little chunk of heaven.

This past weekend I had the absolute privilege of taking about ten of my high school friends to Windy Gap, a Young Life Camp in North Carolina.

As I read back over that sentence, I am still blown away.

I had been to Young Life camp ten times before last weekend. Each time I was either a camper, a part of the Work Crew, or a part of Summer Staff... never an actual Leader. I had watched Leaders, sat on cabin floors with Leaders, prayed for Leaders. But this time I was the Leader... like what? Crazy. But seriously beautiful. And full of grace... so full.

The Lord knew how special it would be for me to be at the same camp that I had spent a month at just this past summer. And how vividly I would remember sitting in those same cabins with my friends when they met Jesus in 8th grade. It was SO special. The whole weekend just spoke of His sovereignty, over and over again.

I went through the ropes course with them, in the freezing cold, hands all numb, and wishing for warmth. I got to be a part of my friend putting on a harness for the first time in her life and walk amongst the trees. She rocked it. The Lord pulled them outside of their comfort zones, not on their own stopping grounds, and I saw Him.

We laughed till we cried. I saw pure joy seep out of their pores. We hugged each other to stay warm. I felt loved by them.

Healing happened right before my eyes and I didn't miss it. Vulnerability and realness spilled all over that cabin floor. I sat in awe and praise as truth rang in their words.  They searched their hearts honestly and it was beautiful.

Those hours at Windy Gap were a little chunk of heaven. A picture of freedom and playfulness. I stopped myself a many of times and just smiled because it was all really happening - I was unwrapping a huge gift from God, a gift He had planned for a long while. I think I brought Him joy in unwrapping the gift. I pray that I brought Him glory.

As I was lying down to go to sleep on saturday night, on my mattress on the floor, my high school friend rubbed my back from behind and said, "hey, you've been a good leader." And all I could say back was, "thank you" and "this weekend has been like a dream come true, I love you all." ....straight up Heaven. I'm telling you.

What I learned at Windy Gap over the summer rang with new understanding this weekend... "He doesn't need us, but He wants us." Hallelujah. He will do what He will with their hearts and minds. He will change them. He will teach them. And I got invited to watch, to be on the sideline, cheering and praying and trusting.

Thank you God, for inviting me into your work. Thank you for letting me make messes and going behind me to clean them up. Thank you for being a gift-giver. Thank you for not wanting perfection. Please lead me in truth. Please hold these girls fast and do not let them go. Please reveal your grace and love and beauty to us more and more. Thank you for being our God. Amen.


Make altars.

From a little reunion over break

“I like those scenes in the Bible where God stops people and asks them to build an altar. You’d think he was making them do that for himself, but I don’t think God gets much from looking at a pile of rocks. Instead, I think God wanted his people to build altars for their sake, something that would help them remember, something they could look back on and remember the time when they were rescued, or they were given grace.

But it’s like I said before, about writers not really wanting to write. We have to force ourselves to create these scenes. We have to get up off the couch and turn the television off, we have to blow up the inner-tubes and head to the river. We have to write the poem and deliver it in person. We have to pull the car off the road and hike to the top of the hill. We have to put on our suits, we have to dance at weddings. We have to make altars” - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

In 2014 I want to build altars. Altar upon altar. I want to get out of my bed and do what is God is just waiting for me to experience, the things that He knows I will see His face in. We day-dream about things we want to do, we “pin” pictures of them or read about how other people did them or watch our friends do them. This year I will be the one to go, to make, to see… for myself and for God.

There is a reason I have these desires to do things that don’t go away, God planted them there. He knows that doing them will be good for me, probably really good for me. He knows that doing them will bless others, not because I am anything special, but because He uses His servants. He will love people through me. It is harder for the Lord to bless others through us when we just sit on the couch or stay inside all day long. So, I am walking out the door to see Him more. To create scenes in my life that will only reek of the Lord when I remember them. To be able to have moments to look back on and remember how full of laughter and grace and light this world is.

I made a list of the things I want to do this year. Some that are extremely doable, some that are a little out there, some that my mom freaked out about when she saw them, but all in all things that get me excited to live this precious life. I might not get them all done in 2014 necessarily, but I do not think that’s of the Lord’s concern.

I have a tangible copy of them above my desk but I want to write them here.
    Go on an overnight camping trip

Do something with Lazarus Ministry
Visit a new city
Take mom & dad out to dinner, on me
Buy someone’s groceries
Throw a couple of dinner parties
Have a picnic with friends
Write a letter to my brother
Serve somewhere in Athens
Write letters to Alexis & Laban
Pray for North Oconee
Become a member of Trinity Anglican Mission
Adventure in Athens with Abby
Buy stuff at an antique store for our house
Give blood
Donate my old books
Read 7 books
Send care packages to friends
Go on a day hike
Have dinner with Whitney & Calder
Have dinner with Christin & Sandor
Hang out with Mary Sims
See Emily Griesbeck
Memorize a scripture each month
Send granola to someone
Get a message
Blog at least 2x a month
See Cat Ryden
Make recipes from my cookbooks
Love on your Young Life teammates
Write anonymous notes for Chi O girls
Go skydiving
Rock climb outside
Make candles
Babysit for free
Go apple picking
See Bessie
Go on a day hike with Sarah Azain
Go someplace I’ve never been to around Athens
Be a JOE leader


Joseph & a new year.

I have been in a funk, a writing funk, and a long one at that.
I guess I have felt like I haven’t had much to say. But really, I am sure I’ve had plenty to say but I haven’t wanted to pull it out of me and put it on paper. I haven’t felt like  it was worth sharing.

I’m back though. Because for one, I am at the beach with my family right now and the weather has been coaxing us inside. And for two, I had a friend text me the other day encouraging me to keep writing.

And that’s what I really needed – encouragement.
To know that my words are reaching someone…

Yes, Hallelujah!

So today I want to tell you about Joseph, the Joseph that is the father of Jesus.

The Sunday before Christmas I went to the church that is home for me. I love it there and I never leave without wanting to know more about His word. We talked about Joseph, when he found out that the woman whom he was engaged was pregnant. Joseph probably found out through the rumor mill and it was pretty disgracing news. Being engaged back then was way more serious than it is today. You did not break off engagements, for any reason. From the outside it looked like Joseph either got Mary pregnant or she cheated on him with another suitor. Either way, it makes Joseph look bad.

Now if I were Joseph, I would have been pissed. Angry that I did not get the information from Mary, angry that people think I am unfaithful to the law, angry that Mary must have had sex with someone else. Joseph had the power to accuse a man for sleeping with Mary and to have him stoned.

Praise the Lord Joseph did not react in anger like I would have. Praise the Lord that Joseph chose grace, acceptance, and loyalty.

Now we don’t have any recorded words from Joseph. We just have actions. His actions speak plenty loudly.

He acts in a way that reeks of Jesus. Joseph was a faithful man. He spent time with God, hours and minutes out of his day were set aside for God. The Lord cultivated him and Joseph bore fruit.

I think we all can admit that we want to be better at something or for something to come more naturally to us. Like I want to naturally put others before myself, and I want to stop biting my fingernails, and I want to be more grateful, and, and…

Joseph didn’t will his way into becoming this guy that takes anger and magically turns it into grace and selflessness. What he does isn’t a ‘works’ thing. He doesn’t “try” to be this forgiving loving guy. What he does just speaks to who he was and who God was in him. Our actions speak to the substance of who we are.

I look at Joseph and I hear the Lord saying, “He has been with me, Katie. That’s it. He learned how to extend grace like that from me. I have prepared him for this day because he has come to me in obedience time and time again. Remember that I am the one that fills your desires, I am the one that sustains you and nurtures you and enables you to bare good fruit. Come to me and I will make you better”

So as we are all thinking about goals and resolutions and who we want to be in 2014, I pray that we would just spent more time with our Lord in 2014. I pray that we would know that He is the only thing that can truly change us and make us new.