Saturday, December 31, 2011

Dear 2012

Dear 2012,

This year we welcome your arrival with New York. No waiting in the past to see how your first hour turns out before we take the leap.

But it's ok. I'm ready to welcome you, 2012. I think.

Your sister 2011's report card reads, "Not living up to potential."

She brought the change she promised but not the good kind.

Throughout 2011, the word I kept returning to was: faithful. Would I be faithful to the Lord even when life was less kind? Would God be true to the promise of His faithfulness?


Crossing into your realms, 2012, is an action of fear. An action of trust. A myriad of feelings. A juxtaposition of emotion. I am concerned about what you will bring.

Yet still I dare to hope. You bring with you new opportunities, renewed passions, and uncontainable excitement. While you may not look exactly like I would hope or anticipate, I step into you with confidence.


That's what I feel when I look to you, 2012. I hope for many of the same things as last year: a job, a boy, a future. But, above all, I hope for the Lord. I hope to seek and to see Him in the good, the bad, and the ugly. Through tears of joy and tears of pain, I want to gaze into the eyes of my Abba Father.

I hope to dwell in the shelter of the Most High, to rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I hope to be calmed with His love and be delighted with His songs.

I hope. In Him.

And that is enough.

"Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him!'" Lamentations 3:21-24 NLT

With hope,
<>< Katie

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Year in Review: Books Style

My goal for 2011 was to read 25 books. Well, I blew that out of the water and read 45 books. Since I figured you don't want to read 45 reviews, I'm posting the list of what I read, highlighting a few of my favorites, and the rest of the reviews can be found on my bookshelf (see the bottom of the blog). There are other books I started and didn't finish, but we'll save those for reviews if/when I finish them.

As always, I love to hear your suggestions.

Happy reading!

<>< Katie

1. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino

2. Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman with Ellen Vaughn

3. How the García Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez

4. Lifestories by Mark Hall with Tim Luke

5. Lipstick in Afghanistan by Roberta Ghately
This was good. It broke my heart, too.

6. Forgotten God by Francis Chan
Love it!

7. Navigating Rough Waters by Marcia Meier

8. Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah

9. A Loss for Words by Lou Ann Walker

10. Over the Edge by Brandilyn Collins
I loved it! Maybe it was my pre-existing interest in Lyme disease or how well the book is written, but I devoured it in three days! My only real criticism would be that during the most intense moments of the story, it seemed Jannie's Lyme symptoms were ignored or forgotten. The plot line is a lot of building and then a quick ending but it wasn't necessarily bad.

11. Friendship for Grown Ups by Lisa Whelchel

12. Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels

13. Saints at the River by Ron Rash

14. Dreaming in Chinese by Deborah Fallows

15. Crazy Love by Francis Chan

16. The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun

17. Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo
Wow! An easy read that's worth your time. (My dad even read it).

18. The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers

19. Radical by David Platt
If you only read one book from the list, make it this one.

20. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

21. Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

22. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

23. Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado

24. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Read it. Really.

25. Closer than your Skin by Susan Hill

26. Eli the Good by Silas House

27. SHE by Rebecca St. James, Lynda Hunter Bjorklund

28. Letters from War by Mark Schultz with Travis Thrasher

29. Southern Fried Sushi by Jennifer Rogers Spinola
I loved this book! It had excellent hooks (especially towards the beginning) but it was predictable at times. The book is full of beautiful langauge and analogies, cultural aspects, and questions left unanswered for Sweet Potato Pie (book two of three to be released in the spring). Definitely a must read. I can't for the next book in the series, Like Sweet Potato Pie, to be released in March

30. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

31. God's Story; Your Story by Max Lucado

32. What Women Fear by Angie Smith
I read this book with a highlighter in my hand. I love the way Angie vulnerably shares her own heart and uses scripture to battle fear. It's definitely worth reading (more than once).

33. One Perfect Day by Lauraine Shelling

34. Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult

35. Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes

36. Providence by Chris Coppernoll

37. Composing Amelia by Alison Strobel

38. Networking is a Contact Sport by Joe Sweeny

39. {W}hole by Lisa Whittle
I was almost in tears in the very beginning of the book. Lisa shows you her broken heart, her holes and invites you to journey with her to wholeness. I found myself in this book.

40. The Write Practice: 14 Prompts by Joe Bunting (eBook)

41. The Writer's Manifesto by Jeff Goins (eBook)

42. The Wedding Invitation by Alice J. Wisler

43. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

44. Words by Ginny Yttrup
A good book is any book that gets be writing. So far, this one has. (Not quite finished yet).

45. The Well by Mark Hall with Tim Luke
(ok, I really got this for Christmas but hope to finish it before Jan. 1).

Monday, December 26, 2011

Journey Around the World

All too often people go on mission trips expecting to be taking Jesus to another country, another part of the world.

While there are areas of the world who have never been told the name of Jesus, short-term missionaries often arrive and realized He is already there.

The Lord is working worldwide, and we are oblivious.

I want to offer all of what I have and to tell His story.

In 2012 we're going to take a blog-series journey around the world. We're going to see God working worldwide through the eyes of our brothers and sisters abroad.

Every Monday for the next fifty-two weeks we're going to be headed to places like the Philippines, Zimbabwe, Guatemala, the Congo, India, Haiti, etc.

These worldwide journeys are coming in the form of guest posts, interviews, and photo diaries from people in a variety of stages of life. And I'm "sups excite" (that's "super excited") about it!

Are you willing to get on the plane with me?

Bon voyage y Dios le bendiga,
<>< Katie

PS: I can't do this without your help. I don't have fifty-two weeks worth of international contacts, so if you have ideas, I'd love to chat. Shoot me an email at KatieAxelson[at]gmail[dot]com. Thanks!

PPS: This blog series needs a title. Any suggestions?

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Sometime just prior to Halloween I heard my first Christmas carol of the season. It flipped a switch inside of me and I was ready for Christmas.

Of course, my gifts weren't purchased and I was pleasantly surprised to feel 40 degree days rather than the 4 below I was expecting, but all through November I waited anxiously for the snow and for the rest of the world to be ready to play Christmas songs.

Yet now it's the night before Christmas, the tree is decorated, the gifts are wrapped, the last of the cookies are in the oven, and the snow gently falling. But I am ready to put on the brakes.

Christmas isn't the most wonderful time of the year when you're unemployed. Rather, it's a brutal reminder of your lack of income, your need to pinch every penny, and your wreath decorating your parents' home rather than your apartment.

Giving up isn't an option, but hope is fleeting. Still I pray "Thy will be done" and "Send me." Still I have a nice collection of rejection letters.

I don't mean to be all doom and gloom, but, honestly, singing "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" is lying through my two front teeth.

I try not to linger too long in this world of overwhelming pessimism. Life is hard right now, and I'm sick of repeating myself about my failing job search. I'm well beyond ready to talk about something else.

So let's talk about some other people whose world may have also seemed overwhelmingly pessimistic.

Mary. She's pregnant and engaged but her fiancé isn't the father. I bet she got sick of trying to explain that.

Joseph. Someone else impregnated his betrothed. Well, isn't that a sticky situation?

Herod. Some baby is lobbying for his throne (or so he thinks).

The inn keeper. The "No vacancy" sign is illuminated yet still there's a very, very pregnant woman and her man on the front porch.

The sheep, oxen, and other stable animals. Um, hello, there's a baby in their breakfast bowl.

Jesus. God Himself is being shoved into the skin of an infant. Ouch.

The Christmas story is not exactly what the Jews were expecting. Nope, rewind. Christmas was absolutely nothing like what the Jews have been anticipating, the hope-filled stories they've been passing down for generations.

A king was supposed to come to rescue them. Fallen cities would be restored, a temple would be rebuilt, death would be destroyed, and peace truly would exist on earth.

The long-awaited Messiah... a baby. It didn't make sense.
Emmanuel--God with us---is sleeping in a dirty cow trough.

Yup, definitely not the most wonderful time of the year.

I'm so glad Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the shepherds, et al. didn't call it quits, didn't tell God how to do His job. Even in these less than ideal conditions, hope shone brighter than the star illuminating the sky.

Like the shepherds, I am willing to drop everything and sing praises to the One who deserves them.

Like the inn keeper, I offer all of what I have, even if it doesn't seem like much.

Like Joseph, I desire to be obedient even when it looks very different than I expected.

Like Mary, I want to be faithful to what God has asked of me

Like Jesus, I seek to do what needs to be done no matter how uncomfortable, how agonizing it may be.

And, unlike Herod, I am not going to take matters into my own hands.

Maybe the most wonderful time of the year doesn't mean a walking in a winter wonderland.

Maybe it means hope and anticipation for something new. It means finding peace and comfort in God's promise never to abandon us. It means joy even in life's less than comfortable moments. It means resting in the loving arms of the Father.

The most wonderful time of the year is any moment when you remember that Christ truly is Emmanuel, God with us, both now and forevermore.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In the Arms of the Father

The plane was preparing to land and the man across the aisle from me frantically fastened his toddler back into the window seat. The little girl began to whimper.

"Shh, shhhh, shhhh," the man said.

The girl whimpered more. The shushing wasn't working. Eventually the man unbuckled the child and pulled her into his lap.

The whimpering stopped. The child was no longer afraid. She was in her daddy's arms.

That's who I want to be: the little girl perfectly content my Heavenly Daddy's arms.

Even when I don't know where my next paycheck is coming from. Even when I don't know when I'll get to see my friends (read: family) again.

Are you willing to curl up in the lap of your Abba Father?

Even when finals are hard. Even when your kids are disobedient. Even when you're not sure if you'll be able to pay for the avocados to make the guacamole you promised. Even when life is hard.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1a NIV

I pray in marker.

Putting prayers on paper prevents me from getting distracted (raise your hand if you have the attention span of a butterfly when praying). It's childish and messy to use a thin-line Crayola on college-ruled paper. It is good.

Prayer is messy. Life is messy.

Like a child whose hands are more colorful than the paper, I stretch them up to my Daddy and let Him shush me with His perfect love.

"The LORD your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with his love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17 NIV

Just as the daddy on the airplane cared for his little girl, all the more will my Heavenly Daddy care for me (and you).

Even through our childish fits about things not going our way. Even through our crying and panicking when there is nothing to fear.

Take a seat in His lap, stretch your marker-hands to the sky, let Him hold you, His child. Take peace and comfort in His love.

I do.

<>< Katie

Monday, December 19, 2011

Chinese Christmas

Author's Note: If you followed Amber's and my China blog or talked to us about the trip for more than five seconds, you've probably already heard this story. It's our favorite to tell. In the spirit of Christmas, I'd like to tell it again. Even if you've already read/heard it, enjoy it again. Thanks! <>< Katie

There are exceptions to every rule. The exception to what we could and could not teach in China was more of a loophole. We were not to teach religion that was very clear. We were to teach the English language and American culture. In that was our loophole: Christmas, an American holiday.

One day we taught the secular version in the form of a Christmas party where Santa delivered Christmas presents, we ate candy canes, and we sang Christmas carols. Never have I worn sandals and kapris to a Christmas party before. Neither have I ever helped host a Christmas party in August. Welcome to China.

The following morning, Curt and Vernon were to teach the real Christmas story using a reader’s theater script.

First period had been dismissed when Vernon ran into our classroom, script in hand.

“We didn’t finish,” he said breathlessly. I was not sure if he had run from the hotel or from the classroom next door. “Will you finish it for us?”

Jori and I graciously accepted. The lesson plan we had stayed up all night revising had flopped first hour anyway. Jori revised our lesson again while I skim-read the script.

The sixteen-person class of college students and English teachers took their seats in the horse-shoe we had set up. I prayed silently and began asking them questions about where they’d left off. Jesus had been born and the magi were asking Herod where they could find this new king.

I summarized the remainder of the story being relatively brief since we had another lesson to teach but not so brief so as they could have missed the point. Then Jori and I welcomed questions. This was one of our more talkative classes but we were not in the least prepared for the forty-five minutes of questioning that followed. We ended up scrapping our entire planned lesson to answer their difficult questions.

What happened next?
Why did God choose Mary?
Was Jesus a king?
Joseph was king, right?
Where Mary and Joseph his real parents?
Jesus was killed, right?
So Jesus is a god? What do you mean there are three gods?
How do you believe something you don’t understand?
Does God still speak through dreams like He did to the magi?
Did Jesus talk to special people?
Was Jesus rich?
How do you (as Christians) make decisions?
What is faith?

We were flabbergasted. So many questions don’t have pat answers. While I spoke, Jori prayed. While Jori spoke, I prayed. We both quoted scripture and read directly from the New Testament. So many questions were directly answered by the Holy Spirit speaking through us.

As soon as the class left, Jori and I joined hands and prayed until tears filled our eyes. It was an incredibly humbling experience we were excited to share with our mission team at lunch.

But God wasn’t done.

Two periods later the same students were in a class co-taught by Amber and Juanita who had no knowledge of what happened earlier. They were teaching the five love languages and discussing the love language of giving and receiving gifts. Juanita held an empty gift back and asked the students what they most hoped would be in the bag. Money, food, books, and jewelry were the most common answers. One girl said she wished a Bible would be in the bag. Amber was immediately on the edge of her chair, anxious for the end of class.

Everyone on the mission team had been given a New Testament in Chinese and English to give away. Immediately, Amber knew hers was for this student, Monica. As soon as class was over, Amber approached Monica to ask if she was serious. Monica confirmed she was serious about wanting a Bible, so Amber handed her the New Testament. As per Chinese customs, Monica refused to accept the gift. However, Amber insisted, and Monica got misty-eyed when she accepted it with a huge smile. She was so grateful and so excited! Amber also connected Monica to a woman who attends the local church.

Once morning classes were over, we sought refuge in a classroom to wait out the rain. To Juanita, rain means that God is near. Before heading back to our hotel for lunch we were able to piece together the puzzle and allow God to reveal Himself to us. It had been a rough morning of team disunity yet still the Lord used it ways beyond what we ever imagined!

We were all grateful for loopholes and exceptions. We could not teach religion but we were permitted to answer all questions honestly. We were not permitted to distribute religious materials, but we were able to gift Bibles if the student directly asked for it. Above all, we were grateful for God’s prompting through the necessary loopholes and exceptions to be able to openly speak about Him even in communist China.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

An Inspirational Gift Idea

They wanted to watch Glee. I didn't have any good distractions.

My suitemates used to love watching Glee. It was not unusual to find twenty people in our apartment squished around the TV on Thursday night. One roommate even wrote her undergrad thesis on Glee.

My family watches Glee too and honestly I just can't stand the show. All of the adults act like children and makes me cranky.

Last night I was too comfortable in the family room with my notebook to move when they turned on the Christmas episode. So I half-watched it and half-wrote (and half-talked but that's apparently three halves).

For maybe the first time ever, I actually enjoyed it! I'm not itching to watch it again, but I don't regret the first time.

On national television the real Christmas story was read! My Jesus was called Lord and Savior!

On national television characters that are often selfish and immature realize that the reason for the season is not for gift giving. Instead, they seize opportunities to give back.

They serve at a homeless shelter, they ring the Salvation Army bells, and they give African pigs as gifts for Christmas.

Rather than the earrings she wanted, Finn gave Rachel a pig in Africa that will get fattened up all year long and then serve as food for an entire family.  Rachel rejects the gift at first but then recognizes the beauty of it and names it Barbara after her inspiration grandmother.

I just checked the Compassion gift catalog, there's a pig you can give for Christmas! If that pig gives birth to about 16 piglets a year, that family will have a lifetime of income! Name it after your own inspirational grandmother.

That or an African drought survival kit.

A cow.

A "Survive to Age 5" kit.

Really, go check it out.

Give a gift in memory of someone inspirational. Give it to someone inspirational (aren't those people always the hardest to buy for?). Be inspirational and ask your relatives to give you a goat, chickens, and a blankets for Christmas.

Thank you for making a difference!
<>< Katie

PS: Grandma, I circled the safe and sanitary bathroom. But I won't name it.

Gifts of Compassion

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Off the Couch

Let's be honest: I'm awkwardly skinny.

You know those things in the gas station bathrooms with a height and weight chart based on body type? The "small build" for my height starts ten pounds above how much I weigh.

I promise, I'm not trying to lose weight. Really I would like to gain some. So, to combat this, I eat like a pig (minimum of three plates) and avoid the gym (no one likes a skinny kid on a treadmill).

But what if that was how I lived spiritually?

What if I sat around reading devotional books, blogs, and my Bible? What if I attended as many Bible studies and small groups as I could possibly fit into a single week? What if I went to every church service offered, listened to every online sermon I could find, and attended every Christian concert within two hours of here?

What if I ate, ate, ate spiritually?

Don't hear me saying those things are bad. Eating isn't just good, it's vital.

But what if I did no more than eat? What if I avoided the spiritual gym? Herein lies the problem.

What if I didn't reach out to those around me? What if I didn't seize missions opportunities to see what the Lord is doing in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria? What if I ignored the hurting, homeless, and hungry right here in my own city? What if I failed to show compassion, encouragement, and love to those I interact with?

Eating like a pig and avoiding the gym are physically unhealthy. Just as they are spiritually unhealthy.

Eating and exercising need to co-exist.

It's like breathing. You can't breathe in without also breathing out. You can't eat without also exercising.

There's a balance. It can be hard to find, but it is good.

Excuse me now why I get off my spiritual couch and head to a spiritual gym to work off that spiritual brownie I just inhaled.

<>< Katie

Monday, December 12, 2011

Missing Spanish

This is a little weird to be confessing because I never dreamed these words would leave my mouth: I miss Spanish.

When I miss Spanish, I send a letter to Smile or Maria (my Compassion sisters in El Salvador and Columbia). They get a lot of letters.

When I miss Spanish, I pull out my Spanish-English Bible and pray to the God who understands espanglish.

When I miss Spanish, I read about what God is doing in paises hispanohablantes (Spanish-speaking countries).

When I miss Spanish, I seek out every opportunity to use it. From a simple facebook message to a real life conversation with a missionary confined by a language barrier.

The Spanish I miss is not a language learned in a classroom all the way through middle school, high school, and college. It's the ability to make a difference I learned from my community's food pantry, in a dusty school yard in Nicaragua, and through fútbol games in Guatemala.

Why do I confine the ability to make a difference to a language?

Why do I not miss serving the Lord in my mother tongue?

Why does my second language make me more bold? More so, why am I more reserved in English? After all, I don't grasp Spanish nearly as well as I do English which means the opportunity to make a complete fool of myself are all the more numerous.

Yet still I don't care.

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8 NLT

Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
That's locally, nationalwide, internationally, and to the ends of the earth.

God, I'm sick of being timid and shy in English. Give me the passion for Your people here in the United States like You've given me for hispanohablantes worldwide. Help me be Your witness right here in "Jerusalem."

<>< Katie

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Most Holy Place

During Bible study one girl made the comment that she is always blown away by the tearing of the temple curtain. Another admitted she was unfamiliar with that aspect of the story of Jesus's death and resurrection.

In ancient Jewish temples, there were different areas where people were permitted or prohibited from traveling based on their religion, gender, and profession.

The Most Holy Place was the most-restrictive area of the temple where only the rabbi was allowed and only once a year on The Day of Atonement. This was so strict that when the rabbi entered The Most Holy Place to make the annual sacrifice, he was required to bathe himself, wear specific linen garments prior to entering and then remove them and re-bathe upon his departure.

The Most Holy Place was considered to be the very presence of God. (Leviticus 16)

When Christ breathed His final breath on the cross, the thick curtain separating The Most Holy Place from the rest of the tabernacle was torn into two.

"Then Jesus shouted out again, and He released His spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people." Matthew 27:50-53 NLT

"Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed His last. And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. When the Roman officer who stood facing Him saw how He had died, he exclaimed, 'This man truly was the Son of God!'” Mark 15:37-39 NLT

"By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o'clock. The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. Then Jesus shouted, 'Father, I entrust My spirit into Your hands!' And with those words, He breathed His last breath." Luke 23:44-46 NLT
There's a lot going on. It's easy to miss. I mean, the Messiah is dead, hello! Roman soldiers are declaring Him the Son of God, saints are being raised, there's a huge earthquake, and it's dark in the middle of the afternoon. Who cares about some curtain way over in the temple tearing?

I do.

With the removal of the curtain, we are able to enter into the presence of the Lord. We are invited, welcomed, and encouraged go to before God directly. No longer do we need a mediator, a rabbi, a go-between.

As His beloved sons and daughters, we are ushered directly into the presence of our Abba Father. Our harsh words, our love, our fears, our praise, our frustrations are spoken straight to Him.

I tend to take this for granted. And today I am especially grateful for it. I am once again blown away by the significance of a temple curtain, an Old Testament regulation, ripped to shreds. For you. For me.

Excuse me now as I, a Gentile woman, enter into The Most Holy Place.

<>< Katie

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wacky Wednesday

Author's Note: The following are quotations taken from real conversations heard, read, or encountered during the month of November. Enjoy!
<>< Katie

Scott: My wife told me we're going baby shopping this afternoon.
Bob: Didn't you already buy one of those?
Scott: Two. We bought two.
Bob: Make sure you save the receipt.
Dawn: Were they on sale?
Katie: Two for the price of one?
Bob: He's an extreme couponer!

Christina: Lady Gaga is a singer.
Dad: Lady Gaga is a nightmare.

Linnea: If my baby is born with a beard, we're switching it in the hospital!

Random Man to Son: You were crying in your apple juice.  Do you know why you were crying in your apple juice?  Because you don't like apple juice.
David: Book! [meaning Writer's Notebook where I keep Wacky Wednesday quotes]
Jocelyn: I like your boob! [She meant book]
David: Book!

Christina: What does the guy from "Sister Wives" put on facebook [for his relationship status]?

Katie: Shaun Groves just Tweeted, "Googling the lyrics to my own dadgum song."
Christina: Who's Lulu?
Katie: What?
Christina: Lulu liked his song? Who's Lulu?

Brent [To some giggly high school girls at a Peder Eide concert]: Go bug Peder. Seriously. It'll take some pressure off of Katie.

[Reading the monthly cell phone bill over dinner]
Dad: Someone spent three dollars downloading a video.
Mom: Wait a second, let me see that, that three dollars was the [Dad's number] guy.
Dad: Oops.
Katie: So what I'm hearing is that Laura's a minutes hog, Mom only texts Christina, Dad buys three dollar videos, and Katie wins with the least usage of everything.
Mom: Yeah, whatever.
Katie: Whatever? I haven't gotten a text message in three days.
Mom: That's because your inbox is full. You need a new phone.

"No matter what this world does, you're valuable. The Lord gives you help for the hurt and hope for the future." - Bob Lenz

[Taking a photo]
Katie: One, two, four.
Peder: Miss Katie, we need to work on your counting.
Katie: I was an English major.

[After I'd been on the phone for twenty minutes]
Grandma: I'm glad she took sign language in college!

[Putting my number in his phone]
Mark: L-A-U-R-A
Katie: Um... I spell my name with a K.

Mom: Here, wear this step stool!
Sparkle the cat: I just did. Why do I have to wear it again?

Laura: Katie! You'll be so proud of me! I played The Alphabet Game yesterday and WON! TWICE!
Katie: Was the other person driving?
Laura: There was no other person.

"Thank You that even in the wilderness You are Emmanuel--God with us." -Tracy

[On facebook]
Andy [to Elizabeth]: I love you!
Katie: I love you, too!
Andy: I think you misspelled two, Katie.
Katie: No, I only love you; not Elizabeth.
Andy: lol I completely saw that going the opposite direction! I love you too, Katie. And so does Elizabeth!
Katie: Success! I love you two and miss you, too!

Bob: Don't complain about being dress size one when I'm a sixteen!

Christina: How was Oscar's [the cat] surprise attack?
Mom: Well, the doctor cut off my wart today.

[Catch Phrase]
Linnea: The continent that--
Katie: Alaska!

Katie: With as little as I listen to the radio, when I know all the words to a song, it's overplayed.
[Laura burst out laughing]
Katie: Um... I didn't think what I said was that funny.
Laura: It wasn't! That... that bar we just... passed... had a... had a toilet... on the front porch!

Mark: I can walk and chew gum at the same time!

[via text]
Katie: I am at the coffee shop actually being productive on a Saturday for once!
Amber: Good for you
Katie: It's because you're not here.
Amber: Haha
Katie: But I am lonely.
Amber: That's why you're actually getting work done.

Jocelyn: They danced funnily.

Katie: Look at how these pants sit on me. If I didn't have my hips right here, they'd just fall right off. If something happened to my hips, I'd never be able to wear pants again... without suspenders.

Greg: We're going to catch a deer then put it in the back of the van and take it to the vet to kill it humanely.

[Mark was walking out of church with three empty cups]
Katie: Were you a little thirsty?
Mark: Yeah. Dehydrated.
Katie: You're going to have to go to the little boys' room.
Mark: No, I already--
Katie: You already went? In church?!
Mark: No. I'm wearing a diaper. [Beat] And you sat next to me. Does that make you uncomfortable?

Mom: Lies!
Laura: I wouldn't lie to you! You're my momma!
Katie: All the more reason to lie to her!

[At small group]
Dustin: No talking about Jesus! It's not allowed.
Katie: I'm not going to be able to come anymore.
Dustin: Wait, what? Why can't you come anymore?!
Katie: Because we can't talk about Jesus.
Dustin: Oh, ok.

Mom: Come here. And don't get excited because I'm asking you to follow me upstairs.
[Dad's face fell]
Mom: The balance ball is NOT a horizontal surface!

Charlie: I have this friend. I don't know if he's alive. I've been checking the obituaries but I haven't found him, so I'm going to call him. I figure if he picks up, that's a good sign.

Lauren: It's the same storyline just with different characters.
David: Twilight?
Drew: No, those are the same characters.

Katie: This shirt kind of makes me look fat.
Mom: Good! Wear it every day!

Hygienist: Do you floss?
Katie: Yes. Not like I should but yes. Especially after I eat popcorn.
Hygienist: Ok, every day at 3:00 you have to eat popcorn.
Katie: That I can do!

"Praise, not perfection. He wants my praise not my perfection." - Ann Voskamp

Monday, December 5, 2011

Losing Narnia

At the end of Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Aslan tells Lucy and Edmund that they will never return to Narnia. Lucy is devastated. But then she confesses it's not actually Narnia she wants, it's Aslan. Aslan says he's in the other world too only by a different name. In fact, Lucy and Edmund only spent time in Narnia so that they could better recognize Aslan in the other world.

I understand Lucy's disappointment in never being able to return to Narnia. I just graduated from a university I love very much, and God has asked me (at least for now) to give it up. If you've a regular visitor, you are familiar with my moping. If you're new, there have been lots of tears. I'm sure the feeling is similar to Lucy's leaving Narnia for the final time.

What I miss about my university is the people--their love, their transparency, and their friendships. Yet, I also miss being able to see the Lord everywhere, to not be afraid to vulnerably ask for prayer ... in the caf, to lock myself in the prayer room for an hour or four for some privacy with God.

Yet maybe God put me there so that I would better learn to identify Him here (wherever "here" is this week). I learned some awesome things, saw Him work in miraculous ways, and felt His presence like I never have before. But I now have a responsibility to take what I learned, what I saw, and what I experienced and apply it elsewhere. God is not only to be found in a one stoplight town that shuts down half of its sewer when students go home during the summer.

God can be, has been, and is found here, too.

But sometimes I'm too busy mourning the loss of Narnia that I forget that Aslan is on the move right here with me in this world.

<>< Katie

PS: Have you taken a minute to give me your opinion about my blog? I really appreciate your feedback-both good and bad! Thanks!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pray for China

I'm so discouraged as I look back on my time in China and remember the HUGE need for the Lord that still exists in that country.

Sure, we saw some amazing things: hundreds of believers gathered freely to worship, a local church being gifted land and money to replace that which was usurped from them 30 years ago, the opportunity to give away Chinese-English New Testaments.

Yet there is so much work left to be done. So many people who have never even heard the name of Jesus.

When we went to China, they told us we would (in all likelihood) not see the fruits of our labor. We were not even planting seeds. Rather, we were plowing ground, removing rocks, and preparing for future seed planters.

We did not see many fruits of our labor. Yet He will. He will use our efforts, our energies, and our work. That's what we've prayed. We've seen it in small ways but the Lord is not done in China.

Can you do me a favor right now and pray for China? Pray that the Lord used and continues to use what we gave (all that we had). That He, not we, made a difference. Pray for our friends. Pray for the students. Pray for the Chinese believers and foreign believers. Pray for the unbelievers. Pray for the government. Pray for the Lord to be honored and praised in new ways.

He's God of that city, too.

Thank you!
<>< Katie

PS: If you want to be part of the ground plowing, send me an email and I'll hook you up with the organization we went through as volunteer English teachers.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Your Thoughts

Hey, friends, the year is drawing to a close. Obviously. It's with great excitement that I look forward to next year. Mostly because I hope it brings a job offer. But I also look forward to a top secret blog series starting in January!

Before I announce what that will be, I want to hear about what you guys want to see here next year. This is your chance to tell me that you hate my background and wish I used more scripture in my posts. Be honest. I can take it.

Some guiding questions:
1. What have you liked? What have you disliked?
2. What has worked? What hasn't worked?
3. What do you want to see more of? What would you like to never see again?
4. What do you think of the layout? The content? The frequency?
5. Anything else you'd like to add but I haven't offered?

You're welcome to post in the comments section (anonymous posting is enabled) or email me at KatieAxelson[at]gmail[dot]com.

<>< Katie

PS: In other news, I became a National Novel Writing Month winner yesterday by officially logging in 51,9523 words written in the month of November. My novel isn't quite done (is it ever?) and I've got a lot of revising to do but for the purpose of validation: completed!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Our Adoption

Adoption is costly. Unfortunately, rescuing a child from poverty is not an easy task. It's costly financially and costly emotionally. But it's a price parents are willing to pay for their child(ren).

Likewise, our adoption was costly. In Ephesians Paul says, "God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure." (Ephesians 1:6 NLT)

The price for our adoptions? Christ's death on the cross.  Yet our Heavenly Father (and His Son) were willing to pay that price. More than willing.

For us.

<>< Katie

(Journal entry dated 10-10-11. Posted in honor of National Adoption Month)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Why Not Today?

"You need a new phone."

I've been told that regularly for the last two years. They're right: I do need a new phone. When I started college the question was always, "Is that the new model?" Now that I've graduated, same phone in pocket, the question has become "When do you get an upgrade?"

They want me to make the leap into the twenty-first century and go from a dumb phone that only texts and calls to a smart phone that does everything except brush your teeth for you.

"With as much time as you spend on Facebook and Twitter, you're going to love it!"

That's what they all say. And they're probably right. I wish I could Tweet on the go, always had my email at my fingertips, and my text message inbox didn't remain at 98 percent full. The upgrade won't break my budget and the thirty dollars a month data plan is feasible.

Weeks of second-guessing and questioning led up to the moment when I signed the check. Knowing full well what I was doing, I handed it to Brent. He handed me a receipt.

Smile* was mine.

My check was not for thirty dollars. It was for thirty-eight. If I could feasibly pay thirty dollars a month just to have the internet with me wherever I went, how could I not spend thirty-eight dollars a month making sure a child had food?

For years I have been the primary letter writer for Maria, our family's sponsored child in Columbia. That means the misunderstanding about us having fourteen grandchildren... yeah, I'm culpable.

I knew someday I'd sponsor a child through Compassion. The question that ragged on my heart was: Why is that someday not today? I was out of excuses.

For a dollar and twenty-five cents a day, I can provide Smile with food. That's not even the cost of one cup of coffee. That's one small fries from McDonald's.

Let's be real: I don't have a lot of money. But I have enough. I'm not worrying about going hungry. Smile is.

Katie: God, why are you providing for me but not for Your children in third world countries? Is food not a necessity?
God: I am providing. Katie, I am providing you.

It's going to be a sacrifice. I want (borderline need) a new phone, but it's going to have to wait.

There's a little girl in El Salvador who needs an education. She needs medical care. She needs hope, esperanza. She needs to know someone cares. That someone is an unemployed hispanohablante in the US. That Someone is her Heavenly Father.

Why not today?
<>< Katie

*not her real name

PS: This is my story of how God led me to child sponsorship through Compassion. It might be reckless to commit to $38/month with no income. But I know the Lord and saw His hand in this decision long before I signed the check. I trust He will provide, and I've seen Him do so already. If that means I have to eat peanut butter and jelly for a week (I hate pbj) so Smile can eat rice and beans, so be it.

Friday, November 25, 2011


It's hard.

It's hard to be thankful when you don't know when your next paycheck is coming (or from where). It's hard to be thankful when your best friends are 900 miles away. It's hard to be thankful when your office is the most central location of your parents' home, when your internal clock has no idea what time of the year it is, or when you don't have any idea what your calendar will look like even a month from now. It's hard to be thankful; it's easy to host a pity party.

Every once in awhile, I let the tears roll. They're good. They're healthy. But once they come, they're hard to stop.

Like Job, I speak bluntly and harshly to the Lord. While it's nice to get those feelings out on paper, it doesn't usually solve much. (Did I just say that out loud?) I still don't know what's next. I'm still playing pin the tail on the donkey.

And still even here, I have a lot to be thankful for. Did I not wake up this morning breathing and refreshed? When I rolled over and put my feet on the floor, did they not stay there and hold my weight? (No peanut gallery comments, please). Was there not toothpaste in the tube, toilet paper on the roll, and soap in the dispenser? Is there food in the pantry and hot water in the shower? Do I have a jacket, shoes, and gasoline?

Have I not people who love and care about me? People who encourage me and pour into me? Scripture tucked away in my heart? Is the Lord not in this limbo, this barren desert, this hideous time in between?

Life is hard. Yet still there is so much to be thankful for even if they're the small, simple things we tend to take for granted. Even if it's the tears and the angry words. Even if it's the promise, "I will be with you always to the very end of the age" (See Matthew 28).

Even if nothing else goes correctly, that one reason alone is enough to bring thanksgiving to my lips again and again.

<>< Katie

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

More than a Day

Almost a month ago a switch flipped inside of me. In 0.4 seconds I went from enjoying and appreciating fall to ready to deck the halls. I threatened to make Trick or Treaters pretend they were Christmas carolers before I gave them candy.  (No wonder no one came to my house).

Of course, my passion and excitement for Christmastime has been met with resistance. Everyone wants Thanksgiving to have its day.

Hogwash, I say! Hogwash.

Thanksgiving is not a day, friends; it's a lifestyle!

Let thanksgiving have its day... today and every day!

Yes, I'm eating turkey, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie. Yes, I'm participating in the round-table discussion of what we're thankful for.

But it goes beyond today. Since the beginning of September I've been keeping a list of 1,000 things I am thankful for, inspired by Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts.  I just passed thing number 500.

Should I not be further?  Should I not be able to list 1,000 things each day for which I am thankful?  Every breath, every minute...
one thousand gifts app

Here are some highlights from my 1,000 gifts and counting.

I am thankful...
95. For working heat in my car.
100. For friends who are going to make sure I come out of limbo as a prayer warrior.
102. For Sunday lunch.
106. For hunger.
115. For the courage to blog about my struggles.
118. For Your appearance at rock bottom and the willingness to touch hearts of even the most broken people.
126. For the beautiful wet leaf on my sunroof.
149. For self-imported Chinese tea.
160. For warm wash cloths and the reminder You sent me through it.
188. For friends all across the country willing to let me stay with them.
190. For the reminder of what You've done and how You've been faithful.
205. For music videos that leave me with a "bowl full of tears."
208. That it somehow worked to have a queen mattress, king sheets, a twin comforter, and a full quilt.
225. For laughter so hard I can barely breathe.
236. For fifty hugs in eight hours.
245. For a busy schedule.
254. For the reminder that just because our circumstances aren't great doesn't mean You don't love us and we're not in Your will.
274. For peanut butter and chocolate covered pretzels.
280. For encouraging, not awkward, networking meetings.
291. For the ability to contact people around the world with the click of a button.
321. For the beautiful moment we shared during communion and the reminder that I am not worthy yet You grant me grace.
338. For Job who spoke harsh words to You long before I ever did.
342. For fast email responses. (And really email responses in general).
360. That the question is, "How much will I pay for gas?" Not "Will I find gas?" or "Can I afford gas?"
362. For esperar--hope, waiting
372. For a lifestyle of Thanksgiving rather than a day or a month.
387. For nearly-coffee-spewing laughter.
388. For the reminder that You want to fill my cup until it overflows (without cracks)
399. For memories so sweet.
427. For the hair dryer.
437. For Starbucks gift cards.
453. For the heart You've given me for missions and Your children worldwide.
460. For evenings of reading by the fire curled up in a blanket.
465. For the ability to proclaim, "If it's You, I'm in!" and both mean and believe it. To trust it.
474. For online ASL dictionaries.
488. For forgiveness when I sing happy birthday to the wrong person.

Monday, November 21, 2011

What Would You Write?

Write what you know.

That's what writers are always told. I'm not good at following that advice. I always seem to start writing stories that I have no authority to write, horrors I can barely imagine.

What do I know? I know what it's like to go to a college prep school. I know what it's like to live with seven other girls in a four-bedroom apartment. I know what it's like to attend fifteen concerts by the same artist.

What I know is boring, at least to me.

Who wants to read a fictional work based on the reality of being an unemployed recent grad? Not me, that's for sure.

But it got me thinking: if I were the author who got my fictional character into this mess, how would I get her out?

Would I turn one of her cold-calling strangers turn into a job offer? (In this economy?)

Would I send a knight in shining armor to whisk her away to marital bliss? (That sounds pleasant, cheesy, and unrealistic)

Would I have her blog discovered and novel picked up by Huge Name Publishing House and it become a best seller? (I'm just dreaming all possibilities here)

Would I send her to graduate school, the international mission field, or a homeless shelter?

Would I make her sulk and wait? Wonder and hope? Would I teach her about trust and obedience?

I am not the Author of this life. And I guess that's a good thing since none of these options seem good and viable at the moment.

I am the protagonist in this lifestory, trusting the Author's plan. Unlike me, He doesn't change His mind, He doesn't kill characters for plot excitement, and He definitely doesn't abandon half-finished stories. 

And that, my friends, brings me hope.

<>< Katie

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Cup

Something crunches beneath my tires as I parallel park outside of a Christian bookstore. Coming around to pay the meter, I see the crunching came from what used to be a coffee cup that is now smashed to smithereens. Clearly, I was not the first one to run it over.

"You alone hold my broken cup."

I can't help but smile at the irony of the moment. Over coffee a few days before, I had a conversation about (among other things) parking meters, Christian books, and cracked cups.

"You alone hold my broken cup. My heart's so dusty and dry."

Two days earlier I stood in the audience and listened to singer/songwriter Peder Eide talk about cracked cups.

We all have cups. God pours out love, affirmation, encouragement intending to fill our cup until it overflows. Yet fear, abandonment, rejection, etc. have cracked our cups. Some cracks are bigger than others yet still the goodness of God leaks out and the cup never overflows. This is not what God intended.

"I'll ache 'til You make me whole."

As an audience, we extended our hand-cups into the air, handing them to our Abba Father like a small child hands a broken object to a parent. Individually we identified a specific crack and asked Him to fix it.

"Abba, this belongs to You."

I had just spent the last hour closely examining the multiple cracks in my cup. The cracks that are causing fast leaks and those that are slower. The causes of the cracks and the repercussions of them. The need for the Lord to repair the cracks and fill my cup.

"Abba, this belongs to You. This belongs to You, Abba Father."

Mending takes time, especially when your cup has been run over... twice.  Especially when the cause of the cracks lead to multiple, "Oh, Honey"s.  Yet when you, when I, lift our broken cups before the Lord, He graciously repairs them and pours into them until they are overflowing.  He fills them until it's not the former cracks or even the cup itself that can be seen but rather His love pouring over the edges.

"I thirst for You, Jesus, fill me up!"

<>< Katie

Lyrics from "Make Me Whole" and "Abba, I Belong to You" by Peder Eide.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Quality Time

As my week back home in Baptist Country was drawing to a close, I pondered who I had gotten to see for a substantial amount of time and who I wanted to spend more time with.

The friends I am closest to, naturally, fit into the "I want more time!" category. But I began to wonder, how much more time did I want? If life and other obligations were no object, how much time would be sufficient with them?


I wanted to stay in their apartment forever.  I wanted to sit in their offices and chat days away.  I wanted to never ever leave again.

Of course, an infinite amount of time with my friends would be fun.

But I decided that's what kind of relationship I want with the Lord. I want to lock myself in the prayer room and never come out. I want to sit at His feet and never move. I want to rest on the chest of my Abba Father.


<>< Katie

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Ann Voskamp wrote this beautiful blog post entitled "When You Are in Desperate Need of Hope" contrasting an Ecuadorian girl named Lidia waiting for a sponsor through Compassion and the joy of finally getting one.  She wrote about being picked by hope.

Esperanza, she sprinkles in.  The word hope, coming from the verb esperar.

Esperar, the Spanish verb for to hope.

Esperar, the Spanish verb for to wait.

I remember learning esperar, struggling to spell it and struggling to remember both of its meanings.  They seemed like a weird combination.

Then "Esperanza" became the name belonging to the protagonist of my thesis. (The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros) Daily I wrote about Esperanza and her multicultural struggling. I know all about Esperanza's struggle with her name: too many letters, sadness, waiting.

Yet today, "esperar" is hope and, in it, waiting.

To hope for something means you're waiting for it. Nine years after first learning the word, the light bulb clicked.

I remember some of my current favorite verses:

"Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: the faithful love of the Lord never ends.  His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness. His mercies begin anew each morning. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my inheritance; therefore I will hope in Him!'" Lamentations 3:21-24 NLT

What if I took it upon myself to translate that word differently?  (If it makes you feel better, I looked it up in Hebrew: yachal, it also has the connotation of "waiting" that the word "hope" loses in English).

"Yet I still dare to WAIT when I remember this: the faithful love of the Lord never ends. His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness. His mercies begin anew each morning. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my inheritance; therefore I will WAIT in Him." Lamentations 3:21-24 (emphasis mine)

The same promise. A new spin.

Hopeful yet waiting.
Hopeful in His; waiting on (and in) Him.

That's what I want. Nothing else.

<>< Katie

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Reverse Trick or Treat

It was a few days after Halloween and I was driving across the country.

Sixteen hours. Alone.

I was constantly searching for cheap(er) gas, only stopping at fast food restaurants where I had coupons, and paying half of my life savings to the state of West Virginia in tolls.

I got cranky fast. At two dollars a pop, those tolls were adding up fast. It cost me more to drive through West Virginia than I spent on food, by the way. 

But then I got an idea.

At the next toll booth, I pleasantly greeted the man. What an awful job he has. I handed him a five dollar bill.  He gave me my change. I took it and extended my hand with a Baby Ruth in it.

"Happy Halloween," I said. He laughed. Not a chuckle, not a smirk, not a courteous "that was a joke attempt that wasn't really funny." No, a full-belly laugh.

The gate went up, I wished him a good day and drove off.  Maybe his day really was good. After all, he had a fun size Baby Ruth to munch on until the next driver came.

But my day was good. I had "miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep" but I also had his laughter bottled up in my memory.

All it took was a piece of candy and a smile. It didn't hurt me a bit.

I've heard it said it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile. The huge bag of Trick or Treat candy was sitting in my passenger seat just waiting, begging to be eaten (maybe that's why I spent so little on food). I don't even like Baby Ruth.  But from this guy's laugh, he does.

Make a difference today. It doesn't hurt much. Laughter overrides cranky.

<>< Katie

Friday, November 11, 2011

News from Brazil and Ecuador

Toddler. Emergency neurosurgery. Third world country.

Those six words make me shudder. This wasn't some heart-breaking story from a world away, this was Jenny's son Ethan. (You may know Jennifer Rogers Spinola as the author of Southern Fried Sushi... if you don't yet, you need to!)

As some of the aforementioned words in English and Portuguese started popping up on my facebook and blog dashboard, I tried to piece together what was happening and how I could best pray for the Spinola family. Jenny wrote this beautiful post detailing their terrifying experience.

Now, a week later, this popped up on my newsfeed: The CT scan was clear! Followed by another beautiful post about the power of our Creator!

Third world country. Compassion International.
Compassion Bloggers: Ecuador 2011
Those five words excite me!

Right NOW there's a team of Compassion Bloggers visiting Ecuador to see what the Lord is doing there through Compassion International. They're telling stories of hope in a poverty-striken town that will break your heart. They're making a photo dictionary of words like "kitchen" and "closet" in Ecuador. It's hard. It's right. It's good. Read it.

National Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMo... Those words make my brain hurt. I hit 17,000 words tonight. Several thousand of them were puked out in the last four hours or so. That and it's 1am. I'm going to bed, friends. Happy 11-11-11!

But don't forget to check out Jenny's blog and the Compassion bloggers! You won't regret it!

<>< K

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Where to Start?

"The first sentence is always the most difficult."

That's the post I saw on Twitter from my blogger-friend, Ashley.  Her statement is true: the first sentence is the most difficult to write. It's also the most important.

Katie: I never write it first.
Ashley: What do you write first? I tried the last chapter one time. Failed miserably.
Katie: Somewhere. Usually towards the beginning.

This conversation made me ponder my own writing habits and wonder about yours.  So, in the spirit of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo): where do you start when you're writing?

It doesn't necessarily have to be a novel.  It could be a blog post, a poem, or a song.  Where do you start?

Like I told Ashley, I start somewhere towards the beginning but not usually the first line.  The first line is probably the most important line of the novel (or post).  I've heard of people who collect first lines.  The first line is vital, so why start with something so important?

I start later. I have a temporary first line, write the brunt of the piece, and then adjust the first line to be the stunning opening line it should be.  I don't think I write good first lines (except in that one post from Philly last November; that was a killer first line, if I may say so).

I like backstory.  I like to set the scene.  I don't like to jump right in and make the reader try to tread water while he/she is figuring out how deep the lake is and who else is in it.  I write like I think sharks should come with big huge arrows in the sky pointing to them.  But, I have been told that the first line is an awful place for backstory.  What are your thoughts?

Ashley mentioned she tried starting at the end once.  That's what I have in my NaNoWriMo novel: the beginning (sans opening line) and the end.  Now I'm sitting here like a child on Christmas as my parents open their gifts from me and I'm telling them what it is before the paper is off.

I'll ask it again: where do you start?  And why?

I guess it doesn't matter much as long as you start somewhere.

Happy writing,
<>< Katie

Monday, November 7, 2011


I was a little frazzled as I headed towards the front of church for communion. Our self-guided section turned into a mob rather than a line. By the time we half-organized ourselves, I was ready for body, blood, seat.  That fast.

I stepped to the front, held my hands out for the wafer, and looked up into the face of our senior pastor.  Pastor Mike stopped and looked back at me.

"They're letting everybody in today!"  He teased.

It's a joke I've heard many times over the last few years, but it still catches me off-guard every time.  I chuckle but my first thought is always, "This is a church; we should be letting everybody in."

To be confronted with this joke at the communion table helped me remember that I am not worthy to even be let in the door much less invited to approach the table of grace or enjoy the sweet taste of forgiveness.  This isn't a weekly ritual we do even when the lines turn into mobs... it's a beautiful gift purchased by the ultimate sacrifice.

Pastor Mike placed the wafer in my hand.  "Body of our Lord," he said.

In my hands I clutched the tangible reminder of that gift, that forgiveness, that perfect love that I am not worthy of.  The body of Christ given for me.  The body of our Lord--Pastor Mike's and mine.  We may not always agree yet share a common goal: to serve and honor Him.  Along with Christians worldwide, we share hope, faith, and forgiveness through Christ.  He's our Lord.

"It's good to see you," he said, smacking me playfully in the arm.

I was out of town for the entire month of October.  He noticed.  Thousands of members and he noticed my absence.  Billions of people on earth yet when we haven't spent quality time with the Lord, He notices.  Billions of people on earth and when we sit at His feet, He's glad to see us.

I ate the bread, drank the wine, and got lost on my way back to my seat.  Both literally among the sea of people and pews but also figuratively in the beauty of that moment I shared with the Lord.

Thankful for grace,
<>< Katie

Friday, November 4, 2011

Who are the Poor?

For the last week I have been dog-sitting in a very nice neighborhood.  Day after day, I walk the dog down the freshy-swept street looking at the fancy homes, the manicured lawns, and expensive cars.  Part of me wonders if I could ever afford to live here.

Financially, it's a lofty goal for this unemployed recent grad. That's not what I meant.

I mean, could I afford to live here

when some live here?

Can I live here

having been here?

The Bible doesn't say "Don't live in a nice house"... but it does say "give everything you have to the poor."

But who are the poor?

Are the poor the children in a hogar in Guatemala who play with one-armed Barbies but have the joy of the Lord in their hearts and it shows on their faces?

Are the poor the people paying taxes on their 4,000 square-foot homes who are on the brink of divorce, have disrespectful children, and hire someone else to pick up their dog poop?

Part of me says, no way, I will never live in a classy neighborhood. (Especially based on those stereotypes). I've seen too much poverty to be comfortable in a large, neat home.

Perhaps that is true. For just me and the dog, this four-bedroom, three-bath home is way too big. But what if I had a husband and children?

Through trial and error, I have learned some aspects of third-world ministry. I have been to places where hand sanitizer and toilet paper are luxuries. The girls in the photo above aren't just children worlds away with stories that would break your heart. We know each others' names, they are my sisters, and they almost knocked me fifteen feet off that ledge ten seconds after that photo was taken when they tried to all see it simultaneously.

Yet, as I walk through this nice neighborhood and wonder about the people inside of the homes, I wonder about them and their lives. Do they know their neighbors? Do they realize there's more to life than fnancial success? Most importantly, do they know that God loves them?

How can I walk my dog down this street

knowing stray dogs roam down this street?

Easy. On both streets there are people that have never heard the name of Jesus.

How can I limit ministry to the without-money poor without including the without-Jesus poor?

Third world ministry may be teaching people how to brush their teeth, handing out bracelets, and fitting them with eye glasses. It can be loving them, making a fool of yourself, and living the gospel.

Is that not also what is the first world also needs? Love, humor, and (most importantly) Jesus.

First world ministry is greeting neighbors as you pass them on the street, hand-delivering a warm breakfast to the neighbor's housesitter and inviting her over for dinner, or cutting someone else's grass because they're having a busy week. It can be releasing a child from poverty through child sponsorship and telling others about your Fridge Kid. It's loving the way Christ commands us and living the gospel.

He is the God of this city

just as He is of this one.

Can I afford it?

How can I NOT?

The Great Commission commands us to GO and make disciples of ALL nations (Matthew 28:19, emphasis mine). I like to GO to another nation; it has become comfortable to me. But GO can also mean GO to the other side of the shurbery.

No matter where you live, GO and be the missionary you were called to be (Acts 1:8).

It starts with me.

<>< Katie

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wacky Wednesday

Author's Note: The following come from real conversations. They are the crazy, funny, or profound things heard in everyday, sober conversation or discovered in a book. If you ever hear a great/weird conversation, please feel free to send it to me. Who knows, it may be featured in a Wacky Wednesday! <>< Katie

Katie: I'm going to write that down for Wacky Wednesday.
Jennifer: No! You have to wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow is Wednesday.
Katie: No, no, no Wacky Wednesday is only the first Wednesday of the month.
Jennifer: Well, tomorrow is the first Wednesday of the month you've been with me!

Allyson: I don't know why "bewares" camed out.

Dad: Do you need any help with anything before I go to bed?
Uncle Bill: You could brush my teeth for me or take out my contacts. I'll just lay there.
Dad: I'm going to hurt you in the morning.

Katie: What's the weather like outside?
Elizabeth: It's like medium.

Mom: Ooooh! Do these stoplights tweet like the ones in Baptist Country? Oh, no, those are real birds.

Katie: You've got candy all over your face.
Amy: Your face is candy!

Alex: You have to assert your manhood.
Jennifer: I don't have any manhood to search.

Dad: Do you growl at them sometimes?
Laura: [Sheepishly] Yeah. [Proudly] I even bark at them sometimes!

Laura: The capital of Honduras is To-gucci-golf-ball.

"I don't think I'm a failure because I have had fears, and I certainly don't think that it is a requirement for Christians to forgo fear in order to be good followers of Christ. I believe fear is the natural response to the question satan whispered, and I find that every day I have to adjust my footing consciously to move toward Jesus." - Angie Smith, What Women Fear, 4

Sara: You [Katie] only have good ideas today. And on Wacky Wednesday.

Alex: Katie, what would you say are Jennifer's top three qualities?
Jennifer: You can't just limit it to three; I have so many. Humility is one of them.

[SC, 16, counting on her fingers]
Katie: Do you need me to take off my shoes?
SC: Huh?
SC: But why did she make it sound like an insult?

Girl, 13: There are no cows here, so--!

Amy: What is that?
Katie: It's a flower on the top of the mountain. It was my attempt at being artsy. Apparently I'm not as good as Allyson.
Amy: No, I like it. I was just... confused.

Boy, 11: You can stay here and you won't even have to fold laundry!

Jennifer: I like your ring. Who made it for you? [She had]
Katie: I don't know. Some stranger.
Jennifer: Stranger than who?
Katie: Allyson.
Allyson: What?

Allyson: Wait! Was this morning Wednesday?

"The world is not going to teach us how to love God; only God can do that." - Angie Smith, What Women Fear, 43

David: The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker.
Rebekah: That's what little girls are made of!

Jennifer: My right foot writes well.

Carson: I don't really understand why girls like making their heads look like horse butts.
Girls: What?!
Carson: Ponytails. Where is a pony's tail? The butt.

Mother: We could cage him [the dog].
Son: We could cage Brother.

Rebekah: Like you licking Nikki?
Katie: NO!!
Rebekah: Sorry, Nikki licking you?

Mark: You [Katie] take the left over brownies. They'll look better on you than they will one me.

Katie: Ok, I'm going to leave it blank.
Alex: Go to the bank.
Jennifer: Why are you going to the bank?! It's 11pm. They're closed.

Katie: I have helicopter parents: they hover but they don't choke.

Allyson: I don't think we were acting too strange.
Katie: We were pretty normal for us but strange for most people.
Allyson [light bulb]: That was it!

Nikki: MW did it, and if he can do it then so can I, maybe even teach at a better university.
Katie: Woah, woah, woah! First, did you just compare yourself to All Star English Major MW? Second, did you just dis our alma mater?

"Faith for my deliverance is not faith in God. Faith means, whether I am visibly delivered or not, I will stick to my belief that God is love. There are some things only learned from a fiery furnace." - Oswald Chambers in Run Today's Race

Allyson: Are you going to get your haircut?
Jennifer: I don't know where.
Allyson: Tah-tay-tow?

Neal: Are you blogging?
Katie: Are you making fun of me?
Neal: I don't make fun of people.
Katie: Neither do I.
Neal: You're not sarcastic either.

Sarah: He's not Slut Bucket; he's Garret the Ferret.
Rebekah: He's not a rodent!
Sarah: He's more of a rodent than a slut.
Garret: Hey, now!

Allyson: Katie's just so cool. She has good body language, too, and her thinking is so... inter... intermaculate. It's real cool. And, Katie, I like her walk.

"We don't just want to get them out of the dumpsite; we want to get the dumpsite out of their hearts." - Tania Meza

Monday, October 31, 2011

Luch With Christ

My phone alarm rang: luch with Christ.

Yeah, that was really supposed to read "Lunch with Christa." Someone must have been in a hurry.

Yet that someone can't help but laugh at the irony. "Luchar" is a Spanish verb which means "to fight." While "Luch" isn't actually a word, it's similar enough.

Fight with Christ: 12:10.

As much as I hate to admit it, I fight with Christ.  And it's more than just at 12:10.

<>< Katie
In other news, Happy Reformation Day!

And Happy Deep-Breath Day... NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow and I'm participating for the first time. The idea is that you write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. So, I apologize if I'm more sparse on your dashboard, but "every word on your blog is one less word in your novel" (I forget who said that, but it wasn't me).

Also, I'm thinking about making some changes on my blog in the future, and I would love to hear your feedback.  What do you want to see more of?  Less of?  What haven't I done that you'd like to see?  What do you never want to see again?  You can post your feedback in the comments or email me at KatieAxelson[at]gmail[dot]com.  I promise, I won't hate you for being honest (at least not forever).

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Right now I'm participating in an online bookclub through Bloom (in)courage and we're reading What Women Fear by Angie Smith.

I've been reading the chapter in the book, watching the corresponding video, and participating in discussion. Yesterday was Chapter 7: Fear of Not Being Significant.

In the video, co-host Jessica Turner told a story she heard from a woman named Roseann.

Roseann's mentor, Miss Helen, had passed away and in visiting the gravesite, Roseann noticed her grave stone had cracked and there wasn't even a place to put flowers. Of course, she demanded the gravestone be fixed. As for the flowers, she realized that Miss Helen loved the Lord and she now has flowers all over the world.

I have recently started collecting/ taking photos of flowers around the world and sticking scripture on them with the intent to hang them in my bathroom (when I have a bathroom). I thought it was a cool idea to be reminded of God's truths but also of His people around the world.

But now it has become more than that. I want to love the Lord to the point where it shows no matter where I go. I want to leave a glimpse of the Father in myself as flowers around the world. As I collect international flowers, I also want to leave flowers for the Lord.

<>< Katie

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Anyone Can Cook

I had everything for a sandwich out on the counter when I decided I wasn't in the mood for salami. I decided to prove to myself (and the world) that I can cook!

"Anyone can cook," as Gusteau in Ratatouille says.

I have never met Gusteau, as evidenced by his statement that anyone can cook. I think I fall in the category Remy argues, "Anyone can cook but that doesn't mean anyone should!"

I decided on a very basic meal and assembled my ingredients. I was in luck! We had everything.

So I began, step by step to assemble my--never mind, I'm not telling you what I didn't actually make.

It's not that I didn't want lunch. It's not that I didn't how to make lunch. It's not that I couldn't make lunch. No, it was the thoughts and questions rolling around in the back of my head.

How do I know when it's done? When it looks like you'll eat it. But what if it isn't done all of the way? What if I get food poisoning and die? It's not working. This isn't what it's supposed to look like. I did something wrong. This isn't safe.

So I changed what I was making. Bonus points for thinking on my feet, right? Yet the questions and doubts continued.

This doesn't look right. Will I smell it if it starts burning? What if I burn the house down? Where is the fire extinguisher? Is it supposed to do that? I don't think this is right. I'm not eating this.

I gave up. I turned off the stove, poured my epic fail into a garbage bag, and took it out to the street. Salami sandwich it would be.

You better learn to like P, B, and J because that's what you'll be eating for the rest of your life. Your kids will be the one with the mom who can't cook. You better make a lot of money so you can afford to eat out regularly because PBJ and frozen lasagnas are going to get old fast. Gusteau lied.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to smack something in frustration or cry in embarrassment. Maybe both.

The kitchen was littered with the dishes from my lunch fail and I sat at the table pouting, salami sandwich on my plate.

Not in the mood, God.
Why are you listening to the enemies lies?
You mean the truths?
They're lies. You can cook.
Do you not smell that? Were you not watching me make a mess?
You are a mess. But a beautiful mess. Do you want to know what you did wrong?
I know what I did wrong: I tried to cook.
You didn't wait. Everything you did--except switching "recipes" in the middle--was correct. But you didn't wait. Cooking takes time. Learning to cook takes time.
If You're going to tell me it's like fishing, I don't want to hear it. Not a fisherman, fisherwoman nor a fisher-of-women. Sorry.
Why are you swallowing the lies? Toss them out like you did that half-cooked meal. Be done with them. All of them.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Real Person

Eight twenty-somethings sat squished around a card table. It has become a Monday night tradition.

Although I sit among them with minimal elbow space, I feel far away. Six of them are in graduate school together taking the conversation to a level where I spend more time trying to find the verb in the sentence than actually comprehending it. The other two have jobs. Real jobs, careers. They make money, own homes, and cook real meals.

There I am. Lost among friends. It's not their fault. Does that mean it's my fault?

My fault I didn't get into grad school? My fault I don't have a job? My fault I'm stuck in limbo? My fault that sometimes I wear work clothes just so I can feel like a real person?

Even putting those words on paper... er... the screen seems ridiculous. But it's very real. Real enough to bring tears to my eyes... again.

Let's just be real: job searching sucks. (Although, I have a new appreciation for rejection letter because it means the company loves you enough to tell you they don't want you rather than just letting you guess).

People always ask me what I'm called to do, if I feel led to a certain job or company, etc. What the heck does that even mean?

I am called to do the same thing every one else is called to do: to love and serve the Lord wherever He puts us.

For six of my Monday dinner buddies that means serving Him through divinity school. For the other two, it means honoring Him in their respective careers.

For me, it means trusting in the unknown. It means looking hopefully towards the future (whatever that is) but also finding a way to enjoy today. It means adding "free Monday dinner and enjoyable socialization time" to my list of 1,000 gifts.  It means knowing this time in between isn't a wasteland. It means trusting that I haven't been deserted in this desert.

It means sometimes I get to write mopey posts because, in order to be a real person, I need to be real about my struggles and fears. I don't have it all together. I don't know what I'm going to be if I grow up. I don't know what tomorrow looks like.

But I do know One who will accompany me tomorrow.

Because He is faithful.

"Yet still I dare to hope when I remember this: the faithful love of the Lord never ends. His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness. His mercies begin a new each morning. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my inheritence' therefore I will hope in Him." Lamentations 3:21-24

Keeping it real,
<>< Katie