Monday, August 29, 2011

Child-Like Prayer

"What if we woke up today with only the things we thanked God for yesterday?"

I like quotes.  I read a lot of them throughout the day, especially on Twitter (@KatieAx3).  But this one struck me in a way few have.

Instantly, I began thanking God for everything within my gaze.

Thanks for the glass of water, the coaster, and the table.
Thanks for that still-life picture on the wall.
Thanks for the dog pooping on the hairy floor and the paper towels to clean it up.  Thanks for the floor.  And the hair, too.

It seemed a little ridiculous.  But it was good.  I felt like a kid again.

Have you ever had the opportunity to hear small children pray?

When asked to bless the food, they sometimes remember it among their thanking God for freckles, gum, and the sand box. While sometimes I get impatient (I remember the now-cold food on the table), I think God appreciates it.

No, more than appreciates it. 

I think God loves it.

He loves hearing His children (even His big children) talk to Him throughout the day.  He loves being appreciated for His work, being called on in times of need, and being praised through the storms of life.  He loves hearing what's on our hearts and minds.  No matter how life-changing.  No matter how mundane.

He doesn't think prayers about freckles are silly.  After all, He put the freckles there.

He put the bird on the satellite dish that's blurring my show.  He put those skin cells on my body just to fall off and become the dust on that piano.  He put the water in the sky to rain to the earth to be filtered and come out my faucet to fill my cup to quench my thirst (and drench my shirt). 

Just because we take things for granted doesn't mean He didn't put them there.

"What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?"

Today, try talking to your Abba Father like a child.  After all, "The kingdom of God belongs to such as these" (Luke 18:16)

<>< Katie

Friday, August 26, 2011

That's What Family Does

I was talking through some of my feelings and challenges on the phone with my friend Stacy.  Basically, I melted on her.  I don't understand why God has asked (forced) me to leave home to move across the country home.  Among other things, she reminded me that my friends, though 900 miles away, are still here for me. 

Next time I was bored and lonely, I picked up the phone.

It has been so good to hear the voices of the people I love so much.  Sometimes we talk about our days, sometimes about superfluous things, and sometimes our conversations go deeper.  Sometimes there is silence on the phone, just like there is in face to face conversation.  But neither of us hang up.

Over the phone you can't have a sleepover with two twenty-somethings in a twin bed, you can't have children fall out of the laundry shoot, and you can't have a spontaneous dance party in the living room... but you can remember and laugh about them.

Over Skype, there are still quotes for Wacky Wednesday, still crazy facial expressions, and still people falling off the bed.

As I sat down to dinner alone, I plugged in my new Peder Eide Rescue CD.  The first time I heard "That's What Family Does," I figured it would need some time to grow on me.  It only took one more listening and it had grown!  It had me almost in tears.  (Though, I will admit: that's pretty easy these days).

"That's What Family Does" by Peder Eide

There are times when life is tough
and a yes to God is not enough.
When the hill is steep,
the summit high.
You wonder why.
You've lost your spark, your fight, your song
now wrong seems right
and right seems wrong.

Look around and see
the face of family
and lean into the love.
Lift each other up,
cheer each other on.
We do it all because
that's what family does.

The table's set
and the food is hot
reminding you what you've forgot
the warmth of home,
and a fragrant grace,
a holy place.
And all of us
can hardly wait
to hold you close
and celebrate.

Look around and see
the face of family
and lean into the love.
Lift each other up,
cheer each other on.
We do it all because
that's what family does.

They say out there that no one cares and you are all alone.
Seems they may be alone, well, we claim you as our own.

My spark, fight, and song are missing in action...

I can't physically look around and see... but I can see the face of family in my phone bill and my Skype's "Recent" log.  I can lean into the love even if that means no hugs.

Though it's not ideal, I'm lovin' it!

<>< Katie

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


It had been a long day.  The car said I'd been on the road for 31 minutes but it felt like considerably longer.  I'd left my house fourteen hours earlier and hadn't been home since.

I'll be honest, I was starting to feel sorry for myself and my long day.  While parts of it (like dinner!) were really nice, but other parts (like repeatedly trying to convince a 5 year old to share) weren't so nice.  I was exhausted and on the brink of tears for no apparent reason.

I needed to make a phone call to some friends.  Since I knew they go to bed early (and were an hour ahead) I contemplated calling them while driving, something I rarely (one might say "never") do.  Even though it meant missing them tonight, I'm so glad I waited.

Instead, as I pulled into my subdivision, my phone lit up.  On the other end, I found my friend Kevin.

He himself on his way home after a very long day... except after work he joined a friend at a hospital bedside where he stayed until he called me.  Tomorrow, he's getting up to do it all over again. 

"They haven't gotten any good news lately, and don't except to," he said.

Instantly my self-pity washed away.  I felt so convicted that I was upset over my fourteen-hour day that I planned myself when he was dealing with a longer, unplanned day.

We spoke for forty minutes.  There were no tears.  But there was a lot of honest confession and sympathizing with each other.  "This is hard," we must have each said fifteen times.  But almost as many times we said how God has worked and is working through hard.

In the words of the five year old who refuses to share, "Don't do easy things.  Do hard things."

Let's do hard.  Let's do it for His glory.  And let's not feel sorry for ourselves in it.

I don't know about you, but I needed that reminder today and every day.

<>< Katie

PS: Check out my friend Hannah's blog about a Bulgarian Sunrise.  It was another reminder I needed.  Hannah's on the World Race right now so they're ministering in eleven different countries in the next eleven months.  Wow!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Edit Friends

Facebook has this feature near the log-out button: Edit Friends.

How often do we want to edit our friends?

I'd like you to not laugh like that, you to not laugh at that, and you to laugh.
I'd like you to have more compassion, you to stand up for your beliefs, and you to smile.

It's easy to look at others and find faults we desire to edit away and change.

It's harder to look at ourselves and say, "I don't like this about me.  Let's edit that fault."

Yet that is exactly what God does to each of us.  He edits us, His friends, to make us more like Him.

Some edits are simple like moving a comma or turning a neutral face into a smiling one.  Some much more involved.  Ideas that need to be rethought, lifestyles that need to be revised, and plans that need to be removed.

I like editing papers.  I don't always like having my papers edited.

I like critiquing others' personalities and finding their faults.  I don't like having my own pointed out.

But it's necessary.  My grammar's not perfect and neither is my life.

Sometimes softly and other times more sternly, yet always lovingly, God edits us to be more like Him.

"And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image." 2 Corinthians 3:18b NLT

After all, we were created in His image.

<>< Katie

Thursday, August 18, 2011


A Chinese woman noticed the English Bible in Mike's hand.

She pointed to it and, with a huge smile on her face, pulled her Chinese Bible out of her purse. Mike smiled back, and the exchange ended. At least as far as I could see from my seat across the over-crowded public bus.

The bus only got hotter and more crowded as we approached our destination: a Chinese church meeting at a chicken plant because they spent thirty years fighting the government to regain their land that was seized.*

Our team and several Chinese people got off at the stop at the church's gate. This woman was thrilled!

She grabbed Juanita by the arm, looked directly in her eyes, and began to ramble in Chinese. Juanita didn't understand a word of it, but she understood this woman's joy.

The woman kept trying different phrases, willing Juanita to understand.

"Hallelujah," the Chinese woman said.  Juanita understood.


It's not identical in both languages, but it's a cognate. The two sisters could not converse with words, but they could worship together.

What more does one need?

<>< Katie

Note: Words like "Amen" and "Jesus" are also cognates. That's about all we understood of the service.

* Though it is significantly smaller and more out of the way than the original land, the Chinese government has given the church land along with monetary contributions (to make up for the rest of the acreage) and a promise to assist in the placement of a bus stop near church property. This fall, they hope to break ground to complete the 1,500-seat building by Christmas 2012.  The pastor of this church rotates between it and at least ten other local churches.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Glory in Tragedy

I don't think we could have fit anything else into this weekend had we tried.  A pasta dinner for 30 high school tennis girls, a baby shower (with two-week old baby), a graduation/ birthday party, a tennis quad, a family reunion, church, dinner out, and... the wake for a fourteen year old.

Her death was instant. There was no warning. There was nothing that could have been done.  It could not have been prevented.  Her life could not have been saved.  No one is at fault.

Yet a fourteen year old is dead.

In all honesty, I don't know how non-Christians cope with tragedies like this.  Even with hope and a loving God, it's hard to bury a fourteen year old who seemed healthy one minute and gone the next.

Is our God not a loving God who cares for His children? I don't just mean Emily. What about her family? Her parents? Her older sister? Her friends whose home she was walking home from? Fifty minutes worth of drivers who drove down that busy street without noticing her unconscious and not breathing on the sidewalk? Her classmates about to enter high school without her?

Tough questions.

But I believe Emily was not alone on that sidewalk. God was with her every step of her walk home; she just arrived at a different Home than would have been expected. Even though her body was kept breathing for two days, Emily was immediately delivered into the loving arms of her Creator.

The same God that cradles their precious daughter, holds tight to Emily's parents giving them the strength to host mourners in their home, the ability to make jokes and even laugh a little as the receiving line weaved through the funeral home and out into the parking lot. He holds their tears, their hands, and their hearts.

He will be glorified, even though this situation our human eyes see as tragic and incomprehensible. That is my prayer.

It’s the only thing I can pray.  And I was just a student, nine years ahead of her at the same school.

<>< Katie

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Looks Like

Amber and I were dragging a little as we walked through yet another airport.  This was our sixth airport and sixth flight involved in our journey to and from China.

We got fifteen hours of sleep between Friday morning and Monday-Round Two.  Then sixteen hours between Monday-Round Two and Tuesday.  There was a lot still to make up for.

A man shouted at us, "Would you care to hear about the Lord Jesus Christ?"

Normally I would have ignored him.  I'm not a fan of street-corner preachers.  And I just got back from China where you are constantly heckled to buy this product, hire this taxi, etc.  But in a burst of energy, I turned to him, pumped my first in the air, and proudly proclaimed, "We know the Lord!"

"Doesn't look like it," he said.

We kept walking.  Amber laughed.  But I was annoyed.

What does it look like to love the Lord?

Does it look like this Christian t-shirt I'm wearing?
Does it look like the cross around my neck?
Does it look like kapris rather than short-shorts?
Does it look like a pep in my step even though I'm exhausted?
Does it look like the bags under my eyes from a three-week mission trip?

Maybe it's not physical.

Maybe it looks like loving, even those people who are hard to love.
Maybe it looks like serving others, even when you'd rather fall into bed.
Maybe it looks like being patient and understanding, even as you explain something for the hundredth time.
Maybe it looks like being kind to everyone, even the man in the airport using tracts.

Maybe it doesn't look like I love the Lord.

Maybe that's something I need to work on.  Now and always.

<>< Katie

Monday, August 1, 2011


Hi friends!  I know I said I probably wouldn't blog here while I am in China... but I just can't help it.  God's been teaching me some cool things and I want to share them.  You can also keep up with Amber's and my adventure in China at:

Ephesians 2:19 has a whole new meaning now after being in China for a week and a half.  The verse says, "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (ESV). 

I think I used to always interpret that as being rejected no more, being accepted into God's family.  But having spent a week and a half in an area of China where the only Americans we see are the six members of our own team, I know what it means to be a foreigner.

To be a foreigner means to be pointed at, stared at, and watched.  To struggle to communicate, to fumble with money, and question every item your chopsticks put into your mouth.

To be a member of the family means you have a bed, a place at the table, you understand the language, you eat the food, and you're included.  There's no longer a need to impress, on either side, because, congratulations, you're in!  The need to stare is gone because you're together as one family.

I will always be a foreigner in China but even here among my brothers and sisters in Christ, we are a family!  Amen.

<>< Katie

PS: This post was sent via email because blogs, like many other things, are blocked in China.  Any grave errors will be corrected upon my return to the States next week.