Saturday, December 31, 2011

Musings in Preparation of the End of the Year

It's definitely been a good year, overall, I'd say. Ups and downs, for sure. The graph of my year would have many rolling hills and deep valleys, but that's how life is, I'd say. No part of life can be perfect, utterly void of anything negative. Life is never all dancing, pastel-colored ponies and shimmering rainbows. There are always going to be bad times, what determines "good" or "bad" is what you make of it.

And the bad times are how we grow. When we have nothing left but Jesus, we have to rely fully on Him. And that's when we finally, fully realize how much we truly relied on Him all along. He's always there for us, great strong arms open wide, warm, comforting, and inviting. He leads us, guides us, loves us, and often rebukes us. He's stern, powerful, and fearful, but at the same time...equally beautiful, loving, merciful, and so, so kind. He's perfect.

I've learned so much about relying on Him, and really trusting Him with my entire life this past year. I have such a long way to go, though. I'll never fully know him. I'll never be a perfect servant or perfect at loving others. I'll never be sinless. But that doesn't mean I won't try!

Jesus is my rock, my fortress, my strength. He gives me my desire to live a life that is full and utterly beautiful. Not full as the world sees it, but a full life by God's definition. A life totally dedicated to Him. I guess that's my New Year's continue on my path of desiring to live a life full of Jesus. To keep giving my life over to Him. To keep serving and loving, but far more than I've done in the past. To devote my life to others, always putting their interests before my own.

I have such a long way to go. I get so frustrated with myself, how easily my circumstances dictate my mood, how often I take my frustrations and upsetments, disappointments and angers out on others, how I spend so much time focused on me, me, me. But God is slowly helping me. Though I'm sure these will be struggles my whole life through, I know I'll never stop growing and changing, more and more, from the person I am to the person I'm meant to be, and Jesus will be there, holding my hand every step of the way.

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Day

Frost covered everything. Cracked and rough on the windows and door, a hard shell of cold whiteness on the grass and plants.

The rising sun glinted off the frozen dew, making it sparkle and glint in the sun. Nature's morning diamonds.

Slowly the bright warmth of the new sun spread, gently melting the fragile layers of ice. A drop lightly ran down the window, like a tear sliding down a sad face.

In the distance were the mountains. A great, purple silhouette against the sun gently inching up in the sky. Only the dark tops were visible, the base shrouded in a cloak of fog.

A small pond, the dark camouflage of fall trees, the dark greens and browns, reflecting in the rippling surface of the water. An image slightly distorted by the steam rising from the surface of the warm water into the frigid morning air.

Frost and fog, blanketing the early morning, giving it an eerie, mystical glow. Only there for those up early enough, a sight seen by few and appreciated by even fewer.

Dark, powerful mountain tops. Sparkling diamonds of frost on the foliage.

A rising sun.

Hours later, evening falls.

The setting sun a brilliant orange, brightly filling the evening sky. It's orange glow lighting the tops of bare trees as though they were tipped in crimson paint and set aglow.

Huge stripes of purple and pink swept like paint-strokes across the sky.

The hues of orange and pink melting into the deep purples and blues of twilight, slowly fading into darkness.


Play-Doh and Crayons and Childlike Things

So last week and the week before I spent a few days babysitting some incredibly adorable children. They were really good, and I had a lot of fun playing make-believe games, reading Barbie Rapunzel five times in a row, coloring pictures, making crafts, and cutting out and decorating gingerbread cookies. Most of these activities were done with Disa, the four-year old girl. Cora, who's six, was at school most of the day, and the nineteen-month-old, Will, was either cheerfully occupying himself with small toys in his high-chair, or napping.

I won't forget the first day I babysat them. I spent about four hours playing in the basement with Disa. I don't even know how she came up with some of the games we played! Her imagination jumped so quickly and fully into her stories that it almost seemed like she was working from a pre-determined script.

We picked up Cora from the bus stop at four and went back to the house for an afternoon snack. We all sat around the kitchen table as the kids nibbled on white chocolate-covered pretzels and colored with markers. The kids also found a great fascination with my phone. Since it was an old, barely functional phone, I let them play on it, typing letters and words into blank text messages to no one in particular (though they did send a few to my dad, Megan, and accidentally call Andy). Only four, Disa didn't really know how to spell anything but her own first name, so she simply pressed all the letter keys until she had a long string of jumbled letters that she then made me “read” and try to make some sense of. Cora, on the other hand, could write out a few more full words.

When her turn came, she spent the time laboriously typing out “I love you, _____” and filling in Disa's name, and then Will's. Then she erased the name and filled it in for the third time, with my name. I was a little taken aback. This little girl, who I had now known for barely an hour, was already telling me she loved me.

Now of course, she couldn't really truly love me. I mean she didn't know me at all. I would guess for a little girl, she more meant “I like you, you're a nice person who I currently enjoy spending time with.” But that's too complicated a thought for a little kid. So the simplest way to express those positive feelings toward a person is with one simple word, love.

I would never tell someone I had known for barely an hour I loved them. Not someone I had known for a week, or even a month. Love is something that takes time, a process of getting to know someone and trust them, care about them, and eventually love them.

But maybe that's too difficult, too complicated. There are too many steps and possibilities for love to never occur. Maybe as we mature to adults we lose too much of the simplicity of being a child.

Kids love easily, forgive easily. They laugh and smile when they are happy, they cry and frown when they are sad. Their feelings are not hidden, their wants and needs are made known. When they have a question, they ask it. They don't worry about what others think of them. They don't care if they are liked or disliked. If someone doesn't want to be with them, they move on and find someone who does. Worries are simple, troubles easily solved.

Of course, as we grow up, things do get more complicated. It is no longer possible to live such a simple life. Jobs, school, money, deeper relationships, cars, houses, bills, these things fill our lives, but maybe we can still learn from the kids. Let the things that truly do not matter, simply slide. Roll with the punches and stop punching back. Live, love, and laugh easily and often.

Dear Me...

STOP. Stop, stop, stop Katy. Stop, shut up, and listen to the truth. You are not a failure. You do not screw up, mess up, or somehow destruct everything you attempt or touch. That is Satan speaking. That is him whispering lies into the insecurities that already lie in your heart. He is drawing on your struggles and amplifying them, telling you they are true, speaking lies into your ears and filling your thoughts.
Listen to the truth.
You are a child of God. Loved by Him more than you can possibly imagine. You are wanted, loved, accepted, and needed. Sure, you fail. Yes, you mess up. Yeah, you can say dumb things and make mistakes. But everyone does! And those failings do not make you a failure. They do not make your life meaningless or worthless.
And here are some more truths...
You are a friend of Jesus (John 15:15)
You have been justified, by faith, not works (Romans 5:1)
You are united with God, one with Him in spirit. You have been bought by the blood and love of Jesus and you are His, part of His body of believers (1 Corinthians 6:17-20, and 12:27)
You are chosen by God, adopted into His family, loved and wanted (Ephesians 1:3-8)
You have already been forgiven of all the sins you have committed, and the ones you have yet to commit (Colossians 2:9-10)
You are free from condemnation (Romans 8:1-2)
Your life has a plan, designed by God. He will complete the work He has started in you. Good work (Philippians 1:6)
You are not to be afraid, but be full of a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)
You are born of God, Satan has no true reign over you. You're God's. (1 John 5:18)
You have been chosen to do God's work. He will give you the strength to do it (John 15:16)
You can do anything through Christ who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13)
You are weak, but Jesus is strong. And His grace and strength is more than enough for you. When you are weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

You are Jesus'. You are loved by your very best friend. You can never be loved, wanted, or desired more than He loves, wants, and desires you. You are His child. He has a plan for your life, a design specially written out for you. And no matter how many times you mess up, He will always love you. You will never fail too badly for Him. And you are not a failure. You are a child of a King.


The More Logical, Clear-headed, Remembering Jesus and His Truth Side of Katy

Monday, December 12, 2011

Wolf-Dogs, Smiley Faces, and Gas Masks

So the sermons at my church in St. Louis, New City Fellowship, aren't necessarily bad, or even boring, they're just frequently not applicable to my life. This past sermon was actually pretty good, though, with lots of points I liked enough to write down so I could remember.

One thing I really liked that Barry said was, "being a Christian isn't about getting a ticket to Heaven. It's about a relationship. It's about changing your life."

That's the great part about Jesus. Believing in Him isn't just checking "yes" or "no" off on a card, granting entrance to Heaven if you said "yes," and then going on with your life, doing, saying, and thinking whatever you feel like. Choosing to follow Jesus isn't just about believing in Him. It's choosing an entirely new life, a whole new existence.

Life changes, drastically. And most definitely for the better. Following Christ is about living for Him, trying to be like Him. Your thoughts and actions cease to be about yourself, or at least they are supposed to. Sometimes...scratch that, all the's really hard. But it's so worth it! Life gets a true purpose, living for the most wonderful, loving, perfect person ever. Striving to be as perfect and sinless as possible to please that person, but living in the beautiful, freeing knowledge that if you do fail (and you most certainly will), that perfect person will still love you and will always forgive you without a millisecond of hesitation.

I feel like half of that sounds like a love note to a boyfriend or girlfriend. And that's how it should be. Following Jesus isn't just about a new life, it's a beautiful relationship, more perfect and wonderful than any human relationship could ever aspire to be. It's not just about us changing out lives and striving to live like Jesus, living to please Him and show Him we love Him. He loves us back. No, He loved us first. Before we ever started to care about God, He loved us, cared for us, lived and died for us.

Sometimes living for Jesus is hard. Sometimes it almost doesn't seem worth it. Sometimes it doesn't make any sense. But then you remember...He died. He died. For us! He's perfect, He's never done anything wrong. He doesn't need us. But He wants us. He wants us. He loves us. For nothing we have ever done, not because we are good enough or perfect enough or can give Him something He can't do Himself. He loves us, though. It's crazy beautiful. And that's what makes it so worth it. Knowing that this perfect person loves us more than we could ever possibly imagine for no reason other than that He does. He simply does. And we can't ever mess up so badly that it will end. That certainty can't be found in any human relationship, only in this perfect love with Jesus. It's comforting, too, the security that can be, and is, found in Him when we surrender our lives. Knowing that the tears and pains of life have purpose, that we are meant for something more.

I've heard this song a few times, but hearing it today it was perfect.

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

We don't know God's plans, but it is comforting to know He has them. God is designing our life. How awesome is that? The all-knowing, powerful, perfect, wonderful, loving God of the universe has designed a life for us. He cares that much about us. He values us. And I think that's awesome. He's the best friend, father, and most loving, perfect relationship we'll ever have. I wouldn't ever want to live without that, I don't think I could live without that. He's there when I cry, letting me curl up in His arms and telling me it's gonna be okay. He's there to listen when I just need to talk. He lets me yell and vent and scream at Him, "why?" and then He patiently reminds me that He's in control. When I ask questions, He answers, when I say a prayer, He hears. The plans and answers don't always happen the way I think they should, but He does what's best, because He loves us...oh how He loves us. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fall and Snow

I was just looking through photos from November and came upon a few photos I took during the second Denver snow. This snow was especially spectacular because the leaves on the trees hadn't yet fallen, they were still the glorious reds and golds of fall. Denver's cold weather came late this year, so when the first snow came, the leaves hadn't finished falling from the trees. The result was glorious. White flakes resting on the bright leaves, the clean, pure snow contrasting with the bright oranges and crimsons. Beautiful.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

With a Blast from the Past, What's to Come of the Future?

So the other day I found my stash of old journals, and decided the best way to spend half of my afternoon was reading them. The experience was both enlightening and discouraging, funny and sad. Many buried or nearly forgotten memories were brought back to the front of my mind. Some were great moments to re-live, others I had buried for a reason. It was good to remember, though, both good times and bad.

I rediscovered what a grumpy teenager I could be. I re-read my conversion story, and all the depression leading up to it. I found my favorite memory ( and was thrilled to find that it actually happened as I remember, I haven't been adding to the story in the past year or so. I found the end of some friendships and realized their endings were worse than I remembered, but that I'm also definitely better off now without them.

It's good to see the good and bad parts of the past, because when you revisit those moments you get to see the elements that all combined to create the person you are now, the broken relationships, exciting discoveries, friendships, family, trips, and conversations, everything that fits together, like strings all weaving together to create you.

Some parts were a bit, initially, discouraging, though. Sometimes I write my prayers in my journal too. There was a general theme woven through years of journals. That I would be more like Christ, less prideful, more humble. Less focused on myself and more focused on others. That I would be loving, caring, and others-centered. That I would be like Jesus.

Some of the prayers I read that were written a few years ago I felt could have been written yesterday, they were still so relevant. And that was discouraging, because if I'm still praying it...that means I haven't made any progress, right? And if I haven't changed at all, then what am I doing with my life? And if I want to change so much that it has been my constant prayer for years, why haven't I changed? What am I doing wrong?

It was a very confusing, frustrating, and discouraging battle of thoughts raging through my mind. I simply didn't understand how I could want to be more like Jesus so much, which is a good thing to want, and Jesus not be helping me with that, not be changing me to be more like Him! Shouldn't He want me to be like Him? Shouldn't He want me to love others, care for others, and be more focused on others than myself? Shouldn't He want me to be more humble and less prideful? These are all good things!

But here's the conclusion I've come to. Maybe I have changed. Maybe over the years I have grown in these areas, but there will always be room for more growth. Since I'm not Jesus (clearly), and never will be, I can always be growing to be more like Him. Which means my entire life will be a journey of realizing my pride and selfishness, giving it up to Him, and begging for His help that I may be more like Him and less like me. So it might not seem like there's been any change in prayers over the past few years, and maybe the prayer is the same, but the person isn't. The prayer should continue though, because Jesus always has more work to do.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Reality vs. Expectation

You know that one scene in 500 Days of Summer where Tom's expectations of the situation are played on a split screen beside reality ( That's a bit what I feel being home is like. Reality isn't that different from reality, but different enough to change the mood entirely. 

Being home was like this perfect event in my mind. It was happy, stress-free, and full of a perfect, loving family. Reality was still happy, but slightly less so, speckled with arguments, negativity, poor behavior, sickness, and some raised voices. Sometimes, reality kinda sucks a little, especially when it doesn't live up to high expectations. 

I've realized how much I idealize my family in my mind when I'm away from them. I forget about the normal family arguments and sibling disagreements. This has happened basically every time I've come home, yet I always seems to forget it by the next time I come back. Problematic. The result is me being embarrassingly grumpy and irritable. I really hate to admit that this happens. I can't deal with all the silly arguments that are absolutely unnecessary and could easily be solved with a few simple words and no raised voices, so somehow my logical solution is to get frustrated and raise my voice to tell everyone to stop! Yeah, probably not gonna help. And I know it, but for some reason, no matter how many times I tell myself I won't, when the situation arises, my voice clamors in, arguing with the rest. 

As Andrew Stern at New City says, "more mercy!" So, so true. Really, the only solution here is Jesus. Trusting Him, remembering and knowing that He is good and loving. He'll always be there, no matter the circumstance. Reality will almost never meet up with reality, unless we have rather low expectations. Life is just to full of unknowns and unexpected curveballs. Like pneumonia, wasn't expecting that to hit again. Life can't only be happy when it's going perfectly according to plan, because plans change. 

I was just thinking about that today, plans changing that is, in relation to the Christmas story. I mean Mary and Joseph probably had a pretty basic life plan laid out...get married, have kids, raise kids, do carpentry, cook and clean house, etc. Mary's pregnancy with Jesus threw that plan off just a tiny bit! As much as I'm sure they were both absolutely thrilled to be the mother and sorta-father of Jesus, I would imagine they both had a little bit of a "oh no, life is going to change SO much now, and I don't know if I really want it to" kinda moment. 
I mean, I know I would! As awesome as it would be, I'm not really sure I would want to be in Mary's shoes. On the one hand it would be so cool to be picked by God to be the mother of His son. But at the same time, being a pregnant teenager, who appears to be pregnant out of wedlock, of a child who will only ever be sort-of yours, is God, and is going to die for everyone's sins at some point, would be a rather stressful turn of events. Not...convenient, I guess that would be the word. But such an honor at the same time. Confusing, I know. 

Really what I'm trying to say is that God's plans often don't seem to go along with our own. But the thing is, it's His plan, which means that it is good and awesome and divine. Sometimes we have a timeline of life events laid out, all ready to enact as the years come by. Then God does something, and the entire 10-year-plan is scattered to pieces, barely re-constructable. We scurry to try and pick up the pieces and lay them back out in a sort-of distinguishable line after God's little detour is done with, but God softly puts a hand on ours, stops us from picking up the pieces, and says "no, I have better things planned. It's going to be hard, but I'm going to be there with you every step of the way. My plan is better than anything you could ever have imagined for yourself, even if it is completely different than what you initially planned. So put down the pieces, and follow My path." And even though it is hard, and sometimes it does suck, and all the dreams and plans and thoughts you had all organized before you are done is better. So maybe sometimes reality is better than expectations, in the end.