Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Living Like a Drink

If you would have told me that I would be moving to Texas for only 8 months, I would have told you that you're crazy. The Lord told us about our move to Texas a whole year in advance.  I was so sure and so confident in all the confirmations I had received in my heart about living in the Lone Star State. I'm still very confident in them, even as we prepare to move.......again.

What did we come here for? Well, not what we thought we were coming to do, obviously.

So was it a waste?

No, I don't think that anything we do, when we are totally surrendered to the Lord, is a waste. He uses it all to shape us and build us into the people we are suppose to be, if we let Him.

So what have I gained in Texas?

I'm not totally sure, only hindsight is 20/20, it seems.

Today I realized something really beautiful about my time here, though. I loved well here.

When we were preparing to move to Texas, I remember in the season, after I had pulled back from all the ministries that I had been involved with (wow, I make it sound grand, I was involved in like 2-3 ministries, tops), a feeling of wishing to be poured out.

It was a strong sense of waiting, and anticipation. I kept telling the Lord, and asking Him even, to pour me out once we arrived in Texas. Now, in my heart, I was already sure we were staying in Texas for a while. Years, in fact.

So I got here, to Texas, and the Lord slowly, but surely, put me in relationships where I could pour out what I had to offer. You can only pour out what you have already received from the Lord.

What I got is love, and I love to love. So I love people and the way I love them is I give my time, and thoughts and energy and conversation. My realness and creativity, even my humor, although maybe it is not always understood the first time around. :-) I love to give and give, and offer myself.

As I write it, I wonder if that is really that great of a gift, but I think it is. I think it ranks right up there with at least a glass of cold water, ya know.

So I gave, without reserve.

You know how I know, because after only 7 months of being here, as I prepare to say goodbye to the relationships I've built, my heart is aching. Aching with a familiar sense of loss.

I have sown, and given, and loved, and I will not be here much longer, with those people that I have loved well. Not a moment of it do I regret, because the pain of love is a beautiful kind of suffering. It says that I have done well, and lived with my heart open to people.

Some have said in the past that it is a brave thing to live with your heart wide open, and I would have to agree. You welcome a lot of pain living that way, but it is a worthwhile kind of pain.

Maybe something like childbirth? A labor of love and sweat and tears, and at the end, a beautiful life is created. Not just for the child, but for the mother who labored.

So I just want all my Texas friends to know how much I love you, and how I will not forget this time we had together. You have helped me learn a lot about what it means to love, in a whole new way. I feel I am richer for having known you all.

Special shout out to Andrea Sutton, Channell Hague, Beth Harris, Jenny Snow, Laura McDowell, and the RoG Co op of Arlington. You all have made me feel so loved!!!

After Years

After years of denying my creative side and relegating my hobbies to 'useful' crafts, I have come to the uncomfortable and liberating conclusion that I am something like an artist.

I'm sure a number of my friends will read this and say 'duh' and I have had many 'duh' moments in the last 8 months.

An artist.

Gosh, they are just so weird. They are so silly and creative and colorful. Yet I have always been drawn to them. The weirdness, the eccentric, the down to earth, barefoot potter types. I am like a magnet, drawn to them, but always feeling like an outsider.

Until now.

What has changed?

A lot.

Walking in our true identity in Christ is a helpful start. I've been a Christian for years, but I feel like I've only just begun walking in my true identity for the past couple years. It is a journey and a process, to be sure. To believe what the Lord says about you and actually live like you believe Him in all areas of your life. It doesn't happen over night.

It is a gradual shift sometimes and a drastic switch at others. Every step has brought me closer and closer to a new kind of freedom. The freedom to be me.

Knowing who I am in Christ makes me question myself less and just enjoy myself for who I am more.

Not that I am perfect, but that my imperfections and oddities point to a creative Creator who made me unique for a reason. No one else is like me, and so therefore, no one else will fully understand me like He does.

And that is okay. After 30 years, I feel okay with being misunderstood sometimes, because I know I am fully understood by One who loves me infinitely more than any other.

Even as I write that last line, it sounds like such a Christian cliche, but it is so much more beautiful a thing than that. To know you are truly loved for who you are is the most liberating and empowering thing of all time!

The funny thing is though, the more comfortable I have become in my own skin, with my own personality and style, the more I think other people have enjoyed me too. It is not just Christ who enjoys the real me, because the real me is more fun than the cautious, worried, calculating me.

And when I do things because I like them, then even when I get the odd stares in the grocery store or the sympathetic eyes from a random passerby, then I can just smile and know that it doesn't matter what they think. Not really. I like what I am doing and they don't have to understand it or join in. (Understand that I'm talking about benign little things, harmless to other people).

My life is full because I live it fully now. Or at least fuller. There is always room for improvement, but I like where I'm headed.

With these changes and realizations and admissions, that I am, in fact, creative and something of an artist....

See, I still struggle with flat out calling myself an artist.

Anyhow, it means that I do not have to qualify everything I do anymore. Not even to myself.

For example.

I like nose rings. I think they are cool. Why? I don't really know, but after 12-15 years of wanting one and feeling stupid for wanting one, I think I'm almost at the point where I'm going to get one.

Crazy eh?

Yep, maybe. But I like the way they look, and I think I might like it for me. There you have it. So I am wearing a 'practice' nose ring, and seeing if it annoys me. After two days of wearing it I still want one, and when I find the money, I might get me one.

The most freeing thing is that I no longer feel like I have to qualify and explain and defend myself to people, especially those who aren't even attacking me.

Like when people use to tell me I looked nice in a certain outfit. I would always downplay it. I would explain how old the outfit was or how I didn't like such and such about it.

I couldn't believe that they actually might like me, because I was not even comfortable with me. I was so afraid of being rejected, that I was always qualifying my existence.

To look back now I can see what a sickness it was. A lie that I had totally bought into.

The LIE: That I was not as good as other people. That I had very little to offer. That I was not truly creative, only a copy cat. That I was too much for people to handle. If I was too much one thing or another, they would reject me.

But now I am moving toward freedom, and that can be a little crazy sometimes. Freedom is a beautiful, crazy, messy thing, but it is so much more fun than the way I have been living for years.

What fears and lies are holding you back? Dare to believe what the Lord says about you! Truth can always defeat the lie, if we take it and eat it and wear it and believe it!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Making Me Believer pt 6

So I'm still working on my compassion, but the Lord has put me in my first real battle since that last post was written. Yes, yes, I know I just posted "Making Me Believe pt 5" at the end of December, but it has been written since around June. I like to write, then pray, and then when I feel it is ripe, I will post a thing.

Anyhow, so as I was saying, I feel as though I have been given my first real battle. I am thankful for all the training, but in the last six months, I feel as though I have learned nothing. I have been fighting and fighting and seeing almost no progress. The details aren't important, except that when you prepare to make a huge move with your whole family across the country it can stir a lot of things up.

So my first battle. I threw myself into it at full force. I was hopeful, I was energetic, I was prayerful and compassionate (most of the time), and zealous to prove myself strong.

But after the first few weeks of battling this thing, I had seen little to no progress. I was worn out and confused. I began to ask the Lord what I was missing, what I was doing wrong.

That is when He whispered, "You're a good sprinter, but this is an endurance race."

I threw back, "Well then how long am I going to have to fight this thing?"

He patiently posed the question, "What if it takes 6 months to a year to see any fruit for your fighting?"

Ugh. I didn't know what to say. I was honest enough with myself to know that I was not a good endurance runner, but this was an opportunity. A painful and tiring opportunity, and a divine opportunity.

So I said yes, and I have continued to say yes over the last six months of fighting this thing.

What I have learned over these last few months though.....

That when I am out of energy, and throw my hands up in despair, preparing for defeat, that is when some of the best mini-breakthroughs occur! In my weakness, that is when the Lord has come through and shown Himself strong and in control. He has been using other people to do it too!

It has been teaching me the truth about when we are weak, He is strong, and it is okay to ask for help. That is like a 'duh' basic Christianity truth, but I was fighting as if I could do it all by myself.

Yet I am not meant to be fighting this totally on my own. In the Kingdom, we are a family, and I am not self sufficient in all things. I never will be.

I draw strength and council and love from those people the Lord has placed around me.

So many times, in my weakest moments, I have had to turn to someone and share my burden with them. Then they, in turn, have encouraged me and spoken the truth over me. It breaks the despair and renews my strength to be in such company. It has also shown me a lack of trust I have had toward people.

The lie I had believed was that my burdens were too heavy for me, so no one else would want to help me carry them. Yet the Lord asked me, "Would you turn away a friend who needed love and encouragement and council?"

I said a quick "no," because I love to encourage and pray for my friends, but then He turned it back on me.

"So then, what makes you think that none of your friends would be willing to do that for you. Do you really think so little of yourself?"

The lie was two fold.....1) that I couldn't trust people to want to help me.....and 2) that if I just tried hard enough, I could do it on my own and show God how strong I really am.

The truth is that I do sometimes think that I'm not worth my friends time. I worry that if I bring a heavy burden to them, and ask them to help me, that they will be 'put out' by my neediness.

It is just NOT true though. Every time I have ever broken down and asked my friends for help, they have rallied around me like a troupe of feisty momma bears. Speaking love over me and praying passionate lovely prayers for my situations. But I never break down and ask for help until I'm totally desperate. I should NOT wait so long to ask.

Perhaps, if for no other reason, the Lord has allowed this current battle to drag on, to force me to have to reach out and ask for help again, and again, and again. Maybe I will learn it soon.

So recap of current lessons being learned - it takes a whole army to fight a battle, not just a lone ranger. Don't be fooled, we are in the body of Christ because we need one another to function properly.

What I am NOT saying - go find anyone who will listen to your sob story with no intention of going and working on the problems yourself.

I am also NOT saying - find just anyone to tell your burdens to!  You MUST seek out mature and trustworthy friends to ask for help. You don't want to call up a friend who is not good at keeping a confidence, or who looks at the world with a negative bent. Those friends will potentially make the situation worse.

The way I decide if people are trustworthy and good encouragers...... I listen to how they talk about other people and situations to me. If they talk hopefully about hard situations others are facing, that is a good sign. If they are gossipy and focused on the negative, they are not a good candidate for my candor. Do they pray often, do they talk about the things of the Lord often.....those are also good signs.

Be encouraged. Help is out there!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Day 21- Crafting Bliss

So I didn't think I would have much to say, but alas, today is day two of my break from working on a story. I am thrilled to announce that today I have done more watercolor painting and crochet.

Quilting might be what I have for dessert tonight, just can't decide between that or more crochet.

See, the crochet afghan I'm working on is one I plan to sell. Its nice, with an intricate design, and so I plan to try to sell it on Etsy, along with some of my watercolor paintings as I get better at them.

I can see myself being one of those craft junkies, who sells their own stuff to further supply their crafting habits. 

I will sell my afghan so I have more money for beading supplies, yarn, and watercolor paper.

I will sell the watercolors to buy more yarn, beads, and quilt batting. 

I will sell my quilt, if I don't decide I love it, so that I can buy more quilt fabrics to finish additional quilts, while splurging on more thread, beads, and felt to embroider.

Oh yeah, you're seeing the cycle, as am I. What a glorious cycle, indeed. 

In the midst of this, I can see any extra money going toward random, super fun date nights with my husband! Creativity fueling creativity and matrimonial bliss! What could be better!

That's all I got to say. Just brainstorming some wonderful ideas here and felt inclined to share them.

When my Etsy story is up and running, you can count on me sharing links here on my blog. Wanna support a missionary family? 

Buy my Etsy products......once I finish them. :-)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Uh....Day 20

Yes, my fast has continued in my absence from writing. I have been doing very well with it in fact, which tells me the Lord has been highly involved, because I am not naturally good at fasting.

So where have I been?

Writing a book, oddly enough.

Day two of the fast, the Lord gave me a dream and I started writing it down and it turned into a story which has turned into a 170 page book.

In two weeks I have written it and rewritten it 3 times. I'm insane. I was not a good mom during that time. I think Ken would agree that I was not a good wife during those two weeks. Not mean, just neglectful.

The story burned inside of me and even when I wasn't working on it, I would be talking to the Lord about it in my head. Every sermon, every worship song, every conversation brought new waves of ideas and things to include in my story. As the Lord would pour out the story through me though, I would often just stop and take a worship break. Songs just welling up inside of me.

It is crazy to try and describe. Trust me though, it is so good and fun, and I'm learning how to be a good mom and wife in the midst of all my creative urges. Most days.

Today however, I am taking a break from my book, to relax and refocus on other things. Oddly enough all I've done on my first day off from the book is make jewelry, paint with watercolors, do some homeschool and manage to make a dinner that was only 20 minutes late.

Alas, creativity has been flowing out of me, but not here on my blog. Sorry about saying something so stupid as ..... I'm gonna blog every day of my 40 day fast. Uh, yeah right Katrina, your follow thru stinks!

Yes, yes it does. Oh well. Love me or hate me for it.  Now you know where I've been.

Maybe I will be back in 20 more days.....

Friday, January 3, 2014

Day 3

It has occurred to me that when I write about my days, that I will always be writing about the day before, because how can I write about the current day before it has happened. As such, from now on, my daily posts will be about my previous day.

So yesterday in my world I was worshipping a lot and working on craft projects. As my hands were busy, my heart was singing this song (one of many). It speaks deep to me and makes me so in love with the Lord for His kindness and love.

Amber Brooks - Vagabonds

Once there was a King who made a seat for many men at a wedding
When the prideful wouldn't come
He gathered to Himself the undeserving and unworthy.

How deep the love would have to be
To reconcile the debts of the guilty
These will be the vagabonds who trace the lines
Of right and wrong completely, intensely.

There came the one who sold her love away to many men
Beneath a red marquee
The jackal in dark corners hid to raid the unlocked
Doors of the sleeping, creeping
How deep the love would have to be
To Reconcile the debts of the guilty
These will be the vagabonds who trace the lines
Of right and wrong completely
These will be the ones who sing

Death has lost its hold on me! I'm forever yours.
Death has lost its hold on me
And a wellspring of life now runs through me.

There came the one who cursed the Son in unbelief
And spoke the death of god
The man who raised his fist against his wife and kids
To silence their pleading.....have mercy.

How deep the love would have to be
To reconcile the debts of the guilty
These will be the vagabonds who trace the lines
Of right and wrong completely
These will be the ones who sing

Death has lost its hold on me! I'm forever yours.
Death has lost its hold on me
And a wellspring of life now runs through me.

Beautiful words, eh? I will be one of these vagabonds, who has traced the lines of right and wrong and triumphed today - Death has lost its hold on me!


Be encouraged today.

PS you can listen to the song on youtube here.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Day 2

I'm afraid that Day 2's post will be a recap of Day 1 events. This will be an educational post, a horticultural post and a warning all wrapped up in one.

Yesterday was beautiful here. Sixty six degrees and sunny with a warm breeze and no clouds anywhere. My girls were so excited, and if I'm honest, so was I, so we all decided to walk to the park and back.

On the way back I picked some Mistletoe and gave a piece to both Kinsey and Kalei and explained about people kissing under it. They thought that was fun, and then I showed the girls some cool white berries on a tree. It was very pretty in the late afternoon sun, and they begged me to pick some for them too.

The only branch hanging low enough only afforded us about 5 of the white berries, but the girls were satisfied with their little twigs with berries.

Now, at that point, I told them not to eat or try to taste them. I wasn't sure what kind of tree it was, but anything with that many berries in the middle of winter must not be edible because even the birds and squirrels hadn't eaten them. They agreed and we carried on.

When we got home, we were all tired. I served up dinner and after dinner everyone cut loose from the table and went to do prospective projects solo. The girls set about cleaning their room so they could watch a movie before bed. I worked on homeschool prep for the following week and Ken.....well, he was somewhere, as was Keith who was probably upstairs trying to undo the girls cleaning.

So the cleaning is almost done. I walk into the living room to straighten up a bit, and find one of the berries half chewed up. I immediately think, 'oh crap, I better figure out what those were'.

The movie comes on, the kids and dad are watching, while I furiously google white berries on a tree in Texas.  It doesn't take long and I find the name - Chinaberry is the common name, or White Cedar, but the latin is Melia azedarach. There is no doubt in my horticulture mind. I remember seeing this very tree in leaf and the leaves as well as the fruit and form match the Chinaberry pictures and descriptions.

Under toxicity it says 'highly toxic' and lists a whole gamut of possible symptoms and consequences. So I google another page about the plant, to cross reference, it says 'eating as few as 7 fruits could prove fatal', and so on. Every site said it was on the highly poisonous list.

I called poison control while Ken and the girls tried to find all the berries to see how many Keith might have eaten. We found one chewed. I knew of one other that should have been in the same vicinity as the chewed one, but it was missing. We sent Kinsey off to find her other three berries that she said she had in her room.

Poison control asks how long it had been. At this point it had been less than a hour since the berry had been found, and there are still several berries missing. She said take him to the emergency room.

We can't afford another unnecessary emergency room visit, so I call the ER and ask them what they will do in such a case. I said bluntly that if they are just going to observe him for a few hours, then we can't afford that, but the ER said they would only call poison control and ask them what they would recommend.

Ah, so I called poison control back and got a different woman. By then, we had found all the berries, I could tell her more surely that he had only chewed two berries (swallowing none) and that it had been over an hour at this point. Based on his age, weight, and current behavior (walking around happy and singing), she said to just keep an eye on him.

So, we did. We kept that poor boy up 2 more hours. He was fine, and I was fine. After a cup of ginger tea with chamomile my nerves and stomach were both more settled and so we all went to bed.

I tell you all of this because a) don't give your kids plants that you can't identify b) Chinaberries are very poisonous c) we averted an emergency room visit because I knew enough to call around and get all my information.

Be informed, and encouraged.