Friday, July 30, 2010


Have I ever told you that I love to tell stories?  I really love to tell stories.  A lot.  Find me a good story, and I'll retell it a million times.  It's safe to say they play an important role in my life.  I find it hard to believe I'm the only one like this.  Let's face it, stories play important roles in our lives. 

My professor Brandon once said, "Stories are the webs that entangle all of us."  Stories are so important, even Jesus used them to teach.  The world communicates through stories.

Pastor Seth asked us a phenomenal question the other day when he said, "We are all storytellers.  Are we living and making stories that are worth telling?"

Donald Miller has an entire book on this entitled A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.  Max Lucado addresses this when he talks about how God not only knows your story but He wrote it.

And here's a secret: even though you are the main character in your story, it is not about you.  Look it up; check the Bible.  All stories, even your own life story, is about Jesus Christ.

Jeffrey Meinz does a great job of telling Jesus' lifestory in six minutes.  The video quality isn't great, especially for the first 25 seconds, but it gets better.  The very end gives you a nice shot of how many people where there.  You should play Where's Waldo, and see if you can find me.

But seriously, friends, is the story you're living worth telling?

<>< Katie

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Life Ain't All Rosy

If I count up the number of meals I've eaten in the last two weeks, it would not divide out to be three a day. If I added the number of hours of sleep I've gotten, it would not be anywhere near eight-hours a night. If I blogged every God moment I've had in the last two weeks, my blog would be updated infinitely more often than anyone would read it (that is assuming people actually read it as is). All of those missed meals and lack of sleep were worth being the hands and feet of Christ.

Except today I write with a heavy heart.  Within four hours of returning home, I was hit with four different life-altering scenarios.

1. A professor, emailing me for a different reason, shared that one of her close friends is dying of cancer.  Why the professor felt the need to share this, I may never know, but it took the smile from my tired face as my heart broke for her.

2. My mom has a self-diagnosed broken toe.  That's not pretty.  She's hobbling around with only one shoe on.  Maybe not life-altering, but we drink our milk and have few broken bones, so it's a big deal.

3. One of my pastors and his wife were in a serious car accident.  Both are in their seventies and were admitted to the hospital.  It's my understanding that they have since been released with only lacerations and contusions; no broken bones or major injuries.  Alleluia!

4. A close family friend had breast cancer surgery while we were gone.  It has not metastasized but she has a long road ahead of her.  The oldest of their four children just graduated high school this June.

We were still living in the old house when I noticed four names scribbled in the margin of a piece of paper on the table.  It was my first experience with some people that would become important in my life over the next eleven years (and counting).  We added a few more names to the group until we had a party of fifteen.

I think it's safe to say we've spent a lot of time together.  From the water ski show to snow skiing.  From pool parties and bonfires to trips to the lake.  It was Christina who pushed Uncle Steve into our pool in his nice golf uniform.  When Laura earned herself an ambulance ride, Christina and I were sent to their house at 6am.  When I went to college, they all came over the night before to say goodbye.

The day we got home from the NYG, Mom said she was taking them dinner.  Instantly I wondered who died. Great-grandma?  Grandma?  Not grandpa, he was just flipping around in a moon bounce a month ago.  No one died.  Sue had breast cancer surgery.  What?  She too was in the moon bounce a month ago. 

On Friday, we went to a baseball game in the skybox, a perk of my dad's job and a trip that's been planned for months.  I wondered what to say.  Would cancer be the topic of conversation all night?  Would we brush it under the rug like it hadn't happened?

I'm not so much into baseball, so I love when we have the box because it means I can curl up on the couch with a plate of mozzarella sticks and a good book.  From my couch, I can observe.  I saw seven of the nine kids (one was MIA; one was me) sitting in the front row laughing and teasing each other.  I saw the three women in the middle row talking about anything and everything.  I saw the three men--all wearing black shirts, khaki shorts, and no shoes--turn a baseball game into a betting game.  I did not see the peanuts launched over shoulders in my general direction until they collided with my face.  Thanks.

I saw the concern.  The genuine, "Let us know if you need anything."  I also saw the smiles.  Together this group of friends would push through.  For this next season of life we will laugh, cry, and pray together.  We can acknowledge the elephant in the room without constantly staring at it.

Our team won the baseball game that night, but I cannot wait until the day when I say our family won the battle.  Maybe we'll celebrate with some brownie soup.

Until then, will you join us in prayer?

Thank you,
<>< Katie

Monday, July 26, 2010

ASL Pride

Part of my new optimism ploy for the last eleven months or so has been to catch people doing things right.  If I'm going to do it for my "real life" friends, I feel the need to exhibit the same courtesy to my virtual friends.  As an ASL minor, I cannot let this story slip by uncelebrated.  Please take a moment and realize not everyone in the hearing and medical worlds are the evil deaf-haters that our professors make us out to be.  There are exceptions.  Please got take a few minutes and read it.  Thank you, Jim.  Well done.  <>< Katie

National Youth Gathering Post One: a YAV at the NYG in NOLA
NYG Post Two: The Savior, The Seat Belt, The Superdome

For the last week, I've been in New Orleans at the LCMS National Youth Gathering.  Basically, 25,000 teens from around the country (and world) gather to worship God.  As a volunteer, it was my job be enthusiastic, loud and crazy, and cheerful.  For a pessimistic introvert, that's not easy.  On top of the fact that I knew a grand total of one person at the event.  One.  Everyone else was greeting friends they hadn't seen in months or years and I was sitting there going, "Yeah, I haven't seen you ever.  My name is Katie; what's yours?"  Not going to lie, I was jealous and homesick (for my college friends).

My first night in NOLA, they split us up into groups of about 20 to 30 people that we would get to know over the next few days.  We shared our name, hometown, and one safety item we brought with us.  The conversation had kind of moved on, but it wasn't anything deep or serious (yet).  One girl got the attention of our group.

"Just so you all know, I'm completely deaf.  If you could please face towards me when you're talking, it'll help me read your lips."  Her voice was excellent.  I never would have known she could not hear had she not said something.

A little adrenaline rush started inside of me.  I wanted to know if she signed.  Ten minutes later, we were in a circle more conducive to conversation, and I threw out a simple, "Do you sign?" with Casey's favorite Question Finger.  I got a yes.  PAH!  My little adrenaline rush turned into a bigger adrenaline rush, and I'm amazed I didn't tangle myself into a literal knot.  It had been two months since I'd done any serious signing, so I was a little rusty.  But it didn't matter.

She was drinking out of her water bottle with her left hand as she watched me.  Her eyes lit up.  She didn't say, "Cool" or "Neat" or anything.  No, she said "Wonderful."  I babbled some more and then she took a turn talking about how so many people in the world are clueless about Deaf culture.  With the rest of our group staring rather rudely, she and I talked for a few minutes.  I learned she, too, knew no one at the NYG.

We weren't glued to the hip, but I made a point to know where she was at most times.  I began to imagine what it had been like for her to be trying to lip read everything.  A lot of times, she'd just give up and read her book instead of listening (or watching).  Once or twice she asked me what someone had said and I signed it back to her.

I don't know how she felt about encountering someone else who signed, but to me it was a sign from God that my week was going to be ok.  He was there with me.  There I was feeling sorry for myself about not knowing anyong and God sent me someone in a smiliar predicament.

Her honesty in admitting her deafness broke the ice for my group.  By the end of the 45-minute Get to Know You time, most of us were in tears.  Every person sitting in that circle had a story that would break your heart.  Financial challenges that meant it was only by the grace of God that he was able to attend the Gathering.  A girl that was signed up to attend the 2007 Gathering but found herself in the hospital instead.  A boy who was trying to quit smoking asked us to throw away his cigarettes to remove the tempation that week.  A friend of a 2007 participant who has since gone Home to Heaven.


When the adult coordinator came by to give us a five-minute warning, our group was locked together in a hug.  In less than three hours we transformed from strangers trying to learn names ("When in doubt, guess Katie") to the family of Christ crying together.  I love it!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Savior, The Seat Belt, The Superdome

A snapshot from my time at the LCMS National Youth Gathering.  See the first post here.

The Savior
On my way to New Orleans, I flew alone.  I am no stranger to being a party of one, but I have rarely felt as lonely as I did on that airplane.  I was frantically searching for someone else headed in my direction.  Every time I passed someone about my age, I looked at them with expectant eyes as if to say, "Are you my savior?  Will you share a taxi with me?  Will you help me figure out where to go?"  Ultimately, I got on a shuttle for $20 and made it to the hotel fine and by myself.  It was as if God was saying, "No, I AM your Savior."

The Seat Belt
My plane had a layover but I did not switch planes.  On the first leg of my journey, the woman seated in front of me noticed she was missing half of her seat belt.  Since she didn't want to be reseated, she didn't say anything to the flight attendant.  On the continuing flight into New Orleans, a little boy had that seat.  Of course, his mother was not thrilled about her son flying without a seat belt.  She called the flight attendant who quickly came over and put the new seat belt together.  A simple fix.

That's life.  We try and hide things from God and solve it on our own.  We literally try to fly by the seat of our pants as we attempt to take our lives into our own hands.  We can't.  As soon as we admit that and say, "Help!"  He does.  Maybe it's not a simple fix, but it's no longer our problem.*

The Superdome
Five years ago, it served as a shelter during Hurricane Katrina.  People died here.
Five hours ago, it was so empty you could converse across it and be heard.
Now, it is the home of the Superbowl Champions.
Now, it is filled with 25,000 youth praising God!
The saints are marching into the home of the Saints.

<>< Katie

*When I shared this (what I considered to be a mediocre) metaphor with my group, they loved it.  It kind of became a challenge to see who could come up with the best metaphor for the day.  Everyone always compared their metaphors to it in terms of, "this one isn't as good as the seat belt metaphor."  They ultimately said I should write a book of them... Wouldn't that be cool?

Friday, July 23, 2010

a YAV at the NYG in NOLA

Every three years the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod hosts a National Youth Gathering (NYG) where, you guessed it, youth from all over the nation gather together.  I was lucky enough to attend the gatherings in Orlando in 2004 and 2007.  This year it was in New Orleans (NOLA) and my role was a little bit different than in the past.  Instead of participating this year, I had the opportunity to serve as a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV, pronounced like "yam" but with a "v") and quite literally be the hands and feet of the gathering and, more importantly, of Christ.

What does this mean?
A. It means I got to wear the same orange shirt every day for a week.  One night they made a joke about the stench around NOLA and blamed it on Orange Nation (the YAVs) and Yellow Nation because they were both only given a single shirt for the entire Gathering.  They joke continued to say a portion of that night's offering was going to buying air fresheners for us to wear around our necks.  Yummy.  It also means I got a green backpack that, combined with the shirt, made us all look like pumpkins.  And I got a gold VIP bracelet that let me go just about anywhere I wanted (or needed) to go.
Read: Long days, short nights, and sore feet.

B. At 7am every morning I was headed into the community to serve and help rebuild in the wake of Katrina.  Vegetation removal, landscaping development, etc.  They let me be in charge of a bus.  One day I almost left a group in the bayou.  The next day a different group left me at the woods.  The first day I was actually able to give away my Bible to a New Orleanian!
Read: Physically exhausting; spiritually exhilarating.

C. At 7pm, I was wearing the same orange shirt with a pretty yellow vest as I tried to make sure no one was trampled as they invaded the Superdome.  Basically that meant I was the first one trampled.  I'm 5'8" and 120 lbs.  There's not much I can do to slow down 25,000 excited teens except to be a speed bump.  I don't know if you're familiar with the Superdome, but what is considered the first floor is filled with dangerous catwalks that I had to stand next to for five hours every day.  Sure, there's a railing but it's was almost exactly at the top of my hips.  Since my body naturally bends there, it would not have been hard to push me to a nice soft landing on concrete a floor below.  I will admit, there were some people I would have preferred they knocked me to my death than forced me to deal with them...
Read: Crowd control = Fear.  Lotta fear.  It is only by the grace of God that I survived.

Welcome to the National Youth Gathering, the place where all of those rules your mother taught you do not apply. Talking to strangers is encouraged (hugs welcome). Running, dancing, and jumping in the concourse are totally acceptable. Oh, and no indoor voices. Buckle up and get ready for a wild ride.
I'll be honest, it's hard to be friendly, fun, and flexible when you're working eleven to twelve hours a day and sleeping five to six hours a night.  It's hard to be spiritually fed while you're worried about making sure you're physically fed.  However, hard is not synonymous with impossible.

Even though the trip was last week, free time was sparse.  Instead of updating you while I was there, I'll use the next week or so to tell some of the great stories from my trip to New Orleans.
<>< Katie

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Unusual Joy

All of the following are real quotes from one person's mouth.
  •  "We should eat eight of the elderly because then we wouldn't have to go buy more prizes."
  • "Ohh!  Ambulance parking.  We could park there.  Bob, turn on your lights!" [Bob drives a minivan]
  • "Men don't have hair."
  • "I want to eat my words because I didn't have breakfast, and I'm hungry."
  • "AH!  You just decapitated me again."
  • "I had a dream last night that I actually behaved at youth group.  Thank goodness it was only a dream!"
  • "There are dominoes in my shorts!"
  • "Look!  That tree is moving.  Oh, wait, the bus is moving."
  • "Naked!  Hehehe Silly!  Plethora, giggle, tomatoes." [This was a text message sent to the wrong person]
  • "Ew!  Rick Warren!"
  • "What does 'nagivet' mean?"
  • "ATHANASIAN CREED!  Exploring His manhood?  Oh!  This creed is dirty!"
  • "That's why I make out with Katie: she goes to seminary next week."  [That is what we heard.  What she really said was: "That's why I hang out with Katie: she leaves for school next week."]
  • "I don't need caffeine.  I'm pre-caffeinated."
Who REALLY says these kinds of things?

The same girl who was on the jumbotron speaking whale...

One of my anonymous readers... Melissa Joy Noel.

She's been begging me for a birthday blog for years, and I'm really not sure what to say to the girl who threw herself a 19th birthday party at the city pool.  We played with shaving cream and silly string on the playground...

I think for her birthday I will donate blood because I'm eligible for the first time ever.  Then I'll give her the information pamphlet.  I can just hear her reading it, "Definition of sexual content... AHHHH!!! ... whether or not a hmmmhmmm is used... EWWWW!!!"

I love Melissa.  She brings unusual joy into my life.  Selflessness, a strange sense of humor, and silly string.  What more does a person really need?

<>< Katie

Monday, July 19, 2010

Dance for Joy

I think the thing I say to God most frequently is a sarcastic, "Wow, You're funny."  He's got perfect timing and sometimes it just makes me shake my head.

If you've ever seen Peder Eide in concert, you know that at some point he plays a "hymn on Mountain Dew" that is an upbeat arrangement of "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee."  Towards the end of the song, the invisible band vamps while Peder talks about how if what we're singing is true and we really have the joy of the Lord we don't just uses our voices, we use everything we have.  He tells the audience to put their arms around their sweaty neighbors, complete strangers that are now family.  Then everyone jumps.  Without letting go of each other.

Then, he tells us we can let go.  He moves on to talk about how dance is worship.  There's no right or wrong way to dance for joy.  He says, "David danced before the Lord.  He was almost naked, but we're going to skip that part."

I always play my iPod on shuffle.  Always.  I have over 3,300 songs on it; it's the only way I get to hear all of them.  The other morning, I was getting dressed when "Joyful, Joyful" came on.  Peder's version.  I stopped and danced.

Then I doubled over in laughter.  There I was, just like David, almost naked and dancing before the Lord.

Try it sometime.  It's fun.  Dance before the Lord.  Get the rest of your family to join you, too!

Note: if you are in the presence of others and you are not married to said others, please put some clothes on.  Thanks.

<>< Katie

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tractor on Fire; Katie on Tractor

When it comes to household jobs, cutting the grass is my favorite.  I get to fly around the yard, write, and get paid for it.  Sweet!

I'm quite a sight when I cut the grass.  Today I am wearing a blaze orange shirt, not quite matching the orange of my tractor, and brown shorts with black Chacos (I'm looking to enhance the Zorro-like tanlines on my feet).  To top it off, I'm wearing my notorious cowboy hat, I have a blue Off! fan latched to my shorts, and my iPod is strapped to my thigh using the elastic band intended for a runner's arm.  Yeah, really pretty.

I'm lost deep in thought, memories, and stories that may someday be blog-worthy when all of the sudden I hear this nasty noise.  It kind of sounds like I ran over something, but I haven't.  I keep going and there is a second noise, not as loud as the first.  At the third noise, I stop the tractor.  I see Mom inside the house walking towards me as I turn it off.

"Did you hear that?" I ask.

She assures me she has and asks what it was.  Like I know.  Then she tells me the tractor was smoking.

I hop off the tractor.   "It's on fire," I say.  "Yes, I see a flame."  Keep in mind, I hate fire.  Been there; done that.  Lived to tell the tale; have the scars to prove it.

Mom runs to get the fire extinguisher, her trademark move.  From a reasonable distance, I watch the grass burn.  There is only one flame, but it is bigger than you would see on a candle.

"Do I even know how to work this?" She asks as she pulled the pin out of the fire extinguisher.  She pushes the levers together and it blows a fog-like gas.  Well, the wind take it and it showers me with fire extinguisher fluid.

The flame goes out, our tractor needs to be serviced, our fire extinguisher needs to be inspected, and the grass still needs to be cut.  Oh, and I smell like Off!, grease, freshly cut grass, forget me nots, smoke, and fire extinguisher.

When we tell Dad what happened, he just laughs.  And laughs.  And laughs.  He's now outside trying to fix the poor piece of flaming machinery.  I told him to scream if he needs me to call 911.  All quiet in the front.

I'm fine, by the way.  A little traumatized and just as pyro-phobic as ever, but it's just another day in the life...

<>< Katie

Friday, July 16, 2010


Last summer, I helped with an inner-city VBS.  I was sitting at the table with several preteen boys.  I knew the family situation of these boys was not good.  Two of the boys were being removed from their home and put into foster care.  A different boy at the table was their cousin; he began trash-talking their parents.  The older of the two kids in foster care, naturally, became defensive of his parents and threatened violence against his cousin.

I've worked with kids a long time.  I can say, "I'm trained to handle that" to most situations, but this one was out of my expertise.  I tried to get the kid to apologize.  Fail.  I tried to "jump the shark" and change the subject.  Fail.  I had no idea what to do.  And I froze.

April came to my rescue.  She knew this family's story and how to handle these boys.  As soon as she had the situation under control, I excused myself from the table and moved to color with the little kids.  I'm much more comfortable with crayons.  It was during that week that I decided I wanted to be April when I grow up.

This week, I jokingly said, "God, I'd love to grow up to be April as long as I don't have to marry a guy like Christian."  April's husband is one of the leaders of my 20s ministry, and on Monday we played Jenga.  Until I accidentally knocked the tower into Christian's lap and he showered me with blocks.  Mind you, Christian is a pastor and we are at church.  We moved on to building with Jenga blocks where I used my right hand to build while using my left to knock Christian's hand away from destroying my creation.  Luckily, I learned a long time ago that sassing and vexing is a love language, and most of my friends think it's my primary love language.

I love Christian and April.  They're such a godly couple.  Sure, they don't always get long.  I've seen that, but I've also seen them both admit when they're wrong.  I've seen them willingly give of themselves to serve God's Kingdom.  I've seen them be used by Him.  I've only known Christian and April for a year or so, but I do know I need more people like them in my life.

Happy birthday, April.  I'm so glad you're coming home soon.  We both know it's not good for Christian to be home alone.  :-)

<>< Katie

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Let's admit it: we all face writer's block.  I've heard arguments that it deoes not exist, but reality is that sometimes the words just don't come.  Some days it's because you can't find the time and other days the blank piece of paper (or blank "Document 1") is just too overwhelming to produce anything, much less anything worth while.

A few weeks ago Nikki and I were emailing about the hectic schedules we face this summer and the lack of free writing time.  I suggested she take five minutes and just write.  Pen to paper... three, two, one GO!

But what to write?
1. Peanut Butter Bagel
"I had peanut butter on my bagel today instead of cream cheese, and I feel the need to write about it."

2. A funny or sad or embarassing or random story
It could be from fifteen years ago of fifteen seconds ago, no one really cares.  You don't have to justify why you thought about it right now.  Just write it.  Embellish if you feel like it.

3. "I don't know what to write but Katie told me to write so I am doing it."
MercyMe actually has an entire song about this (ok, without me). It's entitled "3:42am" and it's my prayer for life.

"3:42 am (Writer's Block)" by MercyMe

3:41am make that 3:42
time just keeps rolling on while I'm here stuck like glue
so many things cross my mind but nothing stays awhile... so frustrating
I just want to say something worthwhile... speak through me.

Say, say what You wanna say... and say it loudly
Say, say what You wannna say.

6:45am, man, that just can't be right
3 hours have gone by and this is all I've got
My common sense tells me I should get out of the way.... so You can speak
O, Lord, show up or I'll be here all day... speak through me.

Say, say what You wanna say... and say it loudly.
Say, say what You wanna say... speak through me.
If the idea's mine it's nothing but a waste of time.
So won't You say, say what You wanna say.

Say, say what You wanna say.
Say, say what You wanna say.
Say, say what You wanna say (say it loudly)
Say, say what You wanna say.
Say, say what You wanna say.
and say it louldy
Say, say what You wanna say... speak through me
If the idea's mine it's nothing but a waste of time
So won't You say, say what you wanna say.

Don't wait until you have time to write or you'll never write.  Make time.  And let Him use you.  Let the Writer write; you be the pen.

<>< Katie

Monday, July 12, 2010

"It's All in the Serve"

Do me a favor and hold your imaginary tennis ball in your left hand, racket in your right.  Bounce the ball on the ground a few times because in a second you're going to toss it straight into the air.  Now, cross your wrists.  You know this.  "Down together; up together; swing when you're ready."

How's your serve?

Off the court, how's your serve?  Invisible?  Are you putting the towel on like Jesus and washing dirty, smelly feet?  Are you getting dirty?  Are you being used?  Are you serving your own intentions or feeding the needs of others?


No one's judging you (except God, of course, but He loves you anyway).

The serve
An Ace: A job well done.  Applaud but not because of what you did.  Applaud that God used you, and no one saw.  Don't you dare tell anyone what happened.  Now, go do it again.

The Let: The job was completed, but you got caught in the act.  Bounce the ball a few times, brush it off, and step up to the baseline.  Take two.  Don't get caught.  Let God work.

It's Out: You pushed your own intentions, and the ball went long.  You didn't do what needed to be done, and the ball went wide.  That's ok.  Try again.  Whatever you do, don't let the ball fall short.  Good intentions do nothing.  Follow through.

<>< Katie

Note One: some of the ideas in this post come from Peder Eide.  If you have never explored his Taste Worship ministry, I highly recommend you do so.  Especially if you have a family.  Which you do.

Note Two: The title of this post comes from a Michael W. Smith song from The Second Chance movie.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Who am I?

Sometimes I fluctuate like a pendulum between "God is awesome and everyone needs to know!" and "who am I to expect people to listen when I proclaim His name?"  Sometimes I hit both in a matter of minutes.  What's great is that He can use both ends of the spectrum.

I was having a "Who am I" moment the other day.  Who am I to share the Gospel?  Why should people listen to me?  What story has God given me?  The only times I've gone to bed hungry where the days when I didn't like what was served for dinner. I've never lost my job.  I've never been ripped from the jaws of death.  I've never overcome a serious addiction.  I've never...

Then like He always does, God smacked me in the face as He began to remind me of all of the things He has done in my life.  I've had a seven year old Guatemalan boy fall in love with me.  I've been in a car-totalling accident and walked away without a scratch.  I've been able to make a difference in the lives of teens at home and at school.  I've personally handed a bag of food to someone who will live off of it for the next month.  I've (been told I) energized someone who didn't know if he could muster up the energy to do the job correctly himself.

You think I did any of that on my own?

Maybe I don't remember a specific day when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.  Maybe I didn't overcome a life-changing obstacle to obtain the faith I now proclaim.  That doesn't mean I don't have a testimony.  Testimony is God's people speaking out about what He has done.  He has given me a story to tell.  Who am I not to tell it?

Being used and telling my story,
<>< Katie

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wacky Wednesday

Let's face it: we all say funny stuff.  Sometimes it made sense in our heads and didn't come out correctly, sometimes it didn't make sense inside and still came out, and sometimes it's only funny when plucked from context. 
<>< Katie

Chris: If you're going to call 9-1-1, you should take a picture first.
Katie: I'm not going to use that as a rule of thumb, but if it involves Big Foot, then I definitely agree.

Mom: Your parents are in a tornado warning, by the way.
Dad: My parents?  Do they know that?

Elizabeth: I wonder if I can do that (she ran her hand along the hairdo on a magazine model)
Katie: You should try it.
Elizabeth: I might need to borrow your head.

Laura: My elbow hurts.  No it doesn't.  I just felt like saying that.

Jay: Abs of steel!  Grunt!  Oh, don't do it.

Gwen: Where was I?  Why was I here eating cake?

I was sitting in my room reading a book, as I had been for the last several hours. Laura burst in (without knocking) to tell me about a conversation she thinks she overheard.
Christina: Katie smells like sesame chicken.
Mom: Katie is sesame chicken.
Thanks. Thanks a lot.

Mom: Get your toe-jams out of my armpit!

[Dad has Katie in a headlock]
Dad: You're getting too old for this.
Katie: No, you're getting too old for this.

Christina: Mom, when's my ortho appointment?
Mom: Ortho?  You mean dentist appointment.
Christina: Whichever one is to get rid of my big jumble of guts.
Mom: Most people call them wisdom teeth.

Dad: Brett, look at the back of your dad's head, Ryan's dad's head, and my head.  How do you think that happened?
Brett [age 13]: Too many noogies.
Dad: Who is the noogie loser?

I had just done a Margarita with a Twist (a flip) into our pool, and it messed up my contacts.
Katie: Woah, y'all are blurry.
Christina: Do you want my noodle?  Here!
Katie: Funny thing, I don't need to be able to see to tread water, but thanks.

Bryce [age 15, practically my cousin]: Katie, come to the park with us!  We'll find cute boys.
(a few hours later)
Bryce:  I got this for you.  It's a friendship for life bracelet.  (He put a glow stick around my wrist)
Katie: Thanks!  I didn't need to go to the park to find cute boys.

Mom: Fireflies are good bugs.
Grandma: They're even better rings!
(She killed a lightning bug and stuck it's butt on her ring finger... she then said it was even prettier than the diamond Grandpa bought for her).

Monday, July 5, 2010

See the blue; be the blue

My summer days have been pretty much the same: check blogger for updates, facebook, read blogs, check blogger for updates, write a new blog, read a chapter, work on novel (50,000 words!), check blogger for updates, read a chapter, work on novel, check blogger for updates...

When I finally tear myself away from the computer, I head to the basement to work on my scrapbook.  Directly above my workstation is a window that leads to a hole in our backyard.  When we first punched holes in the walls to add the windows, we put flowers in the terraced dug-out because they were pretty.  Well, the years have gone by and so have the flowers.

The other day I was banished to the basement (tornado warning?).  After cranking out a few pages, I looked up and saw this:

That's the best photo I could get without climbing on the counter and sitting in the window well in a "super safe way," sorry.  There is one small clump of blue flowers in a huge sea of green.  I looked at those blue flowers and smiled.

That's how we're supposed to be: one blue flower in a sea of green.  We're supposed to stand out in the crowd.  Stand strong for Christ, even when we're alone.  Daily show His grace, mercy, joy, and compassion even when it isn't easy.  We're supposed to be the blue.

A couple of hours later, I was still thinking about this God moment when I remembered the title of disc two in my car: See the Blue by Peder Eide.

The back of the CD case says,
If you look around yourself right now - even as you read this- and look for the color blue, you will most likely find many things that are blue.  The color stands out when you look for it.  It has always been there, but it's when you look for it that you find it!  The same goes for God's presence, God's fingerprint, God's grace, and God's still small voice.  It's always there, but often we don't notice it, hear it, or see it until we look for it."
Do you see the blue?  Can you be the blue?

<>< Katie

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, Homeland

For the last ten years or so, my church has done a patriotic musical every Fourth of July, and I have made it part of my Independence Day celebration.  One of the songs we do is entitled "Salute to the Armed Forces" where we sing the song of every branch of our military.  When their song is sung, the veterans are told to stand.  The congregation and choir alike applaud them for their sacrifice as we sing together. 

It's a powerful moment.  Or string of moments.  It's amazing to be in the congregation as amen and women all around you stand and are honored for their willingness to give.  One year, I sang in the choir and sitting in the second row was a solider in his dress blues.  I don't know if there was a dry eye in the building.

This year, something a little bit different happened. After we applauded, without the prompting of the choir or the director, the entire congregation moved to keep the beat with our hands.  I wasn't quite sure how to handle this in my no clapping, barely sing along Lutheran congregation.  We were all clapping together and singing at the top of our lungs.

In ten years, that has never happened before.  It happened at both performances this year.  Wow.

Those men and women who stood and could not stand deserve more than a round of applause.  So many more gave the ultimate sacrifice in laying down their lives so that I can sit here and type this sentence.  So many of them suffered horrific injuries, physical and emotional.  They've experienced more than I can ever imagine and they did it all for us. 
Coast Guard.
Air Force.
Thank you!

Happy birthday, America.  I am so glad to call you my homeland.

<>< Katie

Friday, July 2, 2010

July 2, 2000

It's the time of the year again.  The time when we are pelted relentlessly with storm after storm.

We built the house we currently occupy and while under construction it almost constantly had several inches of water in the basement.  Ultimately, we opted to lower the ceiling (literally by raising the basement floor) to avoid most water problems.  We're the low point of the subdivision and the closest we can legally be to a river.  We've also got an industrial-size sump pump and the mother of all dehumidifiers, both of which run for hours daily.  On top of a battery back up for the sump pump, a generator, and a check value, we're pretty much good to go.

We learned the hard way.  Today marks the ten-year anniversary of when our basement flooded.... with almost a foot of raw sewage.  Once we realized the gushing of sewage wasn't going to stop, my mom called her parents who live 30 minutes away.  We were lucky because my aunt and uncle were in town staying there, too.  The six adults ran up and down the stairs with flashlights in their teeth and were able to save 80 percent of our stuff.  (My sisters watched in terror... I was in my room getting a good night's sleep).  Two doors down, they weren't so lucky.  Rob was out of town on business, so eight-months pregnant Karen trudged through literally eight inches of sewage trying to save those irreplaceable.  Three houses in our neighborhood got sewage and another few got water.  It was not a good night.

That was back when we first moved into our new house and lost power with every storm.  We slept with flashlights in each bedroom.  Now, we get so many tornado watches that they're ignored, other than turning on local television.  "Tornado Warning" runs more smoothly than "Dinner's ready."  Turn off and unplug all of the computers, close windows and doors, close the garage door, grab the cats, someone get a flashlight, where's my cell phone?, and into the basement we go. We don't mess around, but we don't panic either.  During one of the more recent storms, I paused for a second. No adrenaline rush, no tremors, and no pounding heart.  In all honesty, I was moderately disappointed, but I was also relieved.

I remember the first tornado warning without my parents. I was just barely old enough to stay home with my sisters, and it was literally the first time they let us stay home alone. They went to a baseball game in the skybox with a bunch of friends.

The sky was dark and even at 7, 9, and 11 my sisters and I weren't stupid. We had all of the flashlights we owned, our first aid-kit, and sweatshirts and blankets all piled neatly on my bed. "Just in case," I said, and we went back to playing.

In the stadium, focus shifted from the game to the tv revealing the weather. Instantly, those with cell phones pulled them out and began to call home. The tornado was headed directly towards our neighborhood. My parents began to panic.

Three little girls home alone + tornado = bad news bears

To top it off, every one of our neighbors, every one of our "call these people if you ever have a problem" friends was at the baseball game with my parents watching helplessly as the weatherman told our area to take cover. Of course, all of the neighbors' kids were home with young babysitters, too. There weren't any better options than "suck it up, go downstairs, and pray hard."

Our prayers were answered very quickly.  On the other end of the phone, Dad stopped talking. The voice was replaced by Rob's unmistakable Pennsylvania accent, "My mom's in town. She's at home with our girls; she'll go and get yours, too."

Grammi's number of scared little girls doubled that minute as she became our hero. My sister said something about being scared and Grammi told her if the storm ripped off the roof, Grammi would lay on top of us girls and there was no way the storm would move her.  :-)   The seven of us huddled in the corner of their basement playing a game and waiting for the storm to pass.  There was no major damages that night but there were a lot of sighs of relief.

Just a good neighbor answering the call of duty or an everyday hero?  Take your pick.

<>< Katie