have to be anything big. Maybe a simple prayer because of a tornado siren in the middle of the night or a smile to a stranger.
Also, don't be so caught up in your own world that it takes a tornado siren for God to get your attention. Yesterday I wrote about always being able to hear Him as clearly as a cicada... well, this morning I heard Him just as clearly. Although, I think the cicadas are a more peaceful sound.
PS. Does this make any sense?
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
While we were up there, we snacked, talked, teased, took photos, prayed, and sat in silence. Sitting in silence, my friend Sarah and I had very similar thoughts, so instead of separating them, I'm just going to share them both.
Sitting at the top of the mountain, we could see other mountains carved by the hands of our Creator. We could see cars racing down the highway each containing God's precious children. We could see the moon to light up the night. We could smell the trees, taste the leaves we ate, and feel the cool breeze flowing across our sweaty bodies. Most of all, We could hear the countless cicadas singing their praises.
Sitting in silence, the cicadas hum rang through the air. It was like every single one of them was having a conversation. Conversations here. There. In the distance. In front of my face. Everywhere! It was so easy to get wrapped up in the cicada conversation and fail to notice the bright moon lighting up the world. Likewise, we get so caught up in the day to day hustle and bustle that it's easy to forget about our Eternal Moon. (Has God ever been called an Eternal Moon? Now He has).
Also, Lord, may we always be able to hear You as clearly as we could hear the cicadas that night. May daily life never drown You and hide You, the magnificent force lighting up the world.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
This weekend, I was at a retreat and I was unsure how to get from the cafeteria to where our next meeting was to be held. I wandered over and asked people who should know. We all just had a guess, but Neal pointed about twelve or one o'clock (if we were the center of the clock, it was point to where twelve or one o'clock would be). He explained you go behind the next building and angle that way. He then pulled out the map and explained where we had to go. Ok, got a rough idea of the direction I'm headed, straight that way, dodge the buildings, maybe rent a helicopter.
A little while later, when we were leaving, all of my friends headed towards the door at one o'clock (the direction we were told to go), but Neal headed to nine o'clock. What? Ten minutes earlier he'd pointed straight ahead, said, "Go that way" and now he's telling me to go a different direction. I hesitated awkwardly unsure exactly where to go.
"Katie, come this way," I heard from behind me. Neal was standing there watching me try to decide where to go. I must have had a confused look on my face when I turned around because he quickly explained. "If they go out there, they'll have to weave around on the sidewalk. This way is a straight shot."
Wait a second. You just pointed "north" and now you're telling me going "west" to get "north" is a direction shot? This doesn't make sense. But he's one of those people I described earlier, so I followed.
Well, needless to say Neal was right. Our path was straighter than theirs and we got there sooner. (We also had better conversation along that way, but that's beside the point).
God does the same thing. He gives you a glimpse of where you need to be (go that way, dodge the buildings, maybe rent a helicopter), and then leads you in a totally different direction. Thinking your way is going to be better, you argue and try to blaze your own trail, only to eventually follow and realize He was right all along. (The conversation is better His way, too).
I'm sure Neal would like me to point out that he is not God. He could have very easily led me astray and gotten us lost. However, I have reason to believe that he would have (eventually) gotten us unlost, too. God, on the other hand, will not get you lost, but when you get yourself lost, He's there ready to do an excellent job of getting you unlost.In Christ,
Sunday, August 23, 2009
There are two kinds of people in this world: people who hate their scars and people who love them. I'm one of the hate kind. I'm among the ones who try and hide their physical scars with make-up, clothing, and jewelry. They try and do anything to not have their scars be seen.
Jesus is part of the other kind. He loves to sit in the middle of a crowd and tell the story about why His hands having gaping holes. Explain why He's got a gash in His side. He'll tell anyone who will listen about the dents in His head. He'll tell them about His tragic death.
But was it tragic? What He loves to tell is how those gaping holes saved us from sin. That gash fulfilled prophesies helping to prove He is the Messiah. Those dents are of shame and ridicule. Shame, ridicule, and death that we deserved.
Sure, you've heard it a million times. You've read the book and seen the movie. But sit down and let Him tell you the story one-on-one. Listen to Him tell you what He did for you. It's an amazing story of love that needs to be told over, and over, and over again.
Don't forget about Jesus' beautiful scars. How and why they got there.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Road? Sidewalk? Road? Sidewalk? Road?
As I created a pros and cons chart for each option, I continued to race towards the intersection. I finally decided on the road, but then I noticed the road has speed bumps. I changed my mind and opted for the sidewalk. Unfortunately, it was too late to decide, and I met the grass, rocks, and sidewalk up close and personally.
Luckily, only two people saw (or admitted they saw). Of course, they're two people I don't know, so I will forever be ingrained in their brains as the girl who can't ride a bike. My ego and knees are bruised, but I'm OK. My bike, took a harder fall than I did; the chain fell off.
Several hours later I was talking to my friend Hannah about this mishap and about another problem I've been facing. I'm trying to decide which ministry to join this year. There are two and I can't do both (or I'll be over committed). One minute, I'm game to do one, and the next minute I change to the other one.
This? That? This? That?
Road? Sidewalk? Road? Sidewalk?
It was kind of as if God said, "Either is fine, but you'd better decide before it's too late and you wipe out completely. Oh, and don't change your mind either."
Well, folks, let's go ride a bike!
PS: For those of you who are wondering: yes, I was wearing my helmet. No, the papers did not go flying everywhere. Yes, the chain is back on my bike thanks to Daddy Delaware.
Friday, August 14, 2009
On Wednesday, several friends and I were having an intimate, intense discussion in the hallway of his dorm. A door opened and a new student walked into the hall. I'd never met this boy before, but I instantly knew he was a football player and I didn't like him. As he passed, my friend accidentally dropped a pen. The new student stopped, picked it up, and handed it back to my friend before continuing down the hall. We looked at each other in shock! Someone even mouthed, "Wow! He's actually nice!"
We'd all judged this new kid before we'd even met him. When he returned to his room, we introduced ourselves and he blew away more stereotypes. Yes, he is a football player. Yes, he was student government class president for three years in high school. Yes, he is a music major, choir director, and teacher. Yes, his dream is to go to medical school. Yes, he is a preacher's son. Yes, he was appalled by the number of swear words dropped nonchalantly on the football field. Yes, he was concerned about the cleanliness of his room. Yes, he cringed when someone used improper grammar. Yes, he is nice. We invited him to join our discussion, and he was instantly sucked into our dilemma.
Don't make the same mistake I did and write people off before you even know their names. Take the time to get to know them before you judge them.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
"Um... Ok. Why?"
I spent two hours traveling through every clothing store in the mall, and I came home with four books and a new contacts perscription. Everything I tried on at had something wrong with it: This shirt makes me think of Grandpa, what's with the bows?, it looks like a checkerboard, if I wanted jeans with holes in them I'd wear the ones I have, yeah that's nice but move and boom FREE SHOW!... On and on and on for two hours.
Dressing modestly in today's world is a challenge. To put it lightly. Sure, there's always the popular potato sack, but really how can one run in a potato sack?
Monday, August 3, 2009
In the same way, after you're looking at one thing (or aspect of life) in one manner for eons, it looks boring. You seem to feel like there's nowhere to go, no way to change, nothing. Yet if you rearrange a bit, break the rut, and suddenly all sorts of new options appear!
"I don't expect God to speak to me through that metal pole." - Jonathan
"BUT He can!" - Katie
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
One kid, took the three crosses and connected them top to bottom. At first glance, it looked like he had just stuck the letters on at random wherever he felt like it. But when I asked him to tell me about it he he said, "It's kind of hard to see at first, but look! Up and down it says 'LOVE.' And then, on the diagonal like this is says, 'GOD.'"
Isn't that life? At first glance it looks random, all out of whack, and with no order at all. Yet when you look closer, God's love is visible. You weren't expecting to see it in the manner than it appeared, but it was there.
Search and find God today,
Have you spent some good, quality time with your Abba Father lately? You don't have to say a word. You can borrow someone else's [words] if it helps. Just be with Him and do whatever the Spirit leads. Sing. Dance. Scream. Cry. Whatever feels appropriate. This is your Best Friend, remember, so there's no reason to be embarrassed. He loves you more than you'll ever know.
Have a party with Jesus today,
Saturday, July 18, 2009
We smiled and laughed harder than any of us had in a long time. Our faces are definitely out of shape and need more exercise!
Smile and someone today. It'll make his/her day. It'll also help your facial muscles. :-)
Friday, July 17, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
On Wednesday, I didn’t really want to be at Lifest. There were a plethora of reasons; namely: very few of my favorite artists were going to be there, after seven years it had become mundane, and my “I’m bored; let’s go get lost in the mosh pit” mother was leaving me with the responsibility of chaperoning my sisters.
I thought about our past six years worth of Lifests, and the plethora of funny memories flooded my head. The time Michael W. Smith finally played “Never Been Unloved” live after years of begging. Having our minivan pushed into the muddy parking lot. Steven Curtis Chapman’s first return to the stage following Maria’s death. How Mark Schultz’s water bottle earned a standing ovation. Watching TobyMac in a downpour and using a lawn chair as an umbrella. Don’t get me wrong, those stories are hilarious, but they aren’t what Lifest is about.
When asked to summarize this past Friday in one sentence, I said, “Worship in alternative form.” That’s exactly what Lifest is all about. I feel like after seven years, I finally got it. Lifest isn’t about sticking plywood in your elbows for four hours to be in the front of the mosh pit that night. It isn’t about finally having the opportunity to meet your favorite band. It isn’t the perfect time to destroy your eating habits. It isn’t even a great excuse to stay up until one am every day. Rather, Lifest is an opportunity to see God in a new way. Worship in alternative form(s).
Sure, it’s pretty basic. If someone else had said it over the past six years, I definitely would have agreed. I have great God moments from previous Lifests. Kneeling on fist-sized rocks with my arms stretched towards the beautiful blue sky crying out to my Abba Father. Listening to Peter Fuller of Newsboys talk about how God’s timing is perfect only for his sentence to be interrupted by a nearby train (“and you laugh”). Something about this year was different. Agreeing that “church has left the building” and applying the concept are two different things.
Of course, I’ve got silly stories from this year, too. Matthew West writing a spontaneous song about brats. Skillet’s opinion on illegal music downloads and still loving the audience for free. Officially becoming part of BarlowGirl. Hitting Aaron Shust in the head with my cowboy hat. Getting chastised by Mark Schultz for singing along to one of his songs that hasn’t been released yet. Dancing, jumping, singing, and worshipping with my arms around complete strangers. Singing two commercials with several hundred of my new “family members.” Following Peder Eide around as he moved from stage to stage. Except I had to look through my journal to remember all of those silly things.
The things I remember off of the top of my head are memories about closing my eyes singing and signing praises to God as raindrops fell softly onto my face and Phillips, Craig, and Dean led us in worship. Singing “Open the Eyes of My Heart” and having Peder Eide cut off the audience telling us only to sing if we really believed it and were aware of what we were singing. Watching Bob Lenz on the jumbotron saying, “God is bigger than your pains” as the beautiful sun set behind him. Singing hymns on Mountain Dew and confessing "Yes, I believe." Finally understanding how worship is truly "tasting and seeing that the Lord is good."
To anyone else, my Lifest may look like a let-down. I only went to 3 events not at the Grandstand. I waited in line for 2 Meet and Greets. Yet to me, it was worth every $2.50 bottle of water to sit outside in a sea of lawn chairs and read 1 Samuel in a new light. I will repeat “We’re family, and I love you,” to more strangers if it also means I can also shout “God is good. All the time.” A misconception that’s been stuck in my head for the last six years has finally disappeared, and praying for no rain for five days will never be the same.
How easily do we lose focus on what Lifest is all about? On what life itself is all about?
Monday, July 13, 2009
This past weekend was God-filled, and it's going to take some time to formulate all of my thoughts into words. As a trilingual writer, I cannot fathom words adequate enough to describe God.
One time, I heard Vikki Beeching talk about how when she first came to the United States, everything we have was new and exciting to her. She told everyone that they had to try Starbucks drive-thru because they were amazing. Now that she's been here while, the novelty wore off and everything that was once baffling has now become mundane. She asked if the same thing has happened with the Gospel. As baby Christians, it was new and exciting. We told everyone about our Savior and His love. We've now grown accustomed to Him, and have stopped telling everyone how great He is. That doesn't make Him less great. In fact, He's still as excited about us as He was on that first day! We should be like Jesus and try to do the same.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
I hope you spend your Independence Day remembering...
Remembering that freedom isn't free.
Remembering those who gave up all of their tomorrows so that we can be here today.
Remembering that the Fourth of July isn't about parades or even fireworks but about the those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Remembering the battles fought, the blood shed, and challenges overcome to make this country what it is.
I won't be mad, though, if you spend today remembering...
Remembering all the stupid stuff you and your family friends have done on the 4th in the past.
Remembering the time that ...
Remembering how life has changed over the past twenty years.
Take a minute to remember.
And be sure to remember the Lord who's been with you through it all.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Last week Monday, my friend Jessica was concerned about the lack volunteers for VBS. We all concurred that God would provide.
On Wednesday, I went out to lunch with a mutual friend Emily to discuss high school ministry and in the four parking stalls between her car and mine, she somehow convinced me to see if Jessica still needed help for VBS. I knew God would provide for Jessica, but I never expected that I would be the one He provided. In reality, God dropped people from the sky for her, and the fall didn't hurt. God and I had a good laugh all the way home.
"Use me," I said, "but obviously You don't need my permission to do that. Yet I still give it."
Well, a week later I have survived my first VBS ever! There are a plethora of children's songs running on shuffle in my head... where they have been for the last week. Yet the effects of VBS go a whole lot deeper than musical hallucinations.
Last night, I drove past a dead opossum on the road. I chuckled when I contemplated pulling over, putting my hand on it, and saying, "God gives up life!" (And I half expected a loud "Fear not!" to follow).
This afternoon, my VBS kids were running back towards church and I said, "Let's use our walking feet." Imagine my surprise when every single one of them slowed down and began to walk! I was still talking, and one of them turned around and said, "SHHH!!" to me! I forgot, walking feet go with quiet mouths and listening ears! It only took a week for them to learn and less time than that to forget, but it feels good to be shhh-ed by a four year old.
One of my VBS friends loved the firefly he made on Monday. Every day he asked if he could take it home, and everyday the answer was, "You may take it home on Friday." Everyday he told me, "This is my firefly. It reminds me that God is with us! FEAR NOT!" Some lessons do actually stick.
Max Lucado recommends taking a walk with a child every day to see life from their point of view. Well, every day this week I got to see God through the eyes of a four year old, and let me just tell you: He is good!
Learning to Listen,
Monday, June 22, 2009
Yesterday, our whole family went to a baseball game. Well, ok, I didn't go. I learned afterwards that God literally saved my life and the lives of my mom and grandfather.
It started to rain, so my grandparents went to sit in the car (where they could watch the game dry). Well, five minutes didn't pass and a pop-up ball landed exactly where they had been sitting.
A little while later, a ball was whipped into the stands at about 90 mph (ok, that's perhaps an exaggeration... but that's what Mom said). It just so happened that at that very moment, Christina leaned to the side, and the ball whizzed between her and Dad. Less than five minutes earlier, Mom had been sitting in between the two of them, but she stepped out to use the restroom. Had she been sitting there when the ball flew by, it would have hit her square in the chest probably killing her.
But, Katie, how did God save your life yesterday? You weren't even at the game.
Well... balls and I don't get along. They hit me in the face no matter how nice I am to them. Had I been at that game, I have no doubt one of those two balls would have collided with my face. I don't know why I chose to leave instead of going to the game. I just did. God made me. That's all there is to it.
Obey even when there seems to be no logical reason to do so.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
"We spend a lot more time praying to keep people out of heaven than we do for people to find heaven."
It's true. We spend a lot more time praying that earthly lives are spared instead of eternal lives granted.
Think about it.
Friday, May 1, 2009
"Just put it aside, Katie."
"No, you need to. It doesn't matter."
"But it does."
"No, the only One it matters to has already made up His mind. And He isn't going to change it no matter how hard you try."
Simple yet to profound and perfect.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
According to my hugenormous trip journal, this dream haunted me for days. To this day Neal gets after me for being mad at him for something he did in a dream. Eventually, I wrote, "I'm not mad at Neal for my dream anymore. I don't think. He was confronting me about an issue and making me take care of it. He was upset (but he wasn't livid) and he was holding me accountable for my actions. We all need people like that, even in our dreams, even when we don't have a clue what we did. I really hope I don't have any more weird dreams."
Fast forward to Thursday. We needed to paint the top corner of the exterior of a building except it was hard to reach with the ladder and there was a huge birds nest and thus an angry momma bird. We girls decided against painting it ourselves and sent a guy up there.
Neal was our lucky victim. He perched himself precariously on an incredibly unsafe ladder contraption (involving a brick, a peice of plywood, a rock, and a sloped sidewalk), and I held the ladder.
Three or four songs from my sign choir played on the radio (ok, iPod), but I couldn't sign them because Neal's life was in my hands.
"God's trying to teach you to listen," he told me.
Eventually, he handed me the paint buck and climbed off the ladder. I signed with my one free hand.
"Stop it, Katie," he told me again.
I didn't stop instantly because it was my favorite part of the song, but I did stop a few signs later. I was moderately annoyed, but I figured he was probably right. After all, I'm not very good at listening.
For the rest of the work day, I didn't sign and I didn't sing. Under any other circumstances, I probably wouldn't have even considered not singing/signing. Yet I'm so glad I did because while cleaning the bucket that day, I had one of the best conversations with God that I've had in a long time.
"Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Friday, April 24, 2009
A word to the wise, know what you're supporting. Don't just say things that make people smile. What if the people you're trying to make smile really are participating in something the Bible clearly warns against? Don't agree blindly.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I mean, seriously: Who wants someone else's trash? Who wants to touch all that trash?
Jesus wants your trash. Will you give it to Him?
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
After our time of prayer, we headed over to practice with the live band. Ryan and I were walking down the stairs and a squirrel ran in front of us. Well, more like stumbled in front of us. He was walking very weirdly, and I figured he just had an extra leg or a bum leg or something. "Oh, that's weird," and keep going. That was my plan. Well, little did I know that Ryan wants to be a vet. Of course, he wanted to see this poor squirrel as did the rest of the team.
"What are we going to do with this squirrel?"
"He's going into the building!"
"I think he's bloody."
"We can't just leave him here."
"Look, he's stuck!"
"Awe, the poor guy."
"What are we going to for him?"
"Let's call Dr. Jones!"
"Yeah! Call Dr. Jones! He'll know what to do!"
So we called Dr. Jones, and the prognosis for this poor squirrel was grim. As suspected, Dr. Jones recommended putting this squirrel out of his misery. It was at this point that I walked away, knowing that was not going to be fun to watch. Well, they decided the easiest way to do that would be to take the squirrel to Dr. Jones' office (on the other side of campus) and euthanize him (the squirrel).
"How are we going to get this squirrel to Dr. Jones?"
"Anyone have a cardboard box?"
"No, but I have a bag."
"I have paper towel." (Laughter. "I don't know much about squirrels. Just an idea." "Apparently you don't know much about gravity either.")
They concluded a shirt was their best bet. Ryan captured the squirrel with the shirt and Tony was holding the squirrel. I think this squirrel probably could have survived for awhile based on the way he was moving, and he moved right out of the shirt and bit Tony.
Dancer down! Long story short...
"Everything's fine. It's all taken care of. We called 911. Now let's practice."
Ambulance took Tony and the squirrel (who has a name by this point, but I can't remember it) to the ER.
We practiced a bit more and decided Nikki would stand in for Tony. Watching Tony come in the building, talk to Nikki, give her a hug, leave, and Nikki jump up on stage to practice was priceless. All along, Nikki had said she wasn't going to dance. We were worshipping God and she was going to worship Him on the floor. It's not stage fright or anything (she's the director of the drama ministry). It's not that she doesn't know the dance (she performed it two weeks ago). No, she wasn't going to dance. Even if we were one person short; she wasn't going to dance; she'd make Tony do it. Tony's in the back of an ambulance.
Nikki was a little rusty, but she knew the dance. Unfortunately, she wasn't at peace about the situation. In fact, she left in the middle of worship and prayed in the bathroom. Sermon ends, pastor prays, we get on stage, pastor still praying, we get into position, pastor praying, we're ready, pastor's praying... We're all in position (lying on the ground as if we were dead) and I feel someone go past my head. I was the last one on stage. We're all here. I look up. It's Tony!
Tony walked in the room, saw us on stage getting ready and the pastor still praying, so he ran on stage, and still danced. I think Nikki almost cried.
In the case of the squirrel, we were all responsible.
Ryan and I were at fault because we were the first ones to see it.
Caroline was at fault because she called Dr. Jones.
Ryan was at fault because he put it in Tony's hands.
The nursing major was at fault because she witnessed the incident and forced Tony to go to the hospital.
Nikki was at fault because she organized the whole dance day.
All 15 of us claimed responsibility.
Claim responsibility for your actions and watch God work through them. React when you get the "Go" from God. Don't use excuses, Moses, but go.
"We're not called to be successful; we're called to be obedient." - Dimitri
PS: Tony is fine. The same can not be said for the squirrel...
Monday, April 20, 2009
This afternoon, my friend Brittany and I got our dinners and sat outside on the steps to the chapel. Brittany offered me some of her pudding, and I said I was full; if I ate any more I was going to explode.
"I want to see that," she said. We were teasing about it, and as if it was planned, I burped. "Well, I guess there it was."
"Thanks," I said, looking to the sky. Boy does our God have a sense of humor. :-)
The second story was from last night.
We were practicing and interpretive dance to the song "Hosanna" by Hillsong. During one part, we bow down to the Lord. Well, of course, whenever you get a group of college students together (especially late at night) we get a little silly. While we were bowing, David grabbed a branch he found on the ground. A palm branch. Yes. David bowed to the Lord waving a palm branch and singing "Hosanna." This is the week after Easter not the week before everyone. :-) I still love it!
I also love that Hosanna means "Save now." Not "Save sometime" nor "Saved" nor "Maybe save." No. "Save now." Our God is saving us now. Not past tense. Not future tense. Nothing. Save NOW.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
On Tuesday, after worship I went to get some snacks. Every week I get whales (goldfish but better); in fact, the snacks folks always know I get whales. Some days I have to ask, but they always have whales even if they're just for me. I'm waiting for the day when there's a cup of whales on the table waiting for me. :-) Last week, they were out of whales and it made me very sad. This week, I was a little over-excited about getting whales...
I galloped to the snacks table, and when I reached across if for an empty cup, I accidental hit some cookies onto the floor. Three valuable cookies fell to their death on the nasty concourse floor. I picked them up right away, and held them in my greasy hand while I talked for a few seconds. Neal picked up the now-empty package and put it under my hand with broken cookies. I took the broken cookies and empty wrappers to the garbage.
"What are you doing with those cookies?" Neal shouted across the concourse to me.
"Throwing them away. Why? You want them?" I asked, realizing that was a dumb question. He's a guy; he's probably going to eat them. I was not going to give him cookies off the floor. Even if the answer was yes, they were going in the garbage.
"Not after they've been mushed in your sweaty hand," he snickered and I pitched them.
"My hand is cleaner than that floor," I informed him.
"Would you bet your salvation on it?" Is my campus minister asking me to bet my salvation on germs?
"No, but God and I both know how often I wash my hands."
Every conversation I have with Neal involves skin cells... I don't talk to anyone else about skin cells, but every time I talk to Neal they come up and he doesn't even know I'm a germophobe. How weird is that? Of course, this conversation morphed to talk about germs, Neal's nurse-wife whose hands bleed every winter because of how often their washed (mine, too), Neal's germophobe son (me, too), and how I once took a shower in Neal dead skin cells.
On our mission trip, Neal sat down next to me and said, "My face is peeling." How do you respond to that? What a great conversation starter!
I said the only logical thing, "Yucky."
"It's not yucky!"
"Well, I don't want your peely skin on me," I told him. What does he proceed to do? Rub his hands over my leg and taunt me with the number of skin cells falling onto me. When he's finished with that, he scoops them up and throws them in my face. Dead Neal cells in my eyes! Yucky!
On Tuesday, he rubbed some more dead skin cells on me, and I told him how hard that was for germophobe me not to freak out. I excepted this confession to result in laughter and more dead skin cells on me.
"I'm sorry. I didn't know it bothered you," he said. Wow. I wasn't expecting that.
Throw someone a curve ball today. Apology when they expect you to laugh.