Friday, April 30, 2010

Can or Can't?

It has been a week of "can" and "can't."

I can finish all of these papers on time.
I can't finish all of these papers on time.

I can find time to go to the store.
I can't find time to go to the store.

I can breathe.
I can't breathe.

I can go to bed.
I can't go to bed.

You get the point.

On Tuesday, Neal asked us to think about the messages we are receiving. What messages are coming from God and what messages are coming from Satan?

Katie: You're the one telling me I can.  He's telling me I can't.
God: That was backwards.
Katie: No, it wasn't.  Satan's tearing me down; You're building me up.
God: Katie, you can't.  But I can.

Just in case you forgot: you can't, but God can.  Take a deep breath as you remember that this week.

<>< Katie

Thursday, April 29, 2010

My life is awesome

Author's Note:  All of the following is a collection of achronological stories that have all happened in the last two days.  Minor creative liberties may have been taken but these stories are as true as I can put them to where a reader can understand without having actually been here.  Please don't pity me.  I am cranky, but I am not being sarcastic; my life is awesome.  Enjoy.  <>< K

My life is awesome
Katie: Guys, I just had another bloody nose.
Andy: I'm trained handle that.
Elizabeth: How many times do we have to tell you, Katie: stop getting punched in the face!
Katie: It was Allyson!
(side note: this is a whole lot funnier if you know Allyson because she'd never hurt a fly)
Allyson (butter knife in hand): Do you want me to cut off your nose?  That would help!
Katie: Actually, I think that'd make it bleed a bit more.
Andy: Well, look at it this way: it would hurt and bleed a lot right away but then you'd never have to worry about it again!
Elizabeth: Yeah, 'cuz you'd be dead.
(insert big argument about whether or not it's possible to live after getting your nose chopped off with a butter knife)

My life is awesome
Nikki: Gah!  Why don't I ever date my notes?
Katie: Because they're not male.
Nikki: I never send my notes in the mail.

My life is awesome
Katie: Is that your mom or Andy on the phone?
Elizabeth: Huh?
Katie: Is that your mom or Andy on the phone?
Elizabeth: I still can't understand Katie's man-voice.
Nikki: You mean Kenny's man-voice?
Elizabeth: Talk to me again when you sound normal.
Katie (in the most pitiful stuffy-nose voice I could make): Just because I don't have a sense of smell doesn't mean I don't have feelings!

My life is awesome
If you've never been in an ASL class it's hard to imagine twenty people sitting around in complete silence when no one has died.  Please try to picture it for me.  Oh, and we were watching a silent movie, so... well... we know what happens when videos are shown in class... Anyway, I was in desperate need of some Tylenol.  This cold might kill me, my headache was not helping, and after watching 50 minutes of ASL storytelling on a small tv screen you'd be groping for Tylenol, too.  I was trying to decide if it would have been socially acceptable to take it in the middle of class.  Most classes I wouldn't have cared, but this one is completely silent, so all of my classmates will hear me unzip my personal pharmacy; the bottle rattle; plus, I dropped my Nalgene splash guard on the floor yesterday and haven't had time to wash it, so I'm going to make a noisy mess as I nearly drown myself trying to swallow the pesky pill; eventually I'll give up and the "crunch" will reverberate through the classroom as if we were in a tunnel.  This was my very long internal debate.  I finally decided I didn't care: I needed some Tylenol.  So I uncrossed my legs and began to dig into my backpack, but before I got there I accidently kicked one of the desks in front of me.  "That desk is going to fall and there is nothing I can do about it."  It fell in slow motion and the clang rang through the previously silent classroom.

My.  Life.  Is.  Awesome.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Two Thoughts

I was walking back to my apartment under an overcast but dry sky yesterday afternoon when I noticed ripples in the lake. It wasn't raining where I was but it was raining over the lake. It was weird. It's kind of as if God was quoting TobyMac and saying, "If it's got to start somewhere, why not here?"

What's got to start somewhere in your life?  Why not here?

Really think about it.

Have you thought long and hard?

Ok, then how about a Blast from the Past funny story?
From the time I was two until I was about ten we had some great neighbors.  Without a doubt the best neighbors we've ever had.  Late at night after my sister and I fell asleep, they'd set up the baby monitor and go to the neighbors'.  If it was positioned correctly in the window of my back bedroom the signal would reach to the back window and hot tub two doors down.  Probably not the safest thing to do since we were little and asleep, but we were in a good neighborhood, and we knew Mom and Dad and two houses worth of great neighbors were just a shout away.  Well, one night in the dead of winter they were all sitting in the hot tub and they heard some suspicious noise on the baby monitor.  In his swim trunks Dad flew out of the hot tub and ran barefoot through the snow home where he found three sleeping girls and an undistrubed house.  He said the run home wasn't bad but the walk back was frigid.

<>< Katie

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What is Worship?

Saturday I woke up with a headache, cramps, and sore throat.  Some expired Tylenol took care of the first two but the sore throat is here to stay.  Sunday I woke up nauseous with a sore throat.  This is a fun game.  I managed to add another day to my no-puking stretch (2.5 years and counting; my record is 6 years) but by the time I made it to church I had a really good Scooby Doo voice.  Wonderful.  Normally when I get sick I can sing through loosing my voice.  With a hopeful heart I began to sing, "Everyone needs compass-squoak.  A love that's ----- let mercy fa-- on muheee."

God!  I'm trying to praise You here.  I'm worshipping YOU and You're taking away my ability to do that.  Something just doesn't seem right with this picture.  I'm giving You everything I've got.
The more I tried to sing, the worse my voice became (pity the people sitting next to me!) and the more frustrated I became.
Can't this wait until this afternoon?  I just want to sing praises to You.
It was as if God responded, Katie, you don't need a voice to worship Me.
You heard Me: you don't need a voice to worship Me.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know.  Serve the least of these.  There aren't any least-of-theses around right now.  Yes, I'm listening to our sermon series on compassion.  I know, but right now I'm praising You with what's left of my voice.
Look around you.
On my left was Emma, a first year nursing student who'd previously been sitting by herself.
I'm sitting with Emma instead of sitting in my normal spot!
Good start.  Keep looking.
On my right was Kevin who'd dislocated his shoulder on Thursday.
Kevin can't drive for three to six weeks.  How do you think He got here?
Keep thinking.
Last night after dinner Chris and I went to Dairy Queen to get blizzards buy one get one for a quarter.  The line was literally to the door.  The team manager was having a rough day.  She made small blizzards instead of mediums, so she had to throw them away and start over.  Based on the look on her face, this was one of many things that had gone wrong.  A woman in front of us started chewing this employee out. 

"You've thrown away $30 worth of stuff.  I know you've had a bad day but you cannot let your customers see you like this.  I've worked in retail a LONG TIME and you CANNOT let your customers see you like this.  Did you notice?  They're all standing in line patiently waiting why you throw a fit..."

She went on for a very long time.  I don't understand how that was supposed to be beneficial for the employee.  Both of the women were wrong.  The woman behind us in line looked at the "angry woman" and said, "We all heard that."  I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt thinking maybe she was saying "shut up"... until she got to the front of the line and whispered to her daughter, "Make sure that employee doesn't spit in our blizzards." 

Chris and I both agreed this was "more awkward than 'The Office'" but neither one of us did anything about it.  Why?  We were scared the rest of the line was going to leap down our throats (maybe that would have healed my sore throat).  Back up: we were scared.  I wanted to give the employee a smile or wish her a good day but she never acknowledged my presence.  I would have had to go out of my way to wish this woman a good day and I chickened out.

My intentions were good.
Good intentions don't get you anywhere.  Picking up Kevin and sitting with Emma are good starts but neither one inconvenienced you.  In fact, they both mean you don't have to sit in the pew alone.
I like sitting in the pew by myself!
It's my turn to talk.  Put the towel on, Katie.  Not just when you're at an inner-city church.  Not just when you feel like it or it's convenient to you.  Do it when it benefits My Kingdom.  Clean the bathroom when it's not your turn and do it without complaining.  Do the dishes even though you didn't dirty them.  Give someone a ride to the caf because it's raining; don't see it as a waste of gas.  Take up someone's dishes when you aren't headed that way.  Give up a computer during your 10:00 blog-hour to let someone do homework.  Put the towel on and serve the least of these.  Touch the untouchables.  Worship means so much more than singing.
We've talked about this before.
We have; you needed a reminder today.
Ok, got it.  Can I have my voice back now?Nope.  You know ASL; use those signs.

<>< Katie-Doo

Elizabeth: Between Katie and Adam someone is always sneezing today.
Adam: Nah, I'm always sneezing; it's not just today.
Elizabeth: Well, you're doing it excessively, and I'd like you to stop.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Double the Mistake

There are about a million birthdays in April. Some of them I was able to write birthday blogs for but some of them I had to miss. If you didn't get one, I am incredibly sorry. Please, don't take it personally. :-)

Today's is a birthday I cannot miss. I'm often complemented on how I can see God in all sorts of weird ways and call them "God Moments." I haven't always been able to do that. Through a year's worth of God moments of her own, I was able to copy Natalie's lead and see God in little, weird things. Trust me, if you think some of my God moments are weird, ask Natalie about He spoke through the chemistry principle of microscopic reverse or anything else that relates to sports, science, and the bathroom.

Thus, for her birthday, I'd love to share one of her God moments. The problem is that I need to find a censored one that is appropriate for such a wide reading audience. Not mortifying Natalie isn't quite an option. Hey, she's the one that showed up to small group wearing a bathrobe to demonstrate how Isaiah walked around naked for three years (see Isaiah 20). She's the one that took our small group on Babylonian exile through the icy rain. She's the one that burned two bagels in less than a half an hour. She's the one that broke two fingers playing flag football.

After a few days of pain, Natalie finally decided she should go to the doctor for her two injured fingers. The identical x-rays were hanging side-by-side and, as she tells it, the doctor was looking from one to the other to her to her hands with a confused look on his face.
Doctor: These are two different fingers.
Natalie: Yes, sir.
Doctor: These are two different hands.
Natalie: Yes, sir.
Doctor: Please tell me this was the same play.
Natalie: No, sir.
She'd been playing a co-ed game of flag football here on campus when she reached for the flag of one of her opponents.  She got the flag but she also got her right hand tangled in his shorts.  Broken right middle finger.  She's broken enough bones to realize what she'd done but is way too competitive to remove herself from the game.  Besides, if she benched herself her team would have to forfeit.  A little while later she reached for her opponent's flag with her left hand and the exact same thing happened again.  Broken finger on the left hand.  Any sensible person would have learned her lesson and forced her team for forfeit the game.  She'd already not just taken one for the team but two.  Nope, Natalie kept playing.  In fact, she even scored a touchdown with two broken fingers; she said she carried the ball clutched between her forearms and her chest as she waddled towards the end zone.

By Monday at small group time she'd be amused by the identical x-rays and had two splints on her fingers. 
Apparently the flesh-colored splints make it look like her fingers were wearing hoodies, so she drew faces on her fingernails.  The right-hand one became Jesus and the left-hand one became John the Baptist.  Imagine Laura's reaction (her faithful co-leader who frequently reminded her "Be censored, Natalie!").  It went something like, "NATALIE!  You cannot flip someone off with Jesus!"

Thus was my small group freshman year, and as is common for Natalie, God spoke through such a bizarre series of events.

She went on to talk about how sometimes she makes the same mistake twice.  Sometimes she puts bagels in the oven and forgets about them until they're burned to chars and sometimes she does it again ten minute later.  Sometimes she burns two bagels again two weeks later.  Sometimes she breaks two fingers in the same football game.  Sometimes she had to make the same mistake twice before God gets her attention.  Do we do the same thing?  Are we so caught up in what we're doing that we forget to pay attention to what we're doing? That we forget to pay attention to God?

Luckily, there is good news for us.  Even out of her mistake of breaking fingers, God was still able to do something remarkable when He helped her score.  He can still do pretty cool things with our double-mess ups.  And frankly, I think that's a darn good thing.

I love you guys.  A lot.
<>< Katie

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Significant First

It came today. The first of many, I’m sure. I might even accumulate enough to write an obscenity on the wall. Except while this was a surprise to me, it was not a surprise to God. He saw it coming. He let it come and during this hard week. He was sitting next to me when my first rejection letter made its way into my inbox. I realize I’m a writer. I realize I’m going to face a lot of these in my life. There’s no way to avoid them except by not sharing. That’s what hurts the most. I was confident with this one. Yes, apparently over confident. The people that rejected these pieces are the same people that keep urging me to share. Here I have and it’s shot down. Reject my work. That’s fine. I can’t win them all. However, please tell me why. What makes my pieces different from the other pieces that made it? I’m not saying my piece was perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect piece; I want to know where I can improve. I won’t take it personally. I won’t give them evil stares across the classroom tomorrow, but that doesn’t stop the waterfall that’s running down my face.

Rejection letter = upset = tears = runny nose = blow nose = (fear of) bloody nose

It’s been a long time since I’ve taken math but Chris tells me that means I could just say:

rejection letter = bloody nose.

Translation? Rejection letters punch me in the face.

The next step is my decision. Am I going to punch someone else in the face or am I going to move on? Am I going to let the pen dry out, pick a new major, and find a new career goal or am I going to accept this and realize it’ll happen again but some day it’ll change? Am I going to stay here hiding in my bedroom, ignoring text messages or am I going to go out in the living room and laugh at the formerly-constipated, now-possessed plastic mooing love cow? The choice is mine.

I did venture out.  I opted against going to my writers' group where I could wallow in pity with other rejects, if there were any.  Instead, I went to sign choir and kicked tables.  A classroom magically turns into a practice studio on Wednesday nights and that means all of the tables and chairs need to be collapsed and disposed of into the closet.    It's incredibly theraputic to kick in the hinges of class tables.

I tried to laugh and brush off the sasses but they hurt more than they do on an average day.  Especially the, "Katie, are you even literate?" when I misread the Wii directions.  It was a joke on my direction-following ability not my writing.

I remembered it's not Lent anymore, so I took my own cliche advice and wrote about it.  I guess the events of Wednesday weren't better than Tuesday.  In fact, the tears flowed instead of just threatening to do so, but my mood over all was better.  Even just a little.  I really appreciate your prayers today, and I could use a double dose tomorrow, please.

What really helped was Andy willingly playing "For the Moments I Feel Faint" by Relient K.  If you don't want to take a second to listen to the song, at least read the lyrics and sing them back to me when I forget them.

Am I at the point of no improvement?
What of the death I still dwell in?
I try to excel, but I feel no movement.
Can I be free of this unreleasable sin?

Never underestimate my Jesus.
You're telling me that there's no hope.
I'm telling you you're wrong.
Never underestimate my Jesus
When the world around you crumbles
He will be strong, He will be strong

I throw up my hands
"Oh, the impossibilities"
Frustrated and tired
Where do I go from here?
Now I'm searching for the confidence I've lost so willingly
Overcoming these obstacles is overcoming my fear


I think I can't, I think I can't
But I think You can, I think You can
I think I can't, I think I can't
But I think You can, I think You can

Gather my insufficiencies and
place them in Your hands, place them in Your hands, place them in Your hands

Much love,
<>< Katie

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Tuesday wasn't exactly a great day. There was nothing major that went wrong and a lot of good things happened but it was kind of one of those days. It wasn't until the fourth person asked me if I was ok that I realized I had let the "one of those days" mentality take over. Of course, then I was mad. At myself. After being out of bed for five minutes this morning I knew it was going to be one of those days. I had the opportunity to make it a good day with some bad events rather than a bad day with some good events. And I failed.

At our Tuesday night worship service my friend Brad spoke. Now Brad's a potter so his "speaking" was really giving us a visual of Jeremiah 18. He made a tall jug out of clay and then smashed it. I knew ahead of time he was going to do that, but it was still cool to see all of his hard work smashed. He reformed the exact same clay and made a bowl instead.

Brad: See, this bowl a whole lot better, more practical than the tall, long thing that I didn't really know what it was.
Andy: That’s what they called me in high school.
Katie: Tall, long thing no one really knows what it is?
Amy: Katie, did you get that, too?
Andy: And they called Amy a bowl thing.

Each one of us is different but each one of us is going to be used. Maybe right now I’m in a tall, long shape where I’m stuck in the old way rather than the new form.  That doesn't mean I cannot be used or reformed.  In fact, today is Wednesday and I am the same piece of clay I was on Tuesday, but I am willing to let the Potter shape me in a new way. Are you?

"Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?" Romans 9:21

<>< Katie

Monday, April 19, 2010

Blessed Be Your Name

I spent all weekend helping lead a youth retreat weekend.  On Saturday afternoon we did a service project and gardened for a few elderly church members.  Upon returning to the church, we each took some quiet time to reflect and pray.  As that kind of wrapped up, people seemed to be gathering in the grass on the hill and it became a spontaneous worship song session.  One of the songs we sang was "Blessed Be Your Name."  As we went through the familiar verses and chorus, I pondered how many times I'd sung that song.  On campus, in church, in my car, in Spanish in Guatemala, in ASL, with 35,000 teens, by myself, with a small group around a campfire... the list goes on and on.  Every summer for almost the last ten years my family has gone to an outdoor Christian music festival.  In the last few years, it seems every artist sings "Blessed Be Your Name."  I've sung with the hot July sun beating down on me.  I've sung it as refreshing night rain pelts my face.  I've sung it a lot.  You'd think I'd know the verses in the right order...

On May 21, 2008, singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman's youngest daughter died tragically at age 5 after being accidently hit by a car in the family's driveway.  On July 11 of the same year SCC returned to the stage for the first time since the accident and earned a standing ovation prior to playing a note.  He softly explained after such a tragedy there was one song that kept running through his head and he began to sing "Blessed Be Your Name."  I highly doubt there was a dry eye in the entire audience.  With heavy hearts and sore feet we extended our arms to the heavens and worshipped our precious Holy Father while He painted us a beautiful sunset in the Midwestern sky.  The lyrics took on a whole new meaning as we proclaimed, "Blessed be Your name when the sun's shining down on me.  When the world's all as it should be, blessed be Your name, on the road marked with suffering, though there's pain in the offering, blessed be Your name."  If a hurting father could say it, so can we.  If the responsible brother could say it, so can we.  If the sunburned, mud-laden audience can say it, so can we.  Right?

It doesn't mean your pain is gone.  It doesn't mean you need to be happy-go-lucky.  It means God is still God.  It means you'll praise Him in the hard times in addition to the easy times.  In the United States, in foreign countries.  In the sun and in the rain.  From the top of the mountain and the bottom of the valley.  As yourself honestly, no matter what you're going through today, are you willing to say, "Blessed be Your name"?

Blessed be,
<>< Katie

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Pledge

I was already wearing khaki pants when I pulled on the gray polo with my alma mater's name embroidered on it.  I grabbed the navy blue polar fleece pull-over just in case the temperature dropped.  As I was walking out the door, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and couldn't help but laugh.  For years I complained about wearing a uniform to school every day and now here I am, years later, putting it on by choice.  At least it wasn't Friday.  It must be the private school advantage: we know how to dress ourselves in red, white, and blue.

Just for kicks and giggles, I contemplated writing the Honor Code on the top of my test.  "I pledge I will not lie, cheat, or steal.  Nor will I tolerate those who do."  For nine long years "I pledge..." was written at the top of every test I took accompanied by my signature that sometimes included all of the letters to my name.

Now, here I am, years removed from the pledge, the uniform, and the salmon colored bricks, yet they are forcing their way back into my life one collared polo at a time.  Some habits die hard, I guess.  However, it dawned on me today that it's all a lie.  I cheat.  I steal.  I tolerate it from myself and from others.

I am a writer.

I stretch the truth or make it up completely, I steal material from every day conversations, and I tolerate this only because I am a writer; this is what I'm paid to do.  Lying, cheating, and stealing are encouraged.

Eves drop.  Put something in your purse that doesn't exactly belong there (as long as it's only words, Grandma!). Let the tales of others appear in your work.  Don't feel bad about it.  After all, "The Code's more like guidelines than actual rules."

Ok, maybe that's a bit of hyperbole.  That doesn't mean real life is off-limits.  For example, a green laser was repeatedly shot across campus and directly into my eyes apartment this evening.  It gave me a nice headache.  When I write about this, the owner of the green laser pointer will be strangled and his laser buried at the bottom of the lake.  Just sayin'.

Lie, cheat, and steal material in the name of fiction.  Ok, I promise I won't do it while wearing the plaid skirt that makes me look like a Catholic school girl.

<>< Katie

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rock Climbing

It's Pastor Russ's birthday today, so that means it's time to tell me favorite Pastor Russ story.  OK, so I have a lot of favorite Pastor Russ stories and quotes ("Don't be naked; it's dumb to be naked; wear clothes in the shower"), but this is the best that's not a "you had to be there" story.  I've told it a million times, and I've blogged it before.  (Side note: that blog was the first time I ever got a comment.  Thanks, Drums!)  It's one of those stories I'll be telling for the rest of my life, so I don't feel bad about telling it again.  If you've heard it before (or read it before), enjoy it again.

While I was in high school my youth group took a day trip to an indoor rocking climbing course.  Most of the climbs were set up on an auto belay system so anyone could do them.  Belayer and climber both clip in and they're good to go.  The belayer is even clipped to the ground just in case the heavier climber slips.  This is great for light-weight belayers like me who are at risk for flying into the air when their climber takes a misstep.  It's really inconvenient for both of you to be dangling in the air; trust me.

Anyway, this particular day I'd done most of the easier climbs and decided I wanted more of a challenge.  Eyeing up a climb in the corner, I opted to try it.  I vaguely remembered climbing this one years earlier as a younger child and I didn't make it all the way up.  I wanted to go for it again and this time make it to the ceiling.  There was one problem: this climb was challenging enough that it wasn't an auto belay for your average amateur belayer.  I needed to find someone certified to correctly tie in my harness and belay for me.  Lucky for me, Pastor Russ, one of our chaperones, was ready and willing to do that.

Trying to make conversation instead of standing there awkwardly while he tied in my harness, I was teasing that since he tied me in he was responsible for my falling and breaking a leg.  I said, "Now, if I fall, it's your fault."

He smiled and said, "If you fall, it's not my fault, but I'll catch you."

I wasn't really scared to try this climb but that was incredibly reassuring.

Isn't that was Jesus says to us on a regular basis: "If you fall, it's not my fault, but I'll catch you."  It's not His fault that we've messed up, but we've done it and He's here to clean up the mess.  It's not His fault when we stumble; it's His hand with the firm grasp on our arm to catch us.

"If you fall, it's not my fault, but I'll catch you."
Let Him whispered that truth into your life today.

By the way, after slipping a few times, I did make it to the top of that climb, but I couldn't have done it on my own.

<>< Katie

Monday, April 12, 2010

Wet Willy

Growing up, when we went to a party my sisters and all of the other kids were always lost in a made up world somewhere else.  I, on the other hand, loved to sit at the table and listen to my parents and their friends tell stories and relive the Before Kids Days.  My favorites were the college stories, the post-college stories, and the ones from my dad's annual camping trips (the one that had to come to an end when he left my mom home alone with a one-month old very colicky baby who now enjoys telling these stories herself).  Of course, most of them involved alcohol... and extreme amounts of it.  Going to a dry school I thought/ was kind of sad I'd be missing these stories from my life.  Well, I'm not.  Mine just involve less (read "no") alcohol.

One thing I've never really understood is why my mom had the audacity to give Mark--a man she's not married to--a wet willy just for sassing her.  When I witnessed this first hand, boys still had coodies, and there was no way I would be getting anywhere near them much less close enough to stick my tongue in their ears.  Well, I now have friends who are male, and I discovered this weekend that it's only a matter of time before Nikki, Elizabeth, and Andy get hard core wet willies (no finger).

I was giving my goodnight hugs on Saturday night when Elizabeth and Andy were on the Platonic Loveseat being, well, not very platonic.  Instead of asking for goodnight hugs, I plunked myself down on the couch between them.  Half of me was on top of Andy and the other half on top of Elizabeth.  In about, oh, 1.5 seconds flat they flipped me on my back in the fetal position.  Amy and Jennifer watched this whole deal and said all they could see of me were my knees.  Not good!

"Watch my glasses!"
"Take them off!"
"No!  Then I'm consenting to this rough housing.  I don't consent!  I don't consent!"
"Ooooh!  Is she ticklish?!"
I am, but they didn't know that, and I sure as heck wasn't telling them.

Elizabeth and Andy decided the only thing to do to me in this situation was to lick me.  Are we not past this game yet!?  Elizabeth had the bottom half of my body in her lap, so she chose to lick the back of my right hand, not a big deal, I can wash that once I get free.  Andy had my upper half and opted for the top of my head.  I wasn't planning on showering before bed, thanks.

"I really want to lick her forehead," Elizabeth confessed.  It's kind of a long-term goal, and they had me in the proper position.  It was one of those "now or never" situations, and my goal was to make it a "never."

"Wouldn't that be awful?!  She could just watch your tongue coming the whole time!"

Yes, that would be awful.  I slapped my forearm to my forehead and held it tightly.  All of the sudden there was a firm grasp on my wrist as Andy gently but forcefully pulled my hand away from my face.  He's a "medical person;" he's done that before.  Not fair!  Elizabeth moved in for the kill but I beat her to the punch as my knees rapidly collided with my face.  Word of advice: don't do that on a regular basis.  A few more minutes of struggle and Elizabeth finally settled... her wet finger into my ear.  Much further into my ear than a finger should go, I might add.  I pushed her away with my feet and shoved Andy off of the couch.  No winding up before bed... de-rile, de-rile.

I don't know if our three-on-a-couch experience will stand the test of time and be placed among the great "college stories" in my repertoire, but I do know that at the next opportunity they both will be receiving true business wet willies, tongue meet ear style.

<>< Katie

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Manuel Antonio

Guys, let me just confess for a second that I am the host to a parasite.  She bums off me, uses my stuff, and just kinda hangs around.  It's icky.  :-)  She also told me I'm not allowed to blog this weekend since I have a twenty page paper to write on the Christology of Jack Kerouac (puke!).  Well, I'm going to be a disobedient enabler and post something I wrote a few days ago.  It also seems appropriate given the fact that I'm up to my eyeballs in Kerouac.
<>< Katie

Heidi peered over her book and gazed out at the Pacific Ocean in front of her.  It should have been a picture-perfect scene.  And it was, except the book in her hands was an English copy of the Sun Also Rises rather than On the Road or anything else by Jack Kerouac and his fellow Beat writers.  Not that she particularly enjoyed Kerouac; in fact, she much preferred Hemingway, but Kerouac would have been more appropriate for a Costa Rican hostel.

She glanced at Isaac asleep in the next hammock.  While she was glad for him, she wished she could sleep, too.  After all, it was his fault she hadn't slept well the night before.  He'd spent the whole night hurling.  Alcohol?  Food poisoning?  It was hard telling but it was still unpleasant to listen to for hours.  But, she supposed that's what she got for spending $10 on a place to stay for the night.  At least the bunk bed didn't collapse on her from the two girls sharing the top.

As she listened to the chicken-like sounds of the people speaking Spanish while playing cards on the other side of the patio, she glanced down at her book.  Again she was disappointed with the language and setting.  The Costa Rican pura vida atmosphere combined with the pot-smell of the hostel would have been perfect for Kerouac, and she was reading high-class, European Hemingway.  Oh well, there was not much she could do about it but try to enjoy the salty ocean breeze as it blew the pages closed.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Happy birthday, Rebecca

"How's your family?"  I asked Rebecca over dinner a few months back.  I already knew the answer thanks to the sporadic caringbridge updates, but it would have been ruder of me not to ask.

"They're having a grand time in their little tiny apartment," she told me, her Pennsylvania accent not nearly as thick as her mother's.  Mrs. Karen and I used to tease about the desire to sit for hours and listen to the other talk just to hear our different accents.  Mine's not as strong as it used to be, a repercussion of living in the south nine months out of the year, but it's still there to be a frequent source of mocking.  Rebecca's accent has faded, too, I noticed as she went on to tell me about her family of five (plus two dogs) living in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with a hyper-sensitive (no light, sound, touch, etc.) sister battling Lyme disease.  If Rebecca wanted to talk Lyme, I was more than willing to discuss it with her, but a year and a half after diagnosis who really wants to keep repeating the horrors of the debilitating disease?  That's what caringbridge is for.  Dinners are for reminiscing with old friends, and that's exactly what we did.  We retold our favorite stories about growing up together, the three years we were neighbors.

"Remember when we had a four-bedroom cardboard house in your basement?"
"The one we used seven rolls of duct tape to build? Yes!"

It's so funny to hear the different memories we both share in addition to the ones the other has forgotten.  Sometimes I think these stories are better than the ones we both remember.  I'd forgotten about the time we "flew" into her basement by climbing through the window.  She'd forgotten about our "synchronized swimming routine" in my pool.  Of course, neither one of us has forgotten the "pump up the new born baby," the restaurant in her basement, or playing hide and go seek.  One set of parents would laid down some rules and the other would obey them.  Even grandparents knew we had to be home for dinner at 5:30, and after dinner we could play again until the neighborhood lights came on.  Those were the rules and we accepted them.

When sharing my testimony I always say Rebecca was placed in my life to provide me when a friend during the challenges of middle school.  Really, I believe that to be true but I also believe Rebecca and her family were placed in my life to show me what it's like to live as a Christian.  To show me selflessness, hope, discipline, and love.  Even now, when I get emails about their medical fight, every update ends with a scripture, hope-filled song lyrics, or a prayer.

Living in different parts of the country now (between the two of us, we could claim residency in six different states) makes it hard to get together and share life on a regular basis.  Prior to our dinner last month, it had been three years since I'd seen her.  Even though I wasn't feeling well enough to actually enjoy eating dinner, I thoroughly enjoyed our dinner conversation.  We picked up exactly where we left off, as friends and sisters in Christ.

All this to say, happy birthday, Rebecca; thank you for the joy, hope, and love you've brought into my life.  One day I will watch you play basketball; I hope it's in a WMBA game.

<>< Katie

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Baptist Easter

I was nervous about my first Easter in Baptist Country.  Come to find out, it was just me being a pessimist.  Big surprise.  I was wrong.  My Easter was very good!  Even if no one responded when I called, "He is risen!"

Sometimes when you live in a dorm room you forget what it's like to live in a house.  You forget what it's like to not be able to swipe your card and get a (maybe) hot meal but instead have a fully stocked pantry.
Lunch on Friday was a challenge.  I can't really call it "lunch."  A more accurate term may be: the massive amounts of bizarre food consumed around mid-day.  It was Good Friday, so I couldn't eat meat and I don't eat Ramen (so many college students live on Ramen noodles that it's my goal to graduate without eating them), Elizabeth can't cook anything except mac & cheese and there wasn't any, Jennifer only wanted cereal, and Emily only likes food that begins with the letter "c" and won't eat food that begins with "p."  Thus our lunch dilemma.  We ate: Ramen (not me), rice and cinnamon, cereal, cantaloupe, applesauce, pudding, and string cheese.  Don't tell Mrs. Mary.  :-)

When you live in a house you have to remember that the blurry red lights across the bedroom aren't just there to be annoying but to someone they reveal the time in the middle of the night...
Something you may not know about me: I am a bad bed partner.  I talk, I kick, I really hate sleeping on the top bunk without a safety bar because, well, I use the whole bed and sometimes more.  When I learned Elizabeth and I were going to be sharing a double bed for five nights I was scared... for her sake.  Even if I only kicked her once every night that would still leave five painful bruises on her legs.  As it turns out, I never kicked her but instead I took an elbow to the face in the middle of the night.  Thanks, friend.  She said it's because I stole the covers.  I told her if she would have asked nicely I would have given them back but nooooo she had to get violent on me.  :-)

In a home, everything has a place and the only thing out of place is Bananagrams, the most frequently played game in the house.
When I close my eyes to go to sleep at night, I see Bananagrams letters.  I'm kind of experiencing withdrawals being back on campus.  It's a word game kind of like Scrabble but better; we played for hours every day.  This is marvelous for word-lovers like me.  Not so great for the weird math-lovers like my future roommate Jennifer or friend Chris.  No one is still quite sure how Andy was able to play Bananagrams with one hand and look up spellings in the dictionary with the other.  Either way his "n comes after m" got really annoying... If you can't use a word in a sentence, define it, or spell it then you can't use it!

When you live on campus sometimes you forget driving can actually be faster than walking...
Since I wasn't home for Easter, some traditions had to be broken... like sitting in a dark closet for three hours on Friday afternoon to commemorate Jesus' time on the cross.  One tradition I refused to sacrifice was the Good Friday Service of Darkness.  It's an incredibly powerful service for Jesus reflecting on the seven things He said from the cross.  I forced Chris, Andy, and Elizabeth into funeral clothes and to the Lutheran church down the road (not to be confused with the funeral home).  We were teasing about the five cars outside and all of us leaving wearing black; people were going to start calling asking who died.  Jesus did.  Well, we walked into church and the first person we saw was wearing bright green scrubs.  Another person was wearing an Easter bonnet.  And there we were all dressed in black... So maybe this Lutheran church is a bit different than mine.  My three Baptist friends were good sports about it, though.

When you live in a house you forget that in some places of the world there are commitments before 8am.
Including Elizabeth and her two sisters, Andy, and me there were five of us fighting for one bathroom.  We were really expecting this to be a huge problem Easter morning, but it actually wasn't too bad!  For the first time in years we made it to the Sonrise service on time!  I'd never been to a Sonrise service, so it was a cool experience to stand in the parking lot and put flowers on the cross.  It a beautiful tradition and it works in Baptist Country, but it wouldn't work in place where a white Easter is feasible.

When you live in a house you have real dishes and nice china, too.
This Easter was the first holiday without my family.  I handled it a lot better than I anticipated... until Mrs. Mary asked me to set the table and handed me a set of plates.  The china pattern was the exact same as my mom's.  Our also rarely-used good china was being placed around a rarely used dining room table 900 miles away where, according to an earlier text from my sister, a place had been set for me.  I think I'm going to be late...

All in all, my Easter was great!

Care for some quotes for good measure?
Emily: What's the lowest note you can sing?
Andy: Um... I think a seven.
Emily: Will you do it?

Andy walks in carrying a heap of blankets
Elizabeth: What's that?
Andy: My gardening utensils.

Jennifer: Will you hold my Nerds? And don't tell me I am what I eat!

Elizabeth: I feel like a limp noodle!

Andy: Emily, can I put this pig in your speed bump?

<>< Katie

Monday, April 5, 2010

Do you see what I see?

I've been people-watching a lot lately.  It's kind of as if it's a game to see who can do the weirdest thing.  Here are some highlights:

Andy was standing in the kitchen eating a chunk of ham.  Emily grabbed it, inspected it, marked it as fat-filled, and handed it back to him.  This was immediately before Andy drank my water just to vex me.  Ok, maybe I was antagonizing him, too...

This morning at church a toddler panicked when a man put her father's guitar in his car and drove away.  This was planned, but she didn't know this.

Katie: What is that?  It looks like pepperoni.
Elizabeth: It looks like pepperoni.
Chris: You look like pepperoni.
Andy [to Liz]: You don't look like pepperoni.
Elizabeth: Did I say that?
Yeah, it was well past bedtime.

On Wednesday, Elizabeth and I drove through the Twilight Zone (aka Sketchy McSketch) and drove behind a man making balloon animals while driving.

My favorite, however, was at the wedding I attended on Saturday.  There was this couple rocking the dance floor.  They had all the moves, danced to every song, and were completely in step with one another.  No, not the bride and groom.  This couple was at least 70 years old.  We don't know where they came from, they weren't the grandparents of the bride or groom, but they were having a blast!  Oh, but they weren't blasted.  Some of us teased they came with the dj because they were just that great.  Perhaps they're wedding crashers.  Perhaps we'll never know.  But you know what?  Dance on, cute couple, dance on!  Show us that even at age 70 life is still worth dancing about.  Even though no one knows why you're there, you're having a good time.  Well done!

<>< Katie

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday.
Quite possibly the darkest day of the year. Jesus is dead.  Imagine the hopelessness the disciples felt today.  Can we relate?

For the disciples, today was even more depressing than a Lutheran being stuck in Baptist Country over Easter.  It was even more desperate than being rejected after seeking a job for two years.  Darker than abandoning high school graduation party preparations to plan the funeral of a five year old.  Can imagine what the disciples felt today?

A large group gathered together in a dark upper room.  The door locked out of fear.  No one had bothered to light the lamp.  No one wanted to speak.  Complete darkness.  It was not only a physical surrounding but also an emotional feeling.  Their best friend, their leader... was dead.  Not even a week earlier He'd been celebrated.  He was welcomed as a king.  Not even forty-eight hours previous they'd enjoyed a meal together.  Now He was gone.  Everything happened so quickly.

The room was filled with a myriad of emotions: hurt, regret, failure, longing, desperation, depression, darkness, confusion, loneliness, loss... the list goes on.  Yet the most prevalent had to be hopelessness.

"Where do we go from here?"  They must have asked.  If not aloud, then in their minds and in their hearts.
"How could this have happened?"
"I really didn't see this coming.  Did He?"
"Now what?"
The incessant number of unanswerable questions plagued them as they sat, paced, and cried.

Silence in a crowd.  Darkness in the middle of the day.  Loneliness among great friends.

Maybe we've been there.  Unlike the disciples, we know the rest of the story.  Unlike the disciples, we have hope.

"Peace be with you."  A voice rudely interrupts their ponderings.  Who would offer peace on such a dreary day?

Every head lifted.  Every eye turned.  They saw Jesus.  Their sins collided with their Savior and their Savior won.  Think about the first time you ever saw Him.  Think about your first encounter with the Christ.  Rope yourself in that moment.  Resurrect the relief.  Recall the purity.  Summon forth the passion.  Can you remember?  Do yourself a favor and place yourself in the upper room with the disciples.  Kneel before Jesus.

Run your fingers over His feet.  Place your hand in His pierced side.  When His nail-scarred hand slides under your chin and lifts gently, don't flee.  When your teary eyes meet His compassionate ones, don't look away.  Look in to those eyes, those same eyes that melted the gates of hell, sent the demons scurrying, and Satan running.  Look at them as they look at you.  Accept the warm embrace from the living Savior and never, ever let go.

Note: the final to paragraphs are modified from Max Lucado's Six Hours On Friday.