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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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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Both Warrior and Child?

Sometimes living a paradox is like trying to walk while you are doing a split. Impossible and ridiculously painful. Thankfully, the paradox I’m currently walking is a bit more like the two yellow lines that centrally split the road, rather than the white lines that divide opposite ditches.

If you can learn to both walk in the authority and maturity the Lord has built in you, while at the same time be freed to enjoy life like a child, than I’m there. Earlier this fall I returned to the place where I first felt the Lord’s beckoning into vocational ministry in a practical way. That was a decade ago. A decade. The realization loosened a deep, tired groan from my soul. Where had that innocent, bright-eyed, idealistic, eighteen year old girl gone? I could hardly recognize her.

I never understood when I would read blogs or hear sermons on pastors or youth-leaders that got burned out in full time vocational ministry. In that moment I understood. My soul was so weary, and there was quietness in my heart that scared me. It was the quietness of a warrior as he surveys the battlefield. The losses and the victories. The terrain, the call and cost of the battle. When had I become a warrior for the Lord? Wasn’t I still the girl I could barely remember?

I was longing for the innocence and vigor that my eighteen-year-old self approached life and ministry with. But I had forgotten her insecurity. Her laughter was born then of merriment but also nervousness then. As I flipped back chapters of my story through the last decade, I realized the deep steadiness the Lord had put in me was a gift. The foundation of Him. And it was time to start accepting that gift and walking in more authority (confidence) of the warrior that He has made me to be for Him.

Can you have authority, maturity, and confidence at the same time as innocence, pure laughter, and merriment? I hope so.

I’m beginning to see that it’s actually the maturity of understanding who we are in Christ – completely approved – that gives us the carefree grace to be like a child – to enjoy life, to laugh with purity and joy. Not laughter born out of sarcasm or insecurity – but the laughter of freedom.

And so I’m learning to walk the paradox of being a warrior who laughs. And you know what laughter does? It refreshes the soul. Imagine that.

The greatest gift the Lord has given me in coming to the Discipleship House is the gift of space. This space is the freedom to be both the seasoned warrior and the child. The students here have taken years off my life already – in a good way! That I’m able to both teach them and play with them is the best medicine the Dr. could have prescribed for the weary barrenness in my soul.

As I’m learning to play again, I’m also praying the Lord would restore and grow my ability to play with words. A post I wrote a few weeks ago was just published on Kindred Grace, and it’s giving me hope that perhaps maturity and the subtle merriment through woven word illustrations can also abide in the same space. Will you take a read?  Click here

My In Deep thought to leave with you today?

Laugh. It’s best gift you can give yourself and everyone around you. And if you need a place to start? Take all the random illustrations I used in this post, and picture them together. Put your imagination glasses on.

I’m seeing a laughing warrior doing splits, on a paved road, while they read someone’s ministry biography. Ridiculous. Oh, and for no reason at all? They are wearing a cowboy hat.

Laughing yet? Smiling at least? Good. Be refreshed today.

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“Both Warrior and Child?” Is Day 2 of “In Deep” a 31 Days Series for October


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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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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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From Victory For Victory {Part 3}

From Victory For Victory Part One 
From Victory For Victory Part Two 

Victory, for the Christian, comes down to worth, trust, and position. To start walking in victory we must believe that we are His sons and daughters. We must trust Him that we are what He says we are – not what we feel and think we are.

The most incredible thing about faith and belief is that they are gifts from the Spirit and we can ask for them (1 Cor. 12)! Even here the Lord does not ask or require that we do it on our own. He says, “You need faith to understand your position in Me so that you can fight from victory for more victory.”

He doesn’t ask anything of us that He doesn’t provide the answer for. <— Tweet this

Our greatest stumbling block to fighting from a position of victory is trying to fight on our own, or trying to take over what God is  doing. We often don’t trust Him to finish the work He has started in us. We mask it by saying “I don’t trust myself to not …” And while it is good to have a healthy respect for our weaknesses, what we are really saying is “God, the work you are doing in my worthyheart isn’t enough, I don’t trust that the work you are doing in me will stick.” That line of thinking will handicap us far greater than we can ever imagine!

While God wants to take us to new heights and depths with Him – gaining victory over new territories, we are stuck guarding a piece of ground long conquered and the presence of our distrust (aka –pride), opens that territory back up to sin because we are back to fighting for victory again, thinking we can do this by our own determination.

Twice in the books of Timothy, Paul urges him to guard the deposit that was put in him. We do have to guard the things the Lord does in us but Timothy is instructed to guard them by the power of the Holy Spirit – not by his own strength and or will. The Lord has impeccable judgment. He will not waste His time or cast His pearls before swine. If He is doing something in you – enabling you to fight from victory – than He has counted you worthy. 1 Tim 1:12 says that Timothy was judged faithful for ministry.

Oswald Chambers in his book Approved Unto God says:

“If we have the idea that we must face the difficulties with pluck, we have never recognized the truth that He has counted us faithful; it is His work in me He is counting worthy, not my work for Him.”

He counts His work in us worthy. Why shouldn’t we? <— Tweet this

Counting what the Lord has done for us as enough, worthy and true is what makes the difference of whether or not we will be able to fight and overcome sin in our lives. It is the difference between fighting for victory and fighting from victory.

What position are you fighting from right now?