Thursday, May 17, 2012

Only the beginning...

I'm currently doing a devotional right now on Nehemiah, a book in the Old Testament of the Bible. After only 2 days of the devo, I am already challenged and challenged enough to share what I'm learning.

When Nehemiah hears that the walls of Jerusalem are torn down and it's gates burned, he sat down, wept, mourned, fasted and prayed. The devo asks "what does his response tell you about his heart?" ...well Nehemiah's heart was completely broken. He felt for his city and the people there. The devo goes on to say, "Nehemiah had a God-inspired heart that couldn't bear the thought of letting his fellow Jews suffer- a heart that had no choice but to do something!"

Oh Katie here you are in Haiti, where yes pictured below is the palace, still damaged and collapsed after more than 2 years from the earthquake meaning if the palace is broken down so are others homes and lives are still impacted and broken..not just physical brokenness of a house but emotional, spiritual, mental, etc. and so Katie the question is "does your heart break?"

I'll speak for me because that's all I can do...I think I put up walls around my heart to protect it sometimes from feeling what God would want me to. Granted I can't go around crying all the time but Nehemiah cried AND prayed! I think what I'm leaning towards here is its okay to let your heart break...but don't let it stop there...Pray!

And that's what today's topic was about: prayer. (verses pictured) Nehemiah did do something, he prayed! He believed that "prayer was just as much a part of the work as any physical action he might one day take."

Oh boy you believe that? And if you believe it, do you live it out??

For encouragement...Verse 5 speaks of God keeping "his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands." The Hebrew word for the first "love" used here is "hesed" meaning unfailing love, loyal love, often based on a covenant relationship. The devo says, "the idea is not that God's hesed for us is conditional but that His love compels us to love Him back with affection and obedience."

Praise God that it starts and ends with Him! His love allows me to love Him back! What a great and awesome God He is!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Congrats to Lacie and Aaron!

The awesome couple pictured with me is Lacie and Aaron.  They are a couple I met when they came to serve in NOLA in 2009.  Over the years God has allowed them to keep coming down and I've been able to visit them and their team from Grace Church in Columbia MD twice now.  

I was honored to be invited to their wedding and share with them the joy of their happy day!  I praise God for them both and their desire to live out their faith not just in MD but in NOLA too.  I praise God for His timing as I reconnected with many friends on my trip to MD, be encouraged by them, and shared what God is doing in my life and the ministry since I've been back on the field.  

This trip couldn't have come at a better time as today I board a plane for Haiti for a week and return to NOLA during the first of TWELVE weeks of teams (week 7 is the youth conference for the EFCA in NOLA).  In Haiti, I'll be reconnecting with Ashlee on staff, welcoming Matt and Jane (intern mentors), and visiting friends and various ministry partners!  In addition, there will be a team from First EFC in Austin TX flying in on Saturday!  It's a college group so looking forward to getting to know them and serve with them too. Also when I return to NOLA I'll be welcomed by intern-returnee-now-staff Ronnie and gearing up to greet Lisa and Nathan as they arrive next weekend. 

"Wherever you are, be all there" -Jim Elliot

This quote above by Jim Elliot, a missionary who was killed in Ecuador by the people group he was going to share the Gospel with, has been a constant reminder and challenge for me of how I'm suppose to view each day wherever I am.  I don't want to miss out on where God has me right now, today, because I'm too busy missing where I've come from or longing for where I'll be.  Being content in the present day, being ALL there in my mind, body, spirit, etc is the goal.  This way, today, I can be open to whatever God has for me and not distracted by thoughts of yesterday or tomorrow.  This also means putting forth 110% into whatever I'm doing today.  Being ALL there isn't just in thought but in action too!  I'm called to "serve the LORD wholeheartedly" (Eph 6:7) and "live a life worth of the calling I've received." (Col 1:10). Praying we embrace today with ALL that we are for ALL that God has for us! (pictured right: my inspirational travel mug)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"When do you leave next?"

I can't believe how fast April flew by...granted I did the math today and...

I resided in 4 states (including Louisiana)
slept in 7 houses (including 2 dorm rooms)
drove 3 cars that didn't belong to me (without having to rent them from a rental place)
visited 3 colleges
flew/drove hundreds of miles to see numerous friends God has provided in my life

During this month I also completed my last training for long term missionary I am officially official now! This is Katie Hooks, long term missionary with EFCA, writing this blog post!  Praise the Lord.

I look back over this process and sometimes still can't believe this is where God has me.  I submitted the application for long term in June 2011. I was invited to the Readiness Event in August 2011, attended the Readiness Event in October 2011, and now in April 2012, I have completed all of my trainings.  God really had his hand on me throughout this process...even how quickly my support came in shows this is where God wants me.

One of the topics we spoke about in my last training was spiritual warfare.  There is a battle going on and right now I believe it's going on in my mind.  Ever since I've come back to NOLA, something heavy has been sitting on me, almost discouraging me from anything positive.  I share this because I know I'm not the only one who feels like this and I also recognize the power of prayer. 

One thought I will share I'm having to fight is the thought that I'm not really involved in God's work in New Orleans because I travel.  This by far is the most popular question asked of me right now: "So Katie, how long you around this time?" or "When do you leave next?"  I'm afraid I'm starting to be known as the girl who is never here.  Don't get me wrong, I love traveling but I think right now it's starting to weigh on me.

I do also know that every time I do leave, it's because of how much I love New Orleans and the work God is doing here.  I go out to proclaim Christ and His Kingdom being built in New Orleans so more will know and bring glory to God.  I have to remember that every time I travel, it's a chance to spread the news about how God is working in New Orleans which in turn makes me involved.  I also recognize that the time I have in NOLA is a gift and to make the most of it...seeing friends, going on prayer walks, doing the occasional manual labor, chatting with neighbors, etc. It's all a gift!  

Please pray for me as my traveling days aren't up yet; in fact, I'm gone 2 weeks in May.  Pray I would have contentment and joy no matter where I am.  Pray that as I go, I wouldn't feel like I'm leaving New Orleans but getting to share with everyone about God's work here.  Pray I allow God to fight the battles in my mind and I wouldn't allow the enemy to gain a foothold.

Thanks for reading and praying!
Katie :)

"For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory." Deuteronomy 20:4

You are my King and my God,
    who decrees victories for Jacob.
Through you we push back our enemies;
    through your name we trample our foes.
I put no trust in my bow,
    my sword does not bring me victory;
but you give us victory over our enemies,
    you put our adversaries to shame.
  In God we make our boast all day long,
    and we will praise your name forever.
 Psalm 44:4-8