Not Unredeemed

… living the beautiful tension between what is, and what will be …


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In Deep

The room wasn’t small by any means, but it felt too tiny to contain the depths and the grandness of everyone’s stories as they shared. Each story had it’s own unique font and cover, but the current page in every story read the same. They wanted to be known.

From the depths of who we are, we each carry a deep desire to be known and to be understood. And as much as we like to think we are okay on our own, the desire to be known stems from the heart of the Father’s plan for us. It’s in knowing and being known that we can first taste the freedom of being unconditionally loved.

In 2010 I first tasted the freedom of being known and loved while I lived and study with 40+ other students at Focus on the Family. When you live, sleep, study, and worship for months in close quarters with others, it quickly becomes impossible to hide your mess. They see it all – your pain, your sin and ugliness, your beauty and your potential. When my blots and smudges were known and read by others I discovered something radical: I was STILL loved. When they knew it all and then chose to still love me in spite of what they knew; it became a powerful force that launched me towards freedom. That experience wrote some of the most transformative pages in my story.

In DeepThis October for a ’31 days’ series, I invite you to read a few pages of my story as I journey in deep with community again. This year has held a lot of changes for me both personally and professionally, and in September I joined a different team and ministry. I’m now living a dream of mine that was birthed five years ago at Focus – to be an RA at some type of leadership school or ministry. I’m officially called the Cultural Coordinator for a Discipleship House of young adults – but what I really get to do is to love, teach, and walk with nine beautiful students through life. Helping create a safe place to know and be known.

These incredible friends have chosen to say ‘yes’ to each other and to grow in deeper with the Lord for the next nine months. The honor is mine to go in deep with their stories and learn alongside of them.

This series will be varied and flexible – some days it might be funny stories that always spring from living with your best friends, or it could be something the Lord is showing me in my own story. Community living is like your church small group – only you live with them and commit to working out your differences with them. When you live together – it’s much harder to pretend there isn’t a problem. But it’s also a lot more fun because you don’t have to say goodbye each week.

And so I invite you to read along for the next 31 days and take a peek into my story, and perhaps the stories of a few others.

A traditional Jewish saying highlights the connection between God and storytelling by saying, “God created human beings because He loves stories.” Perhaps the opposite could also be said. “God created stories because He loves human beings.” As quoted in “Girl Meets Change”

I leave you with one thought:

How would your life or perspective be different if you believed the Lord loved (even LIKED) your story and the one He is writing with you? Even the ‘in deep’ parts?


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Motherhood of a Different Kind

Motherhood begins with life. Life is birthed, awakened, revived, nurtured, and identity is called into being all under the call of Motherhood. C.S. Lewis in the Great Divorce, describes a woman whose spirit deeply inspires and stirs me. The call to Motherhood (not smotherhood, there is a difference) is one of nurturing and vision. Read on:

If I could remember their singing and write down the notes, no man who read that score would ever grow sick or old. Between them went musicians: and after these a lady in whose honour all this was being done . . . only partly do I remember the unbearable beauty of her face.

“Is it?…is it?” I whispered to my guide.

“Not at all,” said he. “It’s someone ye’ll never have heard of. Her name on earth was Sarah Smith and she lived at Golders Green.”

“She seems to be…well, a person of particular importance?”

“Aye. She is one of the great ones. Ye have heard that fame in this country and fame on Earth are two quite different things.”

“And who are these gigantic people…look! They’re like emeralds…who are dancing and throwing flowers before here?”

“Haven’t ye read your Milton? A thousand liveried angels lackey her.”

“And who are all these young men and women on each side?”

“They are her sons and daughters.”

“She must have had a very large family, Sir.”

“Every young man or boy that met her became her son – even if it was only the boy that brought the meat to her back door. Every girl that met her was her daughter.”

“Isn’t that a bit hard on their own parents?”

“No. There are those that steal other people’s children. But her motherhood was of a different kind. Those on whom it fell went back to their natural parents loving them more. Few men looked on her without becoming, in a certain fashion, her lovers. But it was the kind of love that made them not less true, but truer, to their own wives.”

“And how…but hullo! What are all these animals? A cat-two cats-dozens of cats. And all those dogs…why, I can’t count them. And the birds. And the horses.”

“They are her beasts.”

“Did she keep a sort of zoo? I mean, this is a bit too much.”

“Every beast and bird that came near her had its place in her love. In her they became themselves. And now the abundance of life she has in Christ from the Father flows over into them.”

I looked at my Teacher in amazement.

“Yes,” he said. “It is like when you throw a stone into a pool, and the concentric waves spread out further and further. Who knows where it will end? Redeemed humanity is still young, it has hardly come to its full strength. But already there is joy enough int the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life.”

Motherhood of a different kind is more than physically bearing children – it’s about partnering with the Father to birth things in His children. Hoping, seeing, calling out, awakening, and believing – these also are marks of the mission of Motherhood.

Happy Mother’s Day

There is joy


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Truth is Truth

Truth is truth.  What I have learned in singleness, others have learned in marriage, in infertility, in parenting. I’ve become irritated while writing this series because  I HATE putting people into two camps: Married or Single. For the sake of clarity in writing, I have had to differentiate, but when I look at a person, I see a person.

One of the reasons I hesitated to write this series was because I don’t think of myself as “single”. I mean sure, I’m aware I’m single, but it’s just a part of my life and not something I really focus on. I think of myself as “Katie”, a steady, passionate, and slightly stubborn person who hasn’t got life figured out, but is madly in love with Jesus, craves beauty, and is tenderly wooed by Him. That’s me. The facts and facets of my life include oldest of 12 kids, Costumer, Administrator, wedding coordinator, aspiring discipler, single lady, teacher, fashion conscious, and friend.

Outside of the label “single” or “married”, who are you as a person?

Peoples, single and married do mean something and they describe us to some extent, but they are not my identity, nor yours. They do not define who we are, any more than our skin color. We all learn, we all laugh, we all cry, feel pain and feel joy. Life brings us hopes, dreams, failure and heartbreak.

Romans 8:28 says that we are called according to His purpose. And in 1 Cor. 12, we are told that each member of the body has a specific purpose. You have a purpose and a value that extends beyond your relational status.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 1 Cor. 12:27

You friend, are an individual.

You are a part of something bigger.

The larger reality is that the truth of the Gospel is not isolated nor segregated to a relational status.

The danger I face in writing this series is that is would be all to easy to down play or exalt both singleness and marriage. It’s Individual Memberseasy for us make an idol out of both or to disparate the other. We are not meant to do either. First and foremost we must see people as people, as individuals. And then we must see ourselves as part of something bigger – the body of Christ and also the human race.

The Lord may use singleness to teach me that my value is in Him. He may use marriage to teach someone else the same thing, as they chafe against being seen as so & so’s wife or husband.

What I have learned in singleness from struggling and wrestling with longings, my friend has learned through infertility.

Friends sometimes wonder how I can meet with and disciple couples, when I am not married myself – the answer is simple, we don’t talk strictly about experience, we talk about truth. There is only One who has the knowledge of all things (and btw – He was single – winks 😉 ).

Truth is truth. We simply learn and live it in different ways. A reader commented to me this morning that she saw me first as ‘serving’ over ‘single’. That really blessed me! (Especially since I had already begun to draft this post).

As people we have a deep need to know and be known. I’ve heard from some of my married readers that they fear being left out by their single friends in the same way that the single peeps fear being replaced when their friends marry. Fear too is common to us all. When we marry we are still us.

I could keep calm and rant on, but in short my heart tonight is for us to see each other as people, and not miss the opportunities that will come from learning from each other in all camps of life.

I have a challenge for you (and me!) this week: to pray the Lord would show us Himself and the evidence of the work He has done in those around us – no matter how different from us they seem, or what season of life they are in. Because – at the end of the day we are all loved by Him.

Today's the Day: Being Single and Fully Alive “Truth is Truth” is a part of the “Today’s The Day: Being Single and Fully Alive” a 31 Days Series. To read more from this series please click here.

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Beauty Is

“I challenge you to post five pictures of yourself that you feel beautiful in and then nominate friends to do the same”. As my facebook news feed fills with women posting their pictures and asking their friends to do the same – I want to ask each women the same question: Why?

“Why do you feel beautiful in the photos you chose?”

Beauty in the outward form is something that shifts and changes for each person based on individual taste and creative expression, yet it is something we all feel. More than an individual view of perfection or a circumstance, beauty is a state of being and a feeling.

Beauty is realizing what “is”. What we really have in that moment. Beauty is the recognition of reality (what is) and embracing that – whatever it looks like. Beauty is hair that is finally cooperating, or it is wind blown madness – each moment beauty is found by embracing the experience of what we hold in our hands. They only time we can experience or feel beauty is in the present moment. We can remember how beautiful we’ve felt in past moments, and we can hope for beauty in the future, but the only time we can experience the freedom of beauty and feeling ‘enough’ is in the present moment we are in.

Tweet: Beauty is the recognition of reality (what is) and embracing that http://ctt.ec/Wte0Z+ @notunredeemed

Beauty is the recognition of reality (what is) and embracing that

I’ve dressed to the nines before and still wished for more and did not feel beautiful. I’ve also been 25 pounds heavier and walked with confidence and felt on top of the world. I love being and feeling beautiful because for me, beauty is a celebration of what the Lord has given me. It’s realizing what I have and being thankful for that – friends, family, time on the lake, messy hair, mud, good make up, a great dress or a dang good pair of heels.

Beauty has also meant a pile of snotty tissues for me in ugly moments of brokenness and surrender before the Lord. Beauty is realizing what is, and with that comes a rawness that spans intense joy and pain. Raw pain can be beautiful because it’s in those moments that we truly come to grips with our humanness and His magnificent grace. Jesus is “Immanuel, God with us” and “I AM, the present God”, its feeling His presence that makes pain beautiful. Sometimes beauty looks like tear streaks just as much as it does perfect mascara.

To be honest, when I was nominated to do the beauty challenge I didn’t want to. Most of the moments where I have felt truly beautiful, where not ones captured on film because I was experiencing them. I also didn’t want to dig though other pictures and remember the times when I’ve wished I could have been more ________ (fill in the blank). How sad is that? But it’s honest and raw – so in a way – beautiful. Because in the recognition of the lies I’ve believed about beauty (and myself), comes the freedom that truth brings when it confronts those lies.

The more I learn what beauty is and how to walk in it, the more thankful I become for truth. Part of recognizing beauty right now is going back and looking at the pictures I don’t like and thanking God that I was enough in all of them because He was enough. That’s the beautiful truth my friends.

I’ll post to the beauty challenge on Facebook not because it’s about me, but because it’s about realizing that Beauty is. Let’s celebrate what the Father has given us.

Beauty Is

Did you* join the beauty challenge? Why or why not?

~ Disclaimer, I have six photo’s in this collage and not five and I wanted to have  about 10 more pictures in here. After writing this blog I went through my photos to find pictures to post and found way more pictures that I felt beautiful in than I expected, after redefining what beauty was to me. Redefining Beauty is a process of recognizing the truth and I am overwhelmingly grateful for the beauty in my life that has been felt in moments of living in His presence and finding that there I am enough. ~

*Gentleman readers, while the challenge on facebook was directed towards the ladies, you posses not only an incredible eye for beauty, but a heart that is full of it as well. If you want to think about it (or comment on it) – What do you find beautiful, and why is it beautiful to you?


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Dear Faith {Letters From My Heart}

Dear Faith,

Yes. YOU are beautiful. You asked me recently if I thought you were pretty and I said yes. But I didn’t get to tell you why.

You are pretty, but you are also beautiful. Pretty has to do with the form of your face and the color of your hair – you are pretty!

Beauty is something a little more, it has to do with you as a person and it comes from the inside out. Every day I meet pretty people that are ugly and plain people who are beautiful.

You see, beauty has more to do with our state of being and less with a set of circumstances. Circumstances change – the cute jeans you just bought will be out of style next year. Beauty however never goes out of style. It is two things – a state of being and  a feeling.

Beauty in the eyes 1There’s an old phrase that says “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.  What it means is that I may think a geranium is beautiful but
you may not. So we naturally place the value or worth of the geranium on our own personal opinion of it, and it’s use to us.

This is the way our world and society view both “beautiful” and “pretty”. They are standards and measurements that will always change based on every. single. persons. different. opinion. This is how beauty becomes something subjective and circumstantial.

However, beauty always lies true in the eyes of the beholder who created it.

Psalms 50 tells us that He (The Lord) ‘shines forth from Zion perfect in beauty’. The Lord is perfectly beautiful and who was made in His image? You. You, Faith were made perfectly beautiful in His image. Genesis tells us that after the Lord God created us, He called His creation (You!) ‘good’. You know what ‘good’ means? Pleasing to the eye. And so once again beautiful. This is why beauty is a state of being. We were created beautiful and then called beautiful by the only One whose opinion really counts. The beauty He gave us changes only when it is marred by sin (that’s why pretty people are ugly). Even marred by sin, He still saw so much value and worth in us, that Jesus was sent to redeem us and make us beautiful once again.

Beauty is your state of being. It does not rest in the number of guys who do or don’t talk to you, it’s not valued in your grades at school or measured in the length of your hair. You are beautiful because you were created and called beautiful by the Author of beauty. People can say what they want, but I would trust the Expert.

Beauty is also a feeling. We both know that we can know in our heads that we are beautiful but we don’t ways feel beautiful. To be honest, the times I’ve felt the most beautiful was not when I’ve worn my prettiest dress or put on my make up just right. I feel the most beautiful when I am doing the things The Lord created me to do.

I’m sitting by a pond right now as I write you this letter. I’m hot and sweaty, and who knows where my make up went. But I feel beautiful. Why? Because I’m writing to you. The Lord made me to teach and to share about His love. It’s often after the longest hardest days I feel the most beautiful, for they are the days I have spent my all for Him. We feel beautiful when we do what He created us to do.

So what about all the make up and pretty clothes and hair styles?

Why I’m glad you asked! They are simply wonderful! When our outward get up is a celebration of the enjoyment of the beauty we have been given, getting dressed is fun! There is a big difference between adding to the beauty that is already there, and trying to create beauty. When we add to the beauty it’s a freeing celebration. Both a hoddie and a dress feel beautiful.

When we look to clothes or make up or the things we are a part of to satisfy us or make us feel beautiful, we will come up empty every time.   

Things aren’t supposed to make us feel beautiful, they are a way to celebrate the beauty we already have. <— Click to Tweet

When we let our circumstances, the scale, or fashion tell us we are pretty or beautiful their voices will be empty and fleeting. We can’t receive life and meaning from from things that do not have life.  Life is beautiful. And you have been given Life. So add to the beauty, but know that what you add does not determine your worth, value, or beauty.

Faith, you are pretty when your hair is in that adorable messy bun, and your trendy black rimmed glasses grace your nose, but you are also beautiful when you quietly serve the family and gently straighten up a room.

I want you to stop reading this letter and get up and go into the bathroom. Look into the mirror and pause.

No I mean it, go do it now before you continue reading.

You’re back? Good. The freckled girl you saw looking back at you IS BEAUTIFUL. Yes Faith you are pretty. And as you grow out of your teenage years into a women, I don’t doubt you will become even more pretty. But you are also beautiful. And not because I say you are. You are beautiful because you bear and reflect His image and He calls you beautiful.

Hear me again because we all need the reminder: You are beautiful.

 

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The Most Important Thing About You

“Who is Jesus to you?”  The question of who Jesus is, without a doubt, is one of the most important questions ever to be asked. And who Jesus is personally to us, is a question that cuts through everything – sick kids, stressed lives, mental fog, complacency, self-focus, and pain. ‘Who is Jesus to you’ is a question that invites vulnerability and realness as it cuts to the core of what is really important. It cuts straight to reality – what really is.

Who Jesus is to us in the moment we answer that question, says more about us, what we are going through, and our spiritual state than hours of conversation could reveal.

Tozer, in The Pursuit of God states:

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

Who Jesus is to us – to me and to you – reveals the basis of truth in our lives. It IS the most important thing about us.

Answering the question of who Jesus is to us, forces us to either:

–        Refocus and remember who He is (and that becomes a comfort in our present circumstances).

Or

–        Rejoice and spread the joy of where we are seeing Him move in our lives, and praise Him for who He is.

It’s a question you can’t go wrong with, and it breeds growth and community. As we grow in our understanding, knowledge, and love of God, who Jesus is to us will change with the season we are in. Sharing Jesus in us, cannot fail to encourage anyone hearing or responding to the question.

Tonight, after several weeks of not talking to my close friend Trina (who blogs over at trinaholden.com), I shot off a quick text to her asking her this question.

 Katie: “In one word, who is Jesus to you right now?”                                                                                              Trina: “Jesus is enough . . . Though Seth vomiting at dinner means I won’t get to go to church tomorrow. His grace covers even this”.

Her response not only reminded her of the Lord’s grace amidst vomit, it encouraged me to remember that Jesus was and is enough for things I’m dealing with too.

Who is Jesus to you

So friends. Pause. Today, right now.

Who is Jesus to you?

In this moment, when you hear His name, what is the first thing you think of about Him? Let that truth* penetrate your heart and the knowledge of it anchor your day.

Right now? Jesus is a Protective Warrior to me.

Who is He to you? I’d love to know and be encouraged by it. I would be honored if you shared it with me in the comments.

 *The truth in the answer to the question “who is Jesus to you?” has not always been pretty in my life. It’s ok, if it’s not in yours right now either. There has never been a more wonderful time than now to repentant and thank Him for revealing Himself to you.


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Wounded Extremes (On Girls Marrying Guys Like Their Dads)

Q

My dad and I don’t get along at all, and my mom says girls marry guys like their dads. Is that true?

A

Yes, and no. The short answer is the choice is yours, but it will require a lot of work and healing on your part.

The desire that many girls have to NOT marry guys like their dads comes from hurts and heart wounds (emotional pain) that their fathers have caused. Why would a girl end up marrying a guy like her dad, when our natural response is to run from characteristics that cause us pain?

Let’s step back for a moment and look at the fuller picture. Proverbs says that,

“Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.” Proverbs 19:2

We need to understand where wounds come from and the sin behind them, before we can understand why we sometimes do the exact thing we are trying to avoid.

Pure and simple, wounds create extremes. A wounded heart swings to an extreme in the haste to get away from the factor creating the wound. Wounds are circular, however, not linear. So when we run (without healing) we run right back into the original sin.
Wounded Extremes

Take a girl whose father is cold and aloof, resulting in the daughter never feeling connected to him or understood. She naturally avoids seeking a spouse with the same aloof exterior. She seeks a guy who seems vulnerable, softer, and shares everything with her, but before long she is back to feeling disconnected, not understood and alone. Why?

The men were very different but the core sin was the same. In this small example, the sin was insecurity, stemming from pride. While the dad’s insecurity made him put up walls he hid behind, the young man’s insecurity is displayed in a selfish neediness to be understood at the neglect (once again) of the daughter’s feelings and needs.

Understanding the core sin and heart issue (not just looking at the outward manifestations of it) is the beginning of knowledge that we need. A favorite professor of mine used to say – “your family of origin does not have to be your family of destiny”. Meaning we can change and break (by God’s grace) the sin patterns in our families.

Ladies it starts with us – the sin in our lives is what allows wounds to swing into extremes. (In the example above, the daughter, wounded by her father, tries to find healing in a man, rather than in Jesus Christ – allowing her woundedness to continue).

Only Jesus Christ can make our paths straight and not circular. <— Click to Tweet. Join me over at Kindred Grace today to discuss three reasons and areas that girls can find healing in with regards to their fathers and marriages? Click here to continue reading at Kindred Grace.

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