Monday, May 30, 2011

Show Don't Tell

Writers hear it all the time.

"Show don't tell."

Show your character is mad with his words and actions, don't just tell the readers he's mad.

But this advice does not only apply to writers.

"Show don't tell."

Show someone you love her with your actions, don't just tell her with your words.
Show someone you're praying for him by praying over him right there, don't just say you'll do it.

"Show don't tell."

Try it.

<>< Katie

Friday, May 27, 2011

Being Christ-Like

What does it mean to be Christ-like?

To be born of a virgin, get lost in the temple, answer questions with questions, cast out demons, and be perfect.

Well, yes.  But also no.

Being Christ-like also mean being rejected by even your family, choosing close friends from unlikely places, doing the dirty jobs, and being obedient to death.

To say you want to be Christ-like doesn't mean you want to be perfect.  It means you're willing to suffer.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

God's Character

Last night I dreamed I got an email from my friend Whitney. She was leaving her job and looking for a new one. The email that I had to read twice described in detail her ideal job and asked if I had any suggestions for where she should start looking. Right, ask the unemployed for a job idea. Good call.

First thing when I woke up this morning was reach for my phone. I needed to hear again why Whitney was leaving her job after only a year and a half. As I typed out the text message, I replayed the dream in my head.

Something wasn't adding up:
- The email. Whitney and I rarely email. We prefer facebook, text messages, and Skype.

- The job. While the transition into this job has been a struggle, Whitney regularly tells me how it's a blessing, a prayed-for job.

- The idea job. What she described is essentially where she is.

I never sent her the text. I knew she wasn't leaving her job. Why? Because I know Whitney. I know how much Whitney loves her job, enjoys what she does, and sees God work in it. Knowing Whitney's character helped me differentiate between what was a dream and what was reality.

Just like I know Whitney, I want to know God. I want to know His character so well that in musing and praying over something, I can tell whether it was from Him or the enemy. I want to be aware of whether what is happening is consistent with the God I see in the Bible, the God I experience on the daily basis, and the God I know to be real.

If it's not, stop! Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars.
If it is, proceed, pursuing His will. Always.

<>< Katie

PS: Just because Whitney and I don't usually converse via email doesn't mean we can't. Just because God doesn't usually get your attention through a medium as crazy as He and I often use doesn't mean He can't or won't.

Monday, May 23, 2011


It's that time of year again when thunderstorms stretch all of the way across the country.

We had a great one the other night!  The sky would not just illuminate so it looked like daytime but it would light up with sometimes three or four distinct lightning bolts.

Even though I was driving, every time this would happen, I would squeal with joy.  "Did you see that one?!"  It drove my sister nuts.

Sitting next to me in the passenger seat she was less than thrilled to be out in a storm.  Before even getting in the car, she repeatedly told me to drive safely.  She asked several people to text her if our Tornado Watch turned into a Tornado Warning.  She was counting down the minutes until we made it home safely and praying the storm would pass quickly.

I too was excited to get home. I wanted to sit by our Palladian window and watch the lightning.  She wanted to sit in the basement away from all windows.

Two reactions to the same thunderstorm.  Likewise, there can be two reactions to the same life storm.

The reaction of Christina: praying it passes quickly, closing your eyes and hoping for a safe delivery to the other side, and wincing when the lights flickers.

The reaction of her older, wiser sister: enjoying the journey, getting a thrill from the unknown, and hoping the power goes out so the views are undistributed.

God, let me enjoy life storms as much as I enjoyed that thunderstorm.  May I not just pray for it's quick passing but may I see Your peace amidst and through the storm.  May I rejoice in every trial, see Your hand in every situation, and delight in the journey rather than waiting for the final result.  If that's what it takes to praise You, bring the storm!

It makes me think of the MercyMe song "Bring the Rain"
Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain
What about you?  Do you prefer the stormy parts of life or the peaceful?  Can you dance in the rain or do you ask for smooth sailing?

Learning to enjoy the storms of life,
<>< Katie

Friday, May 20, 2011

Guest Post

Hey, guys, I made my first guest blogger appearance today at Jamee's A New Kind of Normal.

Make sure to check out the post on God's faithfulness!


<>< Katie

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Running with Perseverance

I am not a runner.  I don't even play one on tv.

I don't know a lot about running other than I don't like to do it.

When I first heard about a marathon that was mis-marked to where runners ran an extra 800 feet, my first thought was, "When you're already running twenty-six miles, what is an extra eight hundred feet?"

The friend telling me about this incident went on to explain that this particular marathon was used for runners to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  I do know enough about running to know the Boston Marathon is a big deal.  With the added 800 feet, race times were wrong.

The runner I heard about was over a one minute too slow for the Boston.  With the adjusted time, she was still fifteen seconds too slow.

Even though I am not a runner, I wonder what she was feeling as she finished that race.  Did she see that she was over her BQ time and run just to finish the race rather than run with everything she had?  A minute is a lot of extra time.  Fifteen seconds, not so much.  Did she have just a little bit more adrenaline she could have used to chop those fifteen seconds off of her time if she had known she was that close?

I think this is something like what the Hebrews writer is talking about when he instructs people to run the race with perseverance.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2 (emphasis mine)

Maybe he's not writing about an actual race, but he is writing about not giving up.

Run with perseverance; finish strong to the end.  Don't run the race of life just to get it over with, run as if this race is Boston Marathon qualifying.  Don't hold back.

The race marked out for us.  Some runners in this mis-marked race noticed weird times and varying watch GPS readings.  But they didn't cut corners.  They made their concerns known but ran the race marked for them.  Express your concerns to God but also continue knowing He has heard them and is taking care of them.

"Run with perseverence the race marked out for us."
Students, this means working hard all the way through final exams.

Employees, this means not spending your last hour of work watching YouTube videos and then zipping out early.

Unemployed college graduates, this means holding to your faith in this awkward time in between.

Don't make the mistake of thinking God has already closed a door.  He has the power to reopen them as He desires.

Maybe I'm just preaching to myself...

<>< Katie

Monday, May 16, 2011

Perfect Timing

As my days on campus are winding down, I'm using every minute of them to be with friends.  (As I'm sure you noticed with my lack of participation in social media outlets).

Our Suite Day ended earlier than anticipated, so I texted Stacy and asked if she wanted to play tennis.  I had about a little over an hour before I needed to be ready for dinner.

She said sure, so we headed to the courts.

There was a storm brewing on the horizon, and we had the perfect spot to watch it roll in.  Based on how often Stacy glanced up at the sky, I could tell she was nervous about this impending storm.

I'm from the Midwest.  I figured we would play until the wind picked up, it started raining, or we saw lightning.

The darker the sky got, the more often we glanced towards it.  In the distance, we could see the rain coming down.  Stacy asked me if I was a daredevil.  I'm not, but I do love watching storms roll in.

We hurried to get stray balls, wasted no time before a serve, and hit as frequently as we could.

Finally Stacy said it would have to be the last rally.

No rain, no wind, no lightning.

I disagreed but complied.  I knew she was more concerned for my safety than her own.  I knew that if something happened to me, she'd somehow contort it to where she, as the adult, was responsible.

In the two minutes it takes to drive back to my apartment, the wind picked up tremendously.  As we entered the breezeway of my building, the first few rain drops fell.

We got back quite literally at the perfect time.

If it hadn't been for Stacy having my best interests at heart, I would have kept playing.  I would have gotten wet.  I would have blown away.  I would have gotten struck by lightning.

If it weren't for God having my best interests at heart, I would not be where I am.  I would keep playing, I would blow away, I would get hurt.

Sometimes obedience is hard.  Ok, a lot of times obedience is hard.  We'd rather risk it and wait the impending storm.

But I fully believe that God has our best interests at heart.  If it is His will, He'll protect us from danger, even if He waits until the last moment to do it.

Even though we may not agree, the best thing we can do is comply to His will.

<>< Katie

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Stump the Pastor

During Confirmation class we used to play this game called Stump the Pastor.  The object of the game was for a confirmand to ask the pastor a question he was incapable of answering.

Among other things, we learned that our pastors know their stuff!  We also learned they're good at being put on the spot.

During games of Stump the Pastor I don't remember ever seeing a pastor be truly stumped.  On a related question, of course.  No fair asking how many ridges are on the side of a quarter.

However, since that instance, I have seen two pastors stumped.

I thought it was a simple question.  Nothing about eschatology or an Old Testament prophet.  Nothing that requires an M. Div. or a D. Min.  It's a question I'm asked regularly and usually I come up with a suitable answer.  The same question has stumpt two different ministers.

The question, you ask?

How can I pray for you?

Pastors spend so much time being the prayer warriors and encouragers, that sometimes they don't know how to respond when asked how how others can pray for them.

Take a minute today and pray for your pastor, divinity school student, or spiritual leader.  Ask them how you can best pray for them.  Encourage them; tell them you appreciate them.  It's such a simple task that's all too often forgotten.

Friends, how can I pray for you?

<>< Katie

PS: Blogger killed this post, so I re-wrote it to the best of my ability... Sorry if it reads differently then it once did.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Yet I still dare to HOPE

Well, the semester is winding down and the to-do list is still long.  I have things to say but no time to process them into a way that is coherent.  My apologies.  All of my coherent thoughts are going towards my thesis which is one page at a time progressing into something worth turning in.  With that said, here's a scripture I've been reading and rereading a lot lately.

"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

I hope all is well with you, cyber friends. 
I'll have a longer, more coherent post for you on Wednesday or Thursday.

Please let me know how I can best pray for you!
<>< Katie

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bug Bites

"Let's bless the food," Neal said.

"Daddy, will you pray for my bug bites to stop hurting?" asked his five year old daughter.

He nodded and blessed our food, making no mention of her bug bites.

A few hours later, our mission team was sharing about what God has done in our lives since we've returned from Nicaragua.  She raised her hand and again asked that he pray for her bug bites.

Neal kindly put his finger over his mouth signaling for her to be quiet.

Five year olds aren't very good at being quiet.  She tried.  She cuddled with a college student.  She sat in her mother's lap.  She again asked that we pray for her bug bites.

I could not help but admire her persistence.  And her faith! She knew her bug bites were itchy and rather than begging her mom for anti-itch cream, she begged her dad for prayer.

I know all too often we prefer prayer to be the last result.  We don't want to go to God with requests we think too minute to bother an Eternal God with.

First Thessalonians tells us to pray without ceasing.  I'm pretty sure that doesn't mean "only pray after you've tried to fix the problem yourself."  I'm pretty sure that doesn't mean "only pray about important things."  I'm pretty sure pray without ceasing means pray always, always present your requests and concerns to God, hold constant conversation with Him.

Before the night was out, we did pray for her bug bites.  And God didn't think her request petty.

<>< Katie

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wacky Wednesday

Christian: The most difficult times are often the most sacred not because of the difficulty we face but because difficulties allow us to more boldly cling to the most sacred thing of all: the hope in Jesus Christ who died, rose, and lives and reigns forever.

Sara: I got disowned by David last night because I haven't seen Star Wars.
Katie: I haven't seen it either.
Sara: David! Katie Ax hasn't seen Star Wars either!
David: But I'm not dating Katie Ax.
Katie: Thank goodness!

Mom: Katie, I wish we had gone to Ruby Tuesday's so you could meet the bartender.  He's really friendly.

E [age 10]: School's hard.  I have lots of homework.
Katie: It's because you're getting closer to The G-word.
E: I want to graduate.  Why don't you want to graduate?
Katie: Well... uh.... It's scary.
E: Is it because you're getting old?
Katie: Yes!  Like your dad! [Neal]

Mom: Do you want sugar in your coffee?
Grandma: Yes, please.
Mom: White or brown?
Grandma: Brown.
Mom: Brown sugar.
Grandma: Oh, no.  White.  I thought you were talking about coffee.
[What's white coffee?]

Katie [running my hand down a photo]: I want to be here.
Jennifer: You are here!
Katie: I mean, in this photo.

Josh: The mark I made on you is still there.  It's like I bought you.
Emily: It's because I don't bathe.

Katie: I really hope that like four years from now when we're not roommates anymore facebook still exists so we can go view our friendship and see these crazy conversations we had with each other from across the room.
Jennifer: We're not going to be friends anymore?
Katie: I said roommates.
Jennifer: Awe, man!  I was getting excited!

John: Even when you get married and have kids.  Not in that order.  Wait.  Yes.  In that order.

Elizabeth: Katie, do you have any stamps?
Katie: Yes.
Elizabeth: And after I use your stamp can I use your mailing service?
Katie: Yes.
[I hand her a roll of stamps.  She looks at them pensively]
Elizabeth: Do I just put one?
Katie: No, you put them all.
Jennifer: You forgot to lick it!

Saxon: Everyone has some singing fish in their closet.

Maegan: Is it Coach K or Coach K-A-Y?  You know, the coach for UNC.
Friend: OH MY GOSH!  He's the coach for Duke!  I disown you!  Don't talk to me for a few hours!

Katie: Cat. Puking. On. Table.

Sara: Why do we say "as"?  There's no z.  I mean, I know the alternative, but why?
David: I think it's an American thing.  My parents don't enunciate the "s" like most people do.
Katie: So it sounds like your parents are swearing at you every time they say "ass"?
David: Wacky Wednesday!

Jennifer: My Bible's really dusty.  That's never a good sign.  But it's because I've been reading my little one.

Katie: I have five pounds of Nicaraguan coffee.
Grandma: Five pounds of McDonalds coffee?

Ashley: For our skit we could sing "A Whole New World" and act out The Little Mermaid in the background.

Katie: Why are there Wheat Thins in our fridge again?
Amy: Apparently Andy's been hanging out with Allyson.
Andy: I didn't do it!  Oh, yeah, I did.  Oops.

Emily: When I'm a doctor I'm only going to treat strep throat and ear infections.
Josh: Good choice, refer out that nasty flu.

Jennifer: Never mind.  Don't worry about it.  I don't understand myself half of the time.
Katie: Good because neither do the rest of us.

Mom: And we'll make Laura's room the bunk room.
Katie: Sure, put my husband and me next to all of the screaming kids.
Mom: Yeah, why not?  Most of them will be yours anyway.

Dr. T: Good thing you didn't get into grad school otherwise we'd have nothing to talk about over lunch.
Katie: I know, we'd have to stare at each other awkwardly.

Katie: I'm getting sick, Jennifer.
Jennifer: Life goes on.

Amy: Pop quiz: what's a noun?
Jennifer: A person, place, or thing.
Amy: What is a pronoun?
Jennifer: Rock, mineral, or vegetable?
Amy: When do you use a comma?
Jennifer: To separate pauses.
Amy: No, clauses.  Nikki, what's eight times eight.
Nikki: Sixzzzzhhhhzzzhhhhugh grunt.
Katie: Sixty-Four.
Nikki: It is sixty-four!  I knew it was sixty-four!

Mom: You speak lots of tongues, shut up.
Katie: I don't remember "shut up" in the Bible.

[Getting in the car]
Jennifer: Elizabeth!  Sit next to me!
Andy: Nikki! Sit next to me!
Katie: No one wants me to sit by them.
Andy: Katie, you can walk.
Elizabeth: Andy!
Andy: --walk over here and hug me while I hold this door open for you.

B [age 5]: Let's get him!
College Girls: With that?
B: Weapons!
CG: What kind of weapons?
B: Fake weapons!

Bob Lenz: Worship is not supposed to be our service.  Service is supposed to be our worship.

Monday, May 2, 2011

God Could Vanish the Storm

As I'm sure you've seen on the news, Baptist Country has been pelted with storms over the last few weeks.

It seems every other day I see a facebook update from my sister (ten hours from here) that they're in the bathroom for another tornado warning.

Last week we were supposed to get really bad storms during the wee morning hours.  Unlike at my sister's college, my school doesn't have a good tornado plan.  That made me nervous.

I was checking the doppler to see what we should be expecting over night.  The storm covered the whole map.  It was more colorful than a sunset.  Yellow, red, green...

When I hit "play" to watch the storms roll over the bed where I wanted to be catching some zzzzz, something went wrong.  The entire storm vanished, leaving just the map.  The map was perfectly clear.

"I could do that, you know," God whispered in my ear.

I thought about it for about and realized how cool it would be if God did make the storm disappear.  He's done it before.

Later in the evening, I went out on the porch for some quiet time with God before I went to bed.  It was beautiful!  The pre-storm weather where the sky's getting dark and the wind is picking up, but there's no real storm yet.

When I came back later, Allyson and Nikki had two videos for me to watch.

Nikki's video was a terrifying video of one of the 150 tornadoes from the same storm.

Allyson's video was an updated doppler.  The green band of storms headed for our town had stopped moving.  The bands following it broke apart and dodged our town.  The first band disintegrated.  Nothing was going to hit us.

God had vanished our storm!

We got the beautiful pre-storm weather but no actual storm.  Sometimes I wish life were like that.  I'd be willing to take this beautiful pre-storm weather that is no real post-graduation plans as long as I knew that the actual storm of planlessness would vanish and a plan would appear. 

He could do that, you know.

And maybe He will.  But still I'm fretting.

I've seen God's faithfulness in the midst of storms.  Literal weather storms and figurative life storms.  Why am I having such a hard time trusting Him amidst this pre-storm chaos of a plan-less post graduation?

<>< Katie

PS: For some reason I do not understand, God decided against vanishing the storms elsewhere in the country.  Friends, our brothers and sisters are hurting.  Their worlds have, quite literally, been turned upside down.  There are organizations such as Samaritan's Purse on the ground helping to pick up the pieces; if you are able, please offer your help as well.  If you are not able, definitely be in prayer!