Ireland

Well it’s safe to say blogging has passed from the list of things I must do everyday to survive. It’s also safe to say that I have very acute moments when I miss it terribly. … “Katie … It’s an online writing platform that no one reads. Why oh why or HOW can you miss it?!” Because there was a lot of life that happened … And it was a pretty great record keeper. Or maybe that’s a very shallow reason so ill jut say I don’t know. But I missed it.

Tonight I got got home from choir with a decision to make. How do I walk forward when there is a big black chasm of ‘what if’ in front of me?

Bob Goff wrote in his book about a time when he felt so led to do something but he got a rejection letter. Instead of being ‘done’ he sat outside of a deans office every day for weeks with the phrase “just tell me to go buy my books”. At the time I read that story and had some misgivings. It felt … Off. Did things like that REALLY happen in life? I mean yes God works miracles, but does He do that?

That was over a year ago. Tonight as I walked inside my house after one of our last team meetings before Ireland, that story kept replaying in my mind. Except in my case the phrase was “just go pack your bags…”

The past … Many … Months I’ve been preparing to go to Ireland with the choir at church on a trip. There were times when people said “you can’t go … You don’t have the money in your budget to pay for it.” I knew God was saying yes, but I was feeling discouraged. Then God spoke truth into my heart “Katie why are you letting man stop you when I’ve said to go?”Oh. That’s a good point. Hadn’t God ALWAYS gone before me and worked out the details … Especially the money? Like He does, he provided the exact amount I needed. Thank you Lord for reminding me of WHO you are.

Then, it was time to pay the last bit, and because of changes in hotels and flights and just stuff, I owed $50. As The Lord would work it, a friend of mine had written me a check in March and slipped it into my purse. I found it weeks later and it was a check for $50 … With the memo line reading “because you’re going to Ireland” … I cried happy tears. Even though at the time, The Lord had already provided the money. So what was this for? … Fast forward to August … That’s what it was for.

Now we’re a week and a half from leaving and I have 2 days I still need off work. There’s been back an forth but it all comes down to the fact that I’ve been battling spiritually the fact that these two days are looming … Hasn’t God gone before me? Giving me a verse to claim for this trip? Working out all the details up to this point? Isn’t he big enough to move this mountain too? As the process for asking off has gone, there have been some days when I have no doubt that the Lord will come through, an others when I’m discouraged and ready to throw in the towel. I’ve asked The Lord for direction and he’s given it. I’ve asked for peace and he’s given it. I’ve asked for the mountain to move … And now Im acting on the belief that it will.

I’ve had stacks in my floor for the past couple weeks of my Ireland clothes. But as things started to happen and as I felt discouraged, I kind of stopped adding to it. Fear crept in. What if God says no? What if I don’t go? What if he was never telling me yes to begin with? What if … And the list goes on and on. But my God doesn’t live in the world of what ifs … He isn’t a god of confusion, but rather the God, sovereign over all things.

Tonight was my “go pack your bags” moment. I’m going to start LIVING like I believe He is going to move that mountain.

I was flipping through my passport tonight and was overcome with The Lord. Maybe it seems strange, but that passport is a diary of the Lord’s faithfulness. He goes before, he hems me in. He is faithful.

Will you you pray with me? Pray for the friends I will get to meet in Ireland and the conversations we will get to have! Pray for the opportunities we will have to encourage others on the ground. Pray that we will be Christ in our love for one another, and love for others we don’t know. Pray that as we sing, we will be the aroma of Christ that draws people in. Pray that The Lord will give me 3 conversations with others where I am only the vessel, but he is the one speaking. Pray that I’m bold in Him and humble in my flesh. And pray that the mountain moves, believing that the one who has created all things, is certainly in control to move all things to His anointed places.

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NYC

The last time I was here, I was an 18 year old recent high school graduate. Living life to the fullest, serving Jesus for a week, and really enjoying being a tourist in the big apple.

Now, seven years later, a lot has changed. I’m looking at this city through different eyes. We pulled in, and it immediately reminded me of Turkey. I saw the narrow but deep shops through different eyes. “We don’t have these in Knoxville.” I saw the little restaurants that said “kabobs” and “falafel” … The street vendors and the mass of cars, busses, and people clogging the streets. It wasn’t the shiny Times Square I remembered.

The next day, I was up early. My task (along with 30 of my favorite high schoolers) was to pack church invite bags .. Then hand them out to people. The funny thing is, when I went to turkey I did a similar task. And I hated it. It was uncomfortable. It was frustrating. It was scary. But The Lord showed me that I had nothing to fear because He was with me. So boldly I stood on my street corner watching my girls and handing out bags too. We all copied each other’s phrasing and when one was bold, the others quickly followed suit. Kind of like in Turkey when others helped me break out I my shell and engage people. Through the bags, we were able to have a couple of short conversations with people. We started to see Jesus moving. I started to see Jesus moving.

That night as we all went to our rooms for lights out, I asked my girls to share their best and worst parts of the day and one Jesus moment. Their stories were crazy! Answered prayers, conversations, seeing the homeless as individuals with names rather than statistics.

Today was church at The Gallery Church, then off to pick up trash and survey the community. As we were walking, I was in a new place in the city. Not the places you see on tv, but the ones where there’s a corner open air fruit market and people of many different languages. I didn’t feel like I was in America. It felt like a Irwin culture! Different smells. Different sights. No glitz and glammer. We even ran into the gay pride parade.

For the first time in my life, I realized how lost and hurting we all are. It’s easy to look at my life, my sin, my town, my perspectives and forget that I live in a bubble. The rest of the world doesn’t look at situations the same. As a follower of Christ, I believe homosexual ut is wrong. It’s taking what The Lord designed for relationships and warping it into something thought to satisfy. But only Gods plan does. Period. He alone is true satisfaction.

But walking around seeing the masses that believed something completely different than me … That’s what happens in Turkey. Not America. but it is happening in America as my girls pointed out today, Jesus calls us to love those who persecute or don’t agree with us. Not lash out with picket signs and hate mail.

It’s time for us to be on mission … In our own country. I haven’t seen that as clearly as I did today. This world a lost and dying and is crying out for something. Anything. Trying everything, wanting that thing that’s “it”. Jesus is that thing yet we don’t feel obligated to strike up conversations. I don’t feel passionate to go tell people.

Something’s changed this week. I can’t pinpoint it, or tell even exactly what, but I’ve found myself responding to things like that in a different way. I had one of the girls hand a lady a bag about the church as a thank you. (Oh yeah .. That’s what I did in Turkey!) Also had my mind drawn to a homeless person … So I sent another one over to give him one just because. (Kind of like the homeless person I practically threw a bible at as I was finishing the end of my trip in Turkey)

I’m not saying this trip is just like turkey, but rather that The Lord is reminding me of specific things and moments so I’ll be intentional like I was there.

Like I said, something’s changed. My interactions with my girls is MUCH more intentional. My thoughts are continually being reminded of how Jesus is moving. My heart is hurting for those who don’t know The Lord. This trip is unique in that it’s in America, yet still feels so foreign. But Jesus is also moving. Ask any one of these kids (and adults)and they can tell you specific names of homeless they’ve met, people The Lord has brought specifically to them because of talks thing they have in common, and prayers that have been answered.

Just like when I was in Turkey, Jesus is with us walking us through the crazy that is this city this week. And because of that, I can keep pressing on!

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This is the summer of …

During the staff meeting the day before the last day of school, a teacher friend of mine said that this was going to be the summer of ‘YES’. She was going to have grand adventures because she was going to say YES!

As I heard her talking I selfishly wanted a summer hashtag too. But I wasn’t feeling empowered to say YES! to everything … Hadn’t I been working on saying no more regularly?

Back to the drawing board … Which is where this idea of a summer hashtag ruminated for the next few days. Before I knew it, I was stopping by Ingles at 6:20 in the morning because I forgot a toothbrush and heading to beach camp with a bunch of high schoolers. And I still didn’t have a hashtag. As the week began I started praying – instead of a hashtag, for a purpose. If I had my wish, I would have been in Africa. But The Lord shut those doors over and over and had me here. Has me here. But why? What is the purpose for me being here this summer?

As the week unfolded, so did my heart. The Lord began to whisper truths. He began showing me areas of my life I’d neglected for far too long. This was to be the summer of relationships.

As this started to take root in my mind, I was both still confused and excited. How was this going to work? What would I be doing? Uh … Jesus I like black and white. Aren’t I supposed to be volunteering or something?

The resounding answer was … No.

So I started being intentional with relationships. Instead of diving in, praying. Taking a minute to ask The Lord who He wanted me to start rebuilding relationships with. As I started to walk through this, He brought names to mind … Pray for them today. Ask them to hang out when they send you that obscure text. Call them.

So my schedule started filling up. Lunch with one of my high schoolers. Calling up family friends and going over to hang out. Spontaneous trips down the road to hang with students and talk about The Lord. Pool days that turn into hard conversations that are good for the soul. Dinners with family. I’ve cream with friends. Showing up at my moms house and just listening …

Life has gotten way to busy. There’s been way to many times I’ve blown off people … All people … To stay later at school or get more worked up over something that didn’t happen as it should or could have happened differently. And forgetting relationships.

As I was at beach camp I realized the most important relationship is been neglecting – mine with Jesus. He was wooing me back to himself with a breather from school and what had become the norm. He was reminding me of the the joy and grace and peace that come from time spent with him. THIS is what it should be about!

I’m now a little over a week in … And it’s been good. I’ve reconnected with friends, been intentional with texts, and been able to be blessed by words others have spoken in the moments we’ve shared together. So for my hashtag … I’m gonna let it slip to the wayside. I’m not going to have a summer of yes, but rather a summer of intentionality with people …

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Sweet summertime

The train horns sounded. The lightning bugs are starting to appear. The sweet smell of honey suckle permeates the air. The days are getting longer, and the need for pie as dinner and a Popsicle for desert is completely acceptable. 😉

This year was an adventure. I honest to goodness don’t remember sections of it. A lot of life happened. A lot of learning happened. Looking back at pictures from my kiddos in August, they were SO LITTLE … Now they’re sassy, big, and ready to take on the world (or maybe just 4th grade). I look back at kids who about drove me to pieces, and then see how they’ve blossomed into competent little people … Oh it melts my heart!

But with that, life was also HARD this year. My kids started noticing the nights my circles were darker under my eyes, and made the correlation that I didn’t sleep well the night before because I was stressing (maybe about them). They knew I loved them something awful. But this year was certainly trial by fire. and I made it I had hard conversations with parents, situations I did and didn’t know how to handle, teaching flops, and tears. Boy were there some tears.

As I checked out of my room until next year, I had a moment of sadness. Then … It hit me. IM FREE!!!! For at least 8 weeks!

I pulled out of the parking lot today JUMPING FOR JOY because I honest to goodness have NOTHING I SHOULD BE DOING until about August 5. Nothing to grade. Nothing to plan. Nothing to study for. Nothing to write. No job that has given me start times and end times. NOTHING! For the first time since I was 13 my summer is nothing but what I want it to be.

Let the pool days, lunch dates, pleasure reading, laughing, sleep overs, and FUN begin!

Even today – I ran around town with Lisa, Kate, and Jake. Hey target! I’m not here to buy school things! Victory! Hey altard state … I don’t feel guilty looking at your cute clothes instead of buying school things.

Let the summer of adventure commence. First up … A pedi 🙂

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Cheers to Saturday!

It’s amazing how much you have time for when you’re up early on a Saturday. 7:15 is early. But the accomplishment of having already spent time with Jesus, drunk my coffee, picked up Jordan, watched tv with Taylor … AND run 3 miles – all before 12:30. Y’all. Happy Saturday!

Now I’m of to the land of trying on prom dresses. It’s kind of fun having a bunch of surrogate younger sisters. Let the festivities begin!

Also, doing the Priscilla Shirer study on Gideon. Y’all. I think it’s about to be a wild ride.

Happy Saturday 🙂

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Thankful Thursday

Today was a day when I loved my job. I loved what I was doing. I felt like I was made to do it. Hallelujah. That’s a good place to be.

today I also snapped at a kid. Literally. Unfortunately my snap wasn’t very loud and I they kept talking, so I eventually gave them the look, and moved their clip

It was a “real” day. Full of crazy. Full of giggles. Full of scraped knees and jumping rope on the sidewalk. Full of fire drills. Full of discussions. Full of fumbled words. Full of throw your head back and laugh at your mistakes. Full of let’s e kind and remember to be respectful.

full. My day was FULL. Overflowing perhaps …

By the end of the day, I was tired. T-I-R-E-D .. I’d also gotten asked to see a prescreening of a movie coming out May 9 called Mom’s Night Out. No, I didn’t become a mom over night. But it was a Christian film, and it was free, and it was supposed to be funny. Sounded like a winner to me!

About 30 seconds in … I felt like the main character was telling my school life. Ha. The moments when they say my name one too many times and I want to scream, when I say five times to clean up and line up QUIETLY … I’m not yet a mom, but for 8 hours a day, I’m responsible for molding and shaping 24 little people. And for 8 hours a day, those little people look at me for everything.

So after having my perspective shown, I’ve got this heart that’s overflowing. Here’s some of what I’m thankful for …

1. Laugh til you cry moments

2. Friends that analyze the Bible and want to figure out WHY things are in there as much as you do

3. Friends that have already walked my journey and can impart wisdom over a cup of coffee, dinner, or a conversation

4. My 24 little hooligans!

5. The opportunity I have to smile and respond to this world we live in

Oh today. Oh today was a day. It wasn’t perfect, but it was full. And I’ll take that … Any day.

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Late night brain racing obedience and Peter

It’s one of THOSE nights. The kind where my brain is spinning a million miles a minute and what I wouldn’t give for it to just turn off like other peoples.

Except … Maybe, today, I’m thankful for this mind of mine that keeps me awake at night.

My brain’s spinning thinking about a trip coming in October. A trip some say I shouldn’t be going on. That money could go to pay off student loans

I’ve wrestled long and hard the past couple weeks. First, it was whether I was truly called to go. When I realized that, I took another step. I decided to trust that The Lord would provide, like always. The only qualm I still have – fear of what the person helping me budget is going to say. They love The Lord, but they’re very black and white. I’m very … Gray.

because Jesus has taught me that He shows up and it baffles the black and white people. It even baffles me the gray one.

I’ve rolled over a million times. Gotten up, walked around. Thought about grading papers. Checked my bank account balance. Rolled over some more. And somehow it’s only 11 something. Hallelujah. There’s still hope for a solid 6 hours of sleep.

Then I realize my brains not stopped yet. What to do. What. To. Do.

you could read that blog. It’s been a while.

So I do. I pull up Ann Voskamp’s blog and scroll til something catches my eye. Tonight, it’s The dive words guaranteed to change your life well. It sounds promising. At least I can drift off to thoughts of Jesus.

I read, scroll, read, scroll … And freeze.

You see, this trip has been kind of different so far. I’ve yet to have that overwhelming yes and here it is revealed 10 times experience. I’ve had the deeper than I realized devastation when I thought I couldn’t afford it. Then the peace that The Lord is bigger than that moment. Followed by the nights of reminding myself that He who has promised is faithful. He’s always faithful. If this is His will like I believe it is, He’ll work it out.

Then came the knowledge that the family I went to Ghana with is going again this summer. ..(I waited for my stomach to fall at the realization of not going .. But it didn’t. Curious.)

But still just this deep assurance, that my October trip is it … And to just keep walking on.

Until tonight when I froze on these words.

All that matters is whatever He said. All that mattered was how she lived.

Do whatever He tells you.

Wait what?!

Amidst a story of a woman who lived 22 years longer than the doctor said she would comes this little gem. I know she’s not The Lord and I’m not at all saying she’s at the same level as The Lord, but those words were written almost a week ago. Had I read them then, I would have perceived them differently. But tonight when my brain is running laps and I’m just tired of the never ending-ness of my brain, I see those words. And they’re true. LISTEN TO HIM.

ALL THAT MATTERS IS WHAT HE SAYS … What he tells me to do. People thought Peter was crazy for walking on water. Even Peter succomed to the rational train of thought that he shouldn’t be on too of the water but rather in it … Or in a boat so he wouldn’t sink.

But Jesus is above and beyond rationL thoughts and reasonings. He’s more. All that matters is what He says.

Suddenly my eyes are getting heavier. Yes. It’s 11:35. That could be part of it. But the other, I have a nugget to focus on tonight. HE is more. And ONLY to him am I called to be obedient.

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