Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Year in Review: Books Style

I started 2009 with a goal of reading 13 books, one a month and one more.  Since books for class don't count and I took three literature classes in 2009, that was a feasible goal.  I read 14.  So my goal this year was 17, and I hit 22.  I think that means in 2011 I have to read 25...

1. Five Love Languages: Singles Edition by Gary Chapman

2. The Condition by Jennifer Haigh

3. June Bug by Chris Farby

My thoughts on books 4-9 and some more can be found here

4. In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
A must-read if you like historical fiction and/or Latina America.

5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Historical fiction set in the Jackson, Mississippi, during the Civil Rights Era

6. The Wednesday Letters by Jason Wright
Laura, my dyslexic sister, devoured this book.

7. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Houssini
Christina, my other dyslexic sister, is eager to read this book.  It's a must read if you like historical fiction and Afghanistan.

8. Invisible I by Stella Lennon
Part of The Amanda Project

9. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My boss asked me to read this book.  I never would have done it on my own, but I enjoyed it!

10. Unspoken Lies by Darrien Lee
I went to Barnes & Noble looking for a short book and bought this one just because it fit that description.  Honestly, the only reason I kept reading this book was because I liked the exposition.  I was not impressed with the dialogue, storyline or ending.  The whole story revolved around the characters having affairs and getting away with it, and the ending seemed like a cop out.  I don't recommend it, sorry.

11. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
I read this book as a writer and it was good.  I would love to go back and read it again, this time just as a person.  My roommates and I have embraced his idea of filling life with memorable moments.  Our first Memorable Moment was putting birthday candles in Amy and Melia's chicken breast instead of in their cake.  I do recommend this book but take your time reading it.  Let everything sink in before you move on to the next chapter.

12. Fearless by Max Lucado
I didn't realize how much control fear has in my life until I read his book on how to get rid of it.  I love all Max Lucado books, but this is definitely one of my favorites.  If you're going to try Max for just one book, pick this one.

13. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
I was promised I would love this book.  And I did.  It did take me awhile to get into it, though, because I was coming off a long stretch of historical fiction books.  All of my other thoughts about it are in a Writer's Notebook at school, sorry.

14. A Novel Idea
A writing book I highly recommend if you're interested in writing Christian fiction.  I took notes.

15. "Unveiled," "Unashamed," and "Unshaken" part of A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers
They are three fictional short stories looked at the lives of nonfictional Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth.  Francine Rivers brings Bible characters to life in a way I've never experienced before.  I had a hard time getting into these stories at first, but I was disappointed I couldn't finish the book (I borrowed it and had to return it).  Although, if you're going to read Francine Rivers you have to read Redeeming Love.

16, 17. Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Books two and three in The Hunger Games series.  When I read the first book, I criticized Collins for dragging the story out through three books rather than just ending it.  Maybe it's just my dislike for sequels.  I still understand why I argued that, but I'm glad she didn't ask my opinion before writing books two and three.  The books are considered young adult fiction, but I've heard of a lot of adults thoroughly enjoying them.  Elizabeth and Andy kept pestering me to read and finish them so we could all talk about them.  Catching Fire I read in one weekend, but Mockingjay I spread out over months just because it was that time in the semester.  They're not hard reads, and Mrs. Mary says her seventh graders are devouring them.  Maybe a good book for a middle schooler to read with a parent.

18. Cast of Characters by Max Lucado
This is kind of like Lineage of Grace in that it takes Bible characters and focuses in on their lives.  The way Max (can you call the author by his first name when you've read 15 of his books?) brings the characters to life forced me to think about them in ways that had never crossed my mind before.  It's also a devotional so you can see trends between their lives then and ours today.  Are they really that much different?

19. One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash
I love Ron Rash.  I'm a little biased because I've met him twice but that's besides the point.  I prefer Serena, but I enjoyed One Foot in Eden, too.  It doesn't have the "typical Rash body count" (Rash); only a handful of (creative) deaths.  Every section is written from a different character's POV and in their voice.  I liked the overlap, hearing the same story told in two different points of view.  If I wrote it, I would have ended it one section sooner.  Actually, if I get to meet Rash again, I want to ask why he did it the way he did.

20. Grace: For Those Who Think They Don't Measure Up by Bob Lenz
Another author I've heard speak many times.  Bob writes just like he talks which was a bit of a deterrent for me since I am a writer.  The tangents he takes in real life work well.  The same principle doesn't work as well in writing.  I started reading this book years ago and just now finally finished it because I'm not his target audience.  It is a great book for youth struggling with the ideas of grace and faith.  Not so great for a 20-something confident in her faith.

21. Flight
Not a published book yet but when it does become published you can say I told you about it.  One of my friends send me the novel of another friend and asked for my feedback.  I enjoyed it, I learned from it, and I gave constructive criticism.  I look forward to seeing it on a shelf in Barnes & Noble one day.

22. The Bible
For the second year in a row I did a "Read the Bible in a year" thing.  If you've never read the Bible in a year (or ever), I recommend using this one.  It's challenging but doable.  For me, I wasn't very diligent about getting into the Word but this helped a lot.  I did spend a lot of time behind but (unless something changes in the next two days) I'm finishing on time.  I don't know if I'm going to do it again in 2011 just because after two years it's kind of assignment-like rather than a desire to seek Him.  We'll see if I can dig in without the accountability...

What have you all been reading lately?

I'm ringing in 2011 with a moving bookmark in A Love With Giving (Max Lucado) and How the Garcia Girls Lost the Accents (Julia Alvarez).  What else should I add to my list?

<>< Katie

Monday, December 27, 2010

Marathon Christmas

I grew up thinking this was normal.  I grew up thinking a lot of things were normal, myths my roommates have quickly dispelled.  You mean everyone doesn't have four Christmas trees and a 30-hour Christmas?  I supposed now you're going to tell me everyone has more than three cousins, too, right?

Christmas Eve
3:00pm- "Get in the car now!"

4:00pm- We start Christmas where all Christmases should begin: in church.  We pass the bulletin from one end of the pew to the other, share notes, and split a half a piece of gum thirteen ways.  You think I'm kidding.

6:00pm- "And WHY are you snow blowing in your Christmas suit?"
All thirteen of my maternal side of the family is gathered in my aunt and uncle's kitchen.  We're munching on meatballs, shrimp, and the world famous cheese dip.  We need something in the stomachs as we begin a long night of alcohol consumption.

7:00pm- "Maybe we should open presents." 
"Yes, that bow is beautiful on your head." 
"What kind of tape did you use?  It's impossible to rip!"

8:00pm- Grandpa and Grandma get a fifteen minute head start (we even use the microwave timer) to light candles and turn on lights before the entire party mobilizes to Grandpa and Grandma's house.  We open presents first from my grandparents and second from my aunt and uncle from out of town.

9:00pm- Grandpa and Grandma serve us pizza subs on paper plates just to have some substance during our night of grazing.  "Sure, I'd love some blackberry wine."

10:00pm- My family's turn for the fifteen minute head start.  There are advantages and disadvantages to being the last house in the round-robin.  The biggest disadvantage is that the hair and makeup need remedial help before the photograph in front of the tree.

11:00pm- "Who wants to be Santa?"

12:00am- Grandpa and Grandma decide it's time to go home.

1:00am- "Someone has to eat my food!"

2:00am- We karate chop the remaining family out of here, clean up the kitchen, and set up for the morning.  Time for bed!

For the next four to six hours visions of sugar plums dance in our heads while Santa flies over head.

Christmas Day
8am- "Santa's been here!"

9am-  The family gift exchange and Santa presents are opened on Christmas morning.  Dad gets coal.  And the grille to go with it.  Mom cries when she opens the puzzle photo collage of my sisters and me growing up.  My flannel jeans from Cabela's miraculously fit!  "Dad, I got you a six pack of beer just because I can.  No, I don't want one." 

10am- "Get in the car!  We're late!"

11am- "Are we there yet?"

12pm- Growing up, my family was always the last to arrive at my paternal grandparents' house.  Some traditions die hard.  Christmas dinner will be served at two.  I regret not eating more than a banana for breakfast and dive into the chips, fudge, and pie on the kitchen table.

1pm- I'm in a photo war with Travel Buddy, my uncle who's a professional photographer.  I take literally 178 photos.
2pm- The Charlie Brown Tree. 
Every year my grandparents go to the tree farm and find the most ridiculous tree in the $5 bin.  It's too thick to put ornaments on it.  It's so thin you can see through it.  It has two tops.  They then barter until the owner lets them buy the tree for $3.  They give him a $2 tip.  This year the tree branches needed to be transplanted, so they got it for $2 with a $1 tip.  Remember, the camera adds ten pounds.
3:00pm- "This restaurant is only open twice a year, so you'd better dig in!"
Thanksgiving dinner is remarkably similar to Christmas dinner.  The main difference is that the men are actually allowed to sit in the dining room with the women rather than being banished to the kitchen.  We pass rolls by overhand tossing, make the misbehaving adults sit at the children's table, and, heaven forbid, we forget the olives.

5:00pm- Photo shoot! 
Each family.  "At least pretend like you like each other."  All the girls.  All the boys.  "Stop that!"  Three generations.  "Where'd Grandpa go now?"  All the granddaughters.  All eleven of us.  The stray people we picked up on the street.  All dogs.  "Ok, my camera's memory card is full."

6:00pm- "Yes, I'd like a brandy old fashion, please.  We're going to be here for awhile."
Commence the longest present opening extravaganza in the history of present openings.  Grandma hands the first present to Tina.  Tina opens it, throws the wrapping paper on the floor, and examines it for fifteen and a half seconds before she must stand to pick and hand out the next present.  If she surpasses her allotted fifteen and a half seconds, the entire crowd shouts, "PICK A PRESENT!"

7:00pm- Fifteen minute intermission to fill the glasses and empty the bladder.

7:15pm- "Pick a present!"

8:00pm- "PICK A PRESENT!"
Every year Grandma and Grandpa give each of their four grandkids a gold ornament engraved with our names, the year, and "Love, Gma & Gpa."  After twenty-some years, Wal-mart stopped making the ornaments, so Grandma had to get creative.  This year she bought some silver ones from Target and engraved them herself.

9:00pm- "Pick a present" brouhaha is finally over after three hours of present opening!  Grandma and the four granddaughters sit in the heaps of wrapping paper for the annual photo.  Grandma boasts that she is 71 and can still get down on the floor.  We help her up.

10:00pm- Grandma asks who brought the iPod for the traditional Christmas Day dancing in the kitchen.  No one has music; no one has the energy to dance.  The men are Wii bowling in the kitchen.  Grandpa's winning.  "That's an awful nice purple dress you've got there, Jim," Greg says, and the crowd rolls.  Grandpa's using my Mii.

11:00pm- The food comes back out for those who are hungry.  I eat some cherry pie, little smokies, sweet potatoes, and fudge.  In that order.  "Shhhhh!  Someone may be sleeping."

12:00am- That someone should be me.  But we're having too much fun retelling old stories, hacking up lungs, and laughing hysterically.

1:00am- That someone is me.  It's the only night of the year when I can sleep with socks on because of the heat problems in the old farmhouse.  Yet I sleep with a smile on my face.  Another great Christmas!
I love hearing about Christmas traditions.  What are yours?

<>< Katie

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Christmas Miracle

Our motto for this family get together has been, "It's a Christmas miracle!"  The pants I bought you actually fit?  It's a Christmas miracle!  You guys made it here safely through the snow?  It's a Christmas miracle!  You found some extra dipping sauce in the back of the fridge?  It's a Christmas miracle!

It's been a bit overkill.  Don't get me wrong, I love acknowledging everyday miracles but "Christmas Miracle" is kind of a term already on reserve.

A few days before Christmas 2006, we received a phone call from my grandma.  Our family friend Arnie, 81, had a seizure during dinner.  He vomited, aspirated, and earned himself a flight for life ride to the intensive care unit.

While the rest of the world was preparing for a joyful holiday, we were preparing for the worst.  Decisions were to be made on December 26.  The decision was that life support would be terminated the following day after everyone had the opportunity to say goodbye to a warm hand. 

The following morning, my dad received a wake-up call asking him to make the drive to be with them.  While he was showering my grandma called back.  She had to hand the phone to my grandfather because she was crying too hard to talk to my mom.  They were tears of joy.  Arnie was awake, sitting up, and by that afternoon he was asking for a drink.

Arnie lived for eight more months before he passed away peacefully.  There was no reason he should have survived that December.  His funeral was planned!  Even my agnostic grandparents admitted it was a Christmas Miracle.

Sometimes God works in life-saving miracles and sometimes He works through everyday miracles.  The question becomes, will we acknowledge them?

I pray you all had a miraculous Christmas, my friends.

<>< Katie

Friday, December 24, 2010

Faith, Hope, Joy, Love

Christmas is finally here!  School is on a hiatus while people become cooking maniacs and wrapping machines.

The traditions rooted deeply except I don't really think Mary and Joseph sat around staring at dead trees and eating candy out of their socks.

I bet they were exhausted from traveling and discouraged by the lack of places to stay.  Then Mary gave birth in the most unsanitary place ever; oh, yeah, and her fiance isn't the father.  Now all of the animals want to know where they're supposed to be eating for the next several days because there are some unexpected visitors.  Shepherds are being visited by terrifying angels, and magi come bearing expensive gifts--one of which was a burial spice.  I think most modern parents would be offended if someone gave them embalming fluid at a baby shower.  Just saying.

Big mess! Big message!

God became man.  The creator of the universe shoved Himself into a little baby's body.  Prophesies and promises fulfilled.  Christ, our Lord, born to die for our redemption.

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David's town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.
There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!
(Luke 2:1-20 MSG)
It's a story of real people having the FAITH to do what God called them to do--even if it was uncomfortable.

It's a story of the HOPE given to the world in the form of a baby.

It's a story about JOY bundled into an unusual package.

It's a story about the LOVE my Savior has for me. The LOVE He has for you.

Merry Christmas!  Have a blessed day, my friends!
<>< Katie

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Katie: I'm going to go upstairs now before one of those cookies leaps off the pan and into my mouth.
Mom: One already leaped into Dad's mouth.
Katie: They're my favorite.
Mom: I thought the rugelach was your favorite?
Katie: It is.  And Grandpa's Favorite Cookies are my favorite too.

Huh?  Katie, you can't have three favorite cookies.

Actually, I can.  If Peder Eide can have five favorite children, I can have three favorite cookies.

Peder [to his middle son]: Ethan, guess what?  You're my favorite.
Ethan: Cool!
Peder: Ethan, guess what?  Allison's my favorite.  And Taylor?  He's my favorite.
Ethan: Let me guess, Makenzie and Teshome are your favorite too?
Peder: Yup!  You are all my favorite!
Ethan: That's not as cool, Dad.

I understand Ethan's plight.  My sisters and I used to drive our father nuts asking him who was his favorite.  Now he says his favorite number is one-two-three.  He leaves us all notes proving he loves us each the most.

That just doesn't make sense.  I can't have three favorite cookies.  Peder can't have five favorite children.  Dad can't love us all the most.  It's not possible!  Or is it?

Why can't it be?

Friend, you are God's favorite.  He loves you the most.

He loves you so much He engraved your name on the palm of His hand. (see Isaiah 49:16).

He sent His Son to earth to be born in a dirty manger, to grow up in a world that disagreed with Him, to be brutally killed, to be raised again from the dead.  All because He loves you.  All because you're His favorite.

How does that make you feel?

Excuse me now while God's favorite daughter catches the favorite cookie that is flying at her mouth.

<>< Katie

Monday, December 20, 2010

"You are Faithful"

Some families watch movies. Some families have a game night. My family goes to concerts. It's our bonding activity.

I think it's safe to say we are professional concert go-ers. We are armed with CDs to have signed and even bring our own Sharpies. We consider our seats good ones if we can see the performer's teeth. We know all the words and sing along, even if not invited. We've had artists talk to us from the stage, tease us in the Meet & Greet line, and remember us from concert to concert.

The other night, we went to a Peder Eide concert. Peder has recognized me before, but I was out of context so I wasn't sure if he'd recognize me again. At one point during the show, I was looking at the screen and he was looking at me. When I looked back, we made eye contact and he gave me an "I see you" look.

After the show, we made our way through the crowd and towards Peder. When it was my turn, he greeted me with a hug and said, “It’s good to see you, Katie.”

He remembered my name! If I ever gave him my name, it was six months ago in a very different atmosphere. Maybe he found eight seconds to facebook stalk me. I don’t know, but he knew my name! We could have walked away right then and I would have been happy.

But we didn’t. When he signed my CD, while teasing me about being old school for bringing a CD from 1999, he signed his name, wrote my name (which he spelled correctly), and then thought for a minute. Eventually he wrote, “You are faithful.”

Ok, Peder Eide addressing me by name and calling me faithful. That’s cool!

But you know who I really want to hear that from? God.

I want God to put His arm around me and say, “Katie, you are faithful.”

I don’t want my faith to be limited to Christian concerts and blog posts. I want my faith to be a daily experience. I want to always seek God more. I don’t want the smile on my face to be fake. I want to be filled with joy—even when I have a headache, even when I’m stressed, even when the world seems to be against me.

Through it all, may I live faithfully to the Lord.  After all, He's the one that gave me my name.

<>< Katie

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Carpenter's Hands

You can tell a lot about a person from his or her hands.

When this was first brought to my attention, I immediately thought of my grandfather.  I thought about the hours I spent as a child lotioning his rough carpenter hands.  I thought about how appalled my child-self was that he let his hands get so chapped and cracked.

I look down at my own hands now and realize my child-self would be appalled.  Calloused from holding a pen.  Blistered from raking leaves (yes in December).  Red and rough from the cold, despite the gloves.  I thought about the abuse they receive throughout the day.

Hands vital for communication.  Hands that fidget.  Hands ready to hold.  Ready to perform.  Hands that spell "Hi!" with veins.  Hands that are washed way too often.  Hands that work just as easily in polar fleece gloves as they do independently.  These hands hurt.  These hands are cold. 

These hands don't care.  These hands will do their best for God's glory.  These hands were made to praise Him.  These hands were made to serve Him.  These hands may have to work slowly, but these hands will work and He'll get the honor.

As a child, I never wanted to have the hands of my grandfather, the hands of a carpenter.  As an adult, I want to be the hands of a carpenter, Christ Jesus. 

A carpenter's hands are beat up, bruised, and rough. When I say, "Lord, I want to be Your hands" am I willing to be beat up and bruised?  Am I willing to accept that life will be rough?  Am I willing to accept the scars?

If you can tell a lot about a person by his or her hands and we are called to be Jesus's hands and feet, what are we saying about Him?

<>< Katie

Friday, December 17, 2010

Snow pants and iced coffee

Sometimes so many cool things happen in life that I just want to write about every minute of every day.  Except I can't.  Let me give you snapshots of my yesterday.  <>< Katie

Snapshot One
Five of the six girls in my apartment had somewhere to be by 8am.  Remember, we're college students, so that is unheard-of early!  A little before seven I rolled over and noticed Jennifer was missing.  Honestly, I wondered if she ever came to bed.  I fell asleep before she came in and she apparently got up before I did.  She could sleep while doing a headstand, so I wasn't too worried.  I was worried about our frantic, groggy noise as the other five of us tried to get ready.  When I found her in the living room, she said she went to bed just after I fell asleep and got up not five minutes before my alarm went off.  I asked why she was up and she said she got up to make Allyson coffee.  I figure that's the epitome of selflessness, to get up at 7am to make coffee for your roommate.  It got better.  She then went out and scraped all of the ice off of Elizabeth's car.  At seven am, my amazing roommate woke up just to serve us.

Snapshot Two
Around nine, Dr. Z and J-M walked into the coffee shop.  I asked J-M why he was wearing snow pants.  He said it was eleven degrees outside and they had walked.  He then proceeded to order an iced coffee.  At which point I reminded him it was eleven degrees out.  His response?  "That's why I'm wearing snow pants."

Snapshot Three
I arrived at the Wal-mart crosswalk two steps behind an elderly couple with matching hand-carved wooden canes.  There was enough time of me to cross in front of the oncoming car but there wasn't enough time for them.  The man cleared his throat to find his voice.  "Let's go," he said to his wife.  One foot at a time they moved forward and I subconsciously slowed my naturally fast pace to half time.  When we reached the halfway point, I was sure the car had stopped and there were other people in the cross walk, so I sped up again, but for some reason that cute old couple has stuck in my head for the last few days.

Snapshot Four
Around eight pm, my roommates announced it was wintery mixing outside.  I left my study perch on the couch and got up to look out the window.  Honestly, I was excited to see big white snowflakes for the first time this season.  As soon as I pulled open the blinds, I remembered I live in Baptist Country.  If I closed one eye, tilted my head sideways, and stared at the street light, I could kind of see something that resembled a rain drop.

Snapshot Five
Remember those nice things I said about my roommate in Snapshot One?  I take them all back.  That morning she also washed our sheets.  She said it took forever to put the sheets on my bed.  Apparently she had finished when she realized she missed a layer and had to start all over again.  Honestly, I appreciated it.  What I did not appreciate was the fact that she intentionally made the bed backwards.  I think next time I do the sheets I'll make Jen's bed inside out with the sheet on top and comforter on the bottom.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Looking Like People

"Your characters talk and act like people, but they don't look like people," my fiction writing class told me last week.  This constructive criticism has stuck in my head since then. 

It's true: I rarely describe the physical features of my characters.  Maybe it's because even though I'm a visual learned I struggle to describe real people much less made-up people.  There are almost a million 5'4" girls with light brown hair.  Maybe it's because I find writing physical description to be boring.  "Her dyed red hair fell in her face covering her hazel eyes" lameness.  Maybe it's because when I'm reading I envision the characters my own way and don't like being told I'm wrong.
"But we want to see the characters the way you see them," my professor told me.

My question is: Does it matter?  If it's vital that a character has curly, dark brown hair looks like she jumped out of a Jane Austen novel, then, yes, of course I'll mention it.  But does every character, or even the main character, need to be accompanied by a physical description?

Elizabeth says yes.  Otherwise they're just voices.
Nikki says she's stop reading if they weren't described.
Without looking up from the book she was reading, Amy nodded.

I remember as a fourth grader reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe before watching the movie.  Afterwards, the teacher asked us what we thought.

One student (I wish it was me...) said, "I liked the pictures in the book better."

I gave my protagonist strawberry blonde hair just to appease my classmates.  But deep down inside I wonder.  Does it matter to you if you know I'm so skinny I disappear if I turn sideways, my hands are so chapped they're bloody, and my not-quite-shoulder-length dirty blonde hair spends a majority of it's time in a three-quarters pony tail?

<>< Katie

Monday, December 13, 2010

Two Voices

You are cornered.  The crowd surrounds you hurling insults at you like rocks.  Like rock, each one strikes and bruises as your imperfections and failures are called out publically.

"You're not pretty enough."
"You're messed up."
"You're not good enough."
"You're sick, selfish, insecure, greedy, impatient, lonely, hostile, unforgiving..."

The list goes on but you stop listening.  You're broken.  Each rock hurts.  You believe each rock to be true.  You cower in your corner and cry.

Suddenly, everything stops.  You slowly open your moist eyes and see a hand reaching to you.  Hesitantly you take it and He compassionately pulls you to your feet.  He holds you to His chest and comforts you as you cry.  When your weeping slows to whimpering, your Savior reaches down and wipes your tears.  He touches each one of your bruises as He turns to the crowd.

"How dare you!" He shouts.

God is angry for you.

"These rocks have already been thrown.  These insults hurled. This price paid and this punishment fulfilled."

You let go of Him so He can show them the holes in His hands.  In His feet.  The ripped flesh on His back.  This scars on His head.  His pierced side.

"How dare you tell her she's not good enough," He continues.  "I paid for her.  Yes, she can be selfish and insecure.  We're working on that.  But she's mine.  Nothing is going to change that.  Ever."

Slowly the crowd slinks backwards and away from you.  But He's not done.

"By telling her she's not beautiful, you are insulting My craftsmanship.  She is My creation; I formed her to be exactly who I want her to be.  I put that place on her head where hair doesn't grow.  I put that mole in an awkward spot.  I made her ears crooked on purpose.  I made her beautiful."

The crowd has vanished now.  You look up at Him and whisper, "Is that all true?"

He nods and smiles.  "Yes!"

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Your Neighborhood Merch Sellers

Amy: Things like this only happen when I'm with you, Katie.

I subconsciously collect two things:
1. People named Mark (my family has FIVE family friends named Mark... we don't have any other duplicates).
2.  Odd situations.  I AM living a story worth telling.

On Friday night, Amy got another opportunity to experience this with me.  I wanted to go to Miracle in Bedford Falls, a musical in town, and Amy was the only one brave enough to go with me.

We showed up and the sign said the show was sold out.  I had four tickets on reserve, but we were only going to need two.  When I gave my name at Will Call the woman made an, "Oh!" face.  You know, the one that can only be followed by bad news.

Woman: We sold them.  We could only hold tickets for a week.  We tried to call you but we didn't have a phone number and you're not in the phone book.

When I spoke to a woman on the phone three weeks ago she never mentioned the week rule and I told her I was out of state.

They said don't panic.  Yes, the show was sold out but there were always no-shows, so they'd be able to find us two seats.  Just hang out for a bit.

Ok, great.  While we were standing in the atrium people watching, in came Mark.  This Mark happened to be the man who wrote the musical we were about to see.  Long story short, I know him.  We greeted each other with a nice long hug and some friendly chit chat.  I told him what had happened to our tickets and he apologized again.  As he was walking away he turned back to me.

Mark: Katie, can you stay after a little while and help me sell CDs?  [to Amy] And can you help too?

We didn't even have tickets to the musical but we were hired to sell CDs.  Of course, we said yes.

Amy: This is the second time this semester you've been asked to sell merchandise and I've been roped in to help.

She was right.  A few months ago we sold CDs for Shaun Groves and got to talk about Compassion.  It was the best job ever!  It was also moderately intense.  Everything I know about CD sales I learned from Ben, Shaun's merch and sound guy.

After the show, Amy and I set up the table to look nice, sold CDs, even made a make-shift cash box.
Mark: So, how many did we sell?  Two?
Katie: Five actually.  And you gave away two.
Mark: [Surprised] I'm glad you kept track of that!

Amy and I decided we're going to drop out of college and just become professional merchandise saleswomen.  We rock at this job!   Now, if only someone would pay us...

Amy: I have never done stuff like that in my life!  But I've done it twice this semester and it's because of you!
Katie: Either I don't know how to say no or I just know the right people.  Take your pick.

By the way, we did end up getting to see the musical.  We had third row seats even!  They were better than the tickets I had reserved.  God is good, right?

Have a great Saturday, and if you need someone to sell CDs, I know some good ones.  We could probably do books too.  ;-)

<>< Katie

Friday, December 10, 2010

Peruvian Christmas Gifts

In my science class this semester, we've spent at least three lab periods watching awareness documentaries on global environmental problems. Sure, some days the professor feeds us popcorn or nutella and oranges but let's be honest: bor-ing.

On Monday the video we watched showed a shanty town in Peru. A mother and her three children, all wearing white, walked away from the camera and towards the town.

They didn’t carry water. They weren’t hauling belongings. They were just walking. The four of them strolled together as a family.

The youngest, a toddler, held her mother’s hand. A daughter a year older walked in front of them. A five year old ran around the slowly moving trio. He grabbed his youngest sister’s hand; she hesitated. Like a good mother, the woman noticed the change in speed. She looked down at her children and missed a step.

As she recovered her balance, I lost mine. It was as if God whispered, “Katie, they’re no different than you are.” They live in a shanty town with no water. They speak I language I don’t understand. But they are no different than us.

They are a mother, doing the best she can to provide for her children. They are children with big dreams just like mine. They are cherished by God just like I am.

Take them out of their Peruvian shanty town and one wouldn’t know they were poor. Except they are. That’s the difference between them and me.

I worry about whether or not I’ll have time to run to the grocery store to buy more gallons of water or if I’ll have to drink the metallic tap water. They worry about whether or not they’ll have any water. I worry about whether or not I’ll have to go to the TYME machine this week rather than whether or not money will cover what I need. I worry about whether or not the Christmas gifts I ordered will come on time. Not whether or not Christmas will be any different than any other day of the year.

My heart went out to this Peruvian family, and immediately I thought of Compassion and the impact they have had on these kinds of families worldwide.

My family sponsors a little girl in Columbia, Maria Jose.  With our help she has access to education, medication, and the gospel.

If you can’t sponsor a child year round, maybe you can buy a Christmas gift for a child like my Peruvian children from the video. It’s a one-time gift that’s a lot more feasible for students on a tight budget.

Have $10 to buy a mosquito netting so a child does not have to worry about getting malaria?

Have $13 to spend on a soccer ball to child? Let me tell you, the kids I met in Guatemala were passionate about their futbol.

Have $16 to buy a chicken? Really, how often do you get to buy chickens?

Let some impoverished kids make Christmas cookies with baking supplies for $20.

Or $25 for vaccinations… you know, the ones that made us all scream as babies?

Educational supplies… I like books… only $30.

The list goes on and on.  Prices range from $10 to $5,000... just in case you have that kind of money laying around, you know.  Check out the catalogue!

Really everything helps. Every gift is cherished. Every life is touched. In the name of Jesus.

I can pray for the Peruvian family I saw in the documentary. I can thank God for them. And I can make a difference in the lives of similar families. Maybe I’ll even choose to believe my vaccines are keeping those children alive. My baking supplies are giving them family bonding time. My soccer ball is keeping that boy on the field playing rather than in the streets playing with drugs. Maybe my simple sacrifice will make more difference than I can even comprehend. With God’s hand, it does.

<>< Katie

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Healed By His Wounds

Last week I got unjustifiably angry at my close friend "Keely."  It was silly really.  It all boiled down to me being jealous... and hurt.

Something happened in the living room and instead of addressing it like an adult, I pouted in my room and text-vented to Amber.  I got so worked up that I was crying.  Silently.  Even in the same room, my roommate was unaware that I was having one of the most intense text conversations of my life.

For the next several days I held a grudge against Keely.  That's when the suitemates began to notice. 
"You've been extra sensitive lately, Katie."
"Katie and Keely have to sit on opposite sides of the room because they might rip off each others' head."

The two of us agreed to tone down our playful sassing for awhile and make sure we're showing love.  Through carefully planned words (and some not-so-carefully planned ones) I acknowledged why I had been so sensitive.  When it all boiled down to it, my anger had nothing to do with Keely.  Yet she had been the recipient of my frustration, jealousy, and anger.

She accepted my apology, which she said was unnecessary.  She hadn't considered my feelings about the situation.  We both decided to be more careful and move forward.

I got to take communion this week (a rare event in Baptist Country).  In confessing my sin to my Lord, the first situation that popped into my head was the situation with Keely.  I again asked for forgiveness and for those hurt feelings to be removed.  I wanted to be healed of the whole situation.

I almost cried again when Keely served me the bread.
"Body of Christ, given for you."

Forgiveness.  Given to me. 

"But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5 (emphasis mine)

Be healed in His wounds today, friends.
<>< Katie

Monday, December 6, 2010

That's My Daddy

Every Christmas my entire extended family worships together to start our Christmas Eve brouhaha.

As a toddler, I would walk between the knees of my relatives and the pew in front of us.  One of my uncles, neither will fess up to being the culprit but it could have feasibly been either one, handed me a piece of paper and told me to take it to my other uncle.

I looked down at the piece of paper, recognized a big "D" scribbled and loudly proclaimed, "That's my daddy!"

The paper really said, "Dork."

Yeah, church was pretty much over for my family at that point in time.
Happy Monday!
<>< Katie

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Rapid Turn of Events

Last Friday when we got in the van on our way to Philadelphia, Lori was a bit groggy from her midnight shopping trip.  She talked about seeing a man from her church, Mark.  His pregnant wife Beth was two days overdue at the time.  Obviously she couldn't go shopping, so she sent him out with a huge list of items to get Black Friday shopping.

"Wouldn't it be funny if he went home ready to take a nice long nap and she went into labor?" Lori said.

God thought it would be funny, too.  By the time we were in the Wells Fargo Center enjoying our intense hockey experience, Beth had gone into labor.

After the game, we got back in the van and Mr. Steve said, "God said we can come to Him in the good and in the bad.  Today we need to go before Him in the bad."

I thought he was referring to the recent devastating Flyers' loss in the third round of the shoot out.

No, Beth had delivered the baby and there were complications.  We didn't have a lot of information.  Neither did Beth.  But the baby had been transferred to a different hospital, and the prayer chain notified.

So pray we did.  Right there in the middle of a traffic jam in Philadelphia.  We said we wanted healing for Mark and Beth's youngster.  We didn't even know if it was a girl or a boy.  We didn't know what was wrong.  But we knew God knew.  We knew God cared. We knew God could heal the baby, if it was His will.

It was His will.  But He healed the baby in the way we weren't hoping for.  By the time we made it home after a cheese steak, Mark and Beth's son was being held safely in the arms of his Heavenly Father.

Do me a favor and take a minute to pray for Mark and Beth and other families that have lost children.  I cannot fathom such a joyous occasion turning so devastating so quickly.

Do me another favor and let me know how I can best pray for you.

Thanks, friends.

<>< Katie

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Wishes from the Fire Department

Somewhere between ten and eleven on Sunday night reality hit.  It was bedtime and we still had "miles to go before [we] sleep and miles to go before [we] sleep."  Three hours worth of miles.

I offered to switch and drive for awhile, but Amber pointed out that might be futile since I was yawning too.  She said she'd just curl up and go to sleep rather than keep me awake, but I wouldn't fall asleep while she was driving.  Probably true.  A few days earlier we'd learned the hard way that her reaction time is good even when she's tired.

Hit was a sudden, God-send burst of energy, I began the most animated, elaborate retelling of one of my favorite Christmas Eve stories. Followed by three hours worth of other stories, laughter, and no yawns at all. 

It was Christmas Eve afternoon and I was almost done getting ready for the traditional brouhaha when the smoke detector went off.

As a teenager, what to do in case of a fire had been drilled into my head.  I went out the garage door and passed both cars in the garage.  I found out later that my sisters were in the car ready to go, unaware that the smoke detector was going off.  When I rounded the house and headed towards our "meeting place" I realized there is a flaw in our plan: snow makes the meeting place hard to get to.  But it didn't matter because I saw both of my parents just chilling in the kitchen.

I opened the backdoor and walked back in.  Apparently my mom had spilled something in the oven earlier in the day and wanted to clean it out before everyone came over.  She used the self-cleaner oven feature for the first time and it set the smoke detector off.  Other than a hazy house, everything was fine.

The security system on our house is supposed to call the police if our house is broken into and fire department if the smoke detector goes off.  We were literally five minutes away from leaving for six hours.  We didn't want to come home (with the entire extended family fifteen minutes behind us) to discover our door had been broken down because we didn't answer.

Dad called the non-emergency fire department number to tell them everything was fine.

Fireman: Since you called, we have to send a truck out.

Great.  Although, we later learned if the security system had called they would have sent trucks from two different stations because we're right in the middle between the two.  As it were, the other station got an ambulance call around the same time.  I like to think that in inconveniencing ourselves we saved a life.  Whatever, Katie.

Anyway.  Fire truck came.  Big flashing lights.  Alarmed neighbors called.  Firemen stood in the back hall and listen to our crazy story.  They didn't even go into the kitchen!  They left.  Dad called the security system people to make sure the fire department isn't going to be called again.  Ultimately, against their advice, he disconnected our security system.

We showed up to my aunt and uncle's church a half hour late.  My cousin's choir, the reason we were going to church there, was returning to their seats.  We did make the pastor's day because the sanctuary was full, so they put seats in the atrium for us.  This is why we don't save seats on Christmas Eve anymore.  You never know when some firemen are going to make you late to church.

After church we began our normal round-robin at my aunt and uncle's house.  Food, drinks, presents, cookies, moving on.  The entire party of 13 journeyed to my grandparents' house for a repeat.  Food, drinks, presents, cookies, moving on.

Our house was the last in our parade.  We are also the only house with a functioning fire place.  My uncle from out of town wanted to roast chestnuts over our fire.  It made the kitchen a little smokey, but we didn't think anything of it.

Until my aunt shouted, "FIRE IN THE OVEN!"

Some bread dish--the same dish that had spilled earlier--was literally flaming inside of our oven.  That's bad.  One uncle grabbed a hot pad, pulled out the pan, and held it over the sink.  The other uncle blew out the flames.  Dad took the scorched pan and threw it in a snowbank in the back yard where it stayed for the next three days.

Of course, the fire alarm went off again and the house is full of smoke.  For the second time that day we opened all of the windows to let the frigid winter air into our home and the smoke out into the world.  I'm pretty sure the temperature in my kitchen was below freezing that Christmas.  I camped out in the basement, the warmest place in the house.

No more chestnuts roasting over an indoor fire.  No more flaming bread dish.  Just a great Christmas tale.  And a year full of photos with the fire extinguisher in them.

About a week later my mom's oven still needed to be cleaned.  So she set the self-cleaner again and opened the kitchen window.  She was on the phone with my aunt when she heard sirens in our area.  It's not really that uncommon because there are two deadly traffic corners within a mile of our house.  Except this was a fire engine siren.  Getting closer.  And closer.  And closer.

Mom: I've got to go.  That firetruck is coming down our street.

It stopped two houses away where they had a small electrical fire.

I hope this Christmas there are no unexpected guests.  Especially those that drive a big red vehicle and wear yellow suits.  Happy December First!

<>< Katie

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Cultural Experience

It was 6 o'clock on Black Friday, and I was standing in a line that wrapped around the outside of the building.  Every single one of us wanted the same thing.

Except it was 6pm, the crowd was angry after a hard loss, and I was about to spend $8.50 on a two-word order.  "Provolone witout."

I wasn't sure if I would like a cheese steak.  They look gross.  I've never been brave enough to try them, but this was a weekend of new food.  Crab, lobster, pierogies, shoo fly pie, scrapple, potato filling, Wilbur buds, and cheese steak included.

Mr. Steve: Do you like steak?
Katie: Yes.
Mr. Steve: Do you like cheese?
Katie: Yes.
Mr. Steve: Do you like rolls?
Katie: Yes.
Mr. Steve: Then you probably won't like a Philly cheese steak.

We didn't have time to do all of the touristy things on my first trip to Philadelphia, but our Philly-native tour guide took us to Pat's, Little Italy, and the Wells Fargo Center.

When it comes to hockey, the City of Brotherly Love does not live up to its name.  I've been to professional hockey games in four different cities: Chicago, Nashville, Raleigh, and Philadelphia.  For every game, the away team won, but never has a crowd shouted so many obscenities at the ice as they did in Philly.

I knew I was at a different hockey game from the very beginning when the players for the opposing team, the Calgary Flames, were announced.  After each name, I am used to the crowd shouting, "Who cares?"  Not Flyers fans.  No, they shout, "Sucks."  If the word "Sucks" is accepted in hockey, might as well use it in every viable opportunity, eh?

Who would have through that this family-friend sport in the city of brotherly love would have been so... well, unloving.  The crowd of almost 20,000 breathed, cheered, and booed collectively.  As the game progressed, the more entertaining the fans became.  If I hadn't been glued to the ice for every shot of the shootout, I would have been entertained by the lone nuts, the orange chaos, and man with the "Insert here" sign.

I was so glad I was wearing a the jersey of a Western Conference team, the Nashville Predators, rather than another Eastern team.  I might have gotten cussed out (like I did in Chicago) for supporting the opponent.

I do know that if God ever moves me to Pennsylvania, I'm going to have to give up hockey.  There will be no rooting for my Predators in the Wells Fargo Center.

I might need a cheese steak and some Wilbur buds to sulk.

<>< Katie

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Give Thanks

"Happy Thanksgiving," said the man on the other end of the phone.  Those two words caught my off guard and it wasn't just because the phone was answered on the first ring.

Every holiday my dad answers the phone by wishing the caller a happy day.  Happy Thanksgiving.  Merry Christmas.  Happy New Year.  Happy Labor Day... you get the idea.  I've listened to him do this all my life, but we've always been on the same side of the phone.

"Happy Thanksgiving," I choked back.

Two words was all he needed to recognize my voice, and I heard the smile in his.  For the next hour we played "Pass the phone" with my nine relatives.

I was told that this year our family was not separated by gender.  Instead of men in the kitchen and women in the dining room, all nine of them fit around the dining room table.  Somebody got the bright idea that they should all share something they're thankful for.  I'm thankful I wasn't there for Sap Fest.

Christina: I'm thankful for Jesus.
Aunt: I'm thankful for our family and that we don't fight.
Uncle: [to my aunt] I'm thankful we're not facebook friends.
Grandma: I'm thankful we're all alive and here and...
Mom: I'm thankful Laura loves her college, and they were able to "unbreak" our dog.
Dad: I'm thankful we're all healthy. [insert sappy sermon here]
Grandpa: I'm thankful for your momma and that she puts up with me.  I love her.

I've never heard my grandparents express love to each other.  Love pats here and there but sassiness is more common.  For my grandfather to compliment my grandmother and say he loves her in front of all of those people made Grandma cry.  I've seen the video to prove it.

How was your Thanksgiving this year?  Was it the typical sweet potatoes, turkey, and pumpkin pie?  Was it merely a the precursor to Christmas?  Or was it really a time of reflection and thankfulness? 

My friend Caitlin is extending Thanksgiving for a year.  For the next 365 days she's going to share something she's thankful for.  I'd love to be able to do the same thing.  Look at every day with the realization that I do have something to be thankful for.

Even when it rains.  Even when my suitemates pick on me.  Even when my computer refuses to cooperate.

I still can be thankful.  I can still tell someone I am thankful for their influence in my life.  Thankful for their love.  Their smile.  Their encouraging word.

I can tell Christ I am thankful for His sacrifice.  Thankful for His love.  Thankful for His controlling, disciplining hand.

I wasn't going to post about being thankful.  After all, it's Thanksgiving.  That's kind of the cliche thing to do, right?  Wrong.  It's something we need to do more often than we do.  Not just on the fourth Thursday of November.  Be thankful around the year.

Cyber friends, I am thankful for you.
<>< Katie

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Close Encounter

I am thankful for the grace of God and His arms of protection.

After safely driving eleven-plus hours, Amber and I were within a mile of our destination when life could have changed dramatically.

Katie: Your roads are narrow here.
Amber: Not really.  It's because I'm driving in the middle of the road due to the deer.  If I go back where I belong they're not that narrow.
Katie: I guess so.

As she was returning to her place in the middle of the road, a deer as tall as the car charged our passenger side.

I only saw the buck out of my peripheral vision, but Amber saw him head-on.  We cannot explain how.  He was in her blind spot, so we think she might have looked at me to talk.  If she hadn't, his antlers would have been through the window (and possibly into my head?).  As it were, she swerved towards the center of the road the same time the deer changed direction and ran parallel to our car.

Katie: Did you hit him?
Amber: I DON'T KNOW!  Did you hear anything?
Katie: Nothing that sounded like deer-hitting noises.  Only gravel squishing noises.

Upon further inspection of her car, there are no antler scratches and no deer fur.

There is no reason we should have made it home unscratched.  We were charged by a buck!  And yet we did.  Because God is good.  All the time.

<>< Katie

Of course, when we got home a mile later, the adrenaline was still pumping and going to bed was not an option, even though we had to be up again in less than seven hours. That morning was rough.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jesus Does the Dishes

On Saturday I was doing my devotion when I ran across this verse,
"Blind Pharisee!  First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside will be clean." (Matthew 23:26)
That's our Savior who's not making much sense.  Big surprise, right?

I thought about the passage briefly before concluding I will continue to wash both the inside and the outside of my dishes.

They are really talking about dishes.  Or are they?

The previous verse says,

"You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence" (Matthew 23:25b).
What if they aren't really talking about dishes?  What if Jesus is calling us to be the cup and the dish?

All too often we try to change our outwards appearance.  Put on some make-up.  Pick a different shirt.  Act more kindly to that person.  Serve this person.  Surely that makes us a better Christian, right?

According to what Jesus said right here, wrong.

We can do all of the "nice things" on the outside and make us look like good Christians but until our heart is changed it's all futile.  I do not believing having your heart changed is a one-time deal.  Boom you're done and you know everything there is to know.  No.

Having your heart changed is a lifetime process.  Rid yourself of some greed here.  Pride there.  Put in some joy take out some hatred.  A process.  Just like washing dishes.  And just like washing dishes, as soon as you think you're done, you find one more.  One more problem area that needs to be dealt with.  One more outburst of anger you weren't expecting.  One more nudge from Christ saying, "Hey, you forgot about this.  That's not of me."

What I believe Jesus is saying in the verse is if He changes your heart, if He cleans your inside, your outsides will follow.  Change in the inside, the desire, and the outside, the action, will change too.

It makes me think of the song, "Change me from the inside out, Lord."

Feel free to join me in making this your prayer for today.

Change me from the inside out, Lord.

<>< Katie

Monday, November 22, 2010


Sometimes Elizabeth is struck with this uncontrollable urge to touch someone's hair.  It's really bad when she walks up to a stranger and starts running her finger's through this person's hair.

I had an "Elizabeth Moment" the other day.  Sarah was sitting beside me in class with a stack of blank paper in her notebook.  During the entire 50-minute class I had this barely controllable urge to run my hand along her beautiful paper.  I'm a writer; I can't help it.  Don't judge; it's the little things in life.  As soon as the professor dismissed the class, my left hand shot across the aisle and onto Sarah's notebook.  It happened at the exact moment that she was closing her notebook, sandwiching my hand between the new and the used paper.  She gave me a weird look, I explained, and the weird look continued.  But she let me touch her paper.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what if had the same urge to touch lives in His name?

Christian told me this story about his first trip to Guatemala.  They were serving food outside the garbage dump in Guatemala City.  As the dump inhabitants came for food, Christian and some of the other members of his team sanitized their hands.

"The biggest thing we could do for them was to touch them.  These people were considered untouchable and when we touched them to sanitize their hands we accepted them," he explained.

Jesus did the same thing in touching the man with leprosy in Matthew 8. He could have said, "You are healed," and it would have been done. He's God. He has the power to do that. But He didn't. He made a point to touch someone that society had seemed untouchable.

Now, I'm not saying run up to everybody and touch them.  There are ways to touch people without ever making physical contact.

Jennifer and Amy just sent letters to their Compassion children in the Philippines and Ecuador. Lives touched. The executive chef served some weakling from the self-serve ice cream cooler. Life touched. We packed seven Operation Christmas Child boxes last week. Lives touched. A grad student spent her birthday doing homework and grading papers, alone, until some friends invited her over to hang out. Life touched.

It doesn't always take much. A small act can have a huge impact.

May the Lord give us all uncontrollable urges to touch the lives of His children and those who do not yet know Him. Let's do it all in His name.

<>< Katie

PS: I was inspired to write this during church this morning. As I was revising tonight, I was thinking about how it was similar to this post I wrote for Kaitlyn's birthday. I just found out an hour ago that after two and a half years of medical treatment 800 miles from home, Kaitlyn finally will be able to go home this December! What a wonderful Christmas present!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Beer with the Boys

The weekend before Thanksgiving has always been reserved for deer hunting.  My dad would go up to my grandparents' house, kickback, relax, and hunt.  Long before any sane person would even consider leaving the depths of their plush, warm bed, Dad and Boppy would be donning their layers and blaze orange to head into the woods.

They always hoped for a nice layer of fresh snow as they hunted the same land year after year.  The tree line and a corn field belonged to our goodfriends Herb and Arnie, two brothers in their 80s who lived independently in neighboring homes.

Sometime after the sun came up, our two men would trudge into Herb's kitchen where the fridge was full of Miller.  Not because Herb drank beer but because Dad and Boppy drank beer.  Arnie would come over and the four would sit around solving the world's problems.

As everyone grew older, hunting became harder and harder.  The time in the woods was shorter and the time in Herb's kitchen longer.  "Deer hunting" became a pretense for a good time with old friends.  It has been years since we've had any venison.

The day I started college I got a phone call saying Arnie passed away.  This was eight months after the contemplation of terminating life support, the planning of the funeral, and the Christmas Miracle.  That year Dad and Boppy BYOB-ed it to Herb's room at the nursing home.

Herb passed away on New Year's Eve that same year.  The only time I've ever been to the gravesite was when we almost froze to death in the sub-zero temperatures and wild winds ripping off the surrounding barren fields.

Even though the will brouhaha had not yet been settled, Dad and Boppy hunted Herb and Arnie's land that year.  But it was too hard.  Instead, they took a drive to the cemetery in the middle of nowhere.  The one that only has two remaining plots, graciously given to my grandparents to use sometime in the distant future.

With the headstones protecting them from the wind, two grown men wearing blaze orange sat on a nice layer of snow to have a beer with the boys.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Perfect Timing

A few years ago at an outdoor music festival, I heard Peter Fuller (then the lead-singer of Newsboys) talk about God's perfect timing. In the middle of his statement about how perfect God's timing is, a train horn sounded in near proximity.  The entire audience errupted in laughter. In his heavy Australian accent he looked at us and said, "A train interrupts my concert and you laugh?"

Well, God's perfect timing struck again and there was only nervous laughter.

I'd just gotten out of class at 10pm and was driving back to my apartment from the library. As I approached the stoplight I noticed a car cross the intersection and instinctively slowed down to stop at the white line. It was only then that I glanced up and noticed I had the green light. Maybe there was a malfunction? No, the other car definitely had a red light.

I made a quick glance around for:
Police officers. None. What are the odds?
Other cars. None. Thank goodness.
A green light. Go ahead.

At first, I didn't really think much of it. We all accidently run red lights from time to time. Not a big deal. Besides, it was late, and he probably got sick of waiting for the light to change. I was the only other car around. It wasn't until I was back in the safety of my apartment that I truly realized what had just happened.

Rewind. When I pulled out of my parking space, there was an exit to the left (the direction I needed to go) not far from where I was parked. Instead, I drove an extra thirty seconds, out of my way, to the right exit. Why? I don't know. I guess I just wasn't paying attention. It was 10pm! I'd just gotten out of my last class. Twelve hours earlier, I'd been dismissed from my first class of the day. Yes, one of those days.

It wasn't just because I was tired. It was because if I'd been to the stop light thirty second earlier... well, crash boom bash. We know this story. Been there done that. Unlike last time, this car wasn't starting from a stopped position. He was going and going fast. That could have been a really bad end to a long day.

I cannot take credit for avoiding that collision. I didn't do anything except absent-mindedly leave the parking lot. It was God who perfectly positioned and timed our cars for this to be only a "thanks, God" rather than a "help, God!"

Had any close calls lately? Whether you're aware of them or not, they've happened. Take a minute to thank Him for His perfect timing and arms of protection.

<>< Katie

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Craving Attention

With the Wiimote in her right hand the nunchaku in her left, she aimed for the television ready to shoot her archery arrow.  As she prepared to complete her shot, she was interrupted by a flying monkey.  Also known as her little brother.

When their mother told him to stop, he made her his next victim.  She was sitting on the floor, and he began a game of king of the hill.  I could see it was only a matter of time before my little buddy earned himself a time-out.

"Hey, Buddy, I've got a question for you," I said from the other side of the room.

"Did you hear that?  Katie has a question for you," his mom echoed, giving me the "thanks" smile.

The six year old ran around the coffee table and leaped into my arms.  There wasn't time to wonder if I was going to catch him or not.  I did and in a matter of seconds I had him in a headlock.

Katie: First question, how old are you?
Buddy: Six.
Katie: Second question, how do you like being upside-down?

I flipped him over, and he giggled and giggled and giggled.  I pulled him onto my knees.  My next move was going to be a "walk in the woods" where my knees become a horse galloping and suddenly the rider drops in a hole.  But it wasn't necessary.  When I pulled him back up and onto my knees, he sat peacefully for almost five minutes.  I was shocked.  The kid who mere minutes earlier bouncing off the walls was relaxed on my lap.

He had been looking for attention, and I gave it to him.  That's all he wanted.  He didn't want to cause trouble, he wanted someone to pay attention to him.

Don't we do the same thing?  We run around searching for attention in everything we can find.  More often than not, the wrong things.

When we focus our attention on God, He gives us what we need.  He catches us and holds us to His chest.  Sure, life isn't perfect in His arms.  Sometimes we even get flipped on our heads.  But He's still there, with His arms held firmly around us.  His constant love engulfing us. 

When Buddy was on my lap, the adult conversation around me no longer mattered.  He had my undivided attention.  When we're talking to God, we are given His undivided attention.  How cool is that?  To know the Creator of the universe is listening to you

Talk to Him, my friends.  Seek His attention.  Cuddle in His lap.  You won't regret it.

<>< Katie

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Green Beans on the Ceiling

Back in the day when my mom fed my sister green beans out of the jar, I learned some life lessons.  Once, Mom accidentally dropped the jar, and green beans went everywhere.  To my four-year-old self, this was fiasco.  The ultimately BIG MESS!  Mommy should have gone to time out. 

But she didn't.  She laughed.  She laughed so hard we had to write a song/poem about it in order for Daddy to fully grasp the magnitude of the mess we (she) made.
Green beans on the ceiling.
Green beans on the floor.
Green beans in the kitchen.
Green beans galore.
There really were green beans everywhere.  We found them splattered on the cabinets fifteen feet away.  We found them on the nine-foot ceiling.  I don't think we could have created such a massive green bean explosion if we had tried.

But Mom wasn't mad.  I panicked.  Mom laughed.  Sure, there was a huge mess to clean up but so what?  It was almost as funny as the time Grandpa sneezed egg all over the wall.

In that moment, she taught me that messes are ok.  She taught me to laugh at myself.  She taught me sometimes things don't happen was we plan but that doesn't mean it's the end of the world.

And she did it all with a jar of green beans.

Learning to decorate with green beans,
<>< Katie

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Brownie

Yesterday, Dr. Johnson (of the science department) threw a brownie with green frosting to Chelsea.  Today said Key Lime Brownie made an appearance in our fiction writing class.  Chelsea gave it to Logan.  Logan gave it to me and told me he made it himself.  I asked how he wrapped it in plastic and left it on Dr. Vance's desk.  Saxon decided he wanted to eat said brownie.





"That was disgusting!  It was like coconut.  Yeah, very bad choice."

Dr. Vance refused to eat the remainder of the brownie.  At the end of class, the brownie missing one bite was still sitting on the desk.

"Somebody's going to have to take care of that," Dr. Vance said.

"That was a very bad decision," Saxon repeated.

The class concluded the brownie made out of ginkgo tree berries and injected with poison.  Dr. Johnson knew Saxon would eat the poisonous brownie, thus making him incapable of playing kickball.  He knew Dr. Vance would not refuse a brownie and the poison would make the English department short two vital kickball players.  In the rule book we write, we will have to make sure distributing poisonous brownies is illegal.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when you give a key lime, coconut brownie to a Fiction Writing class...

When the story got back to Dr. Johnson, he was amused.  He said the brownie came from the bottom of a chemistry test tube.  Saxon said it tasted like that could have been true.

<>< Katie

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wacky Wednesday

"If life is worth living, then it is worth recording."

Classmate: What is that?
I glanced down at the brown bottle in my hand.
Classmate: That's kind of bold.
Katie: Well I am from the North.  No, actually, it's root beer.  They're serving it in the caf for Oktoberfest.

Mom: I'm bored.  I want to eat, but I shouldn't.  Maybe I'll just go to bed.
Katie: Read a book, that's what you always told me.  Did you ever finish Three Cups of Tea?
Mom: No.  I lost it. 
Katie: You lost it?
Mom: Maybe it's in my music bag, but I'm not really sure.  It might be in my van.  No, I know it's not in my van.  I think it got swallowed by a log cabin magazine.

Katie: The only thing I can actually throw is a pen.
Chelsea: That's the sign of an English major.

Ron Rash: Galloway, who has already killed the typical Rash body count of about a dozen...
[about his amazing book Serena]

Nikki: Chloe told me to feed my cat.  I don't have a cat.
Allyson: What if fish were mini-giraffes swimming around?  How different would our world be if all our pets were shaped differently.

Isaac [age 3]: There's a Ternanisarus Rex out the window.  See it?  Do you see any other ones?
Katie: No, I only see one.
[All of the other adults at the table laughed at me]

Elizabeth [to her boyfriend Andy]: It hurt last time you bit me.

Michael: I tend to not put my mouth on things that can electrocute me.
Caitlin: That's why my hair is curly.
[really the outlets exemplify sound if you're anywhere near them]

Dr. Jones: Bekah's carrying a friend to the hospital.
Katie: That's going to take awhile.

Amy: My goal for this year: to understand Katie.
Katie: Good luck.

Uncle: We just scored in the opening kick off and we've got mini-screen!
Dad: Sarah!
Mom: I'm taping my hockey game.  Just a second.
Dad: Rewind!

Katie: At my house we have an actual cheese cutter.
Nikki: What's an actual cheese cutter verses a metaphorical cheese cutter?
Katie: An actually cheese cutter stinks up the place and a metaphorical cheese cutter makes a lot of noise.

Katie: My head hurts.
Jennifer: Take medicine.
Katie: I did.
Jennifer: Take more.

Andy: So are we going to the store or what?
Elizabeth: Yes. We need medium trash bags.
Amy: Medium trash bags.
Andy: Medium trash bags.
Elizabeth: Medium trash bags.
Amy: And Katie needs new Scrabble Cheeze-its.
Elizabeth: No she doesn't.  We haven't played with hers yet.
Nikki: Roommie, don't be rude and play Banangrams on the floor with Katie's Scrabble Cheeze-its on then put them back into the box.  Be considerate and lick all of the germs off of them before you put them away.

Random man on the phone: I'm not shaving my chest hair.  Yeah, it's getting really long.  It grew a millimeter already.

[Sign Choir practice]
Amber: We could have one or even two Jesuses...
Katie: Sign Choir goes polytheistic... at least we have Jesus in our songs.
[Ten minutes later]
Girl: Wait, how many Gods?
Queen Emily: Religion 1-0-1: One God!

Jake: SURE!  The lactose intolerant girl brings cheesecake!

Katie: Brain fart: what's it called when there's a need and you make it go away.
Nikki: Satisfy.
Jennifer: To.
Katie: You to the need?
Jennifer: Yeah, like the number "two."

Amy: Don't let me forget, I have to mail my Compassion child tomorrow.
Katie: DON'T PUT YOUR COMPASSION CHILD IN THE MAIL!  Who do you think she is?  Flat Stanley?

Jennifer: WHY is there hair in the microwave?
Elizabeth: It goes there, Jennifer; it makes everything more tasty.

Keith: Katie, I'm cold.  And I have that exact same sweatshirt.
Katie: Are you asking me to give you the sweatshirt off of my back?
[Keith nodded sheepishly]

Jennifer: I think Allyson's cough is getting to her ears. I said, "Your phone rang," and she thought I said, "Your padre." It was her dad who called, but I didn't know that.

Katie: Where is my phone?
Andy: In your eye.
Katie: EWW!  That would be so germy!
Nikki: Don't point out the cell phone in her eye until you remove the laptop from your own eye.

Katie: It didn't work.
Nikki: It would have worked if I had done it.
Katie: That's right because you're better than me at everything.
Nikki: Except being skinny, using random German words and pretending they're English, writing really long blog posts, sanitizing light switches, and not licking things on impulse.

Shellie Warren: But as you mature, hopefully, you will encounter men of character and quality. The bad news is that they may not be your husband. The good news is that they very well could bring you one, two, or ten steps closer to him.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Worship Around the Campfire

We sat out by the fire literally in the middle of the woods.  No buildings, no platform tents within sight.  The trees opened to the stars illuminating the autumn sky.  The babbling brook down the hill accompanied our singing.  We did a mix of acoustic and a capella worship songs to our God, the Creator of this beautiful moment.

Listening to Mindy's rockstar voice, I'll admit, I got a bit jealous.  I enjoy singing; I do a decent job.  I don't sound like Mindy.  At all.

I watched an eight year old pick and play in the fire.  I'm not sure if it's my history of burns or my natural inclination towards safety but I've never been a fire picker.  I'm barely brave enough to roast a marshmallow.

I watched Kurt rhythmically strum his guitar.  Despite the smoke in his face, his fingers found the frets.  Allyson's slowly teaching me guitar.  But I only know four chords.

A high schooler cuddled with the camp dog.  I've always been more of a cat person, an idea reinforced when I was attacked by dogs a few weeks ago.

A chaperone faithfully kept the fire burning.  Not so big that we all had to scoot back.  Not so small that we needed additional blankets for heat.  Just perfect.

God, I said in my head, You've given Mindy the gift of singing.  She sounds wonderful.  You've given Kurt the gift to play guitar.  It's peaceful.  You've given these other folks bravery and fire-building abilities.  It's so great that we can all be here together amidst Your beautiful creation to enjoy this moment.

Katie, God responded, not in an audible voice, You're jealous that you can't sing like Mindy, play guitar like Kurt, find a cuddle-buddy in a limping, four-legged friend, and build a fire like the one we've got here.  But you know what you can do?  Make twenty s'mores in less than five minutes.  Ready, set, go.

"I'm ready for some chocolate and graham crackers..."
"Me, too."

Chaos.  And I only broke one half of a cracker.

<>< Katie

"Now if the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, 'Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don’t need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don’t need you!' On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." 1 Corinthians 12:15-27

Saturday, November 6, 2010


The middle school girl across the dinner table from me was lost gazing into space.  Her friend said she was deep in thought.  Naturally, I asked what she was thinking about.  Again her friend provided the answer: boys.  She has a boyfriend but there's another guy she likes.  I've never been there, but I still realize that's a difficult position.

"You know that one thing all guys want?"  the girl asked.

I nodded, carefully choosing words as we embarked into dangerous territory.  "If he does not respect you, then he is not worth your time," I said.

She nodded and told me about her purity commitment.

"One day you will find a man who respects you as a woman," I continued.  "One who will honor your commitment and your relationship with God.  Maybe he'll even share in them.  You will find a man who treats you right.  Do not settle for anything less."

She nodded.

There was no point in continuing my sermon.  It was something she already knew but needed to hear again.  Likewise, I needed to say it again.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


My heart was not in the right place last night.  It was one of those days where all of the little things add up and get to you until the smallest thing causes a waterfall.  Someone asks you what's wrong and you can't come up a reason worth crying.

Sure, your unreliable internet spent more time in the "cannot connect" phase than the "connected" phase, but that's not worth crying over.  Your laundry was disrespected in the community laundry room, but that's a perk of college life.  Today's caf food and your stomach are having an argument, but it will work itself out eventually.  A playful sass from your suitemates crossed the invisible line, but that's all (supposedly) backed with love.  And you ran out of blaze orange notecards before you were done making notes.  But none of those seem to justify the tears.

"Can't one thing just go right please, Lord," I said out loud, much to the chagrin of my sleeping roommate.

I walked into the bathroom to take out my contacts before they were permanently glued to my watery eyes.  A drying shirt slung over the shower curtain caught my eye.  Big white letters on a black shirt.
It was as if Andy's bouncy ball hit me in the face.
God is Good.
All The Time
Thanks.  I needed that.

I bought this Peder Eide shirt to wear on days where things aren't going too well just so people ask me what my shirt says.  Telling them, "God is good all the time" is a great reminder for myself, too.

GIGATT, friends, ATTGIG,
<>< Katie