Thursday, June 9, 2016

A Reminder From Instagram

I recently stumbled across my old Instagram account...

And even as I type the possessive word "my", I am not so sure how much I even believe that the girl I saw staring back at me in those photos was really me.  The 2011 Katy on that Instagram account had hollow eyes.  She forced her smile. She had no ambition.  She carried a darkness.  She was dead inside.  She was not the 2016 Katy that I know.

 That Katy has been made new

I am thankful for reminders of who I once was, because I need to remember what The Lord has done and where He has brought me.

 There are days that I feel like I am running full speed...backwards.
There are days when I think I will always believe the same lies over and over and over again.
There are days that the fight to believe truth is so exhausting that I have to have it spoken to me by those whose faith is stronger. 

And then there are days that I am convinced that I have it all together...days that I think I have arrived, that I know everything, and that I have it all figured out.  

And on every single one of those days, the grace of God is what carries me, and reminds me of the truth.  

The truth is that I am what I am because of Christ who lives in me.
It is not me.  It is not my circumstances.  It's not my job, my sobriety, my status, or my personality.

It is Christ in me.

As much as I cringe to see the Katy that was posting to Instagram five years ago, I am thankful that she did.

I am thankful for the reminder of who I once was, because it shows me more of who God is.  
He chose to rescue me because He delights in me. 
And He is worthy of this life.  

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain"
1 Corinthians 15:10

Friday, October 2, 2015

EVEN Today

Each Wednesday night, anywhere from 7-10 young ladies pile in my little living room, eager to study the word of God.  I never saw it in my stars to lead a small group of middle and high school aged girls, but The Lord had plans that I never imagined.  Over the last year, my heart has been knitted with theirs and I like to think of myself as their cool big sister…because heaven knows I am not old enough to be a mom.  Ok, ok... so maybe I am.  Yikes!

You parents out there will understand what I mean by the term “learn from my mistakes”.  Although I have no biological children, I can still pass this on to my “spiritual children”.  When I was their age, making bad choices was my hobby.  It’s what I was good at.  And trust me when I say I was no amateur.  You could follow me around and you’re bound to see the majority of decisions I made on a daily basis at that age end up in disaster.  Why?  Because I made decisions based on what Katy wanted.  It was all about me. 

Ok, now back to small group.  One of the things I remind the girls of no less than four times on a given Wednesday is that the choices they make now matter.  I am pretty sure I thought my teenage years were mulligan years and that they didn’t count.  But as I have grown, I see that every single choice we make echoes into eternity.  I want these precious girls to learn from the mistakes I made when I was their age. 

I have a prayer that I pray each day that helps focus my heart on the One who deserves all of my attention.  It focuses on today, and reminds me that life is a gift…one to be received one day at a time.  It’s simple, but it’s life-altering and life-giving. 
“Lord, I give you my “yes” today.”  
See, I told you!  Simple!  But it changes the very core of who I am.  
No matter what you ask Lord, you have my “yes today”.  

I cannot help but think of the students who gave their very last “yes” to Jesus when Christopher Harper Mercer walked into Umpqua Community College with one question in mind: “are you a Christian?”  It stopped me in my tracks to read that in the headlines.  These faithful-until-death-souls gave Jesus their ultimate and final "yes".  And in an unfortunate act of violence…within minutes…saw the Lord.  Wow.  So, I put myself in that situation… you see, it’s easy to give the Lord my “yes today” when everything seems ok.  But what about when I am standing in the very face of persecution?  

It is my prayer that when those days come, even if it means it's my last, that I will say…”Lord, I give you my yes….EVEN today”.  

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,  and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
John 6:68

Sunday, July 12, 2015

My Wedding Day, Your Wedding Day...

Ever studied through the book of Revelation?  My pastor has done an excellent job unpacking the oh-so-complex book, and every single week, I am blown away!  I have never studied Revelation on my own, partly because I thought it was scary.  And partly because it talks about dragons with lots of heads and I don’t know what to make of that.  But, since Deric has started walking us through, I have been so eager to learn more from week to week.  We are in Chapter 11, and last week our super talented worship leader introduced us to a new song…and it echoes some of the last words from John “Even so, come Lord Jesus, come!”  Today, before we sang the song, he challenged us to stop and think about the words we were singing.  So often, I sing the words to songs simply because they are on the screen.  But today, it was different.

“Like a bride waiting for her groom…we’ll be a church ready for you.  Every heart longing for our King…we sing 'Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come'"

Go ahead, just listen to it here.

That particular line in the song just gets me.  
Do I really understand what it means to be a bride waiting on King Jesus? 

Now, as you know, I am single and never experienced being a bride, but I have, many times, been one that has been honored to stand by one of my beautiful bride friends on their wedding day.  And oh my goodness, the days and weeks and months that lead to the wedding are FULL of planning and making sure every detail is in order.  It goes a little something like this:  we have to order dresses, taste cakes, get a garter, make a playlist, practice makeup, get the perfect hairstyle, decide on a venue, get the perfect shoe, and don’t forget something old, new, borrowed and blue!   And more times than I can even remember, I have been standing by a bride in the back of the church as she prepares to walk down the aisle to the man she will spend the rest of her life with.  The nerves won’t seem to subside and the excitement oozes from every corner of the room! As the doors swing open, you can feel the anticipation of the guests with eyes strictly on the one in white, as it builds to the climactic moment when the bride lays her eyes on her groom for the very first time! My breath has been taken away by this once in a lifetime moment more times than I can count! 

And, all of this has been from a third party perspective! 
I cannot even imagine how the actual bride feels!

Today as we were singing those rich words, I was brought to tears by the fact that I AM A BRIDE…something I have always wanted to be since I was a little girl!  We all dream of our beautiful white gown, with our favorite color popping around the room, our friends standing by us, and dancing with our daddy at the reception.  And today, I realized that I will, no doubt, experience a wedding, not as a bridesmaid, but as a BRIDE!  With the new mercies that God promises each day when my feet hit the floor, I am one day closer to my wedding day. And as much as I long for an earthly husband, I know that it is meant to serve as a reminder that I will experience an even greater day-and the perfect husband. I am humbled beyond words that the Creator of everything and everyone has chosen me to be his bride!  But above choosing me, he has chosen his church…the ones that truly trust in him! And those days, weeks, and months preceding that day is NOW.  What am I doing to build up the ones that he loves, his church?  Am I being faithful?  Am I inviting everyone to this wedding day…because oh what a celebration it will be!  Our Heavenly groom has sent out the ultimate invitation, and we get to tell everyone we know about this day!  Are all of the details in order?  And the question we must answer as his church is this: will we be a bride that is ready, one that is presented beautifully and without blemish to our Lord?  Ouch.  I don’t know about you, but I want to be a church that truly is ready for him.  

As my lips sang those words today, my heart, too, was able to sing a new song…with spiritual eyes that see that this world is not my home and that my wedding day is coming!  Your wedding day is coming.  May we prepare our hearts and our lives for his return! 

"For your Maker is your husband,
the Lord of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth he is called"
Isaiah 54:5

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hanging On Every Word

"And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words"
Luke 19:47-48

This time of year, probably more so than any other, God’s word is read and facebook status-ed (is that a word?!) and tweeted.  You see it everywhere.  I even instagrammed it this past weekend on Palm Sunday.  We all read about Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey, and the crowds waving palm branches. And then we probably all read the story of Jesus standing before the crowds and Pontius Pilate.  And of course the horrific death of Jesus, followed by the most glorious words...

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen!”
Luke 24:5-6

But this week as I was reading, I noticed something in between I have never noticed before-just after Jesus enters Jerusalem and after he cleanses the temple.  In the same temple in which he overturned tables, he teaches.  And of course, people were out to get him.  They wanted to find a reason to destroy him.  But they couldn’t.  Why? 
Because the people were hanging on his words. 

They believed every word that came out of his mouth.  Even when the circumstances seemed rocky and unsure, they hung on his words.  And the ones wanting to take his life noticed.  And relented.  

It just made me stop and think about how different my life would be if that were true of me.  If, in every area of my life, I would just hold onto the very words of Jesus. 
Not my emotions.  Not the words of man.  But the Word of God.  
Would I love others more?  Would I serve others more?  Would I trust him more?  Would I sleep better at night?  Would I experience more joy? Would I feel more secure even when my circumstances weren't?  

And above all, wouldn't it honor him? 

I think the answer is a resounding "yes".

Oh, that I would be a woman that hangs onto the very word of God!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Red Peacoat, A Twenty Dollar Bill, and the Season's Change

(disclaimer: I am not changing jobs, or cities, or getting married, or making some huge change in my life.  I was just thinking about the change of seasons and God brought this to my heart! Also, that is NOT me in the above pic.  Ok, now that we've got all of that straight, you can keep reading!)

Fall is here!  And I love everything about this season. I love the "pep" it puts in my step.  I love the weather.  I love the foliage. I love the beautiful skies.  I love the bonfires.  I just love this season! I think alot of us do!  In the South, we love the relief of the cooler air and SEC football is on everyone's TV screens on any given Saturday.  But as much as I love this season, when December rolls around,  I don't kick and scream as I'm pulling out my red peacoat.  No, I just pull it out and quietly put away my t-shirts.  And one time, I even found a $20 bill in the pocket from the previous year!  Sweet!  And when spring comes, I put up the peacoat and grab the sundresses and flip-flops.  The same with summer.  I go from one season to another without much of a fuss.   

But do I do that in life?  When God has a season planned for me, do I go into it with an open heart, looking for what he has for me in that new season?  I'm afraid I don't.  Why?  I am entirely too comfortable in the previous season. I kick and scream and pitch a fit and white knuckle and will-not-let-go.  Apparently because I think I know what is best for me.  Which I absolutely do not.  But just as seasons during the year change, so do seasons in life.  And just like when the weather changes, it is not necessarily a bad thing.  Yes, it will take some adjusting, but I. will. be. okay.  And I want to be one who embraces life.  One who goes in no-holds-bar living in the moment, for the glory of God!  

I think we can learn something from the change of seasons.  It is ok to move forward.  And not only ok, but it is good, because a season's change in life is usually necessary.  

And you know, I bet if I look for it, just like I found a $20 bill in the pocket of my peacoat, I will find a sweet spot in the season of life that I find myself in.  

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.."
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Monday, September 1, 2014

Don't Whittle it Away!

This was a guest post I originally did over on "Everyday Living" by Pam and Butch Richardson.  Most of you that read my blog probably know the Richardson's, but if not...take time to read their blog and get to know them.  When I started living in Gadsden, they became my second parents.  They have loved me as their own and I love that you all can get a glimpse into their life through their blog!  

Noccalula Falls is where you can find me on any given weekday during my lunch break. I guess you can say it has become a part of myeveryday living. When the clock strikes noon, I head up the mountain to enjoy my hour of respite from office work. Last Wednesday, something different happened and I feel like I learned a little lesson in living.
Staying true to my routine, I sat at one of the picnic tables in the shade as I ate my lunch. I was catching up on Instagram posts, emails, and Facebook from the morning. I was nearly finished eating when I noticed a man walking close. He was headed towards MY SWING. Now, I guess that needs a little explanation. I have a swing that I usually sit in after I finish eating lunch every day, and I love it—it is so peaceful! For some reason, it is rarely taken and I like to think that God reserves it just for me. But today, my swing was going to be occupied. And I was just going to have to deal. And I am sure glad it was!
The man sat down, and he had this long stick and a knife. Weird combo for most, but I knew what he was about to do: whittle, of course! You see, when I was a little girl, I loved pigs. (Random, I know, but don’t we all have our quirks??) Anyway, my dad had one of his co-workers carve me a little pig to put on my night stand. It was one of my favorite things—that whittled pig. This man was about to whittle—sitting right there on my swing. So I just decided to ask him about it. “Are you about to whittle?” I asked him. He perked up…”I sure am, what do you know about it?” So I told him the story about my whittled pig. It got us into conversation, but what he said next–I hope and pray–will stay with me for the rest of my years. “I like to whittle. It passes the time for me. I need something to help me waste time these days.” He said a few more things that I didn’t really hear because I was still processing the previous comment. He was whittling his life away. We talked about his previous marriages, his grandchildren, and his retirement from the Steel Plant. But I couldn’t help but think of how this man was literally and figuratively whittling his life away. It is what he was spending his days doing. As I looked at the shavings on his lap that would soon be part of the dirt at his feet, I was learning a lesson in living. We have a choice as to how we approach this life:
We can waste it and whittle it away or we can invest it and live.
And it seems very fitting that I would be asked to do this guest post and then God, in his providence, would bring the whittling man into my lunch hour.
And just so you know…Butch and Pam told me I could have freedom to say what I wanted on their blog today, so I will take advantage: 
You see, the whittling man showed me what it looked like to waste my days, while The Richardson’s have shown me how to live my days. I have been most blessed to be “adopted” into the Richardson family. They have truly invited me into their everyday living. And by that, I simply mean we do life together. And there is much wisdom to be learned from their lives. I love to watch them invest their lives into each other and into the lives of those around them. They enjoy life and people—because they see that both are good gifts from The Father. And I am sure glad that they do, because my life is different because of it!! There is a clear difference when you live life with purpose—and that purpose being the glory of God and the good of all peoples. As I grow older, I want my life to count. I want to make an eternal impact. I want to truly live.
I just love how God meets us in our routine, often mundane events, and shows us more about himself. And if we just take time to listen to others stories, which most of the time I never do, God always shows up. He reveals himself through nature, people, random scenarios, and even the random whittling man who steals your swing on your lunch break.
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
Psalm 90:12

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Finding Joy in the Ordinary

During my years of struggling with addiction, I lived from one major life event to the next.  Drama.  Good or bad, I didn't care.  Life wasn't much of anything to me unless something huge was happening.  Move cities.  Move states.  Decide haphazardly that I want to be a nurse. Run head first into a job I was not cut out for. If something wasn't happening, I would make it happen--I was good at that. I was searching for the "perfect formula" for life to work for me.  The right job, a nice home, a perfect marriage, 2.5 kids, and let's not leave out the dog and white picket fence to just encompass all of the American dream.
And guess what?  I never found that formula. I don't have those things. 
That is definitely not the reality I find myself in today.
I have been learning what it means to find joy in the ordinary.  I don't have to wait for the next major event for life to be exciting, because the most signicant and life-altering event in all of history has happened. And because I trust in that, there is an even greater event coming: the day I will see the face of Jesus. And since Jesus has sought me out, my search for that "perfect formula" is over.  I can be content in the moment in which I find myself.       
  Because Jesus has endured the biggest event the world will ever know, the dreadful and glorious cross, I can find meaning, purpose, and joy in the smallest things:
Playing in an ice cold creek and hiking in a cave with my niece and nephews
Getting out of that ice cold creek and eating the sweetest watermelon on the planet
Hearing someone you have so badly wronged say "you are forgiven"
Making fresh salsa on a summer afternoon
Being on a first name basis with the vendors at the local Farmer's Market
Learning to love the things that other people love
Watering my flowers every morning before work
Learning to cook foods that God provides fresh from my dad's garden
Cool breezes on a July evening
The passion in someone's eyes when they talk about something they love
Cooking for other people "just because"
Fresh eggs from my grandparent's farm
Walking around the backyard of my dearest friend, as she teaches me about herbs and flowers
Clearing my mind on a three mile run after work
Discovering a new love for cooking, fresh flowers, Farmer's Markets, and all things shabby chic
...learning to look to and love the giver more than the gift...
Life's daily joys are necessary for me because they remind me that I am okay. That everything is good.  Jesus is still on his throne and life is still worth living. And he enjoys giving good gifts to his children.  Finding joy in the ordinary reminds me that the moment has been redeemed. 
Don't get me wrong, I do still love "big events", but I don't live for them anymore.  I am the epitome of a work in progress.  But God is shaping my mind and my eyes to view all events, both big and small- as given to me from the same hand-- the hands of my good Father that filters everything.