Not Unredeemed

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


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What’s Better?

Can you know Jesus more when you are single or married?

I sat in silence for a long time over that question. However I answered would take the conversation into so many different areas. We could argue over Paul’s writings and wether or not it was better to be single or married, we could dive into Jesus’s set apart life, or maybe the examples of marriage and Christ’s love of the church. None  of these addressed the heart of the question though – knowing Jesus.

It was a rare night in the Discipleship House, all five of the D House girls were  hanging out in the living room with me and none of the guys were around or home. Relationship questions abounded and stories were shared as the night grew late. 

I was familiar with the question she posed to me: Can you know Jesus more when you are single or married? I’d wrestled over it for years myself. In my mind I always thought that knowing Jesus better single or married was an either/or thing. One of them must be a better way to know Jesus than the other.

Questions like those below dug deeply into my soul:know Him more

If I never get married will Jesus be enough for me?”

If I  get married, I’ll get to experience more of the Lord’s love cause that’s an example of how Christ loves the Church, right?”

“But then if I do get married won’t that mean that I won’t be able to serve the Lord as well?

Perhaps it is not a matter of knowing the Lord better in “either/or”  (either single or married) but instead a matter of greater importance to know Him in “both/and” (both single and married). Asking questions and wrestling in our souls is a beautiful thing, but we are asking the wrong kind of questions. The question isn’t which season of life can I know the Lord better in, but how can I know Him in the season that I am in now?

Each story is beautiful, individual, song. The Lord will call to each of us to walk different seasons at different times, but the resounding bass in each call will be the same – to know Him. The melody will look different, but there will be a steady beat that does not change in your song. Him. 

A dear friend of mine married young and just celebrated her 10th anniversary. Her husband provided her with a safe home and a loving environment that freed her to begin to know the Lord’s love in a deeper way through her marriage. For me, the past decade of mostly going it alone has drawn me to the Lord’s love in a deeper way than anything I could have imagined.

Had I married young, I wonder if I would know the Lord in the way that I do now?  Would I have been too tempted to put my husband in the place in my heart the Lord should be? I don’t know. It’s not my story to know. Singleness has been one of the most refining fires in my life, but my married friends will say the same about their marriages. I’ve also tasted enough in a serious relationship or two to know that those relationships brought me to the throne just as much as my singleness did.

 In DeepIt’s so easy to get caught up in comparing apples to oranges that we miss the bigger picture: its all fruit. And it’s all about knowing Jesus. Whether you are single, married, divorced, widowed, engaged, a parent, or childless – through EVERY season, Jesus wants to be enough for you. Marriage and relationships have their struggles, their loneliness and their happiness too. And they are different, but Jesus isn’t an either/or. He is in BOTH singleness AND marriage.  I can’t tell you what’s better, but I can tell you that you are loved right where you are, and that He longs to know you and for you to know Him. And what I can also tell you is my story. Tomorrow. 🙂 Check back tomorrow for part 2.

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“What’s Better” is Day #13 of “In Deep” a 31 Day’s Series


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Space

“To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wildflower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.” – William Blake

For the past several weeks I’ve been struggling for words to encompass a concept the Lord has been working in my heart. It centers around one word: Space. Up until earlier this year space wasn’t something I understood, had any use for, or knew how to handle. Space was something I feared. I fear it was wasteful, unproductive, and even lonely. Pragmatism was something I hid behind, afraid to explore that the Lord have give me the personality to be both the “bottom line, get it done Maratha” and also the “softer intuitive Mary”. I was so wrong. I do not yet fully know what space will bring or all that it is – but I’m in the process of discovery.

If you have been reading along in this series I’ve sprinkled in things that space is beginning to unravel in me (She Gave Him Her Beauty and From the Keurig to the French Press)

This morning Sara Groves posted this video and began to put into words what has only been stirring in my soul. Pause and watch? The video is short. Embrace the space to be and let your soul hope.

To read the article Sara Groves is referring to click here. (Its on the scholarly side, but it was the perfect blend of logic and beauty which spoke deeply to me.)

In the Kingdom of God there is a lot less of “either/or, and a lot more “both/and”. Space can mean that we aren’t as “productive” in the traditional sense, but it can also mean that we are “productive” in deeper ways. I wish I could better express what “space” means not only to me, but also in general. But friends I still don’t have adequate words to completely express this chapter in the story.

In DeepRight now space looks  like an undefined place in my soul to explore with the Lord the softer, more beautiful, side of who He is and the treasures He has laid for us in life because He delights in us. It’s the unsettling idea that in beauty, art, music, laughter and the quite spaces in life, there may be just as much power to change the world and know the Father as there is in our theology and producing, church culture.

Thank you for reading this draft of a chapter not yet finished in my life.

What does space mean to you?

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“Space” is Day #12 in “In Deep” a 31 Days Series


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More Stubborn Than I

We laughed and buried our faces in the blankets as we giggled over face time. I was helplessly trying to relay a story in my week when I blurted out:

I’m so thankful Jesus is more stubborn than I am!

When we were done laughing at how emphatically I exclaimed it, I realized just how true it was.

I’m so thankful that the Lord loves me enough to pursue me with what is best for me. He knows my heart, and knows that I want Him and what He has for me more than anything else. But I get in the way at times and man, I can get stubborn.

In DeepThe Lord is a perfect blend of stubbornness and gentleness that gets me every-time.

Today the Lord’s irony and stubbornness are my favorite things about who He is. What do you love about Him today?

Bestie face time dates are the best!

Bestie face time dates are the best!

The front yard of the D House. One of the guys got creative :)

The front yard of the D House. One of the guys got creative 🙂


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Yellow Beauty

perfect in beauty

My Favorite Fall Picture (2012)

In most beauty we can find something wrong, a blemish, or something wish different or added. But the Lord is perfect in beauty.
Flawless.
Complete.
Beautiful.
And the Lord shines forth from Zion. He allows us to see and experience perfect beauty – if we will but stop and see it. – Perfect in Beauty.

Today I stopped and saw the beauty littered about on my favorite brick street. A day off, a latte with a friend, and yellow beauty everywhere? Fall Bliss.

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And that moment when your outfit (unplanned) perfectly matches the day? That glorious moment!

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On the weekends during the 31 Day Blogging Challenge we rest at Not Unredeemed. Enjoy the pictures, enjoy the beauty. May you also discover and notice some beauty today!

 


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She Gave Him Her Beauty

Paint dripped down the handle of the brush all over my fingers – and I didn’t care. Not one drop. I stepped back and surveyed the mantle over the fireplace; the stencil was taking hours longer than I thought it would. Balancing on a step ladder with a stencil in one hand, and paint in the other should be a gymnastic sport!  Joy bubbled up and I smiled at my own antics. My soul was literally dancing.

Beauty. It’s the melody of my heart, and what my heart responds too.

FireplaceThe students were set to move into the Discipleship House in 48 hours, and I was given free-reign to turn a big empty place from a House to a Home. Instead of being stressed out,  the opportunity was a gift. A delight. The limited time and recourses only fueled the adventured.

In those moments of creating beauty, I felt a kind of closeness with the Lord that I hadn’t felt before. It was if we were doing this together – making beautiful things. Discipleship and teaching were gifts I could offer, and things I could produce, involving other people that benefited the Kingdom of God. But creating beauty? That was my gift to Him.

For years beauty and any pursuit of beautiful things have felt like an extra to me. An extravagance.  They were not necessary to the Gospel or sharing the Gospel. Sure, I liked beautiful things, but only if I had time should they be appreciated. And time was not something I had a lot of. Oh, I’ve missed so much!

As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. Luke 7:38

I’ve probably read this passage from Luke 7 about the sinful woman who pours perfume over Jesus at least a dozen times, and heard many sermons on it. But during that week of decorating the D House, something brand new struck my soul.

This woman? She gave Jesus her beauty and her extravagance. She wiped his feet with her hair (which was considered a woman’s beauty), and anointed Jesus with her perfume. Perfume that cost a year’s wages – if that isn’t extravagant I don’t know what is.

In Deep:

In DeepAs Christians we talk so much about surrender and giving the hard things to the Lord and there is so much worth and truth in that! But what about the easy things? The ones we enjoy? What about sharing those with the Lord?

We were created in His image and so have the ability to create in the image of our Creator. What do you enjoy? What are the softer things in life that you like? Not just love, but like?

Picture that thing. I give you permission today to enjoy that. As much as the Lord wants our surrender, He wants our joy.

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 1 Tim 6:17

Ah friend, everything that you possess, be it material things or talents, He has given TO YOU to enjoy.Living Room

The D House Living room – Whirlwind Make Over

(Many thanks to the friends that let me boss them around for a few days – “nope, move that here”, “hmmm a little to the left?” 😉 Living room 2

“She Gave Him Her Beauty” is Day #9 of “In Deep – a 31 Days Series”


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Baby Armstrong

Tonight at the Discipleship House I led a small group study on Offense. If you’ve never read the Bait of Satan –  check it out! Read a review/overview of it here. Our time together was beautiful – Wednesday evenings are my favorite, as it’s a time for the team and students to come together as a family and worship and study. (Our other study/teaching times are open to any visitors and it’s wonderful! For me there is something uniquely special about our Wednesday evenings together, because it’s in the smaller group settings that there is more room to go deep with each other.)

Knowing that I would be teaching, and had a fairly busy day, I purposely decided for a lighter day on the blog. The last few days of Life Together, Messy Bits, and Destiny vs Destination were a joy to write about – but I’d also love to give you a peek into some of the joy in my day. Meet Baby Armstrong – the son of a dear friend. We had an ice-cream date together today as we explored the beautiful rustic fall paths of a near by town.

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May we never lose our wonder
May we never lose our wonder
Wide eyed and mystified
May we be just like a child
Staring at the beauty of our King

Wonder” Bethel Music


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Desti… What?

Destiny. Destination. Predestined.

These words always seemed a bit mystical and useless to me – Christians argued over them, and New Agers smoked over them. I wasn’t interested in either.

In August when I left my prior job and the ministry I’d been involved with for almost a decade, the most profound thing happened at my goodbye party. It both released me and freed me not just physically, but spiritually. My boss listed all of the different hats and roles that I had worn and served in over the years, and then released me back to be only “Katie the Pure”.  Not Katie the Costumer, Katie the Counselor, Katie the Administrator, Katie the Event Planner or Youth Leader. Just Katie the Pure. My name by definition means “pure, or pure one”.

Look at these definitions:

Destiny: the predetermined, usually inevitable or irresistible, course of events.

Destination: the place to which a person or thing travels or is sent.

Predestined: to destine in advance; foreordain; predetermine.

In life I frequently mix up my destiny with my destination. My destiny was predestined when I said “yes” to Jesus, and when He chose me at the cross. I became a child of God, a pure daughter of the King. My destiny is to be a daughter. My destinations have included the roles of working as an Administrator, or an Event Planner. But they aren’t my destiny, just destinations along the way as I walk out my destiny as a daughter.

Life will travel on, and I’m sure there are many more hats I will wear and roles I will gladly fill. Destinations will be traveled through or camped at for years, but the one thing that will always remain constant is my destiny.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—  to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace  that he lavished on us. Eph 1:3-8a (Seriously – go read the whole chapter!)

Over the years I’ve been pretty disappointed at relationships that didn’t end as I would have hoped, or destinations that tarried years beyond what I would have wanted – but I’m thankful. In that stripping, in the waiting, and in the frustration the Lord in His profound love purified the destinations that warred to steal the place in my heart that was for my destiny as His alone.

In Deep:

In DeepIn waiting for redemption it’s all too easy to miss out on knowing our Redeemer, and in pursuing our callings and destinations, its all too easy to mix up our destiny. Friend, destinations are incredible adventures! And redemption of broken dreams is a reality in the Kingdom of God! But don’t pursue them over knowing your Redeemer, or understanding your destiny as a son or daughter of God. Knowing your Redeemer and your destiny makes the destination so much sweeter.

What’s your current destination? Where are you traveling to or being sent? Is it to be thedestiny vs destination best Mom you can be? Student? Husband? Accountant? Musician? Are you sent to the coffee shop? Or to the church? Maybe you are putting in job applications. Wherever you go today, whatever relationship you answer too, whatever you do – know that what you do, is not who you are. You are first a Daughter, first a Son. Your Father is lavishing love on you. That is your destiny – carry it into your destination!

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:3

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“Desti… What?” is Day #7 of “In Deep – a 31 Days Series”


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Messy Bits

“God, I just feel so self conscious – so awkward! Ick. I can’t stand it! Please free me, I want to walk in confidence of who I am – who You say I am. Not this awkwardness – take it away!”

My prayer smacked of whining and lament as I stuffed every uncomfortable emotion I was feeling into a neat box.

I moaned all the way down the hallways of my heart from the living room where I was experiencing the mess to the bedroom walk-in closet. Ah! There, the top corner shelf. As I stretched on tip toe to neatly place my mess out of sight, a voice stopped me mid-stretch.

“Why don’t you invite me into that instead of boxing it up?”

Jesus stepped out into the dim light of the closet window.

“You want to be invited into my mess?” My heart sputtered in complete surprise. 

My closet was clean, and the box was neat, but He wanted to experience the mess inside the box with me? Unbelievable! We made our way back to the living room as my heart began to hope.

Friends, our Lord didn’t come for those who are well. He came for the sick, for the blind, the poor, for those who NEEDED Him. He came for our mess. The good mess, the bad mess, the no-category-plain-old-mess. Sometimes it’s easy for me to recognize that the Lord came to free me from sin, but I forget that He walks with me through the effects and the aftermath of sin too. He doesn’t condemn us for living in a broken world where our hearts hurt. A broken world He is and will redeem.

My mess and wounds don’t scare Him. And yours don’t either. He only asks that we invite Him into the mess. Into the process. We love when Isaiah tells us that the Lord brings beauty from ashes. Do you have any idea how messy ashes are? Or have you watched a flower push it’s way up through cold, wet, muddy, spring dirt? – It’s MESSY. There is nothing clean, neat, and boxed about it.

When I pray for the Lord to heal parts of my life and heart, I often want the magic wand. POOF!

Even Glitter Dust is Messy

Even Glitter Dust is Messy

From Cinderella ashy rags to the beautiful Princess ball gown. But here’s the incredibly beautiful secret in the mess: Jesus’s blood and justification changed our filthy rags to garments of righteousness – we are clothed in ball attire! But unlike the fairy godmother, Jesus wants to jump into the swirling magic of the transformation with us. He is the one doing the transforming, but He isn’t the fairy godmother that stands to the side and watches. He jumps right into the mess and dances in the whirlwind with us. And when the waiter spills punch all over the prince’s shirt, or the princess looses her shoes – He’s there.

Please hear me on this one: Messy isn’t a bad thing. Messy is an opportunity to experience profound love, raw real life, and to know the Lord as He heals us. Messy is life.

I recently asked a friend to give me a word the encompassed both “good” and “hard”. She replied: “Life”.

Life is the messy bits – Letters to Juliet

Life isn’t just compiled of living in the Pintrest moments – it’s also about living in the Pintrest fail moments – the raw messy ones. Where we make mistakes and we hurt from the mistakes others make. Don’t just live for redemption – live to know your Redeemer. He is in every messy bit. 

In DeepIn Deep:

So the next time you are surrounded by a mountain of snotty tissues, or you’ve lost your glass slipper, remember it’s okay. It truly is. Invite Him into your messy bit. We are the only ones who condemn ourselves for our mess. He does not.

If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 1 John 3:20

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“Messy Bits” is Day #6 of “In Deep” a 31 Days Series


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Our Lives as Well

So we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. 1 Thess 2:8

Something stirred deep in my soul the first time this verse stood out to me. Sharing the Gospel? Yes! Loving others enough to share my life with them? Letting them in? Now that was a completely new level of selflessness and love.

I stood at her sink, my arms covered with suds up to my elbows when it hit me – Maybe THIS is what both sharing the Gospel AND my life could look like. At this point, I was discipling a lot of women in one on one Bible studies each week and it was a beautiful thing to share the gospel with them, but my heart was beginning to hunger for more. I couldn’t get the verse from Thessalonians out of my heart.

She had three small children, so sometimes it was easier for me to come over to her house as we made our way through the book of John. And while the kids were getting ready for bed it was the most natural thing in the world for me to pick up the dish towel. We started doing life together. Not just studying the Gospel, but living out the Gospel in our every day lives with each other. If she and her husband had a fight or a bad day, I saw it. If I was grumpy or stressed out from work – they saw it. We lived real, raw, life where we could each see it and point the other back to Jesus.

From that friendship and several others I began to see the power of what I now affectionately call ‘lifestyle discipleship’. It’s inviting people “in deep”. Into your story, into your life, and at times into your home as you walk life together with the Lord. The discipleship side of it is “come learn” as we live life. Sometimes it looks like formal Bible Studies and Small Groups, but other times its – come over for dinner, watch how we parent our children, go for a hike, pray or play games. Sharing life is just that. Sharing life.

Starting at the Discipleship House has taken this verse to a whole different level for me as I not only get to share my life with everyone here, but also create a place where they can learn to begin to share theirs. To learn its ok to cry, to shoulder one another burdens, and to laugh.

Oh the laughter! It’s my favorite part right now! I love our teaching times, when the students are engaged with and in the Word, but I find my soul smiling when the halls ring with laughter. Our God is a joyful God!

We recently were given the opportunity to drastically reduce our mortgage on the Discipleship House if we can come up with 20K by the end of October. One of the fun ways to spread the word about our fundraiser is that everyone is doing a dance challenge. “How would you dance if you were given 20k?” and then they nominate their friends etc. Its been hilarious as everyone has been trying their best ‘dance moves’. (Oh the laughter we hear then!)

Tonight I’m thankful for my brother Sam who not only loves me, but will also share in whatever crazy adventure I’m doing in life. Below is our dance video. (Something else the Lord is working on “in deep” in me? Freedom. From pride, self consciousness, reserve etc. A few months ago I probably would have died at doing this video!)

“Our lives as well” is Day #5 of ‘In Deep’ – a 31 Days Series


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Let us go to him

  

I do not understand the Father’s timing, nor what brings Him the most glory – but I’m learning to trust Him in the process. 

“Nevertheless, Let us go to him…” 

This one thing I do know – the Lord always comes. Always. How or when  He comes is what grows our belief. He is worthy of our wait, and of our trust. 

Have you heard of Sara Hagerty or “Every Bitter Thing is Sweet”? She posts these delicious verses and graphics daily on Facebook and Instagram. Check her out! 

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‘Let us go to him’ is Day #4 of ‘In Deep’ – a 31 Days Series