Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tongue Tied and Heart Broken

I didn’t notice that I hadn’t posted a blog in a while, until my friend (some of us call her Muffin Manda – maybe just me) reminded me that it had been a hot minute. Alas, I am now writing you.

As I began to pray for the words to speak to you here, lyrics from a Christian song popped into my head. “Give me words to speak. Don’t let my spirit sleep. I can’t think of anything worth saying but I know that I owe you my life.”

These past few weeks that I have ignored you, the few the proud the brave blog readers of mine, my spirit has not slept. I assure you. Over the past few weeks I have come to realize, as if I didn’t already know, that life is a series of “ups” and “downs”. I put those in quotes because what we define as ups are typically the easier times of life, and the “downs” are the suffering. However, “count it as pure joy my brothers when you face trials of many kinds…” Joy doesn’t always mean happiness, but joy, hope, peace, can exist in suffering, or in trials. Counting it joy, and abiding in the love of God. “Abide in my love”. That is my aim lately.

Two weeks ago, it was determined that my dad has an enlarged heart, possibly caused by pneumonia. He was put on meds and told to “take it easy”. The loss of his father was already weighing heavy on his heart and mind. His suffering became an insurmountable hill where he lacked the strength to climb. [Insert the strength of the Lord] When finding out the news of the enlarged heart (making it hard for Dad to breath or be active), my family was, obviously, affected deeply.

Almost a week ago, he went into the ER after having trouble breathing. It was determined that he is anemic, and there could be other things to follow. Somewhere in my dad’s lovable 6 foot 3 inch body, there is internal bleeding going on. Next week’s tests will begin and we will find out the “source” of this. Alas, another journey, another “down”, and all the more reason for me to turn my eyes toward Jesus.

Last week my heart sank as I heard of another profound goings on within the body of Christ. I won’t go into details, for they are not mine to share, but a friend of mine, her mother, is battling cancer. I knew of the cancer, but the incline of the mountain they are climbing increased significantly. I do not say “battle” lightly, knowing the hills, mountains rather, that she and her family are climbing. Here is another beautiful God loving family who is facing suffering… enduring suffering… seeking Jesus in the middle of their trials. There is a very serious surgery that is coming up on the 3rd of December. She is challenging us, in her words, to be thankful for how God has blessed us with those sitting around that Thanksgiving table. After “losing” Sarah, my sensitivity to those around me, how much I love them, and how thankful I am was there. It still is, but it takes times like watching my friend endure her mothers battle with cancer, that I remember how painful, how gut wrenching the tears are, how you fight any fear that is there, and how you put your mind on the hope that is in Christ and prayers on healing. Tears welled up in my eyes reading Susie’s words on her blog today…

“As you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner this year look around at the people you love and tell them all how much they mean to you. You never know what tomorrow will bring.”

Now you’ve seen why my heart is breaking, and now for the tongue tied. I lost my big sister to cancer, 3.5 years ago. (can you believe its been that long? I can’t.) I walked a steep mountain with her for the 9 months of the fight. There were victories along the way, and the ultimate victory which God gave through Jesus to Sarah. She did indeed enter into eternal glory with our savior. My sister was a beautiful 26 year old, who loved children, loved to cook, love her family, loved Jesus… and was an absolute joy to those she met. Her smile contagious, her laugh addicting. Some days you just couldn’t soak up enough of Sarah.

Mollys mom, Susie, who is a bubble of joy every time I see her, is now facing “trials of many kinds”, and suffering that makes you want to say “take this cup from me” (or her, or them). I prayed for Sarah for 9 months for healing, knowing God’s will is good pleasing and perfect whatever the end of this particular story was. In light of my ending, or rather Sarah’s beginning in Heaven, how do I respond to someone like the McCrackens? How do I love them in the midst of this knowing the outcome of my story? I am tongue tied. All I can say is that I am on my knees, before Jesus, for you. I am with you in this, as I know so many are.

For a long time I asked that you join with me in prayer for the Aschliman family. Tyson and Tj are now living with out Leslie (in a physical sense). God is sustaining them and healing them. Tyson just posted a blog in regards to prayer and suffering that speaks to this very thing. Good to hear and keep in sight as I pray for the McCrackens, as I pray for my dad, and as dearly loved people, part of the family of God, face suffering.

I would ask that you join me again, as the body of Christ, before the throne of grace abundant, for the McCrackens. Follow their blog. Be faithful in prayer for them. The greatest gift we can give is to love them as Jesus does. To acknowledge that Jesus loves them, has not left them, nor will He ever, and to be present with them in their suffering. Lets BE the body. Mourn with those who mourn, laugh with those who laugh, rejoice with those who rejoice, and suffer with those who suffer.

Read their blog ( and put them on your prayer list. Let’s get on our knees for and with them before the God who created them. Lets love as Christ asks us to.

I am tongue tied and heart broken. I am more aware of His grace every day. I am more aware of His love for me. I am thankful that my hope is in Heaven, and that this present suffering only compares to the glory on the other side. To GOD be the glory on this earth, and that I would live my life as an offering to Him.

Full of His love and grace...


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Persecuted church... here am I

Today, worldwide, is the day of prayer for the persecuted church. Did you know that? Thankfully our church did, and we focused on it.

I prayed this morning, prior to going, that the Holy Spirit would pour into me while in service. Pour He certainly did. He did not only pour a little, but so much that within the first 5 minutes my heart overflowed and tears ran down my cheeks.

The first thing I saw when service began were stories of people around the world being persecuted for following God. I read and saw faces, story after story, of those who will not renounce their faith.

We began to worship. The first song was so packed with the Spirit, more arms were raised than I have seen in weeks, and hearts were knelt down to our Maker. Hearing stories of people hiding in basements, countries where we don't know how many Christians are there because it is illegal to follow the Lord; men, women, and children killed for loving our God. Humble hearts of our congregation entered into a time of proclamation, with freedom, that our God is NAME above ALL Names. How great is our God. In hearing this I didn't think about my situation and how great God is in that (however He is). I didn't think about the clothes on my back, the car I drive. I didn't think about my family, friends or house church. I thought - how great is our God. He is savior and Lord of the universe. If the people hiding in other countries in basements worship Him today, quietly and peacefully so as not to be killed, I must sing even louder so that we together can proclaim His name.

We have so much freedom here, in the United States. We can worship who we want... we have the freedom to raise our hands, and shout as loud as our lungs will carry... but do we? I am challenged to know that God has put me in this place where there is freedom to proclaim his name, without torture to follow.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted..." Do we believe that? Do we believe that, even to our death?

A couple years ago, three christian men were tortured and killed because they would not renounce the name of Christ. The beauty of their faith brings tears to my eyes. Oh how I long to have faith like that. They had an option. Men broke into their place of worship, threatened saying that all of this, this torture, this punishment, will go away if you call out another name. They chose to say...God is Name above all names. Jesus is my Lord.

We are not put in situations like that every day here, but others are. We do live in a place of freedom from religious persecution. So, what are we doing with our freedom? I bet millions of people crowd into churches on Sunday morning, but outside of that proclamation, what are we doing on a daily basis to proclaim God's glory to the whole earth? Lets exercise our freedom to love our God out loud. Lets be changed by the Holy Spirit on a daily basis, so that others will get to know God. Its not about numbers of "conversion", or the numbers filling the pews. Its about our relationship with the Maker of Heaven and earth. Its allowing ourselves to be so filled with Him that is spills onto others, and they can't help but surrender out of love for Him.

Knowing Him has changed the lives of 3000 believers in this specific country. They are willing to be claimed as such in a land that is not safe for them to claim God. Do we love Him that much? Are we changed by faith to proclaim it until death?

My heart is heavy today for the persecuted church, and the church in the US. My heart is heavy to make known the mystery of the gospel. My heart longs to be counted as faithful through persecution.

God will not keep us from going through persecution, trials will happen due to the fall of man - but He WILL sustain us and bring us through. I was watching a movie last night that said this:

"People always say that change is a good thing, but what it really means is that something that you didn't want to happen, has happened"

That may be true- but let us count what God does in that change as good; knowing that He is refining us and bringing Himself glory.

And so, as the same verse always tugs at the very core of my being, they said this in church today (Isaiah 6:8):

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

I sat there in church, and they said this before worship, and tears rolled down. This is my constant prayer. "God, Here am I. SEND ME!" I am willing to go to the ends of the earth. Take me where you want me to be. I will to go Turkey, I will go to China, I will go to Kenya, I will go... send me please."

I don't know what this means, but to have a ready heart to be sent [even if the sending is staying right here] it was refreshing for me to be in this place once again.

I wanted to share as God spilled His Spirit all over me today, and I believe our congregation, and prayerfully the entire Body of Christ, WORLD WIDE.

Today, with you, and millions of others, I lift up the persecuted church. I lift up their families. I pray God for a renewal of heart and mind for them. I am thankful that they made the decision to follow you, knowing that could lead them, even their families, to their deaths; but counting you as more gain that anything else in the entire world. Knowing that to follow Christ is the ultimate aim. I pray God that they will see you in fresh ways today. I pray that they would be encouraged, as "the blood of Christians is seed to the world." Nothing will stop Your name from being spread through out the earth. I pray, Lord, that we would not hold that up. May we, the body of Christ, proclaim boldly the mystery of the Gospel that has been made known to us through the Holy Spirit, and without shame.

Be made known, and praised through out the whole earth today.

In Jesus Name we claim victory,

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

2 Thoughts

So typically when I post a blog I have a profound comment, or some huge moment of inspiration to share. Tonight, I am just me. Not really relaxed, not really happy... praying that I am in a place of just being still. My heart is on the verge of entering into the weight that existed over it today. However, I am taking this time as I eat vegetable soup, with a candle lit beside me, to enjoy just being here for the moment.

I had the option of going to bed on an empty stomach or writing small number of you who read my blog.

2 things I want to share with you.

Thought #1:
First things first, my Grandfather has been home with Jesus, Sarah, and others, for almost a month now. Crazy to think like that knowing how long those 3 weeks were prior to his death. My family is doing ok.

Last night on my way to the gym I stopped by mom and dad's. William (aka Nugget) was there, and as I ran toward him to say goodbye his giggles didn't stop. Dad was talking with my Grandma, and handed me the phone. Will and I giggled with Grandma on speaker and then I shared some deeper thoughts with her.

Gma: "Katie, you'll have to come up here and get a table cloth"

KT: "Grandma, I wish I had a table to put it on" - I do have a table which was cleared up, but we laughed talking about the "single life" that I lead. Not too many needs for a tablecloth except to throw baby and wedding showers

Gma: "You know what? I'm learning to let go of a lot more material things. You know they just don't matter all that much."

KT: "You're right Grandma. Thats why we need to live with open hands."

Gma: "Yep. Eventually I'll be where Grandma Mannan (my other gma in a nursing home) is and I won't be able to take all this with me. And I won't have a trailer full of my stuff behind my grave, so I might as well get rid of it now."

For me this is such a good image. Its sobering to think if my Grandma leaving earth, entering into Heaven with her earthly husband but as the bride of Christ. There is hope in that, and reminds me that life on earth is short. Almost too short to think, question, and to avoid truly living. Materials are here today and gone tomorrow. They are a gift, thats to be sure, but lets hang out hats on the eternal. I just really liked our conversation and I pray that it blesses you as you think about living with open hands; allowing the Lord to give and take away. Enjoying each action knowing His will is good, pleasing, and perfect.

Thought #2:

I will share with you, my dear companions, what I have been learning. I guess I have been learning to abide. That idea is not an easy one to take in... it encompasses everything and nothing all at the same time. Part of that is to see how the vision of the promise (land) helped the guys in the OT (Old Testament) to abide in the Lord & follow Him daily. I would say about 6 months ago I embarked upon reading Genesis. I would not read whole chapters at a time, but just 8 or so verses. That way I could digest what was happening. I am now into Exodus and loving knowing God in those contexts and how that relates and He works in my every day.

Lets take a side step and talk about Moses. He has been the focus on these first 13 chapters of Exodus, so to use him as an example is fitting. He, often with fear, surrendered to the Lord. He was brought up in a palace, and when he knew his true heritage, given the option he left. He "lowered" himself in the eyes of the world to join his people- the Isrealites. God had a hand on them since Abraham, through Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. God was ready to set his people free. So Moses, by faith hearing God's desire for him, when to Pharaoh 12 times. He asked him each time to let his people go, and if not God would bring a plague. Each time God answered, the magicians tried to answer, Pharaoh said he would let them go, then immediately when there was relief he took it back. "His heart was hardened". Why? To make God's glory known.

Here is what shook me up as I read through all 12 plagues - "God why would you harden Pharaoh's heart 11 times?" To make His glory known among both peoples. For the Israelites they wanted to believe that God was setting them free. I would imagine after 12 plagues of efforts they were discouraged, but how could they also not be in awe when the God who is fighting for their freedom has such power? And loves other (their enemies none-the-less) to make His glory known? Because that is the flip side I kept forgetting about. God loved the Egyptians too. He wanted them to see His glory. He wanted them to be saved, to know the glorious riches that are found in Christ. Ahh... God is good friends. Even to our enemies.

So with that I bid you goodnight. I pray that this somehow brought encouragement to your hearts. I knew that I needed to write you. I miss you. I miss processing on here with you. Thank you for allowing me to do so. Thank you blogger for giving me this forum to express myself and my thoughts of an eternal holy God.

God is rich in every capacity- rich in love, rich in kindness, rich in grace, rich in His presence, rich in goodness, rich in mercy... and those are what He is pouring out over us tonight. Soak Him up. Soak in the blessing. Know that God loves you.

Somber but peaceful,