living and dying

i’m supposed to be doing homework. Instead, I’m sitting on my couch, in the silence.

A pumpkin candle is burning, kids’ laughter is wafting through my screen door. I should be reading a chapter on “the graphic effects of industrial production.”

instead, i’m thinking about what life would be like if i had a fatal disease. instead, i’m thinking about all the things I still want to do with my life.

And I realize, if I knew I was dying, my life would look completely different.

I would drop out of school. I would go for incredibly long runs in the park, on an autumn day like today. I would knock on my neighbors’ door and give them cookies I baked. I would move home and live with my family. I would cry everyday, and I would laugh a hundredfold as much as I cry.

I would call the girl who used to be my best friend and apologize. I would tell her I love her and never meant to hurt her.

I would spend my life savings (which isn’t much) on a plane ticket to Australia, so I could pet a kangaroo and eat crocodile and snorkle in the Great Barrier Reef. I would go clubbing completely sober until seven in the morning, where I would crowd surf then watch the sun rise then walk home.

There are so many things left for me to do. I want to go sky diving. I want to jump off a bridge. I want to be on a game show. I want to adopt a bassett hound and name him Edison.

I want to have my dad walk me down the aisle in a white, one-room church. I want to marry the love of my life and make love. I want to have a baby, and cry when I see her face. I want to carry on the legacy of the middle name of Elizabeth. I want to watch my children grow up and be passionate for the Lord. I want to watch them do all these things.

I want to make mistakes and learn from them. I want to live and help others live. I want to be loved and love. I’m not ready to die, but neither are the thousands of people who don’t have a fatal disease, who don’t have a choice.

While i don’t get to choose my next week, day, or even moment, I do get to choose now. And I’m choosing to live like this.

Yes, there will be homework, and I will have to read this chapter on industrialization. But tonight, I can choose to be happy. I can choose to make a new friend, dance without a worry in the world, laugh until I cry.

I choose happiness. I choose life.

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Madly in Love

For the past few months, I’ve been struggling with the idea of relationship and what that looks like, especially as a Christ follower. Having a boyfriend is the norm for people my age. It’s what we are supposed to do. But in order to have a boyfriend, I have to prepare myself to be in relationship. I can’t just throw myself into that relationship thinking that it will work itself out. I made that mistake before, and it definitely cost me a lot of heartache, tears and time. I want to work on myself before I work on relationship. I want to become someone worth catching & someone worth pursuing.

I recently listened to a series called “The New Rules of Love, Sex and Dating” by Andy Stanley, pastor of Northpoint Community Church. I would really encourage everyone, especially young people, to look it up on iTunes and listen to it. It’s a three part series, so give yourself a couple of days, but believe me, it’s so worth it. It talks about dating tips, what a godly relationship looks like, and what to look for in a future partner. Anyway, one thing Andy says in his sermon really has been plaguing my mind.

“Are you the person the person you’re looking for is looking for?”

I have to become the person that the person I desire desires. It doesn’t just happen this way. It takes work. Another quote he said which is super powerful:

It’s not about finding the right person. It’s about becoming the right person.

Amidst all this boyfriend thought, my Father has been showing me what relationship with Him looks like as well. As much as I desire to be pursued by a man, the Father desires me and you to pursue him in the same way! He wants us to chase after Him.

I’ve really been meditating on the book of Hosea for the past few months as well. If you don’t know the premise of the book, it’s about how God calls this man, Hosea, to marry a prostitute, Gomer. Hosea does as he is told, yet still experiences much heartache because of Gomer. Gomer continually goes back to her old ways, cheating on Hosea and treating him unkindly. Yet Hosea does not give up on Gomer. He brings her back time and time again, showing her the meaning of true love. This book is a representation of God’s love for us. We are Gomer. We continually cheat on God, putting things before Him and turning our back on Him. But he doesn’t give up on us, like he should.

” ‘But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. When that day comes,’ says the Lord, ‘you will call me my husband instead of my master. O Isreal, I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips, and you will never mention them again. . . I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord.’ ” -Hosea 2:14-17, 19-20 (NLT)

I can’t get over it. I read it over and over and over, yet I’m still amazed. I never want to be desensitized to that. Isn’t that what every girl, woman, man, husband desires? To be shown unfailing love and compassion? For someone to say to them, I will forever make you mine? We ALL want that. And many times we seek that in relationship with another person. Which isn’t necessarily wrong. God put man and woman on this Earth for a reason, one of which is to be in fulfilling relationship. However, before we seek that from another person, we need to seek that from the One already pursuing us, the Lord. He is waiting. If we come into a love relationship with Him first, all other relationships will benefit.

The song below pretty much sums up this post. I really have been meditating on the lyrics to it. They are extremely powerful and moving, at least to me. It’s from the point of view of God looking at us from above.

Madly in Love with You
Sean McConnell

See you down there everyday
Trying to find a different way
To build some kind of ladder to the sky

Trying to find some way to see
Secrets of eternity, and they don’t come all at once
And you don’t know why

Well how do you think it feels to hear you screaming out my name
While all the while I’m trying to open up your heart
See you when you cry yourself to sleep
It’s tearing me apart

I know you wish you could see me
That’s the way it has to be
Someday you’ll understand,
don’t you lose your faith in me

I know you wish you could hear me
Sometimes it’s so hard to do
But every morning sunrise it says
I’m madly in love with you
Yes I’m madly in love with you
Yes I’m madly in love with you
Yes I’m madly in love with you

I know that you’re waiting for,
A chance to come in from the war
If only a moment, if only a day

A place where you feel safe and warm
A sanctuary from the storm
Until all of these questions fade away

But I cannot count on all the signs
You’ve passed away as mere coincidence
And I’m running out of ways to break through
Like a lonely lover, Waiting by the ocean
I’ll never give up on you

I know you wish you could see me
That’s the way it has to be
Someday you’ll understand,
Don’t you lose your faith in me

I know you wish you could hear me
Sometimes it’s so hard to do
But every morning sunrise it says
I’m madly in love with you
Yes I’m madly in love with you
Yes I’m madly in love with you
Yes I’m madly in love with you

Haiti 2011

I don’t even know where to begin.

A few days ago, I returned to the U.S. after spending 8 days in the country of Haiti. I didn’t journal at all, which makes absolutely no sense, since I am a journalism major. I just didn’t have the energy to take time each night and write everything down. But there is so much, and I know I need to get it down before I forget about it.

So if you’re reading this, feel free to skim, just read parts or not read any of it. A lot of it will probably just be me blabbing on and on, but I think it’s important for me to get everything out so I can process better. So read, but don’t judge. These are my emotions, my thoughts, my feelings. This is me baring my soul. Take it or leave it.

This past week I have only seen a glimpse of the power of God. In America, I go through the motions, do what I need to do. Eat, shower, work out, go to work, check my facebook, reply to emails, sleep, repeat. In that process, I try to live out Christ’s love as best I can. But it can easily get mundane. I am so comfortable here!

In Haiti, everything I’d ever known was different. Getting clean water was a chore, and when I got it, I drank out of a dirty water bottle all week. I showered on my knees under a rusty spigot that only produced minute amounts of cold water. As soon as I stepped out of the shower, I was once again covered in dirt and sweat. I forgot what clean felt like.

Electricity was only on from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., and even then it was flighty. Air conditioning? What’s that? I slept under a single sheet out of habit, but would wake up soaking wet, drenched in my own sweat from the humidity. Every morning I was up and ready to go by 6:30 a.m. Roosters would start their raspy melodies at 4 a.m. or earlier. Black birds, which the Haitians believe are evils, would screech and caw all night long, and made noises so humanlike it was frightening. Two mornings we were awakened around 4:30 a.m. by a man on the street corner preaching through a megaphone. He was speaking in Creole, but someone said he was talking about death, politics, and who knows what else.

Bugs were the norm. Flying coackroaches as long as your pointer finger were everywhere. Lizards slithered around us. Our morning ritual was to shower, put on a layer of sunscreen, then a layer of bugspray. We discovered that deet, a main ingredient in bug spray, melts ink. So, my toenail polish was gone by the end of the week, as were the words & numbers on my watch. Even with all this protection, sunburns and countless bug bites still drove us crazy, but we almost came to expect it. I’ll give this comparison. Whenever you go to a farm, you usually see a horse in the pasture, covered in flies. Sometimes he’ll swat them, but mostly the horse just lets the flies crawl across his body. I never understood how he could not be bothered by them. But after this trip, I get it. You reach a point where you don’t care anymore.

Through the entire week, I just kept telling myself 6 days, 5 days, 4 days, etc. But then I looked at the missionaries we were working with, Jodi and Jose, and thought, they don’t have a countdown. They are doing this for the rest of their lives. I can’t even imagine how they do it. But actually, yes I do. Through the Father. After 8 days I was emotionally and physically exhausted, yet I was spiritually energized, completely relying on the Father’s strength.

There were so many times during this trip where the only thing we could do was rely on the Lord to get us through. An hour into our 10-hour plus bus ride back to Port-au-Prince, one of the buses got stuck in the mud. All of the men pushed, and pulled, and tried so many different ways to get the bus out of the mud, but it wouldn’t budge. Then, people just started praying. We had no other options; we’d tried everything else. It worked. We were quickly back on the road. Another time while in the Mole, we were doing a sex ed lesson for the teenagers. The rain was beating on the tin roof so loudly you could hardly hear. The teens weren’t paying attention and just talking to their friends. Brad, the translators and the students were so frustrated, because it just seemed like our efforts were futile. Then the prayer began. In small groups and alone, we prayed for the Spirit to move. And it did. A girl came to Christ. I can’t even tell you how real the power of prayer is. I saw it so many times!

While I was over there, I really struggled with seeing the poverty the people live in. They have literally nothing. It’s a natural human reaction to want to help. I was talking to my Father asking him, how you can let this happen? Why do you allow these people to live like this? Don’t you care at all? And he whispered back to me, look around you. See how much I love them.

And I did. Haiti is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The water is crystal clear. We dove down and saw coral reef. The sand is so smooth I wanted to eat it. Right past the beach are towering mountains, majestic and powerful. Lining the beach are palm trees, fruit trees and wildflowers. We saw waterfalls and cliffs. I watched the sunrise many mornings, after I awoke to screeching birds, or men. It really reminded me of being in Pirates of the Caribbean or Lion King. haha anyway, back on topic, the Lord just revealed to me how much he truly loves these people. He is romancing them! He desires their love and loyalty. He has not forgotten about them at all!

Another thing that I struggled seeing on this trip was how the people seem to do nothing. They sit around all day, maybe wash some clothes, find some food. Otherwise, it looked like they don’t do much, unless they are one of the few lucky ones that have a job.  I can’t comprehend this at all. I always seem to have a thousand things to fill my day with. If I don’t get my list done, I feel unproductive and unaccomplished.  I was telling someone about this and he said to me, “Katie, just their existence is bringing glory to God.” And he is so right! God is being honored by these people when they just chill in their huts and do nothing. He put them on this Earth for a reason. He made all things, and saw that they were good, Genesis 1:31. Wow! While we are called to go to the ends of the earth and fulfill the Great Commission, God doesn’t NEED us to. He will be glorified with or without us!

On Monday, my team visited Preskul, a recently discovered primitive fishing village on the other side of the bay from Mole St. Nicholas. These people live in this tiny little grass huts. They have to walk three hours each way just to get fresh drinking water. So our team set out to build them a water cistern after seeing the village in January. When our truck pulled up that first day, the people came out of their hunts and were clapping, jumping up and down, so excited we were there. Each person was given a creativity kit. Then Brad asked them to draw pictures of what they thought Creation looked like when God created it. They struggled with that so much. They don’t know how to imagine, or think abstractly. I drew a picture and they were amazed, calling it beautiful. And believe me, I’m not that great.

Brad was just supposed to give a lesson on Creation that day, but felt the Spirit lead him to share the Gospel. So he did. 17 people came to Christ. The looks on their faces were life-changing. They were so excited, there was no hesitation that they desired to know their Creator.

The Lord is moving in that place. At times we were scared, exhausted and pushed to our limits. But with the Holy Spirit, we were able to change lives and finish strong. I’m so thankful to be home, but really trying to process everything. This is just a small glimpse of our trip. And mostly just for me, so I can remember it in the future. I might update or add more later. But for tonight, I’m worn out. I leave for Summerfest in a week, so in a few short days I’ll be having another mind-blowing experience. I am so blessed by the Lord. I love my life. 🙂

Thank you so much for praying for our team. It truly made a difference.

I found this picture on one of my favorite blogs today, laurennicolelove.com, and thought it was appropriate, as it talks about feeling the need to accomplish something, when it was all accomplished already. Enjoy. 

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