Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Paso A Paso

It's quiet. The silence wraps around me, friendly and warm.
I wonder how many days of silence it will take before I grow cold to it again?
It takes silence for contemplation to come.

Here I am again, after a whirlwind. After a needed break.
Here I am again, and a whole new adventure has begun. A new life has opened up suddenly, and at moments I am nearly breathless from it, at moments I am in awe. God has moved powerfully, and directed my steps anew. Prayers, deep ones, have been answered.

In January, in the midst of desperation, of heartbreak, of soul searching, I wrote down eight goals to work towards. Eight changes for positive steps, eight things that needed work. Eight goals.
Then life happened. I worked, I studied, I wrestled. For two dark months, I was in depression, I was facing darkness, and I felt like my life was going nowhere fast.

But prayers were being lifted, on my behalf. Many people were praying.

And I kept working, kept taking steps. Baby steps, one at at time. Paso a paso.

And God began to work, changing my heart. God began to give me strength, began to show me the beams of sunshine just beginning to show on the horizon.

I counted gifts, found the sunshine, and slowly it began to filter that God was there in the darkness, that He was there in the night, and that He had given light instead of darkness, and day instead of night. Slowly I felt His love again, slowly I believed His goodness again.

God is so good. All the time.

Finally, in April, I remembered that list of eight goals. I pulled them out again and looked at them and was astonished that all of them were either accomplished, or had a solid plan in place to accomplish them.

Step by step they had been met, step by step things had changed, and step by step my heart is being made whole again. Gods grace has been visibly evident. God's love has been showered down. And God's provision has been made manifest.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye, heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

Friday, February 15, 2013

40 Days of Lent: Journal Entry #3


"What I'm interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You'll call out for help and I'll say, "Here I am!"

-Isaiah 58: 7-9

I began mulling over what kind of photo to take to express that word and verse.
I thought of glasses to aid in seeing...
I thought of a keyhole to see through...
I thought of finding poverty to photograph.

So off I went to look for something to photograph to express seeing the needs around me. That's when I discovered how clean and tidy my town is. You don't see homelessness or poverty around like you'd think. There aren't many places to find the hungry or the shivering out on the street.
They are hidden.

Or maybe they are tidied up and covered up.

Maybe, its good that there isn't any visible poverty showing.
Maybe its very sad.

Maybe the sad part is the look of affluence, the excess around. The nice, tidy homes. Maybe it could be people who hide their poverty, or maybe its just people hiding from poverty.

How do I hide from poverty?

Thoughts on Seeing today. Seeing the poor, the shivering, the broken, the hungry.


After writing the above, I started thinking about poverty in my area. I asked on Facebook where I might find it here...and then I took a long drive alone.
I explored my town with new eyes, ventured into places and neighborhoods I didn't know existed, and found places where poverty slapped me in the face. Nothing hidden, covered up here. It was exposed, and shouting.
It was such an interesting experience. Nothing I saw was any worse than anything I encountered every day in Bolivia, yet there I wandered around quite fearlessly on foot, and in my car here, I began to feel fear as I drove through places where I obviously did not fit in. It gave me quite a pause, and I considered it while I drove slowly through neighborhoods watching little children play, watching people walk up and down the street, seeing houses in such sad shape yet with people living there anyway. In my hometown.
Why was I feeling that fear? Why was I glancing away, and why did I naturally turn toward the nicer streets first? I forced myself to turn against it, to face it, to look long at these places. To trace the dirt and grime, to meet the eyes of the people I saw, to smile at them. To see.
I was fearful of the depression and poverty. I was afraid of what might lurk, of things I have no real experience with. The shadows were long and attempting to grab me, and I was too willing to run away.

An interesting lesson to myself. Its easy to write about poverty on a nice laptop in a comfortable chair maybe while munching on delicious food. Its so easy to be self-righteous and hypocritical. But then when the rubber meets the road, and I come face to face with reality, what then? What about this world, this other side of things, ugly and uncomfortable? What do I know of it, and what am I doing about it?

I never took my photo today. I saw new things, I have many new mental snapshots within my own zip code, but I never snapped that button on my camera. I was busy seeing. The photo was not made, but it was a changed perspective and new way of looking at my own town, my own neighborhood, looking for those hidden places, or rather, the poverty I hide from.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

40 Days of Lent: Journal Entry #1

Who am I?
The word prompt for this photo.

A question I am struggling with and thinking about a lot these days. Who am I? There are so many people eager to define for me who I am, who have opinions or thoughts on who I should be, or how I might look, or what I might be made of. Its confusing and I strive to find myself in all the babble.

Who am I? As I contemplated this phrase and how to picture it, I began to think of where I am these days, the brokenness I am facing and feeling every moment. I feel all edges and smashed in sharp pieces. I am the broken pottery. I am the pieces of something...

I chose these pieces of pottery because they are pieces I dug up two years ago in Israel at first century level. I remember the careful digging, centimeter by centimeter or even less, by brushes or tiny tools. Even these pieces, these broken bits were carefully handled, carefully brushed out of the dirt and carefully lifted away from the dust where it had lain for centuries.

This pottery is dated to the period of time that Jesus lived in that region. The imagination can take off, inviting all sorts of speculation of what sort of vessel it was part of, and what it held. And whether it was used by Jesus. And yet here these same pieces lay in my hand so many thousands of years later.

Broken pieces. Scattered shards.

They are broken now. But that does not mean they can not be repaired.

Each piece we dug up on that archaeology site was carefully numbered, drawn and eventually glued back into place, back together with other pieces until it formed the original vessel again. What was broken was made whole again.

Who am I? Broken pottery. Broken and waiting to be repaired again.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Prayer For The Valley

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always,
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me ot face my perils alone.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Lenten Journey

I'm preparing for Lent, which starts on Wednesday, and getting a little excited.

I'm not gonna lie. I haven't really been thinking about it or excited about it or even very interested in observing Lent this year. Things have just been so hard, so exhausting, so much, that the prospect of another trial, self-inflicted, was too much to ask it seemed. In previous years, I've fasted something that was important to me, or something that I felt helped me keep control instead of allowing God to have control. You know, those tiny little things like holding onto things that would help me get what I wanted or was called to do because God must not be able to handle it...

This year is different. This year requires a different set of priorities. A different set of lessons and a different focus.

This year, following a set of readings and word prompts, I am going on a photo journey. Every day has a different word to express through photography. A word pulled from a Scripture reading. My plan is to read the Scripture, journal about it, and take a photo to express what I'm thinking about it. The challenging part is that its hard to stay consistent with something like this every day.

I'm planning to share these photos over on my photo blog, A Thousand Hidden Gifts. I may share some of the journal as well here.

I'm getting excited about something new to focus on. And as always, I am going to enjoy worshiping through photography. I love to use the camera's focus to bring something into perspective, some beauty to the surface that otherwise might never be noticed.

Lent is not a time traditionally recognized for beauty. But there is beauty in pain, shadows, and darkness. And it is valuable to spend time there sometimes, to soak it in and let it change us, soften us, and rely on the Light of Christ in those shadows.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Wow. The last couple of evenings, I've spent re-reading much of my blog. I've read most of the published posts, and some unpublished ones as well. I've remembered thoughts and circumstances which lead to thoughts which led to the writings here. And I've been amazed.

What an ebenezer, this blog is.
And it is a good thing for me to see this ebenezer, this stone of remembrance.

An ebenezer is a stone raised in a certain place, so when others see it they can ask what it stands for, and can hear and remember the stories it represents. Ebenezers of God's grace and goodness and mercy.

In the path and rush of life, it is so incredibly easy to forget these mercies and graces and answered prayers. Its so easy to forget the thousands of blessings and gifts. It is necessary to remember these things. Its necessary to look back and see the beauty of God's presence.

I used to keep a prayer journal, and go back periodically to date when things happened or prayers were answered. It was amazing to see it in black and white. Now I am looking back at this story, and am amazed at the views I've seen and the miracles that have happened.

God is ever good.
God is ever present.
Here I raise my ebenezer. My stone of remembrance for all He has done.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Peace and Reflection

The following quotes are from two different devotionals given to me the last week. I've begun reading them daily, and found both meaningful and pertinent for today.

From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young:
"My peace is the treasure of treasures: the pearl of great price. It is an exquisitely costly gift, both for the Giver and the receiver. I purchased this Peace for you with My blood. You receive this gift by trusting Me in the midst of life's storms. If you have the world's peace-everything going your way-you don't seek My unfathomable Peace. Thank Me when things do not go your way, because spiritual blessings come wrapped in trials. Adverse circumstances are normal in a fallen world. Expect them each day. Rejoice in the face of hardship, for I have overcome the world. Matthew 13:46, James 1:2, John 16:33"

And from My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers:
Transformed By Insight
"2 Corinthians 3:18 We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image.
The outstanding characteristic of a Christian is this unveiled frankness before God so that the life becomes a mirror for other lives. By being filled with the Spirit we are transformed, and by beholding we become mirrors. You always know when a man has been beholding the glory of the Lord; you feel in your inner spirit that he is the mirror of the Lord's own character. Beware of anything which would sully that mirror in you; it is nearly always a good thing, the good that is not the best.  The golden rule for your life and mine is this concentrated keeping of the life open towards God. Let everything else-work, clothes, food, everything on earth-go by the board, saving that one thing. The rush of other things always tends to obscure this concentration on God. We have to maintain ourselves in the place of beholding, keeping the life absolutely spiritual all through. Let other things come and go as they may, let other people criticize as they will, but never allow anything to obscure the life that is hid with Christ in God. Never be hurried out of the relationship of abiding in Him. It is the one thing that is apt to fluctuate but it ought not to. The severest discipline of a Christian's life is to learn how to keep "beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord." "
The first one about peace is significant because I have been seeking peace in my heart and life. And I am discovering that perhaps peace is through trusting, and trusting is through faith, and faith is by living what you know to be true.
The second one is how that peace from God is shown to others. The light in us is a mirror of God in our heart. How we keep that mirror clear so God can be seen by others is by opening our heart toward God and not towards all the other things around us like the food, clothes or other things. The other things cause our mirror to be fogged up. I want others to look at me and behold in the glass the glory of the Lord, to see the peace and love in me.
Part of this journey.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Do I Want Jesus?

"I want you Jesus."
I stared at the words I had just written, black ink on cream colored paper, the script lovely there. I stared and prayed, and searched my heart and wondered.
Do I really want Jesus? Do I want that gift of sacrifice in my heart? Do I want that joy? Do I want that peace? Do I want that difficult journey, that hard life of following Him? Do I want that freedom, that love always present? Do I? And do I have the commitment to keep on following during the dark days, when I can't see one step ahead? Do I trust that He will lead me? I have faith His way is good? What is His way? Of following principles of living righteously before God and man, of showing love to others, of giving ourselves selflessly to His will and service. Yes, and I committed to die for Him. I thought I could hold to my faith enough to die for it.
Is a form of dying for your faith dying to wants in favor of principle?
Jesus, the sacrifice of love. Jesus, the one who brings wholeness and wellness and fills our hearts and minds. Jesus, who died, so I might live.
Every day Christ comes. We accept salvation at a pivotal moment perhaps, and it becomes "the" moment in our minds when we became saved, when we became Christian. Mine is June 26th. But faith is an every day affair. Somehow, you are required each day to continue to live with faith and trust. Every day you must accept the salvation. Christ comes every day to save you and me.
This moment, this day, I accept the salvation of Christ. I receive the love of Christ in my heart, and remember my baptism that signified a change in me, signified a cleansed heart. Today I renew a life lived for Christ, a life lived following Jesus.
And I am grateful for this joy, this gift. The salvation of my soul from Hell. The salvation of my soul from the darkness that pervades us, surrounding us.
The gift of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.

Father of grace, You’ve sacrificed
Your only Son for us, the crucified Jesus
Enlarge our hearts to love Your Son
O grant to us the grace to walk with Him always
To make Him our great delight 
Bringing worship with our lives 

Only Jesus! Only Jesus! 
Give us Jesus, we cry
Only Jesus! Only Jesus!
The Pearl of greatest price

Verse 2
Spirit of grace, You’ve shed Your light
Upon our darkened eyes, unveiling Jesus Christ
Come change our hearts, conform our ways
To honor Jesus’ Name, His glory our refrain
Let His love compel our own 
As we worship at His throne

Jesus, our great Savior,
Lord of heaven, Son of God 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Just Katie

Who am I?
Deep down inside, where the heart pumps, sending blood coursing through my veins?
What are my dreams when I close my eyes? What are my hopes, my fancies, my wildest imaginings? And how do they fit with this body I live in, this humanity that covers my soul?
Who is this person, and what are her goals, and where is she going?

And so I begin a questioning and serious thinking as I try to define even more who I am. More blogging will come from this. I've begun already a little the past few days. But more ideas of who I am will come trickling up from the depths.

I'm thinking of my future and where it might be going.
I'm dreaming of my home and lifestyle and way of doing life.
I'm imagining different paths to take.
I'm examining my passions and joys.
I'm captivating these glimpses and putting to words what I see.

Some things may appear here. Some will be written on my heart, for others to discover later.

Who am I?
Just Katie.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Home That Says Welcome

One day, I want to have the type of household that makes people feel welcome. The type that has an open door policy, with people in and out, coming to sit and talk, or coming to find the answer to questions in their hearts.

I want the hospitality that says, "come live with me for a while," and means it. If it means a few minutes, or a few months.

I want to share the warmth of knowing that everyone is welcome to come with you whether its your best friend, or your aunt's second cousin twice removed always with long stories on his mind that just has to be shared. I want many people, of many colors and many accents and many languages and many backgrounds to gather under my roof, to share bread together, laughter echoing off the walls. I want my family to spontaneously invite random strangers home for a meal, warm soup filling cold stomachs after a hard day.

I have a dream of a home that welcomes folks in, drawing them in irresistibly. Lamps in the windows, warm lights streaming out. Delicious, comforting food causing folks to sniff the air hungrily, and gather around the table willingly. Hands held as prayers are said, and hearts are lifted. I want the home that sings, and laughs. That long, quiet discussions are held in, that stimulating ideas are formed in, that people leave, feeling they encountered Someone unexpectedly, but blessedly.

I want the home that says, "walk in and become one of us for a while. Join our lives, our activities, our way of living, and become one with us."

One of my favorite things to do is to make people feel welcome and important and special. I want to find ways to connect with people, and to somehow express Christ's love to them, even if only through a smile or cheery hello. I want to use this gift in my own home.

I love to talk to people and find out how they think. I like to read their hearts, hear their stories, and find kinship with people. Its amazing how this works across language and cultural barriers.

One day, this will be the home that I will have. One day, my welcome mat will be swept and ready, the lamps lit, the bread baking in the oven.
And a smile and cheery hello to welcome.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Life is such a transformative process. Its never still, always moving and changing you, if you let it. If you're living passionately and fully. And as you live, you change, transforming into a person you never thought of before. Its beautiful and mysterious, and it all fits together in a way that can't always be explained. Any attempts to define it turn into an emphatic shake of the head, and a "that's life!" comment.

Every so often I suddenly awaken to the fact that I have changed or moved on to being someone I never thought of before for myself. I take a quick look around and realize that the Katie that used to be has morphed into the Katie of today, and often its like watercolors that have bled from pastel to vibrancy, or from one color to another, becoming an interesting riot of yellows or pinks, blending into oranges or purples, fading into an entirely new shade.

Every so often I realize that the passions or interests or reactions have all changed, and I'm doing things or going places I never thought I'd see myself do or go. New paths are taken, the old ones never to return. Its interesting, to take an observer standpoint and review my life, watching myself as a movie, as it were. I wonder how the story will end, because I get to a certain point and suddenly realize there is only future left, no more history to remember. It remains to be made.

Things happen on the journey, new places open up new vistas and thoughts, and experiences introduce new ideas of possibility. And in the blink of an eye, a snapshot is made, is set into history, and things all change again.

And here we go again, into a new being, transforming again. I hope it is transforming into a better person, with lessons learned. I hope it is with wisdom and joy and depth that I change, becoming more of a well-rounded, healthy person.

 I have to let it happen though. I have to allow the changes of ideas and let go of the past long enough to embrace what comes next. To allow the pain of difference to heal into a stronger version of myself.

I have to allow Christ to change my innermost being, transform me into a new Katie, and embrace the work it takes to keep on changing, to keep on following His new paths within me. Because isn't that the ultimate goal? To become more like Him, mirroring Him as much as possible within ourselves. To follow His examples and to allow our lives to show His love?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Prayer For Serenity

In the middle of trouble, in the middle of uncertainty, in the middle of anxiety and pressure from all sides, there is the need to find some peace and serenity.
So I pray for it.

I have an Anglican rosary, which you can read about here. And here is a picture so you can see mine.
You hold it, your fingers following each bead with each prayer. It is good for kinesthetic learners, because it gives you something to touch. Its good for ADD pray-ers like me, because it gives you focus. And if you choose, you can do different prayers each time you use it.

Here are the prayers I am praying for Serenity:

First you start at the cross.
God take and receive my liberty, memory, my understanding and my will.

Then the first big bead.
All that I am and all that I have you have given me.

Then the second big bead.
Our father, which art in heaven, hollowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation be deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Then seven small beads. Each bead is the same prayer.
God grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Between every seven beads there is another big bead, making 4 sections of small beads, and 4 big beads. You pray the Lords prayer each big bead, and pray around the circle three times. So the seven small beads are prayed 84 times, and the large ones 12.

After the last round of the beads, you pray for the first large bead again. This time:
Let me live one day at a time and enjoy one moment at a time.

The second large bead is next.
Let me accept hardships as the pathway to peace, taking this world as it is, not as I would have it.

And the cross again.
Let me trust that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will.


It takes about 20 minutes to pray this, if you keep the prayers going. But you can make it last much longer, or do the whole thing as many times as you wish. The beauty is the focused prayer, the repeating that has time to sink into your heart, and the written words that are thoughful and direct.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Lists of Joys

I've been told at least three times lately, during a tough time, that I should continue to look for and make lists of the joys, the hidden gifts, the glad things that God has given in my life. I try to do this visibly over on A Thousand Hidden Gifts but it isn't quite the same as writing a list. I'm a big one for lists, and enjoy writing them, even if it is to just tick off everything I've accomplished. Or just to remember things. So I shall remember the past couple of days and list the joys.

  • Standing around the living room, singing "Farther Along" a cappella.  Music filling the space, music blending beautifully on our faces. 
  • Dear friends who check on me, offer prayers for me, and send me hugs through all sorts of means. Dear friends who love, even when they don't understand. 
  • Pink to delight my soul. 
  • A book that has brought much conviction and insight. It hurts to read at times, but it is the type of hurt that burns away and refines. Ultimately a good thing, and joy if I allow it to be.
  • A new coffee cup that is blue with a red initial. From my Dad, just because. Filled with hot tea, it brings comfort. 
  • Written prayers for when I need help praying in a thoughtful manner. And people who take time to pray them with me. 
  • Golden, scarlet sunsets, with lacy trees to silhouette. Or pink and purple ones that fade to pale blue, to deep indigo. Indigo silence, that darkens until a glow of diamonds with a pearl to crown them all. 
  • The scent of an orange candle, burning next to me as I study. I love candles on dark days. 
  • The skinny long pinecones that I spray painted white when they were wet and cold, but once inside the warm, dry house they suddenly opened and became wide, fat ones. Amazing.
  • A new perfume I enjoy all day. Delights my senses.
  • Facebook comments in Spanish from Bolivian friends. 
  • Dancing, and introducing friends to the joy of dancing, too!
  • The gang hitting McDonalds at midnight, causing the night staff to have to scramble, and then eating, laughing and lingering over french fries and Dr. Peppers. 
I am working on many things, but one thing is recognizing joy. Here. Now. Its all around if I just notice it, recognize it and invite it. 

Thank you Jesus for bringing the recognition of these joys into my heart and mind. May I always find joy, and recognize Your Love through them. Amen.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Peace of God

Today's Bible verse:

Philippians 4:5-7
The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.