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!