Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Hello, friends!  If all is going as planned, I am on a plane bound for China by the time you're reading this.

My friend Amber and I have had an amazing opportunity open up to us to serve the Lord in China.  We've been able to see His hand in all of the planning steps along the way.

We would be honored and humbled if you would join us in praying for us for the next three weeks while we teach English and encourage Chinese Christians.

You're also welcome to join us via our blog at

Since our computer time will be very limited (if we have any access at all), most of my time will be spent updating that blog rather than this one.  So don't panic if I don't appear on your dashboard for three weeks.  I will do everything my power to return safely and share with you all of the wonderful ways we saw God work.

Thanks, friends,
<>< Katie

Monday, July 18, 2011

Have You Eaten?

In preparing for my upcoming trip to China, I met with a teacher from my high school to learn more about the culture.  He also taught me some helpful phrases (here's to not speaking Spanish to Chinese people!).

We started at the beginning:
ni how

Then he said there's another phrase I'll hear more often:
ni chi le ma
Have you eaten?

He said it's not really a question of whether or not you've eaten.  It used to be back when there was a famine in China.  But now it has become more of a greeting.

"Like here asking 'How are you?'  No one cares; it's not any of my business if you've eaten or not," he said.

America, when we ask "How are you?" Do we really care?

More often than not, the answer is no.

I heard a story once about professor and a student walking opposite ways down the hallway.  The professor greeted the student and asked how he was.  The student answered, and they both continued to walk towards each other.  In that moment of awkwardness, again the professor asked, "How are you?"  Again the student answered before they finally passed and went on their way.

That professor didn't care how the student was doing; he just wanted something to say.

I'm guilty of it, too.  People ask how I am and I say "Good" before I even think about the question.  In being more conscious of this, I have started to say, "No, that's a lie.  I'm ok."

Of course, you can't spill your soul to everyone you meet, but it is vital to have at least one someone to whom you can say, "I'm not ok and this is why."

Take it from someone who doesn't have constant access to that kind of friend anymore... it's not easy being alone. 

Because we're not intended to be alone!

"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. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
Hebrews 12:1-3 (emphasis mine)

Let's re-claim "How are you?" and only ask if when you mean it.

But it's hard.

For me, when I really mean it, I'm trying to train myself to ask, "Are you having a good day?" 

What about you?  Do you have any tips?

Wo chi le
I've eaten
<>< Katie

PS: It is grammatically correct to answer "Good" OR "Well" to "How are you?"  However, it would be incorrect to answer "Good" to "How are you doing" unless you are actually doing good... and serving in a soup kitchen, working on a mission trip, loving the Lord's people...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fear of Rejection

I've always struggled with fear of rejection.  Part of it comes from eight long years of middle and high school feeling like an outcast.

But overcoming the fear of rejection is more than having a place saved for you at the lunch table.  More than hearing the words, "Katie, we'd love for you to live in our apartment."  More than, "Will you go to the dance with me?"

It also involves a graduate school saying, "We see potential in her and want to grow her."  It's an employer saying, "We want her on our team!"  It's someone, anyone, saying "I believe in you."

Fear of rejection is still very real in my life, even if my name is shouted joyously when I enter the caf.  It still has a bigger hold than I'd care to admit, a bigger hold than I thought it did six months ago.

But in Christ I've found someone who says, "I believe in you."  I've found acceptance.  And it comes from the Creator of the Universe.  What more can one want?

Maybe I don't know what comes after China, but I am slowly learning to say, "It's going to be alright."  And do you know why?

Because God IS good.  ALL the time.

Even when it's hard to believe.  Even when you get seven rejections in five months.  Even when the world says, "She's not good enough."  Even when you're alone at the lunch table.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Run in the Park

My family and I used to go to Lifest for the bands.  Hours were spent circling artist names in the program and making a strategic plan of where we needed to be and when.  Unfortunately for me, long gone are the years when I spent five days running from stage to stage, from mosh pit to lawn chair, from merch table to meet and greet line.

This past opening night of Lifest we got caught in the madness where the one-lane road through the park became a parking lot.  The only show I wanted to see all evening was to start in four minutes.  So still in the holding pattern at the park's entrance, I abandoned my family and our minivan.  I began to walk with a purpose towards a party with a purpose.  It took me fifteen minutes to walk from the park entrance to the fairgrounds entrance (in case you ever need to know).

Fifteen minutes is long time to repeatedly glance at your watch and realize you're missing the only show you wanted to see that day.  It's also a long time to question if you're approaching with the right heart.

Even if I miss my show, will tonight still be worth it?  Am I willing to hear from the Lord through a speaker I've never heard of, a band whose CD I have never purchased?  Am I here for an artist, a speaker, or am I here for the Lord?

Valid questions to take my mind off of the ticking minutes.

A fifteen minute jog through the park, thirteen minutes in line to exchange my ticket for a wristband, and I finally made it to the Grandstand as Peder Eide was wrapping up "Yes, Lord" and beginning a new song, "We are Not Orphans."  A new, new song.  So new the CD it's on won't be released until July 15th.  Peder has personally told me about this song twice, but I've been waiting a year to hear it.

A year.  No embellishing.

I thought I was late.  Twenty-three minutes late, to be exact.  Twenty-three minutes late to a forty minute show.

I wasn't.  I was right on time.  Sure, I missed the first twenty-three minutes that I would have thoroughly enjoyed, but I was right on time to hear the song I had been anxiously awaiting.

It was a beautiful moment.

"I haven't forgotten.  Welcome to Lifest.  We've been waiting for you," the Lord whispered to me.

It might have taken twenty-three minutes of anxiety, but once again I could honestly proclaim, "God, I'm all in.  I'm here for You.  Not the artists, not the speakers, not the expo center, not the camaraderie.  I'm here for YOU!

What a wonderful feeling that is!

When's the last time you spent fifteen minutes running through a (figurative) park adjusting the focus of your heart?  When's the last time you let your Abba Father sing over you and remind you of His goodness?  He's waiting.

"For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs."
Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

Monday, July 11, 2011

Skype Date

At Lifest on Saturday two lives where forever changed in one slightly uncomfortable moment.

Peder Eide, the host of the grandstand, held the packet of a Compassion child above his head and said, "Lifest, I've never done this before.  But this is Maria from Honduras and we need a sponsor for her right now.  Who wants to sponsor Maria?"

There we all were, listening for the pull of the Holy Spirit, wondering who was going to step up.  A woman from the sea of lawn chairs answered the call.

Peder invited her on stage and asked her why she chose to sponsor that child.  A brand new Compassion sponsor, you could tell she was a little overwhelmed.

"How would you like to meet Maria?" Peder asked.

She didn't know what to say.

He invited her out to a computer that was set up to Skype Maria.

Their conversation was short yet powerful. 

I cried watching Lifest Skype Honduras.

It made me homesick... for Central America.  For Spanish.  For kissing people on the cheek.  For trying to understand the difference between mango and manga.  For worshipping our God, our same God, in another country, another language, and another way and realizing He understands and is comfortable with all of it.

I can't buy a plane ticket to Nicaragua.  I can't Skype my family in Costa Rica.  I can't play with my kids in Guatemala.

But I can write a letter to Maria, my family's Compassion child in Columbia.  I can facebook my brothers and sisters in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Guatemala.  I can pray for believers in Central America and around the world.  I can look forward to and prepare for my upcoming trip to China with an unquenchable excitement.

What are you going to do?

Do you sponsor a Compassion child?  If so, send your child a letter.  If not, why not? 

Sure, most people don't get to Skype their sponsored child.  My roommate Jennifer got to meet her sponsored child in the Philippines, but that's not a reality for most of us.  Yet through letters and photos, your sponsored child becomes part of your family.  You get to share the hope of Christ and one day you will meet your sponsored child... just not on this earth.

Think about it.  Pray about it.  Try it.

Excuse me now, my sister Maria is overdue for a letter.

Dios les bendiga, amigos,
<>< Katie

Friday, July 8, 2011

Perfectionist Pen

This year I was asked to help with the rewriting and tweaking of the narrations for our church's patriotic musical.

I listened to the songs on repeat, reading the music and listening.  I puked out thoughts and words before prayerfully putting them into complete, logical sentences.

I let them sit for a few days before rereading them and sending them off to the director.  He thought they were great, so I pushed them from my mind.

I still wasn't pleased.  At the performance, I heard the start of a phrase and my first thought was, "I hope that wasn't my sentence."  It was.  The longer the narration went, the more upset I became.

Katie: Why didn't I read over that once more before sending it in?  A few changed words could have made it better.  That doesn't even make sense!  Why?  Ugh!

God: Fine, then no one can hear it.

And the sound system gave feedback for the first (and only) time all night.  The mic blew and the narrator continued.  When my phrase was over, the narrator's microphone came back on and the program continued.

God: I wrote that; you didn't.  Those words were exactly the way I wanted them to be; I'm using them as they are.  I AM the Writer; you are the pen.

Yes, Lord.

<>< Katie

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wacky Wednesday

The following of a collection of profound or ridiculous things heard in normal conversation (unless otherwise marked).  <>< Katie

Katie: Don't lick her foot.
Laura [The her]:  I feel breath on my toes!

"God is not someone who can be tacked on in our lives." - Francis Chan, Crazy Love, 96

Mom: What's your plan for tomorrow?
Katie [Sarcastically]: Let me check my calendar. Oh, look: it's blank.
Mom: Does that mean you have nothing going on tomorrow?
Katie: That's what a blank calendar means.
Mom: Not Dad's!

"That night I learned that God sees no barriers, even when I do.  God is ready to use me.  And when I focus on God instead of my mountain, He channels through me His grace and His power." - Bill Hybels, Too Busy Not to Pray, 81

Andy: Can I get a to-go box?
Elizabeth: Can I get a to-go cup?
Allyson: Can I get a to-go fork?

Laura: I feel old: I get to sign for mail.
Katie: Oh!  It's probably my passport and China Visa.
Christina: It says refrigerate after opening.
Katie: It's probably not my passport.

Katie: I blogged.
Mom: How can you blog?  It's Sunday.
Katie: I can blog whatever day I want!

"To gather with God's people in united adoration of the Father is as necessary to the Christian life as prayer." - Martin Luther

"Adoration is foreign to most people, and you will probably feel clumsy when you first try it.  As with anything you take up--a new sport, a new computer program, a new job--you have to stretch yourself and work at it to do well." - Bill Hybels, Too Busy Not to Pray, 67

Katie: Ultimate flour sock.
Laura: What's that?  You shove a sock in your flower?  Wait.

Dad: Have you... gone potty?

Adam: Can I get a fourth of a cup of lemonade?  Do you know what that means?  If I have a 400-page book, I want 100 pages read.
Katie: Oh, I got it!  By why wouldn't you want to read the other 300 pages?
Adam: I'm saving them for later.

Katie: What is this all about?  I haven't been to church yet.
Pastor Russ: You haven't been to church yet?!  Didn't you used to go to like three services?  If you commit to praying for the high school ministry once a week, you get to paint a tile.
Katie: I have to pray?  Once a week?!
Bob: You used to be like [high-pitched voice] "Yeah!  I love to pray!"

Mom: We have a giant rabbit in our car.  No, parking lot. No. We have a giant rabbit in our yard.

Katie: What was the ridiculous thing you said earlier that I didn't write now?
Mom: Nothing!  Everything I say is incredibly intelligent!

Evan: Are you ready to walk and not faint?
Katie: Yeah, and run and not get weary, too!
Allyson: I'm glad you got that because I definitely didn't.
[See Isaiah 43:30-31]

Katie: In Chinese the days of the week are a number and then the word 'day.'  Like Monday is one-day.
Mom: So Tuesday is Two-day?  [Laughing]
Katie: Yes, today is Two-day Tuesday.

Katie: What time is it?
Elizabeth: It's 11:99.

"As we begin to focus more on Christ, loving Him and others becomes more natural.  As long as we are pursuing Him, we are satisfied in Him." - Francis Chan, Crazy Love, 104

David: You never know with Rebekah.  You turn around and she's throwing your five year old dreams out the window!

Katie: What did you lose in my computer?
Mom: I lost nothing; I found my jammies in your computer!

[Facebook conversation]
Katie: Was I the only one who wanted to stand up and dance during "Our God" at church this morning?
April: Why didn't you?  I do.  Maybe even sign a little!
Katie: When we were finally invited to sing I did clap my hands and move a little... but only a little.  It is Lutheran church.
Brit: Katie, you heard this morning: we're liberal in practice but conservative in doctrine.  I believe hand-clapping falls under practice.
Katie: What about dancing?  Is that law or gospel?

"God is a worker who completes His works.  Where is there an instance of God's beginning any work and leaving it incomplete?  Show me once a world abandoned and thrown aside half-formed; show me a universe cast off from the Great Potter's wheel, with the design in outline, the clay half-hardened, and the form unshapely from incompleteness." - Charles Spurgeon

[Driving through a storm behind an airplane on a truck bed.]
Andy: That's why they're driving.  If they were flying I wonder if the plane would drag the truck behind it, too.

Dad: I didn't understand why you were yelling at the dog.
Katie: I wasn't yelling at the dog.  I was yelling at you.
Dad: Same thing.

Katie: Laura has a monopoly on all of the friends.  [Beat] Laura, what are you doing?  You're weird.  [Beat] How do you have all of the friends?
Mom: She's less weird than you are!

[Telephone Pictionary]
Girl, age 14: Is "sexy" a bad word?  I'll just use bodacious.  How do you spell bodacious
[The sentence] A bodacious angel wearing tight pants.

Katie: I'm trying not to sound like a dork in this email to Dr. T, and it's not working.
Elizabeth: Katie, it's Dr. T; he already knows you're a dork.

[Dad misbooked
Dad: Well, this is the dumbest, most embarrassing thing I've ever done.
Christina: No, it's not.  Remember that time you double-booked Katie on the airplane so she had to sit next to herself?
Katie: Or the time you knocked over the full luggage cart in the parking lot?

"You cannot be everything you want to be, but you can be everything God wants you to be." - Max Lucado

Katie: What's your favorite ice cream?
Boy, age 4: Tomato.
Katie: Tomato?  I've never had tomato ice cream.
Boy: NOOO!  Cookie dough!

Mom: I wish I had a W to make dwarf.  No, I wish I had a D; I have four Ws.

Katie: VBS does a great job of reminding me that I love children but I made the right choice not to go into education.
Laura: Oh.  I'm the opposite.
Katie: You hate children and you're glad you're going into education?

Jackie, age 14: We need to all save up our money to buy a house and that way when you all die it can be mine.

Grandpa: What was that noise?
Katie: My fault.  I pushed against the table to push my chair back, but apparently I'm heavier than the table.
Mom: First time in her life!

Christina: For my CNA stuff it says I have to be able to lift 50 pounds.  How much is 50 pounds?  Daddy, come here!
Dad: I weigh more than 50 pounds!
Christina: Ok, Katie, come here!
Katie: I weigh more than 50 pounds, too!
Christina: Fifty-two is close enough.

Mom: Katie! Dad's new scale is busted! It told me I weigh 300 pounds!
Katie: Let me try it. How does it work?
Mom: It doesn't.
Katie: It told me I weigh zero pounds.
Mom: You can have some of mine.

"[B]eing on a God-guided adventure truly is living life on another level than merely competing for wealth and achievement and prizes and toys of this work." - Bill Hybels, Too Busy Not to Pray, 173

Christian: But I believe in the Trinity!
Melissa: And Pastor Russ doesn't?

Uncle Jay: I'm the alien bringing the hay!

Auntie Gwennie: Are you practicing your Cantonese or your Mandarin?
Katie: My Mandarin.
Auntie Gwennie: Bok choy!
Mom: No, that's a vegetable.

Christina: Look!  The moon!
Katie: I don't want to see anyone's moon!
Christina: God's showing us His moon.

Mom: Stop using my arm as a drumstick!

"Prayer is a way to turn dry theological descriptions into warm, living, personal realities.  When we live in constant communication with God, our needs are met, our faith increases, and our love expands." - Bill Hybels, Too Busy Not to Pray, 166

Mom: Do you want milk?
Uncle Bill: No, we have red milk. [wine]

Auntie Gwennie: "Open away from face."  What the--?  It's a coffee filter, for crying out loud!

Christina: What's she getting?
Joe: I'm a he!

Uncle Bill: I strike on Fourth Street.
Katie: Good thing there are only three streets in cribbage.

"The point of your life is to point to Him." - Francis Chan, Crazy Love, 44

Monday, July 4, 2011


Right now I'm reading The Heavenly Man, a nonfiction book recommended to me prior to my trip to China.  It tells the story of Brother Yun, a Chinese pastor who has faced heavy persecution for his faith and ministry.

I've lost track of how many times he's been arrested, and I'm only in chapter ten (of twenty-nine).  Every time he faces brutal torture, undying faith, and miraculous escapes.

In reading this testimony, I can't help but wonder what the church in the United States would look like if we had that kind of faith.  The faith where we'd be willing to face electric shock, starvation, and frigid temperatures all because we believe in God.  would we be found faithful or would we relent?  It's convicting.

But it also makes me thankful for what we, as Americans, have.  The persecution we may face is verbal slander and judgment not physical abuse and death.  We live in a country where we don't have to be afraid of our churches being attacked by the government and our members arrested for simply being on the premises.  We can play our Christian music in our cars, at festivals, and even in retail stores.  We can proclaim we believe with our t-shirts, bumper stickers, and blog posts.

For this I am grateful.  But I know the price for this freedom was very high.  Men and women have lost lives and limbs fighting for our independence.  For my right to write this blog post.  For your opportunity to read it.

Please take the time to thank a soldier.  Not just on Independence Day, Veterans' Day, and Memorial Day, but any day and every day that you are grateful for your comfortable life free from persecution.

Now, let's go out and proclaim God with more than just our music, bumper stickers, t-shirts, and blog posts. God can and does use Americans just as He uses Brother Yun and Chinese Christians.

Have you thanked Christ for the price He paid for that freedom, too?

<>< Katie

Friday, July 1, 2011


I have a good friend who is very bad with email.  He admits it, and I'd say that to his face.  Usually if I get a response, it's a week later and brief.

That's a big if.  Normally, I don't get a reply.  Sometimes I wonder if I really sent the email or if I only dreamt I did.  I've considered attaching a "read receipt" so I know when he's gotten it and read it.

Except last week I was talking to him and he made a reference to something I'd said in an email.

"You do actually read my emails," I exclaimed in shock.

He assured me he does.  He reads all of them even if he doesn't respond.

Ladies and gentlemen, that's God.  He reads all of our knee-mail (sorry, that was bad).  God hears our prayers even if we don't hear His response.  In his book Too Busy Not to Pray, Bill Hybels points out that God only speaks when He has something to say.

Sometimes that quality drives me nuts.  But I take comfort in that fact that He has heard my cries.

As a writer who thrives on feedback, this silence is especially difficult.  But it's necessary.  If it weren't, God wouldn't put me through it.

So, even know I know responses will be few and far between, I will continue to email my friend.  Even know I know I may get an answer of silence, I will continue to pray to the Lord.

<>< Katie