Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The gospel

I got into a conversation last night after a Montreat College basketball game that hasn't left me yet. Granted, it was at 11:00 last night when I had this conversation, and I got up for work at 5:45 this morning, so not a great deal of time has passed for me to forget said conversation. But, even had we talked about this weeks ago, I still would be thinking about it because it involved something that I think about often, maybe even hourly.

Montreat scrimaged with Crossfire, a team of Christian men who played college ball and now go worldwide playing teams and taking halftime to share the gospel with the crowd and the other players.

Part of me is excited that people exist that want to share the gospel of Jesus with others...but another part of me wonders if this method does more harm then good. I often cringe when people get preachy in public. I think America is tired of preachers...tired of being told what to believe...tired of Christians.

What an awful thing, for a country to be tired of Christians as we are the representatives for Jesus here...we are supposed to be a blessing to the world, not a burden. We should be lights in the dark, not smoke that gets in people's eyes.

Where is the balance? How do you share Jesus in a culture that already has ideas about who Jesus is, whether they are right or not. How do you love people and not love their sin when they consider what we would call sin to be who they are...when the separation between the person and the sin doesn't exist in another's head? How do you not be overbearing? How does it all work?

I don't know...I really don't. But, I think that I might have a few ideas...like to stop talking so much and start doing. Christians talk a lot...maybe instead of talking we should start giving of our time, our energy, our love. Maybe we should begin to act like Jesus...maybe that would speak volumes? Or if we can't stop talking (I know its hard), maybe we should start apologizing...apologizing for not being like Jesus, for fighting among ourselves and outside ourselves, for being selfish, for being arrogant, for being ignorant, for the Crusades that still stick in the minds of many, especially those who worship Allah, or for being so awful towards the gay population that think Christians hate them. I don't want to hate anyone, but I do hate the idea that someone could possibly consider that I might because of what others within the church have said or done. Maybe we should apologize for loving conditionally...lets be honest--within the church we love conditionally. We easily love and uplift that talented, the good looking, the passionate...but what of the dirty, the poor, the quiet, or the liberal, the seeking, the one who might ask the questions we are all thinking but don't have the guts to voice? Do we just as readily love that person?

And maybe we should go out into our communities and the world as listeners and lovers and learners instead of arrogant fundamentalists that keep trying to tell people what to believe. At the Crossfire game, one of the speakers said that he believed in relational evangelism--that he would get to know someone for 3 or 4 minutes then share the gospel with them.

How awful! That's not loving a person or caring for their needs or figuring out where they are coming from. To me, this idea of "relational evangelism" is an escape...its a lazy man's way of keeping his hands clean lest he actually care for someone different from himself, lest he step down from his gospel pedestal and touch people. Jesus touched people. Jesus walked in the dusty roads and put his hands on the hurting and ate with the outsiders of his community. He loved in a down and dirty way--He loved honestly and without regard to Himself--He offered people something to believe in, something to connect their deepest desires to, but He didn't demand it.

He knew when to stop talking and start praying...start doing. He was relevant, and He loved.

O that we might be like Jesus...Father, make us all like Jesus.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

That thing I forgot to remember...then remembered again

I broke up with a guy just before Christmas of last year. We dated for a minute, and he was sweet and lovely...giving me a precious birthday gift even after we ended our romance. It was a picture of those famous hands painted by Michaelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel--God's hand reaching for Adam's. It is a glorious part of the artist's masterpiece, but it is just that...a part. We see those hands that think, "Yeah, those are really something," but if you see the entire ceiling, with all of its images and allusions and details, it might render even the biggest talker speechless...and we see Michaelangelo's genius, talent, and perseverence as never before, and we stand in awe of him. I mean, how can you not?

I was thinking about this idea in light of God's plan for the world...asking questions like, "Why did He create such different cultures (see the Tower of Babel story...), different people with various values and customs and histories and songs and dances? And why does He want their worship?"

The answer lies in the Sistine Chapel--just as the print of the hands is beautiful and glorious, so is the worship of each culture individually--its precious to God and a sweet smelling incense. But, just as that portion of the chapel is nothing compared to the ceiling as a whole, which leaves you breathless and in awe of the artist, so is the worship of each culture collectively, in their own, unique way. The picture of every tongue, tribe, people, and nation worshipping their heavenly Father leaves the world breathless and in awe of the Creator.

That is why He created nations and languages and customs and cultures...because each one's worship reveals another facet of who He is and how He is. Each culture brings its own dance, its own song, its own instrument, its own beat, its own wisdom and humor and love...and when all of those are brought before Him who sits on the throne and unto the Lamb, every creature in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and seas and all that is in them worship. The worship of the nations reveals to the world His greatness.

If you care at all for the worship of God...if you think that He is worthy of our praise, then you must, I repeat, MUST, care about the nations, as their worship is just as precious to Him as your's. If we are living for His name and His glory and His renown, then our hearts should break that He is not being worshipped worldwide. Our hearts should be jealous for His worship among the dark places of the world...places where His light can bring healing, love, peace, restoration, deliverance, and the joy that is found in the worship of the living God.

Just as in the picture, God is reaching...will we be His hands? Will we be is feet? Will we...?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What in the world...?

Sometimes I sit down to write a new post and I have no idea what to talk about...I mean, I got nothing. Well, that's not entirely true. I reckon that I have plenty to talk about, but its stuff that I don't necessarily feel the need to share with everyone. There exists a fine line between being authentic and using a public forum to say things that I am too afraid to say in private conversation. This blog could easily become my crutch to get a point across without having to look a person in the eye, without having my heart connect with their's, without risking too much, and I want to guard against that...not because I'm that noble or brave or honest, but because I treasure the private conversations and those that I engage with more than any other human to human interaction. Talking and knowing those that I deeply care for is my joy and peace.

When I don't get time with those people, two things happen.

One, I get insecure, wondering if they want to spend time with me as I do them, wondering if I've ticked them off or overstepped or gotten on their last nerve...its an insecurity that I haven't been able to shake yet, but God is at work, teaching me to trust Him and trust in who He has made me to be, to not believe lies from the enemy, and to be honest with people to let them know that I miss them when they are not around or when they peace out or lay low. Maybe others need to know that someone misses their company just as much as I need to know that.

Two, I get bummed out. Quality time with dear friends is so precious to me, and when its lacking it makes me sad. I get bored, and that's really dangerous because then I get antsy and frustrated and curt...and something exists within me that needs to be encouraging people often, and if that doesn't happen then I start to feel useless and purposeless...and that sucks, real bad.

And if you knew my friends (as some of you are!) you would know why I long to spend time with them. Those closest to me, and its just a handful, are some of the loveliest, kindest, most passionate people that I've ever known. You love and laugh and cry and serve with great honesty and simplicity. You do your thing despite fear or weakness. You are more beautiful in your words and actions and motivations that in your outward appearance, and that's saying a great deal. You are ever faithful to the Lord and to those He has put in your life.

You are scattered all over the world, yet you will always remain in my heart.

Monday, October 23, 2006

And so I will pray...

There are times in my life when God seems to be teaching me so much I am almost overwhelmed...like, I want to say, "Uh Lord, this might be a little much..." But I also don't want it to end because its so sweet and so precious and, while the flood threatens to bowl me over, I also want to lose myself in it, drowning in the presence of God.

This thing that He is teaching me is to get on my knees or in my bed or while I'm driving and pray. Pray about everything. Pray for everyone...to pray like Solomon, asking for HUGE things like the end of famine and disease and war...to pray like David, that God would ease my heart and be with me...to pray like Jesus, early in the morning...to pray like Paul, for churches and cities and pastors and people.

And He is answering! He is, and its amazing. He has eased my heart, reminding me over and over to bring my desires to His throne. He is moving in the world and bringing people to Himself. He has seen my tears and heard my laughter and seen my supplications, rising like incense to Him.

I hope it smells sweet, for my time with Him is so...

Saturday, October 21, 2006


If you are happy, revel in it, for happy days only last so long.

If beauty overwhelms you, let it.

If you are thankful, then sing your gratitude.

If you long for something, ask for it, because your heavenly Father hears.

If its precious to you, then its precious to Him too.

If someone is worth the risk, then take a chance.

If you are angry, talk it out, because yelling never gets you anywhere.

If you wonder where Jesus is when you hurt, remember that He hurt too.

If you cry, rest in Him, for He cried too.

If you doubt, ask for faith, for His grace is sufficient.

If you dance, dance like nobody's watching, even in public.

If you love, love without fear, for perfect love casteth out fear.

If you love, love hard, for love is worth dying for.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Ok, so I'll be honest...I love beautiful things. I love the mountains at dawn in October. I love milky white pearls. I love to see daddies with their kiddos. I love people's hand, no matter how worn or callused--those might even be my favorite. I love seeing people in love who aren't afraid to be fools for it. I love colorful paintings. I love gorgeous shoes. I love seeing my friends all dressed up. I love my orange scarf, compliments of Nicolette. I love seeing grown men on their knees in prayer. I love seeing mothers being mothers to their babies. I love Mozart and his Marriage of Figaro. I love hearing horses hooves on concrete, carrying them in all their majesty. I love the sight of a girl on her wedding day...and I love the groom's tears when he beholds her. I love Looking Glass, I love Black Balsam, I love Craggy Gardens, and I love the wild scent that resides there year round. I love the old hymns and the way my grandma sings them to herself.

Beautiful things capture my eye and, in some cases, rivet me for hours, seering a permanent image or a tune or an idea into my mind.

Beauty captures and frames all that is good in this world, and sometimes it is simply irresistable.

I think that we love beauty and are held by it because all that we hold as beautiful is but a taste of the Savior, and when He is beheld, He too is irresistable. It is His beauty that grace reveals, and we have no choice but to fall for it...He is just that lovely.

In Revelation 5, the Lamb of God takes the scroll to open it...the story goes like this...

Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders...and He took the scroll...and when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb...and they sang...

The heavenly court beheld the beauty of the Savior and it caused them to bow before Him and sing...there was no other response. What an awesome picture of being overwhelmed by something so lovely its painful to behold. Its almost too much...and a posture of worship and humility is the only appropriate response.

I think that when people fall in love with Jesus, its because somehow they have seen His beauty and are riveted by Him.

So I guess that if you feel like your faith is failing, fix your eyes upon Jesus, like that hymn my grandma sings. Maybe she knew the secret...and she is always reminding herself...

For who can compare to the beauty of the Lord?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

How do you see me?

A few years ago my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and, as a result, had a double mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, and 4 months of chemotherapy. The surgeries and the chemo left her tired, pale, and bald. She wore those cute bandanas on her head, or a baseball cap, but nothing could really hide the fact that her hair, among other things, was gone. Still, every time she walked into the room, my dad would look at her, then look at me and say, "Isn't your mom beautiful. She is just gorgeous. She's about the prettiest woman I've ever seen." And he meant every word.

I love that my dad saw his wife, my sweet mom, as this gorgeous creature, despite some physical issues...and now that her reconstruction is complete and her hair all back to normal, she's just lovely as ever.

While my dad thinks my mom gorgeous, its not just her physical features that he loves. Its her spirit, her kindness, her attention to detail, her servant heart, her dedication to family and work and learning and the Lord...its so many things that make my mom beautiful. Dad never lets her forget it, and it helped my mom get through such a rough chapter in her life...and I certainly haven't forgotten how it made me feel knowing my dad loved my mom so deeply.

I think there is some sort of need within every girl for someone to tell her that she is lovely...that something about her is sweet, gentle, kind, pretty, even gorgeous...that she's worth a little time, and that its alright for her to be a woman.

We tend to call this affirmation or encouragement, but what it does for a girl goes far beyond any word or idea. When someone lets a girl know that she is all those things she longs to be, its like getting a letter in the mail written by a long lost friend recalling precious memories...its the shyness in a first kiss...its discovering the secrets of Grandma's attic...its the smell of fresh honey on your tongue...its the sound of children laughing...its a taste of future love.

Peter Gabriel captures this desire in one of my favorite songs...

In your eyes, the light the heat
In your eyes I am complete
In your eyes I see the doorways
To a thousand churches
The resolution
Of my all my fruitless searches
O I see the light in your eyes...

Peter gets it...he gets what a girl wants to hear, maybe even needs to hear.

When I was in seminary, I was so insecure about who I was, how I looked, how I acted...so many things. Two godly men, Pedro and Caleb, began to speak to me in love and grace and truth, and with the kindness of the Lord. Caleb asked me one day, "Katie, what about you do you think is attractive to guys?" I instantly burst into tears because I my first thought was, "Nothing...are you kidding me?" He then said, "Your laugh--its like you laugh from the deepest part you of...and your eyes--they are windows into your soul..." and he continued on. Pedro joined in this conversation, too, and it lasted for weeks...and by the time I graduated, I felt pretty and desirable, and it was because these guys weren't afraid to encourage a sister in a way that was honest and without pretense or expectation. It was affirmation in its purest form.

And while its true that God sees us girls as lovely and gorgeous daughters, and that His grace is sufficient, and that He is our ever loving Father, and that He is the lover of our souls, and that He is ever faithful...it sure feels good when someone else thinks we are lovely too.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


I'm tired of being single. There, I said it...this single thing has been alright for the past 26 years, but now its getting a little old. Ok, a LOT old. Some days I don't mind so much, especially when I'm super busy or exhausted or when I see a screaming child in the grocery store lying on his back and writhing in a hissing fit because his mom won't buy him that pizza lunchable...I mean for real, people...

But then there are other days...those days when my phone doesn't ring much, when all I need is for someone to hug me good, when I see myself in the eyes of every little one that looks my way, when I see couples holding hands, when it seems that everyone in my life is married or getting married or seriously dating...those are the days when the wave of singleness washes me out to a rough sea--into a storm that I've weathered before but am not sure I have the strength to endure again. And if one more person mentions that they have a brother or a nephew or a cousin or a friend that they'd like for me to meet, I just might take a vow of celibacy to shut them up. "No thanks, I've decided to be single forever."

Sometimes I wish I wanted to be single forever--at least then I wouldn't struggle so much with it and could accept this lot in life with a little more grace. But no matter how badly I wish I felt that way, it makes me want to cry just thinking about it. I'd rather lose an arm then be single forever. I'm not kidding...

So of course, I wonder why I want to be married in the first place...why give up a ton of independence? Why tie yourself to someone who could cause you immense pain, who could die or become paralized or sick and totally depend on you for everything? Why share everything you worked so hard for yourself? Why have kids that could break your heart and suck your bank account dry?

I think the answer is because in a great marriage, the Lord is there. I mean, yes, He is with you always, but I think He is evidenced in the way a husband loves his wife and in the way a wife respects her husband. His heart for us is expressed in a couple's love and desire for one another. Marriage is the closest physical example of our spiritual relationship with the Lord. It exemplifies His passion for us, His love for us, His desire to know us and see us and be with us. Marriage is something He created (crazy!) and requires a level of commitment second only to our commitment to Him, and His to us. Marriage is a beautiful picture of grace, forgiveness, mercy, love, passion, honesty, peace, faithfulness...as is the Lord.

I know marriage is not easy, but neither is being single. Loneliness is a hard road walk and a ragged pill to swallow...even when the Lord is in your life.

So I'm tired of it, of this single thing...really tired.

However, lessons learned--God is still good, even when I don't feel good, and He is faithful, even when I am "ye of little faith", and He knows the plans He has for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, and He is the lover of my soul, my Lord and my King, my great sustainer and my peace. Jehovah Shalom--the Lord is my peace--and if He wants me single for awhile, I'll trust Him...I might not always like it (and I might, at times, totally HATE it), but He is good and His love endures forever...thank you Lord that your love endures forever.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I'm alive!

I asked a friend of mine--a strong and talented brother in the Lord--what the next chapter was for him, as one is drawing to a close and a new one is opening. He responded, "I have no idea...but there are so many needs, I feel like I could go anywhere and do anything."

So often we look for the need that's around us and try to fit into that...and sometimes I think that's a good thing, but usually I don't think its enough just to meet a need. Even doing that can leave a person feeling empty or burned out or frustrated. Is there drive in just meeting a need? Is there love? Is there passion?

There is this one quote that I think of probably more than anything else I've ever heard...honestly, it has stuck with me for years. I read it in a book called the Sacred Romance by John Elderidge back in college. He got it from somewhere, so neither of us can really claim it as our own, but I think I've subsequently tried to own it because its just that profound.

It goes to the very heart of a person's desire. It digs past obligation and duty and religion into the realm of passionate pursuit--to the very things that bring us to tears, make us laugh, and expose the raw reality of the self. It's an idea that free us from what we think we should do and moves us into what we were created to do--what we were made for. It transcends personal preference and, instead, draws from the very image of God that still resides within each person. It's an idea that drives us to be as honest as possible and to glorify God with all we have.

Don't ask what the world needs, but ask what makes you come alive, because what the world needs are people who have come alive.

For so long we've been dead in our "duty"...we've been doing what we think we ought to do, ignoring the truest and deepest desires of our hearts. Scripture says that God gives us the desires of our heart, yet we so often ignore those, instead serving in ways that might be really good, but really not for us. We say yes because it seems no one else will. We do the things that other people think we'd be good at...and they might be right...but is that really your passion, your love, your desire?

So if you love hiking, hike for Jesus. If you love music, sing for Jesus. If you love kids, play for Jesus. If you love to act, act for Jesus. If you love to cook, cook for Jesus. If you love football, play or cheer or watch for Jesus. If you love people, be social for Jesus. If you love building, build for Jesus. If you draw or paint or sculpt or write, be creative for Jesus. If you love to make money, give for Jesus. If you love to sell, sell for Jesus. If you love to laugh, crack up for Jesus. If you love to teach, teach for Jesus. If you love to heal, doctor for Jesus...

And boast about these things...glory in them...live it up as you do them. LIVE...BE ALIVE! Why boast and glory and live? Because He bought these good things for us on the cross...He died that we might live, and He gives us the desire of our hearts so that we might live full, and He longs that we live full because it makes Him look so good, and He looks so good because He is so good.

So if you are starting to feel outrageously bored or seeking direction or wandering what the in the world is next for you, ask yourself what makes you come alive. The answer might surprise you...and how He uses that might just be the most amazing thing ever.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


This summer I got my heart broken...really broken...like, I cried for 13 hours on a plane ride home because it hurt that bad. And not just boo hooing, but sobbing...loudly. I think that my neighbors on the plane were thinking, "Someone call the Air Marshals--we got some crazy woman on the plane."

Some people told me that I should have guarded my heart more so it wouldn't have hurt that bad, but I don't regret giving my heart away, nor do I regret getting hurt...not one bit. Doing things half way isn't really my style, even when it comes to loving people. This time, however, it did backfire a little...and when you are crumpled on the floor in a puddle of tears, it seems like nothing will feel good ever again, ever.

But life goes on, even when you think you might need medication to get through it.

And life did go on, and looking back now, I see the good that the Lord brought out of a brutal time in my life. Sometimes life doesn't feel good...in fact it sometimes feels like a slow painful death might be better than the pain that defies you into thinking it will never go away as long as you live. I distinctly thinking, "Will this ever end?"

But even when life doesn't feel good, the Lord is still good. His character isn't defined by how I'm feeling, nor is how I'm feeling defined by His character. Truth, thankfully, transcends emotion, and emotion is generally circumstantial. Neither are easy, but both are a reality and must, therefore, be dealt with accordingly.

The fact that I can even say that I'm thankful for getting my heart broken is a testimony to God's grace. There are no residues of bitterness or anger, and I could write pages and pages of how God worked through my broken heart to grow me, teach me, draw me close to Himself, mature me, love me, and direct my life...but I'm not sure I have the energy to do that tonight.

Instead, I will say that I am now super happy, at home in Asheville, loving school, still excited about nursing, playing a ton of music, working a cool job, and more passionate for the Lord than ever before. His goodness is evident everywhere I look--all around me and deep within. Its evident in the gorgeous mountains that channel the mists every morning as I leave the house. Its evident in the music that I witness every Sunday night. Its evident in a Church that is reaching its community in a meaningful way. Its evident in testimonies I hear daily. Its evident in the fact that I can laugh, a lot. Its evident in the struggle against my sin. Its evident in my ability to love people. Its evident in the desires of my heart. God is good...that is who He is, and He shares that with us, often.

So Lord, thank you for your faithful goodness, for bringing amazing things out of difficult situations, and for new mercies everyday. Your grace is sufficient. Thank you that it is sufficient. Continue to mold and shape your children...not matter how bad it has to hurt.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Its a little past midnight, and I have to be at work tomorrow at 6:15am...When I can't sleep, my first thought is, "This sucks..." Not a real spiritual thought at all.

My second thought is, "Ok Lord, what's up?" Perhaps a little more productive than "This sucks." So as I lay in bed tonight, I wondered what was up and what He needed to say to me.
I'm sure He needs to say a lot, but He knows that I can only handle a little at a time, so this was the thought for tonight...

"Rest under my wings."

Having read Psalms over the past few days, the psalmists present this picture--being beneath God's wings--over and over. It's a picture of the Lord's gentleness and His desire for us to be near Him...and I kept thinking that beneath His wings means being near His heart.

It's a picture of safety, peace, rest, security, comfort, kindness, warmth, love...it's a place that I long to be always but cannot stay. Just as a mother hen must eventually push her chicks out of the nest, so I cannot remain beneath God's wings. It is not a place to live, but a place of refuge when the storms hit or when it's just too cold to be anywhere else. It's a place of rest and rejuvination in preparation to once again go out into life with purpose and with strength.

He does not have to let us in that close to Himself, but He does. He does because of His great love and mercy. He does because, I think, it brings Him great joy as well. He does because it is His very nature to draw us in. He is a God who keeps His children.

So Lord, keep us...keep me...close, especially when it's cold...