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 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.


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