Monday, December 31, 2012

Moving Onward

And here we go.
We begin a new year.

And the old one passes away, joining memories and become past. Becoming a part of our history.

A bittersweet change, from old to new. For me, tied up with endings and beginnings, and all sorts of new experiences and memories on the journey. But somehow, I am not sad to see it go. I will be glad to begin again, to go forward from here.

At times, you see, it has felt so hopeless to me. A hopeless place, where I'm just pacing, waiting and revisiting everything I've done before. Day comes, and the rounds go on, and night comes, only to bring day again, and have I moved forward?
At times, you see, it has felt like I've gathered dust.
Perhaps I haven't. Perhaps during those dust-gathering times I've been growing somehow, or grabbing onto grace somehow. Perhaps, its for a reason, but frustration has been tangible, too.

Perhaps, the grand things have been the moments of grace. Like living in Bolivia. Bolivia. I say the name and floods of thoughts, ideas, memories come. I say the name, and go into Spanish mode, thinking in Español a mi mismo and taste the rice and feel the itch of hundreds of mosquito bites again. Bolivia was the highlight of the year, the great lesson teacher, the shining months of happiness. I remember the first time I laughed in months was there. Really laughed, with head thrown back, eyes shut, laughing from my toes. Sun shining down on my head, sparkling in my eyes. I remember that laugh. I remember those moments.

I remember moments on a motorcycle, wind catching my hair and blowing it behind, giggling softly to myself, because the driver couldn't understand me, and I couldn't understand him, and we got lost together in his hometown, with me giving directions in a strange half Spanish, half sign language way. At last we found the place, and he smiled shyly and charged me much less than he should have, and we laughed together before he sped on to the next fare.

A grand thing, was teaching 5 little children, all who nestled into a little place in my heart. Washing hands, reading books, making paintings, sliding down the slide (teacher is sliding down the big slide- they giggled so much at that) and playing all sorts of games. I taught them to read and write letters, crooked as they may have been. They taught me joy in simple things like goldfish crackers, and friends who share.

Grand things, small things they seemed, too. Day by day things. Like catching those perfect shots on my camera. Like a few hours here and there in a coffee shop with a sibling. Like hours on the phone with my best friend. Like cherished emails and chats and time spent in special places, just being together. Golden moments. Small adventures. They gather together to create the dust of the clay of the whole year, becoming part of who I am.

Hard things, too. Many tears, my heart aching. Many times head down, working as hard as I could, lips tight in determination. Many nights spent studying, praying, writing as I endured.
Life. Vida. Its all a part of the journey.

No, I don't want to go back and begin this year again. I'd rather go forward. I'd rather move on. But I am grateful for lessons learned, for experiences lived through, for grace showered down from God.

And I look forward to the next one. I wait anxiously to see what happens. I search earnestly for Christ's leading.

Onward. Upward. Vaya con Dios. Viaje con Dios. Go with God. Journey with God.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Selah - Think About It

Psalm 130 was today's psalm. I didn't plan for it to be, but there it was, jumping off the page. And so I share it here.

Psalm 130
Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who would stand?
But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord more than the watchmen wait for the morning, more than the watchmen wait for the morning.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.

Praise the Lord. 

Selah. 

And I will think about it, until it settles deep within. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Graciousness

Today is the eve before Christmas. And its the biggest day of celebration for our family.
I've been purposely counting hidden gifts today as often as I can. I'm so tired and stretched thin, that any gratefulness I can offer for things given to me from God is precious and welcome.

Its helped me immensely. So much so, that in this moment of quietness, I decided to blog about it. These hidden gifts still have not made it to my camera, but its a certain step in the right direction to at least record them here, if not on my other blog, A Thousand Hidden Gifts in photo form.

First off, today I have been enjoying some Christmas music sent by family or friends to my Spotify lists. I love that we can see what others are listening to and that they think of things to share. Dubstep is fun, and so is a song that brought back lovely memories from a highschool choral choir I was part of. Music for the soul. Music reflects and guides our souls so much more than we would admit or realize, I think. And now I am listening to a fun Christmas playlist I put together of unique renditions of traditional songs. Love!

Next up I was enjoying the creativity of making a salad for Mom. The lettuce was such pretty colors of green and purple with all different textures. We had several different kinds to choose from. Then I grated orange carrots, chopped yellow pepper, and added red tomatoes. Black olives and green cucumbers will be added later for even more beauty and deliciousness. It made me happy to notice the colors and textures, and enjoy the rainbow in the glass salad bowl. Not to mention hungry. For a change.

This evening is the pinnacle of family celebration. First we cook and cook and cook together. Then we get dressed up and go to our church where Dad has a beautiful communion service. Then we come home and put dinner on the table. Dinner includes huge amounts of nice food, perhaps some wine, dessert, coffee, and chocolate. We eat by candlelight and use china and silver and take our time. There are often letters to open from each other or other reminiscences.  After dinner, we gather in the living room where we open presents. Paper explodes everywhere and laughter and chatter is abundant. Everyone is warm and full and a little sleepy and in good moods and eager to give their gifts first.

This is where things have changed more recently. We used to spend the rest of the evening watching A Muppet Christmas Carol. Every year. We can all quote it, and we love it. But the past few years we've been going to church for the 11pm service, which means we don't reach home until 1 or after. So this year, we've decided to do the movie on Christmas. It won't be the same, but at least it'll still happen. Its not Christmas until we watch that movie!

We also always listen to the Kings College Nine Lessons in Carols radio broadcast from Britain  This year if we miss it on the radio, I've found it online. The most meaningful carol is Once In Royal Davids City.

Our new tradition is going to the Episcopal church to their last evening service. They have a glorious choir and music and organ. And its beautiful and simple and candlelit. We leave, hearts bursting with the gift of Christ, humbled by the events leading up to it, hopeful of His return.

So now I am resting before all the celebrating begins, and writing out the graciousness I have noticed and received with thanksgiving today. And looking forward to those not yet received, but promised.

My heart begins to see the Christ who is here every day, offering gifts of unmerited love, offering grace and strength and hope.

Love that never ends.

Blessed Christmas.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Silence

The silence here has grown deep and dark. Normally I post at least once or twice a week. But suddenly, its been nearly a month since I have written anything to share.

I have been living a crazy existence. The past few weeks have had barely room to breathe, and no room for reflection or thoughtfulness or writing. I've been holding on barely to the schedule, always needing to move on to the next thing. There has been studying, and preparing for and hosting company, joining others for parties and spending time with friends. And there has been work and enumerable things to accomplish, remember, do, and think about. There have been a thousand hidden gifts, some noticed, and none captured with my camera.

Its been overwhelming, when you count all the things also going on within me. But things have kept on coming, kept on happening, and finally I've reached the end of my rope.

I have to have a break. I am going to break if I don't. I have to have some quiet that settles into the cracks and crevices like dust settling in an old house. I have to have some silence that grows thick and warm, that lets my soul find its music again. Its been drowned out, and I miss the steadiness of rhythm that I used to know.
I have to rest.

I don't even remember the last time I rested. Really rested, without guilt about things not being finished or accomplished, rest without a call on my time. Rest without an agenda for my thoughts. Rest without having to make any decisions.

I don't know if it can really happen. I need it and want it, but its difficult to actually get it. Somehow I have the idea I have to slog through somehow, finding strength to keep going. Other people have needs, and I am supposed to meet them, too. Only I don't have the resources or energy to do that and they are left disappointed and hurt.

Its a cycle that is crazy and must end.

The silence may continue a little longer. But when it ends, I hope it ends with energy renewed and new thoughts and ideas flowing from a rhythm that is beautiful again.

I am renewing my relationship with Jesus, and repenting from pushing Him aside for the everyday important unimportances. If I am silent or away, it is in a desert, alone, facing Him again. Finding the rivers of peace that somehow have become a trickle.

If anything, I hope this confession and musing will inspire someone else to guard the time it takes for wholeness, the necessity of prioritizing spiritual things, and the value of rest even during a time that should be spent on moving forward with tasks. I have a never ending schedule, and many things to accomplish.
But only after I am rested enough to do so well.

Silence shall reign in my heart for a time. Christ shall dwell there gently and peacefully again.

Come, Lord Jesus. Come.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Global Story


I just love nativities. My favorite of all time is the one my grandmother made of ceramic and painted many years ago. We lovingly place it in the most visible spot in the living room every year. For as long as I can remember, I've gazed and contemplated Christmas and Christ through the weeks it was displayed, and it still brings me back into the story of His birth when I look at it.

A couple of years ago I decided to start collecting nativities, but not just any nativities. I decided to collect them when I travel world wide. And I wanted small ones, the size of my hand or smaller.
I think collections should be carefully selected, with items chosen because they invoke feelings or memories or thoughts. I think collections should be small enough to be enjoyed, each piece known and loved.

This is a photo of my collection.

The nativity in the back is special because it is a little house, with doors that open and close. Inside the holy family sits, and below the shepherds reside with their sheep. I was fascinated by the house, and it traveled home with me from Bolivia, my first trip there.

On the right the donkey is tired, but carefully led by Joseph, with Mary and babe perched on his back. I love how the figures have no faces, but allow for imagination to take over. I can picture a "Mary" I know, who said, "let it be according to your word!" and a "Joseph" who courageously accepted what seemed impossible. Faces I know can replace the ones the artist would use. This is made of olivewood and bought in Jerusalem. I haggled with a Jewish man who had just given me fresh orange juice, the freshest I've ever tasted. He declared I was starving his children, but when I left his shop we were both satisfied.

And on the left, is my latest one, bought in Santa Cruz this year. I love how the family looks so Bolivian with a tabor tree behind them.

I think I am fascinated because I love the ethnicity of them. I love seeing how people in different cultures represent Jesus, and how they take their artistry and weave it into the global message. I love seeing Jesus portrayed in different color skins, different cultural details telling a story to people in familiar ways. It fascinates me to think of how different places in the world view Jesus and His story, how they clothe Him in their clothing, how they picture his setting like their own. And I wonder about what I add to the story, unknown, from my own setting. Perhaps my Jesus was born in a shed in the middle of a cotton field. Its really a beautiful thing, how we can all read the same story, written thousands of years ago, and all from different times and cultures, and yet are united by the same story of salvation for all. Grace and strength for all.

Its a global story for all.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Disgusting Materialism

The past month or so I have been struck by materialism. And as the holiday season begins, it really causes me to notice it more and more. The materialism is just sickening to me.

I used to be just like the next one, and had lists of things I wanted for Christmas, or went shopping and wanted the things I saw. I was never brand loyal or interested in the latest technology or newest versions of things, but there was always something else I needed to be happy or live better.

Perhaps its because I spent the summer in an area of the world where they live with a much lower standard of living. Seeing people live joyously on so little puts things into perspective. Watching someone take crusts and leftovers off people's plates in a restaurant suddenly makes you want to clean your plate at home. Meeting little children who are hungry suddenly makes black Friday shopping seem much less...necessary.

Why do we do this? What does all the stuff even mean? Does it really make you happy to know that you have the latest $600 phone? Is it really a necessity? Does it really make you feel better about yourself to buy loads of new, shiny things? Things are meaningless. Things will go out of style, get broken or look less shiny. Things have a way of fading away, and then you can't remember what you even owned or had.


It all just makes me so disappointed to see people spending so much money and time on what lasts for moments or is quickly forgotten. We have things so backwards, and no one seems to realize, but rush on to the next item, or stand in line at the next sale to get the item that will make them happier or look better. And no one knows why, it seems. The money we spend on things for ourselves or our children...a fraction of that is someone else's daily living. And what are we spending it on?

The materialism is a problem when it grows so out of proportion with everything else, that it overshadows what is really important. How do you put into perspective what is necessary vs. what is superfluous?

I keep thinking of the line, "you can't take it with you." and I wonder, what happens to all the time spent on these things, when we die? What about all the money we've wasted? How is that accounted for when we're dead? What good did we do Steve Jobs by buying the newest version of the same product over and over again? What good did we do ourselves? And in the end, what did it all matter, really.

And then I think of the millions of people who just barely survive, much less worry about whether they have the things we deem necessary in our culture. Cable tv and internet on our cellphones. Some don't even have heated houses, or sufficient clothing. Not to mention decent food or water.

I'm generally feeling disgusted by it all, and especially this Christmas season. In the rush of buying, the flurry of making lists for Santa, I just want to sit back and say, so what? Where's it getting us, who is it helping, and who are we harming with all this STUFF. Stuff that will burn away and can disappear in moments. And leave us with....what becomes the essentials. Things like relationships, like character, like intangibles that will never be burned away or stolen. And this season to remember and celebrate Jesus' beginnings...I'm not sure the Jesus I know would be thrilled by what its turned into. Worshipful gratefulness for the gift of salvation, for what He ultimately came to do...by buying?

I find materialism disgusting. Things don't impress me. Let me see your passion, your life, your inner self. Those things will always be there, no matter what. I don't want to live with all this stuff. I don't want to be defined by it, I don't want my money wasted on it. I know we need certain things to live, but all those extras...what if we went without and gave the money to someone else?

I grew up during an extremely hard time in our family. We had many nice, new things, but compared to everyone else around us, we had nothing. I remember Christmas' with a new toy. A present from my parents. And it did a world of good for me. I never regret growing up with less than my friends. It gave me so much to be grateful for. It gave me so much awareness of what is really necessary to happiness. And it wasn't heaps of things.

Oh Jesus! Help us see that Your love is the ultimate important, necessary thing! Help us to put into perspective the things that attract us so, help us to use the gifts you have given us to show your love to others instead of selfishly thinking of ourselves. Forgive us for losing ourselves in things. With all my heart, I pray. Amen.
 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Today's Hidden Gift

Check out my post over on A Thousand Hidden Gifts. The photo today was snapped after a sudden stop, a U turn, and a quick dig through my bag for my camera.

"I love the rainbow in the sky, the promise that it implies of hope and forever life. I love how the orange bleeds into the pink, which turns slowly to purple and the designs of the tree against it all creating a lacy framework. I love how it represents so many different things, diverse, yet together creating a beauty that stops traffic, that causes you to sit and stare for a bit, marveling at the glory of it. I love the splendid evidence of God's enjoyment of color and vividness."

How can I even describe how I feel or what I think, when focusing the camera on such a beautiful painting? It inspires me to worship, it inspires me to awe as I wonder about the One who creates it every day.

A moment from my aventura today.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Moon


Look at this gorgeous moon tonight. I just snapped this picture, so I can hold it forever.
Go outside and see it yourself, not glowing from a computer screen, but from an unseen brightness...go look at this gift from God, this beauty, just because. This is what fills me with worship tonight. It fills me with awe and wonder and amazement. La luna. So beautiful. A gift from God to us. I am grateful.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Step By Step Guide To Directing A Wedding

Steps to directing a wedding.

  1. A week before, create detailed schedule of events and include info on who, what, and where. 
  2. Begin packing and making lists of everything to take with you to the wedding site.
  3. Rise early and attack the shopping for all the wedding food on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  Stop for coffee with Mom.
  4. Prepare and organize the last details of various decor projects and pack car.
  5. Stop and have Thanksgiving dinner with family!
  6. Rise early on Friday and go to three different places to cut greenery for decorating the church. Bag, and somehow fit everything into the car, with space remaining for three people. Be sure the Ipod has some battery life!
  7. Pack a lunch, or grab all the Thanksgiving leftovers.
  8. Drive two hours to the wedding site, jamming out to various musical selections by your 16 year old sister. Including headbanging at a stoplight. Never going to see those folks again, anyway.
  9. Arrive the wedding site, collect the key, and eat lunch. 
  10. Move tables and arrange seating and serving areas in the reception hall. Do some massive cleaning.
  11. Iron tablecloths on a makeshift ironing board. Listening to the Beatles helps. 
  12. Sort out table decorations and start putting together what goes where. Meanwhile, more folks arrive and start decorating cupcakes and cutting veggies and working on food. Party time!
  13. Get sisters started on decorating the sanctuary. Delegation and letting go is a beautiful thing.
  14. Direct traffic for where things are going and what needs to be done. Find various bits and pieces needed, and an extension cord for the kitchen.
  15. Keep an eye on the time so everyone will have a break to rest before rehearsal.
  16. Finish all tablescapes and check bathrooms.
  17. Call a break for everyone and begin dressing for rehearsal. Remember that you forgot to bring shoes. 
  18. Go over ceremony seating with the ushers. Work with Dad on directing the flow.
  19. Shut things down and help lock up so everyone can go to dinner. 
  20. Play musical chairs at dinner as you try to talk to everyone there. Discover you feel a cold coming on.
  21. Back to the church with a couple of sweet helpers to finish cleaning up and put finishing touches on things. No stopping till its all done, but with help it doesn't take long!
  22. Back to the hotel, only to find that an important document was left at the church. Back to the church to search for that, only to find it was in my suitcase all along, in my car. Back to the hotel, where I went to bed.
  23. Wake early and roll over and go back to sleep.
  24. Wake again, and give letters to the bride that everyone wrote to her as a wedding day surprise.
  25. Begin dressing.
  26. Go get breakfast for my sister and grab some for me, too.
  27. Begin the hair and nail operation for the bride. Turned out great!
  28. Pack up the luggage to check out of the hotel, and head to the church.
  29. Arrive at the church and double check lots of odds and ends, take a few pictures with my camera.
  30. Help bride dress and prepare for photography time.
  31. Corral all the appropriate people in the sanctuary for photos. With two big families, that can be quite the feat!
  32. Eat a quick lunch.
  33. Start keeping an eye on the time as people start coming. Freshen up hair and makeup for the bride.
  34. Reassure kid brother usher that he knows what to do and where people go.
  35. (More pictures)
  36. Cue the grandparents to be seated.
  37. Cue the music and candle lighting.
  38. Cue the mothers to be seated.
  39. Cue the groom to enter.
  40. Sit and be thankful for a kind soul who thoughtfully put kleenex on my pew.
  41. And they're married! Let the party begin!
  42. Greet everyone at the reception and circulate, answering questions and making people feel welcome. Meanwhile, eat a cupcake.
  43. Gather grandparents in the sanctuary for more photos.
  44. Laugh and talk with people you haven't seen in way too long.
  45. Coordinate the bouquet toss! Hooray!
  46. Direct folks outside for the bride and grooms exit. Everyone has bubbles to blow, and with three hip hip hoorays, the bride and groom prepare to leave.
  47. Watch as dozens of balloons are emptied from the truck and then popped by eager children. 
  48. Announce for everyone to take cupcakes home with them!
  49. Eat a cupcake.
  50. Say goodbyes.
  51. Begin directing clean up. Everything back in place, ready for Sunday. 
  52. Make sure key is turned back in.
  53. Drive my brother to the hotel to pick up his wife and daughter. 
  54. Go to dinner.
  55. Drive home.
  56. Unpack cars and van.
  57. Collapse into bed. 

A Heap of Blessings

My blog has been silent for quite some time. The aventura de la vida has been taking up every moment, with no time for writing the past couple of weeks. But now I have a chance to catch my breath and think again. And write.

Through all the busy times, there have been so many things for which to give thanks. Here are a few of them:


  • My brother who lives in Canada flew down with my niece for a surprise visit! His wife has joined us now, so we get to enjoy catching up after not seeing them for 2 years, and not at home for 5!
  • My niece, Ella, laughing and playing with Papa (my Dad). 
  • A weekend in Georgia with my best friends, going to a fantastic party and hanging out with some wonderful people.
  • A crazy Thanksgiving with sudden out of town guests, pulling together a Thanksgiving meal, and laughing at the table with my grandparents who were giving wedding advice. 
  • Decorating and preparing for The Wedding with my sister and brother and listening to the Beatles. 
  • The fun of two families who joined together to make a memorable and sweet wedding. Working together, laughing together, and eating together!
  • A precious moment or two with my sister, right before the wedding ceremony. 
Family is one of the most important things to me. These moments with family are the moments I will always remember. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Reflecting

I'm feeling kind of quiet and reflective. I've had a lot going on the past few weeks, and its all coming to a point soon. I've been mulling over some things and looking back and rethinking. Its draining and exhilarating at the same time. One of those moments when the next breath might change your course, never to return and make a new decision.
In the midst I keep trudging on with every day tasks and thoughts, and take out these others during repose or moments of respite.

I've been thinking of re-reading my blog and journals. Every year, near the start of the new year I like to look behind at where I've come from in order to gain some perspective of where I might be going. The path behind is often indicative of things that are patterns or directions that might be missed if we never reviewed them. Its time for this review, time to take stock and see where I am and who I am.

Somehow, the girl who started out this year feels so different than the one ending it. I'm almost afraid to look at who she was, and cringe a little at what I might see. I hope its a better version of Katie at the end of the year than at the beginning. I hope its a deeper and more mature Katie, one showing growth and change in a positive way.

There have been so many adventures, so many dark places, and yet a lot of light, too. I feel like I climbed a mountain, took in the view, and now...what's next? Coming off the mountain top experience can be sort of like getting the breath knocked out of you. But it is a view everyone should experience and remember vividly. Its a vision, really, of where we should be aiming to live. A big picture viewpoint.

So as this year winds down, I begin to reflect and revisit places in the path, ebenezers and markers, to see where I've been, and catch a glimpse of where I'm going.

Most of all I want to follow Jesus. Where ever that might lead.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Peaceful Sleep

I curl up in my lovely bed, and muscles begin to relax into the softness of the sheets and the warmth of the blankets. Pillows billow everywhere, and my eyes close slowly and I float away into blissful oblivion.

I'm so lucky to have this soft bed. And pillows. And blankets. And sheets, smelling of wind and sun. When I lie here, letting them soothe and calm me, I am blessed beyond measure.

Just as I close my eyes, the sleep starts pulling, my body starts resting, and my brain starts running. But gradually it too calms, and then my thoughts float freely and I float, too. Then all I know is dreams and a deep, peaceful darkness.

I like to snuggle deep under the covers, with only the tip of my nose poking out for fresh air. I like thin, flat pillows that I can move and pummel. I like the security of a thick blanket or quilt protecting me from the cold, and I like the deliciousness of waking up slowly.

Peaceful sleep. I wish everyone a peaceful, deep sleep that is uninterrupted and completely refreshing. It is a luxury. Peaceful in quietness, peaceful in safety, peaceful in repose and peaceful in nothing to worry or cause anxiety.

Sueños conmigo. Dream with me. Dream together. Dream of the joys and impossible things. Dreaming is fascinating and lovely, and I often dream something so real that when I wake, I think it is not a dream. Or its so lovely, that I wake but try to keep the dream a little longer. I hate for it to disappear and become reality again.

Peaceful sleep, breath coming slowly and rhythmically, body perfectly relaxed.

Sueños conmigo esta noche. Dream with me this night.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

To Run Without Stumbling

Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP)

To run without stumbling.  How may we run without stumbling? How may we focus on the path and on the goal and manage to still run, full speed ahead and not stumble?
How may we run to obtain the heavenly promises? 

To run without stumbling has been in my mind all day. Between the everyday things I have been doing, and the conversations I've had, between eating, showering, sitting and staring at my computer, the phrase has been in the background, and my mind has been wondering and thinking about it. 

To run without stumbling. Oh how I want to run without stumbling. To run, muscles working, breath fast and bursting my lungs. To run, feet hitting pavement with a firm and steady slap, steady and eating up miles. Running towards the heavenly promises. To run the rocky terrain, never missing a step, never stumbling, never falling. Racing for the prize. 

Almighty and merciful God, grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sign of Christ


Everywhere you look, there are signs of Christ's love.
Every story whispers His name.

Even when you do not think of Him, or notice it for yourself, He is there. Christ's love is already enveloping you, waiting for you to accept it and feel it.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Journey of Faith



Faith. Like a mustard seed, so tiny it is lost in the palm of your hand. And yet this is the chosen symbol from Jesus' mountain sermon. The people gathered there looked around them on that rocky hill and understood, for all around them were the mustard plants. It was imagery that was fresh, that used pieces of their reality. It was imagery that symbolized that a small insignificant seed could produce a tree, a miracle to be reckoned with. A symbol of the kingdom of God.

A journey of faith can be just as doubtful as looking at that mustard seed. It can be impossible at times to look at that seed and really believe it will produce anything worthwhile. That anything will come of it.

I am in that doubting moment. I doubt that the seed of the calling God has spoken in me will really come to anything. I doubt that water will come and sun will come and nutrients will come to bring that seed to fruition. I doubt that money will come to pay for what it requires to follow Jesus. I doubt that ministry will open up, that strength to follow through will be found. I doubt that these God-given dreams which I cannot escape will become reality to be reckoned with.

But I was reminded today of the journey so far. Remembering where I've been, where I came from, the innocent and unsuspecting beginnings. The beginnings that gave no hint of what was going to happen next.

My whole life has been woven and spun with graces and mercies. With strengths and unasked for provisions to accomplish what I did not suspect I would even ever do or become. Throughout, it has been intertwined with the golden sparkles of God's love and gifts.



And yet I sit here doubting.

If I have been called to something, if a ministry or mission has been given to me, if I am made for greater things, how could I think that I was then expected to achieve it on my own? Foolish thought! But a very real and even disquieting one.

Faith, looking into the spiritual dimension to see what God says about a matter, and then doing it.
Faith, believing that somehow, someway, God will move and the impossible will be possible.
Faith, hanging on and refusing to give up, refusing to accept the second rate offering.

Faith is stepping out, even with no idea of where that step will take us. Faith is not being discouraged when the rain feels late, when the knots are big, when the way is long.

Faith is a journey, I am learning. A journey towards living in peace and quietness, fearlessly trusting that God, who sends you, will also arrange for the message to be delivered. That God, who is weaving the story, who is controlling the threads, knows the pattern. That God knows when the rain and when the sun is needed.

Hebrews 11:1-3 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Its An Afternoon For...

This is not an afternoon for studying.
Its an afternoon for crackling through bright fall leaves, sun warming my shoulders.
Its an afternoon for coffee sipping, walking downtown.
Its an afternoon for my new pen and journal by a fountain with the gentle hush of a slight breeze.
Its an afternoon for counting hidden gifts and finding joy.
Its an afternoon for peaceful mellowness, a welcome respite.

Unfortunately, instead I am being responsible and studying as I should do.

But nonetheless, its a lovely afternoon, and I am grateful.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How?

How do I sort out the pieces of my heart, and fit them all together?
How do the drops of rain fall in pattern?
How do the leaves know when to change color?



How do I count the stars at night?
How do I explain the shine of the moon's face?



How do I account for the dreams I have so deep in my heart? How do I find the courage to keep on toward them, and not lose sight of the end in the confusion of the way?

How do I name the thoughts and feelings? How do I write what I desire in so many words, when what I want is so big and beautiful?



How do I explain the innermost workings of my heart to others?
How do I grasp hold of a flickering light and make it shine brighter?

How do I speak of things never uttered, only felt?
How do I believe that nothing is impossible?




How do I remember who I am a midst the babble and confusion?

How do I find who I am a midst the babble and confusion?

How do I take one step at a time?

How do I trust?



Psalm 88:12-13
Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?
But I cry to you for help, Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you.

Psalm 121:1-3
I lift up my eyes to the mountains- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip-he who watches over you will not slumber.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Collection

I'm staring at my screen, my brain racing and attempting to collect my thoughts. Writing is relaxing to me, and I am needing to wind down from a busy day and crazy week and organize some thoughts and bring the adrenaline rush down.

And so, a collection of thoughts.

Collections kind of fascinate me. I wondered why people do it, and then I realized I have collections, too. But the thing I think about most is tiny collections. Some people collect a certain item or subject until they have hundreds or thousands.

And some collect until they have three or four. They choose carefully, and wait until just the thing comes along that draws out the beauty from inside them and reminds them of it whenever they see it. Something special and because there are so few of them, they can actually get to know each piece well and recognize each part.

That's what fascinates me, the tiny collections. The big ones become unwieldy  and you can't have them all out and loved without losing something in the masses.

Maybe its because I tend to be a detail sort of person, and like to get to know each detail well. Too much makes it hard to do that, and I get overwhelmed and frustrated.

I have been struggling with a lot of things lately, but one of them is school. Ever since my summer off (ok, it was way before then...but we will say thats when it started) its been difficult to find the groove of studying again. Finally this week I feel like I've had a breakthrough and have made progress in three areas. The first area, the one I felt most encouraged about, was math. A good and patient friend sat down with me on Saturday and helped me conquer some real problems. Hooray for people who actually understand math! Math feels like mind games to me. Hopefully not too much longer until I will be finished with this! The second area was the current examination I am preparing for. I finally took a practice test and found I am not too far from being ready! After nearly a month, its about time. And then there's Spanish, which fills my heart with delight. I'm still throwing Spanish out there randomly to poor folks who do not understand, but smile politely anyway.

Which leads me to another random thought of the day. Last night, during a late night run to Burger King (I know, I know, I didn't choose the location, okay?) I noticed two Latino families eating dinner together. It was all I could do to contain myself and not go over and start talking like some gringa loca. I had to keep reminding myself that they didn't know me, and would probably NOT be as excited to talk to me as I was to talk to them. I did do a bit of eavesdropping just to enjoy the music of their language.

And that reminds me...its now been two months since I returned home from South America, and the culture shock is just beginning to wear off. I still have moments when I look around and suddenly wonder why there are so many gringos, or moments when I start speaking Spanish randomly, or moments when all the stuff we have and the way we live just overwhelms me. I wonder what it'd be like if I had lived there longer...And in one way I don't want it to ever wear off.

Anyway, just a collection of thoughts bouncing around my head and off my fingertips.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Accepting The Gift

Sunday I attended a large church service to celebrate and welcome a new bishop in our conference of United Methodist churches. It was a beautiful service, full of meaning and symbols, full of worshipful beauty. The pentacle of the service came towards the end, when we were celebrating holy communion together. All I remember is the beautiful music, of voice and organ. It was music that lifted higher as it went on, voices raised upward toward the One they were worshiping. They worshiped with excellence and thoughtfulness.

The music lead us toward the front, and we walked quietly, taking it slowly and holding our hands in readiness to receive the gift of Christ's body and blood. I remember the line of people ahead of me, each eager to be there, looking for a place, and all with hands held out, palms open to receive what God has offered. There is a beauty in that symbolism, if anyone takes a moment to recognize it. Christ was a gift to us, a gift beyond comprehension. And we can receive that gift, as if we deserved it. We offer our hands, out stretched and palms upward to accept the gift offered, to feel the bread given, a symbol of Christ's body. To accept the bread and dip it in the cup that represents Christ's blood.

I saw it all in a flash, a moment in time as I stood in line to receive my gift. My gift of redemption, my gift of freedom from the sin that causes me such heartache. My gift of a relationship with Christ. My gift of experiencing the kingdom of God here and now. My gift of grace.

And everyone, together, received this gift.We did not pluck it from the hands of the giver. We did not grasp it and take it from His hands by force.

We waited until it was placed there. We waited until it was given. Just as there were thousands of years between the promise to Abraham, and the fulfillment of Jesus, we waited, time suspended until the gift was given, and we accepted it and it entered us and Christ entered us, and we tasted the ground wheat and the crushed grapes.

That was the pentacle of the service Sunday. That we accepted the gift given to us. The gift of Christ is accepted every time we accept communion. We experience the grace of Christ's love and power every time we accept communion.

Beautiful.

Let us accept the gift always.





Monday, October 8, 2012

A Bit of Fancy


This is a little more fanciful and whimsical than I usually go, but somehow I like the looks of this little mushroom with the tiny white accordion pleating under its little red skirt. And perhaps a small little toad comes and sits underneath, using it for a sun shade. Just something I took joy in, with a quick snap of the lens.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Take The Next Step

I've been considering a lot of things lately. There are a lot of things going on, a lot of options ahead, and a path that is at a fork in the road. Its time to camp for a bit and look at a map.

I've been trying to figure out what to do next, and struggling a bit with where I am, and which way to turn. These struggles are good, but it can be hard sometimes to figure out who you are and where you are and where you're going next. Its part of the journey, a necessary part. And I've been watching and looking for answers and directions.

Over and over, whenever I've taken time to stop and listen, or pay attention to the message being presented to me, it seems to be saying the same thing. Take the next step. And always there is a reminder that I don't know where that next step will ultimately lead, and I do not know what the step after next will be and when. All I know is I have to take a step, and not worry about the rest.

Just do the next thing. Take the next step. Trust God that He will shine the spotlight on what to do next.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Putting In Notice

Where do I go to resign from my life?
Oh. I don't get to do that.

STRESS is the main focus of my life right now. And I am too honest to say that the main focus is Jesus or God or my relationship with the Lord. Nope folks, it would be saintly to say so, and saintly to act so, but I will just face the facts of things and admit in a very humble way that actually, all I am thinking about is things that make me feel stressed and when I am not thinking about that, I am thinking of how stressed I am. To recap: I want to resign.
Oh. I don't get to do that.

Lets see, first off is TW. TW is a great big and looming event known to all others as THE WEDDING. No, its not my wedding. At least I'd have a honeymoon to look forward to if it was. But nonetheless TW up until this week was causing a deal of dismay and stress due to an attempt to plan and execute a beautiful, memorable, simple and very inexpensive occasion. Weddings in the newest form of the word are rarely simple or inexpensive. I have a secret plan to elope when it is my turn to marry.

Next is school. I have been working on school for a year. A YEAR. I wanted to graduate at the year and three months mark with a bachelors degree in communications. I then proceeded to take six months off for something known as LIFE and now I am somewhat disappointed that I won't actually graduate until six months later than intended. Oh well. I wouldn't trade the time off doing things I love. Needless to say, I want to finish quickly so I can go back to doing what I love. But this thing called LIFE keeps taking up my time and making it hard to study! Its really putting a crimp in my style, ya'll. Such a drag to read about microeconomics when I could be helping someone manage their life better with a microeconomical loan someplace like, say, Bolivia. But there has to be first things first, and unfortunately, life experience is not the only credential one must have to succeed.

Then there is work. I work at a lovely place and am paid a reasonable amount to do so. I have a million and one things that should have been done yesterday, and a million and one details to remember for tomorrow. But even with a reasonable amount paid to do so, the ole purse is nearly flat, it is so empty. Working through school is a brilliant idea, and I hate debt, but it sure makes life a little difficult to balance when deciding between math and an essential like paying a bill. And cars have an insatiable appetite for gas. It probably doesn't help that I have an insatiable appetite for traveling.

And then there's quite a list of things I should do, or want to do, but require money or time to do, both of which are becoming more and more difficult to find or part with.

And we haven't broached several subjects not worthy for blog consumption but which cause stress in one form or another.

Makes you want to scream, doesn't it? Why doesn't this Katie girl just get a handle on things and calm down and put it into perspective? I'll whisper a secret to you...

Writing this is a step toward calming down and putting it into perspective. Nothing like seeing in black and white your minute and insignificant stresses to help you think of how small the hill you're climbing really is. Mountains they seem on gray rainy days, or when tossing and turning at night. But write them all down and then remember people and places where these things are definitely "first world pains" and suddenly, they all look like anthills.


O Lord, Grant your Spirit to calm and remind of things more worthy of thought and time than these small things. Inspire gratefulness of the bounty and blessings, and give strength to endure the seemingly impossible moments. For the grace of your Only Son Jesus Christ, Amen

Friday, September 28, 2012

My Bolivia

These are some of the faces I remember fondly from Bolivia. And these two, especially, are sweethearts I was thrilled to see again. I played with them, and colored with them, and danced with them two years ago...this visit I only got to see them for a little while, but it was still so exciting.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

This Is Mine!

Today I was listening to some music and started imagining God saying about me, "this is mine!" It kind of makes me stop and think, that God would claim me.

I know I am not that terrific. I am mean all the time. And I have the worst ugliness in my heart. And I have problems.

But even with all that, with being so ugly and unlovable, God still would say about me, me! that He claims me as His. That He would even go so far as to say, "this one is mine!"

Amazing to think the God of the universe, the God who made the earth, and has so much more on His mind would take the time to even recognize this minute bit of existence, this piece of humanity. The me that I am, and take pleasure in knowing me. Take pleasure in who I am.

I need someone to take pleasure in me. To accept who I am with all the mistakes and sins. To claim me.
I am grateful I know the One who does.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Dreaming

My heart is full of many things. But for me, such is life.

I am learning that I am tenacious with dreams, passionate about them, stubbornly holding out for what I hope will come true. I grit my teeth, and hang on when everything seems hopeless.
When I finally see it come to pass, I celebrate with joy.

But when a dream falls and seems beyond reach, I mourn deeply.

I am realizing I have deep places in my heart, places that have never been opened up before. But now I am aware of  them, and cannot ignore them.

I feel like I am in a new skin, but sometimes trying to fit back into the old one...and it doesn't always work. I'm learning to become the person I am today and yet still be happy with where I am today.

I have an eye towards the future, and I know the dream in my heart. A beautiful dream, and one I had a small taste of but cannot realize yet. A dream I cannot forget. I think of it all day every day, breathe it, eat it, dream of it at night. And yet I know it is not for today, yet. I know there are other things that must take place first, before it is a today dream.

Even if it is not a today dream, even if it is silent and waiting, it gives me something to hope for, something to live for, something to work towards. One day, that dream will come true, I am sure. One day, I will be celebrating with joy, delight and excitement because it is realized.

I am dreaming of that day. I am dreaming of the day my deepest hopes will be here. I dream, with stars in my eyes, passion in my heart. I will not let go. I will not give up. I will work, I will wait, and I will succeed and I will be happy.

This is today.   And these are my dreams.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Indigo Silence

Purple clouds, deepening into indigo silence as night begins to creep up from the east, and arch over,
sprinkling bits of light, sparkling specks in the sky.
And a light little breeze, cool and delicious plays with the tired grasses, warm from the sun.
The crickets sing softly.
A gentle coo from a bird here or there.
Indigo silence.
Full of noise, yet quiet.
Dark, yet rich with color.
Night begins to cover us, and hides the glare of blemishes and muffles the sound of mistakes until we can see nothing and can only hear our own thoughts.  Can only know our own hearts.

And it stretches on and on, time standing still, and we relax, lulled by the stealthy passing of time. It tiptoes past us, unawares, until we wake to find ourselves in a new day. And what happened in the night? What did we miss in the dark, what did we lose in the meantime?

The night is indigo silence.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Lesson From My Best Friend



This is a nice memory from Bolivia. Cisia was one of my best friends there, and so sweet. She and I had a special relationship and I miss her very much. My hermanita and I could get into a lot of trouble together, believe me!

Cisia taught me to ride motorbikes the Bolivian way, whistling for a taxi, and hopping aboard side saddle, with my groceries in my lap.

One thing that Cisia taught me, was that mission is beyond evangelism and holding Bible schools and building buildings. She helped me see that it is discipleship, and that a relationship is much more important. No one can measure the relationship between Cisia and I, and what may come of it in the future. But the time spent with her was invaluable, and she taught me a lot, without even realizing she was doing so.

My first lesson in discipleship.

Something I am pondering, for sure.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

On Feelings

A bit of a post about some things I am thinking about this weekend, and that is about feelings.

I am noticing that I am much more prone to my feelings than I ever was before. Maybe I am just not remembering well, but ever since a certain happening, my feelings have been quickly and easily overwhelmed.

Perhaps this is from a deep wound, which causes quick reactions to hurt or pain. Whether this is true or not, my feelings get away from me and then I am frustrated because I am not able to control them as much as I would like.

My feelings well up inside me, and overwhelm me with whatever it is that is bothering me. Either sadness, or depression, or hurt or frustration, or more likely something illogical, and it spills over in all sorts of ways.

Tears. Harsh words. Unkind teasing. All sorts of ugliness comes out. And when it starts coming, I feel unhappy about it and frustrated with myself for being so emotional.

Being emotional is not what I think of for a mature woman. Emotion is surface, and from a part of the brain that is different than the reasoning part where deep thinking occurs. Emotion carries one away from thinking, and I do not want to be carried by emotion and feelings. I'd rather think carefully and reason to a more mature viewpoint. I'd rather my feelings come from maturity than emotion. And I've noticed my emotion changes as quickly as the wind, and is not reliable at all.

I do not want to be an unstable, emotional, immature woman.

This is why I get so frustrated with being caught up in feelings. And my feelings have been in quite a jumble lately! I wish they would just go away sometimes. Unfortunately, they do not go away and require a good bit of management.

 So to begin management, and this management needs some tight control.

God grant me grace to remember how others feel, to remember the truth in the midst of emotion, to remember the truth of situations beyond my control. And God grant me grace to weather the storm of feelings that are still present, and threatening to overcome.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Small Thing

One thing I saw in Bolivia was the generosity always given so freely. During my time in Bolivia I met with a church and some members to hear and see what their dreams and goals for the future were. One church member invited us to her house and made a wonderful meal for us with the little she owned. She then told us that she was praying for us in the United States, that God would bless us. As I looked around at her humble house, with only a spigot in the yard for water, a few pots and pans over an open fire for her kitchen, I felt a lump rise in my throat when I considered the surroundings I am used to seeing here. This church member was asking for a blessing for us. The contrast was amazing. And deeply humbling.

I would like to be that generous. I would like to give out of the wealth that I have here. Will you join me? Will you look around for others who may not even have less than you, and give what you do have? Will you look for ways to bless other people?



I would like to introduce you to this woman's pastor. In this photo, he is the gentleman standing on the far right, his best blue shirt tucked in neatly, sleeves rolled up to the right size. Pastor Agusto stands with another pastor and the director of a Methodist school in front of the church he pastors in San Julian, the first Methodist church in the area. It is a mission church, and is in an impoverished area far from paved roads. Inside the floors are dirt, the walls of plain boards nailed up against the elements. Next door is a school and an empty, sandy lot where children were playing soccer.

The thing that makes Pastor Agusto stand out is the fact that he is an ordained elder in the Methodist church, yet his church cannot afford a parsonage for him to live in close to the church. Instead, he rents a place to live 15 blocks away...and walks the dusty or muddy roads every day to get to church to pastor his congregation. He has no transportation other than his feet. As we explored further, we found it is possible to purchase a motorcycle for around $1400 USD. I would like to help Pastor Agusto and present him with a new motorcycle. Would you help us raise the $1400 necessary to purchase a means of transportation for Pastor Agusto?

A motorcycle is a small thing. A small way to be the hands and feet of Jesus. A small way to reach out to others across the globe and share with others living in difficult surroundings. And I know every spare cent of mine is going toward making the goal of purchasing a motor for Pastor Agusto.

If you would like to help, please leave a comment or send me an email here: Email


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Toto, I've A Feeling We're Not In Bolivia Anymore

I woke the day after arriving home from Bolivia and opened my eyes to a new world. Toto, I've a feeling we're definitely NOT in Bolivia anymore!

For one thing, I cannot step out of my house and wave down a motorcycle taxi. I've really had to think about it more than once when preparing to leave the house that I would need other transportation. And if I do happen to ride a motorcycle here, not only am I not allowed to ride side saddle, but I am also strongly encouraged to wear a helmet at all times. And a skirt is probably not the best idea either, here in a America. Furthermore, carrying groceries in my lap is also frowned upon.

It has also been strange to adjust to wearing seat belts and noticing that everyone here owns and drives cars. Not only that, but I own and must drive a car! No more walking blocks to get to where I am going. Everyone has their own private portal to beam them to where they want to be.

Then there's the language barrier. Here where I live in the EEUU English is the language. My mind is still living in Spanish. The Sunday after I returned, I nearly greeted a sweet old lady in Spanish with exuberance...only to recall just in time that she only understands English. Oops. No español for me as a means of communication for now.

There's also the form of greeting. I was kissed an average of 10 times a day in Bolivia as a normal form of greeting. (I hasten to add it was on the cheek!) Here, if I were to lean in for the kiss, they'd think I was interested a little more of a relationship than they were expecting....

Next I went to the store. I was amazed and kept marveling over how clean it was, how much space they had between displays and items, and by the sheer number of things and the level of quality available. It was overwhelming. I left as soon as I could.

Then there are restaurants. The array of choices at the average American restaurant is dizzying. Rare is it to find a place with three or four items on the menu to choose from. No, how about twenty or thirty items?

Perhaps a bit of vanity on my part, but one thing I quickly adjusted to was having more clothing choices. I took a total of two pairs of pants and perhaps six shirts for the summer. Regardless the number, it all fit into a carry on size suitcase.  Fast forward to arriving home, where it was tempting to change clothes several times a day just for the sheer fun of it. Look, another outfit I haven't worn in months! COOL!

It was also very difficult to remember where to dispose of toilet paper here. I know, TMI, but hey, in the interest of being authentic, it has taken quite a while to readjust.

My stomach has also taken quite a while to get used to American food again. It cries out in protest everytime I make it digest American food. Perhaps it misses rice at every meal and chicken every day. And where did my soy con jugo every morning go??

And you know what? This is going to sound really funny, I know. But it is really weird sometimes to see so many white folks around. I was used to never seeing them and it comes a shock at times...so many gringos! At one point I attended a conference and was one of two gringas. Only two white Americans present out of a thousand and twenty.

Toto, I've a feeling we're definitely not in Bolivia anymore! And gosh, it feels like it's taken weeks to readjust, when really it hasn't been long at all that I have been here...


Me extraño mucho a Bolivia y espero con ganas de volver. Toto, no estamos en Bolivia nunca más.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Picture Perfect Mission


Picture perfect. That is what the glossy magazines and slick videos show at church when it comes to mission. Happy people, surrounded by little kids who are all smiling broadly while hugging new found friends, or if they are not smiling, it is a reflection of their grim story which is told in stark words beneath the photo. Mission trips and organizations encourage picture perfect mission to reflect the shiny, prosperous generosity and the little commitment necessary to "make a difference" in the world. A week or two weeks in a new exciting surrounding, with loving, sweet little children to steal your heart. Building projects or medical missions bring hope and relief to people who have so little. Money is magically worth much more in other countries and is easy to throw around to the awe of the impoverished hosts. Its heady and exhilarating, and takes at least two weeks or a month to recover from and come back down to the ground after arriving back home. Then the world is back to normal, and the culture shock is blurred once again by the everydayness of surroundings so familiar.

I suspect that is not the whole truth to the meaning, reason, and design the word mission should invoke when spoken or discussed. I suspect there is much more to it than modern Americans are willing to even think about or discover for themselves. And I was content to accept this picture perfect version of mission until this summer. I was not only content, but sure there was no other way to view it.

Several weeks into my "living in mission" project, I was becoming increasingly frustrated and irritated that my version of mission and my preconceived ideas of what it should look like was not happening. I was sure I was just wasting my time because nothing seemed to be visibly happening because I was there.  The ideas of what I thought I would doing were not happening at all, and I was stuck with a task that while interesting, was not what I considered "mission" enough. I was becoming discontented and disillusioned quickly and complained about it until someone asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks. "What is mission?" At first I wanted to retort a quick cliche, but saw that the pat answer was not going to work. There had to be more to it than the usual light remarks about making the world a better place and helping those in need.

I had to really wrestle with and search for the meaning behind mission for myself. I was caught up in the perfect picture meaning of it, and caught up in my expectations of what I thought it would look like or be. I pictured myself being benevolent and accomplishing something so everyone could measure and see for themselves how wonderful my work was, and how much I was able to do to change many lives and make them all live better, like the prosperous Americans I know and am around.

What is mission? Why do it? There are plenty of books out there to discuss the topic, but I had access to none of them. All I had was my Bible and a journal to write through the thoughts and questions that were flooding my mind.

So I visited the "great commission" first. Matthew 28:19. Go and make disciples it said, baptizing them and teaching them to observe all things Jesus had told the disciples. A verse often quoted, it is true. But this time I noticed something. It didn't say go and build buildings, or go and hold week long VBSs or go and give gifts. It said go and make disciples.

Make disciples. So how does that look in my life? How does that translate to mission?
It struck me that while I was busy in my job while living overseas, I had the perfect and golden opportunity to make disciples. I had two or three people already asking me for direction or guidance about serious problems, and I nearly missed the mission work right before me. Making disciples can include building buildings and holding VBSs, it is true. But I think it means building relationships and sharing lives and holding each other's hands through difficult times. I think mission means using my heart and mind to bring another into a better knowledge and awareness of the saving presence of Christ and His love. Bringing another alongside and sharing the bumps and working together to gain a better understanding of how the Kingdom should work.

I'm taking time to think through what I learned and what I think about mission. My time overseas has definitely changed me and my ideas in a lot of unexpected ways. I'm excited about what I am learning and recognizing, and excited about what the future might hold. Picture perfect or otherwise.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What Have You Seen?

"How have you seen God today?"
I pause, eyebrows frowned in thought as I consider the day, the moments that passed almost unconsciously, thinking of incidents and mind photographs of the day. Snapshots of time flash before my minds eye.
The laugh of a little student when I called her "Señora". The kind greeting of the man next door who is the school janitor. Chatter and laughter at lunch with Cisia, my co worker and friend. I see each face and think of each person all in a moment.

"How have you seen God today?"
Today it was in the provision of sending help at the moment I needed it. Today it was in the hug of a friend. Today it was in a surprisingly gruff remark from an unexpected place. And yes, a gruff remark can show me God. Sometimes I need a gruff remark directed at me.

I wish I had thought to journal this every day I was away. I wish I had thought to look for and write and record how I saw God each day. But I can look back and remember, and look back see moments I saw God. And I try to capture them with words now, so later I can again remember and see it afresh.

And perhaps now is the perfect time to begin a daily journal of how I see God each day. He is ever present. I just need to have the eyes freshly opened and clear to see Him.

How have you seen God today?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Culture Shock

After a summer spent living overseas, culture shock is setting in. For some reason, upon arrival, culture shock is not so bad, although I did experience a little then. But the return home is when it really begins to show.

Returning to my culture has at times felt like I am visiting this country for the first time. I marvel at this because I have not ventured too far yet for knowing how difficult it could be for my heart. I know too well what I will see, and I am not sure what effect it will have yet, being so recently returned from a place so different.

Culture shock is the shock of experiencing a different culture and ways of living. It is seeing blunt truth and grim reality without the rose colored spectacles, or the dull vision of one who views the same things every day. Suddenly, sharp and clear things stand out that before were not noticed or were blurred by the fact that it is so every day to us. Things that made sense before are suddenly shown to be completely wrong or absolutely ridiculous in light of experiences felt or seen in other places.

Suddenly, the woman standing in front of me demanding a drink to be made very specially despite being told it would require extra and unavailable service is even more noticeable than before when I remember the woman who came and picked crusts off our plates to eat for her supper.

Suddenly the over commercialism of our lives is too much and sickening when I remember the children whose parents live in something we would not consider keeping our pampered pets in, and who have no running water. And yet they gave us the little they had.

Culture shock is sitting on the porch, eating a meal and realizing it was cooked over an open fire, made from the chickens running in the yard, from hands who work to just make a way to eat. Culture shock is eating in a restaurant and beggars coming and asking for the leftover scraps of food from your plate, to make their meal from. Culture shock is watching a man pick food from a garbage.

Culture shock is a restaurant at home where children whine that they don't like what is before them, they want something else instead. My heart turns sick because I have seen skinny kids who are glad to have just one hot meal a day.

Culture shock is beginning for me. I have seen and lived in another place too long to take it lightly when I return to my own country. It is challenging. It is difficult. And I do not want it to dull. I do not want to become blind again, vision blurred by the fact that I see these ridiculous attitudes and ways of living every day. Better to remember and learn and grow in gratefulness and generosity. Better to let the culture shock me and change me for the better so I can in turn change the culture.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Alone


A new experience on the journey, and that is being completely alone. I have never had to face being alone before. Always I lived or stayed with people, always there was someone around to talk to or be with. But suddenly, I am alone, and it is an adjustment.
I am learning that I am very much a people person. I love people! I like to be with them, talk to them, find out how they think, and what their heart is like. I like to just sit together, even if we don't speak with words. I like to give someone a pat on the shoulder, and I like an exchange of smiles and glances. I am energized and excited by people.

And I am learning there is a time and a place to be so outgoing, and a time and a place to learn to be introspective and not depend on people to give me the energy I look for or need from being with others.
I can't say it is to the point where I love being alone, but I am beginning to enjoy some things about it.
I think it is important to learn to balance my natural personality tendancies. For instance, being such a people person, it is a good balance to experience living and being alone. I can learn to care for myself and find what I need emotionally through other avenues. I can make allowances and accomodate others better if I can find another side of my personality.

On the other side of the coin, someone who is very much a loner should also learn to be in community and living with others. But I think it is possible for loners and people like me to find a way to invite others into their lives and form community while still taking care of the person inside. Making ways to be alone, and with others, and still sharing lives and experiences and being companionable. I hope it is a grace I can learn, to invite others to share in my life. I want them to discover in my life the reason I am living here: Christ who is in me.

I am alone, yet not completely alone. I live alone, yet Christ is with me, and I am not alone. Christ lives in me, and is always there.

I am not alone.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Take My Life


Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise,
let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move,
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee,
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart; it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee,
Ever, only, all for Thee.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Journey

I sit and ponder the journey of life. The adventure that is so fun, so intense, and so rewarding. The adventure of following Jesus.
Its amazing where it can lead, its amazing what can happen that is so unexpected. New twists in the story, new threads to follow each day.
I never expected to be where I am today. I look out the window and the view is so different than the view I was imagining even 6 months ago, 1 year ago, and 2 years ago. The view is full of surprises I never imagined or knew.
What if the view I had imagined as most perfect had taken place? What if the view I wanted was the one I was seeing now?
Somehow, I am glad for the view I am seeing. I am glad I did not miss the opportunity to see what is happening around me.

God's paths are perfect ones, and I trust His plans. His views are different than anything I imagined or wanted. And it is beautiful.

Praise God for leading me here, to this place I love so much, to this experience and adventure. The journey and path leads on, and I am excited to see what is next, where it will take me. Perhaps the other side of the world. Perhaps next door. Perhaps some place I have never imagined.

Learning is journeying. It is accepting new information and using it each day. 
I have to learn the grace of going with the flow, of following the turns and twists in the path with graciousness and excitement rather than worry or anxiousness. I have to learn to take the corner and look eagerly in the direction we are going instead of looking behind at what is past. I have to learn the grace of change, the grace of movement. This is part of the journey as well.

The journey of life. I am fascinated.




Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Finding the Will of God


“I never remember, in all my Christian course, a period now (in March, 1895) of sixty-nine years and four months, that I ever SINCERELY and PATIENTLY sought to know the will of God by the teaching of the Holy Ghost, through the instrumentality of the Word of God, but I have been ALWAYS directed rightly. But if honesty of heart and uprightness before God were lacking, or if I did not patiently wait upon God for instruction, or if I preferred the counsel of my fellow men to the declarations of the Word of the living God, I made great mistakes." GEORGE MÜLLER.

Müller, George, Answers to Prayer From George Müller's Narratives  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Shine Your Light


Shine your light and let the whole world see you're singing for the glory of the risen King/ Shine your light and let the whole world see you're singing for the glory of the risen King/ Savior, He can move the mountains/ my God is mighty to save, mighty to save/ forever author of salvation, He rose and conquered the grave/ Savior, He can move the mountains, my God is mighty to save, mighty to save!

Over and over this song from Hillsong has played on my computer this morning. I have been thinking of my life and how I want my light and my song to be heard by the world and know that it is for the glory of a King who heals, who saves. My God has saved me from the pit of death, from the dry, barren desert places, from a broken, shattered heart. My God has turned my mourning into dancing, my tears of sadness into tears of joy, My God is mighty to save! Today my song is one of thanksgiving and awe as I look back over the months, the year and see the Glory of God in my life. And I want everyone to know the mighty power of my God, of the light in my heart. He can move mountains in your heart, He can conquer the grave of disappointed hopes and dreams, He can can create wholeness and beauty from ashes and brokenness. This is me, praising my God, my Savior, and my Healer. Let the whole world see, my God has conquered the grave, and is mighty to save. This is my song, my light.

The last month especially I have learned and seen and experienced how mighty God is, how He provides, saves, and gives strength and hope. Stories too numerous to write are in my heart of how He is there, always. His glory is shining and I can only say how good and kind and mighty He is. I simply cannot imagine what a dreary, hopeless life it must be without God. What is like to live without faith, without hope, without light? It is difficult for me to fathom. My relationship with God is so important, such a part of who I am. I want everyone to experience what it is like to sleep peacefully, to walk confidently, to know that there is light, and hope. So I shine my light and I sing and I share of the glory of God and the wonder of His love and salvation. May the whole world see it and hear it and sing it, too.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fresh Off The Camera


Isn't this just gorgeous? I am amazed my camera could capture the moon so well.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ahhh, Summertime!


Now doesn't this look cool and nice for a hot summer day? Mmmm....I think yes! Summer is my favorite time of year! I love the heat, the sun, the fresh vegetables, and things like this frosty goodness.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Not Faint


Isaiah 40:31
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint. 

I can wholeheartedly agree with this verse. Strength renewed, hope burning brightly, I am running and walking and soaring without weariness, and without growing faint or tired.

Hope burning brightly, hope in the Lord.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Body Language


The body language of Christ.
Have you ever thought of that? We talk about what Christ said, we talk about what would Jesus do, and we talk about how Christians ought to behave. But I have never thought about the body language of Christ, of how he welcomes others into His presence, and how He helps them feel His interest, His love, His delight in who they are. He looks beyond their outward appearance, whether they look beautiful, clean, groomed, with polished manners. He looks into their personality, he looks into their heart and mind, and finds the soul. The soul looks different than the body, and many times I have been surprised by that. In my travels, I have met many people who in body, look rough, dirty, and unkempt. But their soul was so beautiful, their person inside was loving, gracious, and showing many of the characteristics of Christ.
Body language is how we communicate without words. We draw near if we are interested or loving, and we step back and tighten our muscles if we do not trust. We smile and look into the eyes if we like a person, or make limited eye contact and keep our mouth tight if we do not. There are a million ways we speak with our bodies.
It is a humbling thought, when I consider my habits and ways of speaking with my body. Frequently it an unconscious extension of my ideas and feelings about the other person. But sometimes, it is intentionally used to let them see how I really think or feel about them, and it is not always in Christ-like ways.
The body of Christ, what kind of language does it communicate? Does it seem to welcome intimacy? Does it seem to draw others into a conversation? What sort of body language did Christ use for us? The body of Christ is the church, and how does my church, or my temple within the church, communicate with others? So often, as a pastor's daughter, I have witnessed and heard of body language being used not to draw others near, but to shove them aside. Their body language was not one of love or acceptance.
And at the same time, I have witnessed many of these bodies, these temples within the church draw others in beautifully gracious ways.
It's something to ponder, this idea of Christ's body language. His person, His way of living with others and inviting them into His life and presence. And it's something to ponder, how my language should reflect this, and how the body language of the church should reflect this.
May I learn the body language of Christ, and may I use it to draw others closer to Him.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Psalm Of Praise


Psalm 104:24-35

24 Lord, how manifold are your works!
    In wisdom have you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.
25 Here is the sea, great and wide,
     which teems with creatures innumerable,
    living things both small and great.
26 There go the ships,
    and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.[b]
27 These all look to you,
    to give them their food in due season.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up;
    when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
    when you take away their breath, they die
    and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your Spirit,[c] they are created,
    and you renew the face of the ground.
31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
    may the Lord rejoice in his works,
32 who looks on the earth and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains and they smoke!
33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    for I rejoice in the Lord.
35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
    and let the wicked be no more!
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Praise the Lord!