Tuesday, February 28, 2012

oh where have you been?

Just a quick post to share some amazing things that have been happening in our lives:) We are so blessed to be with "family" as we journey through life!!

1) Two sweet girls in our neighborhood were baptized in my in-laws hot tub a few weeks ago. It was an incredible time of transformation! Truly, baptism symbolizes the incredible truth that we were once in darkness, and now we are brought into the light- we were once dead, and now we are ALIVE in Christ! Amen, Hallelujah, let's party! And party we did...50 people at my in-laws home came to witness the change in Jess and Jenny's lives, and to celebrate the miracle. Two girls now walking with Jesus!
{ love these girls }
{Jess sharing her heart for Jesus}
{Jenny getting baptized! Ah, such a sweet moment!}
{the girls sharing their stories! }
{the "family" all standing with them}
{celebrate!}

2) This year for girls group with the lovely ladies in our neighborhood, I had it on my heart to do more of a structured Bible Study with the girls. Many have grown up with a strong catholic background, and my prayer is that they would meet Jesus is a sweet and personal way. I began praying that the Lord would help me find a good book to go through that I could get the girls. One week, I read out of a book my co-worker had written, called Overflowing Fullness. The girls loved it, and one asked if she could get a copy. I then realized God had showed me what book to get the girls! We've only been going through the book now as a group for a week, but tonight one lovely lady came over, and as we were chatting on the couch, she told me how God has spoken to her through this book. She said "Katie, it was like I felt God speaking to me, like he was bringing freedom in my life!". Wow, prayers are already being answered. Thank you Lord!

And...if you are looking for a sweet book probably unlike anything else you have gone through, then you will love Kierra's book. You can buy it on amazon, just search OverFlowing Fullness, by Kierra Blaser!

3) I was asked to speak at a week long missions conference in the Fresno area, and it has been an incredible week so far! I spoke a few times this weekend, am speaking tomorrow, and then ending the week by speaking at a church on Sunday. Kevin and I were blown away by our hosts hospitality and welcoming spirit! One sweet highlight was getting to explore the sweet little Swedish town of Kingsburg. Seriously, this place is amazing (especially if you are Swedish or love all things Swedish!) The Dahla horse is everywhere, they sell Swedish pancakes at more than one location, AND their water tower is a Swedish coffee pot. But the most beautiful part of the weekend was feeling immediately like family...isn't it amazing that we can go all over the world, and as Christians we have this connection that makes us family? So incredible!

{haven't had my name on a marquis since I was student of the day in 7th grade}
{ the family we stayed with were orange farmers, so we got to taste the fruits of their labor- literally! yum O}
{ getting my speak on in Kingsburg!}
{happy Swedish girl at the Stockholm bakery!}
{ not going to lie, the thing I miss most about going dairy free is whip cream, and this fantastic bakery had dairy free whip cream! Trust me, they are going to score extremely high on yelp!}

{our native Swedish tour guide Corey taking time out of his day to give us the grand tour of Kingsburg!}

{ if this place isn't repping Sweden, then I don't know what is!}
{the sweet Stockhom Bakery...love it so!}

How is YOUR week going? Has God been answering prayers in your life? I'd love to hear!! Much much love, Katie

Friday, February 24, 2012

friendship into family



Remember the shower we threw for baby Lili here? Well, the sweet pea has arrived and is absolutely beautiful. E called us today to come over and meet her...we were like eager beavers to see her. 
E and D were just adorable parents, so excited for us to snuggle and meet her.

They also asked us to be Lili's Godparents. We were beside ourselves, honored. We thank God for our little community- for lives that the Master intertwines with his divine touch. For isn't that the journey? To walk through life together, to hold with tenderness, to encourage with tenacity, to love fiercely? We felt the weight of community today when we said "yes, we commit to being godparents". But it was a good weight. A weight that says "I take you seriously because I love you".

Little by little friendship streams into family.

And family is where we want to be with our neighbors.


Let us all learn to love like family this week.

much love!
Katie

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Intimacy of the Table


Some of the fondest most beautiful memories in my life commenced around a wooden table. I truly do think meals are spiritual.

They are a time to just BE with someone. A time that life seems to stop in busyness, and we can look at each other, and call out beauty or lament deep pain. We have time to listen, to offer our ear. Or we have time to talk, to share and tell stories.

{my big italian family eating together...mmmm...home made bracioles and pasta...buon appetito! and my aunt Lena sharing stories of nonna Angelina coming over from Italia!}

Growing up mom NEVER let us miss a meal together. Four messy crazy kids and two parents, who really, never missed a meal around the table. I thank God that my mom was so insistent with that fact. I didn't understand it at the time, but now I do. Mom was allowing laughter and joy and song and giggles to seep and saturate the far reaches of our memory. Yes, the table brings sacred memories of growing up.
{the sibbies came to visit me, and we got Kev's sibs over as well. We were only missing Pete and Kristi!}

In college, my 5 roommates and I sat down to a "family" dinner at least 3 times a week. Memories of us Fountain Circle Girls are truly EPIC. We had theme dinners (dressing up in togas and eating on the floor, or picking German names and eating brats and sauerkraut while listening to polka music). We even threw a pirate dinner for one roomie's birthday and took every piece of gold jewelery and hung it around our home- we were cool. But it all happened around the table. And I will forever belly laugh when I think of those memories.

And now, as a wife, Kevin and I find deep comfort in sitting side by side eating and exchanging love through attention. Eyes focused solely on one another, ready to give our hearts as we share a sacred meal.

{you have NO idea how incredible this moment was. we were sweltering in Indonesian humidity, and I seriously thought I would melt like a popsicle! Sitting down and sharing this iced coffee thing together bonded us, no joke! we still talk about the healing powers of this blended drink....}

Sitting with our neighbors, we feel like family. Even though we come from different places and have different customs, traditions, and languages, sharing dinner makes us family. I don't know what it is about food, but God uses it to break down barriers. And at the end of the night, we laugh and feel connected.

{waffles on a saturday morning with our downstairs neighbors...Miguel made us laugh...a lot}
Henri Nouwen writes...

"The table is one of the most intimate places in our lives. It is there that we give ourselves to one another. When we say, "Take some more, let me serve you another plate, let me pour you another glass, don't be shy, enjoy it," we say a lot more than our words express. We invite our friends to become part of our lives. We want them to be nurtured by the same food and drink that nurture us. We desire communion. That is why a refusal to eat and drink what a host offers is so offensive. It feels like a rejection of an invitation to intimacy.

Strange as it may sound, the table is the place where we want to become food for one another. Every breakfast, lunch, or dinner can become a time of growing communion with one another."

{at our family reunion in Sweden, some of our cousins managed to steal us away and make us home made waffles, with fresh whip cream and strawberries. I think everything tastes better when it's "swedish" But hands down, Kev and I still talk about this memory over waffles}

My prayer is that we will all place important on sharing meals with one another. If there is someone you want to get to know, invite them to dinner, or breakfast, or lunch! And pray that God will allow that time for you to grow in communion together:)

Much love,

Katie

Friday, February 17, 2012

a love affair with Corrie

{me in front of Corrie's house in Haarlem}

" Seek you strength through prayer"

"There is no pit too deep, that God's love is not deeper still"

Nestled in our life, pockets of deep attachment form out of great respect and admiration for those special peoples of courage and conviction. It's true, last summer I fell in love with Corrie Ten Boom. And it goes like this....

She was normal but utterly extraordinary
She was old in age, but young at heart
She faced horrific evil, but chose to live in the light of goodness
Raised in a time of prejudice, her heart swelled with love for all people
And more than that, she was a woman of courageous forgiveness

Corrie grew up in Haarlem Amsterdam, the first woman watch-maker in Holland. Years before WWII, her family prayed for the Jewish people. Naturally, when the Nazi's came after the Jews, Corrie and her family opened their homes to hide Jewish families. They even built a secret space in one of the rooms, called "the hiding place". Over the course of the war, the Ten Boom's saved the lives of hundreds of Jews in Holland.

And yet, they were betrayed. The Nazi's threw the entire Ten Boom family into concentration camps for aiding Jewish people. (For more on the courage of Corrie's father Casper, see another post I wrote here) Corrie learned the art of prayer while in Ravensbruck concentration camp, and saw that her beloved Abba was still with her. One day, Corrie's sister Betsy shared that she had a vision from God that after the war they come back to the camp and paint it, plant flowers, and use it as a place to rehabilitate refugees. Betsy died soon after, and Corrie was heartbroken. She had lost her best friend, and began to dispair. And then without warning, the Nazi's summoned her and let her know she was to be released from the concentration camp. Many years later did she find out that her release was a mistake, but Corrie knew that God made no mistakes:)

Upon returning to Holland, Corrie remembered the words of her dear sister Betsie, who had told her "Corrie, you must travel all over the world and tell everybody who will listen what we have learned here- that Jesus is a reality and that He is stronger than all the powers of darkness. Tell them. Tell everyone who will listen! He is our greatest Friend, our hiding place. We can tell from experience that no pit is too deep, because God's everlasting arms always sustain us. Even in this camp, God's love still stands when all else has fallen".

Corrie had her instructions, and at age 53 set out to bring the message of God's love and forgiveness until she died at age 91. (I'm telling you, the pictures of Corrie from all around the world are SO classic, she was fearless in Christ!) She traveled the entire world, preaching and sharing in over 60 countries. She had no home, and called herself a "tramp for the Lord". She even went back to the concentration camp, painted, planted flowers and helped love and rehabilitate thousands of war refugees.

FORGIVENESS

The most incredible aspect of Corrie's ministry is her testimony of struggling through forgiveness. The Nazi's spit cruelty, hate and violence, and ultimately killed the entirety of Corrie's immediate family. Years after the war, Corrie found out the name of the man who had betrayed her family to the gestapo. He was on trial on murder. Corrie wrote the man telling him of her losses, and yet says "When Jesus tells you to love your enemies, He gives you the love that He demands from you." She sent the man a New Testament and underlined the way of salvation...the man wrote back "That you could forgive me is such a great miracle that I have said "Jesus when you give such a love in the hearts of your followers, there is hope for me. I have read the Bible that you sent me, and I have brought my terrible sins to Jesus and I know they are forgiven. Your forgiveness has shown me what it means, that there is forgiveness through Jesus Christ" Corries wrote "That man was brought to death that same week, but he was reconciled to God. And God used me, who hated him, to bring him to the Lord. The greatest of all is love. In 1 Corinthians 13, Pal describes God's love. There are two kinds of love, human love and God's love. Human love fails in the long run, but God's love never fails"

Another time, Corrie came face to face with one of her former prison guards. As she stood face-to-face with him, she found that deep in her heart she still had not forgiven all that had happened in the past. Corrie looked into the face of the man...A coldness came into her heart. Memories of Betsie and the degradation of their sufferings flooded into her mind. There was no forgiveness in her for this man. Then she prayed "Jesus helped me! I can lift my hand. I can do that much..You supply the feeling." With difficultly, Corrie put her hand into the former guards's hand and instantly a miraculous thing happened. A warmth shot down her arm into her hand, the warmth of the healing power of the Holy Spirit. It brought tears to her eyes and she said "I forgive you with all my heart"

I had learned SO much for Corrie's story. I have learned that God's love is where we must center ourselves, where forgiveness must come from. It is true, we must relinquish our right to hold a grudge or avenge a situation. We must lay our pain at our Father's feet, and allow him to be the judge, not us. When we give him that authority, then we pray that His deep love will overflow our heart, because it is ONLY His love that can forgive.

I have found so much treasure and encouragement in Corrie's words. Reading her book is nourishment to my soul. What is incredible is that at the end of her life, Corrie spent a few years living in Southern California. I was shocked to find out that she lived in a house in Placentia, which is where my husband grew up and right where we live now! She called this house her "Shalom" house, and I hope I can find out where it is!! The second incredible thing that happened was that a few weeks ago on my way to the post office, I started chatting to an older woman as we walked. I could tell she had an accent, and so I asked her where she was from. Holland she said. So then of course in my excitement, I asked is she knew who Corrie Ten Boom was. She looked me squarely in the eye, and told me that like Corrie, she too had hid Jews in her house during the war. I couldn't believe it! I felt so blessed by the Lord that I was able to meet such a courageous woman!

I pray that Corrie's story will encourage us that the love of Christ is powerful. The love of Christ helps us forgive. The love of Christ provides the framework for how we should base our life. May you and I pray and ask our Abba for a deeper revelation of HIS love, and may we live from that place of love!

much love....
Katie

ps- I'd totally recommend reading one of Corrie's books:) I'd start with the book I read called "A visit to the hiding Place. The life changing experiences of Corrie Ten Boom". It has both pictures and text and is So inspiring!!!

{the actual hiding place}
{where they crawled through to hide}
{me and my beloved after the amazing tour! I had happy tears!}

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

True Love


I am always astounded at the words of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Thank you Lord for loving us this beautifully

Teach me to love others as you do

Happy Valentines Day

Love Katie

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dressed in Gentleness

{meeting my sponsored compassion child in Kenya= life changing}

Dressing for beauty of heart....I want that.
Have you ever met a gentle person? They are the loveliest of kind.
You feel loved. Listened to. Important.
Fresh air. Newness. Life. Ways you feel when leaving their presence.
My grandmother is Gentle, and I yearn to be that as well.....

Henri challenged me today with the flower of gentleness....

"Once in a while we meet a gentle person. Gentleness is a virtue hard to find in a society that admires toughness and roughness. We are encouraged to get things done and to get them done fast, even when people get hurt in the process. Success, accomplishment, and productivity count. But the cost is high. There is no place for gentleness in such a milieu.

Gentle is the one who does "not break the crushed reed, or snuff the faltering wick" (Matthew 12:20). Gentle is the one who is attentive to the strengths and weaknesses of the other and enjoys being together more than accomplishing something. A gentle person treads lightly, listens carefully, looks tenderly, and touches with reverence. A gentle person knows that true growth requires nurture, not force. Let's dress ourselves with gentleness. In our tough and often unbending world our gentleness can be a vivid reminder of the presence of God among us."

Beautiful Henri, thank you.

Looking forward to learning more of the gentle way.

And looking forward to a glorious weekend in Tahoe with our dearest of friends:)

love Katie

Friday, February 3, 2012

toothy grin and hearty chuckle...counting our thanks


Yippeeeee it's the weekend:) Hope yours is beautiful...

This past week I had so many lovely reminders of sweet blessings in my life:) Have you read Ann VosKamp's book called "1000 gifts"? It is a call to Gratitude, of cultivating a thankful spirit that ushers us deeper into the heart of God. Kevin and I talk a lot about sowing seeds of thanksgiving. Just today, he came up to me with a HUGE smile on his face, and thanked me by showering me with kisses for cleaning our room and making our bed. His deep gratitude for such a small act of service rendered me all smiles the rest of the day:) Truly, when we are grateful, we walk with deeper JOY:)

Here are a few things I am grateful for this past week:

1) Our sweetest dearest neighbors surprising us with so much LOVE in the forms of cupcakes, and pens, and taquitos. If I have my choice to live anywhere in the world and have any neighbors in the world, I would choose mine. How can you not fall in love with little KC's face below as he presents me with a gift of a flower pen? Or the cute chicas who surprised me with potato taquitos one day...we had SUCH a feast!

2) Delish gluten and dairy free meals! 6 months ago I found out I am allergic to both gluten and dairy. Um....WHAT DO I EAT NOW (especially when your husband's family owns a bagel cafe!) But honestly, the Lord has been SO good and gracious, and has provided resources beyond belief! Not only have I found some incredibly delicious recipes, but God provided a new friend named Chelsea who has the same allergies. We get together every other week and try out a new recipe~ if you have food allergies, let's talk! I have some sweet recipes and I want your favorites!!

3) Discovering that paradise is only 5 minutes from my house! My college roomie came to visit and we stumbled upon the Arboretum at Cal State Fullerton. It's gorgeous! There are plants from ALL around the world, and it is so lush. In the middle of winter everything was in full bloom (thank you LORD for abundance sunshine!!)....we felt dignified strolling the grounds and trying to pronounce the real names of all the flora!
{my not so dignified two thumbs up pose. classy, right?}

4) Neighbors coming to play at our house! Seriously, we LOVE the sounds of a full house...laughter and curiosity and Spanish and squeals of delight! Our house is always open and always full. We thank God for an abundance of opportunities to live in community!

I hope you are filled with gratitude today:) Much much love....Katie

Thursday, February 2, 2012

found in the aftermath


This morning one expectant girl lit candles, cuddled in a blanket, and curled up to listen to the new Hillsong CD called Aftermath.

And I am not the same.

Expectant I came to my time with our sweet Savior. Expectant of being moved, of hearing His voice, of being wrapped in His arms. And while I don't always feel or hear or engage in such profound ways, today God spoke, and I listened.

First of all, if you can find the song on itunes or youtube, do it. It's called Aftermath (same as the title of their CD) Listening to it as you read the lyrics will only draw you deeper into the incredible weight of the message....

The skies lay low where You are
On the earth You rest Your feet
Yet the hands that cradle the stars
Are the hands that bled for me

In a moment of glorious surrender
You were broken for all the world to see
Lifted out of the ashes
I am found in the aftermath

Freedom found in Your scars
In Your grace my life redeemed

For You chose to take the sinner's crown
As You placed Your crown on me

In that moment of glorious surrender
Was the moment You broke the chains in me
Lifted out of the ashes
I am found in the aftermath

And in that moment You opened up the heavens
To the broken the beggar and the thief
Lifted out of the wreckage
I find HOPE in the aftermath

And I know that You're with me
Yes I know that You're with me here
And I know Your love will light the way

Now all I have I count it all as loss
But to know You and to carry the cross
Knowing I'm found
In the light of the aftermath

I'm sure we can all relate to coming out of a storm, raw and ragged after enduring the pain. I love how the re-occuring line is that we are FOUND in the aftermath.

Do you see how it builds?

First we are solely found by the Lord, as it says "I am FOUND in the aftermath". He sees us in our pain, and he holds us in his hands. There is still pain, but we are found. Despite whatever the "aftermath" may mean in our lives, Jesus was "broken for all the world to see" and we are "lifted out of the ashes".

Then it says "I find HOPE in the aftermath". Instead of just being found, we now cling to the promise of newness. We understand as the lyrics say that "In the moment of glorious surrender, was the moment YOU broke the chains for me". I know in situations of great pain, I struggle to understand that not only am I found, but that the chains of bondage to the hurt can truly be BROKEN. And that is HOPE, the idea that whatever weight is holding us, Jesus CAN break those. So pray boldly today that chains can and will be broken!

Then lastly, and I LOVE this...it says "I'm FOUND in the LIGHT of the aftermath". Not only are we FOUND, but we gain HOPE, and then finally we walk in the LIGHT.

We walk in FREEDOM. We SHINE in His LIGHT.

I don't know what the aftermath may mean for you, or someone you love, but HOPE prevails because "I know that you are with me, I know that you are with me, and I know your LOVE with light the way"

Happy February!
Love Katie